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: Man City, Guardiola to discuss new contract this summer

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Manchester City does not want to let Pep Guardiola start the third year with the club without signing on for longer term.

Guardiola enters the third and final year of his deal in August, and the BBC reports that Man City plans to negotiate a new deal with the Catalan wizard this summer.

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This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given City’s outstanding sophomore season under Guardiola.

Unbeaten City has an 11-point lead on the Premier League table after 18 weeks, with one draw and a PL record 16-straight wins. They have 56 goals scored, conceding just 12.

They’ve won five of six UEFA Champions League matches, only losing a match their opposition needed and they did not, 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. City faces Basel next, and visits Leicester City in the League Cup quarterfinals Wednesday.

Lanzini charged by FA for fooling ref with dive

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Manuel Lanzini dove to earn a penalty in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium, and he may pay for it.

Lanzini, who also posted an assist in an influential performance, drew the penalty converted by Mark Noble when he hit the deck under minimal contact from Erik Pieters.

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He could miss two matches for “successful deception of a match official,” the same penalty given to Everton’s Oumar Niasse for a similar offense.

West Ham pulled out of the drop zone with the win, but has three bottom-half battles coming up over the festive fixtures: Saturday versus Newcastle, Dec. 26 at Bournemouth, and Jan. 2 versus West Brom.

Griezmann backtracks over ‘insensitive’ blackface tweet

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MADRID (AP) Soccer star Antoine Griezmann has apologized for any offense caused after posting an image of himself on social media in blackface as part of an NBA party costume on Sunday.

Griezmann, who is white, was also wearing a wig and holding a basketball in the photo which had “NBA 69 ALLSTARS” on the jersey.

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The photo on his official Twitter account was accompanied by the message “80’s Party” followed by basketball and laughing emojis.

One response called the photo a “bad idea” with others urging the France forward to delete the tweet.

Griezmann at first reacted to the criticism by tweeting: “Calm down friends, I’m a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and of this great era… It’s a tribute.”

He later tweeted an apology to those he had offended.

“I recognize that’s it’s insensitive on my part. If I offended some people I’m sorry,” he wrote.

The 26-year-old Griezmann plays for Spanish team Atletico Madrid but has been linked to a move to Barcelona.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

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CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

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U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.