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Scottish manager breaches gambling rules
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Scottish manager reports himself for breaching gambling rules

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GLASGOW, Scotland — A manager in Scotland’s top division reported himself to the country’s soccer federation for breaching gambling rules.

Hamilton Academical manager Brian Rice has struggled with a gambling addiction in the past, and said Monday: “My disease has returned.”

Rice was charged by the Scottish Football Association for breaching rules in each of the past five seasons and faces a hearing on Jan 30.

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“I have apologized to those at the club in whom I have sought counsel,” Rice said, “and I apologize today to the players, fans and colleagues I have let down through my gambling addiction.”

Rice, who has coached Hamilton since last January, said he reported himself “to remove the stigma attached to this horrible, isolating disease, in the hope that those involved in Scottish football who are similarly in its grasp feel they can seek help.”

“After committing to recovery, I cannot believe that I have found myself back in the grip of gambling addiction but this disease is not cured with a finite course of treatment,” he said. “You are an addict for life and through my commitment to the 12-step recovery program, I am confident I can stay on top of this disease one day at a time.”

Hamilton is in 11th place in the 12-team Scottish Premiership.

John McGinn suffers ankle fracture

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It has been revealed that Aston Villa’s star central midfielder John McGinn suffered a fractured ankle in their defeat against Southampton on Saturday.

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The Scottish midfielder came off early after injuring his ankle in the third minute as he appeared to catch his studs in the ground at Villa Park.

McGinn has been a key figure for Villa this season and his absence was certainly missed on Saturday as Villa lost 3-1 to their relegation rivals and slipped into the bottom three after a fourth-straight defeat in the Premier League.

He will likely be out for the next few months and that is a huge blow to a team scrapping for their lives in the PL who also have two massive League Cup semifinals coming up against Leicester City in January.

Jack Grealish may have the keys to Aston Villa’s attack but McGinn does pretty much everything else as he makes Villa tick.

Gerrard extends contract amid strong start as Rangers boss

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Steven Gerrard is quite keen to stick around as Rangers boss following a strong start to his managerial career, leading the 39-year-old first-time manager to sign a two-year contract extension on Friday.

[ MORE: Ljungberg wants quick appointment of new Arsenal manager ]

With his current contract previously set to run through the 2021-22 season, Gerrard’s services have been secured until the summer of 2024.

Gerrard has been largely successful since taking over the Scottish Premiership side last summer, guiding Rangers to their highest points total (78) since returning to the first division in 2016, and a second-place finish (also for the first time) behind rivals Celtic. Rangers reached the Europa League’s round of 32 on Thursday, marking their first trip to the knockout round of European competition since 2011.

That much success so quickly will undoubtedly lead to Gerrard’s name being linked with increasingly large jobs in England, likely prompting Rangers to act preemptively.

“I’m delighted to be extending my stay at this fantastic football club. When the chairman approached me about the possibility of extending my contract with Rangers, it was a very easy decision to make because I’m very happy and feel that we are building something special together at the club.

“I’d like to thank the board for the backing they have given me already in my time at the club and also most importantly, the Rangers fans who have given me and the team such tremendous backing both this season and last.”

Europa League preview: Injured Arsenal still seeking knockout round berth

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The Europa League got a lot trickier on Wednesday, as it tends to do when UEFA Champions League outcasts transfer to the competition.

Inter Milan, Benfica, Ajax, Club Brugge, Olympiacos, Shakhtar Donetsk, Bayer Leverkusen, and Red Bull Salzburg will join the competition for knockout stage.

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Two of three Premier League sides have already laid claim to places in the next round, Wolves and Manchester United handling their business while Arsenal left its fate in the balance for Thursday’s final group stage match day.

Joining Man United and Wolves as already through to said Round of 32 are Sevilla, APOEL Nicosia, Basel, Sporting Lisbon, LASK, Celtic, Espanyol, Gent, Wolfsburg, Braga, and AZ Alkmaar.

So what hasn’t been decided? Let’s begin with the Gunners.

Arsenal needs just a point from Standard Liege in Belgium on Thursday to advance, although an unlikely Eintracht Frankfurt home loss to Vitoria SC would send a defeated Gunners onto the Round of 32.

Freddie Ljungberg is missing a lot of firepower. Nicolas Pepe is now dinged up, joining Hector Bellerin, Granit Xhaka, Rob Holding, and Dani Ceballos as unavailable.

“But we’ve brought a lot of firepower here, we have younger players here who have played earlier in the group stages, not just now. They’ve been playing the whole time. So it’s a big game and we’re here to get a result. We have a lot of respect for the opponents.”

While Ljungberg’s status as Arsenal boss feels likely to be short-term, another club whose UEL status is up in the air sees its manager looking long-term.

Rangers boss Steven Gerrard is coming off the disappointment of what would’ve been a deserved silverware triumph off an age-old rival, and now immediately has to get his team to bounce back and earn a spot in the next round.

[ MORE: Five UCL match-ups we’d love to see ]

Celtic saved a penalty and scored an offside goal — no VAR — in lifting the Scottish League Cup this weekend in a 1-0 win over Rangers, but the defeated Glaswegians will be buoyed by the news that Gerrard is making progress on an improved deal.

“(Only being here for a couple of years) wasn’t in my thinking, it has been in the thinking of the majority of everyone else – ‘Oh, Rangers is a stepping stone’ or ‘He’s just going there to rehearse for something else.’ It’s a load of nonsense – I’ve come here as this is a big opportunity for me and I have no plans of going anywhere else.”

Rangers (eight points) simply need a point at home against Swiss powers Young Boys, who enter the game one point back of Glasgow’s blue side. Porto is also a point back of Rangers, and they’ll meet last place Feyenoord (five points).

Full Thursday slate

12:55 p.m. ET
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Vitoria
CFR Cluj v. Celtic
LASK v. Sporting Lisbon
Copenhagen v. Malmo
PSV Eindhoven v. Rosenborg
Qarabag v. Dudelange
Standard Liege v. Arsenal
Basel v. Trabzonspor
Dynamo Kiev v. Lugano
APOEL Nicosia v. Sevilla
Rennes v. Lazio
Getafe v. Krasnodar

3 p.m. ET
Rangers v. Young Boys
Wolves v. Besiktas
Espanyol v. CSKA Moscow
Gent v. Oleksandriya
Borussia Monchengladbach v. Istanbul Basaksehir
Porto v. Feyenoord
Ludogorets Razgrad v. Ferencvaros
Slovan Bratislava v. Braga
Roma v. Wolfsberg
Manchester United v. AZ Alkmaar
Wolfsburg v. Saint-Etienne
Partizan Belgrade v. Astana

Europa League roundup: Celtic keeps rolling, Malmo wins thriller

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The Europa League was good to Scotland again, while an American center back had a fine day in Ukraine.

[ MORE: Arsenal loses | Man Utd falls | Wolves advance ]

It’s all in the roundup.

Feyenoord 2-2 Rangers

Steven Gerrard‘s Scots got a pair of goals from Alfredo Morales as Rangers still lead the group but have not advanced to the final round.

They’ll host Young Boys on Dec. 12, while Feyenoord visits Porto. No one’s been eliminated, with Rangers on eight points, Porto and Young Boys on seven, and Feyenoord five.

Celtic 3-1 Stade Rennes

Another impressive win for Neil Lennon’s Bhoys, as Celtic claimed its group through goals from Lewis Morgan, Ryan Christie, and Michael Johnston.

 

Olexandriya 0-1 Wolfsburg

Wout Weghorst scored the lone goal and USMNT back John Brooks played a standout role in a clean sheet as Wolfsburg joined Gent in advancing from Group I.

Malmo 4-3 Dynamo Kyiv

The first goal came from Rasmus Bengtsson in the second minute, and the game rarely stopped delivering from that point.

Malmo led 1-0, then trailed 2-1 at the break. The hosts then took a 3-2 lead only to find themselves level with the Ukrainians in the 77th. Markus Rosenberg then did this in stoppage time, and Malmo was pleased with him.

Elsewhere

Astana 2-1 Manchester United
Krasnodar 1-0 Basel
Trabzonspor 0-1 Getafe
Young Boys 1-2 Porto
Saint-Etienne 0-0 Gent
AZ Alkmaar 2-2 Partizan Belgrade
Besiktas 2-1 Slovan Bratislava
Braga 3-3 Wolves
Ferencvaros 2-2 Espanyol
CSKA Moscow 1-1 Ludogorets Razgrad
Istanbul Basaksehir 0-3 Roma
Wolfsberg 0-1 Borussia Monchengladbach
Vitoria 1-1 Standard Liege
Arsenal 1-2 Eintracht Frankfurt
Sporting Lisbon 4-0 PSV Eindhoven
Dudelange 0-2 APOEL Nicosia
Lazio 1-0 CFR Cluj
Braga 3-3 Wolves
Sevilla 2-0 Qarabag
Rosenborg 1-2 LASK
Lugano 0-1 Copenhagen