Shakhtar Donetsk coach reaches milestone as his team ties United

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The 1-1 draw between Shakhtar Donetsk and Manchester United on Wednesday in the Champions League may have compounded the pressure on David Moyes, but for the man on the other bench, it was another feather in the cap of a long, successful career.

Mircea Lucescu became Shakhtar’s longest-serving manager on Monday in his ninth full season with the club, surpassing Oleg Oshenkov, who won the club’s first two major titles. Under Oshenkov, Shakhtar took the USSR Cup in 1961 and 1962, but the 2012-13 Ukrainian Premier League champions only won six trophies between then and Lucescu’s first year.

Right from the start, the Romanian manager proved to be a winner. In all, he has won seven league titles, five Ukrainian Cups and Super Cups and the 2009 UEFA Cup. Now 68, Lucescu had several other opportunities last summer when his Shakhtar contract was close to expiring, but he did not hesitate to put pen to paper on an extension.

After doing so, he gave an interview to Romanian outlet Adevărul, in which he explained his longevity and a bit of his coaching philosophy (translated from Romanian):

Contracts mean absolutely nothing. I’m valuable as long as the my performance is satisfactory. When it’s not, we’ll shake hands, and I’ll look after my own business. …

I have no use for their [players’] legs — only their minds. I value intelligence in the first order, but I know not all of them can be smart, so I try to balance the cumulative effect between games and training. I talk to them about education, attitude, discipline. … And I’m talking about all kinds of education: professional, civil, health, attitude in training.

In the hot seat at Manchester United, Moyes was supposed to provide United with the same kind of longevity and success that Lucescu has found in Donetsk and that Sir Alex Ferguson found at Old Trafford before Moyes arrived. But Lucescu has what Moyes doesn’t, because he is still working through the transition period: an obvious identity to his team.

Lucescu has brought in scores of South Americans to provide the creative thrust, and he recruits Eastern Europeans to keep the defense tight. Shakhtar has 11 Brazilians on the roster, including Luiz Adriano and Croatian international Eduardo da Silva.

The manager’s formula of attack-at-all-costs soccer provided nearly a year where the club did not lose a competitive game, between Champions League losses on Nov. 23, 2011, and Nov. 7, 2012. Shakhtar lost just one game in each of the last two seasons, although it has already lost twice in 2013-14.

However, Lucescu and Shakhtar are off to an unbeaten start to the current Champions League campaign. After defeating Real Sociedad 2-0 in Spain and coming back to tie United at home on Wednesday, Donetsk sits on top of its group. Despite being one of the underrated teams in the competition, it has a chance to repeat its quarterfinal feat of 2011.

Bayern fans unhappy with Champions League ticket prices

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Study to show long-term affects of playing soccer ]

The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”

A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).

“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).

Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”

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Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.

UEL roundup: AC Milan advances after big win; Arsenal, Everton fall

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Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.

[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]

Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.

Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.

AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.

Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.

Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta

Ex-Brazil forward Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison

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Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.

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At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.

The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.

Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.

Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”

The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.

Premier League Preview: West Ham vs. Leicester City

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  • West Ham is winless in last six against Leicester
  • Jamie Vardy has two goals, two assists in last 4 games vs. West Ham
  • Hammers have nine points through first 12 matches

West Ham United will host Leicester City from the London Stadium on Friday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET Friday on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as David Moyes and Co. look to climb out of the relegation zone.

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Moyes and West Ham currently sit 18th in the Premier League through 12 games, and will be hoping to see an improvement in their form with the potential returns of Andre Ayew and Marko Arnautovic.

The Hammers are without Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Michail Antonio, as well as James Collins.

The Foxes are winless in their last two matches, and coming off of a 2-0 defeat to Manchester City over the weekend. Robert Huth and Matty James remain sidelined for Puel’s group, but otherwise, the club is relatively healthy.

What they’re saying

West Ham boss David Moyes on turning the team’s form around: “We need to give the supporters something to shout about and something that looks half decent, and then they will support us. I want everyone to be together. I am not aware of the problems before I came, I was a bit surprised when I heard (chanting against the board). “I want them behind us to give us a chance of winning.”

Leicester’s Claude Puel on confidence in his players“I have a good feeling with the players; they listen, they work hard on the pitch and I feel their ambition. We will see in the next games, with a good adaption and rotation, to see them approach it with a positive attitude.”

Prediction

The Hammers are missing several key attacking pieces, including Hernandez, which will surely make the defensive task easier for Leicester. The Foxes attack hasn’t been at its finest, but they’ll be facing a West Ham back line that allows over two goals per game (25 in 12 matches).
West Ham 1-3 Leicester