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Early penalty, late strike leads Liverpool to Champions League glory

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Jurgen Klopp finally has the silverware he has craved since taking over Liverpool four years ago.

A controversial penalty given in the first minute of action slotted home by Mohamed Salah set the tone for the match, and Divock Origi killed off the game with three minutes remaining as Liverpool topped Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 in a Champions League final punctuated by poor passing and drab tactical organization.

The game in Madrid started in stunning fashion, with Liverpool earning a penalty after just 21 seconds of play. Sadio Mane‘s chipped cross attempt caught his defender Moussa Sissoko off guard, deflecting off the Spurs midfielder’s chest and rebounding off his outstretched arm in the top corner of the penalty area. Sissoko was clearly pointing instructions to a teammate behind him, and Mane’s cross seemed to come earlier than he expected.

That put Salah on the spot, and he delivered a powerful, thumping penalty just over the outstretched arms of a diving Hugo Lloris who guessed right but had little chance of stopping such a blast. The goal for Salah not only gave Liverpool the lead just two minutes into the game, but made him the fifth African to score in a Champions League final, and

Spurs responded well and proved the better side in the opening stages after the goal. They combined nicely at the top of the penalty area on a number of occasions in the opening 20 minutes, but couldn’t work a good look on net. The game devolved into a nervy showcase of uncertainty, with neither side quite sure what it was trying to accomplish. The atmosphere in the stadium also sported a nervous trepidation, not certain what to make of the first half-hour. Both teams passed poorly and neither team did much of anything in the attacking third. Liverpool played extremely conservative after the early opener and Spurs didn’t trouble the Reds back line much.

Finally, on 38 minutes Andy Robertson took aim from distance on the break and forced Lloris into a leaping save, tipping the ball over the bar. On the ensuing corner, Salah blasted a volley miles over the bar. Christian Eriksen down the other end on the stroke of halftime copied Salah, into a good shooting position in front of the box and ripping it into the seats.

After halftime, not much changed. Spurs held much of the possession but both sides proved sloppy. Lloris made a quality save on Robertson again from distance, beating a streaking Sadio Mane to the ball. Mauricio Pochettino brought in semifinal hero Lucas Moura on for Harry Winks with 25 minutes to go, but it was Liverpool substitute James Milner who had the earlier impact, firing a shot agonizingly wide right with Lloris rooted to the spot. Dele Alli looked to chip the goalkeeper but Alisson was on hand to collect easily.

Sissoko went down injured with 17 minutes to go, replaced by Eric Dier in midfield. Alli had a headed attempt on 78 minutes, but couldn’t get on top of the Trippier cross and struck it over the bar with Joel Matip defending. That woke Spurs up, with Son and Moura both testing Alisson in succession entering the final 10 minutes of the match.

With the momentum seemingly shifting in Spurs’ favor, Pochettino looked to capitalize by bringing on Fernando Llorente in place of Alli. Eriksen forced another fabulous save from Alisson with a close-range free kick in the 85th minute, and Son put the ball over the bar on the ensuing corner but was offside anyways.

Liverpool finally put the game to bed in the 87th minute as Origi, on in place of Roberto Firmino, fired a perfectly placed low effort through the legs of Toby Alderweireld and past a diving Lloris into the far corner. The goal for Origi is his third in the Champions League coming on just his third shot.

The final whistle sounded and saw Liverpool champions of Europe for the first time since beating AC Milan in 2005 on that epic outing in Istanbul. The European title is the first for Jurgen Klopp coming on his third try, losing once each previously with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool.

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.