Bayern Munich ease into Champions League semis, as Manchester United crash out

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Manchester United crashed out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, after losing to reigning champions Bayern Munich 3-1 despite a brave battle against the Bavarian’s incredible attacking talents.

The Red Devils took the lead just before the hour mark, as Patrice Evra latched on to a loose ball and smashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner to put United 2-1 ahead on aggregate. However, Evra turned from hero to zero in the space of 22 seconds, as he failed to mark Mario Mandzukic who headed home an equalizer to deflate United’s players.

Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben struck soon after as Bayern’s juggernaut, masterminded by Pep Guardiola, made the UCL semifinals for the third-straight season.

As for United, their Champions League dreams are over for this season, and with David Moyes’ men seven points off fourth spot in the Premier League, it could be a few years until they grace Europe’s elite club competition again.

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Bayern had plenty of the early possession, as expected, but in the 7th minute Manchester United had a glorious chance to go ahead. Darren Fletcher’s lofted ball over the top found Wayne Rooney in acres of space, however the Englishman dallied on the ball and failed to play in Shinji Kagawa to his left as Bayern cleared the danger.

United soaked up Munich’s attack resolutely, while looking dangerous on the break whenever they got the chance to spring an attack. Robben and Franck Ribery prodded and probed the Red Devils’ defense, however they were frustrated early on. In the 16th minute United had the ball in the back of the net, as Rooney’s cross found Antonio Valencia at the back post to slot home… but the Ecuadorian winger had strayed into an offside position.

source: AP
Evra’s howitzer gave United the lead, but it only lasted for 22 seconds.

The home side started to press more as half time approached, with Ribery smashing a long-range effort into the side-netting just before the 30 minute mark. In the 43rd minute Robben cut in from the hand side and took the ball past three United defenders, before hammering a shot towards goal which Chris Smalling blocked as the two rivals were locked at 0-0 at the break.

At the start of the second half, United won several corners as they pinned Bayern back, but the home side surged forward to try and kill the tie off but slack finishing thwarted Munich from going ahead on the night.

In the 57th minute it was United who went ahead, as Valencia cut in from the right and picked out the advancing Evra who smashed a rasping effort into the top corner as Bayern’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was effortless. However United’s joy was short lived, as just 22 seconds later Bayern were level when Mandzukic headed home Ribery’s cross after being left unmarked by United’s goalscorer Evra. Pandemonium at the Allianz Arena, as the game came to life in dramatic fashion just before the hour mark.

In the 61st minute the Red Devils should have gone 2-1 up, but Welbeck’s sensational set up play was wasted by Rooney, who inexplicably scuffed his shot when left unmarked 10-yards out and with the goal beckoning. United were made to pay for that mistake, as Muller put Bayern 2-1 ahead in the 68th minute, when Robben’s low cross allowed the German international to tap home from inside the six-yard box.

With 15 minutes to go the crucial goal arrived, as Robben cut in from the right to devastating effect and his left-footed shot deflected off of Vidic’s boot and past David De Gea to put Bayern 3-1 up. United tried to get themselves back in the game late on, but the relentless effort Moyes’ men had put in to told, as Munich head into the final four of the Champions League.

LINEUPS

Bayern Munich: Neuer, Dante, Boateng, Lahm, Müller (Pizarro, 84′), Alaba, Götze (Rafinha, 64′), Kroos, Ribéry, Mandzukic, Robben

Goals: Mandzukic (59′), Müller (68′), Robben (76′)

Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Fletcher (Hernandez, 74′), Carrick; Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa; Welbeck (Januzaj, 81′)

Goal: Evra (57′)

Report: Frank De Boer accepts Crystal Palace job

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Frank de Boer is widely expected to be named new Crystal Palace manager this week, as he has reportedly accepted the job after having been offered the position this week.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The 47-year-old Dutchman has been out of work since he was fired by Inter Milan in November. He lasted just 84 days at the San Siro, where he managed to win just five of 14 games. Inter Milan is Inter Milan, though, and that’s something worth remembering when critiquing Palace’s impending appointment of De Boer.

Palace are also widely expected to back De Boer in the transfer market this summer, in a big way. Kelechi Iheanacho is the biggest name linked with a move to Selhurst Park, as the 20-year-old Nigerian striker is reportedly unwanted by Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola.

5th-place San Jose parts ways with Kinnear after 2.5 seasons

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Dominic Kinnear is out after two and a half seasons as head coach of the San Jose Earthquakes, despite leading the club to a hugely improved standing 17 games into the 2017 season.

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The move comes 17 hours after San Jose put to bed a three-game winless skid with a 2-1 win over Real Salt Lake on Saturday, a result which propelled them into fifth place in the Western Conference, just two points off second place. After seventh- and ninth-place finishes in Kinnear’s first two seasons back in Northern California (he managed the club in 2004 and 2005 before the club was relocated to Houston, where he would remain for nine seasons, through the 2014 season), this year’s team seemed to be moving in a positive direction quicker than most had previously expected.

[ MORE: Accam scores a backheel (video) | Opara scores a CB bicycle ]

The club has named Chris Leitch head coach and Alex Covelo as assistant coach. Current assistant coach Steve Ralston and goalkeeper coach Tim Hanley will remain in their current roles.

“First and foremost, we would like to thank Dominic for his hard work, professionalism and contributions to this club over the years,” Earthquakes general manager Jesse Fioranelli said in a release. “He worked hard this year and was a first-class person all the way. This decision was made after a lot of thought and evaluation. We decided that we wanted to go in a different direction as we continue to build the identity of this club.”

Kinnear is the second MLS coach to be relieved of his duties this season, suffering the same fate as RSL’s Jeff Cassar, who lasted just three games before being fired in March.

FIFA’s video-review system under scrutiny again in Russia

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OCHI, Russia (AP) FIFA’s new video review system is bringing turmoil to the Confederations Cup, with technology designed to deliver quick, clear decisions agitating players and leaving coaches and fans confused.

Perhaps even worse for FIFA, the latest controversy on Sunday – exactly one week after four goal reviews in that day’s two matches – made one of the world’s highest-rated referees look hesitant and wrong.

Wilmar Roldan sent off a Cameroon defender more than three minutes after a high tackle on a German opponent and only after his own case of mistaken identity.

The Colombian official arrived at what was arguably the correct decision following two visits to the touchline to consult video replays and first showing only a yellow card, then a red card, to the wrong Cameroon player.

“I think everyone is confused, including me,” Cameroon coach Hugo Broos said of referee Roldan after a 3-1 loss in Sochi that eliminated his team. “He and he alone can explain what happened there in that moment.”

Cameroon was also involved in two video decisions last Sunday, when possible Chile goals were reviewed for offside rulings. The first goal was disallowed, the second counted in Chile’s 2-0 victory.

Portugal had most to complain about one week ago when a potential opening goal in a 2-2 draw with Mexico was ruled out by an offside judged in an earlier phase of play.

FIFA stressed last week that all decisions proved ultimately correct, and the controversies were simply inevitable overreactions as world football gets used to a new system being put to its highest-profile tests.

Indeed, FIFA President Gianni Infantino felt confident to proclaim video review was “the future of football” and still on track to be approved by the guardians of the game’s laws before the 2018 World Cup.

Human error by Roldan seemed the biggest problem Sunday though it added to the perception that video review is capable of causing as much controversy as it solves.

FIFA has certainly pulled back from its prediction last year that game-changing decisions – goals scored, penalty kicks awarded, red cards, mistaken identity – could be reviewed and resolved in as few as six seconds.

Accuracy is more important than speed, has become the mantra in Russia.

Neither were in evidence Sunday in Sochi as Cameroon defender Ernest Mabouka eventually left the field around three minutes after his boot connected with Emre Can of Germany.

Mabouka’s teammate Sebastien Siani had sarcastically applauded the referee when he was wrongly sent from the field. Eventually Siani’s slate was wiped clean and he completed the match.

Still, the image of a top referee being openly disrespected will not please FIFA.

Roldan arrived at the Confederations Cup trying to rebuild a reputation that was damaged at the 2014 World Cup. There, he was chosen for the second game of the tournament, and incorrectly ruled out two Mexico goals. FIFA did not pick him for another refereeing duty in Brazil.

To further damage Roldan’s standing, Germany coach Joachim Loew said neither he nor Can believed the tackle merited even a yellow card.

“I didn’t have the impression that it was a mean foul with the intent to hurt the opponent. It was not intentional,” Loew said through a translator at the post-match news conference.

Loew, whose Germany team will defend its World Cup title next year, still thinks video review can benefit the game – with one condition.

“I think it can be fine-tuned over time so that decisions can be made more quickly,” the German coach said. “That would be great.”

Mario Balotelli signs new Nice contract

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Italian striker Mario Balotelli has found himself the owner of a new contract after a successful season in Ligue 1 with French club OGC Nice.

Balotelli’s one-year deal was set to expire at the end of June, but he found a career revival in what many believed would be his last chance in major European soccer. The club officially announced his new contract on Sunday, and while they did not release the length of the deal, they confirmed that Balotelli turned down deals from other clubs to stay in France.

The 26-year-old scored 15 goals in 23 league appearances last year, helping Nice to a fabulous third-place finish in Ligue 1, earning them a Champions League playoff spot.

For a player who saw trouble follow him wherever he went, the only trouble he faced last season at Nice was an erratic bout with injury issues including calf and adductor problems. However, the spells on the sidelines didn’t douse Balotelli’s form. The Italian had an incredible start and finish to the season, scoring six goals in his first five appearances of the season and bagging six goals in the last eight games of the year.

The official release by Nice said that Balotelli made “considerable financial sacrifices and chose the sporting aspect with his heart” in re-signing with the French club.