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Dortmund struggles to come to terms with bomb attack on bus

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MUNICH (AP) Sometimes, it’s hard to focus on a soccer game.

Borussia Dortmund players had to, though, less than 24 hours after a bomb attack on their team bus. And they will have to do so again on Saturday, when Eintracht Frankfurt visits in the Bundesliga.

Dortmund midfielder Nuri Sahin made it clear that his thoughts were far from the field in the rescheduled Champions League quarterfinal match against Monaco on Wednesday – a game Dortmund lost 3-2 after an uncharacteristically hesitant start.

“Until I was on the pitch in the second half, I didn’t think about football, to be honest. Because last night I didn’t realize what happened, and when I was at home and my wife and my son were waiting in front of the door, there I felt how lucky we were,” the visibly shaken Sahin told former Norway international Jan Aage Fjortoft, now a journalist.

“I know football is very important. We love football. We suffer with football. We love football. I know we earn a lot of money, we have a privileged life, but we are human beings. There’s so much more than football in this world. Last night we felt it.”

Dortmund defender Marc Bartra was hit by shrapnel as three explosions hit the bus. The Spaniard was taken to the hospital and had surgery on a broken bone in his wrist.

A spokeswoman for federal prosecutors, Frauke Koehler, said metal from one of the bombs lodged in a headrest. It could easily have been a lot worse.

“I can’t forget the faces,” Sahin said of his teammates, who ducked for cover when the explosions hit. “I will never forget these faces in my life for sure. Oh yeah, when I saw Marc there and I saw Schmelle (Marcel Schmelzer), I sat next to Schmelle and I will never forget Schmelle’s face. It was unbelievable.”

Schmelzer also highlighted the impact of the attack on his side.

“We have to function like puppets,” the Dortmund captain said. “You read the whole time of an attack on our bus. But you shouldn’t forget there were 30 people sitting in it, so it’s an attack on us as people. It makes us incredibly sad but also incredibly fortunate to be standing here today, especially when you hear the details that are coming out (from the investigation). We’re just incredibly lucky no one else besides Marc was seriously injured.”

Dortmund coach Thomas Tuchel was stinging in his criticism of UEFA for going ahead with the Champions League game so soon after the attack.

“We had the feeling that we were being treated as if a beer can had hit our bus,” said Tuchel, who claimed he wasn’t asked about whether to proceed with the game.

But Dortmund chief executive Hans-Joachim Watzke said Tuesday that a congested calendar meant there was little option for postponing the game further. UEFA spokesman Pedro Pinto told The Associated Press the governing body was in touch with all parties.

Tuchel may have been trying to protect his players but it’s clear that the attack had an effect on his side.

“Most players hardly slept, myself included,” Dortmund midfielder Julian Weigl said. “I tried to come to terms with it with my family, tried to wind down and switch off. In the end in the game we made the best we could of it.”

Amid increased security and while the investigations continue, Dortmund will have to make the best of it again Saturday as it seeks to improve upon its fourth place to secure automatic Champions League qualification. Fourth only brings a playoff.

Apart from Bartra, who would have been suspended for an accumulation of yellow cards anyway, Dortmund is struggling with injuries – there was one spot free on the bench against Monaco because of a lack of available players.

Dortmund is unbeaten in a club-record 34 league games at home. It has scored in its last 19 games, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang second behind Bayern Munich striker Robert Lewandowski in the scoring chart. Lewandowski has 26 goals in 28 games. Aubameyang, who played two games less, has 25.

Frankfurt, which was previously third, has lost its last four games away and it hasn’t won any of its last nine.

Witness: Men accused of bribes negotiated sale to Qataris

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NEW YORK (AP) A sports marketing company whose owners have been charged with bribing top soccer officials tried to negotiate a sale to an entity associated with Paris Saint-Germain team president Nasser Al-Khelaifi, a witness testified Tuesday in federal court.

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Santiago Pena, a former executive of the Argentina-based Full Play Group, testified that he spent a lengthy period of time on secret negotiations called the “New York project,” given the name because the deal for 51 percent of Full Play was valued at $212 million – 212 is a New York City telephone area code.

Pena said the talks with Al-Khelaifi and the sovereign wealth fund Qatar Sports Investments ended on May 27, 2015, when U.S. prosecutors unsealed indictments against Full Play’s controlling principals, the father and son Hugo and Mariano Jinkis, for racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy. They were charged for payments to soccer officials in the Americas allegedly made for broadcast and marketing contracts.

Al-Khelaifi and Qatar Sports would have had the right to buy an additional 19 percent at a later date, Pena said.

Al-Khelaifi is a criminal suspect in Switzerland for bribery linked to Qatar-owned BeIN Sports’ broadcast agreements with FIFA for 2026 and 2030 World Cup rights in the Middle East and North Africa. He met on Oct. 25 with Swiss prosecutors in Bern.

Pena said that only he, Hugo and Mariano Jinkis and Full Play accountant Sergio Rabinovich were aware of the negotiations. Pena testified that after the indictments were made public, he deleted emails discussing the potential sale.

“I did it in order to protect the company,” he said.

Hugo and Mariano Jinkis have not been extradited to the U.S., and Pena said they remain in Argentina. Pena reached an agreement this year with U.S. prosecutors to testify in exchange for not being charged.

“I always considered myself a completely small fish in this issue,” he said.

Juan Angel Napout, the ex-president of Paraguay’s soccer federation; Jose Maria Marin, the former president of Brazil’s soccer federation; and Manuel Burga, the ex-head of Peru’s soccer federation, are on trial in federal court in Brooklyn for racketeering conspiracy, wire fraud conspiracy and money laundering conspiracy.

Pena, who worked for Full Play from 2009-15, testified about a ledger he kept of payments that the Jinkises directed be made to top soccer officials. He said he knew only of what they told him were amounts owed to soccer officials. Pena said Napout was to be paid in cash, not by wire transfer, so he had no knowledge if any money was received.

“I simply wrote down the commitments based on other negotiations,” Pena said.

Pena completed testimony Tuesday and was followed by the stand by James Haggerty of Bank of America, who explained wire-transfer records, and Daniel Huntley of Hilton Worldwide Holdings, who detailed Napout’s reservation records.

UCL Wrap: Tottenham, Man City clinch groups

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The UEFA Champions League returned to action Tuesday with a bang, with goals flying in across Europe.

Two Premier League clubs secured key victories, with Tottenham winning 2-1 at Borussia Dortmund and Manchester City knocking off Feyenoord, 1-0. Liverpool, after taking a 3-0 lead inside 30 minutes, settled for a draw on the road after allowing three second-half goals.

The wins for Tottenham and Man City clinched them their groups and turned around some bad feelings around Spurs after the North London derby defeat last Saturday.

[MORE: Champions League score picks: Week 5]

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Tottenham

After sub-par performances over the weekend, Harry Kane and especially Dele Alli looked like the stars they’ve been all season, leading Spurs on a 2-1 comeback victory over host Borussia Dortmund. Alli played provider for both goals in the second half, with Kane scoring the first and Son Heung-min scoring the second. It was a confident performance from Mauricio Pochettino‘s side. With the loss, Borussia Dortmund are eliminated from the Champions League knockout round, but could still drop into the UEFA Europa League.

Sevilla 3-3 Liverpool

A second-half surge from Sevilla helped the Spanish side come back from a three-goal deficit to draw Liverpool, 3-3. But it was Liverpool which was in control early, as Roberto Firmino scored a brace, including a cheeky no-look tap-in in the 30th minute, sandwiching a Sadio Mane strike. With the draw, Sevilla now just needs another point and a Spartak Moscow loss or draw to advance to the next round, while Liverpool missed out on clinching Group E.

Manchester City 1-0 Feyenoord

A late Raheem Sterling goal made it five wins out of five for Manchester City, which clinched Group F in a 1-0 win over Feyenoord. It was looking as if both teams would end up with a point each but Sterling scored his fourth goal in as many Champions League games, looping the ball over Feyenoord goalkeeper Brad Jones for the goal in the 88th minute.

 

APOEL 0-6 Real Madrid

It was a vintage Real Madrid performance as a Cristiano Ronaldo brace led Real Madrid to a 6-0 rout. Luka Modric, and Nacho both scored while Karim Benzema had a brace as well. The win clinches a place in the last 16 for Real Madrid.

Spartak Moscow 1-1 Maribor

A late goal for Jasmin Mesanovic saved a point for Maribor and stunned host Spartak Moscow, which now must beat Liverpool in the final matchday to make it into the Champions League knockout round. The draw wasn’t enough for Maribor, but they’ll take the confidence boost after Mesanovic’s stoppage time goal canceled out Ze Luis’ 82nd minute finish.

Tuesday’s UCL Scores

Group E

Spartak Moscow 1-1 Maribor

Sevilla 3-3 Liverpool

Group F

Manchester City 1-0 Feyenoord

Napoli 3-0 Shakhtar Donetsk

Group G

Besiktas 1-1 FC Porto

Monaco 1-4 RB Leipzig

Group H

APOEL 0-6 Real Madrid

Borussia Dortmund 1-2 Tottenham

Griezmann: “No regrets” rejecting Man United move in summer

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After flirting with the idea of moving to Manchester last summer, Atletico Madrid star Antoine Griezmann is in one of the worst goal-scoring droughts in his career.

It’s been seven games since he last scored and with just three goals total, it’s been an underwhelming season so far for the Frenchman. But Griezmann doesn’t regret turning down the chance to join Manchester United last summer.

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“I don’t regret staying at Atleti,” Griezmann told French TV program Telefoot. “It was my decision and I’m happy with what I chose to do – even if I have gone seven games without scoring”.

Griezmann was booed off the pitch in Atleti’s scoreless draw with city rivals Real Madrid, as both clubs dropped to 10 points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona in the standings. There have been rumors swirling that Griezmann could even leave Atletico in January, with Diego Costa set to join the club.

On his game, with good service from midfield, Griezmann is one of the best attackers on the planet. But with Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, and more, Manchester United already has the firepower to compete with the top of the Premier League

LIVE, UCL: Liverpool, Man City in action; Dortmund-Tottenham

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Three Premier League teams are in UEFA Champions League action on Tuesday with Liverpool knowing a win at Sevilla will see them qualify for the knockout stage for the first time since 2009.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ] 

Jurgen Klopp‘s side head to Spain in good form after three consecutive wins in the Premier League and are in a very healthy position in Group E.

Tottenham Hotspur head to Borussia Dortmund with Spurs’ place in the last 16 already secured and Dortmund (Christian Pulisic is out of the squad with an injury) needing a win to keep their faint hopes of reaching the knockout stage alive with Real Madrid heading to APOEL Nicosia in Group H.

Manchester City have also secured their spot in the last 16 and host Feyenoord in Group F. The Dutch side have lost all four of their UCL games so far this season but have taken a huge number of traveling fans to Manchester and they can still qualify for the Europa League via finishing in third spot ahead of Shaktar Donetsk.

Elsewhere Monaco host RB Leipzig in a pivotal clash in Group G.

Click on the link above to follow commentary on all the action, while below is the full schedule as we will have reaction and analysis on all the UCL action on Tuesday.

All games kick off at 2:45 p.m. ET, unless otherwise stated.


Tuesday’s UCL schedule

Group E
Spartak Moscow 1-1 Maribor – FT
Sevilla vs. Liverpool

Group F
Manchester City vs. Feyenoord
Napoli vs. Shakhtar Donetsk

Group G
Monaco vs. RB Leipzig
Besiktas 1-1 FC Porto – FT

Group H
Borussia Dortmund vs. Tottenham Hotspur
APOEL vs. Real Madrid