‘Black Friday’ Headline ‘Dumb’ – Lukaku

Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku/AFP

 

Romelu Lukaku and Chris Smalling on Thursday slammed a renowned Italian sports daily as “dumb” and “insensitive” after it used “Black Friday” in a front page headline about them meeting for the first time in Serie A.

Former Manchester United teammates Smalling and Lukaku face off at the San Siro on Friday as Inter Milan look to maintain top spot in Serie A, prompting the Rome-based Corriere dello Sport to publish a headline that has attracted widespread condemnation.

“Instead of focusing on a battle between two teams.. Corriere dello Sport comes with the dumbest of headlines I have ever seen in my career,” Lukaku said in a message on Twitter.

“You guys keep fuelling the negativity and the racism issue.”

Lukaku and Smalling have both taken Serie A by storm since arriving in the summer, with the Belgian striker bagging 10 goals in 14 appearances for title hopefuls Inter and England international Smalling becoming an instant fan favourite in the Italian capital.

“It is important that I acknowledge that what occurred this morning was wrong and highly insensitive,” wrote Smalling on Twitter.

“I hope the editors involved in running this headline take responsibility and understand the power they possess through words, and the impact those words have.”

Both Roma and AC Milan announced on Thursday evening that they would be banning the Corriere dello Sport until the end of 2019 over the headline.

“Our players will not carry out any media activities with the newspaper during this period,” the two clubs said in a joint statement.

They added that the ban was short because “the actual newspaper article associated with the ‘Black Friday’ headline did portray an anti-racist message”.

The article praised the two players for taking “strong positions against racism and are the symbols of the two clubs”, but Roma tweeted “not a single soul” would think the headline a good idea.

“The intention of the newspaper article was actually positive but this headline has totally overshadowed the anti-racist message contained within the story,” Roma’s chief strategy officer Paul Rogers told AFP.

“Unfortunately, as we’ve seen on social media, more people will see that ill-judged headline on the front page than read the actual article and it creates new issues at a time when we are all trying to tackle the issue of racism in Italian football.”

The headline cause uproar in a country where a number of black players have been targeted with racist abuse.

Mario Balotelli was racially abused by Hellas Verona fans last month, while AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie was also targeted by Verona supporters and Lukaku was himself abused at Cagliari, also serial offenders.

Lukaku’s club Inter Milan said earlier: “football is passion, culture and brotherhood. We are and will always be against all forms of discrimination.”

The Corriere dello Sport was unrepentant, saying the headline was “only the praise of difference, the pride of difference, the magnificent wealth of difference”.

“White, black, yellow. Denying difference is the typical macroscopic stumbling block of anti-racism racism,” it said in an editorial.

“An innocent headline… is transformed into poison by those who have poison inside.”

AFP

Lazio Remain Third In Serie A After Sassuolo Victory

File: Lazio’s Italian forward Ciro Immobile 
Tiziana FABI / AFP

 

Felipe Caicedo snatched a late winner to keep Lazio third in Serie A with a 2-1 victory over Sassuolo on Sunday just ahead of city rivals Roma, who beat Brescia 3-0 with England defender Chris Smalling involved in all of his side’s goals.

Champions Juventus maintained their grip on the top of Serie A with a 3-1 win at Atalanta on Saturday, to stay one-point ahead of Inter Milan who eased past Torino 3-0.

The two Roman outfits are now third and fourth respectively before Cagliari, a point behind in fifth, play lowly Lecce later on Sunday.

Serie A top scorer Ciro Immobile struck to put Lazio ahead after 34 minutes in Sassuolo with his 15th league goal this season.

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But struggling Sassuolo pulled back a goal back through Francesco Caputo just before the break.

Ecuadorian Caicedo came off the bench to seal a fifth consecutive league win in injury time to keep Lazio seven points behind Inter Milan in third place.

Roma are now two points behind their local rivals after defender Smalling scored and set up the other two goals in a victory over bottom club Brescia.

Smalling, on-loan for the season from Manchester United, headed in the first from a corner after 48 minutes in the Stadio Olimpico.

The 30-year-old then provided the cross that allowed fellow defender Gianluca Mancini to volley in eight minutes later, with Edin Dzeko completing the rout on 66 minutes after Smalling’s headed assist.

Brescia, now coached by 2006 World Cup winner Fabio Grosso, remain rooted to the bottom of the table.

Forward Mario Balotelli was dropped for Sunday’s game because of his lack of commitment in training.

The Italy international tried to play down Thursday’s training ground bust-up with Grosso.

“Recovery! Coming back soon, for the moment let them talk,” the former Marseille attacker said in a post on Instagram showing him undergoing physiotherapy.

Elsewhere, Samuel Di Carmine scored the only goal as Verona piled the pressure on Fiorentina, despite Franck Ribery returning after his three-match suspension.

The Tuscany side is in tenth place with just one point from their last three games.

AFP

Smalling Left Frustrated By United Flop

Manchester United’s English defender Chris Smalling                                     Credit: Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Chris Smalling admitted on Saturday that struggling Manchester United were utterly frustrated by their failure to beat lowly Crystal Palace.

United are languishing off the pace in the battle to finish in the Premier League’s top four after their latest setback in a difficult season.

After losing to arch-rivals Manchester City before the international break, Jose Mourinho’s team returned to action in forgettable fashion on Saturday.

Palace secured a 0-0 draw at Old Trafford with a composed display that neutralised United.

Angry United fans booed the players at full-time and Mourinho accused his team of lacking heart.

“I think we knew the sort of the period we had all the way to Christmas, there were so many home games that three points had to be a must,” United defender Smalling said.

“So, whether it was a point or no points, it just might as well have been a loss.

“I think it’s just about getting that first goal and then it sort of unlocks people and it makes them become a bit more open.

“Yeah, just utter frustration.”

Smalling knows it could have been even worse for United.

Patrick van Aanholt and Andros Townsend wasted glorious chances for Palace either side of half-time.

Smalling was guilty of wasting a fine chance from a free-kick in the first half, and a disappointing afternoon for the home side was summed up by out-of-form Romelu Lukaku seeing a goal ruled for offside.

“I think when it’s going against you, you don’t get those decisions,” Smalling said.

“But we’ll work hard again because we know, given this run, that we can’t have any more slip-ups at home again like this.

“I think we need to keep working hard as a team and creating those chances and ultimately finishing them and making sure the games that we dominate we win.”

Young Boys head to Manchester for a vital Champions League group stage tie on Tuesday and Smalling demanded United deliver a far more focused effort.

“I thought the last 10 minutes there was added intensity that we maybe needed a bit earlier in the game,” Smalling told MUTV.

“But we can’t always leave it to the last minute and we needed to get that goal earlier.

“It is good to get back out in front of this crowd again (on Tuesday) and show a better performance.”

AFP

Man Utd Desperate To Bounce Back, Says Smalling

(FILES) This file photo taken on January 29, 2017 shows Manchester United’s English defender Chris Smalling. Paul ELLIS / AFP

Chris Smalling says Manchester United will regroup after their damaging defeat to Chelsea as they desperately try to close the gap on runaway Premier League leaders Manchester City.

Jose Mourinho’s team — who kept pace with Pep Guardiola’s City in the early weeks of the campaign — go into the international break second in the Premier League but a whopping eight points behind their rivals after Sunday’s 1-0 loss at Stamford Bridge.

There has never been a bigger gap between the top two after 11 matches in Premier League history and Guardiola’s swashbuckling side are heavy favourites to win the title.

Unbeaten City have set a frightening pace this season, winning 10 of their matches and scoring 38 goals in the process to build up an extraordinary goal difference of plus 31.

United, level on 23 points with Tottenham and a point ahead of Chelsea, have to wait a fortnight to try to close the gap and defender Smalling has warned Newcastle they face a difficult afternoon when they return from the international break.

“It is unfortunate (to have to wait),” the centre-back told Manchester United’s in-house broadcaster MUTV.

“I think we’ll have to regroup and make sure that — our next game is at Old Trafford — we put on a performance to rectify this.

“It is about us getting back to Old Trafford for that game and putting on a performance that the fans can be proud of.”

Alvaro Morata — a summer target for United before Romelu Lukaku arrived — got between Smalling and Eric Bailly to head home Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross and United could not find a way back.

“I think it was two teams there who can defend and who have got very good attacking players,” said the England international, left out of Gareth Southgate’s latest squad for matches against Germany and Brazil.

“I think it was always going to be a close game and we just fell asleep on their one big chance, unfortunately.

“It was disappointing from us because we’d watched a lot of their videos and we knew about Azpilicueta coming up and putting in those crosses. So for us to know what their game plan was and to fall asleep is very disappointing.”

AFP

Mourinho Says New Defender Unnecessary For Manchester United

Manchester United, Jose Mourinho, DefenderManchester United Coach, Jose Mourinho, says he will not sign a new defender in January despite losing Eric Bailly to the Africa Cup of Nations.

The Portuguese explained that a new defender would be needless for the club since Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo were performing well.

He added that Phil Jones was also back to full fitness, saying he would manage the three players before Bailly returns.

“No, I’ll wait for Bailly (and) I hope the three can control the situation in those eight matches.

“I will try to rest one in every game. On Saturday (against Reading in the FA Cup) I will rest one, against Hull (in Tuesday’s League Cup semifinal first leg) another.

“We’ll try to make a rotation between these three. We still have Daley Blind as the fourth in case we need him to play there. We have Michael Carrick, so let’s try,” Mourinho told reporters at the Red Devils’ training base.

Chelsea Beat Manchester United 4-0

Chelsea, Manchester United, EPLFormer Chelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho was humiliated on his return to Stamford Bridge on Sunday as the Blues thrashed Manchester United 4-0.

The Blues led after just 30 seconds when Pedro capitalised on slack defending. Smalling hesitated as a long ball flew in, De Gea charged out and Pedro stole in to whip the ball round the ‘keeper into an empty net for what is now the fastest goal of the season.

The evening got worse for Jose Mourinho 20 minutes later. From a corner, the ball broke to Gary Cahill six yards out and he volleyed high into the net past De Gea.

United offered little sign of making a comeback after failing to capitalise on their good spell in the second half and they fell further behind when Eden Hazard drilled in a precise 15-yard strike to make it 3-0.

It was no way back at this point for the Reds. N’golo Kante sealed victory with a stunning goal; his first for Chelsea.

He took the ball after a clever flick from Pedro, brilliantly dribling past Chris Smalling and then rolled sublimely into the corner past David de Gea.

Chelsea with the victory, moved within a point of English Premier League leaders Manchester City who had earlier played a 1-1 draw with Southampton at the Etihad Stadium.

 

EPL: Manchester United Beat Leicester City 4 – 1

EPL: Manchester United Beat Leicester City 4 – 1Manchester United have bounced back from two straight defeats with a 4 – 1 win over English Premier League (EPL) champions, Leicester City.

Captain Chris Smalling, who is deputising for the dropped Wayne Rooney, put United ahead with a header 22 minutes after the match kicked off.

Juan Mata doubled the score in the 37th minute before further goals from Marcos Rashford and world record signing Paul Pogba threatened to embarrass the Foxes before halftime.

Damari Gray’s 60th minute goal was a mere consolation as Leicester lost for the third time in six games this season.

The Red Devils hosted the Foxes on Saturday at the Old Trafford.

They are now third on the EPL table with 12 points from six games while Leicester are 12 with seven points from six games.

Crystal Palace To Face Manchester United In FA Cup Final

FA CupCrystal Palace on Sunday evening set up a repeat of the 1990 English FA Cup final against Manchester United after Yannick Bolasie and Connor Wickham secured a 2-1 victory over Watford at Wembley.

Bolasie headed in Yohan Cabaye’s corner to put Palace in front but after six minutes Troy Deeney sparked the semi-final into life with Watford’s equaliser nine minutes after halftime.

The equaliser, however, only lasted for seven minutes as Wickham popped up with the winning goal on 61 minutes.

Manchester United had defeated Everton 2-0 at Wembley on Saturday to go through into a record-equalling 19th FA Cup final.

Marouane Fellaini gave United a deserved first-half lead from close range and goalkeeper David de Gea also brilliantly saved Romelu Lukaku’s 57th-minute penalty.

An injury-time goal by Anthony Martial ensured Louis van Gaal’s side will face Crystal Palace.

Martial’s Late Goal Puts Manchester United Into FA Cup Final

Anthony-Martial leads Man Utd into FA Cup FinalsAn injury-time goal by Anthony Martial in a game against Everton at Wembley was enough for Manchester United to go through into a record-equalling 19th FA Cup final.

Martial ensured Louis van Gaal’s side will face either Crystal Palace or Watford with a composed finish in the dying seconds of the semi-final.

Marouane Fellaini gave United a deserved first-half lead from close range – but they were then indebted to goalkeeper David de Gea as he brilliantly saved Romelu Lukaku’s 57th-minute penalty, the BBC reports.

After a passive first 45 minutes that saw Everton jeered off at half-time, they drew level with 15 minutes left when Chris Smalling deflected Gerard Deulofeu’s cross into his own net.

As the game looked destined for extra-time, Ander Herrera’s poked pass sent Martial clear and the striker showed great composure to drill a low finish past Everton keeper Joel Robles.

England’s international captain, Wayne Rooney, showed his class in a deep-lying role behind United’s attack.

In the opening half especially, afforded time and space by a timid Everton, Rooney not only showed his full range of passes to create chances and dictate the game, he even showed the energy to get back and clear Lukaku’s early goalbound effort off the line.

Townsend Scores As England Draw With Italy

EnglandTottenham winger, Andros Townsend, came off the bench to produce a late equaliser for England in a 1-1 draw against Italy in Turin on Tuesday.

Southampton striker, Graziano Pelle’s header looked to have put Italy on course for victory in the first-half of the friendly against England.

The English side on the other hand, struggled to get to grips with the changes made by manager, Roy Hodgson, after Friday’s Euro 2016 qualifier win against Lithuania.

By the introduction of several substitutes, the Tottenham winger’s rising 20-yard drive 11 minutes from time, gave England a draw in the second-half.

Hodgson’s side then ended the game on top and only a fine save from Buffon stopped England captain, Wayne Rooney – who had earlier hit the bar – from adding to his total of 47 goals for his country and closing even further on Sir Bobby Charlton’s all-time record of 49.

The experiment of using Phil Jones in midfield failed miserably and he reverted to defence when Chris Smalling went off ill just before half-time.

Correspondingly, Arsenal’s Theo Walcott, was also misused in a forward role rather than on the wing.

Hodgson said after the match, “I’m really happy with our second half, I thought we were the better team. That’s pleasing in the sense that under (Antonio) Conte, Italy are a strong team.

“We’re missing a few players and when they’re available, we have a few more options.”