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Barcelona’s Gerard Pique buys tiny club in Spain’s 5th tier

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) The investment group headed by Barcelona defender Gerard Pique has purchased FC Andorra, a soccer club in the small country of Andorra that plays in Spain’s lower leagues.

Pique said in a statement Saturday that investment group Kosmos has taken over after club members approved the sale.

FC Andorra, founded in 1942, currently plays in Spain’s fifth tier against clubs in Catalonia. It played in the third division in the 1980s and ’90s.

The acquisition of the team is the latest business move by the 31-year-old Pique.

Pique’s Kosmos has won the backing of the International Tennis Federation to revamp the Davis Cup, transforming it into a season-ending tournament held in one venue as opposed to the current format which spreads ties out over months in different countries.

Pique, who is married to pop star Shakira, has also launched business ventures in esports, video games, eyeglasses, isotonic drinks and organic hamburgers.

Andorra is a nation of around 75,000 people tucked in the Pyrenees Mountains between Spain and France. Its soccer teams have permission to play in Spanish competitions.

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

VIDEO: Cristiano Ronaldo hammers An-four-a in goal-scoring blitz

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Please, if you would, direct all compliments and praise of the above headline to the PST boss, Mr. Joe Prince-Wright.

Andorra probably expected to end up on the wrong end of a terrible Internet pun when they turned up at the Estadio Municipal in Aveiro, Portugal, on Friday, just as they probably expected to see Cristiano Ronaldo celebrating a goal or two, something the Portuguese superstar had done on 61 other occasions during his illustrious international career.

[ MORE: CONMEBOL WCQ roundup — Neymar scores no. 300 ]

Unfortunately for the Andorrans, Ronaldo hit them not for one, not for two, not for three, but four goals on Friday (below videos). It was the first time he had ever scored four goals in an international game (and his fourth hat trick, all of which were achieved since 2013).

[ LIVE: USA takes on Cuba — FOLLOW LIVE ]

Portugal went on to win 6-0 on the day, the other goals scored by Joao Cancelo and Andre Silva. The victory sends Portugal third in Group B of UEFA’s 2018 World Cup qualifying following the reigning European champions’ opening day defeat at the hands of Switzerland.

West Ham’s Europa League opponents “frozen” by draw of “millionaire team” Hammers

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You might know the history of West Ham United. Premier League club, plays at the Boleyn Ground, 120 years old, three FA Cups and a European Cup Winners’ Cup.

It’s unlikely you have the details on their first qualifying round opponents for the UEFA Europa League.

[ MORE: West Ham nabs 21-assist Frenchman ]

So we’ll fill you in: FC Lusitanos is from Andorra, and they’ve existed since 1999. They play a 20-match domestics season and, as for Europe, they have no wins, seven losses and one draw in eight appearances across the Champions League and Europa League, being out scored 33-4.

And those opponents were Rabotnicki, NK Varazdin, Valletta and EB/Streymur. So with all due respect to that quartet, you can understand why the club is concerned to face the Hammers.

Here’s their general secretary, from the BBC:

Diogo Fosta said he was “frozen” when his team were paired with the Hammers.

Lusitans qualified for the Europa League by finishing second in the Andorran league, while West Ham topped the Premier League Fair Play table.

“We are a humble team – not very famous. We are going to play against a millionaire team,” said Fosta.

At least that’s the general secretary, and not someone who will feature in the matches on July 2 and 9, and surely the players are very interested in impressing Wes t Ham’s brass. We’ll see how this goes.

Euro 2016 qualifying today: Bale’s Wales, Gigi’s Italy start on paths

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There will be plenty of star power on display Tuesday as the third day of Euro 2016 qualifying kicks off at Noon and rolls through eight matches in less than five hours.

Gareth Bale, Robin van Persie, Gianluigi Buffon and Luka Modric are among those slated to start their nation’s qualifying runs on Tuesday.

[ RELATED: Euro 2016 qualifying preview ]

A pair of early Eastern Time Zone matches get going at Noon, with Berti Vogts’ Azerbaijan hoping to begin a shocking campaign by using home field to its advantage against Bulgaria.

Things don’t get any easier for the Czech Republic following last week’s 1-0 loss to the United States, as they’ll stay on home soil to host RVP and perennial powers Netherlands. They are part of a tricky Group A that also includes matchups between Iceland and Turkey, and Kazakhstan and Latvia.

Italy’s Buffon takes on Norway, while Bale’s Wales and Andorra will also tangle. Modric and Croatia will take on minnows Malta as well, while Cyprus hopes to spring a massive upset against Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Tuesday’s Euro 2016 qualifiers
Azerbaijan vs. Bulgaria, Noon (Group H)
Kazakhstan vs. Latvia, Noon (Group A)
Norway vs. Italy, 245pm ET (Group H)
Croatia vs. Malta, 245pm ET (Group H)
Iceland vs. Turkey, 245pm ET (Group A)
Andorra vs. Wales, 245pm ET (Group B)
Bosnia and Herzegovina vs. Cyprus, 245pm ET (Group B)
Czech Republic vs. Netherlands, 245pm ET (Group A)