UEFA Champions League roundup: Celtic and Lyon stunned, Zenit wins big

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Easily the most shocking result of Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff matches was Kazakhstani side Shakhter Karagandy’s 2-0 home win over Scottish powerhouse Celtic FC. Elsewhere, Real Sociedad defeated Lyon in France, and Zenit St. Petersburg scored its first goal (and win) in the competition in Portugal.

Shakhter Karagandy 2-0 Celtic

In the early kickoff, Andrei Finonchenko and Sergei Khizhnichenko scored for the home side to record the upset of the playoff round so far. Kazakhstan has never had a team in the Champions League group stage, but holding a two-goal advantage in Glasgow will be difficult, especially against a team that knows something about upsets, having defeated FC Barcelona in last year’s edition of the competition.

Paços de Ferreira 1-4 Zenit St. Petersburg

Russian international Roman Shirokov recorded a hat trick for Zenit to beat Paços 4-1. The away team never took its foot off the gas, but it never really got out of third gear in an easy victory. Andrey Arshavin and Anatoliy Tymoshchuk played only small roles, coming off the bench, and the Russian powerhouse left Hulk at home.

Viktoria Plzeň 3-1 NK Maribor

Marián Čišovský scored in the eighth minute for Plzeň, tying him for the goalscoring lead in the 2013 tournament with Shirokov, who scored a hat trick on the same day. The home team went up 2-0 before Maribor’s Aleš Mejač pulled one back, leaving the result in doubt until Michal Ďuriš sealed it in the 89th minute for the Czechs.

Olympique Lyonnais 0-2 Real Sociedad

Haris Seferović and Antoine Griezmann produced Goal of the Year candidates within the same 90 minutes to sink Lyon. Griezmann hit a stunning overhead kick from the top of the penalty area in the 17th minute, and Seferović followed up with a thunderous volley on a bouncing ball from the left flank in the 50th. (Watch the full video highlights here.)

PSV Eindhoven 1-1 AC Milan

In the most evenly contested game of the evening, Stephan El Shaarawy headed Milan in front in the first quarter of an hour, but Tim Matavž evened it up on the hour mark to make the second leg in Italy next week more interesting. The home side had more opportunities to score, but AC Milan goalkeeper Christian Abbiati was equal to the task to keep his team in the match.

Wednesday’s games (all 2:45 p.m. ET kickoffs): Dinamo Zagreb vs. Austria Wien, Schalke vs. PAOK, Ludogorets Razgrad vs. FC Basel, Steaua Bucharest vs. Legia Warsaw, Fenerbahçe vs. Arsenal

Klinsmann blames Costa Rica loss on Mexico hangover

Jurgen Klinsmann

The United States lost their third straight match on home soil tonight, the first such losing streak since 1997.

Following an extra-time loss to Mexico on Saturday, the U.S. failed to compete in a friendly against Costa Rica, putting in another poor performance as the side continues to struggle.

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In his post match press conference, Jurgen Klinsmann said his team was still shaking off the loss against Mexico, and couldn’t recover in time for tonight’s game.

Yes, the United States’ match against Mexico went 120 minutes. Yes, it was a very tough game both physically and mentally. However, it’s time for Klinsmann to stop making excuses.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from the USMNT’s loss to Costa Rica ]

Of the starting XI against Costa Rica, only four started against Mexico. Of the six substitutes Klinsmann brought in today, only Bobby Wood played in the Mexico match, and for less than 25 minutes.

The problem isn’t that the U.S. lost tonight; it’s that they didn’t even show up. What Klinsmann needed to do was walk into his press conference and say, “We didn’t come to play tonight. We stunk. That can’t happen and we need to be better. It starts with me.”

[ PLAYER RATINGS: Howard’s return highlights poor performances from USMNT ]

Top teams don’t dwell on past results. Top teams rebound quickly and back up poor performances with strong performances. When a top team would have bounced back, the United States fell flat.

Clearly the argument is, well, the United States isn’t a top team. But isn’t that what Klinsmann was brought in to do? To help develop the USMNT into a top team? The least they could do is act like one, and that starts with the manager.

College Soccer Update: Tragedy strikes USC Upstate with horrible car accident

USC Upstate
USC Upstate
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No interviews today. No star players and programs. Just mourning.

USC Upstate lost four students earlier this week, two of them men’s soccer players, in an early morning car accident this weekend. A fifth was injured when the car they were driving in ran off the road, hit a tree, and caught fire.

James Campbell and Mills Sproul are the soccer players who’ve left the pitch for the final time.

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USC Upstate’s athletic department held a candelight vigil on Monday, and honored both players with online memorials.

From Campbell’s, entitled “James Campbell Was an Intense Player Whose Competitiveness Made Those Around Him Play Harder”:

While Kyle Juell and James attended different high schools, they played club soccer together. “James was intense and passionate on the field,” Juell said. “He was the kind of aggressive player you wanted as a teammate. He was fun and warm and full of life and he cared so much about his teammates.”

From Sproul’s, entitled “Mills Sproul Put the Needs of Others Before His Own and Was Accepting of All”:

Mills’ teammate Deon Rose said that Mills was like the brother he never had.

“The first time I met him, I knew that he was special,” Rose said. “Not because he asked me if we had beaches in Canada or how Canadians survived without Chick-fil-A, but because he had an unconditional love for everyone and everything.”

Our thoughts are with the USC Upstate team, and entire community. Rest in peace.

Three stars of the week

1. University of California Santa Barbara — The Gauchos leapt from “receiving votes” to No. 14 in the nation. The Gauchos have won five-straight, all in-state, by a combined score of 13-3.

2. Joey Piatczyc, West Virginia — The midfielder leads the nation in assists with 12, one coming in Tuesday’s upset of Penn State, a match in which he also scored his first of the year. The Mountaineers shocked PSU with a 3-0 home win in Morgantown.

3. Francis Atuahene and Colin McAtee, Michigan — The Ghanaian freshman is a lightning bolt, and keeps producing goals along with the redshirt senior McAtee, who hails from San Diego. The Wolverines beat Duquesne 3-0 on Tuesday.

Other notes

— Creighton dropped two of its 24 first place votes, one each to North Carolina and Stanford, but remains the No.1 men’s team in the nation.

— Wake Forest hasn’t allowed a goal in three matches, against quality competition in NC State, South Carolina and Boston College. There were stretches in the 2-0 win over South Carolina where they looked unbeatable.

— Speaking of the Demon Deacons, they’ll face dangerous UNC on Saturday in what will be a cracker.

— Also No. 1:Florida State (Women’s D-1), Gannon (Women’s D-2), Trinity of Texas (Women’s D-3), Pfeiffer (Men’s D-2), Franklin & Marshall (Men’s D-3).