‘Unacceptable’ goal costs Shakhtar’s Luiz Adriano one Champions League match

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Last week, Shakhtar Donetsk’s Luiz Adriano screwed up. In UEFA Champions League action, the Brazilian striker took a ball played back to Danish champions Nordsjaelland and scored a goal. He sprinted past a pair of unresponsive central defenders, won a race to the ball that only he was contesting, and dribbled around a bewildered goalkeeper before finishing into an open net.

Today, UEFA has suspended Adriano one match and ordered him to perform one hour of community service for “violation of the principles of conduct” (pasted, below). Shakhtar Donetsk’s owner, Ukrainian businessman Rinat Akhmetov, has already said the club will abide by the punishment, calling the behavior “unacceptable.”

The controversy was born from a play we see almost every game. For whatever reason (usually, suspected injury) a ball is played out of bounds or the lead official has stopped play. Be it by throw in or a return ball from a drop kick, the team that had possession is allowed to re-gain it. The event is so common that players rarely have to discuss what’s happening before normal play resumes.

Last week in Copenhagen, somebody should have stopped and talked to Luiz Adriano, because he never stopped playing. Though he conceded after the game that what he thought was a good goal shouldn’t have happened, it’s difficult to believe the thought never occurred to him in real time. Again, this is a play that happens so often that he couldn’t have been caught by surprise. When his team needlessly punted the ball toward Nordsjaelland’s keeper (and nobody on the field reacted), he should have figured it out.

His team certainly did. At least, most of them did. Coach Mircea Lucescu immediately ordered his team to give up a return goal only to see a defender interfere with the concession. The game went on, with Shakhtar winning in Copenhagen, 5-2.

Here’s the goal:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=10Rj79yTNo0]

Now Adriano is set to miss next week’s Champions League game against Juventus. Shakhtar, having already secured a place in the knockout round, needs at least a draw to secure first place in Group E (and a much easier route in the knockout round), with a loss giving the packet to Juventus.

That means Chelsea have been hit with some collateral damage from this whole affair. The Blues need to beat Nordsjaelland and have Shakhtar win in order to advance to Champions League’s Round of 16.

In case you’re curious, here are UEFA’s Principles of Conduct — Article 5 of the governing body’s disciplinary regulations:

Article 5 Principles of conduct
1
Member associations, clubs, as well as their players, officials and members, shall
conduct themselves according to the principles of loyalty, integrity and
sportsmanship.
2
For example, a breach of these principles is committed by anyone:
a) who engages in or attempts to engage in active or passive bribery and/or
corruption;
b) whose conduct is insulting or otherwise violates the basic rules of decent
conduct;
c) who uses sporting events for manifestations of a non-sporting nature;
d) whose conduct brings the sport of football, and UEFA in particular, into
disrepute;
e) who does not abide by decisions and directives of the Organs for the
Administration of Justice;
f) who does not comply with instructions given by the match officials;
g) who culpably reports for a match late or not at all;
h) who culpably causes a match to be interrupted or abandoned or who is
responsible for its interruption or abandonment;
i) who inscribes on the match sheet a player who is not eligible to play;
j) who acts in a way that is likely to exert an influence on the progress and/or
the result of a match by means of behaviour in breach of the statutory
objectives of UEFA with a view to gaining an undue advantage for himself or
a third party.
k) who commits an act of assault;
l) who participates directly or indirectly in betting or similar activities relating to
UEFA competition matches, or who has a direct or indirect financial interest
in such activities.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.

LAFC confirms second DP signing with Uruguayan Diego Rossi

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It’s been a fast and furious few days for Los Angeles FC, and that continued on Thursday with the signing of the organization’s second Designated Player.

LAFC announced the addition of Penarol forward Diego Rossi, joining manager Bob Bradley and the club’s first DP — Carlos Vela.

[ MORE: Christian Pulisic named USMNT Player of the Year ]

Rossi, 19, became the second-youngest DP signing in Major League Soccer history upon completing his move from Uruguay’s first division, with only former FC Dallas attacker Fabian Castillo younger (18).

“Diego is a young and exciting attacking player,” LAFC head coach Bob Bradley said. “His experiences at Peñarol and his ability fit perfectly with our vision of the team we are building at LAFC. We believe Diego will mature into a top-class player.”

The expansion side’s current roster is now up to eight players, following a busy few days of MLS’ offseason. Rossi will join Vela, Egyptian international Omar Gaber, as well as Walker Zimmerman, Laurent Ciman, Tyler Miller, Latif Blessing, and Marco Ureña.