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Klopp: Man Utd goal shows ‘all the problems with VAR’

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp didn’t hold back when it came to discussing Manchester United’s goal in a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford on Sunday.

“They scored a goal which shows all the problems with VAR,” Klopp said, via the BBC. “Mr. Atkinson let the game run I’m sure because there is VAR. For me it was a clear foul. It’s a general problem. VAR looks and says ‘you decided like this’. But it was a foul. Then we scored a goal that was disallowed. Pretty much everything went against us but we still didn’t lose so that is okay.”

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Aside from that call, however, Klopp and his players generally used their post-match comments to admit that they weren’t very good and didn’t deserve much more than the point they gained on the day.

“We weren’t fluid enough in the first half,” said captain Jordan Henderson, who struggled and was substituted in the second half. “We weren’t playing football at all. It was quite scrubby.”

That said Klopp was unhappy with Manchester United not trying to play free-flowing football. Usually this is proffered under the guise of “love for the sport” but presumably exists because it would’ve made it easier for his superior team to win. From the BBC:

“Since I’m in England, Man United always played like this. … Everyone builds it up like a mountain but only one team has to defend and the other team has to make the game. It’s not the feeling that we won something today – it’s just a point.”

Klopp was also asked about his side’s failure to make history, as Liverpool missed an opportunity to match two Premier League records in the home of their fiercest rival.

“It was always going to happen at some point,” he said. “We never thought about this. These boys are in so many departments of Liverpool history. Now we can stop talking about that and start a new series and we have to. They are coming thick and fast.”

VIDEO: Dutch 2nd-division game stopped for racist abuse; player later scores goal

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A Dutch second-division game between Den Bosch and Excelsior was temporarily stopped on Sunday due to suspected racist chanting and Nazi salutes performed by some of Den Bosch’s fans.

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The game was halted by referee Laurens Gerrets in the 30 minute. Dutch winger Ahmad Mendes Moreira, who plays for Excelsior, was the player targeted by the racist chanting. He was at that time seen gesturing toward the crowd, indicating to Gerrets and teammates that he was hearing racist abuse from the stands.

In a mixed zone for media availability after the game, Den Bosch manager Erik van der Ven is reported to have called Mendes Moreira a “pathetic little man” for pointing out the racist abuse to Gerrets. Den Bosch released a statement claiming that no racist abuse occurred, that the fans were instead making “crow sounds” and treating Mendes Moreira to a “crow concert,” which they claim is part of customary treatment of opposing players.

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Mendes Moreira appeared emotional after scoring a goal to put Excelsior 2-1 ahead fewer than 15 minutes after the game was restarted.

Defending champs Portugal qualify for EURO 2020

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Defending European champions Portugal booked their place at the 2020 European Championship with a 2-0 victory away to Luxembourg on Sunday, the final day of qualification.

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Portugal (17 points) finishes second in Group B behind Ukraine (20), three points ahead of third-place Serbia which will now go the qualification playoffs route in March.

Bruno Fernandes scored Sunday’s winner in the 39th minute, followed by a late insurance goal from Cristiano Ronaldo in the 86th.

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As things stand, Portugal, who won the European title in 2016 and followed it up with the inaugural UEFA Nations League crown earlier this year, will be placed into Pot 3, alongside Russia, Switzerland, Turkey, Austria and Sweden. Ukraine, meanwhile, is assured of being seeded in Pot 1.

Southgate: Gomez to ‘clear his head’ following injury, Sterling incident

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Gareth Southgate believes Joe Gomez has a chance to “clear his head” in the wake of this week’s incident with England teammate Raheem Sterling, thanks to the minor knee which forced Gomez out of the England team for Sunday’s game against Kosovo.

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Gomez suffered the injury in a clash of knees during Friday’s training session, but Southgate stated emphatically that Gomez is “absolutely fine” after undergoing a scan “and I think he’ll be fine in a couple of days.”

As Southgate sees, the injury could be something of a blessing in disguise for Gomez, who earlier this week was involved in a brief physical confrontation with Sterling, to “clear his head” before beginning his regular work week back at Liverpool. Southgate believes that both players have received closure over the incident and can now move forward without issue.

“I think now is a good moment for him just to go home for a couple of days, clear his head.”

“I think the fact that Raheem put out the tweet was real closure on that whole incident. We get Raheem back on the pitch tomorrow. We won the match on Thursday and we can now just look forwards.

“You couldn’t make it up, really, if you tried, but he’s absolutely fine. He took a clash of knees yesterday. We scanned it just to be certain and I think he’ll be fine in a couple of days.”

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England secured qualification to this summer’s European Championship with a 7-0 thrashing of Montenegro, a game for which Sterling was dropped. Even before Gomez’s injury forced him out of the team, Sterling was set to return to the England team for Sunday’s qualifying finale.

Players in Spanish women’s league go on strike

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MADRID (AP) Spanish women’s league players have gone on strike this weekend demanding better wages and worker protections. Both of Saturday’s games and the six games scheduled for Sunday were postponed due to the players’ refusal to play.

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Players had announced the strike last month after failing to reach a deal with clubs over wages and working hours. More than 90 percent of the 200 players who voted favored the strike, the first in women’s soccer in Spain.

The players’ and clubs’ associations in Spain have been mired in negotiations over a first collective agreement for more than a year.

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Among other issues is the protection of benefits for players in the event of pregnancy.

Spain has 16 first-division women’s clubs, but only a few are fully professional.

The clubs claim they can’t afford the changes currently proposed by the players.