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Russia World Cup star Cheryshev investigated for doping

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Russian winger Denis Cheryshev, who went from bench substitute to four-goal scorer at this summer’s World Cup in his home country, is under investigation by Spain’s anti-doping agency, according to multiple reports including the BBC and ESPN.

The 27-year-old is reportedly under investigation by the Spanish anti-doping agency AEPSAD for the use of human growth hormone (HGH) after his father Dimitri told a Russian media outlet that his son was taking HGH. The use of HGH without an exemption would be a violation of the anti-doping rules and could lead to a four-year ban.

Dimitri Cheryshev had initially told Russian publication Sport Weekend that his son was taking HGH to treat an injury, but later attempted to clarify his remarks to say he meant vitamin “growth factor” and that his quotes were misinterpreted. Denis Cheryshev missed most of both the 2015/16 and 2016/17 seasons due to persistent injuries. A hamstring injury nagged him throughout the the 2015/16 campaign with both Real Madrid and Valencia, limiting him to just 7 La Liga appearances that year, eventually needing surgery in May which kept him out of Euro 2016. He made just 11 appearances for Villareal in 2016/17 due to constant muscle problems.

“We have opened an investigation to get more information regarding this case,” an AEPSAD spokesman said to ESPN. “We are investigating the case in collaboration with the Russian Anti-Doping Agency and we are in contact with the World Anti-Doping Agency. This case has emerged following the comments made by the player, Cheryshev, and his father. We want to know more information. We have started the process but it’s still early to draw conclusions. We don’t know how long this case will take.”

According to the Telegraph, the Russian Football Union has claimed Cheryshev received platelet-rich plasma injection, which is legal. They also accused the journalist in the initial Sport Weekend story of misquoting Dimitri, and while the newspaper claimed the quote was correct, they also corroborated the father’s claim that he meant “growth factor” claiming he even referred to the treatment as such later in the interview.

Cheryshev was not expected to play a significant part in Russia’s World Cup plans, but when he came off the bench for an injured Alan Dzagoev and scored two goals in the win over Saudi Arabia and scored again in the subsequent victory over Egypt, he was undroppable, contributing heavily in Russia’s surprising run to the quarterfinals. Overall he has five international goals in 18 appearances for Russia.

Valencia to sign Russia forward Denis Cheryshev on loan

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MADRID (AP) Valencia says it has reached an agreement with Villarreal to get Russia forward Denis Cheryshev on loan.

The club says the loan is “pending” and will be valid until the end of the season.

Cheryshev scored four goals at the World Cup, helping Russia reach the quarterfinals.

[ MORE: Ramos takes shots at Klopp ]

The 27-year-old player had already been with Valencia on a loan in 2016. He was previously with Real Madrid but had few opportunities with the team’s main squad.

Valencia also added forward Kevin Gameiro from Atletico Madrid and striker Michy Batshuayi from Chelsea.

Valencia finished fourth in the Spanish league last season.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Clinical Russia tops Egypt to likely reach knockout rounds

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  • Russia goals: Fathy o.g. (48′), Cheryshev (59′), Dzyuba (62′)
  • Egypt: Salah (PK, 73′)
  • Next: Russia-Uruguay, Egypt-Saudi Arabia

Hosts Russia scored a trio of second half goals to all but seal the first spot in the 2018 World Cup’s Round of 16 with a 3-1 win over Egypt on Tuesday in Saint Petersburg.

The loss means Egypt is 0-2, the Pharoahs unable to find momentum despite the return of Mohamed Salah. Egypt needs a wild combination of factors to stay alive for the knockout rounds, and is likely heading home.

Salah won and converted a penalty for Egypt, while Denis Cheryshev, Artem Dzyuba, and an Egyptian own goal accounted for Russia’s goals.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Some sloppy play out of the back allowed Golovin a shot from outside the 18 but he hit his effort wide of the frame.

Egypt stayed in the mix though, and a Russian mistake  deep in its own end forced Zhirkov to concede a corner with a desperation intervention that stopped Mo Salah from a doorstep opportunity.

Salah then won a yard of space but fired wide in the 42nd minute after Zhirkov stopped him from going to his right peg.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Russia went ahead through an Egypt own goal from Fathy, who was jostling for position with Artem Dzyuba and turned Roman Zobnin’s mishit inside his net.

After Cheryshev made it 2-0, Dzyuba took an Ilya Kutepov long ball out of the air with his chest before turning past Ahmed Hegazy and blasting Russia’s third goal home.

Salah won a penalty in the 73rd minute, one initially ruled a free kick, and the Liverpool man blasted his shot home.

Russia gets Putin call, excited over blowout win

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Russia manager Stanislav Cherchesov had to pause his post-match press conference following his side’s 5-0 defeat of Saudi Arabia in the first match of the 2018 World Cup.

He took a phone call, and was asked who called and why.

It was Vladimir Putin.

[ MORE: Saudi Arabia “ashamed” ]

“It was the head of state,” Cherchesov said. “He asked me to share his thanks with the team for the performance that they put on and he asked me to keep playing like this.”

So goes the glory of a massive win from a host nation at the biggest tournament in the world, though surely he’ll be hoping the fiercely competitive Putin isn’t approaching the Uruguay and Egypt matches expecting 5-0 score lines for Sbornaya.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Twenty-two year old Aleksandr Golovin impressed big time with a goal and two assists, but it was a long-time hyped player who stoke the show.

Denis Cheryshev, 27, scored a brace in the win. He signed for Real Madrid at age 12, but went on to make just seven senior appearances with one goal before transferring to Villarreal.

“I’m happy for the team and for my own family. They’ve suffered so much with my injures and I think they’ve really deserved this,” he said. “I’m happy we’ve won but we shouldn’t stop there. Any moment you relax you can be knocked out so you have to keep working and looking forward. I would like to carry on at this level so that we succeed as a team.”

Injuries leave host Russia limping ahead of World Cup

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MOSCOW (AP) With less than three months to go until the World Cup in Russia, the host nation’s players are dropping like flies.

A spate of knee injuries this year has left the Russians hurrying to find cover at the back and trying to replace a key attacking threat.

[ MORE: Zlatan leaves Man Utd ]

First, center back Georgy Dzhikiya tore his knee ligaments during a friendly in January. The same happened to Viktor Vasin a month later. Russia’s defense was already thin, so those injuries prompted calls for the 35-year-old Berezutsky twins, Alexei and Vasily, to return from international retirement. They refused to do so.

Now coach Stanislav Cherchesov must also seek a replacement for Zenit St. Petersburg forward Alexander Kokorin, who tore his knee ligaments in the Europa League last week. That puts more responsibility on the shoulders of Fyodor Smolov, now likely to be Russia’s undisputed first-choice striker for the World Cup.

“We’re not complaining about anything,” Cherchesov said Thursday. “Fate is often testing us in various ways but we always try to be ready.”

The injuries mean Cherchesov will be forced to experiment during Friday’s friendly against Brazil and Tuesday’s game against France, both at home. Short-term medical issues have ruled three more fringe players out of those games.

Here’s a closer look at the issues facing Russia ahead of the World Cup:

FORWARDS

If you had to pick one Russian striker for the World Cup, it might as well be Fyodor Smolov.

On track to be the Russian league’s top scorer for the third season in a row, Smolov has been working on his English skills as he eyes a move to the Premier League.

Smolov was linked with West Ham during the January transfer window but opted to stay with FC Krasnodar, saying he didn’t want to abandon his team as it battles for a spot in the Champions League next season.

With Kokorin almost certainly out of the picture for the World Cup, Russia’s backup options include Anton Zabolotny, who is still settling in at Zenit after a recent move from newly promoted FC Tosno. The 22-year-old Alexei Miranchuk can play as a forward, but is better in a deeper role.

MIDFIELD

Russian players tend to stay in their domestic league, but there’s one big exception in midfield – Denis Cheryshev.

The winger came through the Real Madrid youth system when his father was coaching there and is now at Villarreal, but frequent injuries have dented hopes he can add some spice to the national team.

Now he’s fit again and in the squad to face Brazil and France.

Elsewhere in the midfield, there are the promising and creative youngsters Roman Zobnin and Alexander Golovin, but Russia doesn’t currently have a dominant defensive midfielder.

ABSENTEES

Cherchesov has a reputation as a difficult coach to get along with, and Russian media have regularly reported fallings-out with various players.

One of those outside the squad is Igor Denisov, who last played for Russia in 2016. He has been playing well in a defensive midfield role this season for Lokomotiv Moscow, the team at the top of the Russian league standings. Denisov and Cherchesov clashed during the latter’s time as Dynamo Moscow coach.

Also absent from the squad is forward Artyom Dzyuba. A talented striker who has scored 11 goals in 22 games for Russia but has a reputation for being hot-headed, Dzyuba was deemed surplus to requirements at Zenit and sent on loan to Arsenal Tula. In three games there, he has scored three goals and set up two more to put himself back in the World Cup contention.

DOPING

Russia’s soccer team hasn’t escaped the country’s doping scandals.

Defensive midfielder Ruslan Kambolov is under investigation by FIFA for a possible doping case revealed by Moscow laboratory documents, but hasn’t been suspended.

The team’s schedule was disrupted Wednesday by drug-testing, which took more than five hours and delayed training. On Thursday, the team said five more doping control officers turned up to take samples from the team.