Rediff.com  » Sports » Football Roundup: Mourinho satisfied with United's progress; Ajax hold Nice

Football Roundup: Mourinho satisfied with United's progress; Ajax hold Nice

July 27, 2017 14:52 IST
Get Rediff News in your Inbox:

This and more from the happenings in the world of football

Mourinho satisfied with United's progress despite Barca loss

Neymar

IMAGE: Barcelona’s Neymar fights for the ball with Manchester United’s Paul Pogba. Photograph: Twitter

Manchester United ended their pre-season tour of the United States with a defeat to Barcelona but manager Jose Mourinho was satisfied with his team's overall performance and fitness level ahead of the new season.

Barcelona secured a 1-0 win with a first-half goal from Neymar, who capitalised on United full back Antonio Valencia's mistake in the 31st minute to score from close range.

The Spanish side were in control during the first half but failed to extend their lead with United goalkeeper David de Gea forced to make six saves to keep his side in the match.

Anthony Martial, Paul Pogba and Andreas Pereira had their chances on goal to equalise for United in the second half but failed to test Barcelona stopper Jasper Cillessen.

United's defeat at the FedexField was their first in their pre-season campaign.

"It's very important to lose a match in pre-season," Mourinho told reporters after the match.

"I think it would be very bad for us to leave the US without a defeat, playing against teams like Real Madrid, Barcelona, Manchester City, it would be very bad to go home with just victories.

"I think in the game we did some very good things and we did bad things. The very good things are to keep and the bad things are to improve."

Mourinho was particularly impressed with another solid display from midfielder Paul Pogba, who the Portuguese manager believes is among the best players in the world.

"(Lionel) Messi and Neymar, there is only one; there is not two. (Luis) Suarez, (Andres) Iniesta, (Gerard) Pique, (Cristiano) Ronaldo, (Gareth) Bale, (Luka) Modric, Toni Kroos; there is only one so they can only play for one club, not for two clubs," said Mourinho.

"We can't have them, they belong to the clubs. But I have to say that Paul Pogba showed the level... he showed he belongs to that level."

The United manager also confirmed midfielders Juan Mata and Ander Herrera will resume training when they return to Manchester on Saturday.

Mourinho's side will next visit Norwegian side Valerenga on Sunday before facing Italian Serie A team Sampdoria in their final pre-season match in Dublin on Wednesday.

They kick off their competitive campaign with a UEFA Super Cup meeting with Real Madrid on Aug. 8 in Skopje.

Ajax hold Nice as Celtic falter against Rosenborg

Ajax stayed on course to reach a Champions League playoff after earning a 1-1 draw at Nice in the first leg of their third qualifying round tie while Celtic were held to a goalless stalemate at home by Rosenborg on Wednesday.

Dynamo Kiev were 3-1 home winners against Young Boys Berne and Kazakh champions Astana beat visiting Legia Warsaw by the same score to keep alive their own hopes of reaching the lucrative group stage for the second time in three seasons.

Italy striker Mario Balotelli fired Nice ahead with a close-range finish after a darting run by midfielder Jean Michael Serri in the 32nd minute.

But Ajax, last season's second-tier Europa League runners-up, levelled after poor defending allowed midfielder Donny van de Beek to sweep the ball home from 10 metres.

Celtic's hopes were left hanging in the balance after a tepid display against the Norwegian champions, who should have taken away more into the return leg as Yann-Erik de Lanlay squandered a gilt-edged chance on the hour.

The forward blazed his shot from 10 metres over the bar with only goalkeeper Craig Gordon to beat but Celtic could not take advantage in the closing stages.

Istanbul Basaksehir, making their first Champions League appearance, almost staged the shock of the night after fighting back from a two-goal deficit in a thrilling 3-3 draw at Club Bruges.

The home side looked in cruise control after scoring twice in the opening 16 minutes but were stunned as Marcio Mossoro netted a brace and Eljero Elia added another to turn the match on its head.

Stefano Denswil spared Bruges's blushes but they still face a difficult task in the return leg.

Patrick Twumasi struck in the 90th minute to delight Astana fans after Armando Sadiku had pulled one back for Legia, who trailed 2-0 at halftime.

There was also late drama and two stoppage-time goals in Kiev, where Dynamo's Denis Garmash had the final say after Christian Fassnacht scored what looked like a vital away goal for Young Boys.

Andriy Yarmolenko and Dieumerci Mbokani had given Dynamo a 2-0 first-half lead in the Olimpiyskyi stadium, the venue of next year's Champions League final.

Croatian champions Rijeka, seeking their maiden group stage appearance, held on for a 1-1 draw at Salzburg after the home side's Korean forward Hee-Chan Hwang cancelled out a glancing header by Mario Gavranovic.

Neymar cleared in tax evasion case, Brazilian court says

Barcelona striker Neymar has been cleared of any criminal charges in a long-running tax evasion case in Brazil, a Brazilian court said on Wednesday.

A judge in Sao Paulo said there was a "lack of just cause" in the case that alleged he underpaid income tax between 2011 and 2014.

Neymar's father and agent said Wednesday's decision was a major victory.

"It is with great happiness that we received the news of the shelving of the Public Ministry's case of tax evasion," Neymar Snr. said in a statement sent to Reuters.

"The process is officially closed (and) that proves the legality of all our acts."

Neymar could still, however, have to pay substantial sums to Brazil's tax office.

Brazil's federal tax office charged Neymar in 2015 with evading 63 million reais ($19.94 million) in taxes due on income earned from the Santos and Barcelona soccer clubs and sponsors between 2011 and 2014.

Neymar appealed last year and a court ruling in his favour in March halved the penalty of 200 million reais in fines, back-taxes and interest that Brazil's tax office had slapped on the player.

This was separate to the criminal prosecution brought by federal prosecutors, which has now been shelved.

"These were four years of unfounded accusations that me, my family and the employees of my companies suffered through, in every possible way," Neymar's father said in his statement.

"Although many people doubted it, there is justice in our country. Charge by charge, one after the other, they were knocked down by our defence, leaving it explicitly clear that we did not avoid paying one cent of tax.

"I hope we can now concentrate on our work and that my family has the peace it deserves."

Neymar's future on the pitch is the subject of speculation, with the player linked in Spanish, French and Brazilian media with a transfer to Paris St Germain.

Neymar, an idol in Brazil who led the Olympic team to glory at the 2016 Rio Games, said last week he was happy at Barcelona but he has yet to state definitively where he will play next season.

Widely considered the outstanding player of his generation in Brazil, Neymar led Santos to the Libertadores Cup for the first time since Pele played for the club.

He then moved to Barcelona in 2013 where he has formed one of the most deadly forward lines in football alongside Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

He is currently on a pre-season tour with Barcelona, where he has won two La Liga titles and a Champions League, in the United States and is expected to play in Wednesday's match against Manchester United in Maryland.

Late Morris goal delivers US sixth Gold Cup championship

Jordan Morris scored in the 88th minute to help United States to a 2-1 win against Jamaica in the Gold Cup final in Northern California on Wednesday as the Americans secured their sixth championship.

His 14-yard strike came after a cross by US midfielder Gyasi Zardes ricocheted off Clint Dempsey and landed perfectly for forward Morris, who sent the ball past the diving arms of replacement Jamaican goalkeeper Dwayne Miller.

Jose Altidore had given the hosts the lead just before halftime when his perfectly judged free kick curled over the defensive wall and a diving Miller into the net.

The goal was sweet redemption for Morris, whose defensive error in the second half allowed Jamaican midfielder Vaughn Watson to tie the game 1-1 in the 50th minute.

"He made up for it," US coach Bruce Arena, who is undefeated in 14 games since taking the reigns in November, told reporters after the match.

"It was a big step that he took tonight."

Morris, who graduated from nearby Stanford University, lost his man close to the goal and Watson responded by delivering a six-yard strike off an assist by Kemar Lawrence, the hero from Jamaica's upset 1-0 win over Mexico on Sunday.

The tone of the match had changed when Jamaican goalie and team captain Andre Blake was forced to leave midway through the first half after American Kellyn Acosta stepped on his hand while taking a shot on goal.

Get Rediff News in your Inbox:
Source: REUTERS
© Copyright 2021 Reuters Limited. All rights reserved. Republication or redistribution of Reuters content, including by framing or similar means, is expressly prohibited without the prior written consent of Reuters. Reuters shall not be liable for any errors or delays in the content, or for any actions taken in reliance thereon.

https://www.rediff.com/cricket/t20-worldcup-2021

T20 World Cup 2021