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Man United did not turn up against Villarreal’ – Solskjaer admits after Europa League final loss

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Ole Gunner Solskjaer says his Manchester United side failed to turn up in Wednesday’s Europa League final defeat to Villarreal.

United suffered Europa League final heartbreak by going down to Villarreal 11-10 in the penalty shootout. 

The Yellow Submarine took the lead through Gerard Moreno in the 29th minute, but Edinson Cavani restored parity soon after the break. 

Both sides cancelled each other out for the remainder of the match and extra time, setting up a nerve-wracking shootout.

21 consecutive spot kicks were scored including that of Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli. David De Gea stepped up but saw his low strike saved to deny Solskjaer his first major trophy as Red Devils boss.

And speaking to BT Sport after the match, Solskjaer said: “It’s quiet, a disappointed dressing room. That’s football for you. Sometimes it’s decided on one kick – and that’s the difference between winning and losing.

“We have to learn from that one, not savour this feeling but taste this feeling and make sure we don’t get it again.

“We didn’t turn up. We didn’t play as well as we know we can. We started alright and they got the goal, their only shot on target. We were disappointed to concede a goal on a set play.

“We pushed, we pressed, we got a goal. After we scored we didn’t control the game or dominate as we wanted.

“They made it hard for us, they closed spaces. We had the majority of possession. They defended well. We didn’t create enough big chances.

“Now is not the time to point the finger at what I’d have done differently. But when you come out without the trophy you haven’t done everything right.

“We’re getting closer and closer and better. We were one kick away from a trophy and a good night.

“We have to have the desire to come back next year and improve. The only way to get the margins your side is to work harder and better.”

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Siasia rejects five-year ban

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CAS Reduces Siasia’s Life Ban to Five Years

Super Eagles Former Coach, Samson Siasia, does not accept the Court of Arbitration for Sport’s (CAS) verdict on the match-fixing charge brought against him by world football governing body, FIFA, an associate of the Olympic silver medallist, Waidi Akanni, has said.

In 2019, FIFA banned Siasia from all football related activities for life over an alleged plot to fix matches. In addition, the world body also imposed a CHF 50,000 fine on the former Super Eagles striker.

FIFA based the sanction against Siasia on his liaison with Wilson Raj Perumal, a convicted match-fixer from Singapore. FIFA said it tried to contact Siasia via email, adding, however, that the coach never replied any of its messages.

FIFA had said in 2019 that Siasia was ‘guilty of having accepted that he would receive bribes in relation to the manipulation of matches in violation of the FIFA Code of Ethics’ and also fined 50,000 Swiss francs ($54,000).’

Shocked by FIFA’s judgment, Siasia ran to CAS to seek justice. CAS earlier scheduled hearing on the case on March 19, 2020, but later postponed it severally owing to the outbreak of the novel Coronavirus and the travel restrictions that came with the virus.

The world adjudicatory body recently held the session virtually, giving Siasia the chance to answer to the charges.

In its verdict yesterday, CAS said the imposition of a life ban was ‘disproportionate for a first offence which was committed passively and which had not had an adverse or immediate effect on football stakeholders.’

“The panel acknowledged the need for sanctions to be sufficiently high enough to eradicate bribery and especially match fixing in football,” CAS said.

“However, the panel considered in the particular circumstances of this matter that it would be inappropriate and excessive to impose a financial sanction in addition to the five-year ban since the ban sanction already incorporated a financial punishment in eliminating football as a source of revenue for Mr. Siasia.”

But, according to Akanni, Siasia is shocked that CAS could still punish him for ‘an offence he did not commit.’

Akanni queried the wisdom in the judgment, saying a guilty verdict cannot be based on ‘passive crime.’

He said: “I am not a lawyer, but CAS showed from its statements that it has no evidence to prove that Siasia accepted to fix games.

“What is the meaning of passive crime? Who are the players he recruited to want to rig games. The guy wanted to give him a job and nothing else. The fight is still on.

“Siasia will eventually release the emails he exchanged with Perumal. There was no collateral damage to anybody. If they had any evidence they should release it to the world.”

Akanni said that Siasia didn’t know of the judgment until he called to inform him, adding, “unfortunately, Samson doesn’t read his emails.

“I am shocked that after paying all the money, this is the judgment he gets. They had a zoom meeting with CAS and he stated everything that transpired between him and Perumal. They know that if they freed him, he would sue them for disrupting his life unjustly for two years. The battle is still on.”

Akanni called on Nigerians to rally round Siasia.

“Why should they reduce a life ban to five years if they had any evidence he committed any crime.”

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Rafa Benitez edges closer to Everton job despite fans backlash

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Rafa Benitez has held further discussions with Everton’s owners, to take an important step closer to the manager’s job.

We understand secret talks were held at the weekend, with the former Liverpool manager’s representatives thrashing out the finer details of a deal which now looks set to be confirmed in the coming days.

A backlash from fans last week – with thousands making clear their anger at the prospective appointment – seemed to have dampened the enthusiasm of majority shareholder Farhad Moshiri and his backers.

But that did not stall talks completely, and the Benitez camp remain confident that the Everton hierarchy will confirm a contract after several positive meetings.

Moshiri was said to be ‘nervous’ about the reaction of Blues supporters, with several banners placed outside Goodison Park sending uncompromising messages bluntly stating that the Spanish coach was not welcome.

But it seems only a full fan revolt can not stop an appointment which would prove hugely divisive at a club that has endured a catalogue of troubles since Moshiri arrived as owner.

His successor to Carlo Ancelotti – who walked out for Real Madrid after less than 18 months in charge – will be his sixth in five years, and several of his appointments were greeted with hostility by fans.

Sam Allardyce had his contract paid up after less than six months because the fanbase refused to accept him and style of football at the club.

Benitez has provoked a similar response, but Moshiri has allies in the likes of influential club sponsor Alisher Usmanov, which has given him the confidence to continue talks with a manager who is still so closely associated with the Blues’ biggest rivals.

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Real Madrid reject Man Utd’s Paul Pogba ‘straight swap’ transfer proposal

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Real Madrid are reportedly set to reject an offer from Manchester United for Raphael Varane that will include a swap for Paul Pogba.

Varane is a top target for the Red Devils this summer, who are looking to provide Harry Maguire with a world-class partner at centre-back.

Four-time Champions League winner and World Cup champion Varane is expected to cost around £80m.

But with just one year left to run on his contract, United are hoping that they can strike up a deal worth considerably less.

Reports in Spain suggest the Red Devils are keen to pay no more than £35m to keep enough funds to secure a deal for Jadon Sancho from Borussia Dortmund.

Now though, the Old Trafford board are said to be favouring a swap deal for Varane, with Pogba heading the other way.

Pogba, Varane’s international team-mate with France, has been strongly linked with a move to Real in recent years, even describing it as him “dream” in 2020.

AS claim that United are ready to offer the La Liga side a straight swap – Pogba for Varane.

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