Fulham v Arsenal - Premier League

Fulham 1-3 Arsenal: Podolski double seals win (Video)

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On a wet and wild afternoon at Craven Cottage, Arsenal beat Fulham 3-1 to pick up their first points of the 2013-14 season.

A Lukas Podolski double and an early strike from striker Olivier Giroud did the damage for the Gunners, who claimed their first win of the season down by the banks of the River Thames.

Giroud gave Arsenal the lead in the 13th minute in slightly fortuitous fashion, as Aaron Ramsey’s shot ricocheted perfectly into the Frenchman’s path.

Ramsey‘s shot smashed into Giroud’s legs as he tried to jump out of the way in the penalty box, however the ball hit the Frenchman’s legs and bounced straight into his stride and he coolly slotted past David Stockdale in goal for Fulham.

But as the first half wore on, Fulham got into the game and were unlucky to not equalize.

A tremendous double save from Wojciech Szczęsny denied the Cottagers an equalizer and Fulham looked the most likely to score as half time arrived.

However the Gunners put on a terrific counter-attacking move in the 41st minute, as Santi Cazorla released Theo Walcott, and the England winger’s shot was saved by Stockdale. But the rebound was only pushed into the path of German international Lukas Podolski who swept the ball home to make it 2-0.

Following the interval, Fulham again made all the pressing but couldn’t find a way past Szczęsny and Arsenal’s resolute defense. Scott Parker and Steve Sidwell tried to get things going in midfield, but Ramsey was everywhere and provided Arsenal with bite in the tackle and poise on the ball.

source: ReutersAs the game closed out, Fulham brought on new signing Darren Bent to try and force the issue but Arsene Wenger’s side were just too good.

That was evident as Arsenal grabbed their third goal with a terrific strike from Podolski for his second goal of the game.

In the 67th minute, Giroud fantastically brought down a long ball and fed it wide to Cazorla who cut inside and teed up Podolski. The German attacker took one touch and rifled a left-footed shot across Stockdale and into the net.

Yet the Bent-Berbatov partnership for Fulham showed early signs of becoming a fruitful one, as in the 76th minute Berbatov controlled the ball majestically before sweeping a shot towards the back post.

In typical predatory fashion, Bent arrived on cue to knock the ball home for a debut goal.

Fulham tried to press for another goal, but Arsenal’s defense held firm to seal the win despite a spirited display from Martin Jol’s Cottagers.

Lineups

Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Hangeland, Riise; Duff (Bent 57), Parker, Sidwell (75 Karagounis), Taarabt (Kacaniklic 62); Kasami; Berbatov. Subs not used: Etheridge, Briggs, Boateng, Ruiz.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Mertesacker, Sagna, Gibbs, Ramsey, Rosicky (Wilshere 70), Cazorla, Walcott, Podolski (Sanogo 81), Giroud (Monreal 72). Subs not used: Fabianski, Frimpong, Zelalem, Gnabry.

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.