Madrid, Dec 11 (AP/UNB) — The Spanish League has given up on its plan to play a regular-season match in the United States next month because Barcelona backed down from its commitment.
The Catalan club said on Monday it did not intend to play the game against Girona near Miami because there was no consensus among all stakeholders.
The club's board of directors said Barcelona remained behind the idea of the game aboard, but the "project will not prosper until there is an agreement between all parties."
"From the beginning we have said that participation in the game abroad is voluntary," the league said in a statement. "If FC Barcelona wishes not to attend, the game scheduled in Miami can't be staged on the agreed date."
The Spanish league last month took legal action against the country's soccer federation in an effort to get approval for the Jan. 26 match at Hard Rock Stadium. A court decision was expected as early as Thursday.
"La Liga will continue the planned action so an official league game can be played outside of Spain," the league said. "La Liga is convinced that (the federation) is not acting in accordance with the law."
The league needs approval from the federation to be able to play abroad. The federation was yet to approve or deny the league's request, having raised concerns that the overseas game would not comply with Spanish and international regulations and TV broadcast contracts. It also said the overseas match could harm the other 18 league clubs.
Barcelona said in its statement it "accepted that income from the game would be shared" among all first-division and second-division clubs following the criteria for television rights money distribution.
The league offered several compensation plans for fans of Girona, which would be relinquishing a home match.
Other stakeholders, including UEFA and CONCACAF, also needed to approve the match. The FIFA council recently opposed the idea, although its permission for the match was not mandatory.
Staging the game in the United States is seen as an important step for the Spanish league to continue expanding internationally and to close the gap on the powerful English Premier League. The Spanish league has a 15-year deal with sports and entertainment group Relevent to promote soccer and take games to the United States.
"We regret to disappoint our fans in the U.S. and will work to, in the shortest possible time, stage an official La Liga game in the U.S., just like the major American leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) stage games outside their borders."
The league last month launched a campaign to showcase the public support from American fans, asking them to sign an online petition in favor of the game.
Liverpool, Dec 11 (AP/UNB) — Lucas Digne curled home a free kick in the sixth minute of injury time to earn Everton a 2-2 draw with Watford after a wild second half featuring three goals and a saved penalty in the English Premier League on Monday.
It was a first goal in English soccer for the France left back following his offseason move from Barcelona — and it was a set-piece strike former teammate Lionel Messi would have been proud of.
Watford goalkeeper Ben Foster had kept out a penalty from Gylfi Sigurdsson with the score at 2-1, but barely moved when Digne whipped his free kick into the top corner from the edge of the area in the final minute of stoppage time.
"It feels like a defeat," Watford striker Troy Deeney said, "but you have to give credit where it's due. The free kick went in top corner."
For Everton manager Marco Silva, it would have been a sweet ending to a match that saw Watford fans hold up inflatable snakes in the away end — an apparent reference to the fact that the Portuguese coach had his head turned by Everton while coach of Watford.
Results deteriorated under Silva at Watford after Everton showed an interest midway through last season, and he was fired in January after six months in charge. It caused acrimony between the clubs, even more so when he eventually joined Everton in the offseason.
"I didn't see anything," Silva said of the snakes in the crowd. "It's not important to me."
The match started disappointingly for the visitors, too, as they went behind to a goal by former player Richarlison in the 15th minute. It was the Brazil forward's eighth league goal since joining Everton from Watford in the offseason for more than $50 million.
In a madcap five-minute spell from the 63rd, Watford equalized through an own-goal from Seamus Coleman, went ahead when Abdoulaye Doucoure produced a prodigious leap to get above Coleman and head home from inside the six-yard box, then saw Foster save Sigurdsson's spot kick with his outstretched leg.
Sigurdsson and Digne both lined up to take the free kick that offered Everton one last chance at Goodison Park. It was the former Barcelona left back who took it, and he earned his team a point with the second-latest goal scored in the Premier League this season.
"It showed personality and character to take that free kick when people might have expected Gylfi to," Silva said. "It's a very good goal."
It was the eighth goal Watford has conceded after the 90th minute since the start of the 2017-18 season.
Everton missed the chance to move level on points with sixth-placed Manchester United.
Dhaka, Dec 10 (UNB) - Bangladesh U-15 Men’s Football team got off to a frustrating start in the four-nation UEFA U-15 Men’s Youth Tournament conceding 0-4 goals defeat against European team Cyprus in the opening match in the Thai town of Buriram on Monday.
The U-15 footballers reached Thailand on Saturday to participate in the friendly football tournament featuring four teams -- one from Thailand, one from UEFA which is Cyprus and two AFC countries the Maldives and Bangladesh -- organised by Thailand Football Association under the collaboration of UEFA.
In the day’s opener, Bangladesh went down by 0-1 goal in the first half.
Ilias Kostis put Cyprus ahead in the 17th minute by a free kick from top of the box (1-0) while Marios Kokkinoftas doubled the margin scoring the 2nd goal in the 67th minute from a goal mouth melee shot (2-0).
Angelos Zefki scored the 3rd goal in the 70th minute by a good shot from top of the box (3-0) while Andreas sealed the fate of the match scoring the 4th goal for Cyprus in the first minute of the stoppage time (91st minute) beating Bangladesh custodian by a placing shot from the danger zone (4-0).
In the remaining matches, Bangladesh will play hosts Thailand on Wednesday (Dec 12) and the Maldives on Friday (Dec 14).
Top team of the four team league basis matches will be the champions.
Milan, Dec 10 (AP/UNB) — Even superstars have their off days.
Juventus beat Inter Milan 1-0 but Cristiano Ronaldo had a surprisingly quiet match.
Ronaldo has scored or set up at least one goal in all but one of his previous 13 matches for Juventus in all competitions — notching up nine goals in the process.
However, he had barely a sight of goal on Friday.
"Ronaldo nevertheless worked a lot," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said.
Despite Ronaldo's less-than-impressive performance, Juventus recorded its 14th win in 15 matches, equaling the best-ever start to a campaign in the top five European leagues in the three-point era.
Paris Saint-Germain set that record of 43 points in 15 rounds earlier this season.
Juventus is on a seemingly unstoppable march to a record-extending eighth successive Serie A title. It has eight points more than Napoli and 14 more than third-placed Inter.
"Since I arrived at Juventus, we have grown a lot," Juventus winger Douglas Costa said. "We are a special squad and are very strong, often even when we don't play well ... and we don't need many opportunities to score goals."
Still, Juventus will be hoping to have Ronaldo back to his best when it travels to Switzerland to face Young Boys in the Champions League on Wednesday with the group lead on the line.
Juventus has already qualified for the last 16 of Europe's elite club competition but has only a two-point lead over Manchester United in Group H.
The 33-year-old Ronaldo has been playing and scoring regularly this season as he shows little sign of being affected — on the field at least — by a rape allegation in the United States.
Kathryn Mayorga filed a civil lawsuit in September in Nevada claiming Ronaldo raped her in his Las Vegas hotel room in 2009. Police reopened an investigation into the allegation at her request. Ronaldo has denied any wrongdoing.
Friday's loss to Juventus in Turin was the first time in 11 matches that Inter failed to score.
It wasted a couple of golden opportunities including Roberto Gagliardini hitting the post after good work from Icardi.
If the roles had been reversed, it would be a good bet on Icardi hitting the back of the net.
However, the Inter captain didn't even have a shot on goal.
"I think Mauro did what he had to do," Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said. "In fact, if we really want to talk about everything, I think he was better than other times in playing with the team.
"We often played on the break thanks to his support, creating some big chances. We had the chances to go ahead, but it becomes hard if you don't take them."
Inter can't afford to miss chances in Tuesday's Champions League match against PSV Eindhoven, where it needs to do better than Tottenham does at Barcelona in order to qualify for the knockout stages.
Creative midfielder Radja Nainggolan is again likely to be out after missing the past two matches with an ankle injury.
While it only needs a draw to advance, don't expect Napoli to play it safe at Liverpool in the Champions League on Tuesday.
"It's key to have a positive approach and to try to take the initiative — also because we don't know how to play otherwise," Napoli coach Carlo Ancelotti said. "We can't think about going there and parking the bus in front of our goal."
Napoli leads a very tight Group C with nine points, one ahead of Paris Saint-Germain, two ahead of Liverpool and five ahead of Red Star Belgrade.
Napoli, which has never won in England in six previous visits, will reach the knockout round if it avoids defeat or if it loses and PSG also loses to Red Star in the other group match.
Liverpool needs to win to have any chance of advancing.
Madrid, Dec 10 (AP/UNB) — Madrid turned into Buenos Aires for a night Sunday, with tens of thousands of Argentine fans transforming Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu into a stadium of their own.
River Plate fans were the only ones celebrating in the end, both at home and in Spain, after the historic victory over fierce rival Boca Juniors in the twice-suspended final of the Copa Libertadores.
River came from behind to beat the rival 3-1 in the second leg after extra time to win South America's equivalent of the Champions League 5-3 on aggregate.
One of the most anticipated matches in South American soccer finally came to a conclusion, nearly a month after the first leg was played in Argentina.
The final capped one of the most embarrassing chapters in South American soccer, which saw its leaders unable to stage the historic match on the continent. The second leg had to be played in the Spanish capital after it was marred by fan violence in Buenos Aires two weeks ago, when Boca players were injured before the game after River fans attacked the team bus with rocks, bottles and wood.
Soccer great Lionel Messi and FIFA President Gianni Infantino were among those at the "superclasico" at the Bernabeu, which saw the Argentine fans chanting throughout the match in a unique scene at the traditional European stadium.
It was River's fourth Copa Libertadores title, and first since 2015. Boca Juniors remained on six titles and missed a chance to tie Argentina's Independiente as the competition's most successful club.
"River was the better team throughout the entire tournament," said Matias Biscay, River's assistant coach who replaced the suspended Marcelo Gallardo. "Our team played against the toughest opponents and knew how to overcome them. And in the final against our rival we were superior in both matches."
After reaching 1-1 after 90 minutes on Sunday, River went ahead when Juan Fernando Quintero scored four minutes into the second half of extra time, and Gonzalo "Pity" Martinez added a third goal in the final minutes of the high-profile match.
Dario Benedetto had opened the scoring in normal time just before halftime for Boca, and Lucas Pratto equalized for River in the 67th.
Boca had Wilmar Barrios sent off early in extra time and then had Fernando Gago leave the field near the end because of an injury.
The first leg at Boca's La Bombonera Stadium in Buenos Aires ended 2-2.
Rival fans were separated for security reasons with more than 25,000 from each club expected at the Bernabeu, and many making the expensive trip from Argentina. Only supporters of the home team were allowed in the matches in Argentina to avoid fan violence.
It wasn't a full house, though, with 62,000 attending the match at the around 80,000-capacity stadium. There were empty sections behind both goals.
"It's difficult to talk about the fans right now," Boca Juniors coach Guillermo Barros Schelotto said. "We couldn't win the Copa for them. They endured a lot to come here from all different parts of the world. It was incredibly sad in the changing room. It hurts a lot for me not to win the Copa, especially because of the fans."
Quintero scored with a shot from the edge of the area after a well-coordinated attack past the Boca defense. Martinez allowed the celebrations to begin when he scored into an open net in the final seconds as Boca goalkeeper Esteban Andrada had gone to the opposite area to try to equalize on a corner.
Just seconds earlier, Leonardo Jara had a chance to score for Boca and send the match into a penalty shootout, but his shot struck the post to the desperation of the team's fans.
Benedetto had opened the scoring with a beautiful goal on a counterattack in the 43rd. After receiving a superb throughball from midfielder Nahitan Nandez, Benedetto cleared a defender and entered the area with only goalkeeper Franco Armani to beat, then calmly finished with a shot into the corner. He appeared to taunt a River player as he ran to celebrate with his teammates.
River got the equalizer after a pass from Ignacio Fernandez to Pratto, who scored with a low shot from near the penalty spot.
The Nov. 24 second leg was initially postponed for one day after the Boca team bus was attacked outside River's Monumental Stadium. South American soccer governing body CONMEBOL eventually said the game couldn't be played in Argentina because of security concerns.
The match in Madrid was played amid strict security measures. Supporters from both clubs took over the city streets throughout the weekend and had been near the Bernabeu since early Sunday.
No major incidents between fans had been reported in the city, which was picked from several bidders in part because it has one of the largest Argentine populations outside of Argentina.
Spanish authorities said a 68-year-old fan had a heart attack while going to the match and was hospitalized in critical condition.
River fans celebrated the title at the Obelisk in downtown Buenos Aires, and the ones in Madrid were expected to take the team's red-and-white colors to an iconic plaza in the capital.
With the victory, River Plate will represent South America in FIFA's Club World Cup this month.