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UEFA Europa League wrap: Arsenal knock off Cologne, Milan thrash Wien

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Arsenal overcame a first half deficit as it defeated FC Cologne in the UEFA Europa League’s first matchday of the season on a wild night inside and outside of the Emirates Stadium.

New Gunners signing Sead Kolašinac cancelled out Jhon Cordoba’s opener with a blast on the volley from the left side of the box three minutes into the second half. Alexis Sanchez put Arsenal up for good after a mazy run in and out of the box in the 67th minute and then Hector Bellerin put the game away in the 81st minute with a goal off a rebound to bring some more positive energy to Arsenal crowd.

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The game was delayed for an hour before the start due to crowd safety, with hoards of Cologne fans trying to push their way into the stadium. Only 2,900 tickets had been allocated to Cologne for fans in the away section, but Cologne fans also purchased tickets and were seen throughout the rest of the stadium.

Here’s a look at more Europa League scores from matchday one:

Milan makes triumphant return to Europe

AC Milan marked its return to European competition with an exclamation point.

Milan thrashed Austria Wien, 5-1, with new signing Andre Silva scoring a hat-trick. Hakan Çalhanoğlu scored in the seventh minute and then Silva added two more to make it 3-0 for Milan inside the first 20 minutes.

Silva added his third early in the second half and Suso put the finishing touches on the game in the 63rd minute.


Group A

Villarreal 3-1 Astana

Slavia Prague 1-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv

Group B

Dynamo Kiev 3-1 Skënderbeu Korçë

BSC Young Boys 1-1 Partizan Belgrade

Group C

Hoffenheim 1-2 Braga

İstanbul Başakşehir 0-0 Ludogorets

Group D

Rijeka 1-2 AEK Athens

Group E

Atalanta 3-0 Everton

Apollon 1-1 Lyon

Group F

FC Copenhagen 0-0 Lokomotiv Moscow

Zlin 0-0 Sheriff

Group G

Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-1 Lugano

FCSB 3-0 Plzen

Group H

Red Star 1-1 BATE Borisov

Group I

Vitoria 1-1 Salzburg

Marseille 1-0 Konyaspor

Group J

Hertha Berlin 0-0 Athletic Bilbao

Zorya 0-2 Ostersund

Group K

Vitesse 2-3 Lazio

Zulte Waregem 1-5 Nice

Group L

Real Sociedad 4-0 Rosenborg

Vardar 0-5 Zenit

Osorio: Jonathan Gonzalez has a “promising future” with El Tri

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The Jonathan Gonzalez situation still stings for many U.S. Men’s National Team supporters, and the encouragement from Mexico’s camp regarding the midfielder’s bright future isn’t making things better for Americans.

[ MORE: Where does Zlatan rank among stars to come to MLS? ]

El Tri manager Juan Carlos Osorio reaffirmed his belief that Gonzalez is one of the many promising prospects within the Mexican national team ahead of the country’s friendly against Iceland on Friday.

Gonzalez, who switched his national team allegiance to Mexico from the U.S. earlier this year, has been called up for the match after the 18-year-old made his Mexico senior team debut against Bosnia back in January.

“Jonathan, to start with, is part of a group of Mexican players that I’ve referred as having a good present and a promising future and that excites me to continue, along with Edson Alvarez, Omar Govea and others that aren’t here like Orbelin [Pineda] and Erick [Gutierrez],” Osorio said at a news conference on Thursday.

“Gonzalez is a good midfielder and can fight for a place with anyone. Like everyone, he has to improve a lot of things to win a place.

“After deciding to play for Mexico, it is our responsibility to give him a platform to develop and consolidate himself as a player.

“That’s why he’s in this call-up, and hopefully he can establish himself and show the qualities I mentioned.”

The former USMNT youth prospect has quickly become a regular for club side Monterrey, who currently sits sixth in the Liga MX table.

Gonzalez has appeared in 38 matches across all competitions for the four-time league champions and earned honors in the Liga MX Best XI following the 2017 Apertura season.

USMNT reveals new kits ahead of Paraguay friendly

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U.S. Soccer’s teams has donned some pretty sweet kits in the past, but this go around has particularly patriotic feel about it, and we like it.

[ MORE: Zlatan Ibrahimovic has joined the LA Galaxy ]

The U.S. released a video on Friday (below) with several USMNT stars, including Bobby Wood and Tyler Adams wearing the new kits ahead of Tuesday’s international friendly against Paraguay.

The home jersey features a flag design engraved on a white kit, which is representative of the American flag. Meanwhile, the away version holds a similar design, but with a blue base for the jersey.

Meanwhile, the USWNT will don their new kits on April 5 when they take on Mexico in the first two matches in the U.S. The two rivals will meet three days later for the second meeting.

What do you think of the latest U.S. Soccer kits? Let us know what you like or dislike about it in the comments section below.

UEFA Nations League gets $94 million prize fund for 55 teams

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NYON, Switzerland (AP) UEFA says it has created a 76.25 million euro ($94 million) prize fund for the inaugural Nations League.

The first champion will earn 7.5 million euros ($9.25 million).

The Nations League is replacing most international friendlies. All 55 UEFA members will play group matches in four tiers through November. The Final Four will be in June 2019.

UEFA says 12 top-ranked teams in League A will each get 1.5 million euros ($1.85 million). Group winners will get 1.5 million euros ($1.85 million) extra and advance to the final tournament, and the winner will get another 4.5 million euros ($5.55 million).

League B will pay 1 million euros ($1.23 million) per team, while in League C it’s 750,000 euros ($925,000) and in League D it’s 500,000 euros ($617,000). Group winners will double their money.

Alexis Sanchez discusses Man United struggles

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Alexis Sanchez appears to be struggling with his disappointing start to life at Manchester United.

The Chilean star, 29, became the highest-paid player in the Premier League when he arrived from Arsenal in January in a swap deal for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, but Sanchez has scored just one PL goal.

Sanchez has failed to make his mark on a consistent basis as United have also crashed out of the UEFA Champions League.

What does Sanchez put his lack of form down to?

In an Instagram post he left a caption saying that he was mentally exhausted: “I know you are tired. I know you are psychologically and emotionally exhausted. But you have to smile and continue”.

Speaking to the Chilean media ahead of their friendly against Sweden in Stockholm on Saturday, Sanchez revealed he has been struggling with the lack of impact he has had at United.

“The change of club was something that was very abrupt – it was the first time I’ve changed clubs in January – but many things have happened in my life that are difficult… As I am self-demanding, I expected something better. After my arrival at United, it was hard to change everything very quickly. I even hesitated to come here [to Sweden].”

Sanchez has looked better in a central role behind Romelu Lukaku but he hasn’t been used there often enough by Jose Mourinho.

At Arsenal he had the license to roam free in the attacking third but in Mourinho’s more defensive, rigid system he appears to be struggling to get on the ball in the right areas in and around the box. Sanchez has cut a frustrated figure out on the left wing and has given the ball away on multiple occasions as he tries to make the difficult passes and open up opposition defenses.

It appears that Sanchez is perhaps trying to hard to impress United and given his all-action displays, that is not easy to do.

United need more of him in the final third than out wide or tracking back to help out his own defense if they’re going to seal their top four spot and win the FA Cup to see out the final months of the season.

There’s no doubting Sanchez’s quality as we all know just how good he can be from his four seasons at Arsenal.

Yet, as he acknowledged himself, something at United isn’t quite right.