UEFA Champions League Roundup: Porto and Zenit win, all others draw

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UEFA Champions League play-offs continued on Wednesday with a series of tight contests headlined by a 1-0 victory for FC Porto at Lyon.

The Portuguese side grabbed the advantage heading into next Tuesday’s second leg when Hector Herrera scored the only goal of the match after 61 minutes.

Lyon nearly went level through Sebastien Corchia but were unable to capitalize and will need to score at least twice next week to overcome the deficit.

Standard Liege 1 Zenit St Petersburg

Andre Villas-Boas’ side came into Belgium and dominated the first leg but failed to capitalize beyond a one-goal win. The decisive strike came in the 16th minute after Oleg Shatov took a perfect cross from Hulk and buried it into the left corner. Zenit went on to register 17 attempts on target, 9 more than their counter-parts.

Maribor 1 Celtic 1

It took only five minutes for Glasgow Celtic to open the scoring in Slovenia on Wednesday as Callum McGregor finished from close range after some nice flank play from Jo Inge Berget. Ten minutes later, however, Maribor was level when Damjan Bohar found himself through after he beating the offside trap, collecting Zeljko Filipovic’s slick pass and neatly finishing past a sprawling Craig Gordon.

Both sides traded chances throughout the remainder of the match with Charlie Mulgrew, Virgil van Dijk and Stefan Johansen all coming close for Celtic while Maribor’s Ales Mertelj unleashed a hovering 30-yard shot that Gordon did well to tip wide.

Aalborg BK 1 Apoel Mariposa 1

Danish side Aalborg BK jumped out to an early lead on Apoel Mariposa when left midfielder Nikolaj Thomsen scored in the 16th minute. The home side held the lead until the 54th minute when Brazilian center-midfielder Vinicius Oliveira Franco leveled for the Cypriots making it all square heading into next week’s second leg.

SK Slovan Bratislava 1 Bate Borisov 1 

SK Slovan Bratislava found themselves in a first-half hole when defender Tomas Jablonsky finished into his own net to give Borisov the lead. Jablonsky was bailed out in the second half, however, when Robert Vittek struck with ten minutes to go for the hosts to leave on even-footing with the Belarusian champions.

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