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Chiellini says Juve used “history of Tottenham”; Reflects on Astori

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Giorgio Chiellini played with passion on Wednesday as Juventus eliminated Tottenham Hotspur from the UEFA Champions League.

Following the emotional win, the stalwart Italian defender shifted gears.

Chiellini will attend the funeral of Fiorentina captain and 14-times capped Italian center back Davide Astori on Thursday, and said he’s “cried many times” over the defender.

[ MORE: The latest on Davide Astori’s passing ]

Astori died over the weekend, and Serie A postponed its Sunday matches. The 31-year-old was found deceased in his hotel room, and has since had his number retired by Fiorentina and Cagliari.

Fiorentina also guaranteed his contract for life in order to benefit his wife and children. Here’s Chiellini, from the BBC:

“We dedicate this win to him but not only this match. I cry many times, I always believe in him because he was a fantastic player,” said Chiellini, who fought back the tears during a minute’s silence before the game.

“It’s very difficult during the match because we have to think of the game and our opponents. It is not easy but he will always be in our heart. And tomorrow we go to give last ‘ciao’ with our teammates.

“It’s difficult but we have to continue our lives. For us he was important for our national team, he always brought positive emotion and always smiled. We would like to continue to smile in our heart.”

As for the match, Chiellini had some biting words for Spurs fans.

The Italian believes Juve’s mettle is what got them through, and Spurs’ lack of big game success came back to bite them.

[ MORE: Recap | 3 things from Wembley ]

“It’s the history of Tottenham,” he said. “They always created many chances to score so much, but at the end they miss always something to arrive at the end. We believe in the history. We saw it yesterday between Paris and Real, the history is important, with experience it is important, and tonight we use our skill and arrive at the win.”

It’s to the point, but there was something to the grind and vigor in which Juve pursued the win while Spurs lost their way up 1-0. Yes, Tottenham kept fighting for an equalizer, but there was a sense that The Old Lady would find a way once Higuain made it 1-1.

Juve boss Max Allegri had a similar way to sum it up:

Salah returns to Egypt starting lineup

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A familiar name returned to the starting lineup for Egypt on Tuesday afternoon.

Egypt named star Mohamed Salah in its starting XI, after resting Salah in Egypt’s 1-0 defeat to Uguruay on June 15. Salah has been recovering from an injured shoulder that he suffered during the UEFA Champions League final in late May.

Salah makes his World Cup debut now against the host nation, Russia, at 2:00 p.m.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

 

Senegal hold off late charge, defeat Poland on controversial goal

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Two matches, two upsets.

For the second time on Tuesday, an underdog took down a favorite as Senegal defeated Poland, 2-1, with the game-winning goal decided in controversial fashion.

In the 60th minute, M’baye Niang was waved onto the field by the referee while the ball was still in play in the middle of the field, and Niang raced on to the end of a Gregorz Krychowiak backpass that stunned the Poland defense. Niang arrived at the pass a second quicker than goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny, allowing the Senegal winger to score into an empty net.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The VAR checked the goal but it was allowed, as it was a subjective decision of the referee to allow Niang back on the field following an injury, and not a clear and obvious error.

Senegal took the lead in the first half on the counter attack. With Poland slow in transition, Sadio Mane found Idrissa Gueye in space at the top of the box. After two touches, Gueye fired a strike to the far post in the 37th minute that took a wicked deflection off Poland defender Thiago Cionek and left Szczesny helpless.

Poland struggled all game against the pace and physicality of Senegal and the Lions of Teranga were very smart in controlling possession and switching the field, forcing the Poland squad to tire quickly.

Krychowiak did breathe some life into the game with a header goal off a free kick in the 86th minute, but despite some poor clock management from Senegal, its defense was able to hold off Poland’s last-ditch chance to tie the game, going level with Japan on three points at the top of Group H.

Report: Blatter to attend Portugal vs. Morocco as guest of Putin

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Former FIFA president Sepp Blatter is still in the middle of an eight-year ban from the organization he once ran.

But that doesn’t mean he’s going to miss out on some of the World Cup action, live in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

BBC journalist Richard Conway reported early Tuesday that Blatter is set to watch Portugal vs. Morocco in Moscow as a guest of Russian president Vladimir Putin. The 82-year-old would normally not be able to sit in the presidential box due to his FIFA ban, though he likely could attend matches with a regular ticket like the vast majority of soccer fans.

Just four years ago, Blatter was president during the 2014 World Cup, one that was marred by corruption scandals in addition to the corruption scandals surrounding the World Cup bidding process for the 2018 and 2022 tournaments.

His reign of power at FIFA finally came to an end on June 2, 2015, when he resigned following an embarrassing month for FIFA in which many of its members were arrested in a joint-raid between the Swiss authorities and the FBI.

Blatter was eventually handed an eight-year ban from FIFA’s ethics committee for an “unauthorized payment” of $2 million from Blatter to Michel Platini, the former France star and FIFA vice president who was also handed an eight-year suspension.

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Fekir negotiations back on; Chelsea waiting on transfer targets; and more

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Could Liverpool get its star attacking midfield target after all?

That’s what seems to be the case, as the agent for Lyon and France midfielder Nabil Fekir told French TV channel LCI Monday evening that negotiations aren’t over between Liverpool and Lyon.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“He didn’t sign because um… it is not over! This is not the end of the story,” Fekir’s agent, Jean-Pierre Bernes reportedly said.

It was just two weeks ago when Lyon president Jean-Michael Aulas stated that Fekir, Lyon’s captain, would remain with the club for the upcoming season, after negotiations with Liverpool fell through. According to the Liverpool Echo, the Reds wanted a second opinion on a previous knee injury, and had balked at the $70 million price tag.

But now it appears Liverpool and Aulas could still be in conversations to try and find a mutually accepted fee.

At the same time, stirring up transfer drama is in Bernes interest, as it could drive other teams into the race to sign Fekir and raise his transfer fee, meaning more money to him, Fekir (if he gets a cut) and Lyon. Watch this space for more to come during and after the World Cup.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from across the Premier League and Europe:

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