Juan Cuadrado

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Colombia downs Argentina 2-0 after big Messi miss

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A miserable opening 45 minutes gave way to a more exciting second half, and Roger Martinez came off the bench to win the day with a 71st minute stunner to give Colombia all three points in Bahia, supported by a late cherry on top from Duvan Zapata.

The goal came just minutes after Lionel Messi missed a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead during a spell of serious possessional domination midway through the second half. Once again, the Argentinian collection of star forwards came up empty, a drought that continues to plague the side in big matches.

The first half, largely, was a physical mess with very few real chances on net. The possession was nearly even between the two sides, neither team registered a shot on target, and there were just five shots overall in the first half, including just one for Argentina.

Early on, Lionel Messi was at the heart of Argentina’s best chance as he delivered a stunning long ball forward for Sergio Aguero, but with David Ospina coming acres out of his net to challenge with a flying karate kick, the offside flag went up to end the chance. Colombia was dealt an early blow as Luis Muriel was forced off with an early thigh injury, replaced by Martinez in a move that would eventually prove critical.

Argentina suffered a near-disaster when Nicolas Otamendi delivered a dangerous back-pass to goalkeeper Franco Armani who sent it right back to his defender with both under heavy pressure, but they escaped just conceding a corner and it came to nothing for Colombia.

After the break, the game opened up a bit but there were still few chances on net. Messi nearly weaved his way through the entire Colombian defense, nutmegging Davinson Sanchez before Wilmar Barrios came in to cut the ball off, but the referee made a controversial decision not to award an illegal back-pass as Barrios then touched back to Ospina who collected in his arms. Instead, he showed a yellow card to Leandro Paredes for dissent after the action arguing his case.

The two teams burst into a scuffle when Messi was hacked down by Juan Cuadrado past the hour mark as Argentina began to grab hold of the game. Cuadrado received a yellow of his own and was withdrawn shortly thereafter. On the hour mark, Messi had a golden opportunity to give Argentina the lead, but as Paredes saw his effort saved, the rebound came to Messi but he headed wide right from point-blank range despite the goal gaping.

Minutes later Colombia took the lead through a simple yet stunning move as Martinez burst down the left and cut inside just outside the top of the penalty area, unleashing a fabulous strike that left a diving Armani with no chance as it buried into the side netting inside the far post.

Argentina boss Lionel Scaloni somehow decided that 31-year-old Matias Suarez was the choice for a last throw of the dice off the bench, choosing the man with two prior international caps over the likes of Paulo Dybala and Lautaro Martinez. Instead, Colombia went down the other end and eviscerated the Argentina defense with a vicious counter down the left as Roger Martinez combined with Jefferson Lerma. The latter crossed to the doorstep and Zapata – who came on just five minutes earlier for Radamel Falcao – somehow beat the napping center-back pairing of German Pezzella and Otamendi.

The win for Colombia gives them an early advantage in Group B, while Argentina can still rescue its situation with matches remaining against Paraguay and Qatar. The loss marks the third in Argentina’s last four competitive matches, with losses to France and Croatia in World Cup play prior to this defeat.

Transfer rumor roundup: Pogba to Juve; Felix to Man City

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The Premier League transfer window is officially open again and that means one thing: transfer reports are going to start kicking up a few notches.

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Here’s a look at some of the latest gossip from around the PL…


Corriere dello Sport in Italy say that Paul Pogba has agreed to move back to his former club Juventus, but the Italian champions will need to sell plenty of players to sign the Manchester United midfielder.

Pogba, 26, joined United from Juve in the summer of 2016 for $110 million but has had a topsy-turvy second spell at Old Trafford under Jose Mourinho and now Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

With Solskjaer linked with moves for multiple central midfielders already during the transfer window, it appears that if a suitable deal to move Pogba on can be made, he will be able to leave United.

Juve will reportedly look to move on Mario Mandzukic, Joao Cancelo, Juan Cuadrado and Mattia Perin to fund the move, but there will be no rush on the move as they don’t currently have a manger. Maurizio Sarri is expected to leave Chelsea to take charge of Juve in the coming days, and then Juve will be able to kick on with the transfer business for the summer.

If United can get back most of the $110 million they spent on Pogba, that would be a very good deal. In an ideal world they would get a little cash and maybe Paulo Dybala in exchange for Pogba. Although his displays picked up when Mourinho departed and Solskjaer arrived, the Frenchman’s form regressed at the end of the season and he really is at a crossroads in his career.

Does he stay at United and lead their rebuild and a possible return to glory? Or does he return to Juve where he can help them challenged for the European title alongside Cristiano Ronaldo and settle for the relative safety of winning Serie A year in, year out?


Portuguese teenager Joao Felix is one of the hottest properties in world soccer and Manchester City is pushing ahead with their attempts to sign the Benfica midfielder.

Benfica’s chairman has admitted that Felix could be sold this summer, and Portuguese newspaper Record say that Man City have offered wages in excess of $33.7 million over five years. Wowza.

The attacking midfielder is said to have a release clause of $133.1 million, but neither City nor Man United, who are also in the hunt for Felix, have triggered that clause.

Felix, 19, was part of Portugal’s squad which won the UEFA Nations League over the weekend and his attacking prowess, close control and worth ethic means he is perfect for Pep Guardiola‘s style of play. In many ways he’s a younger Bernardo Silva, and with David Silva not getting any younger and Phil Foden yet to fully flourish into a first team regular, this is an area where City could strengthen.

The figures are eye-watering but Felix is one of the best young talents in Europe and if City want to continue their domination they have to sign players of his ilk. With Leroy Sane potentially heading out of the door this summer, the transfer fee may not be as daunting as it seems right now.

Report: Sarri to be released from Chelsea contract

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Just two days after the Blues hoisted the Europa League crown, a report claims that Maurizio Sarri will be released from his Chelsea contract so he can leave Stamford Bridge and take the Juventus job.

The report comes from Italian journalist Alfredo Pedulla, a correspondent for Italian television outlet SportItalia and independent journalist who is close to Sarri. According to Football Italia, Pedulla was the first on the scene when Sarri departed Napoli for Chelsea just one year ago and has a very good relationship with the current Blues boss.

Pedulla’s report states that Sarri’s agent Fali Ramadani has departed London with assurances from Chelsea brass that the Italian will be free to leave the club this summer without breaching his contract. Reportedly, Chelsea spoke with Ramadani nearly three weeks ago to begin discussions regarding Sarri’s departure independent of the outcome of the Europa League final.

Since, the report has been corroborated by notable Italian journalist Gianluca di Marzio, who additionally reports that Sarri himself met with Chelsea executive director Marina Granovskaia to reiterate his desire for a return to Italy.

Rumors have flown for weeks of Sarri’s departure this summer after a roller coaster season that saw the club finish third in the Premier League and win the Europa League title, while also reaching the League Cup final. Those outcomes on paper would have likely been acceptable for Sarri’s first year in charge had it not been for a few especially trying moments throughout the campaign that saw the Italian come under heavy fire.

The club lost three Premier League games in a six-match span through December, then dropped to Bournemouth, Arsenal, and Manchester City by a combined 12-0 sandwiched over a 5-0 win against Huddersfield Town, a perfect encapsulation of the range of emotions Chelsea felt this season. Sarri also made the controversial decision to move Player of the Year defensive midfielder N'Golo Kante from his natural position and use new signing Jorginho in that spot instead, to mixed success.

Sarri was often combative when faced with questions about his possible departure at press conferences in recent weeks, although it appears there was substance to those questions after all. Rumors have tabbed former Chelsea midfielder and current Derby County manager Frank Lampard as the favorite to take over should Sarri indeed leave, but nothing concrete has taken place in that regard publicly with Sarri’s future still in question.

With Massimilano Allegri leaving Juventus after securing the club’s 10th straight Serie A crown, Sarri appears to have seized the opportunity to return to his home country. The Juventus squad is in need of a serious overhaul, with a number of aging players weighing down the roster. 34-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo still seems to be at his goalscoring best, but Mario Mandzukic, Juan Cuadrado, Sami Khedira, Blaise Matuidi, Giorgio Chiellini, and Leonardo Bonucci are all north of 30 years old, with Miralem Pjanic and Wojciech Szczesny nearly there. The club has Paulo Dybala, Federico Bernardeschi, Daniele Rugani, Rodrigo Betancur, and Emre Can all 25 years old or younger along with 19-year-old breakout star Moise Kean, but otherwise the youthful talent is severely lacking.

Continuing at Chelsea, however, would have come with its own baggage as well. The Blues are facing a FIFA-imposed transfer ban that is currently under appeal in the Court of Arbitration for Sport. Eden Hazard, the club’s star attacking player, is likely headed to Real Madrid this summer for a hefty fee, and pending the outcome of the CAS decision, the club could have lots of money to spend in the coming transfer fee. American winger Christian Pulisic has already officially joined the club after finishing out the season with Borussia Dortmund. Chelsea owner Roman Abramovich is also known for running through managers at a vicious pace, and Sarri may have wanted to work for someone with a less itchy trigger finger.

Alongside Sarri, former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte has also returned home to Italy to take the Inter Milan job, with the AC Milan managerial position still open after the departure of Gennaro Gattuso.

Man Utd stuns Juve with late comeback

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  • Ronaldo puts Juve ahead
  • Substitute Mata levels with free kick
  • Young cross turns into late Juve o.g.
  • De Gea stars

Juan Mata froze Wojciech Szczesny with a free kick, and a hopeful Ashley Young cross turned into a match-winning own goal for Manchester United in a 2-1 defeat of Juventus in the UEFA Champions League on Wednesday.

Jose Mourinho walked onto the field after the final whistle and cupped his hand to his ear before engaging in arguments with Leonardo Bonucci and Paulo Dybala.

United trailed 1-0 in the 86th minute and becomes the first team to beat Juve in a group stage match in Turin since 2009.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a pretty goal of his own for Juve, who stays atop Group H with nine points. United has seven, two more than Valencia, with two matches to play.

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Both teams had chances to threaten goal and plenty of decent possession in the first half hour.

Sami Khedira stung the palms of David De Gea with an otherwise unremarkable shot in the 32nd.

De Gea made a fine save moments later as Juve ratcheted up its pressure, and then got help from the goal post when Khedira half-hit a point blank chance.

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Paulo Dybala curled a pretty left-footed effort off the cross bar as the second half found its legs early.

Alex Sandro bladed Ashley Young during a United buildup, and saw yellow for his troubles in the 55th minute

Ronaldo got his goal in Willie Mays style, watching a long ball over the top over his shoulder and onto his right foot for a laser finish past De Gea in the 65th.

Miralem Pjanic and Juan Cuadrado both missed the frame with chances to make it 2-0.

Jose Mourinho brought Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata on for the final 11 minutes, and the former immediately helped set Marcus Rashford up for a rip wide of Wojciech Szczesny’s near post.

Moments later, a hopeful cross defied Szczesny when Juve was uncharacteristically mixed up on the goal line. No matter for Mourinho’s Man Utd, who authors a famous win.

Serie A: Inter win 7th straight to put pressure on off-form Juve

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona win it late | Real Madrid do, too ]

Juventus 3-1 Cagliari

Juve’s unbeaten start to the season reached 11 games (10 wins) on Saturday, but Massimiliano Allegri’s side was anything but convincing in knocking off Cagliari.

Things started off as well as possible, when Paulo Dybala put the home side 1-0 ahead in the first minute, but the seven-time defending Italian champions failed to maintain that same intensity for the rest of the game and required a fair bit of fortune to secure the 3-1 result.

Joao Pedro brought the visitors back to level terms in the 36th minute, but the stalemate was short-lived. Filip Bradaric booted the ball into his own goal in the 38th minute, and it would prove to be the winner.

Still, Juve labored the ensuing 50 minutes and only extended the lead to 3-1 in the 87th minute, when Juan Cuadrado bagged his first league goal of the season. Even despite the performance, Juve remain six points clear of their closest title competition.

Inter Milan 5-0 Genoa

Speaking of the no. 1 contender for Juve’s crown, Inter Milan are the in-form team in the league right now after winning seven straight games to catapult themselves in to second place, ahead of Napoli on goal differential.

Saturday’s 5-0 demolition of Genoa came courtesy of a complete team performance — goals from Roberto Gagliardini (two), Matteo Politano, Joao Mario and Radja Nainggolan. Inter’s leading scorer (and Golden Boot contender) Mauro Icardi started the game on the bench, and remained there for 90 minutes, yet Inter waltzed to a five-goal victory.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Lazio vs. SPAL — 6:30 a.m. ET
Sampdoria vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Parma vs. Frosinone — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Sassuolo — 9 a.m. ET
Bologna vs. Atalanta — 12 p.m. ET
Udinese vs. AC Milan — 2:30 p.m. ET