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Montenegro fire Serbian coach for missing Kosovo match

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Montenegro have fired their Serbian coach Ljubisa Tumbakovic after he didn’t take charge of their UEFA EURO 2020 qualifying game against Kosovo on Friday.

Tumbakovic and two of his Serbian born players who play for Montenegro, Filip Stojkovic and Mirko Ivanic, pulled out of the game under pressure from Serbia who do not recognize Kosovo as a nation.

Political pressure from Serbia

Kosovo declared its independence from Serbia in 2008, and although most of the EU and the United States reocgnize it as an independent nation, several countries around the world do not. FIFA recognized Kosovo as a nation three years ago and it has taken part in officials games ever since.

In a statement released by the Montenegrin FA, they revealed that Tumbakovic, who has been in charge since 2016, has been fired.

“The executive board made a unanimous decision to relieve Tumbakovic of his duties after he decided not to be in charge of the national team for the match. Apart from being an unpleasant surprise, Tumbakovic’s move also constitutes a breach of his professional duties stipulated by his contract.”

Eintracht director: Real will probably get Jovic if they want him

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Eintracht Frankfurt director Fredi Bobic is worried he has little hope of keeping his 21-year-old star striker if Real Madrid really wants him.

Luka Jovic is scoring goal after goal in the Bundesliga and Europa League, the Serbian’s loan from Benfica made permanent by a paltry $8 million exercised in April.

[ MORE: Solskjaer, Pep trade jabs ]

He has 25 goals and seven assists across all competitions, scoring against Inter Milan, Benfica, Marseille, Lazio, Inter Milan, and Borussia Dortmund. He also bagged five goals against Fortuna Dusseldorf, which is pretty good.

So the links to Real Madrid make sense, especially with Zinedine Zidane in search of the next Karim Benzema. Here’s Bobic, from Marca:

“I hope and want him to stay here at Eintracht, but I’m also realistic and know that if a big club like Real Madrid want him then we haven’t got a chance of keeping him.”

The quotes come on the same day that Bayern Munich’s interest in the striker was reportedly mooted, and certainly Eintracht would rather sell to a La Liga club than the Bundesliga stalwarts.

Chelsea fans will get an up-close look at Jovic in the Europa League semifinals early next month. Will the Blues, or anyone else, proffer the sort of money that would allow them to rival Real for Jovic’s affection?

Sane, Low play down injury fears after horror tackle for Germany

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Leroy Sane suffered a tackle so graphic on video that in most cases would have ended up with a broken leg. Thankfully, Sane says he’s just fine.

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Late in Germany’s 1-1 friendly draw with Serbia on Wednesday evening, Serbia’s Milan Pavkov went over the ball and hit Sane’s leg directly with the studs of his cleats. Pavkov was shown a straight red card and Sane limped off the pitch. However, after the match, Sane assured fans that he’s doing all right.

“The foul looked worse than it was, everything is fine with my ankle,” Sane said after the match. “I’m very happy, we had a few good moves. We had good phases where the final pass was lacking, but I think that will come with time. Everyone could see that we got better and better.”

With the start of Euro 2020 qualifiers ahead and the announcement last month that Jerome Boateng, Mats Hummels, and Thomas Muller would no longer be with the national team, Joachim Low has started pushing a youth movement in the German National Team. Timo Werner started up top with Sane, 19-year-old Kai Havertz, and 22-year-old Julian Brandt in the three attacking midfield positions.

“It was a vicious foul,” Low said after the match, via Sky Sports. “Sane was lucky and got away with not getting hurt but such fouls can break bones.”

The news about Sane is a huge boost to Manchester City, which is still in the run for the quadruple in England and Europe. Sane will certainly play a big role with Pep Guardiola‘s side down the stretch.

Mitrovic has eventful first half for Serbia against Montenegro

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Fulham striker Aleksandar Mitrovic has been locked down of late at the club level, but he’s still having an eventful time of things with the Serbian national team.

A regular starter for Serbia since mid-2014, Mitrovic was back up front as Serbia had the early UEFA Nations League kickoff against Montenegro in Beograd. Just two minutes after Adem Ljajic scored the opener to put Serbia ahead in the 30th minute, Mitrovic found the scoresheet with an incredible flick at the near post that oozed confidence.

A powerful cross from Aleksandar Kolarov down the left flank found Mitrovic front a very tight angle with his back to goal and facing Kolarov. The 24-year-old lifted his right leg and flicked the ball perfectly into the top-left corner, catching Montenegro goalkeeper Danijel Petkovic completely off guard.

It would get more interesting six minutes later as a penalty was awarded to Serbia in dubious fashion, as Manchester United midfielder Nemanja Matic completely whiffed a shot attempt and kicked himself in the back of the ankle, going down inside the top of the box. The referee pointed to the spot believing Matic was fouled by Aleksandar Scekic, but replay showed absolutely no contact between the pair.

Mitrovic stepped up to take the penalty, and attempted a Panenka effort. He got it horribly wrong, sending the keeper Petkovic left but chipping the ball well over the bar as the ball continued to rise. A fan caught the effort from the stands at Stadion Pajko Mitic.

By halftime, Mitrovic probably should have had a hat-tric, with the penalty miss plus a pair of good chances in first-half added time, with one shot saved by Petkovic and a header missed moments later.

Altogether, Serbia picked up the win by a 2-1 score and extended its lead atop League C Group 4 to four points, all but clinching promotion to League B. For Mitrovic, his goal was the 22nd of his international career in 45 appearances, tying him with Bernard Vukas for 12th all-time for Serbia and only 16 off the all-time lead of Stjepan Bobek.

Pavkov’s early double sinks Liverpool in Serbia

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  • Reds outshoot hosts 23-10
  • Have 72 percent possession
  • Pavkov scores twice

This didn’t go well for Liverpool.

Two goals in the first half hour were enough for hosts Red Star Belgrade, who topped Liverpool 2-0 in UEFA Champions League play at Rajko Mitić Stadium on Tuesday.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Milan Pavkov scored twice in seven minutes including a remarkable rip while being bodied by Georginio Wijnaldum to give Red Star four points on the campaign, two fewer than leaders Liverpool with two matches to play. From the BBC:

“You can’t give teams the start, the crowd is big for them and it’s been a long time since they’ve been in the Champions League,” said James Milner after the game. “Napoli found it tough when they came here and we knew it was going to be a tough place to come.”

The Reds will go beneath PSG or Napoli should one of them win their match in Italy, but will still lead the group if the two draw.

Liverpool travels to PSG on Nov. 28 and is home to Napoli on Dec. 11.