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

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PARIS (AP) 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.

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

Report: Porto, Lyon, Ajax after Canada’s Jonathan David

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Jonathan David may be the next Canadian to play for a top European side.

Porto, Lyon, Ajax, and Benfica are all interested in signing the soon-to-be 20-year-old this winter from KAA Gent, according to France’s L’Equipe.

David wouldn’t come cheap however, as the Belgian side are reportedly asking upwards of $22 million for his services. Porto are reportedly the only team to have submitted an official offer for the Canadian thus far.

The French report states that David is Lyon’s second-choice. Villarreal’s Karl Toko Ekambi, who is also linked to Premier League clubs, is Les Gones‘ main target.

David has spoken publicly about the interest clubs throughout Europe have on him. “Clubs with an interest must speak with my agents,” David told the Belgian outlet Sporza in January. “I am fully focused on Gent and want to win as many competitions as possible here.”

The New York-born forward has had a super season thus far, scoring nine goals and assisting seven times in Belgium.

In December, David was named the Canadian Male Player of the Year after scoring nine goals for the national team in 2019.

Debuting in 2018, David has made 12 appearances for Canada, scoring 11 goals.

UCL wrap: Barca’s mints record young goal scorer in eliminating Inter

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The UEFA Champions League has only two berths remaining after Liverpool, Napoli, Borussia Dortmund, Lyon, Valencia and Chelsea claimed their places in the Round of 16.

[ RECAPS: Salzburg 0-2 Liverpool | Chelsea 2-1 Lille ]

That group joins Juventus, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Tottenham Hotspur, Paris Saint-Germain, and Real Madrid in the next stage, with Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta, Atletico Madrid, and Bayer Leverkusen answering the bell on Wednesday.

Borussia Dortmund 2-1 Slavia Prague

It was sloppy, and Lucien Favre’s men basically asked the Czechs to stay in the game, but 10-man Borussia Dortmund is onto the Round of 16 after Jadon Sancho and Julian Brandt scored at the Westfalenstadion. Slavia had leveled through Thomas Soucek when Brandt found the winner, which was put in question when Julian Weigl was sent off in the 77th minute.

Lyon 2-2 RB Leipzig

Close. Control. Memphis. Depay.

The former Manchester United winger delivered the goods late to seal a point against already-through RB Leipzig after the Bundesliga side built a 2-0 lead on a pair of first half penalties.

Houssem Aouar had pulled Lyon to within a goal just after halftime, allowing Memphis to do this.

Benfica 3-0 Zenit-Saint Petersburg

Three different goal scorers sent the Portuguese to the Europa League, its 10-man Russian visitors exiting European competition for the season.

Inter Milan 1-2 Barcelona

Ansu Fati turned 17 on Halloween. Forty days later, he became the youngest goal scorer in Champions League history while banishing a historic club to the Europa League.

Carles Perez scored for Barca before Antonio Conte‘s men got an answer through Romelu Lukaku, but Inter could not find a winner in Italy.

Barca left Lionel Messi at home, didn’t use Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Sergio Busquets, and only used Luis Suarez and Frenkie de Jong as subs in the decision.

Fati now has three goals and an assist in approximately 500 senior minutes. Pretty nice goal, kid:

Ajax 0-1 Valencia

A draw at home was going to be enough for last season’s semifinalists, who did not get a draw at home despite a 17-8 advantage in shots. Rodrigo registered a classy goal to clinch Valencia the group.

Napoli 4-0 Genk

The Neapolitan side headed to the penalty spot twice against Maarten Vandevoordt, who set a new UCL standard as the youngest goalkeeper to start a match (17 years, 289 days). Arkadiusz Milik converted one of those penalties to complete his hat trick, while Dries Mertens scored the other in an otherwise even match.

Payet slams former coach Garcia

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Dmitri Payet has spiced up the latest edition of the Choc des Olympiques with some choice comments for former Marseille coach Rudi Garcia.

Garcia coached Marseille for three seasons until the end of May, 2019. However, instead of staying through the end of his contract – which reportedly was extended through the 2021 season – Garcia decided to leave and eventually landed at Lyon, which sacked former Arsenal defender Sylvinho after a poor start to the season. Payet, who was never one in England to hold his tongue, revealed he was surprised to see Garcia join Lyon, especially because he had spoken passionately before about Lyon when it was just an opponent.

“Yes. Already, it’s weird to see him in the opposite side,” Payet said at a press conference. “A few months ago (May 12) , we faced Lyon, and heard (Garcia’s) talk about Lyon players, Lyon fans, the Lyon president … I will not go into detail, because it is not the goal either, but I would not like him to talk about us like that. It’s odd that he postulates three months later for this club. But he did well, since he is there. We must not begin to put our feelings in a match like that, it could make us thwart. We have to put it in a corner of our head, use it to boost ourselves.”

Payet’s comments surely turn up the heat in this year’s first leg of the French Olympique Classico. Though there isn’t an intense rivalry between the clubs, Payet’s accusations could lead to the game having a higher importance. It would be ineresting too to see what Payet thought of some of his coaches in England.

It’s no secret that Payet didn’t get along with Garcia, and likely was glad to see him go at the end of he season.

“I do not know how to say,” Payet said. “There were times when it was rather hot, the communication did not pass, – I speak of my personal case. There were headaches, I have a strong character, it did not help either. We did not separate on good terms.”

All eyes will be on Payet this Sunday to see if he has anything else to say to Garcia, or whether it’s gone in his mind now.

Lyon planning to purchase NWSL franchise

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Arguably the best club soccer team in European women’s football, Olympique Lyon, is looking to expand into the United States.

Jean-Michel Aulas, president of OL Groupe, which owns Lyon’s men’s and women’s teams as well as the grand Groupama Stadium, said in a statement that Lyon was in negotiations to “take over” an NWSL team. Negotiations could finish soon enough that it could start with the 2020 season.

[READ: Berhalter preaches patience with Pulisic]

“Our international expansion also involves a project in the United States with the decision to take over a women’s football franchise,” Aulas said, via Lyon’s website. “The project is progressing well and we aim to be operational before the start of the next season, in March-April 2020.”

It’s unclear exactly whether Aulas would purchase a team off a current investor, start an expansion franchise, or revive a former club like the Boston Breakers or FC Kansas City. The Washington Spirit and Sky Blue FC are both in tough situations and could do with an injection of cash. Lyon had revenues of more than $300 million over the past year, and assuming some would be allocated to the NWSL club, that would be a massive boost for them.

In addition, Lyon’s women’s team is currently the four-time defending UEFA Women’s Champions League winners, especially thanks to Norwegian superstar Ada Hegerberg. Lyon has also won Ligue 1 for 13-straight years, staying above Paris Saint-Germain despite significant investment in talent from the French side.

If Lyon plans to treat an NWSL team like its club in France, this is a win-win proposition from NWSL. It allows a massive brand to lend its weight to the league, and also enables some of Lyon’s young guns to come to the U.S. and compete against some of our best stars. In addition, it could lead to more chances for American players with Lyon, should U.S. Soccer allow them to move abroad at some point after the Olympics.