De Futebol Is Mourinho a has been in Champions League Play?

The long knives are out for Jose Mourinho. The Guardians Barney Ronay wrote that Mourinho gooses is cooked as a force the Champions League.

We will see!

“ There was a slightly ghostly moment in the second half at Old Trafford as Manchester United were euthanised from the Champions Leagueknockout stages, a sense of worlds colliding, timelines crossed.

Wissam Ben Yedder had just eased the ball into the corner of David de Gea’s net to make the score 1-0 on the night. As the Sevilla players romped in front of their away support and the Spanish radio commentator broke out of his “gol, gol” chant to shout “ON FIRE ON FIRE” a wiry black-clad figure could be seen sprinting down the touchline, fists pumping.

It was tempting to blink a little at this ghost of Old Trafford, rattling its chains, howling at the portal doors, breaking though, just for a moment, into our world. Like all good cinematic ghosts it seemed to be trying to communicate something: desperation, excitement, the need for United’s players to regroup. And beyond that a sense of something more profound being lost than just a quarter-final spot at the hands of a balanced and deserving Sevilla.

Naturally there were painful echoes of that famous sprint down the same touchline 14 years ago, back when the world was still young, the Mourinho hair a chestnut bouffant, and when Porto’s young manager was announcing his arrival as a Champions League force. Rather than, as on this occasion, his departure.

It will be tempting to resist the cliched circularity of those two sprints, bookends on the José supremacy. But the facts are hard to argue with. And the facts say that when it comes to the real cutting edge of European club football Mourinho is pretty much cooked, his best moments – Inter, Porto – already yellowing at the edges, marked by the baggy gear and dated grooming of a world that has now passed.

As of Tuesday night it is almost exactly four years since Mourinho last managed a club to victory in the Champions League knockout stages. In his past 10 knockout games with United and Chelsea he has two wins and five low-score draws.

Look a bit closer and even those two moments of triumph didn’t really point anywhere, the last one the ambush of Paris Saint-Germain at Stamford Bridge, when a late airborne siege turned a tie Chelsea were losing. The other was Didier Drogba’s return to Chelsea with Galatasaray, when a cunningly mawkish welcome back ceremony seemed to spook the visitors and Chelsea went 1-0 up after four minutes.

Look even further to his last year at Real Madrid and it is unsurprising Mourinho was so keen to dwell this week on his elimination of United at Old Trafford in 2013. That 2-1 victory, almost exactly five years ago, was the last time he oversaw an away win in the knockout stages. Even then Madrid were going out before Nani was sent off.

At the end of which, under the De Boer formula, you could make a case, factoring in millions spent and clubs managed (all three winners in recent years, just not under him) that Mourinho is unusually bad at negotiating the sharp end of this competition. That he is, with two wins in 10 and everything from funds to pedigree in his favour, the worst manager in the past 10 years of the Champions League knockout stages.

Too much? Probably. But the real issue is not his place in the hierarchy of knockout failure. Instead it is Mourinho’s dogged persistence with an approach that, frankly, no longer works at this level. This was another startling element to Tuesday night. Play the game again, play on for five hours into the night and United still wouldn’t have looked like winning. The obstacle here wasn’t details or form, but a fixed-gear defensive approach in a must-win game at home to the fifth-best team in Spain.

This is not to suggest Mourinho’s methods are failing at United. Winning defensive football is still winning football. United are better than when he came, and will be better still in a year.

It is more a question of whether Mourinho still has the will and the methods to cut it in one-off, fine-point knockout games against the very best.

Right now he appears to be doing what he did at Porto and Inter on such occasions, looking to attack an opponent’s strengths rather than its weaknesses, to win by nullifying space rather than using it to create. There is an element of the Peter Principle in this. Mourinho got so good at managing underdog teams and wringing the best out of B-list players he was allowed to manage overdog teams where his tactics no longer fit, with A-list players too good to carry out his methods with unquestioning zeal.

There have of course been wonderful attacking Mourinho teams in the past. That Madrid starting XI that beat United five years ago contained Mesut Özil, Ángel Di María, Cristiano Ronaldo and Gonzalo Higuaín. The problem is that as Mourinho has retreated into his own mathematical pleasure in solidity and defensive control the world has gone the other way. And the evidence suggests it is not possible to win a Champions League in this manner now, just as a 0-0 draw away from home is no longer an advantageous result with high-scoring games more common.

The question is whether Mourinho has it in him to adapt a little, to build a next-stage United team around some key element of creative chemistry, a team that can grow to fill the spaces rather than crouching back behind its guard. For all the snarking negativity there are obvious positives. Even in defeat the sight of local talent on the pitch is heartening. Romelu Lukaku was often horribly isolated against Sevilla but he was also United’s best player.

Mourinho will get more time and money to gloss this team – but not that much more. Manchester United is a machine made for winning, a commercial-sporting juggernaut defined in part by its progress in Europe. If Mourinho has hit a buffer here then buying another Sánchez, another Pogba, won’t solve a basic issue of methodology, the point where defensive control becomes a more risky hand, less likely to bring victory than trusting his team to play in those tighter moments with a little winning freedom.”

De Futebol A History Lesson!

Let’s take a little trip in the way back machine via the Guardians Daniel Harris.

1) Galatasaray 0-0 Manchester United, second round, 1993-94

Manchester United’s return to the European Cup was fiercely anticipated – they had been away since 1969. After winning the Cup Winners’ Cup immediately after the return of English clubs to continental competition, in those crazy altruistic and naive days when that was what was done, they were expected to have a suitable go at the Champions League. But in place at the time was a rule limiting the number of foreigners that could be fielded by each club, and though United’s squad was largely British and Irish, the restriction applied to all who were either born outside of England, or were not considered “assimilated”.

In the first round, this made little difference, with Honved beaten in both legs – though unconvincingly, by a single goal each time. Next, and in order to qualify for the group stages, United were paired with Galatasaray – who, in typical style, it was assumed that they would beat fairly easily. And at the start of the first leg at Old Trafford, this seemed a reasonable supposition, United dashing into a two-goal lead inside the first quarter-hour, before relaxing in the glow of their superiority.

However, it quickly became clear that Gala, with Hakan Sukur, Kubilay Turkyilmaz, Arif Erdem and Tugay Kerimoglu, were actually aware of what football was and able to play it. So United, with Lees Martin and Sharpe at full-back – Paul Parker was injured and Denis Irwin omitted – tottered, conceding three goals in 48 minutes, before Eric Cantona, wearing No9 in the presence of Bryan Robson, equalised with eight minutes remaining.

After all that, it was still expected that United would resolve matters in the second leg. But they found Istanbul rather less equilibrious than they had hoped, Alex Ferguson later reporting “as much hostility and harassment as I have ever known on a football expedition”. Steve Bruce narrowly avoided decapitation via a flying brick, 164 supporters were deposited into cells on account of existing, while on the pitch, they were equally impotent, Mark Hughes – perhaps the player who would have embraced the fear with most joy – now the victim of the foreigners rule.

Quite simply, though, the talent was there, United were not prepared for this level or style of competition, eliminated on away goals following a goalless draw. But there remained misery to follow – Cantona was sent off once the game was over, after honestly appraising the performance of a referee, who, five years later, was found guilty of accepting bribes and banned for life. Then, in the tunnel, Cantona was set about by police, which did not go down well with his team-mates. “We had a few who could look after themselves,” said Bruce. “We gave as good as we got.” It was undoubtedly the highlight of United’s performance.

What happened next: United were already nine points ahead at the top of the table, but in their next game conceded twice in the first half away to Manchester City. With Turkish delight thrown into the United end and chants of “two-nil up and fucked it up, Galatasaray” ringing around Maine Road, United, inspired by Cantona, powered back to win 3-2. They then beat Wimbledon and drew with Ipswich, staying top for the rest of the season, and though they lost in the League Cup final, also won the FA Cup.

2) Gothenburg 3-1 Manchester United, group stages, 1994-95

At the start of 1994-95, United were again felt to be legitimate Champions League contenders. Roy Keane had been fully integrated into the side, they had learned from their experiences the previous season, and were also entered directly into the group stages. Again, they were drawn with Galatasaray, along with Barcelona and IFK Gothenburg, and again, things began unconvincingly but well enough: a home win over Gothenburg followed by another goalless draw in Turkey. But that same night, the Swedes won at home to Barcelona – who responded by drawing at Old Trafford and disbursing a walloping for the ages at the Camp Nou, while Gothenburg were beating by twice by Galatasaray. If United could avoid defeat when the sides met again, a win over Galatasaray would see them through.

Things did not work out that way. Though Eric Cantona returned after serving a five-match ban, Peter Schmeichel and Roy Keane were injured, replaced by Gary Walsh and Brian McClair respectively, and with Lee Sharpe also absent, Simon Davies started on the left wing. But, most tellingly of all, David May – a limited centre-back – played at right-back, where he was duly guzzled by future United Champions League winner, Jesper Blomqvist. On a filthy November night, the Swede gave Gothenburg the lead on 11 minutes, and though Mark Hughes equalised on 64, a minute later, United were behind again, and a penalty from Pontus Kamark confirmed their defeat with 18 minutes still to go – before Paul Ince got himself sent off.

Though United could argue that their campaign had been hamstrung by injury, suspension, and a shortly to be defunct rule, the reality was unavoidable: they had again behaved in appalling fashion at the crucial moment. In particular, their defence, though plenty good enough for the domestic game, was neither pacy enough nor savvy enough to cope with the best attackers.

What happened next: A 0-0 draw at Arsenal was followed by a home win over Norwich and thrashing of Galatasaray – a game in which David Beckham scored his first for the club. Two months later, Eric Cantona remonstrated with a Palace supporter, and the league was consequently lost by a point, the FA Cup final by a goal.

3) Manchester United 0-1 Bayern Munich, quarter-finals, 2000-01

United steadily improved in Europe through the late 90s, particularly in consecutive ties with Juventus. After enduring perhaps the most complete 1-0 thrashing of all-time in September 1995, they performed far more creditably in losing by the same score two months later and progressed to the semi-finals, where they lost away and at home to Borussia Dortmund – on account of cowardice and profligacy respectively.

But this, along with an exit to Monaco on similar terms, convinced Alex Ferguson of the need to attack, so he recruited Jaap Stam for his ability to defend one-on-one, and in 1999, United won the competition.

Two seasons later came a quarter-final with Bayern Munich, and in the home leg, a newly circumspect United were barely able muster a chance. Gone was the fury with which they had pummelled all-comers, and with Dwight Yorke effectively retired and their wingers closely marked – a tactic that first worked for Croatia Zagreb, visitors to Old Trafford the previous season – they offered little penetration. It was little surprise when Paulo Sérgio opened the scoring with four minutes to go.

Then, in the return, Yorke – who had scored a couple of goals against Coventry in the previous game – was preferred to the more suitable Sheringham, and Nicky Butt selected ahead of Luke Chadwick, in place of the absent David Beckham. Within 39 minutes, Bayern were 2-0 up, and though Giggs pulled one back, it was not until the very end that any sort of fightback was threatened. The treble team were finished.

What happened next: United required two penalties to secure a 1-1 draw with Manchester City in the league. With the title already secure, they beat Middlesbrough, before losing each of their last three games, a run not replicated until this season.

4) Manchester United 2-2 Bayer Leverkusen, semi-final, 2001-02

In a bid to win another European Cup, Alex Ferguson broke up a midfield almost guaranteed to deliver the league championship every season. And though adding Ruud van Nistelrooy and Juan Sebastián Véron gave United greater attacking potency and variety, replacing Jaap Stam with Laurent Blanc awarded opposition the same. So United struggled in the league, producing some spectacular football but finding it hard to establish a method that extracted the most from their players, and consequentially failed to become the first side to record four consecutive titles.

But in the Champions League, they were much improved. After a dodgy start, they drew twice with Bayern, before producing one of the finest performances of the Fergie era to eviscerate Deportivo La Coruña – arguably Europe’s best side – away from home, then thrillingly finished the job at Old Trafford.

In the semi-final, they played Bayer Leverkusen – who had eliminated Arsenal in the second group stagefollowed by Liverpool in the quarter-finals. But even so, they were viewed almost as a bye to the dream final: United v Real Madrid at Hampden Park, where, in 1960, the young Fergie had been captivated by Puskas and pals’ 7-3 win over Eintracht Frankfurt. The rock of Gibraltar was moved to tears by the very prospect.

However, rather like Galatasaray in 1992, this Leverkusen side was full of men who, though unknown at the time, would go on to establish themselves as serious players: Michael Ballack, Zé Roberto, Dimitar Berbatov, Lúcio, and Yildiray Basturk. And United were without David Beckham, following his invention of the metatarsal, and also Roy Keane; aiming to play in a final after missing out in 1999, he would be let down, first in his absence and then in his presence.

An own goal gave United the lead on 29 minutes, but they were unable to force a second before Ballack equalised just after the hour, and though a Van Nistelrooy penalty quickly restored the advantage, Oliver Neuville soon squared the tie. Then, in Leverkusen, Keane willpowered another definitive captain’s goal, but this time, his team-mates – one of whom he later accused of shaking with nerves – shrunk. Again, Neuville equalised, this time in first-half injury time, and though Diego Forlán almost sneaked a winner, United were deservedly eliminated.

What happened next: Only two games of the season remained, due to the impending World Cup. In the first, United ceded the Premier League trophy by losing at home to Arsenal, before drawing 0-0 at home to Charlton.

5) Lille 1-0 Manchester United, group stages, 2005-06

After 17 years of service, Alex Ferguson awarded himself an extended sabbatical and testimonial, resulting in the arrival of players such as David Bellion, Eric Djemba-Djemba and Kléberson, along with the Glazer family. As such, United failed seriously to compete in the league for three consecutive seasons, but the nadir came in Europe. In 2004-05, they were easily dispatched by Milan, and then, the following year, were drawn in a group with Benfica, Villarreal and Lille. In what may well have been the worst collection of games in the competition’s history, they achieved two goalless draws in the first three games – away to Villarreal and at home to Lille – sneaking a win over Benfica in between.

Next came a trip to Paris, played in awful weather in the awful Stade de France. With a midfield comprising Alan Smith and Kieran Richardson, along with Darren Fletcher and Cristiano Ronaldo, United produced a performance of original, exceptional and irredeemable poverty, losing 1-0. This prompted significant numbers among the travelling support to race to the front at full-time, so the players might be immediately apprised of their achievements – uncommon behaviour, post-1990. And though it took a further 0-0 mess with Villarreal followed by defeat in Lisbon to secure their elimination, this game will forever remain a touchstone for the truly revolting.

What happened next: United somehow scrounged a win at home to Chelsea, thanks to a deflection, then won at Charlton and improved steadily through the season. They began the next on a roll that ended only with the sale of Ronaldo, three years, three titles and one Champions League later.

De Futebol Flamengo River Plate tie two all in Group 4 Copa Libertadores

Flamengo and River Plate two all in Group play of the Copa Libertadores.

Globo Esporte:” Faltou torcedor, sobrou emoção. Em um Engenhão com portões fechados e arquibancadas vazias, Flamengo e River Plate fizeram um jogo animado, especialmente no segundo tempo, e empataram em 2 a 2 na noite desta quarta-feira, pela primeira rodada do Grupo 4 da Libertadores. Henrique Dourado, Éverton, Mora e Mayada fizeram os gols.

Em um primeiro tempo de poucas chances, Diego Alves fez defesa em cobrança de falta de Rodrigo Mora. Do outro lado, Armani defendeu em dois tempos chute de Henrique Dourado. E não teve muito mais do que isso.

Mas houve espaço para polêmica e reclamação. O Flamengo pediu pênalti em um lance aos 39 minutos. Réver cabeceou e a bola bateu no braço de Zuculini. O árbitro mandou o jogo seguir.


Se a primeira etapa foi arrastada, a segunda começou a toda velocidade. Logo aos seis minutos, Diego caiu na área após toque de Ponzio. Pênalti que Henrique Dourado cobrou seguindo sua cartilha. Com calma e estilo, deslocando o goleiro para abrir o placar.

A vantagem rubro-negra durou pouco. Aos dez, após cobrança de falta na área, Mora apareceu nas costas de Juan e desviou de cabeça para empatar. O jogador do River, porém, estava adiantado no momento do passe.

O River esteve perto da virada aos 17, com De La Cruz, que chutou para boa defesa de Diego Alves. O jogo era lá e cá, e aos 21 Lucas Paquetá acionou Everton na área. Sozinho, o camisa 22 teve tempo de dominar no peito, girar e bater cruzado para fazer 2 a 1.

A vantagem no placar não deu tranquilidade ao Flamengo. O River passou a pressionar e teve duas grandes chances em sequência para empatar aos 38, na pequena área. Três minutos depois, Mayada acertou um chute rasteiro de longe. Diego Alves caiu atrasado e a bola entrou no canto direito: 2 a 2.

O Flamengo volta a jogar na Libertadores no dia 14, quarta, contra o Emelec, no Equador. O River joga no dia 15, em casa, diante do Santa Fé, da Colômbia.

De Futebol Man U to the Semifinals of The FA Cup

Man U returned to form with a great 2-0 win over Brighton and Hove Albion to advance to the FA Cup semifinals.

The Guardians Jamie Jackson:” José Mourinho admitted he could risk losing those Manchester United players he criticised again following the 2-0 win over Brighton but believed there was nothing to lose in doing so.

Goals from Romelu Lukaku and Nemanja Matic on 37 and 83 minutes at Old Trafford on Saturday night secured United’s passage to the FA Cup semi-finals. Yet the manager said: “I’m not happy. There was a lack of personality, a lack of class, and a lack of desire” from many of his team, which followed scathing remarks about some of his squad on Friday, in the aftermath of Tuesday’s Champions League exit at the hands of Sevilla.

As the manager needs all players behind him if United are to win the Cup and secure a Champions League berth, he was asked if the public criticism carried a risk.

“Yes. My calculation is that without pressure, they don’t perform well. What can I lose? And the ones that are always there are the ones that will always be there. And that is an example of personality.”

Mourinho pointed to the 21-year-old Scott McTominay. “You have the kid that didn’t play well at all. I told him already, he was the first one I spoke to individually in the dressing room. And instead of being critical with him, I was positive with him saying: ‘You played very bad but you did the basic things that one player has to do.’”

Mourinho suggested some of his team are scared of the United shirt. “The basic thing is to keep the emotional balance to play with that red shirt, which is a heavy shirt to wear. But to feel not comfortable to play, saying: ‘Please Mister, take me from the pitch,’ I felt that. So I have nothing to lose in relation to that. The strong ones will be always the strong ones. The young ones, under pressure and under criticism, will improve or will not improve.

“Matic was an island of personality and quality. But a few of the other guys, I saw them scared to play. Look, I cannot say much more. I think it is in relation with personality, in relation to trust, in relation to class. And you know when the sun is shining, and in football the sun is shining when everything goes well, you win matches, you score goals, everything goes in your direction, every player is a good player and every player wants to play and every player wants the ball and every player is confident to play and every player looks amazing.

“When it is dark and cold and that in football means a period of bad results or a bad result like what happened to us a couple of days ago, not everybody has the confidence and the personality to play really. Because to be on the pitch and touch the ball every five minutes, anyone can do it but to be on the pitch and say: ‘Give me the ball because I want to play,’ that is a little bit more difficult. Not all of them were able to do it.”

De Futebol Liverpool Kicks Ass and Takes Names in a 5-0 Blowout of Watford


Liverpool blew out Watford 5-0 to jump into third place with 63 over Spurs. Tottenham is fourth with 61 points however Spurs have a match in hand due FA Cup action.

EPL Match Report on the Reds massacre over the Hornets:” Mohamed Salah struck four times to pull clear in the race for the Premier League Golden Boot as Liverpool eased past Watford 5-0 at Anfield.

The Egyptian put Liverpool ahead after only four minutes, dribbling past Miguel Britos to slot home.

His second came from Andrew Robertson’s cross, which was converted at the far post.

Watford’s hopes of a comeback after the break were hit when Roberto Firmino flicked in Salah’s cross on 49 minutes.

Salah’s first Premier League hat-trick came when he twisted this way and that before poking home on 77 minutes.

He then followed up Danny Ings’ saved shot to move to 28 goals for the season, four ahead of Harry Kane.

The win sent Liverpool two points above Tottenham Hotspur into third, two behind Manchester United.

Watford drop to 11th, on 36 points.”

De Futebol Bournemouth Scores a Big Come From Behind 2-1 Win Over West Brom!

Limited action in the EPL on Saturday due to the FA Cup that’s happening.

Everton defeated Stoke City 2-1.

Crystal Place shutout Huddersfield 2-0. The Eagles jump out of the voce vai zone sixteenth place with 30 points for now.

Both West Ham and Southampton have a match in hand.

The Saints are in eighteenth place with 28 points while the Hammers are in seventeenth place with 30 points.

Bournemouth was down one nil only to come back and snatch a huge come from behind 2-1 win over bottom feeder West Brom 2-1.

The Cherries scored twice in the final thirteen minutes to bury the dagger in the heart of the Baggies.

Jordon Ibe 77th minute and Junior Stanislas 89th minute kept Bournemouth eight points clear of the voce vai zone.

The Cherries are in eleventh place  for now with 36 points.

De Futebol Can Liverpool win the Champions League?

Liverpool thinks they can win the Champions League according to what Dejan Lovren told the Guardians Andy Hunter.

Hunter wrote;” Liverpool flew to Marbella for warm-weather training the morning after the historic night before in Porto, carrying thoughts of where else the form that condemned the Portuguese league leaders to their heaviest European home defeat might take them. For Dejan Lovren it is Kiev and the Champions League final on 26 May. “Why not?” he asked, rhetorically. “Of course we can win it.” For James Milner it is not the location but the level that matters. As the midfielder put it: “This team can go anywhere.”

The Champions League quarter‑final awaits Jürgen Klopp’s team having to all intents sealed their passage with another emphatic European victory at Estádio do Dragão on Wednesday. In the aftermath Klopp played up the importance of the second leg against Porto on 6 March while playing down the extent of his side’s superiority in the 5-0 win. The manager left the distinct impression he feels there is more to come this season. Or, in Mohamed Salah’s case, more of the same after the Egypt international became the quickest Liverpool player to score 30 goals.

Salah’s achievements have left Roma feeling short-changed at receiving ‘only’ £36.9m for their former winger, the sporting director, Monchi, admitted. “In the end we could reach €50m with bonuses,” he said on Thursday. “I still think the price could have been better.”

Southampton might say the same in the post-Neymar transfer world, having banked up to £36m for Sadio Mané. His return to form in Portugal, with the first hat‑trick of his Liverpool career, was one of the reasons Klopp sees room for improvement in the highest‑scoring team in the Champions League this season.

“It was tough on me,” Mané said of his recent dip. “But it is part of football. I never doubted I could help the team and I never stopped working hard in training. I always tried to remain balanced, even when it was not working, because it is my job and I have to do it. As a player sometimes it is not easy for me but I never doubted myself.”

Mané is only one source of encouragement for Klopp, however. While post-match questions focused on another European rout by his team and another stellar contribution from Salah, the manager chose to highlight the impressive defensive work that provided the foundation for victory. The clean sheet was Liverpool’s third in succession on the road, a sequence they have delivered only twice in seven years, with Virgil van Dijk bringing composure on his Champions League debut for the club and sparking an impressive reaction from Lovren alongside him. It was the completeness of Liverpool’s performance in Porto that struck Milner.

The player with the most assists in the Champions League this season said: “The hardest thing in football is putting the ball in the back of the net and we have got players who can do that. The other side we have got to work on is clean sheets. We have got to manage games better. We have talked about it over the last few months as a team and with the manager as well. That, ultimately, is what wins you titles.

“You can be brilliant going forward but everyone remembers the great Newcastle team who were brilliant going forward but they never won anything. They say defences win you championships and, if we can be more solid … We have kept clean sheets recently and our game management has been good. We can still attack, attack but we can now put men behind the ball and take the sting out of games. We are improving at that and that is what is pleasing the most.

“We have got to keep improving and keep experiencing these games in Europe, the big nights that matter and learning from the process. We have had a good result and performance but there are going to be times, hopefully in the next few years, when you have got to knuckle down and fight and find a way to win. That is big game experience and being in these competitions. There is ability and talent in that dressing room but it is a young dressing room. But this team can go anywhere.”

Lovren described Liverpool’s game-management against Porto as “serious football” and evidence that lessons have been learned from letting a three-goal lead slip at Sevilla in the group stage. “When you are 2-0, 3-0 up you think it is over but it is not and you still have a lot to play,” the Croatian defender said. “We showed quality and character and from everyone it was brilliant. We have so much quality that we can beat everyone if we are on our top level – simple as that.”

De Futebol Arsenal on to the Quarterfinals of The Europa League!

Arsenal defeated AC Milan 3-1 to advance to the quarterfinals of the Europa League.

The Guardians David Hytner:” Danny Welbeck thought about it. He had felt the slightest touch from the Milan left-back, Ricardo Rodríguez, inside the area and he went down. The official behind the goal thought about it some more. The seconds ticked by. Milan were unconcerned. Then, a crackle across the earpieces and there was the Swedish referee, Jonas Eriksson, pointing to the spot. Arsenal could sense their place in the Europa League quarter-finals.

Welbeck scored and Arsène Wenger, at long last, could feel his luck was in. His Arsenal team had trailed to Hakan Calhanoglu’s long-range blast and, at that point, things had become angsty. Instead, Welbeck put them back in charge. The impression that it was Arsenal’s night was reinforced when Granit Xhaka made the tie safe on 71 minutes. Again, there had been little hint of danger. The shot from outside the area looked routine for Gianluigi Donnarumma, the young hope of Italian goalkeeping. Yet he fumbled dreadfully and that was that.

On a night when the pre-match fears of another raft of no-shows among the Arsenal support were unfounded, so was the prospect of another crash from their team. Welbeck was even able to help himself to a late goal after Donnarumma had parried Aaron Ramsey’s header.

Wenger had spoken about the “psychological problem” of bringing a lead from the away leg. It meant the opposition had “nothing to lose”, he said. The balance between whether to stick or twist can be difficult to strike.

Arsenal were warned in the previous round against Östersunds, the minnows from Sweden. Three-nil up from the first leg, they fell 2-0 down at home after 23 minutes before they stabilised. The hope was it would not prove another nervous night.

This is Arsenal and there were always going to be wobbles. With 46 seconds on the clock, they suffered the sort of defensive lapse that has blighted their season. Fabio Borini crossed and, suddenly, there was Andre Silva in space. The angle was not inviting and he shot into the side-net. It was a let-off. The early scare aside, Arsenal settled the quicker and, with Héctor Bellerín pressing high and providing an outlet on the right, they got on to the front foot. The collective confidence has been fragile. Here, there were positive stirrings, even if it was difficult to relax. They created a fistful of openings.

The Milan fans had taken their seats long before kick-off – they packed the away enclosure and fired the atmosphere. But the good news from an Arsenal perspective was that the home areas were practically full. The empty seats that have pockmarked their past few matches were not a feature.

Arsenal enjoyed decent backing, even after they conceded the first goal, which had come out of nothing. Calhanoglu cut across his right-footed shot from 25 yards and he got the ball to dip and fade into the far corner. David Ospina was powerless.

Arsenal had to respond. Thanks in part to the officials, they did so. Ramsey had worked Donnarumma moments after the Calhanoglu opener and, after Welbeck’s penalty, which he converted nervelessly, Milan would be further incensed when the ball hit Calum Chambers’ hand inside the area. No penalty.

As ever, Arsenal did not convince at the back. But they could point to a clutch of shooting chances in the first half. Welbeck had put a move on Leonardo Bonucci in the 25th minute before seeing Donnarumma block at the near post while in added time, Welbeck touched back for Henrikh Mkhitaryan, who nodded wide and Jack Wilshere extended the goalkeeper with a decent hit from the fringes oWenger had started with Wilshere, fresh from his England recall, as the No 10 in a 4-2-3-1 system – with Mesut Özil on the right – and, with Ramsey ever keen to break forward from a deeper role, Arsenal posed problems. There was an enforced change in central defence on 11 minutes when Laurent Koscielny hurt his side after an aerial challenge; on came Chambers. But Wenger’s team appeared determined to force the issue, rather than protect what they had.

Milan’s challenge in the second half was to put the penalty decision behind them, which was hard. The injustice burned. Their supporters had whistled the big-screen replays of Welbeck’s conversion during half-time.

It was a low-octane affair, with Arsenal eager to draw Milan’s sting with periods of possession. But the visitors pushed. They knew that the next goal could re-release the cat among the pigeons. Suso, who would be booked for diving, dragged a shot wide while Patrick Cutrone fluffed a volley when gloriously placed. Andre Silva also went down in the area, looking for a penalty. He might claim it had worked for Welbeck.

Mkhitaryan and Ramsey had half-chances at the start of the second half but it was Milan that knocked on the door. The substitute, Nikola Kalinic blew a free header and Wenger had seen enough to introduce Mohamed Elneny to thicken the midfield. Donnarumma’s error, though, sucked the wind out of Milan.

De Futebol Flamengo Stinks The Joint out in a Loss

Boo Menago drops a shocker to Macaé a 1-0 loss. Flamengo drops to second place in Group B.

Globo Esporte:” A derrota por 1 a 0 para o Macaé não foi o resultado esperado, mas serviu para Carpegiani fazer testes. O treinador usou Willian Arão pela primeira vez como titular na temporada e gostou do que viu. Ele deixou aberta a possibilidade de escalar o volante ao lado de Jonas contra o Emelec, abrindo mão de um meia.

– Eu queria ver o meio. Por isso trouxe este meio. Queria justamente ver a volta do Arão com o Jonas. Gostei do funcionamento. Tenho um tempo para pensar no que vou fazer na quarta, mas estou seguro. Vamos buscar a vitória.

Nesse caso, o treinador voltaria a usar o esquema que reinou no Flamengo nas duas temporadas passadas, com dois volantes, um homem na armação (Diego) e dois abertos pelos lados (Everton e Paquetá). Carpegiani não citou nomes, mas, se optar por Arão, Everton Ribeiro é o mais cotado para deixar a equipe titular.

Satisfeito em jogar 90 minutos pela primeira vez em 2018, Arão fez uma autoavaliação e disse estar preparado para iniciar quarta-feira, pela Libertadores, se Carpegiani assim optar.

– Estou muito feliz em poder voltar a jogar. Eu sofri a minha primeira lesão na carreira. Voltei aos poucos. Joguei 10 minutos na semana passada, outros 10 na quarta-feira. Foi importante participar, me movimentei bem, estou feliz com meu desempenho. Estou preparado para isso. Mas todos têm condições de jogar.

De Futebol Man U Crashes and Burns Out of The Champions League!

Man U crashed and burned out of the Champions league with a 2-1 loss to Sevilla at Old Trafford.

The Guardians Jamie Jackson:” This elimination of Manchester United from the Champions League was deserved. José Mourinho’s team barely raised a whimper against a Sevilla side who finally took their chances through Wissam Ben Yedder.

The best context to place this in is Vincenzo Montella’s team are fifth in La Liga with a goal difference of minus six and had won only two of their six Champions League group games.

Mourinho’s failure to guide his team into the quarter-finals is further compounded by how the much-maligned David Moyes did take United through to the last eight four years ago.

Ben Yedder had only just been introduced yet the space the Frenchman luxuriated in for the opener meant the forward could hardly fail to score from Pablo Sarabia’s pass. His second was as scruffy as United were slipshod as he beat Ashley Young to a header which was touched on to the crossbar by David de Gea, dropped down and then after one bounce spun over the goalline.

Romelu Lukaku grabbed one back minutes from time but this dismal defeat that had Old Trafford emptying before the final whistle means United can only realistically now claim the FA Cup.

Mourinho made two changes from Saturday’s win against Liverpool, replacing Scott McTominay with Marouane Fellaini and Juan Mata with Jesse Lingard. Following a thigh injury Paul Pogba was on the bench and whether he was fit to start was moot. His absence would prove telling as Fellaini and Nemanja Matic never controlled the contest.

Vincenzo Montella changed two players, too. The cup-tied Miguel Layun plus Nolito, who was a reserve, were excluded for Simon Kjaer and Joaquin Correa.

At the start United’s tempo was good though this also suited their opponents. After pressing Mourinho’s men, Éver Banega delivered a first corner for Joaquin Correa to glance a header that just cleared De Gea’s bar.

Further uncertainty ensued when Antonio Valencia hesitated, mishit a punt out of his area, and Franco Vázquez blasted wide. Later, Eric Bailly gifted the ball to Vázquez and, quickly, Luis Muriel pulled the trigger and United were relieved when his radar proved off.

Already this had the feel of a long night for Mourinho’s men. An inability to slow the contest down and retain possession was the issue. An illustration came when Ashley Young hit a hopeful 40-yard pass to Lukaku that went to Clement Lenglet when a short ball to a nearby team-mate was required. The contest was bypassing United’s midfield in the hope that Fellaini or Lukaku could make something happen from a hail Mary dropping on them from the Manchester sky.

Any trickery was produced by the Spanish side. Marcus Rashford became the latest to cede the ball cheaply and suddenly United were turned and Muriel was beating De Gea with a shot that rolled wide of his left post.

When Rashford did discover subtlety with a chip into the onrushing Lukaku, the No 9’s touch was non-existent. This showed how uneven United were. Rashford burst down the right and into a tackle. Lingard picked out Fellaini and his header went awry. As the first half neared the break it had been akin to a rough and tumble Championship affair of little rhythm.

United were missing Pogba and the question was whether he would be introduced at some point to try and turn the tie.

Fellaini then drilled a left-foot effort that warmed Sergio Rico’s fingers: it was about as good as United’s first half got.

The truth was that if Sevilla had taken their opportunities United would have been in serious strife as the second half kicked off. As it was they stared down the barrel because of the away goal rule, knowing if Montella’s team scored they would need two, which United had not managed against Spanish opposition since 2003, home or away in the competition.

Yet, the rot continued. Correa produced a scare when he was found in space in front of De Gea. As he went to shoot Bailly swooped and made a crucial tackle, ending the danger.

United’s problem was as obvious as their inability to solve it: a lack of composure despite Mourinho having the interval to right this.

Lingard did manage a shot on target, which Rico turned away for a corner. From this Rashford eventually whacked the ball across goal and found no one. Now came a rare flash of Alexis Sánchez brilliance as he skipped away from three black shirts and curved the ball to Rashford but the forward could only smack the ball into the stands. Mourinho had seen enough and on the hour swapped Pogba for Fellaini.

Disaster was about to strike via Ben Yedder, who has a knack of scoring against English sides. He was Sevilla’s saviour in the autumn, scoring three against Liverpool across both their drawn group games.

After the opener Mourinho threw on Mata for Valencia and Anthony Martial for Lingard but Ben Yedder headed a second – his eighth for the season in Europe – and United were heading out. For Mourinho, the inquisition now begins.”