Champions League: Rio Ferdinand blasts referees after Tottenham eliminate Man City

Former Manchester United defender, Rio Ferdinand, has insisted that Fernando Llorente’s dramatic winning goal for Spurs against Manchester City in the Champions League quarter-final, was a handball.

Llorente, who came on as a first-half substitute for Moussa Sissoko, bundled in a Kieran Trippier corner in the second half to level the scoreline on aggregate to 4-4.

With Spurs having beaten City 1-0 in the first leg at their new stadium, it meant that they had the advantage of the away goal.

Referee Cuneyt Cakir initially gave the goal, before checking it via VAR on his touchline monitor for a possible handball.

The ball appeared to possibly brush Llorente’s arm but go in off his hip and after a couple of minutes, Cakir let the goal stand.

“That’s off his arm for me. That’s hit his arm. Watch the skin on his arm, it moves.

“I’m just saying the ball’s hit his arm and then it’s up to the referee to determine whether its a handball or not.

“I think its handball personally I’ve got to be honest,” Ferdinand said on Bengbenro Sport.

Tottenham win thriller at Etihad, City knocked out

And then, deep into stoppage time, Raheem Sterling thought he had his hat-trick, but VAR again came into play, confirming that Agüero was offside in the build-up.

Thus it was Tottenham that went through to book a date with Ajax. And Coach Mauricio Pochettino roared in joy.

Manchester City had some consolation though. It was their first win against English opponents in Europe after five successive defeats.

That record will means nothing to Coach Pep Guardiola as his side still have just the one semi-final appearance, and that was before he arrived at the club, in 2016, despite all the hundreds of millions poured in by the Qatari owners of the club.

The lessons learnt

After a series of frustrating defeats when the stakes were at their highest, Mauricio Pochettino’s Tottenham finally came through on the big occasion.

Falling short in FA Cup semi-finals, Champions League knockout games and Premier League title battles had tarnished Pochettino’s otherwise impeccable credentials as one of the brightest young managers in Europe.

But, playing without injured star striker Harry Kane, Pochettino inspired a tour de force performance from Tottenham.

Pochettino is yet to win his first major trophy, but he out-witted City boss Pep Guardiola, who has won every prize the game can offer.

Tottenham were aided by two huge VAR decisions that allowed to them to score the decisive third goal when Fernando Llorente bundled in off a combination of his arm and hip — and then escape what would have been a Raheem Sterling last-gasp winner as offside was given against Sergio Aguero.

But luck wasn’t the reason for Pochettino’s success as he leads Tottenham in the Champions League semi-finals for the first time despite not buying a single player in the last two transfer windows due to the restraints from the move to their new stadium.

Tottenham are in the last four of a European competition for the first time since the 1984 UEFA Cup because Pochettino and no wonder Tottenham’s jubilant fans chanted Pochettino’s name loudly as he danced with his players on the pitch at full-time.

Guardiola suffers more Euro misery

Pep Guardiola held his head in his hands when Ilkay Gundogan’s close-range effort ballooned over the bar in the closing moments, the Manchester City manager’s angst at his latest Champions League failure clear for all to see.

Guardiola is rightly regarded as the best manager of his generation after trophy-laden spells with Barcelona, Bayern Munich and now City.

But despite having access to vast financial backing at all three clubs and coaching some of the world’s greatest players, Guardiola has only got his hands on the Champions League trophy twice in his 11-year career.

The Spaniard won it with Barcelona in 2009 and 2011, while also earning a winners’ medal as a Barca player in 1992.

Dumped out by Liverpool last year, City, who have never won the Champions League, once again came up short on the big occasion in Europe.

City’s bid for an unprecedented quadruple is over and now the question is whether they can recover in time to overhaul Liverpool in the Premier League title race.

Spurs could ruin that City dream as well when they return to the Etihad Stadium in the league on Saturday.

Son shines again

Son Heung-min has proved this season that playing without Harry Kane won’t be fatal to Tottenham’s ambitions and the South Korea forward was in sparkling form with a brilliant double.

With Tottenham trailing after just four minutes and Kane sidelined, Son set about dismantling City’s defence.

Seizing on Aymeric Laporte’s miscued block, Son quickly whipped a low strike that caught Ederson off balance as it bounced in off the City goalkeeper’s foot for the seventh minute equaliser.

That was followed by Son’s second three minutes later as he shifted away from Kyle Walker before curling a superb shot into the far corner.

Son, who had scored the first leg winner against City, has now bagged 11 goals in 11 matches with Kane absent this term.

His pace, skill and astute movement make him a different proposition for central defenders than Kane and some have even suggested Tottenham look better with Son up front than the England captain.

However, there was a sting in the tail as a second half booking for Son, who tugged on Kevin De Bruyne on the edge of the Tottenham area, means he will miss the first leg of the semi-final

Nigeria beat Angola 1-0 to qualify for Semis

The Golden Eaglets of Nigeria on Wednesday defeated their Angolan counterpart 1-0 to qualify for the semi-finals in the ongoing U-17 AFCON in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania.

Nigeria has also qualified for the FIFA U-17 World Cup slated for Brazil later in the year.

The Manu Garba tutored Eaglets had earlier beaten host Tanzania 5-4 in a thrilling encounter in the Group A opener.

In the pulsating game against Angola on Wednesday, Nigeria’s Olakunle Olusegun scored with a well taken penalty in the 21st minute sending the Angolan Keeper Geovani Carvalho the wrong way.

The Nigerian boys continued to heap pressure on the Angolan defence but were wasteful in front of goal with five attempts on goal out of the seven shots fired.

In the second half, Angola’s drive to level up was dealt a blow after defender Cabingano saw red card for a second bookable offence, his dangerous lunge on Olusegun earned him a second yellow card.

With a man advantage the Eaglets grew in confidence but could not convert their chances as the Nigerian side ran away with a slim 1-0 win.

The Golden Eaglets, five time winners of the competition will face Uganda in their final group game on Friday.

Ambode receives UEFA Champions League trophy

Gov. Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State on Wednesday received the UEFA Champions League Trophy at the Government House at Alausa, Lagos.

The trophy was presented by the championship Ambassador and former captain of Barcelona FC of Spain, Carles Puyo.

Puyol, a three-time Champions League winner, is in Nigeria on a three-day visit to lead the UEFA Champions League Tour to bring the tournament closer to the fans.

Ambode, who was represented by the Chairman of Lagos State Sports Commission, Dr Kweku Tandoh, also received Nigerian football legend, Austin Jay-Jay Okocha, who was part of the delegation.

The trophy tour was organised by the Nigerian Breweries Plc.

Ambode lauded the organisers of the tour for considering Lagos as one of the states to visit.

He said the development was particularly gratifying more so that the synergy between sports and entertainment as well as tourism had been massively played up in the last four years.

Ambode also lauded the contribution of Puyol and Okocha to the development of the round leather game in Nigeria and worldwide, saying they deserved to be appreciated and celebrated.

“I must say I am very pleased with the organisers of this Trophy tour for deeming it fit to take the UEFA Champions League Cup to Lagos.

“We are particularly excited because our administration has focused on the synergy between sports, tourism, entertainment and the arts among others and the people can see the positive effects of our efforts in that regard.

“We are pleased to also welcome Barcelona FC and Champions League legend, Carles Puyol to Lagos, as well as our legend, Jay-Jay Okocha.

“Many of us underrate this legend that we have and just yesterday, I understand Puyol had a very difficult time on the field of play in Uyo when Jay-Jay had to give him a few tricks.

“Unfortunately, Jay-Jay did not get to play for Barcelona; he would have lifted the Champions League but I must say we appreciate what Okocha has done for Nigerian football.

“If you have a player that is sometimes compared to Messi, Maradona and spoken about in the same breath, then we know we have a star in our midst and so, I like to thank Jay-Jay for his contributions to football,” Ambode said.

He said that in order to ensure a successful Trophy Tour, the relevant security and government agencies had been contacted to ensure its success.

While wishing the team a successful tour in Nigeria, Ambode said the state government would be glad to receive the trophy back in the state in the nearest future.

He also assured that the government remained committed to making Lagos the sports hub not just in Africa but the entire world.

Mr Jordi Borrut Bel, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of Nigerian Breweries Plc, thanked Ambode for receiving the team.

He said that as part of the tour, there would be a road show from Maryland Bus Stop to Ikeja City Mall, among other activities.

He commended the governor for his well-thought out policies and projects in all sectors and sections of the state and for creating enabling environment for businesses to thrive in the state. (NAN)

Podcast: AFCON draw, Khune, Fill-up Orlando & Sundowns’ decision

The AFCON 2019 draw delivered everything we hoped for including a fascinating “Group of Death”. In Ep. 34 Lwazi, Xola and Emeka discuss the draw, Itumeleng Khune, Sundowns’ decision and more.

  • AFCON Group of death: Bafana fearing no-one
  • Group A: Zimbabwe have the firepower to upset Egypt (05:00)
  • Wide open AFCON, who are the favourites? (06:00)
  • Wayne Sandilands making Stuart Baxter look again (09:00)
  • Itu Khune: Brazil did the same with Neymar, take him! (11:30)
  • Time to “nationalise” Sirino & Nascimento (15:00)
  • Emeka doesn’t care about Man City’s game in hand (18:37)
  • “Pirates believe they can’t lose” (21:56)
  • Paint Orlando Stadium black (25:35)
  • Mamelodi Sundowns: all in or sacrifice? (28:44)
  • Downs schedule bigger problem than opponents (34:21)
  • PL and UCL: how Liverpool & Man City can blow United out the water (40:08)
  • Do Liverpool have the grit to see it through (45:52)

Pitch Invasion, the podcast for football tribalists! Join the debate on…

  • Twitter
  • Instagram
  • Facebook

Pitch Invasion is produced by BENGBENRO in collaboration with DSTV Media Sales

Disclaimer: the views & opinions expressed on the Pitch Invasion podcast are solely those of the hosts. They do not reflect the views & opinions of their respective employers, affiliates or advertisers. Nuff said, let’s get into it!

UEFA Champions League News: Juve shares plunge more than 20 percent after exit

Shares in Juventus plunged as much as a quarter in value on Wednesday after the Italian soccer club was knocked out of Europe’s Champions League competition by Ajax Amsterdam.

The Turin-based club lost 1-2 at home against Dutch club Ajax on Tuesday in the second leg of the quarterfinals, resulting in a 2-3 aggregate defeat.

At 0730 GMT, Juventus shares were down 17.3 percent at 1.3960 euros, after trading as low as 1.275 euros.

Juventus signed Portuguese star Cristiano Ronaldo for a transfer fee of 100 million euros ($113 million) in the hope he would help the club win Europe’s elite soccer competition, as he did with Real Madrid for the last three seasons.

Juventus has won the Italian league title seven times in a row, but has never managed to win the “treble” of the domestic league, Italy’s cup competition and the Champions League.

Inter Milan is the only Italian club to have achieved such a feat, under coach José Mourinho in the 2009-2010 season.

Juventus, which has already been knocked out of the domestic cup competition this season, missed the chance to clinch an eighth consecutive Serie A title on Saturday after a surprise 2-1 defeat at SPAL.

Solskjaer calls for squad rebuild after United outclassed by Barca

After their slim hopes of another famous Champions League revival were stopped dead by Lionel Messi and a rampant Barcelona, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer admitted his Manchester United side need a huge overhaul in order to return to Europe’s elite.

Although United made a bright start to their quarterfinal second leg at the Nou Camp with Marcus Rashford hitting the crossbar early on, they were soon outclassed by Barca, who eased to a 3-0 win on Tuesday for a dominant 4-0 aggregate victory.

“We were fighting against a great team and we know there’s work to be done but I’ve said all along this isn’t going to change overnight,” Solskjaer told a news conference.

“The next few years are going to be massive to get to the level that Barcelona and other teams are at.”

Solskjaer has restored United’s confidence and overseen a vast improvement in results in his four months in charge since taking the job after Jose Mourinho was sacked in December, giving the team hope of a top-four finish in the Premier League.

He also led them to an historic comeback after a 2-0 first-leg defeat at home to Paris St Germain in the Champions League last 16, going through on away goals with a 3-1 win in the French capital.

Yet the scale of the long-term surgery his side needs was laid bare at the Nou Camp, where Barca walked all over United.

Messi pounced on a wayward pass by United captain Ashley Young to break the deadlock in the 16th minute while midfielder Fred also surrendered possession a few moments later and Messi again capitalised, with his shot squeezing under the usually excellent David de Gea.

“We’ve got good players to work with and at the moment we’ve done really well to get to the quarters and challenge for top four, but we’ve got a rebuilding job. It starts with the coaches and players, and with one or two additions,” added the Norwegian.

“We’re on with the job and have spoken to the players we need to get the best out of each other, create an environment of top class attitude, world class attitude every single day.”

Barca scored their third goal when Philippe Coutinho was left with plenty of space and time to curl a shot into the top corner.

United’s attack only troubled Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen once, when Alexis Sanchez was thwarted in the closing stages.

“You know that at this level you cannot slip up and make mistakes and you have to take your chances when you get them,” Solskjaer added.

“We didn’t capitalise on our great start, then they have their first two shots on target, they get two goals then it’s game over. We did well to get here but we could see the difference between the two teams.”

Messi always gets us out of trouble – Valverde

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde praised Lionel Messi for settling his side down after a nervy start against Manchester United and inspiring the Catalans to a 3-0 victory to reach the Champions League quarterfinals.

Marcus Rashford struck the crossbar for the visitors in the second minute at the Nou Camp but Messi scored twice in the space of five minutes later in the first half to put Barca at ease.

Philippe Coutinho’s stunning strike completed a dominant 4-0 aggregate victory.

“Messi always gets us out of trouble and we’re not going to apologise for having him,” Valverde told a news conference.

“Leo always turns up in the important games, not just in the big moments but throughout the whole game. He is always capable of scoring but he also drives the team’s attack.”

Valverde said his side were relieved to finally hurdle the quarterfinal barrier after three successive exits in the last eight, particularly after last season’s 3-0 second-leg defeat to AS Roma after winning the first leg 4-1.

“We had a lot of hope for this tie, it was a long time since we have been in the semifinals and we had a very painful defeat last year,” he said.

“You never know what can happen in football, they have a very good team and they could have caused us problems, so we made sure we were focused and played with intensity so we would make it through.”

United coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer meanwhile backed Barca to conquer the continent again.

“With the quality they’ve got, the front three they’ve got, and players they can bring on like Dembele and Malcom, I wouldn’t bet against them,” Solskjaer said.

“They would be favourites to win the whole tournament.”

He added Messi’s majestic display underlined why is he regarded as the best player in the world alongside Cristiano Ronaldo.

“He’s an exceptional talent, him and Cristiano have been the best players in the world the last decade and he showed why we think that and why this team have won the Champions League so many times,” added the Norwegian.

“If you give him space and time around the goal he’ll create and score goals. Whenever he gets the ball around the box he will be decisive and unfortunately for us he was the winner for them.”

We can beat ‘favourites’ City without Kane, vows Pochettino

Mauricio Pochettino has labelled Manchester City as Champions League favourites, but the Tottenham manager insists his side can end their challenge even without Harry Kane.

Pochettino’s team will defend a slender 1-0 advantage at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday.

City are chasing an unprecedented quadruple and many have tipped them to win the Champions League for the first time this season.

Although Tottenham have the lead in the tie, the absence of star striker Kane with his latest ankle ligament injury could tip the scales in City’s favour.

Pochettino agrees that Pep Guardiola’s formidable squad are worthy of the favourites’ tag.

But he is convinced Tottenham are capable of upsetting the odds.

“Of course it is going to be tough, Manchester City is one of the best teams in the world and a clear favourite to win the Premier League and Champions League,” Pochettino told reporters on Tuesday.

“It is difficult when Manchester City plays a final like they will play tomorrow.

“For us to beat them in the first leg was an amazing result, but the tie is still open. What we have is the belief.

“We are going to fight and hope for a very good performance. You need a bit of luck in important moments in the game.

“It will be an amazing challenge. I’m so motivated and excited to play the game. At 8 o’clock tomorrow it will be a battle.”

Tottenham’s chances of completing a famous victory would be improved if England midfielder Dele Alli can start after suffering a fractured hand in the first leg.

Alli missed Saturday’s win over Huddersfield, but has travelled with the team to Manchester.

Pochettino will decide whether to start Alli against City after his squad’s training session on Tuesday.

“We need to assess him. We are going to have the last training session today and then to decide if it’s possible he can be in the starting 11 or on the bench,” Pochettino said.

With Kane sidelined, the pressure will be on South Korea forward Son Heung-min to fill the void.

BELIEF AND FIGHT

Son has thrived without Kane this term and the Argentine coach is confident he will rise to the challenge again.

“Of course, he is doing a fantastic job this season. After November I am so happy with him,” he said.

“It is not only Son. We have other offensive players. Now we need the quality, effort and the belief to go and fight.”

Pochettino has a friendly rivalry with Guardiola dating back to the pair’s time as managers of Espanyol and Barcelona respectively.

But Pochettino, still waiting to win his first major trophy as a coach, doesn’t put himself on the same level as Guardiola, who has won every top prize in his glittering career.

“I think he won 25 trophies. He is the most successful manager in the last 10 years for sure. For me, to win a title with Tottenham is a massive dream,” Pochettino said.

“What he is doing is unbelievable. It shows his quality. But at Espanyol, Southampton and now Tottenham, they are different projects than Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Manchester City.”

Brazil legend Ronaldinho, Pochettino’s former teammate at Paris Saint-Germain, has tipped Tottenham to win the Champions League and the Spurs boss urged his players to take confidence from that bold prediction.

“In football all can happen. It’s good that people like Ronaldinho say we can win,” he said.

“Why not? The players need to listen to that. Maybe it can increase our belief to beat an amazing team like Manchester City.”

Pochettino looked confident enough when he faced the media, joking that he wanted the press conference to go on longer so he could soak up his progress to the latter stages of the Champions League for the first time.

“I’m comfortable. It’s the quarterfinals of the Champions League, let me enjoy it a little bit! I only won three Catalonia Cups, this is a bit different,” he grinned.

Champions League: Mourinho makes shocking prediction between Barcelona vs Man United, Juventus vs Ajax

Former Manchester United and Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho has tipped Manchester United to beat Barcelona in tonight’s Champions League quarter-final second leg tie at Camp Nou.

Former Manchester United and Chelsea manager, Jose Mourinho has tipped Manchester United to beat Barcelona in tonight’s Champions League quarter-final second leg tie at Camp Nou.

He also backed Ajax to defeat Juventus in the Champions League quarter-final second leg tie at the Allianz Stadium.

The Portuguese said he would not be surprised if Juventus and Barcelona are both eliminated from the Champions League tonight.

Barcelona have the upper hand in the tie after defeating Man United 1-0 in the first leg encounter at Old Trafford last Wednesday.

Juventus have the upper hand in the tie after Cristiano Ronaldo bagged an away goal during the 1-1 draw with Ajax at the Johan Cruijff Arena last Wednesday.

Speaking with RT, Mourinho said: “Barcelona and Juventus have a slight advantage, having said that, I wouldn’t be surprised if one or both are eliminated.

“The results of round of sixteen prove that everyone handles the return leg without thinking of the first. No one goes in thinking they have no chance.”