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Europa: Liverpool suffer 0-3 humiliating home defeat by Atalanta

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Europa: Liverpool suffer 0-3 humiliating home defeat by Atalanta

Liverpool face a huge battle to stay in the Europa League after suffering a shock home defeat to Atalanta in the quarter-final first leg at Anfield, London.

Former West Ham forward Gianluca Scamacca scored in each half, before ex-Chelsea player Mario Pasalic added a late third goal to ensure the Italians start strong favourites to reach the semi-finals when the sides meet in next Thursday’s return in Bergamo.
Scamacca broke the deadlock in the 38th minute after Caoimhin Kelleher allowed his low drive to creep under him.
On a deeply frustrating night for below-par Liverpool, Darwin Nunez missed two big chances, while Harvey Elliott’s curling attempt struck the bar before dropping on to the post.
Mohamed Salah, who started on the bench, forced a fine save from Juan Musso after Kelleher had atoned for his error to stop the unmarked Teun Koopmeiners from doubling Atalanta’s lead.
The Egyptian also had a goal disallowed for offside, but the Reds were flat and lacked urgency in their play – and were punished for some dreadful defending.
Scamacca – who had just one season at West Ham before joining Atalanta last August – took advantage of being left unmarked by doubling the lead with a crisp finish on the hour.
Pasalic’s 83rd-minute strike came after Brazilian midfielder Ederson was afforded too much space to shoot and, when Kelleher made a save, the Croatian snapped up the rebound to score.
The winners of this tie will face Benfica or Marseille in the semi-finals, with Benfica establishing a 2-1 first-leg advantage to take to France next week.

Jurgen Klopp looked bewildered at the final whistle after seeing his side comprehensively beaten by Atalanta, who sit sixth in Serie A and trail leaders Inter Milan by 32 points.
The Liverpool boss, who made six changes to the side that drew 2-2 at Manchester United on Sunday, has enjoyed some incredible European nights under the lights at Anfield during his nine years in charge.
But this could well be the last time he experiences a European home game after his side were a poor second-best to a clinical Atalanta, whose players and management team celebrated in front of their jubilant travelling fans long after the final whistle.

-BBC Sport

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Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

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Ademola Lookman

Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

Ademola Lookman was the star of the night as his hat-trick ended Bayer Leverkusen’s unbeaten run and secured Atalanta’s first European Cup title.

Lookman’s three goals marked the first hat-trick in a European final in 49 years, delivering Atalanta their first-ever continental trophy.

The club from Bergamo, often overshadowed by AC and Inter Milan, has enjoyed a resurgence under Gian Piero Gasperini. This victory adds silverware to their impressive record, which includes four Champions League appearances in recent years.

Leverkusen, known for their late comebacks during their undefeated Bundesliga campaign, couldn’t recover from a slow start this time. Atalanta’s aggressive play was rewarded early when Davide Zappacosta set up Lookman, who exploited Exequiel Palacios’ lapse to score from the back post after just 12 minutes.

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Lookman, whose career has seen him move from the lower ranks of the Premier League to finding stability in Bergamo, cemented his hero status with his performance. His second goal, a brilliant nutmeg of Granit Xhaka followed by a powerful shot into the far corner, showcased his skill.

Despite Leverkusen’s efforts, including near-misses by Alex Grimaldo and Jeremie Frimpong, they couldn’t break through Atalanta’s defense. Gianluca Scamacca’s fortunate escape with only a yellow card for a rough tackle on Florian Wirtz also highlighted Leverkusen’s missed opportunities.

Coach Xabi Alonso, having quickly risen as a top coaching prospect and choosing to stay with Leverkusen despite interest from Liverpool and Bayern Munich, made tactical changes at halftime, including bringing on Victor Boniface. However, the early damage proved insurmountable.

Atalanta, content to absorb pressure and counter-attack, sealed the win with another stunning goal from Lookman. Skipping past Edmond Tapsoba, he blasted into the top corner with his left foot, clinching the victory.

This triumph is particularly sweet for Atalanta, who had previously lost all three finals under Gasperini, including a recent Coppa Italia defeat to Juventus. Their passionate fans, clad in blue and black, celebrated their historic win in Dublin.

Atalanta’s victory also marks the first time an Italian side has won the competition since Parma lifted the UEFA Cup in 1999, ending a long wait and underscoring the club’s remarkable journey to European glory.

Lookman scores stunning hat-trick in Atalanta vs Leverkusen Europa League final

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Why Usyk will be stripped of title despite win over Fury

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Oleksandr Usyk

Why Usyk will be stripped of title despite win over Fury

Oleksandr Usyk secured a victory over Tyson Fury in their undisputed world heavyweight title bout in Saudi Arabia, but the Ukrainian could lose one belt before their rematch

Despite his victory over Tyson Fury in Riyadh on Saturday, Oleksandr Usyk won’t be able to hold on to all of his world title belts.

Usyk claimed victory over his British opponent by split decision, with two judges scoring the bout 115-112 and 114-113 in his favour and the other going 114-113 in favour of Fury. The Ukrainian got emotional after the fight when speaking after his victory about how much he misses his late father.

The win means Usyk remains unbeaten throughout his professional boxing career. His record now stands at 22 fights and 22 wins, with 14 of the 22 coming via knockout.

In beating Fury, he added the WBC heavyweight title to add to his other belts and become the undisputed champ. However, he’s set to have to give up his IBF title before he next steps into the ring.

Fury is expected to get a chance for revenge in an autumn rematch. “We’ll go back, have a rest up then get back to it in October,” he said after his defeat. “As I said, I believe I won the fight.”

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“I don’t think about boxing now, please,” Usyk said after the Fury bout when asked about a rematch. “My camp started in September 2023, I worked for nine months. Yes of course, rematch I am ready. Listen, we have more time to do a good fight,”

While Fury and Usyk will take a few months to recharge, one man less willing to wait is Filip Hrgovic. The Croatian is the IBF’s mandatory title challenger, and Usyk’s belt is expected to be vacated in time for Hrgovic to battle Daniel Dubois for the honours in early June.

The winner of Hrgovic vs Dubois is expected to then meet Anthony Joshua in September, with Usyk and Fury to do battle the following month. There is no word yet on whether the winner of that rematch would subsequently attempt to reclaim the IBF belt.

“He’s [Usyk] done something no one else has done,” promoter Frank Warren told Sky Sports. “He’s unified the four belts. Four belts on the line is the start. I’m quite sure they’ll fragment after that. And then it’ll happen again.

“We’re in such a good place as a sport and they’re such good things happening you just can’t see it ending, because there’s so many good fights to be made,” he added, while indicating Joshua can remain in the mix providing he keeps winning. “Hrgovic and [Dubois] is a great fight and the winner of that, I think everybody’s going to be happy with who the winner fights,” Warren continued.

Hrgovic, who turns 32 in June, boasts a 17-0 career record with 14 knockouts. His last victory came by first round TKO against Mark de Mori, on the undercard of Joshua’s December victory over Otto Wallin.

Why Usyk will be stripped of title despite win over Fury

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Pochettino quits Chelsea after crisis talks with club owners

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Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino quits Chelsea after crisis talks with club owners

Mauricio Pochettino parts ways with Chelsea after a positive end to the season that saw European qualification having started working for the club in July 2023

Mauricio Pochettino has left Chelsea by mutual consent.

Pochettino departs the club after less than a year in charge having agreed a two-year deal last summer. Jesus Perez, Miguel d’Agostino, Toni Jimenez and Sebastiano Pochettino have left the club in addition to Pochettino.

Chelsea finished sixth in the Premier League in a massive improvement from the previous year, but the former Spurs boss becomes the third permanent coach the club have parted ways with since the 2022 takeover.

The decision comes following a season of uncertainty around the Argentine coach’s position after a difficult start to life at Stamford Bridge. For much of 2023/24 the team languished in midtable before a turn in fortunes from February saw them march up the table.

A meeting between Pochettino and sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley and co-owner Behdad Eghbali took place in which Pochettino agreed to his departure.

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Sporting Directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said in the club’s statement: “On behalf of everyone at Chelsea, we would like to express our gratitude to Mauricio for his service this season. He will be welcome back to Stamford Bridge any time and we wish him all the very best in his future coaching career.”

Mauricio Pochettino said: “Thank you to the Chelsea ownership group and Sporting Directors for the opportunity to be part of this football club’s history. The Club is now well positioned to keep moving forward in the Premier League and Europe in the years to come.”

T he Blues boss hinted ahead of the end of the season that a decision on his future would not only be in the hands of the club. “Look, it is not important,” he said.

“The most important thing is to keep going working if we are all happy, not only the owners happy with us, the sporting directors with us, or us with the organisation the club is building here because then we are all under assessment.

“If we are happy, perfect. But it is not only if the owner are happy or the sporting directors are happy. If we are happy, you need to ask also because we said ‘look maybe we are not happy with certain situations and maybe we are not happy and we need to split.

“It is not going to be the first time that a coaching staff decide at the end of the season not to keep going. But understand that it is always the opposite way, always the owners or the sporting director.

Pochettino quits Chelsea after crisis talks with club owners

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