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UCL: Arsenal embarrassed, loses 10-2 on aggregate

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  • Walcott gives early hope
  • Koscielny sent off, 54′
  • Lewandowski converts PK
  • Brace for Vidal
  • Robben, Costa also score

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski eliminated all Arsenal hope when he won and converted a penalty kick in a 5-1 win in the second leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 match-up at the Emirates Stadium on Tuesday.

Arsenal had gone ahead 1-0 through Theo Walcott, but still trailed 5-2 on aggregate, when Laurent Koscielny tripped up Lewandowski in the box. Koscielny was shown red.

The final score was 10-2 on aggregate, and the 5-1 home loss was the worst home blowout in Arsenal’s European history.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

A couple of chances went by the wayside before Arsenal went in front through Walcott. Bayern keeper Manuel Neuer was prepared for a low shot, and Walcott ripped a high attempt that Neuer could only parry into the goal.

Arturo Vidal fouled Hector Bellerin in nodding a cross at David Ospina, as Bayern looked for a quick answer.

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Walcott had a very similar chance from a tighter angle, and blasted the contested shot off the outside of the net.

Robert Lewandowski missed a 38th minute chance to put the tie to bed when he mishit Arjen Robben’s looped pass wide of Ospina’s goal.

For as lopsided a score line as it was, Arsenal had plenty of chances to narrow it. Olivier Giroud nearly headed an Aaron Ramsey cross past Neuer in the 48th minute, putting it just over the bar.

Bayern came close to leveling the leg when Mats Hummels raced onto a free kick to redirect the ball past Ospina, but replays showed he was correctly ruled offside.

Lewandowski then worked Nacho Monreal to get free on goal, and was taken down by Laurent Koscielny. It began as a yellow card but was upgraded to a red for denial of an obvious goal scoring opportunity.

Arsenal would be down a man before it went down 6-2, which it did when Lewandowski bested Ospina.

Robben then looked to work a 1-2 with Lewandowski before beating Alexis Sanchez to the business end. Ospina couldn’t stop Robben’s shot, and it was 7-2.

It certainly could’ve gotten worse. Costa roasted Bellerin and squared the ball into the six where Lewandowski’s sliding effort spun off the far post.

Costa got his goal in the 78th minute when he cut around Montreal to beat a flying Ospina. And the goalkeeper was faced with a 2-on-0 when Lewandowski deferred to Vidal for a chipped finish. It wasn’t the last 2-on-0. Costa fed Vidal in the 85th minute to complete the bloodbath.

Gerard Pique signs news Barcelona deal

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Gerard Pique has signed a new contract at Barcelona which keeps him at the club until 2022.

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Pique, 30, joined Barcelona in 2008 from Manchester United after leaving his boyhood club Barca in 2004 to join United’s youth team.

The new release clause in Pique’s contract is $610 million, with the Spanish international set to spend the rest of his career at the Nou Camp. The center back, who has won 25 major trophies with Barca, was delighted to nail down his future to his hometown team.

Pique has played in 422 games for Barca and scored 37 goals with the flamboyant defender a mainstay for much of the last decade.

Breaking out of the back line with surging runs and assured passing, Pique will go down as one of the greatest defenders in Barcelona and Spain’s history when he hangs up his boots.

In a team where the supreme attacking talent is always praised, it’s easy to overlook the achievements of Pique and his fellow defenders in the Catalan capital. However, there’s no doubt his composure on the ball, reading of the game and ability in the air makes him one of the top center backs on the planet.

Wenger: Sanchez likely to leave for Man United

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Alexis Sanchez’s move to Manchester United is close to completion.

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Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has confirmed that Sanchez is “likely to leave” for Jose Mourinho’s side, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan thought to be heading in the opposite direction plus a sizable transfer fee.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday ahead of Arsenal’s clash with Crystal Palace on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET online via NBCSports.com), Wenger revealed the deal for Sanchez is almost complete.

“I worked on transfers for 30 years so it is likely to happen, but at any moment it can break down,” Wenger said. “As long as it’s not over the line you have to accept it may not happen, these kind of things are not guaranteed. I have no problem with Sanchez’s attitude. He was in training fully committed. He is 29 years old and the next contract will of course be very important to him.”

So, there you have it. Sanchez to United is happening and with the numbers being mentioned, it’s easy to understand why he will leave. Sanchez will be paid $19.2 million per year, after tax, and he will also receive a $27.7 million signing-on fee and his agent will get $13.8 million.

United will get a new star No.7 in his prime and Sanchez getting a fresh start and being hungry to impress will certainly be music to the ears of Mourinho. Whether or not the Chilean international will have the same impact as Eric Cantona, who joined United in his late 20’s and helped led them to multiple PL titles, remains to be seen, but this deal does remind you of that circumstances. One player doesn’t make a team but a special player like Sanchez can make a heck of difference overall.

Wenger also spoke about the possibility of Mkhitaryan being part of the deal and it seems he is very keen on signing the Armenian international who almost joined the Gunners in the summer of 2016 before joining United instead.

“I like the player. We played many times against him when he was at Dortmund. He appreciated the quality of our games. The wages would not be a problem,” Wenger said.

It seems like everyone will be happy with this deal. Of course, Arsenal wanted Sanchez to stay and that’s why they didn’t sell him to Manchester City in the summer. Wenger couldn’t persuade him to sign a new deal and now, less than six months before he leaves on a free, they are getting a decent chunk of change and playmaker who, on his day, can unlock any defense in the world.

For United, Mkhitaryan is out of favor under Mourinho and they will get him off their wage bill, while they also get Sanchez in his prime and get one over on Man City where everyone thought he would end up.

All in all, this tricky situation seems to have worked out best for everyone, especially Sanchez and his agent.

Timbers sign Peruvian winger Andy Polo from Liga MX’s Morelia

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Timbers have acquired winger Andy Polo on loan from Liga MX club Monarcas Morelia for the upcoming season.

The 23-year-old native of Peru played in 25 matches last year for Morelia and made six starts with two goals.

He’s also World Cup-bound, having appeared in Peru’s two-legged playoff against New Zealand in November. Peru won 2-0 on aggregate. Overall, he’s appeared with the Peruvian national team 15 times since his senior debut in 2016.

“Andy is a versatile, young player who will add another element to our attack, and we believe that he has further upside to his development,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said in a statement.

The Timbers used targeted allocation money and have a purchase option. Polo’s arrival is pending a physical and receipt of a visa.

He will occupy an international roster spot.

Can Man United still sign Sanchez without Mkhitaryan swap?

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The answer to the (first) titled question is, undoubtedly, yes.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

The latter question — the “will they?” — remains a relative unknown at this point, but if reports out of the UK are to be believed, Manchester United are just as likely to send $40 million (or so) Arsenal’s way in exchange for Alexis Sanchez, should Henrikh Mkhitaryan refuse the move by declining any contract offers from the Gunners.

[ MORE: Conte bewildered VAR not used in Chelsea PK controversies ]

The thinking, at least for the last few days since Man United somewhat unexpectedly entered the Sanchez sweepstakes, was that swapping the Armenian for the Chilean was the obvious — and, perhaps only — way forward. Call it special circumstances or an obvious audible, but that’s not necessarily the case — from the Guardian:

“It is understood that if Mkhitaryan does not leave Mourinho believes that, given the club’s robust finances, [Man United executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward could still sanction a move for a player who would potentially vastly improve United.”

By the time Sanchez is signed, sealed and delivered, United will have also paid Sanchez and his agent, Fernando Felicevich, massive signing-on fees that could total another $30 million. No matter the order in which the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan saga plays out, United will come out ahead with a superior player at a massively discounted price — should Sanchez ultimately move to Old Trafford, of course.