Daniel Karell

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FA Cup Wrap: Norwich stun Spurs

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For the first time in almost three decades, Norwich City is in the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Todd Cantwell converted his penalty kick while Tim Krul saved Gedson Fernandez’ attempt to give Norwich City a 3-2 win on penalty kicks over Tottenham on Wednesday at the remodeled White Hart Lane.

With the defeat, Spurs hope for a trophy this season dwindles, as the Premier League is surely out of reach at this point. Norwich meanwhile has even more to play for now with their Premier League struggles gobbling up most of their mental energy.

Elsewhere, holders Manchester City came through a tough road tie at Sheffield Wednesday to win, 1-0, while Leicester City scored late to beat Birmingham City.

Here’s a look at Wednesday evening’s action:


Tottenham 1-1 Norwich City (Norwich advance, 3-2, on penalty kicks)

Mired in a relegation battle and six points from safety, Norwich City gave its fans a memory they soon won’t forget.

After Josip Drmic bundled home a parried shot in the 78th minute, the extra time periods remained scoreless, leading to a penalty kick shootout to decide who was moving on. Tottenham defender Jan Vertonghen‘s 13th minute header at the far post initially put the struggling Spurs on the board.

In the shootout, Eric Dier and Giovani Lo Celso scored for Tottenham, but Erik Lamela and Troy Parrott couldn’t score, with Lamela’s shot pinging out off the crossbar and Parrott’s shot saved. That left it up to Gedson Fernandes, who’s shot was saved by Tim Krul for the win. After the big save, Krul sprinted the length of the field to celebrate with the Norwich supporters.

Sheffield Wednesday 0-1 Manchester City

Time and time again, Sergio Aguero comes up with timely goals in important moments for Manchester City.

On a night when Sheffield Wednesday goalkeeper Wildsmith kept almost everything out of the net, the ageless Aguero snuck a shot past Joseph Wildsmith to help lead Manchester City to the FA Cup quarterfinals.

Manchester City had chance after chance to open the game up but they couldn’t succeed other than Aguero, leading to an irate manager Pep Guardiola on the sidelines. However, Man City kept up the pressure, even with the late introduction of Raheem Sterling to the match, and held on to advance.

Leicester City 1-0 Birmingham City 0

Brendan Rodger’s side picked up its first win since late January in all competitions as the Foxes came through to beat Championship side Birmingham City.

Neither side could create many opportunities, but eventually it was the two Leicester City fullbacks who made the difference for the hosts. After Ben Chillwell charged forward and crossed towards the right, the ball eventually ended up with Mark Albrighton. After holding off his defender, he chipped a ball into the right side of the box, which Ricardo Pereira headed home to give the Foxes the win.

Italy bans fans from all matches until April 3

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The Italian government’s latest decision to combat the spread of COVID-19 will have a massive affect on Serie A and UEFA for the next month.

In a decree issued on Wednesday, the Italian government ruled that all sporting events in Italy would be played behind closed doors until April 3, and all managers, players, and staff involved in matches would need to be tested repeatedly for the virus. This ruling means that Serie A, UEFA Champions League and Europa League, and Coppa Italia matches will all take place without fans for the next month.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

That includes previously postponed matches, such as Juventus v. Inter Milan and AC Milan v. Genoa, as well as upcoming European home games for Juventus, Inter Milan, and Roma.

Wednesday’s decision follows a national ruling to close schools and universities until March 15. More than 3,000 people have tested positive for COVID-19 in Italy, with more than 100 deaths related to the virus.

Agent Jorge Mendes, major Portuguese clubs under investigation

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LISBON, Portugal — Portuguese authorities conducted extensive raids Wednesday as part of an investigation into suspected tax evasion in soccer transfers.

The attorney general’s office said in a statement that 76 searches were being carried out. According to public statements, some of those searches included soccer agent Jorge Mendes’s home, the offices of Benfica, Porto, and Sporting Lisbon, as well as the office of Cristiano Ronaldo’s lawyer, Carlos Osorio de Castro.

The targets were the premises of soccer clubs, agents and lawyers. More than 180 police officers, 101 tax inspectors and 16 magistrates took part in the operation.

The investigation covers transfers and other deals since 2015, the statement said. Authorities are looking into whether tax evasion and money laundering occurred.

The statement provided no further details, citing Portugal’s judicial secrecy law which prohibits the publication of information about ongoing investigations.

Mane named CAF Player of the Year

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Sadio Mane has bragging rights for at least the year over his club teammate, and fellow African, Mohamed Salah.

On Tuesday, the Confederation of African Football voted Mane as the African Player of the Year for 2019, his first continental individual award. Mane beat out Salah (Egypt), who had won the previous two seasons and Algerian and Manchester City midfielder Riyad Mahrez. Interestingly, it’s the first win for a Senegalese player since El Hadji Diouf won it in 2002, shortly after joining Liverpool, Mane’s current club.

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“I’m very happy and proud to win this award,” Mane said, per the CAF. “I thank my teammates at the Senegal national team and also my club, Liverpool for their support.”

Mane’s had a heck of a last 18 months or so. He finished tied for the Premier League Golden Boot with 22 goals and also won the UEFA Champions League and the Golden Boot for that competition in 2019. Then he followed that up by leading Senegal to the African Cup of Nations final, and so far this year, he’s got 11 goals in 18 Premier League matches as the Reds are way ahead in the race for the league title.
In addition to Mane, Salah, and Mahrez, Liverpool’s Joel Matip, Tottenham’s Serge Aurier, and Arsenal’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang were all named to the CAF Best XI for 2019. Former Everton midfielder Idrissa Gueye was also named to the list.

Court date set for UAE appeal against Qatar’s Asian Cup win

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GENEVA — A legal challenge by the United Arab Emirates soccer federation that threatens Qatar’s 2019 Asian Cup title will be heard at sport’s highest court.

The Court of Arbitration for Sport said Tuesday it will hear the UAE’s appeal on March 12 in a case that alleges Qatar fielded two ineligible players at the tournament. The Asian Cup was hosted by the UAE during an ongoing diplomatic rift with neighboring Qatar, which will stage the next World Cup in 2022.

A verdict by CAS judges is likely at least several weeks after the hearing in Lausanne, Switzerland.

The ruling could strip Qatar of its biggest success in world soccer, affect key young players in its World Cup planning, and see the UAE inflict an embarrassing loss on a regional political rival.

The UAE filed a complaint with the Asian Football Confederation after a 4-0 loss to Qatar in the Asian Cup semifinals in Abu Dhabi last January.

When an ineligible player case is proven, AFC rules say a team must forfeit the game.

The Asian governing body’s first disciplinary ruling cleared Qatar of wrongdoing hours before beating Japan 3-1 in the final.

UAE officials have appealed to CAS against the Qatar Football Association and the AFC, whose appeal committee also later dismissed the claims of wrongfully submitted documents.

The UAE alleges Qatar’s star forward Almoez Ali and defender Bassam Al-Rawi were not born there and did not meet FIFA nationality requirements to represent the country.

FIFA’s statutes say players can acquire a nationality if they have “lived continuously for at least five years after reaching the age of 18 on the territory of the relevant association.”

Both Ali, who turned 23 since the Asian Cup ended, and Al-Rawi, who is now aged 22, seemed not to meet the five-year residency rule.

However, both reportedly claimed their mothers were born in Qatar – meeting FIFA’s national eligibility standard if a parent or grandparent is born on a territory.

Ali scored against the UAE, and again in the final, for a tournament-leading nine goals. Al-Rawi was suspended for the semifinal but returned to play against Japan.

They are also club teammates at Al-Duhail, runner-up in the Qatari league last season, and fellow graduates of the state-of-the-art Aspire youth academy in Doha which has educated many players born outside of Qatar.

The latest appeal extends difficulties between the soccer neighbors which showed in a heated semifinals game played 20 months into an economic and travel boycott of Qatar by regional political rivals.

After Qatar took a 2-0 lead in Mohammed bin Zayed Stadium – named for the UAE crown prince – players celebrating the goal had to dodge shoes thrown by some spectators.

The UAE soccer body was later fined $150,000 by the AFC for the fans’ misconduct, including the shoe-throwing and disrespecting the Qatari anthem.

The teams met again in Doha five weeks ago, when the UAE and Saudi Arabia agreed to travel to Qatar to play in the Arabian Gulf Cup, won by Bahrain. Qatar beat the UAE 4-2 in a group-stage game.