Juventus 3-0 Barcelona: Turin giants stun Barca

Barcelona need another Nou Camp miracle if they are to reach the Champions League semi-finals after a crushing 3-0 loss to Juventus in Turin.

Paulo Dybala struck twice in a stunning first half and Giorgio Chiellini added a rare third after the break as the hosts claimed a commanding advantage ahead of next week’s second leg.

Dismal Barcelona’s only hope is to repeat their feat of the previous round, when they recovered from a 4-0 first-leg loss to Paris St Germain by beating the French side 6-1 at home.

But on the evidence of Tuesday night a second comeback looks highly unlikely after Juventus dominated proceedings with the help of Dybala’s brilliant first-half brace.

The home side hared out from the first whistle and had their first chance after less than three minutes when Gonzalo Higuain wasted a good chance in front of Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Luis Enrique’s men, smarting from a domestic defeat to Malaga at the weekend, looked clueless over how to deal with their opponents’ attacking threat and they fell behind with just seven minutes on the clock.

The superb Juan Cuadrado found Dybala on the right side of the box and the striker curled an excellent left-foot shot past the helpless keeper.

Barcelona responded well and could have grabbed an equaliser after 20 minutes when Lionel Messi threaded the ball to Andres Iniesta whose low shot was well saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Moments later, Juventus surged down the left flank and Mario Mandzukic crossed for the unmarked Dybala, who fired his second of the game past ter Stegen to put the Italians 2-0 up.

Messi had an effort ruled out for offside on the half-hour before Juventus came close to increasing their lead when Cuadrado pulled back for Miralem Pjanic who blazed over the bar.

Barcelona started the second half in much better fashion with Messi rolling an effort inches wide of the upright and Buffon just beating Luis Suarez to an Ivan Rakitic through-ball.

Higuain rolled a weak effort at ter Stegen before Chiellini made it 3-0 after 55 minutes, out-jumping Javier Mascherano to head home only the second Champions League goal of his career.

Knowing a precious away goal could still help turn the tie in their favour, Barcelona began to press with Suarez trickling a fine chance wide then Neymar seeing an effort blocked by the busy Chiellini in the box.

Barcelona’s mis-firing mega-stars endured more frustration in the final quarter of an hour, Suarez mis-controlling after a pass across the six-yard box by Neymar, then Messi mis-judging a fine chance from a corner.

Marshalled by a towering performance by Brazilian Alex Santos, the Juventus defence held out and Messi’s last chance to reduce the deficit came to an end when he spun a free-kick into the Italians’ wall.

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Arsenal Defeated

Crystal Palace strengthened their survival bid and dented Arsenal’s top-four hopes with a superb 3-0 win at Selhurst Park on Monday Night Football.

Andros Townsend gave Crystal Palace a 1-0 lead with a close-range finish on 17 minutes, despite Arsenal’s dominance in possession in the first period.

The Gunners were second best after the break, and it was 2-0 just after the hour mark through Yohan Cabaye’s looping effort, before Luka Milivojevic put Palace three ahead from the penalty spot after Emiliano Martinez brought down Townsend.

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Ibrahimovic inspiration keeps Man United in top-four race

After 30 minutes of Sunday’s Premier League game against Sunderland, Manchester United appeared in danger of meandering its way to another disappointing result.

Thankfully for manager Jose Mourinho, Zlatan Ibrahimovic had other ideas.

The Swedish forward demanded the ball be played to him on the edge of the penalty area, and then evaded the attempts of two Sunderland defenders to halt his progress before sending an unstoppable strike into the far bottom corner.

“You need these players sometimes to make it and normally every top team has a couple of them that can make a difference. Zlatan did that with the goal,” Mourinho said.

After Ibrahimovic’s moment of inspiration, the result was never in doubt and a red card for Sebastian Larsson left space for Henrikh Mkhitaryan and substitute Marcus Rashford to seal the points for United.

With the league’s top four all having won on Saturday, the victory ensured United kept pace in the race for Champions League qualification as it moved above Arsenal into fifth and within four points of fourth-place Manchester City, which has played one more game.

Sunderland remains bottom having now failed to score in its last seven games, 10 points adrift of safety.

“We reacted to the results of yesterday,” Mourinho said. “We got the three points, [with a] solid performance against a team that is sad. When you play against a team that is sad, if you score before [them], the game is almost over because it is difficult to react.”

“After Liverpool and Manchester City’s victories, if we didn’t win today it’s almost mathematically impossible [to finish fourth].”

Unlike its rivals, United can still qualify for next season’s Champions League by winning the Europa League. It resumes its campaign with a quarterfinal first leg in Belgium against Anderlecht on Thursday.

Source – TheJakataPost

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Nadal on track for Federer showdown as Sock downed

MIAMI, March 30, 2017 – Rafael Nadal took a step closer to a possible final against long-time rival Roger Federer in the Miami Open after a straight sets win over American Jack Sock on Wednesday at Key Biscayne.

Nadal’s 6-2, 6-3 win over the 13th-seeded Sock sets up a semi-final meeting with unseeded Italian Fabio Fognini who upset second ranked Kei Nishikori 6-4, 6-2 earlier in the day.

The Spaniard’s forehand was ominous as he neutralised Sock in one hour and 22 minutes.

Nadal was able to save six of seven break points earned by Sock as he kept control of the contest.

He broke Sock in the American’s first service game and swiftly established a 3-0 advantage and a second break at 5-2 wrapped up the opening set.

The American showed his spirit though as he broke Nadal at the start of the second but was unable to take advantage of a double break that could have put him 3-0 up.

Instead Nadal pulled back to 2-2 and with Sock failing to make the most of a chance of further break points it was comfortable in the end.

The 30-year-old Spaniard has never won in Miami despite being a four-time finalist and he expects plenty of work to get past Fognini and make it a fifth appearance.

“We know each other very well. He has beaten me a couple of times and so it will be a good test. I am happy to be the semi-finals but it will be a tough one and I will need to play my best,” said Nadal.

Fognini has three wins from ten meetings with the Spaniard, the most recent coming on clay in Rio de Janiero in 2015.

The 29-year-old world number 40 showed plenty of confidence as he took the game to his Japanese opponent from the outset.

It was the Italian’s first victory in three attempts over Nishikori and his first Masters series quarter-final win since 2013, when he reached the last four in Monte-Carlo.

Nishikori earlier said he had not felt fully in top shape for the contest.

“I wasn’t 100%, physically, I mean, it was tough conditions for me,” he said, referring to the heat on the mid-afternoon Key Biscayne centre court.

“But it was also same for him, too. He was playing a lot of the long matches, but I think he still played good enough to beat me today,” he added.

Fognini, who was cheered on by his friend, former Italy footballer Christian Vieri, said he had come through a demanding test.

“It wasn’t easy and I was just focused on my game. I am very happy, I’m in the semifinal, I’m playing well and I feel good again on the court,” he said.

On Thursday, Federer takes on Czech tenth-seed Tomas Berdych while the last quarter-final pits Germany’s Alexander Zverev against Australia’s Nick Kyrgios.

Source -TheNation

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Roger Federer reaches Indian Wells final against Wawrinka

Roger Federer might soon have to reset his goals for the year, seeing how well things are going for him.

Having won his record 18th Grand Slam title at the Australian Open in January, Federer will pursue a record-tying fifth BNP Paribas Open title after beating Jack Sock 6-1, 7-6 (4) Saturday to reach the final.

He takes on Stan Wawrinka in an all-Swiss title match after Wawrinka eased past Pablo Carreno Busta 6-3, 6-3.

Federer was sidelined by various injuries for much of last year, forcing him to skip Indian Wells. Heading into this year, his plan was to play as far as the Miami event next week and then see how he felt.

“I was just happy to be feeling healthy again at the end of last year,” he said. “I was just happy to be playing another 10 events maybe.”

Now, Federer is poised to win his 90th career title in the final, keeping him third behind Jimmy Connors ( 109 ) and Ivan Lendl ( 94 ) for the most titles in the Open era.

“It’s not a goal of mine per se to play until I reach 100,” he said. “Could be. It’s a nice goal to have. But that stuff can change. Ask me again in three to six months how I’m feeling, if I won any more or not.”

Federer is 4-2 in finals at Indian Wells with his last title coming in 2012. He owns a 19-3 edge over Wawrinka, including 14-0 on hard courts, and has won their last three meetings, including in the Australian Open semifinals in January.

Two-time major champion Svetlana Kuznetsova plays 14th-seeded Elena Vesnina in an all-Russian women’s final Sunday.

Source – TheJakartaPost

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Monaco hurts Man City

Manchester City’s defensive frailties cost them as they crashed out of the Champions League with a 3-1 defeat at Monaco.

Manager Pep Guardiola named an attacking line-up for the second leg of the last-16 tie but that backfired as Monaco overturned a 5-3 deficit to win on away goals after a 6-6 aggregate draw.

First-half goals from Kylian Mbappe and Fabinho put the Ligue 1 leaders ahead and although Leroy Sane hit back for City, Tiemoue Bakayoko sealed victory with a header 13 minutes from time.

City were lacklustre on the night and Monaco made light of the absence of Radamel Falcao, scorer of two goals in the pulsating first leg, with a hip injury.

Guardiola perhaps got his selection wrong by naming the in-form Yaya Toure on the bench. With Fernandinho the only specialist central midfielder on the field, City were unable to make any impression in that area and Monaco came at them in waves.

That early pressure was quickly rewarded as Mbappe, who had already forced Willy Caballero to make one save, opened the scoring in the eighth minute. City’s defence were cut open as Benjamin Mendy drove in a ball from the left and Mbappe turned in with ruthless efficiency.

Mbappe thought he had claimed a second soon after but his powerful low strike was ruled out for offside.

City struggled to gain possession, made little use of the ball they did get and failed to repel Monaco’s continual raids.

It came as no surprise when they struck again to level the tie just before the half-hour mark. Mbappe again cut the defence open on the left before Mendy crossed and Fabinho made no mistake with a first-time finish.

City’s attacks were few and far between and those they did piece together fizzled out before they reached the box.

It was not until the second half that they started to assert themselves in any way and finally get the previously isolated Sergio Aguero into the game.

Seemingly out of nowhere, a hat-trick of chances came the Argentinian’s way in quick succession but he was unable to take any of them.

He could not be blamed the for the first as Andrea Raggi produced a superb challenge to pinch the ball from his toes as he lined up a shot from Raheem Sterling’s pull-back.

But the striker blazed over moments later following a lightning break by Sane and he was denied by a fine save from Danijel Subasic after smart turn by David Silva.

It did seem, however, that the tide had turned and Monaco were maybe starting to feel the pace after such a high-energy start.

Sane took advantage to put City back ahead on aggregate when he pounced from close range after Subasic palmed out a shot from Sterling with 71 minutes gone.

Yet that good work was quickly undone when poor set-piece marking allowed Bakayoko to thump home a header from a Thomas Lemar free-kick.

City’s hopes drained away and the Stade Louis II, a venue not renowned for its atmosphere, was rocking as the final whistle sounded.

Source – Football365

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Reborn Leicester City defeat Sevilla

Up went the ball, into the night sky, and there it seemed to hang: spinning, swirling, planning, plotting. Down below, Pablo Sarabia swirled underneath it, gauging its trajectory, unsure whether he wanted it to land or not. Out of the corner of his eye, he would have seen Marc Albrighton and Wilfried Ndidi chasing him down like hungry hounds. Sarabia leapt, and so did they.

A dull thud of shoulders. The ball bounced out for a throw. Leicester v Sevilla was eight seconds old.

There is a sort of dark magic to the long ball, football’s oldest tactic yet perhaps one of its least understood. You might even call it beauty: the fanciful optimism of relinquishing the ball at your feet and casting it to the skies, to the winds, to gravity, to randomness, to chaos. You play the long ball when you want to entrust yourself to fate. You play it if you are feeling lucky.

Most football teams see chance as their enemy: the enemy of certainty, the enemy of control, the enemy of all those thousands of hours spent pausing and rewinding scouting videos, scrawling on chalkboards, training and drilling.

Not Leicester. They do all that stuff, too, of course, but crucially they also know what you cannot control. This is hardly surprising. When your 5000-1 title shot has come in, then you are probably inclined to believe chance is your friend. When the opposition are palpably better than you – with all due respect to your Danny Simpsons and Robert Huths – then chance is the leveller. When allied with a greasy pitch, a partisan crowd and an unshakeable belief, then chance is your best chance.

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Also France knows who Memphis Depay is after score astonishing goal!

Former Manchester United winger Memphis Depay scored an incredible goal from the halfway line during Lyon’s 4-0 win against Toulouse on Sunday.

The Dutchman left Old Trafford for Ligue 1 in January in a deal worth around £15million and he’s impressed during his short time in France.

The 23-year-old arrived at the Theatre of Dreams with a big reputation from PSV Eindhoven but he left after a frustrating 18 months at the club.

United installed a buy-back option into Depay’s contract when he moved to Lyon and they might be looking at activating it after the Netherlands international’s stunning goal against Toulouse.

The winger swiveled in the centre circle before launching an amazing effort over the Toulouse goalkeeper, who he spotted off his line.

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Controversial late penalty helps Juventus beat Milan 2-1

Fino alla fine (Until the end) is the Juventus motto and it lived up to it again as Paulo Dybala converted a penalty with the last kick of the match to beat AC Milan 2-1 and go 11 points clear in Serie A on Friday.

Teen goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma appeared to have earned Milan a precious point with some fine saves but Juventus was awarded a disputed penalty deep in stoppage time after Mattia De Sciglio was judged to have handled Stephan Lichtsteiner’s cross.

Milan players surrounded the officials and goal-scorer Carlos Bacca had to be pulled away from the referee by coach Vincenzo Montella after the final whistle.

“We exaggerated at the end of the match and I apologize for the final uproar, but I hope … they can understand why there was a lot of tension,” Montella said. “Regardless of the interpretation of the incident, we should transmit more positive and calmer messages.

“I say we should let the officials make mistakes in peace. I don’t like to hear too many complaints: We all need to be cautious and calm and accept the verdict on the pitch.”

Juventus, which plays Porto in the second leg of its Champions League last-16 matchup on Tuesday, extended its Serie A record to 31 consecutive home wins.

It moved 11 points clear of second-placed Roma and 13 ahead of Napoli. Roma visits Palermo on Sunday, shortly after Napoli hosts Crotone.

“When decisions go against us no one says anything. When they’re in our favor bedlam happens,” coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “Ours is a deserved victory.

Milan remained seventh, a point behind Inter Milan, which hosts fifth-placed Atalanta on Sunday.

Juventus took the lead on the half hour through an unlikely goal-scorer. Medhi Benatia beat the offside trap to control Dani Alves’ chipped pass and smash it past Donnarumma from close range for his first goal for the club.

Milan leveled two minutes from halftime following great work from Gerard Deulofeu, who sprinted down the left from inside his own half, cut inside, and threaded the ball through for Bacca to fire into the bottom right corner.

Juventus and Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon was merely a spectator for most of the match and had plenty of time to admire his heir apparent.

Donnarumma turned 18 only last month but he has already played more than 60 times in Serie A and made two Italy appearances.

He notably kept out a Miralem Pjanic free kick then denied Sami Khedira with the help of De Sciglio’s goal-line clearance. He also managed to deflect Pjanic’s shot onto the crossbar.

Milan midfielder Jose Sosa was sent off following a second booking in the third minute of stoppage time and Juventus upped the pressure.

Gonzalo Higuain’s acrobatic effort was parried by Donnarumma but the ball was crossed back into the area and struck De Sciglio’s arm from point-blank range.

Donnarumma guessed the right way but was unable to keep out Dybala’s spot kick, unlike in the Italian Super Cup where he kept out the Argentine’s effort in the penalty shootout, won by Milan.

Source – TheJakartaPost

Borussia Dortmund 4-0 Benfica

Borussia Dortmund are into the Champions League quarter-finals, after beating Benfica 4-0 in their second round second leg to overturn a first leg deficit.

The German side took just four minutes to wipe out their first leg loss, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang heading home from close range after Christian Pulisic had flicked on Ousmane Dembele’s corner kick.

 Benfica came back into the game, but two quick-fire goals early in the second half, first from Pulisic, the American teenager, then Aubameyang, put the tie beyond doubt.

That pair combined again for the fourth, Aubameyang turning home from close range for the third time after Pulisic’s low cross.

But who really impressed? And who flopped? Player Ratings from the Westfalenstadion…