Real Madrid 1-0 (1-0 agg.) Atletico Madrid: Chicharito’s late winner the difference (video)

Leave a comment

Over the course of 90 minutes on Wednesday, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez saw his stock among Real Madrid fans go from “zero,” to “less than zero,” to “hero,” as the out-of-favor Mexican striker was ultimately the difference maker in securing Real’s passage into the UEFA Champions League semifinals with a 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid.

[ Tuesday’s UCL roundup: Bayern 6-1 (7-4 agg.) Porto | Barcelona 2-0 (5-1 agg.) PSG ]

Hernandez made just his sixth start of the season (all competitions) on Tuesday, and wouldn’t you know it, the first chance of the game feel to the 26-year-old striker in the 12th minute, but Hernandez skewed his shot wildly from a tight angle, only narrowly hitting the side netting of Jan Oblak’s goal.

Cristiano Ronaldo nearly broke the deadlock in the 44th minute, but the Portuguese superstar’s first-time shot from a tight was saved by Oblak after Ronaldo beat the offside trap and found himself one on one with the Slovenian ‘keeper.

Real started the second half quickly, much like they finished the first period. Isco slipped a through ball to a possibly offside Hernandez, whose first-time shot looked destined for the inside of the far post, but swerved just wide at the last second, keeping the game and the tie level at 0-0.

[ MORE: Monaco 0-0 (0-1 agg.) Juventus: Strong defensive display sees Juve through ]

The game completely changed in the 76th minute when Atleti midfielder Arda Turan was shown a second yellow card for a high challenge on Sergio Ramos. Turan made contact with the foot of Ramos near chest-high, though Turan could only clatter into the foot of Ramos at that height if his foot was there, too. Since Ramos was in the process of playing the ball in the air, and Turan arrived much later than Ramos, a yellow card is justifiable.

It wasn’t until Hernandez’s 7th shot of the game, after so many went narrowly wide of the goal, that Real finally broke through and scored the game and tie’s only only goal (88th minute). Ronaldo broke down the right side of Atleti’s penalty area, attracted the attention of two defenders and Oblak, and squared the ball for Hernandez, who couldn’t miss an empty net from 12 yards out (above video).

The goal was Hernandez’s first Champions League goal in 895 days, going back to his time with Manchester United in the 2012-13 competition.

LINEUPS

Real Madrid: Casillas, Carvajal, Pepe, Varane, Coentrao, Isco, Sergio Ramos, Kroos, Hernandez, Ronaldo, Rodriguez

Goals: Hernandez (88′)

Atletico Madrid: Oblak, Juanfran, Godin, Miranda, Jesus Gamez, Tiago (Gimenez 86′), Koke, Saul Niguez (Gabi 46′), Turan, Griezmann (Garcia 65′), Mandzukic

Luke Shaw: Scrap season and start again

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Man United and England defender Luke Shaw has said the 2019-20 season should be scrapped and started again if games cannot be completed.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Shaw, 24, was speaking during a FIFA 20 competition which was streamed on Twitch to raise funds for UNICEF’s Combat Corona campaign.

“Scrap it and start again. Start it again, yeah,” Shaw said. “It’s got to be, you know. If we can’t carry it on, it’s got to be void.”

All 20 Premier League clubs remain committed to completing the 2019-20 season whenever ‘safe to do so’ but there’s no resumption date currently lined up.

One option is for games to played behind closed doors, when possible, but Shaw isn’t keen on that either.

“Fans are so important. You realise it even more (now),” Shaw said. “I think the sport is for fans really… I think if you don’t have fans, and you don’t play in front of fans, it just doesn’t feel right. Especially on matchday, the fans are always amazing and always help the team. Whether it’s home or even away, our fans are always brilliant and I feel like they’re always there with us.”

The view of Shaw differs slightly from other Premier League players who have discussed the current suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic but there is a general consensus that they want to move onto the next season as soon as possible. When it comes to Shaw, his views are very interesting as Man United had rallied to be three points off the top four and had plenty of momentum ahead of the final nine games of the current league campaign, as well as being in a great position in the latter stages of the Europa League and FA Cup.

Man City star Kevin de Bruyne wants to move on from the 2019-20 season as soon as possible as he doesn’t think the start of the 2020-21 campaign should be delayed and is concerned about players being injured if they are asked to resume the season quickly.

Other players are fine to wait to see what the Premier League plans but Tottenham forward Harry Kane has also expressed his desire to move on from the current campaign if games cannot be completed by the end of June.

It is intriguing to hear so many differing views from Premier League players on when the season should resume, if at all, but Kane, Shaw and De Bruyne are all saying something slightly different. Therein lies the problem. How will a consensus be reached between PL clubs with so many different ideas and opinions on what should happen next?

If you throw club affiliations and rivalries into the mix, why on earth would a Man United star want the current season to be deemed as ‘void’ when Liverpool are 25 points clear at the top of the table and just five points away from securing the Premier League title…

Son to complete military service in South Korea

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Tottenham have confirmed that forward Heung-min Son will complete his military service in South Korea this month and will return to London in May.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Son, 27, previously became exempt from the mandatory 21-month military service as he captained South Korea to gold medal glory at the 2018 Asian Games but there is also a four-week stint he needs to complete in the army.

A new rule which arrived in 2018 means that men in South Korea must enlist in the military by the age of 28 and Son turns 28 on July 8.

Spurs released the following statement on Son’s situation, as he recently returned to South Korea as he continues his rehabilitation from a broken arm he suffered in the 3-2 win at Aston Villa in February.

“The Club can confirm that Heung-Min Son will commence his mandatory military service in South Korea this month. The forward arrived back in his home country at the end of March where he is currently in quarantine. Our medical staff are in regular contact as he concludes his recovery after fracturing his arm in our 3-2 win against Aston Villa on 16 February and continues to train.

“Sonny had surgery on his arm in South Korea before returning to the UK at the end of February to continue his rehabilitation, prior to the initial announcement of the professional game in England being suspended as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. The Premier League has since announced that the 2019/20 season will only return when it is ‘safe and appropriate to do so’ and is under constant review. Son will return to London following the conclusion of his military service in May.”

Pep Guardiola’s mother dies due to coronavirus

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The mother of Pep Guardiola, Dolors Sala Carrio, has died after being infected by the coronavirus. 

Carrio, 82, passed away in the Catalan town of Manresa, 40 miles north of Barcelona, as Manchester City announced they have been left ‘devastated’ by the news as their manager has lost his mother amid the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

“The Manchester City family are devastated to report the death today of Pep’s mother Dolors Sala Carrio in Manresa, Barcelona after contracting Corona Virus. She was 82-years-old. Everyone associated with the club sends their most heartfelt sympathy at this most distressing time to Pep, his family and all their friends.” 

Two weeks ago Guardiola donated over $1 million to hospitals in his home state of Catalonia in the battle against COVID-19 and has been a leading figure in calling for people to stay at home to help save lives and stop its spread.

“We miss football. We miss the life that we had a few days ago but now is the time to listen, to follow our scientists, doctors and nurses,” Guardiola said. “You are my football family and we are going to do everything possible to make you feel better. We’ll come back from this stronger, better, kinder … and a little bit fatter. Stay inside, stay safe.”

Spain and Italy have been the two nations in Europe most-impacted by the coronavirus pandemic, with both countries on lockdown for lengthy periods of time.

VOTE: Premier League March Madness playoff semifinals

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Our Premier League March Madness 2020 tournament has officially kicked off and here’s an explainer on how you can vote all week long.

Before we get to the Sweet 16 which kicks tips off on Tuesday, we have the small matter of the relegation playoffs which take center stage on Monday.

Two relegation playoff semifinals will take place with #17 Watford hosting #20 Norwich City and #18 Bournemouth hosting #19 Aston Villa for a place in the relegation playoff final.

[ LIVE: March Madness PL hub

What do the winners get? If you win the relegation playoff final you are exempt from relegation, while the runner up and two semifinal losers are relegated.

If you want to see the full game schedule, seedings and bracket, here is the post you need as the tournament will run all week long:

Monday: Relegation semifinals, final
Tuesday: Sweet 16
Wednesday: Elite Eight
Thursday: Final Four
Friday: Championship game

Plus, our own Nick Mendola handicapped the field and here is who he thinks will be the favorites to win it all and which teams you should look out for as dark horses over the next few days. His predictions are wild and Arsenal fans will want to prove his is correct to pick up a first piece of silverware under Mikel Arteta.

Okay, vote below (until 12:45 p.m. ET) for the two semifinal winners who will meet in the relegation playoff final later today as our Premier League March Madness tournament begins!