Road results send Arsenal, Juvisy through in UEFA Champions League

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It looked like it was going to be a big day in UEFA Champions League for Yael Averbuch, the U.S. international whose second half volley pulled her Göteborg side even with Juvisy this evening in Sweden. The two quarterfinalists left northern France last week with the Feminine Division side up 1-0, but 65 minutes into the second leg, a volley from the 26-year-old North Carolina alum found the upper-left hand corner, pulling Göteborg even. Scoring goals while playing in the middle of her team’s formation, Averbuch was one of the players threatening to lead the Swedes into the semifinals.

But as often happens when the underdog fights back, the favorite wakes up, and while Juvisy wasn’t that much of a favorite over Gotebörg ahead of their tie, the French club had been the marginally better side over the two legs. Despite Averbuch’s equalizer, Juvisy had every reason to think themselves the better side, and over the match’s final 15 minutes, that quality bore out.

Camille Catala, who had just come off Juvisy’s bench a quarter-hour earlier, put her side in front in the 77th minute, giving the visitors a valuable away goal. Catala completed her double just before full-time, and when Janice Caymen (assisted by Catala) provided further insurance in stoppage time, Juvisy had a deceptively decisive victory.

Though their 3-1 win (4-1, agg.) gives a superficial impression of control, the two sides were within one goal of each other for the first 176 minutes of the tie. Still, it was the French side that applied most of the pressure on Wednesday, keeping Goteburg from connecting with forward Jessica Landström. Once Averbuch put the home side in front, the visitors started converting that pressure into results.

For Juvisy, it’s their first trip to the Champions League semifinals, a notable achievement for a French league that’s criticized for its lack of depth. With two-time defending champions Lyon likely to join Juvisy in the final four after Thursday’s match in Malmö, the Feminine Division will make up half of this year’s semifinals. And with emerging Paris Saint-Germain sitting second on the homefront, France’s league not only has the world’s best team but some newfound depth.

France is not Germany, but its league is also not the paper thin circuit its detractors imagine. It’s top heavy, and Lyon makes a mockery of the competition, but there’s a burgeoning quality in the league’s upper half. Goteborg bore witness to that on Wednesday

Kerr still not happy with Arsenal

“We weren’t particularly pleased with the way we played today” manager Shelley Kerr said after today’s match in Sassari, perhaps a greedy assessment given her team had just eliminated Torres Calcio.

A fourth minute goal from Naamh Fahey put Arsenal up 4-1 (agg.), enough of a cushion to help them see out a 1-0 result in Italy on Wednesday.

“You can’t take anything away from Torres,” Kerr added, “They battled really well today and put us under pressure a lot of times in the game.”

Despite playing without Kelly Smith (their playmaker injured in leg one), Arsenal converted an early corner kick to put the tie away. A ball from Rachel Yankey was played on by Ellen White, setting up Fahey to put the Gunners in front.

It’s the third straight year Arsenal has made the semifinals and the sixth time in 11 years they’ve made the final four.

They’ll meet the winner of Rossiyanka- Wolfsburg, with the Germans taking a 2-1 lead into Thursday’s leg in Russia.

VIDEO: Sporting KC’s Medranda scores wonder goal in win over Vancouver

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Sporting KC showed again on Friday night why they’re the rightful leaders at the top of the Western Conference, pulling four points ahead of the LA Galaxy and the Vancouver Whitecaps with a dominating 6-0 win over the Whitecaps at home.

Scottish forward Johnny Russell bagged a hat-trick in the game, all by the 48th minute, but the highlight of the night came off the foot of 24-year-old Jimmy Medranda. The Colombian scored an absolute worldie from a ridiculous angle, taking the space given to him outside the top-left corner of the box and sailing it over the head of Vancouver goalkeeper Stefan Marinovic and into the back of the net.

It was, of course, massively beneficial to Sporting KC that Vancouver went two men down in the 40th minute after a huge skirmish that saw Yordy Reyna and Efrain Juarez both sent off. Reyna earned his marching orders for throwing Russell to the ground, while Juarez reportedly used unacceptable language.

Still, KC was already up 3-0 when the incident occurred, and credit must go to teams that take advantage of what has been handed to them. Sporting KC certainly did that as Russell becomes the first Scotsman to score an MLS hat-trick since Colorado’s John Spencer in 2001, and Medranda’s wonder goal sealed the deal past the half-hour mark.

Jurgen Klopp already wants a piece of Man City next season

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Manchester City may have run away with the Premier League title this year, but Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp can’t wait for a clean slate to try and challenge City’s title defense next season.

The Reds are into the Champions League semifinals and also looking to finish the Premier League season strong in a battle for positioning in the top four, but when asked about next year, Klopp was giddy.

“Of course I don’t fear the challenge,” Klopp said in his prematch press conference ahead of Liverpool’s Premier League visit to West Brom on Saturday morning.

The German made it clear he wants a piece of Manchester City next season. “This year, if City plays a normal season – which they didn’t do – then it would have been really close until the end because we are now all close together.”

“United is four points ahead [of Liverpool], Tottenham is two points behind. It’s a real fight for these positions. All big six pretty much delivered this year but City delivered the best. We will see. It’s difficult to deal with success as it is difficult to deal with other things in football but I’m pretty sure they will be strong again.”

Liverpool is one of only two teams to beat City in league play this year, with Manchester United being the other. Klopp and company torched the City back line in a wild 4-3 victory that ended City’s 22-match unbeaten run. Ultimately, though, Klopp knows they have to look at the entire season as a whole to best the defending champs next year, not just their matches against each other.

“It’s not important how good City will be, it’s about how we can get all the other points, plus the points we got so far again,” he said. “That’s the job to do. That is why it is always possible that it is closer. But are they able to dominate? They don’t have a limit to spending and all that stuff so I don’t know.”

VIDEO: Goalkeeper sends Memphis Depay flying with skillful touch

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Former Manchester United attacker Memphis Depay has one of the brightest spots for Lyon this season that sees them battling with Monaco and Marseille for 2nd place behind a dominant PSG. He has scored 15 goals and assisted 11 others this Ligue 1 campaign, adding to his tally just four minutes into Friday’s 5-2 win over Dijon, the sixth win in a row for the club that pulled them within a point of Monaco.

However, there was a moment to forget for Depay in the victory as well.

With the score still at 1-1 in the 19th minute, Depay was sent high up the pitch to press Dijon goalkeeper Baptiste Reynet, owner of the leakiest net of the Ligue 1 season. Nevertheless, sometimes the underdog prevails, and that’s what happened as Depay flung himself at the ball to put Reynet under pressure.

One silky touch by the netminder was all it took for Depay to end up on his backside.

The 24-year-old Dutch winger has had a fantastic season and one that could potentially propel him back to the biggest stage and a bigger paycheck, but for now, we can all poke fun at his misery in the moment.

Dortmund admits interest in signing Batshuayi permanently

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Michy Batshuayi might be out for the season with a serious ankle injury, but he may have already done enough to earn a permanent move to Borussia Dortmund.

The Chelsea striker moved on loan to the Bundesliga side in January and made an immediate impact, scoring two goals on his debut, and ultimately wound up with seven goals in 10 Bundesliga games before his ankle injury brought his season to a close. Now, the Dortmund front office is speaking very highly of the Belgian goalscorer, not so subtly hinting that they will take an aggressive approach this summer.

The interest to sign him is there,” said Dortmund CEO Hans-Joachim Watzke. “But first we have to wait and see who will be Chelsea’s coach next season. Then we’ll start looking.”

Chelsea has Antonio Conte currently at the helm, but there are strong rumors that the Italian will depart at the end of the season as the Blues sit comfortably outside the Champions League places. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is known for his quick trigger, and despite Conte winning the Premier League just last season, this year’s disappointment will likely not be tolerated.

That yet-to-be-determined future has a significant impact on Batshuayi’s future, as Watzke mentions. The new Chelsea boss could take a liking to Batshuayi, which could complicate his permanent move. In addition, it’s possible that current players on the Blues roster could depart, like Alvaro Morata, Olivier Giroud, or Willian, making Batshuayi’s place at Chelsea more tenable.

There’s plenty to be sorted out in the coming months, but with Batshuayi’s 10-game performance at Westfalenstadion at the forefront of Watzke’s mind, it’s clear there will be potential here as the summer draws near.