Icardi: Inter deserved to qualify ahead of Tottenham

Mauro Icardi believes Inter were worthy of a place in the knockout stages of the Champions League despite their dramatic elimination on Tuesday.

Argentina striker Icardi scored his fourth goal of the round robin stage as Luciano Spalletti’s side came back to claim a 1-1 draw against PSV at San Siro.

That result looked like being enough to send Inter through until Lucas Moura’s goal five minutes from time at Camp Nou saw Tottenham match their result in Barcelona.

PSV defender Nick Viergever was still required to make a last-ditch tackle on Icardi in stoppage time but the Nerazzuri must now drop down into the Europa League.

“We had to win, we took a goal in the first half and then we arrived many times in the opposing area and we could not make two goals,” he told Sky.

“We deserved to qualify because we have shown that we can compete with everyone.”

Inter and Spurs ended with identical records in the Champions League, with the Italian side beating Mauricio Pochettino’s men at San Siro, while they were defeated at Wembley.

Inter host Udinese on Saturday, having slipped 14 points behind leaders Juventus following last weekend’s 1-0 defeat in the Derby d’Italia.

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Van Dijk determined to win Champions League: It’s a great time to be a Liverpool player!

Virgil van Dijk is determined to win the Champions League this season after Liverpool qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament.

Jurgen Klopp’s men beat Napoli 1-0 on Tuesday, thanks to a superb Mohamed Salah goal and a brilliant injury-time Alisson save, to seal their progression to the last 16.

Liverpool finished second in Group C, behind French giants PSG, meaning they are guaranteed to play a group winner in the next round.

Van Dijk, though, is undeterred and hopes that his side can go one step further than 2017-18, when they were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

Asked about challenging domestically and in Europe, Van Dijk said: “It’s something that we all want, it’s something that we are going to give everything for,” he told reporters after their victory.

“We want to play on the highest level and the Champions League, other than the Premier League for us, is the highest level. We want to reach the maximum and hopefully do better than we did last year in the Champions League.

“You need to have dreams, you need to go for it, otherwise why would you be a footballer?”

Van Dijk says he is even willing to castigate his team-mates in a bid to improve the team as a whole, with the Dutchman seen to be barking at Andy Robertson during Tuesday’s victory over Napoli.

“You have to, you need to be hard with each other,” he insisted. “When things aren’t going right you need to tell each other, otherwise it’s going to be too easy.

Jurgen Klopp Mohamed Salah Liverpool 2018-19

“I think that’s a sign of a good team. When people are shouting at me I take it because they want to make me better and their mistake they take it as well if I shout to them.

“That’s how it is, we’re all grown-ups, we take it and after the game if you’re not happy with it then you discuss it. It is what it is.”

And in qualifying for the last 16, Van Dijk feels his side showed their quality in the home matches and feels they could have scored more against the side currently second in Serie A.

“I think it was a bit of a classic performance. In the Champions League, in the home games we played, we showed our class.

“Big chances, a lot of pressure, a lot of great moments, and today as well. Like I said, they needed one goal so it could fall [apart], but in the end we did well and we got the job done.

“I understand [nerves in the crowd] because if they score one goal we need to score another two. We had big chances and you’re going to be frustrated when you miss those chances, including myself.

“We could have made it a lot easier, we could have scored another two/three, we didn’t, and then it was [important] for us to win our battles and keep it tight and we did.

Liverpool’s week shows no sign of slowing down, with a clash with Manchester United looming at the weekend.

Van Dijk, though, is confident that they have what it takes to pick up yet another victory when Jose Mourinho’s side roll into Anfield.

“It’s a great time to be a Liverpool fan or player,” he said.

“It’s tough but enjoy it and embrace it – these are the days you want to experience as a footballer and we are.”

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Raheem Sterling racism: How fan hostility, not cowardice, can help fight abuse in UK

I can’t write about Raheem Sterling and the alleged racist abuse to which he has been subjected from the perspective of a black person. And I don’t know what it is like to be racially abused, whether consciously or subconsciously. I cannot live that experience so why should you read about how I see it?

I know it’s wrong, that goes without saying. But adding another white voice to it is not going to achieve anything new.

That is best left to ethnic minority voices; those who know what it’s like first-hand, and who see things from a much different viewpoint than I do. There have been great things written this week by Stan Collymore, by Darren Lewis, Musa Okwonga and more no doubt.

Those are authentic voices; those are the voices that might not necessarily make you see things from another perspective but at least tell you that another perspective exists.

Think of how preposterous it is that Piers Morgan is inviting Raheem Sterling onto his breakfast television programme for a “fair hearing”. A fair hearing for what? What has Sterling done wrong?

Morgan is unwilling to countenance the suggestion that newspaper and television coverage of young black sports stars in this country could – perhaps – embolden to racists to shout the N-word or “f*cking black c*nt”.

For him, and many more, it’s like no other perspective exists.

And why wouldn’t a racist think that at Stamford Bridge of all places that he could get away with calling a black footballer a “f*cking black c*nt”?

The former Chelsea captain, John Terry, was found to have used those exact words against Anton Ferdinand in a match against Queens Park Rangers in 2011 according to an FA verdict. He was fined and served a four-match ban. Terry was cleared in a criminal trial.

Chelsea’s further punishment of Terry, whatever that might have been, remained under wraps. But he played around another five seasons for the club, as captain, and was given a rousing send off when he finished his career at the Bridge. Whatever the punishment was it can’t have been too bad.

Did Chelsea, then, send a message that this particularly foul racist insult was somehow acceptable if the circumstances around it were nuanced enough?

Although the Sterling abuse took most of the headlines, largely because of the player’s own Instagram response, there is a trend of racist behaviour in the British game. Last week a Tottenham fan threw a banana skin at Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang after his goal for Arsenal. Two Hearts fans have been arrested for the racist abuse directed at Motherwell’s Christian Mbulu.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Arsenal

I usually travel to cover games by train. I see things away from the stadium; things that form part of the regular fan’s matchday experience.

On at least two occasions last season I was close enough to hear, first-hand, racist abuse. And this is where I feel a deep sense of shame and personal regret because I didn’t speak up. I didn’t say anything.

The Bystander Effect. It’s been said that all bad men need to triumph is for good men to look on and do nothing.

It shouldn’t be perplexing, and it shouldn’t be a moral conundrum. Stand up, speak up. I didn’t do it. I reasoned that I might be putting myself in danger or else that someone else might speak up instead.

The first time, I was coming back from Rochdale after an FA Cup match against Tottenham last season. The last Spurs fans to leave the town were definitely worse for wear after a day of drinking. I didn’t like being near this particular group.

Out it came.

“Sol, Sol, wherever you may be / you’re on the verge of lunacy / and we don’t give a f*ck if you’re hanging from a tree / you Judas c*nt with HIV.”

I kept my head down and waited for my stop.

After the FA Cup final last season, I took the tube from Wembley Park back towards London. Again, the rush had died down and there was plenty of space in the carriages. Two Chelsea fans got on. They were loud and obnoxious, and they sang.

“Vieira, wo-oh / Vieira, wo-oh / he plays for Arsenal / his mum’s a cannibal.”

There was a black dad with his children just further along. Again, I dithered, wondering if it was my place to say anything. I exited at King’s Cross.

Kick It Out

Those were cowardly acts on my part. The sort of cowardice that emboldens racists and makes them believe their hate is tolerable. It’s not.

After the Chelsea case, I resolved to speak up the next time I heard something. And I will because it will happen again. Those are not the only two examples of public racism that have occurred around British football in the past year. It happens because few of us have the guts to speak up.

We cannot in this context look at football in isolation. Smartphones are intrusive but have proven quite useful in detecting racist behaviour.

There have been numerous examples of black and ethnic minority people being subjected to racist abuse on trains, on planes, on the tube and on buses lately with the perpetrator out in full view for the world to see.

You’ll see people who would probably consider themselves upstanding members of society screaming abuse or making racists comments.

And, simply put, if it’s in football, it’s in society. A football match is just another place where racists can go to express their racism.

I will try harder, and to make the world a more hostile place for racists. Maybe together we might shame them into decency.

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Betting Tips for Today: Goals galore expected as Shakhtar Donetsk host Lyon

Shakhtar Donetsk and Lyon are still in the hunt for a place in the Champions League round of 16.

The French side sit in second spot on seven points and they’re 41/20 (3.05) to guarantee that position with three points.

The hosts are two points behind the visitors but would leapfrog them and into the next round with a win in Kharkiv. That’s priced as a 5/4 (2.25) chance with the favourites having won six of their last nine home matches in this competition.

Ismaily Shakhtar Donetsk Champions League 27112018

A draw would still be enough for the Ligue 1 outfit to secure their place in the knockout stages and it’s available at 14/5 (3.80) with the same firm.

Goal backers have found plenty of joy in Champions League Group F this season with every team appearing much more confident on the front foot than at the back. The 10 games played so far have yielded an impressive 42 goals.

These sides played out a 2-2 draw on Matchday One and with plenty still to play for, another high-scoring clash is the logical way to go for bettors.

Shakhtar will have to attack, forcing the issue and have the firepower to do so. The 3-0 defeat to Manchester City was the first time in nine home Champions League outings where the Ukrainians had failed to score at least twice.

Nabil Fekir Lyon Hoffenheim UEFA Champions League 07112018

Their defence though, leaves a lot to be desired. With 15 goals conceded so far Lyon will certainly fancy their chances of getting on the scoreboard especially having netted twice in each of their five matches in the European campaign so far.

While efficient in the final third, Bruno Genesio’s men have yet to keep a clean sheet in that time and look are sure to offer up plenty of opportunities for the hosts to get the result they need.

As such, the 13/10 (2.30) quote from 888Sport about over 3.5 goals looks well worth backing. Both teams to score appears likely based on the recent form and it’s priced at just 21/50 (1.42) but four or more strikes is the way to go for those seeking better potential returns.

Betting Banner - Best BetOver 3.5 goals at 13/10 (2.30) for a 2pt stake with 888Sport

888Sport footer - bet 10 get 30

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Berbatov talks up Man Utd January move for Maguire

Dimitar Berbatov has suggested that Manchester United should look at making a January move for Leicester City centre-back Harry Maguire.

Red Devils boss Jose Mourinho had been keen to strengthen his defence in the summer, with form and fitness issues having hampered United during the start of the 2018-19 campaign.

Mourinho reportedly considered Leicester’s England World Cup star a valid target in summer alongside Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld – but reportedly failed to persude executive vice-charirman Ed Woodward to make a a big-money move for either.

The Portuguese’s desire to add a centre-back has seemingly not abated and United have been linked with Napoli’s Kalidou Koulibaly.

But Berbatov believes United should go for a player comfortable on the ball and already familiar with the Premier League if they are to make a move in the January transfer window.

And he says that Maguire, 25, would be an ideal candidate.

“It’s always difficult to buy someone that’s really good in the winter window so if you are lucky enough to buy someone then you need to keep in mind how he’s going to integrate with the team,” the Bulgarian told BT Sport .

“If it’s someone coming from a foreign league it can be more difficult than joining from an English team.

“If you’re buying a central defender then you also need to think about who you’re going to partner him with because you could buy a really good player but if it doesn’t work out then that just causes another problem.

“But I think they need someone at the back that’s comfortable on the ball and don’t buckle under pressure even when someone is attacking you.

“You need to be calm, be able to pass the ball into midfield and carry it. I think they need a player like that.

“I was really impressed with Harry Maguire in the World Cup because he was so composed on the ball and I like that quality in a defender because it benefits the whole team.”

United face Valencia in the Champions League on Wednesday evening with centre-back Victor Lindelof ruled out and a doubts over the fitness of Chris Smalling and Eric Bailly.

Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones have also had problems this season with Mourinho turning to midfielders Nemanja Matic and Scot McTominay to plug the gaps at times.

Sixth-placed United have conceded 26 Premier League goals during a troubled campaign, more than any other team in the top six.

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