Juventus 1-3 Barcelona: Luis Suarez’s late winner seals another Champions League triumph

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Barcelona are once again champions of Europe, after knocking off Juventus, 3-1, in the 2015 UEFA Champions League final at the Olympiastadion in Berlin, Germany, on Saturday. Goals scored by Ivan Rakitic, Luis Suarez and Neymar were enough to complete the Blaugrana‘s second treble-winning season in seven years.

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In the end, it was the unstoppable force — Barcelona’s all-time great attacking trio unit — that was too much for the immovable object — Juventus’ staunch, disciplined defense. Barca now have their fifth European title, halfway to the total of Spanish rivals Real Madrid.

Barca drew first blood in the 4th minute. Neymar made a jinking run down the left and cut back inside, where he threaded a through ball into the penalty area for the onrushing Iniesta, who took a touch before squaring to Rakitic near the penalty spot. Rakitic struck left-footed, first-time and beat the outstretched Gianluigi Buffon.

Buffon came up huge to keep the deficit at one just nine minutes later. Lionel Messi played Suarez down the right wing, where the Uruguayan cut his cross back for Dani Alves near the top of the penalty area. Alves’ first-time shot looked destined for the back of the neat, but Buffon made the acrobatic stop at his near post.

Suarez came very close to doubling the lead not one, but twice in the 40th minute. His first attempt, a right-footed effort dragged just wide of the far post from a difficult angle, was quickly succeeded by a second attempt at the end of a Juve giveaway inside their defensive third. The ball fell to Suarez, whose first-time curler was palmed high into the air by Buffon.

[ MORE: 2014-15 Barcelona team goes down as one of the all-time greats ]

Claudio Marchisio registered Juve’s first shot on target, in the 45th minute. A rare counter-attacking opportunity for Juve provided the Italian midfielder with a bit of time and space just outside Barca’s penalty area, where he unleashed a powerful, right-footed shot, but Marc-Andre ter Stegen got two hands and his body behind the chest-high shot and made the save with ease.

Quickly countering five-versus three just after halftime, Barca continued to chase the now-elusive second goal, as Messi’s through ball set up Suarez for a toe-poke shot from beyond the edge of the six-yard box, but Buffon had his near post covered and made the save.

In the 55th minute, Barca were made to pay for failing time and again to grab that second goal and put the game away. Marchisio began the move for Juve’s equalizer with a brilliant backheel to play Stephan Lichtsteiner into space down the right. The Swiss full back crossed for Arturo Vidal near the penalty spot, where he let the ball run on and fired low with his left foot, but Ter Stegen was quick to get down and make the save, though the rebound spilled toward his far post. Alvaro Morata arrived on the scene late and cleaned up the mess, slotting home from close range to level the game at 1-1.

Juve, who had settled into and subsequently continued a purple patch of possession and chances created, nearly took the lead when a quick counter attack resulted with Carlos Tevez all alone at the top of the penalty area, where the Argentine fired just over the bar in the 63rd minute. Paul Pogba fired a well-hit shot of his own straight into the clutches of Ter Stegen a minute later.

[ MORE: WATCH: Neymar, Iniesta, Rakitic combine masterfully to open the scoring ]

Almost completely against the run of play at this point, Barcelona jumped back into the lead, thanks to Buffon’s first blunder of the game, overshadowing his heroic performance through the game’s opening 67 minutes. Messi weaved his way through the Juve defense, creating space for a perhaps difficult-to-see shot through traffic, which Buffon did well to keep out, but parried the ball into the path of Suarez, who cleaned up at the back post and reclaimed the lead.

Barca’s lead was momentarily doubled three minutes later, when Neymar headed home Jordi Alba’s cross into the box, but the additional assistant referee on the endline whistled Neymar for handball and the goal was disallowed, rightly so.

Juve’s best chance for yet another equalizer came in the 88th minute, when Marchisio found ample space 25 yards from goal and ripped a low, bouncing shot that Ter Stegen needed every last inch of his 6-foot-2 frame in order to push the ball wide of his left-hand post.

With the referee a matter of seconds from blowing the full-time whistle, Neymar added the emphatic exclamation point for Barca, capping off a counter attack with a low, placed finish past Buffon.


Juventus: Buffon, Evra (Coman 89′), Bonucci, Barzagli, Lichtsteiner, Pirlo, Marchisio, Pogba, Vidal (Pereyra 79′), Morata (Llorente 85′), Tevez

Goals: Morata (55′)

Barcelona: Ter Stegen, Alba, Pique, Mascherano, Alves, Busquets, Rakitic (Mathieu 90+1′), Iniesta (Xavi 78′), Neymar, Suarez (Pedro 90+6′), Messi

Goals: Rakitic (4′), Suarez (68′), Neymar (90+7′)

China’s women’s team quarantined in Australia over virus fears

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BRISBANE, Australia (AP) China’s national women’s soccer team has been quarantined in Australia ahead of an Olympic qualifying tournament as fears spread about the outbreak of a new virus that has killed more than 130 people.

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

Health officials in Queensland state said on Wednesday that 32 people, including players, coaches and staff, traveled through the virus-effected Chinese city of Wuhan a week ago. The team was placed in isolation by border officials after arriving in Brisbane from Shanghai on Tuesday, and will be confined to a Brisbane hotel until Feb. 5.

Queensland Health said the squad was traveling with a team doctor and none has shown symptoms.

The Olympic regional qualifying tournament had been relocated from Wuhan to Nanjing before the Asian Football Confederation moved it to Sydney, Australia, because of concerns over the deadly coronavirus. Now it likely will be delayed.

The tournament had been scheduled to kick off next Monday with a double-header of China against Thailand followed by Australia against Taiwan.

It’s the final stage of regional qualifying for the Tokyo Olympics, which begin in July. The top two teams were supposed to advance to a home-and-away playoff for the last spot at the Olympic tournament.

Football Federation Australia on Wednesday placed a hold on ticket sales for the tournament.

[ MORE: Woodward’s house attacked by Man United fans with flares ]

The Chinese team trained in isolation before departing for Australia and players and staff all underwent testing before departure.

“They went through all the same checks that any Chinese national flying in from China would have gone through,” FFA chief executive James Johnson was quoted as saying by Australian Associated Press. “We’re confident in the government’s checks and balances.”

The FFA said it was notified of the latest advice from Australia’s Chief Medical Officer, Professor Brendan Murphy, that health experts believe the coronavirus is contagious before people show symptoms, and contacts of any confirmed cases must be isolated following exposure.

China has cut off access to Wuhan and 16 other cities to prevent people from leaving and spreading the virus further. The outbreak has infected more than 6,000 on the mainland and abroad. British Airways and Asian budget carriers Lion Air and Seoul Air have suspended flights to China and other airlines are reducing the number of flights to the country as demand for travel drops because of the outbreak.

Arsenal sign defender Mari on loan from Flamengo

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Amid an ongoing and injury crisis at center back, Arsenal have signed defender Pablo Mari on loan from Brazilian club Flamengo until the end of the season.

[ MORE: Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV ]

Th 26-year-old Spaniard spent three seasons on the books at Manchester City, where he never made a first-team appearance and instead was sent out on loan three times, before moving to Flamengo last summer. Flamengo won both the Brazilian league title and the Copa Libertadores during his six months at the club.

Mari’s loan agreement has an option to make the move permanent this summer.

[ MORE: Woodward’s house attacked by Man United fans with flares ]

Arsenal have been without defenders Calum Chambers, Sead Kolasinac and Kieran Tierney, for quite some time due to injuries. Shkodran Mustafi went down with an ankle injury during Monday’s FA Cup victory over Bournemouth and will miss some time as well.

Spurs complete Bergwijn transfer from PSV

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After 18 months without signing a single player, Tottenham Hotspur sure are making up for lost time.

[ MORE: Woodward’s house attacked by Man United fans with flares ]

The club announced on Wednesday that 22-year-old Dutch winger Steven Bergwijn has been signed from PSV Eindhoven, marking Tottenham’s second signing of the January transfer window. Midfielder Gedson Fernandes arrived from Benfica earlier this month.

Bergwijn is a dynamic wide attacking player who put together the best season of his younger career last term (14 goals in 33 league appearances) and followed it up with another solid six months at PSV (5 goals in 16) before Spurs came calling. He arrives a day after Christian Eriksen officially departed Spurs for Inter Milan, and Bergwijn will wear the no. 23 shirt, which stood vacant for less the 24 hours in Eriksen’s wake.

The fee for Bergwijn has been reported at $32 million, making him a relatively low-risk signing in the world of today’s transfers, though his mere presence signals a significant departure from the club’s standard operating practices of the past.

[ MORE: Report: Chelsea may ask Abraham to play through injury

Do Spurs fans have Jose Mourinho to thank for chairman Daniel Levy’s newfound free-spending ways? Not even Harry Redknapp could convince Spurs’ frugal owner to spend in this manner, let alone the likes of Mauricio Pochettino or an Andre Villas-Boas. While requesting and demanding — and getting — big-money signings has been a common theme of Mourinho’s management career, Spurs didn’t seem like a place he’d simply continue to operate in that way.

Rather than learn a new trick himself, it would appear Mourinho taught Levy one instead.

USWNT opens Olympic qualifying with win over Haiti

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The USWNT was rusty, that much was clear. Vlatko Andonovski still made sure they took care of business.

Four different goalscorers delivered a 4-0 victory over Haiti to begin CONCACAF Olympic qualification, putting the United States in front of Group A early. Lynn Williams picked up a goal and assist, proving useful on an otherwise sputtery evening for Vlatko Andonovski’s attack.

Just 78 seconds into the game, Williams charged down the right flank and crossed to Christen Press at the far post for the opening goal. Williams’ assist came without the use of her left shoe which she lost while holding off a defender for the bobbling ball.

Despite the early lead, the United States seemed somewhat sluggish as Haiti built themselves into the match. There were few chances on net after the opening goal through the half-hour mark.

Haiti nearly caught the U.S. napping on a corner as the ball found the back of the net on 20 minutes, but the goal was somehow ruled out. It appeared to be for offside, but since it’s impossible to be offside from a corner, there must have been another reason for the official ruling. Nonetheless, it was a clear sign for the USWNT that they needed to pick up the level of play.

The U.S. continued to struggle after halftime, creating very little in front of net. There was a half-chance for Lloyd near the penalty spot but a quality tackle by Kethna Louis put that to bed. Then finally they put the game to bed on a corner, not coincidentally coming just five minutes after Megan Rapinoe entered the fray. Rapinoe delivered a corner to the doorstep where Williams headed in well under pressure, moving her upper body away from goal against the motion of her lower body to reach the delivery.

Another Andonovski substitute paid dividends however as Lindsey Horan scored, again coming off a corner. They played it short and Horan headed from a significant distance out, the ball squirting past the goalkeeper Kerly Theus and Louis who tried to clear off the line. It was clear that Haiti had begun to tire and the USWNT was taking advantage. Up front, Carli Lloyd had a poor game, unable to get involved in attacking play, but she found the scoresheet in stoppage time, bagging a header off a Rapinoe cross in the 93rd minute to finish out the scoring.

Emily Sonnett replaced Kelley O’Hara with 10 minutes to go for Andonovski’s final change, and the USWNT saw the rest of the match out. They have two matches remaining before the knockout stage, set to take on Panama on Friday before the group stage finale against Costa Rica on February 3. The top two teams in the group reach the knockout phase with the semifinals to begin on February 7.