Manchester United 1-1 Liverpool: Ibrahimovic salvages Red Devils point

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  • Pogba penalty leads to Milner goal
  • Ibrahimovic equalizes in 84th minute
  • Point sees Liverpool move to 3rd

A rivalry with plenty of buildup produced a clunky game that needed a late moment to savor a draw as things ended level 1-1 at Old Trafford.

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A penalty for handball on Paul Pogba gave Liverpool a 1-0 first-half lead, and the Reds seemed comfortable to defend that advantage.

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It broke down late, as Zlatan Ibrahimovic produced an incredible looping header to draw United level and salvage a point with six minutes to go.

 [ MORE: Klopp blasts “long ball” United ]  

United had most of the early chances, with Anthony Martial sending one to the far post for Zlatan Ibrahimovic that was just out of the Swede’s outstretched leg on 13 minutes. A Liverpool mistake at the back nearly cost them, as Dejan Lovren‘s back-pass was too short and came to Ibrahimovic, but Simon Mignolet did just enough to see the ball land on the roof of the net with Zlatan waiting to pounce on the empty net. Moments later Paul Pogba was fed through by Henrikh Mkhitaryan but scuffed his shot just inches wide right.

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As Liverpool worked themselves into the game, they would press forward and win a penalty in the 27th minute. The ball popped up into the air in the United penalty area, and Pogba completely lost sight of it, finally getting a bead on it and awkwardly getting a head to it, but he also handled the ball in the process, and referee Michael Oliver pointed to the spot. James Milner stepped up and buried the penalty to give Liverpool a 1-0 lead.

United came close past the half-hour mark as Ibrahimovic delivered a venomous free-kick that forced Mignolet into a sharp save low to his right. Mignolet was required again five minutes from halftime as Mkhitaryan was played through by Ander Herrera, but Mignolet was there to parry the shot from a tight angle.

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The hosts made a surprising change out of the break, with manager Jose Mourinho replacing Michael Carrick with Wayne Rooney. They had the first chance out of the break but couldn’t capitalize. Ibrahimovic sprung Mkhitaryan down the right, and his heavy touch brought out Mignolet, but he was still able to get the ball into the middle where Anthony Martial was streaking in. Martial tried to rabona the ball into the empty net, but under pressure from Trent Alexander-Arnold he couldn’t get a touch.

Both teams brought on playmakers past the hour mark as Juan Mata and Philippe Coutinho came on. Coutinho had a chance straightaway with a brilliant touch to Roberto Firmino whose close-range shot was saved by David De Gea.

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Wayne Rooney crashed his studs into the shin of James Milner, causing a bit of a delay and a bit of controversy, as replays showed he stepped over the ball onto Milner’s leg. No card was shown by the referee. Wayne Rooney nearly had a moment to remember, a goal away from breaking Sir Bobby Charlton’s goalscoring record at United but his 82nd minute shot was saved.

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As the game wore down and Liverpool defended comfortably, Mourinho brought on Marouane Fellaini and changed tactics, targeting Ibrahimovic and Fellaini with long balls instead of the flowing play they had been using prior. This caused Liverpool problems and produced a late equalizer, as Fellaini’s initial header clanged off the post, but it came back to Ibrahimovic who ducked down low and brilliantly looped a header into the corner in the 84th minute. There looked to be a missed offside call early in the buildup, but Liverpool’s frantic defending with the ball in the air did them in.

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There were some tense moments down the stretch, and a scuffle as well as Ander Herrera nearly ripped off Roberto Firmino’s shirt, and the Brazilian reacted violently, earning both yellow cards. The managers got into it at the same time, seeing Jurgen Klopp bouncing up and down mocking Mourinho.

The game ended level, leaving Liverpool third in the table, failing to take the opportunity to move into second. Manchester United will be disappointed with the point as well, up to 40 points and still in sixth, two points behind Manchester City.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

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The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

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The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

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Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.

Frank Yallop resigns as Phoenix Rising coach shortly after Drogba arrival

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The timing is a bit sudden and certainly leaves many questions up in the air, but Phoenix Rising will have to look for a new manager.

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On Monday, head coach Frank Yallop resigned from his position with the United Soccer League (USL) club less than one day after former Chelsea legend Didier Drogba joined the organization as a player-owner.

With Phoenix seen as one of several lower-level clubs with ambitions of making the leap to MLS over the coming seasons, Yallop’s departure is surely a shock to many.

According to ESPN FC, Rising lead owner Berke Bakay was quite surprised by Yallop’s decision to step down, as was Drogba.

“Didier was as surprised and disappointed as we were that Frank is unable to continue coaching our Club,” Bakay told ESPN FC. “But, we all respect his decision to put his family first.

“Didier’s focus will remain on improving our team as a player and assisting our MLS expansion team ownership group as a co-owner. Frank will be helping with our international search for a new head coach.”

Rick Schantz, the current Rising assistant coach, will head the team’s managerial duties for the interim while the club completes a full search for a new manager.