UEFA Champions League: Late goal gives Borussia Dortmund draw at Shakhtar Donetsk

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The match may have been overshadowed by the festivities in Spain, but it played out relatively the same way. Between Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk and visiting Borussia Dortmund, one team’s control met another persistence and potential, ultimately ending in a draw. But unlike the match in Madrid, the controlling side were left needing a late goal to salvage a result, with Mats Hummels’ 87th minute equalizer giving Dortmund a valuable 2-2 draw.

To say Dortmund controlled this match to the same extent Real Madrid controlled theirs would be misleading. At no point in today’s game at the Bernabeu were Manchester United the aggressor, and while the Germans were the more imposing side at points of today’s match, the second period saw the Shakhtar recover from a pre-intermission fade and assume a bigger role. Douglas Costa’s 68th minute, go-ahead goal was more Shakhtar’s coming into the match rather than a team scoring against the run of play.

The same couldn’t be said for Shakhtar’s opener. Benefitting from a 30th minute foul just outside the penalty area from Dortmund defender Felipe Santana (playing for Neven Subotic), Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna curved his direct kick over the wall and away from Roman Weidenfeller for the game’s first goal.

(MORE: Breaking down Real Madrid-Manchester United.)

Dortmund responded five minutes before half through Robert Lewandowski, who held a ball in from the right up near the penalty spot while defenders went to ground. The Polish international eventually slotted his right-footed equalizer just inside Andriy Pyatov’s left post, sending the teams into half tied 1-1.

After being dominated over the first 45 minutes, Shakhtar began the second half on more even footing with the German champions. Relying more on quick, direct movements rather than attempting to beat Dortmund at their own frantic game, Shakhtar was eventually able to create a 68th minute chance for Douglas Costa off a long ball from defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy. Winning his matchup against Marcel Schmelzer after a misread by Hummels, Costa brought the ball down before getting his foot above a high bounce, putting a go-ahead goal into the right of net.

Hummels made amends in the 87th minute when he headed home a Dortmund corner, giving the visitors two goals to take back to Germany ahead of the teams’ Mar. 5 reverse leg.

The timing of the equalizer might leave Shakhtar feeling aggrieved, but the result may have been slightly more than they deserved. A series of early close calls and near misses allowed the game to go into half even, and while the Ukrainians were improved in the second half, their control of the match never matched Dortmund’s. Shakhtar should be content with a draw and two weeks to figure out a way to improve.

For BVB, Wednesday’s result gives them ever reason to believe they’ll survive this dangerous matchup. Jurgen Klopp may feel his team could have left the Donbass Arena with a more decisive result, but two road goals and a draw given them enough to work with. They won’t have to play as well as they did today to secure passage into the quarterfinals.

Check back later this today as ProSoccerTalk drills down on both Manchester United’s visit to Real Madrid and German champion Borussia Dortmund voyage to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk.

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.