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Liverpool wins UEFA Super Cup on penalties over Chelsea

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Tammy Abraham‘s pressure shootout effort was saved by Adrian and Liverpool took home the UEFA Super Cup on penalties after drawing 2-2 with Chelsea in regulation and extra-time.

Christian Pulisic started for Chelsea and was fantastic, picking up his first Blues assist on Olivier Giroud‘s opener in the first half. Sadio Mane got the first of his brace to bring the Champions League winners back level just after the halftime break. With the game 1-1 after regulation, Mane delivered a thumping finish five minutes into the added period, but a Jorginho penalty leveled the match back up minutes later.

Liverpool was the brighter side off the jump, as Kepa Arrizabalaga was required on 16 minutes to keep out Mohamed Salah who got past the Chelsea defense. The Blues then began to attack brightly down the left with Pedro but the Spaniard struck the crossbar, bringing back nightmares of the Old Trafford defeat over the weekend.

As both teams traded first-half blows, Virgil Van Dijk just fired over the bar as he looked to head home a 29th minute corner, and another set-piece brought an open attempt for Mane who forced a save from Kepa. Deputising for the injured Alisson int the Liverpool net, Adrian was on hand to make a superb charging save past the half-hour mark.

The opener came nine minutes before the halftime break as Christian Pulisic picked up his first Chelsea assist, beautifully charging into the attacking third on the ball and feeding a perfectly-timed Olivier Giroud run to get past the back line. The Frenchman finished one-on-one past Adrian from the left edge of the six-yard area, putting the Blues in front.

Pulisic appeared to have his first Chelsea goal as well just minutes later, but Pulisic was judged correctly to be offside on the buildup, nullifying his impressive chopped finish. N’Golo Kante was excellent in midfield, looking rejuvenated under Frank Lampard despite reprising his central midfield role on the right side of a trio as Jorginho continued in a more defensive role.

After the break, Liverpool had exactly the response they required. Roberto Firmino came on for Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, and it bore immediate fruit as Fabinho pinged a looping ball over the Chelsea back line, and the Brazilian was on hand to receive the flick. Firmino poked it over to Sadio Mane just next to him, and the Ghanan got it past Kepa on his second attempt to level the scoreline at 1-1.

Chelsea struggled to get a foothold in the second half but past the half-hour mark they were back on the front foot as Pulisic had a volleyed effort from the top of the box go out off van Dijk for a corner.  The game ground to a halt with 20 minutes to go, but Liverpool came so close to going in front again on 75 minutes. A corner swung in and found an unmarked Salah at the far post, but his initial effort was blocked. It came to van Dijk back at the near post and somehow the Dutchman’s effort with the goal gaping was straight at Kepa who produced a fabulous reflex save to deflect the ball up and out off the crossbar.

Mason Mount came on for Pulisic with 15 minutes to go, and he nearly put Chelsea in front with the ball in the back of the net, but it was again ruled out for offside. The game progressed to full-time still level at 1-1, so extra-time was required to help decide a winner.

Mane grabbed his second goal five minutes into the added period with a thumping finish, played in by Firmino who delivered an exquisite cutback into the penalty area, perfectly weighted for Mane to then produce a thunderbolt strike. With Liverpool 2-1 up, Chelsea responded immediately as substitute Tammy Abraham was chopped down by Adrian in the penalty area and history-making referee Frappart – who had a stellar game in charge – pointed to the spot, with VAR confirming the decision. Jorginho made it 2-2 with a cool clipped penalty as Adrian crumbled the wrong way.

Abraham was dangerous in his appearance up front in place of Giroud, nearly giving Chelsea a winner just before the extra-time break, with his finish across the face of goal just beating the far post. Pedro and Mount both came close as well in the second half, but the game went to penalties with no winner produced. In the shootout, every penalty taker scored until the death when Abraham’s must-score effort was saved by Adrian to give Liverpool the victory.

Atletico Madrid temporarily cuts player salaries by 70 percent

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Atletico Madrid says it has reached an agreement with its players and coaching staff to reduce their salaries by 70 percent while competitions are stopped during the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: FIFA extends men’s age limit for Tokyo Olympics due to virus ]

Atletico announced the agreement on Thursday and said it is temporarily suspending the jobs of club employees.

Atletico had previously said it would need to take such a drastic step but had yet to reveal the details.

A job suspension under Spanish law allows a company to greatly reduce its labor costs by having workers stay at home while guaranteeing they will go back to their positions when conditions improve.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Spanish club added that some of the money saved by the players’ salary cuts will be given to its other employees who will be furloughed.

Barcelona recently announced it had come to a similar agreement with its players.

Both clubs said that such cost-saving measures were necessary to ensure their financial stability due to the loss in revenue during the stoppage of competitions.

CONCACAF postpones Nations League finals, Gold Cup qualification

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CONCACAF announced on Friday that the 2019-20 Nations League finals and the opening rounds of 2021 Gold Cup qualification have been postponed due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Nations League finals — featuring the U.S. men’s national team, Mexico, Costa Rica and Honduras — were previously scheduled to take place in Houston and Dallas in early June. CONCACAF says the semifinals and final will be rescheduled for a later date.

The seconds round of Gold Cup qualifying was previously scheduled to be made up in June — following their postponement in March, with four two-leg ties featuring largely Caribbean and Central American nations. Those, too, will be rescheduled for a later date.

Given the ongoing public health situation, and following consultation with FIFA regarding the international football calendar, we have made the decision to suspend the CONCACAF Nations League finals, which was scheduled for June 4-7, 2020 in the Houston and Dallas areas.

The event, which includes the Costa Rica, Honduras, Mexico and USA men’s national teams, will be rescheduled to take place at a later date in venues to be determined. This will be confirmed following further discussions with FIFA regarding the remaining international windows in the football calendar, and will obviously be subject to public health authorities deeming it safe for professional sports events to resume.

FIFA extends men’s age limit for Tokyo Olympics due to virus

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GENEVA — FIFA has extended the age limit for the men’s soccer tournament at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The amended Olympic rule on Friday retains the “players born on or after Jan. 1, 1997” standard for the Tokyo Games following a one-year postponement agreed last week by the International Olympic Committee and Japanese authorities.

It means players eligible for the intended under-23 tournament in 2020 can still play in Japan at age 24 next year. Men’s soccer kicks off ahead of the July 23, 2021 opening ceremony in Tokyo.

FIFA also postponed two women’s age-group World Cups due this year in Central America and India, and confirmed no international games for men and women will be played in the early June dates protected for national team call-ups.

Soccer’s world body said “health must always be the first priority and the main criteria in any decision-making process, especially in these challenging times.”

The Olympic decision was made by a FIFA panel of soccer officials worldwide, created to address the soccer shutdown during the health crisis.

The 16 men’s teams at the Tokyo Olympics next year can also select three over-age players in their rosters. A stellar lineup includes Argentina, Brazil, France, Germany and Spain.

Two women’s World Cup tournaments — the Under-20s hosted by Panama and Costa Rica in August and September, and the Under-17s in India in November — are postponed. No new dates were announced.

[ MORE: Report: Serie A could resume training May 2, games late in month ]

Until the COVID-19 outbreak, national team games scheduled in June included the 2020 European Championship, World Cup qualifying games in South America and Asia, and qualifiers for the 2021 Africa Cup of Nations.

After Euro 2020 was postponed for one year, UEFA hoped to schedule playoff games in June to confirm the last four places in a 24-nation lineup. Those playoffs were postponed indefinitely this week.

World Cup qualifiers for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar now face uncertain scheduling in a congested calendar in Europe, South America and Asia.

FIFA said on Friday it would “organize bilateral discussions” with continental governing bodies “to finalize a revised match schedule pending health and safety developments.”

FIFA plans to direct hundreds of millions of dollars from its cash reserves to support a global emergency fund, and has agreed to appoint one official from each of the six soccer continents to coordinate the work.

Arsenal want season completed ‘to maintain integrity’ of PL

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Arsenal remain in support of finishing the 2019-20 season in order to “to maintain the integrity” of the competition, despite Friday’s unanimous vote that the Premier League cannot resume at the start of May as previously hoped due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

[ MORE: UEFA threatens Belgian league with European expulsion ]

The Gunners, who currently sit ninth in the PL table with 10 games left to play (one more than the majority of clubs around them), were five points back of fifth-place Manchester United for qualification to next season’s UEFA Champions League thanks to Manchester City’s two-year European ban.

In a statement released on Friday, Arsenal reiterated their stance that the current season should be played to completion rather than called to completion at things stand or abandoned altogether.

We are in full support of the objective for all remaining domestic league and cup matches from the 2019-20 season to be played, in order to maintain the integrity of each competition.

We also fully agree with the principle that any return to action will only be with the full backing of government and when medical guidance allows.

The restart date is under constant review as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic develops and we continue to work together with all stakeholders through this very challenging time