In their words: Players, coaches react to Borussia Dortmund’s thrashing of Real Madrid

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“I’m happy to have scored four goals, but obviously the big picture is reaching the final and that’s the only thing that counts. Real played well in the first half but we had things under control in the second half.” — Robert Lewandowski, forward, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“I gave all my players a hug, because they fully deserved it. That was pure football tonight, my players were unstoppable. We lost the plot a bit after 25 minutes, however, and the players were a bit unsettled, which led to the equalizer.” — Jurgen Klopp, head coach, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“I’ve never seen such a great goal as [Robert Lewandowski] ‘Lewy’s’ third – that was absolutely amazing.” — Kloop, via UEFA.com

“The bad thing about having a first and second leg is that we still need to play a game in Madrid. Therefore, we need to keep calm and not go crazy after this game. We all know that it won’t be a walk in the park in Madrid.” — Klopp, via UEFA.com

“They were the better side by far. They won their individual battles. They were better organised than us, better physically and better mentally. The game went from 1-1 to 4-1 in such a short space of time. We lost possession easily and couldn’t cope with their transitions and speed on the break.” — José Mourinho, head coach, Real Madrid, via UEFA.com

“For three of the goals we lost possession too easily and didn’t mark properly. We know about Lewandowski’s movement and he deserves great credit for his performance, but we didn’t make it as difficult for him as I would like.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“[M]any of the boys had a bad game and a bad night. At club level this is the second-most important game, after the final. Obviously I am very disappointed with how it’s gone.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“In football anything is possible. On a crazy night when everyone performs at a high level, when every chance is a goal, we can turn it around.” — Mourinho, via UEFA.com

“It was a royal evening for us, it would have been perfect if we had kept a clean sheet. However, it’s quite hard to get a better result against a team like Real. We played a great game from the start until the final whistle and deserved to win by this margin.” — Ilkay Gundogen, midfielder, Borussia Dortmund, via UEFA.com

“We were lacking in attitude and I point to myself first when I say that. It will be very difficult in the return leg at home but we must remain confident and try to react. When the draw for the semi-finals was made a lot of people thought this was going to be easy for us but this is a German team we are talking about; they are a great side.” — Sergio Ramos, defender/captain, Real Madrid, via UEFA.com

“I’m happy my teammates helped me recover from the mistake. I’m not happy with my performance but the rest of the team played great.” — Mats Hummels, defender, Borussia Dortmund, via @cnyari

 

Ronaldo explains his new chin hair at World Cup

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Now that Cristiano Ronaldo has taken to sporting a reasonable hairstyle atop his head, people are talking about the foliage on his face.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

Ronaldo, 33, drew speculation when he stroked his chin following a goal in his hat trick performance against Spain in the World Cup opener. Some said he was demonstrating defiance against Lionel Messi posing with a goat (Greatest Of All Time) in a recent photograph.

Ronaldo scored again on Wednesday, and there was seemingly little doubt his goatee was a wink to the speculators. But what did it mean, CR7? From ESPN:

“This goatee? It’s a joke I had with [Ricardo] Quaresma. “We were in the sauna [before Friday’s match against Spain] and I started to shave and I left the goatee. I said if I score tomorrow, I would leave it for the rest of the tournament. And it gave me luck.

“I scored in that game, I scored in this one, so it stays.”

Personally, I like to imagine Ronaldo starting to get as wild with his facial hair as he did his head hair.

Perhaps a beatnik style, or something like Serj Tankian from System of a Down. Get nuts, C-Ron.

Report: Southampton could sell Tadic to Ajax for $20m

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Could Southampton be selling one of its most creative forces?

Dusan Tadic, 29, is in the middle of a World Cup run with dark horse Serbia, but the Saints star is also being talked about as a purchase item for Ajax.

[ MORE: Serbia tops Costa Rica ]

The celebrated Eredivisie has traditionally been a selling club for the Premier League, but could be a $20 million buy for Ajax.

The report says director of players Marc Overmars and financial director Jeroen Slop have flown to Southampton to work out a deal.

Tadic starred for Dutch sides Groningen and Twente between 2010-14 before moving to St. Mary’s for a reported $12 million.

He’s scored 24 goals with 35 assists in 162 appearances for Saints, 21 and 30 of which came in the Premier League.

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE