Before Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final, Manchester City’s Sergio Aguero never seemed like a player prone to dirty tackles. But with the Argentinian’s two-footed stab tackle on Chelsea’s David Luiz perhaps that’s a notion we need to rethink.
In the 82nd minute of City’s thrilling 2-1 victory, Aguero and Luiz battled for a 50-50 ball with the Brazilian toppling to the ground and the Argentine following suit. Yet, in mid-air Aguero somehow managed to collect his feet and launch into a deliberate spike job on Luiz’ quad. Video evidence makes it difficult to refute the intent.
The FA can assess a retroactive three-match ban when a referee fails to see an incident. As referee Chris Foy has yet to file his report (which is due later today) it’s unclear whether he saw the tackle. He awarded a free-kick to Chelsea on the play but the infraction may have been whistled for the initial tangle between Aguero and Luiz. If Foy missed Aguero’s stamp, however, the FA has the green light to act.
Even if the FA reviews the incident there are questions as to whether Aguero’s actions will be deemed worthy of a ban. It’s a line that has grown increasingly blurry since last month’s case of Wigan’s Callum McManaman who escaped a ban despite his studs up tackle to the knee of Newcastle’s Massadio Haidara. The unwillingness to penalize McManaman sparked outrage from Newcastle with managing director Derek Llambias declaring: “It is clear from this decision that the current disciplinary procedures are not fit for purpose.” In response, the FA insisted that it cannot re-referee matches and must strike a balance between retrospective bans and undermining the authority of match referees.
After Sunday’s match Luiz explained that if he were Aguero, he would “apologize to everyone” for the poor tackle. But Chelsea’s sel-proclaimed ‘geezah’ doesn’t seem to be taking the incident too seriously, admitting that he didn’t see if it was a bad tackle because it was in delivered to his back side. “Sometimes you can be angry for five seconds and do bad things and you have to say this sometimes,” Luiz said.
“I forgive everyone in my life. People are happy when Aguero is scoring goals, doing things in the game. Many people have said to me this is not me and not good for the football. Many kids see the game, watch the game and want to see good things and not bad things.”
If Aguero is banned he will not miss the FA Cup final but instead would be suspended for City’s upcoming league games against Wigan on Wednesday, Spurs on Sunday and West Ham on April 27th.
It looked like Bayern Munich was on pace to drop points for just the fifth time this season, but then the club’s star striker stepped up in the biggest of moments.
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The German leaders came back to pick up a 2-1 victory on the road at Wolfsburg after Robert Lewandowski converted a penalty kick in stoppage time.
Sandro Wagner’s second-half header had pulled the match level off of an Arjen Robben cross in the 64th minute. Robben atoned for an earlier penalty-kick miss, which would have tied the match ten minutes prior.
Meanwhile, Bayer Leverkusen and Schalke were each big winners on the day, with the two clubs moving into the top four.
Leverkusen’s 2-1 win on the road against Hertha Berlin saw Heiko Herrlich and his side move up to second place in the Bundesliga, albeit a lengthy distance behind leaders Bayern.
Schalke took care of business at home against Hoffenheim, bringing the Miners one step closer to the top four. The side is now level on 37 points with Borussia Dortmund for fourth, but the Christian Pulisic and Co. currently boast a superior goal differential.
Below are all of Saturday’s scores from around Germany’s top flight.
Cologne 1-1 Hannover 96
Hertha Berlin 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
Freiburg 1-0 Werder Bremen
Wolfsburg 1-1 Bayern Munich
Schalke 2-0 Hoffenheim
Russian doping whistleblower Grigory Rodchenkov claims he helped soccer players in the country to avoid being caught doping after he followed government orders to ensure cheating was covered up.
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The former Russian anti-doping laboratory director told The Associated Press in response to questions through his lawyer that an instruction to avoid scandal came from Vitaly Mutko. Mutko is the former Russian sports minister who serves as deputy prime minster despite being at the center of the doping deception controversy exposed by Rodchenkov.
The focus is sharpening on doping practices in Russian soccer with the World Cup kicking off in Moscow in four months.
Rodchenkov says “Russian footballers were immune from doping-control actions or sanctions.”
Rodchenkov claimed Mutko said “avoid any scandal by hiding positive results” and that “doping would be handled internally”.
Salomon Rondon’s second-half volley was not only a beauty, but one of tremendous difficulty.
Unfortunately for he and his West Bromwich Albion side, though, it wasn’t enough for the Baggies to survive in this season’s FA Cup fifth-round tie against Southampton.
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The Saints progressed to the quarterfinals on Saturday behind goals from Wesley Hoedt and Dusan Tadic, and join fellow Premier League sides Chelsea, Brighton & Hove and Leicester City in the final eight.
Tadic’s goal came in the 56th minute, doubling the Southampton lead, but Rondon’s quality volley two minutes later provided West Brom with a temporary moment of relief (below).
With a blockbuster UEFA Champions League clash against Chelsea right around the corner for Barcelona, the Spanish league leaders look on pace to extend their perfect La Liga record.
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Despite rumors that Lionel Messi and some of Barcelona’s biggest stars would be rested ahead of Tuesday’s match against the London side, the Argentine superstar not only started at Eibar on Saturday, but made a brilliant impact in the 17th minute.
Messi linked up with Luis Suarez after playing the Uruguayan through towards goal from a tremendous defense-splitting pass that sent the striker in for the 1-0 lead.
Barcelona has yet to lose in domestic competition this season, boasting an 18-5-0 record heading into Saturday’s meeting with Eibar. Additionally, Messi and Co. currently hold a plus-49 goal differential, which was lifted to plus-50 with Suarez’s finish.
The Blaugrana are the last team in Europe’s five major leagues to remain unbeaten in league play.