Man City Pounce On Varane Mistakes To Dump Out Real Madrid

 

Manchester City took advantage of two shocking mistakes by Raphael Varane to beat Real Madrid 2-1 in their Champions League last 16-second leg on Friday and advance to the quarter-finals as Pep Guardiola came out on top in his duel with Zinedine Zidane.

The Frenchman had never been knocked out of Europe’s elite club competition as Real coach, leading them to three consecutive victories between 2016 and 2018 in his first spell before returning to the job last year.

But Madrid had been left with a mountain to climb in this tie after throwing away the lead to lose 2-1 in the first leg in Spain in February, before the coronavirus forced the competition into hibernation.

An identical defeat at an empty Etihad Stadium means it is City who advance 4-2 on aggregate.

READ ALSO: Lyon Hold Off Juventus To Reach Champions League Quarter-Finals

Without Sergio Ramos due to suspension, Real were undone by mistakes by their other first-choice centre-back.

Varane was dispossessed inside the box in the ninth minute allowing Raheem Sterling to put City ahead, and his poor headed backpass attempt gifted Gabriel Jesus another goal midway through the second half.

Before that second goal the tie had been in the balance with the in-form Karim Benzema having scored for the visitors just before the half-hour mark.

The circumstances may be highly unusual, but this is still City’s finest Champions League result, their most significant victory in a knock-out tie.

Their best performance in the competition remains a run to the semi-finals in 2016, when they went out rather limply to Real.

Now they should very possibly be considered the favourites to win the competition in Lisbon on August 23.

If they do so, the victory would taste all the sweeter coming so soon after their successful appeal to the Court of Arbitration of Sport against a two-year ban from Europe handed down by UEFA for breaches of their Financial Fair Play rules.

They have already qualified for next season’s tournament after coming second in the Premier League but now they can look forward to facing Lyon in the quarter-finals next Saturday at the Estadio Jose Alvalade.

Real, meanwhile, will get over this.

They have dined out on success in the Champions League in recent years but their main objective after the coronavirus shutdown was to win La Liga and they did that.

Zidane’s team overhauled Barcelona thanks to 10 successive victories after La Liga returned in June but they were not especially prolific in front of goal during that run, despite Benzema’s fine form.

Uphill struggle

It was already going to be an uphill struggle for them in the absence of Ramos, sent off late in the first leg, and their task became even harder after they conceded an early opener.

City’s high pressing paid off as Varane was barged off the ball in his own area by Jesus, who squared for Sterling to roll in.

There was a response from the 13-time European champions, though, with Benzema and Eden Hazard both forcing saves from Ederson before their equaliser on the night arrived in the 28th minute.

A fine move ended with Benzema feeding Rodrygo and the young Brazilian clipping in a cross from the right for the Frenchman, who rose above Aymeric Laporte and Fernandinho to head in from the edge of the six-yard box.

It was his 65th goal in the Champions League, putting him one clear of Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski on the overall list and behind only Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Raul.

Unfortunately for Real, Benzema was not able to add to that tally and this tie was effectively ended by another Varane blooper.

The Frenchman struggled with an awkward high ball downfield and his header back towards Thibaut Courtois was short, allowing Jesus to prod it beyond the goalkeeper and into the net.

Real will not return to Lisbon, where they won the Champions League in 2014, but the dream remains alive for Guardiola and City.

AFP

Lampard Hails Chelsea’s ‘Character’ After FA Cup Semi-Final Success

Chelsea's English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 19, 2020. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP
Chelsea’s English head coach Frank Lampard gestures during the English FA Cup semi-final football match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Wembley Stadium in London, on July 19, 2020. Andy Rain / POOL / AFP

 

Frank Lampard saluted Chelsea’s “character and personality” as they powered into the FA Cup final with a 3-1 win over woeful Manchester United on Sunday.

Lampard’s side were gifted their goals by an error-strewn display from United goalkeeper David De Gea, but Chelsea were deserved winners as they dominated the semi-final from start to finish.

Olivier Giroud opened the scoring late in the first half and Mason Mount got the second after the interval at Wembley.

Harry Maguire’s own goal killed off United before Bruno Fernandes’ late penalty.

After some shaky performances in recent weeks, including a 3-0 hammering at Sheffield United, Lampard was impressed with the spirited way his players out-classed in-form United at Wembley.

“I can’t ask for any more from my players than that. The work ethic and the level of performance. We were on top and when they changed their system we were even better,” Lampard told the BBC.

“Where we are at, it is going to happen that we have some bad displays like against Sheffield United. But to do that against Manchester United, I’m delighted and very proud.

“There was a lot of work done in the last two days to change the system, and you’re only as good as your players in that situation. They deserve a huge amount of credit.

“They should take confidence from that display. We have leaders, you can’t compare across eras but we have leaders in the team. It was a performance full of character and personality.”

Chelsea’s victory moved Lampard a step closer to silverware in his first season in charge of the club where he earned legendary status as a player.

Before their FA Cup final date with London rivals Arsenal on August 1, Chelsea have to focus on qualifying for the Champions League via a top four finish in the Premier League.

They sit third — one point above Leicester and United — with games against Liverpool and Wolves to finish the league season.

“We have finals ahead. Two in the league and then Arsenal,” Lampard said.

“We want to win things, and at the start of the season we wanted to be up there challenging for the top four.

“A lot of people were tipping against us, but quietly I was always hoping.

“I don’t want to put everything on these three games defining everything we’ve done and the progress we’ve made, but of course we want top four, we want trophies and we’re at the business end, so let’s see.”

British Virus Death Toll Now World’s Third-Worst

Britain Flag

 

Britain’s death toll from the coronavirus outbreak jumped to 26,097 on Wednesday — the second-highest in Europe behind Italy and third-highest in the world — as the government took into account fatalities outside hospital, including care homes, for the first time.

The increase came after surprise news that Prime Minister Boris Johnson had become a father again at age 55, several months earlier than expected, and just weeks after he was taken to hospital with COVID-19.

Downing Street announced that his partner, Carrie Symonds, 32, gave birth to a healthy baby boy, prompting messages of congratulation from across the political spectrum at home and abroad.

The rare good news was soured however by the additional 4,419 deaths in the overall coronavirus death toll, just as Johnson, who returned to work on Monday, is under pressure to ease a month-long lockdown.

Until now, Britain had reported only deaths of people who had tested positive for COVID-19 in hospital but there has been mounting concern about high numbers of unreported victims in the wider community.

On Tuesday, the Office for National Statistics said deaths registered in England and Wales in the week ending April 17 were running at roughly double the five-year average and were the highest weekly total since 1993.

Foreign Secretary Dominic Raab on Wednesday said there were an additional 3,811 deaths included in the outbreak since the start of March, on top of figures from the last 24 hours.

“They don’t represent a sudden surge in the number of deaths,” he told reporters.

According to an AFP tally from official sources at 1300 GMT on Wednesday, Britain has now leapfrogged the tolls in France and Spain and is the second-worst affected country in Europe, behind Italy’s 27,359 deaths.

The United States has the world’s worst death toll with 58,355.

Second peak

Britain has widened its testing regime for COVID-19 to care homes, the over-65s and people unable to work from home, as part of increased measures to curb the outbreak.

A total of 85 frontline workers in the state-run National Health Service (NHS) have died from the coronavirus, and 23 in social care, according to the government.

There remain questions about the provision of personal protective equipment to medics and others dealing with patients, and the availability of testing.

Raab, who has deputised for Johnson during his illness and recovery, warned the government is not yet ready to ease lockdown restrictions.

“This issue of a second spike and the need to avoid it, it’s not a theoretical risk,” he said.

“Having relaxed restrictions in Germany over the last week, they’ve seen a rise in the transmission rate of coronavirus.

“We’re in a delicate and dangerous moment. We’re coming through the peak, but we’re not there yet.”

‘Relief and joy’

Britain shut non-essential shops and services, and ordered people to stay at home except to shop for groceries and medicines, on March 27.

A review of the measures is expected on May 7, amid dire warnings about the economic impact and indications of frustration at the continued confinement.

Johnson held a lunchtime telephone call with the leader of the main opposition Labour party, Keir Starmer who has called for more clarity on the lockdown exit plan.

Starmer earlier joined well-wishers in congratulating Johnson on becoming a father again, particularly after his recent experience. Symonds also displayed COVID-19 symptoms but was not tested.

“Whatever differences we have in this house, as human beings we all recognise the anxiety the prime minister and Carrie must have gone through in these past few weeks,” he told parliament.

“I really hope this brings them incredible relief and joy.”

Johnson had to spend three nights in intensive care, and later admitted his illness “could have gone either way”.

He was present for the birth at an unnamed NHS hospital in London and would be taking some paternity leave later in the year, his spokesman said.

Johnson has at least five other children, including four with his second wife, Marina Wheeler, from whom he split in 2018.

He also had a daughter as a result of an extra-marital affair while he was mayor of London, according to a 2013 court case.

The news of his youngest child’s birth came as a surprise, as Symonds was not thought to be due for several weeks.

Both she and the baby were said to be doing “very well”.

Arsenal Manager Mikel Arteta Tests Positive For Coronavirus

Arsenal's Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. Ian KINGTON / AFP
Arsenal’s Spanish head coach Mikel Arteta gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and West Ham at the Emirates Stadium in London on March 7, 2020. Ian KINGTON / AFP

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta has tested positive for the coronavirus, prompting the Premier League to announce they will hold an emergency meeting on Friday to discuss future fixtures.

Arsenal have closed their training ground as a result of Arteta’s positive test, with Gunners players and club staff who had recent contact with the Spaniard now forced to self-isolate.

“This is really disappointing but I took the test after feeling poorly,” Arteta said in a statement on Arsenal’s website.

“I will be at work as soon as I’m allowed.”

Arsenal confirmed the shock news just minutes after the Premier League had said all fixtures would go ahead this weekend despite the spread of the global pandemic.

Arsenal, due to play at Brighton in the Premier League on Saturday, said it was “clear we will not be able to play some fixtures on their currently scheduled dates”.

Arsenal’s Premier League match at Manchester City on Wednesday was postponed and several Gunners players went into self-isolation after Olympiakos and Nottingham Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis contracted the virus.

Marinakis, 52, met a number of Arsenal’s players and staff when the Gunners faced Olympiakos in a Europa League tie in February.

“Our London Colney training centre has been closed after head coach Mikel Arteta received a positive Covid-19 result this evening,” the Arsenal statement said.

“Arsenal personnel who had recent close contact with Mikel will now self-isolate in line with Government health guidelines.

“We expect this to be a significant number of people from Colney, including the full first-team squad and coaching staff.”

Arsenal are now trying to trace any other people who may have had contact with Arteta.

 Premier League emergency 

Arsenal managing director Vinai Venkatesham added: “The health of our people and the wider public is our priority and that is where our focus is.

“Our thoughts are with Mikel who is disappointed but in good spirits. We are in active dialogue with all the relevant people to manage this situation appropriately, and we look forward to getting back to training and playing as soon as medical advice allows.”

British Prime Minister Boris Johnson said on Thursday that the government was considering cancelling sporting events in the United Kingdom, but was not ready to do so yet.

But the news of Arteta’s positive test could force the Premier League to cancel English top-flight matches.

“In light of Arsenal’s announcement tonight confirming that their first-team coach Mikel Arteta has tested positive for COVID-19, the Premier League will convene an emergency club meeting tomorrow morning regarding future fixtures,” the Premier League said.

Arsenal are the latest Premier League club to be hit by the virus.

Leicester revealed on Thursday that three of their players have self-isolated after showing signs of the virus.

Manchester City said one unnamed member of their squad, reportedly France defender Benjamin Mendy, is in self-isolation after a family member suffered a respiratory illness.

The relative is being treated in hospital and has undergone tests for the coronavirus, which can cause shortness of breath.

Chelsea reportedly cancelled training on Thursday after a member of staff showed signs of the illness.

AFP

Chelsea Crush Everton To Cement Top Four Place

 

Frank Lampard warned Chelsea not to get complacent after they took control of the race to qualify for the Champions League with a 4-0 demolition of Everton on Sunday.

Lampard’s side won for just the second time in seven league games thanks to goals from Mason Mount, Pedro, Willian and Olivier Giroud in a masterful display at Stamford Bridge.

Fourth-placed Chelsea are in pole position to qualify for the Champions League with nine games to play.

But Lampard doesn’t want his stars to rest on their laurels just yet.

Aware that inconsistency has been the Achilles heel of his promising young team, Lampard said: “We can’t get ahead of ourselves. I’m experienced enough to know we go to Aston Villa next week, they are fighting for their lives and we have to replicate this performance.

“There’s still a long way to go. It’s still close. Even if it looks like a cushion as I sit here now, it doesn’t feel that way.

“It’s in our hands, but I’m certainly not going to jump in and say we are favourites. We have had inconsistency at times this season.”

While Lampard struck a cautious note about Chelsea’s Champions League ambitions, the Blues boss was quick to praise his players for delivering their biggest league win of the season.

It was exactly what Lampard demanded after Chelsea got back on track with their FA Cup fifth round win over Liverpool on Tuesday.

“At home yes, it was our best performance, because of the goals and the clean sheet,” Lampard said.

“In terms of performance we have been close to that a lot. We haven’t got the hard bit, the goals. Today we reached that.

“The finishing, the energy in the team, the speed of the pass, getting after the ball. We saw some really good stuff.

“It’s encouraging. You will always need your squad. We have a lot of injuries. The only way to tackle that is to work hard, play with energy and trust either other.

“I thought the whole attitude and focus of the team felt strong after Liverpool.”

Gilmour shines

Too often this term, Chelsea have dominated possession without killing off defensive opponents at Stamford Bridge.

But they tore into Everton from the start, with Mount and Pedro especially lively as they built on the platform provided by 18-year-old midfielder Billy Gilmour.

Gilmour was making his first Premier League start after a fine display against Liverpool and the Scot did everything Lampard asked of him.

“In the position where he plays, receiving the ball under pressure, he has to show balls. He’s done that, then when he played further up the field later in the game, he immediately took that on as well,” Lampard said.

Everton’s revival under Carlo Ancelotti has hit the buffers, with a run of three games without a win exposing them as frauds in the Champions League battle.

“Everything went wrong. We were too open defensively. We lost a lot of duels and with the ball we did a lot of mistakes,” Ancelotti said.

“It is not difficult to analyse this game. It is the first game when we did not compete. We have to learn from this.”

Defeats against Arsenal and Chelsea, along with a draw against Manchester United, have left Everton to focus on a Europa League berth instead.

“We never said we could qualify for the Champions League, but we can fight for the Europa League,” Ancelotti said.

Asked if he was satisfied with Everton’s commitment, Ancelotti gave a pointed pause before saying: “There are things I can analyse with you, and things I can analyse with my players.”

AFP

‘Welcome To Anfield’, Klopp Warns Atletico

 

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp expects a very different atmosphere at Anfield will help turn his side’s Champions League last 16 tie with Atletico Madrid around after a 1-0 first leg defeat in the Spanish capital on Tuesday.

Saul Niguez’s early strike inflicted just Liverpool’s second defeat of the season in all competitions with a senior team.

The holders were frustrated by the hosts’ playacting and Polish referee Szymon Marciniak’s performance as Atletico boss Diego Simeone whipped the Wanda Metropolitano crowd into a frenzy.

“Wow, that’s energy!” Klopp told BT Sport when asked about Simeone’s touchline antics.

“I don’t think I have to do that much to be honest (in the second leg), I hope I can be focused a little bit more on the game.

“Our people will be ready. Welcome to Anfield! It’s not over yet.”

Klopp replaced Sadio Mane at half-time with the Senegalese at risk of being sent-off as Atletico players surrounded Marciniak demanding a second yellow card for the African player of the year just before the break.

“He was targeted that was clear,” added Klopp.

“Sadio played a really good first half and they only thing they wanted is to make sure he gets a yellow card.

“For me we didn’t lose, it’s only half-time, the score is 1-0 that’s all. But you need to be really strong as a ref in this atmosphere, that was obviously not easy.”

The visitors were also riled by the celebrations of Simeone and some of his players at full-time after they secured a victory that could kickstart at faltering season.

“They’ve celebrated as if they’ve won the tie after the game, so let’s see,” said left-back Andy Robertson.

“We’ve got a couple of weeks, Premier League business to take care of, and then we’re coming back to Anfield.

“We know our fans will be there, we’ll be there, so it’s up to them to come as well.”

Sheffield United Weather The Storm To Climb To Fifth

 

Sheffield United closed to within two points of a Champions League place by coming from behind to keep Bournemouth perilously close to the relegation zone with a 2-1 win at Bramall Lane.

John Lundstram came off the bench to score the winner as the Blades moved up to fifth after Billy Sharp had cancelled out Callum Wilson’s early opener for the visitors.

Defeat leaves Bournemouth still just two points above the bottom three, having played a game more than most of their rivals to avoid relegation.

READ ALSO: Man City Clash With West Ham Postponed Over Storm

The only game in the Premier League due to on Sunday went ahead after a pitch inspection as the effects of storm Ciara, which saw Manchester City’s clash with West Ham postponed, were not enough to convince referee John Moss to abandon the game.

Early on it was the hosts who were blown off course as the Cherries looked to build on back-to-back wins that had hauled them out of the bottom three.

Wilson struck his second goal in three games with an emphatic finish on the rebound after Harry Wilson’s initial effort was blocked.

United responded just in time to go in level at the break when captain Sharp was quickest to react as the ball flashed across the Bournemouth goal after the visitors failed to clear a corner.

A day after Jordan Pickford’s blunder nearly cost Everton all three points Dean Henderson did no harm to his chances in his challenge to be England’s number one at Euro 2020.

Henderson produced a brilliant save from Ryan Fraser to prevent Bournemouth retaking the lead 20 minutes from time.

That save proved crucial when six minutes from time Lys Mousset’s cross was controlled and finished by Lundstram on a trademark run into the box to keep the Blades dreams of European football next season very much alive.

UK Leaves European Union

 

 

Britain on Friday ended almost half a century of European Union membership, making a historic exit after years of bitter arguments to chart its own uncertain path in the world.

There were celebrations and tears across the country as the EU’s often reluctant member became the first to leave an organisation set up to forge unity among nations after the horrors of World War II.

Thousands of people waving Union Jack flags packed London’s Parliament Square to mark the moment of Brexit at 11 pm (2300 GMT) — midnight in Brussels.

“We did it!” declared Nigel Farage, the former member of the European Parliament who has campaigned for Brexit for years, before the crowd began singing the national anthem.

It was a largely good-natured gathering, aside from one Brexit supporter who earlier set an EU flag alight.

But Brexit has exposed deep divisions in British society, and many fear the consequences of ending 47 years of ties with their nearest neighbours.

Some pro-Europeans, including many of the 3.6 million EU citizens who made their lives in Britain, marked the occasion with solemn candlelit vigils.

Brexit has also provoked soul-searching in the EU about its own future after losing 66 million people, a global diplomatic big-hitter and the clout of the City of London financial centre.

– ‘Not an end, a beginning’ –

In an address to the nation, Prime Minister Boris Johnson — a figurehead in the seismic 2016 referendum vote for Brexit — acknowledged there might be “bumps in the road ahead”.

But he said Britain could make it a “stunning success”.

As he held a private party in his Downing Street office, a clock projected on the walls outside counted down the minutes until Brexit.

Johnson predicted a “new era of friendly cooperation” with the EU while Britain takes a greater role on the world stage.

“The most important thing to say tonight is that this is not an end but a beginning,” he said in a televised address.

EU institutions earlier began removing Britain’s red, white and blue flags in Brussels ahead of a divorce that German Chancellor Angela Merkel called a “sea-change” for the bloc.

French President Emmanuel Macron described it as a “historic warning sign” that should force the EU and its remaining nations of more than 440 million people to stop and reflect.

Britain’s departure was sealed in an emotional vote in the EU parliament this week that ended with MEPs singing “Auld Lang Syne”, a traditional Scottish song of farewell.

Almost nothing will change straight away, because of an 11-month transition period negotiated as part of the exit deal.

Britons will be able to work in and trade freely with EU nations until December 31, and vice versa, although the UK will no longer be represented in the bloc’s institutions.

But legally, Britain is out.

And while the divorce terms have been agreed, Britain must still strike a deal on future relations with the EU, its largest trading partner.

Both will set out their negotiating positions Monday.

“We want to have the best possible relationship with the United Kingdom, but it will never be as good as membership,” European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen said in Brussels.

– ‘Goodbye & good luck’ –

Getting this far has been a traumatic process.

Britain resisted many EU projects over the years, refusing to join the single currency or the Schengen open travel area, and eurosceptics have long complained about Brussels bureaucracy.

Worries about mass migration added further fuel to the Brexit campaign while for some, the 2016 vote was a chance to punish the government for years of cuts to public spending.

But the result was still a huge shock.

It unleashed political chaos, sparking years of toxic arguments that paralysed parliament and forced the resignations of prime ministers David Cameron and Theresa May.

Johnson brought an end to the turmoil a decisive election victory in December which gave him the parliamentary majority he needed to ratify his Brexit deal.

But Britons remain as divided as they were nearly four years ago, when 52 percent voted to leave and 48 percent voted to remain in the EU.

“Rise and shine… It’s a glorious new Britain” said the Brexit-supporting Daily Express. The i newspaper, in contrast, headlined: “What next?”

In Scotland, where a majority voted to stay in 2016, Brexit has revived calls for independence.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted: “Scotland will return to the heart of Europe as an independent country — #LeaveALightOnForScotland.”

In Northern Ireland — soon to be the new EU frontier — there are fears Brexit could destabilise a hard-won peace after decades of conflict over British rule.

Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney tweeted: “Goodbye & good luck.”

– ‘Glad it’s over’ –

Johnson, a polarising figure accused of glossing over the complexity of leaving the EU, made no public appearance on Friday and avoided any official celebrations that might exacerbate divisions.

He hosted a special cabinet meeting in the northeastern city of Sunderland, which was the first to declare for Brexit in 2016, while Downing Street was lit up in the colours of the Union Jack flag.

Millions of commemorative 50 pence coins have also been issued.

It was a different story in nearby Parliament Square, where the moment of Brexit was met with cheers, the lighting of flares and balloons let off into the night sky.

“What happens now marks the point of no return. Once we have left, we are never, ever going back,” Farage told the crowd of cheering supporters.

At a “Big Brexit Bash” in Morley, northern England, Raymond Stott described the four years since the referendum as “a right cock-up”.

“I am just glad it’s all over. We will look after ourselves. We don’t need Europe,” said the 66-year-old.

Some British expatriates in southern Spain celebrated in bars but for many pro-Europeans, Friday marks a day they hoped would never come.

“Today is a day of mourning,” said Katrina Graham, 31, an Irish women’s rights activist who lives in Brussels, at a protest in central London.

At Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate, a flashmob sang the EU anthem “Ode to Joy”, from Beethoven’s ninth symphony and waved flags.

– Trade talks loom –

From Saturday, Britain will be free to strike trade deals around the world, including with the United States.

Johnson has given himself just 11 months to negotiate a new partnership with the EU, covering everything from trade to security cooperation — despite warnings this is not enough time.

He also discussed with his ministers on Friday an aim to get 80 percent of Britain’s commerce covered by free trade agreements within three years, a spokesman said.

US President Donald Trump is an enthusiastic supporter of Brexit, and one of his top envoys on Friday hailed an “exciting new era”.

“We will continue building upon our strong, productive, and prosperous relationship with the UK as they enter this next chapter,” Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said.

Liverpool Held At Shrewsbury As Man Utd, Man City Cruise In FA Cup

 

 

Liverpool let a 2-0 lead slip as League One Shrewsbury earned an FA Cup fourth-round replay at Anfield thanks to a 2-2 draw, whilst Manchester United and Manchester City cruised into the fifth round on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp showed his focus is very much on a first Premier League title for 30 years as he made 11 changes to the side that won at Wolves on Thursday.

However, unlike against Everton in the third round, the German’s gamble did not pay off.

“Well deserved for Shrewsbury, it was the minimum they deserved. Congratulations to them,” said Klopp, who was forced to throw on Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino in the final stages in the search for a winner.

“We don’t have enough time to say all the things which weren’t right today.”

Despite a calm finish from 18-year-old Curtis Jones to open the scoring on 15 minutes, Liverpool never settled as Shrewsbury missed a host of chances to level before the break.

A freak own goal from Donald Love then doubled the visitors’ lead a minute into the second half, but the Shrews did not give up on their shot at shocking the European champions and were given a lifeline when substitute Jason Cummings converted a penalty.

Cummings then sent New Meadow into raptures by slotting low under Adrian 15 minutes from time.

“It was a dream come true against the best team in the world. Going to Anfield is what it’s all about,” said Cummings.

Relief for Solskjaer

United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was badly in need of a convincing performance after 2-0 defeats to Liverpool and Burnley over the past seven days and got a response with a 6-0 thrashing of third-tier Tranmere.

Many tipped the Red Devils to get bogged down on a sandy surface at Prenton Park, but a flying start thanks to a host of unlikely goalscorers ensured there was no chance of an upset.

“This game was one where everyone apart from Man United fans wanted us to lose,” said Solskjaer.

“It’s been a bit of pressure on them but they’ve enjoyed it.

“It was a difficult pitch but we went about it the right way; just worked hard, played simple but effective and played the right way.”

Captain Harry Maguire led by example by striding forward to smash home his first goal for the club before Diogo Dalot also grabbed his first United goal and Jesse Lingard curled home to make it three goals in a six-minute spell.

Phil Jones then nodded home his first United effort since 2014 and Anthony Martial’s deflected strike made it five before the break.

Solskjaer could then afford the luxury of resting Martial, Maguire and Nemanja Matic for most of the second half ahead of Wednesday’s attempt to overturn a 3-1 first leg deficit against City in the League Cup semi-finals.

Tahith Chong was one of those introduced and he was brought down by Tranmere goalkeeper Scott Davies, allowing Mason Greenwood to score United’s sixth from the penalty spot.

Empty stands annoy Guardiola

City manager Pep Guardiola hopes more fans show up at the Etihad Stadium for the derby in midweek after questioning why there were 15,000 empty seats for his side’s 4-0 stroll past Fulham.

Nearly 40,000 were in attendance to see Tim Ream’s sixth-minute red card give the Championship side a mountain to climb after he hauled down Gabriel Jesus inside the box.

Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty before Bernardo Silva’s smart turn and shot quickly doubled City’s advantage.

The visitors then held out for nearly an hour but two headers in three minutes from Jesus gave the scoreline a more accurate reflection of the English champions’ dominance.

“Hopefully more people can come than today, hopefully (they) can support us more,” said Guardiola.

“I don’t know the reason why, but it was not full.”

Queen Elizabeth II Approves Government’s Brexit Bill

 

Queen Elizabeth II gave her formal assent Thursday for Britain to end its decades-long involvement in the European Union and seek a more independent but uncertain future at the end of the month.

The head of state’s ceremonial approval of the withdrawal legislation allows Britain to leave its closest neighbours and trading partners after years of bickering and three delays.

Two top EU officials in Brussels are expected to sign the separation treaty on Friday and Prime Minister Boris Johnson — the pro-Brexit figurehead of Britain’s seismic 2016 referendum — will put his name on it in the coming days.

“At times it felt like we would never cross the Brexit finish line, but we’ve done it,” Johnson said after both houses of the British parliament ratified the withdrawal bill on Wednesday.

“Now we can put the rancour and division of the past three years behind us and focus on delivering a bright, exciting future.”

The January 31 split caps a remarkable political comeback for Johnson at one of the most difficult points in Britain’s post-war history.

He quit former prime minister Theresa May’s government in 2018 in protest at what he viewed as her pro-European separation terms.

Johnson returned as May’s successor in July last year and has since managed to negotiate his own deal with Brussels and regain the government’s control of parliament in a risky early election last month.

The rest was a formality. Lawmakers barely debated the withdrawal agreement before passing it — even though critics called it worse for Britain than the one reached by May.

Johnson will celebrate his victory by issuing commemorative coins and chairing a special cabinet meeting in England’s pro-Brexit north on January 31.

‘Absolute priority’

Johnson will now be responsible for defining the terms on which Britain trades and shares everything from data to fishing waters with the remaining 27 EU member states.

The formal talks are not expected to begin until March but the war of words is already intense.

Johnson rejects EU arguments that the end-of-year negotiations deadline is too short to reach a comprehensive deal.

The UK government is also demanding the post-Brexit right to set its own rules on politically sensitive issues such as environmental standards and workers’ rights.

EU officials say this will give Britain an unfair advantage and are threatening to retaliate with tariffs and quotas that could hit the UK auto and pharmaceutical industries especially hard.

European Central Bank chief Christine Lagarde said the bloc’s financial system was ready for the next stage.

“There can always be a risk somewhere,” she said in Frankfurt. “But I think in good conscience we have covered everything that we thought was necessary.”

Some analysts believe Johnson is prepared to pay the price of short-term economic damage in order to deliver on pledge to “get Brexit done”.

He argues that greater flexibility will help him reach a quick post-Brexit agreement with the United States and other nations that are growing much faster than those in Europe.

US officials say they are eager to strike a deal with Johnson.

An agreement “is an absolute priority for President (Donald) Trump and we expect to complete that with them this year,” US Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said ahead of his arrival in London this weekend.

US Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross added that Johnson would have an easier time with Washington than Brussels because “there are far fewer issues between the UK and US.”

Johnson is expected to lay out his vision for the post-Brexit agreement with Brussels in a big policy address early next month.

“Once we have left the EU in just over a week’s time we’ll be free to start having discussions with countries around the world including the US,” Downing Street said Wednesday.

Ten-Man Arsenal Hold Chelsea In Torrent Of Late Premier League Goals

 

 

Ten-man Arsenal slowed Chelsea’s charge for a Champions League place on Tuesday as Manchester City kept up their distant pursuit of Liverpool with victory at Sheffield United on a dramatic evening of Premier League football.

Newcastle improbably came back from 2-0 down to draw against Everton, with substitute Florian Lejeune netting twice in stoppage time, and Aston Villa found a last-gasp winner against in-form Watford.

Elsewhere, Southampton climbed to ninth in the table with victory against Crystal Palace while Bournemouth gave themselves hope with a 3-1 win over fellow-strugglers Brighton.

Fourth-placed Chelsea twice took the lead against Arsenal, who were reduced to 10 men after former Blues defender David Luiz took out Tammy Abraham when he was through on goal.

Jorginho put Chelsea 1-0 ahead from the penalty spot in the 28th minute but Gabriel Martinelli equalised for Arsenal in the second half.

Cesar Azpilicueta put Chelsea 2-1 up with just six minutes remaining but Arsenal levelled only three minutes later through Hector Bellerin.

The 2-2 draw leaves Chelsea six points ahead of fifth-placed Manchester United having played a game extra while Arsenal are in 10th spot, seemingly out of the running for a place in the top four.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard was frustrated that his team had not been more clinical in front of goal.

“We could have had three or four goals today,” he told the BBC. “Having shots, crosses and lots of ‘ooh’ moments. We have to be clinical.”

Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta hailed his side’s reaction.

“To do that against this kind of opponent in this stadium, I really value,” he said. “The way they have done it, with the spirit they have done it, that’s great.”

Aguero spares City blushes

Pep Guardiola’s City, with defender Aymeric Laporte back in the side, looked as though they might rue Gabriel Jesus’s squandered first-half penalty but their Argentine hitman Sergio Aguero came to the rescue.

Despite the 1-0 win, second-placed City remain 13 points behind runaway leaders Liverpool, having played two games more, and their bid to defend their title appears hopeless.

City’s French central defender Laporte has been out of action since suffering a knee injury at the end of August and he was a surprise inclusion at Bramall Lane.

Sheffield United goalkeeper Dean Henderson denied Jesus from the penalty spot about 10 minutes from half-time after a foul on Riyad Mahrez.

But City made amends when substitute Sergio Aguero, on for Jesus, tapped in from Kevin De Bruyne’s cross in the 73rd minute.

“We knew it would be a difficult place to come,” Guardiola said. “We concede one or two clear chances, nothing more than that.

“In the first half the ‘keeper was excellent with the penalty and two incredible saves. It was an incredibly good victory for us to take a step towards securing Champions League football next season.”

Southampton’s 2-0 victory against Crystal Palace, thanks to goals from Nathan Redmond and Stuart Armstrong, continued a remarkable turnaround for the club, who hit rock bottom earlier this season in a 9-0 defeat by Leicester.

“Throughout the team — the behaviour, belief — everyone is absolutely committed,” said Southampton manager Ralph Hasenhuettl.

“They know what they have to do and the atmosphere is fantastic. Everyone enjoys to play.”

Watford took the lead against Villa when Troy Deeney headed in Gerard Deulofeu’s cross but the home side hit back in the second half through Douglas Luiz.

Tyrone Mings scored a dramatic late winner for Villa deep into stoppage time to end Watford’s recent revival under Nigel Pearson.

Moise Kean scored his first goal for Everton since his arrival from Juventus in the 30th minute of their match against Newcastle and Dominic Calvert-Lewin doubled the lead in the second half.

Everton were cruising deep into stoppage time but threw away the three points, with Lejeune striking twice.

Bournemouth, who had lost their previous four matches, all against relegation rivals, beat Brighton 3-1 thanks to goals from Harry Wilson, an own goal from Pascal Gross and a second-half Callum Wilson effort.

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool are in action on Thursday at Wolves after Manchester United take on Burnley without Marcus Rashford, who could be out for three months with a back injury, on Wednesday.

Arteta Hopes 10-Man Arsenal’s Grit Points To Brighter Future

 

 

Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta hopes the resilience his side showed in twice coming from behind while a man down to hold Chelsea 2-2 at Stamford Bridge proves a “stepping stone” to a brighter future for the Gunners.

Arteta’s men remain 10th in the Premier League, 10 points behind Chelsea in fourth, but while a point may be too little for their hopes of a return to the Champions League, the manner in which it was achieved gave their new manager cause for optimism.

“Time will tell if this is a stepping stone, but at least I saw a reaction,” said Arteta.

“I demand from the players that they never give up. We have to keep playing with the spirit we showed in every game. I’m proud of the way they reacted.”

David Luiz endured a nightmare evening on his return to Stamford Bridge as the Brazilian was sent off after 26 minutes for hauling down Tammy Abraham. Jorginho converted the resulting penalty.

However, Chelsea’s struggles at home continued as they offered another lifeline to those challenging for a top-four finish.

Frank Lampard’s men are now six points clear in fourth, but Manchester United can cut that gap to three with victory over Burnley on Wednesday.

“We’re in fourth position, but I know and we know there should be another 10 points on the board,” said a frustrated Lampard.

“We shouldn’t dwell too much on results that have gone, but a lot of them look the same.

“The initiative is on us to be ruthless, to take the chances when they came along.”

Lampard had already spoken of his desire for Chelsea to be more clinical after losing 1-0 at Newcastle on Saturday with Paris Saint-Germain’s all-time top goalscorer Edison Cavani a target.

And a move for the Uruguayan could be even more of a priority after top scorer Abraham had to be helped from the field at full-time after injuring his ankle in colliding with the advertising boards late on.

Abraham had a big role to play on what should have been the decisive moment in the match when he pounced on a gift from Shkodran Mustafi to race clear on goal and round Bernd Leno.

Luiz got back in time to make a challenge, but barged Abraham to the ground and in the opinion of the referee did not make an attempt to play the ball as he saw red.

Jorginho produced a characteristically cool finish from the penalty spot and Chelsea should have been on course for a comfortable three points.

But the Blues have now won just four of their last 12 league games and were guilty of the same lack of creativity at one end, and defensive lapses at the other, that characterised the home defeats to West Ham, Bournemouth and Southampton.

Fortune also favoured Arsenal for their first equaliser midway through the second half as a slip from N’Golo Kante allowed Gabriel Martinelli to run from the edge of his own box unopposed before slotting home the 10th goal of an impressive debut season in England.

Chelsea were lacking the guile to unlock the 10 men in their search for a winner, but Arsenal’s good work was undone six minutes from time when they were caught cold by a quickly taken corner and Cesar Azpilicueta swept home Hudson-Odoi’s cross.

Arsenal were not to be denied as Hector Bellerin produced a magnificent finish on his weaker left foot from outside the area three minutes later.