EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia

Top four, relegation battle: What’s the situation?

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The top four and relegation battle is absolutely bonkers as we head into the final four matchweeks of the 2019-20 Premier League season.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

So many teams are involved in the Champions League battle, the Europa League push and the relegation scrap.

With four games to go for each team in the Premier League, there are some massive games set up for the final weeks of the season.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Let’s take a look at the situation up and down the table.


Top four, Europa League race

Man City pretty much have second place wrapped up but with a decision on their appeal on a two-year ban from UEFA expected imminently, we will soon find out if they will be in the Champions League next season, or if fifth place in the Premier League will become a Champions League spot.

Focusing on third and fourth, Chelsea are in the driving seat but Man United are just two points behind in fifth and Leicester are sandwiched in-between them in fourth. The Foxes have looked disjoined since the restart, and for many months, while Man United are surging and have all the momentum in the top four. If fifth place does become a Champions League spot, Wolves, Sheffield United, Arsenal and Tottenham seem like outside bets to finish above one of Man United, Leicester and Chelsea to finish fifth. At this point, I think Man United will finish third, Chelsea fourth and Leicester fifth. It will all come down to Leicester v. Man United on the final day of the season.

When it comes to the Europa League, if Man City are banned from Europe then eighth place could be a Europa League spot along with sixth and seventh. That is because Man City have already won the League Cup and the four FA Cup semifinalists (Arsenal, Man City, Man United and Chelsea) are likely to qualify for Europe through their league position. Everton and Southampton are unlikely to reach eighth place, but could, and wouldn’t it be something if Burnley could keep their run going? They face Liverpool, Wolves, Norwich and Brighton.

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Liverpool 34 30 2 2 75 26 49 17-0-0 13-2-2 92
 Manchester City 34 22 3 9 86 34 52 13-2-2 9-1-7 69
 Chelsea 34 18 6 10 63 46 17 9-3-5 9-3-5 60
 Leicester City 34 17 8 9 64 32 32 10-4-3 7-4-6 59
 Manchester United 34 16 10 8 59 33 26 10-5-2 6-5-6 58
 Wolves 34 13 13 8 45 37 8 6-7-4 7-6-4 52
 Sheffield United 34 13 12 9 35 33 2 9-3-5 4-9-4 51
 Arsenal 34 12 14 8 50 42 8 8-6-3 4-8-5 50
 Tottenham Hotspur 34 13 10 11 52 44 8 10-3-4 3-7-7 49
 Burnley 34 14 7 13 38 46 -8 8-3-6 6-4-7 49
 Everton 34 12 9 13 41 49 -8 8-6-3 4-3-10 45
 Southampton 34 13 5 16 43 56 -13 5-2-10 8-3-6 44

Relegation battle

So, things are becoming a little clearer at the bottom as the bottom three have yet to win since the restart and both West Ham and Watford have picked up big wins in recent weeks. Brighton are almost safe from relegation after an impressive start to the restart, while Norwich are all but down after five defeats on the trot since the action resumed.

Now it’s all about Bournemouth or Aston Villa and if they can somehow string together two or three wins in their final four games of the season. Both teams have tough remaining schedules with Bournemouth facing Leicester, Man City, Southampton and Everton. Aston Villa face Crystal Palace, Everton, Arsenal and West Ham and Villa will hope they still have a chance of staying up ahead of that last game at West Ham.

 Brighton & Hove Albion 34 8 12 14 36 47 -11 5-6-6 3-6-8 36
 West Ham United 34 8 7 19 40 59 -19 5-3-9 3-4-10 31
 Watford 34 7 10 17 31 53 -22 5-6-6 2-4-11 31

 Bournemouth 34 7 7 20 32 59 -27 4-6-7 3-1-13 28
 Aston Villa 34 7 6 21 36 65 -29 5-3-9 2-3-12 27
 Norwich City 34 5 6 23 26 63 -37 4-3-10 1-3-13 21

Pulisic explains his superb form during ‘Project Restart’

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In an interview with Sky Sports, Christian Pulisic has explained the reason behind his superb form during ‘Project Restart’ as the USMNT winger has been one of the best players in the Premier League since action returned in June.

[ MORE: Pulisic Watch – Analysis ]

Pulisic, 21, has scored three goals, won two penalty kicks and has consistently been Man of the Match for Chelsea as Frank Lampard’s side push for a top four finish and the FA Cup.

Speaking to our partners in the UK Sky Sports, Pulisic was asked what he did during the Premier League’s suspension to bring out his best form. Turns out his trip back home to Hershey, Pennsylvania was very, very helpful.

“I had that first game on my mind. I was really hungry the whole time to get back and get back on the field. I was training hard and I’m really happy now to be able to make an impact,” Pulisic said. “I was able to get some work in back in the States, as well, and be able to continue to work on my game but also rehabbing and making sure I was 100 per cent fit and ready to go. So during a really tough time for a lot of people, that was the one positive thing that I could do for myself.”

The full interview is definitely worth your time as it is chocked full of stats, graphics and more from Pulisic about his stunning form since the Premier League returned.

Asked once again about the comparisons between himself and Chelsea legend Eden Hazard, Pulisic brushed them aside and stated he will not change the way he plays.

“I’m really happy I can do that as of recent and my style is always going to continue to be that very attacking-minded and creative kind of player. I’m happy I can help the team any way I can,” Pulisic added. “I want to be a part of this team. Every day in training I work hard because I want to start and I want to be on the field and I want to create goals and I want to score goals. That’s where I want to be. I want to continue to make a big impact every week and every game.”

Alongside Bruno Fernandes from Manchester United, Pulisic has been the main man in the Premier League throughout June and July.

USMNT fans everywhere are salivating as they watch the Pennsylvanian Messi rip it up for Chelsea on a weekly basis. Long may that continue.

Chelsea’s Gilmour, Liverpool’s Henderson out for season

Chelsea Billy Gilmour
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Chelsea star Billy Gilmour and Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson have both been ruled out for lengthy periods due to serious knee injuries.

[ MORE: New PL TV schedule ]

Gilmour, 19, has undergone surgery after the right knee injury he suffered against Crystal Palace was much worse than previously feared.

Chelsea boss Frank Lampard confirmed that Gilmour could be out for up to four months.

“Billy had an operation on his knee [Friday] morning, we estimate he will be out for between three and four months unfortunately. I’m very disappointed, as we all are here,” Lampard said. “He’s a tough boy, it hit him hard especially as a young boy who has just made a breakthrough. I told him he should be very pleased with what he’s done and the impact he’s had this season anyway. His attitude will get him back as quickly as he can.”

Gilmour has slotted in superbly in his debut Premier League season as the “Irn-Bru Iniesta” looks a star in the making due to his composure and creativity on the ball in central midfield.

Henderson
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As for a player at the opposite end of his career, Liverpool skipper Jordan Henderson is also out for the rest of the season but he could be back for the start of the 2020-21 campaign.

Henderson, 30, suffered the injury in a tackle with Yves Bissouma in Liverpool’s 3-1 win at Brighton on Tuesday.

Jurgen Klopp confirmed that Liverpool feared the worst but Henderson doesn’t need surgery and although he will miss the rest of this season, he could be back for the start of the 2020-21 season.

“Hendo is actually really the best possible of all the bad news. It is a knee injury, but no surgery needed,” Klopp said. “He will not play anymore in the latter stage of this season but I am pretty positive he will start with us the new season. We were all concerned in the moment we saw him in going down and when he left the pitch and stuff like this. Yesterday when we got the news, it was a big relief for all of us. It is not cool, obviously, but it is the best we could get. Hendo will be back; he is a quick healer and he will be back soon.”

Liverpool also confirmed that Henderson will lift the Premier League trophy as planned as his imperious displays from central midfield have been a hallmark of their incredible season.

It is now time for Naby Keita, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain to get some extra minutes, with Georginio Wijnaldum and Fabinho mainstays in central midfield.

Champions League, Europa League draw: Schedule, how to watch

Champions League draw
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The Champions League schedule is set as the draw for the UCL and Europa League has been made and below you will find all the details you need and how to watch in the USA.

 [ LIVE: Champions League scores

Draws for the quarterfinals and semifinals of both competitions were made in Switzerland by UEFA on Friday, as the 2019-20 season competitions will conclude with special mini-tournaments with one-legged games from this point.

Big boys are about to collide as the Champions League schedule is set.

Man City will face either Lyon or Juventus if they can maintain their first leg lead over Real Madrid, while Chelsea will face either Napoli or Barcelona if they overturn a 3-0 deficit against Bayern Munich.

Man United and Wolves will collide in the semifinals of the Europa League if they make it that far.

The Champions League quarterfinals, semifinals and final will all be played in Lisbon, Portugal. While the Europa League will be played in four venues across Germany.

Champions League draw

Dates: August 7-23
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Lisbon
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Round of 16
Friday, August 7: Manchester City v. Real Madrid (2-1)
Friday, August 7: Juventus v. Lyon (0-1)
Saturday, August 8: Barcelona v. Napoli (1-1)
Saturday, August 8: Bayern Munich v. Chelsea (3-0)

Quarterfinals (August 12-15)
1. Manchester City/Real Madrid v. Lyon/Juventus
2. RB Leipzig v. Atletico Madrid
3. Napoli/Barcelona v. Chelsea/Bayern Munich
4. Atalanta v. Paris Saint-Germain

Semifinals (August 18/19)
1. Winner quarterfinal 1 v. Winner quarterfinal 3
2. Winner quarterfinal 2 v. Winner quarterfinal 4

Final
Sunday, August 23: Winner semifinal 1 v. Winner semifinal 2

Europa League draw

Dates: August 5-21
Location: Round of 16 at home venues; Quarterfinals onwards in Duisburg, Fortuna Dusseldorf, Schalke and Cologne in Germany.
How to watch: CBS Sports
Live updates: Here at NBCSports.com

Round of 16 (August 5-6)
Copenhagen v. Istanbul Basaksehir (0-1)
Wolves v. Olympiakos (1-1)
Bayer Leverkusen v. Rangers (3-1)
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Wolfsburg (2-1)
Basel v. Eintracht Frankfurt (0-3)
Manchester United v. LASK (5-0)
Inter Milan v. Getafe (first leg abandoned)
Sevilla v. Roma (first leg abandoned)

Quarterfinals (August 10-11)
1. Wolfsburg/Shakhtar Donetsk v. Eintracht Frankfurt/Basel
2. LASK/Manchester United v. Istanbul Basaksehir/Copenhagen
3. Inter Milan/Getafe v. Rangers/Bayer Leverkusen
4. Olympiakos/Wolves v. Sevilla/Roma

Semifinals (August 16-17)
1. Winner of quarterfinal 4 v. Winner of quarterfinal 2
2. Winner of quarterfinal 3 v. Winner of quarterfinal 1

Final
Friday, August 21: Winner semifinal 1 v. Winner semifinal 2