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16-year-old Cherki scores 2 as Lyon advances in French Cup

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PARIS — Two goals and two assists from 16-year-old forward Rayan Cherki helped Lyon win 4-3 at Nantes and reach the last 16 of the French Cup on Saturday.

But the run of Reunion Islanders JS Saint-Pierroise ended with a 1-0 loss away to Epinal, which scored deep into extra time.

Cherki put Lyon ahead in the first minute, deftly rounding goalkeeper Alban Lafont and then clipping the ball beyond a defender. He made it 2-0 in the ninth, slotting the ball through Lafont’s legs after being set up by right winger Bertrand Traore.

New signing Renaud Emond headed in Moses Simon’s cross from the left to pull a goal back for Nantes in the 16th. Cherki then showed great awareness to release forward Martin Terrier with a fine pass from midfield in the 37th for 3-1.

Cherki shaved the crossbar with a shot in the 60th and won a penalty in the 67th after robbing the ball off Thomas Basila. He generously allowed striker Moussa Dembele to take it, but Lafont saved Dembele’s attempt.

Two minuter later, Cherki threaded the ball down the right to Dembele, who slotted in, and the irrepressible Cherki set up another chance for Terrier.

Lyon’s defense remains vulnerable and Simon set up Imran Louza’s goal before heading in late on to ensure a tense finish.

Saint-Pierroise had caused an upset in the previous round by knocking out second-division Niort and the players again traveled 6,000 miles (around 9,700 kilometers) from the small island in the Indian Ocean, located off the east coast of Africa.

Saint-Pierroise, the former club of France midfielder Dimitri Payet, was looking to become the first club from the Reunion Islands to reach the last 16 and almost forced a penalty shootout, despite having forward Jean-Michel Fontaine sent off in the 15th minute.

But substitute Adel Berkane rifled home a half-volley for fourth-tier Epinal with two minutes left in extra time.

Also, there were wins for first-division sides Nice, Lille, Saint-Etienne and Strasbourg.

Lille won 2-0 at fifth-division Gonfreville thanks to goals from forwards Loic Remy and Victor Osimhen, while coach Patrick Vieira’s Nice side held on to beat third-tier Red Star 2-1.

Saint-Etienne won 3-2 at Paris FC, a team fighting relegation in the second division.

Paris FC led 2-1 with goals from former Paris Saint-Germain forward Jeremy Menez and ex-Rennes winger Jonathan Pitroipa. Teen forward Charles Abi equalized for Saint-Etienne with 20 minutes left before veteran right back Mathieu Debuchy netted the winner.

Strasbourg won 5-1 at fourth-tier Angouleme.

On Sunday, Rennes plays at fifth-tier Athletico Marseille and PSG travels to face second division league leader Lorient.

Rennes beats PSG in last year’s final.

FIFA orders Cardiff to pay Nantes initial fee for Emiliano Sala

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FIFA has ruled that Cardiff City must pay FC Nantes the initial $6.5 million for the transfer of the late Emiliano Sala, and reportedly will be required to transact the entire $18 million fee once it comes due according to the negotiated deal in January.

The Argentine striker died in a plane crash on the way to his new club, along with the pilot David Ibbotson.

Initially, it seemed by the FIFA announcement that a middle ground had been reached, with FIFA requiring just the $6.5 million to be paid as a way of placating the two sides in an emotionally charged dispute. However, it is now being reported that the payment amount is for the initial fee owed by Cardiff City at the time of the transfer, and that FIFA has ruled that the Welsh club will indeed be on the hook for the entire fee once it comes due. The confusion stems from Nantes only officially appealing to FIFA for the initial payment due in January, but that the precedent has now been set for future installments as well.

Cardiff City has 10 days to accept the decision or appeal to the Court of Arbitration for Sport, and reports state they will indeed do so. They have argued that because paperwork had not been completed and Sala had not been registered to the club at his time of death, they were not on the hook for his club-record fee, while Nantes countered that the two parties had agreed to the transfer and because of Sala’s departure from their grounds to make his way to Cardiff City, they should be compensated for his services.

An autopsy in August determined that Sala was exposed to high levels of carbon monoxide prior to his death, with investigators surmising that the exposure likely contributed to the crash. With the body of pilot David Ibbotson still missing, it’s assumed that he was also exposed to the fumes, which could have rendered the duo unconscious, leading to the crash.

Nantes to retire number 9 shirt in Sala tribute

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Nantes has gone to great lengths to remember Emiliano Sala after his body was recovered from the airplane wreckage located in the English Channel and identified on Thursday.

Sala played four years at Nantes and made 133 appearances before his transfer to Cardiff City, and the French club is honoring his memory by retiring its number 9 jersey in his name. There will be a ceremony at Sunday’s match against fellow Ligue 1 side Nimes, and all ticket prices have been reduced €9 as part of his remembrance, ensuring that the stadium will be full for the pre-match event.

A club retiring the number 9 jersey is a massive honor, as it often is worn by the team’s main striker and is often worn as a symbol of goalscoring prowess. Players flock to the jersey number to show fans, opponents, and sponsors they are an important member of the squad.

“I don’t have the words. It’s a tragedy, I’m crushed,” Nantes president Waldemar Kita said. “Emiliano left his mark. “That’s why, like many fans, I wish to honor him by retiring the number nine.”

Sala wore number 9 at Nantes and scored 48 goals in his 133 appearances for the club, with 42 of those goals coming in Ligue 1 play. He was on fire this season prior to his departure, scoring 12 goals in 19 Ligue 1 appearances. He had not scored more than 12 goals a season in his three full campaigns with Nantes prior.

New search for missing plane, Sala to begin

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LONDON (AP) The man leading a private search of the missing plane carrying Argentine soccer player Emiliano Sala said on Monday there was a “very good chance” of finding the aircraft.

David Mearns, an American-born marine scientist and shipwreck-hunting specialist, said a survey vessel equipped with state-of-the-art search equipment has been mobilized and will conduct an underwater search for the plane this weekend.

“There’s no guarantee,” Mearns said, “but (Sala’s) family is determined to do everything they possibly can through the support they have in the football community and through family and friends.”

The plane carrying Sala and pilot David Ibbotson disappeared from radar last week over the English Channel. The flight was going from the French city of Nantes to Cardiff, where Sala was set to start playing for his new club in the Premier League.

More than 300,000 euros ($340,000) have been raised online to allow Sala’s family to fund a private search, after an official rescue operation for the light aircraft was called off on Thursday after three days. Lionel Messi and Diego Maradona were among those making pleas to resume a search.

Family and friends of Sala went on a special flight on Monday to view the area over the English Channel where the plane disappeared. The “scenic flight” circled the island of Alderney, according to Aurigny, an airline that operates in the Channel Islands.

Mearns, who has said he has located 24 major shipwrecks, said the purpose of the flight was to recreate the route of the plane and “the type of pattern the search-and-rescue aircraft might have created so (the family) could have a feel exactly for the waters.”

“I want to emphasize,” said Mearns, speaking to reporters at Guernsey Airport as Sala’s mother and sister stood beside him, “that the family are determined to get answers that they don’t have right now, and the only way to do that is find this missing plane.”

The private search, which began on Saturday, initially used two fishing boats – one from Guernsey and one from the U.K. – that were in the area at the time of the last radar contact of the plane.

“In terms of something being lost in the ocean, this is a relatively small search area,” Mearns said. “But there are complications in terms of it being a small plane, the bottom is very hard, there is lots of other wreckage out there and we have the weather. We are working in the worst time (of the year).”

Mearns said he was confident there were enough funds to carry out the “search and identification of the plane.” If the plane was to be recovered, he would hand over the operation to police and other authorities.

The official search was abandoned after Guernsey harbor master Capt. David Barker said the chances of survival after such a long period were “extremely remote.”

Cardiff signed Sala from Nantes for a club-record fee, reported to be 15 million pounds ($19 million), on Jan. 19. The striker left the Welsh capital after completing the move and returned to Nantes to collect his belongings and say goodbye to teammates and staff of the French club.

Cardiff’s first game since Sala’s disappearance will be on Tuesday at Arsenal, and manager Neil Warnock said some of his players have needed “help from outside” the club to deal with the situation.

“One or two of the lads, it was only right that they speak to people who might help them in this situation,” Warnock said. “You don’t realize the trauma that it causes a lot of families, whether it’s memories brought back or different situations.”

Warnock said it had been the most difficult week of his 39-year managerial career.

“It is such a strange situation,” he said. “I don’t think we could have played a game on Saturday, but it doesn’t get that much better this morning … I don’t know how it’s going to be in the next 24 hours.”

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Teammates, clubs react to Sala disappearance

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The disappearance of Emiliano Sala has sent the soccer world into a state of shock.

The horrible news over the English channel however has brought many players, fans and administrators together, as they hope and pray for the safe return of Sala and the flight’s pilot. Sala was on his way from Nantes, France to Cardiff, where he had just signed a contract with a $19 million transfer fee.

Here’s a look at some of the big names across the world who have reacted to the news of Sala’s disappearance.