The King of Kings

The King of Kings

This morning I was greeted by an old friend; scrolling through my Twitter feed it came to light that ‘On this Day’ in 1995, Henrik Larsson (my hero) signed for Celtic football club and the rest, they say, is history.

Yet again he captured my imagination, I remembered with utter dread the feeling I felt that day on 16th May 2004 when he departed the Hoops and left to join FC Barcelona; a move he thoroughly deserved and one that he could, and should, have made many years previously.

I can never forget the goals he scored in the UEFA Cup final, his first equaliser truly was one of the great European cup final goals; scored from a near impossible angle with the glance of a head. Nor will I forget the goal he scored against Boavista in the semi-final which sent six daft Celts in my Auntie Eleanor’s front room into a tizzy and left Boavista goalkeeper Ricardo in tears as he sent the Bhoys in green to their first European Final since 1970. His chip over Stefan Klos, his touch, his brilliance and class is etched in my memory.

The greatest ever Celt; he understood what it meant to wear those colours, he knew the importance of stopping THEM getting ten in a row and more, he was the one who stopped it with a sweet, curling finish from 20 yards; the crowd going mad. This was just the beginning for The King of Kings.

“CHEERIO, 10 IN A ROW”, cried 50,000 Celts.

The day he cut his dreads made front page news. On our way to the UEFA Cup Final he silenced Souness who declared the first-leg, “men against boys”. Men against the King more like!

Men nil Bhoys two.

The Kings parting words certainly rang true: “This will learn them a lesson, never talk until the game is finished.”

In season 1990-2000 Larsson was gunning to be Scotland’s top scorer with 8 league goals in 9 games. Things were going oh so well until his leg-break against Lyon in the UEFA Cup 1999. Broke in two places, career over? No chance.

The King Returned, and had what was arguably his best season under new manager Martin O’Neill. He formed a formidable partnership with the brilliant Chris Sutton, and over the season Larsson bagged 35 goals in 38 games. That year he was presented with the European Golden Boot and was crowned the SPFL top scorer. Not to mention that Celtic won their first domestic treble since Jock Stein’s Lions in 1967 that same year.

Over 60,000 men, women and children wept as the greatest ever Celt played his final game in Paradise. The sun shone, his boy Jordan smiled on as Dad smashed two past Dundee United and then the legend himself cried as he walked onto the famous turf and said goodbye to his beloved Celtic support. I was there, and I buried my head in my Dad’s shoulder wishing it all away.

I was at Hampden Park a week later when Henrik scored a brace to help Celtic lift the Scottish Cup with a 3-1 victory over Dunfermline Athletic. It remains one of my favourite memories of Hampden to this day.

Purchased for £650,000, it was the best money the club has ever been spent.

In 7 years he made 313 appearances, scored 242 goals, won 4 Scottish Premier League titles, 2 Scottish Cups and 2 Scottish League Cups.

Beyond Celtic he has lifted silverware in England, Spain, Holland and Sweden.

After losing the Champions League final to Barcelona in 2006, Thierry Henry stated that one man made the difference and that man was substitute Henrik Larsson. The King came on in the 61st minute, Barcelona were trailing by a goal and within 4 minutes of play he assisted both the equalising goal and the eventual match winner. WORLD CLASS.

On the international stage, Henrik played his part in getting Sweden to the semi-final of the World Cup against Brazil in 1994. He featured in their third-place play-off against Bulgaria and scored a goal in a 4-0 victory for Sweden. This was Sweden’s best finish in a World Cup since finishing second place in 1958.

The King came out of international retirmenr for Euro 2004. He lead his country to the quarter-final of the tournament, scoring 3 goals in 4 matches. They were beaten in the quarters by the Netherlands in a penalty shoot out. We should note that the King won the best goal of the tournament for his diving header against Bulgaria.

In 16 years he scored 36 goals in 106 appearances for his country.

Henrik Larsson is the King of Kings, and don’t you bloody well forget it!

 

10/03/2017 European Football Special Issue

Protests pre-game plagued Arsenal’s Champions League fightback. Gunners supporters came out in force to protest manager, Arsene Wenger. However, it was events during the game that truly plagued Arenal’s Champions league fightback…. they got humped 5-1 AGAIN! Arsenal looked to overturn a 5-1 deficit from the first-leg in Munich, and by all accounts it started well. Walcott scored 20 minutes into the game, and looked to threaten Bayern’s first-leg dominance. But Bayern weren’t having any of it. A penalty in the 55th minute was converted by Lewandowski, and Laurent Kolscielny was sent off following the decision. Arsenal were down to 10-men and Bayern made them pay. Defensive errors allowed Bayern to stage another commanding performance over the North London side; goals from Robben, Costa and a Vidal brace meant another 5-1 thrashing resulting in a 10-2 aggregate score line. It was a sore one for the Gunners faithful to take. Not only was the result embarrassing, but this is now Arsenal’s seventh successive season of being knocked out at the last-16 stage. The 10-2 aggregate defeat is the worst suffered by any English side in Champions League history, and only one tie has witnessed a greater margin of victory (Bayern 12 – 1 Sporting Lisbon in 2009). Both clubs have been charged following the behavior of their supporters. The Bayern fans threw rolls of toilet paper onto the field prior to kick-off delaying the match. This was Bayern’s protest over ticket prices – and good on them I say! Arsenal face charges after their supporters charged the field during their embarrassing 5-1 defeat. So, Arsenal must go away and lick their wounds while Bayern march on to the quarter finals.

Napoli looked to overturn a 3-1 defeat from the first leg, alas they ended the 90 minutes with yet another 3-1 defeat. The Italians started well, and completely dominated the first half. 24 minutes into the game Napoli took the lead through Mertens cool finish. Napoli went into the break with the lead after their Portuguese talisman, Cristiano Ronaldo cracked the post in what seemed like one of the most impossible misses for a player of his caliber (or any player in fact). Mertens had the opportunity to double Napoli’s lead before the break but he did a Ronaldo and hit the post as well. That squandered opportunity may have changed the game. The captain stepped up for Madrid in the second. Sergio Ramos beat everyone in the air to score with the head; an own goal from Mertens (the crucial touch coming from the head of Ramos) and a third from Morata in extra time meant Real progressed to the quarter finals.

Aubameyang scored a hat-trick as Dortmund thrashed Benfica to progress to the quarter finals with ease. Dortmund trailed 1-0 on aggregate from the first leg but the early goal from Aubameyang brought the teams level merely 4 minutes into the game. Luisao and Cervi both came close to scoring a vital away goal for Benfica before the break but Dortmund took control after American Christian Pulisic scored on 59 minute. The 18-year old beautifully chipped the on-coming goalkeeper to increase Dortmund’s lead. Aubameyang scored his second when he tucked away Schmelzer’s low cross before Marc Bartra hit the post from a corner. Aubameyang completed his hat-trick five minutes from time as he netted in Durm’s lovely pass across the face. A job well done for Dortmund, and they happily progress to the quarter finals.

Barcelona made Champions League history by becoming the first team to overturn a first-leg 4-0 deficit as they knocked out Partis St-Germain to progress to the quarter-finals for the 10th successive season. The Catalonian giants were 5-3 down on aggregate in the 88th minute, meaning they needed three goals to progress. They scored all three goals in the final seven minutes in one of the greatest European comebacks of all time. Neymar’s free-kick goal and panelty followed by Sergi Roberto’s 95th-minute winner sealed victory on an incredible evening at the Nou Camp. Barcelona led 2-0 going into the break courtesy of Luis Suarez header after just three minutes and Kurzawa’s own goal 5-minutes before the half time pie was eaten. The Bluagrana added another shortly after the break when Neymar fell over the fallen Meunier who was cruelly adjudged as having fouled the Brazilian. Messi converted the penalty and electricity filled the famous old stadium. A silence soon came over the Catalan crowd when Edinson Cavani lashed a terrific half-volley into the net on 61 minutes and the tie looked all but over for Barca, obviously, the football Gods had a few other tricks up their sleeves. Neymar curled a marvelous free-kick into the top corner before Suarez won a controversial penalty of which Neymar converted to collect a brace. Barca needed only one goal to progress and the tricky Brazilian was involved again. The number 11 delivered a lovely cross into the danger area which landed perfectly at the feet of substitute Sergi Roberto, who poked home his first goal of the season and the Nou Camp erupted! As did the rest of the football world. People scrambled to their Twitter/Facebook/Instagram feeds attempting to sum up the raw emotion and privilege of witnessing the greatest come-back in the world’s greatest sport.

Anderlecht picked up a crucial away goal in Cyprus beating APOEL 0-1 at the GSP Stadium. APOEL will head to Belgium next week needing to clinch their second away win in the Europa League this season. Nicolae Stanciu scored in the 29th minute with a low shot inside the area. It proved to be the decider in a game of few chances. APOEL had not lost in 19 home games across all competitions but they fell short against Anderlecht on Thursday evening. Andreas Cornelius netted a second-half winner to help Copenhagen to a deserved 2-1 victory over Ajax. The Danish champions had previously gone a goal up through Rasmus Falk after just 27 seconds, only for Kasper Dolberg to score a controversial equaliser from what seemed like an offside position. The towering striker, Cornelius, made the difference with a superb header just before the hour mark. Advantage Copenhagen. Manchester United were held to a 1-1 draw by FC Rostov in Russia. Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s close-range finish provided the vital away goal which may prove crucial in the return leg at the Theatre of Dreams. Zlatan Ibrahimovic almost doubled United’s lead, the Swedish striker shot over the crossbar in the second half, before Rostov’s Bukharov scored the equaliser. I think Mourinho will be confident that his team can go back to Old Trafford next week and complete the job. Although, it’s fair to say Rostov are still in contention for this one. Beauvue had barely had a touch since coming on in the 78th minute when he fired Celta Vigo into a 2-1 first leg lead against FC Krasnodar. A Wass free-kick had given Celta the lead early in the second half. The Danish international hammered a 30-yard shot into the net, although Krasnodar were level soon after when Claesson scored the valuable away goal in the 56th minute. Schalke were held to a 1-1 draw by Borussia Mochengladbach. Burgstaller secured the draw for the hosts as he cancelled out Hoffman’s early strike. Choupo-Moting had a chance to put Schalke ahead but his shot hit the post as the home side looked to grab a late winner. Gent lost 2-5 at home against KRC Genk. Nigerian, Anderson Esiti was sent off in the 84th minute leaving meaning he will miss the return leg. It was 4-1 to the visitors going into the break, but Gent clawed back a goal in the 61st minute through Kalifa Coulibaly making it 4-2. A penalty rewarded to Gent on the 68th minute was their saving grace, alas they were unable to capitalise as Perbet’s effort was saved by Genk keeper, Mat Ryan. Mbwana Samatta’s brace all but sealed the tie for Genk who should be confident taking their lead into the second-leg home tie. Lyon came from behind to beat Roma in their last 16 first-leg tie. Diakhaby put Lyon ahead before Roma equalised then took the lead through Salah and Federico Fazio. The French side then scored three second half goals through Tolisso, Fekir and Lacazette strengthened their lead in extra time. Olympiakos looked pretty comfortable with their 1-0 home lead until a costly mistake from keeper Nicola Leali, when he kicked the ball straight to the feet of Vincent Abubakar which cost his side dearly as the Besiktas striker scored to cancel out Cambioasso’s first half goal. The tie finish 1-1,which makes for an interesting return leg in Turkey.

 

RESULTS

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Round of 16  (First-leg)

 

Arsenal FC                           1              v              5              Bayern Munich                              (Agg 2-10)

Walcott (20)                                                                       Lewandowski (55 pen)

Koscielny (53)                                                                    Robben (68)

Costa (78)

Vidal (80, 85)

 

Napoli                                   1              v              3              Real Madrid                                     (Agg 2-6)

Mertens (24)                                                                      Ramos (51)

Mertens (57 og)

Morata (90+1)

 

Borussia Dortmund         4              v              0              Benfica                                                (Agg 4-1)

Aubameyang (4, 61, 85)

Pulisic (59)

 

FC Barcelona                      6              v              1              Paris St-Germaine                          (Agg 6-5)

Suarez (2)                                                                            Cavani (62)

Kurzawa (40 og)

Messi (50 pen)

Neymar (88, 90+1 pen)

Sergi (90+5)

 

 

EUROPA LEAGUE – Round of 32 (First-leg)

Apoel                                    0              v              1              Anderlecht

 

FC Copenhagen                2              v              1              Ajax

 

FC Rotov                              1              v              1              Manchester United

 

Celta Vigo                            2              v              1              FK Krasnodar

 

Schalke                                 1              v              1              Borussia Monchengladbach

 

KAA Gent                            2              v              5              KRC Genk

 

Lyon                                      4              v              2              Roma

 

Olympiakos                        1              v              1              Besiktas

 

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS – Champions League

Arsenal v Bayern Munich: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZSMItFyg7a4

Napoli v Real Madrid: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=apSDbDU_QlM

Borussia Dortmund v Benfica: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NefsN7F3Xvs

FC Barcelona v PSG: https://youtu.be/WEroekNww8k

 

ONES TO WATCH

Arsenal Fan TV – Arsene OUT: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4CgbTHJ5ksc

Mr D T Match day Vlog: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3aKdf_sn9ow

Barcelona Victory Reactions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v1lb9Z5FP38

More reactions: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DAWbeD1l26w

10/03/2017 Issue 9

Torino wonderkid, Andrea Belotti scored a 7-minute hat-trick against Palermo last Sunday. Torino were trailing for most of the game, until Belotti scored the equalizer on the 73rd minute. He scored again three minutes later then grabbed his hat-trick on the 81st minute.  Norbert Belogh was dealt a red card in the 78th minute as Palermo lost their lead. The win lifted Torino to 9th place in the Seria A league table, as Palermo remain in 18th place, 3-points from the drop.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings have been charged with violent conduct by the FA this week. The Manchester United striker and Bournemouth defender clashed during the 1-1 draw between their sides last Saturday. Mings landed on Zlatan’s head and moments later the Swede caught Mings in the face with his elbow. It was something of a royal rumble, shame the score-line lacked a bit of bite! Mings will serve a five-game ban while Ibrahimovic has accepted a three-match ban for violent conduct and will miss the FA Cup QF against Chelsea on Monday.

Tayfun Korkut has been named as the new Bayern Leverkusen boss after the sacking of Roger Schmidt. Schimdt was given the boot after a 6-2 loss at the hands of Borussia Dortmund, this is Leverkusen’s fourth defeat in six matches. The German side are still in contention of a Champions League spot, they trail Atletico Madrid 4-2 in their Champions League tie.

Kylian Mbappe has scored his 15th goal of the season. Monaco cruised to a 4-0 win over Nantes last Sunday to go three points clear at the top of Ligue 1. The U19 French International scored a brace and looked rather disappointed to be taken off 20 minutes from time.

The Bundesliga was on FIRE last weekend, offering three games with six or more goals!! Dortmund made light work of Bayern Leverkusen with a 6-2 thumping, Hoffenheim beat Ingolstadt 5-2 and Borussia Mochengladbach won 4-2 over Schalke. It was all square last Friday evening, as Augsburg played out a 2-2 draw with title challengers RB Leipzig. Unsurprisingly, Bayern Munich put three past FC Koln as they march towards a fifth consecutive Bundesliga title.

BT Sport has all but ended inclusion. Their new Champions League deal worth 1.2bn will change kick off times, guarantee places for the top four in Europe’s top four leagues and it has cruelly ended the weekly highlights available on free-to-air television on ITV. This is something I myself relied on because I refuse to pay for BT or Sky. Frankly, I would rather go to the pub to converse and have a drink, all the while watching the fitba’. Even if your one of the lucky few whose team makes it to the competition, good luck trying to get to a 6pm kick off when you finish work at 5pm. This plan is made to benefit the elite, not the working-class fan. Frankly, I’m disgusted. We’ve been priced out of stadiums, now soon we shall be priced out of football all together.

Now if you thought Ranieri’s sacking was harsh, look away now! Olympiakos have parted ways with Portugal’s Paulo Bento despite being top of the Greek Super League. Under-20s coach, Vasilis Vouzas will take charge after their third straight league defeat (the last time this happened was 1996). What has football become?

There was a referee scandal in the English Premier League this week, and in the Scottish Premiership (although the later wasn’t reported, nor will it ever be reported). A stag do in Marbella seemed to be the root cause of the English referee scandal. Sun reporter Phil Cadden tweeted early Saturday morning alerting football fans to Anthony Taylors stag in the Greek island. Taylor was the referee for Swansea v Burnley and was criticized far and wide for a somewhat bizarre penalty decision. Richard Keys and Gary Lineker took to Twitter to vent their disappointment and it didn’t end there, even Burnley manager Sean Dyche had something to say about it (tweets below!). Taylor’s pal, Kevin Friend was also under scrutiny following the wrestling match between Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Tyrone Mings. The incident unraveled as follows: man stamps on man’s head; man elbows man in face; man dives after little/no shove. Who’s to blame? The referee.

Rangers made light work of Hamilton Academicals in their sixth-round Scottish Cup tie with a little help from the ref. There were some rather dreadful and inexcusable decisions made over the 90 minutes. The first was made early in the first half, when Rangers keeper Wes Foderingham handled the ball outside of the penalty area. Even former manager Walter Smith, who was part of the match day commentary team, was of the opinion that the keeper should have been sent off. It was nothing each at this point in the match, and with rangers down to ten men it may have been a different outcome. The second incident came from a controversial penalty decision. Accies disputed the penalty when Rangers John Toral tripped over his own feet but they had no such luck over ruling the decision. Waghorn converted the penalty and Rangers took the lead. The tip of the iceberg though was an incident in the second half. After scoring Rangers second goal Joe Garner should have seen red after he ASSAULTED Dougie Imrie. Referee, John Beaton opted for a yellow card. Garner went on to score a hat-trick and Hamilton lost the game 6-0. A shocking refereeing display, had the game been called correctly it may have been Hamilton playing in a semi-final at Hampden.

Celtic have been handed a semi-final tie against Rangers, while Hibernian have been drawn against Aberdeen. Celtic cruised past St Mirren with a 4-1 win a Parkhead, after a shakey start. The Championship side went ahead in the first half forcing Celtic to turn on the style in the second half, and that they did! Goals from Mikel Lustig, Scott Sinclair, Moussa Dembele and Leigh Griffiths well and truly cancelled out Harry Davis’s opener. A 1-0 win was enough to see Aberdeen through, they knocked out Premiership competition in Partick Thistle. Holders, Hibernian fought off 10-man Ayr United to win 3-1 at Easter Road. The Edinburgh side have set their sights on League promotion back to the top flight, but are also keen to retain the Scottish Cup. Not ready to let it go just yet they put in a wholehearted performance against a tough Ayr side. The win meant Hibs are competing in the SF for the third consecutive year (their fifth SF in six seasons – nae bad!).

A Russian MP has a solution to all our concerns over violence at the 2018 World Cup – turn it into a national sport! Liberal Democrat Igor Lebedev has shared some rules and regulations to construct his idea. So, “Fans arrive, and start picking fights….on each side of 20 people, without arms.” This numpty is a member of the Russian Football Union’s executive committee and defende the clash between Russian and England supporters at last summers Euro’s, insisting the mass brawl was “normal” and that he doesn’t (and I quote) “see anything wrong with the fans fighting.” 2018 is set to be a Royal Rumble paper view event – Zlatan had better come out of retirement, it appears this is his kind of sport!

MLS soccer was back with a bang! (Or a shot ton of paint, would be more accurate) It was tifo’s galore in Portland as they hosted Minnesota United. They’re colourful, exhuberant display inspired a 5-1 home victory and the Timbers Army have found a whole new fan base of their own. Atlanta United made a huge statement in their MLS debut with a 55,297-sell-out attendance but just fell short of a victory following a 2-1 defeat at the hands of New York Red Bulls. The first goal in Atlanta United’s history was scored by Argentinian Yamil Asad. Orlando City began their league campaign with a clean-sheet and a win in their new stadium. 25,527 fans came out to cheer the lions as they enjoyed a 1-0 win over expansion rivals New York City FC. Cyle Larin will be remembered as the man who scored the first goal in Orlando’s new home. What a way to break in the new accommodation, best house warming EVER!!

Tweet of the week goes to Bolton Wanders who responded positively I the face of homophobic bile drudged up by Manchester united supporters. On Tuesday afternoon Manchester United announced the news that they would be partnering with LGBT equality charity, Stonewall UK. Some reds fans weren’t too impressed and took to twitter to vent their idiocrasy. One such “fan” under the Twitter handle @Fortunefilmzng tweeted “@ManUtd @stonewalluk I’d rather support Bolton Wanderers than a club that endorses the immortality without considering the fans”. Bolton Wanderers rightly responded with “We’d rather you didn’t. TeamStonewall”, and mic drop! Fair play to both Manchester United, for being the first British team to partner with an LGBT charity, and Bolton Wanderers for standing up to bigotry.

Xabi Alonso has confirmed he will retire when his contract expires this summer. The Spaniard took to Twitter to announce the news, alongside a picture of him waving goodbye he wrote: Lived it. Loved it. Farewell beautiful game.” Throughout his career, Alonso won a World Cup title, two European Championships, two Champions League trophies, two Bundesliga titles, one La Liga title, one FA Cup, two Copa del Rey and one German Cup. A class act, thank you Xavi.

 

ONES TO WATCH

ANDREW BELOTTI

7-minute hat-trick: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-bf4EV-5KPc

 

REFEREE

Phil Cadden tweet: https://twitter.com/pjcadden/status/837950037762142208

Gary Lineker tweet: https://twitter.com/GaryLineker/status/838060266726260736

Richard Keys tweet: https://twitter.com/richardajkeys/status/838020566552563712

BBC piece on ref scandal: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39173379

 

SCOTTISH CUP

Celtic 4 – 1 St Mirren: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39093857

Aberdeen 1 – 0 Partick Thistle: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39175372

Hibernian 3 – 1 Ayr United: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39170168

Rangers 6 – 0 Hamilton: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39086738

 

MLS

Portland tifo: https://twitter.com/MLS/status/837861411980095488

Atlanta United FC: https://twitter.com/ATLUTD/status/838602687067324417

Orlando City, ‘a gift from the gods’ tifo: https://twitter.com/OrlandoCitySC/status/838834963654979584

 

TWEET OF THE WEEK

Team Stonewall: https://twitter.com/OfficialBWFC/status/839170870480351242

Man Utd partnership: https://twitter.com/ManUtd/status/839143685728129026

 

XAVI ALONSO

Top 10 goals: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jI7ECDeG0Yk

Maestro: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2_Q8PkPEznw

03/03/2017 Issue 8

To begin, we would like to express our sadness in light of the passing of Celtic legend Tommy Gemmell. The news of his passing came on Thursday morning, after a long illness. Considering the 50-year anniversary celebrations set to take place this summer, in celebration of Celtic triumphant European Cup victory in 1967 it makes Gemmell’s passing that bit more sorrowful. Gemmell was integral to Celtic’s progression to the final in 67’, and his equalizer in the final will always be considered as one of, if not the most important goal in Celtic’s history. Celtic played four qualifying rounds before reaching the final in Lisbon. In their first game against Zurich the Scots won 2-0 at home, with Joe McBride and Tommy Gemmell scoring the goals. In the second leg in Switzerland Celtic won 3-0, Gemmell was on the score sheet once again, this time with a brace. The most important goal that Gemmell scored in his entire career was his equalizing goal in the 63rd minute, which cancelled out Sandro Mazolla’s first-half penalty. Stevie Chalmers scored the winner, as Celtic became the first British team to win the European Cup – not bad for a 15-man squad who were born within 10 miles of Celtic Park (bar one, Bobby Lennox born in Saltcoats). The left-back had a knack for scoring in European finals; Gemmell also scored in the 1970 European Cup final when Celtic lost 2-1 to Feyenoord. Gemmell was inducted into the Scottish Football Hall of Fame in 2006. He was awarded 18 caps for his country, scored one goal from the penalty spot in a 8-0 win over Cyprus in 1970 and played in the famous 3-2 victory over England at Wembley in 1967. To the man who made my dreams come true long before I was born. God bless you Tommy Gemmell, may you rest in peace.  

Tommy’s captain, and friend Billy McNeil revealed his on-going battle with dementia this week. His story has been a catalyst for debate and has asked questions of football’s leading authorities who must look to investigate, prevent, and treat the disease. Many of football’s leading commentators have taken a dig at football associations around Britain for “neglecting” the problem and have accused leading football associations of avoiding the discussion surrounding the link between football, specifically heading the football, and the degenerative disease. McNeil’s personal account is part of a campaign to gain funding to be used for research into the cause and effect in regards to football and dementia. Football is falling behind the times in this regard, as research into head injuries in other sports such as Rugby and American Football have already been done.

German International Mario Gotze has been withdrawn from training with Borussia Dortmund after it was discovered that the World Cup winner has a metabolic disorder. Gotze has struggled with muscular injuries on and off over the past 6 months, and when club doctors did some digging they discovered that the underlying cause lies with the player’s metabolism. Gotze has made one appearance in 2017 and has only made 16 in total since returning to the club from Bayern Munich.

Manchester United were crowned EFL Cup winners on Sunday evening. The red devils ran out as 3-2 winners against a spirited Southampton at Wembley. The game was scuppered by some rather poor officiating on the linesman’s part. Southampton, the better side for most of the game, had a goal disallowed early in the first half and fell behind, undeservedly, by two goals scored by on form Ibrahimovic and Jesse Lingard. The Saints grabbed a goal just before the half through Manolo Gabbiadini as they looked to overturn their misfortunes. Gabbiadini was on target again, when he scored just 7’ minutes into the second half. Manchester United were woeful, Mourinho looked subdued and haunted throughout the 90 minutes as he watched his team sluggishly cross the finishing line. It maybe not fair to say United crossed the finish line, perhaps it would be more accurate to say that Zlatan hauled his team over the finish line, yet again. The self-proclaimed ‘God of Manchester’ worked his magic with his Midas touch which turns the most mediocre of performance into pure gold (well a silver trophy). His 26th goal of the season made the difference and robbed Southampton of picking up some silverware.

Despite Mourinho’s glum face, someone in the board room must have been in a good old mood as Manchester United announced they will pay for their travelling fans visa’s when the club fly to Russia to play against FC Rostov in the Europa League. The club will splash out £118.20 a head to cover the cost of the processing fee tied to the visa. This will help around 500 travelling supporters who will be making the 2000-mile trip across Europe. A very nice touch if you ask me!

Mark McGhee has been sacked from Motherwell FC after a poor run of results that has placed Well second from bottom fighting a relegation battle. Motherwell have won just two out of their last 13 league games. The final straw for the board and fan group ‘Well Society’, who had a say in the decision, was Motherwell’s 5-1 defeat at home to Dundee last Saturday.

Two goal keepers were at fault for two of the cheekiest goals scored in the SPFL this week. Moussa Dembelle scored his 30th goal of the season off the back of a Owan Fon Williams mistake on Wednesday night. The Hoops ran out as 4-0 winners against Inverness CT and Dembelle caused quite a stir. The Frenchman took advantage of the keeper’s shocking clearance merely 12 seconds into the second half. Dembelle collected the ball, flicked it over Williams head and tapped the ball into an empty net in front of his travelling support. Rory MacKenzie provided the other cheeky finish in this week’s round-up. His came off the back of a poor clearance from St Johnstone goal keeper, Zander Clark. A poor pass back from Steven Anderson put Clark under-pressure and when his clearance fell to Rory MacKenzie there was only one place that was going – the back of the net! 35-yeards out, 12 minutes into the game and Killie were in the lead. Conor Sammon scored the second and Killie won the game 2-0, they now sit in 8th place.

Mezut Ozil released his autobiography this week. Die Magie de Spiels, or the Magic of the Game, revealed tales of his former manager, Jose Mourinho. In his booked he has claimed that the Special One called him a “coward”. Th encounter between the two is written rather poetically, perhaps ever so slightly over emphasized and has most definitely been drawn up by a ghost writer.

Fernando Torres was stretchered of the pitch on Thursday evening against Deportivo la Coruna after a heavy fall chellenging in the air with Alex Bergantinos. The Atletico Madrid player was taken to hospital and has now been discharged after having tests on the head injury. The club have released an official statement saying that the scans have showed “no traumatic alterations or injuries”. El Nino shared his gratitude via his official Twitter account, and stated that the fall was just a scare. Great t see the medical teams in Spain act so swiftly.

The aid of others saved another life this week. Slovacko striker, Francis Kone saved the unconscious Berkovek who had collided with his team mate. Kone acted quickly reached into the goal keepers mouth to retrieve his tongue.  Both players were taken to hospital, including Berkovek team mate Daniel Krch. The announcer at the game shared the news that both players were well which prompted a round of applause from the stands.

The Bleacher Report has provided us with an idiots’ guide to choosing a Chinese Super League team, based on your English Premier League counterpart. Today marks the beginning of the 14th CSL season, and with all that money spent in January it may be worth a watch. Now I have a soft spot for Liverpool Football Club – you know me, love my history – so according to the Bleacher Report I shall be supporting, Liaoning Whowin, nicknamed the North-East Tigers. Mon the Tigers! Good to know that my team picked up a point today against Guizhou Hengfeng Zhicheng, who don’t appear to have an English Premier League equivalent – oh well! I’ll take a 1-1 draw away, especially when your down to 10-men. it’s going to be a good old season!

 

LISBON LIONS

Tommy Gemmell 1967 goal: https://twitter.com/PMFA_UTLR/status/837220745231142914

Tommy Gemmell 1970 goal: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VFz0hXtzQj4

Tommy Gemmell kicks Helmut Haller: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Lnja51VticQ

Billy McNeil tribute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WuVhndjP5bE

Chris Sutton on Dementia: https://twitter.com/btsportfootball/status/836841139609174016

 

EFL CUP

Manchester Utd 3 – 2 Southampton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=omjkm17xXQ4

Gabbiadini offside decision, Le Tissier thoughts: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hnUDpSpza4         

 

SPFL GOAL CRAZY

Inverness 0 – 4 Celtic: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sport/football/39048195

Saint Johnstone 0 – 2 Kilmarnock: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B9RQoOLPqzs

 

FERNANDO TORRRES

Official Twitter statement: https://twitter.com/Torres/status/837448156929482752

 

LIFE SAVER

Francis Kone: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9tBg4fmoUU0

 

CHINSE SUPER LEAGUE

Liverpool 1 – 0 Southampton: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HfzV7gT9fAc

24/02/2017 European Football Special Issue

If you thought Tuesday night offered some fantastic Champions League moments, Wednesday was just as tenacious and Thursday – well that was a wee beauty as well. There was a bit of everything this week; crazy goals, red cards, and record breakers. What more could we hope for!??

It was a cracking tie between Bayern Leverkusen and Atletico Madrid at the Bay Arena. Madrid took charge of the game with two away goals in the first half. Niguez opened the scoring with a stunning strike in the 17-minute; his curling effort sailed past keeper Bernd Leno and Antoine Griezmann doubled Atletico’s lead after finding himself unmarked in the Leverkusen box. Think it’s fair to say that was rather silly of the German defence – tut tut lads! Griezmann’s goal makes him Atletico’s all-time top scorer in European competition, surpassing Luis Aragones who held the previous record with 12 goals. There looked to be some hope for Leverkusen when Bellarabi scored an early goal after the restart however this promising start was ended when Gemiero scored from the spot in the 58th-minute and despite Savic scoring Leverkusen’s second goal of the evening, the tie was put out of reach when Torres scored Atletico’s fourth away goal in the 86th-minute with his cheeky, dinking header. Despite having 62% of the possession it is Atletico who look set for yet another Champions League quarter-final.

Manchester City v Monaco broke a very special goal scoring record; this game recorded the highest scoring first-leg in Champions League history – nae bad! And Radamel Falcao broke his own personal record, scoring more goals in Manchester on Tuesday night than he did in his entire career at Manchester United. LOL. It was the first-time Monaco had ever conceded 5 goals in European competition but not the first-time City had scored five, having beaten Russian opposition CSKA Moscow 5-2 in November 2013. It was an impressive start for City, when Raheem Sterling drew first blood in the 26th minute however the ever-present Falcao cancelled out Sterling’s early spark with a superb header. The Blues were denied a penalty before the break when Aguero was taken out by Monaco keeper, Subasic. French teenager Mbappe put the Ligue 1 side ahead before the half with a powerful driven effort. Monaco could have increased their lead after the break when a penalty was awarded against Otamendi but Falcao’s effort was saved by City shot stopper Caballero. City came out all guns blazing in the second half. Aguero scored an early goal to pull City level; he was gifted a goal from Subasic who made a shocking error. The equaliser did not go unanswered, and Radamel Falcao chipped a delightful ball over the head of, a defenseless, Caballero. Definitely one of the goals of the tournament, so far. The ongoing battle between Falcao and Aguero continued as the Argentine showed his own class with his second equaliser of the night with a superb volley in the Monaco box. Stones leaped higher than everyone to score from a De Bruyne cross to make it 4 – 3 City in the 77th minute. And Sane scored the fifth, to give City some breathing space going into the second-leg. He was set-up very unselfishly by Aguero, who was in for his hat-trick, to place the ball into an empty net. So it’s game on in Monaco in a few weeks’ time! Vive la Fitbaw!!

Leicester City salvaged some hope of progression. Jamie Vardy scored a crucial away goal to secure a narrow defeat at the hands of strong European opponents, Sevilla. It was a special moment for Jamie Vardy who marked his journey to become a Premier League Champions with another career highlight; namely, there have only been four years and 315 days between Vardy’s last non-league goal and his first Champions League one. However, despite Vardy’s fairytale finish it was Sevilla who brought some bite. Los Blanquirrojos had 73% possession, 22 shots on goal and banged one of the post, as well as scoring two goals of their own. Kasper Schmeichel was man of the match for Leicester, not only did he save a penalty given against Wes Morgan on the 13th minute but he showed excellent reflexes against the likes of Sergio Escudero and Correa who looked dangerous throughout the match. Despite the Danes valiant of efforts, he was unable to keep Pablo Sarabia and Joaquin Correa at bay as the Spaniards sinked their teeth into the foxes defence. Vardy’s goal only keeps Leicester’s Champions League dreams alive, which sets us up for a rather compelling second-leg tie at the King Power Stadium on 14th March.

Two legends met on Wednesday evening at the Estadio do Dragao in Portugal. Iker Casillas and Gianluigi Buffon swapped jerseys at the end of a rather feisty affair between FC Porto and Juventus. The tie looked all but gone for Porto when left-back Alex Telles seen red on the 27th-minute, after he committed two shocking tackles in the space of 3-minutes on Juan Cuadrado and Lichtsteiner. Calm doon pal! (Both shockers, have a look in the link below) German referee, Felix Brych had no choice but to send him off for reckless play. Following the defender’s sending off, it was Iker Cassilas who was put through his paces as he saved shot after shot as Juventus turned up the heat. The Spanish shot stopper made his 174th appearance in the competition on Wednesday night, equaling the record held by Paolo Maldini. Despite Juventus dominance, it took them until the 72nd-minute to break the deadlock through Pjaca, who scored his first goal in a Juve shirt. Super sub Alves may have sealed the tie for the Old Lady when he made it 2-0 on 74-minutes. It was unfortunate for Porto who looked like they may have held onto the draw despite Telles stupidity, alas it wasn’t to be and now they have a difficult away tie to look forward to in Turin.

Rostov, Lyon, Besiktas, Manchester United, Schalke and Roma all breezed past their opposition to book their place in the next-round of the Europa League. Rostov blew Sparta Prague away in the first-leg with a 4-nil win, and they finished the tie with an away goal in Prague where they progressed with a 1 – 5 aggregate. Lyon progressed with an impressive 11 – 2 aggregate score line. They bet Dutch opposition, Alkmaar 7 – 1 at their Parc Olympique Lyonaise stadium. Roma lost 0 – 1 at home to Villareal, however the Italians already leada the tie with four unanswered away goals from the first-leg. Mkhitaryan pilled more misery on St Etienne, he scored the only goal of the game which knocked the French side out of Europe after a four nothing trouncing!

Tottenham Hotspurs are out of the Europa League despite the fact they rid themselves of last week’s toothless performance. Spurs were lively and energetic and were rewarded with an early Erikson goal on 10 minutes, but they were sold by one of their own. The young Dele Alli stuck a career ending tackle on Genk midfielder Brecht Dejaegere; the England international was rightly sent for an early bath but left his team mates with a further uphill struggle. Before all this, Harry Kane put the ball in his own net putting Genk ahead on aggregate. Not good! However, Big Vic Wanyama gave Spurs some hope with his curler in the 61st minute but it wasn’t to be and Jeremy Perbet, who scored the winner in the first-leg, killed the dream with 10 minutes on the clock.

Bilbao won the battle but Apoel Nicosia won the war. They progressed as victors with a 2 – 0 win at the GSP stadium. The overturned a 3 – 2 Bilbao home win last Thursday to win their game on home soil. A terrific achievement for the Cypriot Champions – good luck to them in the next round. Game of the night goes to either: Fiorentina and Borussia Monchengladbach or Zenit St Petersberg v Anderlecht; both went down to the wire. After a 2-0 defeat in the first-leg, Zenit were forced to fight for their place in the competition and a first half goal from de Paula on 24 minutes gave them the hope they needed. Dzyuba scored in 72’ and de Paula scored his second in the 78th minute but in the dying seconds their hard work was cancelled out by Swedish striker, Issaac Kiese Thelin who scored a header in the final minute and Anderlecht progressed on away goals – cruel. After missing so many opportunities in front of goal last Thursday, Borussia Monchengladbach came out to create a storm! But not until the second half. Fiorentina took the lead early on, with a goal from Kalinic in the 15th minute. The Italians doubled their lead in the 28th with a goal from Spanish midfielder Valero Iglesias. However, Gladbach were not prepared to lie down and claimed a goal back with a spot kick goal from Stindl a minute before the half. Stindl scored his second of the night in the 55th minute and the tie was level. In the 60th minute a hero emerged in the form of Danish interntional, on loan from Chelsea, Andreas Christensen who scored the winning goal to take the Germans through to the last 16.

A vital away goal was scored by Krasnador in their away tie against Turkish opposition Fenerbache; they progressed with a 1 – 2 aggregate score line. Genk’s 1 – 0 home win gave them a narrow win to take them through to the last 16. Celta Vigo pulled off an impressive 0 – 2 away win to take them through to the next round; they overturned a 0 – 1 home defeat to Shaktar Donetsk last Thursday. Ajax scored the only goal over the two legs in their tie against Legia Warsaw to progress to the last 16.

 

RESULTS

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Round of 16  (First-leg)

 

Bayern Leverkusen         2              v              4              Atletico Madrid

Bellarabi (48)                                                                     Niguez (17)

Savic (67 og)                                                                      Griezmann (25)

                                                                                                Gameiro (58 pen)

                                                                                                Torres (86)

 

Man City                              5              v              3              Monaco

Sterling (26)                                                                        Falcao (32, 61)

Aguero (58, 71)                                                                 Mbappe (40)

Stones (77)

Sane (82)

 

FC Porto                               0              v              2              Juventus

Telles (red card 27)                                                          Pjaca (72)

Alves (74)

 

Sevilla                                   2              v              1              Leicester

Sarbia (25)                                                                           Vardy (73)

Correa (62)

 

 

EUROPA LEAGUE – Round of 32 (First-leg)

FK Krasnodar                     1              v              0              Fenerbache

2L: Fenerbache 1 v 1 Krasnador                 Agg (1 – 2)

 

Astra Giurgiu                      2              v              2              KRC Genk

2L: KRC Genk 1 v 0 Astra                Agg (3 – 2)

 

AZ Alkmaar                         1              v              4              Lyon

2L: Lyon 7 v 1 Alkmaar                   Agg (11 – 2)

 

Borussia M’gladback       0              v              1              Fiorentina

2L: Fiorentina 2 v 4 M’gladback                  Agg (3 – 4)

 

Celta Vigo                            0              v              1              Shaktar Donetsk

2L: Donetsk 0 v 2 Celta Vigo                         Agg (1 – 2)

 

FC Rostov                            4              v              0              Sparta Prague

2L: Sparta Prague 1 v 1 Rostov                    Agg (1 – 5)

 

KAA Gent                            1              v              0              Tottenham Hotspur

2L: Tottenham 2 – 2 KAA Gent                   Agg (2 – 3)

 

Ludogrets                            1              v              2              FC Copenhagen

2L: Copenhagen 0 v 0 Ludogrets                Agg (2 – 1)

 

Olympiakos                        0              v              0              Osmanlispor

2L: Osmanlispor                0 v 3 Olympiakos                                 Agg (0 – 3)

 

Athletic Bilbao                   3              v              2              Apoel Nicosia

2L: Apoel Nicosia 2 v 0 Athletic Bilbao      Agg (4 – 3)

 

Hapeol Be’er Sheva         1              v              3              Besiktas

2L: Besiktas 2 v  1 Hapeol Be’er Sheva     Agg (5 – 2)

 

Legia Warsaw                    0              v              0              Ajax

2L: Ajax 1 v 0 Legia Warsaw         Agg (1 – 0)

 

Manchester United         3              v              0              Saint-Etienne

St Etienne 1 v 1 Man Utd              Agg (0 – 4)

 

PAOK Salonika                   0              v              3              FC Schalke 04

2L: Schalke 1 v 1 PAOK                   Agg (4 – 1)

 

Anderlecht                         2              v              0              Zenit St Petersburg

2L: Zenit 3 v 1 Anderlecht             Agg (3 – 3, Anderlecht win on away goals)

 

Villareal                                0              v              4              Roma

2L: Roma 0 v 1 Villareal     Agg (4 – 1)

 

 

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Man City 5 – 3 Monaco: https://youtu.be/E_TtufK6joc

Bayern Leverkusen 2 – 4 Atletico Madrid: https://youtu.be/vFN4e8Bad50

Porto 0 – 2 Juventus: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=w-YGIzqZyjI

Sevilla 2 – 1 Leicester: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_1mtpCzLh7U

 

 

ONES TO WATCH

Falcao superb finish and other memorable Champions League chips: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qJDadmcX_oM

 

Telles loses the plot, shocking challenges: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=85ZyhIDfPJU

 

From non-league to Champions League: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tP2FYYT4TnQ

17/02/2017 European Football Special Issue

Well I don’t know about you lot, but I left my local pub on Tuesday evening high as a kite after Paris Saint-Germain’s demolition of the all singing – all dancing – super power that is FC Barcelona. Messi and co. had absolutely no answer to the relentless PSG. Di Maria, Verratti and Cavani blew Barcelona away with four unanswered goals at the Parc de Princes; a phenomenal game from start to finish. PSG offered wave after wave of attacking football, whilst Barcelona capitulated all over the park. MSN was nowhere to be seen, their individual performances had commentator, Steve McManaman, in utter shock. The former Real Madrid player spoke in disbelief at the lack of energy and desire in Barcelona’s performance. It took PSG only 18-minutes to break the deadlock, through a beautifully crafted Angel di Maria free-kick. It may have been a different story had Andre Gomez slotted home in the 27th minute, after team-mate Neymar Jr had carved out an opening in the PSG defense to create a 1 on 1 situation for the young midfielder, but it wasn’t to be and Gomez had to watch as the oncoming Kevin Trapp saved his effort. Lionel Messi was picked apart all night and, before Julian Draxler had scored the second, the Argentinian looked as though he had surrendered all hope. Di Maria turned on the magic again for PSG’s third; he curled the ball well past the reach of Andre ter Stegen and the tie was all but over. There was to be more heartache for the travelling fans as Edison Cavani put the cherry on top of a rather unforgettable performance in Paris. Tout simplement magique!

Unfortunately, my local only showed the Barcelona game but looking at the results I think it’s safe to say I got a front row seat to one of the most shocking European results in history – so I’m not too disappointed. And neither will Benfica be, after their home win over Borussia Dortmund. The black and yellows created all the early chances but failed to take one. 10-minutes into the game BVB opened up the Benfica defense slotting in Aubameyang who squandered a ridiculous chance to put his team ahead in the early stages – his effort went well over the crossbar from about 14-yeards out. Shortly after it was Dembele’s chance to burst the net, and he would have done so if it hadn’t been for Benfica centre-back, Lindelof, who bravely got his body in the way to block the shot. Benfica survived the first half, but it was the ‘The Eagles’ who would draw first blood 3-minutes into the restart. A Pizzi corner lead to a knock down by Luisao, the ball broke to Mitroglou who practically bundled the ball over the line and Benfica found some breathing space. This was Benfica’s only shot that hit the target all evening. Further chances came for Dortmund to grab that vital away goal, but none were taken. A missed penalty summed up Dortmund’s luck; Aubameyang struck an awful penalty straight down the centre of the goal making it an easy save for Ederson. This should be a great game to watch come the second leg at the Westfalenstadion as Dortmund look to overturn the defeat.

It was Arsenal’s turn to be royally rolled over on Wednesday evening. The Gunners always faced a difficult task against strong German opposition, but not many would have predicted Bayern’s 5-1 victory. Terrible defending, allowing Arjen Robben onto his favoured left side was Arsenal’s first mistake of the evening. It took just over the 10-minute mark for the Dutch midfielder to burst the net, after cutting inside and whipping the ball into the top left corner from 25-yards. Sanchez restored some hope on the 30th-minute, sending the teams to the dressing room with a draw at half-time. Half time marked the end of Arsenal’s challenge, as Bayern ran riot in the second 45. Lewandowski headed home in the 53rd minute; three minutes later Thiago Alcantara scored his first of the night; on the 63rd minute Alcantara scored again and Thomas Muller provided the finishing blow to end Arsenal’s embarrassing night in Europe. There are now calls for Arsene Wenger’s head, after a toothless battle in Munich. If you want a laugh head to YouTube, search for “Arsenal Fan TV” and bring a hanky, there will be tears!

Real Madrid had to come from behind at the Bernabeu to defeat Italian opposition, Napoli. Italian striker, Insigne, put the light blues ahead before the 10-minute mark. However, Napoli’s bright start was cancelled out by the head of Karim Benzema, who leaped above the Italian defence to score the equalizer. Benzema is now the highest scoring French man in Champions League history, surpassing the great Thierry Henry. Toni Kroos scored to take the lead for Los Blancos shortly after the break. Ronaldo provided the assist, and was praised for his uncharacteristically, unselfish performance throughout the match. Casemiro provided the third, and Real were flying into the next round. There were some complaints at the beginning of the match due to grounds crew tactics. The Bernabeu grounds crew were seen to only water one half of the pitch prior to kick off and at half time as well. Poor Napoli had to contend with flooding in their attacking half of the field for the entire 90-minutes. Many fans were quick to point out that Napoli’s home ground, San Paolo, floods naturally every time it rains – advantage Napoli! Or maybe not seen as they got scooshed 3-1.

Rostov and Lyon have all but booked their place in the next-round of the Europa League. Rostov blew Sparta Prague away in Russia with 4 unanswered goals. Tiemoko Konate will miss the second-leg for Sparta after his sending off in the first half. The game was over before the break, with Rostov 3-goals ahead in the first 45. Lyon’s 4-1 away win should be enough to take them to the next round. They went into the break with a comfortable 2-0 lead, they scored their third on the 57th minute before Alkmaar picked up a consolation goal when Iraninan winger, Jahanbakhsh, scored from the spot. A goal in extra time from Jordan Ferri gave Lyon a very comfortable lead going into the second-leg. Roma breezed past Villareal, with a 0-4 win away from home. A hat-trick from Dzeko, and a first half finish from Brazilian, Emerson Palmieri secured progression to the next round.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic has scored more goals against St-Etienne more than any other team, and this rang true on Thursday night. A hat-trick for the self-proclaimed ‘God of Manchester’ put Manchester United through to the next round (surely they can’t screw it up from this point). He dived for the third goal – it was shocking (have a look in the link below). Tottenham Hotspurs fell to a surprise defeat in Belgium. Toothless Tottenham looked lackluster and tedious during Thursday evening’s match. Jeremey Perbet’s 59th-minute goal has given his side the edge going into the second-leg at Wembley. Deli Alli’s skimmed effort and Kane’s shot of the post was as good as it got for Spurs. Wembley has not been a happy hunting ground for Tottenham, who lost to both Monaco and Bayern Leverkusen at their temporary European home. They entered the game against Gent as second favourites to win the competition, behind Manchester United, and now it’s anyone’s game.

There was a tasty battle between Athletic Bilbao and Apoel Nicosia. It was a positive start for the Cypriot champions when George Efrem stunned the Estadio de San Mames on the 36th minute however their delight was quickly shuddered when Georgios Merkis put the ball into his own net. Bilbao began to turn up the heat and scored two more after the break with goals from Aritz Aduriz, competitions top-goal scorer with 7 goals, and Inaki Williams who added a third with a header on the 72nd minute. Greek International, Giannios Gianniotas, kept the tie alive for APOEL with his goal one minute from time. This tie will be played out in Nicosia’s GSP Stadium, which will be filled to capacity come next Thursday (22,859). This is definitely the tie to watch next week. Fiorentina picked up a vital away goal in Germany. This was a close encounter, and it’s a wonder how Gladbach never managed to burst the net after creating all the best chances. However, it is advantage Fiorentina after the first-leg due to some sharp shooting on Federico Bernardeschi’s part; the Italian scored from the dead ball just before the break.

 

 

RESULTS

CHAMPIONS LEAGUE – Round of 16  (First-leg)

 

Benfica                                 1              v              0              Borussia Dortmund

Mitroglou (48)

 

Paris Saint Germain         4              v              0              Barcelona

Di Maria (18, 55)

Draxler (40)

Cavani (71)

 

Bayern Munich                  5              v              1              Arsenal

Robben (11)                                                                        Sanchez (30)

Lewandowski (53)

Thiago Alcantara (56, 63)

Muller (88)

 

Real Madrid                        3              v              1              Napoli

Benzema (18)                                                                     Insigne (8)

Kroos (49)

Casemiro (54)

 

 

EUROPA LEAGUE – Round of 32 (First-leg)

FK Krasnodar                     1              v              0              Fenerbache

Astra Giurgiu                      2              v              2              KRC Genk

AZ Alkmaar                         1              v              4              Lyon

Borussia M’gladback       0              v              1              Fiorentina

Celta Vigo                            0              v              1              Shaktar Donetsk

FC Rostov                            4              v              0              Sparta Prague

KAA Gent                            1              v              0              Tottenham Hotspur

Ludogrets                            1              v              2              FC Copenhagen

Olympiakos                        0              v              0              Osmanlispor

Athletic Bilbao                   3              v              2              Apoel Nicosia

Hapeol Be’er Sheva         1              v              3              Besiktas

Legia Warsaw                    0              v              0              Ajax

Manchester United         3              v              0              Saint-Etienne

PAOK Salonika                   0              v              3              FC Schalke 04

Anderlecht                         2              v              0              Zenit St Petersburg

Villareal                                0              v              4              Roma

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

MATCH HIGHLIGHTS

Benfica v Borrussia Dortmund: https://youtu.be/FvPl3I6eu5Q

PSG v Barcelona: https://youtu.be/XMRZILYKUbU

Bayern Munich v Arsenal: https://youtu.be/gltOnX9jAgY

Real Madrid v Napoli: https://youtu.be/4MI2lT9ALJs

 

 

ONES TO WATCH

Arsenal fan tells it how it is: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pcbykRVcn7Y

Napoli drowned in Champions League defeat: https://twitter.com/sasoarts/status/831967574334267402

Zlatan 3 – 0 St Etienne: https://youtu.be/IfgnehhHAoM

Advantage Gent: https://youtu.be/ZdXQUavJR8E

Best tie of the Europa League: https://youtu.be/E76DlRGveDQ

10/02/2017 Issue 5

Now we’ve got a lot to get through this week, so strap on your big boy pants and let’s go!!

Another one bites the dust! Philipp Lahm retires from football. Yes, the Magic Dwarf gave us all a bit of a shock on Tuesday afternoon, none more so than his beloved Bayern Munich. The timing of his decision was a little surprising, but who would grudge one of Germany’s most decorated footballers. The 33-year-old full back was pivotal to Germany’s World Cup success in 2014 and as Germany’s youngest ever captain, taking on the role at the age of 26 in 2010, he has been awarded with 113 caps and 5 goals for Die Mannschaft. Lahm, who will play out the rest of the season, will be retiring after 13 seasons at Bayern Munich. There he has won 7 Bundesliga titles, 6 German cups and even lifted the Champions League in that memorable all German final at Wembley in 2013. Former manager, Pep Guardiola, regards Lahm as the “most intelligent footballer he ever coached” and with over 500 appearances for Germany’s most successful team I don’t think anyone would ever doubt him.

All the best Philipp!

David Beckham made a big HOO HA this week because the Queen never stuck a knife in his neck! Indeed, England’s biggest brand spat the dummy out all because he isn’t getting a knighthood. The ‘Beckileaks’ – I never made that shit up, that’s what the mainstream are calling it – revealed MR. Beckham’s frustration at being left out of the honours list. MR. Beckham referred to the members of the Knighthood Committee as “unappreciative cunts” whilst also throwing shade at other celebrities who had indeed made the cut *cough* Katherine Jenkins *cough*. Now Beckham’s motives with regards to his charity work have been called into question. Alas, I really don’t care much for the story. In my opinion Beckham has given his money and visited a multitude of locations over the years selling the UNICEF brand and bringing attention to global issues; he’s fair game in my book. Crying over the knighthood however, slightly pretentious especially given the successful career he has had, and all the perks that come with it. Just be grateful you got back in the England team after Argentina 1998. #neverforget

In other news, a football made it into orbit this week! A ball, recovered from the ill-fated 1986 Challenger shuttle, was pictured by NASA astronaut, Shane Kimbrough, the commander of the station’s Expedition 50 crew. Kimbrough posted the picture on his personal Twitter less than a week after the anniversary of the Challenger tragedy. The ball had been taken aboard the Challenger shuttle by Ellison Onizuka, whose daughter was a soccer player at Clear Lake High School. The ball was signed by CLHS players and carried aboard the shuttle as a memento. The picture has since been shared 711 times and received 1,500+ likes and serves as a fitting remembrance to the lives lost some 30 years ago.

There was a goal of the season contender this week after Juan Cuadrado smashed the back of the net against Inter Milan last Sunday evening. The ref had to check for a hole in the net after the Juventus number 7, on loan from Chelsea, launched an attack on Inter goalie, Samir Handanovic. His 25-yard first time strike made the difference in the victory over on form Inter. Juventus currently sit top of Seria A with 57 points, 7 points ahead of closest challengers Roma. There was some bad news for the Old Lady this week though as she lost Brazilian International, Hernanes, to the Chinese Super League. He has made a move to Hebei China Fortuna for €8.5 million. However, their spirits were certainly lifted with a 2-0 away win over Crotone on Wednesday night. Gonzalo Higuain scored his 16th goal of the season to help send Juventus seven points clear at the top of the Italian league. Should Juve pick up the trophy this season it will be their sixth successive league win. Nae bad!

While on the subject of Juve, some dedicated fan attempted to watch their mid-week fixture against Crotone by getting himself admitted to hospital!!! Apparently, the view from the San Giovanni de Dio hospital window offers a perfect view of the Stadio Ezio Scida. Crotone’s home stadium only holds a capacity of 16,000 and was sold out, forcing the rather devoted Juve supporter to fake illness – if you ask me I think he was being very reasonable. Unfortunately, the fan won’t be winning any Oscar’s soon and was sent on his way! On a positive note, he can be pretty happy with the result.

Alaves reached their first Copa del Rey final! They overcame Celta Vigo with a 1-0 aggregate score line to reach the final against Barcelona in May. This is Alaves second major final in their 96-year history. They lost their first major final against Liverpool at the 2001 UEFA Cup final in Dortmund’s Westfalenstadion. It was a spectacular last 10 minutes’ effort by Alaves; substitute Edgar Mendez cut through on goal, and played a beautiful chip over goalkeeper Sergio Alvarez in the 83rd minute.

*Highlights from the game are in the list below – well worth a watch*

Their opponents Barcelona knocked rivals Atletico Madrid out of the competition with a 3-2 aggregate score line. There was much controversy in the second-leg which witnessed three players being shown the red card by referee Jesus Gil Manzano. Luis Suarez was amongst one of the three sent for an early bath, he received two yellow cards in the final three minutes of the match and was give the red. Barcelona have stated that they will challenge the decision which could leave the talisman out of the final. Suarez, himself, got on the scoresheet on the 43rd minute, as nine-man Barcelona held on to reach the final. And held on they did. Antoine Griezmann scored a goal that was wrongly disallowed and Gamiero missed a penalty, striking the ball off the top of the crossbar in the second half. Funny old game football. So, it’s Alaves and Barcelona who will meet in the final in May. Alaves have beaten Luis Enrique’s side before, earlier this season they won 2-1 at the Nou Camp which will give them hope for the final. However, should Barcelona triumph it will be their third successive Copa del Rey.

To the African Cup of Nations, where Cameroon won their first AFCON title in 15 years! Les Lions Indomitable came back from 1-0 down against Egypt to lift the AFCON trophy with a 2-1 win. A late goal from Vincent Aboubakar, on loan at Turkish side Besiktas, in the 88th minute sealed the victory and gave Cameroon their fifth AFCON title.

Well, there it is! Your weekly fitbaw round-up!

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ONES TO WATCH

 

LAHM RETIRES

2006 World Cup v Costa Rica (first goal of tournament): https://youtu.be/MBvFjnMRiEw

Tribute: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-Q84OBGF1gs

 

NO KNIGHTHOOD FOR BECKS

David Beckham sent off v Argentina 1998: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zWsEuczNj48

For good measure: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wGuccP0SlnE

 

NASA REMEMBERS

Space ball found in Orbit: https://twitter.com/astro_kimbrough/status/827576335715430402

 

CUADRADO BURSTS THE NET

Juventus 1 – 0 Inter: http://streamable.com/8xdrv

 

COPA DEL REY

Alaves make it to their second major final: https://youtu.be/wMYrCqiHewU

A classic semi-final between Barca and Atleti: https://youtu.be/MBvFjnMRiEw

 

AFRICAN CUP OF NATIONS

Cameroon 2 – 1 Egypt: https://whatahowler.com/cameroon-claim-first-afcon-title-in-15-years-with-brilliant-late-winner-8c8c90dddbd0#.b57x9x6n2