Late Lukaku goal gives Inter first-leg lead as Otavio sees red for Porto

Romelu Lukaku came off the bench to give Inter Milan a 1-0 win over Porto in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie.

The Belgium international struck with four minutes remaining to secure victory at San Siro after the visitors had seen midfielder Otavio sent off for a second bookable offence.

In a tight first half, Inter striker Lautaro Martinez might have done better with an early header and Porto ‘keeper Diogo Costa had to tip over Hakan Calhanoglu’s audacious attempt from an improbable angle.

However, the visitors grew into the game and threatened when Marko Grujic forced a 37th-minute save from goalkeeper Andre Onana before Galeno headed the rebound wide, leaving the sides locked together at the break.

Inter Milan's Romelu Lukaku, second form right, scores during the Champions League, round of 16, first leg soccer match between Inter Milan and Porto, at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Lukaku scored the winner in the 86th minute

Nicolo Barella went close to the opening goal for the home side when he volleyed just wide after running on to Milan Skriniar’s raking 52nd-minute pass, but Onana had to save from Mehdi Taremi twice and Zaidu as the Portuguese side

Barella only just missed the target once again with 21 minutes remaining, before Otavio was shown a second yellow 12 minutes from time.

Substitute Lukaku finally made the breakthrough to give Inter a slim advantage to defend in Portugal.

What’s next?

Inter Milan return to Serie A action on Sunday with a trip to Bologna on Sunday; kick-off 11.30am. The Italian side then host Lecce on Sunday March 5; kick-off 5pm.

Porto are back in Primeira Liga action on Sunday at home to Gil Vicente; kick-off 8.30pm. The Portuguese side then travel to Chaves on Sunday March 5; kick-off time to be confirmed. – ChatGPT autoblogging and content curation plugin for WordPress

Inter win derby | Barca beat Sevilla but Real slip up away at Mallorca

World Cup winner Lautaro Martinez continued his roaring start to the year as he set Inter Milan on the way to a 1-0 victory over AC Milan in the Derby della Madonnina

Martinez has been in fantastic form since helping Argentina win the World Cup in December and he netted his seventh goal in his last eight matches as Inter consolidated second spot in Serie A with a second win over its fierce rival in less than three weeks.

It was Martinez’s 12th league goal of the season, putting him four behind leading Serie A goalscorer Victor Osimhen, who scored another two on Sunday to help runaway leader Napoli win 3-0 at lowly Spezia.

Inter are 13 points behind Napoli and three points above third-placed Roma. Inter are five points above Lazio, Atalanta and Milan, who have slipped to sixth after a woeful start to the year. Milan’s winless run extended to seven matches.

Inter almost took the lead in the 10th minute but Martnez headed just wide of the right upright. Martinez did better in the 34th minute as he got away from Simon Kjaer at the near post to get his head to a corner and it took a deflection off the Milan defender on the way in.

Romelu Lukaku thought he had scored his first league goal since August, late on, but the whistle had already gone for a foul by him on Malick Thiaw. Martinez later had a goal ruled out for offside.

Barca thrash Sevilla to extend LaLiga lead

Barcelona extended their LaLiga lead to eight points thanks to second-half goals by Jordi Alba, Gavi and Raphinha that gave them a 3-0 home win against Sevilla.

The locals were in control from the beginning but managed to score only after the break when substitute Franck Kessie set up Alba inside the box to slot in a first-touch strike to the goalkeeper’s left.

Raphinha got down the right and delivered a perfect low cross to Gavi who tapped in to make it 2-0 a little over 10 minutes later.

Raphinha got the third goal in the 79th minute with a point-blank strike from an Alba cross.

Barca top the table on 53 points, eight ahead of second-placed Real and 14 above third-placed Real Sociedad. Sevilla, who have won only five of their 20 LaLiga games this season, are 16th on 21 points, two above the relegation zone.

Champions Real Madrid suffered a shock 1-0 loss at Mallorca earlier on Sunday after a bizarre own goal by defender Nacho early in the first half.

Nacho left his team-mates stunned as he tried to clear a cross in the 13th minute and headed the ball high over his own goalkeeper and into the net.

Real dominated the match but missed several chances and wasted a golden opportunity to equalise in the 59th minute when Mallorca goalkeeper Predrag Rajkovic saved a poor penalty from Marco Asensio.

Bayern hold on despite Kimmich red card

Bayern Munich held on despite Joshua Kimmich’s sending off to beat Wolfsburg 4-2 and return to the top of the Bundesliga.

Kimmich was sent off with his second yellow card in the 54th minute but Wolfsburg were unable to make their dominance count as the visitors delivered a lesson in efficiency.

Kingsley Coman scored twice and Thomas Muller and Jamal Musiala added two more while Bayern also needed goalkeeper Yann Sommer at his best to secure the teams first Bundesliga win of the year.

“The result was important, the victory matters above all else,” Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann said.

“We were too careless after the third goal, not concentrated enough and we allowed a bit too much. But we can be positive looking ahead with these three points.”

Earlier on Sunday, second-half goals from Jens Stage and Marvin Ducksch earned Werder Bremen a 2-0 win at Stuttgart for the visitors’ second consecutive victory.

It lifted promoted Bremen to eighth while Stuttgart dropped back into the relegation zone. Stuttgart have not won a game since mid-November. – ChatGPT autoblogging and content curation plugin for WordPress

Liverpool jump above Man Utd in Money League as Man City stay top

Liverpool have climbed four places to third in the Deloitte Football Money League for 2021/22, putting them above Manchester United for the first time in the publication’s 26-year history.

Manchester City retain their place at the top of the Money League, which ranks the 20 highest revenue-generating clubs in world football, with Real Madrid (2nd), Manchester United (4th) and Paris Saint-Germain (5th) making up the rest of the top five.

Liverpool are the biggest movers in this year’s edition thanks to a revenue increase of almost 22 per cent, from £487.4m in 2020/21 to £594.3m in 2021/22.

Deloitte put Liverpool’s rise down to additional broadcast revenue generated by their run to the 2022 Champions League final and a particularly significant increase in matchday revenue.

Transfer fees not included

The Deloitte Football Money League factors revenue from matchday, broadcast and commercial sources and excludes player transfer fees.

This year’s Money League highlights the financial might of the Premier League, with Premier League clubs making up more than half of the 20 included, including two new entries in Leeds United (18th) and Newcastle United (20th).

Arsenal (10th) become the first new club to enter the Money League’s top 10 since 2018/19, rising from 11th thanks to a revenue increase of 13 per cent from £324.5m to £367.1m, but they remain behind Chelsea (8th), who made £481.3m and Tottenham (9th) whose total of £442.8m represents a huge 23 per cent increase on 2020/21.

West Ham (15th) are the next-highest Premier League club, their year-on-year revenue increase of 30 per cent, from £196.1m in 2020/21 to £255.1m in 2021/22, the largest of any club in the Money League.

The Money League’s new Premier League representatives, Leeds and Newcastle, meanwhile, climb into the top 20 having generated revenues of £189.2m and £179.8m respectively in 2021/22.

Leicester City (17th) and Everton (19th) are the only Premier League clubs in the Money League whose revenues have fallen, by roughly six per cent each, to £213.6m and £181m respectively, seeing them drop two places in Leicester’s case and one place in Everton’s.

The picture was less bright for clubs from Europe’s other major leagues.

Bayern Munich (6th) and Barcelona’s (7th) revenues rose slightly, by two per cent and five per cent respectively, to £553.5m and £540.5m, but that modest growth saw them drop three places each in the Money League.

Atletico Madrid (12th) and AC Milan (16th) fared better, revenue increases of 13 per cent and 17 per cent, to £333.6m and £224.4m, seeing them climb a place each, but Juventus (11th) and Inter Milan’s (14th) revenues dropped by roughly 12 and 11 per cent, while Borussia Dortmund’s (13th) only increased fractionally.

Premier League dominance explained

“For the first time, Premier League clubs fill the lion’s share of positions in Deloitte’s Football Money League,” said Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group.

“The question now is whether other leagues can close the gap, likely by driving the value of future international media rights, or if the Premier League will be virtually untouchable, in revenue terms.

Manchester City's Phil Foden, left, celebrates with Manchester City's Erling Haaland after scores a disallowed goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, Sunday, Oct. 16, 2022. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Manchester City’s Phil Foden celebrates with Erling Haaland against Liverpool

“The Premier League was the only one of the big five European leagues to experience an increase in its media rights value during its most recent rights sale process.

“It continues to appeal to millions of global followers and its member clubs have a greater revenue advantage over international rivals.

“Commercial partner, fan and investor interest in the Premier League appears higher than ever before. While this suggests optimism for further growth, continued calls for greater distribution of the financial wealth of English clubs across the football system and the impact of a cost-of-living crisis makes it all the more important for the game’s stakeholders to keep a clear focus on their responsibility as stewards of leading clubs.”

Sam Boor, director in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, added: “The Premier League’s financial superiority is unlikely to be challenged in the coming seasons.

“This is particularly apparent at a time when these clubs continue to attract international investment which often, in the best examples, encourages a focus on profitability, as well as on-pitch success.”

Man Utd second among women’s teams

Manchester United players celebrate Maya Le Tissier's goal
Manchester United’s women’s team ranks second for revenue generated

For the first time, the Money League also reported revenues generated from the women’s teams of the Money League clubs.

Manchester United ranked second behind Barcelona, their women’s side generating £5.1m, followed by Manchester City (£4.3m), Paris Saint-Germain (£3m), Arsenal (£1.9m) and Tottenham (£1.8m).

Bridge added: “The women’s professional game is still near the start of its journey and revenues reported by top clubs at this early stage hint at the significant value women’s sides will generate in future seasons.

“Coupled with long-term and growth-focused decision making, we expect that the development of industry data analysing women’s sport will also support success in the women’s game.

“This will enable clubs and leagues to clearly demonstrate the value of their women’s sides and the fanbase that they’re attracting.” – ChatGPT autoblogging and content curation plugin for WordPress

Euro round-up: Mourinho rages as Roma draw | Atletico lose again

Tammy Abraham scored his first Serie A goal since September as he waits to discover if he will travel to the World Cup with England – but he could not help Roma to a win over Sassuolo as the sides played out a 1-1 draw at Mapei Stadium.

Abraham – who will be eagerly awaiting Gareth Southgate’s announcement of his 26-strong squad on Thursday at 2pm – thought he had sealed three points for Jose Mourinho’s team when he leaped amid three defenders to head in a cross from Gianluca Mancini in the 80th minute.

However, Andrea Pinamonti equalised for Sassuolo with a swift counter-attack five minutes later.

After the match, Mourinho took aim at an unnamed player, saying: “It disappoints me because the effort the squad made was betrayed by one player because of an unprofessional attitude. He betrayed the effort everyone else made.

“I have already told him in the changing room, something I don’t often do because normally after games I don’t speak in the changing room. I had 16 players out there tonight and I was happy with the attitude of 15 of them.

Dzeko at the double as Inter thrash Bologna

Inter Milan's Federico Dimarco, right, celebrates after scoring his side's 2nd goal during a Serie A soccer match between Inter Milan and Bologna at the San Siro stadium in Milan, Italy, Wednesday, Nov.9, 2022. (AP Photo/Luca Bruno)
Federico Dimarco celebrates the first of his two goals for Inter Milan

Inter Milan came from a goal down to ease to a crushing 6-1 home win over Bologna, despite the visitors taking the lead in bizarre fashion when Riccardo Orsolini bounced a shot off the back of team-mate Charalampos Lykogiannis and into the net.

The visitors’ joy was short-lived, however, as Edin Dzeko, Federico Dimarco and Lautaro Martinez struck to give Inter a 3-1 lead at half-time.

Dimarco and Dzeko scored their second goals of the game – either side of a Hakan Calhanoglu penalty – in the second half as Inter cruised to victory.

Meanwhile, Atalanta slumped to a 2-1 defeat at Lecce to record their second consecutive defeat.

Lecce had not won at home all season while Atalanta had not lost away, but Federico Baschirotto and Federico Di Francesco scored two minutes apart to flip the script for the hosts.

Duvan Zapata pulled one back for Atalanta before half time but the visitors were unable to get back on level terms.

The result leaves Atalanta fifth, one place behind Inter and one above Roma.

Slumping Atletico lose again

Diego Simeone sits on the bench at Porto
Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid have just one win in their last seven games

Atletico Madrid slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Mallorca to continue their poor form, with Diego Simeone’s side now having won only one of their last seven games in all competitions.

Vedat Muriqi scored Mallorca’s winner after Antonio Sanchez fired a long-range shot that Jan Oblak palmed to Jaume Costa, who set up the Kosovo striker to tap into an empty net.

Atletico, who were eliminated from European competition last week, fell from third to sixth in La Liga and are now 13 adrift of leaders Barcelona.

Real Sociedad were one of the sides to move above Atletico as they won 2-1 at Sevilla, who are 17th.

Alexander Sorloth and Brais Mendez scored for the visitors either side of Ivan Rakitic and Tanguy Nianzou red cards as Sevilla were reduced to nine men before half-time.

Jorge Sampaoli’s side rallied impressively to reduce the deficit through Rafa Mir just before half-time but were unable to salvage what would have been a remarkable point.

Elsewhere, Villarreal won their first match since Unai Emery departed for Aston Villa by claiming a 1-0 victory at Espanyol.

Quique Setien’s first victory as Villarreal boss – and the team’s first win in five matches – came courtesy of Benjamin Lecomte’s own goal and moved them into eighth in the La Liga table.

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Liverpool face Real Madrid in CL last 16 | Chelsea draw Dortmund

Liverpool will face Real Madrid in their Champions League last-16 tie in a repeat of the 2022 final, while Chelsea were drawn against Borussia Dortmund.

Vinicius Junior’s winner saw Real Madrid lift their 14th European title in May’s final, following on from Real’s 3-1 victory against Liverpool in the 2018 Champions League final in Kyiv.

But Liverpool will now get an early opportunity to exact some revenge for that loss as they bid to reach the quarter-finals in this season’s competition. Their first leg will be played at Anfield on Tuesday February 21 before the return leg on Wednesday March 15 at the Bernabeu

Reacting to the draw, former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock told Sky Sports News: “It’s a very difficult tie for Liverpool. Finishing second in their group, they don’t get the opportunity to play at home in the second leg.

“However, Jurgen Klopp’s side will want to avenge the final defeat last year, even though it doesn’t win you the competition. It does give you something to put right, though.”

Liverpool and Real Madrid met just five months ago in the 2022 Champions League final
Liverpool and Real Madrid met just five months ago in the 2022 Champions League final

Graham Potter’s Chelsea will take on Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Christian Pulisic facing their former club. The first leg will be on Wednesday February 15 before the return leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday March 7.

Chelsea’s February & March schedule

  • Chelsea vs Fulham – February 4
  • West Ham vs Chelsea – February 11
  • Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea – February 15
  • Chelsea vs Southampton – February 18
  • Tottenham vs Chelsea – February 25
  • Possible FA Cup fifth round tie – February 28
  • Chelsea vs Leeds – March 4
  • Chelsea vs Borussia Dortmund – March 7
  • Leicester City vs Chelsea – March 11
  • Chelsea vs Everton – March 18

Dortmund head coach Edin Terzic said of the draw: “We have a top team waiting for us. In Aubameyang and Pulisic we’re meeting old friends. We’re looking forward to seeing you again and of course, we want to make it through to the next round.”

Tottenham were drawn against AC Milan, and there will be an added incentive for Spurs boss Antonio Conte who previously managed Milan’s fierce city rivals Inter between 2019 and 2021.

Conte will return to the San Siro with Spurs for the first leg on Tuesday February 14 before the return match on Wednesday March 8 at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

Manchester City face a tie against RB Leipzig as they harbour ambitions of reaching a second Champions League final. Pep Guardiola’s side have lost only one of their last 17 matches against German sides in the Champions League (W14 D2) – although that defeat came away at RB Leipzig in December 2021.

Man City will travel to Germany for the first leg on Wednesday February 22 before playing the second leg at the Etihad on Tuesday March 14.

Manchester City’s February & March schedule

  • Tottenham vs Manchester City – February 4
  • Manchester City vs Aston Villa – February 11
  • Nottingham Forest vs Manchester City – February 18
  • RB Leipzig vs Manchester City – February 22
  • Bournemouth vs Manchester City – February 25
  • Possible FA Cup fifth round tie – February 28
  • Manchester City vs Newcastle – March 4
  • Crystal Palace vs Manchester City – March 11
  • Manchester City vs RB Leipzig – March 14
  • Manchester City vs West Ham – March 18

Elsewhere, in another replay of a recent final, PSG have been drawn against Bayern Munich in another stand-out last-16 tie. Bayern were 1-0 winners in the 2020 final against the Ligue 1 side, winning their sixth European title.

How do the last-16 fixtures affect the Premier League?

Champions League 2022/23 knockout stage
All four Premier League teams still in the Champions League have matches to be rescheduled

The timing of the Champions League last-16 matches does pose an issue for the Premier League amid an already-congested fixture list.

One-and-a-half rounds of fixtures from The Queen’s passing – including Chelsea vs Liverpool and Man City vs Spurs – are yet to be rescheduled.

However, the two above fixtures are unlikely to be played on any of the Champions League last 16 midweeks – four in total – as each of the Premier League teams involved are playing their ties on alternating weeks.

There is also a March international break on the weeks commencing March 20 and 27, narrowing further the dates for the fixtures to be rescheduled.

Champions League last-16 draw in full

  • RB Leipzig vs Man City – First leg on Wednesday February 22; Second leg on Tuesday March 14
  • Club Brugge vs Benfica – First leg on Wednesday February 15; Second leg on Tuesday March 7
  • Liverpool vs Real Madrid – First leg on Tuesday February 21; Second leg on Wednesday March 15
  • AC Milan vs Tottenham – First leg on Tuesday February 14; Second leg on Wednesday March 8
  • Eintracht Frankfurt vs Napoli – First leg on Tuesday February 21; Second leg on Wednesday March 15
  • Borussia Dortmund vs Chelsea – First leg on Wednesday February 15; Second leg on Tuesday March 7
  • Inter Milan vs Porto – First leg on Wednesday February 22; Second leg on Tuesday March 14
  • PSG vs Bayern Munich – First leg on Tuesday February 14; Second leg on Wednesday March 8

‘Last-16 timing good for Liverpool’

Former Liverpool defender Stephen Warnock on Sky Sports News:

“If the games were to happen now, I think it would be a real challenge for Liverpool.

“But, given the timing of the games in February, I think it is a good moment for Liverpool to try to correct what is going on at the moment and to put themselves in a better position.

Liverpool’s February & March schedule

  • Wolves vs Liverpool – February 4
  • Liverpool vs Everton – February 11
  • Newcastle vs Liverpool – February 18
  • Liverpool vs Real Madrid – February 21
  • Crystal Palace vs Liverpool – February 25
  • Possible FA Cup fifth round tie – February 28
  • Liverpool vs Manchester United – March 4
  • Bournemouth vs Liverpool – March 11
  • Real Madrid vs Liverpool – March 15
  • Liverpool vs Fulham – March 18

“Potentially, they could maybe even try to sign some players in January.

“It’s a great game. You’ve got to beat the best teams and that’s what you’ve got in Real Madrid. They are the defending champions and you want to go to their backyard in the second leg, cause a problem and hopefully win the game.”

‘Spurs shouldn’t fear AC Milan’

Harry Kane celebrates scoring Tottenham's second goal against Eintracht Frankfurt
Tottenham should not fear AC Milan, says Stephen Warnock

Stephen Warnock on Sky Sports News:

“At any point in the competition now you have got to fancy your chances. You have got to believe you are capable of winning games.

Tottenham’s February & March schedule

  • Tottenham vs Manchester City – February 4
  • Leicester City vs Tottenham – February 11
  • AC Milan vs Tottenham Hotspur – February 14
  • Tottenham vs West Ham – February 18
  • Tottenham vs Chelsea – February 25
  • Possible FA Cup fifth round tie – February 28
  • Wolves vs Tottenham – March 4
  • Tottenham vs AC Milan – March 8
  • Tottenham vs Nottingham Forest – March 11
  • Southampton vs Tottenham – March 18

“When you look at all the draws of the English sides I think Liverpool have arguably got the hardest draw, but you look at the rest and they should progress out of those games.

“For Spurs, I don’t look at AC Milan and fear them. I know they are Serie A champions, but I don’t think you’d fear them.

“I’d rather not play Napoli.”

When will the games be played?

The first legs of the last-16 games will be played on the midweeks of February 14-15, and February 21-22 2023.

The second legs will be played across March 7-8 and March 14-15.

Beyond the last 16…

For those sides lucky enough to reach the quarter-finals, it’s a free for all from then on – with no restrictions on who can draw one another.

The draw for the last eight and the semi-finals will be held on March 17, with the quarter-final first legs held on April 11-12 and the second legs on April 18-19.

The first legs of the semi-finals will be held on May 9-10, and the second legs on May 16-17. The Champions League final will then be held in Istanbul on June 10.

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