PSG Beat Lyon On Penalties, Win French League Cup

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian defender Thiago Silva (C) and teammates celebrate their victory at the end of the French League Cup final football match between Paris Saint-Germain vs Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on July 31, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Pablo Sarabia scored the winning penalty in a shoot-out as Paris Saint-Germain warmed up for their assault on the Champions League in Lisbon by defeating Lyon in Friday’s French League Cup final to claim another domestic treble.

The Spaniard’s successful kick came after Keylor Navas saved from Bertrand Traore and allowed PSG to win 6-5 on penalties after the game at the Stade de France finished 0-0 at the end of extra time.

The victory comes a week after they beat Saint-Etienne 1-0 in the French Cup final, the first competitive match on French soil since the coronavirus shutdown.

They had previously been awarded the Ligue 1 title by virtue of being top when the season was ended in April with 10 rounds of matches unplayed because of the health crisis.

Before penalties, Thomas Tuchel’s team had the better of a terse final on a sweaty night, but they badly missed the injured Kylian Mbappe.

The masked France superstar watched from the stands as Lyon kept PSG at bay for two hours before having Brazilian defender Rafael sent off for chopping down Angel Di Maria on the edge of the box late in extra time.

Mbappe was injured in last week’s French Cup final, suffering a sprained ankle that looks likely to rule him out of the Champions League quarter-final against Atalanta in Lisbon on August 12.

PSG are desperate for tangible success in Europe but on this evidence, they still have some rust to shake off before being ready for that test.

“We suffered but it’s beautiful to win at the end. We will celebrate this and then tomorrow we will start to think about another big match,” the excellent Marco Verratti told France 2 television.

This is the Qatar-owned club’s fourth treble in the last six years, but the League Cup, an unloved competition, will be discontinued next season.

 No European football for Lyon? 

Covid-19 concerns did not prevent a crowd from attending this match — postponed back in April — but only 3,500 fans were allowed inside the 80,000-capacity venue.

It was the Parisian contingent who were celebrating at the end, as their team lifted the trophy for the ninth time in total, denying Lyon the first trophy since 2012.

Paris Saint-Germain’s players celebrate their victory at the end of the French League Cup final football match between Paris Saint-Germain vs Olympique Lyonnais at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis on July 31, 2020. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Both of these teams must fear to be at a disadvantage in the latter stages of the Champions League through after France opted against restarting its league season, unlike the other major European leagues.

As a consequence, the two cup finals are the only competitive match practice PSG will have managed in five months before facing Atalanta.

Meanwhile, this was Lyon’s one and only competitive game since early March before they make a daunting trip to Turin to play Juventus in their Champions League last 16-second leg next Friday.

At least they have a 1-0 lead to defend, but they will still need to do better than they fared here.

PSG created almost all the notable chances, despite Mauro Icardi looking sluggish upfront.

Neymar looked sharper, fresh from scoring the winner in the French Cup final.

He had the first chance of the game when he drilled a first-time shot just wide from a Thiago Silva lay-off in the eighth minute, and he also saw a header tipped over by Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes late in normal time before going on to coolly net in the shoot-out.

In between, Lopes also made a spectacular save to turn an Idrissa Gueye piledriver over late in the first half.

Verratti’s performance in midfield was a major positive for Tuchel who along with Mbappe’s injury also has major problems at full-back.

Here, left-back Layvin Kurzawa was needed on the right but hobbled off hurt midway through the second half.

Lyon, meanwhile, will now not be in Europe next season for the first time in 24 years, unless they win the Champions League.

PSG, Marseille and Rennes will be France’s representatives in the 2020/21 Champions League, with Reims now joining Lille and Nice in the Europa League.

 

German Cup: Frankfurt Wear ‘Black Lives Matter’ Logo On Shirts

Players vie for the ball during the German Cup (DFB Pokal) semi-final football match FC Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt in Munich, southern Germany on June 10, 2020.  AFP

 

Eintracht Frankfurt wore playing shirts supporting the Black Lives Matter movement in Wednesday’s German Cup semi-final, while opponents Bayern Munich warmed up in T-shirts bearing the same anti-racism message.

“Our team and the whole of Eintracht Frankfurt are united against all forms of racism and we want to show that publicly today,” explained Frankfurt director Fredi Bobic before kick-off behind closed doors.

Frankfurt’s shirts bearing the logo “#BlackLivesMatter” is the latest sign of solidarity from the Bundesliga in the wake of the death of black American George Floyd in Minneapolis, Minnesota, a fortnight ago at the hands of police.

The Bayern team warmed-up before their home semi-final in white T-shirts bearing the #BlackLivesMatter logo and “Rot Gegen Rassismus” (Red against Racism), referring to their famous playing strip.

The corner flags at Bayern’s Allianz Arena also carried the same messages.

Borussia Dortmund also wore warm-up T-Shirts showing solidarity for the protests, which have taken place in cities across the US and around the world, before their league match last weekend.

They were among the Bundesliga clubs who also knelt on one knee before kick-off in their league matches at the weekend.

Floyd, who was buried on Monday, died when a policeman kneeled on his neck in Minneapolis, Minnesota, at the end of May and his death, caught on video, sparked waves of protests.

AFP

Barcelona In Cup Danger Over ‘Ineligible Player’ Complaint

Barcelona could be thrown out of the Copa del Rey amid claims B team player Juan ‘Chumi’ Brandariz (left) was suspended and ineligible to play against Levante. Credit: Getty Images

 

Barcelona face being thrown out of the Copa del Rey after Levante’s president confirmed they will complain the Catalan club fielded an ineligible player in the first leg of their last 16 tie.

Levante won the opening match 2-1 last week and believe Barca defender Juan Brandariz ‘Chumi’ played illegally as he should have been serving a suspension.

“Whatever happens on the field of play today, Levante are going to take this situation to the Federation tomorrow,” Levante president Francisco Javier Catalan said, shortly before the second leg at the Camp Nou on Thursday.

“We feel that there is a solid enough precedent to back up the club’s decision to do so.”

Chumi was given a ban after receiving a yellow card while playing for Barcelona’s B team in the Segunda B division.

Barcelona insist a change in the rules, made in November, means the suspension does not carry over into the Copa del Rey.

A source at Barcelona had told AFP Sport earlier on Thursday: “There has been no improper conduct nor a complaint from either Levante or the RFEF.”

Real Madrid were disqualified from the Copa del Rey in 2015 for fielding Denis Cheryshev, despite the player being suspended.

Cheryshev had received three yellow cards while playing for Villarreal in the competition in the previous season.

AFP

Chelsea, United Battle For Cup In England

 Manchester United’s Portuguese manager Jose Mourinho (L) and Chelsea’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte (R) before the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London. Oli SCARFF, Daniel LEAL-OLIVAS / AFP

 

The eyes of the world may be on a Royal wedding at Windsor, but 18 miles to the east English football’s own showpiece event sees Chelsea and Manchester United face off in the FA Cup final at Wembley on Saturday (1615GMT).

Both sides are in need of silverware to salvage underwhelming seasons.

Chelsea’s need is the greater, though, as having missed out on Champions League football for next season by finishing fifth in the Premier League, many expect Antonio Conte to take charge of the Blues for the last time, regardless of the outcome.

Conte led Chelsea to the Premier League and the FA Cup final in his debut season in England last year.

And he launched a fierce defence of his record at Stamford Bridge on the eve of what could he his last clash with old foe Jose Mourinho in England.

“I like to win. I like to win trophies. I like to be a winner. For sure, I like this. But, at the same time, I think that when you work very hard, when you try to give every day 120 percent, you must be satisfied,” said Conte on Friday.

“Miracles don’t always happen. Sometimes it happens, sometimes it didn’t. We did an important job. Then it’s not my task to take the decision.”

 Friendly end to feud? 

Conte and United boss Mourinho have consistently clashed since the former took charge of the club Mourinho led to three Premier League titles in two spells.

However, both men have tried to play down their feud in recent days with Conte insisting the pair will shake hands before the game.

Mourinho has at least ensured Champions League qualification for next season via a second-place finish in the Premier League.

However, the Portuguese hasn’t escaped criticism due to United’s often turgid performances, lacking in the invention and flair displayed by United’s fiercest rivals in Premier League champions Manchester City and Champions League finalists Liverpool.

Mourinho, though, argued that City running up the score on helpless Premier League rivals is not as “entertaining” as he expects a tight clash with his old club at Wembley to be.

“Do you think 6-0 is entertaining? I don’t think so,” Mourinho said on Friday.

“I think entertaining is emotion until the end, the game open, everyone on the edge of their seats, both dug-outs nervous and tense with the result in doubt.

“For a football lover that is entertaining for me. I think it will be entertaining tomorrow.”

Another former Chelsea man is United’s big injury concern as Romelu Lukaku faces a race against time to start up front due to an ankle injury.

The Belgian is Mourinho’s top scorer this season with 27 goals in all competitions, including five in as many games in the FA Cup.

“Lukaku we have to wait until the last moment,” added Mourinho.

Should Lukaku miss out, United will be counting on Alexis Sanchez to continue his excellent record of eight goals in as many games at Wembley for club and country.

Chelsea have no such injury concerns, and Conte hinted that first-choice goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois could start despite Willy Caballero having played in all six FA Cup ties on route to the final.

AFP

Chelsea Wins Capital One Cup

chelseaJose Mourinho has claimed his first trophy since returning for his second spell as Chelsea manager, as Chelsea emerged winner of the Capital One Cup over Tottenham at Wembley.

Jose Mourinho was delighted after seeing his side crowned Capital One Cup kings, the club’s fifth success in the competition’s history.

Mourinho’s mastery of the big selection decision was also demonstrated again by his deployment of Kurt Zouma, a central defender by trade, in midfield to fulfill the role left behind by the suspended Nemanja Matic to outstanding effect.

John Terry, Man of the Match striked with a goal on the stroke of half-time.

Eleven minutes into the second half, Diego Costa, scored with an assist pass from Cesc Fabregas which deflected off the leg of Kyle Walker.

Speaking to the media after the game, Mourinho started by praising the opposition saying, ”First of all I want to say that in the middle of my happiness is space to think about Mauricio Pochettino, his staff and Tottenham as a team and a club, I met him in Spain many years ago as a player and then when he was a young manager when I was at Real Madrid. He came to England, proved himself, nobody gave him anything for free.”

The Chelsea’s boss added:  ”The second thing I want to say is that now I don’t think about John Terry, Azpilicueta or Diego Costa; I think about Courtois, because without him there would have been no final, we would have lost against Liverpool. I think about Matic, Filipe Luis and Oscar, the guys who didn’t have a chance to play. I think about Schwarzer, Salah, Schurrle, all the guys that started the season with us, they are all winners.”

Despite a career laden with trophies, Mourinho claimed this was the most important final of his time in the game and Chelsea were never seriously troubled once Christian Eriksen’s early free-kick rebounded to safety off the woodwork.

Mourinho also spoke about Diego Costa saying ”He needs the team, without them it’s difficult to do anything. He needs to keep his nature as a person and a player. He played a final at the top of his motivation, there was no yellow card because he did nothing to deserve a yellow card.

ASAMOAH GYAN: Ghana Can Take On Anyone

asamoahAfter reaching the quarter -final of the Africa Cup of Nations, the Ghana captain Asamoah Gyan said his team is not afraid of any other.

Ghana pulled through after defeating South Africa 2-1 and will meet the Group D runners-up in the quarter-finals on Sunday evening.

Confident of his team’s performance, Gyan said “with this team we can take on anyone in this competition.”

The Algeria coach Christian Gourcuff said: “It was not easy to get out of this group,” as the team qualified as Group C runners-up.

Gyan scored Ghana’s late winner in their second game against Algeria which ultimately helped them finish top of the table on head-to-head record.

“I have played at five cups of nations, but this group was the hardest,” he added.

“We were very strong mentally, even after conceding the first goal. We kept believing and fought to the end knowing that we could win.”

Ghana manager Avram Grant said: “We deserve it because South Africa were not better than us.

Grant also said “We have finished first in the group of death, which is not bad.  After losing the first match we showed great attitude in the second and continued along the same lines today , we started the match very well with two or three good chances. We had the match in our hands. I am very happy that the players showed, just as in their last match, a good spirit and good attitude.”

 

World Cup 2014:Lampard declares interest

Come 2014 world cup in Brazil, Captain Frank Lampard will likely be a frontrunner for England’s World Cup campaign from playoffs to the finals as he declared his interest to be part of the 2014 team as he hopes also that his age will not begin to tell before and during this period in terms o fitness and contribution on field.

Lampard who will be 36 come World Cup 2014 in Brazil will be the captain of England’s international friendly with Italy in Berne after missing the Euro 2012 finals through injury.

The Chelsea Captain and England Captain believes that if he puts his best in his playing career and he is at an optimal performance then his chances of making it into the team will not be in doubt as he knows that there are younger players vying for his position on field.

Lampard who has won 90 caps for England so far said he wouldn’t want to laze around for the wrong reasons so as to win 100 caps.

 

But the Chelsea midfielder never considered retiring after being forced to sit out the Euros and is now looking forward to being one of the senior members in a youthful-looking squad as Hodgson looks to the future.

He said he is excited to amongst a younger squad as people will talk about the merits of this friendly each year but overall, he feels the manager has picked a very intelligent squad because he rested players who played in the Euros and brought in some young players to get a feel of the England set-up which he concluded it is a good move.