Man Utd crash out of UCL; Ronaldo outshines Messi

New Delhi, Dec 9 (Agencies/AP) | Publish Date: 12/9/2020 12:17:05 PM IST

Manchester United are out of the Champions League as early as the group stages as the Premier League giants suffered a shock 2-3 defeat to German side, RB Leipzig, in a crucial Group H encounter away from home on Tuesday. 

According to India Today, United have finished below Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain as they slipped out of contention for a knock out berth.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men could have progressed even if they had secured a draw on Tuesday but Leipzig sealed the deal early with 2 goals inside the first 13 minutes. Justin Kluivert’s strike in the 69th minute made it 3-0 but Leipzig had to overcome a late comeback from Manchester United to seal a memorable win.

Bruno Fernandes penalty in the 80th minute gave Manchester United a ray of hope which was amplified after Paul Pogba’s header two minutes later. However, United ran out of steam as they kept searching for an equaliser without much success.

Under-fire boss Solskjaer pointed out that coming back from behind is not easy at Champions League even as United fans were hopeful of another fightback following their comeback-from-behind wins over Southampton and West Ham United at the Premier League.

Juventus beat Barca 0-3 at home

Meanwhile, Cristiano Ronaldo scored a brace to help Juventus beat Barcelona 3-0 and secure the top spot in Group G. Ronaldo scored from the spot twice as he faced his arch-rival, Lionel Messi, for the first time since joining the Turin-based side in 2018. All eyes were on the latest chapter of the famed rivalry between Ronaldo and Messi. The duo was expected to meet earlier this year in their early-campaign fixture in Turin but Ronaldo was ruled out of the fixture after he contracted Covid-19. On Tuesday, Ronaldo was switched on as he not only led the attack from the front but was often seen tracking back. Towards the end of the one-sided encounter, Ronaldo tracked back and dispossessed Messi before leading a counter-attack.   It was a humiliating defeat for Barcelona at home as the La Liga giants’ problems continue under new boss Ronald Koeman. The Catalans are 9th on the league table with just 4 wins in their first 10 matches. However, both Juventus and Barcelona have sealed a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League, finishing the group stages tied on 15 points each.

Chelsea held by Krasnodar

A second-string Chelsea side was held 1-1 at home by Krasnodar in the Champions League on Tuesday, in a match where there was little at stake.

Jorginho converted a penalty four minutes after Rémy Cabella had put Krasnodar in front. Chelsea had already qualified for the knockout stage as Group E champion, while Krasnodar knew it would finish third and play in the Europa League.

It was still a surprise at Stamford Bridge when Cabella gave Krasnodar the lead with a tidy finish in the 24th minute. Chelsea was punished for standing off the visiting attackers in the area, with center backs Antonio Rüdiger and Andreas Christensen far too tentative.

Chelsea hit back almost immediately, however, with Jorginho burying a penalty in his trademark fashion to level at 1-1. The Italy midfielder slotted home after Tammy Abraham was fouled by Krasnodar defender Kaio. It was Jorginho’s first penalty since missing in the 4-0 win in Krasnodar, in a failure that cost him Chelsea’s main spot-kick duties.

Referee implicated in match-fixing case

Czech referee Pavel Kralovec, who officiates in the Champions League, has been implied in a local match-fixing scandal, Czech media said Wednesday. The case involves former Czech Football Association (FACR) deputy head Roman Berbr, who has been in custody over suspected match-fixing since October. Citing police wiretaps, the DNES broadsheet said Berbr had called Kralovec ahead of July’s Czech Cup final, in which Sparta Prague beat Slovan Liberec 2-1 to reach the Europa League group stage. “Very simply, I need just one political thing, OK? You will understand. Josef Krula stopped by on Monday,” Berbr said, according to the wiretap. Krula is Sparta’s sports manager and a former referee. Kralovec, who answered that he did understand, came under fire after the game as he had notably refused to send off Sparta midfielder Martin Frydek for stepping on an opponent, despite calls from the video referee.

On Tuesday night, the 43-year-old Kralovec managed the Champions League game pitting Chelsea against Krasnodar.

Sparta, who have lost a chance to advance from the Europa League Group H also comprising AC Milan, Lille and Celtic Glasgow, have denied any wrongdoing and said they want “thorough investigation” of the case.

Berbr was one of 19 people detained by police in October as part of an organised group in the match-fixing case, four of whom have ended up in custody.

He stepped down from his position as a result.

A 66-year-old former referee, Berbr held his post since 2013 and according to local media has been pulling the strings in Czech football for years.

Media have made allegations over Berbr in relation to corruption cases and bullying at the FACR, but he has never been charged.

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His wife Dagmar Damkova, the first female referee in the Czech Republic, stepped down from a post on the UEFA referees committee following the charges.


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