Three former players at center of Austrian match-fixing investigation

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Reports out of Austria have indicated that three former players in the Austrian Bundesliga have been charged in a relatively large match-fixing investigation.

Sanel Kuljic, Dominique Taboga and Johannes Lamprecht reportedly banded together and offered players anywhere between $10,000 and $55,000 to influence matches, and placed subsequent bets of up to $415,000 on the fixed matches.

The case was first brought public in November, when it was revealed that 17 first-division matches were influenced, all involving the clubs Kapfenberg or Groedig, two of which are from early this season.

31-year-old Taboga has since admitted he tried to persuade four teammates at Groedig to throw matches, and has since received a lifetime ban.

However, he has brought charges against Kuljic (pictured, from 2010), saying the 36-year-old used a personal debt to force him and Lamprecht into the fixing ring, and claimed Kuljic threatened the two after they refused to fix matches.

The claims state Kuljic threatened the pair until they were forced to hand over items such as laptops and cars in lieu of money.

Kuljic claims he was trying to collect on a loan he gave his former teammate to buy furniture.

However, investigators say they have a list of 26 names, including the trio, obtained from two unnamed Albanian men who apparently arranged the fixing.  Seven other “unnamed persons” have been charged, and prosecutors say they could add up to 15 more to the list in the near future.

The fixing allegedly began in 2004.  Kuljic retired back in 2012 due to ligament tears after registering three goals for the Bosnia-Herzegovnian national team, while Taboga was playing for Grodig during his arrest in November.  Lamprecht has not played since the 2008/09 season.

MLS Snapshot: Colorado Rapids 1-2 Real Salt Lake

SANDY UT - MARCH 14: Olmes Garcia #13 of Real Salt Lake celebrates his goal during their game against the Philadelphia Union at Rio Tinto Stadium on March 14, 2015 in Sandy, Utah. (Photo by Gene Sweeney Jr/Getty Images)
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The game in 100 words (or less): Real Salt Lake stays alive in the hunt for a playoff berth in the Western Conference with a crucial 2-1 win over the Colorado Rapids. After falling behind early, RSL scored twice before halftime and held onto the lead for the rest of the match, moving within three points of the final playoff spot in the West. Real Salt Lake has three matches remaining, including a massive clash against the Portland Timbers, which will pretty much decide their season. For Colorado, it’s another year without playoff soccer.

[ MORE: FC Dallas clinches playoff berth ]

Three moments that mattered

16′ — Doyle heads Colorado into the lead — The former Premier League man gave the home side an early lead, thanks to a powerful header from quite a bit out. Sean St. Ledger played in a cross, where Doyle snapped a header into the top corner past Nick Rimando.

33′ — Joao Plata bends in the free kick — Trailing 1-0, Joao Plata drew RSL level with a brilliant free kick. Plata’s shot dipped over the wall and under the crossbar, as Clint Irwin stood helpless in goal for Colorado.

43′ — Mulholland fires home a volley to put RSL ahead — Luke Mulholland scored his first goal of the season, and it was a beauty. A corner kick popped out to the midfielder at the top of the box, as he rifled a shot off the bounce and into the side netting.

Man of the match: Luke Mulholland

Goalscorers: Doyle (16′), Plata (33′), Mulholland (43′)

Wenger lauds team spirit following Arsenal’s big win

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Arsenal put on a superb performance against Manchester United today, flying out to a three-goal lead in the opening 20 minutes of the match.

[ RECAP: Arsenal 3-0 Manchester United ]

United was stunned by the fast-paced, free-flowing Arsenal attack, unable to recover from the Gunners’ early dominance.

All of this came on the heels of a disappointing loss to Olympiacos in the Champions League, after which many questioned manager Arsene Wenger and his side.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s win vs. Manchester United ]

Following the big 3-0 win at the Emirates, Wenger praised his team’s spirit, saying there were outstanding performances throughout the side.

You go from Petr Cech up to Theo Walcott, and we had only outstanding performances. Sometimes we have that magic side in our game.

[Against Olympiacos] maybe we lacked a little bit of urgency and discipline, and that’s why we lost the game. But let’s not forget, last Saturday we won 5-2 at Leicester. Today we beat Man United 3-0.

[The players] have shown that we have an outstanding spirit in the squad. To respond the way we did after what happened to us, you need to have an exceptional spirit.

The Gunners’ performance today immediately silenced all the critics, as Wenger’s side put out on a display that many have been waiting for all season. The combination play of Alexis Sanchez, Mesut Ozil and Theo Walcott was brilliant, as Santi Cazorla continued to impress in the center of the midfield.

Wenger’s teams have not always been known to show strong heart and resiliency, but that’s exactly what they showed today against a Manchester United side that was in great form. Now sitting second on the table, Arsenal continues to climb up the Premier League.