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Football Extras: Klopp hails sensational result; Brighton reach FA Cup semis

Last updated on: March 18, 2019 23:10 IST

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Liverpool

IMAGE: Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp celebrates with Virgil van Dijk. Photograph: Andrew Couldridge/Reuters

Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp described Sunday's 2-1 win over Fulham as an average game, but a sensational result as they returned to the top of the Premier League by grinding out victory at Craven Cottage.

 

A nervy victory enabled the Merseyside club to leap two points above Manchester City into pole position in the table, although the champions have a game in hand.

It looked, however, like Liverpool would drop points before a stroke of luck allowed substitute James Milner to slot home an 81st-minute penalty.

After taking a first-half lead through Sadio Mane's 11th goal in as many games in all competitions, Liverpool missed several chances and looked bereft of energy in the second half.

A howler by Virgin van Dijk, who had twice gone close to making it 2-0 with a pair of headers, gifted Fulham the equaliser before Mane won the spot kick thanks to Fulham keeper Sergio Rico's error.

Klopp acknowledged the result somewhat flattered Liverpool's performance, which was affected by the exertions of an impressive 3-1 Champions League win at Bayern Munich on Wednesday.

"It was an average game but a sensational result," Klopp said.

"For five-10 minutes before the equaliser we had so many little mistakes. We had controlled the game completely then we gave Fulham the ball. We had a very intense week.

"I was sure we wouldn't panic and wouldn't show the nerves that you are all waiting for. We are long enough in this situation. It's difficult for other teams to beat us so that means we have a chance to win (the title)."

Klopp is banking on his team maintaining momentum in a bid to win their first league title since 1990 and, with little room for error, backed his side to take the race down to the wire.

"It doesn't look like City will drop a lot of points so we have to win and win," he said.

"It's very important we won today. You could see our reaction after the game. Now it's important (the players) come back healthy (from the international break)."

Greek Super League match abandoned after violence

Greece

IMAGE: Panathinaikos' fans burn Olympiacos banners during their Superleague match at the OAKA Spiros Louis stadium in Athens. Photograph: Stelios Volitakis/Intimenews/Reuters

Panathinaikos’ match at home to Olympiakos Piraeus was abandoned on Sunday after their fans attacked players on the visiting team’s bench during the Greek Super League match and clashed with police outside the OAKA Stadium.

About four minutes after the Athens derby kickoff, Panathinaikos fans invaded the area surrounding the pitch and attacked Olympiakos players on the team’s bench. The match was stopped for about eight minutes before resuming.

Violence erupted again outside the stadium after Olympiakos scored the only goal of the match through Miguel Angel Guerrero in the 53rd minute. Police used tear gas to disperse Panathinaikos fans, TV images showed.

Tear gas wafted onto the pitch, affecting players and fans. German referee Marco Fritz abandoned the match in the 70th minute.

Olympiakos were awarded the victory, while Panathinaikos face a possible points deduction and a fine.

With the three points from Sunday’s game, second-placed Olympiakos have 60 points, seven adrift of league leaders PAOK, while Panathinaikos are seventh on 32 points.

France lose Martial, call up Lemar for Euro qualifiers

A knee problem has forced Manchester United forward Anthony Martial to withdraw from the France squad for this month's Euro 2020 qualifiers against Moldova and Iceland, the French Football Federation (FFF) said on its website on Sunday.

Martial, who is struggling with his right knee, would be replaced by Atletico Madrid midfielder Thomas Lemar, it added.

The 23-year-old's pull-out followed talks between national team doctors and United, for whom he played in a 2-1 loss at Wolverhampton Wanderers in the FA Cup sixth round on Saturday.

The FFF said Martial felt "severe pain" after the game and would miss France's first two Euro 2020 qualifiers, away to Moldova on Friday and home to Iceland three days later.

He was recalled for the first time in a year after scoring 11 goals in 30 games in all competitions for United this term.

Brighton fight back to beat Millwall in shoot-out and reach Cup semis

Brighton and Hove Albion reached the semi-finals of the FA Cup, beating Championship side Millwall 5-4 in a penalty shoot-out on Sunday, after clawing their way back into the game to draw 2-2 from two goals down with only two minutes remaining.

Millwall defender Jake Cooper smashed his side's final penalty over the bar at the sudden death stage of the shoot-out, after Brighton striker Glenn Murray had hit the crossbar and Millwall's Mahlon Romeo had seen a spot-kick saved by Mat Ryan.

Chris Hughton's side pulled themselves back into the game in extraordinary circumstances after Millwall, who are 20th in the Championship and fighting relegation to English soccer's third tier, took a deserved 2-0 lead.

Central defender Alex Pearce struck the opening goal in the 70th minute with a towering header from a corner and Neil Harris's side doubled their lead with a sliding finish from Ireland international Aiden O'Brien in the 79th.

That looked to have sealed Millwall's path to Wembley as fans chanted "Manchester City we're coming for you" but substitute Jurgen Locadia gave Brighton a fighting chance with a powerful finish in the 88th.

Brighton levelled with the help of a goalkeeping howler from keeper David Martin who fumbled Solly March's hopeful cross from a free kick into the net in time added on.

Millwall's Shane Ferguson was sent off in the penultimate minute of a tense period of extra time, with both sides reluctant to take risks after a punishing 90 minutes.

It is the first time since 1983 that Brighton have reached the FA Cup semi-finals.

Birmingham and Villa fined for failing to control players

Second-tier Championship clubs BirminghamCity and Aston Villa accepted fines of 5,000 pounds ($6,613) for failing to control their players in a fiercely-contested derby match earlier this month, the English Football Association (FA) said on Monday.

Players from both teams were charged with breaching FA Rule 20 after a confrontation followed a foul by Birmingham's Maikel Kieftenbeld on Villa captain Jack Grealish in the fifth minute.

"Birmingham City and Aston Villa have been fined 5,000 pounds following their EFL Championship fixture on 10 March 2019," the FA said in a statement.

"Both clubs accepted a charge and the standard penalty for failing to ensure that their players conducted themselves in an orderly fashion during the fifth minute."

A Birmingham supporter was jailed for 14 weeks for running on to the field of play and punching Grealish later on in the match.

Grealish, who escaped unhurt, eventually scored the winner as Villa won 1-0 to leapfrog their derby rivals in the standings.

Bangladesh FIFA official arrested for 'defaming' PM Sheikh Hasina

A lawyer for FIFA council member Mahfuza Akhter Kiron is set to file a petition in a Bangladesh court on Tuesday seeking bail for the official who has been arrested in a defamation case following her criticism of Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina.

Mahfuza courted trouble after her remarks in a news conference last month in which she said Hasina was neglecting football in the cricket-obsessed country.

A sport organiser filed a defamation case against the 52-year-old who was arrested on Saturday.

"Hopefully, we'll file a bail petition tomorrow," her lawyer, Liakat Hossain, told Reuters on Monday.

The lawyer said Mahfuza was denied bail on Saturday but she was an "established woman" who represented the country abroad should be granted bail.

"We will file a bail petition again."

Hasina's administration has recently been accused of cracking down on free speech and adopting an increasingly authoritarian style.

The government of Hasina, who won a third straight term in a Dec. 30 election marred by violence and allegations of widespread rigging, denies freedom of speech is under attack in the country of 165 million people.

Abul Hasan Chowdhury Prince, who filed the case against Mahfuza, said her comments against Hasina were derogatory.

"I lodged the case as she made derogatory remarks against our sports-loving prime minister," he told Reuters.

Chelsea allege racial abuse at Dynamo Kiev in Europa League tie

Chelsea have reported Dynamo Kiev to UEFA after one of their players was allegedly the target of racist abuse from home supporters during their Europa League last 16 second leg victory in Kiev last week, the Premier League club said on Monday.

While Chelsea did not name the player, Sky Sports reported that winger Callum Hudson-Odoi was targeted by a section of Kiev fans who directed monkey chants at the 18-year-old as Chelsea romped to a 5-0 win.

Sky said Hudson-Odoi informed team mate Cesar Azpilicueta, who in turn complained to the referee after the final whistle.

"We can confirm a report of racist abuse directed at one of our players in the final minutes of the match in Kiev from a small section of home supporters," Chelsea said in a statement on their website.

"We wholeheartedly condemn such abhorrent behaviour... We expect UEFA to conduct a fulsome investigation and we will provide full cooperation."

The club said chairman Bruce Buck and club secretary David Barnard had informed the UEFA match delegate of the matter.

UEFA were not immediately available to comment. 

We don't have to apologise for United fiasco, says Tuchel 

Paris St Germain coach Thomas Tuchel said the team did not have to apologise to fans for their Champions League elimination by Manchester United.

"We don't have to apologise, we are the most disappointed ones," the German was quoted as saying on Monday.

"It was an accident. I know my team. If you lose a big game, and we lost one, you have to accept that everybody talks."

The club's hardcore 'ultra' group of fans did not support the team during the first 15 minutes of their Ligue 1 game against rivals Olympique de Marseille, their first home match since they were knocked out of the Champions League last 16.

Banners reading 'We do not forget' or 'Respect the institution' were unfolded before kickoff at Parc des Princes.

PSG beat OM 3-1, with fans then cracking fireworks and lighting flares to celebrate Angel Di Maria's double and Kylian Mbappe's first-half opener.

The capital side have already wrapped up the Ligue 1 title as they lead second-placed Lille, who have played one more game, by 20 points.

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