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Cristiano Ronaldo’s telling response to Bruno Fernandes’ injury-time penalty miss

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Manchester United were beaten at home for the second time in a matter of days, with Aston Villa leaving Old Trafford with a 1-0 win.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made 11 changes from the side that lost to West Ham in the Carabao Cup, bringing his senior stars back into the fold.

But it was another disjointed performance, with Dean Smith’s side creating plenty of chances on the counter.

United themselves spurned some good chances, including a Paul Pogba header which looked destined for the back of the net, only to go wide.

But with just two minutes remaining, Villa took the lead when Kortney Hause beat Edinson Cavani in the air to thump a header past David de Gea.

However, for the second Man United league game in a row, the drama went right to the final kick with another injury-time penalty awarded.


Last week, it was last minute joy for Solskjaer’s men when De Gea saved Mark Noble’s 96th minute spotkick.

This time around, it was United that were handed the chance of a last gasp reprieve. Goalscorer Hause was adjudged to have handled the ball, with Mike Dean pointing to the spot.

This time around, it was United that were handed the chance of a last gasp reprieve. Goalscorer Hause was adjudged to have handled the ball, with Mike Dean pointing to the spot

Then came the huge decision of whether Bruno Fernandes or Cristiano Ronaldo would pick up the ball to earn the hosts a point.

It’s the first penalty United have been awarded since Ronaldo’s return earlier this month, with debates raging over which Portuguese international would be given the responsibility.

Ronaldo had scored four times in his first three games back at the club, but on this occasion, stood down for his compatriot, who has an unerring record from the spot.

Fernandes had missed just one penalty since signing for United in January 2020, scoring a staggering 21 times.

His unique run-up has flummoxed keepers across the country and continent, but up against Emi Martinez he switched his style and tried to blast it home.

Instead of it smashing into the back of the net however, it flew into the Stretford End, clearing the crossbar by several yards.

But if there was any resentment from Ronaldo not being given the penalty, he certainly didn’t show it in the immediate aftermath on the pitch.

As Fernandes stood disconsolate in the area, the 36-year-old was the first to approach him, offering him a reassuring tap.

The loss against Villa means United have now lost three of their last four games in all competitions, piling pressure on manager Solskjaer.

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Every Premier League player expected to be at AFCON and games they will miss

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Premier League players expected to be at 2022 AFCON and games they will miss

The Africa Cup of Nations is set to hamper Premier League clubs up and down the country in and around the New Year.

The continental tournament is always held midway through the season and sees established stars head away for a number of weeks.

Around 40 players will depart after the games on Boxing Day with some not returning until the second week of February.

Premier League clubs have contested the laws around players jetting off to represent their nations during the pandemic, but any hopes of keeping their players for the entirety of the Festive period looks slim.

FIFA rules state “players must be released and start travel to their representative team no later than Monday morning the week preceding the week when the relevant final competition starts.”

The African Cup of Nations officially begins on January 9 and concludes on February 6.

Cameroon kick off the tournament against Burkina Faso which means December 27 – 13 days previous – is the date players will be leaving their clubs.

A heavily stocked schedule means team’s with players whose countries go deep into the tournament may miss up to eight games across the Premier League and FA Cup.

There is an apparent grey area, based on certain nations beginning their tournament after the official January 9 start dates.

In those circumstances there is hope that agreements can be met which could see players stay for an extra day or two, which in some cases may be crucial.

Jurgen Klopp will be without the duo for festive games at Leicester and Chelsea – played across the space of five days.

Arsenal, Chelsea, Crystal Palace and Leicester will also lose key players for the duration of the tournament.

The Blues will see Edouard Mendy leave in what is a major blow whilst the likes of Wilfried Zaha, Thomas Partey, Wilfred Ndidi and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang will all jet off.

Mikel Arteta will therefore have to endure a game with Manchester City and a north London derby minus some of his leading lights.

The Foxes meanwhile could be without Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho for both their games with Liverpool, such is the proximity of the two fixtures.

Here are Premier league players that will feature in the competition:

Arsenal

Thomas Partey (Ghana)

Mohamed Elneny (Egypt)

Pierre Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon)

Nicolas Pepe (Ivory Coast)

Aston Villa

Mahmoud Trezeguet (Egypt)

Bertrand Traore (Burkina Faso)

Marvelous Nakamba (Zimbabwe)

Brentford

Julian Jeanvier (Guinea)

Frank Onyeka (Nigeria)

Tariqe Fosu-Henry (Ghana)

Brighton

Yves Bissouma (Mali)

Burnley

Maxwel Cornet (Ivory Coast)

Chelsea

Edouard Mendy (Senegal)

Hakim Ziyech (Morocco)

Crystal Palace

Cheikhou Kouyate (Senegal)

Jeffrey Schlupp (Ghana)

Jordan Ayew (Ghana)

Wilfried Zaha (Ivory Coast)

Everton

Jean-Philippe Gbamin (Ivory Coast)

Alex Iwobi (Nigeria)

Leicester City

Daniel Amartey (Ghana)

Nampalys Mendy (Senegal)

Wilfred Ndidi (Nigeria)

Kelechi Iheanacho (Nigeria)

Liverpool

Mohamed Salah (Egypt)

Naby Keita (Guinea)

Sadio Mane (Senegal)

Manchester City

Riyad Mahrez (Algeria)

Manchester United

Eric Bailly (Ivory Coast)

Amad Diallo (Ivory Coast)

Southampton

Moussa Djenepo (Mali)

Mohammed Salisu (Ghana)

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Jose Mourinho uses Man Utd excuse after Roma suffer European embarrassment

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Thursday night was a low point in the managerial career of Jose Mourinho as his Roma crashed to a humiliating 6-1 defeat against Bodo/Glimt.

Mourinho’s side were strong favourites going into the Europa Conference League encounter but were humbled by the Scandinavian hosts, who blew them away in the second half.

It was the first match of Mourinho’s entire managerial career – which has spanned over 1,000 matches – that he had overseen his side concede six goals or more in one match.

That it came against a team who had significantly fewer resources than his own and were huge outsiders for the match, made it all the more painful.

Striker Erik Botheim and midfielder Patrick Berg had given Bodoe/Glimt a two-goal advantage in the first half, but Carles Perez pulled one back for Roma – who were then expected to launch a fighting comeback.

Instead, the Italian side collapsed in the second half as Botheim added two more goals to complete his hat-trick while goals from Amahl Pellegrino and Ola Solbakken piled the misery on the visiting team.

The Portuguese boss was predictably in an awful mood after the defeat and did not hold back on his criticism of the players that he selected for Roma.

Mourinho explained on Sky Italy: “The initial XI of today of Bodo Glimt had better quality than us. Now you can stop asking why we play always the same players.

“I did it with good intentions, to give an opportunity to those who work hard and to rotate the squad on a synthetic pitch in cold weather. I decided to rest many players.

“If I could always play with the same XI, then I would. It’s risky, because we have a huge gap in quality between the two groups of players.

“I knew the limits of this squad, it is not new to me, but I still expected a better response.

“As I said, it’s my choice to play them, so my responsibility.”

This is the same excuse that the Portuguese boss used during his tenure at Old Trafford, when he claimed that a poor loss for United away against Brighton actually vindicated his approach.

The trip to the South Coast saw United without their regular striker Romelu Lukaku, who was injured for the game having been a virtual ever-present for the side in attack over the course of that season.

Lukaku has played the entire 90 minutes in 30 Premier League games that season to indicate how not only was he preferred in attack over others, but that he was never rested in matches.

Instead, Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial were given rare starts under Mourinho but the side went down to a 1-0 defeat, leaving the manager to aim a thinly-veiled dig at the two forwards.

He suggested that neither of those players deserved to be in the strongest side at United and their performances were the reason why he did not trust them above the Belgian striker.

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EPL: Chelsea facing striker crisis with Lukaku, Werner injured

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Chelsea manager, Thomas Tuchel is facing a striker crisis after Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner both went off injured against Malmo on Wednesday night.

The Blues went on to win 4-0 in the Champions League clash, thanks to goals from Jorginho (2), Andreas Christensen and Kai Havertz.

However, their emphatic victory was marred by the knocks picked up by their key frontmen.

Lukaku was forced off with a suspected ankle injury in the 20th minute, as he went down under a challenge inside the box.

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