Amsterdam, Feb 14 (AP/UNB) — With a little help from the video assistant referee, defending champion Real Madrid overcame a spirited Ajax to win the first leg of its Champions League round-of-16 match 2-1 on Wednesday and take a big step toward the quarterfinals.
Substitute Marco Asensio scored a late winner to put Madrid in a strong position going into the second leg on March 5.
Real, winner of the last three Champions Leagues, recovered in the second half after being outplayed by underdog Ajax before the break at a packed Johan Cruyff Arena, when the hosts had a goal disallowed by VAR - the first time the video referee had overturned a Champions League goal.
Asensio, a 73rd-minute substitute, was unmarked at the far post as he tapped in a cross from the right by Dani Cavajal with just three minutes of regulation time to go.
"He's shown his development as a player," Madrid coach Santiago Solari said. "He did everything he had to do from the moment he came into the pitch. Not only the goal, which of course was very important for us."
Ajax had looked on course for a draw when Hakim Ziyech shot under Thibaut Courtois in the 75th minute to cancel out Karim Benzema's opener 15 minutes earlier.
The Amsterdam team went into Wednesday's match in something of a form crisis since the Dutch league's winter break. Their previously solid defense crumbled late last month in a 6-2 defeat to archrival Feyenoord and Erik ten Hag's team slumped to a 1-0 defeat on Saturday to Heracles Almelo.
But Ajax shook off its winter form dip before the break, pressing Madrid high up the pitch, combining well with slick, short passes and looking like the team that qualified second in its group behind Bayern Munich rather than the one that struggled in recent weeks.
"We have to improve," Ten Hag said. "Normally you don't create so many chances against a top team like Madrid. We did, but you have to be more ruthless. There we can learn from Madrid — they created less chances but scored more goals."
Real went into the match brimming with confidence from a run of six wins and one draw in its last seven matches. But it only really hit its stride in the second half, proving more clinical in front of goal.
Ajax, a four-time European champion that last won the title in 1995, looked to have taken the lead only to have VAR rule out Nicolas Tagliafico's 37th minute header because Dusan Tadic was in an offside position and impeding Courtois.
Ten Hag was not convinced by the video images he saw.
"I did not see offside and couldn't see a foul on the keeper," he said.
Solari said he had not seen the images.
Kasper Dolberg came close to levelling again in stoppage time, but Courtois stuck out a hand to block his effort as Madrid captain Sergio Ramos was made to work hard for the win in his 600th match for the club.
In the night's other round-of-16 match, Tottenham beat Dortmund 3-0, with all the goals coming in the second half at Wembley.
In Amsterdam, Benzema struck a powerful shot past Andre Onana on the hour after a strong run from the left by Vinicius Junior to put the 13-time European champion ahead.
Madrid's lead lasted 15 minutes before David Neres crossed from the left and substitute Dolberg let the ball run to Ziyech, who shot low under Courtois.
Ajax, in the last 16 of the Champions League for the first time since 2006, had lost its last six matches against Madrid. But it started confidently and Tadic nearly gave Ajax the lead, his 26th-minute shot hitting the post after beating Courtois.
Real created little in the first half. Vinicius Junior came closest for Madrid when he cut in from the left wing and shot on target only for Onana to palm the ball over the bar.
Dhaka, Feb 13 (UNB) – Saif Sporting Club advanced to the 2nd slot in the Bangladesh Premier League (BPL) Football beating Dhaka Mohammedan SC by 2-1 goals in the 6th round match at the Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Wednesday.
With the 4th victory, Saif SC have secured 13 points from six matches to move up to the 2nd slot while traditional black and white team Mohammedan SC went down to the 11th place in the league table with three points after suffering 4th consecutive defeats in their 5th matches.
In the day’s match, Russian forward Denis Bolshakov and Colombian defender Denier Cordoba scored one each for the Saif SC while substitute forward Amir Hakim Bappi scored the lone goal for the Mohammedans.
Denis put Saif SC ahead in the 11th minute by a spectacular shot (1-0) while defender Cordoba doubled the margin in the 47th minute (2-0).
Saif spoiled another chance in the 29th minute of the match as their Korean booter Park Seung-il missed a penalty. Saif SC got the spot kick when Mohammedan custodian Sarwar Jahan brought down onrushing Park in the danger zone.
Promising striker Bappi, who came to field in place of Taklis Ahmed, pulled the Mohammedan margin one back in the 67th minute (2-1).
Dhaka, Feb 13 (UNB) – Bangladesh District and Divisional Football Association (BDDFA) on Wednesday picked 30 players from Rajshahi Division to play in the proposed Sheikh Kamal U-20 National Football Championship scheduled for April next.
BDDFA Secretary General Tarafder Md Ruhul Amin distributed the “YES” card among 30 selected players from initially called 80 booters of eight districts of the division at a function at the Sankar Gobinda Chowdhury Stadium in Natore.
Secretary General of Bangladesh District and Divisional Sports Organisers’ Association Ashiqur Rahman Miku and General Secretary of Chattogram Divisional Sports Association Sirajuddin Mohammad Alamgir were also present at the function chaired by President of Natore District Football Association and General Secretary of Natore DSA Syed Mustaq Ali Mukul.
Former national footballers Hasanuzzaman Khan Bablu and Imtiaz Sultan Jony along with BDDFA selection panel picked the 30 players for a month-long training ahead of the Sheikh Kamal U-20 National Football.
Selected players are: Mirjaul Hossain, Ishaque Akond, Tushar Ali, Asaduzzaman Tushar, Rajib Hossain, Imon Ali, Gobinda Das, Sajib Ali, Nayeem Hossain, Kawser Khan, Zahidul Islam Likhon, Ashraful Alam, Mohammad Saju, Daniel Cruze, Shakil Ahmed, Abdur Rahat, Sabbir Hossain, Hasibul Islam, Mizanur Rahman, Shihabuddin, Rimon Sheikh, Niko Soren, Ashfaq Hossain, Shanta Islam, Asaduzzaman, Amirul Islam Babu, Abdullah Hossain, Mehedi Hasan, Tabrir Rana and Mohammad Shanta.
Manchester, Feb 13 (AP/UNB) — When the reality check came for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer at Manchester United, it wasn't even handed out by a full-strength Paris Saint-Germain.
A 2-0 victory in the Champions League — consigning Solskjaer to the first loss 12 games under his caretaker command — was produced by PSG on Tuesday without two of the French club's fearsome forwards.
Neymar was already ruled out with a broken foot when Edinson Cavani hurt his left thigh at the weekend to join the world's most expensive player on PSG's injury list.
"They were a level above us," Solskjaer said after the first leg of the last-16 contest which saw United's record-signing Paul Pogba sent off.
Old Trafford instead became a stage for Kylian Mbappe to shine in tandem with Angel Di Maria, who relished the revenge mission on his return to his former club.
By the time Di Maria responded to the torrent of abuse by picking up a bottle of beer hurled at him and taking a sip, PSG was already leading thanks to academy graduate Presnel Kimpembe's first PSG goal in the 53rd minute.
Di Maria, who struggled in his only season at United before being offloaded to PSG in 2015, sent in the corner that Kimpembe raced into the penalty area unchecked to meet with a volley.
The second goal, on the hour, was the culmination of an electric counterattack. As Di Maria sent in a cross, Mbappe darted between center backs Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof and clipped the ball under goalkeeper David de Gea for his 23rd goal of the season.
"It was a perfect pass for Kylian," PSG coach Thomas Tuchel said. "It was a nice comeback for him."
Less so, initially.
"In the first half it was a bit hard for him playing right in front of me and losing many easy balls," Tuchel said. "Maybe he was a bit nervous and a bit overused because he plays all the time for us. I'm happy he stayed confident. He's always super reliable."
Without two of its usual front three, the French league leaders commanded the midfield instead, with Marco Verratti often the orchestrator.
"It was a new system and we weren't really used to it," Mbappe said. "We had a lot of midfielders and not many forwards. We needed time to adapt."
United was forced to adapt, too, after losing Jesse Lingard and Anthony Martial to injury for the second half. Substitute Alexis Sanchez struggled to impose himself up front.
"I can't do anything about Alexis Sanchez," Solskjaer said. "When he plays, he needs to find himself because we know there's a quality player there."
Solskjaer is capable of transforming the fortunes of players — just look at Pogba.
United will be without its French playmaker in the second leg on March 6 in Paris after he received a second yellow card in the 89th minute for a lunge on Dani Alves.
"I know Paul wants to just shield the ball so he's unlucky that he hits (Alves) on the knee," Solskjaer said.
Not only was it a first loss for Solskjaer since replacing Jose Mourinho, but the heaviest-ever home defeat for United in Europe, having previously only been beaten by one-goal margins.
In the night's other last-16 game, teenager Nicolo Zaniolo scored twice to lead Roma to a 2-1 victory.
United's lackluster performance was a continuation of the European form under Mourinho in the group stage. United has only scored one goal at home in four Champions League games this season, a 1-0 victory over Young Boys.
"It was one of those experiences that can go either way," Solskjaer said. "It's not going to be a season-defining one for us. It has to be one that we are going to learn from."
Aside from victories in north London against Arsenal and Tottenham, facing PSG was United's biggest test since beating Italian champion Juventus at Turin in November in the group stage.
"You can see we haven't played games at this level for a while," Solskjaer said.
Twenty years after winning the Champions League as a United player, this was Solskjaer's first taste of the competition in management having only previously coached Molde in his native Norway and Cardiff before being hired by United.
Solskjaer was still Cardiff manager when United last won a knockout phase game in the Champions League — against Olympiakos under David Moyes in March 2014. A repeat of that 3-0 win in Paris next month would take United through to the quarterfinals.
Rome, Feb 13 (AP/UNB) — Nicolo Zaniolo had already made a name for himself in Italy this season. On Tuesday, he introduced himself on the European stage as well.
The 19-year-old Zaniolo became the youngest Italian player to score two goals in a Champions League match as he led Roma to a 2-1 win at home against Porto in the first leg of the round of 16.
Zaniolo had never played a game in Italy's top flight before this season but has emerged as one of Serie A's most promising talents since his transfer from Inter Milan last summer as part of the deal which saw Radja Nainggolan move the other way.
And he added his first Champions League goals by netting the 70th and 76th minute for Roma, before Adrian Lopez pulled one back for Porto three minutes later to give the visitors hope ahead of the return leg on March 6.
"It's a memorable night that I will never forget in my life," Zaniolo said. "Celebrating under the Curva Sud was an incredible emotion, I hope I will score many more important goals for Roma.
"The late goal we conceded can be tricky for us ahead of the return leg but we will just continue working hard to try finishing the job in Portugal."
Zaniolo received his first call-up to the senior Italy team in September, even before making his Serie A debut.
"Zaniolo will become a real champion, not just according to me but according to everyone," Roma captain Daniele De Rossi said. "His physical strength is incredible for a guy of his age and he combines it with great technique."
The opening goal came after Edin Dzeko knocked down Stephan El Shaarawy's cross for Zaniolo to drill past Iker Casillas and into the far bottom corner. The teenager doubled his tally by tapping in the rebound after Dzeko's shot came off the left post.
It was the second time Dzeko had hit the post.
Porto, which was undefeated in the Champions League this season, got a valuable away goal with a bit of luck when Tiqinho Soares's effort was so poor that it bounced into the air and turned into an assist for Lopez, who fired into the far corner.
"In our own stadium, in front of our own fans, we've still got what it takes to go through," Pepe said.
Video review was being used for the first time in the Champions League and it was called into play in the 18th minute but a check ruled that Pepe's handball in the penalty area was unintentional.
In the night's other Champions League match, Ole Solskjaer suffered his first defeat as Manchester United coach as his side lost 2-0 at home to Paris Saint-Germain.
Presnel Kimpembe and Kylian Mbappe scored for PSG in the second half, while Paul Pogba was sent off late on following two yellow cards.