Monday 22 June: Amini On Target at AFC U22

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Mustafa Amini scored for Australia today in a 3-1 win over Hong Kong in their opening match at the AFC U22 Championship in South Korea. Amini, who scored the third, spent last season on loan at 3.Liga winners Sandhausen but is set for release by Dortmund this summer.

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UEFA have made the draws for the opening two qualifying rounds of the Champions League and Europa League in a lengthy ceremony at their Nyon headquarters.

The CL First Qualifying Phase of the former contains just four clubs – the champions of Andorra, Armenia, Faroe Islands, and San Marino. Those ties take place on 01 and 08 July, with the winners joining 32 other clubs in the Second Qualifying Phase.

74 clubs feature in the Europa League First Qualifying Round, which features an all-Ireland tie between Crusaders and Sligo Rovers. Fortuna Düsseldorf are the highest-ranked club at this stage, and have been drawn against Andorran side Unió Esportiva Sant Julià. Ties take place 02 and 09 July.

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Serdar Tasçi has joined Paris Saint-Germain in a £12.25m deal, after spending his entire career at VfB Stuttgart. The 28 year-old centre-back has been capped 14 times by Germany, and won the Bundesliga title in 2007.

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Titanbet’s Champions League Infographic

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Titanbet sent us this awesome infographic about tonight’s UEFA Champions League Final between Barcelona and Juventus, and it was too good not to publish. Thanks to the team at @TitanBet for sharing it with us.

In RTFM’s world, Chelsea beat Tottenham Hotspur 2-1 in this year’s Final, but who’ll win in Berlin tonight? We’re going for 3-0 Barcelona. You can view the full-size version by clicking on the image below:

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Champions League: Chelsea 2-1 Tottenham

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Chelsea have lifted their second UEFA Champions League trophy after a 2-1 win over ten-man Tottenham Hotspur in Istanbul tonight, their second success in four seasons.

After a goalless and largely uninspiring first-half, the game exploded into life after the break with Romelu Lukaku having a shot cleared off the line within a minute of the restart, before Oriol Romeu fired inches wide of giving Chelsea the lead.

The deadlock was broken in the 53rd minute when Ashley Cole brought down Lucas Leiva out wide. Antonio Valencia curled in the free-kick, and Sandro beat Cole to the cross and headed past Petr Cech.

Chelsea responded immediately by bringing on Kevin De Bruyne, and thirteen minutes later his wonderful strike drew them level as he cut in from the right wing, and as the Spurs defenders backed-off, he curled the equaliser into the top corner. A flurry of yellow cards followed as Chelsea pushed for a winner, but extra-time beckoned.

After his second-half high, Sandro’s night was going to turn sour after he picked up his second booking of the game when he tripped Eden Hazard and saw red mid-way through the first period of extra-time.

With just three minutes to play, De Bruyne whipped in a cross for Juan Mata who was steaming in towards the six-yard box. Having just been named man-of-the-match by the PA system, WorldSoccer’s Footballer of the Year Lucas Leiva challenged Mata for the ball and inadvertently diverted it past his own ‘keeper to give Chelsea victory.

It’s the first time in over thirty years that English clubs have won the top two continental trophies in the same season, following Manchester City’s victory over Olympiakos last week. Liverpool lifted the European Cup, while Spurs won the UEFA Cup in 1984.

Chelsea Blow Barca Away, Spurs Await!

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Chelsea smashed their way into the UEFA Champions League Final against city rivals Tottenham Hotspur after a rampant 5-1 victory over Barcelona at Stamford Bridge tonight.

Trailing 0-1 from last week’s first leg in Spain, Chelsea took just ten minutes to draw level on aggregate when Juan Mata arrived late at the far post to turn home a César Azpilicueta cross. The home side were on the attack throughout the rest of the half but couldn’t find a second.

That came fifteen minutes after the interval when Fernando Torres headed home another Azpilicueta cross after André Ayew was strong down Chelsea’s left to keep the ball alive, out-muscle Muniesa, and find Azpilicueta on the overlap.

Five minutes later André Ayew had the chance to extend the lead when he was tripped by Jordi Alba. He took the spot-kick himself, but Victor Valdes went to his left and pushed away the penalty.

With 73 minutes on the clock, David Villa was given too much time and space in the box and he slotted home a cross from Alexis Sánchez that gave Barcelona the valuable away-goal that would send them through if the score stayed the same.

The parity lasted just four minutes as John Terry came forwards at a corner and he headed home Eden Hazard’s delivery to put Chelsea 3-1 up, and back in front on aggregate (3-2).

Barcelona pushed forwards in the last ten minutes looking for a goal that would put them into the Final, but were undone when they didn’t clear a Chelsea corner that was whipped back across the box for Hatim Ben Arfa to drill home at the far post.

There was still time for a fifth as André Ayew finally troubled the scorers two minutes into stoppage time when he had a 20-yard run at goal before finishing past Valdes from the edge of the box.

Chelsea will play Tottenham Hotspur in Istanbul on 30 May.

Spotkicks Send Spurs Through to First Final

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Hugo Lloris was carried aloft on the shoulders of his team-mates after saving Ilkay Gündogan’s spot-kick to send Tottenham Hotspur through to their first UEFA Champions League Final after beating Manchester United on penalties.

Spurs dominated the opening 45 minutes, not allowing United a single shot on goal during the first-half, but they couldn’t find a way past in goal as they desperately tried to claw themselves back into the tie after losing 0-2 at Old Trafford last week.

The breakthrough finally came six minutes after the break when Johnny Evans bundled over Gareth Bale in the box, giving away a penalty and picking up a caution for his efforts. Up stepped Emmanuel Adebayor who drilled the ball low to David De Gea’s bottom left.

With twenty minutes to go, Bale – who had been denied twice by De Gea – got on the end of a deep Pablo Armero cross but saw his fine header come back off the upright with De Gea well-beaten.

Inside the final ten minutes, Jose Sosa was denied by the fingertips of the United ‘keeper and the atmosphere around White Hart Lane changed as the visitors were clinging on. The corner was cleared, but Bale soon won a second when he had an effort deflected wide.

Armero swung the corner in to the six-yard box from the Spurs left, where it was met by the head of Sandro and whistled past the man on the line and into the back of the net to level the tie on aggregate.

Half-hour of extra-time couldn’t separate the sides and it went to the dreaded shootout. Spurs went first and the first five penalties went in before Lloris saved from Rodrigo, but Mario Mandzukic blazed over the bar and Andriy Yarmolenko squared it at three-all after four each.

WorldSoccer Player of the Year Lucas Leiva stepped-up and put Spurs in the driving seat, leaving Ilkay Gündogan with the unenviable task of having to score to keep Manchester United in it. He went for power straight down the middle, but Lloris stayed on feet and plucked the ball out of the air to send Spurs through to the final in Istanbul.

Gündogan looked devastated after his miss, as many were tipping him to become only the fifth player to win the competition in consecutive years with two different clubs after he won with Borussia Dortmund last year. Incidentally, he scored BVB’s first penalty in their shootout win over Barcelona.

They’ll play the winners of tomorrow night’s Semi-Final between Chelsea and Barcelona. The Spanish club lead 1-0 from the First Leg, with Alexis Sánchez scoring late-on at the Nou Camp last week.

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UCL: Ill-Tempered Ties See Barça and MU Win

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Barcelona and Manchester United both have a foot in the UEFA Champions League Final after both won at home in a pair of ill-tempered Quarter-Final ties this week.

On Tuesday night, Barcelona were reduced to ten men after Pique was sent-off for handball to deny Fernando Torres a clean  run-through on goal with just half-hour played. Three other players promptly went in the book before half-time.

After the interval, Chelsea picked up four cautions in eight minutes and will face a UEFA fine for six in the same match, but the game was finally won in the 84th minute when Alexis Sanchez got on the end of a Gerard Deulofeu cross, turned his man and beat Thibaut Courtois at his near post.


At Old Trafford tonight, second-half strikes from Danny Welbeck and Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a 2-0 lead to take to Tottenham Hotspur next week.

Seven players were booked in a stormy match, which kicked-off when Fábio Coentrão saw yellow in first-half stoppage time, and the break didn’t calm anything down with six more yellow cards issued in the next  20 minutes.

Antonio Valencia was a lucky man against his former club with ten minutes to play. He escaped a second booking when he brought down Darren Fletcher in the box, and was doubly-relieved when Wayne Rooney put his penalty over the bar.

Spurs host Manchester United on Tuesday 05 May, while Chelsea welcome Barcelona to Stamford Bridge the following evening. The Final will be held at the Atatürk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul, home on Saturday 30 May.

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