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.

Xabi Alonso denies Spanish accusations of tax fraud

Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images
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The list of players pursued by Spanish authorities crying tax fraud is starting to resemble a pretty good team,

Call it The Longest Yard: La Liga.

[ MORE: Alonso, Pedro support Morata ]

Xabi Alonso is being accused of not paying taxes on his image rights while a player at Real Madrid, joining Radamel Falcao, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, and Cristiano Ronaldo as World XI-caliber players who’ve faced legal troubles in Spain.

Jose Mourinho even had to travel to Spain earlier this season to face accusations from a Spanish court. Those found guilty have found punishment other than jail time.

Alonso denies any wrongdoing, according to Sky Sports:

Prosecutors say he defrauded the Spanish state of £1.75m between 2010 and 2012 and called for the same sentence to be applied to Alonso’s financial advisor Ivan Zaldua Azcuenaga and the administrator of consultancy shell company, Ignasi Maestre Casanova.

Iraq hosts friendly tournament after 3-decade FIFA ban

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BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq is hosting a friendly soccer tournament this week, with Syria and Qatar.

It comes just days after FIFA lifted a three-decade-long ban on Iraq hosting international competitions.

[ MORE: Best PL summer buys ]

An Iraq-Qatar match is to start Wednesday evening in the southern city of Basra.

FIFA lifted the ban on Monday for Iraqi cities of Basra, Karbala and Irbil, considered to be the safest in Iraq – but not the capital, Baghdad, which still sees frequent militant attacks.

Iraq’s minister of youth and sports, Abdul-Hussein Abtan, congratulated the Iraqi people following FIFA’s move and said it would change how Iraq is viewed in the region and beyond.

While the ban was in place, Iraq was still able to host friendly games and tournaments.

$280m? Who cares? Salah is the rare “unsellable” player


The gossip reports are out there, with lofty claims that Real Madrid and Barcelona are willing to pay as much as $280 million dollars for Mohamed Salah.

Normally that figure triggers something in my brain that screams, “Sell! Sell! Sell before they realize what they’ve offered!”

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That’s not happening with Mohamed Salah.

This isn’t an inflated fee for a young English player like Ross Barkley or John Stones, nor is it a club throwing a lofty and desperate figure at a very good but supremely overvalued player like Philippe Coutinho. Even Raheem Sterling, who I advocated selling, has proven replaceable.

In the case of Salah, his Golden Boot figure is likely to dwarf any in the Premier League era. He’s at 28, three behind Luis Suarez’s 31. Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged 31 once Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hold the modern record with 34.

Salah needs six to tie Shearer. Here’s Liverpool’s run-in: Crystal Palace (A), Everton (A), Bournemouth (H), West Brom (A), Stoke City (H), Chelsea (A), Brighton and Hove Albion (H).

Five of those teams absolutely hemorrhage goals. Would you bet against Salah?

By the way, Salah has 10 assists, too. Sure Jurgen Klopp deserves credit for buying and deploying the Egyptian wizard, but

When Klopp argued that Liverpool was not a selling club, this is the exact example to follow. Selling Coutinho — again, not trying to poke the bear that is ornery overvaluing fan — is fine in a world where your club has Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah

But selling one of Europe’s leading scorers is almost never okay for a club challenging for a Champions League crown and with the clear caliber of a Premier League title hunter.

I’d argue that for this club, one who has sold Coutinho and Suarez, there is not a fee that meets Salah straight-on.  He’s 25 and living in the air just below Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The Messi comparisons I keep reading are fun but still unbelievably premature by every stretch of the imagination. By the time Messi was Salah’s age he had league seasons of 34, 31, 50, and was en route to a 46-goal mark. He posted 68 combined assists over those four seasons.

If this is somehow an aberration, and Salah cannot find this form ever again, well, that’s bad luck and a risk worth its weight in standard setting.

There is not a replacement player.

There is no fee.

Say it again now.

Dangerous playmaker Silva joins Montreal Impact (video)

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Alejandro Silva’s got a creative mind, and that’s something Montreal will welcome with open arms.

The Uruguayan signed with the Impact this week, joining Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider as playmakers in Quebec.

[ MORE: Top PL summer buys ]

Silva, 28, is a right-sided and forward-playing attacker who can also play right back if necessary.

The Impact lost two of three to start the season, winning this weekend’s 401 Derby versus Toronto FC to put a number in the win column.

Lanus has been a fertile ground for Major League Soccer clubs in recent years, with Lucas Melano (Portland Timbers) and Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United) making the move to North America.

The South American club has also sent Gustavo Gomez to AC Milan and Oscar Benitez to Benfica.