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Newcastle to pry $15 million Praet away from Sampdoria

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Reports in Italy say Newcastle’s nightmarish start to the season may get a prime reinforcement in former Anderlecht midfielder Dennis Praet, now of Sampdoria.

Praet, 23, has a single cap for Belgium and played 34 times for Sampdoria during his first season with the Serie A club. He played 84 minutes of the Genoese club’s 2-1 season-opening win over Benevento this weekend.

[ MORE: Wood to Burnley; Clucas to Swans ]

He arrived from Anderlecht last season for just under $12 million, and Newcastle’s reported cost for his services will be right around $15 million.

More than capable in his own end and productive in moving play along, he’d play a bit deeper in Newcastle’s midfielder.

With Jonjo Shelvey suspended, Isaac Hayden had a feast or famine partner in on-loan Borussia Dortmund mid Mikel Merino in the Magpies’ disappointing 1-0 Sunday loss at Huddersfield Town.

Rampant Rashford slots Man Utd to UEL semis; Zlatan hurt

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  • Mkhitaryan strikes again
  • Rojo, Zlatan hurt
  • Hanni levels tie
  • Rampant Rashford wins it

Marcus Rashford scored a deserved and decisive goal as dominant Manchester United needed extra time at Old Trafford to beat Anderlecht in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals.

Tied 1-1 after the first leg in Belgium, Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his second of the tie to give United an early lead before Sofiane Hanni forced extra time with an equalizer.

[ MORE: Zlatan hurt | Rojo, too ]

Jesse Lingard provided the match’s first threat, and Leander Dendoncker tempted the goal at the other end as both teams sought early control.

United broke through in the 10th minute, as Marcus Rashford benefited from his blocked cross returning to his feet. He was given two bounces to settle it, and Mkhitaryan hit a perfect shot past Anderlecht keeper Ruben.

Youri Tielemans saw a yellow card soon after for taking down a lively Rashford.

Ruben then poked a Paul Pogba shot over the bar for a corner before making a flying save on Jesse Lingard. United was ready.

Anderlecht got successive beneficial calls from the referee in the build-up to its equalizer. Hanni cleaned up a mess in the box after Tielemans struck the bar from outside the 18.

Rashford, 19, then roasted Dennis Appiah before forcing Ruben into conceding corner as United worked to reclaim the lead. Luke Shaw saw a shot collected by Ruben in the 40th minute.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Anderlecht should’ve been up in the 48th minute, but Lukasz Teodorczyk took far too long with his breakaway and Antonio Valencia was able to slide and force a corner kick that led to nothing.

At the other end, Lingard’s intra-six slide just missed proper contact on Shaw’s terrific cutback.

Rashford beat Ruben on a 1v1 run break, but couldn’t catch the goal from an acute angle after being closed down by Appiah. Moments later, a ball fell for Ibrahimovic in front of goal, but the Swede was seemed uncharacteristically offguard and hit his low shot at Ruben.

The chances kept coming, especially for Rashford. In a sense it was a microcosm of their season: Clearly better than the opposition, but finish missing.

United then lost Ibrahimovic in stoppage time.

Rashford sent a rabona cross to the back post, and Pogba had a bicycle kick saved off the line by an Anderlecht defender.

The chances kept coming, with Fellaini unable to head on target off a corner kick.

Pogba had a goal pulled back when Fellaini was whistled for an over-the-back foul.

Tielemans cranked a shot that Romero spilled forward and collected as the first period of extra time came to a close.

That’s when Rashford struck, calmly maneuvering to strike a low left footed shot home.

It wasn’t over, as Romero had to act quickly to defy Frank Acheampong’s header in the 116th minute.

Martial was offside in a late bid to make it 3-1.

Europa League Roundup: Man United draws away, Ajax takes lead

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The Europa League quarterfinals are under way, and all eight teams took part in the first leg on Thursday afternoon.

Manchester United will be disappointed with its effort as they wasted a lead and slumped to a 1-1 draw. The Red Devils grabbed the lead and vital away goal on a rebounded strike from Henrikh Mkhitaryan who slammed home from a tight angle after Marcus Rashford‘s initial effort was parried away. They held on defensively until just four minutes remaining when 21-year-old Leander Dendoncker thundered a header into the back of the net to draw level.

Rashford was bright throughout the first half, providing the best attacking threat for the visitors in Belgium. Anderlecht, meanwhile, was wasteful, failing to produce a shot on target until Dendoncker’s strike. United was slightly unlucky to pick up just the one away goal, as Anderlecht goalkeeper Ruben made a number of exceptional saves. That left the door open for Anderlecht who

Elsewhere, Ajax built an early lead and hung on as the Dutch giants won 2-0 over German side Schalke. Davy Klaassen picked up a pair as he scored from the spot in the first half, when Amin Younes burst into the box and was sandwiched by Thilo Kehrer and Alessandro Schopf. He picked up his second soon after halftime on a cross from Justin Kluivert, and the completely unmarked 24-year-old smashed home on the volley from near the penalty spot.

The start of Besiktas and Lyon was delayed considerably after supporter unrest marred the start of the game. Fireworks and other objects rained down from the visiting Besiktas supporters who were situated on the upper tier, which forced home fans to seek refuge on the pitch.

The match finally got under way about 35 minutes after planned, and it sure did deliver. The visitors picked up an away goal on a 15th minute strike by Ryan Babel. They maintained that 1-0 lead through halftime and up to the hour mark, but Lyon grabbed a last-gasp win thanks to an 83rd minute equalizer from Corentin Tolisso as a free-kick squirted through the pack for the midfielder to poke home. The French side picked up the winner just a minute later via Jeremy Morel, thanks to a horrific mistake from Besiktas goalkeeper Fabricio, who tried to dribble away under pressure from three Lyon attackers, and with no help from his defense, Fabricio coughed it up to Morel right in front of net.

Finally, Celta Vigo won a wild one 3-2 at home over Racing Genk. The opening 20 minutes saw three goals, with the Spaniards bagging a pair through Pione Sisto and Iago Aspas, while the visiting Belgians got one back via the head of Jean-Paul Boetius. Former Manchester City striker John Guidetti put Celta 3-1 up with a quality low strike before halftime, but Genk will be satisfied with a pair of away goals as Thomas Buffel followed up his own saved effort with a header into the back of the net to make it 3-2 in the 67th minute.

UEL draw: Manchester United off to Belgium

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Those looking for Manchester United conspiracy theories will meet their match in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinal draw.

Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils will face Anderlecht, arguably one of the two best draws in the tournament, as United aims for a tournament title and an automatic spot in the Champions League.

[ MORE: Champions League quarterfinal draw ]

Anderlecht and Man Utd have matched up six times in European Cup history, with the Red Devils winning four of six matches and all three ties. United won 7-2 on aggregate the last time the sides met, the 2000-01 group stage.

Elsewhere:

— Ex-United winger Memphis Depay and Lyon have a tricky draw with Turkish powers Besiktas.

— Dutch side Ajax will tangle with Bundesliga side Schalke.

Genk outlasted Gent, and now draws La Liga’s Celta Vigo.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Cairney to Boro, second Foxes bid for Mbodji

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As the January transfer window comes close to shutting, teams who missed out on targets earlier in the season begin to panic as they try desperately to fill holes for the second half of the season.

That perfectly describes the situation Middlesbrough is in right now, having missed out on Hull City playmaker Robert Snodgrass, who moved to West Ham a few days ago. Boro was thought to be heavily involved in discussions for the player, and Aitor Karanka has yet to bolster his toothless attack. Middlesbrough also reportedly was in for Bojan, but missed there too as the Stoke forward went to the Bundesliga.

Now, according to a report in The Sun, Karanka has turned his sights to the Championship and Fulham playmaker Tom Cairney. The 26-year-old has been statistically the best player in the second tier this season, leading the charge of Fulham’s possession-heavy attack.

[ RELATED: West Ham sells Dimitri Payet to Marseille ]

According to the report, Middlesbrough is “in discussions” with Fulham for Cairney, but they will need to seriously pay up if they wish to pry the most important player off a team pushing for promotion. He is the gem for manager Slavisa Jokanovic, who favors a Barcelona-like style, and American owner Shad Khan has Premier League ambitions. Fulham sold 31-year-old striker Ross McCormack for a whopping $15 million last summer, and Cairney is both much younger and equally as important to the squad as McCormack was then.

Leicester City also needs to boost the squad, in 15th place a season after shockingly winning the title. The Foxes defense has regressed mightily from its championship winning form, and as Robert Huth, Wes Morgan, and Christian Fuchs all creep further away from the 30 year old mark, Claudio Ranieri knows he needs to get younger at the back.

Cue the rumors of Leicester’s interest in Anderlecht defender Kara Mbodji. The 27-year-old Senegalese international has spent the last three and a half seasons in the Belgian top flight after coming from the Norwegian league. This season, Mbodji has made 17 league starts for Anderlecht, helping the club to a third-place position and one of the league’s better defensive records. Mbodji is currently on international duty in the African Cup of Nations, although he will be returning shortly as Senegal was eliminated by Cameroon on penalties in the quarterfinals. Kara scored in the shootout, while Liverpool forward Saido Mane had the deciding miss.

According to rumors in England, Leicester is readying a second bid for Mbodji after their first was rejected. The reports say the first bid totaled $9.5 million, while Anderlecht values the defender at around $16 million.

One player definitely not on his way to England is Liverpool target Leandro Paredes. The Roma midfielder is not someone the Reds are going to continue pursuing, according to the Liverpool Echo. Manager Jurgen Klopp said the other day that he would not likely be adding players in this transfer window, saying, “It’s not about not wanting [to sign players], it’s about getting the right players.” The Echo report also shoots down links to Real Betis defender Riza Durmisi.

Finally, there are reports that Tottenham could look to make a late move for Crystal Palace winger Wilfried Zaha, who has just returned from African Cup of Nations after the Ivory Coast fell short of expectations with a group stage exit. The Sun reports that Spurs were interested in Zaha over the summer, and now could make a move before the window shuts.