Manchester United 1-1 West Ham: Chances wasted as Sakho, Ibrahimovic cancel


Both sides had opportunities, but Manchester United will be most disappointed not to have won it after seeing numerous chances spurned. Diafra Sakho struck for West Ham right out of the gates, and while Zlatan Ibrahimovic was there to equalize later in the first half, United probably should have had more.

The Hammers struck almost immediately, just two minutes in as a beautiful ball in from Dimitri Payet on a free-kick met the head of Diafra Sakho, who had beaten Zlatan Ibrahimovic, and the ball rippled the back of the net.

With such an early lead, West Ham bunkered in looking to protect the lead, but with the home side pumping dangerous long balls into the box, they only made it to the 21st minute. Paul Pogba chipped in a beautiful ball from midfield to Ibrahimovic waiting in the box, and he redirected the curler into the back of the net with a precise nod.

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There was a controversial moment in the 27th minute, as Paul Pogba was booked for simulation by referee Jonathan Moss. While on the ball in the box, Mark Noble came in with a wildly swinging leg, and as Pogba lept to avoid the strike, he went to ground under no contact and was given a yellow card. Jose Mourinho, in his wild frustration with the call, put his boot cleanly through a water bottle and was sent to the stands.

The Red Devils should have taken the lead in the 36th minute, as Marcus Rashford was clear after beating Cheikhou Kouyate to a ball down the pitch, but he was closed down by Darren Randolph and eventually the shot was saved. Randolph also expertly kept out Jesse Lingard by saving to his left from a tight angle.

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In the second half, West Ham looked to go back in front with yet another Payet free-kick from the same spot, this time with the Frenchman audaciously going for goal, forcing David De Gea to tip it over while doing a pull-up on the crossbar. On the ensuing corner, Manuel Lanzini headed it into a dangerous spot just in front of net but it was cleared out before another Hammer could finish it off.

Manchester United poured forward towards the end, and they had opportunities. Substitute Henrikh Mkhitaryan nearly had the winner in 76th minute, but as the Armenian struck his shot, Randolph pushed it off the post and Jesse Lingard tapped it in but the offside flag ruled it out, with the youngster on the wrong side on Mkhitaryan’s shot. Ibrahimovic then had a chance, but as he looked to collect the bouncer with Randolph charging, he got by the goalkeeper but with a heavy touch, and Kouyate recovered to clear.

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West Ham had a chance too, as Ashley Fletcher danced through the penalty area, but he took too long and his eventual shot was blocked off by De Gea. The game came to a close with the scoreline level, a disappointing result for both sides who needed three points for their various races. The Red Devils only get to 20 points, only above Everton thanks to a loss today for the Toffees, while they sit 11 points back of the leaders. West Ham, meanwhile, miss the chance to truly pull themselves off the relegation battle, instead just a point above Crystal Palace and Hull City at the drop.

Wenger update on Sanchez after Chile’s Bayern mix-up

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Arsene Wenger has (shock) remained tight-lipped about his own Arsenal future but has been talking about Alexis Sanchez remaining with the Gunners.

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Sanchez, 28, has just over 12 months left on his current Arsenal deal and the Chilean attacker is attracting interest from across the Premier League and Europe.

With 24 goals and 10 assists in the Premier League this season, Sanchez would obviously be a huge loss to the Gunners if he did move on.

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Speaking to the media ahead of the FA Cup final against Chelsea on Saturday at Wembley Stadium, Wenger seemed to think his star forward wouldn’t be going anywhere this summer.

“We have nobody at the end of their contract so that will be completely our decision. Therefore, I just believe that we, the club, have a big job to do during the summer because you want to keep players like Alexis and end all the speculation that could happen…” Wenger said. “Alexis is not at the end of his contract. I would just like to remind you that the end of his contract is 2018. So that’s a completely different situation.”

Wenger appears to be stating that even if contract negotiations don’t go well with Sanchez and his representatives after the FA Cup final this weekend, the Gunners won’t be trying to offload him right away even though the fact they won’t be in the UEFA Champions League next season.

Sanchez could remain until next January and run his contract down to six months and then he’d be free to arrange a summer 2018 move to any non-English team. Of course, Arsenal wouldn’t get any cash for Sanchez if that happened but it appears that they intend to keep him around as long as possible as contract negotiations continue.

Wenger’s current mindset: “So you’re telling me there’s a chance…”

In other Sanchez-related news, did the Chilean national team release news about his future club?

When Chile sent out a graphic via their official Twitter account to announce their 23-man squad for the 2017 Confederations Cup in Russia next month, they had a club logo next to the name of each player.

A Bayern Munich badge was next to Sanchez’s name before being removed rather quickly.

Add that to Sanchez’s countryman, and Bayern midfielder, Arturo Vidal, saying that the German giants having been asking him about his countryman and maybe the Bundesliga champs are all of a sudden the frontrunners to sign him?

Surely Arsenal’s board would much rather sell Sanchez overseas than see him join a direct Premier League rival if he was to leave this summer?

Messi loses Supreme Court appeal over tax-fraud conviction

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MADRID (AP) Lionel Messi has lost his Supreme Court appeal over a tax-fraud conviction in Spain.

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The court confirmed the 21-month prison sentence handed to Messi for defrauding tax authorities of 4.1 million euros ($4.6 million) from 2007-09. He is not expected to go to prison because sentences of less than two years for first offences are usually suspended in Spain.

The court maintained the 2 million euro ($2.24 million) fine handed to the Argentina player in last year’s trial.

Messi’s father, Jorge Horacio Messi, also had been convicted of tax fraud, but the court reduced his sentence from 21 months to 15 months because he cooperated by returning the defrauded money to the tax authorities. He also is not expected to face prison time.

Chelsea cancel Premier League victory parade

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Chelsea have announced they will not be parading the Premier League trophy through the streets of London this Sunday.

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The Blues released a statement on Wednesday detailing their decision to cancel the parade which would have seen the first team board an open top bus outside Stamford Bridge on May 28 and celebrate their PL title success, and a potential FA Cup trophy, with their fans.

However, due to the UK government updating the terror threat level to critical (meaning an attack is imminent) following the Manchester bombing on Monday which killed 22 people, Chelsea have decided to cancel the event as a mark of respect and due to the ongoing situation across the United Kingdom.

Below is the statement from Chelsea in full.

“Everyone associated with Chelsea Football Club offers our heartfelt condolences to those affected by Monday’s terror attack in Manchester. Our thoughts go out to all the victims, and their families and friends. In light of these tragic events, we feel it is inappropriate to go ahead with the victory parade in London on Sunday.

“Given the heightened security threat announced by the Government, and recognising that this is a developing situation, we have given this careful consideration. We strongly believe, in the interests of everyone, this is the correct course of action. We are sure our fans will understand this decision.

“Having consulted with the Metropolitan Police, Hammersmith and Fulham Council and other authorities, we know the emergency services would have been as professional as ever, but we would not want in any way to divert important resources by holding an additional, non-ticketed event on the streets of London.

“Furthermore, as a mark of respect, our players will wear black armbands at the FA Cup Final against Arsenal on Saturday. Chelsea Football Club will also make a donation to a fund supporting the victims of this horrific attack.”

Liverpool win 3-0 in Australia; tributes paid to Manchester

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Liverpool beat Sydney FC 3-0 in an end of season friendly in Australia on Wednesday.

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Jurgen Klopp‘s men traveled Down Under and played in front of a crowd of 72,892 at the ANZ Stadium, with Daniel Sturridge, Alberto Moreno and Roberto Firmino scoring the goals against the A-League side.

There were even special appearances from Liverpool legends Steven Gerrard, Jamie Carragher and Steve McManaman as the Reds ended their 2016-17 season in style in Sydney.

Klopp’s sealed fourth in the Premier League on Sunday, qualifying for the UEFA Champions League playoff round in the process.

As well as the game taking place in Sydney, there was also a moment of silence before kick off as both teams honored the victims of the Manchester terrorist attack which took the lives of 22 people on Monday.

There was also a stunning rendition of “You’ll Never Walk Alone” from the fans in Sydney, which you can watch in the video below.