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Champions League wrap: Insanity between Bayern, Ajax; Lyon advances

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Most of the knockout rounds spots were decided before a ball was kicked on Wednesday, but it was another wild day of UEFA Champions League play across Europe.

[ MORE: Who can PL clubs draw in UCL? ]

That includes Thomas Muller’s terrible red card and a number of beautiful goals — Hi, Nabil Fekir — as the group stage concluded with eight matches.


Benfica 1-0 AEK Athens

Grimaldo’s 88th minute goal kept AEK from getting its first point of the group stage.

Ajax 3-3 Bayern Munich

There was one goal in the first hour, and five in the final 30 minutes, as the winner of Group E changed several times on the night.

Robert Lewandowski’s 13th minute goal gave Bayern a halftime lead, but Dusan Tadic scored in the 61st and 82nd minutes to put Ajax atop the group… for five minutes.

Lewandowski completed his brace to restore the tie and Bayern’s lead, then Kingsley Coman made it academic in the 90th.

The game being what it was, with both teams finishing with 10 men thanks to Thomas Muller and Max Wober being sent off, Nicolas Tagliafico gave Ajax a point with an equalizer in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Muller, WYD?


Man City 2-1 HoffenheimRECAP

Aymeric Laporte conceded an early penalty, but Leroy Sane was electric all night long in producing a brace en route to a 2-1 win and the group crown.

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-1 Lyon

Junior Moraes’ 22nd minute goal looked set to send the Ukranian side into the knockout rounds, but it’ll instead be headed for the Europa League thanks to Nabil Fekir’s wonderful 65th minute goal.


Real Madrid 0-3 CSKA MoscowRECAP

Georgi Schennikov, Arnor Sigurdsson, and Fedor Chalov all scored as Real Madrid’s second choice side suffered its worst home loss in UCL history.

Viktoria Plzen 2-1 AS Roma

Jan Kovarik and Tomas Chory scored for the home victors in the 62nd and 72nd minutes as the match’s three goals all came in 10-minute span, as Viktoria Plzen prepares for the drop into Europa League. Roma’s Cenzig Under scored his third goal of the group stage and second against Viktoria Plzen.


Valencia 2-1 Manchester United — RECAP

Phil Jones‘ disastrous own goal was the difference as Valencia built a two-goal lead and held on to beat United despite Marcus Rashford‘s late pullback.

Young Boys 2-1 Juventus

Two goals for 34-year-old forward Guillaume Hoarau paced the Swiss side to a feel-good upset of Juve. Paolo Dybala scored for the visitors.

FOLLOW LIVE: Southampton v. Derby County

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Southampton and Derby County chase the final spot in the fourth round proper of the 2018-19 FA Cup with a replay at St. Mary’s on Wednesday.

[ FOLLOW: FA Cup scoreboard ]

The clubs drew 2-2 at Pride Park on Jan. 5, with a Nathan Redmond 2-0 lead going to waste for the Premier League visitors.

The victor gets a trip to the Crown Ground to face League One’s Accrington Stanley on Jan. 26.

Full fourth round fixture list

Jan. 25
Arsenal v. Manchester United

Jan. 26
Accrington Stanley v. Derby County or Southampton
Brighton and Hove Albion v. West Bromwich Albion
Bristol City v. Bolton
Doncaster Rovers v. Oldham Athletic
Man City v. Burnley
Middlesbrough v. Newport County
Newcastle United v. Watford
Portsmouth v. Queens Park Rangers
Swansea City v. Gillingham
Shrewsbury Town v. Wolves
Millwall v. Everton
AFC Wimbledon v. West Ham United

Jan. 27
Crystal Palace v. Spurs
Chelsea v. Sheffield Wednesday

Jan. 28
Barnet v. Brentford

Leeds’ Bielsa admits he spied “all the rivals”; How widespread is spying?

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Managerial darling Marcelo Bielsa spoke out Wednesday as fallout continues from a Leeds United scout caught spying on Derby County last week.

Bielsa says he’s spied on every team the club has played in the Championship this season.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

How rare is this? And how big of a role has it played in Leeds’ 4-point lead in the race for automatic promotion to the Premier League? From the BBC:

“I observed all the rivals we played against and watched the training sessions of all opponents,” he said. “All the information I need to clarify, I gather it without watching the training session of the opponent, so why did I send someone to watch them? Just because I thought I wasn’t violating the norm. I gathered information that I can obtain in another way.

“We feel guilty if we don’t work enough, it [watching the opponents train] allows us to have less anxiety and in my case I am stupid enough to allow this kind of behavior.”

The 63-year-old Argentine has spent time at Lille, Lazio, Marseille, Athletic Bilbao, and Espanyol in addition to running the national teams of Argentina and Chile.

It does raise the question of how much spying is done in soccer. We know that the NFL’s New England Patriots cheated during a game against the New York Jets and that MLB teams try to steal signals, but sneaking around a training session… is that okay? Should it be?

55-goal Martinez re-ups with Atlanta through 2023

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Josef Martinez has signed a new deal with Atlanta United, with a contract tying him to the club through the 2023 Major League Soccer season.

Martinez, 25, has 55 goals in 61 games for the Five Stripes since arriving from Torino in 2017, a strike rate unlike anything the Venezuelan had been able to do in his career with the Serie A club, Young Boys, or Caracas.

[ MORE: Neymar praises Weah ]

That development has him happy to lock down a new Designated Player deal in Georgia, one that certainly would raise his transfer value. From AtlUtd.com:

“This means a lot to me because of the affection that the fans have shown me, that the fans show all of the players. It’s unique,” Martinez said. “They recognize the effort that you give and they know you did everything to win, and I think that’s why we love playing here. I have to thank everyone. My teammates, the city, my family and friends, because this is a dream I’ve always had. I’ve said before that I don’t want to go anywhere because this is my home. You can expect more work, more intensity, because that’s who I am. I want to win. I want to do everything for my teammates and for the city.”

With neither Newcastle nor Real Betis ready to meet Atlanta’s transfer fee for Miguel Almiron, the Five Stripes are in a bit of a bind with a reported deal for expected DP Pity Martinez despite having the league maximum three DPs in Martinez, Almiron, and Ezequiel Barco. Perhaps the European clubs are trying to force Atlanta’s hand.

Men In Blazers Podcast: De Gea heroics; Liverpool, Man City wins

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Rog and Davo applaud David De Gea‘s goalkeeping heroics in Manchester United’s 1-0 victory over Tottenham. Plus, wins for Liverpool and City in the title race.

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