Leverkusen Ready To Be The First Team Without Losing In Bundesliga

BOCHUM, Germany: German champions Bayer Leverkusen are ready to emerge as the first team in Bundesliga history not to lose throughout the season, said coach Xabi Alonso after beating VfL Bochum 5-0 early this morning.

Leverkusen, who are chasing three championships, easily beat Bochum, who saw Felix Passlack sent off in the 15th minute, extending their record without losing in all matches this season to 50 consecutive matches, with only one remaining in the Bundesliga.

Last week, Alonso’s side broke Benfica’s unbeaten record from 1963 to 1965 with a 2-2 draw with AS Roma that helped them reach the Europa League final.

This morning’s early win over Bochum meant they became the third team in Bundesliga history to remain undefeated in any home game throughout the season.

“After that red card it was definitely a different game for us,” Alonso said at a press conference.

“I am very satisfied with this decision. It is important for us. Now we have a great goal this Saturday to win the championship without any defeats. This has never happened before.”

Leverkusen, who face Atalanta in the Europa League final and face Kaiserslautern in the German Cup final later this month, host Augsburg at home in their final Bundesliga match where they also receive the league trophy for the first time.

“To receive the championship trophy at Leverkusen will definitely be very special,” said Alonso.

“The players were focused all season so for them it’s very special. I’m proud of them.”

Man United Ready To Sell All But Three Players

MANCHESTER: Manchester United are set to sell the majority of their players this summer with only three players remaining untouched.

The club’s new management, led by co-owner Jim Ratcliffe and incoming CEO Omar Berrada, are set to reshuffle the squad at the end of the season, especially with spending constraints under Premier League rules.

United are ineligible for action in the Champions League next season and the future of its players and manager Erik ten Hag at Old Trafford continues to be a question mark.

British media reports that agents and management of rival clubs believe United’s new regime is open to a mass sale and will evaluate a number of offers.

It would allow Marcus Rashford to step out when the transfer window opens if the striker is interested.

Paris Saint-Germain, who held talks with Rashford’s representative two years ago, are among the clubs able to meet his market price to replace Kylian Mbappe.

United, however, still believe Rashford is capable of returning to his best and are willing to offer him a more decent contract.

Although United are not particularly inclined to let their players go, they need to do so in order to raise funds to shore up the club’s limited transfer budget.

Only three players – Kobbie Mainoo, Alejandro Garnacho and Rasmus Hojlund – will not fill United’s sales list.

United need to find new strikers, midfielders and right-backs but cannot afford to spend as lavishly as before.

If they miss out on qualification for the European stage next season, United will have to sell most of their players.

United Is Like A Championship League Club – Keane

LONDON: Roy Keane clearly disagreed with Harry Maguire’s claim that Manchester United showed “great character” in their dramatic win over Coventry City late last night.

His former team The Red Devils managed to avoid disaster when they beat the Sky Blues on penalties to set up an English FA Cup final clash with Manchester City.

But it was after the Champions League club came from 3-0 down to force extra-time and then had a late goal disallowed for offside to deny them a historic victory.

United look set for a repeat of last year’s final thanks to goals from Scott McTominay, Harry Maguire and Bruno Fernandes.

Ellis Simms pulled one back in the 71st minute before Callum O’Hare fired in a thrilling finish with 11 minutes remaining.

Haji Wright then calmly slotted in a penalty kick in stoppage time to extend the action to extra time.

Victor Torp’s goal in the 120th minute was disallowed for offside in the early going as United were fortunate the action was decided by a penalty kick.

After the game, goalscorer Maguire said: “We found a way.

“We started really well and then conceded an easy goal. We were unlucky to concede the second goal and I thought the penalty was too cruel.

“Then I don’t know, it looked like the world wanted Coventry to qualify and they did. We showed great character to deal with it and it was important to win the penalty shootout.”

But Keane did not immediately agree with Maguire’s opinion when he spoke to fellow commentators in the ITV studios.

The Irishman said: “We have the same discussions every week about Manchester United, you never know what you’re going to get.

“I look at the goalkeeper, delaying time. Just keep going. Show courage.

Keane also said: “Maguire was interviewed after the game and said they showed great character, I don’t see any character in this group of players, I don’t.

“It’s almost to the point where I almost don’t like them. I see a group with a bad attitude, they’re almost scared to win games.

“There were big problems for Manchester United when attacking but they did their job.

“In extra time Coventry looked like a Premier League team while Manchester United looked like a Championship League team.”

Man City Players Like Precarious Situations – Guardiola

MANCHESTER: Pep Guardiola admitted that his Manchester City loved to play under pressure ahead of the Champions League quarter-final second leg against Real Madrid.

City won their first European title last season thanks to Rodri’s goal in the final against Inter Milan, completing a treble with the Premier League and FA Cup.

The operator from Spain now has the chance to become the first manager to lead an English club to win the treble twice in a row.

That opportunity is even more open after last weekend’s league action which put them at the top with six games to go.

However, City will have to overcome 14-time European champions Real Madrid at the Etihad Stadium after a 3-3 draw in the first leg at the Santiago Bernabeu.

“They surprised us with the position of the players and we have to review.

“Carlo (Ancelotti) with his experience, is able to change tactics and we have to be ready. But at the same time we will try to apply pressure.

“They (City players) like pressure. They like to be in a critical situation,” said Guardiola.

Ronaldo Sent Off Late In The Game

ABU DHABI: Al-Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo was sent off late in the game as his side slumped to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of neighbors Al-Hilal in a tense Saudi Super Cup semi-final in Abu Dhabi earlier this morning.

Portugal’s top goal scorer was shown a straight red card four minutes before the end for elbowing Al-Hilal defender Ali Al-Bulayhi when his team was 2-0 down.

Al-Hilal controlled by Jorge Jesus opened the curtain in the 62nd minute when Salem Al-Dawsari hit the ball into the right corner following a goal from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic after a quick counter attack.

Brazilian striker Malcolm doubled the score in the 72nd minute with a beautiful header after Michael’s high pass from the right found his unmarked compatriot in the middle of the penalty box.

Former Liverpool striker Sadio Mane then closed the gap for Al-Nassr due to an injury following Abdulrahman Ghareeb’s goal.

Al-Hilal will be chasing a record fourth championship in the final match early this Friday morning when they face Karim Benzema’s club, Al-Ittihad, who previously eliminated Al-Wehda 2-1 in another semi-final match.

Guardiola Responds To Keane’s Criticism Of Haaland

LONDON: Pep Guardiola says Erling Haaland needs to be respected as the ‘world’s best goalkeeper’ after the Manchester City star was criticized by Roy Keane.

Former Manchester United captain Keane said Haaland’s overall game was very poor and almost like a League Two player.

Haaland was criticized by Keane following City’s lackluster performance in a goalless draw against Premier League rivals Arsenal on Sunday.

Haaland is the Premier League’s top scorer this season with 18 goals after winning the Golden Boot last season during his first season with City.

He scored 52 goals in all competitions as Guardiola’s squad lifted the treble of the Premier League, European Champions League and FA Cup.

Guardiola disagreed with Keane’s statement, insisting the blame for the draw against Arsenal should be placed on one team.

“I don’t agree with him. He (Haaland) is the best striker in the world and helped us win what we won last season. Erling is extraordinary.

“The reason we didn’t create chances wasn’t because of Erling. The standards that Erling has are unbelievable and everyone expected something else.

“There were games he played better but against Arsenal I know we didn’t create chances, not because of Erling.

“We need to be more effective in the box. If he plays, Erling will have more space. If you want to score goals, bring more players to the opponent’s goalkeeper, it’s that easy,” said Guardiola.

City’s failure to beat Arsenal set the stage for their quest for a fourth consecutive English league title.

They are now three points behind leaders Liverpool ahead of Aston Villa’s visit to the Etihad Stadium today.

Argentina Bounced Back To Beat Costa Rica 3-1

LOS ANGELES: Angel Di Maria, Alexis Mac Allister and Lautaro Martinez saved Argentina as the world champions came back from behind before beating Costa Rica 3-1 in an international friendly in Los Angeles this morning.

The South American giants, missing captain Lionel Messi due to injury, completed a two-match tour of the United States with a second win at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

Lionel Scaloni’s side, who beat El Salvador 3-0 in Philadelphia last Saturday, dominated the first 45 minutes and created several interesting chances.

However Costa Rica took the lead in the 34th minute after a quick counter-attack.

Alvaro Zamora welcomed Manfred Ugalde’s pass and made a sliding shot which was met by Argentinian goalkeeper Walter Benitez.

Benitez’s shot, however, landed at the feet of Ugalde, who plowed home the ball to make it 1-0.

Argentina got back into contention early in the second half with a stunning equalizer from veteran Di Maria in the 52nd minute.

The 36-year-old Benfica winger flicked a free kick from outside the penalty box towards the corner of the goal which Costa Rica goalkeeper Keylor Navas failed to reach.

Argentina made it 2-1 a few minutes later with another set-piece.

Nicolas Tagliafico’s header was hit by the crossbar following a corner kick and Liverpool midfielder Mac Allister acted quickly to head the ball home from close range.

Inter Milan striker Martinez made it 3-1 in the 77th minute, meeting Rodrigo De Paul’s beautiful cross before cleverly throwing the ball past Navas.