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Pepe to miss Nations League final because of injury

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PORTO, Portugal (AP) Portugal defender Pepe will miss the Nations League final because of a shoulder injury.

The Portuguese soccer federation says Pepe will not play Sunday’s final against the Netherlands after tests showed he fractured his right shoulder in the semifinal against Switzerland on Wednesday.

Pepe had to be substituted about 15 minutes into the second half of Portugal’s 3-1 win at the Estadio do Dragao in Porto.

For the final, Portugal coach Fernando Santos is expected to replace the 36-year-old veteran central defender with either Ruben Dias or Jose Fonte.

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Cavani scores twice, Uruguay top Portugal to reach QF

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Edinson Cavani’s time to be the star — whether for club or country — has been a long time coming and finally arrived on Saturday, as his two goals propelled Uruguay past Portugal and into the quarterfinals, for the second time in three tournaments, at the 2018 World Cup.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Having been overshadowed by the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Neymar at Paris Saint-Germain, and long played second fiddle to Luis Suarez for Uruguay, Cavani’s brace went a long way toward dispelling notion that he’s not a “big-game player” — for one day, at least.

It was Cavani and Suarez who threatened the Portuguese defense all day long, and it was Cavani and Suarez (and Cavani, in that order) who combined brilliantly for the game’s opening goal in the 7th minute.

Cavani played a 55-yard diagonal ball to Suarez, near the top of the penalty area, and — here’s the important part — continued his run afterwards. As if he’d been forgotten about since he took up a wide midfield spot on the field, the Paris Saint-German man was allowed to drift centrally and into the box before peeling away from the nearest defender just as Suarez dropped his cross on a dime, and the header was elementary.

Suarez forced Rui Patricio into a diving save in the 21 minute. After winning the free kick 30 yards from goal, Suarez drilled the dead-ball restart low, bouncing it through the wall and just inside Patricio’s left-hand post, but the Wolverhampton Wanderers man (signed this summer) came saw it the whole way.

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Either side of Suarez’s chance, it was all Portugal — from possession, to meaningful possession and scoring chances — and finally, after trailing for nearly 50 minutes, they were level after 55 minutes, thanks to Pepe’s unmarked header from Raphael Guerreiro’s corner kick.

The 1-1 scoreline wouldn’t last long, though, as Cavani scored his second of the day in stunning fashion — a perfectly placed curler from the edge of the penalty area to restore Uruguay’s lead just seven minutes later. Fernando Muslera played the ball long, it fell to Rodrigo Bentancur, and Bentancur slotted a deftly weighted ball to Cavani on the left. His finish, exquisite as could be, snuck inside the far post. It was a direct passage of play, but it was decisive and deadly.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ]

Up next for Uruguay will be a quarterfinals clash with France, one of the tournament’s most popular favorites. Les Bleus knocked off Argentina, in a 4-3 thriller, in the day’s first round-of-16 fixture.

Pepe’s Real Madrid exit confirmed; Besiktas move complete

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Pepe was an ever-present, and ever-antagonistic, servant to Real Madrid for an entire, trophy-filled decade (eight major trophies lifted), but the Portuguese defender’s stay at the Santiago Bernabeu is complete.

[ MORE: American in the PL — Williams signs on at Huddersfield ]

The 34-year-old has joined Turkish side Besiktas on a free transfer following the expiration of his Madrid contract last week.

Having made nearly 350 appearances for Los Blancos, it was announced following Madrid’s UEFA Champions League triumph, Pepe’s third such victory at the club, that his contract wouldn’t be renewed.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Monday | Sunday ]

Pepe reportedly underwent a medical at Paris Saint-Germain before opting to join the reigning Turkish champions instead.

Portugal wins third-place at Confederations Cup (video)

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Pepe’s stoppage time equalizer and Adrien Silva’s extra time penalty kick helped Portugal to a third-place finish in the Confederations Cup as Mexico self-destructed against the EURO 2016 champs in Russia on Sunday.

A Luis Neto own goal and missed Portugal PK had Mexico up 1-0 until the late stages, but Portugal’s deserved win came after the teams played level through 90 minutes for a second time in two weeks.

Nelson Semedo was shown red in the 106th minute, but Raul Jimenez was shown his second yellow six minutes left in the match. Mexico should have been awarded a penalty near the end of stoppage time, but Pepe’s clever foul went uncalled and Juan Carlos Osorio was sent from the stadium after barking into the fourth official’s ear and bumping him.

Portugal will finish third in its first Confederations Cup, while Mexico finishes fourth for the second time.

[ MORE: 2017 Confederations Cup news ]

Rafa Marquez chopped down Andre Silva in the 18, and Video Assistant Referee made sure the Mexican defender gave away a penalty kick.

Marquez was given yellow for the takedown, as he kicked Silva’s knee. The new AC Milan attacker took the pen with Cristiano Ronaldo away from the team, but Guillermo Ochoa dove low and right to slap the ball wide of the frame (VIDEO).

Portugal then headed the ensuing corner over the frame, and the match remained scoreless in the 18th minute.

Chances at either end went wanting as Pizzi’s far post shot took a slight uncalled deflection that dragged wide for a goal kick, and Marquez nearly bundled a crossed free kick past Rui Patricio.

The Portuguese keeper made a point-blank stop on Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the 31st minute, drawing “Mex-i-co” chants from the Spartak Stadium crowd.

Portugal was on the front foot in the second half, with Joao Moutinho blazing an effort over the bar and Gelson Martins shooting a clever chipped pass from Silva outside the near post.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Yet Mexico went ahead through Chicharito’s cross banging off Luis Neto and into the Portugal goal in the 54th minute.

Pizzi missed wide with a bid for an equalizer just before the hour mark. Ochoa then made a terrific one-handed stop on a Martins header. Captain Nani then headed the ensuing corner wide of the far post.

Pepe then knotted things up in stoppage time, leaping for a martial arts-style finish of substitute Ricardo Quaresma’s cross to make it 1-1.

Jimenez saw a shot deflected out for a corner early in the first period of extra time, and the ensuing corner led to Patricio’s stellar save at the back post.

After what could’ve been red cards to both sides in the Portugal end, Martins won the decisive penalty kick when his cheeky juggle around Miguel Layun clipped the former Watford man’s raised arm.

Mexico nearly found a rescue of its own following the pair of red cards, but Patricio dove to save from Hector Herrera’s bullet. Then Pepe was allowed a push of Hector Moreno as the latter missed a close-range header deep into the second period of extra time. Mexico could have easily been given a penalty, but was not.

Pepe’s decade of titles and tantrums at Madrid is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Pepe’s title-laden decade as Real Madrid’s bruising enforcer is over.

The 34-year-old Portugal center back has been a key figure for Madrid, one of the most intimidating – and on occasion volatile – defenders in Europe. But he said late Monday that he won’t be around next season.

“It’s clear that I won’t continue at Real Madrid,” Pepe told Spanish radio COPE.

Pepe has won with 15 trophies with the club, including three Champions Leagues and three Spanish league titles. But he has fallen out of favor with coach Zinedine Zidane.

[ MORE: JPW talks with Pulisic ]

A regular starter for most of his career, injuries and Zidane’s preference for Raphael Varane and Nacho Fernandez meant Pepe made only 18 appearances in 2016-17.

“I took the decision in January, when things weren’t going well. I saw that the club’s treatment of me wasn’t ideal,” Pepe said. “The policy of the club is to not offer players over 33 two-year contracts. So they only offered me one. There are ways to negotiate, but that way wasn’t right.”

While Zidane is receiving praise for guiding Madrid to the Champions League-Spanish league double this season, Pepe said he preferred Zidane’s short-lived predecessor, Rafa Benitez.

“I liked Benitez’s sincerity. I identified with him because he is a very direct and honest person,” Pepe said. “What (Zidane) has done with Madrid has been spectacular, but there are things I don’t understand, that I can’t explain. I don’t know why I disappeared from the team.”

Despite losing his important role with Madrid, Pepe proved he was still among the very best defenders on the continent last year when he was Portugal’s most consistent player in its run to the European Championship title in France.

[ MORE: Lukaku knows his next stop ]

Pepe’s contract with Madrid expires on June 30. He has been linked to Paris Saint-Germain and AC Milan, and said he had at least one suitor “from England.”

Wherever he goes, he will take his reputation with him.

Pepe almost sabotaged his career during a match in 2009 when he repeatedly kicked and stomped on Getafe midfielder Javier Casquero while he was on the ground. Pepe was given a 10-match ban for the rampage.

Pepe managed to control his emotions during his final seasons with Madrid, but the Casquero incident and several other sendings-off will continue to haunt him.

“When I arrived, I defended Real Madrid tooth and nail. It was a difficult position to play. We center backs had to cover a lot of ground, and we had to be very physical with the opposing strikers,” he said. “What happened against Getafe marked my career, it defined me in Spain. People were left with that image, and what I did was very ugly.”

Even so, Pepe said he will take the good with the bad when he leaves Madrid.

“I am very proud of my years spent at this club, giving it my heart and soul,” Pepe said. “I finished my time at Real Madrid giving it all I had.”