Sascha Riether apologizes to Adnan Januzaj for stamp

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One day after Sasha Riether became the first player to be retrospectively charged by and English FA panel for his stamp on Adnan Januzaj, the Fulham defender apologized to his victim.

During the last minute of Manchester United’s 3-1 victory over the Cottagers, Riether ran to the corner where Pajtim Kasami and Januzaj were vying for the ball. The German defender came from behind Januzaj, kicked him in his tailbone and then stamped on the back of his ankle.

The incident sent a number of players into a frenzy, including Januzaj’s teammate Marouane Fellaini, who requested retrospective punishment. “For me it was a red card for the right back,” Fellaini said. “I hope the referee looks at the video later.”

Apparently, referee Lee Probert was listening as Riether will now serve a three-match ban after accepting a charge of violent conduct. On Tuesday, the Fulham defender apologized to Januzaj via Twitter.

He wrote: “I want to say I am sorry to Adnan Januzai. It was very unlike me and I can only say that frustration got the better of me.

“I also want to apologise to my team-mates, fans and everyone at the Club, for the ban incurred following Saturday’s match.

“I will accept the consequences of my actions, and hope to put it behind me when I return.

“I want the fans to know that I will be working hard to stay fit and will be ready to continue fighting for the Club as soon as I am able.SR”

In accordance with this year’s retroactive refereeing pilot project, an FA panel of three former referees – Steve Dunn, Eddie Wolstenholme and Alan Wiley – unanimously agreed that had Probert seen the incident, it would have been a sending off as an act of violent conduct.

Subsequent to the incident Manchester United manager David Moyes compared Januzaj to Lionel Messi for his ability to pop up from tough challenges.

“I think Adnan needs a little bit of protection or we are going to find he’s getting kicked up and down. . . . He gets kicked up and down in training every day and he gets on with it. . . . He only needs to look at Lionel Messi. He’s the best at getting up. We hope Adnan, and I’m not comparing him to Messi – we hope he can react like Messi – but he does need protection.

“It’s not a case of asking for protection. It’s up to the referees to do what’s right. But we will never ask for it.”

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