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Europa League: Man United through, Schalke comes back, Roma out

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Manchester United cruised into the Europa League quarterfinals by knocking off a depleted FC Rostov side w1-0 at Old Trafford. The Russian side was so banged up, they could only name four players on the bench, and it showed, falling 2-1 on aggregate.

United pressed immediately, with Ibrahimovic hitting the post in just the fourth minute, and Juan Mata eventually struck in the 71st minute as he touched home a brilliant back-heel assist from Zlatan. There was a blow for the English side, however, as they lost Paul Pogba early in the second half to what appeared to be a hamstring injury, as the expensive midfielder limped down the tunnel in the 48th minute, replaced by Marouane Fellaini. Sergio Romero was required to preserve the lead, making a brilliant save with 11 minutes to go on a flicked header by Aleksandr Bukharov, and again on the final whistle to keep out a fantastic free-kick.

Borussia Monchengladbach coughed up a position of advancement as Schalke moved on to the quarters on away goals with a 3-3 aggregate scoreline. The match was highlighted by Mahmoud Daoud’s stunning goal from a great distance in front of the box, scored just ticks before halftime to give Gladbach a 2-0 lead. But Schalke came back to level things at 2-2 on goals from Leon Groetzka and Nabil Bentaleb in the second half, seeing them through thanks to the pair of away goals. Gladbach also suffered a key injury in the win, with American midfielder Fabian Johnson limping off as well, a big blow to the United States national team should he miss time.

Italian side AS Roma crashed out of the Europa League at the hands of Lyon despite a 2-1 home win. The French club advanced largely thanks to their 4-2 first leg win, allowing them room for error in Italy. Kevin Strootman scored for Roma, and the eventual winner came on a Lyon own-goal, but it wasn’t enough to complete the comeback, and Lyon moves on to the quarterfinals.

Elsewhere, Besiktas advanced over Greek giants Olympiacos with a 4-1 home leg, winning 5-2 on aggregate. Vincent Aboubakar scored after just 10 minutes, and the Turkish side got a double from Ryan Babel to put them safely through. Aboubakar was sent off after 40 minutes for a headbutt, but instead of crumbling with the lead, Besiktas added two man-down goals to push them into the quarterfinals.

Ajax topped Copenhagen 2-0 to complete a comeback after falling 2-1 in the opening leg. Bertrand Traore scored 23 minutes in and Kasper Dolberg struck from the spot moments before halftime to put the Dutch side through. Belgian side Anderlecht moved on after backing up their first-leg clean sheet by winning 1-0 at home on a second-half goal by Frank Acheampong.

Spanish side Celta Vigo eased into the quarterfinals with a 2-0 win on the road in Russia. Hugo Mallo and Iago Aspas both scored for the Spaniards as they down Krasnodar 4-1 on aggregate. Finally, Racing Genk topped KAA Gent 6-3 on aggregate with a 1-1 draw in the all-Belgian matchup. Genk had gone up big 5-2 in the opening leg on the road, and they hit cruise control with Timothy Castagne’s 20th minute strike plenty to see them through.

Julie Ertz scores in USWNT win, discovers good Eagles news after

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Whoever scheduled the U.S. Women’s National Team’s friendly against Denmark at the same time as the NFC Championship Game on Sunday night should really consider the Ertz family in the future.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup — Auba to Arsenal, Man City tracking Evans, Fred ]

While noted USWNT defender Julie Ertz and her team cruised past the Danes in a 5-1 victory, her husband, Zach, was playing a hand in the Philadelphia Eagles’ progression to the NFL’s Super Bowl.

With Julie not knowing what to expect following her team’s match, find out how she took the news of her husband’s triumph in the video below.

While Zach’s night was certainly a memorable one for many reasons, it was Julie that arguably had the better performance — which included a goal in the 19th minute off of a close-range volley.

The USWNT had trailed through 14 minutes, but a combination of goals from Alex Morgan and Ertz in a span of two minutes quickly erased the deficit.

For Morgan, it was her 80th goal for the Stars and Stripes.

Meanwhile, a second-half brace from teenage sensation Mallory Pugh and Crystal Dunn’s finish with nine minutes to play proved to be the icing on the cake for Jill Ellis’ side, who kicked off 2018 with a bang.

Report: LA FC near deal for Honduras goalkeeper Luis Lopez

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As this year’s MLS newcomers aim to fill out the rest of their roster, Los Angeles FC appears close to adding a goalkeeper.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to sign for Stoke this winter ]

Reports out of Honduras have stated that Luis Lopez is close to signing with the expansion side, which will suit up for manager Bob Bradley starting in March.

The 24-year-old Lopez most recently played for Real Espana in Honduras’ top flight, who won the league’s Aperatura season. Real currently sits third through one match to start the Clausura season.

At the moment, LA FC has just one other goalkeeper on its roster, former Seattle Sounders keeper Tyler Miller.

Additionally, the Real Espana goalkeeper has made 12 appearances for the Honduras national team.

Bayern beats Bremen 4-2 to go 16 points clear in Bundesliga

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BERLIN (AP) Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Bayern Munich stretched its considerable Bundesliga lead even further Sunday with a 4-2 win over visiting Werder Bremen.

It’s the sixth consecutive round in which Bayern has extended its lead since a defeat at Borussia Moenchengladbach in the 13th round – Jupp Heynckes’ only blot in 17 games across all competitions since he returned as coach.

[ MORE: Javi Gracia named new Watford manager ]

Bayern moved 16 points clear after 19 games.

Despite facing a relegation fight and aware of the side’s terrible record in Munich – Bayern scored at least five goals in each of Bremen’s last five visits – the visiting players showed they weren’t overawed and started brightly.

Max Kruse struck the post early on, and the visitors duly went ahead in the 25th minute when Kruse timed his pass perfectly for Jerome Gondorf to squeeze the ball past Sven Ulreich, through the goalkeeper’s legs.

But Bayern struck back with its first real chance minutes before the break. Thomas Mueller controlled Jerome Boateng’s cross on his chest with his first touch and profited from defender Milos Veljkovic‘s loss of balance as he scored with his next.

Lewandowski, who skipped Bayern’s previous game with a knee problem, put the home side in front with a powerful header from James Rodriguez’ corner with a half-hour remaining.

An own-goal from Niklas Suele gave Bremen renewed hope, but Lewandowski grabbed his league-leading 17th goal of the season minutes later with another header, this time Mueller providing the cross.

Mueller then sealed it late with his second of the game off a ball over the top from James. It was the 28-year-old’s 100th Bundesliga goal.

Mueller suggested Bayern’s nine-day break between games had a negative impact as the team had an even tougher week than usual in training.

“Perhaps that’s a small reason (for Bayern’s lackluster start),” Mueller said. “We certainly have to work on a few things, like we do after every game. We’re not yet where we want to be. But the team’s attitude and condition are excellent.”

SCHALKE DISAPPOINTS

Niclas Fuellkrug scored late for Hannover to grab a 1-1 draw at Schalke, denying the home side the opportunity to go second.

Much of the Schalke supporters’ attention was focused on Leon Goretzka, the Germany midfielder who agreed to join Bayern on a free transfer at the end of the season.

There were whistles for Goretzka as his name was called out before kickoff, and there were more any time he touched the ball before he was eventually taken off for Weston McKennie.

Some fans held a large banner declaring: “Neither money nor titles are worth more than our club.”

Marko Pjaca scored early on his first Bundesliga start after joining Schalke from Juventus, but the home side did not press its advantage and Fuellkrug earned the visitors a deserved share of the points. Hannover’s Felix Klaus hit the post in the first half.

Transfer rumor roundup: Auba to Arsenal, Man City target Evans, Fred

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With less than 10 days remaining in the winter transfer window in England, and other leagues not too far behind, teams are looking to bolster their rosters in an attempt to make title pushes come May.

[ MORE: Spurs, Saints play to 1-1 stalemate at St. Mary’s ]

Pro Soccer Talk takes a glance at some of Sunday’s biggest transfer stories and rumors, with an emphasis on those pertaining to the Premier League.


Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks to be on his way to the Emirates Stadium this month, as Arsenal aims to revamp its attack in the wake of Alexis Sanchez’s departure.

Goal is reporting that Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis is in Germany to help close the deal for the Gunners, who are also nearing a move for Manchester United attacker Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Aubameyang and Mkhitaryan have a history together, having featured together in the Borussia Dortmund lineup.

Various reports still state that Dortmund is holding out for nearly $73 million in order for the Gunners to obtain Aubameyang’s services this window.


For awhile it seemed like Manchester City were the favorites to acquire Sanchez, but now the club has turned its attention elsewhere.

Goal is reporting that the Cityzens will instead go after West Bromwich Albion defender Jonny Evans and Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder Fred.

Pep Guardiola‘s side is reportedly seeking a deeper bench heading into next month when the UEFA Champions League picks back up.

Man City currently holds a 12-point lead at the top of the PL table.


Chelsea has had some interest recently in some… interesting…. PL strikers, and now the Blues have apparently turned their attention to another lesser-known commodity.

It seems that the Blues have turned their attention to Burnley forward Ashley Barnes to serve as a secondary option in Antonio Conte‘s lineup.

Alvaro Morata remains the club’s go-to option up front, along with attackers Eden Hazard and Willian, but Chelsea has been seeking another forward to compliment the Spaniard for some time.

Additionally, Belgian striker Michy Batshuayi is in the mix as well for the Blues, despite only having scored two PL goals this season (eight in all comps).