Milan, Dec 10 (AP/UNB) — AC Milan's problems in front of goal show no signs of abating and it has been forced to admit defeat in its attempts to bring back Zlatan Ibrahimovic.
Milan was held at home to a 0-0 draw by Torino in Serie A on Sunday. The Rossoneri have scored just three goals in their past four league matches, and only three of the other sides in the top 10 in Serie A have scored fewer than Milan's tally of 24 in 15 rounds.
Milan had been trying to bring back the 37-year-old Ibrahimovic on loan from the Los Angeles Galaxy. The former Sweden international scored more than 50 goals for Milan in his two seasons at the club, 2010-12.
"He gave his word to Galaxy that he would stay if they satisfied his conditions and they did so," sporting director Leonardo said. "It would have been a really lovely story because it would have given a significant weight to the team.
"We can't deny that both parties thought of it but it will not be possible."
Patrick Cutrone should have snatched the win for Milan with four minutes remaining on Sunday but he fired wide of the right post when one-on-one with Torino goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu.
The 20-year-old Cutrone put his head in his hands in dismay, while other Milan players were also visibly shocked at the miss.
Milan's teenage goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma pulled off a stunning save in the fifth minute to keep out Iago Falque's header from close range.
"I've had a really difficult year but I'm much more calm now," said Donnraumma, who has faced criticism recently following several poor performances.
Milan remained fourth, three points behind Inter Milan, which lost at league leader Juventus on Friday. Milan is a point ahead of Lazio, which drew 2-2 at home to Sampdoria on Saturday.
Torino also remained in the fight for the final Champions League place, and is four points behind Milan.
In a weekend of late comebacks, Fiorentina winger Kevin Mirallas scored his debut Serie A goal in the 96th minute to help his side rescue a 3-3 draw at Sassuolo.
All goals came after the hour mark, with Alfred Duncan and former Fiorentina forward Khouma Babacar giving Sassuolo a 2-0 lead.
Giovanni Simeone pulled one back for the visitors but Stefano Sensi restored Sassuolo's two-goal advantage 10 minutes from time with a long-range shot.
Sassuolo substitute Filip Djuricic and Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic were both sent off for two yellow cards, with Marco Benassi making the most of Fiorentina's brief spell of numerical superiority.
Cagliara and Sampdoria had scored stoppage-time equalizers in their games on Saturday and Fiorentina followed suit, with Mirallas running onto German Pezzella's throughball and firing into the far bottom corner.
It was the Belgium international's first goal for Fiorentina since signing on loan from Everton in August.
Former Italy coach Cesare Prandelli had a nightmare start to his first match in charge of Genoa.
It got better for Prandelli as his team recovered from going a man and a goal down to draw 1-1 against Spal.
Genoa hired Prandelli and fired Ivan Juric on Friday, the day after the team was knocked out of the Italian Cup by third-division club Virtus Entella.
Genoa captain Domenico Criscito was shown a straight red card in the 11th minute for his very high tackle on Pasquale Schiattarella.
Andrea Petagna immediately made the most of the numerical advantage but Krzysztof Piatek leveled from the spot after Mohamed Fares' foul on Cristian Romero.
It was the Poland forward's 11th Serie A goal of the season, moving him one clear of Cristiano Ronaldo and Ciro Immobile at the top of the goalscoring charts.
Duvan Zapata scored a hat trick as Atalanta won 3-1 at Udinese.
Udinese remained two points off the relegation zone as 18th-placed Bologna lost 2-1 at Empoli, which is only five points above the bottom three itself.
Chievo Verona remained last in the standings but managed a 1-1 draw at Parma despite playing almost 20 minutes with 10 men after midfielder Fabio Depaoli was shown a second yellow card.
Dhaka, Dec 9 (UNB) – Chattogram Abahani Limited emerged unbeaten Group B champions to reach the quarterfinals of the 13-team Walton Independence Cup Football Tournament 2018 after playing a goalless draw with Dhaka Mohammedan SC in the last group affairs at the floodlit Bangabandhu National Stadium here Sunday evening.
Rahmatganj Muslim Friends Society also booked a seat for the last eight as the Group B runners–up outplaying newcomers NoFel Sporting Club by 3-0 goals in the other Group B match at the same venue in the afternoon.
Zunapio struck twice in the 63rd and 81st minute while Rakibul netted the remaining goal in the 36th minute for the sky-blue team from the port city of Chattogram.
On completion of Group B encounters, Chattogram Abahani top the list with unbeaten record securing seven points from three matches while Rahmatganj MFS finished group runners-up collecting four points from three outings.
Traditional Dhaka Mohammedan SC made early exist from the group stage as they finished bottom in the four-team group with two points from three encounters along with NoFel SC, who bagged three points from as many matches.
In the quarterfinals, Group A champions Arambagh KS will play Brother Union on Tuesday (Dec 11), Group B champions Chattogram Abahani will face Sheikh Russel on Wednesday (Dec 12), Group C champions Dhaka Abahani will play Saif SC on Thursday (Dec 13) while Group D champions Bashundhara Kings will meet Rahmatganj MFS on Friday (Dec 14), all at 4:30 pm.
Madrid, Dec 9 (AP/UNB) — Lionel Messi capped a brilliant performance by following up a superb free-kick goal in the first half with another stunning set-piece goal in the second half.
The perfectly struck free kicks led Barcelona to a 4-0 rout of Espanyol in the Spanish league on Saturday, and allowed Messi to reach yet another career milestone — he had never scored two direct free kicks in a league game before.
"What can I say about Leo?" Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "He can break open any game. We are so lucky to have him with us and to be able to watch him play."
Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez also scored in the Catalan derby for Barcelona, which opened a three-point lead over Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. Sevilla drew 1-1 at Valencia earlier Saturday, while Atletico defeated Alaves 3-0 at home.
Fifth-placed Real Madrid visits last-place Huesca on Sunday, only a few hours before River Plate and Boca Juniors meet in the Copa Libertadores final at Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu Stadium.
Messi was at his best at RCDE Stadium in Barcelona, getting past defenders with ease and effortlessly putting his teammates in a position to score.
But he impressed the most on free kicks.
The first came in the 17th minute from about 25 meters (yards) away. Messi curled a left-footed shot into the top corner, with the ball turning away from the outstretched arm of Espanyol goalkeeper Diego Lopez.
"I try to follow a ritual, to repeat what worked the first time," Messi said. "Luckily both shots went in. Sometimes I try several free kicks and don't score any goals."
The second came in the 65th, with the ball a bit further back and from a slightly different angle. Messi's shot was struck just as perfectly at the first one, curling over the wall and into the top corner. This time, Lopez didn't even get close to making a save.
"We all know what Messi is capable of," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "He is crucial for us, taking free kicks or just playing. That's why he is the best player in the world."
Messi had also set up Dembele's goal in the 26th, sending a well-placed throughball to the French forward. Dembele got rid of a defender with a nice cut-back move before sending a high shot into the far corner.
Dembele gave the assist for Suarez's goal just before halftime, with the Uruguayan's shot from a tough angle finding the net after going through the legs of Lopez.
Oscar Duarte appeared to have scored Espanyol's lone goal in the 73rd but it was judged offside after a lengthy video review.
It was the fourth straight league loss for Espanyol, which dropped to ninth in the standings.
Barcelona has won four in a row in all competitions.
Sevilla missed a chance to stay close to Barcelona by conceding in stoppage time against Valencia.
Pablo Sarabia had given Sevilla the lead from close range in the 55th, but French defender Mouctar Diakhaby equalized for the hosts with a header two minutes into added time.
"We had kept our focus until that last play," Sarabia said. "We had it under control until then."
Sevilla was coming off another 1-1 draw at Alaves.
Valencia moved to 13th, seven points clear of the relegation zone.
Atletico Keeps Pace
Nikola Kalinic, Antoine Griezmann and Rodrigo each scored a goal in Atletico Madrid's 3-0 win against fourth-placed Alaves.
The result ended the team's run of two consecutive draws in the league.
It was the third loss in five league matches for Alaves.
Kalinic opened the scoring from close range after a right-side cross by Santiago Arias in the 25th minute at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium. Griezmann added to the lead on a counterattack in the 82nd and Rodrigo sealed the victory in the 87th.
Atletico defender Lucas Hernandez had to be substituted in the 36th with a right knee injury. He was replaced by Jose Maria Gimenez, who returned after missing five matches because of injury.
Celta Vigo opened a three-goal lead and then held on to a 3-2 win over Villarreal after conceding twice in the final 10 minutes.
Villarreal, which was coming off an 8-0 rout of second-division team Almeria in the Copa del Rey, stayed 17th in the standings, just outside the relegation zone.
Madrid, Dec 9 (AP/UNB) — Hundreds of Boca Juniors fans gathered outside their team's hotel in Madrid on Saturday, chanting "It doesn't matter where you play, we will always follow you."
A few hours later, thousands of River fans packed the iconic Plaza del Sol in the heart of the Spanish capital, one day before the bitter Argentine rivals meet in the final of the Copa Libertadores, South America's equivalent of the Champions League.
Tens of thousands of Boca and River fans are in the city for the "superclasico" at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium on Sunday.
"I think fans from both teams are very nervous today," said 14-year-old Boca fan Joaquim Naser, who traveled from Argentina to watch the game. "It's going to be a great party at the Bernabeu. It's going to be packed with South American fans."
About 25,000 supporters from each club are expected at the Bernabeu, with many making the trip of more than 10,000 kilometers (6,000 miles) from Argentina.
Carrying blue-and-yellow flags, banners and drums, Boca fans welcomed the squad after its last practice session before the final. The supporters cheered when the bus arrived and players waved to them.
Dressed in red and white, River fans later gathered in the city center, taking over the Plaza del Sol as they chanted the team's traditional songs.
Both teams had closed practice sessions in the last day of preparations for the final, which was moved to Madrid after fan violence marred the second leg in Buenos Aires two weeks ago. Boca Juniors players were injured before the match when River fans attacked the Boca team bus with rocks, bottles and wood. The first leg, hosted by Boca in Buenos Aires, ended in a 2-2 draw.
"Hopefully we will enjoy some of the atmosphere that we would have had with the match in Argentina," said Nacho Sorroche, a Boca fan who lives in Madrid. "We know it's not going to be exactly the same, but I think it will be a great environment."
Boca's latest attempt to be declared champion without playing on Sunday failed when the Court of Arbitration for Sport denied its request to suspend the second leg. Boca appealed to CAS on Friday after South American soccer governing body CONMEBOL ruled against disqualifying River from the tournament because of what happened in Buenos Aires.
Nearly 80,000 fans are expected at the Bernabeu, with supporters from each club placed at opposite sides of the stadium. There will also be separate fan zones prepared for them near the Bernabeu.
Spanish authorities were on high alert as a group of 400 to 500 violent Argentine fans were expected in Madrid. Officials said almost 4,000 security personnel would be deployed for Sunday's "high risk" match, nearly double the number used in the "clasicos" between Real Madrid and Barcelona.
Directors from both clubs were expected at a dinner at the Bernabeu on Saturday night, along with Real Madrid president Florentino Perez and FIFA President Gianni Infantino.
Boca is seeking its seventh Copa Libertadores title, which would tie Argentina's Independiente as the competition's most successful club. Boca's last continental trophy was won in 2007.
River is a three-time Copa winner, with its latest victory coming in 2015. The Argentine giants had never previously met in the final.
Dhaka, Dec 8 (UNB) - Bangladesh U-15 Boys Football team reached Thailand Saturday morning to participate in the four-nation friendly football tournament, organized by UEFA, beginning in the Thai town of Buriram on Monday.
Thailand Football Association is organizing the tournament in collaboration with the UEFA featuring four teams—one from Thailand, one team from UEFA which is Cyprus and two teams from the AFC –the Maldives and Bangladesh.
Bangladesh will start their campaign taking on Cyprus in the first match on Monday (Dec 10), under UEFA Assist Mini Tournament Project Buriram.
Earlier, Bangladesh team left Hazrat Shahjalal International Airport on Saturday at 2:00 am on Saturday and reached the Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok at 5:30 am local time.
Then the team off to tournament venue Buriram at 2.pm by an Air Asia flight and reached Buriram around 3:pm local time and checked into Best Western Royal Buriram Hotel.
All the players and staff are excited to play in the tournament.