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Football Focus: Hernandez joins LA Galaxy

Last updated on: January 22, 2020 18:28 IST

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Javier Hernandez

IMAGE: Mexico's Javier Hernandez attends a training session. Photograph: Daniel Becerril/Reuters

Mexico’s all-time leading scorer Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez has joined Los Angeles Galaxy from La Liga’s Sevilla, the Major League Soccer (MLS) club confirmed on Tuesday.

Hernandez, who has netted 52 goals in 109 international appearances, will be counted on to fill the void left when Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic left the club last November after two seasons.

 

“Javier has consistently scored goals in top leagues throughout the world and has been his country’s most successful player over the last decade,” Galaxy General Manager Dennis te Kloese said in a statement.

“He is a competitor who has proven success at the highest level and has scored the most goals ever of one of the best teams in CONCACAF.

“We think he can be one of Major League Soccer’s best attacking threats and help our team in multiple ways.”

Hernandez, a veteran of three World Cups, was signed as a “Designated Player” — each MLS club is allowed three such contracts — which means only a portion of his salary counts against the team’s salary budget allowable under league rules.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed but the Los Angeles Times reported on Tuesday that Hernandez’s contract is for three years, including an option for a fourth, and that he will be paid an annual base salary of $6 million.

Hernandez began his professional career with Chivas Guadalajara in 2006 and then secured a transfer to the Premier League with Manchester United in 2010.

After scoring 59 goals with Manchester United across all competitions, Hernandez joined La Liga’s Real Madrid on loan in 2014. The following season, he made a permanent transfer to Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he enjoyed some of the most productive years of his career.

Hernandez ended his time in Europe with stints at West Ham United in England (2017-19) and Sevilla in Spain (2019).

“The LA Galaxy continue to pursue top talent across the world that will improve our team,” Galaxy President Chris Klein said in a news release to announce the signing. “Javier is one of most successful players in our region and an iconic figure in this community.”

The five-times MLS Cup champions will be hoping Hernandez can bring his scoring touch given Ibrahimovic signed with Serie A club AC Milan last month after scoring 53 goals in two seasons with the Galaxy.

“The LA Galaxy continue to pursue top talent across the world that will improve our team,” said Galaxy President Chris Klein. “Javier is one of most successful players in our region and an iconic figure in this community.”

The Galaxy open their 2020 MLS regular season at Houston on Feb. 29 with their first home game scheduled for March 7.

Nantes to wear Argentine colours in tribute to Emiliano Sala

Nantes

IMAGE: General view of players from both teams and fans observing a minute's silence in memory of Emiliano Sala before the match. Photograph: Sergei Pivovarov/Reuters

Nantes will drop their usual green and yellow colours for Argentina’s blue and white-striped “Albiceleste” strip to pay tribute to their former player Emiliano Sala when they host Girondins de Bordeaux in Ligue 1 on Sunday.

Nantes made the announcement on Tuesday, one year on from Sala’s death in a plane crash while travelling to Cardiff to join the then Premier League club from the French side.

Nantes said the one-off jerseys would be for sale and all profits would go to Sala’s training clubs in his native Argentina.

“Because he was dreaming of wearing the Argentine team shirt, the FC Nantes players will, for one league game, forsake their traditional yellow and green shirt for a blue and white jersey,” the club said in a statement.

Sala died on Jan. 21, 2019, in a crash off the Channel Islands, and his body was recovered from the wreckage two weeks later.

Nantes and Cardiff City have yet to settle a dispute over the payment of Sala’s transfer fee.

Spurs boss Mourinho denies reports of training ground bust-up with Rose

Jose Mourinho

IMAGE: Tottenham Hotspur's Danny Rose shakes hands with manager Jose Mourinho. Photograph: Eddie Keogh/Reuters

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho has played down reports of a training ground row with Danny Rose after the full back was left out of Saturday’s goalless draw against Watford in the Premier League.

The Daily Mail reported Rose sought an explanation from Mourinho after he was unhappy at being left out of the squad for both the 2-1 win over Middlesbrough in the FA Cup third round replay last week and then for the Watford match.

“A disagreement between me and Danny? No,” Mourinho told a news conference on Tuesday. “My relationship with my players is good and I love to work with my group. And that’s it.”

Mourinho said Rose was left out at the weekend due to a back injury, with young centre half Japhet Tanganga filling in at left back at Vicarage Road.

“The reason why he wasn’t selected against Middlesbrough is because we have a young left back that we want to develop and it was a great opportunity to play (Ryan) Sessegnon,” he added.

“Also because his (Rose’s) performance against Liverpool was not phenomenal.

“Then on the Thursday... I got a call from my medical staff saying Danny was calling them with a problem in his back and he wouldn’t train the next day.

“It was a bit of a surprise that on the Friday he was ready to train, but even so I decided then to play with Tanganga and have Ryan on the bench. That is the situation.”

Mourinho also said Inter Milan target Christian Eriksen has not played his last match for Spurs and that the Danish playmaker will be in the squad for Wednesday’s match against Norwich City.

The Portuguese coach will also welcome back club-record signing Tanguy Ndombele, who has not played since the defeat by Southampton on New Year’s Day due to a hip problem.

“I am confident (he can have a run of games) but let’s see,” Mourinho said.

“We know what he can give to the team. If I focus on the few minutes or matches that he played for us I saw qualities that are very important for a team to play like we do.”

Spurs, currently eighth in the standings, are without a win in their last four league matches.

Lyon beat Lille on penalties to reach League Cup final

Lyon

IMAGE: Olympique Lyonnais' players celebrate winning the penalty shootout. Photograph: Emmanuel Foudrot/Reuters

Olympique Lyonnais booked a place in the League Cup final by beating Lille 4-3 on penalties after a 2-2 home draw on Tuesday.

Loic Remy’s stoppage-time spot kick had given Lille a lifeline but OL keeper Ciprian Tatarusanu saved Jonathan Bamba’s opening penalty in the shootout and Renato Sanches missed their final kick to see the home side through.

Before Remy’s last-gap equaliser, Lyon had gone ahead five minutes from time when Moussa Dembele cancelled out Sanches’s opener in the first half at the Groupama stadium.

Lyon, who had a see-saw first half of the season, have now won four of their last five games in all competitions and are still chasing the League Cup, French Cup and Champions League.

They will meet Stade de Reims or Paris St Germain, who face each other on Wednesday, in the League Cup final. Lyon are bidding to claim the trophy for the second time.

Lille took the lead in the 12th minute when Sanches fired home from just inside the box but Lyon were level four minutes later with a Dembele penalty after Gabriel Magalhaes handled.

The home side thought they had secured victory in the 85th minute when Aouar’s floating strike went past keeper Leo Jardim but Rafael’s poor tackle on Jonathan Bamba earned Lille a stoppage-time penalty that was coolly converted by Remy.

With no extra time being played in the League Cup since the 2017 edition, the contest went straight to a penalty shootout in which Lyon converted all of their spot kicks.

This is the last season of the League Cup, which was created in 1995 and been won a record eight times by Paris St Germain, after the French league voted to suspend the competition having failed to secure a broadcaster for 2020-2024.

Napoli knock out holders Lazio to fend off crisis

Napoli alleviated their crisis when an early solo goal by Lorenzo Insigne gave them a 1-0 win over holders Lazio in their Coppa Italia quarter-final on Tuesday, which also featured a bizarre penalty miss by Ciro Immobile for the losers.

There were also two red cards in the first half hour and both sides hit the woodwork twice in the second half while Lazio had two goals disallowed as they exited the competition in a remarkable game.

Lazio had won their last six matches in all competitions while Napoli had lost four out of six — including three at home — since Gennaro Gattuso replaced Carlo Ancelotti in December, plunging them into a crisis.

“We’ve been through an embarrassing period but today the lads have played a great match against the very good team who are Lazio,” said Gattuso.

“I saw a team with great spirit, you need a lot of intensity to play Lazio... We need to stay hungry and not rest on our laurels,” he added. “We need to keep playing with this hunger and this venom.”

Insigne gave Napoli a much-needed boost when he collected the ball on the left, skipped past his marker and side-footed a low shot past Thomas Strakosha and into the far corner after two minutes.

There was more drama as Lazio won a penalty in the 10th minute after Elseid Hysaj bundled over Felipe Caicedo but Immobile, Serie A’s leading scorer with 23 goals, slipped as he ran up to take the spot kick and scooped the ball harmlessly wide.

Hysaj, who had been booked over the penalty, lunged into Immobile and was given a second yellow card after only 19 minutes. Yet six minutes later, Lazio midfielder Lucas Leiva was booked for a foul, then sent off for protesting the decision.

“Lucas got the ball and should not have been booked but he is an experienced player and should not have reacted the way he did,” said Lazio coach Simone Inzaghi.

It was not Immobile’s night as he had a goal disallowed for offside in the second half and smashed a shot against the crossbar in the 85th minute.

Lazio’s Manuel Lazzari also hit the post with a deflected shot and Francesco Acerbi turned in the rebound but it was ruled out for offside with two minutes left.

Napoli were also unlucky as Arkadiusz Milik headed against the inside of the post in the 70th minute and Mario Rui curled an effort against the upright.

“It’s disappointing to lose a match we dominated,” said Inzaghi.

Olympic qualifiers shifted out of Wuhan following virus fears

Next month's women's Olympic football qualifiers in Wuhan have been shifted to Nanjing, the Asian Football Confederation said on Wednesday, following an outbreak of the new coronavirus in the central Chinese city.

Nine people are confirmed to have died and as many as 440 infected from the new SARS-like coronavirus now spreading across China after an outbreak in Wuhan.

"The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has agreed to the proposal by the Chinese Football Association (CFA) to move the ... Asian Qualifiers Final Round - Group B from Wuhan to Jiangning Football Training Centre in Nanjing," the continental governing body said in a statement.

The dates of the February 3-9 tournament remain unchanged with top two teams qualifying for the playoff against group B counterparts for the final two places, alongside host Japan, at the Tokyo Olympics.

Australia has issued a travel warning for Wuhan, asking visitors to "exercise a high degree of caution", but their head coach said on Tuesday they were preparing for a Wuhan trip.

Australia play Taiwan on February 3, Thailand three days later and China on February 9.

Taiwan's football association said on Wednesday the sports administration had asked the AFC in December to change the location due to fears about the health of players.

If the venue was not changed then Taiwan's team would not participate, the association added.

Taiwan, where one case of the coronavirus has been detected, has called on people not to visit Wuhan unless they absolutely have to.

AFC moves Champions League matches out of Iran

The Asian Football Confederation (AFC) has shifted two preliminary matches in its elite club competition from Iran to neutral venues because of security concerns, Asian soccer's governing body said on Wednesday.

Shahr Khodro FC were scheduled to host Bahrain's Riffa and Esteghlal FC were set to play Kuwait SC on Tuesday but both Asian Champions League matches were postponed after several governments issued warnings against travelling to Iran.

"To help facilitate the switch to neutral venues, which has been approved by the relevant AFC committees, the AFC will now reschedule the games to January 25, 2020 in the United Arab Emirates," the AFC said in a statement.

Local media reported that the four Iranian clubs in the competition, including Persepolis and Sepahan, had said they would refuse to play if they cannot host games in the country.

The move comes after Iranian forces shot down a Ukraine International Airlines jet in error on Jan. 8, killing all 176 on board amid tensions following the assassination by the United States of prominent general Qassem Soleimani.

The AFC's decision to move matches out of Iran is unprofessional and political, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani's chief of staff, Mahmoud Vaezi, said on Wednesday, according to the official IRNA news agency.

"This is an unsporting and unprofessional move," Vaezi said.

"As we examine it we realize this has become a political issue."

Security concerns between Iran and its neighbours have affected the involvement of the country's clubs in the Asian Champions League in the past.

Since 2016, matches between clubs from Iran and Saudi Arabia have been played in neutral venues due to concerns raised by the Saudis over safety issues when travelling to Iran.

Iranian clubs on that occasion also threatened to boycott the competition before relenting, with matches involving teams from the two countries played in Oman and, until a Saudi-led diplomatic dispute in June 2017, Qatar.

While they are among the best-supported clubs in Asia, no Iranian side has won the Asian Champions League since it was created in 2002, with Tehran-based Persepolis going closest in 2018 when they lost in the final to Japan’s Kashima Antlers.

Persepolis have been drawn to meet Al Duhail from Qatar, Saudi Arabia’s Al Taawon and United Arab Emirates champions Sharjah in the group phase of this year's competition.

Sepahan are slated to meet Saudi champions Al Nassr, Qatar’s Al Sadd and a qualifier from the play-offs.

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