Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane has entered the final stages of recovery from an ankle injury and manager Mauricio Pochettino is optimistic the striker will be fit enough to play in the Champions League final in Madrid.
Kane sustained what appeared to be a season-ending ligament injury against Manchester City in the quarterfinals but Pochettino believes he now has a good chance of at least making the bench against Liverpool on 1 June.
“(Kane) is training and has entered the final stage of his recovery,” the Argentine told reporters in Spain on Thursday.
“We’re hoping he’ll be able to give us a hand, either from the start, from the bench, or if not, then by giving us moral support in the dressing room. But we’re optimistic he’ll be able to help us on the pitch.” Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Pochettino said his team had defied expectations by reaching the final, which he expects to be an emotionally charged affair. Continue reading “Kane will play in Champions League final – Pochettino”
Harry Kane says he is on course to be fit for Tottenham’s Champions League final clash with Liverpool after the England captain joined his team’s celebrations following their astonishing victory over Ajax.
Kane is recovering from an ankle ligament injury, but he was watching from the stands in the Johan Cruyff Arena as Tottenham recovered from 2-0 down to win 3-2 in the semifinal second leg on Wednesday.
The incredible comeback sent Tottenham through to their first Champions League final and Kane is confident he will be ready to feature when Mauricio Pochettino’s men face Liverpool in Madrid on June 1.
“We’ll see. So far so good, so if it carries on as it should I would hope to be. There’s still a few weeks to go,” Kane told BT Sport.
“Rehab is going well. I start straight line running this week which is why I was OK to run on at the end.
“We beat Man City and Ajax so I have to start training even harder to prove myself to the gaffer.” Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Kane has been sidelined since sustaining his latest ankle injury in a challenge on Manchester City’s Fabian Delph in the quarterfinal first leg on April 9.
Ernesto Valverde wanted to keep Barcelona’s feet on the ground after their 3-0 win over Liverpool so he hit his players where it hurt.
“Liverpool are a team that can make any opponent suffer,” he said in the press conference after the match.
“And of course last year we had a three-goal advantage in the quarterfinals. And we were knocked out.”
Valverde knows that loss to Roma still rankles with his players, barely a week passing without one of them referencing the game that defined their season last year and could yet shape this one too.
The tie looked over after a 4-1 thrashing at Camp Nou only for a 3-0 loss in Rome to complete one of the great Champions League comebacks and send the Italians into the semis.
That Real Madrid went on to win the tournament for a fourth time in five years rubbed salt into the wound. “It is a thorn in our side,” said Luis Suarez in September. Bet Now on NaijaBet
But it was not just that Barca had fallen short, for a third consecutive year. It was the way they had thrown it away. Continue reading “Barcelona need to be wary of history at Anfield – Valverde”
Lionel Messi warned his Barcelona teammates that their place in the Champions League final is still not certain despite his two-goal salvo in a 3-0 semifinal first leg win over Liverpool on Wednesday.
“It would have been better to win 4-0 than 3-0 but it is a very good result,” said the Argentine star.
“It’s not definitive, we are going to go into a very complicated atmosphere, with a great history.”
Messi’s second goal was the 600th of his Barca career and he reached the landmark in stunning style, majestically curling a free-kick into the top corner. Place bet on Live matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
“It was beautiful when it went in but I was lucky that the ball lodged up there in the corner.” Continue reading “Messi warns after Barca masterpiece, Not over yet”
Luis Suarez and Philippe Coutinho traded places as Liverpool’s talismanic figure before earning dream moves to Barcelona, but while the Uruguayan has become one of the Catalan side’s greatest strikers ever, the Brazilian is seen as an expensive flop.
The South American duo will be ready to face Liverpool together for the first time in Wednesday’s Champions League semifinal first leg at the Nou Camp, aiming to help Barca reach the final for the first time in four years.
Suarez was named PFA player of the year in the 2013/14 season for leading Liverpool’s charge to the brink of the Premier League title, before they were pipped at the post by Manchester City.
Liverpool took years to recover from him leaving for Barca in 2014 for a club record 75 million pounds, finishing sixth and eighth respectively in their next two seasons until Jurgen Klopp transformed their fortunes.
“When I was there, it was very different,” Suarez said in a recent interview with The Guardian. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7
“We were on the verge of the Premier League with a squad nowhere near as good. They didn’t spend as much as they’re doing now. Any player would like to go to Liverpool now. It was different then.” Continue reading “Suarez join Barcelona history book as Coutinho looks dispensable”
Chelsea accused Burnley of time-wasting and playing “anti-football” after Blues boss Maurizio Sarri was sent off before a touchline skirmish marred their frustrating 2-2 draw on Monday.
Sarri’s side fell behind to Jeff Hendrick’s fine finish before N’Golo Kante equalised moments later.
In a frantic opening 24 minutes at Stamford Bridge, Gonzalo Higuain put Chelsea ahead, only for Burnley’s Ashley Barnes to punish more dismal defending from the Blues.
Without a win in their last two league games, Chelsea will take only slender comfort from climbing one point above fifth-placed Arsenal into fourth place, level on points with third-placed Tottenham.
Chelsea would have gone third with a victory, but instead they have now played a game more than top-four rivals Tottenham, Arsenal and Manchester United, who are three points behind in sixth.
It was a missed opportunity after defeats for Tottenham, Arsenal and United at the weekend and Chelsea were booed off at fulltime. Bet Now on NaijaBet
In a fitting coda to a damaging evening, Sarri was sent to the stands for protesting in the final seconds before several members of the Blues bench were involved in a tetchy touchline clash with their Burnley counterparts. Continue reading “Chelsea move to fourth on the table after frustrating Burnley draw”
Pep Guardiola bemoaned VAR’s failure to rule out Fernando Llorente’s decisive goal for Tottenham as Manchester City’s quadruple bid was shattered by a “cruel” Champions League quarterfinal exit on Wednesday.
Guardiola’s side were closing in on a place in the semifinals after staging a thrilling comeback to lead 4-2 in the second leg at the Etihad Stadium.
But Tottenham striker Llorente bundled home in the 73rd minute via a combination of his arm and hip, with VAR allowing the goal on review despite City’s appeals for handball.
Guardiola could be seen gesturing for handball while the VAR check was made, but his protest was in vain.
Adding to the City manager’s frustration, Raheem Sterling appeared to have scored what would have been the winner in the final seconds of stoppage-time, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR for offside against Sergio Aguero. Place bet on Live events on NaijaBet24/7
“I support VAR but maybe from one angle Fernando Llorente’s goal is handball, maybe from the referee’s angle it is not,” Guardiola said.
“I watched the action and the people from above decided it (City’s disallowed goal) was offside. Continue reading “Guardiola misery continues as City crash out of Champions League”
Ajax Amsterdam basked in widespread praise after their Champions League heroics but their young players believe the 2-1 away win over Juventus in the second leg of the quarterfinal should have been more emphatic.
“We could have scored a few more in the second half,” said midfielder Frenkie de Jong, one of the heroes of their triumph in Turin which was characterised by some sweeping passing play.
The 3-2 aggregate win ensured unlikely semifinal qualification for the Dutch club who have come all the way through the preliminary rounds of the competition.
“In the first half they had a bit more control,” De Jong said of Juventus’ early showing as Cristiano Ronaldo put his side ahead in the 28th minute but Donny van de Beek levelling six minutes later.
“Their 1-0 lead was not exactly undeserved but luckily for us we were able to get back to 1-1 quickly after that. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7
“But after the halftime break, we were so much better than them. We wasted a lot of good chances and we should have been much more in the lead,” the Barcelona-bound 21-year-old said.
Continue reading “Juventus win margin should have been bigger – Ajax”
Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised Lionel Messi for settling his side down after a nervy start against Manchester United and inspiring the Catalans to a 3-0 victory to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.
Marcus Rashford struck the crossbar for the visitors in the second minute at the Nou Camp but Messi scored twice in the space of five minutes later in the first half to put Barca at ease.
Philippe Coutinho’s stunning strike completed a dominant 4-0 aggregate victory.
“Messi always gets us out of trouble and we’re not going to apologise for having him,” Valverde told a news conference.
“Leo always turns up in the important games, not just in the big moments but throughout the whole game. He is always capable of scoring but he also drives the team’s attack.” Place bet on today’s Champions League games on NaijaBet
Valverde said his side were relieved to finally hurdle the quarterfinal barrier after three successive exits in the last eight, particularly after last season’s 3-0 second-leg defeat to AS Roma after winning the first leg 4-1. Continue reading “Messi gets us out of trouble again – Valverde”
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said his team had to “fight again” after beating Porto 2-0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal at Anfield on Tuesday.
Naby Keita and Roberto Firmino struck inside the first 26 minutes to put the hosts in command and Liverpool’s only regret may be not building a more emphatic lead to take to northern Portugal for next week’s second leg.
“We are happy, it is the first leg and it will be an intense second game,” Klopp said. “We scored two goals and controlled the ball most of the time.
“We gave a few too many set pieces away. I think Porto score about 40 percent of their goals from set pieces. We also saw one or two counter-attacks, but the rest of the game we played really well. Place bet on today’s Champions Leagues on NaijaBet Continue reading “Liverpool must ‘fight again’ after Porto win in returns legs”
Cristiano Ronaldo’s return to fitness could be vital to Juventus’s bid to end their Champions League drought going back 23 years as they head to Ajax on Wednesday with uncertainty over whether their superstar will play or not.
Ronaldo hasn’t played for the Serie A leaders – who are just one point away from sealing an eighth Italian league title – since scoring the sensational hat-trick that saw Juve come back from a 2-0 first-leg deficit to knock out Atletico Madrid last month.
He was rested in the subsequent 2-0 league defeat at Genoa and then picked up a thigh injury on international duty with Portugal two weeks ago.
But coach Massimiliano Allegri remains confident the 34-year-old will be ready for Wednesday’s game in Amsterdam.
“He (Ronaldo) always feels ready. We are confident of having him at Ajax on Wednesday,” said Allegri after Saturday’s 2-1 league win over AC Milan.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner joined his teammates for training on Monday and is expected to travel with the team to the Netherlands.
Portuguese teammate Joao Cancelo, himself recovering from a calf strain, believes that Ronaldo will be present. Continue reading “Ronaldo’s return for Juventus vital UCL semi-final success”
Juventus forward Cristiano Ronaldo is facing disciplinary action for his celebration after one of the three goals he scored in last week’s 3-0 win over Atletico Madrid in the Champions League.
Uefa said the Portuguese would face a hearing on Thursday for “improper conduct” during the last-16 second leg match, where Juventus completed a 3-2 aggregate win.
Ronaldo made a similar gesture to Atletico coach Diego Simeone, who celebrated his team’s opening goal in the first leg by turning to the crowd and putting his hands on his trousers. Place bet on Live Matches 24/7 on NaijaBet
Simeone was fined 20 000 euros ($22 708) for the incident but escaped a touchline ban for the return match. Juventus face Ajax Amsterdam in their quarterfinal.
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp revelled in his side’s growing maturity on the European stage after dumping Bayern Munich out of the Champions League on Wednesday.
A Sadio Mane double and Virgil van Dijk’s towering header secured a 3-1 win on the night in Munich and on aggregate to secure Liverpool’s place in Friday’s quarterfinal draw alongside three other English sides.
“The second half (was) very, very mature. First half we should have played a bit more football,” said Klopp.
“It’s absolutely deserved that’s the main news I would say, because it’s so difficult to play away here at Bayern. They didn’t lose a lot of games (here).
“It’s a really big one, I’m so proud of the boys and how they did it.” Various Europa League Betting options on NaijaBet
Defeat may signal the end of an era for a Bayern side that has reached the semifinals in six of the past seven seasons, including when they beat Klopp’s Borussia Dortmund side to win the Champions League in 2012/13. Continue reading “Klopp hails maturing Liverpool after victory Bayern Munich”
Juventus shares soared by over 20% on the Milan stock exchange on Wednesday, the morning after Cristiano Ronaldo’s incredible hat-trick rescued the Italian giants Champions League campaign.
The Portuguese superstar added a late penalty to a pair of headers for a 3-0 win on the night and 3-2 on aggregate over Atletico Madrid to seal a place in the quarterfinals.
The Turin club’s shares jumped by 23% after the Milan stock exchange opened before dipping to 17.09% later in the morning.
In 90 minutes the five-time Ballon d’Or winner demonstrated why Juventus splashed out 100 million euros ($117 million) last summer to bring the Real Madrid star to Italy, in addition to his annual salary of 31 million euros.
“That’s why Juventus bought me, to help them in games like this,” the 34-year-old Ronaldo said after the game. Continue reading “Juventus shines after Ronaldo’s Champions League hat-trick rescues”
Liverpool have no intention of sacrificing Champions League progress to boost their chances of winning the Premier League title and will do their best to win both competitions this season, goalkeeper Alisson has said.
The Merseyside club, who face Bayern Munich in the Champions League later on Wednesday, are also in the race for the Premier League title, leading some pundits to suggest they should prioritise domestic glory over European success.
Alisson’s teammate Mohamed Salah said earlier this week that he was willing to put his own Champions League ambitions on the back-burner to help his team win the Premier League. Place bet on tonight’s Champions Leagues Games on NaijaBet
“Our goal is to win the league and everything we’re playing in, the Champions League as well,” Alisson told a news conference on Tuesday. “We can’t choose what we go for. Actually, we can choose, and we choose both.” Continue reading “Liverpool must fight for glory in all competitions – Alisson”
Holders Real Madrid were sensationally knocked out of the Champions League on Tuesday after being thrashed 4-1 at home by an outstanding Ajax Amsterdam who overturned a first-leg deficit to reach the quarterfinals 5-3 on aggregate.
Moroccan midfielder Hakim Ziyech fired Ajax into a shock seventh-minute lead after a lay off from the outstanding Dusan Tadic, who also provided the pass for David Neres to double the Dutch side’s advantage in the 18th.
Madrid, who were missing inspirational captain Sergio Ramos through suspension and hit the woodwork twice in the first half, came out stronger after the interval but were dealt a fatal blow when Serbia international Tadic crowned his sensational display by hammering into the top corner in the 62nd minute.
Substitute Marco Asensio gave Madrid a glimmer of hope by striking back but it was quickly extinguished by a breathtaking free kick from Lasse Schone, condemning Real to a fourth consecutive home defeat in all competitions.
Things got worse for the hosts, who had won the last three Champions League titles in a row, when Nacho was sent off in stoppage time for two bookings. Don’t miss today Champions League Games
Ajax, who have won the trophy four times, most recently in 1995, reached the last eight of Europe’s top competition for the first time since 2003. Continue reading “Ajax knocked Real Madrid out of Champions League with 5-3 on Aggregate”
Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola insisted he had no problem with the use of VAR as his side came from 2-1 behind with a man down to beat Schalke in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Wednesday.
Schalke were awarded two first-half penalties, the first of which was given after a lengthy delay for VAR to be consulted for a handball by Nicolas Otamendi.
The Argentine centre-back was then sent off for a second booking after the break, but City fought back with late goals from Leroy Sane and Raheem Sterling securing a vital first-leg lead.
“I think so, they are two penalties, I trust VAR,” said Guardiola. “I have arguments sometimes but not this time. They are both penalties.”
However, Guardiola warned his side will have to drastically improve if they are to win the competition for the first time after letting a Schalke side languishing in 14th in the Bundesliga back into the game despite Sergio Aguero’s early opener. Continue reading “Guardiola still has faith in VAR despite controversy against Schalke”
Cristiano Ronaldo was singled out by Atletico Madrid fans on Wednesday as Juventus lost 2-0 in the Champions League last 16 but the former Real Madrid forward was quick to point out his stellar record in the competition.
“I won five Champions Leagues and these guys zero,” Ronaldo told reporters after the game, holding up his hand in the shape of a ‘zero’ to drive home his point.
The Portuguese forward was jeered throughout the match at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, where Atletico got late goals from Uruguayan defenders Jose Gimenez and Diego Godin to take a vital lead into the return leg on 12 March.
He responded to the taunts by holding up five fingers to indicate the number of times he had won the competition, four times with arch-rivals Real and once with Manchester United.
Atletico have reached the final of Europe’s elite club competition three times but never lifted the trophy. Don’t miss today’s Europa League Games, Various betting options are available on Site
They lost to Ronaldo’s Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016.
Maurizio Sarri insists he isn’t worried about being sacked as Chelsea manager despite his troubled side’s lacklustre FA Cup surrender against Manchester United.
Sarri faces a fight to save his job after FA Cup holders Chelsea crashed to a 2-0 fifth round defeat at Stamford Bridge on Monday.
Ander Herrera headed United into the lead from Paul Pogba’s cross in the 31st minute.
France star Pogba doubled United’s advantage on the stroke of halftime when he met Marcus Rashford’s cross with a diving header.
Sarri endured chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” and “you’re getting sacked in the morning” as furious Chelsea fans showed their frustration at the club’s fifth defeat in their last 10 games. Bet Now on NaijaBet
Chelsea’s stars, publicly criticised by their manager on several occasions this term, hardly looked to be battling to keep the Italian as they failed to muster a shot on target after the 11th minute. Continue reading “Under-fire Sarri not worried about being sack”
Video Assistant Referee (VAR) “worked perfectly” at all stadiums that hosted the first leg of the last-16 Champions League ties this week, according to Uefa’s chief refereeing officer Roberto Rosetti.
VAR was implemented for the first time in Europe’s premier club competition and was called into action in games when tight offside and penalty decisions were involved.
“I am very happy with the way VAR was implemented,” Rosetti said in a statement on the Uefa website “The technology worked perfectly, and the refereeing teams performed at a very high level.”
The most talked-about decision involved VAR ruling out Ajax’s first-half opener against Real Madrid after it deemed Dusan Tadic to be offside when Nicolas Tagliafico headed the ball past Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois.
Uefa stood by the decision to chalk off the goal but questions were raised over the time it took to reach a verdict, with the restart delayed by nearly three minutes. Continue reading “Uefa satisfied with VAR debut in Champions League knockouts”
Tottenham Hotspur still have work to do to reach the next round of the Champions League despite a convincing 3-0 victory over Borussia Dortmund in their last-16 first leg on Wednesday, said coach Mauricio Pochettino.
Tottenham stunned the Germans with a goal two minutes after halftime from Korean forward Son Heung-min and struck twice late in the game through Belgian defender Jan Vertonghen, who was deployed in an unusual left wing back role, and substitute Fernando Llorente.
“It is a massive, massive performance and effort from my players,” Pochettino told reporters.
“My players are heroes. They deserve a lot of praise because their effort this season is amazing. Start forecasting your Europa League Games Now
“It is only the first half of the tie – 3-0 is a very good result, but we must go to Dortmund with the idea of winning. It is a very good result but there is a lot of work to do.” Continue reading “We have more work to do despite sinking Dortmund – Pochettino”
For around 20 minutes, the Champions League glory days really did feel like they were back for Manchester United.
The capacity 74 000 crowd at Old Trafford was in full voice, United were attacking Paris St Germain down the flanks with speed and aggression and their opponents looked shaky.
That feeling lasted until the French champions began to get a grip on the game and by the end of the night, a 2-0 defeat in the last 16, first-leg clash served to highlight the gulf that remains between this United team and the European elite.
“That’s the level we want to get to” United’s caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer told reporters. “We’ve been talking about top four (in the Premier League), that’s one thing but we want to be at the top and Man United should be at the top.
“This is a top, top team we played against. Our players today, are disappointed, of course, but I also think they know we need to step up our level to get to the level we want to get to,” added the Norwegian after suffering his first defeat since taking over 12 games ago in December. Bet now on NaijaBet
United lost forwards Anthony Martial and Jesse Lingard to muscle injuries midway through the match and replacements Alexis Sanchez and Juan Mata failed to provide the necessary spark. Continue reading “PSG showed Manchester United another level – Solskjaer”
Manchester United will not sit back when Paris St Germain visit Old Trafford for the first leg of their last 16 Champions League meeting on Tuesday, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has said.
United are unbeaten in all competitions since Solskjaer replaced Jose Mourinho in December and their improvement is down to the Norwegian’s insistence on an attacking style of play, as opposed to the defensive fare served up by his predecessor.
“We’ve got to rediscover the Manchester United way of playing, and I don’t think many teams enjoy their nights at Old Trafford when we’re on song,” Solskjaer, who has 10 wins and a draw so far, told the Uefa website.
“It’s about taking the game to the opposition, always believing in yourself. If you asked other managers who played against Sir Alex (Ferguson)’s teams, the pace and the tempo going forward was key. Place bet on today’s games on NaijaBet
“I have three good forwards myself. As well as (Marcus) Rashford, (Anthony) Martial, (Romelu) Lukaku, we have (Alexis) Sanchez and (Jesse) Lingard. They can challenge PSG’s defence.” Continue reading “United are ready to sink PSG at Old Trafford – Solskjaer”
Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has demanded more from his fringe players after he was forced to bring on regular starters in an attempt to stage a late rally in the 2-1 Champions League defeat at Valencia on Wednesday.
United went into the final Group H match having already qualified for the last 16 of the competition, a luxury that allowed Mourinho to rotate his squad, but the manager found little comfort in a performance that lacked energy and drives.
“I expect more from my players,” Mourinho, who made eight changes to the side that beat Fulham 4-1 in the league last weekend, told reporters.
“Especially players that week in, week out, they ask why they don’t play, why they don’t start… it was a good match to play, without any kind of pressure, in a competition that everyone likes to play in.”
Paul Pogba returned to the starting side after being benched for the last two Premier League games but the French international midfielder failed to seize his opportunity. Various Betting options are available on site for today’s Europa League games
United then introduced striker Marcus Rashford, and midfielders Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young as they chased the game after falling 2-0 behind. Continue reading “Mourinho disappointed by fringe players after Valencia defeat”
Inter Milan were knocked out of the Champions League after they could only manage a 1-1 draw at home to Group B’s bottom club PSV Eindhoven on Tuesday to finish third behind Tottenham Hotspur.
Inter would have qualified with a win but, on a fraught night at San Siro, finished level on eight points with Tottenham who squeezed through on their head-to-head record with the Italians after drawing 1-1 away to Barcelona.
PSV, with only one point from their first five games, took a shock lead in the 13th minute when Hirving Lozano headed home after Kwadwo Asamoah lost possession in defence.
The visitors then survived incessant Inter pressure until Mauro Icardi headed in from Matteo Politano’s cross in the 73rd minute.
Inter were twice close to snatching a win in stoppage time, first when Icardi had the ball taken off his toe by a brilliant last-ditch tackle and then when substitute Lautaro Martinez headed over Ivan Perisic’s cross from an unmarked position. Bet Now
Inter made a whirlwind start and, after Perisic saw his header pushed onto the post by Jeroen Zoet, got a huge boost when Barca took an early lead in the other game. Continue reading “Inter Milan knocked out of UCL after being held by PSV”