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Lille moves a step closer to Champions League qualification

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PARIS (AP) As its prolific attack came to life in the second half, Lille routed Nimes 5-0 in the French league on Sunday to strengthen its grip on second place and automatic qualification for next season’s Champions League.

After former France forward Loic Remy put Lille ahead in the 51st minute, forward Jonathan Bamba headed in the second goal and defender Zeki Celik made it 3-0 before top scorer Nicolas Pepe grabbed his 20th league goal of the season.

Only PSG striker Kylian Mbappe, with 30, has scored more than Pepe. Portuguese forward Rui Fonte scored in injury time with his first of the campaign.

Lille is six points ahead of third-place Lyon with four games remaining. The team finishing third goes into the Champions League qualifying rounds.

Later Sunday, fourth-place Saint-Etienne faced Toulouse and fifth-place Marseille hosted Nantes.

OTHER MATCHES

A hat trick came from a surprise source as defender Youcef Atal showed his scoring touch in Nice’s 3-0 home win against Guingamp.

The pacey and skillful right back got his second goal of the game midway through the second half, following a surging run from just inside the Guingamp half, and then slid in at the back post to complete his hat trick with a typical striker’s finish in the 73rd.

Nice climbed into seventh place and Reims dropped to eighth after drawing 1-1 at Angers.

Elsewhere, Stephanie Frappart became the first woman to referee a game in the French first division when she took charge of the 0-0 draw between Amiens and Strasbourg.

Caen beat Dijon 1-0 in their relegation battle, leapfrogging Dijon into 18th, the promotion-relegation playoff spot.

PSG UPSET

Mbappe was sent off for making a dangerous challenge during the French Cup final on Saturday. PSG threw away a 2-0 lead to lose on penalty kicks to Rennes .

Neymar appeared to aim a punch at a fan filming and goading PSG’s players as the players walked up to collect their losers’ medals.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Social media reacts to Pochettino’s shock firing

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Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked by Tottenham Hotspur after he spent over five years in charge.

The Argentine coach has seen his Spurs side slump in recent months as they stumbled through the latter months of last season despite a miraculous run to the UEFA Champions League final as they lost to Liverpool in Madrid.

Pochettino’s side currently sit 14th in the Premier League table after three wins from their opening 12 games of the season and with so many players seemingly ready to leave this summer (Jan Vertonghen, Toby Alderweireld, Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose to name a few) all was not well behind-the-scenes.

But nobody expected this so early in the season and so soon after Tottenham moved into their new home and big spending was promised.

Here’s a look at some of the reaction on social media to the shock firing of Pochettino.


Mauricio Pochettino fired at Tottenham Hotspur

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In a shocking turn of events during the international break, Mauricio Pochettino has been sacked as Tottenham Hotspur manager.

The club sits 14th in the Premier League table, without a win in its last five league games.

“We were extremely reluctant to make this change and it is not a decision the Board has taken lightly, nor in haste,” the club said in its official statement. Regrettably domestic results at the end of last season and beginning of this season have been extremely disappointing.

“It falls to the Board to make the difficult decisions – this one made more so given the many memorable moments we have had with Mauricio and his coaching staff – but we do so in the Club’s best interests. Mauricio and his coaching staff will always be part of our history. I have the utmost admiration for the manner in which he dealt with the difficult times away from a home ground whilst we built the new stadium and for the warmth and positivity he brought to us. I should like to thank him and his coaching staff for all they have contributed. They will always be welcome here. We have a talented squad. We need to re-energize and look to deliver a positive season for our supporters.”

Reports had suggested over the past few days that his position was becoming more and more untenable, but there was no indication that a change was this imminent. The Telegraph reported Monday that Pochettino was set to meet with Daniel Levy during the international break about the direction of the club, and they suggested the game against West Ham United this weekend could be “make or break” for the Argentine.

Pochettino had been with the club since joining in 2014. They reached the Champions League final last season, losing to Liverpool.

Maradona resigns as manager of Gimnasia

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Diego Maradona has resigned as boss of top-flight Argentine club Gimnasia, the club president told domestic media on Tuesday.

According to Argentine journalist Juan Pablo Varsky, Gimnasia president Gabriel Pellegrino told Radio La Red on Tuesday that Maradona had stepped down as boss with just three matches to go in the league season. The 59-year-old has reportedly been disillusioned that Pellegrino will not be running for another term as club president and has thus decided to end his tenure early.

Maradona’s contract was set to run through the end of the league season, which concludes December 8. The election for club president takes place this coming Saturday.

Maradona has only been in charge of the club since early September, and while he lost his first three matches in charge, he has since won three of the last five. The club sits 22nd in the 24-team league table.

 

Pellegrino has been in charge of the club since 2016, with elections taking place every three years.

The legendary former player has previously managed Liga MX side Dorados de Sinaloa, UAE club Fujairah, and the Argentina national team.

LA Galaxy extend Pavon loan another year

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The LA Galaxy announced on Monday that star attacker Cristian Pavon will remain with the club next season, extending his loan through the 2020 MLS campaign after agreeing to a deal with his parent club Boca Juniors.

The 23-year-old Argentinian made a splash when arriving to the Galaxy in early August, helping push the club to an appearance in the quarterfinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs. He scored three goals and assisted eight more in 11 regular season matches, plus another goal in the playoffs.

Pavon’s arrival was of the utmost importance for the Galaxy as they looked to make up for a sub-par defense that conceded goals in waves. His presence will be even more critical next season as the Galaxy are without goal hawk Zlatan Ibrahimovic who left the club this offseason.

Terms of the extension were not released, but it was confirmed that Pavon will occupy a Designated Player slot for the upcoming season, alongside fellow DP Jonathan dos Santos. Romain Alessandrini was the third DP on the club, but his contract expires this offseason and no resolution to that has yet been announced.

Pavon was a regular for Argentina during the 2018 World Cup but has not been a regular since, missing from the 2019 Copa America squad and not among the players for the current international break. He has 11 international caps in total, yet to score a goal.