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UEFA postpones all June international matches amid coronavirus

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Following a meeting of all 55 member nations on Wednesday, UEFA announced the postponement of all June international matches, among a number of other decisions as the coronavirus pandemic continues to wreak havoc throughout the soccer calendar.

The summer international calendar included the pushed back Euro 2020 qualifying playoffs, but those have now been put on hold indefinitely and it is possible there will be no international games played until September.

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In addition, the Champions League and Europa League competitions have both been suspended indefinitely, no longer tying a potential return to a specific date. Nothing else has been confirmed regarding the competitions, but there are reports swirling that the resumption of the Champions League and Europa League would come with games behind closed doors, potentially all the way through the finals of the competitions.

The European governing body had already pushed back Euro 2020 to next summer in an effort to make room to finish the domestic seasons, but as the coronavirus pandemic continues to linger, questions are mounting over the possibility of finishing all competitions at a later date or if there is simply not enough time. Reports continue to stream in that UEFA significantly favors finishing domestic competitions over all else.

UEFA did announce that all registration deadlines for international club competitions have been suspended indefinitely as well, throwing the summer transfer window into further disarray as well.

“As a result of the increasing uncertainty generated by the ongoing extraordinary events,” UEFA said in its statement, “the Executive Committee also decided to suspend the club licensing provisions that relate to the preparation and assessment of clubs’ future financial information. This decision applies exclusively for participation in the 2020/21 UEFA club competitions.”

Report: UEFA considering one-leg format to finish competition

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According to a report by The Mirror reporter John Cross, UEFA is considering slashing its Champions League and Europa League tournaments nearly in half the rest of the way in order to finish the competitions after COVID-19 fears caused an indefinite suspension of play.

The report states that UEFA could chop down the remaining fixtures in this season’s tournament from two-legged matches to 90-minute matches to lessen the load on the calendar as the European governing body tries to conceptualize how to proceed when play theoretically resumes from the coronavirus hiatus. It is unclear who would be the host club in each individual situation.

The Champions League was halted in the middle of the Round of 16, with Paris Saint-Germain, Atletico Madrid, Atalanta, and RB Leipzig already confirmed through to the quarterfinals but the other four matchups still in question. Manchester City and Real Madrid, Chelsea and Bayern Munich, Juventus and Lyon, and Barcelona and Napoli all have second legs to contest.

The Europa League is in a similar situation, also in the midst of its Round of 16 with every single matchup yet to be determined. All but the two matchups involving Italian teams have concluded the first leg of the matchups, with Manchester United thrashing LASK 5-0 and Wolves drawing Olympiakos 1-1 on Friday.

The aim, according to Cross’s report, is to hold firm to the finals dates, with the Champions League final scheduled for May 30 in Istanbul, while the Europa League final will be contested May 27 in Gdansk, Poland. The report states that the Round of 16 would finish as planned, and then both the quarterfinals and semifinals would be moved to a one-off game similar to a final.

Next week’s games have already been postponed across both competitions and UEFA is gearing up for a Tuesday videoconference with all 55 member associations to discuss plans for both club and international competitions moving forward. While the Champions League and Europa League will be the most immediate concern, the Euro 2020 tournament this summer could be a major talking point as well. It may be possible that Euro 2020 is postponed to next summer or outright cancelled in order to make room for club competitions on both a domestic league and European level. The Nations League could also be on the chopping block to make room for World Cup qualifiers, opening the door to successfully move Euro 2020 to next summer.

Europa League: Wolves draw 1st leg; USMNT’s Brooks scores (video)

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in Europe’s “other” club competition, the Europa League…

[ MORE: Arteta tests positive for coronavirus | PL to hold emergency meeting ]

Two games involving Italian clubs — Inter Milan v. Getafe and Sevilla v. Roma — were postponed after Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, was placed under national quarantine. Makeup dates for those games are unknown at this time.

[ MORE: Man United cruise to 5-0 lead in Europa League last-16 (video) ]

Olympiacos 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers

Wolves still have every hope of reaching the quarterfinals after securing a 1-1 away draw with Olympiacos, though they won’t necessarily be thrilled by the order in which the game unfolded.

Olympiacos went down to 10 men after Ruben Semedo was sent off in the 28th minute, but the Greek powerhouse was first on the scoreboard anyway. Youssef El-Arabi, who scored the dramatic winner two weeks ago at Arsenal, put his side ahead in the 54th minute.

Pedro Neto‘s equalizer wasn’t the prettiest goal ever scored, but manager Nuno Espirito Santo will take the deflected free kick 100 times out of 100 and head back to Molineux Stadium expecting to reach the next round, should the competition continue to be played in a week’s time.

 

Wolfsburg 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk

Wolfsburg suffered a 2-1 home defeat which puts them in a precarious position to reach the quarterfinals, but it was better news for U.S. men’s national team fans.

USMNT defender John Brooks is back from being benched and making an impact once again. The 27-year-old headed home a corner kick in the 48th minute to bring Wolfsburg level (until Shakhtar bagged the winner in the 73rd).

Full Europa League scoreboard

LASK 0-5 Manchester United — FULL RECAP
Olympiacos 1-1 Wolverhampton Wanderers
Rangers 1-3 Bayer Leverkusen
Wolfsburg 1-2 Shakhtar Donetsk
Eintracht Frankfurt 0-3 Basel
Istanbul Basaksehir 1-0 Copenhagen
Inter Milan v. Getafe — postponed
Sevilla v. Roma — postponed

Man United cruise to 5-0 lead in Europa League last-16 (video)

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Manchester United all but sealed their place in the Europa League quarterfinals — should the competition continue over the coming days and weeks — with a 5-0 demolition of LASK in the two sides’ round-of-16 first-leg clash in Linz, Austria, on Thursday.

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The game was played in an empty stadium due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Five different Red Devils scored on the day, including a pair of forwards in January signing Odion Ighalo and 18-year-old Mason Greenwood.

Ighalo tallied his fourth goal (all competitions) since joining Man United on transfer deadline day, with his second in the Europa League. While he is still awaiting his first Premier League goal for the club, he appeared to be in fine form with his left-footed strike to open scoring in the 28th minute.

Daniel James and Juan Mata made it 2-0 and 3-0, respectively, before Greenwood pinged the ball off both posts before sneaking over the goal line in the 91st minute. Andreas Pereira added a fifth for good measure just seconds after the restart.

United are tentatively scheduled to host LASK for the second leg at Old Trafford next Thursday.

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VIDEO: Ighalo scores amazing solo goal for Man United v. LASK

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Odion Ighalo is playing for the club he loves and he scored a superb solo goal for Man United v. LASK in the Europa League.

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Ighalo picked up the ball on the edge of the box, juggled the ball past a couple of defenders to work some space and then rifled home off the crossbar and in.

There was no crowd to witness it as the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 first leg game was played behind closed doors due to the coronavirus outbreak. Odion Ighalo may not score a better goal in a Man United shirt.

Click play on the video below to see the Nigerian striker score his fourth goal in eight outings for Man United since his loan move from China in January.

With goals like this, surely  Ighalo’s loan will made into a permanent move in the summer?

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