Slovakia

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Hamsik calls time on legendary Napoli career, off to China

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Marek Hamsik has left Napoli for a big money deal with Chinese Super League club Dalian Yifang.

Hamsik, 31, apologized to fans of the Neapolitan club and praised them for their support over 520 matches, which included 121 goals, 111 assists, two Italian Cups and one Italian Super Cup.

[ MORE: Icardi stripped of captaincy ]

He joins ex-Atletico Madrid winger Yannick Carrasco and former Benfica star Nicolas Gaitan on DL Yifang.

Still, the veteran is emotional about leaving Italy.

“Napoli. I got it tattooed on my skin, just like the first victory in the Italian Cup after 25 years. It’s impossible to forget that party. It’s impossible to forget the moment when I broke Bruscolotti’s record or when I beat Maradona’s goal record.”

Hamsek has 110 caps for Slovakia and definitely had more top-end time with him on the European stage, but felt the need for a rich new adventure. Napoli’s administration has made it clear there will always be a home for him, and it wouldn’t be a surprise if he returned sooner rather than later.

 

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Napoli nel cuore 💙 Per prima cosa mi devo scusare con voi tifosi azzurri: volevo, speravo, sognavo di salutarvi con un grande giro di campo abbracciato dal vostro applauso. Mi avete sempre sostenuto e amato incondizionatamente nei momenti belli o difficili: di questo ve ne sarò sempre grato. “Napoli” ce l’ho tatuato sulla pelle: così come la prima vittoria in Coppa Italia dopo 25 anni. Impossibile dimenticare quella festa 💙 impossibile dimenticare il momento in cui ho battuto il record di presenze di Bruscolotti o quando ho superato il record di gol in maglia azzurra del DIO del calcio Diego Armando Maradona. Questo mi rende estremamente orgoglioso. Qui a Napoli sono nati i miei 3 figli, napoletani a tutti gli effetti ☺ Desidero ringraziare tutti: il Presidente che mi ha dato la possibilità di rimanere qui per 12 anni e che ha accettato la mia volontà di provare una nuova esperienza; tutti gli allenatori che mi hanno allenato, ai quali devo la mia crescita come calciatore e come uomo; tutto lo staff medico, tecnico e la Società Sportiva Calcio Napoli tutta; i miei amici, dei quali sentirò la mancanza, ma che so non mi abbandoneranno mai perché sono parte della mia famiglia. Appena sarà possibile spero mi concederete un ultimo giro di campo al San Paolo, per dedicarvi e ricevere il saluto che meritiamo. Vi amo e amerò questa città per sempre. GRAZIE DI CUORE a tutti 💙 e un grandissimo in bocca al lupo ai miei compagni per il resto della stagione: spero riuscirete a vincere l’Europa League! #sempreforzanapoli💙

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Minnesota United adds third Designated Player

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The Loons have added a new midfielder, signing Jan Gregus to a Designated Player contract.

Gregus, 27, comes to Minnesota United from FC Copenhagen, where he has two goals and an assist in 34 appearances across all competitions this season.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines, Week 18 ]

The 22-times capped Slovakian international has also played for Banik Ostrava, Jablonec, FC Nitra, and Bolton Wanderers (though he only played for the U-23 side during his loan).

Here’s what Loons coach Adrian Heath has to say about Gregus. From MNUFC.com:

“The one thing that sticks out is his composure on the ball. He’s got a great range of passes, both short and long. He has a great stride to goal, and an imposing stature at 6 foot 3 inches. The fact that he’s in his pomp — what we consider his prime — we think we have acquired him at the right time in his career. We know we’ve got excellent attacking pieces on the roster, but we need to be able to supply the ball to those pieces and we feel that Jan can be the supplier and connector from the midfield to the attack.”

Super sub Schick leads Czech Republic to win (video)

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Substitute striker Patrik Schick scored the winning goal for the visiting Czech Republic to beat Slovakia 2-1 in the UEFA Nations League in Trnava on Saturday.

[ MORE: Henry hired by Monaco ]

All the goals were in the second half. Three minutes after coming off the bench, Schick rose in the area in the 76th minute to head in a cross from captain Borek Dockal for his second goal in two matches.

It was the first win for the Czechs in the new competition after losing to Ukraine.

Ukraine also beat Slovakia to control Group 1 in the second-tier League B, with three more points than the Czechs. Slovakia remains pointless.

Playmaker Marek Hamsik marked his record 108th appearance for Slovakia with his 22nd goal, a rebound after a corner kick to tie the game.

Czech striker Michael Krmencik nailed the opener after a through ball from Dockal.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

UEFA Champions League wrap: Shkendija, Spartak Trnava, Dinamo Zagreb advance

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The first legs were decisive in the UEFA Champions League’s second qualifying round, with all three of Tuesday’s matches showing a path through to the clubs that entered with advantages.

[ MORE: Man City adds Zwolle back ]


Hapoel Be’er Sheva 2-2 (2-7 agg.) Dinamo Zagreb

Hapoel came out of the gates with fire having been embarrassed 5-0 in the first leg, grabbing a 2-0 lead through John Ogu and Petar Stojanovic.

But Dinamo cruised to its date with the winner of Astana and Midtjylland by virtue of Mario Budimir and Izet Hajrovic goals.

Sheriff Tiraspol 0-0 (0-1 agg.) Shkendija

No goals arrived in Moldova, meaning the Macedonian visitors are in the third qualifying round of the UCL for the first time. Shkendija will next face Red Bull Salzburg.

Spartak Trnava 0-1 (2-1 agg.) Legia Warsaw

Inaki Astiz bagged the lone goal of the leg, but Slovak side Spartak Trnava held on to clinch a meeting with Red Star Belgrade or Suduva Marijampole.

Group F gets messy as Slovakia and Scotland grab wins

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England is in control at the top of Group F, but below them things are beginning to get complicated.

Despite the absence of Marek Hamsik due to a last-minute injury, Slovakia defeated Malta 3-1. They took the lead just 97 seconds in as Vladimir Weiss put the visitors in front with a beautiful curling strike from outside the box. Malta struck back through domestic striker Jean Paul Farrugia in the 14th minute, but that was all Malta could muster.

Slovakia would go ahead just before halftime as FC Copenhagen midfielder Jan Gregus put them in front in the 41st minute. The speculative shot from Gregus came from a great distance out, and as it skipped across the ground, it appeared Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg saw it late, as his dive was poor and it skipped off his hands and in.

Both teams ended with 10 men on the field, as Farrugia was sent off with 16 minutes to go for a second yellow, and Adam Nemec saw the same fate in injury time, but before he was sent off, Nemec was there to kill the game off in the 84th minute.

That put Slovakia up to nine points, and it moved them into second place thanks to late drama in Glasgow. Chris Martin gave Scotland all three points with an 88th minute strike as the home side won 1-0 over Slovenia, who dropped from second to third with the loss. The Fulham striker got a beautiful feed through the back line from Stuart Armstrong, and while his shot wasn’t terribly accurate, it was enough to win the game as Slovenia goalkeeper Matus Kozacik gave it a poor effort.

The win for Scotland pulls them above Lithuania and into fourth, a point back of Slovenia in third.