Club Brugge Earn Atletico Draw To Reach Champions League Knock-outs

Kamal Sowah of Club Bruges KV during the UEFA Champions League match between Atletico de Madrid and Club Bruges KV at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by DAX Images/NurPhoto) (Photo by DAX Images / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)


Surprise package Club Brugge booked their place in the Champions League last 16 with a 0-0 draw against Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

The Belgian side are guaranteed to progress from Group B after keeping Diego Simeone’s side at bay in Madrid, and finished the game with 10 men after Kamal Sowah was sent off in the final stages.

Brugge stunned Atletico last week at home with a 2-0 win and although they dropped their first points of the competition at the Metropolitano, still secured qualification for the knock-out rounds.

Goalkeeper Simon Mignolet made a series of impressive saves to deny the likes of Antoine Griezmann and Angel Correa, frustrating the Spanish side, who are on four points from four games, six behind Group C leaders Brugge.

The visitors had the better of the opening stages, with Ferran Jutgla, who shone last week against Atletico, going close.

However Simeone’s side wrestled their way into the game and Mignolet denied Griezmann at the other end.

READ ALSO: Napoli Beat Ajax To Reach Champions League Last 16

Saul Niguez had a goal ruled out for offside against Correa in the build-up, and the Argentine soon fired narrowly wide himself, as Atletico began to dominate.

Brugge thought they had earned a penalty at the end of the first half but the decision was overturned by VAR, with Tajon Buchanan appearing to step on Nahuel Molina, rather than the reverse.


Kamal Sowah of Club Bruges KV during the UEFA Champions League match between Atletico de Madrid and Club Bruges KV at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid, Spain. (Photo by DAX Images/NurPhoto) (Photo by DAX Images / NurPhoto / NurPhoto via AFP)


Correa struck shortly after the interval but he was offside too and it was stricken from the records. Brugge’s task of holding on for the point was made harder in the final stages when Sowah was shown a second yellow card for kicking the ball away.

Atletico substitute Joao Felix threw his bib away angrily towards the end of the game when it became apparent Simeone was not planning to bring him on, as tempers frayed.

Correa might have won Atletico the game at the death but Mignolet made another fine save to deny him.

Bayer Leverkusen host Porto in the other Group B game later Wednesday.


Karius Will Bounce Back, Says Mignolet

Liverpool’s German goalkeeper Loris Karius reacts on the pitch after the UEFA Champions League final football match between Liverpool and Real Madrid at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev, Ukraine on May 26, 2018. Real Madrid defeated Liverpool 3-1. PHOTO: Paul ELLIS / AFP


Liverpool goalkeeper Loris Karius is strong enough to deal with his Champions League final nightmare, according to team-mate Simon Mignolet.

Karius was responsible for two of Real’s goals in their 3-1 victory over Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday.

The 24-year-old German threw the ball into Real forward Karim Benzema and it bounced back into the net for the opening goal.

He then allowed Gareth Bale’s harmless shot to squirm through his hands for Real’s third goal in the closing minutes.

Karius was in tears after the final whistle and has been subjected to death threats and vile abuse on social media since the match.

Mignolet has made his share of mistakes during his Liverpool career and lost his place to Karius earlier this season.

But he empathises with the 24-year-old German’s plight and has offered to help.

The Belgian international believes Karius is mentally equipped to cope and expects him to be fine when Liverpool return to action next season.

“I know how it is. You need a bit of time. The good thing about this final is that he will have the summer to take it and go forward,” Mignolet said.

“If he wants to talk then, of course, I will be there. Every goalkeeper can relate to him.

“I’ve been in this situation before myself and those kind of things you deal with yourself.

“The only thing I told him is that there is a reason we got to this final, and why we played in this final, so think about that.

“But of course it is very difficult to say anything to him and to let him grasp it.

“He’s only young. I’m sure he will bounce back. I think we have all the tools at Liverpool as well to help him with that.”

Find the positives

Meanwhile, Liverpool defender Dejan Lovren is certain Jurgen Klopp’s side will make amends for their European heartache next term.

Lovren knows Liverpool’s run to the final was unexpected, but he says it underlined their emerging quality under Klopp.

“I promise that next year we will come back even stronger because I feel this team is growing every day.

“We beat the best teams in Europe. We beat Man City, who had a fantastic season in the Premier League.

“We showed again that Real Madrid respected us in some moments – they were defending quite deep.

“We need to find the positives. The manager is always positive. At the end, we will grow and I believe in this team that we can do it again next year.”

Until Liverpool’s star forward Mohamed Salah went off with a shoulder injury, Real was struggling to cope with the Reds’ incisive attacks.

And Lovren acknowledged the loss of their talisman — who scored 44 goals this season — was a hammer blow.

“It was also a big point when Mo was injured, it was a big change for us,” he said.

“Mo is one of the most important players for us and it’s not the same when you don’t have him on the pitch.

“The mindset is totally different when you have him on the pitch.

“It was difficult to accept that we, again, had such an unlucky moment with so many injuries.”


Simon Mignolet Dropped By Liverpool For Arsenal Clash

Simon Mignolet

Liverpool goalkeeper Simon Mignolet was dropped for his side’s Premier League clash with title rivals Arsenal at Anfield on Sunday.

German Loris Karius came in between the posts and Mignolet was not even named on the bench by manager Jurgen Klopp.

The 29-year-old Belgium international had started Liverpool’s four previous games, conceding six goals.

British press reports said Mignolet was not believed to be ill or injured.

Karius, 24, took over from Mignolet at the start of last season after arriving from Mainz, but lost his place to the former Sunderland goalkeeper in December after some shaky performances.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger, meanwhile, named Alexis Sanchez in his starting XI for the first time this season after the Chilean forward overcame an abdominal strain.

Star signing Alexandre Lacazette dropped to the bench, with Danny Welbeck starting up front.


Arsenal Crash At Home To Watford, As Chelsea Draw At Anfield

Arsenal Crash At Home To Watford, As Chelsea Draw At AnfieldArsenal suffered a shock loss 2-1 loss to Watford at the Emirates in the English Premier League on Tuesday night.

It was Watford’s first Premier League away win at Arsenal as two goals in the first 13 minutes set up the 2-1 victory.

Former Tottenham Hotspur defender Younes Kaboul opened the scoring with a powerful drive aided by a deflection off Aaron Ramsey, who limped off with an injury.

Watford’s second came three minutes later as Troy Deeney slotted in after Petr Cech parried Etienne Capoue’s shot into his path.

But Alex Iwobi slotted in from Alexis Sanchez’s chipped cross on 54 minutes and Lucas Perez crashed an effort against the crossbar as Arsenal piled the pressure on in the second half, but Watford held on.

Chelsea and Liverpool played a 1-1 draw at Anfield as the visitors missed the chance of an 11-point lead at the top of the Premier League.

Georginio Wijnaldum’s header earned Liverpool the equalizer after David Luiz’s 25th minute free-kick had put them ahead.

Chelsea could have taken all three points but Diego Costa’s penalty was saved by Mignolet.

In other matches, Crystal Palace beat Bournemouth 2-0 at the Vitality Stadium while relegation threatened Sunderland played a goalless draw with Tottenham Hotspur to ensure all top teams dropped points on the night.

Elsewhere Sam Voke’s 87th minute goal was all Burnley needed to beat Leicester City 1-0 at Turf Moor while Middleborough and West Brom played a 1-1 draw in a keenly contested encounter at the Riverside Stadium.

Swansea City defeated Southampton 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium.

Mane’s Late Strike Earns Liverpool Derby Win

sadio-maneSadio Mane struck a stoppage-time goal to claim victory for Liverpool in the Merseyside derby on Monday night.

In a frenetic first half at Goodison Park, dominated by an industrious home side, Ramires Funes Mori had the best chance, steering a free header wide from an Everton corner.

After the break Liverpool went into the ascendancy, with Roberto Firmino denied when through on goal by Maarten Stekelenburg, who later went off injured.

Funes Mori had another headed chance but directed it straight at Simon Mignolet, while Stekelenburg’s replacement, Joel Robles, saved well from Firmino’s late volley.

The winner came in the fourth minute of stoppage time when Mane reacted fastest to Daniel Sturridge’s shot hitting a post.

The result moves Liverpool to second, six points behind Chelsea while Everton are ninth.

Everton manager, Ronald Koeman told BBC Sport: “We are really disappointed to concede in extra time. The eight minutes killed us.

“We have to wait to see about Maarten Stekelenburg’s injury – we will know more tomorrow – and James McCarthy has a hamstring injury.

“I know exactly how fast Sadio Mane is, he reacted so well. We did not deserve to concede this goal.

“Maybe Ross Barkley was lucky, it was a hard tackle.”

Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp told BBC Sport: “I don’t agree it was a poor first half. Maybe not the best football – you have to adapt to Everton’s wild game. A game like this you have to interrupt their rhythm with passing.

“In the second half it was clear they couldn’t do the same. We were better, we didn’t give one chance away I think.

“The goal was not the hardest shot from Sturridge, but hard enough. It was a wonderful feeling.

“I don’t like the flares too much. I’m a little bit scared about this. It was a long, long stoppage time. We gave them no chance.”

FA Cup: West Ham’s Late Goal Sends Liverpool Out

LiverpoolWest Ham United have dumped Liverpool out of the FA Cup in an extra-time thriller at Upton Park.

After a drab goalless draw at Anfield a week and a half ago, both teams produced a more entertaining match.

Michail Antonio had given West Ham the lead on the stroke of half-time before Philippe Coutinho’s free-kick levelled it up just after the break.

The second half saw both teams miss a lot of chances with Christian Benteke guilty of a notable miss in the 56th minute.

West Ham also seemed to have had a valid penalty denied when Tiago Ilori pulled down Valencia in the box.

Daniel Sturridge’s well taken shot also missed the goal by inches in the 108th as the match seemed to be heading for penalties.

Liverpool, however, were left to rue their wasted chances as Angelo Ogbonna headed home Dimitri Payet’s free-kick in the 121st minute.

Klopp made 10 changes from the side that threw away a two-goal lead to draw with Sunderland on Saturday. Only goalkeeper Simon Mignolet kept his place.

Five members of their starting line-up had never previously started a Premier League game.

Liverpool Players Will Help Mignolet Win Golden Gloves – Skrtel

LiverpoolLiverpool defender, Martin Skrtel, says assisting goalkeeper, Simon Mignolet to win the Golden Gloves award will be one of Liverpool’s targets in their final three matches of the 2014-15 season.

The goalkeeper currently leads the standings in the race for the accolade, with his 14 clean sheets putting him ahead of the likes of Fraser Forster, Joe Hart and Thibaut Courtois.

While trying to secure a top-four berth is the most crucial for the Reds, Skrtel insists they’ll also be trying to help Mignolet get his gloves on the custodian prize at the end of the campaign.

He told “It’s always nice to get a clean sheet, and Simon is at the top of the list. We will try to help him and we hope and believe he can win it.

“That will be one of the messages for the last three games – but not only for these last three games as we try to keep clean sheets as often as we can. At the moment we’re doing pretty well and we want to carry on in that way.”

Liverpool head into their last trio of matches trailing fourth-place Manchester United by four points in the race for Champions League qualification and Skrtel knows it’ll be difficult to overturn that deficit, but is adamant the Reds won’t be giving up on the hope of doing so until it’s mathematically impossible.

“It’s obviously not over because we still have a chance – and while we have a chance, we will fight for it,” said the 30-year-old.

“We will do all we can do to try and get into the top four and then we’ll see where we finish at the end of the season.

“We have to be honest – we know it is not in our hands, but we have to win our games and wait on United’s results. Then we’ll see. We are ready and we’ll be fighting.”

Meanwhile, Skrtel insists he remains fully committed to Liverpool.

The centre-back has been the subject of media speculation regarding his long-term future, but has confirmed he’s in negotiations regarding a new contract with the Reds.

“There is always talk about my position and my future.

“Almost every single transfer window there is always talk about myself leaving Liverpool and interest from other clubs.

“But as it stands, I still have a contract with Liverpool, I have an offer from Liverpool and we’ll see where we finish [with those talks].

“I am fully committed to Liverpool.”

Liverpool Will Fight Until The End For Top Four – Rodgers

LiverpoolBrendan Rodgers has pledged that Liverpool will fight ‘until the very end’ for a top-four position after watching his side close the gap with a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United at Anfield.

Raheem Sterling and Joe Allen were on target in either half for the Reds against the Magpies on Monday night to secure a return to winning ways in the Barclays Premier League.

The win was the required response following back-to-back defeats by Manchester United and Arsenal and moved Rodgers’ side to within four points of Manchester City in fourth.

“We’re going to fight right until the very end,” the manager explained to reporters at his post-match press conference from inside the stadium.

“We were obviously on a great run and we won 10 out of 13 games, which has given us a chance. We had two disappointing results. But we’re a group that is very much learning.

“We knew we had to respond to those two defeats – we got ourselves into the semi-finals of a prestigious cup competition and won tonight, which was important for us.”

The race for Champions League qualification is still very much alive then with six matches remaining in the campaign, and City now much more within reach.

Asked whether he believes the gap can be successfully eradicated by his team by the end of May, Rodgers responded: “The players are really set.

“There are obviously teams still above us and four points is the difference, but as we saw last year there can be a lot of changes and I still think there will be changes and points dropped in the last six games.

“For us, it’s important that we can just focus on getting wins and see where it takes us. I feel that the players and I are very motivated to do the very best that we can.

“We’ve shown that we can put wins together consistently. It’s a very hungry group that’s improving and getting better. We’ve got important players coming back now, which is good news.

“We feel we have every chance. Of course, we’re looking for other teams to slip up, but we’ve got to continue winning. If we can do that, we’ll give ourselves a chance.”

The Reds edged ahead of Newcastle after just nine minutes, Sterling collecting a raking pass from Jordan Henderson, jinking inside from the left and sending a finish curling past Tim Krul.

John Carver’s team battled back and troubled the home defence but Simon Mignolet stood firm, allowing Allen to crisply knock in a half-volley at the Kop end to secure the points.

The boss said of the opener: “It was a wonderful touch by young Raheem and it was a great ball by Jordan. He took a touch in a tight space and then he’s worked his magic in the box.

“It was a great finish and we needed that because we didn’t start great in the first seven or eight minutes, but once we got the goal, I thought that then we had good control of the game.

“It was a good performance. I thought that our attacking play in the game was very bright. I thought we looked really exciting going forward.

“We worked very, very hard on the back of the midweek game, which was a tough game. We know Newcastle have got good players that can hurt you, especially on the counter-attack.

“We had a lot of the ball tonight – at times our possession could have been better. I thought that we were a bit loose at times with the ball.

“But I thought we had real attacking intent in the game and we created chances. We maybe could have got one or two more goals. But a clean sheet and to win 2-0 at home against Newcastle was an important result for us.”


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