MLS Review: Ibrahimovic hat-trick inspires Galaxy comeback, NYCFC beaten

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored his first MLS hat-trick as LA Galaxy came from behind on three occasions to beat Orlando City 4-3 in a thrilling clash on Sunday.

Former Manchester United striker Ibrahimovic was the hero at Stubhub Center, where the Swedish star netted three second-half goals as the rallying Galaxy extended their unbeaten streak in the league to nine matches.

The Galaxy found themselves trailing 2-1 at the break after Ibrahimovic teed up Giovani dos Santos for the equaliser to cancel out Orlando’s 18th-minute opener, only for the visitors to restore their lead on the stroke of half-time thanks to Mickael Ciani’s own goal.

LA restored parity again two minutes into the second half when Ibrahimovic rose highest to head home a Dos Santos cross in California.

The topsy-turvy contest continued after Dominic Dwyer made it 3-2 in favour of Orlando in the 54th minute, however, Ibrahimovic took matters into his hands from that moment.

Ibrahimovic found the back of the net with a diving header – set up by Oma Kamara – with 23 minutes remaining before the 36-year-old chested the ball and fired a thunderous half-volley past Earl Edwards four minutes later.

It took Ibrahimovic’s tally to 15 goals in 17 appearances since arriving from United as the Galaxy – who staged a stunning comeback against Los Angeles FC to earn a draw on Thursday – moved within a point of LAFC and seven points of Western Conference leaders Dallas.

Slumping Orlando, meanwhile, crashed to their third consecutive defeat to be ninth in the Eastern Conference.

In Sunday’s other fixture, in-form Seattle Sounders accounted for New York City 3-1 to snap the visitors’ four-match winning run.

Cristian Roldan put the Sounders in front in the 36th minute while Gustav Svensson doubled Seattle’s advantage in the 51st minute.

Jesus Medina cut Seattle’s lead in half in the 68th minute, but Harry Shipp sealed the Sounders win with a late goal.

Unbeaten in six with three wins in a row, the Sounders are up to 26 points, five behind the Real Salt Lake for the final playoff spot in the Western Conference.

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Ronaldo causes Parma-Juventus ticket prices to skyrocket

Cristiano Ronaldo’s presence in Serie A was a near certainty to make every visit he made around the league a hot ticket, and now there is proof to back it up.

The Portugal superstar traded Real Madrid for Juventus this summer in a €100 million (£88m/$117m) deal that will see him take his talents to the Italian top-flight for the first time in his career.

While Ronaldo has played against top Italian sides before, fans of many of the clubs near the middle and bottom of the table are getting their first opportunities to see the star visit their home stadiums.

Parma host Juventus on the third matchday of the Serie A campaign, and if fans have not already got their ticket to see the star make his appearance at Stadio Ennio Tardini, they will have to shell out more than normal to do so.

According to Tuttosport, seats in the North End section of the stadium would normally go for €25. But if you want to go into the secondary ticket market to grab a seat there, you may have to pay up to €178!

How much of a markup is that? If you bought a season ticket in that section, it would have cost only €190.

And it only gets worse as you move into other sections of the stadium. A €60 ticket will cost you €199, a €70 one €233 and a €100 ticket €386. And if you want to drop €450, that’s what you’ll spend for a seat that would have normally cost €150.

Ronaldo will take part in his first practice with Juventus on Monday, behind closed doors.

Many of his team-mates will continue their pre-season preparations in the United States as they face the all-stars of Major League Soccer on Wednesday before matching up against Ronaldo’s old club, Real Madrid, in the International Champions Cup on August 4.

Ronaldo and Juve kick off their Serie A season away at Chievo on August 18 before his home league debut against Lazio a week later.

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‘You may think I’ve fallen too much but I crumbled’ – Neymar vows to become new man

Neymar admitted he exaggerated fouls during the World Cup but the Brazil and Paris Saint-Germain superstar has pledged to become a new man after falling apart in Russia.

There were high hopes for Neymar and Brazil at Russia 2018 but the South American giants made a shock quarter-final exit against Belgium .

Neymar – who scored twice at the showpiece tournament after recovering from a broken foot sustained in February – was a regular target of criticism for his theatrics and behaviour on the pitch .

The 26-year-old forward, the most expensive player in history, was subsequently left off the shortlist for FIFA’s Best awards .

Neymar used a sponsor’s advertisement with personal care products manufacturer Gillette to accept criticism and vow to bounce back.

The ad started with Neymar saying, “Boot-stud on the shins. Kick in the spine. Stomp on the foot.

“You may think I overreact, and sometimes I do. But the truth is I suffer on the pitch. You have no idea what I go through outside of it.

“When I leave without talking to the press, it’s not because I only like winning, it is because I still haven’t learned to disappoint you.

“When I look impolite, it is not because I am a spoiled kid. It is because I have not learned how to deal with my frustrations.

“There’s still a boy inside of me. Sometimes it dazzles the world. Other times, it pisses everyone off. And my fight is to keep this boy alive. But inside of me, not inside the field.

“You may think I’ve fallen too much, but the reality is I did not fall. I crumbled. And that hurts more than anyone stepping on your operated ankle.

“I took time to accept your criticism. I took time to look at myself in the mirror and become a new man. But now I’m here, with my heart wide open.

“I fell but only those who fall can get up. You can keep throwing rocks at me or you can throw your rocks away and help me get up because when I do get up, the whole country gets up with me.”

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Fosu-Mensah wants to stay at Man United amid injury crisis

Timothy Fosu-Mensah is determined to remain at Manchester United and help the Premier League club through their injury woes.

Jose Mourinho has bemoaned United’s preparations for the 2018-19 season which starts against Leicester City on August 10, with the likes of Chris Smalling, Antonio Valencia, Marcos Rojo, Diogo Dalot, Luke Shaw and Eric Bailly nursing injuries.

The World Cup has also deprived Mourinho of Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Ashley Young, and resting stars Paul Pogba, Romelu Lukaku, Jesse Lingard, Marcus Rashford and Marouane Fellaini.

Fosu-Mensah spent last season on loan at Crystal Palace but the versatile 20-year-old Dutchman wants to stay in Manchester.

“Last year, I was at Crystal Palace, I think I improved there and I’ve come back a better player,” said Fosu-Mensah.

“I came back to show that I’ve improved and to show that I’m a better player now. I’ll keep working hard and see what happens.

“I can play right-back, right wing-back, centre-back, in midfield. For me, it’s possible. I’ve played centre-back and right wing-back [on the tour] so for me it’s not a problem. I wouldn’t say in goal — in goal I would be very bad.”

Fosu-Mensah had featured on the club’s pre-season tour of the United States, where Mourinho’s men suffered a 4-1 International Champions Cup loss to Liverpool on Saturday.

The three-time Netherlands international helped form an inexperienced defence alongside Axel Tuanzebe, Matteo Darmian and Bailly in Michigan.

“I have to take it day to day,” Fosu-Mensah said. “I’ll keep working hard and if the manager needs me I’ll be ready.

“The tour has been good. We’ve played against quality opponents. We tried to train how we want to play so I think it has been really good for us.

“I’m focused on my training sessions and on the games. The next game is Real Madrid and we have to focus on that now.

“It’s very nice to play against a good club, against good players. Some of the best in the world. It’s good to have that test and we’re focused on that.”

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Poulsen excited to work with RB Leipzig-bound Nagelsmann

RB Leipzig star Yussuf Poulsen relishes the opportunity to work with Julian Nagelsmann when the Hoffenheim sensation arrives in 2019.

Highly rated German head coach Nagelsmann – who turned down Real Madrid – will swap Hoffenheim for Bundesliga rivals Leipzig next season.

In the meantime, Ralf Rangnick will combine his role as Leipzig’s director of football with first-team coaching duties in 2018-19.

The Leipzig appointment came after a year of speculation linking Nagelsmann to the likes of Bayern Munich, Arsenal and Chelsea. 

The 31-year-old Nagelsmann took over Hoffenheim in February 2016, and led the club to a fourth-place finish in 2016-17 which saw them make the Champions League qualification stage.

Though elimination to Liverpool followed, Nagelsmann will guide Hoffenheim to the group stages this season in his swan song with the club after a third-place finish in 2017-18.

And the Denmark international Poulsen is excited to work with Nagelsmann when the opportunity arises in the 2019-20 season.

“Of course this is a top transfer. I’ve heard a lot of good from other players about him,” Poulsen said via Bild.

“Julian did a super job in Hoffenheim. I am looking forward to working under him.”

Interestingly, Poulsen was so busy with the World Cup with Denmark, who fell to eventual finalists Croatia on penalties in the round of 16, and his ensuing vacation that he was not aware of Rangnick taking over for this season. 

“The takeover of Ralf Rangnick as a coach with us, I have not noticed,” Poulsen admitted.

“I had my phone off on vacation, did not find out until the return flight a few days ago.”

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