Portugal 1 Poland 1: Milik penalty salvages previous point as Danilo sees red

Arkadiusz Milik converted a twice-taken penalty as Poland came from behind to draw 1-1 with 10-man Portugal in the Nations League. 

Poland were already relegated from Group 3 but, after Andre Silva scored his second goal in four games to give Portugal a first-half lead, Milik’s equaliser ensured Jerzy Brzeczek’s side a share of the points and a place in Euro 2020 qualifying draw pot 1 at the expense of Germany. 

Portugal, who clinched a place in the Nations League finals with a goalless draw against Italy on Saturday, put in an improved display but Poland’s physical approach to the game helped them muscle their way back into the contest after the break. 

Danilo Pereira felled Milik in the box in the 62nd minute and was shown a red card, with the striker scoring from the spot on two occasions, his initial attempt having been ruled out due to encroachment. 

Renato Sanches was Portugal’s most dangerous attacking outlet and it was his corner that was converted by Silva, whose flicked effort caught Wojciech Szczesny out to reach the net.

Poland almost hit back within minutes when Tomasz Kedziora crashed a looping header onto the crossbar, but Portugal led at the break. 

The second half was played at a faster pace and swung from end to end before Poland found a response just after the hour mark. 

Danilo reached his arm across Milik’s back as the Napoli forward bore down on goal and referee Sergey Karasev had no hesitation in sending off the Porto player, though the hosts held out for a draw after conceding from the spot.

What does it mean? Both sides satisfied 

Portugal remain unbeaten in their last six games and will be confident of improving when Bernardo Silva returns from injury, while Poland will be delighted to have potentially eased their path to Euro 2020.

Sanches steps up

In the absence of Silva and Cristiano Ronaldo, Sanches was Portugal’s attacking catalyst and the man once dubbed the nation’s great hope appears to be back on track.

Danilo should know better

Placing an arm on a striker as they prepare to shoot is only ever going to produce one outcome, and the experienced Danilo can hardly have been surprised when Milik tumbled to the ground.

What’s next?

Portugal can look forward to the Nations League finals on home turf in 2019 while Poland’s attention now turns to qualifying for Euro 2020.

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Italy 1 United States 0: Politano snatches late winner for Mancini’s men

Matteo Politano came off the bench to snatch a late winner for Italy, breaking the deadlock in the 94th minute against United States.

Roberto Mancini’s side toiled for much of Tuesday’s international friendly in Genk but finally found a way to beat impressive goalkeeper Ethan Horvath with mere seconds remaining in added time.

Politano only came on as a substitute with three minutes to play but he dashed into the box to finish sweetly at the end of a rare incisive attack from the Azzurri.

Italy have now kept three clean sheets in a row but Mancini will be concerned about how long it took his team to break down an inexperienced United States side.

Horvath denied Federico Chiesa in the third minute, the Fiorentina forward then rifling wide of the far post.

In a lively start for the Azzurri, the busy Horvath blocked a Leonardo Bonucci effort after the centre-back was picked out by a clever free-kick from debutant Stefano Sensi.

Horvath tipped over a dipping 20-yard curler from Domenico Berardi in the 39th minute and had to be alert to push away Marco Verratti’s inswinging free-kick as Italy kept pushing for the opener.

Half-time substitute Vincenzo Grifo delivered a chipped cross that Verratti could not quite jump high enough to convert as the onslaught continued after the interval.

United States, for whom Christian Pulisic became their youngest captain of the modern era, finally recorded a shot in the 63rd minute when Kellyn Acosta’s free-kick found Walker Zimmerman at the back post, but Salvatore Sirigu palmed the defender’s header away.

Grifo forced yet another save from Horvath and teenage striker Moise Kean dragged a decent chance wide on his debut as Italy grew increasingly desperate.

But in the last minute of added time, Verratti fed Roberto Gagliardini and the Inter midfielder laid off a clever pass for the onrushing Politano to collect and beat the unfortunate Horvath.

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Albania 1 Wales 0: Gunter’s night spoiled by Balaj

Chris Gunter became Wales’ most-capped player in Elbasan on Tuesday but Ryan Giggs’ side could not mark the occasion with victory as they were beaten 1-0 by Albania.

Gunter made his international bow in 2007 and the goalless friendly saw him go past Neville Southall with 93 caps, a tally the 29-year-old could significantly add to before the end of his career.

A celebratory night in Cardiff might have a better way for the full-back to separate given there was very little to cheer for those fans who had made the journey. 

Sam Vokes missed two glorious chances for Wales either side of the break and they proved costly as Bekim Balaj secured victory for Albania with a 58th-minute penalty.

Gunter’s landmark night saw Wales make a positive start but finding a way through the Albanian defence proved harder than Scotland had found three days earlier.

Lively attacking duo David Brooks and Harry Wilson looked the most likely to threaten Etrit Berisha’s goal, with the latter wasting Wales’ best opportunity with a long-range free kick that drifted wide.

Taulant Xhaka was lucky to stay on the pitch just before the break as he appeared to move his head towards Brooks’, but the officials only showed him a yellow card.

A flowing move – started by Wilson – eventually saw Joe Allen play in Vokes, but his low shot was easily saved by the alert ​Berisha.

Vokes failed again just after the restart as he proved unable to turn in Tom Lockyer’s header from a yard out, the Burnley striker somehow finding the hands of the goalkeeper.

Despite dominating, Wales found themselves behind just before the hour when Wilson was adjudged to have pulled back Xhaka in the penalty area. Balaj made no mistake from 12 yards.

Even the introduction of Aaron Ramsey and Gareth Bale could not turn Wales’ fortunes around as Giggs’s men ended 2018 with back-to-back defeats.

What does it mean? Miserable end to Giggs’ first year

Since succeeding Chris Coleman in January, Giggs has overseen only three wins from nine matches, losing four of the last five. Added to that, Wales also failed to earn promotion from the Nations League as they finished second in their group with Denmark and the Republic of Ireland.

Wasteful Vokes costs Wales

Vokes’ poor form in front of goal for Wales continued after he failed to add to the three strikes he has to his name this year. Twice he should have beaten Berisha but unerringly found the keeper.

Xhaka’s a lucky boy

It may have been a friendly but Xhaka was fortunate not to see red after clashing with Brooks, the midfielder pulling his rivals leg before appearing to headbutt the Bournemouth man.

What’s next

With the next international break in March, both managers will have time to assess their options ahead of the European Championship qualifiers.

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Manchester United and Leeds confirm Australian pre-season tour

Manchester United will take on Leeds United in Perth next July during a pre-season tour of Australia that will also see them take on A-League side Perth Glory.

The Red Devils have confirmed their entire first-team are set to make the trip Down Under to kick off their preparations for the 2019-20 season with a match against Perth Glory on July 13 before meeting with Leeds on July 17.

Perth’s Optus Stadium – which recently won Project of the Year at The Stadium Business Awards in London – will host both games.

Sydney fans will could also get a taste of the action with unconfirmed reports Leeds will take on the Western Sydney Wanderers at the brand new Western Sydney Stadium in Parramatta on July 21.

Manchester United last travelled to Australia to play the A-League All Stars at ANZ Stadium, Sydney in 2013 and have toured Down Under four times previously – including a trip to Perth in 1975. 

It will be the first time the Red Devils have played against Leeds since a 3-0 win in a 2011 League Cup match.

Manchester United’s executive vice-chairman, Ed Woodward, is excited to bringing his side back to Australia after nearly six years away.

“Our pre-season tour is an integral part of the squad’s preparation for the forthcoming season and after what will be a forty-four year absence since we last played in Perth, we are delighted to be returning to Western Australia to play not just one, but two games against Perth Glory and Leeds United,” Woodward said.

“As well as preparing for the season ahead, the club will also have the opportunity to engage with our loyal fans in Australia, who last got the chance to see us play in Sydney in 2013.”

Tickets for the games are set to go on sale November 29. 

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De Guzman punch claims ‘entirely false’, say Napoli

Napoli have branded Jonathan de Guzman’s claim that he was punched by sporting director Cristiano Giuntoli “entirely false” and hinted at legal action against the midfielder.

De Guzman said in an interview in Dutch newspaper De Volkskrant that a fight broke out between the pair when he was hit in the face by Giuntoli in an argument about his future in 2015.

The Netherlands international, who joined the club from Villarreal in 2014, said problems started during preparation for the 2015-16 campaign. De Guzman was told to train despite suffering from stomach pains, and the Italian side decided to sell him. After a series of arguments with Giuntoli, things came to a head on September 1 – after the transfer window closed.

De Guzman alleges that Giuntoli called him a “piece of sh*t” and said he had promised to leave the club before punching him in the face.

“We started fighting, chairs fell over,” De Guzman said. 

“My team mate [Juan Camilo] Zuniga joined us, pulled us apart and said to me: ‘Take your things and go home’.”

But Napoli have insisted the 31-year-old, now playing with Eintracht Frankfurt, was not telling the truth and will let their lawyers handle it.

“SSC Napoli would like to stress that his version of the events in question, which took place over three years ago, is entirely false,” a statement on their website read.

“The club reserves the right to protect its image and that of its employees via the appropriate legal channels.”

A few months after the alleged incident, De Guzman was loaned to Carpi for six months and spent the following season at Chievo before joining Eintracht Frankfurt on a free transfer in July 2017.

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