Arsenal 0-0 Liverpool: Gunners, Reds stalemate in exciting, end-to-end affair

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  • Petr Cech made a pair of stunning saves to keep Arsenal level just before halftime
  • Brendan Rodgers’ Liverpool kept their third clean sheet in three games
  • With the draw, Arsenal sit on 4 points from three games — 9th in the PL table
  • Meanwhile, Liverpool are on 7 points — good for 3rd in the PL

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Philippe Coutinho nearly gave the visitors a lead less than three minutes into the game, when James Milner played a through ball to Christian Benteke in the right attacking channel, Benteke cut the ball back toward the penalty spot and Coutinho’s right-footed curler hit the underside of the crossbar but caromed back into the field of play.

Arsenal thought they had taken an early lead in the 8th minute, through Aaron Ramsey’s near-post finish, but the Welshman was flagged for offside as Santi Cazorla played the ball into the penalty area. Replays seemed to indicate Martin Skrtel had kept Ramsey onside, meaning the goal should have stood.

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

Coutinho’s influence on the game continued into the 25th minute, when the Brazilian midfielder slotted a clever through ball past three defenders to put Milner in on goal. If not for Gabriel Paulista’s late-arriving challenge, Milner’s first touch was to be an unobstructed shot on goal. As it was, Milner ended up with a tough outside-of-the-foot shot, which Petr Cech got down quickly to hold.

Throughout the entire first half, Arsenal’s midfield and defense showed a real penchant for giving the ball away deep inside their own half. In the 39th minute, they had seemingly been punished for a bad giveaway by Hector Bellerin. Roberto Firimino won the ball, whipped in a cross that eluded two Arsenal defenders and found Benteke, unmarked, at the back post. With the goal gaping, Benteke simply needed to touch the ball over the line, but out of nowhere came Cech to tip the ball around the post.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Cech made another stunning save in the 45th minute (above video), when he went full stretch to get the slightest of touches on a curling effort from Coutinho. After freeing up space with a fancy double move on Bellerin, Coutinho cut toward the corner of the 18-yard box and unleashed a right-footed curler destined to sneak inside the far post, if not for Cech’s intervention and touch onto the post.

Alexis Sanchez went agonizingly close in the 60th minute, when his left-footed effort from close range hit the outside of Simon Mignolet’s left-hand post and went out of play. Cazorla played a diagonal ball into the box, where Olivier Giroud laid it off first-time to Sanchez for the shot from the corner of the six-yard box.

[ MORE: Click here for full lineups, stats, box score

If not for a slight slip inside the box, Giroud might have given Arsenal a breakthrough goal himself in the 70th minute. After a quick one-touch pass from Ramsey, the big French striker found himself behind Dejan Lovren, but as he went to shoot with his left foot, Giroud’s plant foot gave way, causing him to slide into the ball rather than strike it with power and control, and Mignolet made the diving stop.

UEFA Champions League last 16 draw

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The draw for the last 16 of the UEFA Champions League took place on Monday and it was a mixed bag for the four Premier League clubs.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Reigning Premier League champions Manchester City will play Schalke, while Manchester United were handed a tough draw after finishing second in their group as they face PSG.

Tottenham have also been handed a tough, but very likeable draw for the neutral, as they’ll play Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund. And Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp will be heading back to Germany as the current PL leaders will play Bayern Munich.

Below is the draw in full, as the first legs will be played on 12–13 & 19–20 Feb. 2019 and the second legs on 5–6 & 12–13 Mar., 2019. The teams drawn first in the list below will play the first leg at home, with the second legs away.

And remember, VAR will be used in the UCL for the first time for all knockout round games. Get your VAR hand signals ready…


Last 16 draw for UEFA Champions League, 2018-19

Schalke v. Manchester City
Atletico Madrid v. Juventus
Manchester United v. Paris Saint-Germain
Tottenham Hotspur v. Borussia Dortmund
Lyon v. Barcelona
Roma v. Porto
Ajax v. Real Madrid
Liverpool v. Bayern Munich

England captain Kane finishes 3rd for Sportsman of the Year

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BIRMINGHAM, England (AP) Geraint Thomas has been voted BBC Sports Personality of the Year after becoming the third British cyclist to win the Tour de France.

In a public vote, Thomas beat five-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton — a former winner of the BBC award — into second place, while England soccer captain Harry Kane, who led his team to the World Cup semifinals, was third.

The 32-year-old Welshman joined Bradley Wiggins (2012) and Chris Froome (2013, ’15, ’16, ’17) as Britons to win the Tour de France. Wiggins has won the BBC award, but Froome never has.

“It’s been an amazing year for British sport,” Thomas said, “and long may it continue.”

Liga MX: America wins at Cruz Azul to capture Apertura title

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Club America had a tall mountain to climb following their scoreless draw, at home, with Cruz Azul in the first leg of Liga MX’s Apertura final on Thursday, but climb that mountain they did with a 2-0 victory at Estadio Azteca on Sunday.

[ LA LIGA: Lionel Messi’s hat trick paces Barcelona in rout of Levante ]

Midfielder Edson Alvarez scored both goals in the game — five minutes into the second half and one minute before full-time — as America claimed their record 13th league title (first since 2014).

Cruz Azul goalkeeper Jose de Jesus Corona committed a costly error to set up Alvarez for the opener, and ultimately the winner. Alvarez’s second came courtesy of a bit of fortuitous timing, as Corona made the initial save on Cecilio Dominguez’s shot, but the rebound fell to Alvarez for a straightforward finish.

It was the second league title of manager Miguel Herrera’s career, and his first since his first stint with America, in 2013.

Cruz Azul saw their title-less streak reach 21 years, in heartbreaking fashion, after finishing top of the table in the regular season. They are now the first team in Mexican history to lose six straight finals appearances.

La Liga: Messi’s hat trick paces Barcelona in rout of Levante

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ SATURDAY: Atletico Madrid pull level with Barcelona; Real two points back ]

Levante 0-5 Barcelona

Lionel Messi recorded his 43rd hat trick for Barcelona (all competitions) on Sunday, leading the way in a 5-0 rout away to eighth-place Levante. The five-goal hammering could be seen as a measure of revenge for Barca’s only La Liga defeat last season, a 5-4 defeat to Levante on the penultimate weekend, with the title already wrapped up and sans Messi.

“We had circled this match on the calendar after what happened here last season,” Barca manager Ernesto Valverde said after the game.

While the goals will get most of the headlines, it was Messi’s assist — the first one, to clarify — that was perhaps most impressive. Dribbling down the left side of the penalty area, he drew three defenders into his orbit before threading a chipped cross between two of them and setting up Luis Suarez for a difficult acrobatic finish.

Messi then proceeded to score the game’s next three goals before setting up Gerard Pique for the fifth — his second assist of the day — to play a key role in all five goals.

The victory restores the three-point lead which Barca held coming into the weekend, prior to Atletico Madrid pulling level on points on Saturday.

Sevilla 2-0 Girona

Sevilla reclaimed second place from Atleti (level on points) with a 2-0 victory over Girona. Ever Banega (penalty kick) and Pablo Sarabia scored the goals nine minutes apart early in the second half to extend Pablo Machin’s side’s unbeaten run to seven league games.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Espanyol 1-3 Real Betis
Huesca 2-2 Villarreal