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Mourinho hints at a return to Chelsea but is cut off by ITV’s howler

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What was ITV thinking when it cut short its interview with Jose Mourinho just as he appeared to be on the verge of revealing he will be at Chelsea next season? Money, apparently.

Following Real Madrid’s exit from the Champions League semi-final against Borussia Dortmund, Mourinho spoke with ITV reporter Gabriel Clarke even though ‘The Special One’ was only contractually obligated to speak to TV channels from Spain and Germany.

In the surprise interview, which was landed with only two minutes left before the end of ITV’s coverage, Clarke asked, “Maybe next season with Real?”

Mourinho responded, “Maybe not… I want to be where people love me.” With the hook set all Clarke had to do was follow up with Mourinho as to where that meant he’d likely end up but instead responded with, “We’ll take that as England, we’ve got to go.”

With fans on the edge of their seats waiting to hear Mourinho confirm what had long been rumored – that he would be returning to Chelsea this summer – ITV’s decision to opt for an advertisement drew widespread criticism. ITV has since responded to that criticism by claiming that going on with the interview and cutting the pre-paid advert would have cost the network half a million pounds.

In response to the criticism an ITV spokesman had the following to say: “Our reporter, Gabriel Clarke, and the team managed to land an unexpected interview with Jose Mourinho with only two minutes or so left before the end of last night’s programme.

“Unfortunately, at that point it was too late to arrange an overrun of the broadcast beyond the allotted time. However, in a tight, live situation, we decided to show as much as we could of their exchange to viewers.” ITV also noted that their complex advertising structure would have cost them upwards of $778,500 (£500,000) if they decided to cut the adverts and run a longer Mourinho interview.

At a press conference held later in the evening Mourinho noted his admiration for Madrid’s fans but nevertheless stated:  “I know in England I’m loved. I’m loved by the fans, I’m loved by the media that treats me in a fair way, criticising me but giving me credit when I deserve it.

“I know I’m loved by some clubs, especially one, and in Spain, the situation is a bit different because some people hate me. Many of you are in this room.”

It wasn’t the first time ITV has dropped the ball on its coverage of the beautiful game. In June 2010 it was forced to apologize after their HD coverage cut off Steven Gerrard’s opening World Cup goal for England against the United States after the broadcast was unexpectedly switched to a Hyundai commercial. In February 2009, the network enraged fans when Dan Gosling’s dramatic winner for Everton in the Merseyside FA Cup derby was missed due to an unexplained cut to an advert.

The result leaves Chelsea supporters and unbiased lovers of ‘The Special One’ waiting for the announcement that will be sure to rock the Premier League this summer. And while ITV could easily have managed to continue the interview while cutting an extra minute off the news that followed, it nevertheless appears an inevitability that Mourinho will be returning to Stamford Bridge.

USC wins NCAA women’s soccer national championship

Southern California's Morgan Andrews celebrates after scoring a goal against West Virginia during the first half in the NCAA Women's College Cup soccer final, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Katie Johnson broke a tie in the 75th minute and Southern California won the NCAA women’s soccer title Sunday, beating top-ranked West Virginia 3-1 at Avaya Stadium on Sunday.

The second-seeded Trojans (19-4-2) also won the College Cup in 2007.

The Mountaineers (23-2-2) lost for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Georgetown on Sept. 18. West Virginia had a 17-game unbeaten streak snapped, and allowed three goals for the first all season.

Johnson, who also had the winning goal in USC’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Georgetown on Friday, was wide open in front of the net when Leah Pruitt took a pass up the left sideline, beat defender Easther Mayi Kith, and delivered a perfect cross. Johnson simply rolled the ball into the goal to the right of goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Johnson scored again off an assist from Nicole Molen in the 87th minute.

The Trojans got on the board just 1:22 into play after Julia Bingham directed a corner kick to the top of the penalty box, where Savannah Levin headed the ball forward to Morgan Andrews, whose header from 5 yards eluded Foster.

West Virginia’s Ashley Lawrence, a member of the 2016 Canadian Olympic team, tied it in the 66th minute when she ripped a shot from the top left corner of the penalty box just inside the near post.

After USC took the 2-1 lead, the Mountaineers nearly drew even in the 81st minute on a shot by Heather Kaleiohi that was stopped on a diving save by goalkeeper Sammy Prudhomme.

The Mountaineers outshot USC 21-8 and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

The Trojans joined North Carolina (21 titles), Notre Dame (3) and Portland (3) as the only multiple winners of the College Cup.

USC won its 126th national team title on the same day its men’s water polo team lost 10-8 to Cal in the NCAA final just 45 miles away in Berkeley.

West Virginia, in its first College Cup final, was hoping to claim its first NCAA title in any sport besides its co-ed rifle team, which has won 18 national titles.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN