Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Raffael, Yevhen Khacheridi

Winners, losers from opening day of Champions League

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As we sort through today’s results (and try to get caught up on eight matches), let’s take a quick inventory of winners and losers from the first day of UEFA Champions League action:

Winners

U.S. television viewers – By now, FOX Soccer’s motive for choosing its lead game is pretty clear. They want ratings, and usually that means picking the game featuring the English team with the highest profile. Rarely does that lead to viewers actually seeing the best game, but today, it all came together. Real Madrid and Manchester City scored five times over the last 23 minutes in Madrid, including a Cristiano Ronaldo game winner in the 90th minute – exactly the type of action every broadcaster wants.

The State of Qatar – This was the night Qatar Investment Authority wanted when it bought Paris Saint-Germain – Champions League soccer, under the lights, at the Parc de Princes. And their team didn’t disappoint. PSG’s two high-priced imports from Milan (Zlatan Ibrahimovic and – on his debut – Thiago Silva) scored within 30 minutes as the Parisians rolled to a 4-1 win over Dynamo Kyiv.

Vitor Periera, head coach, Porto – Periera nearly lost his job last year when the Portuguese champions failed to advance out of an easy group. Perhaps Periera learns from his Champions League debut, because today Porto took care of business. The second-year boss led the former champions to a 2-0 victory in Zagreb, snapping Dinamo’s 33-match unbeaten run.

Isco, midfielder, Málaga – The 20-year-old has recently been linked with a move to Borussia Dortmund. If today was a try out, he got the part. Two goals (his first three minutes in) helped Málaga to a successful Champions League debut, an easy 3-0 win over Russian champions Zenit.

Losers

Milan coach Max Allegri – Milan has gone 270 minutes without scoring at home this season after today’s 0-0 draw with Belgian champions Anderlecht. Many are giving the coach a pass, given he lost his best attacker (Ibrahimovic) this summer. But when you look at Allegri’s team, there’s almost no excuse for not getting something at the San Siro against Sampdoria, Bologna, or Anderlecht. Expect the rumblings about Allegri’s job to intensify.

Zenit’s checkbook – At the beginning of September, the Russian champions spent $104 million to lure Alex Witsel and Hulk from Portugal. Since, the team has gone 1-1-1, fallen to fourth in the Russian Premier League, and opened this season’s Champions League with a thud in Andalusia. It looks like Zenit tried to fix something that wasn’t broken.

Borussia Dortmund – How can a team that won 1-0 be a loser? Technically, they’re not, and 87th minute winners (this one from Robert Lewandowski) have a way of sending a team off the field triumphant. But then there’s context. BVB fell flat in last year’s Champions League and have a difficult group this year (with Real Madrid and Manchester City). Facing an Ajax team that’s clearly the fourth of four in Group D, Dortmund had a chance to not only get three points but also salve doubts they can compete with the group’s big spenders. So much for that idea.

UEFA discipline – Arsene Wenger began his three-match suspension as Arsenal visited Montpellier. The Gunners still won, 2-1. Even if Arsenal had lost, the touchline ban would have probably been insignificant. It’s not like the manager isn’t pulling the strings, regardless. The loss, however, gives Wenger a way to thumb his nose at UEFA as he serves his third suspension within a year. It might not be logical to couple today’s result with the suspension, but in sports, scoreboard has the final say.

Injury reveals kidney cancer for Richmond Kickers striker

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A Richmond Kickers striker will hopefully be able to credit a back injury with saving his life.

Matthew Delicâte has been with the USL side for 10 years, and picked up a knock in training that required an MRI.

[ EURO 2016: England squad released | Germany, too ]

That scan revealed a mass on his kidney, and Delicâte is now set for 8-12 weeks on the sidelines and major surgery.

From RichmondKickers.com:

“I was frustrated after hurting my back and not being able to train and feature for the team, but in hindsight, I am very fortunate to have caught this at an early stage,” commented Delicâte. “I hope the team continues to work hard in my absence and I am aiming for a full recovery as quickly as possible.”

“Events such as this immediately put the importance of winning soccer matches into perspective,” added Leigh Cowlishaw, Richmond Kickers Director of Soccer.  “We wish Deli a successful surgery, speedy recovery and look forward to having him score more goals for the Kickers in the months to come.”

The 34-year-old English forward played at Virginia Commonwealth University before embarking on a pro career with Richmond and the Rochester Rhinos, briefly heading home to England for a spell with National League side Ebbsfleet United.

All our best to Delicate, his family, and the Kickers.

Pele to conduct $5-plus million auction of unique items

ST ALBANS, ENGLAND - MAY 29: Pele looks on during the England Footballers Foundation charity event at Sopwell House on May 29, 2016 in St Albans, England.  (Photo by Michael Regan/Getty Images for 10Ten Talent)
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No surprise here: the most famous footballer of all-time has acquired a wide variety of extraordinary items, many of them as unique as Pele himself.

The 75-year-old Brazilian is going to auction a lot of those items come June in England, with at least part of the money going to a pediatric hospital in his come country.

[ MORE: Marcelo giving away UCL medal via Facebook ]

Some of these items are going to get crazy money. Consider: He’s selling a one of a kind Jules Rimet Trophy given to him after the 1970 World Cup, and the boots he wore in “Victory”.

Here’s what Pele says of the sale, expected to fetch at least $5 million, according to a BBC Business story:

“It was a difficult decision to make but it takes a lot to properly care for these artefacts, and I felt I could do much more good by sharing these items with the world, as well as helping my causes that are important to me.”

Less expensive items, like a match-worn New York Cosmos jersey, are still expected to have purchase prices as high as $8-10,000. So, yeah, a lot of us are going to be left out of the process.

Then again, they’re just Earthly possessions, no? If Pele doesn’t need them, I can be content in also being shut out.

Sturridge, Rashford in England’s Euro squad; Drinkwater, Townsend out

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - MARCH 10:  Daniel Sturridge of Liverpool takes on Guillermo Varela (30) and Marcus Rashford of Manchester United (39) during the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg match between Liverpool and Manchester United at Anfield on March 10, 2016 in Liverpool, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Andros Townsend and Danny Drinkwater are not going to France as part of the England national team for Euro 2016.

That means both Daniel Sturridge and Marcus Rashford have been included in Roy Hodgson’s squad, putting five strikers in the mix.

[ MORE: Reus left out of Germany squad ]

Rashford, 18, is the youngest player on the roster, with Tottenham’s Dele Alli second (20).

Jack Wilshere and Jordan Henderson have overcome fitness concerns to get into the squad.

Full roster

Goalkeepers: Joe Hart (Manchester City), Fraser Forster (Southampton), Tom Heaton (Burnley).

Defenders: Gary Cahill (Chelsea), Chris Smalling (Manchester United), John Stones (Everton), Kyle Walker (Tottenham Hotspur), Ryan Bertrand (Southampton), Danny Rose (Tottenham Hotspur), Nathaniel Clyne (Liverpool).

Midfielders: Dele Alli (Tottenham Hotspur), Ross Barkley (Everton), Eric Dier (Tottenham Hotspur), Jordan Henderson (Liverpool), Adam Lallana (Liverpool), James Milner (Liverpool), Raheem Sterling (Manchester City), Jack Wilshere (Arsenal).

Strikers: Wayne Rooney (Manchester United), Harry Kane (Tottenham Hotspur), Jamie Vardy (Leicester City), Daniel Sturridge (Liverpool), Marcus Rashford (Manchester United).

Klinsmann, USMNT will “go for it” in Copa America opener vs Colombia

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14:  Jermaine Jones of the USA avoids Carlos Bacca of Colombia during the International Friendly between the USA and Colombia at Craven Cottage on November 14, 2014 in London, England.  (Photo by Bryn Lennon/Getty Images)
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Comparing it to the 2014 World Cup opener against Ghana, USMNT head coach Jurgen Klinsmann called Friday’s Copa America Centenario opener against Colombia “starting a tournament with a final”.

While Costa Rica and Paraguay are far from slouches, Colombia is the best team in the United States’ group.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | BC | D ]

A win would set the tone for the group stage and, historically speaking, winning the first game gives teams a tremendous chance to advance to the knockout rounds.

In a Facebook live chat on Sunday, Klinsmann implied that his Yanks wouldn’t play for a draw against Colombia.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“We are going to go for it. We are going to do that and we are going to try and make it happen on Friday night because it would give us a big, big boost towards the game against Costa Rica and then finishing off the group with Paraguay. Similar to the World Cup, we need a good result in the first game.”

There’s no denying a win would be massive, putting Colombia up against the wall for both of its remaining games. Los Cafeteros have not kept a clean sheet in three matches, but all of those were wins. Their only losses since mid-June 2015 came against Uruguay and Argentina.

Game on.