Spartak Moscow

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UEFA Champions League wrap: Tables turned on wild day

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One clean sheet in eight Tuesday matches certainly helped the entertainment value of the UEFA Champions League, and the group ramifications follow suit.

Borussia Dortmund whiffed on a chance to take advantage of Real Madrid’s home draw versus Spurs, while Sevilla was waxed in Russia, and Besiktas continues to strut in UCL play.

Real Madrid 1-1 Tottenham HotspurRECAP, VIDEO

Raphael Varane’s plans to mark Harry Kane were subverted by the French defender’s unwitting legs, but Serge Aurier chopped down Toni Kroos in the 42nd minute for a yellow card and penalty that Cristiano Ronaldo sent beyond the reach of Spurs backstop Hugo Lloris.

It was Lloris’ outstanding day, along with a couple timely Keylor Navas saves, that kept the score line 1-1 after 90 minutes. The backstops will likely match wits again come Nov. 1 at Wembley Stadium.

Manchester City 2-1 NapoliRECAP

Raheem Sterling and Gabriel Jesus scored in the ninth and 13th minutes as City has been an unwelcoming host for the Neapolitan side. Ederson stopped a Dries Mertens penalty, adding insult to Napoli’s twin concessions, but Napoli would get a second penalty kick and pulled back a goal courtesy of Amadou Diawara.

Monaco 1-2 Besiktas

Reported Newcastle United and Crystal Palace target Cenk Tosun scored a pair of goals as group-leading Besiktas came back to beat Monaco after Radamel Falcao made it 1-0 to the hosts.

Feyenoord 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Similar story in the Netherlands, where Ex-Watford man Steven Berghuis gave the Eredivisie hosts a lead only to see a Bernard brace lead Shakhtar at De Kuip.

Spartak Moscow 5-1 Sevilla

Liverpool’s score line was a bit surprising, but this one raised eyebrows even given Sevilla’s long road (or flight path) to Russia. Quincy Promes scored twice to make Sevilla consider its Europa roots (though plenty of time remains in the group stage).

Spartak’s Luiz Adriano scores past Sevilla’s Sergio Rico (AP Photo/Ivan Sekretarev)

Maribor 0-7 LiverpoolRECAP

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds are sent their finishing demons off a cliff. It was 3-0 after 20 minutes, 4-0 at half, and when all was said and done there were braces for Roberto Firmino and Mohamed Salah to go with single markers from Philippe Coutinho, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and Trent Alexander-Arnold.

APOEL Nicosia 1-1 Borussia Dortmund

A significant step backward for BVB, who would’ve done well to take advantage of Real and Spurs drawing at the Bernabeu. The Germans even trailed for five second-half minutes before Sokratis Papastathopoulos provided the equalizing goal.

RB Leipzig 3-2 Porto

Five first half goals felt like the start of something special, but the upstart Germans held on through a scoreless second half to claim their first UCL win.

Spartak Moscow 1-1 Liverpool: Frustrated Reds come back for point

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A point from far from home is not the end of the world, but Liverpool will rue its missed chances in a 1-1 draw at Spartak Moscow in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday.

Goalkeeper Artyom Rebrov had a stellar day for Spartak before being injured and then replaced by Aleksandr Selikhov, who was also strong for the Russians.

Fernando (not that one) scored a free kick for Spartak, while Philippe Coutinho bagged the equalizer that keeps the Reds ahead of Spartak on goals scored. Both sides are three points behind Sevilla.

Liverpool visits Maribor on Oct. 17, while Spartak will host Sevilla.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]  

Roberto Firmino saw a promising header saved, and Brazilian attack partner Philippe Coutinho cleared a launch pad for countryman Fernando with a needless foul minutes later.

The 25-year-old ex-Sampdoria man that curled a free kick over the wall, and not too near to a post. Loris Karius was too slow to move, and the ball found its way to the back of the net. 1-0.

Sadio Mane was lively as usual, and let fly with a low drive for Spartak backstop Rebrov to collect inside the six.

Coutinho made amends with a solidly struck equalizer just after the half-hour mark, working a 1-2 with Mane and lacing a shot beyond the hopes of Rebrov.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Spartak wasn’t sleeping to start the second half, and both Karius and his Russian counterpart Rebrov had work to do early.

Rebrov needed to be substituted following a collision with Mohamed Salah and long delay. A Man of the Match candidate, would the goalkeeper swap tilt the scales?

VIDEO: Spartak Moscow section fires flare 50-plus yards at referee

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What’s Russian for “behind closed doors?”

Spartak Moscow may find out after one of their supporters fired a flare from the end line to the midfield stripe, barely missing referee Deniz Aytekin.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap-up ]

Maribor and Spartak drew 1-1, but UEFA repercussions are almost certainly coming for the Russian visitors.

That could benefit Liverpool, who visits Otkrytiye Arena in Moscow on Sept. 26. The Reds drew Sevilla 2-2 on Wednesday.

Hulk once again the victim of racist chants in Russian League match

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With the 2018 World Cup in Russia fast approaching, all eyes are on the host country’s clear issue with racism. It’s been spoken about, discussed, dissected, and analyzed.

The one thing it hasn’t done is go away.

Yet again, Brazilian forward Hulk – one of the most notable and recognizable players in the Russian Premier League – has called out fans in a Russian stadium for racist chants directed at him.

The 29-year-old striker was substituted in stoppage time of a 2-2 draw at Spartak Moscow, and he sarcastically blew kisses to the crowd as he walked off the field. Hulk later confirmed he did that as a response to racist chants he was receiving from the Spartak fans.

“Unfortunately, the same things are happening – racism in the stands,” he said in comments published on Zenit’s official website. “I won’t pay any attention to this, as I have already talked about this. Therefore, I will continue to blow kisses and answer them with the way I play on the pitch. These things don’t even deserve to be discussed.”

As Hulk said, he’s already talked about this. A whole lot. Back in March, racist chants from Torpedo Moscow fans caused Zenit manager Andre Villas-Boas to label the opposing supporters a “disgrace.” In July, Hulk said there are racist chants in “almost every game” in Russia. Former Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong was suspended for two matches after showing fans an explicit gesture as a reaction to racist chants.

Frimpong’s racist abuse in Russian League opener yields more World Cup concerns (video)

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The Russian Premier League kicked off on Friday and the top story to come out of the weekend was unfortunately racism.

Ugh.

Former Arsenal prospect Emmanuel Frimpong was tossed from Ufa’s match at Spartak Moscow when he reacted to fans hurling monkey noises at him by flipping them the bird and swearing at them.

[ MORE: Van Gaal complains about Sounders’ field ]

Red card.

Racists 1, Frimpong 0.

And before you even start with a, “Well, players need to be bigger than that”, take a listen to it:

It’s honestly hard to watch, knowing that a human being is at both ends of the abuse. Not to say we’re naive enough to think it never happens, but on opening day for a fan to be that hopped up to put his ignorance and hatred on full display? Brutal. What’s worse? These quotes from Hulk on how he’s rationalized the behavior. From Soccerly:

“In the past I myself felt offended and was really angered with these racist outbreaks. But neither referees nor football officials here pay serious attention to this problem. “That’s why I now try not to get angry. I just blow kisses to those who try to offend me.”

And players in Russia aren’t just upset about it, they are worried about the repercussions for the nation’s clubs if this racism is on display at the World Cup in 2018. Hulk said as much, as did Ezequiel Garay. Perhaps most telling, though, is Frimpong.

Granted the language is a bit broken, but there’s something to him ending with, “We live on.” This is a fairly depressing tale, and I know from past posts that there will be several who jump to the defense of Russia here.

And surely, this happens other places (including here in the U.S.). But in this one, where boycott worries already exist, the dark moments seem a bit more grim.