Vincent Aboubakar

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Newcastle linked with trio of players from three leagues

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Newcastle United could be on the verge of not just its first, but its second and third new names of the offseason.

That doesn’t count their purchase of Christian Atsu from Chelsea after the Ghanaian spent last season on loan at St. James Park.

So who are the names reportedly heading to Rafa Benitez in Northeast England?

[ REPORT: Whitecaps bid for Besiktas’ Hutchinson ]

  • Cameroon striker Vincent Aboubakar could make his way to England after the Magpies reportedly offered him $3 million per year in wages. Rennes was also said to be interested in the Porto striker, who spent last season on loan at Besiktas (The Express).
  • The same report says Newcastle have triggered an $11 million release clause from Eibar defender Florian Lejeune. The 26-year-old is a center back who can also handled defensive midfielder, and was by far Eibar’s best player last season according to advanced stats site Squawka.
  • Torino midfielder Afriyie Acquah has said he’s got a move to England planned to the tune of “90 percent complete.” Fans are connecting the dots after Acquah followed Newcastle United on Twitter on Monday. 2017!

Lejeune is especially interesting given he signed for Manchester City but never made an appearance for them. Aboubakar has 57 caps with 17 goals for Cameroon, and is coming off his best club season since 2013. Acquah is a bit of an unknown at club level, and has 18 caps for Ghana.

UCL roundup: Arsenal, Barca start slow; Chelsea win

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Just like that, Matchday 1 of the 2015-16 UEFA Champions League group stage is done and dusted. For the four sides representing the Premier League, it wasn’t the best 24 hours England’s top flight has ever had — one win and three defeats in four games played.

Dinamo Zagreb 2-1 Arsenal MORE

Olivier Giroud had a really, really bad night out in Croatia. The French striker had a pair of close-range chances saved in before the hour mark and was eventually sent off shortly before halftime. With just 10 men on the field, Arsenal shipped a second goal to the reigning Croatian champions and currently find themselves third in Group F.

Chelsea 4-0 Maccabi Tel Aviv MORE

Back in London, Chelsea made fairly easy work of Maccabi Tel Aviv, despite a stumble out of the blocks that included a skied penalty attempt from Eden Hazard. Willian, Oscar (penalty), Diego Costa and Cesc Fabregas provided the Blues’ haul of goals on the evening, sending the reigning Premier League champions top of Group G.

Roma 1-1 Barcelona

Roma midfielder Alessandro Florenzi did this, which was pretty memorable. On second thought, it was an all-time great Champions League goal. Luis Suarez scored Barcelona’s only goal of the game off a header from close range. Lionel Messi appeared in the 100th Champions League of his career, and for what seems like the first time ever, failed to mark the occasion with a goal.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Olympiakos 0-3 Bayern Munich

Not wanting to feel left out in the wake of Florenzi’s stunner, Thomas Mueller scored a cheeky chip of his own, though it felt more like a wayward cross that crept inside the far post. That made it 1-0 in the 52nd minute. Mueller completed his brace in the 89th minute, two minutes after Mario Goetze had made it 2-0 to the Bavarian giants. The reigning Bundesliga champions are top of Group F.

Bayer Leverkusen 4-1 BATE Borisov

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez scored his first goal for Leverkusen (WATCH HERE), which made the score 3-1 in the 58th minute. Hakan Calhanoglu, who is widely recognized as “the free kick master,” bagged a brace as Leverkusen rolled to a 4-1 victory and the top spot in Group E.

Valencia 2-3 Zenit St. Petersburg

Hulk bagged a brace, including one particularly notable laser beam from 25 yards out — typical Hulk stuff, you know — to cancel out a goal scored by Andre Gomes and an own goal pushed over the line by Zenit midfielder Axel Witsel. It was Witsel, though, who scored the eventual winner in the 76th minute to put the reigning Russian champions top of Group H.

[ MORE: Champions League schedule ]

Dynamo Kyiv 2-2 Porto

Porto’s Vincent Aboubakar bagged a brace of his own, but goals scored by Oleg Gusev and Vitaliy Buyalsky — the latter coming not until the 89th minute — meant the points were to be split between the reigning Ukrainian champions and Portuguese league runners-up.

Gent 1-1 Lyon

Christophe Jallet gave Lyon a 1-0 lead int he 58th minute, but Danijel Milicevic equalized 10 minutes later for the reigning Belgian champions to rescue a point at home.

UEFA Champions League roundup: Porto rolls, Real Madrid escapes

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Two teams advanced into the UEFA Champions League quarterfinals on Tuesday in markedly-different fashion.

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Porto absolutely smashed Swiss champs Basel from the competition, while Real Madrid had to withstand a Schalke attack that came one goal from a startling upset.

Real Madrid 3-4 (5-4) SchalkeRECAP

Roberto Di Matteo’s visitors just wouldn’t go away, scoring goal after goal to keep the hopes of an historic upset alive. Schalke took 1-0, 2-0 and 4-3 leads in the match yet never equalized on aggregate, as Real Madrid’s 2-0 road win from leg No. 1 held up.

Which isn’t to say Los Merengues didn’t have their moments. Cristiano Ronaldo provided the first two equalizers of the night before Karim Benzema gave Real an all-too-brief 3-2 lead.

Klaas-Jan Huntelaar scored twice for Schalke while Christian Fuchs opened the scoring and teenage striker Leroy Sane added the fourth.

Basel 4-0 (5-1) PortoRECAP

source: APThis one wasn’t close at all. While Basel held Porto at bay for most of the first leg, Portugal was an entirely different party, one where the hosts ripped shots from every angle into the Swiss goal.

Tomáš Vaclík was spectator on the first Basel goal, Yacine Brahimi’s free kick tracing the top of the Basel wall before leaving the keeper flat-footed. Distance goals followed from Casemiro, his a stunning free kick, as well as Hector Herrera and Vincent Aboubakar.

See Brahimi’s goal here, and the other three here.

Porto 4-0 (5-1) Basel: All four goals beauties as Dragons advance to Champions League quarters (video)

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For the first time since 2009, Porto is into the quarterfinals of the UEFA Champions League after a 4-0 rout of visiting Basel for a 5-1 aggregate win in the Round of 16.

All four goals were top drawer, with Yacine Brahimi, Hector Herrera, Casemiro and Vincent Aboubakar netting for the Portuguese side.

The quarterfinal draw will be held on March 20.

[ RELATED: Champions League schedule ]

Porto was the more dangerous team from the jump, as expected, and Brahimi burned the visitors with a 22-yard free kick to make it 1-0.

Walter Samuel committed a poor foul just outside the 18, and keeper Tomáš Vaclík could only watch as Porto’s Algerian star bent a ball over the wall and into the goal.

An awful injury to Porto’s Danilo sent the alert player off on a stretcher and to the hospital. No update has arrived on his health.

WATCH IT HERE.

Basel could’ve easily been down to 10 men in the 38th minute, as Brahimi’s ankle was on the business end of an awful late challenge from Derlis Gonzalez.

Gonzalez has Basel’s best chance of the half, but his shot bounded just wide of the left post.

Porto put the match to bed shortly after halftime, as Mexico’s Hector Herrera scored from just outside the 18. It was a brilliant goal from the El Tri star.

Then Casemiro hit a free kick to one-up Brahimi’s number, a 56th minute golazo worthy of the term.

And then… Vincent Aboubakar. There wasn’t a quiet goal among the quartet.

LIVE — UEFA Champions League: Schalke host Real Madrid; Porto away to Basel

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The knockout stage of the 2014-15 UEFA Champions League continues on Wednesday, following a mixed bag of results during Tuesday’s action.

Bundesliga side Schalke host the reigning Champions League winners and Spanish giants Real Madrid, while Swiss side Basel welcomes perennial Portuguese powerhouse Porto to St. Jakob-Park.

[ FOLLOW LIVE – Wednesday’s UCL games ]

While Real Madrid have lost just once in eight games across all competitions, it’s been anything but smooth sailing for Carlo Ancelotti’s men. In particular, Cristiano Ronaldo has struggled since returning from a two-game suspension last month, failing to score in his first two games back. His 34 goals in all competitions (five in UCL play) is still a staggering tally, considering he’s played just 26 games this season.

Real easily advanced from the group stage, topping Group B with a perfect six wins out of six and 18 points.

Schalke, meanwhile, needed every last point to escape Group G as runners-up to Chelsea. It’s been anything but a delightful season for Roberto Di Matteo’s side, which currently sits fourth in the Bundesliga. With just two losses in their last 10 games across all competitions, this is easily the best stretch of results Schalke have enjoyed this season.

[ FULL PREVIEW: All of Wednesday’s UCL action ]

Basel aren’t your typical “smaller” Champions League side. For starters, they don’t take the “safe” approach against bigger sides and strictly sit back defensively. Expect them to take chances, get numbers forward and regularly try to be the game’s aggressors. There’s quality players up and down this team that would star for a lot of top Europa League and lower-half Champions League sides. Basel finished second in Group B, ahead of Liverpool.

Porto ran roughshod over Group H, scoring an impressive 16 goals in six games while conceded just four times. Jackson Martinez  is the star man everyone knows, but Yacine Brahimi and Vincent Aboubakar also offer plenty of quality going forward. Porto (14 points) won Group H comfortably, five points ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk.