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09-14-2017, 10:24 AM

Tottenham 3 Borussia Dortmund 1: Kane double inspires impressive Spurs


A Harry Kane brace inspired Tottenham to an impressive 3-1 win over Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League Group H clash.Fresh from a double against Everton at the weekend, Kane was in imperious form throughout to guide Spurs to what could be an important win in a pool also containing defending champions Real Madrid.

Son Heung-min lit the blue touch paper for a pulsating opening 15 minutes by scoring his first goal of the season after just four minutes.

Dortmund pulled level through Andriy Yarmolenko's sumptuous effort before Kane restored Tottenham's lead three minutes later with a fierce drive.

The visitors twice had goals incorrectly ruled out for offside before Kane scored his second to wrap up the three points for Spurs, who had Jan Vertonghen sent off late on for two yellow cards.

It marks just the second time Spurs have won a 'home' match at Wembley in seven attempts dating back to using the national stadium for last season's Champions League and they will be confident of collecting maximum points when they travel to Cyprus in a fortnight to face APOEL, while Dortmund host Madrid at Signal Iduna Park.

Serge Aurier was named in Spurs' starting XI for the first time since his move from Paris Saint-Germain and the Ivorian saw his new team make a sensational start.

Inside four minutes, Son picked up Kane's pass midway into the Dortmund half before driving into the visitors' area. A step-over created a clear sight of goal and the South Korean drilled a left-foot shot past Roman Burki at his near post, who might feel he should have done better.Tottenham did not enjoy their lead for long, though, as they were pegged back by a moment of real class from Yarmolenko in the 11th minute.

The Ukrainian latched onto Shinji Kagawa's pull back on the edge of the area and whipped a magnificent effort into the top-right corner, leaving Hugo Lloris with no chance.Tottenham reclaimed the lead just three minutes later and once again questions will be asked about the weak resistance offered up by Burki.

Kane shrugged off the attentions of two Dortmund players to find himself in an almost identical position to where Son scored from. Burki evidently had not learnt his lesson and was beaten again at his near post by Kane's fiercely struck drive.

Dortmund nearly drew level again in the 35th minute, but young American Christian Pulisic was unable to make a clean contact with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang's teasing cross from the right.

Pulisic then had a perfectly good goal ruled out on the stroke of half-time after Aubameyang had incorrectly been flagged offside.Tottenham started the second half with real verve and both goalscorers missed glaring chances to add to their tallies.

Kane lashed over from Christian Eriksen's pass and then the England striker turned provider for Son, who somehow contrived to curl his shot over the bar.

Soon after, Aubameyang was again on the receiving end of a contentious offside decision to scupper his celebrations after a perfectly executed half-volley past Lloris.

Tottenham soon took advantage of the fortuitous break when Kane collected Eriksen's pass on the edge of the box to drill a low shot into the corner of Burki's net.

Lloris got down well to keep out Aubameyang's effort from a corner as the Germans tried to set up a tense finale, but Spurs held on despite the late sending off of Vertonghen.
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09-14-2017, 10:27 AM

Pochettino: Kane one of world's best strikers


Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino lauded Harry Kane as one of the world's best after the forward's brace against Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League.Kane delivered once more for Spurs, scoring twice to guide his side to a 3-1 victory in Group H on Wednesday.

The England international has found some form with four goals in two games, and Pochettino praised the 24-year-old.

"Kane was fantastic," he said, via UEFA ."You can see today, scoring goals in the Champions League. He receives the credit he deserves."For me he's one of the best strikers in the world. In the Champions League, the most important competition in the world, scoring will give him the credit he deserves."

Kane also set up Son Heung-min's opener, which was cancelled out by Andriy Yarmolenko in the first half. Dortmund coach Peter Bosz also hailed Kane and said his team were more than aware of the forward's abilities beforehand.

"Obviously Harry Kane's a good player. Strong, really strong. You can see that with the second goal, where two of my players didn't win the duel with him," he said."We knew that before. He's a good player."
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09-14-2017, 10:28 AM

Ronaldo: Champions League is Real Madrid's competition


Cristiano Ronaldo said the "Champions League is Real Madrid's competition" after the holders made a winning start to their title defence.

Reigning Ballon d'Or winner Ronaldo scored twice as two-time defending champions Madrid eased past Cypriot visitors APOEL 3-0 at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday.

Still serving a five-match domestic ban for pushing a referee in the Supercopa de Espana, Ronaldo returned to the fold with a trademark brace as he took his record Champions League tally to 107 goals.

Ronaldo and Madrid have their sights firmly set on a third successive European crown."There's still a long way to go; let's go game by game. First we have the group stage then we can see," Ronaldo said via UEFA.com."We, of course, want to win this tournament. The Champions League is Real Madrid's competition and we want to win it."

Ronaldo's return was welcomed after back-to-back draws against Valencia and Levante in LaLiga. The 32-year-old put Madrid ahead in the 12th minute before doubling his tally with a penalty six minutes into the second half.

Madrid captain Sergio Ramos completed the scoring when he converted an exquisite bicycle kick just past the hour-mark in the Spanish capital."I'm delighted to be back playing," Ronaldo said. "This is a special competition and to start playing again and scoring goals is very important for me. I helped the side and feel good about that.

"It was a game we needed to win; we played at home and wanted to start the Champions League well. I think the side were good; we know we were taking on a defensive outfit. We could've scored more but, in the end, it was a good result and we've started off well and we're happy with that."
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09-14-2017, 10:30 AM

Guardiola heaps praise on De Bruyne as one of the best he's seen


Pep Guardiola hailed Kevin De Bruyne as "one of the best players I've ever seen in my life" after the Belgium international was instrumental in Manchester City's 4-0 Champions League demolition of Feyenoord.

De Bruyne created first-half goals for Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus as 10-man Liverpool were dispatched 5-0 at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday and the midfielder was to the fore once again in Rotterdam.

An inch-perfect cross allowed John Stones to complete the rout after the hour, the England defender having opened the scoring in the second minute before Aguero and Jesus continued their productive starts to the campaign.

Afterwards, a man who has coached the likes of Lionel Messi, Andres Iniesta, Toni Kroos and Robert Lewandowski, reserved high praise for City's number 17.

"Kevin is one of the best players I've ever seen in my life in terms of how he can make absolutely everything [happen]," Guardiola said."He's a top, top quality player. We are so proud and so happy he's with us."He's had a few ups and downs, maybe because we didn't win some games [last season] that we deserved.

"He's so stable and he has the mental quality. The rest comes from inside."
City dazzled from the opening whistle as they quickly silenced a rowdy De Kuip, with the sight of De Bruyne dictating the game alongside fellow playmakers of David Silva and Bernardo Silva a delight to watch and something Giovanni van Bronckhorst's Dutch champions were wholly ill-equipped to combat.

"It's a pleasure to play like this because the level of the players is so high," De Bruyne told BT Sport, having finished the match wearing the captain's armband after a flurry of substitutions."It gives me happiness to be like this."

Guardiola was careful to temper his own joy after two such comprehensive wins.
Asked whether the past five days represented City's best form under his management, he added: "It's too early to say - we have to improve."We made a good performance but also there were mistakes. Against Liverpool, with 11 v 11 the game was equal.

"In Europe it's so demanding, it doesn’t matter where - winning 4-0 away is not easy. We are just in September, you have to win the respect of your opponents."We made a good step last weekend by beating one of the top-six teams at home.Last season it was just Arsenal [who City beat at home out of the Premier League's top six].

"If you want to grow you have to beat them and it's the same here [in Europe]. You have to win this kind of game."
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09-14-2017, 10:32 AM

Klopp: Liverpool profligacy not an illness


Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool's profligacy in the 2-2 draw with Sevilla is "not an illness".

The Reds will see Wednesday's result in their Champions League opener as two points dropped after Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah had eclipsed Wissam Ben Yedder's opener to give them the lead.

Firmino fluffed his lines from the penalty spot, striking the post when he could have made it 3-1 before half-time, and Joaquin Correa ensured Sevilla claimed a share of the spoils at Anfield.

Asked if their wayward finishing may come back to haunt them after registering 24 shots to the visitors' seven, Klopp – who handed the returning Philippe Coutinho 15 minutes of game time off the bench – said: "If we shoot that often and don't score it's probably a problem, but I don't think it'll be like this.
"Usually in a game like this you will score more than we did. So nobody should rely on it that it'll be like this. We know that we have to improve, but it's not an illness.

"We'll work on this how we work on all other parts of the game."I'm happy about a big part of the game. A lot of times when two good sides play against each other it's kind of boring, this was the opposite."The main reason for that was the desire and passion of my team.

"We had more chances and that's important that we created, even against a defensively organised side."A few players could not keep the levels from the first half. It's not a physical thing, it's a concentration issue. We see it. We're in a process and we'll have to work with them.

"There is a lot in this game we can build on."Klopp spoke sparingly on Coutinho's return after the wantaway forward's transfer request amid heated interest from Barcelona, but did say he was happy to see him back.

There were two dismissals in the game, with Sevilla coach Eduardo Berizzo sent to the stands for twice throwing the ball away, while Joe Gomez got his marching orders at the death for a second yellow card.
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09-15-2017, 09:58 AM

Austria Wien 1 AC Milan 5: Calhanoglu and Silva lead brilliant Rossoneri to victory



Hakan Calhanoglu and hat-trick hero Andre Silva starred as AC Milan bounced back from their first defeat of the campaign with the 5-1 thrashing of Austria Wien in their Europa League Group D opener.

The Rossoneri shot out of the blocks in Vienna as Calhanoglu netted the opener before twice laying on first-half goals for Silva, who completed his treble after the break, with substitute Suso adding a fifth.

Vincenzo Montella's men had made a bright start to the season, with six straight wins including Europa League qualifiers, but that run was halted in spectacular fashion with a 4-1 Serie A loss at Lazio on Sunday.However, returning to the full draw of European competition after three years away, Milan hit their stride again here with a dominant display.

Wien simply had no answer for Calhanoglu or the movement of forward pair Silva and Nikola Kalinic - making his full Rossoneri debut - in a one-sided opening 45 minutes, but they did muster a response shortly after the restart with Alexander Borkovic's header.

Silva's third - his fifth of the campaign - followed, however, and Suso arrived from the bench to instantly add his own name to the scoresheet, capping a fine win.


Only a smart low Osman Hadzikic stop kept Calhanoglu from opening the scoring with Milan's first attack after he had ghosted onto the end of Ignazio Abate's cross.

But the Turkey international did not have to wait long to break the deadlock, leading a counter and trading passes with Kalinic before blasting a strike across Hadzikic into the top-right corner.

And Calhanoglu was quickly involved again to tee up the second. Refusing to give up on Franck Kessie's pass, the former Bayer Leverkusen man scooped the ball away from Abdul Mohammed to slip in Silva for a cool finish.

Gianluigi Donnarumma was almost caught out by Christoph Monschein's touch from a Raphael Holzhauser free-kick, but yet another Calhanoglu-inspired break soon led to the third goal before the 20-minute mark.Another wonderful pass picked out Silva on the run, with Kalinic this time peeling away to create a distraction, and Hadzikic was easily beaten again.

Wien kept the visitors out until the interval, though, and then, after testing Donnarumma through Lee Jin-Hyun, hit back with a stooping Borkovic header.

Kalinic and Calhanoglu each then fired efforts off target, but it was Silva, receiving a cute Kessie pass, who restored the three-goal lead and earned the matchball with Milan's first European hat-trick in almost 11 years.

Suso - Kalinic's replacement - had been on the pitch for just over a minute when his long-range blast deflected off Mohammed and over Hadzikic for the fifth and final goal.
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09-15-2017, 09:59 AM

Atalanta 3 Everton 0: La Dea thrive on European return


Atalanta celebrated their first European match in 26 years with a comprehensive 3-0 home win over an outclassed Everton in the Europa League.The Serie A side ran riot in a dominant three-goal first half to set up an impressive victory in their debut match against English opposition.

Absent from continental competition since the 1990-91 season, Atalanta looked right at home in their first Group E encounter as Andrea Masiello netted a deserved opener inside half an hour.Gian Piero Gasperini's side took full control late in the opening half as Alejandro Gomez and Bryan Cristante combined to put the result beyond doubt by half-time.

And the hosts were rarely troubled after the restart as they took early leadership of the group, in the process extending Everton's record of having never beaten Serie A opposition in Italy.

The Toffees have now failed to score in their past three competitive fixtures and face a tough task to repeat their record of having always escaped the competition's round-robin stage.


Koeman started Maarten Stekelenburg in place of regular goalkeeper Jordan Pickford, but it was opposite number Etrit Berisha who had the busier start as he first palmed away a stinging Gylfi Sigurdsson strike, before Wayne Rooney dinked a delicate chip narrowly over the bar.

Stekelenburg was soon called into action to smother a close-range chance for Masiello, although there was little he could do from the resultant corner as the marauding defender pounced on a favourable deflection to tuck away the opener.

The chances continued to pile up for the hosts and they doubled their advantage in spectacular style before the break, skipper Gomez stepping in from the left and curling a sumptuous strike into the top-right corner from outside the area.

And there was still time for Atalanta to make it 3-0 on the stroke of half-time as Andrea Petagna reeled in a ball over the top and found Cristante running unchecked through the middle for a simple low finish into the bottom-left corner.

Rooney drew a sharp low save from Berisha immediately after the restart as Everton attempted to make amends, though they were fortunate not to fall further behind when Gomez skied a good chance at the other end.

Koeman responded with a double change 25 minutes from time, introducing Sandro Ramirez and Davy Klaassen in place of Rooney and Morgan Schneiderlin.
However, the attacking intent did not yield the desired results as the visitors struggled to create any real openings in the final third and once again drew a blank, meaning they are now winless in five ahead of Sunday's trip to Old Trafford.

Atalanta will look build on their encouraging start in their next European assignment at Lyon, while Everton host Cypriot outfit Apollon Limassol.
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09-15-2017, 10:02 AM

Arsenal 3 Cologne 1: Sanchez opens season account after kick-off delay



Alexis Sanchez put his off-field problems aside to help Arsenal kick off their Europa League Group H campaign with a 3-1 over Cologne following a one-hour delay due to crowd congestion.

Sanchez has cut a frustrated figure this season having seen a reported move to Manchester City fall through, but his moment of quality proved decisive on a bizarre Thursday night at the Emirates Stadium.The game began amid swirling controversy, having been put back 60 minutes after a reported 20,000 Cologne fans descended on London despite only 3,000 tickets being available.

It appeared several were also in the Arsenal end, and they were quickly sent into raptures when Jhon Cordoba opened the scoring with a stunning 40-yard strike after nine minutes.

A lifeless atmosphere among the home contingent, depleted in numbers presumably because some fans opted to return home, was invigorated after the break as substitute Sead Kolasinac levelled.And Arsenal ultimately condemned Cologne to defeat in their first European outing for 25 years thanks to Sanchez and Hector Bellerin's first goal of the campaign.


Arsenal should have taken the lead in the 64th minute, but Ainsley Maitland-Niles was denied by the hand of Timo Horn when trying to round the keeper. He could do nothing soon after, though, as Sanchez cut in from the left wing and gradually worked an opening to unfurl a wonderful curler into the corner from 20 yards.The visitors responded well, with Cordoba offering a reminder of his threat when forcing Ospina into action.

But, after Sanchez went close again, Arsenal wrapped up the points when Bellerin slid home on the rebound after Walcott's effort was saved.
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09-15-2017, 10:04 AM

Bartomeu: Messi already playing under new contract


Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed five-time Ballon d'Or winner Lionel Messi is already playing under the terms of his new contract.While Messi agreed to a contract extension until 2021 in July, the Barca star is yet to put pen to paper on the contract with the La Liga giants.

It has raised doubts over Messi's future at Camp Nou following Neymar's world-record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

Barca have continually reiterated that the 30-year-old will sign his contract and Bartomeu provided another update on Thursday."We will take the photo with Messi's signature, hopefully before the end of the year, but the contract has been signed by his father, who has the power of his image rights," Bartomeu told 8TV ."This contract is signed until 2021 and he is already playing under it."

Messi has hit the ground running under new head coach Ernesto Valverde, scoring eight goals in all competitions.He scored twice in the 3-0 Champions League win over Juventus on Tuesday, having netted a hat-trick against Espanyol in La Liga.

One player's future who appears less certain is veteran Andres Iniesta.
Iniesta, 33, is out of contract at the end of the season and the Spaniard is still to agree to a new deal.

However, Bartomeu said Iniesta is set to stay, adding: "The agreement with Iniesta will be special, it will be different just because it is him. I won't reveal exactly what because it is part of private negotiations, but with Ramon Sostres, we have been talking for a long time.

He added: "Iniesta isn't just a reference point for us, but also for the young supporters, he has earned the right to play here until he decides not to any more, Andres is critical to this club and the intention is that this extension will be an indefinite contract so that he can finish whenever he desires."Barca – already four points clear of defending champions Real Madrid – are away to Getafe in La Liga on Saturday.
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09-15-2017, 10:04 AM

Wenger: Sanchez is still chasing his best form


Arsene Wenger said want-away star Alexis Sanchez is still yet to recapture his best form after an interrupted start to the season, despite leading Arsenal past Cologne in their Europa League opener.

Sanchez produced a moment of brilliance to put Arsenal ahead and guide them to a 3-1 Group H win over visiting Cologne on Thursday, after kick-off was delayed by an hour due to crowd congestion at the Emirates Stadium.

The soon-to-be free agent, who missed the start of the campaign through injury, has cut a frustrated figure this season - having seen his reported move to Premier League rivals Manchester City fall through before the transfer window closed - but he issued a reminder of his undoubted quality in London.

"We had a slow start and there was accidental goal. After that, it was important not to concede and panic and put more pace into our game. From then. we controlled the game and won convincingly in the end," Wenger told BT Sport .

"I think Sanchez is still running after his best form. He is a fantastic football player but physically he has just come back. But he has it in his locker to do something special, which he did.

"We want to do well in all the best competitions and I had an experienced team today, even though I made nine changes. They are all top-class players. There is no hierarchy in the squad."

It was not an ideal start for Arsenal after a reported 20,000 Cologne fans descended on London despite only 3,000 tickets being available.When the match finally got underway, Arsenal found themselves trailing early following Jhon Cordoba's stunning 40-yard strike in the ninth minute.

Substitute Sead Kolasinac breathed life back into Arsenal with his 49th-minute equaliser before Sanchez gave the hosts the lead 18 minutes later.

Full-back Hector Bellerin put the result beyond doubt nine minutes from the end and the Spain international added: "It is a new competition for us so we had to set the tone. We think we are one of the best teams in the competition so we have to show that on the pitch.

"I am very happy with the victory. We were ready to play at 20:05 BST but these things happen. We started a bit with cold feet but after that it just worked."
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