Two fans killed before 2014 World Cup test run at stadium in Brazil

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Two fans were shot to death in the city of Fortaleza while on their way to a match that served as a “test event” at a World Cup stadium. The fans were killed about three miles from the Arena Castelao (pictured), raising security questions just two months before the north-eastern city hosts matches in the Confederations Cup and one year before it hosts the World Cup.

An official in charge of Fortaleza’s World Cup preparations said that the deaths were not connected to the test event at the Arena Castelao. “We lament what happened,” said Tiago Paes, a local World Cup organizing committee member who was present at the test event in Fortaleza. “But there is work being done by the police and the army in many areas of security, so we are not concerned with that for the Confederations Cup.”

The test event was a match between local rivals Ceara and Fortaleza, which was being used by local organisers to evaluate the venue. The victims, who were wearing Ceara jerseys, were shot in the head by opposing supporters at a local plaza. The attack appeared to be unprovoked as witnesses told police that the victims had just left a van and were walking from the plaza to the stadium when two Fortaleza fans opened fire on them from a motorcycle.

Authorities have managed to detain one suspect who was found near the plaza on a motorcycle carrying a gun. In addition to the murders, police detained more than 180 people for vandalism and disorderly conduct before the match at the Arena Castelao, which was completed in December and already has hosted nearly 20 test events. Local organizers are planning on holding a further 10 events that will take place before the venue hosts its three Confederations Cup matches this June: Brazil v. Mexico, Nigeria v. Spain and the semi-final match of the World Cup warm-up tournament.

Despite the deaths and arrests, World Cup organizers said they were satisfied with Sunday’s test noting that the stadium’s sound and television system, cleaning services and crowd management were all up to par.

The last notable incident of football-related violence in Brazil occurred five months ago when violent scenes marred the Copa Sudamericana final at the Estadio do Morumbi in Sao Paulo. There, Sao Paulo were crowned champions of South America after Argentinian side Tigre refused to take to the field for the second half of the second leg claiming they were threatened at gunpoint by security officials. In the wake of that incident FIFA insisted there should be no concerns about security at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil.

The world governing body has yet to comment on the events in Fortaleza.

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET