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UCL wrap: Two more Premier League clubs advance

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The UEFA Champions League week found its conclusion with several big matches, including three more wins for the Premier League.

[ MLS: Kyle Beckerman cut most of his hair off ]

Liverpool 3-0 MariborRECAP

A dominant first half saw no goals for the hosts, but Mohamed Salah, Daniel Sturridge, and Emre Can all scored as the Reds took a firmer grasp of first in the group. Hold on, though, as the Reds are next off to Sevilla while Spartak Moscow hosts Maribor.

Sevilla 2-1 Spartak Moscow

The La Liga side got a goal from French defender Clement Lenglet and another from Ever Banega, while the Russians could only answer through Ze Luis in the 78th minute.

Group E
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Liverpool 4 2 2 0 13 3 10 1-1-0 1-1-0 8
Sevilla 4 2 1 1 8 8 0 2-0-0 0-1-1 7
Spartak Moscow 4 1 2 1 8 5 3 1-1-0 0-1-1 5
NK Maribor 4 0 1 3 1 14 -13 0-1-1 0-0-2 1

Napoli 2-4 Man CityRECAP

A fun one for the neutrals and Man City fans, as Pep Guardiola‘s men rallied from 1-0 down to take a 2-1 lead, only to see Napoli knot it up. When all was said and done, though, Nicolas Otamendi, John Stones, and Raheem Sterling had joined new Man City all-time leading scorer Sergio Aguero on the score sheet as the Premier Leaguers punched their ticket to the knockout rounds.

Shakhtar Donetsk 3-1 Feyenoord

Shakhtar is now a single point from joined City in the next round after Nicolai Jorgensen’s surprise opener was answered thrice by the hosts. Marlos had two of those, and the Ukranian powers look set for second.

Group F
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Manchester City 4 4 0 0 12 3 9 2-0-0 2-0-0 12
Shakhtar Donetsk 4 3 0 1 7 5 2 2-0-0 1-0-1 9
Napoli 4 1 0 3 7 9 -2 1-0-1 0-0-2 3
Feyenoord 4 0 0 4 3 12 -9 0-0-2 0-0-2 0

Besiktas 1-1 Monaco

The Ligue 1 champions took a first half stoppage time lead through Rony Lopes, but the group leaders are a whisker away from the knockout rounds thanks to Cenk Tosun’s second half penalty.

Porto 3-1 RB Leipzig

Mexico’s Hector Herrera put the hosts on top at halftime, but Timo Werner scored shortly after the break for the Bundesliga visitors. Danilo Pereira and Maxi Pereira are not related, except in the fact that they scored second half goals to lift Porto second in the group.

Group G
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Besiktas 4 3 1 0 8 3 5 1-1-0 2-0-0 10
FC Porto 4 2 0 2 9 7 2 1-0-1 1-0-1 6
RB Leipzig 4 1 1 2 5 8 -3 1-1-0 0-0-2 4
Monaco 4 0 2 2 3 7 -4 0-0-2 0-2-0 2

Spurs 3-1 Real MadridRECAP

Don’t let the one on the visitor’s side of the scoreboard fool you: Tottenham Hotspur was dominant against the most successful club in European history. Dele Alli scored twice and Harry Kane set up Christian Eriksen for Spurs’ third before Cristiano Ronaldo ruined the clean sheet late. Spurs are through to the knockout rounds.

Borussia Dortmund 1-1 APOEL Nicosia

This is a poor, poor group stage for Christian Pulisic’s Borussia Dortmund. While Real Madrid was taking one of six points from Spurs, opening the door, BVB has twice drawn minnows APOEL Nicosia. This time, it was Mickael Pote answering Raphael Guerriero’s opener.

Group H
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Tottenham Hotspur 4 3 1 0 10 3 7 2-0-0 1-1-0 10
Real Madrid 4 2 1 1 8 5 3 1-1-0 1-0-1 7
Borussia Dortmund 4 0 2 2 4 8 -4 0-1-1 0-1-1 2
APOEL 4 0 2 2 2 8 -6 0-1-1 0-1-1 2

Reports: Conte to sue Chelsea over how firing was handled

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According to reports in Italy, and backed up by those in England, Antonio Conte is planning to sue Chelsea over the way the club handled his exit this summer.

Chelsea is reportedly planning to pay Conte the rest of his salary in full, but the reports state that the Italian is unhappy how long it took the club to confirm his exit, leaving him unable to secure a job commiserate with his experience level for this coming season.

The 48-year-old is set to receive nearly $12 million as compensation for the final year of his now-terminated contract, but is looking for additional damages given the timing of his departure. Despite the writing clearly on the wall, Conte had weeks of silence from the club, before being pulled back to London to begin pre-season training with the squad for just four days before he was then let go.

Upon his release, Conte released a relatively benign statement thanking the club, the fans, the staff, and the players, but notably did not thank the board or owner Roman Abramovich.

Things between Chelsea and Conte have been testy for some time now. It was reported earlier last month – before Conte was officially let go – that Chelsea was planning to withhold payment of Conte’s remaining salary and sue the Italian for costing the club money for former striker Diego Costa. Costa told the media he received a text message from Conte while on international duty last summer that he was no longer wanted at the club. If true, the club could have argued that Conte botched the situation and cost the club a significant amount of money. However, it seems the club has – for now – decided not to pursue the lawsuit, with reports stating that Conte is set to receive his salary in full.

WATCH: Jurgen Klopp crashes Alisson’s first Liverpool interview

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Jurgen Klopp has had quite the summer, and it’s just become even better.

Liverpool officially acquired Brazilian goalkeeper Alisson for a world-record transfer fee, and with the former Roma netminder filling his first obligations in Red, things didn’t go exactly as the club’s media staff had planned. While sitting down for his first interview with the club staff to be used in the official release, Jurgen Klopp couldn’t resist crashing the party to say hello.

[ MORE: Alisson to Liverpool official ]

The language barrier made things a bit awkward, as did the rolling cameras, but it’s pretty clear both sides are quite happy with the recent developments, with smiles all around. Take a look:

Klopp asked if Alisson was in the middle of his post-World Cup vacation, which he confirmed as true, but smartly followed up with “But now I am working.”

We’re sure they’ll catch up on a more complete basis privately later, but it was pretty cool to see their first interaction caught on camera.

Ajax tells clubs to back off their young Dutch stars

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In the past, Dutch giants Ajax have looked to make a profit developing strong Dutch talent from the youth level and selling them to big clubs all across Europe. Today, Ajax sporting director Marc Overmars has told clubs not to bother inquiring about their rising young stars.

“We have now reached a point where we simply say that we are not selling these players,” Overmars told Dutch publication De Telegraaf.

While Overmars did suggest they could reconsider in a year’s time, for now, young stars like Frenkie de Jong and Matthijs De Ligt are Ajax players now and for the future.

“He [De Jong] is not for sale, and I have communicated this to all parties involved,” Overmars said. “It is the same for Matthijs. Clubs that are interested are free to come back next year. Of course, Davinson Sanchez’s move [to Tottenham] last year showed that it is not always easy to stand firm.

“They are still only 19, 20 years old.Ā I have told these players and their agents that a transfer after this season could be an option if the right offer comes in. Frenkie de Jong, Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt are not for sale as far as we are concerned, not even for an insane amount. They should play about 40 games for Ajax first in 2018-19.”

De Ligt, now 18, is the most well-known name of the group, having made headlines when he because the youngest Dutch international since 1931, making his debut at just 17 years old. Meanwhile, a 21-year-old box-to-box midfielder, De Jong is often considered the most talented young star with the highest ceiling.

Finally, others that Ajax could see develop into special talent include 21-year-old wide player Donny van de Beek, 21-year-old right winger David Neres, 20-year-old striker Kasper Dolberg, 20-year-old defender Max Wober, 20-year-old defensive midfielder Carel Eiting, and 20-year-oldĀ NoussairĀ Mazraoui among many others who received playing time towards the end of last season.

Ajax has been on the hunt this summer, not only keeping the youth talent to itself, but also spending on incoming stars Dusan Tadic and Daley Blind, both of whom return to the club after spells in the Premier League.

It’s official: Goalkeeper Alisson completes record transfer to Liverpool

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Liverpool fans finally have a highly-touted goalkeeper to mind the net as they look to continue the upward trajectory under Jurgen Klopp.

After much speculation, courtship, and negotiation, AS Roma accepted a world-record transfer fee of $85 million, the highest ever paid for a goalkeeper. It obliterates the record held for nearly 17 years by Gianluigi Buffon for his $62 million transfer from Parma to Juventus in 2001. According to reports, the breakdown is a $73 million fee plus $12 million in potential add-ons.

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Alisson’s Liverpool medical was completed on Thursday, and the deal was complete. First, Roma gave Alisson an official send-off on social media, confirming the Brazilian had left the club.

Then came the official confirmation from Liverpool about a half-hour later.

“In terms of my life and my career, it’s a huge step for me being part of this club and this family,” Alisson said inĀ the official club release. “You can be certain that I’ll give my all.”

Alisson comes highly rated from his time in the Italian top flight. Originally a youth product of Brazilian Serie A club Internacional, Alisson moved to Roma in the summer of 2016 after three professional seasons in his home country. Statistically, Alisson was the best goalkeeper in Serie A last season, with not only the best save percentage in the league (77%) but also the best distribution rate.

“When you have the opportunity to sign one of the world’s best goalkeepers then it’s not a long thought to be honest,” Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp said after the signing was announced.

At the 2018 World Cup this summer, Alisson started for Brazil and played every minute of their World Cup journey in Russia. While he wasn’t terribly impressive, he didn’t have too many chances to put on a starring performance, but again his distribution out of the back was stellar. Alisson was the only player at the World Cup to play the entirety of his team’s first two matches and not misplace a single pass, reaching all the way to Brazil’s third group stage match against Serbia before failing to complete a pass. He went 31 straight pass attempts over those two-plus matches without a miss.

“When a very substantial bid comes in, you have to consider it,” Roma sporting director Monchi said about the transfer. “We thought aboutĀ the pros and cons and decided to talkĀ to Liverpool about the deal.”

The 25-year-old will now likely slot straight into the Liverpool starting lineup, and the club will need to figure out what to do with its other goalkeepers Loris Karius, Simon Mignolet, and Danny Ward. Mignolet began last season as the starter before conceding the gloves to Karius who infamously committed a pair of egregious errors in the Champions League final.