Everton takes lead against Hajduk in Europa League first playoff round

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Everton took a firm 2-0 lead against Hajduk Split in their first of two legs in the playoff round of the Europa League amidst crowd troubles at the Goodison Park.

The Toffees took the lead when Dante Stipica’s weak punched clearance at a corner was seized on by Leighton Baines, who then easily picked out Michael Keane for the centre-half to nod in from close range for his first goal for the club.

But play was quickly stopped soon after for five minutes. In the 33rd minute, travelling Hajduk fans, who had been packed into a corner of the Bullens Road stand, surged towards the Goodison Park pitch together and threw objects while stewards fought to restore order.

Wayne Rooney had a goal disallowed for what looked a tight offside call after play resumed, and in the seconds before five minutes of added time was announced Everton increased their lead through Idrissa Gueye who slide a low shot into the bottom corner.

On the other end of the pitch, Jordan Pickford produced three fine saves as the Croatian pressed more in the second half, including a smart save low to his left from Franck Ohandza to stop the visitors netting a potentially crucial away goal.

Everton coach Ronald Koeman could have been pleased with the result ahead of their second leg — especially in the knowledge that a win, a draw or a single-goal defeat could guarantee their place in the Europa League group stage — but the Dutchman was not over the top celebrating.

“I was really happy with the first half, really unhappy with the second,” Koeman said after the match. “We dropped the tempo too much after going two up, and that scoreline was not the maximum we could have taken from the game.”

“Winning 2-0 is fine in the Premier League, you get three points, but here we have another game to play and we have made it more difficult than it needed to be.”

Buffon joins Messi & Ronaldo on UEFA men’s player of the year shortlist

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UEFA has named Gianluigi Buffon as one of three nominees for the 2016/17 UEFA Men’s Player of the Year Award alongside Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo.

The candidates shortlist was made by a jury of 80 coaches and 55 journalists.

Buffon, 39, was a key member of the Juventus side that reached last season’s Champions League final, but he missed out on a first winner’s medal as the Italians were beaten 4-1 by Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in Cardiff.

Ronaldo, who had won the award twice, stands alongside three of his Real teammates in the top-10 shortlist, with Luka Modric at fourth, Toni Kroos at fifth and Sergio Ramos at seventh.

The shortlist was decided by the 80 coaches of the clubs that played in the Champions League and Europa League group stages, as well as 55 journalists.

The players who make up the rest of the top 10 are:

  1. Paulo Dybala (Argentina, Juventus, sixth)
  2. Kylian Mbappe (France, Monaco, eighth)
  3. Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Bayern Munich, ninth)
  4. Zlatan Ibrahimovic (Sweden, Manchester United, tenth)

Cristiano Ronaldo banned for five games after Supercopa red card

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Cristiano Ronaldo will be banned for five Spanish games after he was sent off in Real Madrid’s 3-1 win against FC Barcelona in the Supercopa first leg on Sunday.

Ronaldo was handed a one-match ban for being shown two yellow cards and a further four for pushing the referee in the back after he had been sent off.

The Spanish football federation (RFEF) released a statement that read: “On the first account, Real Madrid player Cristiano Ronaldo will be suspended for one game after receiving two yellow cards, the first for taking off his jersey while celebrating his goal and the second for simulation. The club have also been fined €350 and the player €800.

“On the second account, Cristiano Ronaldo has been banned for another four games for infraction of article 96 of the disciplinary code, with a €1,400 fine for the club and a €3,005 fine for the player.”

The first booking against Ronaldo at the Nou Camp was for taking off his shirt to celebrate his goal after making it 2-1 and the second was for an alleged dive, meaning that he will miss the second Supercopa leg on Wednesday.

However, the player will still have 10 days to appeal against the sentence.

Should he failed to appeal or waive the opportunity to do so, Ronaldo will still be able to play in the Champions League but will not return to domestic action in La Liga until 20 September against Real Betis.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid had already signalled their intent to appeal against Ronaldo’s second yellow card shown for diving eight minutes from time when he went down inside the area under pressure from Samuel Umtiti.

“Ronaldo’s sending-off annoys me because even if it is not a penalty, the card is harsh,” said Madrid boss Zinedine Zidane after the game. “We will see if we can do something so that he is available on Wednesday.”

Champions League: Liverpool wins away qualifier against Hoffenheim

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Liverpool has an away goal advantage going into the second leg of their qualifier against Hoffenheim after a 2-1 win over the Bundesliga team.

However, the Reds suffered a scare early at the 11th minute after Dejan Lovren had upended Serge Gnabry in the box, although Simon Mignolet then prevented European debutants Hoffenheim from taking the lead with a neat save to push away Andrej Kramaric’s poor penalty

18-year-old Trent Alexander-Arnold then scored on his debut with a free-kick to score Liverpool’s first, while James Milner knocked a significant deflection from the chest of Havard Nordtveit just 10 minutes after coming on as a second-half substitute to put Liverpool firmly in control of the tie.

But once again defensive frailties were exposed as Hoffenheim substitute Mark Uth set up a tense second leg at Anfield next Wednesday with by firing in largely unchallenged after being found by a long ball into the box with three minutes to go.

While Liverpool is yet to seal a return to the Champions League group stages for the first time since 2014, manager Jurgen Klopp hailed his team and singled out Trent Alexander-Arnold’s courage and revealed he told the teenager to take the free-kick.

“I have to say for an 18-year-old to have the balls to kick a free-kick like that is more interesting and exciting for me than a little mistake he made,” said Klopp.

“It was an intensive game for him. He has still some things to learn. He thought it was offside but it was obviously not offside, unfortunately. Trent is a great player and I have to say I would rather have 2-1 than 1-0.”

Alexander-Arnold, who joined the club’s academy aged six, said: “It is a thing of dreams to make your European debut for your boyhood club and to make it with a goal was very special for me. I got egged-on to take the free-kick, to be honest. I never put my hand up first but I had the confidence to take it and it paid off.”