Europa: Martinez two penalty saves power Aston Villa into S’final – Newstrends
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Europa: Martinez two penalty saves power Aston Villa into S’final

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Europa: Martinez two penalty saves power Aston Villa into S’final

Aston Villa on Thursday qualified for their first major European semi-final since 1982 with a dramatic victory on penalties over Lille in the Europa Conference League.

According to a THISDAY report, an extraordinary shootout after the tie ended 3-3 on aggregate after extra time, Villa keeper Emiliano Martinez – who had been booked earlier for time-wasting – was shown another yellow card for appearing to gesture to home fans.

Martinez, who had already kept out Nabil Bentaleb’s attempt, was allowed to carry on as his initial booking was not carried over into the shootout.

The Argentina World Cup winner then went on to keep out Benjamin Andre’s attempt as Villa won 4-3 on penalties to advance to the last four.

Matty Cash’s late goal in the 87th minute forced an extra 30 minutes after Yusuf Yasici opener in the 15th minute and Benjamin Andre’s 67th strike had seen Lille come from a 2-1 deficit from the first leg to lead the tie 3-2.

But nothing could separate the sides after 210 minutes and two legs, needing penalties to decide the quarter-final.

And it was marred in confusion. Martinez – who saved two spot kicks to send Aston Villa through – had already been booked in the first half for time wasting, and was shown another yellow card during the shootout.

Ever the performer, Martinez had ‘shushed’ the crowd after saving from Remy Cabella, leading to objects being thrown at him. He then gestured again to them, appearing to ask them to stop, and then was booked.

It left many wondering why the accumulation of two yellows did not result in a red. However, rules of the competition state that no yellow cards from the game carry over into shoot-outs, and therefore Martinez was not sent off.

He continued to take part in the penalty shootout, saving the final spot kick from Andre and seeing Aston Villa into their first European semi-final since 1982.

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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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