Arsene Wenger praises ‘nice’ gesture from Manchester United

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Arsenal coach Arsene Wenger thanked Manchester United for his warm reception, joking before his team’s 2-1 defeat that he was no longer a “danger” to them.

Wenger, 68, completes 22 years of servitude at Arsenal at the end of the season, was managing them for the final time at Old Trafford.

To mark the occasion, Sir Alex Ferguson presented on United’s behalf a vase to the 68-year-old Frenchman before kick-off. Asked about his ovation as he walked along the touchline, Wenger said: “When you’re not a danger any more, people love you.

“I am thankful to Manchester United because they had a nice gesture. It is the first time I get a trophy before a game. It is very classy from them.”

Wenger fielded an inexperienced squad that was Arsenal’s youngest in the fixture since August 2011 and, after losing to an added-time Marouane Fellaini header, believes whoever succeeds him will take over a squad of depth.

“My successor will watch this game and hopefully he will come to a positive conclusion because I think they are the future of Arsenal football club – some, 100%,” Wenger said. “We had a very young team and the performance was positive.”

“The players are destroyed because they gave everything and were caught in the final minute. There were many question marks if we would be strong enough to fight but the quality was good, the spirit was good, many players stood up. We tired a bit in the last 20 minutes and were a bit more under pressure. It was a negative result and a positive performance.”

Paul Pogba opened the scoring on 16 minutes before Henrikh Mkhitaryan equalised against his former club on 51 minutes.

Victory puts United in pole position for a second-place finish with 77 points with three games remaining, although Romelu Lukaku’s foot injury later in the second half is of concern with the FA Cup final on 19 May.

Bayern Munich: Jupp Heynckes confident despite home defeat

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Despite losing 2-1 at the Allianz Arena, Jupp Heynckes insisted that Bayern Munich manager can still reach the Champions League final.

Joshua Kimmich had initially put Bayern in front when he slotted past Keylor Navas at the near post.

However, although Real Madrid were struggling defensively they were clinical in attack — and Marcelo and Marco Asensio scored either side of half-time.

The Brazilian smashed home a half-volley from the edge of the penalty area to level matters before Asensio capitalised on an error by Rafinha to score a breakaway goal.

“Tonight’s match showed that Real Madrid are vulnerable, that they can be harmed,” Heynckes said. “We showed that we can hurt them, so we take hope from this. You should never surrender, never give up. You should play the second leg and try to win, and that is what we will do.”

“It was a gift, just like the 2-1 was a gift. You don’t often see a game like this in the Champions League, where you have so many chances and you don’t take them. It doesn’t happen often at all. It’s also not usual for Madrid to allow so many chances, but we weren’t able to take them. We didn’t take our chances and they were more effective. Those two things came together. We handed out presents.”

“Anyone who knows me knows what I think and my players think the same way,” he added. “We will give our all in the second leg to make up for the result in the first leg.”

“We saw tonight that we can create opportunities against them and it is our duty to do that next week. There are two matches, and the result comes from both. Real have an advantage, but we didn’t deserve to lose this match, we should have won it, so I’m optimistic about next week.”

Bayern must now score at least twice at the Bernabeu next Tuesday to prevent Real reaching a fourth final in five years.

Lionel Messi: Argentinian ace registers himself as trademark

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Lionel Messi has won a seven-year fight to be able to trademark his name in an European court.

His original application had been challenged by the Spanish cycling brand, Massi, which argued that the names were too similar and would cause confusion — but the EU’s General Court ruled that the footballer was too well known for confusion to arise.

The ruling comes days after France Football magazine reported Mr Messi had overtaken Cristiano Ronaldo as the highest earner in football, with an income of €126m (£108m) compared to Ronaldo’s €94m.

Messi’s application to trademark his name was made to the European Union Office for Intellectual Property (EUIPO) in 2011, but the court ruled against the footballer, saying the names were similar, because their dominant elements, “consisting of the terms ‘Massi’ and ‘Messi’, are almost identical visually and phonetically”.

EUIPO said that only some people would be aware the two were different.

But the General Court, the EU’s second highest court, disagreed.

It said on Thursday: “The football player’s fame counteracts the visual and phonetic similarities” with Massi.”

“Mr Messi is, in fact, a well-known public figure who can be seen on television and who is regularly discussed on television or on the radio,” the court added.

Widely considered one of the world’s greatest soccer players, Messi, 30, scored his 600th professional goal last month and is the all-time highest scorer for both FC Barcelona and the Argentina national team.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not play for Sweden in Russian World Cup

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic will not be coming out of retirement to play for Sweden at the 2018 World Cup in Russia.

The LA Galaxy star, 36, said recently he would attend the tournament albeit excluding in what capacity he would be.

However, Swedish FA chief Lars Richt said: “I talked to Zlatan on Tuesday. He announced he did not change his mind about the national team — it is no.”

Ibrahimovic had already retired from international football after Euro 2016.

The Swede, who also played for Ajax, Barcelona, Juventus and Inter Milan, scored 62 goals in 116 games for his country, and appeared at World Cups in 2002 and 2006.

Despite a knee injury plaguing his final season at Manchester United, he showed that he still had form by netting a brilliant strike and a subsequent winner in his LA Galaxy debut last month after joining the Major League Soccer side in March.

Sweden had qualified for Russia 2018 without him, beating Italy in a play-off to secure their qualification.

It will be the team’s first World Cup since 2006 after missing out on the 2010 and 2014 tournaments.