Neymar Makes Impression As PSG Crush Galatasaray

Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar celebrates scoring his team’s third goal during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Galatasaray at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris on December 11, 2019. FRANCK FIFE / AFP

 

Neymar marked his first start in a Champions League game in a year by scoring one goal and setting up two more as Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 5-0 win over Galatasaray on Wednesday.

Mauro Icardi and Pablo Sarabia netted in the first half at the Parc des Princes, with the world’s most expensive player getting his team’s third within two minutes of the restart.

Kylian Mbappe scored the fourth goal and substitute Edinson Cavani added a late penalty as PSG — who had already qualified for the last 16 as group winners – made it 16 points out of a possible 18 in Group A to finish five points ahead of Real Madrid.

However, it was Neymar who made the biggest impression, four days after starring in a 3-1 domestic victory at Montpellier and an injury-ravaged year to the day after his last start in Europe, against Red Star Belgrade.

“Neymar was already super important in a very difficult game at Montpellier. He was decisive in that game and he is improving,” said coach Thomas Tuchel.

“He is working hard off the ball, and going forward he is finding his form. It is easier now for him to accelerate, and he was really, really good.”

Despite PSG already being through and France being in the grip of a transport strike that has almost completely shut down the Paris metro system, the Parc des Princes was still largely full.

That included a sizeable travelling support, and there were incidents outside the stadium ahead of the match between rival fan groups, with police responding by firing tear gas before calm returned.

The game itself carried the air of a training exercise for the home side, with Tuchel resting stars such as Angel Di Maria, Thiago Silva, Marco Verratti and goalkeeper Keylor Navas.

There was a start in midfield for the 17-year-old Tanguy Kouassi, who made his senior debut last weekend and has still not signed full professional terms.

A year in the wilderness 

The two biggest stars were on the pitch, though, and both Neymar and Mbappe proved too hot for the Turkish champions to handle.

Mbappe lifted the ball over advancing Galatasaray goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, leaving Icardi with an easy finish to make it 1-0 just after the half-hour mark.

It was Icardi’s 12th goal of the season and it was followed three minutes later by Sarabia controlling Neymar’s pass and firing low into the far corner.

After that Red Star game at the end of last season’s group phase, in which Neymar scored in a 4-1 win, he went on to miss both legs of the last-16 defeat against Manchester United due to injury.

He then sat out the first three games of this European campaign because of suspension, and was injured again for the following match, a 1-0 win over Club Brugge.

Neymar returned for the 2-2 draw at Real Madrid a fortnight ago, but only as a substitute.

The Brazilian collected Mbappe’s lay-off and fired low into the net to make it 3-0 in the 47th minute and then returned the favour, releasing the French World Cup winner to score his fifth Champions League goal of the season and make it 4-0 after the hour mark.

All that was left was for Cavani — the real PSG fans’ favourite currently relegated to the role of back-up — to convert a late penalty, making it 5-0 after Mbappe had been brought down, with Neymar happy for the Uruguay striker to take over penalty duties.

“We are in this together as a team and I hope him giving the penalty to ‘Edi’ is a symbol for the team this season,” added Tuchel.

Galatasaray finish with a paltry one goal and two points in the group and miss out on the consolation of a Europa League spot in the new year to Club Brugge.

AFP

Rodrygo Makes History As Madrid Thump Galatasaray

Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Rodrygo celebrates after scoring during the UEFA Champions League Group A football match between Real Madrid and Galatasaray at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid, on November 6, 2019.
PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP

 

Rodrygo scored a sensational hat-trick and the fastest two goals in Champions League history on Wednesday as Real Madrid humiliated Galatasaray 6-0.

The 18-year-old had his double after just six minutes and 14 seconds at the Santiago Bernabeu before teeing up Karim Benzema to make it four, after Sergio Ramos had chipped in a penalty.

Benzema then added a fifth late in the second half, leaving Rodrygo to complete his incredible treble in injury-time.

Madrid’s emphatic victory means they are virtually qualified from Group A, sitting five points ahead of Club Brugge, even if Paris Saint-Germain who are top look certain to claim first place.

READ ALSO: Atletico’s Round Of 16 Qualification Delayed After Loss To Leverkusen

It means Zinedine Zidane’s side will likely be at the mercy of the draw when it comes to the last 16 but that is their punishment for a miserable opening defeat in Paris and an equally dispiriting draw at home to Brugge.

Yet the knock-out stages are far away and Rodrygo is the man of the moment.

After scoring the fastest ever league goal by a Real debutant in September – a sumptuous control and finish after 94 seconds – he now has his name etched into the European record books too.

Benzema made his own piece of history by equalling and then surpassing Alfred di Stefano’s 49 European Cup goals but the way he hoisted Rodrygo to celebrate his first suggested he knew this was the teenager’s night.

When club president Florentino Perez presented Rodrygo to the fans last summer, he said they had signed one of the world’s “great prodigies”, a year after Vinicius Junior had also arrived from Flamengo.

Determined to avoid a repeat of losing out on Neymar to Barcelona, Madrid flooded Brazil with scouts, each of them instructed to find the next young gems.

They found Vinicius, who excelled last season but has struggled since the arrival of Eden Hazard, and Rodrygo, who stayed at Santos for a year before finally joining in June.

He was supposed to be introduced gradually to the senior team by playing first for Castilla, the club’s B team, and there was confusion earlier this season when one weekend he turned out for neither.

“He is a first-team player,” Zidane said. “We know exactly what we’re doing with him.”

Rodrygo replaced Vinicius to make his debut against Osasuna but his four consecutive starts have come in the absence of Gareth Bale, who is recovering from a calf injury and may struggle to regain his place when he returns.

There will be sturdier opponents than Galatasaray, who offered Madrid a way back into this group by losing 1-0 at home last month and put up precious little resistance here.

But Rodrygo’s two early finishes were ruthless, both set up by Marcelo crosses from the left. The first he cushioned and steered back inside, leaving Mario Lemina on the floor, before guiding a shot into the far corner.

The second was more simple, a leap and a well-timed header past Galatasaray’s goalkeeper Fernando Muslera.

In the 14th minute, it was three. Prompted by VAR, referee Felix Zwayer decided Steven Nzonzi had caught the foot of Toni Kroos inside the area and Ramos lifted his penalty down the middle.

There was still time for Benzema to add a fourth before half-time as Rodrygo capitalised on an error from Yuto Nagatomo and played a perfect pass for the Frenchman to score.

The rest of the match was a procession, with Casemiro and Hazard both taken off, rested for the trip to Eibar on Saturday.

Benzema scored his second late on, tapping in from close range to make it five, before Rodrygo raced in from the left, exchanged passes with the Frenchman, and poked in.

After the final whistle, he kissed the match ball as he left, while the fans chanted his name.

AFP

Kroos Stars As Real Madrid Beat Galatasaray In Champions League

Real Madrid’s German midfielder Toni Kroos (R) celebrates with team mates after he scored a goal during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Galatasaray and Real Madrid on October 22, 2019 at the Ali Sami Yen Spor Kompleksi in Istanbul.
OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Real Madrid came away from Istanbul with three crucial Champions League points on Tuesday with a 1-0 away win at Galatasaray thanks to a first-half Toni Kroos goal and Eden Hazard’s threatening creativity.

Pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane will be alleviated after Madrid had been beaten in their first European game by PSG, before they had to fight back from 2-0 down at home to Club Brugge to snatch a point in their second match of the campaign.

The thirteen-times European champions arrived in Istanbul needing a win against motivated opponents backed by passionate and noisy supporters.

Zidane said on Monday he was ‘bothered’ by rumours of his imminent replacement in the Madrid hot-seat, and he paced the touchline with a haunted look at times in the Turkish capital.

Belgian star Hazard shone and it was a clever cut-back from him that provided Kroos with a shot on goal, and his snap-shot was deflected past goalkeeper Fernando Muslera, who kept the visitors at bay for the rest of the proceedings.

Karim Benzema was also busy but curled two shots wide when he might have done better.

Captain Sergio Ramos was colossal at the heart of the Real defence with an ever present contribution despite his every touch being roundly booed.

Behind him Belgium ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois kept a cool head when stopping several Turkish attempts on his goal notably with efforts from Florin Andone and Younes Belhanda.

Hazard hit the crossbar after cutting round Muslera late on and was swiftly subbed by Zidane.

PSG thrashed Club Brugge 5-0 in the other Group A game and have nine points to Madrid’s four while Brugge have two and Galatasaray one after three games.

AFP

 

 

Galatasaray, Fenerbahce Point Fingers After Clash

Fenerbahce and Galatasaray players fight at the end of the Turkish Spor Toto Super league fotball match between Galatasaray and Fenerbahce on November 2, 2018 at TT Ali Samiyen sport complex in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP

 

Arch Istanbul rivals Fenerbahce and Galatasaray on Sunday both claimed to be the aggrieved party after a fractious derby ended in nine cards and a mass brawl extraordinary even by the combustible standards of Turkish football.

Referee Firat Aydinus had already handed out five yellow cards when he blew the whistle on the critical match with the result 2-2 at Galatasaray’s stadium on Friday night.

The players then approached the centre circle to shake hands but rather than greeting each other a mass brawl erupted with officials from both sides and substitutes rushing onto the pitch to get involved.

After the fight, the referee sent off three players and handed out another yellow card.

But there was no sign of contrition from either side after the confrontation, which only served to confirm the harshest stereotypes about the volatile nature of Turkish football.

Galatasaray issued a statement slamming the referee, saying that “some referees have a habit of making mistakes concerning the same team” and warning against “referees who provoke with their actions”.

Fenerbahce meanwhile outlined five instances, complete with video evidence, where it said it had been the victim.

It called on the Turkish Football Federation (TFF), whose disciplinary committee is now expected to announce harsh sanctions for both clubs, “to look at every club and player as equal and not privilege anyone.”

The game was of critical importance for both sides.

Fenerbahce are looking to resurrect their season after a dire start that saw them sack Dutch coach Phillip Cocu and languish just above the relegation zone in 15th.

Galatasaray are in second but four points behind leaders Basaksehir of Istanbul.

AFP

Messi Named Best Player In Europe

messiBarcelona’s Lionel Messi has won the UEFA best player in Europe award, after beating Luis Suarez and Cristiano Ronaldo to the prize.

The 28-year-old shone in the second half of last season as he inspired Barcelona to the treble, with the club lifting the Champions League, Copa del Rey and La Liga.

Messi finished level on goals with Real Madrid star, Ronaldo and Barcelona team-mate Neymar in Europe in 2014/2015 – as all three men found the back of the net 10 times.

Meanwhile, in the grouping for the UEFA Champions League, Paris Saint Germain will play in Group A along with Real Madrid, Shakhtar Donetsk and Malmo.

Manchester United, who returned to the competition after a season absence, will confront PSV Eindhoven, CSKA Moscow and Wolfsburg in Group B.

Group C has Benfica, Atletico Madrid, Galatasaray and Astana.

In Group D are Juventus, Manchester City, Sevilla and Borussia Monchengladbach.

Defending champions, Barcelona are in Group E with Bayer Leverkusen, A.S. Roma and Bate Borisov.

Bayern Munich, Arsenal, Olympiacos and Dinamo Zagreb are in Group F.

Chelsea, FC Porto, Dynamo Kiev and Maccabi Tel-Aviv make up Group G.

Zenit Saint Petersburg, Valencia, Olympique Lyon and Kaa Gent filled up Group H.

Mourinho Hails Chelsea Team, Singles Out Drogba

ChelseaChelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, has hailed the bravery of his team to see-off the challenge by Tottenham at Stamford Bridge on Wednesday night to maintain their lead atop the English Premier League.

He said that his team played a good game against a spirited Spurs side who should have gone ahead when Harry Kane’s header hit the bar. The attempt brought Chelsea into the game, subsequently taking the lead through Hazard.

The Portuguese also applauded the effort of his aging Ivorian striker, Didier Drogba (now 36) who set up Hazard for the opener and scored the second before Remy made it three.

When asked about what he felt on Drogba’s performance he said, “Yes, it is remarkable. Didier is a team player, one of these with an old school mentality. Not selfish, not vain, a humble guy who plays for the team, fights for the team. Fantastic,” Mourinho said.

“When he is on the bench and comes on for the last few minutes to help the team defend, he does that with the same enthusiasm as when he starts a game against Tottenham.

“We played against him when he was at Galatasaray last season so I could feel the kind of potential he still has and I was expecting exactly this, with not even a doubt about a player who is not playing every game. I knew he would adapt very well mentally to his role.”

However, Spurs Boss felt hard done as his side failed to convert opportunities they had in the opening stages, with the loss now stretching their poor run at the bridge to 28 games since 1990.

“We started very well and made some chances, but they scored with their first chance and the game changed. That is the difference,” Pochettino said.

“I’m very disappointed with the result because 3-0 is harsh but we can take some positives. We were very brave at the start.

“If we scored when Kane hit the bar then the game changes, but we were playing a very good team. Our history here is difficult but we came here with the idea to take three points. That was our intention in the beginning, but in football it’s hard to manage the luck.”

Champions League: Wenger Hails Arsenal Character

WengerArsenal Manager, Arsene Wenger, has praised his team for showing good character after beating Borrusia Dortmund 2-0 to reach the last 16 of the Champions League for the 15th season in a row.

Three weeks after playing a 3-3 draw with Anderlecht after blowing a 3-0 lead at the Emirates, Arsenal went ahead in the second minute through Yaya Sanogo and made it 2-0 after 57 minutes through Alexis Sanchez.

“We had a good start and overall it was a very intense game between two very good teams where you had to fight for every ball and be focused. I felt we had a good combination between our usual passing game and our transition from defence to attack. We were highly focused to defend well together from the first to the last minute and we always looked dangerous. Defensively we were very good as well.

“We were more under pressure because on Saturday we played well but maybe we were victims of our generous attitude going forward. Here we had a bit more urgency to defend, especially when we were 1-0 up,” Wenger said.

On Yaya Sanogo’s goal, he said, “I think he played well. I decided tonight to go a bit longer from the start and he protected the ball well and won many challenges. He’s a young boy but he has presence, character and he’s naturally committed. He has a natural, aggressive attitude up front that is vital and very important.”

He also spoke on the plan on improving to make an impact in the last 16 where Arsenal in the last five or six years had always faced tougher teams who always got the better of them.

“From now until February, we need to improve as a team, get encouragement from tonight’s game and then hope we have nearly all our players back in the next round. You see who is qualified around Europe and there are many teams who are at the top, top level. There are three or four teams you don’t want to play.”

Wenger also noted that he would approach the last game aiming to win it as this would increase his chances of topping the group.

“I will try to win the last game and you never know. If Anderlecht win in Dortmund and we don’t win in Galatasaray you will say we were stupid. It’s unlikely, let’s say it’s 90 per cent that we will finish second and Dortmund will finish first.”

Arsenal have failed to go beyond the round of 16 in the last four years and Wenger said he would do things a little differently this season.

Arsenal Vs. Dortmund: Wenger Explains Giroud’s Champions League Absence

Champions LeagueArsène Wenger says Olivier Giroud is not in Arsenal’s Champions League squad because the club did not expect him to return so soon.

Giroud was initially ruled out until January with the broken tibia he suffered against Everton – and the group stage ends on December 9 with a trip to Galatasaray.

However, the France striker made an early comeback on Saturday – scoring against Manchester United – and his speedy return caught everyone by surprise.

“Exactly (we presumed his injury would mean he wouldn’t be available),” Wenger said to Arsenal.com, “At the time, we bought Danny Welbeck and we had to put him on the list.

“Giroud was supposed to be unavailable for the qualifying group stage (of the Champions League) and we put him out. He is coming back early and that is good news, but of course he’s not on the list of the 25 selected players.”

Arsenal would be able to register up to three new eligible players if they progress to the last 16 of the Champions League.

I Have Nothing To Prove To Chelsea – Drogba

Didier DrogbaDidier Drogba will have to fight hard to control his emotions when he returns to Stamford Bridge for Galatasaray’s Champions League last-16 second leg against Chelsea, the Ivorian said on the eve of Tuesday’s (March 18) match.

The 36-year-old striker ended a glittering eight-year career with the London club by scoring the winning penalty in the 2012 Champions League shootout victory over Bayern Munich in the final at the Allianz Arena.

After a hesitant start to Galatasaray’s pre-match news conference, Drogba had the reporters in stitches.

“I’ll ask myself the first question,” he said. ‘Didier, how do you feel about returning to Stamford Bridge?

“Well, I’m really happy to come back and to see some familiar faces for a big game in a big competition.

“It’s very difficult to play against Chelsea but it’s not going to be difficult for me to put myself in competition with them because now I belong to Galatasaray and I need to be professional,” said Drogba.

“Of course there will be emotion playing against my ex-team mates, like there was in the first leg,” he added in reference to the opening match in Istanbul that ended in a 1-1 draw.

The big, powerful centre forward was once voted the best player in Chelsea’s history and he said he did not know how he would react if he scored a goal on Tuesday.

Drogba said if he scores against the Blues he might not celebrate the goal, adding: “I have nothing to prove to this club everything I had to prove I proved it with Chelsea. Now I come here with another team and I just want to win the game, I just want to qualify, there is nothing personal against Chelsea, there will never be.”

Drogba also won three Premier League titles, four FA Cups and two League Cups at Chelsea, scoring 157 goals in 341 appearances between 2004 and 2012.

Fernando Torres gave Chelsea an early lead in Istanbul but Galatasaray equalised through Aurelien Chedjou to leave the tie delicately balanced in Chelsea’s favour.

Galatasaray Coach, Roberto Mancini used to be in charge at Manchester City and said he had good memories of his time in the English Premier league.

However, turning to the task at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, the Italian said: “We know it is really difficult because Chelsea is one of the best teams in Europe, but in football, never say never, anything can happen if you believe in yourself and we want to do a good job tomorrow.”

Galatasaray In Talks With Chelsea Over Mikel

Turkish side have decided to approach London club; Chelsea for the services of their star midfielder and Nigerian international John Mikel Obi.

Reports have it that Galatasaray declared their interest in Mikel obi as their representative; Bülent Tulun travelled to London for the talks in a bid to sign the midfielder, a deal that involve Mohammed who is a Nigeria FIFA Agent and another FIFA agent Hasan Egilmez.

Mikel joined Chelsea from FK Lyn for €26 million in 2006. The 26-year-old defensive midfielder has made 277 appearances for Chelsea, won the Premier League title, four FA Cups and lifted the Champions League trophy.

Mikel started his official football career at the age of 12 when picked as a talented footballer from over 3000 young talents to play in Pepsi Football Academy. A team which at that particular time was well known for going around Nigeria to search for the best there is from all the upcoming future stars, young talents to later move on to rather more professional football. Already then Obi stood out to all the scouts.

He got picked to play in a top-flight team Plateau United also known for making stars from players like Celestine Babayaro, Victor Obinna, Chris Obodo and many more which moved on to playing in European teams and representing their country later on in their careers.

Later known as John Obi Mikel he was gaining headlines for his country at the FIFA Under-17 World Championships held in Finland. Subsequently he went on trial to South Africa club Ajax Cape Town, before joining Lyn in Norway.

During preparations for the 2003 FIFA Under-17 World Championships, the Nigerian Football Association mistakenly submitted “Michael” as “Mikel” for the tournament in Finland. He decided to keep the new name, saying that it had a special ring to it. On 31 July 2006, he stated that he prefers to be called Mikel John Obi instead of John Obi Mikel, as he had most commonly been called.

In the summer of 2005, Mikel played for Nigeria at the FIFA World Youth Championships held in the Netherlands. He had an excellent tournament until Nigeria reached the final, where they lost 2–1 to Argentina. Obi won the Silver Ball after being voted the tournament’s second best player.

Kalu Uche On Fire For Kasimpasa

Undoubtedly one of the best players making Nigeria football lovers proud outside the shores of the country, Kalu Uche brought glory to his Turkish club, Kasimpasa, once again as he latched home a 44th minute goal to lift the Turkish club to the sixth spot on the Turkish league table yesterday.

Even though his splendid form on the field of play has not attracted national team selectors at the home front, Uche has been a force to reckon with in the Turkish Super Lig when it comes to scoring goals when needed and this has been his trend for a while now.

Uche’s goal ensured Kasimpasa beat Trabzonspor 2-0 in the Turkish Super Lig as he converted a right wing cross with the outside of his right foot.

So far, the player has recorded 14 goals in his name for Kasimpasa, making a joint top scorer in the Super Lig, along with Galasatary’s Burak Yilmaz.