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Van Gaal: Man United “put my head in noose,” Mourinho slams past

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Louis Van Gaal is not a man who forgets those who have wronged him.

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The legendary Dutch coach, 66, has spoken out about his firing from Manchester United in the summer of 2016, hours after he led the Red Devils to FA Cup success.

LVG, who led United to fourth and fifth place finishes in his two seasons in charge at Old Trafford, was fired a year early after he signed a three-year contract in 2014 to lead United back to glory.

[ MORE: Mourinho refuses to shake Hughes’ hand ]

That didn’t happen with a bland playing style lambasted by a large majority of United’s fans and now van Gaal, speaking to the Daily Mirror, has finally lifted the lid on how he felt about his firing.

“United put my head in a noose and I was publicly placed on the gallows. The pressure was enormous with my head in the noose and they went right behind my back. I think it was all orchestrated like a film and it was done very much behind my back right from January,” van Gaal said. “My wife, Truus, told me that the attitude of the board had changed. Women have this intuition. They smell it. I denied it, even to my wife, because between me as a manager and the chief executive Ed Woodward, everything was running as normal.”

Van Gaal then revealed that he would have been fine with Jose Mourinho taking over from him at the end of the 2015-16 season but that United never consulted him about the decision and therefore he demanded he was paid the final year of his salary. He also slammed former players for “yapping in the media” about United’s “boring” style of play.

“They told me only after it was leaked out and it was the biggest disappointment of my life,” van Gaal added. “United did not discuss this with me. If they had come to me with the Mourinho plan then I could have said ‘okay, let’s give it everything for the last six months, complete commitment to each other and the team and then Jose Mourinho can take over.’ They could have saved the last year of my salary by doing that but after what happened I made them pay every penny.”

Mourinho was appointed LVG’s successor and although he had previously been complimentary of the man who worked with at Barcelona in the past, the Portuguese coach had this to say to the Sunday Times when asked about van Gaal’s regime and that of David Moyes before him at United.

“There was an evolution in the other clubs; there was no evolution in this club. In all the areas that make a team successful, I think we stopped in time,” Mourinho said. “That was quite an empty period in the club with no evolution in areas that are important. It was the weight of the past on the shoulders of the players, managers, even boards, even probably owners, because when you are used to ‘win and win and win’, and suddenly you stop, it’s like a heavy burden.”

*Grabs popcorn*

Real Madrid come from behind to win in Club World Cup semis

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Real Madrid made things on Wednesday a bit more complicated than they would have preferred, but the two-time defending European champions are through to the final of the Club World Cup for the second straight year.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Zinedine Zidane’s men came from behind to beat United Arab Emirates side Al Jazira (winners of the U.A.E. Pro League, the tournament’s host country), courtesy of second-half goals scored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Gareth Bale, 2-1 at the Zayed Sports City Stadium in Abu Dhabi.

Al Jazira held a 1-0 halftime lead, thanks to Romarinho’s opening goal in the 41st minute. The advantage lasted just a dozen minutes, though, as Ronaldo used Madrid’s first genuine chance of the game to bring Los Blancos back onto level terms in the 53rd minute. Luka Modric slipped the Portuguese superstar through, and the recently crowned Ballon d’Or winner finished with ease to make it 1-1.

[ MORE: West Ham targeting Wilshere in January transfer window ]

The winner didn’t come for quite some time after that, as Madrid were made to wait — and work — for their place in Saturday’s final, where they’ll face Brazilian side and Copa Libertadores winners Gremio. Bale had only just come off the bench seconds earlier, when Lucas Vazquez cut the ball back for Bale to hit it hard and low past the goalkeeper.

The Welshman nearly made it 3-1 with four minutes to go in regular time, but his scissor from the edge of the box was saved to deny Madrid a stunning insurance goal very late on.

Madrid are aiming to become the first side to win back-to-back Club World Cup titles after beating Kashima Antlers, 4-2 after extra-time, in the 2016 final.

Watch Live: Man City, Man United, Liverpool, Arsenal, Spurs in action

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Seven Premier League games are coming your way from 2:45 p.m. ET on Wednesday, and you can watch them all live online.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ]

Manchester City head to Swansea looking to extend their winning streak to a record-breaking 15-straight in a season, while Manchester United host Bournemouth and Tottenham welcome Brighton to Wembley. There’s a big London derby between West Ham and Arsenal, while Liverpool host West Brom, in-form Leicester head to Southampton and struggling Newcastle clash with Everton.

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You can access additional games by purchasing the new “Premier League Pass” via NBC Sports Gold which also includes an extensive selection of shoulder programming such as Premier League News, Premier League Today and NBC Sports originals such as Premier League Download and much more.

[ STREAM: “Goal Rush” here ]

For those of you familiar with the Premier League Breakaway Show during busy days (Boxing Day, New Year’s Day, Championship Sunday etc.) in the PL, this will follow that model of being similar to the NFL RedZone with action shown from all of the games in the 10 a.m. ET window. More info is available here.

The schedule for the seven games on Wednesday is below and you can stream each game live by clicking on the links.


Wednesday’s Premier League schedule

2:45 p.m. ET: Swansea City vs. Manchester City – NBCSN [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Newcastle United vs. Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]
2:45 p.m. ET: Southampton vs. Leicester City – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM

3 p.m. ET: Liverpool vs. West Bromwich Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Manchester United vs. Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: Tottenham Hotspur vs. Brighton & Hove Albion – NBC Sports Gold  [STREAM]
3 p.m. ET: West Ham United vs. Arsenal – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Copa Sudamericana finals, leg 2: Flamengo vs. Independiente

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

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BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.