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Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

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Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

Report: U.S. international Kenny Saief joins Anderlecht on loan

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Kenny Saief is back and he’s heading to a popular place in Belgium’s top flight.

On Saturday, the U.S. Men’s National team midfielder joined Anderlecht on loan from fellow Belgian side Gent, while the former does maintain the option to purchase Saief at season’s end.

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This season, Saief has appeared in five matches for Gent, prior to completing the loan move to third-place side Anderlecht.

The 24-year-old American made his USMNT debut in the summer of 2017 in a victory against Ghana. He was also tabbed to participate in the CONCACAF Gold Cup, however, a hernia injury kept Saief out of the squad that won the tournament.

Saief holds both American and Israeli citizenships, and previously played for Israel at the youth level before making a USMNT appearance in 2017.

Newcastle to pry $15 million Praet away from Sampdoria

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Reports in Italy say Newcastle’s nightmarish start to the season may get a prime reinforcement in former Anderlecht midfielder Dennis Praet, now of Sampdoria.

Praet, 23, has a single cap for Belgium and played 34 times for Sampdoria during his first season with the Serie A club. He played 84 minutes of the Genoese club’s 2-1 season-opening win over Benevento this weekend.

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He arrived from Anderlecht last season for just under $12 million, and Newcastle’s reported cost for his services will be right around $15 million.

More than capable in his own end and productive in moving play along, he’d play a bit deeper in Newcastle’s midfielder.

With Jonjo Shelvey suspended, Isaac Hayden had a feast or famine partner in on-loan Borussia Dortmund mid Mikel Merino in the Magpies’ disappointing 1-0 Sunday loss at Huddersfield Town.

Rampant Rashford slots Man Utd to UEL semis; Zlatan hurt

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  • Mkhitaryan strikes again
  • Rojo, Zlatan hurt
  • Hanni levels tie
  • Rampant Rashford wins it

Marcus Rashford scored a deserved and decisive goal as dominant Manchester United needed extra time at Old Trafford to beat Anderlecht in the UEFA Europa League quarterfinals.

Tied 1-1 after the first leg in Belgium, Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored his second of the tie to give United an early lead before Sofiane Hanni forced extra time with an equalizer.

[ MORE: Zlatan hurt | Rojo, too ]

Jesse Lingard provided the match’s first threat, and Leander Dendoncker tempted the goal at the other end as both teams sought early control.

United broke through in the 10th minute, as Marcus Rashford benefited from his blocked cross returning to his feet. He was given two bounces to settle it, and Mkhitaryan hit a perfect shot past Anderlecht keeper Ruben.

Youri Tielemans saw a yellow card soon after for taking down a lively Rashford.

Ruben then poked a Paul Pogba shot over the bar for a corner before making a flying save on Jesse Lingard. United was ready.

Anderlecht got successive beneficial calls from the referee in the build-up to its equalizer. Hanni cleaned up a mess in the box after Tielemans struck the bar from outside the 18.

Rashford, 19, then roasted Dennis Appiah before forcing Ruben into conceding corner as United worked to reclaim the lead. Luke Shaw saw a shot collected by Ruben in the 40th minute.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

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Anderlecht should’ve been up in the 48th minute, but Lukasz Teodorczyk took far too long with his breakaway and Antonio Valencia was able to slide and force a corner kick that led to nothing.

At the other end, Lingard’s intra-six slide just missed proper contact on Shaw’s terrific cutback.

Rashford beat Ruben on a 1v1 run break, but couldn’t catch the goal from an acute angle after being closed down by Appiah. Moments later, a ball fell for Ibrahimovic in front of goal, but the Swede was seemed uncharacteristically offguard and hit his low shot at Ruben.

The chances kept coming, especially for Rashford. In a sense it was a microcosm of their season: Clearly better than the opposition, but finish missing.

United then lost Ibrahimovic in stoppage time.

Rashford sent a rabona cross to the back post, and Pogba had a bicycle kick saved off the line by an Anderlecht defender.

The chances kept coming, with Fellaini unable to head on target off a corner kick.

Pogba had a goal pulled back when Fellaini was whistled for an over-the-back foul.

Tielemans cranked a shot that Romero spilled forward and collected as the first period of extra time came to a close.

That’s when Rashford struck, calmly maneuvering to strike a low left footed shot home.

It wasn’t over, as Romero had to act quickly to defy Frank Acheampong’s header in the 116th minute.

Martial was offside in a late bid to make it 3-1.

Europa League Roundup: Man United draws away, Ajax takes lead

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The Europa League quarterfinals are under way, and all eight teams took part in the first leg on Thursday afternoon.

Manchester United will be disappointed with its effort as they wasted a lead and slumped to a 1-1 draw. The Red Devils grabbed the lead and vital away goal on a rebounded strike from Henrikh Mkhitaryan who slammed home from a tight angle after Marcus Rashford‘s initial effort was parried away. They held on defensively until just four minutes remaining when 21-year-old Leander Dendoncker thundered a header into the back of the net to draw level.

Rashford was bright throughout the first half, providing the best attacking threat for the visitors in Belgium. Anderlecht, meanwhile, was wasteful, failing to produce a shot on target until Dendoncker’s strike. United was slightly unlucky to pick up just the one away goal, as Anderlecht goalkeeper Ruben made a number of exceptional saves. That left the door open for Anderlecht who

Elsewhere, Ajax built an early lead and hung on as the Dutch giants won 2-0 over German side Schalke. Davy Klaassen picked up a pair as he scored from the spot in the first half, when Amin Younes burst into the box and was sandwiched by Thilo Kehrer and Alessandro Schopf. He picked up his second soon after halftime on a cross from Justin Kluivert, and the completely unmarked 24-year-old smashed home on the volley from near the penalty spot.

The start of Besiktas and Lyon was delayed considerably after supporter unrest marred the start of the game. Fireworks and other objects rained down from the visiting Besiktas supporters who were situated on the upper tier, which forced home fans to seek refuge on the pitch.

The match finally got under way about 35 minutes after planned, and it sure did deliver. The visitors picked up an away goal on a 15th minute strike by Ryan Babel. They maintained that 1-0 lead through halftime and up to the hour mark, but Lyon grabbed a last-gasp win thanks to an 83rd minute equalizer from Corentin Tolisso as a free-kick squirted through the pack for the midfielder to poke home. The French side picked up the winner just a minute later via Jeremy Morel, thanks to a horrific mistake from Besiktas goalkeeper Fabricio, who tried to dribble away under pressure from three Lyon attackers, and with no help from his defense, Fabricio coughed it up to Morel right in front of net.

Finally, Celta Vigo won a wild one 3-2 at home over Racing Genk. The opening 20 minutes saw three goals, with the Spaniards bagging a pair through Pione Sisto and Iago Aspas, while the visiting Belgians got one back via the head of Jean-Paul Boetius. Former Manchester City striker John Guidetti put Celta 3-1 up with a quality low strike before halftime, but Genk will be satisfied with a pair of away goals as Thomas Buffel followed up his own saved effort with a header into the back of the net to make it 3-2 in the 67th minute.