Cristhian Stuani

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Spanish league president says player revealed match-fixing

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MADRID (AP) Spanish league president Javier Tebas testified in a match-fixing trial on Thursday, saying it was a former player who told him a result had been fixed.

The case involves a top-tier game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season. Prosecutors say there is evidence 965,000 euros (nearly $1 million) was paid to Levante’s players to lose the match in the final round of the season. Zaragoza won 2-1 to secure its spot in the first division, with Deportivo La Coruna being demoted.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Tebas did not reveal which player made the allegation but said he played for Zaragoza and didn’t want to be linked to the investigation out of fear of retaliation from other players. Tebas also said the unidentified player was a client of his law firm at the time.

Tebas, who became the league’s president in 2013, said he warned then-Levante president Quico Catalan, who later also testified and said he did not recall receiving a call from Tebas about the alleged match-fixing attempt.

Last week, lawyers for Zaragoza and some players unsuccessfully called for a mistrial claiming Tebas broke lawyer-client privilege when the league brought the allegation to authorities.

More than 40 people have been accused and have appeared before a judge in Valencia, including dozens of players and former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre, who managed Zaragoza at the time.

They could face two years in prison and a six-year ban from soccer if found guilty. They have all denied any wrongdoing.

Among the 36 players accused are Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; Itailan defender Maurizio Lanzaro; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Prosecutors said players on both teams were aware of the match-fixing. They said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.

A lower court had shelved the case but it was reopened last year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where Levante is based and where the match was played.

Even if found guilty, it’s unlikely that those being accused would face actual prison time because sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

Zaragoza returned to the second division in 2014. Levante is currently in Spain’s top league.

LIVE – USMNT v. Uruguay in St. Louis

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Here goes something.

The United States men’s national team gets off the mat on Tuesday after a terrible performance against rivals Mexico, and will be leaning on an inexperienced team against Uruguay in St. Louis on Tuesday.

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Teenagers Sergino Dest and Josh Sargent gets starts, which will excite many who expected Gregg Berhalter to trot out Gyasi Zardes and Nick Lima or Daniel Lovitz.

Fulham back Tim Ream will captain the squad, with veteran Brad Guzan between the sticks. Aaron Long will partner with Ream in the heart of the defense, with Reggie Cannon on the other side of the pitch from Dest.

An all-MLS midfield of Cristian Roldan, Sebastian Lletget, and Jackson Yueill sits behind (seemingly) an attacking three of Tyler Boyd, Jordan Morris, and Sargent.

Boyd could be playing wide mid, with Lletget or Roldan on the other side, in a 4-man midfield, but that seems unlikely.

Young center back Miles Robinson, teen midfielder Paxton Pomykal, and goalkeeper Jesse Gonzalez all miss out on chances of first USMNT caps.

Rodrigo Betancur, Matias Vecino, and Jose Maria Gimenez start for Uruguay, who is without Diego Godin, Luis Suarez, Edinson Cavani, Cristhian Stuani, Carlos Sanchez, and Nicolas Lodeiro.

Ex-Mexico coach denies involvement in match-fixing in Spain

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MADRID (AP) — Former Mexico coach Javier Aguirre has denied taking money that was allegedly used to fix the result of a Spanish league game eight years ago.

Aguirre testified Thursday in the match-fixing trial involving a game between Levante and Zaragoza at the end of the 2010-11 season.

Aguirre, Zaragoza’s coach at the time, is one of more than 40 people who could face two years in prison and a six-year ban from soccer if found guilty.

Prosecutors said there is evidence that 965,000 euros (nearly $1 million) was paid to Zaragoza’s squad and later transferred to Levante’s players to lose the match in the final round of the season.

Zaragoza won 2-1 to avoid relegation. Deportivo La Coruna was demoted as a result.

Former Zaragoza officials said the money was paid to motivate players, not fix the result of the game.

Aguirre and some of the players who have testified denied Zaragoza’s version that the money was paid as an incentive.

Aguirre said he received a deposit without his consent and returned the money to the club because it was not part of his contract.

Some of the players said they were asked as a favor to the club to withdraw the money deposited into their accounts and return it in cash, which they said they did. A few players said they kept the deposits because they believed the money was owed to them.

Among the 36 players accused are Ander Herrera, now with Paris Saint-Germain; former Leicester midfielder Vicente Iborra; former Atletico Madrid captain Gabi Fernandez; River Plate midfielder Leonardo Ponzio; Serbian defender Ivan Obradovic; Lazio forward Felipe Caicedo; Itailan defender Maurizio Lanzaro; and Uruguay striker Cristhian Stuani.

Herrera, Ponzio and Fernandez were among the players who testified on Thursday.

Former Levante player Xavi Torres was asked why he went more than two months without making any cash withdrawals following the match against Zaragoza. The midfielder said he didn’t need to make any withdrawals because he was on vacation, travelling to different countries and at his parents’ home.

Torres, who played the whole match against Zaragoza, denied the result was fixed.

“You can see during the match that we created several scoring opportunities and tried to win,” he said.

Prosecutors said players on both teams were aware of the alleged match-fixing. They said they found evidence the money was transferred to Levante players after analyzing tax reports and banking transactions at the time.

A lower court had shelved the case but it was reopened last year after an appeal by prosecutors in Valencia, where Levante is based and where the match was played.

Even if found guilty, it’s unlikely that those being accused would face actual prison time because sentences of two years or less for first-time offenders are often suspended in Spain.

Zaragoza returned to the second division in 2014. Levante is currently in Spain’s top league.

Copa America Roundup: Suarez misses and Peru advances to semifinals

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Luis Suarez, the hero for many years for Uruguay in international tournaments, ended up making the key mistake that sent his team home.

Along with a great save from Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese, Suarez’s miss in the penalty kick shootout and five-straight makes from Peru led the La Blanquirroja over Uruguay, 5-4 on penalty kicks to advance to the 2019 Copa America semifinals. Despite all the attacking talent on the field, the match was deadlocked at 0-0 after 90 minutes, leading to a penalty kick shootout.

[READ: USMNT’s Weah joins Lille in Ligue 1]

Edison Flores of Morelia in Liga MX scored the game-winning penalty kick with a strike right down the middle, one that Fernando Muslera dived away from and couldn’t adjust his leg to block it. Suarez was captured by video after the final penalty kick in tears on the field, his dream of another Copa America title crushed by his own mistake.

Suarez and his strike-partner Edinson Cavani will rue the chances they had earlier in the match to score, as Peru’s defense was in the “bend, but don’t break” mode. Midway through the first half, Suarez dribbled through a string of Peruvian defenders in the box before centering the ball. Cavani met it at the edge of the six yard box but couldn’t get the shot on a bouncing ball down, going over the bar.

Uruguayan midfielder Georgian De Arrascaeta, just two minutes later in the 29th minute, had a goal disallowed because the man who passed it to him, Nahitan Nandez, was offside when he received the ball initially.

In the second half, Suarez found his veteran teammate Diego Godin but he also missed on his shot in the box, blasting it over Gallese’s goal. Soon after, Uruguay had another goal disallowed after Cavani was ruled offside before scoring a terrific curling effort.

Uruguay had a third goal called back, this time from Suarez as he was just a step offside past the Peru backline.

Uruguay went first in the penalty kick shootout and paid for it, as Suarez missed on his strike to the left side of the net, leading to a mid-section save by Gallese. Cavani, Cristhian Stuani, Rodrigo Betancur and Lucas Torreira all scored for Uruguay, but Peru made all five of its shots. It started with Paolo Guerrero, the Seattle SOunders Raul Ruidiaz and former Orlando City midfielder Yoshimar Yotum. Luis Advincula scored past Muslera with a terrific shot into the corner before Flores sent Peru to the semifinals.

Up next, Peru faces Chile on Wednesday in Porto Alegre, joining Brazil v. Argentina as the other Copa America semifinal.

La Liga: Madrid struggles early in win, Valencia prevails late

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Real Madrid weathered a Real Valladolid penalty miss, two opposing goals ruled out by VAR, and an eventual opener for the hosts, before finally rising up to a 4-1 win at Estadio Jose Zorrilla. While Karim Benzema scored twice in the second half in the comeback win.

Madrid full-back Alvaro Odriozola fouled Sergi Guardiola just 12 minutes in, but Ruben Alcaraz delivered a horrid penalty miss miles over the bar. Moments later the hosts had the ball in the back of the net but VAR ruled Keko offside on his delivery for Guardiola’s goal. Next up, Guardiola was offside as he headed the ball into the net before the 20-minute mark, but he’s flagged for offside and VAR confirms the decision.

Finally, they went in front as Moroccan midfielder Anuar finishes off a combined delivery from Keko and Guardiola. That was the blow to wake Real Madrid up, and they would go on to a storming victory. Raphael Varane started the party in the 34th minute to equalize thanks to a horrible punch from Jordi Masip, and Benzema got his first from the penalty spot soon after halftime. He put Madrid 3-1 up on a header from a Toni Kroos corner, and despite Casemiro’s marching orders 10 minutes from time, Luka Modric finished the scoring as the game wound down on a feed from who else but Benzema.

10-man Valencia looked to have coughed up a late lead after Facundo Roncaglia was sent off, but 19-year-old Ferran Torres rescued all three points in the 90th minute with a vicious counter. Girona had equalized twice in front of the home fans, for the second time in the 83rd minute, but the young Valencia product rounded Girona goalkeeper Bono on a breakaway and scored into the open net to secure the win, moving his club into seventh in the table.

Jonas Ramalho was the first to bring Girona back level in the 22nd minute, canceling out Goncalo Guedes’s early goal. After Dani Parejo put Valencia back in front soon after the halftime break, Roncaglia earned two yellows in a 10-minute span as the visitors lost a man. Cristhian Stuani was on hand to take advantage from the spot with seven minutes to go, but Torres pulled Valencia into sixth in the La Liga table.

Real Betis kept pace with Valencia with a 1-0 win over Celta Vigo, finally finding a winner in the 80th minute as Jese Rodriguez pinged home a rebound after a shot from Cristian Tello was saved by Ruben Blanco. The visitors at Estadio Municipal de Baladios dominated the match with 14 shots to Celta Vigo’s seven, holding the hosts to just a single shot on target. Betis sits in seventh, level with Valencia on points but back on goal differential.

A four-goal second half saw Sevilla run away with a 5-2 win over Real Sociedad at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium. Wissam Ben-Yedder scored a second-half hat-trick to lead the way, with the third coming from over 30 yards out as goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli challenged way out of net on a breakaway but was beaten. Sevilla moved to sixth with the win, jumping both Valencia and Betis.