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UEFA Europa League preview: RVP ready for “special” Old Trafford return

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We’ve got a Champions League-level match down in the UEFA Europa League on Thursday, highlighted by an Old Trafford visit by a Turkish giant.

Old pal Robin Van Persie and Fenerbahce visit Manchester United on Thursday, and the home side would do well with all three points. Fener has a road draw at Zorya and a home win versus Feyenoord, while United beat Zorya after losing in the Netherlands.

[ MORE: Champions League power rankings ]

“In the last match I had a game against one of my first teams, Feyenoord, and next it’s United,” Van Persie said on ManUtd.com. “I am looking forward to it. I am now playing for Fenerbahce and I want to do well for my team but of course it will be special to play ‘at home’ [Old Trafford] in a great stadium with great fans against a great team.”

Jose Mourinho admitted he’ll start Luke Shaw in the match, and wouldn’t rule out playing Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Wayne Rooney or both. United has to deal with a well-rested Chelsea at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, so Mourinho’s lineup choice will be interesting.

Fenerbahce’s travel was anything but routine on the way to Manchester.

Our own Joe Prince-Wright will be at the San Siro for  Southampton‘s visit to Inter Milan. Inter has lost both of its Europa League outings so far, while Saints are tied for the group lead after beating Sparta Prague and drawing away to Hapoel Be’er Sheva.

Meanwhile, surprising Dundalk hosts Zenit in the latest bid at upsetting a European regular, while Ajax faces a tricky trip to Celta Vigo.

Full schedule

1 p.m. ET
Hapoel Be’er Sheva vs. Sparta Prague
Shakhtar Donetsk vs. Gent
Qarabag vs. PAOK
Steaua Bucuresti vs. Zurich
Celta Vigo vs. Ajax
Standard Liege vs. Panathinaikos
Konyaspor vs. Braga
Liberec vs. Fiorentina
Inter Milan vs. Southampton
Red Bell Salzburg vs. Nice
Osmanlispor vs. Villarreal
Krasnodar vs. Schalke

3:05 p.m. ET
Saint Etienne vs. Gabala
Roma vs. Austria Wien
Olympiacos vs. Astana
Manchester United vs. Fenerbahce
Mainz vs. Anderlecht
Rapid Wien vs. Sassuolo
Viktoria Plzen vs. Astra Giurgiu
Dundalk vs. Zenit Saint Petersburg
Young Boys vs. Apoel Nicosia
Feyenoord vs. Zorya Luhansk
AZ Alkmaar vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv
Genk vs. Athletic Bilbao

Real Monarchs beat Louisville City to win first ever USL Cup

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Real Monarchs scored three unanswered goals as they routed Louisville City 3-1 at Lynn Stadium to win their first ever USL Cup title.

Noah Powder’s goal in the 66th minute sealed the deal for the visitor’s, adding to the goals scored by defenders Erik Holt and Konrad Plewa in the first half.

Surprisingly enough, it was Lou City who got off to a superb start on Sunday night, though.

Only six minutes after the initial whistle, Lou City’s leading goalscorer, Magnus Rasmussen, scored the game’s first goal, breaking a record for the fastest goal in a USL Cup final.

The defeat brings an end to Lou City’s historic run of consecutive USL Cup-winning seasons.

On July 1, former Real Salt Lake defender, Jamison Olave, took over as the Monarchs interim coach following Martin Vasquez’s unexpected resignation.

Man arrested after English soccer player reports homophobia

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TRANMERE, England — A footballer in England’s third tier reported being subjected to homophobic abuse from the stands, leading to police making one arrest.

Wycombe goalkeeper Ryan Allsop told the referee of the abuse at halftime of the League One soccer game at Tranmere as his team won 2-0.

Tranmere says it is very disappointed to learn of a homophobic comment made.

In a statement, Merseyside Police condemned abhorrent incidents.

Police Chief Inspector Jason Crellin added that “hate crime has no place in our communities, and not least at a showcase sporting event attended and watched by many people.”

Brazil beat Mexico to win U-17 World Cup (video)

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Brazil became Under-17 world champions for a fourth time in dramatic fashion as Lazaro Vinicius Marques’ scored a 93rd-minute winner to edge Mexico 2-1 at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

Brazil’s comeback started in the 84th minute when Kaio Jorge converted from the penalty spot, following VAR’s decision which ruled contact on the tournament’s Golden Ball winner, Gabriel Veron, inside the 18-yard box.

With Brazilian legends Ronaldo and Cafu in attendance, the host’s had the better of chances throughout the first 45 minutes. Without any luck, however, Brazil were unable to get the ball past Eduardo Garcia, instead hitting the bar on several occasions.

Then in the 66th minute, Mexico – winners of the tournament in 2005 and in 2011 – stunned the home crowd when Bronze Ball winner Eugenio Pizzoto’s cross into the box was headed into the back of the net by Bryan Alonso Gonzalez Olivan, breaking the deadlock between two sides that had met in the same game back in 2005.

What was going to be a stunning, underdog victory for El Tri, turned into a heartbreaking night for Marco “Chima” Ruiz and company.

Brazil, on the other hand, are now only one championship away from tying Nigeria’s record of five championships.

EURO qualifying wrap: France, Iceland, Turkey earn wins

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With their tickets already booked to next summer’s big tournament, France and Turkey picked up wins in Sunday’s Euro qualifying action, which saw defending champions Portugal clinch qualification.

[ READ: Defending champions Portugal qualify to EURO 2020 ]


Albania 0-2 France

Albania opened their new, 22,500-seat stadium with a hard-fought loss against France.

Early on, Bayern Munich’s Corentin Tolisso gave the impression that the home fans were in for a long night at the inaugurating Air Albania Stadium, opening the score just eight minutes in with a well-placed header. In the 31st minute, an unfamiliar face, Leo Dubois, connected with Antoine Griezmann, who slotted the ball into the bottom-right corner. France finish the qualifiers leaders of Group H with 25 points. Throughout the 10 matches, the world champions lost only once, a 2-0 loss against Turkey.

Andorra 0-2 Turkey

Real Valladolid’s Enes Unal scored a first-half brace as Turkey coasted past Andorra 2-0. Turkey, who clinched a spot next summer after finishing Group H two points behind France, controlled possession and chances at goal.

Moldova 1-2 Iceland

Everton’s Gylfi Sigurdsson scored the visitor’s second and winning goal in the second half, as Iceland walked away from Zimbru Stadium with a 2-1 win on Sunday.

With 19 points throughout 10 games, Rúnar Kristinsson and company felt five points short of qualifying directly for next year’s competition. That said, they’ll partake in the Euro 2020 playoffs, looking to squeeze their way in.

Elsewhere

Luxembourg 0-2 Portugal

Serbia 2-2 Ukraine

Kosovo 0-4 England

Bulgaria 1-0 Czech Republic