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Video: Di Maria smashes Argentina level before halftime

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Angel di Maria has given Argentina life heading into halftime after blasting a scorcher from distance against France.

The two sides are level at 1-1 at the break, following the Paris Saint-Germain attacker’s strike in the 41st minute.

Following a throw-in, Nicolas Tagliafico centered the ball for Di Maria nearly 30 yards out, before smashing a long-distance shot into the side netting past France goalkeeper Hugo Lloris.

Report: PSG told to sell millions worth of players by end of June

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According to multiple reports, UEFA has informed Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain that the club must raise a significant amount of money through player transfer sales by the end of June, or else they will face the wrath of Financial Fair Play sanctions.

The amount of money in the ultimatum has varied between reports, with both French publication L’Equipe and The Financial Times reporting the club is required to raise $70 million, while Loic Tanzi of RMC in France is reporting that number to be $47 million.

[ MORE: France World Cup preview ]

UEFA released a statement on Wednesday to declare its investigation into PSG “closed” but also said, “The financial impact of transfer activities as from the 2017 summer – up to and including the upcoming transfer window – and compliance with the break-even requirement for the 2018 financial year will remain under close scrutiny and will be thoroughly looked at in the coming weeks.”

Financial Fair Play requires all clubs to balance income with expenditures and attempts to keep clubs from expending extraordinary – and therefore theoretically unfair – amounts of money on player transfers. PSG spent a massive $260 million on the purchase of Brazilian superstar Neymar last summer, a transfer that was muddied by the involvement of the Qatari royalty. They also have an obligation to complete the permanent transfer of Kylian Mbappe after this past campaign’s season-long loan, which could potentially cost the club up to a reported $210 million.

UEFA punishments for an FFP breach could include a fine, salary restrictions, squad restrictions, or worst of all a ban from European play. PSG has qualified for next season’s Champions League group stage via their first-place finish in the Ligue 1 table. They could still be handed down a punishment should they fail to comply with the reported ultimatum.

Players who could be sold include aging and expensive attackers Edinson Cavani, Angel Di Maria, and Javier Pastore, as well as midfielder Adrian Rabiot after his heated public response to being assigned reserve status for the French World Cup squad.

Months after possible exit, Di Maria is back in favor at PSG

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PARIS (AP) Five months after he seemed destined to be sold off, Angel di Maria has become one of the first names on Paris Saint-Germain’s team sheet.

He has arguably been PSG’s best player in recent weeks, scoring six goals in his past seven games and showing the flair that once made him one of soccer’s most sought-after wingers.

As January’s winter transfer window shut at midnight on Wednesday, Di Maria was preparing for Saturday’s French league game away to Lille. Some contrast from the final days of the summer transfer window when it seemed PSG’s priority was selling him.

Qatari-owned PSG needed to sell to raise cash to balance the books, after being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules over the signings of Neymar for 222 million euros ($260 million) and teen star Kylian Mbappe for 180 million euros ($216 million).

However, a reported third offer of some 45 million euros ($56 million) from Barcelona – trying to unite Di Maria with his Argentina teammate Lionel Messi – was rebuffed.

PSG coach Unai Emery has been repaid for holding firm by Di Maria’s sparking form since the turn of the year. Di Maria, who has scored 100 goals in 503 career games, is still in his peak years. He will be 30 on Feb. 14 – the day PSG is at Real Madrid in the Champions League in their round-of-16 match.

“I’m especially happy for him, he’s shown great commitment to PSG,” said Emery, who took charge in 2016-17 after Laurent Blanc was fired. “I’ve known Angel for one-and-a-half years and he’s had some difficult times. I’ve spoken with him to help him regain his confidence and his best level.”

Di Maria, who helped create two of PSG’s goals in a 3-2 win away to Rennes in the League Cup semifinal on Tuesday, will hope to have done enough to start the first leg against his former club Madrid.

But Emery faces a very difficult decision.

Barring injury, Neymar and striker Edinson Cavani – PSG’s all-time leading scorer – appear certain to start that game.

This leaves one place up for grabs in PSG’s biggest match of the season, and one which could shape Emery’s future. He was hired by Qatari owners QSI to take PSG into at least the last four of the Champions League, something PSG has not managed to do since QSI took over the club in June, 2011.

After PSG’s humiliating exit to Barcelona at the same stage last season – losing 6-1 in Barcelona after winning 4-0 at home – all eyes will be on Emery for this game.

If he picks Di Maria on the right flank, it means dropping Mbappe, who has formed a lethal understanding with Neymar.

But Di Maria’s slumps this season and last have been as a direct result of him being a substitute. His fragile confidence impacted both times, and it took him many weeks to regain top form.

Emery’s decision likely rests on how he approaches the Madrid game and, crucially, how he expects Zinedine Zidane’s under-performing side to play on the night.

If PSG takes the game to Madrid, then Mbappe’s pace and direct running seem the better option.

But if PSG sits back and tries to hit Madrid on the break, then it will mean long periods of soaking up play and waiting for the right moment to push forward.

This scenario better suits Di Maria’s greater experience and ability to track back more than Mbappe, whose defensive work-rate is sometimes lacking.

Questions have been raised this season, too, about Mbappe’s temperament.

He demonstrated a volatile streak on Tuesday against Rennes, getting sent off after raking his studs on the back of a Rennes player’s leg. A similar gesture of indiscipline might prove costly for Mbappe – and Emery – at this stage of the Champions League.

With Mbappe suspended for Saturday’s game at Lille, Di Maria will get another chance to stake his claim.

Watch: Di Maria sets up Cavani with gorgeous chip

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Angel Di Maria showed on Friday once more why he’s one of the world’s best playmakers.

The Argentine midfielder produced a brilliant assist for Edinson Cavani’s second goal of the night in the first half of Paris Saint-Germain’s match against OGC Nice, chipping nearly the entire Nice team to find Cavani one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

[ MORE: Ligue 1 score, schedule ]

Di Maria also set up PSG’s first goal and third goal. The 29-year-old had one assist coming into the match and had eight last year for PSG in all competitions.

Barcelona’s Twitter hacked to claim Di Maria signing

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FC Barcelona had eyeballs popping across the Twitterverse for a solid 90 seconds there.

La Liga’s giants Tweeted out a welcome to Angel Di Maria, the current PSG and former Real Madrid star, with the hashtag #DiMariaFCB.

[ MORE: EFL Cup Tues. wrap ]

It was an odd Tweet for 4 a.m. local time, as humourously pointed out by our Andy Edwards, and the hackers were quick to claim credit before any Tweets could be deleted.

So if someone tells you Angel Di Maria is the latest member of Barcelona, be sure to stop the spread of fake news.

On a day where Barca’s reportedly ready to up their bid for Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho, something tells us someone at the Camp Nou is turning over their keys to the club’s social media.