Atlético Madrid breaks through, sends Barcelona out of Champions League

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For the first time in seven years, Barcelona will not be among the last four teams standing in UEFA Champions League. After Koke’s early goal stood up at the Vicente Calderón, Atlético Madrid is through to its first semifinal in 40 years, with the team’s 1-0 (2-1, aggregate) win escorting the three-time champions out of the tournament.

Atlético struck first during a dominant opening spell, with a slew of chances near the five-minute-mark allowing Koke to blast home the game’s only goal. Though the Spanish leaders produced a series of close calls on both sides of halftime, they were made to defend their 1-0 lead to the final whistle, eventually producing their first win of the season over Barcelona.

Between La Liga, Spanish Super Cup, and Champions League, the teams had faced each other four previous times this season, with each match ending in a draw. Last week’s game in Barcelona saw Atlético take a 1-1 result out of the Nou Camp, with the away goal potentially looming large in today’s second leg.

Thanks to Koke’s opener, however, Atlético didn’t need to rely on its tiebreaker edge. Finally breaking through against last year’s Spanish champions, a team that hasn’t been to the finals since 1974 is one step closer to another shot. Diego Simeone’s team joins Bayern Munich, Chelsea, and rival Real Madrid in Europe’s final four.

An overwhelming opening 12 minutes put Atlético on the scoresheet early. Unable to deal with the hosts’ high pressure, Barcelona gave up a series of chances in the fifth minute, with a sequence that started with an Adrían López shot off the right post ending with Koke slamming the opener into an empty net. In a spell where Atleti had three chances, the final one was the charm. For the third time in five meetings, Atlético struck first against Barcelona.

Throughout the first half, Simeone’s side had a number of chances to take its first two-goal lead over Barcelona this year. Moments after the opener, Atlético’s pressure produced another opportunity, with David Villa’s shot going out for a corner after Dani Alves’ desperate block. In the 12th minute, a Villa blast from the left hit the near post, while another chance for the former Barcelona striker nailed the cross-bar in the 21st minute.

source: AP
Lionel Messi had three chances to get Barcelona on the scoreboard but extended his scoreless drought to six games against Atlético Madrid. (Photo credit: AP Photo.)

By that time, Barcelona had come into the match, adjusting to Atlético’s pressure to maintain two-thirds of the half’s possession. Chances were still difficult to come by, however, even if the best opportunities fell to the team’s danger man. Shortly after Villa’s first shot off the post, Messi was given a free header from near the Atlético penalty spot, but he was unable to steer the Alves cross on goal. Later in the half, after Neymar beat two players down the left, a ball sent across the top of the six couldn’t be put on target, with Messi pushing his shot wide of the near post.

At the beginning of the second, Barcelona started looking more like their normal selves, proving more purposeful with its possession in the half’s opening moments.  In the 48th minute, a perfectly weighted Xavi Hernández through ball tested Atlético goalkeeper Thibault Courtois, with the Belgian charging off his line to get a left hand to the ball as Neymar tried to touch it into space. Moments later, as a recovering Courtois stumbled near his line, a ball falling to Messi was volleyed over the bar, with Barcelona’s biggest star missing another chance to bring his side level.

The close call served as a wake up call for Atlético, who kept Barcelona without any meaningful chances over the next 15 minutes. Once the game began opening up, it was the home side who proved more threatening. Substitute Diego blasted a chance from a sharp angle into Pinto’s gloves in the 65th minute. Gabi failed to convert a breakaway created by Villa in the 71st minute, weakly hitting a shot into Pinto’s boots. Javier Mascherano was fortunate not to draw Howard Webb’s whistle while playing catchup on Villa in the 72nd. Just as in the first half, Atlético was collecting a serious of misses that would only heighten the heartbreak, should Barcelona come back.

Even as Atlético started to recede further into its own half, it was still producing the better chances. New full-time, substitute Cristian Rodríguez was sent in on down through the left of the penalty area only to put another shot off Pinto’s gloves. Moments later, pressure on the Barcelona keeper saw Víctor Valdés’ backup send a ball back across this empty goal. Though Barcelona was pursuing an equalizer, it was Atlético that was applying the pressure.

Come full time, a matchup that had been gloriously even through 360 minutes finally had a decisive winner. With an early goal and tests of ever part of Pinto’s goal, Atlético was clearly the better side, leaving both sides no doubts as to who deserved a spot in the Champions League semifinals.

Europa League: How to watch Tottenham-Maccabi Haifa, schedule, start time, odds

Tottenham - Maccabi Haifa
Photo by ADRIAN DENNIS/AFP via Getty Images
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Jose Mourinho’s insane September in three competitions continues with a Thursday’s Tottenham-Maccabi Haifa fixture in the Europa League, the final playoff match coming exactly three weeks before the first matchday of the group stahe.

The visitors head into North London on a five-match unbeaten run and if they manage a show-stopping upset it will likely star an American.

California native Josh Cohen, 28, has started all five of those matches between the sticks for Maccabi Haifa. The ex-USL and UC San Diego goalkeeper has been with the club since leaving the Sacramento Republic in 2019.

[ MORE: Europa League scoreboard ]

Ukraine-born Australian striker Nikita Rukavytsya is the key man for Maccabi Haifa’s attack, boasting seven goals and three assists in five appearances this season.

Spurs should have a pretty strong group despite their fixture weariness as Harry Kane, Lucas Moura, Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, and Matt Doherty started on the bench for Tuesday’s League Cup fourth-round win over Chelsea.

 

 

In other action, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers certainly would’ve loved to have drawn any number of opponents rather than Turkish powers Galatasaray.

Rangers - Galatasaray
Rangers boss Gerrard (left) was teammates with Galatasaray striker Ryan Babel while at Liverpool  (Photo by Peter Byrne – PA Images/PA Images via Getty Images)

While there’s been good humor online regarding Gerrard managing while former teammate Ryan Babel hits the pitch for Gala, the Turkish side arrives in Glasgow in a foul mood.

Here’s manager Faith Terim, who is upset that his side drew derby rivals Fenerbahce 0-0 at home.

“I will turn all my attention to Rangers now,” Terim said, via the Daily Record. “The Europa League is very important to us in many ways and of course, we will play our strongest team. At the moment, we are playing every three or four days and that can be a factor. But we just have to deal with it. It always hurts when you don’t win a derby game and we have a chance to put it right this week in Glasgow.”

Rangers are favorites in the match, which shows how far Gerrard has brought Scotland’s second-best side in points-per-game. Watch out for Babel, who’s scored six times in 25 matches for Gala after his 2018-19 star turn in Fulham’s relegation season.

Which brings us to Celtic, who is a point behind their eternal rivals but has a match-in-hand.

Neil Lennon’s men have disappointed in Europe this season and are heavy favorites going into Sarajevo, as they were when needed almost every minute to get past Riga 1-0 in Latvia last week after being bounced from the Champions League by Ferencvaros.

Elsewhere, AC Milan won’t have Zlatan Ibrahimovic when it visits Portugal’s Rio Ave.


How to watch Tottenham – Maccabi Haifa + Europa League playoff round streams, start times

When: Thursday
Online: Bleacher Report Live


Thursday’s Europa League playoff round ties

All times ET

Thursday
CFR Cluk v KuPS — 11:30 am ET
Malmo v Granada — 1 pm ET
Charleroi v Lech Poznan — 1 pm ET
Rosenborg v PSV Eindhoven — 1 pm ET
Dinamo Zagreb v Flora — 1 pm ET
Ararat-Armenia v Red Star Belgrade — 1 pm ET
Liberec v APOEL Nicosia — 1 pm ET
Hapo’el Beer-Sheva v Viktoria Plzen — 1:30 pm ET
Sarajevo v Celtic — 2pm ET
Standard Liege v Fehervar — 2pm ET
Dinamo Brest v Ludogorets Razgrad — 2pm ET
Copenhagen v Rijeka — 2pm ET
Legia Warsaw v Qarabag — 2pm ET
Dundalk v KI — 2:30 pm ET
Young Boys v Tirana — 2:30 pm ET
Basel v CSKA Sofia — 2:30 pm ET
AEK Athens v Wolfsburg — 2:45 pm ET
Rangers v Galatasaray — 2:45 pm ET
Rio Ave v AC Milan — 3 pm ET
Tottenham Hotspur v Maccabi Haifa — 3 pm ET
Sporting Lisbon v LASK — 3 pm ET


Select Europa League odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Sarajevo (+800) v Celtic (-358) | Draw (+400)
AEK Athens (+235) v Wolfsburg (-103) | Draw (+235)
Rangers (+108) v Galatasaray (+220) | Draw (+225)
Rio Ave (+300) v AC Milan (-125) | Draw (+240)
Tottenham Hotspur (-667) v Maccabi Haifa (+1200) | Draw (+550)
Sporting Lisbon (+115) v LASK (+215) | Draw (+215)

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links.

Newcastle – Burnley: How to watch, stream link, start time, odds, prediction

Newcastle - Burnley
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images
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Newcastle – Burnley: Two injury-hit sides on two-match winless runs try to get their seasons pointed in a better direction when Newcastle United hosts Burnley at St. James’ Park on Saturday (Watch live at 3 pm ET online via Peacock Premium).

[ MORE: How to watch PL in the USA ]  

Burnley has lost 1-0 to Southampton and 4-2 to Leicester City so far this season, while Newcastle beat West Ham before losing to Brighton and drawing Tottenham.

Sean Dyche will hope his undermanned and well-drilled side can get a big win against Steve Bruce’s Newcastle, who have either looked remarkably good or bad this season. Newcastle – Burnley is the final match on Saturday’s Premier League docket.


Team news for Newcastle – Burnley (INJURY REPORT)

Newcastle’s DeAndre Yedlin and Emil Krafth have picked up minor injuries and are questionable for Saturday, while Martin Dubravka, Matt Ritchie, and Matty Longstaff remain out.

Burnley got Ashley Barnes and James Tarkowski back in midweek League Cup action but saw another injury as Matthew Lowton is being assessed and could join a list with Johann Berg Gudmundsson, Robbie Brady, Jack Cork, Ben Mee, and Jay Rodriguez.


What they’re saying

Steve Bruce on laboring to beat Newport County in the League Cup: “I agree, fully, that we didn’t play well enough. All of a sudden, now, it’s questioning tactics. I just find the whole thing disappointing. I understand we didn’t play well. You know, we don’t go out there and not want to play well. Unfortunately, we haven’t, and for large parts of the game we didn’t tonight, but we stuck at it, and, towards the end, the last 35-40 minutes I thought we, and rightly so, dominated possession, and just had to take one of the chances we created.”

Sean Dyche on transfer and injury problems at Burnley: “When you’ve had seven key injuries, that’s a lot in any club’s world, but it certainly is in ours. The way the club works financially I can only carry so many players. If we try and carry competitive players in every position, quite obviously you’re looking at 20 outfield players. … I certainly don’t want to be bringing in players for the sake of it, if we can get one or two that’s bound to be helpful, just that competitive element for the squad. Whether we can or not is yet to be seen.”


Odds and ends (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

The host Magpies have slightly better odds for a win at +145, while a draw (+215) and Burnley win (+205) are nearly identical.

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


Newcastle – Burnley prediction

Burnley took four of six points from the Magpies last season as Chris Wood scored the lone goal in 180 minutes of football. Injuries to both sides indicate we might see the Clarets and Magpies make amends for the 2019-20 paucity of goals. Newcastle 2-1 at home.


How to watch Newcastle – Burnley stream and start time

Kickoff: 3 pm ET Saturday
Online: Peacock Premium

League Cup: How to watch, start times, odds, predictions

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The League Cup’s fourth round features two interesting tactical duels in that the tournament gives us rematches of a pair of Premier League matches from the weekend, right down to the locations.

Brighton will hope Manchester United’s Wednesday trip to the Amex Stadium isn’t as lucky as the Red Devils’ 3-2 triumph over the Seagulls, while Arsenal heads back to Anfield on Thursday with designs on a measure of revenge for Monday’s 3-1 loss in league play.

[ LIVE: Follow League Cup scores ]

While Arsenal, Liverpool, and Manchester United are built a bit deeper — easy, Red Devils fans — due to squad necessity for European competition, Graham Potter’s Seagulls don’t have it as simple as chopping and changing (though Brighton has looked plenty good with its depth so far in this tournament.

How will the tactician plot his overthrow of United? And will Mikel Arteta do anything different with Arsenal to help thwart the high line Liverpool used to limit Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang on Monday (if the Gabonese star even plays)?

[ MORE: JPW’s 3 things from Liverpool-Arsenal ]

Elsewhere, Jose Mourinho saw Spurs on beat Chelsea on penalties on Tuesday.

Three lower league remain and will be playing their fourth League Cup matches of the month compared to the PL’s three outings. Those who win this week will have a lot longer to wait for the quarterfinals, which won’t be held until December.


League Cup fourth round results, kickoff times, and odds (full odds provided by our partner, PointsBet)

Tottenham 1-1 (5-4 pens) Chelsea
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City 
Brighton 0-3 Manchester United
Everton 4-1 West Ham United
Newport County 1-1 (4-5 pens) Newcastle United
Brentford (+135) v Fulham (+185) | Draw (+225)— 12:30 pm ET Thursday
Aston Villa (-150) v Stoke City (+360) | Draw (+275)— 2 pm ET Thursday
Liverpool (-105) v Arsenal (+230) | Draw (+270)— 2:45 pm ET Thursday

PointsBet is our Official Sports Betting Partner and we may receive compensation if you place a bet on PointsBet for the first time after clicking our links


League Cup fourth round predictions

Tottenham Hotspur 1-2 Chelsea
Newport County 1-3 Newcastle United
Burnley 0-3 Manchester City
Brighton 2-1 Manchester United
Everton 2-2 (EFC wins in penalties) West Ham United
Brentford 1-1 (Brentford wins in penalties) Fulham
Aston Villa 2-0 Stoke City
Liverpool 2-1 Arsenal


How to watch League Cup fourth round streams and start time

Kickoff: Tuesday through Thursday
Online: Select games on ESPN+
Updates: Follow League Cup scores via NBCSports.com

Champions League groups drawn for Premier League sides, USMNT stars

Champions League draw
Photo by Matthew Peters/Manchester United via Getty Images
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The UEFA Champions League draw was held Thursday, with Chelsea, Liverpool, Manchester City, and Manchester United learning their foes for the group stage.

[ MORE: Champions League playoff round recaps ]

Manchester United found itself drawn into a brutal Group H led by Paris Saint-Germain and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will have plenty to prove in matching wits and talents.

Juventus and Barcelona were drawn together, as Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi will duel again under the eyes of new managers Andrea Pirlo and Ronald Koeman.

Real Madrid has a tricky Group C with Marseille, Shakhtar Donetsk, and Inter Milan.


Premier League teams

PL champions Liverpool dodged the Pot 2 challenge but will meet sides who want to entertain in a younger Ajax and Italian wizards Atalanta. Midtjylland completes the group.

Pep Guardiola’s quest to finally reach a UCL final with Man City was greeted by Porto out of Pot 1 as well as Olympiakos and Marseille.

Manchester United’s path has big roadblocks in Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzip, two top teams with top managers. It was a group of death before being completed by Demba Ba’s Istanbul Basaksehir.

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard will match wits Sevilla’s Julen Lopetegui and also square off with group stage debutants Krasnodar and French side Stade Rennes.

Americans Abroad

As for American connections, Christian Pulisic is with Chelsea and Zack Steffen at Man City but there are plenty more USMNT connections in play.

Red Bull Salzburg coach Jesse Marsch has his hands full with Bayern Munich and Atletico Madrid in addition to Lokomotiv Moscow.

Marsch’s former New York Red Bulls charge Tyler Adams is with RB Leipzig, who drew PSG, Manchester United, and Istanbul Basaksehir

Giovanni Reyna and Borussia Dortmund avoided a tough Pot 1 pull by getting Zenit Saint-Petersburg but took Lazio out of Pot 3. The final team in Group F is Club Brugge, currently the home of American goalkeeper Ethan Horvath.

Juventus midfielder Weston McKennie sees his seeded team lead Group G against the newest member of Barcelona in fellow USMNT star Sergino Dest. Dynamo Kiev and Ferencvaros are also in the group.

NYCFC youngster Joe Scally will join Borussia Monchengladbach after the MLS season. The Foals will meet

Weston McKennie Juventus
TURIN, ITALY – SEPTEMBER 20: Weston Mckennie  (Photo by Mattia Ozbot/Soccrates/Getty Images)

2020-21 UEFA Champions League group stage

Group A

Bayern Munich
Atletico Madrid
Red Bull Salzburg
Lokomotiv Moscow

Group B

Real Madrid
Shakhtar Donetsk
Inter Milan
Borussia Monchengladbach

Group C

Porto
Manchester City
Olympiakos
Marseille

Group D

Liverpool
Ajax
Atalanta
Midtjylland

Group E

Sevilla
Chelsea
Krasnodar
Stade Rennes

Group F

Zenit Saint-Petersburg
Borussia Dortmund
Lazio
Club Brugge

Group G

Juventus
Barcelona
Dynamo Kiev
Ferencvaros

Group H

Paris Saint-Germain
Manchester United
RB Leipzig
Istanbul Basaksehir