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Messi gets first-ever Barcelona red card in Spanish Super Cup defeat

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Athletic Bilbao won the Spanish Super Cup at the La Cartuja Stadium on Sunday night courtesy of a come-from-behind 3-2 extra-time victory over Barcelona who had Lionel Messi, their captain sent off for violent conduct.

It was Messi’s first-ever Barcelona red card and it came in his 753rd game for the club where he has broken almost every record available.

Messi, who had a quiet evening for Barcelona, crowned the Catalans’ miserable night with a red card for violent conduct in the last minute of extra time.

The 33-year-old Argentine bundled a Bilbao player to the ground off the ball and was given the marching order following a VAR review.

Athletic Bilbao, on the other hand, earned their third Super Cup title and their first since 2015 when they also defeated Barcelona.

Marcelino, Bilbao’s new manager who joined the club earlier this month, also recorded his second cup final win over Barcelona, following his 2019 triumph with Valencia in the Copa Del Rey final.

With two wins apiece in their past five meetings, both clubs delivered a pulsating match that required extra time to separate them with Bilbao punishing a tired Barcelona in extra time, courtesy of Inaki William’s wonder goal.

Antoine Griezmann opened the scoring in the 40th minute, pouncing on a loose ball that fell to him from Lionel Messi’s blocked shot to slot home from 10 yards out.

Athletic Bilbao restored parity two minutes later through Oscar de Marcos. The versatile midfielder ghosted between Barcelona’s defenders to bury Williams’ cross for a 1-1 scoreline at halftime.

The Basque side would have a goal chalked off for offside by the VAR that adjudged that Raul Garcia was inches offside as he met a free kick with a powerful header.

Griezmann restored Barcelona’s lead in the 77th minute when he again slotted home Jordi Alba’s cross for his sixth goal contribution in his last six matches.

A dramatic end to regulation time saw Asier Villalibre, who was introduced from the bench on the 73rd-minute, volleyed into the top corner from Iker Muniain’s deep free-kick to steal a last-minute equalizer and force an extra time.

Bilbao then punished their tired-looking but more illustrious opponent three minutes into extra time through the brilliant Williams.

The striker collected Muniain’s pass and curled perfectly into the top corner from the edge of the box to make it 3-2 and hand Athletic the lead for the first time in the encounter.

 

 

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UEFA: We’ll ban players in Super League from World Cup, others

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UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says all players that play in the Super League will be banned from the World Cup, European competitions and other global football events.

The threat followed the decision by 12 top European football clubs to found a Super League, which was announced in a joint statement late on Sunday.

The founding clubs of the mid-week league were listed as English Premier League clubs Manchester United and Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea. The others are Italy’s Juventus and Milan clubs AC and Inter, and the Spanish trio of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

“It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable,” the 12 clubs said in the statement.

Reported to be financially very lucrative, the project does not have the support of football’s governing bodies.

UEFA and football leagues and federations from England, Italy and Spain described it as “a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.”

Fifteen of the 20 participating clubs are to be permanent members, and the remaining five will “qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season,” the statement said the 12 clubs involved in the Super League had “spat in the face of football.

“The players that play in the Super League will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros.”

He also said, “We will take all the sanctions that we can. I cannot stress more strongly how everyone is united against this disgraceful, self-serving proposals, fuelled by greed above all else.

“We urge everyone to stand tall with us as we do everything in our power to ensure this never ends up in fruition.”

According to the New York Times the new league would “generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue for the participating teams.”

The club’s are already the richest clubs in the sport.

It was however reported that 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich and finalists Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) were not among the clubs that had signed up or expressed interest.

In a statement UEFA and football leagues and federations from England, Italy and Spain said, “As previously announced by FIFA and the six federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level.

“Their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this.”

Before the announcement the Premier League in England said it “condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit. These are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid.”

German Football League chief Christian Seifert spoke of his body’s opposition, saying, “We reject any kind of European Super League concept” which would “irreparably damage the national leagues as the basis of European professional football.”

The latest development comes on the eve of a UEFA executive committee meeting.

The meeting, apart from finalising the host cities for the summer’s Euro tournament, is also to approve a Champions League reform from 2024 onwards.

The powerful European Club Association (ECA) and UEFA’s club competitions committee were reportedly in agreement Friday about the reform.

Under this, the elite event is to be increased from 32 to 36 teams and each team plays 10 instead of six group games in what is known as “the Swiss model.”

Two of the additional four clubs are to controversially come via historic results not through qualification via domestic action.

The large number of additional matches is a threat to domestic competitions.

Fan groups have also voiced their dissent, with an even bigger outcry expected if a Super League becomes reality.

The reports said that European officials were discussing counter measures which could include banning Super League clubs from next season’s Champions League.

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Tottenham sack Jose Mourinho

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Tottenham Hotspur management has sacked coach Jose Mourinho.

The announcement comes after Tottenham Hotspur drew 2-2 with Everton on Friday evening, leaving them down in seventh place in the table.

Mourinho was appointed as Tottenham manager in November 2019, a day after the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino.

He guided them to sixth place in the table by the end of the campaign, but his style of football often didn’t win him much acclaim from fans.

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Kelechi Iheanacho fires Leicester City into FA Cup final

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Leicester City have booked their place in the FA Cup final against Chelsea as Kelechi Iheanacho’s second-half strike seals the win over Southampton.

It is Leicester City’s first FA Cup final since 1969.

The striker converted from close range in the 55th minute after good work from Jamie Vardy set him up during a counter attack.

It is the fifth time the Foxes have reached the FA Cup final and they will now face Chelsea next month after the Blues defeated Manchester City in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Iheanacho’s strike was the 14th he has scored in this competition since 2015 and no player – not Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane – has scored more FA Cup goals during that time. The cup has become his playground.

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