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Friday, Sep 19th

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UEFA Europa League wrap: Liverpool & Atletico crash out, Tottenham & Chelsea leave it late

The 2nd leg ties in the Round of 32 in the Europa League was the cynosure on Thursday night as a host of big names desperately attempted to squeeze through to the next round. English giants Liverpool couldn’t manage that feat as they crashed out on away goals despite defeating Zenit 3-1 at Anfield. The other three English participants also secured their place in the next round with narrow victories. Chelsea drew 1-1 at home with Sparta Prague but Eden Hazard’s injury-time equalizer meant that the Blues went through with a 2-1 aggregate scoreline.

Tottenham went through the same set of emotions as Moussa Debmele’s dramatic late goal secured a 1-1 draw at Lyon and with it a 2-1 victory in the tie. Newcastle United headed into the unknown in Kharkiv but emerged with a 1-0 victory to seal their place in the last-16. Holders Atletico Madrid were sent packing by Rubin Kazan, who won the tie 2-1 on aggregate despite losing to a solitary Radamel Falcao goal last night. Ajax and Napoli were the other big names to be sent crashing out on the night, with Inter Milan and Lazio holding the Serie A flag aloft with their progress.

Liverpool 3-1 Zenit (3-3 Aggregate, Zenit through on away goals)

Liverpool’s hopes of a trophy this season have vanished after they were sent packing from Europe’s 2nd tier competition by Zenit. Coming into Anfield with a 2-0 lead, Zenit immediately set about increasing their advantage and they were gifted that opportunity by Jamie Carragher, who lost the ball in his own half 19 minutes in to allow Hulk a clean run on goal. The Brazilian unsurprisingly made no mistake as he clinically finished past Pepe Reina to give the Russians the vital away goal.

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UCL Round of 16 wrap: Clinical Milan stun Barca, Schalke & Galatasaray share the spoils

The last round of the 1st leg ties in the Champions League Round of 16 was every bit as enthralling as the action from the previous Matchdays, which was no surprise considering AC Milan and Barcelona were on show. Milan know a thing or two about shocking Barcelona on the big stage and they did exactly that as they deservedly beat the Catalans 2-0 at the San Siro to move into the driving seat in the tie. Further East in Istanbul, Schalke earned a creditable 1-1 draw at Galatasaray’s den in an extremely open encounter.

AC Milan 2-0 Barcelona

The clash at the San Siro between two of the Europe’s biggest names was a tight tactical battle for most part as Milan absorbed extended Barca pressure before hitting the Catalans on the counter. The young Milan side still created the better openings in the first half as Sulley Mutari flashed a shot high and Stephan El Shaarawy’s poor touch let him down at the vital moment. Barca were struggling to create clear cut chances as the well-drilled Milan defence kept Messi and co largely at bay.

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Wilshere comes out in support of Wenger after Bayern defeat

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Things could not have gotten worse for Arsene Wenger this season with fans’ calls for the manager’s ouster gathering even more steam with every lost game. Star midfielder Jack Wilshere feels that it is wrong to blame the Frenchman for the team’s dismal performances and believes that fans should direct their anger towards underperforming players.

Wenger had already been under heavy fire for the past couple of years for the ongoing trophy drought at Arsenal coupled with the departure of top stars including Cesc Fabregas, Samir Nasri, Alex Song and Robin van Persie. This season has only added to his woes as Arsenal were humiliatingly knocked out by smaller clubs in the Capital One Cup and FA Cup. Their chances of a top four finish also seem bleak given their recent run of form.

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Arsenal 1-3 Bayern Munich: Player Ratings

German giants Bayern Munich produced a typically efficient display in the 1st leg of their Champions League clash against North London opponents Arsenal on Tuesday night to come away with a vital 3-1 victory at the Emirates. The win puts Bayern in a great position to make it through to the quarter finals as their opponents now have it all to do in the 2nd leg to be played in Munich in a few weeks time.

It is was a pretty one-sided affair on the whole as the visitors dominated the game from start to finish and kept a solid defensive shape to deny the Gunners too many opportunities at their goal. Versatile midfielder Toni Kroos opened the scoring for Bayern in the 7th with a perfectly timed volley, arriving from the edge of the area that left Arsenal’s keeper Wojciech Szczesny with no chance. Bayern made it 2-0 before the break with a goalkeeping error from Szczesny from a well taken corner that presented Thomas Muller with a tap in in the crowded penalty area.

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Bayern Munich hammer Arsenal 3-1 at the Emirates as Wenger gets it wrong again

Bayern Munich continued their incredible run this season by dismantling an ordinary Arsenal side 3-1 on their own turf to all but book their place in the quarter-finals of the UEFA Champions League. The two-legged tie was virtually over as a contest inside the first 20 odd minutes with Toni Kroos and Thomas Muller putting the German giants comfortably on the route to victory. Arsenal got a lifeline in the game early in the second half with their own German Lukas Podolski nodding home after a terrible defensive lapse from Bayern, but the Bavarians restored their two goal cushion through a mixture of Croatian striker Mario Mandzukic and Arsenal defender Bacary Sagna. Bayern were no doubt the better side, but Arsenal's lack of a specialist left-back and Arsene Wenger's team selection did the hosts absolutely no favours.

Bayern have the Bundesliga title pretty much in the bag already, being 15 points clear and came into this match on an 11-game winning streak. They kept an amazing 10 clean sheets in said period and even the most ardent of Arsenal fans knew it would take a miracle for them to prevent this tie from being dead at the end of their home leg.

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Wenger lashes out at media ahead of Bayern clash

Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger drew particular attention from the footballing fraternity on Monday when he reacted uncharacteristically at a pre-match press conference ahead of the Gunners’ clash against Bayern Munich.


The 63 year old Frenchman was evidently furious with the treatment he received from the media following Arsenal’s surprise loss against Championship side Blackburn Rovers at the Emirates in the FA Cup on Saturday. Taking a dig at the media personnel who asked him about his possible contract extension with Arsenal, Wenger was quoted as saying, “I am sure you would miss me when I am gone,”  as he turned on the sarcasm.

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UEFA Europa League wrap: Tottenham & Chelsea taste victory, Liverpool & holders Atletico defeated

After two nights of thrilling Champions League action involving the crème-de-la-crème of European football, the minions in the Europa League came out of their burrows last night as the Round of 32 kicked off. There were mixed fortunes for the English clubs as Chelsea and Tottenham secured first-leg victories against Sparta Prague and Lyon respectively while Liverpool succumbed to a defeat at Zenit and Newcastle drew blanks at home against Metalist Khariv. Holders Atletico Madrid were stunned 2-0 at home by Rubin Kazan while the other big name to fall to a surprise home defeat were Napoli, who were soundly beaten 3-0 by Plzen.

Sparta Prague 0-1 Chelsea

Rafa Benitez’s pioneering journey into the Europa League with Chelsea began in underwhelming fashion as the Blues eeked out a 1-0 victory in Prague thanks to an 82nd minute goal from substitute Oscar. The Brazilian made an immediate impact after being thrown on as he played a fine one-two with Eden Hazard on the edge of the box before firing a precise left-footed shot into the near corner. Chelsea were frustrated for most of the game, mainly by their lead striker Fernando Torres who continued to look clueless in attack, with the low point of his evening being a shot which went out for a throw-in. The away goal and clean sheet gives Benitez plenty to hold on to ahead of the 2nd leg in Stamford Bridge despite the poor performance.

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