Real Madrid rallies late to beat Bayern 2-1 and reach another Champions League final

Real Madrid rallies late to beat Bayern 2-1 and reach another Champions League final
Madrid players celebrate after beating Bayern Munich 2-1. (AFP)
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Updated 09 May 2024
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Real Madrid rallies late to beat Bayern 2-1 and reach another Champions League final

Real Madrid rallies late to beat Bayern 2-1 and reach another Champions League final

MADRID: After yet another magical night at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, Real Madrid is back in the Champions League final.
The 14-time European champion pulled off another thrilling comeback on Wednesday, rallying to defeat Bayern Munich 2-1 and reach the final for the second time in three seasons.
Like it happened so many times in 2022, Madrid needed some late drama to advance.
Joselu scored in the 88th minute and then in stoppage time as Madrid advanced 4-3 on aggregate to set up a final against Borussia Dortmund on June 1 in London.
“Well, it has happened again what has happened so many times before,” Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti said. “It’s inexplicable. Fans who push us on, a fantastic stadium, players who never stop believing — it’s simply something magical.”
Bayern had taken the lead on an Alphonso Davies goal in the 68th — and then deep in stoppage time thought it had equalized but hadn’t because of an offside call that Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel described as “disastrous” and “against the rules.”
Joselu’s first goal was a tap in after Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer spilled an easy save. The second was initially called off for offside but was eventually allowed after video review.
“You always dream of being part of moments like this,” the 34-year-old Joselu said. “Not even my best dreams were as good as this.”
It will be Madrid’s record-extending 18th European Cup final, and ninth in the Champions League era, also a record. Madrid beat Liverpool when it last made it to the final in 2022, a season marked by several late comebacks like that one it pulled off on Wednesday.
Madrid at the time pulled off thrilling comebacks at the Bernabeu against Manchester City in the semifinals, Chelsea in the quarterfinals and Paris Saint-Germain in the round of 16.
Six-time European champion Bayern was looking to return to the final for the first time since winning the competition in 2019-20. The loss meant there will be no rematch of the all-German final in 2013, when Bayern beat Dortmund to win its fifth European title.
“It hurts. It’ll take a while to recover, but on the one hand it’s a loss where we left it all out on the pitch,” Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said. “Of course, it’s tough to accept. It’s part of reality. No regrets.”
Dortmund, the 1997 European champion, eliminated Paris Saint-Germain 2-0 on aggregate on Tuesday.
It was a mostly even match but Madrid created the most significant scoring chances. But it had not been able to get past what was a terrific performance by Neuer, who had made a series of difficult saves to keep Bayern in the match.
But the German international faltered in the final minutes, dropping an easy ball after a shot by Vinícius Júnior and allowing Joselu — who came off the bench in the 81st — to equalize from in front of the goal.
“Manu, who had been exceptional in saving us all night, made a mistake he wouldn’t make in another 100 years,” Tuchel said.
Neuer said “anyone who’s ever played football knows how I’m feeling right now.”
“That we’ve been knocked out in the closing stages, having led 1-0 until the 85th minute, it’s extremely bitter,” he said. “We’d taken one step to London, we saw ourselves in the final and now I’m lost for words.”
Joselu, a German-born striker, then gave Madrid the lead a minute into stoppage time after a cross by Madrid defender Antonio Rüdiger off the left side.
The linesman initially raised the flag for offside, and it took a few moments before Madrid players and the crowd at the Bernabeu could celebrate the winner.
Bayern loudly complained at the end after a goal by Matthijs de Ligt didn’t count because the referee blew the whistle for offside without letting the play be completed.
De Ligt said the linesman apologized to him, saying he “made a mistake” for raising the flag without letting the play continue.
Davies, who had entered the match in the 27th to replace the injured Serge Gnabry, had given Bayern the lead by beating Rüdiger in a one-on-one situation, cutting back toward the middle of the area before firing a right-footed shot into the far corner past Madrid goalkeeper Andriy Lunin.
Madrid thought it had equalized a couple of minutes later but the goal was called off after video review because of a foul by defender Nacho Fernández on Joshua Kimmich.


Lionel Messi could be playing in his final tournament with Argentina at Copa America

Lionel Messi could be playing in his final tournament with Argentina at Copa America
Updated 53 sec ago
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Lionel Messi could be playing in his final tournament with Argentina at Copa America

Lionel Messi could be playing in his final tournament with Argentina at Copa America
  • “The moment I feel that I am not going to help my team, I will retire,” Messi said in March in an interview with Saudi broadcaster Riyadh Season
  • He spends time with his three children, starts new businesses and lives as if soccer is slowly becoming a smaller part of his life

BUENOS AIRES: It’s sad but true, Copa America could mark Lionel Messi’s final chapter with Argentina’s national soccer team.

The World Cup winner will turn 37 during the tournament in the US, which kicks off Thursday. He’s clearly past his peak at Inter Miami after two decades of playing at the highest level in Europe.

Messi has not set a date for his retirement and has kept the door open to playing in a sixth World Cup in 2026 to defend his title from Qatar. But he already recognizes his shortcomings.

“I don’t think about that yet. The moment I feel that I am not going to help my team, I will retire,” Messi said in March in an interview with Saudi broadcaster Riyadh Season. “I always ate well, trained. But as I grew I became aware that the physical effort we make is getting harder. As you grow old, things become more difficult.”

Last year, the eight-time Ballon d’Or winner struggled with muscular injuries while playing in MLS and for Argentina. That didn’t change much in 2024.

Messi has shown he enjoys going out at night with his wife, Antonella, and his friends in Miami. He spends time with his three children, starts new businesses and lives as if soccer is slowly becoming a smaller part of his life.

Still, he has 12 goals and 13 assists for Inter Miami this season.

“I have a good time at the club. I am lucky to have teammates and friends (Luis Suarez, Sergio Busquets and Jordi Alba, all former Barcelona players) by my side,” Messi told ESPN. ”I have a good time in the national team, where I have teammates and friends, too. And I enjoy the little details that I know that when I don’t play anymore, I’m going to miss.”

Angel di Maria, a 36-year-old winger who has played alongside Messi for years with the national team, is sure to bid farewell to international soccer after the Copa America. That has also brought more questions about whether the team’s biggest star will remain on the squad.

“As long as I feel like I’m fine and I can continue contributing, I’m going to do it. Today, the only thing I think about is getting to the Copa America well and being able to compete in it,” Messi told the Star Plus platform in December. “Fighting for it again, as we always did, trying to be champions.”

Argentina’s all-time top scorer and the national team’s leader with 26 World Cup appearances is also seeking records in the continental competition.

Messi, who won the South American championship in 2021, wants to become the Copa America’s leading scorer. He has 13 goals in six editions, four behind Norberto Méndez of Argentina and Zizinho of Brazil with 17.

He also wants to be the player with most appearances in the Copa America, a record he currently shares with former Chile goalkeeper Sergio Livingston, both with 34 games.

Messi’s teammates don’t want to see him go.

“We’ll see how long, but while he’s here we’re going to enjoy it to the fullest,” Argentina defender Cristian Romero said. “We grew up watching him. We are part of those tournaments.”


Playing Italy like ‘looking in a mirror’, says Spain’s De la Fuente

Playing Italy like ‘looking in a mirror’, says Spain’s De la Fuente
Updated 19 June 2024
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Playing Italy like ‘looking in a mirror’, says Spain’s De la Fuente

Playing Italy like ‘looking in a mirror’, says Spain’s De la Fuente
  • “They’re very similar to us, they have changed coach and they have young players,” De la Fuente told reporters
  • “I think it will be a very high quality match“

GELSENKIRCHEN, Germany: Luis de la Fuente said on Wednesday he was struck by the similarities between his Spain team and Italy as the pair aim to secure qualification for the knockout stage of Euro 2024.
La Roja and champions Italy have undergone a change in playing personnel over the last year, and have young blood throughout their squads.
Spain are more direct than under previous coach Luis Enrique while Luciano Spalletti is attempting get Italy to play a high-intensity attacking style with which he won the Serie A title for Napoli.
“They’re very similar to us, they have changed coach and they have young players. They are very competitive,” De la Fuente told reporters.
“It’s almost like we’re looking in a mirror actually. We are a growing, developing team which is working on cohesion and consistency and so are they. I think it will be a very high quality match.”
Spain have faced Italy at each of the last four Euros and meet in Gelsenkirchen on Thursday where both teams can ensure top spot in Group B with a win.
They are locked on three points at the top of the group, two ahead of Albania and Croatia who played out an exciting 2-2 draw earlier on Wednesday.
And De la Fuente, who has a fully fit squad at his disposal, is in no doubt that his team will play to win rather than try to not lose and then attempt to secure top spot in their final group game with Albania.
“Without doubt we want to win. This game most important game for us so far,” he said.
“That is the only thing we’re thinking about... We play all matches to win. I don’t know how to play any other way.”
Fabian Ruiz, who will face his former coach at Napoli in Spalletti, shrugged off talk of Spain being favorites for the Euros despite their blistering debut win over Croatia.
“We don’t see ourselves as favorites but we have confidence in our potential,” said Fabian Ruiz.
“We know we have the quality to get to the final and we’ll do what we can to get there. Maybe if we get to the final I’ll be able to tell you whether we’re favorites or not. But it’s very difficult to win a tournament.”


UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games

UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games
Updated 19 June 2024
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UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games

UEFA fines Albania, Serbia $10,700 each for nationalist fan banners at Euro 2024 games
  • Each federation was charged with “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event”
  • UEFA also opened a separate investigation into alleged discrimination by Serbia fans

FRANKFURT: UEFA fined the Albanian and Serbian soccer federations 10,000 euros ($10,700) each on Wednesday for fans displaying banners with nationalist maps at European Championship games.
Each federation was charged with “transmitting provocative messages not fit for a sports event” because they are responsible for the conduct of their fans at stadiums.
Albania fans displayed a banner with a map of their country extending its borders into the territory of neighboring countries. It was shown during the 2-1 loss against Italy on Saturday in Dortmund.
Serbia fans’ banner included the independent territory of Kosovo and a slogan “No Surrender” at a 1-0 loss against England in Gelsenkirchen. A case was prosecuted by FIFA at the 2022 World Cup when players were photographed with a similar banner in their locker room ahead of a game against Brazil.
UEFA also opened a separate investigation into alleged discrimination by Serbia fans. The Kosovo soccer federation field a formal complaint with UEFA.
The Albanian federation was fined a further 27,375 euros ($29,400) for fans lighting flares and fireworks, throwing beer cups and a fan who went on the field.
Fans invading the playing area have been a regular feature in the first week of games at Euro 2024.
UEFA announced the sanctions of its disciplinary panel hours after Albania drew 2-2 with Croatia in their second Group B game.
Serbia’s federation must pay 4,500 euros ($4,800) more for fans throwing beer cups.


Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism

Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism
Updated 19 June 2024
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Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism

Southgate in a ‘happier’ place shut off from criticism
  • The Three Lions men got off to a winning start, but a 1-0 victory over Serbia attracted criticism for not maximizing the use of the attacking talent on offer to England
  • "My world is a happier place if I shut myself off," Southgate said

FRANKFURT: England boss Gareth Southgate said he will ignore media coverage during Euro 2024 as his joy at winning matches lasts just “45 seconds” due to the scrutiny he is under.
The Three Lions men got off to a winning start, but a 1-0 victory over Serbia attracted criticism for not maximizing the use of the attacking talent on offer to England.
Jude Bellingham stole the show with the only goal in Gelsenkirchen, but Phil Foden and Harry Kane were among those who struggled to shine in a slow start by one of the pre-tournament favorites.
“My world is a happier place if I shut myself off,” Southgate said at his pre-match press conference ahead of facing Denmark on Thursday.
“It’s not good from a global perspective because I haven’t got a clue about politics or (world) events, but for the next month that’s going to be a better place for me.”
Under Southgate England have risen back into contention for glory, reaching a final, semifinal and quarter-final in his three attempts at major tournaments.
However, that record has not sheltered him from a backlash at times due to the wealth of talent he has to choose from.
And Southgate conceded there should be more joy in leading his country.
“We’ve had some good results over the years so maybe even we take wins for granted. I should let the boys enjoy it more than they do,” he added.
“I get about 45 seconds of enjoyment. The whistle blows, I cuddle everybody, walk off the pitch and that’s about it. I hope they have a little bit longer than me!
“There should be more joy in it but that’s not my reality if I’m frank. My focus is to get qualified from the group, two tough opponents and two games to achieve that.”
Manchester City defender Kyle Walker said he is also keen to shut out any outside noise — apart from the opinion of his mum.
“I don’t read it at all,” said Walker. “If you have outside noise, positively or negatively, it can have an impact so I’d rather not see it and concentrate on what it’s in camp, what the gaffer says, and mainly what my mum says. She always tells me if I’ve had a good game.”
Victory over Denmark in Frankfurt will secure England’s place in the last 16 with a game to spare.
Luke Shaw remains the only player unavailable to Southgate as he continues his rehabilitation of a calf injury.
The Manchester United left-back has not played at all for club or country since February, but Southgate remains confident Shaw will have a role to play in the tournament.
“Luke won’t be involved tomorrow. He is actually on track for where he was originally.
“He needs a bit more volume work. There are days he needs to do more than the rest of the group and other days he needs to recover.”


Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros

Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros
Updated 19 June 2024
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Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros

Germany ease past Hungary to reach last 16 at Euros
  • Musiala struck for the second game running midway through the first half
  • Julian Nagelsmann’s men can wrap up top spot when they play Switzerland in Frankfurt in their final group fixture on Sunday

STUTTGART, Germany: Jamal Musiala and Ilkay Gundogan scored as hosts Germany became the first team to qualify for the last 16 of Euro 2024 on Wednesday after beating Hungary 2-0 in Stuttgart.
Musiala struck for the second game running midway through the first half, much to the anger of Hungary players who felt a foul should have been awarded in the build-up to the goal.
Gundogan grabbed his side’s second on 67 minutes as Germany eased to a second successive win in Group A, making sure they will progress to the knockout phase at least as one of the best third-placed sides.
Julian Nagelsmann’s men can wrap up top spot when they play Switzerland in Frankfurt in their final group fixture on Sunday.
Hungary are staring at elimination after back-to-back defeats and must beat Scotland if they are to stand any chance of reaching the last 16.
Germany unsurprisingly stuck with the same line-up that battered Scotland 5-1 in the first game of the tournament, ending a run of three major finals in which they had lost their opening match.
Hungary coach Marco Rossi made two changes following a disappointing 3-1 loss to Switzerland, bringing Marton Dardai into his three-man defense and starting Bendeguz Bolla at right wing-back.
A dismal first half left Hungary with too much to do against the Swiss and Rossi admitted beating Germany would require a “perfect match” from his team.
Hungary almost struck in the opening seconds as Manuel Neuer raced out to take the ball off the toe of Roland Sallai.
Kai Havertz outmuscled Willi Orban only to be superbly denied by Peter Gulacsi, who thrust out his right hand to deny the Arsenal attacker.
Robert Andrich’s volley from the resulting corner was bravely headed behind by Bolla, but it wasn’t long until Germany’s persistence was rewarded.
Musiala cushioned the ball through for Gundogan and the Germany captain kept the attack alive after jostling with Orban, knocking it back for Musiala to slam in off the crossbar with a touch off Attila Fiola.
Hungary were furious no foul was given for the contact between Gundogan and Orban that knocked the defender to the ground, the goal confirmed after a brief VAR check.
Dominik Szoboszlai’s curling free-kick drew a terrific stop from Neuer soaring to his right, the goalkeeper kicking away the follow-up as Hungary tried to scramble in the rebound.
A key block from Jonathan Tah foiled a second opportunity in quick succession for Szoboszlai, with Musiala then drilling into the side-netting at the other end.
Hungary had the ball in Germany’s net in first-half stoppage time, but Sallai’s effort was ruled out for offside after Neuer palmed away an Orban header.
Gulacsi clawed away a deflected Toni Kroos drive early in the second half before Hungary forward Barnabas Varga, who scored in the loss to Switzerland, nodded narrowly over from an inviting cross.
Germany picked apart the Hungary defense with a patient attack to double their lead just past the hour.
Maximilian Mittelstaedt found space down the left and slid across a pass for Gundogan to sweep home from near the penalty spot.
Niclas Fuellkrug failed to get a finishing touch as Joshua Kimmich powered across the face of goal, with Gulacsi making smart saves to keep out Kimmich and Leroy Sane as Germany sought a third goal.
Julian Nagelsmann withdrew his front three with the game under control to keep them fresh for the Switzerland clash.
Neuer had a nervy moment late on when he spilled a cross, but Kimmich cleared Orban’s shot off the line to preserve the clean sheet for Germany — their first in eight games at the European Championship.