Arsene Wenger to remain as Arsenal boss after FA Cup win

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LONDON — Punching the air with delight at the final whistle. Leaning casually against the railings of the Royal Box during the trophy ceremony. Smiling uncontrollably throughout his press conference.

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is a happy man after guiding his side to the FA Cup. He will be around next season too.

Nine years without a trophy has been a huge strain on Wenger and Arsenal but finally their nightmare is over. Finally their trophyless run has come to an end. Wenger confirmed that he will be around next season and is expected to sign a new deal next week.

MORE: Three things we learned from Arsenal’s FA Cup final win

Speaking afterwards about the relief of the dramatic win, Wenger was clearly delighted with his eighth trophy as manager and believes all of the suffering made it worth the wait.

 “It was a relief and happiness because we were under severe pressure to win today,” Wenger said. “We didn’t start well, Hull started strong and we were hesitant. We responded well and we made a demonstration of how not to start the FA Cup final. It is a big moment of happiness. We waited for a long time for that. The happiness is linked sometimes with the suffering and the time you have to wait. That’s why maybe it was a great moment at the end of the game.”

However his expected new deal looked for a long time like it would come alongside a shock cup defeat but his team launched a rousing comeback in the sun at Wembley. After seeing his side trail 2-0 after eight minutes to Hull City, Wenger admitted he was surprised but delighted with the response of his team.

“I was shocked, the next goal against you is  then crucial, they looked dangerous on every set piece. We looked hesitant and you wonder if the shock for the team will not be too hard,” Wenger said. ” This team has a special spirit and togetherness I knew they would try to respond. It was important for us to get back to 2-1 before half time, to not rush our game and to keep calm and structured. Overall in the second half we created many chances.”

RECAP: Arsenal’s incredible comeback wins FA Cup final vs. Hull, first trophy since ’05

Wenger has now won five FA Cups as the Arsenal manager is alongside Sir Alex Ferguson as the men to have won it the most and the Frenchman has won eight major trophies in 18 years in charge of the Gunners. Three PL titles and five FA Cups later, he still enjoys the euphoria surrounding a cup win. He also lauded the mental toughness of his team to fight back when it mattered most and the huge impact that could have for next season and beyond.

“The mental aspect of a game like that is very important,” Wenger said. “Everyone expects you to win and you are 2-0 down. Cup finals in England are special, you saw it last year and again this year. It was an important moment in the life of this time. To lose today certainly would’ve been a major setback and to win provides a good platform to move on and come back even stronger next year.”

Where does the 2014 FA Cup rank all-time for Wenger? Right at the top.

“It was more important today than all the others,” Wenger said. “We have already twice won the double and many times but we were not under the pressure we were under today. I’ve now won it five times. It is not too bad.”

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia