UEFA Champions League: Late goal gives Borussia Dortmund draw at Shakhtar Donetsk

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The match may have been overshadowed by the festivities in Spain, but it played out relatively the same way. Between Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk and visiting Borussia Dortmund, one team’s control met another persistence and potential, ultimately ending in a draw. But unlike the match in Madrid, the controlling side were left needing a late goal to salvage a result, with Mats Hummels’ 87th minute equalizer giving Dortmund a valuable 2-2 draw.

To say Dortmund controlled this match to the same extent Real Madrid controlled theirs would be misleading. At no point in today’s game at the Bernabeu were Manchester United the aggressor, and while the Germans were the more imposing side at points of today’s match, the second period saw the Shakhtar recover from a pre-intermission fade and assume a bigger role. Douglas Costa’s 68th minute, go-ahead goal was more Shakhtar’s coming into the match rather than a team scoring against the run of play.

The same couldn’t be said for Shakhtar’s opener. Benefitting from a 30th minute foul just outside the penalty area from Dortmund defender Felipe Santana (playing for Neven Subotic), Shakhtar captain Darijo Srna curved his direct kick over the wall and away from Roman Weidenfeller for the game’s first goal.

(MORE: Breaking down Real Madrid-Manchester United.)

Dortmund responded five minutes before half through Robert Lewandowski, who held a ball in from the right up near the penalty spot while defenders went to ground. The Polish international eventually slotted his right-footed equalizer just inside Andriy Pyatov’s left post, sending the teams into half tied 1-1.

After being dominated over the first 45 minutes, Shakhtar began the second half on more even footing with the German champions. Relying more on quick, direct movements rather than attempting to beat Dortmund at their own frantic game, Shakhtar was eventually able to create a 68th minute chance for Douglas Costa off a long ball from defender Yaroslav Rakitskiy. Winning his matchup against Marcel Schmelzer after a misread by Hummels, Costa brought the ball down before getting his foot above a high bounce, putting a go-ahead goal into the right of net.

Hummels made amends in the 87th minute when he headed home a Dortmund corner, giving the visitors two goals to take back to Germany ahead of the teams’ Mar. 5 reverse leg.

The timing of the equalizer might leave Shakhtar feeling aggrieved, but the result may have been slightly more than they deserved. A series of early close calls and near misses allowed the game to go into half even, and while the Ukrainians were improved in the second half, their control of the match never matched Dortmund’s. Shakhtar should be content with a draw and two weeks to figure out a way to improve.

For BVB, Wednesday’s result gives them ever reason to believe they’ll survive this dangerous matchup. Jurgen Klopp may feel his team could have left the Donbass Arena with a more decisive result, but two road goals and a draw given them enough to work with. They won’t have to play as well as they did today to secure passage into the quarterfinals.

Check back later this today as ProSoccerTalk drills down on both Manchester United’s visit to Real Madrid and German champion Borussia Dortmund voyage to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Guardiola scouts de Ligt, Chelsea aim for Lewandowski, and more

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Just days after winning his first Premier League title, Pep Guardiola is already on the road, scouting for new signings.

One of these players that Manchester City is reportedly scouting – likely along with many European clubs – is Ajax’s young defensive wiz Matthijs de Ligt. Just 18-years old, de Ligt finished his second full season in the Ajax first team, playing 39 games across all competitions and scoring three goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

The youngster was even fast-tracked into the Netherlands National Team, starved of quality defenders as they are, but he made some crucial errors that led to the Oranje missing the World Cup and a second-straight tournament.

Guardiola is eying de Ligt as the eventual replacement for Vincent Kompany, but there’s a chance Guardiola could wait to sign him with Nicolas Otamendi, Aymeric Laporte and John Stones ahead of de Ligt in the pecking order. However, considering how well Davinson Sanchez has done in his time in England this season, de Ligt could in theory have a similar performance, assuming he adjusts physically.

Either way, should de Ligt join Man City, they’ll have two of the brightest young defenders in European football.

Here’s a look at some other transfer rumors across the Premier League and Europe:

(more…)

Sources: Patrick Vieira move to Nice finalized

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New York City FC’s fantastic start to 2018 will have to continue without its manager, as Patrick Vieira is set to move overseas.

Multiple sources have told Pro Soccer Talk that Vieira’s move to Ligue 1 side OGC Nice –which was reported by PST over the weekend — has been finalized.

The deal is for a two-year contract with the French club, who finished eighth place in Ligue 1 during the 2017/18 campaign.

French outlet L’Equipe has reported that NYCFC won’t receive a buyout for the remainder of Vieira’s contract, which was set to run through the conclusion of the 2018 MLS season in December.

Vieira was at NYCFC training on Tuesday, and is expected to be once again on Wednesday, per a source familiar with the situation.

Tomorrow’s training session will likely be Vieira’s last though, and he won’t travel to coach NYCFC for the team’s MLS match on Friday night against the Houston Dynamo.

There aren’t any indications to this point as to whether or not NYCFC has an interim manager in mind to replace the outgoing Vieira.

The 41-year-old manager has spent the last two-plus seasons in New York City, guiding NYCFC to back-to-back second-place finishes in the Eastern Conference. He took over at the team in 2016, following the firing of the team’s first-ever manager Jason Kreis (now at Orlando City).

Vieira will be replacing Lucien Favre at Nice, who recently left the club at the conclusion of the Ligue 1 season. Favre has since taken the vacant managerial position at Borussia Dortmund.

Over recent months, Vieira has been linked to several other European jobs, including Saint Etienne (Ligue 1) and Southampton (Premier League), neither of which escalated to a serious level of interest.

FIFA: Insufficient evidence of doping by Russia’s World Cup squad

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA says there is insufficient evidence any players in Russia’s World Cup squad have previously doped.

The governing body has been assessing information from the World Anti-Doping Agency, samples recovered from the Moscow lab, and information from its former director Grigory Rodchenkov.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Russia last week named a provisional 28-man squad, plus seven reserves for the World Cup, which kicks off in Moscow on June 14.

After investigating the players, FIFA says “insufficient evidence was found to assert an anti-doping rule violation. FIFA has informed the World Anti-Doping Agency of its conclusions, and WADA in turn has agreed with FIFA’s decision to close the cases.”

FIFA did not provide information on the status of investigations into players who are not in the World Cup squad.

Why Pulisic could be more likely to stay at Dortmund

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Christian Pulisic isn’t short of potential suitors this summer as he ponders his future.

Without a World Cup, Pulisic has plenty of time to recover from another full season of European football, one where he fully experienced the harsh realities of soccer at the highest level – two managers in and two managers out.

[READ: Emery set to replace Wenger at Arsenal]

With Dortmund hiring another coach, it seemed there was a chance Pulisic could decide to leave Dortmund and reunite with former manager Jurgen Klopp, or head elsewhere for a more stable situation. But Tuesday’s news that Dortmund has hired Lucien Favre may change all of that.

The 60-year-old Swiss native signed a two-year contract Tuesday, and his preferred style of play fits perfectly into how Pulisic performs best on the field.

The Bundesliga recently posted a detailed look at Favre’s tactics from his time at Nice, where he led the club to finishes of third and sixth the last two years, while re-juvinating the careers of Mario Balotelli and Younes Belhanda as well as unearthing young gems in Jean Seri and Allan Saint-Maximin.

In Favre’s 4-3-3, you could easily see Pulisic lining up on the right of the forward trident, running to the byline and dishing out assists, with Marco Reus on the left, cutting inside and firing shots home with his howitzer of a right leg. Or we could see the pair switch.

One thing that is currently missing is a dynamic No. 9, but with the whole summer transfer window ahead, Dortmund could easily re-sign Michy Batshuayi or find a new powerful center forward (Balotelli, anyone?).

In short, while Pulisic may have had a reason to leave Dortmund had another Peter Stoger-type manager been hired, Pulisic now has no reason why he can’t be a wild success at Dortmund for years to come. The 19-year-old (he’s still a teenager!) American star will have plenty of chances to bend in crosses or cut in and score goals himself, as well as the opportunity to play in the UEFA Champions League.