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LIVE: UCL qualifying rounds begin – Celtic in action

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The first qualifying round of the 2019-20 UEFA Champions League kicks off on Tuesday, with Scottish champions Celtic in action.

 [ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

16 games take place across Tuesday and Wednesday, with Neil Lennon’s Celtic heading to Bosnia and Herzegovina to play FK Sarajevo. Celtic are favored, but these early European games are always trick to negotiate.

Some other notable teams in UCL first qualifying round, first leg action on Tuesday include Red Star Belgrade playing FK Suduva, while Welsh side The New Saints play Kosovan side Feronikeli.

Teams still have to get through another three rounds to make the UCL group stage, but Astana, FC Ararat Armenia, FK Shkendija and HJK Helsinki all record first leg victories earlier on Tuesday.

Below is the schedule for Tuesday, while you can click on the link above to follow the action and scores from around Europe.


Tuesday’s UCL first qualifying round, first leg schedule

Astana 1-0 CFR Cluj – Result
FC Ararat Armenia 2-1 AIK – Result
Nomme Kalju 0-1 FK Shkendija – Result
HJK Helsinki 3-0 Havnar Boltfelag – Result

FK Sarajevo v. Celtic
The New Saints v. Feronikeli
FK Suduva v. Red Star Belgrade
F91 Dudelange v. Valletta FC

Transfer rumor roundup: USMNT back on the move in England

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Left backs! Get your left backs here!

We’ll learn a bit more about how much a Premier League club values an American asset in the next couple of weeks.

Everton left back Antonee Robinson spent last season on loan at Wigan Athletic, and the Latics are said to have bid to bring the seven-times capped 21-year-old from Merseyside to Greater Manchester.

Robinson is yet to appear for Everton on a senior level, but has made 60 appearances between Bolton Wanderers and Wigan on loan the past two seasons.

[ MORE: USMNT faces T&T for first time since Couva ]

He was third on Wigan in tackles-per-game and second in interceptions-per-game.

Everton has 25-year-old Lucas Digne as the easy first choice left back following an incredible season at Goodison Park, and coverage from Leighton Baines. Will it be a sale or a Premier League loan for Robinson this season?

Let’s stay with left backs, and look to a team with one of the best in the Premier League. Liverpool have Andy Robertson, but Jurgen Klopp may be ready to pay nearly $58 million to secure depth at the spot.

The name is Junior Firpo, and the Real Betis man has that figure as his release clause. The Dominican Republic 22-year-old has 43 appearances for Betis and has scored five times with seven assists. He’s also played left mid.

Meanwhile, Arsenal is also looking to improve at left back but went a bit low with their opening salvo to Celtic over Bhoys star Kieran Tierney.

Tierney, 22, has 170 appearances at his young age, having scored eight times with 37 assists. Arsenal apparently bid just under $20 million to bring him to the Emirates Stadium.

Consider that Liverpool bought fellow Scottish left back Robertson from Hull City for around $10 million in 2017, and that Robertson captains the Scotland national team while Tierney is not a regular.

The price for players has leapt since that point, and we imagine the deal won’t get done for under $25-30 million if it’s done at all.

Report: Aberdeen winger Mackay-Steven undergoing NYCFC medical

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New York City FC could land another attacking talent, perhaps via Manchester City’s books.

Gary Mackay-Steven, 28, is a left-sided midfielder/attacker from Scotland currently on the books with Scotland.

Sky Sports is reporting that Mackay-Steven is having a medical at Man City on Friday ahead of a move to City Football Group outlet NYCFC.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

Mackay-Steven managed seven goals and four assists in just over 2,400 minutes for Aberdeen this season, his second campaign since leaving Celtic in 2017.

He’s also spent time at Dundee United. Between the three Scottish clubs, he’s managed 37 goals and 43 assists in the top flight with a further 17 and 14 across 60 cup competitions domestically and abroad.

NYCFC boss Domenec Torrent has favored a 4-1-4-1 and 3-4-3 this season, and has plenty of options to use on the left including Alexandru Mitrita and Maxi Moralez. The side has lost just once this season, drawing eight times, and sit eight points back of first-place Philadelphia having played three fewer games.

He’s been capped twice in his career.

Steve Clarke named new Scotland manager

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Steve Clarke has been named the new manager of the Scottish national team, as he hopes to take them to a major tournament for the first time in over 20 years.

Clarke, 55, has left his role as the manager of Kilmarnock after he led Killie to a third-place finish in the Scottish Premiership this season as they qualified for the Europa League.

That feat saw Clarke named both the PFA Scotland and SFWA Manager of the Year, as they finished above Aberdeen, Hibernian and Hearts thanks to a final day win against Glasgow Rangers.

Speaking about his arrival as the new Scotland manager, Clarke was delighted to be handed the chance to try and lead his country back to a major tournament (the last tournament they played in was the 1998 World Cup in France) with his contract lasting until the end of the 2022 World Cup qualifying campaign.

“It is an honor to be appointed Scotland head coach and I will undertake those responsibilities with pride and commitment,” Clarke said. “I firmly believe we have a talented group of players who can achieve success on the international stage. I look forward to working with them and helping them to fulfil those ambitions.

“I appreciate the Scotland supporters have waited a long time for the national team to qualify for a major tournament. Now we have a Women’s World Cup to look forward to in France this summer and it’s my motivation to emulate the success of Shelley Kerr and her squad by leading us to EURO 2020. I believe we can qualify and look forward to that journey with the players and the fans, starting against Cyprus and Belgium next month.”

Scotland are in Group I in EURO 2020 qualifying as they face Belgium, San Marino, Kazakhstan, Russia, and Cyprus, and have three points after their first two games of qualifying. They are assured of at least a playoff to get into EURO 2020 after they won their UEFA Nations League group last year.

Scotland have the likes of Scott McTominay, Andrew Robertson and Ryan Fraser are playing regularly and starring in the Premier League, and Clarke will believe this young core can lead the Tartan Army to the brink of qualifying for a major tournament, especially with 24 teams to compete at EURO 2020.

Clarke certainly has an impressive resume in the game, as he made over 400 appearances as a player for Chelsea and then went on to become a key member of their backroom staff as he was an assistant manager under Jose Mourinho. He also held roles as an assistant manager at Newcastle, West Ham and Liverpool and his experience is undoubted at the top level of the game.

As a head coach he led West Brom to an eighth-place finish in the Premier League (their highest finish since 1981) and since then he has managed Reading in the Championship (taking them to the FA Cup semifinals in 2014-15) and was then hired as Aston Villa’s assistant coach in 2016.

Clarke has rejuvenated his career in Scotland, and he will now get the chance to lead his nation.

WATCH: USMNT’s Weah scores winner for Celtic

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Celtic manager Neil Lennon hasn’t been starting PSG loanee Tim Weah, so perhaps scoring when the boss wrote his name in the XI will help change that.

Making his first league start since Brendan Rodgers left for Leicester City, Weah nodded the Bhoys over the line in the 14th minute.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 3-0 Brighton and Hove Albion ]

The 19-year-old American now has four goals on his loan stint, three coming in league play, and has also produced an assist.

Weah’s versatility has found him at left wing, center forward, and right wing.

Celtic leads second place Rangers by 13 points.