UEFA ‘strongly condemns’ Michael Oliver abuse after Madrid penalty storm

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The English official received threats after making a penalty call against Juventus in the quarter final, actions UEFA states are unacceptable

Abuse sent to Michael Oliver and his wife following the referee’s controversial penalty decision in the Champions League clash between Real Madrid and Juventus has been strongly condemned by UEFA.

Having lost the first leg of their quarter-final contest 3-0 at home, Juve were on the verge of forcing extra-time at the Santiago Bernabeu as they led by the same scoreline heading into stoppage time.

But then Oliver penalised Medhi Benatia for bundling Lucas Vazquez over from behind in the area and subsequently sent off Gianluigi Buffon for his reaction, which involved him putting his hands on the referee.

Cristiano Ronaldo smashed home the penalty to send Madrid through while Buffon continued his protestations and slammed Oliver after the game, with the Italian attracting strong criticism as a result.

Oliver and his wife, who is also a referee, have been subjected to abuse and threats in the wake of the match, with UEFA demanding action against those responsible.

A UEFA spokesperson said: “UEFA strongly condemns the abuse directed at Michael Oliver and his wife.

“We have been in contact with them to offer our support and we trust the relevant authorities to take action against those individuals who have behaved inappropriately both on and off social media.”

Oliver is back in action as referee for the first time since that match on Monday as West Ham host Stoke City in the Premier League, having acted as a fourth official at Huddersfield Town on Saturday.

Source: Goal.com

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Calamitous Barcelona in ruins as Roma topple Messi’s empire

 Ben Hayward

Roma Barca score

The Blaugrana crashed out of the Champions League on away goals after a shock 3-0 loss in Italy that sees their treble hopes go up in smoke

The famous Champions League comeback happened after all on Tuesday – just not in the game everyone expected.

While all of the talk in the build-up was about whether Manchester City could overturn a three-goal deficit against Liverpool, few gave Roma much hope of a turnaround at home to Barcelona. But the Serie A side pulled off a rousing remontada to dash the Catalans’ Champions League dreams and also their hopes of winning the treble.

Barca had not lost in Europe or in La Liga all season prior to this match, but some warning signs were there. Last Wednesday’s 4-1 win over Roma arrived courtesy of two own goals and also a scoreline that flattered the Blaugrana hugely.

Roma had been excellent in the Camp Nou clash and the final result was excessive punishment. The tie appeared to be over. But against Leganes on Saturday, again Barca did not play well, needing a brilliant hat-trick from Lionel Messi to seal the victory.

Their place in the Champions League semi-finals nevertheless seemed safe. However, there were echoes of Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus away last season in the first 45 minutes of this match as Roma battered Barca, pressing high and bossing their rivals in a physical battle.

Edin Dzeko gave Roma the lead as he poked home following a lovely long pass by Daniele De Rossi after six minutes and the tie was alive. However, at half-time, there was still much work to be done for the Italian side and Barca’s first-leg cushion looked like it would be enough.

Pique pulled at Dzeko’s arm in a Roma break, though, and De Rossi scored from the penalty spot. The comeback was on. And although Marc-Andre ter Stegen made one superb save to deny the home side later on, Konstantinos Manolas completed a remarkable recovery as he headed home the third with eight minutes left.

Valverde threw on summer signing Ousmane Dembele, so surprisingly left out of the starting line-up in both games, but it was too late by then and Barca went out on away goals following a shock 3-0 loss at the Stadio Olimpico.

Roma Barca score

At that same stadium, Barca had completed a treble triumph by beating Manchester United in the Champions League final in 2009, after winning La Liga and the Copa del Rey under Pep Guardiola that season.

The Blaugrana looked to be on course for another treble this time, but that dream died on Tuesday in a tired performance which saw the midfield (in which Sergio Busquets was playing with a reinforced boot due to a troublesome toe problem) overrun and the forwards starved of service.

In the end, it was no more than they deserved, either. After a fortunate 4-1 win at home, Barca were brutally beaten by Roma and even if they had made it through, this kind of display is unlikely to have been good enough against a team like Bayern Munich or Real Madrid over two legs.

La Liga is almost won for Valverde’s side, while the Blaugrana meet Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final later this month, but failure in Europe for the third season running at the quarter-final stage will leave a sour taste in the mouth – especially if Real Madrid go on to win the competition again.

Man City can’t only blame the referee for Liverpool exit as old failings outweigh offside controversy

Sam Lee

City can feel they were on the wrong end of several refereeing decisions over two legs against Liverpool, but in the end can only blame themselves

In the end, for all Manchester City can look back on the ifs and buts, the nearly moments that were both in and out of their control on a wild night at the Etihad Stadium, what cost them against Liverpool were their own shortcomings.

Gabriel Jesus’ goal after just two minutes set up a frantic night in Manchester but Mohamed Salah’s cool finish, after nearly an hour of constant City attacking and controversial refereeing decisions, all but finished the tie.

Predictably, on the evidence of the last two games, City were their own worst enemy when Nicolas Otamendi slipped near his own box, gifted Firmino possession and watched on as the Brazilian calmly slotted in his side’s second of the night. That did finish it.

City had been brilliant up until that point but the inquest will show another flaky performance when things went against them.

After damaging defeats against Liverpool in the first leg and against Manchester United at the weekend, Pep Guardiola had insisted he had been happy with his team’s reaction to conceding three goals in little over 15 minutes, despite the fact that they looked shell-shocked on both occasions.

He said that if the same happened here, it would at least stand them in good stead for the future. After giving this all they could in the first half, that is all the consolation they are left with as they now re-focus their minds on sewing up the Premier League title. And it’s Tottenham away on Saturday.

Yes, City can have legitimate complaints about the referee here.

Guardiola himself was sent off at half-time for confronting Spanish official Mateu Lahoz after City were denied what would have been their second goal by a questionable offside decision. Following a scramble the ball rebounded off Reds midfielder James Milner, towards Leroy Sane and into the back of the net. It was ruled out, only adding to the Blues’ frustration after they had just seen Bernardo Silva crack a superb effort off the post.

City also felt they were hard done by last week at Anfield – on another night Salah would have been flagged offside before the Reds’ early opener, while Jesus’ tap-in after Sane was ruled offside would have handed them a vital away goal. Both decisions were extremely tight. These are the margins at this level.

Liverpool were on the ropes in the first half and their goalkeeper, Loris Karius, took to timewasting from the seventh minute onwards. It had seemed that Lahoz was ready to add that time on at the end of a first half which also involved five yellow cards, but he blew exactly on 45 minutes.

And City’s frustration only grew after half-time when Firmino, who was booked for curtailing a Kevin De Bruyne break in the first half, did exactly the same thing, but avoided punishment, or even a free-kick.

But while the Blues can feel hard done-by about what might have been, they will also have to look at themselves. As soon as Salah scored, that was that. City, again, had no answers.

Salah’s goal was similar to his opener last week; then, City keeper Ederson failed to adequately deal with a shot and Salah took full advantage at the back post. Now, Ederson had initially looked to have done well to thwart Sadio Mane, but fumbled the ball into the Egyptian’s path and he made absolutely no mistake, clipping in a delicate finish.

City, as on Saturday against United, came forward again but lacked any sort of conviction. They probed for 11 minutes but not particularly menacingly, and then they left the outcome in no doubt when Otamendi slipped. The Argentine has improved greatly in the last year or so but he, as much as any of his team-mates, has shown that he is still prone to a mistake when put under scrutiny.

The final 13 minutes petered out. A stark contrast to their blistering opening.

Guardiola deserves credit for setting his team up for a comeback, and while his starting XI looked inexplicable to many of us, his players clearly understood it. In the first 45 minutes they were a whirlwind, every bit as good as Liverpool were in the first half last week.

As well as hitting the post they created a number of openings, little opportunities to pick out a man free in the box, but their intricate passes, for once, failed to find their target.

Fernandinho in particular was superb in that period, breaking up the visitors’ breaks and setting up City’s attacks, and were it not for those fine margins the Blues would have been in a much more commanding position at half-time.

The thunderstorm Jurgen Klopp predicted had arrived. The problem for City was that Liverpool weathered it, and the moment the Reds hit back with something of their own, Guardiola’s men simply had no answers.

Theresa May, Trump not invited to Prince Harry’s wedding

Donald Trump and Theresa May : not invited by Prince Harry and Meghan Markle to wedding

US President Donald Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May have not been invited to the wedding of Prince Harry and US actress Meghan Markle, British media reported on Tuesday.

Contacted by AFP, a spokesman for Kensington Palace, the prince’s official residence, said: “It has been decided that an official list of political leaders — both UK and international — is not required for Prince Harry and Ms. Markle’s wedding”.

Then prime minister David Cameron was invited to the 2011 wedding of Harry’s brother Prince William, who is second in line to the throne after their father Prince Charles.

Harry’s place in the line of succession makes this wedding less politically significant and the couple have instead invited youth workers and military veterans to attend.

Harry is fifth in line to the throne and will soon find himself in sixth place after William’s wife Kate gives birth as expected later this month.

Kensington Palace also said on Tuesday that 2,640 people would be invited on the day into the grounds of Windsor Castle, where the couple will be married in St George’s Chapel on May 19.

Of those, 1,200 have been picked out by royal officials from around the country and the remainder will be members of the public, guests from charities associated with the couple.

Among the invitees is 30-year-old Philip Gillespie, a military veteran who lost his right leg in an explosion in Afghanistan and was a participant in the Invictus Games for wounded service personnel, which Harry founded.

Another is Rosie Ginday, 34, the founder of “Miss Macaroon”, a charity that provides culinary training and employment opportunities for disadvantaged young people in Birmingham.

Twelve-year-old Amelia Thompson who was caught up in last year’s Manchester Arena terror attack in which 23 people were killed and hundreds more injured, is also on the list.

The invitees will be able to watch the arrivals of the bride and groom and their wedding guests at the chapel and the carriage procession as it departs from the castle after the service.

How Salah’s Liverpool ended Guardiola’s UEFA dream

Mohamed Salah: a feeling a triumph after scoring another crucial goal for Liverpool against Manchester City

Mohamed Salah ensured Liverpool’s return to the Champions League semi-finals for the first time in a decade as a 2-1 win at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday took them through 5-1 on aggregate and ended Manchester City’s European dream for another season.

On a night of high frustration for free-spending City, manager Pep Guardiola was sent off at half-time for taking his furious protests towards Spanish referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz too far.

City led the quarter-final, second leg 1-0 on the night at that stage after Gabriel Jesus’s second-minute opener, but the hosts felt aggrieved after Leroy Sane had a second goal wrongly disallowed just before the break.

Salah ensured there was to be no stunning comeback when he coolly chipped home his 39th goal of the season 11 minutes into the second half before Roberto Firmino sealed a comprehensive aggregate triumph for the five-time winners.

Salah on the move at the Etihad Stadium

Guardiola admitted beforehand that his side needed the “perfect” performance and the hosts got the perfect start as they opened the scoring after just 117 seconds.

Liverpool were unhappy at Mateu Lahoz in what was to be the start of a controversial night for the Spaniard when Virgil van Dijk claimed he had been pushed by Raheem Sterling in the lead-up to the goal.

The referee was unmoved, though, and with the Dutchman out of position, Fernandinho’s through ball found Sterling and his low cross was swept home by Jesus.

Liverpool fans would have been forgiven if memories of their 5-0 defeat at the Etihad Stadium earlier this season came flooding back.

City were helped signficantly that September afternoon by a first-half red card for Sadio Mane and the home fans were screaming for the Senegalese to be dismissed again on 14 minutes for a late challenge on Nicolas Otamendi.

However, Mateu Lahoz settled for a yellow card and a booking for City goalkeeper Ederson, who rushed from his goal to push Mane persistently in retaliation.

Salah had been an injury doubt after limping off in the first leg, but Liverpool were unable to spring the Egyptian free in the first 45 minutes as City peppered the visitors’ box with crosses without finding the final touch.

Bernardo Silva saw a deflected effort spin just wide and then rattled the post with a deflected long-range strike.

– Firmino seals it –

The turning point came seconds later when Sane turned into an empty net after Loris Karius’s punch came back off his own player James Milner.

Mateu Lahoz wrongly ruled the goal out for offside, sparking City and, in particular, Guardiola’s anger.

Liverpool could have delivered the knockout blow even before the break had Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain managed to maintain his balance instead of firing high and wide after rounding Ederson.

Guardiola ran onto the field to pull his protesting players away from the official before embarking on his own rant at Mateu Lahoz that saw him watch the second half from the stands.

City understandably failed to maintain the intensity of their first-half display in a third huge game in six days after also blowing the chance to win the Premier League in a thrilling 3-2 Manchester derby defeat on Saturday.

Unsurprisingly it was Salah who got the decisive away goal and in some style.

Just like his opener in the first leg, Salah followed up after Ederson had denied Mane with a wonderfully-judged chipped finish past the despairing Otamendi in the 56th minute.

City were condemned to a third straight defeat for the first time in Guardiola’s near two-year reign 13 minutes from time when Otamendi was caught in possession and Firmino slotted in off the far post to the delight of the Liverpool fans gathered behind Ederson’s goal.
*Reported by AFP

Warriors Liverpool can win Champions League after overcoming City siege

Neil Jones

Goals from Salah and Firmino ensured the Reds’ passage into the semi-finals after a shaky first half at the Etihad Stadium

On a night for heroes, they came dressed in Red.

It looked for a while like it could be a night of pain and suffering for Liverpool supporters. Boy, were they put through the wringer. The Etihad must have felt like a torture chamber at times as the Manchester City ‘thunderstorm’ swept over Jurgen Klopp’s men.

But, when there’s an Egyptian King stood there, arms outstretched in front of the away end, the fear and the panic and the chewed fingernails don’t seem all that bad.

Not Real Madrid nor Bayern Munich, should they confirm their spots in Friday’s draw as expected, and certainly not Roma, who provided the real shock of the night in beating Barcelona . Mo Salah’s night will have been made complete by the incredible news out of Italy. A reunion with his former club, perhaps?

Once more, it was Salah who provided the decisive moment at a time when Liverpool needed him most. They had been stretched to breaking point during a first half in which City had thrown everything their way. They lived on their nerves, played poorly generally, and were indebted to the officials – and the woodwork – on at least one occasion. It was petrifying to watch at times. But City, who were brilliant in the first 45 minutes, had only Gabriel Jesus’ second-minute goal to show for their dominance.

And here’s the rub, the bulk of the work in this tie was done in the first leg. Liverpool’s 3-0 advantage meant that an away goal here would change the world. And, 11 minutes into the second half, Salah provided it. His 39th of the season was the sweetest of all . It was like taking a pin to a balloon. Game over, tie over. Party time in the away end. Allez, Allez, Allez!

Roberto Firmino rubbed salt into City wounds 13 minutes from time. Win the tie? Pep Guardiola’s side didn’t even win on the night. The manager finished the game in the stands, sent off at half-time for protesting at referee Antonio Mateu Lahoz . In the end, all the home fans had was their anger. And their plastic flags. They were streaming out long before the end.

As for Jurgen Klopp, he could reflect on a performance of heart, character and, when it mattered, composure too. They may have been timid to begin with, but they puffed their chests out after the break. There were big performances all over.

Mohamed Salah Liverpool Manchester City Champions League

Dejan Lovren, in particular, was immense, a tower of strength at a time when his side needed exactly that. Alongside him, Virgil van Dijk, Andy Robertson and Trent Alexander-Arnold recovered from difficult starts, while Gini Wijnaldum, James Milner and Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain can be proud of themselves. City asked question after question – their first-half performance was a masterclass – but by the end their will had gone. Liverpool broke them.

It is either a brave or a foolish man who writes off Liverpool in Europe. OK, it can seem cliched at times, and fans of rival clubs rarely appreciate the sentiment, but the sight of the cup with big ears really does bring out the best in this club. Call them premature, call them naïve, call them what you want, but Reds fans will be checking out Kiev flights and hotels after this. Who could blame them?

Klopp had described City as “the best team in the world” ahead of this game, but Liverpool have now beaten them three times this season, and deservedly so. Do you think they’re worried about anyone else? Do you thinkl Robert Lewandowski or Edin Dzeko scares them? Do you think Anfield will bow down to Cristiano Ronaldo or Gareth Bale? No chance!

“European Royalty”, read the flag in the away end, and they’re ready to take their seat at the top table again. This was some night, some performance, some result.

Roma upset Barcelona, Liverpool demolish City

Edin Dzeko celebrates after scoring Roma’s first goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between AS Roma and FC Barcelona at the Olympic Stadium in Rome on April 10, 2018.

Roma staged a stunning comeback from 1-4 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions quarter final pairing with Barcelona to beat the former champions and the Spanish leaders 3-0 and qualify for the semi-finals on goals aggregate.

Bosnia’s Edin Dzeko started Roma revival in the 6th minute and in the second half, De Rossi scored via a penalty and Manolas completed the coup de grace with a stunning header in the 82nd minute.

The unexpected turnaround turned the fans at Stadio Olimpico into wild jubilation.

Liverpool at Etihad Stadium completed their demolition of Manchester City, cruising to the semi-finals on 5-1 goal aggregate, after surviving a nightmarish first half, in which City scored their only goal in two minutes.

The victory marked the first time since 2008 that Liverpool would qualify for the semi-final of the competition.