Klopp Urges Liverpool To Show Madrid Who’s Boss In Champions League Final

In this file photo, Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp gestures on the touchline during the English League Cup semi-final first leg football match between Liverpool and Arsenal at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on January 13, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp wants Liverpool to show they can more than match Real Madrid as the European giants collide in a Champions League final on Saturday for the second time in five seasons.

Real were too strong when the sides meet in Kyiv in 2018, but Klopp’s men bounced back to become European champions a year later and are now in their third final under the German.

Liverpool will join AC Milan as the second most successful club in European Cup history with seven titles if they lift the trophy at the Stade de France.

Madrid are well out in front as the kings of Europe with 13 titles, but Klopp is keen for Liverpool not to be cowed by history being on the Spanish champions’ side.

“If you look at the history of the club, if you look at the experience of the other team, the way Real Madrid celebrate the comebacks, I would say it’s Real Madrid (who are favourites) because of experience,” Klopp said at his pre-match press conference on Friday.

“But I want us to be on the same level, thinking on the same level. I want us to be us in this game.”

Madrid have needed stirring fightbacks to see off Paris Saint-Germain, Chelsea and Manchester City to get back to the final for the first time in four years.

Liverpool’s path to Paris has been more serene as they prepare for their 63rd game of the season.

Klopp’s men have already won the League Cup and FA Cup and missed out on the Premier League title by a single point to City.

“Once in my life someone told me the more often you win something the more likely it gets you will not win it anymore,” added Klopp. “I’m not sure Real Madrid thinks like that but I have that dream a little bit that it’s the case.

“We obviously played some really, really good stuff this season. We are not here by surprise or we got a ticket or something like that -– we deserved it.

“Being us on the highest level would be cool. If we could do that then we are a really uncomfortable opponent.

“We can talk about what Real Madrid achieved in the past and this season, how good their players are, we probably could write a book together now about this team. But we are good as well and that’s what we want to show.”

READ ALSO: Courtois Ready For Penalties Against Liverpool: ‘It’s A Moment To Shine’

Right Side Of History 

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

Madrid also already have silverware to show for their season as they cruised to the La Liga title.

“We are very close to achieving the maximum,” said Carlo Ancelotti ahead of his record-breaking fifth Champions League final as a coach.

Ancelotti won Real’s long-awaited 10th European Cup in his debut season during his first stint in charge at the Bernabeu in 2014.

Thibaut Courtois was on the opposing side that night in Lisbon as the Atletico Madrid goalkeeper and the Belgian is looking forward to being on the right side of history in his first Champions League final since.

“We know when Real Madrid play in finals they win them,” said Courtois. “Now I’m on the right side of that.”

Madrid have enjoyed a more relaxing build-up after sealing the Spanish title nearly a month ago.

But Liverpool are hopeful of having a fully-fit squad to choose from.

Midfielders Fabinho and Thiago Alcantara were doubtful due to muscle injuries, but both returned to training this week and are in contention to start.

AFP

‘Story Of My Life’: Klopp Laments As Man City Pip Liverpool In Title Race

Liverpool's German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP
In this file photo, Liverpool’s German manager Jurgen Klopp looks on during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Watford at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on April 2, 2022. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Jurgen Klopp admitted Liverpool’s agonising failure to win the Premier League title was the “story of my life” as the German had to settle for second place behind Manchester City again.

Klopp’s side were within touching distance of the title for a few precious minutes at Anfield on Sunday as they chased a winning goal against Wolves while City trailed 2-0 against Aston Villa.

But, in a dramatic finish to the title race, City scored three times in the closing stages to win 3-2 and take the trophy by one point from second placed Liverpool.

The Reds’ 3-1 victory over Wolves was rendered irrelevant by City’s epic comeback, leaving Klopp to rue a second last-day title blow inflicted by Pep Guardiola’s team.

City had edged out Liverpool in the 2019 title race, while Klopp endured two last-day failures to win promotion to the Bundesliga during his time as Mainz boss.

READ ALSOArsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

“Congratulations to Man City and Pep Guardiola. Thank you to Aston Villa and Wolverhampton for making a proper game of it,” Klopp said.

“It’s not the result we wanted. It was a bit of a rollercoaster. I don’t know the results exactly but I know Villa were 1-0 up –- were they 2-0 up as well? Of course at the moment there’s disappointment here as well.

“92 points is absolutely incredible. We wanted it all, but now it’s OK.

“Finishing second is the story of my life. I’m still record holder for not getting promoted in Germany with the highest points tally. You need to get more points than any other teams, but we didn’t do that.”

Despite Klopp’s lament, he has led Liverpool to FA Cup and League Cup glory this term and can win a third trophy if they beat Real Madrid in the Champions League final on Saturday.

The German has also won the Champions League and Premier League with Liverpool in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Klopp insisted Liverpool had nothing to be ashamed of after cutting into the 14-point lead City held at the top in January to take the title race to the wire.

Hailing City as the world’s best team, he said: “You can’t do more than give your absolute best and that’s what the boys did again.

“We chased the best team in the world to the wire, that’s absolutely special. We’ll build a team again and go again.”

Klopp’s main concern ahead of the Champions League final is an injury to Thiago Alcantara that is likely to rule out the influential midfielder.

“I think he’ll be out of the final but I don’t know. He’s limping, so it’s maybe not the best sign,” he said.

AFP

Five Key Moments That Won Manchester City The Premier League

Manchester City’s players run towards the pitch to celebrate after winning the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022.  Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City are champions of England for a fourth time in five years after holding off Liverpool in a titanic tussle for the Premier League title.

City’s failure to land a natural striker to replace Sergio Aguero cast doubt on their title credentials as Liverpool and Chelsea strengthened their squads with eyes on the crown.

Pep Guardiola’s men again proved to be well-suited to the marathon grind of a 38-game season, but needed to summon the spirit of champions to seal the deal on the final day.

Trailing 2-0 to Aston Villa with 14 minutes remaining, City needed to score three times to avoid a trophyless season and pulled it off thanks to Ilkay Gundogan’s double either side of Rodri’s strike.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

AFP Sport looks at five defining moments that swung the title race City’s way:

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola (R) and Manchester City’s English defender John Stones (L) celebrate with the Premier League trophy on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Chelsea put in their place

Chelsea had City’s number towards the end of last season, beating them three times in three different competitions, culminating in lifting the Champions League in Porto.

The Blues were expected to carry that momentum into a title challenge and started the season strongly.

City were three points behind Chelsea and Liverpool when they travelled to Stamford Bridge in early September having dropped points in two of their first five games.

However, Guardiola’s men laid down a marker with a dominant display that deserved a more comprehensive result than their 1-0 victory.

The same day, Liverpool were held 3-3 at Brentford to nullify the impact of City’s slow start.

Winter Wins

Fans were back in the stands all season but coronavirus still had a major impact as outbreaks among squads led to mass postponements in the winter months.

City were one of the few clubs to escape without a single match being rearranged and produced a 12-game winning run between November and February that took the title race away from the chasing pack.

Rodri’s 92nd-minute winner at Arsenal in an early kick-off on January 1 amid a packed schedule was the stuff that champions are made of.

But there was plenty of the exhilarating football Guardiola’s sides are synonomous with too as Leeds were dispatched 7-0, Leicester hit for six and Newcastle and Norwich thrashed 4-0.

Liverpool Pay Penalty At Leicester

As City motored through the festive period, Liverpool’s title bid came off the rails.

Jurgen Klopp’s men have lost just three of 62 games all season that kept their bid for an unprecedented quadruple alive into the final week of the campaign.

However, one of them came in the most unlikely circumstances at Leicester on December 28.

The postponement of Liverpool’s Boxing Day game with Leeds had given Klopp’s men a rare six-day rest amid the busiest time of the English football calendar.

Leicester, by contrast, had lost 6-3 at City only 48 hours previously and were severely weakened by injuries and Covid cases.

Mohamed Salah missed a Premier League penalty for the first time in four years before Ademola Lookman gave Leicester an unlikely 1-0 win.

Draws at Tottenham and Chelsea either side of Liverpool’s trip to the King Power allowed City to move 12 points ahead on New Year’s Day.

‘Title decider’ stalemate suits City

Liverpool’s stunning form in 2022 gave Klopp’s men the chance to leapfrog City when the top two faced off at the Etihad in early April.

But City maintained a one-point lead at the top after a thrilling 2-2 draw.

Guardiola bemoaned his side had left the Reds “alive” after missing the best chances to win the game.

However, ultimately it proved to be a vital point in retaining the title.

No Hammer Blow

Liverpool’s first dropped points at Anfield since October in a 1-1 draw with Tottenham allowed City to extend their lead to three points going into the final two games of the season.

But they twice nearly threw it away by falling behind 2-0 to both West Ham and Aston Villa.

Jarrod Bowen punished an injury-decimated City defence scoring twice for the Hammers before Jack Grealish and Vladimir Coufal’s own goal did enough to salvage a point and keep the destiny of the title in their own hands.

City did not learn their lesson as Villa also counter-attacked to good effect to take a 2-0 lead at the Etihad on Sunday.

This time Gundogan was the hero off the bench to spark scenes reminiscent of Aguero’s 93rd minute title winner to start City’s era of dominance 10 years ago.

AFP

Pep’s Perfect 10 The Tonic For Man City’s Euro Woe


Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola goes for the Premier League trophy as he prepares to celebrate their title during the award ceremony after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Pep Guardiola may not yet have delivered the Champions League crown Manchester City crave, but four Premier League titles in five years demonstrate a period of dominance to match his time at Barcelona and Bayern Munich.

The Catalan now has 10 league titles to his name in just 13 seasons as a senior coach across three of the toughest divisions in the world.

Few of those have been as hard-fought as City’s latest title triumph.

Guardiola’s men were pushed all the way by a Liverpool side he described as the best he has faced in his managerial career.

The Reds could still complete a treble of League Cup, FA Cup, and Champions League should they see off Real Madrid in Paris on May 28.

READ ALSOMan City Retain 2021/2022 Premier League After Aston Villa Comeback

However, just as in the engrossing title tussle between the same two clubs three years ago, City’s squeaked home by a point thanks to a dramatic fightback from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 on the final day.

Recognition of Guardiola’s achievements at City often comes with the caveats of the huge resources at his disposal and consistent failings to convert domestic dominance into European success since leaving Barcelona a decade ago.

“If we don’t win it in my final period here, I will be a failure,” Guardiola said last month, speaking about his Champions League record.

But his ability to construct sides capable of rising to the relentless demands of winning a title over 38 games is unmatched.

The 51-year-old has laughed off suggestions he could match former Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson’s longevity.

But only Ferguson’s haul of 13 Premier League titles in 27 years at Old Trafford comes close to matching Guardiola’s strike rate in Europe’s toughest leagues.

“Pep is the best coach in the world,” said Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp last month. “I think we would all agree on that and it might be a coincidence that it didn’t work out in the Champions League so far.

“If anybody doubts him, I have no idea how that could happen.”

City infrastructure 

City’s long-term strategy of building the infrastructure of the club around Guardiola, even prior to his arrival, has been thoroughly vindicated.

Director of football Txiki Begiristain and CEO Ferran Soriano were plucked from Barcelona with the aim of luring Guardiola to England.

Guardiola was burned out by the demands of the job at Barcelona after four seasons and cut short his time at Bayern after three years.

By contrast, he has stayed at City now for six seasons and will be around for at least a seventh.

Backed by the state wealth of Abu Dhabi, Guardiola has been given the money to assemble one of the most expensive squads in football history.

However, there are limits to that spending power as City found out last year.

Tottenham would not let Harry Kane go despite City’s interest and the England captain’s desire to leave.

The English champions have already swooped to fulfil their need for a striker for next season by beating off competition from other leading clubs in Europe to sign Erling Haaland.

But Guardiola had to make do without a natural finisher this season and still conjured up the top-scoring team in the Premier League.

Most importantly, he also held onto the trophy he values more than any other.

“I would say it’s more difficult,” said Guardiola on Premier League glory compared with winning the Champions League.

“There’s a lot of weeks and games, struggles with injuries, good and bad moments with different situations, tough opponents.

“It’s satisfying because it’s every day. When you fight for the Premier League and have success right at the end, it gives you a sense that you enjoy a lot. We are happier in our lives when you win.”

The fear for the rest of the Premier League is that with Haaland’s arrival, City look likely to get even stronger.

After three league titles at Barca and Bayern, Guardiola has a fourth in England and his grip on the Premier League is only getting tighter.

AFP

Arsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row


Arsenal’s Norwegian midfielder Martin Odegaard (L) celebrates after scoring his team’s fifth goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Everton at the Emirates Stadium in London on May 22, 2022. Daniel LEAL / AFP

 

Arsenal have missed out on a Champions League spot despite mauling Everton on the final day of the Premier League. 

The Gunners defeated Everton 5-1 at the Emirates Stadium but that was not enough to send them to Europe’s elite competition ahead of Tottenham who outclassed relegated Norwich 5-0 on the same day.

Spurs just need a point to finish fourth when and they qualified for the Champions League in grand style

“We know the importance of the game. If someone thinks the situation is easy I am not that person and I don’t transfer these thoughts to my players,” Conte said ahead of the match.

With incoming boss Erik ten Hag watching from the stands, sixth-placed Manchester United lost at Crystal Palace.

READ ALSO: Man City Retain 2021/2022 Premier League After Aston Villa Comeback

But they avoided the ignominy of slipping into the Europa Conference League after were beaten by Brighton.

At the Etihad, Manchester City retained the Premier League title in the most dramatic of fashion as they hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 with three goals in the final 15 minutes on Sunday.

Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point.

In scenes remiscent of the first of City’s now six league titles in 11 seasons when Sergio Aguero scored a 93rd minute winner to deny Manchester United the title on goal difference, the champions produced a remarkable comeback at the Etihad.

Goals from Matty Cash and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho looked set to gift the Reds the title.

Jurgen Klopp’s men did their job by also coming from a goal down to beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield, but City’s rescue act ensured Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple is over.

Gundogan started the comeback as he headed in Raheem Sterling’s cross at the back post.

Man City Win 2021/2022 Premier League After Aston Villa Comeback


Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy as City players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022.
Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Manchester City retained the Premier League title in the most dramatic of fashion as they hauled themselves back from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 with three goals in the final 15 minutes on Sunday.

Ilkay Gundogan came off the bench to score twice with Rodri also on target as Pep Guardiola’s men held off Liverpool’s title charge to win the league by a point.

In scenes remiscent of the first of City’s now six league titles in 11 seasons when Sergio Aguero scored a 93rd-minute winner to deny Manchester United the title on goal difference, the champions produced a remarkable comeback at the Etihad.

READ ALSO: Arsenal Miss Out On Champions League For Fifth Season In A Row

Goals from Matty Cash and former Liverpool favourite Philippe Coutinho looked set to gift the Reds the title.

Jurgen Klopp’s men did their job by also coming from a goal down to beat Wolves 3-1 at Anfield, but City’s rescue act ensured Liverpool’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple is over.

Gundogan started the comeback as he headed in Raheem Sterling’s cross at the back post.

Rodri then side-footed home from outside the box and Gundogan completed the fightback by tapping home Kevin De Bruyne’s cross at the back post.

Manchester City’s Brazilian midfielder Fernandinho lifts the Premier League trophy as City players celebrate on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Aston Villa at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on May 22, 2022. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Guardiola said before the game he wanted no repeat of Aguero’s legendary late strike a decade ago.

But the Calatan was the most relieved man in Manchester as he sealed the 10th league title of his coaching career in just 13 seasons.

Fans swarmed onto the pitch to celebrate at full-time and the crossbar at the goal where City scored all of their goals was snapped under the weight of supporters sitting on it.

AFP

Burnley Relegated From Premier League On Last Day Of Season


Burnley’s English defender James Tarkowski is consoled on the pitch after the English Premier League football match between Burnley and Newcastle United at Turf Moor in Burnley, north west England on May 22, 2022.  Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Burnley were relegated from the Premier League on Sunday, the final day of the 2021/22 season.

The Clarets had to better the result of relegation rivals Leeds to extend their six-season stay in English football’s top flight.

But Burnley lost 2-1 at home to Newcastle while Leeds won 2-1 away to Brentford.

“It’s raw, we’ve got a group of players who are gutted,” Burnley interim manager Mike Jackson told the BBC.

“I don’t think there is any other word to say about that. The effort they’ve put in since we came in has been brilliant.

“Today we’ve come out on the wrong side of chasing the game. We had some really good chances but couldn’t take them.”

READ ALSOMan City Retain 2021/2022 Premier League After Aston Villa Comeback

He added: “There is a lot of emotion in it. I’m gutted for everyone involved but proud as well as I couldn’t have asked any more from them.”

Burnley kicked off outside the relegation zone, albeit they were only above Leeds on goal difference.

But they fell behind at Turf Moor to Callum Wilson’s 20th-minute penalty following Nathan Collins’s needless handball.

Wilson then doubled Newcastle’s lead on the hour when he headed in from a cross by Allan Saint-Maximin.

Burnley, who sacked long-serving manager Sean Dyche with eight games to go, pulled a goal back as Maxwel Cornet fired in a volley after his first effort had been parried by Newcastle goalkeeper Martin Dubravka.

But that was as good as it got for the Clarets, with Leeds winning away to west London club Brentford thanks to Raphina’s second-half penalty and a goal in stoppage time from Jack Harrison.

AFP

Tottenham Move Temporarily Into Top Four After Burnley Win


Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring the opening goal from the penalty spot during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Burnley at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on May 15, 2022.
Glyn KIRK / AFP

 

Harry Kane’s penalty moved Tottenham into the Premier League top four as Antonio Conte’s men held their nerve to beat Burnley 1-0 on Sunday.

Spurs move two points ahead of north London rivals Arsenal, who travel to Newcastle on Monday, in the battle for fourth place.

Tottenham still need a slip up from the Gunners to return to the Champions League next season, but upped the pressure on Mikel Arteta’s men.

Defeat leaves Burnley outside the relegation zone only on goal difference with two games of the season to go.

READ ALSO: Man City Keep Title Fate In Their Hands Despite West Ham Scare

Buoyed by Thursday’s 3-0 win over Arsenal to keep the race for a place in the Champions League alive, Spurs flew out of the traps.

Kane had a goalbound header cleared off the line by Nathan Collins before Nick Pope produced the first of a string of saves by pounced on his England teammate’s header.

Burnley are only still in the fight for their place in the top flight thanks to a run of 10 points from a possible 12 in the first four games after sacking Sean Dyche.

Defeat at home to Aston Villa last weekend ended that unbeaten run, but there was plenty of encouragement for the Clarets they can do enough to survive in the final week of the season.

Hugo Lloris needed to make a fine save to deny Maxwel Cornet giving the visitors the lead on 27 minutes.

However, a brave Burnley performance was undone by a stroke of misfortune deep into first half stoppage time.

Davinson Sanchez’s flick brushed off the outstretched arm of Ashley Barnes.

There was barely an appeal inside the Tottenham Hotspur stadium in real time, but the incident was picked up by VAR and given after a review.

Kane was deadly as usual from the spot as the England captain converted his 21st consecutive successful penalty.

Son Heung-min’s bid to beat Mohamed Salah to the Premier League Golden Boot was frustrated after the break by Pope.

The South Korean remains one behind Salah’s 22 league goals for the season.

Son’s near post striker was brilliantly turned behind by Pope after a flowing Spurs move.

Pope then instinctively threw up an arm to parry Son’s strike from point-blank range.

The Burnley goalkeeper’s heroics could have salvaged his side a point when Barnes struck the post from long range.

However, they left London empty handed and could end the day in the bottom three if Leeds avoid defeat at home to Brighton.

At the top of the table Manchester City can move to the brink of a fourth title in five years if they win at West Ham.

AFP

Ronaldo, Mane Missing As EPL Unveils Player of The Season Nominees

File COMBO of the shortlisted EASports Player of the year 2021/2022 awards nominees

 

EA SPORTS on Friday unveiled nominees for the 2021/2022 Premier League Player of the Season award and surprising exclusions were Manchester United’s Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s forward Sadio Mane.

Ronaldo, who won the Premier League Player of the Month for April, and Mane – a key man in Liverpool’s quadruple-chasing side – did not make the cut in a list that included Arsenal youngster Bukayo Saka.

The five-time Ballon d’Or winner has been a shining light in United’s dismal season with 18 goals in 30 league matches. He has also twice been named as the Premier League’s player of the month. Similarly, the Senegalese star has scored 15 goals in 33 league appearances as the Anfield club bid for the unprecedented quadruple. His Liverpool teammates Mohammed Salah and Trent Alexander-Arnold have been important to Jurgen Klopp team’s blistering form this season.

File COMBO of Sadio Mane and Cristiano Ronaldo

 

Salah, who was  2017/18 EA SPORTS Player of the Season and also the leader in the Golden Boot race with 22 goals, was shortlisted for the prize. Arnold, on the other hand, has contributed at both ends of the pitch, dominating the right flank for the second-best defence in 2021/22 as well as scoring two goals and setting up 12 more, the second-most of all players.

The shortlist also included Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Jaoa Cancelo. Both have also been vital to Guardiola’s dream of lifting a consecutive Premier League title. The 2019/20 winner is aiming to be only the fourth player to claim more than one EA SPORTS Player of the Season award.

Tottenham’s Son Heung-min, who has been important to the side’s resurgence with 21 goals – only one behind Salah in the Golden Boot race – is also in the running for the top award. 

Having been a key part of a top-four chasing Arsenal, Saka’s contributions to the Gunners this season were rewarded with a nomination. 

Also included in the shortlist is Jarrod Bowen. He is the second West Ham United player to reach double figures for both goals and assists in a Premier League season. Bowen scored 10 and set up 10, justifying his inclusion on the list.

James Ward-Prowse completes the list of nominees for the award. He has been an unsung hero in the heart of the midfield for Southampton. The Saints have caught the eye with some magnificent performances leading to nine goals. Five of them came from trademark direct free-kicks.

‘No Words Can Help’ Ease Man City Euro Exit – Guardiola

Manchester City’s Spanish manager Pep Guardiola reacts during the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by Paul ELLIS / AFP)

 

Pep Guardiola admits “no words can help” ease the pain of Manchester City’s elimination from the Champions League as he refocuses on his side’s Premier League title challenge.

City were just moments away from claiming a place in the final against Liverpool before Real Madrid staged a stunning fightback at the Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Real scored twice in the final seconds of normal time and eventually won the game 3-1 after extra-time, taking the semi-final tie 6-5 on aggregate.

Asked on Friday what he said to his players, Guardiola told reporters: “We didn’t speak. No words can help what we feel.

“It’s a question of time, try to sleep and think of the targets. Tomorrow we will talk.”

READ ALSO: Three Things We Learned From Real Madrid Vs Manchester City

Real Madrid players celebrate their victory at the end of the UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match between Real Madrid CF and Manchester City at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on May 4, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

 

The City boss must now pick his men up for the Premier League run-in.

City, who lead Liverpool by just one point with four games left, host mid-table Newcastle on Sunday, a day after Jurgen Klopp’s team play Tottenham.

“We’re not thinking about the title, we’re thinking about Newcastle,” said Guardiola.

“That’s enough to focus on. Then Wolves, then West Ham. It’s not necessary to listen to what people are saying we can achieve.”

Guardiola, speaking at his pre-match press conference, made a passionate defence of his side after their latest stumble on the European stage.

City have dominated English football over the past decade but have yet to be crowned European champions despite huge investment from their Abu Dhabi owners.

“If people say it’s a failure then I disagree,” said Guardiola, whose team lost last year’s Champions League final to Chelsea.

“The people in the squad know how difficult it is. But they accept it. I’m not going to make a debate.

“In the club the feeling we have is we try to do it again. We are sad, of course, because we were close.”

Guardiola, who won two Champions League titles when in charge of Barcelona, said Real deserved their victory but vowed City would not give up on their Champions League dream.

“The players wanted to play the final but for this club to compete against Real the way we did is a joy,” he said.

“I say congratulations to Liverpool and Madrid, they deserve it. Next season we try again and if it doesn’t work we try again.”

AFP

Ronaldo Scores As Man United Record Morale-Boosting Win Against Brentford

Ronaldo: Source: [email protected] Utd

 

Manchester United took the sting out of their fans’ latest protest against the Glazer family as they eased to a 3-0 win against Brentford on Monday.

Ahead of a summer of change for troubled United, Ralf Rangnick’s side won for just the second time in seven games to keep the atmosphere from turning toxic at Old Trafford.

Bruno Fernandes struck early in the first half and Cristiano Ronaldo converted a second half penalty before France defender Raphael Varane bagged his first goal for United.

Despite winning their last home game of the season, United remain in sixth place in the Premier League with two games left.

They sit five points adrift of the top four with no realistic hope of qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Fittingly, it was under grey, rain-filled skies that fans protested against despised owners the Glazers for a third successive home match.

Outside the stadium before kick-off, a group of supporters held up anti-Glazer banners, set off red smoke bombs and made offensive chants about the club’s owners.

United fans had been urged by the protesters to leave the stadium with 17 minutes left in the match — one minute for every year the United States-based Glazers have owned the club.

But that idea proved a damp squib as only a handful left their seats.

There were more empty seats by the time United embarked on a post-match lap of appreciation, but no overt signs of dissent towards their underachieving stars.

“In possession that was one of our best performances this year. It was the type of performance we wanted to show to our supporters,” Rangnick said.

Regardless, there is no doubting the overall level of frustration at another trophyless season for United, who haven’t won the Premier League since 2013 and last lifted a major trophy five years ago.

 ‘Lacked Consistency’ 

Aside from a few scathing comments about the club’s direction, Rangnick has done little to jolt United out of their malaise since replacing the sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November.

“In the end I’m not happy with the results, especially in the last four or five weeks. In general we have lacked consistency,” Rangnick said.

“It’s obvious quite a few players will leave and there is a need for top quality players.

“Other clubs only needed two or three transfer windows to challenge. I strongly believe that if everyone works together we can bring Man Utd back to where we need to be.”

Rangnick was in charge of his last home game as United interim manager before the recently-hired Erik ten Hag arrives from Ajax to start his rebuilding job next season.

After such a wretched run, United needed a fast start to lift the gloom a little and they took just nine minutes to go in front.

Anthony Elanga beat Brentford’s offside trap as he raced onto Diogo Dalot’s pass.

He reached the ball just before it went out for a goal-kick and whipped a superb cross towards Fernandes, who volleyed home from six yards for his first league goal since February.

After several listless displays, this was a more energetic effort from United and Juan Mata fired narrowly wide from Ronaldo’s flamboyant pass.

Ronaldo won a penalty in the 60th minute as he powered past Rico Henry and was crudely barged to the turf by the Brentford defender.

Picking himself up, Ronaldo sent David Raya the wrong way from the spot.

The Portugal striker has scored nine of United’s last 11 league goals, taking his tally for the season to 24 in all competitions.

With the United fans’ much-hyped walk-out just seconds away, Varane volleyed the third goal from a corner in the 72nd minute.

That appeared to take the sting out of the revolt, with Mata and Nemanja Matic — both likely to leave in the close-season — departing to standing ovations when they were substituted.

It was a rare feelgood moment in a season of strife at Old Trafford.

AFP

EPL: Arsenal Beat West Ham To Tighten Grip On Top-Four

Arsenal’s Brazilian defender Gabriel (R) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the English Premier League football match between West Ham United and Arsenal at the London Stadium, in London on May 1, 2022. Ian Kington / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Arsenal maintained their two-point lead over Tottenham in the battle to qualify for next season’s Champions League.

They were 2-1 winners at West Ham to move back above Spurs, who earlier beat Leicester 3-1 thanks to a Son Heung-min double.

Arsenal’s centre-backs got the job done to keep the Gunners on course to end a five-year absence from the Champions League.

Rob Holding’s header from Bukayo Saka’s corner put the visitors in front at the London Stadium.

READ ALSO: Everton Shock Chelsea To Boost Premier League Survival Hopes

West Ham had one eye on the second leg of their Europa League semi-final against Eintracht Frankfurt in midweek, but David Moyes named a strong side and was rewarded with an equaliser before half-time from Jarrod Bowen.

The Hammers’ strength from set-pieces has been one of the successes of their season.

But they were undone at the back from another corner as this time Gabriel Magalhaes turned in Gabriel Martinelli’s cross.

Tottenham took full advantage of Leicester naming a much-changed side ahead of their Europa Conference League second leg against Roma.

Harry Kane powered home a header from Son’s corner midway through the first half and Son doubled the lead on the hour mark after a pass from substitute Dejan Kulusevski.

Son scored a third in the 79th minute to kill the game, curling an unstoppable effort into the top corner for his 19th Premier League goal of the season before a late consolation for Kelechi Iheanacho.

“No-one could have imagined when I arrived in November we could be in this race still, but these players are deserving to fight for such an important place,” Conte told the BBC.

“It is not easy to qualify for the Champions League in England.”

The battle for fourth could come down to a north London derby between Tottenham and Arsenal on May 12.

But Mikel Arteta’s men will hope to extend their lead to five points next weekend when they host relegation-threatened Leeds, while Spurs face a daunting trip to title-chasing Liverpool.

AFP