Sevilla oust Man United from Champions League with 2-1 win

Wissam Ben Yedder double sends United crashing out of Europe's top club competition. (Reuters)
Updated 14 March 2018
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Sevilla oust Man United from Champions League with 2-1 win

MANCHESTER, England: Frustrated and feeling increasingly uneasy, Manchester United fans unleashed a loud cry of “attack, attack, attack” with their team’s Champions League fate hanging in the balance against Sevilla.
It was the Spanish side who answered the call.
Within eight minutes, Sevilla had scored two goals and was heading into the quarterfinals of Europe’s top competition for the first time in 60 years.
In the biggest surprise of the last 16, Sevilla eliminated United by winning the second leg 2-1 at Old Trafford on Tuesday, thanks to two goals in the space of four minutes by substitute Wissam Ben Yedder. In the night’s other match, Roma advanced after Edin Dzeko scored early in the second half to secure a 1-0 home win over Shakhtar Donetsk, overturning a 2-1 first-leg defeat to advance on away goals.w
It was a historic night for Sevilla and an embarrassing one for United, which managed only four shots on target in 180 minutes against one of the weakest defenses left in the competition.
“I don’t want to make a drama out of it,” United manager Jose Mourinho said, struggling for an explanation for his team’s feeble performance. “That’s football. It’s not the end of the world.”
United was lucky to escape from the first leg with a 0-0 draw and it always felt dangerous score line for United.
The longer it went scoreless, the more nervy it got inside Old Trafford. The “attack, attack, attack” chant — made famous during the glory years under Alex Ferguson — came after 70 minutes, and Sevilla’s response was to throw on Ben Yedder two minutes later.
The French striker, a former international futsal player, gave the visitors a cutting edge the man he replaced — Luis Muriel — didn’t offer. Another two minutes later, he ran onto Pablo Sarabia’s precise through-ball, got half a meter on marker Eric Bailly and drove a low shot inside the post.
De Gea had no chance with that goal, but could have done more about the second. A Sevilla corner was flicked onto the back post where Ben Yedder stooped to send in a header that De Gea tried to palm over the bar but only succeeded in diverting it into his own net.
Ben Yedder moved onto eight goals in this season’s competition and he missed a chance for a hat trick as United’s defense fell apart in the latter stages. Only Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo — with 12 goals — has more.
Romelu Lukaku pulled one back for United from close range in the 84th but a late rally couldn’t prevent United slipping out of the competition in meek fashion.
“I sat in this chair twice in the Champions League,” Mourinho told reporters after the match. “I knock out Manchester United at home at Old Trafford. I sit in this chair with Porto (in 2004), Man United out. I sit in this chair with Real Madrid, Man United out. I don’t think it’s something new for the club.”
But unlike in those victories, Mourinho might have got his tactics wrong this time.
By starting Marouane Fellaini for the first time since Nov. 22, United manager Jose Mourinho ceded some of the midfield control that was a standout feature of his team’s 2-1 win over Liverpool in the Premier League on Saturday.
There was space in front of United’s back four, with holding midfielder Nemanja Matic isolated as Fellaini roamed, and a team with more incisiveness than Sevilla would have capitalized earlier than it did.
As it was, Sevilla couldn’t find the target with a slew of efforts from distance in the first half but, with Steven Nzonzi and Evert Banega controlling the midfield, United was not finding it easy.
After halftime, United looked more threatening — Jesse Lingard’s low shot brought a good save from goalkeeper Sergio Rico — but was thankful for a last-gasp tackle by Bailly to deny Joaquin Correa just as the Sevilla forward was about to shoot.
Mourinho chose to bring Paul Pogba on for Fellaini on the hour mark to bring some variety to the team’s attacking moves. But it was the introduction of Ben Yedder that had the bigger impact.


Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly

Updated 22 September 2018
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Riz Rehman is the man with a plan to ensure Premier League passion is Muslim-friendly

  • Mohamed Salah's record-breaking season has focused attention on the Premier League's Muslim players and fans.
  • Past three players to win Player of the Year have all been Muslim.

LONDON: The face of English football has changed unimaginably since the start of the Premier League in 1992 — not least in terms of the number of Muslim footballers plying their trade in the most popular league in the world.
Twenty-six years ago, Tottenham Hotspur midfielder Nayim was the league’s only practicing Muslim. Fast forward to 2018 and there are now more than 40 Muslim players gracing England’s top flight — many of them global stars such as Mohamed Salah, Paul Pogba and N’Golo Kante. 
This is a hugely welcome development for the Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA) and its education adviser, Riz Rehman, who is himself a Muslim. 
Rehman’s role involves him supporting players of different backgrounds — including Muslims — and aiming to boost their participation in football. Little wonder, then, that he is delighted that the past three winners of the PFA Players’ Player of the Year award were all Muslim — Salah, Kante and Riyad Mahrez. 
“It’s great for the Muslim community — young people, players, aspiring players and coaches — that three Muslims have won this award and that two of them (Salah and Mahrez) are Arabs,” Rehman told Arab News. 
“It’s very important because it’s created more awareness about Muslims being good at the game and sport in general. It’s important we highlight this.” 
Leading Muslim footballers’ soaring success and stardom have coincided with rising Islamaphobic attacks in Britain following the Brexit vote in 2016. Regressive attitudes toward race, religion and immigration have raged in some parts of the country, as Rehman acknowledged. 
“The biggest misconceptions are that Muslims are all terrorists or that they are all Asian and have long beards,” he said. “Isolated incidents are giving Muslims a bad name.” 
Mercifully for Rehman and the PFA, the likes of Salah and Kante are portraying Muslims in a far more positive — and realistic — light on and off the pitch. 
During his sublime 2017-18 season, Liverpool star Salah topped the Premier League goal-scoring charts with 32 goals and reached the Champions League final. His unstinting brilliance led to him being serenaded with his own song by Liverpool fans, which includes the line: “If he scores another few, then I’ll be a Muslim too.” 

Mohamed Salah has created a positive image of Muslims during his record-breaking year in the Premier League. 


Many social media posts and videos showing young supporters copying the Egyptian maestro’s overtly religious goal celebration have also been posted many times. This involves him performing sujood, the Islamic art of prostration. 
“Things like that are really helping to bring down barriers in the game,” Rehman said. 
Likewise, he cites the fact that Salah and his Liverpool teammate, Sadio Mane, visit a mosque every week after training for Jumu’ah, the Friday prayer. 
Meanwhile, only last Saturday the humbleness of Chelsea’s irrepressible midfielder Kante — who has two Premier League winners’ medals and one FA Cup success to his name — was widely hailed. 
After missing his Eurostar train to Paris, Kante — who achieved World Cup glory with France in July — was invited home for dinner by Arsenal fan Badlur Rahman Jalil after meeting him while praying at a London mosque. Remarkably, Kante duly obliged and spent the evening watching Match of the Day and playing the FIFA video game with Jalil and his friends. 
“People are more aware that we have Muslim players in the game,” Rehman said. “Players are not afraid to come out and embrace the fact that they are Muslims and showing the world that they’re good people.” 
But are the PFA — and clubs in the Premier League and England in general — doing enough to increase Muslim representation in English football? 
“I think things are better than ever. A lot of clubs are working hard on all-inclusive programs,” replied Rehman, who was a promising youth-team player at Brentford before injury cut short his career at the age of 17 in 2000. 
“We deliver workshops aimed at club staff to educate them about better engaging Muslim communities. We get staff and coaches together and tell them more about Islam, what it involves and discuss Ramadan and how it might affect performance and participation at all levels. 
“On the back of that, hopefully clubs will deliver programs around the needs of the community. There are clubs like Crystal Palace who are looking to deliver Asian-specific programs to get more Asian kids playing football, more Asian coaches and look at the Muslim community as well.” 
Rehman himself helped organized an Iftar event at League One outfit Portsmouth earlier this year, which “went really well.” 
“We also had players come along to support the day. Clubs such as Crystal Palace, Leicester City and a few others are showing an interest in holding similar events next season. 
“Leicester City are a club with a massive Asian community and we are supporting them with trying to set up some programs.” 
Also high on Rehman’s agenda is encouraging more BAME (Black, Asian and minority ethnic) coaches into the game. As well as sitting on the advisory group for the Premier Leagues Elite Coach Apprenticeship Scheme, one key program he is involved in is “Sidelined-to-Sidelines.”

N'Golo Kante has been one of the best players in England's top-flight since he moved to the Premier League three years ago. 


This was established by the Zesh Rehman Foundation — which was set up by his brother, a former Fulham defender — to address a shortage of qualified South Asian coaches. 
“We are setting up sessions to try and recruit young coaches at clubs like Crystal Palace, QPR and Chelsea,” Rehman revealed. “Coaches wearing those club badges become role models and are able to influence their own communities and encourage more kids (from under-represented ethnicities) to take up the game.” 
Rehman is keen to recruit more Muslim “ambassadors” at clubs “up and down the country” to emulate the likes of the inspirational Salah. 
“We want them to work with the community, local groups, mosques, and get players to actually go into those communities and build links with the clubs. It’s a two-way thing.” 
Progress has also been made in attracting more Muslim supporters to Premier League matches, Rehman added. Liverpool and Brighton and Hove Albion are among the clubs that have multi-faith prayer rooms to cater for their increasingly diverse fanbases, he said. 
“Some clubs sell halal food, too, so there’s something for everyone.
“It’s a worldwide game now. Mo Salah has reached out to a lot of people. I think Muslim communities themselves have to make an effort to go to matches. 
“It’s not an overnight success, but you do see different communities represented on match days, week in and week out.”