Bayern Munich ease into Champions League semis, as Manchester United crash out

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Manchester United crashed out of the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday, after losing to reigning champions Bayern Munich 3-1 despite a brave battle against the Bavarian’s incredible attacking talents.

The Red Devils took the lead just before the hour mark, as Patrice Evra latched on to a loose ball and smashed an unstoppable effort into the top corner to put United 2-1 ahead on aggregate. However, Evra turned from hero to zero in the space of 22 seconds, as he failed to mark Mario Mandzukic who headed home an equalizer to deflate United’s players.

Thomas Müller and Arjen Robben struck soon after as Bayern’s juggernaut, masterminded by Pep Guardiola, made the UCL semifinals for the third-straight season.

As for United, their Champions League dreams are over for this season, and with David Moyes’ men seven points off fourth spot in the Premier League, it could be a few years until they grace Europe’s elite club competition again.

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Bayern had plenty of the early possession, as expected, but in the 7th minute Manchester United had a glorious chance to go ahead. Darren Fletcher’s lofted ball over the top found Wayne Rooney in acres of space, however the Englishman dallied on the ball and failed to play in Shinji Kagawa to his left as Bayern cleared the danger.

United soaked up Munich’s attack resolutely, while looking dangerous on the break whenever they got the chance to spring an attack. Robben and Franck Ribery prodded and probed the Red Devils’ defense, however they were frustrated early on. In the 16th minute United had the ball in the back of the net, as Rooney’s cross found Antonio Valencia at the back post to slot home… but the Ecuadorian winger had strayed into an offside position.

source: AP
Evra’s howitzer gave United the lead, but it only lasted for 22 seconds.

The home side started to press more as half time approached, with Ribery smashing a long-range effort into the side-netting just before the 30 minute mark. In the 43rd minute Robben cut in from the hand side and took the ball past three United defenders, before hammering a shot towards goal which Chris Smalling blocked as the two rivals were locked at 0-0 at the break.

At the start of the second half, United won several corners as they pinned Bayern back, but the home side surged forward to try and kill the tie off but slack finishing thwarted Munich from going ahead on the night.

In the 57th minute it was United who went ahead, as Valencia cut in from the right and picked out the advancing Evra who smashed a rasping effort into the top corner as Bayern’s goalkeeper Manuel Neuer was effortless. However United’s joy was short lived, as just 22 seconds later Bayern were level when Mandzukic headed home Ribery’s cross after being left unmarked by United’s goalscorer Evra. Pandemonium at the Allianz Arena, as the game came to life in dramatic fashion just before the hour mark.

In the 61st minute the Red Devils should have gone 2-1 up, but Welbeck’s sensational set up play was wasted by Rooney, who inexplicably scuffed his shot when left unmarked 10-yards out and with the goal beckoning. United were made to pay for that mistake, as Muller put Bayern 2-1 ahead in the 68th minute, when Robben’s low cross allowed the German international to tap home from inside the six-yard box.

With 15 minutes to go the crucial goal arrived, as Robben cut in from the right to devastating effect and his left-footed shot deflected off of Vidic’s boot and past David De Gea to put Bayern 3-1 up. United tried to get themselves back in the game late on, but the relentless effort Moyes’ men had put in to told, as Munich head into the final four of the Champions League.

LINEUPS

Bayern Munich: Neuer, Dante, Boateng, Lahm, Müller (Pizarro, 84′), Alaba, Götze (Rafinha, 64′), Kroos, Ribéry, Mandzukic, Robben

Goals: Mandzukic (59′), Müller (68′), Robben (76′)

Manchester United: De Gea; Jones, Smalling, Vidic, Evra; Fletcher (Hernandez, 74′), Carrick; Valencia, Rooney, Kagawa; Welbeck (Januzaj, 81′)

Goal: Evra (57′)

Reina faces hearing over links with trio connected to mafia

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ROME (AP) Outgoing Napoli goalkeeper Pepe Reina has been summoned to a hearing at the Italian football federation over his association with people with links to the mafia.

Reina, along with Paolo Cannavaro and Salvatore Aronica, is to face the FIGC’s disciplinary committee after an investigation by Naples’ anti-mafia department.

It is reportedly one of the reasons why Napoli decided not to renew Reina’s contract, with the former Liverpool goalkeeper set to move to AC Milan on a free transfer.

The FIGC says Reina “has had and continues to have inopportune association and friendship with Gabriele Esposito, Francesco Esposito and Giuseppe Esposito.” It adds that that includes holidays and “an exchange of favors.”

Cannavaro, who had two spells with Napoli, retired at Sassuolo last year. Aronica also spent several years at the southern club before joining Palermo in 2013.

Iran names initial squad for World Cup

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TEHRAN, Iran (AP) Jalal Hosseini and Vouria Ghaffouri have both been left off Iran’s provisional 24-man squad for the World Cup.

Iran coach Carlos Queiroz did not say why Hosseini, a Persepolis defender, and Ghaffouri were not included.

There was space for midfielders Masoud Shojaei and Ehsan Hajsafi, however. Both played with Greek club Panionios against Maccabi Tel Aviv in August 2017. Iran does not recognize Israel and its supreme leader has threatened the country in the past. Both Shojaei and Hajsafi missed matches with the national team after the game.

Alireza Jahanbakhsh, a 24-year-old forward who plays in the Netherlands with AZ Alkmaar, is also in the squad, which was announced Sunday.

In the midfield, Queiroz chose Saeid Ezatolahi, although the Amkar Perm player will miss the team’s first World Cup match because he was given a red card in a game against South Korea in qualifying.

Nottingham Forest midfielder Ashkan Dejagah was also chosen.

Goalkeeper Amir Abedzadeh of Portuguese club Maritimo made the squad. His father, Ahmadreza Abedzadeh, was Iran captain and goalkeeper at the 1998 World Cup in France.

Iran will play in Group B at the World Cup with Portugal, Spain and Morocco. The team will play warm-up matches in Turkey and Greece before heading to Russia.

Goalkeepers: Alireza Beiranvand (Persepolis), Rashid Mazaheri (Zob Ahan), Amir Abedzadeh (Maritimo)

Defenders: Ramin Rezaeian (KV Oostende), Mohammad Reza Khanzadeh (Padideh), Morteza Pouraliganji (Al Saad), Pejman Montazeri (Esteghlal), Seyed Majid Hosseini (Esteghlal), Milad Mohammadi (Akhmat Grozny), Roozbeh Cheshmi (Esteghlal)

Midfielders: Saeid Ezatolahi (Amkar Perm), Masoud Shojaei (AEK Athens), Mehdi Torabi (Saipa), Ashkan Dejagah (Nottingham Forest), Omid Ebrahimi (Esteghlal), Ehsan Hajsafi (Olympiakos), Vahid Amiri (Persepolis), Saman Ghoddos (Ostersunds FK), Ali Gholizadeh (Saipa)

Forwards: Alireza Jahanbakhsh (AZ Alkmaar), Karim Ansarifard (Olympiakos), Mahdi Taremi (Al-Gharafa Sports Club), Sardar Azmoun (Rubin Kazan), Reza Ghoochannejhad (SC Heerenveen)

Six Premier Leaguers named to Argentina, but no Icardi

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Argentina’s World Cup roster features a number of the usual suspects, particularly up front, but Serie A’s top goalscorer has been surprisingly left off the list of 23.

[ MORE: Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan ]

Manager Jorge Sampaoli’s squad was made official on Monday, which includes the likes of Lionel Messi, Sergio Aguero and Gonzalo Higuain.

The Albiceleste won’t be taking Inter Milan striker Mauro Icardi though, which has raised some questions about the decision.

Icardi led all scorers in Italy’s top flight this season, scoring 29 goals in 34 Serie A matches, while Paulo Dybala edged out the final striker spot in the Argentina squad.

Dybala is teammates with Higuain at Italian giants Juventus.

Meanwhile, six Premier League players were named into the South American nation’s squad, including goalkeepers Sergio Romero (Man United) and Willy Caballero (Chelsea), as well as Nicolas Otamendi (Man City), Marcos Rojo (Man United) and Manuel Lanzini (West Ham).

Men in Blazers POD: FA Cup recap, UCL final preview and more

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Rog and Davo recap a spite-fueled, snear-filled, peak Phil Jones FA Cup Final, preview this weekend’s Champions League tilt between Liverpool and Real Madrid and eulogize Big Sam… gone the opposite of too soon. Plus, World Cup rosters and MLS.

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