Cosmin Moti, the hero for Ludogorets

Champions League Roundup: Ludogorets defender saves penalty to put Bulgarians through

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Amazing scenes out of Bulgaria tonight where Ludogorets defender Cosmin Moti took the gloves as a makeshift goalkeeper and saved two penalties by Steaua Bucharest to help his side advance to the Champions League group stage.

Entering the match with the upper hand after a 1-0 victory in the first leg in Bucharest, Steaua appeared to be cruising until a 90th minute wonder goal from Wanderson forced extra-time for Ludogorets. Then, in the 119th minute, Ludogorets goalkeeper Vladislav Stoyanov was shown his second yellow card of the match and with no substitutions remaining, Moti was forced between the sticks.

After punching away a late cross to ensure penalties, Moti went on to save penalties from Paul Pirvulescu and Cornel Rapa to hand Ludogorets a sensational 6-5 penalty shootout victory. In yet another amazing twist, it turns out that Moti played for Steaua’s arch-rivals, FC Dinamo Bucuresti, for seven years before joining Ludogorets. Thanks to his dramatics, the Bulgarian side are through to the UEFA Champions League group stage for the first time in club history.

Elsewhere across Europe…

Arsenal 1 Besiktas 0 (Aggregate: 1-0)

Arsenal reached the Champions League group stage for 17th successive season thanks to a 45th minute strike from new boy Alexis Sanchez. Things grew dicey for the Gunners in the 76th minute when full-back Mathieu Debuchy was sent off but Arsenal held their ground to confirm advancement.

Malmo 3 Salzburg 0 (Aggregate: 4-2)

Malmo became the first Swedish club to make it through to the Champions League group stage since Helsingborgs IF in 2000 when they defeated Salzburg 3-0. Markus Rosenberg notched a brace and Magnus Eriksson vollied home to hand Malmo the 4-2 win on aggregate. The victory caps a strong run of form for the Swedish side having not lost or conceded a goal in their last seven European home matches.

Bayer Leverkusen 4 Copenhagen 0 (Aggregate: 7-2)

Stefan Kiessling scored a brace and Son Heung-Min and Hakan Calhanoglu also made the scoresheet as Leverkusen cruised to a 4-0 home victory over Copenhagen. The shutout puts Leverkusen through to the group stage draw and sends Copenhagen tumbling into the Europa League.

Athletic Bilbao 3 Napoli 1 (Aggregate: 4-2)

Three goals in a 13 minute span earned Athletic Bilbao a 3-1 victory over Napoli at the new San Mames, sending the Basque club through to the group stage, 4-2 on aggregate. Marek Hamsik handed Napoli a lead with his 47th minute goal but goals from Aritz Aduriz in the 61st and 69th minutes followed by a 74th minute effort from Ibai Gomez confirmed Athletic’s spot in the Champions League.

Report: Manchester City makes final bid for John Stones

LONDON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 16:  Diego Costa of Chelsea and John Stones of Everton compete for the ball during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Everton at Stamford Bridge on January 16, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Mike Hewitt/Getty Images)
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Take it or leave it.

Manchester City has made a final push for Everton defender John Stones, and has set its last offer at $52 million. Last month, the Citizens made the same exact bid for the 22-year-old, which was rejected by Everton.

[ MORE: Italian legend Christian Vieri looks to join Chinese Super League ]

City is said to be looking to avoid overpaying for Stones, after compensating Porto over $55 million for centerback Eliaquim Mangala two years ago.

While Stones has gone on record saying that he wants to play for manager Pep Guardiola at the Etihad Stadium, it remains to be seen if Everton will part ways with its prized defender.

NASL weekend preview: Rayo OKC faces stiff test against Minnesota

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Following a midweek loss against FC Edmonton, the New York Cosmos will try to rebound at home against Puerto Rico FC.

The Cosmos currently have two losses during the Fall Season, having conceded 10 goals in six matches, which is the second-most in NASL.

[ MORE: MLS weekend preview ]

With no unbeatens remaining, Spring Season champion Indy Eleven looks to keep its place near the top of the table against Miami FC.

Minnesota United looks to build off of its strong start against league leaders Rayo OKC, with the two teams separated by a mere two points.

Meanwhile, the Fort Lauderdale Strikers continue to search for their first win of the Fall Season against the struggling Jacksonville Armada.

Saturday

New York Cosmos vs. Puerto Rico FC

Ottawa Fury vs. Tampa Bay Rowdies

Fort Lauderdale Strikers vs. Jacksonville Armada

Miami FC vs. Indy Eleven

Rayo OKC vs. Minnesota United

Sunday

FC Edmonton vs. Carolina RailHawks

Liverpool keeper Karius to miss two months

MEYRIN, SWITZERLAND - JULY 22:   Loris Karius of 1. FSV Mainz 05 in action during the pre-season friendly match between 1. FSV Mainz 05 and AS Monaco at Stade des Arberes on July 22, 2015 in Meyrin, Switzerland.  (Photo by Harold Cunningham/Getty Images)
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He was tabbed to be Liverpool’s opening day starter in goal, but Loris Karius could now miss the first two months of the Premier League season after suffering a hand injury in Wednesday’s International Champions Cup loss against Chelsea.

[ MORE: Real looking at Sissoko, Verratti as midfield options ]

The 23-year-old was brought to the Reds this summer from Bundesliga side Mainz for over $6 million.

Karius opted not to represent Germany at next month’s Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro in order to avoid missing any game action with Liverpool. Unfortunately, the young keeper will now likely miss between eight and 10 weeks.

Italian legend Christian Vieri looks to make comeback

ROME, ITALY - OCTOBER 19:  Christian Vieri poses with the UEFA Champions League Trophy during the UEFA Champions League Trophy Tour 2012/13 on October 19, 2012 in Rome, Italy.  (Photo by Paolo Bruno/Getty Images for UEFA)
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His career ended over seven years ago, but former Italy international Christian Vieri is looking to make an improbable comeback in a country that continues to attract big stars.

The 43-year-old Vieri is reportedly coming out of retirement to join the Chinese Super League, and posted a video on Twitter confirming his plans.

Last playing in 2009, Vieri finished his career where it began — in Italy — with Atalanta. During his career, the striker played for 10 clubs in his native country, while also spending time in Spain and France with Atletico Madrid and Monaco, respectively.

Vieri made his name with Inter Milan, where he recorded six straight seasons with double-digit goals. At the height of his career with Internazionale, Vieri netted 27 times across all competitions during the 2002/03 season.