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Extra-time golazo lifts River over Boca in Copa Libertadores final

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For all of the negativity surrounding the second leg of the Copa Libertadores final between River Plate and Boca Juniors — from the bus attack, to postponing the game, to moving it to Madrid — the 90 120 minutes of actual soccer delivered on the pre-final hype of a first-ever Superclasico to crown a South American champion.

[ MORE: Robbie Earle addresses Raheem Sterling incident: Racism “is a cancer” ]

Tied 2-2 after the first leg nearly a month ago now, Sunday’s second leg — played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu — saw River Plate top their bitter Buenos Aires rivals 3-1 (5-3 on aggregate) in extra time.

Dario Benedetto put Boca ahead with the game’s opening goal just before halftime. While the finish was certainly clinical, it’s the through ball from Nahitan Nandez that stole the show, and rightly so. Nandez split two defenders with his inch-perfect pass into space, sending Benedetto in for a straightforward one-on-one chance which he slotted away with ease.

But River fought back with an exceptionally worked equalizer in the 68th minute. Ignacio Fernandez cut the ball back for Lucas Pratto who swept it home from near the penalty spot.

Juan Quintero hammered home the winning goal from outside the penalty area after 109 minutes. Quintero’s left-footed strike departed his foot like a missile and crashed off the underside of the crossbar.

River put the exclamation point on, and added insult to heartbreak, with a stoppage-time, empty-netter to make it 3-1. Gonzalo Martinez raced toward the end of the stadium full of blue and yellow-clad supporters and rolled the ball home with the last meaningful kick of the game.

 

Report: Ibrahimovic prefers to stay with LA Galaxy

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It appears Zlatan Ibrahimovic could be staying in MLS after all.

According to a report from Swedish newspaper Expressen, Ibrahimovic now prefers to stay with the LA Galaxy, provided they make him a Designated Player for next season and beyond. Over the past two weeks, numerous rumors and reports out of Italy have linked Ibrahimovic with a return to AC Milan. However, the report out of Sweden states his family has settled in well in Los Angeles – who doesn’t? – and they’d prefer not to leave. In addition, Ibrahimovic is unsure if his body, at age 37, can take the rigors of a high-level European season.

[READ: Koscielny nearing Arsenal return]

The big Swede was a sensation in his first season in MLS, scoring 22 goals with 10 assists in 27 games, though the LA Galaxy missed out on the playoffs in dramatic fashion, coughing up a two-goal lead in the second half.

It’s expected with a new coach and front office that there could be plenty of roster moves coming up for the Galaxy, perhaps one that will open up a Designated Player spot for Ibrahimovic. Giovani Dos Santos has been a near disaster the last two seasons and Romain Alessandrini, while solid, has not had the kind of star-power impact that Ibrahimovic had.

Mourinho denies Man United need top four ‘miracle’

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Jose Mourinho has responded to claims he told Brazilian TV that it would take a “miracle” for Manchester United to finish in the top four.

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United drew 2-2 at lowly Southampton on Saturday, which followed their 0-0 draw at home against Crystal Palace and a defeat to Manchester City in the Manchester Derby.

With United dropping plenty of points before their clash with in-form Arsenal on Wednesday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com), Mourinho brushed off talk about his side already being out of the race for UEFA Champions League qualification even though he stated many times his team would be in the top four by January.

“Nah, I don’t know if I say or if I didn’t but if I used that word it is not what I feel at all,” Mourinho said. “I think we are eight or nine points from fourth, something like that, I don’t think we need a miracle at all. I think we need a good run of results. We don’t need to waste points where we shouldn’t waste. Before Crystal Palace, I said my target would be end of December in that position [top four]. Now the target has changed, to close the distance as much as we can. Now we have to try to be very close to these positions. We need to not be so unlucky with problems that we have. We need some players to perform.”

Mourinho also failed to respond to reports he has described Paul Pogba as a “virus” in his squad, while he also said that United would finish ahead of Everton and others and at least be in the top six at the end of the season. Mourinho added that he “can accept” that being in seventh isn’t good enough for United right now.

So, from being title contenders to a top four finish to now finishing above Everton. Mourinho’s tune has changed dramatically over the course of the season so far and despite their defensive injuries, he has a squad of players who should at the very least be in the top four.

Focusing on Arsenal and their recent run of 19 games unbeaten in all competitions, United’s manager was far from enthusiastic about the job Unai Emery is doing so far ahead of their clash at Old Trafford.

“Arsenal are different. They are a very good team with a good run of results without accumulation of matches because when you play in the Europa League you can rest some players,” Mourinho said. “Many teams pay the price of that. That is not the motivation you want as a club. It is a very difficult match for us and also for them, despite our problem with choices.”

He also added that he didn’t really want to talk about Arsenal: “I have my opinion, I keep that to myself.”

Okay, Jose, let us know when you’re ready to moan talk again…

The 2 Robbies: Derby day delight for Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle discuss what was a dramatic derby day in the Premier League highlighted by a six-goal thriller in the north London derby which saw Arsenal come out on top, 4-2 over Tottenham (0:40). Plus, an update on the Jose Mourinho-Paul Pogba relationship (16:15) before getting into Liverpool’s stoppage-time win against Everton in the Merseyside Derby (21:40) and Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Fulham in the West London Derby (35:25).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Irish soccer team sorry for falsely reporting player’s death

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DUBLIN (AP) A death notice for a soccer player was posted in a local newspaper. A game was postponed. Teams across the league held a minute’s silence.

Soccer clubs in the Leinster Senior League in Ireland united over the weekend to honor the memory of a player who was thought to have been killed in a traffic accident last week.

Turns out it was all one big mistake.

[READ: Champions League wrap-up]

Amateur team Ballybrack FC has apologized for a “gross error of judgment” after falsely reporting that one of its players, Fernando Nuno La Fuente, died on Thursday.

La Fuente is, in fact, still alive, the team said.

“This grave and unacceptable mistake was completely out of character and was made by a person who has been experiencing severe personal difficulties unbeknownst to any other members of the club,” Ballybrack said in a statement posted on its Facebook page .

The club said the person in question was fired after an emergency meeting.

The league offered its “sincerest apologies for any distress caused as a result of notifying clubs as to the demise of a valued player.”

Ballybrack, a team based in Dublin, postponed its game against Arklow Town on Saturday, while other teams in the league held a minute’s silence in honor of La Fuente.

David Moran, chairman of the league, said the story began to be exposed after inquiries were made regarding offering support to La Fuente’s family.

“We were told he was flown back to Spain on the Saturday. Straight away, that rang alarm bells for us,” Moran told Irish broadcaster RTE. “We checked the hospitals, we checked everywhere. Nobody could find anything about this young fellow.”

Moran said some of La Fuente’s friends said he had gone to Spain four weeks ago.

“The club has contacted Fernando to confirm his whereabouts, wellbeing,” Ballybrack said, “and (is) thankful for his acceptance of our apology on this matter.”