Liverpool seek new ‘heroes’ without concussed Salah against Barcelona

Liverpool's players take part in a team training session at Melwood in Liverpool, England on May 6, 2019, on the eve of their UEFA Champions League semi-final second leg football match against Barcelona. (AFP / Lindsey Parnaby)
Updated 07 May 2019
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Liverpool seek new ‘heroes’ without concussed Salah against Barcelona

  • Salah was injured during Liverpool’s tense 3-2 win at Newcastle on Saturday
  • Roberto Firmino will also be absent against the Spanish champions

LIVERPOOL: Liverpool must turn to unlikely heroes to overturn a 3-0 Champions League semifinal, first leg deficit against Barcelona on Tuesday according to defender Trent Alexander-Arnold after top scorer Mohamed Salah was ruled out with concussion.
Roberto Firmino will also be absent against the Spanish champions leaving Jurgen Klopp without two of his most potent weapons for an already massive challenge.
“Obviously we’ve got two of our main goalscorers out, but it also presents an opportunity for some of the other lads to come in, make a name for themselves and make themselves heroes,” said Alexander-Arnold.
“If we do overturn the deficit tomorrow then whoever scores, their name will always be remembered because I am sure it will be one of those really special nights.”
Salah was stretchered off during Liverpool’s tense 3-2 win at Newcastle on Saturday that kept alive their chances of a first Premier League title in 29 years after colliding with Magpies’ goalkeeper Martin Dubravka for a high ball.
“It’s a concussion so that means he would not even be allowed to play,” said Klopp at his pre-match press conference on Monday.
“He feels OK but it is not good enough from a medical point of view that is all. He’s desperate (to play) but we cannot do it.”
Klopp was realistic at his side’s chances of progressing to a second consecutive Champions League final, but refused to give up hope with Liverpool’s history of European comebacks.
“Together with our supporters it was a long season and there is at least a little chance to make it even longer,” added Klopp.
“Two of the world’s best strikers are not available tomorrow night and we have to score four goals against Barcelona to go through after 90 minutes.
“It doesn’t make life easier, but as long as we have 11 players on the pitch, we will try it.”
Luis Suarez scored the opening goal against his former club in last week’s first leg at the Camp Nou, but ahead of his return to Anfield, the Uruguayan warned his current teammates of the lift playing on home soil will give Liverpool.
“To play at Anfield is like playing with an extra man for what the fans transmit to the Liverpool players,” said Suarez.
And Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde believes attack will be the best form of defense as if the Catalans get an away goal, Liverpool will need to score five.
“What we have to do is score,” said Valverde.
Suarez will be joined by Lionel Messi and Philippe Coutinho on his return to Anfield after a £142 million move to Barca from Liverpool last year.
But Ousmane Dembele is absent for the visitors due to a hamstring injury and Valverde believes the Frenchman’s absence will be felt just as much as Salah and Firmino.
“We don’t want any player to be injured. It would have been extraordinary to see them all on the field. They are all important,” he added.
“Dembele’s absence is a problem. Against a team that concedes space (in behind) it is always important to have player like Ousmane.”


Dutch cap Europe’s World Cup dominance by ousting Japan

Updated 26 June 2019
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Dutch cap Europe’s World Cup dominance by ousting Japan

  • The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy

RENNES, France: Tears were still flowing from Saki Kumagai’s eyes more than 30 minutes later.
With victorious Dutch rivals passing her on the way out of the stadium, Japan’s captain seemed to find solace in speaking about the penalty long after it cost her team a place in the quarterfinals of the Women’s World Cup.
With Tuesday night’s game entering the 90th minute locked at 1-1, Kumagai’s outstretched left arm blocked the shot Vivianne Miedema had aimed into the right side of the net.
“It had my hand for sure,” Kumagai said. “It’s difficult to accept but it’s also sad. I know that is football.”
Referee Melissa Borjas pointed to the penalty spot and Lieke Martens netted her second goal of the game in the 90th minute to seal a 2-1 victory that sent the Netherlands into the quarterfinals for the first time.
“We have made history,” Martens said. “I’m not usually taking the penalties but I felt really good this game. I asked Sherida Spitse if I could take it and she gave it directly to me and I felt quite relaxed about it.”
The reigning European champions will need to maintain that composure as they prepare for a meeting with Italy on Saturday after going one stage further than their Women’s World Cup debut four years ago.
“We were standing in the circle after the match and we were so happy, yelling at each other,” Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said. “We were saying, ‘Let’s continue writing history.’“
It is journey’s end for Japan, which won the 2011 tournament and was the runner-up four years later.
The strength of the second-half display counted for nothing.
As befitting a meeting of the Asian and European champions, the game produced some of the slickest action of the World Cup. A backheel flick set up Martens to send the Dutch in front in the 17th minute and Yui Hasegawa equalized in the 43rd to complete a slick passing move.
But the post, crossbar and goalkeeper Sari van Veenendaal thwarted Japan’s pursuit of a winning goal.
“I think we lacked the clinical edge,” Japan coach Asako Takakura said. “We have to accept the result, we’re defeated, we’re very disappointed and for all the players I feel very sorry for them and frustrated.”
With the last Asian team eliminated, the Women’s World Cup will have a record seven European teams in the quarterfinals. Norway and England meet in Le Havre on Thursday and France takes on the United States the following night. After the Netherlands plays Italy on Saturday, Germany and Sweden will meet.
“It’s really tough to be here,” Netherlands forward Miedema said. “Sometimes it kind of feels like a Euros.”
That is a title already won by this team, thanks to Miedema’s goals in the final two years ago on home soil.
The fans won’t have far to travel for the World Cup quarterfinal, with Valenciennes around two hours’ drive from the Netherlands.
It will be another chance for the orange-clad fans who danced and sang their way in a convoy to the stadium on Tuesday to stamp their mark on this tournament.
They were certainly given a game to savor, and an audacious opening goal.
Martens flicked in the opener after evading her marker to meet a corner and send the ball through the legs of Yuika Sugasawa into the net.
Sugasawa had a quick chance to tie, only to hit the post. But Japan did equalize by completing an intricate move.
Hina Sugita squared across the penalty area to Yuika Sugasawa, who passed back to Mana Iwabuchi on the edge of the penalty area. After holding off Jackie Groenen on the turn, Iwabuchi slipped the ball through to Hasegawa, who was free to delicately dink a shot over Van Veenendaal into the corner of the net.
It was some way to make the most of a first shot on target for a team that failed to score in two of its three group stage games.
But parity nearly didn’t last long.
Miedema received the ball from Shanice van de Sanden but with only Ayaka Yamashita to beat struck straight at the Japan goalkeeper.
Van Veenendaal came to the rescue of the Dutch in the second half by denying Emi Nakajima as Japan chased the winner.
“Japan is a world class team and you saw that today,” Miedema said. “In the second half you can see they have loads of quality on the pitch.”