Lille Replace PSG At Top Of Ligue 1

Lille’s Portuguese defender Jose Fonte (L) celebrates with a teammate after scoring his team’s second goal during the French L1 football match between Lille LOSC and FC Girondins de Bordeaux at the Pierre-Mauroy Stadium in Villeneuve d’Ascq, northern France on December 13, 2020.  AFP

 

Jose Fonte’s bullet header sent Lille top of Ligue 1 following a 2-1 home win over Bordeaux, although Paris Saint-Germain can reclaim first place later on Sunday when they host Lyon.

Jonathan Bamba’s exquisite curling strike gave Lille the lead on 16 minutes at the Stade Pierre-Mauroy before Toma Basic levelled from a Hatem Ben Arfa corner.

Portugal defender Fonte, who turns 37 later this month, powered in a header at a Bamba corner at the end of the first half to move Lille a point clear of PSG and two above Marseille who have two games in hand.

Lille travel to bottom side Dijon in midweek before the visit of defending champions PSG next Sunday in what could be a defining week in terms of a competitive title race this season.

“We did our job. We’ll go home and watch the other match (PSG v Lyon),” said Fonte. “We’ll keep going game after game and give everything.”

Just three points separate the top five clubs in Ligue 1, with in-form Lyon unbeaten in 10 matches and Montpellier winners in five of their past six.

Lyon, who have won at the Parc des Princes since 2007, will hope PSG are feeling the effects of completing their midweek Champions League match against Istanbul Basaksehir 24 hours later than planned.

Marseille reeled off their sixth successive victory on Saturday by beating Monaco 2-1 after their European adventure came to an abrupt end following a disastrous Champions League campaign.

AFP

Fonte Seeks Southampton Exit As Arsenal Signs Youngster Bramall

Arsenal, Southampton, Jose Fonte, Cohen BramallSouthampton defender, Jose Fonte, on Thursday handed in a transfer request.

The club’s director of football, Les Reed, said that the Portuguese has had the chance to sign a better deal, but chose to leave the club.

“He’s had several opportunities to improve the contract situation (but) he’s reserved his right not to do that. He’s made it very clear he would like to explore the opportunities for a transfer,” Reed told BBC.

The football director further noted that “That’s where we are at the moment.

“Jose wants to leave the club. He’s formally asked for a transfer.”

Fonte, Southampton’s captain, has 18 months left to run on his current contract, which he signed in October 2015.

Meanwhile, Arsenal are set to sign Hednesford Town youngster, Cohen Bramall, from non-league to the Premier League.

The 20-year-old is said to make the move in a deal worth £40,000.

English clubs Crystal Palace and Sheffield Wednesday had purportedly observed Bramall, but only the Gunners agreed terms.

The left-back follows the road taken by Everton and Wales defender Ashley Williams, who started his career at Hednesford.

Portugal Defeat France To Win Euro 2016 Championship

Portugal, Euro 2016Portugal are champions of Europe after defeating hosts France 1-0 in extra-time in the Euro 2016 final played at the Stade de France on Sunday night.

Substitute Eder was the hero, scoring Portugal’s lone goal in the 109th minute.

Portugal had to play most of the match without talisman Cristiano Ronaldo as the captain’s second EURO final ended after just 25 minutes after Dimitri Payet had clattered into his standing leg in a tackle after only eight minutes.

Despite receiving treatment, the Real Madrid star was unable to fully recover as he signalled to the bench and was tearfully stretchered and replaced by Ricardo Quaresma in the 25th minute.

Although a big blow for Portugal, the team overcame the shaky reaction to their captain’s exit and started to provide some serious challenge to France’s early domination.

The first half ended 0-0 and in the second half, France coach, Didier Deschamps withdrew Dimitri Payet for Kingsley Conman to enable them break down Portugal’s defensive.

Portugal, however, remained resolute in defense and offering next to nothing in attack.

The game went into extra-time and in the 109th minute, substitute Eder brought the Portugal bench and fans into ecstasy with a fierce low shot that beat Lloris from 25 yards.

Deschamps threw in Antonio Martial immediately to try and salvage the game but it was not to be as Portugal finally won their first ever Euro championships.

Final Pressure

Deschamps’ side had completed their run to the final at the Stade de France with a 2-0 win over Germany.

With enthusiasm around the nation reaching fever pitch in anticipation of France’s first Euro triumph in 16 years, Deschamps remained confident his players can deal with the pressure.

The 1998 World Cup and Euro 2000 winning captain said that they had learnt from some nervy earlier performances in the group stage and that they would not be overawed by the occasion.

Euro 2016: Ronaldo Hopes To Fulfill Country’s Dream

Euro 2016, RonaldoPortugal Captain, Cristiano Ronaldo, hopes to fulfil the dream of winning a competition for his country after securing qualification to the finals of the Euro 2016 on Wednesday.

“The team did a marvelous job to reach the final, it’s what we have dreamt of since the beginning.

“We knew it would be a long road and we’re still in the tournament. I hope on Sunday you’ll see me crying with joy.

“I always said I wanted to win something with Portugal. We’re closer to doing it and I believe that we’ll win.

“I’ve been at the highest level for 13 years. The statistics never lie”, Ronaldo told Skysports.

Portugal last reached the final of a major tournament in Euro 2004 and Ronaldo was left crying on the pitch as his side lost 1-0 to Greece on home soil.

Ronaldo stated that “This is different…that was my first final, my debut, now 12 years have gone by and we are going to play another final.

“I have always dreamed of winning for Portugal. I hope it is our time now.

“I am very confident. I deserve it, Portugal deserves it, all the Portuguese people deserve it.

“I’ve always dreamt of winning something for Portugal and now it’s just one step away. Dreaming is free so let’s keep dreaming.”

The Portuguese all-time highest goal scorer, scored a brilliant header also assisting Lius Nani for the second goal, when they beat Wales 2-0 on Wednesday.

Either Germany or France would join Portugal in the final when they faceoff at the Stade Velodrome in Marseille on Thursday.

Portugal’s Coach Santos Plays Down Ronaldo vs. Bale Duel

Euro 2016Portugal Coach, Fernando Santos, says there is more to his team’s Euro 2016 semi-final match against Wales than the much hyped Cristiano Ronaldo v Gareth Bale duel.

Speaking to the media on Tuesday evening, ahead of the match, he said, “They’re players who have experience, and are used to such pressure. There’s no added pressure. It’s not just Cristiano v Bale, it’s all the players from both sides.”

He admitted, “Cristiano has led by example here. The way he is on the training ground, with his team-mates, he’s been impeccable,” but the coach is more concerned about having not one, but all his players fit on Wednesday.

One of such players expected to produce a top notch performance against the now feared Welsh side is Pepe, who is not yet certified fit to play.

“We need the players who play in such a tough game to be 100 per cent fit. We want to make our own history. There’s the past, which is important for everyone, but we want to write our own story.

“We have been trying to do so from the off and tomorrow is another step against a very strong opponent.

“We know how hard it will be, but we’ll go into it with the same humility and attitude as ever.”

He added, in a cryptic mood, “My grandmother used to say the most important thing is to wake up in the morning because it means we’re alive.”

Difficult Battle

Meanwhile, Portugal defender, José Fonte, admits that Wales would be difficult to play against having grown in confidence in the championship.

“Wales never give up. The mentality, togetherness that they’re showing and the system they’re playing suits them well.

“They know the system well, they have their strengths and are a team with a lot of qualities and they are where they are because they deserve it and we expect a tough game.

“We’ve managed to get to the semis. We’re one step from the final and we have a very important, difficult battle tomorrow.

“We want to get there and we want to give something back to the country and all the Portuguese emigrants who have supported us while we are here,” he said.

Coach Santos also acknowledged the fans, “The support has been fantastic. Whenever we go back to Marcoussis, arrive at a stadium, they’re there in numbers. Their devotion is amazing.”

Euro 2016: France, Portugal, Germany Train For Quarter Final Duels

Euro 2016, France, Portugal, GermanyEuro 2016 host, France are back in training in Clairefontaine, after beating Ireland 2-1 on Sunday to reach the quarter-finals.

France will face Iceland in the quarter-finals and the players are wary of the underdogs after their stunning win against England in Nice.

The host finished top of Group A with seven points beating Romania 2-1, edging out Albania 2-0 and playing a goalless draw with Switzerland.

Meanwhile, Portugal defender, Jose Fonte, expects his team’s quarter final match against Poland to be a “very tough game”.

Portugal have maintained their record of reaching the quarter-finals on all 10 occasions they have taken part at European championships.

Fonte says the Polish team have improved in every game and also cautions his side against the attacking power of Robert Lewandowski.

Germany coach, Joachim Loew, however, insists his team’s dismal record against Italy in major tournaments is not a source of trauma for the world champions, who will face their international nemesis in the Euro 2016 last eight.

The Germans, have always lost to Italy in world cups and euro knockout rounds, including in the 1970 World Cup last four, the 1982 World Cup final, a 2006 World Cup semi-final and a Euro 2012 semi-final.

The 2012 defeat was under Loew and was especially bitter, with the Germans, exiting the competition following a 2-0 loss to the Italians.

Loew says his players, who beat Italy 4-1 in a friendly in March, would be fit and rested when they face the Italians in Bordeaux on Saturday.