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Hoffenheim 1-2 Liverpool: Reds nab away goals

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  • Mignolet stops PK
  • Alexander-Arnold scores free kick (VIDEO)
  • Milner adds insurance
  • Uth scores off bench

James Milner and Trent Alexander-Arnold gave Liverpool a leg up on Hoffenheim with a 2-1 win in Tuesday’s UEFA Champions League playoff round first leg at Rhein-Neckar-Arena.

Mark Uth scored for Hoffenheim, which will need at least two goals at Anfield on August 23 to advance to the group stage.

[ MORE: Klopp’s take ]

Simon Mignolet stopped an Andrej Kramaric and made a handful of other impressive interventions in helped a Liverpool back line which again suffered through fits and starts.

Joel Matip intervened to divert a tempting Hoffenheim cross in the 6th minute, and the hosts’ dangerous attack had another chance when Dejan Lovren cleared a free kick off his hand that Mignolet rescued outside the six.

Lovren got a piece of Serge Gnabry after the former Arsenal man made a quick cut, and Kramaric stepped up to the spot. He was denied Hoffenheim’s first goal in Champions League history when his poor attempt was parried by Mignolet.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mohamed Salah bungled a chance to score on a 50-yard breakaway when he grounded a shot wide of the goal.

Only indecision and nerves in the final third kept Hoffenheim off the scoreboard in the first half hour, though Liverpool had moments where it appeared to have its footing in the match.

Sadio Mane‘s danger was evident, and the Senegalese forward won the Reds a free kick from closer than 25 yards. Trent Alexander-Arnold curled the ball over a non-leaping edge of the wall and slipped it inside the far post to make it 1-0 Reds against the run of play.

Sandro Wagner came close to equalizing in the 43rd minute when Gnabry’s blocked shot rebounded to the forward. Wagner’s shot knocked the post en route to a goal kick.

[ MORE: Everton agrees Sigurdsson fee ]

[ MORE: Chelsea set for spending spree? ]

Gnabry looked to have made it 1-1 in the 49th minute, but was rightly called offside after beating Mignolet low and inside the near post. It was not the only time Gnabry would threaten during the half, though he left after watching Salah miss another Liverpool chance in the 70th minute. The ensuing free kick saw a Lovren header collected by Oliver Baumann.

Milner gave the Reds a second away goal when his cross deflected off Havard Nordtveit‘s chest, chipping Baumann in the 74th minute.

Mignolet made an outstanding diving stop on Nadiem Amiri’s side-volley in the 83rd minute.

The clean sheet was ruined minutes later, as Uth collected a diagonal cross over Alexander-Arnold — who proved to be fallible — and laced a low shot across Mignolet and inside the far post. 2-1.

Marko Grujic gave away a free kick as the match entered four minutes of stoppage time. Justin Hoogna rose to head a great offering from Kerem Demirbay, but it fired over the crossbar.

Barry Bennell jailed 30 years for abusing young players

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LIVERPOOL, England (AP) A former English youth soccer coach was jailed Monday for 30 years for abusing 12 young footballers after the judge called him the “devil incarnate.”

Barry Bennell, a former coach at Crewe and scout for Manchester City, was convicted at Liverpool Crown Court of 50 child sexual offenses committed between 1979 and 1991.

“Your behavior towards these boys in grooming and seducing them before subjecting them to, in some cases, the most most serious, degrading and humiliating abuse was sheer evil,” Judge Clement Goldstone told the 64-year-old Bennell.

Bennell looked at the floor and nodded as the judge sentenced him. Some members of the public began to applaud as he was sent down, but were stopped by the judge.

Goldstone said Bennell had appeared to his victims as a God.

“In reality, you were the devil incarnate,” the judge added. “You stole their childhoods and their innocence to satisfy your own perversion.”

Goldstone said Bennell’s abuse had destroyed the enthusiasm his victims had for playing football and had led to them suffering problems including suicidal thoughts, alcoholism and depression.

Bennell has already served three jail terms, totaling 15 years, for similar offenses involving 16 other victims in England and the United States.

LIVE, FA Cup: Wigan host Manchester City

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All conquering Manchester City head to third-tier Wigan Athletic on Monday (Kick off, 2:55 p.m. ET) to keep their quest of a legendary quadruple alive.

[ LIVE: Follow Wigan v Man City here

Pep Guardiola‘s men are 16 points clear atop the Premier League summit, while they are virtually through to the last eight of the UEFA Champions League and are in the League Cup final against Arsenal at Wembley on Sunday.

Can anyone stop them?

Wigan stand in their way with the Latics promotion favorites from the third tier who have already beaten Premier League teams Bournemouth and West Ham United to reach the last 16.

The winner will host Southampton in the quarterfinal for a place in the semifinal at Wembley Stadium, and City’s fan will be feeling a little nervous heading into this game.

Why? They played Wigan in the FA Cup final in 2013 and lost 1-0 after a last-gasp header from Ben Watson sealed one of the greatest upsets of all time to hand the Latics their first-ever major trophy. Wigan also beat City in the FA Cup quarterfinals in 2015, the last time they met in this competition.

Surely Guardiola’s boys won’t be on the end of another upset this time, especially with this starting lineup…

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while we will have analysis and reaction from the final FA Cup fifth round clash right here at Pro Soccer Talk.

Italy VAR chief: Incidents to be shown on stadium screens

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Decisions which have been changed on video review could soon be shown on the giant screens in Italian stadiums, offering soccer fans more clarity.

[ MORE: Juve, Napoli keep winning

The video assistant referee system was introduced in Italy at the start of the season and has been criticized for leaving supporters in the stadiums blind sometimes as to what is happening on the pitch or why a decision has been changed.

The head of the project in Italy, Roberto Rosetti, told Radio Anch’io Sport on Monday: “Probably in a few months’ time we’ll be able to see on big screens in the stadiums images of the decisions that have been changed and why they have been changed.”

Rosetti admits they need to “improve on the uniformity of both interpretation and intervention” but says the positive effect of the VAR can clearly be seen by “the drastic reduction in bookings for protests and anti-sporting behavior.”

Spurs “have the capacity” to win the Champions League

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We know. They just drew 2-2 away at Rochdale in the fifth round of the FA Cup. We know.

[ MORE: Dele Alli and the diving debate

But Tottenham Hotspur’s last 2-2 draw was much more impressive as they went to Juventus and outplayed the reigning Italian champions in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 tie.

Heading into the second leg at Wembley on Mar. 7, it appears that new signing Lucas Moura, who scored their opening goal against Rochdale on Sunday, is a fan of what he’s seen in his short time at Tottenham.

Speaking to reporters after his first goal for Spurs on his full debut, Moura has high hopes for his time in North London.

“I am 25 years old but I think I gained a lot of experience with PSG and I think I can help Tottenham. I think we have a lot of quality and a great structure and can arrive at the end of the season with a trophy. The Champions League is the most difficult cup but I think we have the capacity to win it if we always think in positives and always work hard,” Moura said, via the Guardian.

“We did a big game against Juventus away. It was a good result in Italy and I am sure we can do a good game with our fans and continue. It’s always important to win. Every player wants to win trophies, to make history and I am here to make history with my new friends, my new team-mates. I believe that because we have a lot of quality, a great structure – I am really impressed – and I think we can dream with the Champions League.”

Does Moura have a point? Aside from a weakened side struggling away at Rochdale on a freshly laid pitch, they’ve been superb in recent months.

And given the current form of Harry Kane and the entire Spurs team there won’t be a single club who says “you know what, let’s take Spurs” if they make it through to the last eight of the UCL.

The high-pressing style of Mauricio Pochettino saw them bully Juve away from home and all of a sudden it seems like the rest of Europe has woken up and realized just how good they are.

If injuries are kind to Spurs and Moura continues to show flashes of brilliance since his arrival from PSG in January, the Brazilian could well be on to something. Tottenham are by no means favorites to win the Champions League, but their recent results against Manchester United, Arsenal and Liverpool prove they are a force to be reckoned with.