Fekir sees Lyon into French Cup quarters

Lyon's French midfielder Nabil Fekir grabbed his 20th goal of the season with a 27th-minute spot-kick. (AFP)
Updated 08 February 2018
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Fekir sees Lyon into French Cup quarters

PARIS: Nabil Fekir’s penalty helped Lyon beat Montpellier 2-1 on Wednesday to reach the French Cup quarter-finals for the first time since 2012.
Maxwel Cornet caught home goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte by surprise to give the visitors an early lead, only for Jonathan Ikone to quickly lash in an equalizer.
But Fekir grabbed his 20th goal of the season with a 27th-minute spot-kick to restore his team’s advantage.
Lyon move into the last eight for the first time since winning the trophy for a fifth time six years ago, bouncing back from back-to-back league defeats that have seen them slip to fourth in Ligue 1.
Coach Bruno Genesio made five changes to the side that blew a two-goal lead to lose 3-2 to 10-man Monaco at the weekend, and it was Cornet who made the most of his opportunity by giving them a 13th-minute lead.
The 21-year-old latched onto Bertrand Traore’s pass, and with Lecomte anticipating a cross, he fired home inside the near post with a clever first-time effort to score his fourth goal of the season.
But Montpellier levelled just nine minutes later, as 19-year-old Paris Saint-Germain loanee Ikone met Paul Lasne’s cutback to hammer into the top corner.
It took Lyon less than five minutes to move back in front, though, as Pedro Mendes clumsily bundled over Fekir in the area, with the attacking midfielder picking himself up to slot in from the penalty spot.
Lyon goalkeeper Anthony Lopes had to make a couple of good saves in the second half, while Memphis Depay spurned an excellent chance at the other end, but the away side held on with relative ease.
Earlier on Wednesday, Caen edged out Ligue 1’s bottom club Metz on penalties after a 2-2 draw, while third-tier Chambly ended fourth-division outfit Granville’s run and Lens beat top-flight side Troyes.
Paris Saint-Germain continued their bid for a fourth straight title as Angel Di Maria scored a hat-trick in Tuesday’s 4-1 win at Sochaux.
Marseille are also through after Kostas Mitroglou and Lucas Ocampos both scored trebles in a 9-0 thumping of second-tier Bourg-en-Bresse.


Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

Updated 22 May 2018
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Saudi Arabian football clubs helped with debts by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman

  • Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs
  • Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million)

RIYADH: The General Sports Authority and Saudi Arabia Football Federation (SAFF) have announced that Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman will cover all external debts owed by Saudi Professional League clubs.
According to reports, the Crown Prince will provide 1,277,000,000 Saudi riyals (around $340 million) that will not only clear monies owed but also enable clubs to invest ahead of the 2018-19 season.
The issue of debt had become a major issue in the country’s football scene.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs are currently experiencing financial problems that require immediate and urgent intervention,” the General Sports Authority, which oversees Saudi Arabian sport, said in a statement released on social media.
The body noted that there are a total of 107 cases under appeal at world governing body FIFA regarding unpaid salaries in Saudi Arabia.
“Failure to intervene urgently to rescue clubs may result in damage to the reputation of the Kingdom in general and Saudi Arabian sport in particular,” added the GSA.
“Some Saudi Arabian clubs may face severe disciplinary sanctions because of the failure to meet financial obligations such as the
denial of the registration of players in general or the deduction of points.”
Unpaid salaries were also a factor in Al-Ittihad and Al-Nassr being unable to appear in this year’s AFC Champions League after they were denied AFC club licenses.
Al-Ittihad were the club with the highest debt of 309 million riyals ($82 million) and welcomed the news.
“We are delighted by the generous initiative of His Royal Highness,” Al-Ittihad president Nawaf Al-Muqairn said in an official statement released by the two-time Asian champions.
“This contributes to creating solid ground for all clubs to move toward achieving their goals.”
Legendary Saudi striker Sami Al-Jaber, recently appointed president of champions Al-Hilal, announced his gratitude on social media.
“Great thanks to His Highness the Crown Prince for the great support that the clubs have enjoyed which enables sport in our country to keep pace with the aspirations of our leadership,” Al-Jaber wrote.
The Crown Prince’s move followed the SAFF announcing a new raft of regulations in April that will come into effect next season and are designed to take the league forward. These included restricting club spending on transfers and salaries to 70 percent of revenue. The size of first-team squads has been reduced from 33 to 28, of which five must be homegrown players of 23 or younger.