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Liverpool 0-0 Arsenal (4-5 pens): Bernd Leno the hero after penalty shootout

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liverpool 0 0 arsenal 4 5 pens bernd leno the hero after penalty shootout

Jurgen Klopp walked away from the crowd and buried his face under his snood. He looked like a man who knew what was coming next and so it proved.

All night he had seen Bernd Leno, Arsenal’s keeper, wage a one-man war against Liverpool, keeping out a succession of goal-bound shots. Why would things be any different in a penalty shootout? They weren’t. Leno was the hero of the hour, denying Divock Origi and Harry Wilson from 12 yards and, somehow, Arsenal found themselves in the Carabao Cup quarter-finals.

Liverpool had enough chances to win as comfortably as they had done three days earlier, in the Premier League, but they were made to pay by Leno and, as it turned out, Arsenal repeated the feat of beating Klopp’s side in the same manner as they had done at Wembley in the Community Shield five weeks ago.

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33877092 8795639 image a 57 1601585728240

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33877384 8795639 image a 69 1601586284955

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33877318 8795639 image a 70 1601586378966

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Credit to Arsenal, for whom Joe Willock converted the decisive penalty with a shot that squirmed under the body of Adrian in sudden death, but Liverpool will be kicking themselves as to how they managed to let this one slip. They wanted to win this and their team sheet said as much.

There was something incongruous about seeing Mohamed Salah appearing in this competition. In his three years at Anfield, his only involvement in the League Cup was a three-minute cameo when Liverpool were trying to peg back Chelsea in a third round tie in September 2018.

Salah had been wonderful when the sides met on Monday, a scampering and scurrying pest who drove Arsenal to distraction. There were no goals for him then but his performance provided another reminder that his game has improved a notch from last season. 

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33877324 8795639 image a 72 1601586404424

Takumi Minamino wasted Liverpool's best chance to score during the first period when his rebound effort hit the crossbar

Takumi Minamino wasted Liverpool's best chance to score during the first period when his rebound effort hit the crossbar

Takumi Minamino wasted Liverpool’s best chance to score during the first period when his rebound effort hit the crossbar

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (second right) endured a quiet hour before being substituted in the 61st minute of the tie

Liverpool's Mohamed Salah (second right) endured a quiet hour before being substituted in the 61st minute of the tie

Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (second right) endured a quiet hour before being substituted in the 61st minute of the tie

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah missed an early opportunity to give his side the lead after being foiled by Liverpool's Adrian

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah missed an early opportunity to give his side the lead after being foiled by Liverpool's Adrian

Arsenal striker Eddie Nketiah missed an early opportunity to give his side the lead after being foiled by Liverpool’s Adrian

LIVERPOOL VS ARSENAL – MATCH FACTS

Liverpool: Adrian, Neco Williams, Rhys Williams, Van Dijk (Gomez 61), Milner, Grujic, Jones, Wilson, Jota (Wijnaldum 76), Minamino, Salah (Origi 61)

Subs not used: Fabinho, Robertson, Kelleher, Elliott

Booked: Minamino, Wilson

Arsenal: Leno, Cedric, Gabriel, Holding, Kolasinac, Willock, Xhaka, Pepe, Ceballos (Elneny 68), Saka (Maitland-Niles 86), Nketiah (Lacazette 82)

Subs not used: Tierney, Runarsson, Luiz, Nelson

Booked: Xhaka, Cedric

Referee: Kevin Friend (Leicestershire)

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His inclusion here, however, did not pay immediate dividends. Arsenal are learning how to become dogmatic since Mikel Arteta began knocking them into shape and they were more than happy to sit in and frustrate Liverpool, while looking for gains of their own on the break.

It was Arsenal who had the first sight of goal in the 20th minute but Eddie Nketiah was thwarted by Adrian’s perfectly-timed challenge, the goalkeeper pilfering the ball off Nketiah’s foot as he shaped to shoot. A fraction out and Arsenal would have had a penalty.

A goal at that point would have brought the game to life but Arsenal didn’t want to deviate too much from their plan. The next step in their development under Arteta will be to come to a stadium such as this and get on the front foot to seize the initiative.

So the onus was on Liverpool to find a way through, prodding and probing and played out to a constant soundtrack of Virgil van Dijk bellowing. Curtis Jones, brimming with enthusiasm, did his best to conjure something, at one point even attempting a ‘Rabona’ cross.

Liverpool thought they had a penalty in the 41st minute, when Diogo Jota wriggled away from Dani Ceballos, but full credit to referee Kevin Friend who made the perfect call, spotting that the infringement had occurred a fraction outside Arsenal’s area.

James Milner’s free-kick came to nothing and Arsenal managed to clear but Liverpool managed to recycle the attack and a super cross from Marko Grujic picked out Jota who had again sneaked in on the blind side but the Portuguese’s header was turned away by Bernd Leno. 

Arsenal's Dani Ceballos makes a sliding challenge on Liverpool's Diogo Jota during a closely fought first half

Arsenal's Dani Ceballos makes a sliding challenge on Liverpool's Diogo Jota during a closely fought first half

Arsenal’s Dani Ceballos makes a sliding challenge on Liverpool’s Diogo Jota during a closely fought first half

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk jokes with team-mate Jordan Henderson after departing as a second half substitute

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk jokes with team-mate Jordan Henderson after departing as a second half substitute

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk jokes with team-mate Jordan Henderson after departing as a second half substitute

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33877706 8795639 image a 74 1601586497266

As good as the save was, Leno should really have been left picking the ball out of his net but, from the rebound, Taki Minamino crashed a drive against the bar and the manner in which the Japan international grimaced as he watched the rebound bounce off, let you know this miss was glaring.

Half-time did not exactly kill Liverpool’s momentum, though. They started quickly again, hemming Arsenal back, and Leno again came to his team’s rescue in the 52nd minute when he got down quickly to save Van Dijk’s toe poke that appeared destined for the bottom corner.

This was a sign of things to come. Arteta made eight changes to the team that had played here on Monday but altering Leno never crossed his mind and with good reason; Arteta believes Leno is one of the best goalkeepers in Europe and he was about to get ample opportunity to show why. 

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33873888 8795639 image a 77 1601586528360

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno punches away a ball played into the box in front of his defenders

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno punches away a ball played into the box in front of his defenders

Arsenal goalkeeper Bernd Leno punches away a ball played into the box in front of his defenders

Leno made a series of excellent saves to keep Liverpool at bay in the fourth round tie especially during the second half

Leno made a series of excellent saves to keep Liverpool at bay in the fourth round tie especially during the second half

Leno made a series of excellent saves to keep Liverpool at bay in the fourth round tie especially during the second half

The two sides were facing off at Anfield for the second time inside a week following a Premier League meeting on Monday

The two sides were facing off at Anfield for the second time inside a week following a Premier League meeting on Monday

The two sides were facing off at Anfield for the second time inside a week following a Premier League meeting on Monday

First there was a plunging dive down to his left to push a drive from Grujic around the post. The Serbian’s shot was firm and true but Leno was equal to the challenge in the 58th minute, ensuring there was no rebound for those in Red who were closing in.

Better was to come in the 61st minute when Jota wonderfully controlled a raking pass from Jones and drilled a shot towards the top corner but, again, Leno turned the shot away for a corner. Jota, increasingly exasperated, puffed out his cheeks and wondered what he needed to do win this fight.

Such was Liverpool’s dominance, there was that feeling lurking that Arsenal would make them pay for taking their chances and, really, that moment should have arrived in the 69th minute when Nicolas Pepe crossed for Rob Holding but, from point blank range, he headed straight at Adrian.

Arteta had squawked and chirped his way through the game, asking for every decision to be given to Arsenal, but he could only look on in disbelief as his team’s best moment had gone begging. He need not have worried. Leno was there to protect them, right to the very end.

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Portugal legend Luis Figo claims new European Premier League ‘will DESTROY football as we know it’

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portugal legend luis figo claims new european premier league will destroy football as we know it

Portugal legend Luis Figo has slammed the idea of a new £4.6billion European Premier League by claiming that it would ‘destroy football as we know it’.

The 47-year-old took to Twitter to ask ‘everyone’ in football to oppose the proposals following the news of the latest attempts to re-shape the face of European football.

According to Sky News, the new tournament is backed by FIFA and Wall Street giant JP Morgan, who are assembling a £4.6billion funding package.

Luis Figo says new European Premier League proposals would 'destroy football as we know it'

Luis Figo says new European Premier League proposals would 'destroy football as we know it'

Luis Figo says new European Premier League proposals would ‘destroy football as we know it’

The Portugal legend took to Twitter to slam the 'greedy' elite clubs that are said to be involved

The Portugal legend took to Twitter to slam the 'greedy' elite clubs that are said to be involved

The Portugal legend took to Twitter to slam the ‘greedy’ elite clubs that are said to be involved

United and Liverpool are among more than a dozen teams from England, France, Germany and Italy in negotiations about becoming founder members of a competition that could start as early as 2022. 

Figo took aim at the elite clubs proposing the idea, labelling them as ‘greedy’ before insisting that it would ‘kill other clubs and leagues that fans love’.

‘What I read about this Super League idea will destroy football as we know it,’ Figo tweeted on Wednesday

‘It’s all about greed and keeping the game for a few elite clubs, while killing the other clubs and leagues that fans love. Football should unite! Everyone should oppose it!’ 

Manchester United and Liverpool are reportedly key players in talks over the new competition

Manchester United and Liverpool are reportedly key players in talks over the new competition

Manchester United and Liverpool are reportedly key players in talks over the new competition

Figo has joined both Gary Neville and Jamie Carragher in condemning the idea, who voiced their disapproval shortly after the news was announced on Tuesday.

Carragher tweeted ‘Oh f*** off’ in response to the idea before United legend Neville called for an ‘independent regulator’ within football, later linking to a petition.

The European Premier League would reportedly have 18 teams and involve fixtures played during the regular European season with the top-ranked sides advancing to a knockout format.

Prize money worth hundreds of millions of pounds would be on offer each year.

Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher (left) and Gary Neville reacted with dismay to the news

Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher (left) and Gary Neville reacted with dismay to the news

Sky Sports pundits Jamie Carragher (left) and Gary Neville reacted with dismay to the news

Carragher led the social media backlash against the proposals of a European Premier League

Carragher led the social media backlash against the proposals of a European Premier League

Carragher led the social media backlash against the proposals of a European Premier League

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville also weighed in instantly to call for an independent regulator

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville also weighed in instantly to call for an independent regulator

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville also weighed in instantly to call for an independent regulator

The news comes as a fresh bombshell after Liverpool and United were the driving force behind the radical Project Big Picture proposals that emerged last week.

That would have seen the number of teams in the Premier League reduced from 20 to 18, the scrapping of the EFL Cup and Community Shield, and power concentrated in the hands of the so-called ‘Big Six.’

The plans were abandoned last week after a vote of Premier League clubs and condemnation by the Government. They had gained the support of the EFL because they included a £250million rescue package for cash-strapped league clubs.

The latest plans for a European league also drew criticism from fans on social media.

Real Madrid are expected to make up part of the Spanish contingent in the new competition

Real Madrid are expected to make up part of the Spanish contingent in the new competition

Real Madrid are expected to make up part of the Spanish contingent in the new competition

Lionel Messi's Barcelona would join them in a competition among Europe's elite teams

Lionel Messi's Barcelona would join them in a competition among Europe's elite teams

Lionel Messi’s Barcelona would join them in a competition among Europe’s elite teams

The Football Supporters' Association led a chorus of discontent from fans at the news

The Football Supporters' Association led a chorus of discontent from fans at the news

The Football Supporters’ Association led a chorus of discontent from fans at the news 

The Football Supporters’ Association tweeted: ‘Seriously, if you’re a club owner or football financier who thinks a global health crisis is the perfect opportunity to rip up and reshape football to suit billionaires… you have no idea how much fans detest your concept. It will not go how you think.’

One fan wrote: ‘Greed must be the driver, would it be any different from the Champions League.’

Another user tweeted: ‘There’s literally no point in a European Premier League. What makes the Champions League so special is that you get multiple big teams that rarely play each other which makes every match a special occasion. Seeing them play each other twice a season takes that away.’

Another comment said: ‘A European Premier League would absolutely kill football off. Worth 6 billion with the winner getting hundreds of millions in prize money meanwhile small clubs and non league teams are struggling to stay afloat. The game is completely ruined.’

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34621542 8859821 image a 1 1603281574499

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This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Celtic star Nir Bitton says he couldn’t even STAND as he opens up on Covid-19 hell that left him fearing for his health

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celtic star nir bitton says he couldnt even stand as he opens up on covid 19 hell that left him fearing for his health

NIR BITTON has told of his Covid-19 hell and revealed: I couldn’t even stand up.

The Celtic star picked up the deadly coronavirus while away on international duty with Israel.

Nir Bitton has opened up on his recent Covid-19 hell

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Nir Bitton has opened up on his recent Covid-19 hellCredit: PA:Press Association

Bitton admits he underestimated the disease and called for urgent talks to limit who can be involved in next month’s international fixtures.

He said: “I went through some hard days with this virus. It wasn’t easy at all. Before I got the disease I underestimated it, but it was not pleasant.

“I had headaches, my muscles ached and I could not stand up. I had to sit.

“You do not know what you are heading towards. Everyone knows how the disease starts, but not how it ends.

“If it affected me, a young and athletic guy, I do not know how it affects older people.

“We see deaths and I need to say to people, watch out. Stay at home and look after your relatives. This is not an easy disease.

“I am still without taste and smell, but I hope it will come back soon and that the hardships are behind me.”

Bitton is now allowed out of isolation from his Glasgow home but faces a host of tests before he can make a Celtic return.

The experienced Hoops defender insists his club’s Covid-19 regime is watertight, with players all following orders.

But Bitton reckons it’s no coincidence that there was a flurry of positive tests during the international break.

Israel team-mate Hatem Elhamed and Celtic striker Odsonne Edouard caught the bug and missed Saturday’s derby defeat to Rangers.

Bitton was forced to miss the Old Firm Derby last weekend

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Bitton was forced to miss the Old Firm Derby last weekendCredit: PA:Press Association

Ryan Christie was also forced to isolate for 14 days after Scotland team-mate Stuart Armstrong tested positive.

Bitton insists any player from a club with a recent outbreak shouldn’t be allowed to play international football.

He said: “At Celtic we have been in a regime for four months since I returned from Israel.

“No families, no restaurants, no friends and almost no leisure life. We take care of ourselves.

“Then you go to the national team and suddenly there is a sick player.

“You find out after a few days and you know there will probably be more patients.

LB CHAMPS LEAGUE GROUPv5

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“There is no solution. The only solution is to cancel the squad meetings and it will not happen.

“If a team suddenly has some positives, sometimes you should not take a risk.

“You have to keep players in an environment that is comfortable and sterile.

“If that means not inviting players from a team that has had an outbreak, then that’s what it should be.”

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Celtic star Leigh Griffiths in lucky escape after horror smash in Lanarkshire

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Valencia fans hire a MARIACHI BAND to follow unpopular club directors as they protest against owners

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valencia fans hire a mariachi band to follow unpopular club directors as they protest against owners

Valencia fans protested against the ownership of their club by hiring a mariachi band to follow their directors around the city. 

Supporters are not able to vent their anger in stadiums due to current Covid-19 restrictions but found a unique way of getting their message across on Monday.

In pictures and videos posted by Libertad VCF on Twitter, a mariachi band can be seen playing music while directors Kim Koh and Joey Lim sat a cafe. The officials tried to lose the musicians but were followed all the way into Valencia’s offices.

Valencia hired Valencia mariachi band to follow their unpopular directors around the city

Valencia hired Valencia mariachi band to follow their unpopular directors around the city

Valencia hired Valencia mariachi band to follow their unpopular directors around the city

The band started playing music while directors Joey Lim and Kim Koh sat at an outside cafe

The band started playing music while directors Joey Lim and Kim Koh sat at an outside cafe

The band started playing music while directors Joey Lim and Kim Koh sat at an outside cafe

Supporters hired the band to protest the running of the club with fans unable to attend games

Supporters hired the band to protest the running of the club with fans unable to attend games

Supporters hired the band to protest the running of the club with fans unable to attend games

Fans have become increasingly disenchanted with the running of the club since Lim took over in 2015.

The LaLiga side sold key players including Dani Parejo and Francis Coquelin who went to Villarreal while Rodrigo Moreno joined Leeds and Ferran Torres signed for Manchester City. The four sales brought in around £54million. 

Javi Gracia, who is Lim’s seventh manager in five years, went public on the this not being the project he signed up for. In September, he said: ‘I can see the squad just as everybody else can. It’s been weakened because of the departures. I have the hope that the reinforcements that were promised to me will come but no one has arrived.’

Peter Lim bought the LaLiga side in 2015 and is already on his seventh manager in five yers

Peter Lim bought the LaLiga side in 2015 and is already on his seventh manager in five yers

Peter Lim bought the LaLiga side in 2015 and is already on his seventh manager in five yers

But despite promises of replacements for the players sold, Garcia did not see any new arrivals on deadline day. 

Gracia remained in charge after a meeting with club president Anil Murthy at the start of the month but Murthy has also come in for criticism. 

Midfielder Geoffrey Kondogbia launched an extraordinary attack on the president last week, claiming he has ‘destroyed the club.’

‘Having already destroyed an ambitious project, you had to deceive your coach and, finally, me. Thank you, Anil Murthy,’ Kondogbia posted to his Instagram stories.

Ferran Torres was one of four key players that was sold during the summer transfer window

Ferran Torres was one of four key players that was sold during the summer transfer window

Ferran Torres was one of four key players that was sold during the summer transfer window

Javi Gracia has publicly aired his concerns at the club's inability to replace the sold players

Javi Gracia has publicly aired his concerns at the club's inability to replace the sold players

Javi Gracia has publicly aired his concerns at the club’s inability to replace the sold players

Valencia had three different managers last season and finished well short of the Europa League spot which would have eased some of the financial pressures imposed by the coronavirus pandemic. 

The club won the Copa del Rey just 16 months ago and qualified for the Champions League before the 2019-2020 season under the management of Marcelino.

But he was sacked in September last season after disagreements with Lim after the coach asking for more autonomy.

The series of events has left Valencia supporters increasingly frustrated and with fans set to be away from football stadiums for the foreseeable future, they may look for more novel ways of venting their anger. 

Geoffrey Kondogbia launched an attack on club president Anil Murthy for 'destroying' the club

Geoffrey Kondogbia launched an attack on club president Anil Murthy for 'destroying' the club

Geoffrey Kondogbia launched an attack on club president Anil Murthy for ‘destroying’ the club

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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