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Cristiano Ronaldo’s inspiring half time speech revealed

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This tale proves just how much of a leader Ronaldo is.

Stretchered off early on in the EURO 2016 final, Cristiano Ronaldo’s world came crashing down around him.

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He could’ve cried (he did, but more in pain and anguish than anything else) and felt sorry for himself but he showed yet another great moment of leadership as Portugal dug deep and beat France without him thanks to Eder‘s extra time goal.

Apparently Ronaldo gave a rousing team talk at half time of the game which inspired the Portuguese players to clinch the nations first-ever major trophy.

[ VIDEO: Young Portuguese fan consoles crying Frenchman

Southampton’s right back Cedric Soares spoke to ESPN after the game and revealed exactly what Ronaldo said to try and refocus his teammates following his untimely injury.

“It was a very tough moment,” Soares said. “I remember, for me and the team, everybody was a little bit in shock I think. In half time, Cristiano had fantastic words for us. He gave us a lot of confidence and said ‘listen people, I’m sure we will win, so stay together and fight for it.’ It was really unbelievable. I think all the team had a fantastic attitude. And we showed tonight when you fight as one you are much much stronger.”

“He had fantastic words for each player in each moment of the game … I’m really really happy to be part of this group and be champion.”

Ronaldo could also be seen marauding up and down the touchline during the game, barking orders at the players like a coach and kicking every ball as he hobbled around with his knee heavily bandaged. He wanted this trophy, big time.

His teammates, including longtime club teammate at Real Madrid, Pepe, spoke afterwards about how they wanted to win the trophy for Ronaldo.

Maybe that extra motivation to do it for the all-time leading goalscorer and appearance holder in Portuguese history pushed them over the line.

That, and probably the rousing half time speech by an emotional Ronaldo, seemed to do the job.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

(more…)

EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

(more…)

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET