Philippe Mexès

VIDEO: Watch Philippe Mexes score ridiculous volley against Inter Milan

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It may have been AC Milan’s first game of the preseason, but it’s going to be hard for someone to score a prettier goal than Philippe Mexes did.

Playing in China in the International Champions Cup, AC Milan took on Serie A rivals Inter Milan in the first match of their preseason campaign.

[ RELATED: Zlatan would like to play in MLS ]

Tied 0-0 in the 62nd minute, Giacomo Bonaventura hit a corner kick towards the top of the box where Mexes connected with a stunning volley.

The center-back got airborne and hit a ridiculous right-footed shot into the side netting, leaving the Inter keeper helpless as he could only watch the brilliance hit the back of the net. Check it out for yourself below.

The goal ended up being the game-winner, as AC Milan won the match 1-0.

Monday transfer rumor roundup: Defenders the focus as Liverpool unload, United search

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Defending is something Liverpool stocked up on this summer, while Manchester United has struggled to do so.

Now that the Reds have too many defenders, they’re looking to offload a few.

In the last few days, Turkish club Trabzonspor made a play for Kolo Toure, but the Ivorian rejected their advances. 23-year-old Sebastian Coates is rumored to be on Sampdoria’s wish list.  They’ve already sold Martin Kelly to Crystal Palace.

Newly coming to light now is that the Reds are hoping to send out 21-year-old Tiago Ilori (pictured) out on loan, something they did last season as well.

He performed well at Granada during his half-year loan, even potentially saving them from relegation when, during a match with Barcelona, he intercepted a ball from Neymar that had already passed goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis and was headed for the back of the net. Granada ended up beating Barcelona 1-0, and two weeks later avoided relegation by a mere two points.

The likely destination this time around would seem to be Bordeaux in the French Ligue 1. Ilori was present in the stands at Bordeaux’s last home match, a 4-1 thrashing of Monaco, and reports from both France and England have him headed to Stade Chaban-Delmas soon.

Meanwhile, Manchester United continue to struggle in their pursuit of defenders capable of passing for not only Champions League quality, but also those that can play in Louis van Gaal’s 3-at-the-back formation.

They seem to be behind in their pursuit of Serie A pair Philippe Mexes and Mehdi Benatia, with the latter proving a serious disappointment.  Thusly, Manchester United have turned to Marcos Rojo, and although the player has maturely backed down from his strong desire for the transfer, many are reporting that does not mean the deal is dead.

The Guardian says that their club sources called the deal “very complex” but that it should go through, with van Gaal desperately needing at least one left-sided defender. Not one of Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, and Jonny Evans fits that bill.

Something else that may concern United is the stance of Real Madrid on star winger Angel Di Maria.  Manager Carlo Ancelotti was coy on the future of last year’s La Liga assists leader, but left the door open for his exit.

“I don’t know what Di Maria has decided,” Ancelotti said. “But I know that he’s training and that he could help us in tomorrow’s match [against Atletico]. Until August 31 it will continue the same way and after that everything will be cleared up and things will return to normal.”

With the arrival of James Rodriguez, Di Maria’s status has been thrown into question despite being a massive player in the team’s Champions League run.  Rumors of his exit have flooded the market this window, almost to the point of oversaturation, but yesterday they picked up around Manchester significantly.

Back to the defender roundtable, someone who desperately needs one is West Ham United. The club is facing an injury crisis with James Tompkins, James Collins is suspended after his opening day red card, and just Winston Reid left in the middle.

The Hammers are now reportedly hoping to pick someone up in time for their match with Crystal Palace next weekend.

Serie A comes down hard on Philippe Mexes, AC Milan fans

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Besides the 3-2 loss at Juventus on Sunday, the most recent AC Milan game will have painful repercussions for the Rossoneri for a few weeks. On Monday, the league handed defender Philippe Mexes a four-game suspension and mandated that the club play its next home match behind closed doors.

In the official release, Serie A officials detailed Mexes’ punch to the neck on Juventus defender Giorgio Chiellini, seen upon retroactive review of television footage. Referee Gianluca Rocchi eventually sent Mexes off for two cautionable offenses, but neither he nor his assistants saw Mexes punch Chiellini.

The league decided to suspend Mexes three games for the incident inside the AC Milan penalty area on a corner kick, along with the automatic one-game ban for the red card.

On top of Mexes’ suspension, the league required AC Milan to play one match behind closed doors and pay a €50,000 fine for racist chanting “a few minutes before the start of the match, [and at] the 6th and the 43rd minutes of the second half.” The chants were geographically discriminatory in nature, according to the league release.

Earlier this season, Milan already received punishment for racist chants at a home game and was forced to partially close its stadium. That happened at a 2-1 home loss to Napoli on Sept. 22, in which Mario Balotelli was also sent off and handed a three-game suspension afterward.

AC Milan steal final Champions League spot with late goal

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Heartbreak in Serie A this year belongs to Fiorentina.  Halftime on the final day saw the Viola up 3-0, and AC Milan trailing Siena 1-0 – scores which at full time would mean the Rossoneri would miss out on the Champions League next season.

Unfortunately for Fiorentina, Mario Balotelli converted a penalty in the 84th minute to draw level and two minutes later Philippe Mexes slotted home a cross to secure Europe’s top competition for Milan.

Both teams had been reduced to 10 men by the 70th minute, with Massimo Ambrosini and Christian Terlizzi both receiving second yellows within two minutes of each other.

Fiorentina would end up winning 5-1, but Milan had the 2-point advantage going into the final day so additional help was required. Fiorentina did own a goal differential advantage, especially with their 4-goal victory, so a draw would not have been enough for Milan.

Milan will be relieved with the result, as they risked missing out on the Champions League for the first time since the 2008-09 season, and just the third time since the turn of the millennium.

AC Milan have only lost once, to champions Juventus, during the entire 2013 calender year.

Video: Javi Martínez gets in on the overhead kick craze

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When did overhead kicks become free throw line dunks?

Julius Erving taking off from the free throw line and dunking was a big deal. When Michael Jordan replicated the feat, it was awesome, but when every NBA slam dunk contest started featuring multiple free throw line dunks, the practice became painful. Yes, you can jump a long way, and as much we’d like to hold up our little “10” signs, we’ve seen it before.

Remarkably, the same feeling is starting to settle in with overhead kicks. As difficult as they are, we’ve seen a few lately. Our amazement may be spent.

Last week we had Zlatan Ibrahimovic’s bicycle to kill all bicycles, a goal some proclaimed the best ever (tune in next year for another best goal ever). When Philippe Mexes looped his own bicycle kick into Anderlecht’s goal in mid-week Champions League action, we broke out the requisite amount of awe and admiration.

But for today’s goal from Bayern Munich’s Javi Martínez? Well, judge for yourself. Here’s the midfielder’s opener today against Hannover:

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8WL-5M5AfIg%5D

Fine goal, no doubt. If we weren’t still in the shadow of Zlatan’s goal, I could probably table the cynicism and be a little less snide. But in the wake of Mexes’ goal, this one’s practically passé, even if it’s the Spaniard’s first for Bayern.

When did overhead kicks become free throw line dunks? Last Wednesday, it seems.