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Football (29)

Manchester United have signed Alexis Sanchez from Arsenal, in a swap deal with midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan. Chile forward Sanchez, 29, who almost joined Manchester City last summer, has signed a four-and-a-half-year deal worth £14m a year after tax. City ended their interest last week as they felt making him their best-paid player may affect team spirit. According to BBC, Mkhitaryan, 29, moves in the opposite direction to Sanchez after scoring 13 goals in 63 appearances for United. The Armenia international moved to Old Trafford from Borussia Dortmund for £26.3m in July 2016. He has made only 10 Premier League starts this season, and it is understood there was a breakdown in trust between him and Mourinho.

A second-half strike from Cristiano Ronaldo was enough to hand Real Madrid, the FIFA Club World Cup for the second successive year. Zinedine Zidane’s Madrid have thus become the first side to retain the cup, beating South America’s champions Gremio1-0 win at UAE 2017. Madrid surely deserved the victory, having dominated the encounter with the South American champions in Abu Dhabi on Saturday evening. The game began with a thump, with plenty of physicality on show. However, it was the title holders that found their rhythm quickest. Dani Carvajal and Luka Modric both had the band blue and black-clad fans in the Zayed Sports City Stadium inhaling sharply. Though the large amount of local support were not spared some nervous moments either in the opening period, with Edilson striking a swerving rocket of a free-kick inches over Keylor Navas’s crossbar. Having had two-thirds of the possession before the break, Real returned for the second half looking to make it count. It did not take them long and it was Ronaldo, who broke the resistance. He struck a free-kick from 25 yards straight into the net. There was an instant inquest among the Gremio wall, as the ball nestled in the bottom corner, having seen the Portuguese’s shot pierce clean through it. Ronaldo thought he had taken his record goalscoring tally in the Club World Cup from seven to eight, volleying in seven minutes later, but Karim Benzema’s fine nod down was adjudged to have been from an offside position. Gremio failed to rouse a response, with goalkeeper Marcelo Grohe forced into fine saves from Modric – tipping his effort onto the post – Ronaldo, and Gareth Bale to stay within touching distance of Los Blancos. However, they could not prevent Zinedine Zidane guiding the Spanish side to successive titles, equalling Barcelona’s record tally of three. “We wanted to win because Real Madrid have never won five trophies in one year,” said Ronaldo at the end of the match. “I think we played a very good game and deserved to win.” Ronaldo has now scored 15 goals in 20 appearances for Madrid this season despite a slow start in La Liga. “The numbers speak for themselves,” added the Portuguese. “I give my answers on the pitch. The team were phenomenal and it is another trophy for the CV.”

French Ligue 1 club, AS Monaco have appointed former Nigerian international, Michael Emenalo, as their new sporting director. Emenalo resigned from a similar position at English champions Chelsea on 6 November, citing a desire to spend more time with his young family as one reason why he left the post he had occupied since 2011 The French Ligue 1 defending champions confirmed the appointment on Monday afternoon and said that the 52-year-old will take charge of all sporting matters at the club. They currently sit in third place in the French top-flight standings. Emenalo will now report to Monaco vice-president Vadim Vasilyev in his new role of sporting director at the club. Emenalo and Vadim Vasilyev, Vice-President & CEO of AS Monaco Here is the full statement issued by AS Monaco, published on its website: AS Monaco are pleased to announce the appointment of Michael Emenalo to the role of Sporting Director. He will take responsibility for all sporting matters, under the leadership of Vadim Vasilyev, Vice-President & CEO. The former Nigerian international, 52, arrives from Chelsea where he held a similar role, having established himself as a highly respected figure at the London club. In ten years with the Blues, during which they won three Premier League titles (2010, 2015, 2017), three FA Cups (2009, 2010, 2012), the League Cup (2015), the Europa League (2013) and most importantly the Champions League (2012), Michael Emenalo held a number of positions before being promoted to Technical Director in 2011. Then responsible for the club’s recruitment, he oversaw the arrivals of Eden Hazard, Thibaut Courtois and N’Golo Kanté, among others. During his time in London, he also introduced a talent identification and performance system that made the Chelsea Academy one of the most competitive in Europe (winning the Youth League twice in 2015 and 2016). With expert knowledge of the French and European markets, Michael Emenalo will now be providing AS Monaco with the benefit of his skills. Vadim Vasilyev, Vice-President & CEO: “I have been following Michael Emenalo’s work for some time and am delighted to have him here at Monaco. I was closely involved in bringing him in. His know-how in the scouting network, and the technical experience he has gained at one of the most successful clubs of recent years, are the reasons that led us to offer him this ambitious challenge. This appointment is a further sign of our ambition and our desire to be as competitive as possible.” Michael Emenalo, Sporting Director: “This is a wonderful opportunity for me in a high quality project. AS Monaco has shown great progress for several seasons and I am convinced that the future will be just as ambitious. Vadim Vasilyev’s willingness to see me join AS Monaco was decisive for me, it was a natural choice for me after my decision to leave Chelsea.” Emenalo was born in Aba, Abia State on 14 July 1965. He began his footballing career in Nigeria, playing for Enugu Rangers and later Nigeria, before moving to play in the United States for Boston University from 1986 to 1989. He was in the Nigerian team that faced Argentina in the 1994 World Cup. After leaving the US, he played for Molenbeek in Belgium, Eintracht Trier in Germany and Notts County F.C in England. He later returned to the US, where he was part of the original allocated players for Major League Soccer. He spent two seasons (1996–97) with the San Jose Clash. After that, he played with Lleida in Spain and Maccabi Tel Aviv in Israel.

Manchester City restored their eight-point lead in the Premier League after Raheem Sterling’s late goal clinched a 2-1 win at Huddersfield Town, while Alexis Sanchez gave Arsenal victory at Burnley on Sunday. City have swept aside all comers this season, but they found themselves in the unusual position of trailing at half-time after Nicolas Otamendi’s own goal at the John Smith’s Stadium. Pep Guardiola’s side equalised through a Sergio Aguero penalty in the second half before Sterling’s lucky 84th-minute winner sealed their 11th successive league victory. City’s gritty success reopened their advantage over second-placed Manchester United, who had temporarily closed the gap with a 1-0 win against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday. “The Premier League is so tough, now winter has come. We knew they were so aggressive so strong, but we are so happy for the way we won,” Guardiola said. “It is impossible to win every game easily. The guys competed amazingly.” The leaders had controlled the first half yet found themselves behind in stoppage-time when a Tom Ince corner hit Otamendi on the shoulder and flashed into the net. Guardiola’s men gave an impressive response to that shock setback as they equalised two minutes after the interval. Sterling was fouled by Scott Malone and Aguero drilled in the spot-kick for his 11th goal of the season. City pressed for a winner, with Leroy Sane hitting the bar and Fernandinho booked for diving in the penalty area after a challenge from Rajiv van La Parra. They finally got the victory their dominance deserved late on, but the goal was fortunate in the extreme. At Turf Moor, Arsene Wenger’s side looked set for a frustrating draw as they entered stoppage-time, but they snatched the points when James Tarkowski was ruled to have pushed Aaron Ramsey. Sanchez held his nerve to slot home the dramatic late penalty and moments later Arsenal were celebrating a 1-0 win that lifted them into fourth place in the Premier League. “From outside it (the penalty) looked 100 percent. I don’t know why he pushed him in the back. I would like to see it again,” Wenger said. “In the first half we didn’t find our game. Burnley defended extremely well and were very dangerous on the direct game.” Burnley boss Sean Dyche fumed: “There’s a lot of me inside that’s raging a lot. “It was highly unlikely it wasn’t going to get given on a day like today, that’s all I’ll say.” At St Mary’s, Everton’s miserable season hit another low as Southampton romped to a 4-1 win — giving caretaker boss David Unsworth a fifth defeat in his seven matches in charge following Ronald Koeman’s sacking. Everton, linked with a move for Republic of Ireland manager Martin O’Neill, are now just two points above the relegation zone. “I cannot stand here and defend them, it was an unacceptable performance, the fans will be furious and so am I. It’s not good enough,” Unsworth said. Having hit just nine goals in their previous 12 league games, Southampton took advantage of woeful Everton defending to win for the first time in four league matche

Tony Pulis was sacked as West Brom coach due to poor run of form and series of defeat which has characterised his reign as coach of the club this season. His sack has been long expected, but it eventually came on Monday, when the management of West Brom decided to ease him out as the club is a point above relegation zone. Saturday’s 4-0 defeat at home to Chelsea was the last straw that broke the camel’s neck. Also, West Brom had been without a win in 10 competitive games so far. Since August 22, 2017 when it won against lowly Accrington in the Carabao Cup, West Brom have lost seven games and drawn four. Its only consolation was the first three games it won at the beginning of the season. With Pulis out of the way, West Brom Chairman, John Williams said ex-coach of the club, Gary Megson will now take over as coach for now. Former West Brom manager Gary Megson, who had been Pulis’ assistant, is taking over “until further notice”. According to Williams, these decisions were never taken lightly but always in the interests of the club, adding that the club is in a results business and that over the back end of last season and this season to date, it had been very disappointing for the club. Williams added that the club would like to place on record and appreciate Pulis for his contribution and hard work during a period of transition for the club which included a change of ownership.

Italy have sacked coach Giampiero Ventura after the four-time champions failed to reach the World Cup for the first time since 1958. The Azzurri lost a play-off with Sweden 1-0 on aggregate to spell the end of 69-year-old Ventura’s 17-month tenure. Ventura said his record was “one of the best of the last 40 years”. “I lost only two games in two years,” he told Italian television show Le Iene before the Italian Football Federation fired him on Wednesday. Ventura replaced Antonio Conte in June 2016, and was described as a “master of football” by Italian football federation president Carlo Tavecchio. However, Italy took one point out of a possible six against Spain in qualifying and also drew at home to Macedonia. “I can only apologise to the Italians, not for the will or effort but for the result, which as I know is the main thing,” said former Napoli and Sampdoria boss Ventura after Italy’s World Cup hopes were ended. BBC reports that when he was appointed he was given a two-year deal which would have taken him to the end of the 2018 World Cup finals in Russia. At the time, Tavecchio called Ventura an “innovative” coach with “limitless experience” who had helped many players reach the national side.

Senegal on Friday sealed a return to the FIFA World Cup for the first time since their 2002 debut thanks to a 2-0 win over South Africa in World Cup qualifying African Group D. Diafra Sakho scored the opener for the visitors in Polokwane, before a somewhat fortuitous Thamsanqa Mkhize own goal sealed the three points for the Teranga Lions. The visitors are now five points ahead of nearest Group D challengers Burkina Faso with one game remaining. Senegal stunned the world by beating World Cup holders France in their first ever game at the global finals in 2002. If they are to produce performances to match that at Russia 2018, it is likely that Liverpool’s Sadio Mane will be the catalyst. Unsurprisingly, Mane was integral to the victory that booked their World Cup return, with a wonderfully incisive through ball teeing up Sakho for the opener. 2010 World Cup hosts South Africa played their part – and even dominated possession for spells – in a lively match, with Lebogang Manyama hitting the crossbar. But the second goal, just before half-time, knocked the wind out of their sails. Head coach Aliou Cisse was the Senegalese captain during their 2002 debut, which saw them follow up that remarkable opening win against France to reach the quarter-finals. The former midfielder will be hoping he can inspire them to achieve similarly superlative heights next year in Russia.

Chelsea claimed superiority over Manchester United in the English Premier League (EPL) on Sunday as Alvaro Morata scored his first goal since September to enable “the Blues” beat “the Red Devils” by a lone goal. Morata cleverly nodded the ball into the net in the 55th minute to register his eighth goal for the club for Chelsea’s third consecutive league win. David de Gea kept out further efforts from Morata and Eden Hazard as Chelsea looked to add to their lead. Manchester United forward Marcus Rashford blew away several goal scoring chances before substitute Marouane Fellaini’s close-range strike was saved by Thibaut Courtois. The loss now placed Man-U eight points behind leaders Manchester City, who beat Arsenal 3-1 earlier in the day. Chelsea remained on the fourth place after the win, while Tottenham Hotspurs ran away with a lone goal victory over Crystal Palace to occupy the third place. Liverpool are now fifth on the log after Saturday’s 4-1 bashing of West Ham United. Arsenal occupy the sixth place. Elsewhere, Everton came from 2-0 to beat Watford 3-2 to earn their first win in five matches. Watford threw away the chance of winning the day after they blew a two-goal lead and Tom Cleverley missed an injury-time penalty for the visitors.

England on Saturday produced a sensational performance to come from 2-0 down to thrash Spain 5-2 and win the Under-17 World Cup in India. The Three Lions had never gone beyond the quarter-finals in the tournament before but emulated England’s U-20 team that won their World Cup in June. The margin of victory did not flatter Steve Cooper’s side, who were superb throughout and could consider themselves unlucky to fall behind to a double from Barcelona forward Sergio Gomez. Heads did not drop, and from the moment Morgan Gibbs White added to Rhian Brewster’s eighth goal of the tournament to equalise, England looked the most likely to go on and win. Phil Foden, an outstanding talent for Manchester City and the man of the match, stole in at the back post to put England ahead, and slotted in the fifth late on with a neat shot. Chelsea defender Marc Guehi also got on the scoresheet, prodding home the fourth from close range, as England avenged Spain’s victory in the European Championship final back in May. Liverpool striker Brewster secured the tournament’s golden boot with the goal that put the game back within reach but it was the players just behind him who really stood out.

Chelsea will host AFC Bournemouth according to the quarter final draw for the Carabao Cup, in a match to be played at Stamford Bridge, the week commencing 18 December. Coincidentally, Chelsea will also be hosting Bournemouth in the English premier League this weekend. The London club last met Bournemouth in the League Cup in 1994/95, winning a second round tie 2-0 on aggregate. In the other draws, Championship club, Bristol City have a mountain to climb as they would face Manchester United. Arsenal will face West Ham, while Leicester City will host Manchester City. The much expected draw today, was done late following technical problems experienced for two hours in a failed attempt to broadcast on Twitter. The draw was intended to be shown live at 16:00 BST. However, after four announcements explaining the delay, it was finally shown as a pre-recorded video, the BBC reported. A statement from the EFL read: “The EFL has received an apology from Twitter UK for the delay which is believed to have occurred as a result of a faulty encoder. “The EFL has requested a full explanation into the events that led to this afternoon’s unacceptable delay.” A Twitter spokesman said: “We’re sorry for the issues that led to the delay of today’s round five draw. We would also like to apologise to the thousands of supporters who had been patiently awaiting news of who their team would be playing.”

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