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Lyon strengthens Champions League place with win over Angers

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Olympique Lyonnais is one step closer to a spot in next year’s Champions League after topping Angers 2-1 on Friday thanks to first-half goals by Memphis Depay and Martin Terrier.

Depay opened the scoring just 14 minutes in with his seventh goal of the Ligue 1 season, breaking away thanks to an incredible long-ball up the field from 20-year-old French youth international Houssem Aouar. Depayevaded a last-ditch tackle by Mateo Pavlovic and scored one-on-one with Angers goalkeeper Ludovic Butelle. It marked the Dutchman’s first goal since a 5-1 win over Toulouse in early March, and just his second league tally since mid-November.

With six minutes to go until halftime, Lyon struck again as Aouar provided yet another wonderful assist, threading a ball down the middle from the halfway line that a streaking Terrier connected with after splitting the defensive unit. That left the 22-year-old alone with Butelle and he also finished the breakaway chance.

The two assists for Aouar mark his first multi-assist match of the season and sees his assist total move to five on the league campaign to go along with his seven goals. The youngster has cooled off since his blistering start to the year where he scored five goals in an eight-match span through October and November. Still, he has been a vital part of the Lyon squad this season, having racked up 2,541 Ligue 1 minutes out of a possible 2,970.

The win strengthens Lyon’s position in third place in the Ligue 1 table, moving them to 59 points, six ahead of fourth-placed St. Etienne and eight above fifth-placed Marseille. It would be the club’s second season in a row in the Champions League, having reached the Round of 16 this time around before elimination at the hands of Barcelona.

Bonucci criticized for saying Kean “50-50” to blame for racist abuse

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Leonardo Bonucci has been roundly criticized for comments he made after teammate Moise Kean was subjected to racist abuse during Juventus’ 2-0 victory over Cagliari on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Allegri asks for lifetime bans after Kean racially abused ]

Whereas Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri called for the fans hurling racist abuse at Juve and Italy’s 19-year-old rising star to be banned for life, Bonucci said, “I think the blame is 50-50, because Moise shouldn’t have [celebrated like that] and the [fans] should not have reacted that way.”

A number of the game’s most prominent black stars, including Raheem Sterling and Memphis Depay, hit back directly at Bonucci for all to see, while the likes of Paul Pogba, Blaise Matuidi and Mario Balotelli, among others, have posted full-throated support of Kean on social media.

(Google Translate: As captain of Juventus I am disappointed in your reaction, the boy can rejoice as he wants. His role is essential for his team and he plays with great pride for his country Italy. He must be respected for this.)

Cagliari president Tommaso Giulini’s comments on the matter were equally un-empathetic and slanted — quotes from the Guardian:

“I don’t want people to start being self-righteous about it, because I heard that already, whereas Juventus players came to me afterwards and confessed Kean was wrong to celebrate that way.

“We cannot go around calling the entire Cagliari crowd offensive things. If there were racist jeers, then our fans got it wrong, but it happened because of the celebration and would’ve happened even if the goalscorer had a different color of skin.”

Schulz strikes late as Germany overcomes blown lead in Holland (video)

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Nico Schulz’s 90th minute goal helped Germany make amends for blowing a two-goal lead in a 3-2 defeat of the Netherlands in Amsterdam on Sunday, as the German opened EURO 2020 qualifying with all three points.

The win puts Germany a point back of Northern Ireland’s group-leading four, keeping the Dutch on three points.

[ WATCH: Pochettino address crowd at Spurs’ new stadium ]

Goals by Leroy Sane and Serge Gnabry had the Dutch trailing 2-0 in Amsterdam, but Memphis Depay is having himself a week.

Three days after scoring in the first minute as part of a brace in battering Belarus 4-0, Memphis set up Matthijs de Ligt after halftime before scoring himself to level the score line at 2.

But Hoffenheim’s Schulz scored in stoppage time to give the Germans their win.

Man City clinches Champions League knockout round berth

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  • Lyon takes 5 of 6 pts from City
  • City clinches knockout round spot
  • Laporte, Aguero score equalizers

Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero each scored as Manchester City overcame a pair of Maxwel Cornet goals to reach the UEFA Champions League knockout rounds with a 2-2 draw at Lyon on Tuesday.

City will host Hoffenheim in the final group stage match, but will likely show a second-choice side as the match in sandwiched between Premier League encounters against Chelsea and Everton.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Lyon had two big early chances, the more alarming when Maxwel Cornet’s faulty first touch while unmarked atop the six allowed Aymeric Laporte to block his shot for a corner.

Cornet hit the frame in the 43rd minute with a bounding scissor kick. Man City came through with a good chance just before halftime, as  Anthony Lopes stretched to collect Riyad Mahrez‘s low effort.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Cornet made amends for his early miss with a thriller of a finish in the 55th minute, giving Lyon a deserved advantage.

A quick restart put memphis Memphis Depay atop the 18, and his cross to the other side of the box was settled by Cornet. His long distance shot to a slight turn around a flying Ederson to make it 1-0.

Sergio Aguero saw a 58th minute header saved by Lopes as City found a moment, and Laporte got his equalizer when David Silva passed the ball across goal. The header was far from simple, as Laporte craned his neck to power a header past Lopes.

The Lyon goalkeeper nearly spilled a rebound over the line within a minute, but it remained 1-1.

But Cornet did it again, shouldering off Laporte to beat Ederson off a terrific through ball.

That’s when Man City answered a second time, with Aguero’s remarkable header off a Mahrez corner kick leaving Lopes out to dry.

Netherlands wins, relegates Germany

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Ronald Koeman‘s Netherlands sent Germany into League B, and moved a draw away from the semifinals after taking care of the World Cup champions in the highlight of Friday’s UEFA Nations League matches.

[ WATCH: Salah scores stoppage time winner ]


Netherlands 2-0 France

Georginio Wijnaldum was in a prime position to slot in a rebound after Hugo Lloris made a save on Ryan Babel, and Memphis Depay converted a stoppage time panenka penalty as Netherlands’ win sent Germany into League B.

The Dutch are still alive for A1, and can make the semifinals with a win over Germany on Monday.

Wales 1-2 Denmark

An even match saw Denmark score off a counterattack, with Nicolai Jorgensen supplying the finish off put the Danes ahead of the hosts. Martin Brathwaite made it 2-0 in the 88th minute, with Gareth Bale‘s goal the only Welsh answer a minute later.

Denmark goes top of Group B4, and end Wales’ hopes of promotion to League A. It’s Denmark into the “top flight” next cycle, and the nation is guaranteed at least a playoff spot in qualification for EURO 2020.

Gibraltar 2-6 Armenia

Former Real Salt Lake attacker Yura Movsisyan scored four for captain Henrikh Mkhitaryan‘s side.

Elsewhere
Cyprus 1-1 Bulgaria
Slovenia 1-1 Norway
Liechtenstein 0-2 Macedonia
Slovakia 4-1 Ukraine