Premier League Darts: Michael van Gerwen secures third night win in a row in Newcastle

Michael van Gerwen made it three Premier League nightly wins on the spin as he defeated Nathan Aspinall 6-4 in Newcastle to extend his lead at the top of the standings to eight points.

Van Gerwen backed up his victories in Berlin and Glasgow with another in the North East, seeing off Gerwyn Price 6-4 in the quarter-finals and Luke Littler 6-5 in a thrilling semi-final.

The Dutchman, who is now up to 15 points for the campaign, lost the opening two legs to Aspinall before winning five in a row as he looked set for a routine victory at the Utilita Arena.

Premier League Darts – Night Four results

Quarter-finals Michael Smith 5-6 Nathan Aspinall
Rob Cross 6-5 Luke Humphries
Peter Wright 5-6 Luke Littler
Gerwyn Price 4-6 Michael van Gerwen
Semi-finals Nathan Aspinall 6-4 Rob Cross
Luke Littler 5-6 Michael van Gerwen
Final Nathan Aspinall 4-6 Michael van Gerwen

However, Aspinall – whose wins over Michael Smith and Rob Cross were his first of the season – fought back and reeled in the Big Fish of 170 to make it 5-4.

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Nathan Aspinall hit the Big Fish during the final against Michael van Gerwen

Van Gerwen then took out double 18 for the match after Aspinall missed two attempts at double 16 to force a deciding leg.

MVG has now won nine matches in a row since he lost to Smith on the opening night in Cardiff on February 1 and will look to extend his run in Exeter next Thursday.

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Michael van Gerwen says it wasn’t easy to deal with the pressure as he overcame Nathan Aspinall to win Night Four of Premier League Darts in Newcastle

Van Gerwen: Winning is the most important thing

Speaking after beating Aspinall, Van Gerwen said: “I played poorly in the first two legs but I never gave up. I feel good in my game and I feel confident.

“I am not going to set myself any targets, no goals. I don’t set myself any targets – but it could be a record [number of nightly wins].

“I am just going to keep focussing or I get bored. I need to keep the motivation.

“Winning is the most important thing. You don’t care about anything else as a darts player. It is the biggest medicine.”

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Michael van Gerwen beat Nathan Aspinall in the final

Van Gerwen missed six match darts at a double in his 6-5 win over Littler in the semi-finals before winning the contest in the next leg as he landed two double 18s.

That ended teenager Littler’s hopes of a first overall nightly win in the Premier League but the youngster impressed in Newcastle, against Van Gerwen and also Peter Wright.

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Michael van Gerwen was left hanging by Luke Littler ahead of their deciding leg during their semi-final match

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Michael van Gerwen beat Luke Littler in the semi-final

Littler fired in a 170 finish and also a 100 checkout with tops-tops as he denied Wright a first win of the season by edging a cracking quarter-final 6-5 – Wright is still the only man yet to register a point following Aspinall’s two victories.

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Luke Littler hit a 170 checkout during his quarter-final match against Peter Wright

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Luke Littler hit this checkout during his quarter-final tie against Peter Wright

Aspinall picks up first wins of season

Aspinall defeated Night One winner Smith in a last-leg decider in the opening quarter-final, taking out double 10 after his opponent had missed that bed for the victory himself.

Cross then fought back from 5-3 down to defeat reigning world champion Luke Humphries in another 11th-leg shootout before Littler vs Wright went all the way.

Van Gerwen did not need a deciding leg to overcome Price in the last quarter-final but did to see off Littler a round later as the crowd were treated to the latest instalment in what is shaping up to be a stunning rivalry.

Aspinall was Van Gerwen’s third and final victim in Newcastle and although The Asp will ponder what might have been had he been more lethal on his doubles, he will be delighted to have chalked up his first points of the season.

He beat Cross 6-4 in the semi-finals but the latter’s progression to the last four means he sits in the fourth and final play-off place at this early stage of the campaign, behind runaway leader Van Gerwen, Smith and Littler.

Where does the Premier League head next?

Exeter is the venue for Night Five, with these fixtures to take place in Devon…

Night Four, Exeter – Thursday February 29

Quarter-finals
Luke Humphries vs Michael van Gerwen
Nathan Aspinall vs Peter Wright
Gerwyn Price vs Rob Cross
Luke Littler vs Michael Smith

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Premier League Darts continues on Sky Sports on Thursday, February 29, in Exeter. Watch live on Sky Sports Action from 7pm. Stream darts and more sports without a contract through NOW

2024 Premier League Darts schedule

Night 5 Westpoint Exeter Feb 29
Night 6 The Brighton Centre March 7
Night 7 Motorpoint Arena, Nottingham March 14
Night 8 3Arena, Dublin March 21
Night 9 SSE Arena, Belfast March 28
Night 10 AO Arena, Manchester April 4
Night 11 Utilita Arena, Birmingham April 11
Night 12 Rotterdam Ahoy April 18
Night 13 M&S Bank Arena, Liverpool April 25
Night 14 P&J Live, Aberdeen May 2
Night 15 First Direct Arena, Leeds May 9
Night 16 Utilita Arena, Sheffield May 16
Play-Offs The O2, London May 23

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Me88 Malaysia Review: The Best and Safest Online Casino in 2024

In the Malaysian gambling market, Me88 is regarded as one of the best and safest casinos to play at. But this isn’t the only thing that’s great about the casino. It combines lots of online casino games, sporting markets, and eSports on its website to offer Malaysian players a well-rounded gaming experience. In this Me88 Malaysia review, we discuss everything about the online casino, how it works, payment options, customer service, casino bonuses and promotions, and how smooth the gameplay is.

Welcome Bonus and Promo Code

Me88 online casino has a 228% welcome jackpot bonus up to MYR 2,880 for new players on the site. The bonus requires a promo code, 228% Welcome Jackpot Bonus, to claim it. All you need to do is make an initial deposit of MYR 50 and enter the bonus code when depositing to claim it. Bear in mind that it comes with a 35x turnover requirement.

Learn more: Online Casino Bonus for Malaysia: Best MY Bonuses in 2024

Quick Facts about Me88 Casino Malaysia

Founded in 2019, Me88 is available in Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam. The casino has loads of great live casino games and slots for Malaysian players. It holds a Curacao eGaming license and several other certifications that make it a safe online casino for Asian players.

JOIN ME88

Me88 Malaysia Review: Pros and Cons

We’ve thought to list some of the benefits and drawbacks of Me88. They’ll provide a balanced view of the operator and what you can expect:

Pros 

  • Games from trusted software providers
  • Generous bonuses and promotions
  • Supports crypto payment
  • Fully licensed & regulated

Cons

  • Limited customer support channels
  • Few withdrawal options

With these in mind, you can decide if Me88 is the perfect fit for your gaming needs.

Is Me88 Legal in Malaysia?

When we looked into Me88’s licensing, we discovered it holds a license from a globally recognized online casino regulator. This means that the casino’s operation in Malaysia and several other countries is legal. Eligible players from Malaysia who are 18 years of age and older can register and play here.

Learn more: Top 10 Trusted Online Casino Malaysia 2024 | Top Picked Casino Malaysian

What Do We Like About Me88 

Me88 has a lot of great things going for it, but some stood out for us during this review. Here are the top things we thought to highlight:

  • Valid licenses and certifications: One of the things we liked best about Me88 is how safe and secure it is. The casino not only has a recognized license, but it also has numerous certifications from relevant bodies and takes player safety seriously. 
  • Top-notch games: The game quality here is top-notch because it’s mostly from trusted brands in the gaming software industry, and we consider that a plus.
  • Mobile Optimization: Me88’s website is incredibly mobile optimized, which makes for a very smooth gaming experience at the casino. It loads very fast and doesn’t freeze in the middle of scrolling.

Owing to these advantages, you can expect a player-friendly experience with the guarantee of security.

What We Dislike About Me88 

While Me88 has a lot of great features, there are a few not-so-great ones that the casino could improve on. The key ones we found include:

  • Few customer support channels: Me88 Malaysia has just one channel to reach the support team, and that can be a bit inconvenient, especially for questions that a quick peek at the FAQ page can easily answer. 
  • Limited withdrawal options: There are very limited withdrawal options in contrast to the many deposit options available here. Lots of players might find it inconveniencing.

These cons can be worked on with time, so it’s worth paying more attention to the pros if they meet your goals as a casino player.

How to Register an Account at Me88 from Malaysia

Registering your account on Me88 is easy once you’re able to locate the sign-up button on the site. The casino broke the process down into simple steps that won’t leave you feeling overwhelmed. Let’s walk you through how we did it.

me88 malaysia

  1. On the homepage of the Malaysian Me88, click on the three dashes at the top right to access the drop-down menu and click ‘sign up’
  2. On the first page, enter your name and username. Also, enter a referral code, if you have one. Then click on ‘join now’
  3. Enter your name, email, and phone number when the next page comes up
  4. Finally, you’ll be asked to make a deposit, but you can skip this step and log in

Register at ME88

Me88 Safety: License and Trust 

Before signing up on Me88, we took the precaution of checking out its licensing information. At the bottom of the site, we found the Curacao Gaming logo, showing that the casino holds a valid license from them. The license number 365/JAZ is also boldly displayed underneath the logo for all to see.

me88 malaysia review

In terms of security, Me88 protects your data against fraud and breaches using Iovation, which is a trusted security brand used by lots of businesses. This means that Me88 is a safe and secure casino to play at because it is licensed by a globally trusted regulatory body and uses a trusted security brand.

Me88 Online Casino Games

Me88 has lots of casino games, sporting markets, 4D games, fishing games, lottery games, fast games, and eSports to explore, but they’re all easy because they’re all arranged in an orderly fashion. All we had to do was click the drop-down menu at the top right of the site, and we could instantly access all the various categories available.me88 malaysia review

The games on the website are from over 20 providers. It was easy to see all the providers in one glance because Me88 thoughtfully sorts its slots by providers

Learn more: Top Live Online Casinos in Malaysia 2024

Me88 Live Casino 

The live casino games on Me88 are from a total of 12 providers: Pragmatic Play, Evolution Gaming, Asia Gaming, Microgaming, and Playtech. This impressive lineup of trusted providers means that the gameplay here is immersive and intuitive. We can confirm that the videos are in HD and that the dealers are professional and helpful at all times.

Me88 Table Games 

In addition to its collection of classic titles, Me88 also has great poker titles for players. The titles we found at the casino include Texas Hold’em, roulette, baccarat, blackjack, and video poker. As with other available game categories, the titles here are from trusted providers and play smoothly on any device.

Me88 Slots: Fishing games

Featuring titles from 21 top providers, there are so many options for slots enthusiasts to pick from on Me88. From fishing games like Fishing Gods and Fishing Wars to popular slots like Gates of Olympus and Sweet Bonanza, there’s a game for everyone here.

Also, since Me88 Casino is audited by several independent bodies, its game fairness is assured. The top providers who supply most of the games available here incorporate RNG into their games, ensuring truly random outcomes.

Play Me88 Slots!

Me88 Casino Bonuses 

We especially liked the generous welcome bonus at Me88. We found two different bonuses: one for live games and the other for slots. There’s also a welcome bonus for the eSports and sports betting markets, respectively. The good thing about these bonuses is that they’re easy to claim and have fairly standard conditions attached to them. Other available bonuses include:

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  • Unlimited slots reload bonus up to MYR 100
  • Birthday cash bonus up to MYR 1,688
  • Me88 app loyalty reward bonus of MYR 58

Please note that these bonuses come with different conditions and wagering requirements that you should check out before claiming them. All the information you need is available on the promotions page. 

Casino Welcome Bonuses

New players on Me88 are welcomed with a 228% bonus to get them started on their gameplay. Whether you enjoy spinning the reels or gaming at the live tables, there’s something for you at this casino.

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For the slots bonus, which was what we claimed, we were required to deposit a minimum of MYR50 using the exclusive bonus code 228% Welcome Jackpot Bonus. Afterwards, you’ll get your bonus in your wallet. It comes with a 35x turnover requirement, which we consider fair, and it was valid for 30 days.

The live casino bonus is pretty much the same except that it has a different bonus code, 228% Welcome Bonus, and it was spread across three deposits. Let’s break it down below:

  • First deposit: 30% up to MYR300. It comes with an 18% turnover requirement
  • Second deposit: 80% up to MYR 388. It comes with a 28% turnover requirement
  • Third deposit: 118% up to MYR1000. It comes with a 38% turnover requirement

After claiming the first deposit bonus, you’ll have to contact customer support to claim the second and third deposit bonuses in this category. The bonus is not available for all providers, so we suggest you check the website for the list of eligible providers before depositing.

Learn more: Claim Free Credit RM10: Top Platforms with Free Bonuses in Malaysia

Claim ME88 Bonus

Me88 Sports Betting 

We were impressed with how large the sports betting market at Me88 was. Thanks to its three different sports providers, there is a wide range of sports that you can choose from. The operator has sports from CMD368, Saba Sports, and an exclusive Me88 sports collection.

Across the three providers, there are over 200 betting categories exploring different sports markets, including soccer, basketball, cricket, tennis, volleyball, eSports, and other not-so-popular sports.

One thing we loved about Me88’s sports section is how well-arranged everything is. It was easy to locate the different betting markets on each provider and place a bet if we wanted to.

Betting Markets & Odds

The word we would use to describe Me88’s odds is competitive. They aren’t exactly too high, but some markets have better odds than others, especially the ones that aren’t mainstream. The best thing is to compare all the best providers and pick the one that most suits you.

In terms of the market, the depth here is commendable. On CMD368, for instance, we found lots of international and Asian football leagues to pick from. Also, Me88 offers horse racing events to bet on if that’s your thing.

Live Betting and Features

In addition to being able to bet on live matches, Me88’s live streaming feature allows players to stream lots of sporting events while placing their bets. We like the fact that the casino has plenty of cool features to enhance the live betting experience there.

For instance, they have features like spreads, alternative spreads and totals, parlays, futures, and props, among others. Although we consider the live betting experience a little slow compared to other Malaysian sites we’ve bet on, we still think you’ll get good value for your money on Me88.

Me88 Sports Betting Bonuses 

There are lots of sports bonuses on Me88. We found an MYR300 daily reload bonus with a cool turnover requirement of x8. To claim this bonus, just use the bonus code: 10% DAILY SPORTS RELOAD. There’s also an unlimited 0.9% instant cash rebate bonus available to players who bet on sporting events from Me88. We liked that this bonus has no turnover requirement and that any old player can participate.

Additionally, you can take advantage of the Weekly Rescue bonus up to MYR4,288. This bonus is great, especially if you’ve lost lots of bets during the week. All you need to do to qualify for this bonus is reach the weekly loss amount applicable. After that, ensure you apply for the bonus and claim it on the Sunday of that same week.

Sports Welcome Package

Sports enthusiasts on Me88 can get started with the 200% eSports welcome bonus up to MYR1000. The best thing about this bonus is that it’s valid for all eSports at the casino and has only a 35x turnover requirement. It’s valid for 30 days, meaning that you have enough time to meet the turnover.

While many bonuses exist for other sports categories, there’s no dedicated welcome bonus for new players to claim there.

Deposit and Withdrawal from Me88 Malaysia

When it comes to payment methods, most players will be as impressed as we were with the sheer variety available on Me88. 

me88

There are eWallets, traditional banking, debit cards, and crypto payment options available at the casino. For crypto payments, however, Me88 only accepts payments from well-recognized crypto platforms like Bitcoin, Ethereum, and USDT. Its eWallet payment option, on the other hand, features lots of trusted Asian payment brands, which we consider commendable. The minimal deposit and withdrawal amount is capped at a reasonable MYR50.

While lots of payment options exist for deposits, it’s not the same for withdrawals. Let’s show you the available methods for each transaction below.

Payment Option Deposits  Withdrawals 
EeziePay Yes  No
Truepay2 Yes No
CapitaPay Yes No
SecretPay Yes No
SurePay Yes No  
Doitnow Yes  No 
Touch N Go Yes Yes
BigPay No  Yes 
SpeedPay Yes No
Hong Leong Bank Yes Yes
RHB Bank No Yes
AmBank No Yes
Bank Rakyat No Yes
HSBC Bank No Yes
May Bank Yes No 
USDT-ERC20 Yes  No 
USDT-TRC20 Yes  Yes 
BTC Yes  Yes 
ETH-ERC20 Yes  Yes 

Learn more: Best Duitnow E-wallet Casinos in Malaysia: Instants Payout 2024

SIGN UP WITH ME88

How to Deposit Real Money?  

Depositing at Me88 wasn’t difficult for us. The payment options are categorized according to payment speed. eWallets are the fastest at one minute, followed by bank transfers at five minutes, and crypto at 15 minutes. Of course, we went with an eWallet, and here’s how we did it:

  • Step one: First, click on deposit on the top menu bar and pick the quick pay option
  • Step two: Next, pick your preferred payment method, and amount, then click on submit
  • Step three: On the next page, choose your bank and authorize payment after that

In about a minute, you’ll receive your deposit in your wallet, and you can transfer to individual slots and sports provider wallets to start gaming.

How to Withdraw From Me88? 

The withdrawal button is right next to the transfer button on the top menu bar, and it was easy to do as well. Because the withdrawal methods are so limited, using the same method as depositing is unnecessary. How quickly your request is processed depends on the method you choose and if your details match correctly. Since we didn’t have any issues, we received ours within 24 hours.

Me88 Mobile App 

We enjoyed playing on Me88’s Android app a lot. For one thing, the app runs very smoothly on smartphones, and the gaming experience there is as hitch-free as the website itself. Other Me88 reviews also agree that the iOS app functions as seamlessly as the Android version. We rate Me88 very highly on the app.

me88 mobile app download

Download ME88 App

How to Download Me88 App? 

Downloading the Me88 Casino app is easy since there are two different download buttons on the website. Just scroll down to the bottom once you log in and pick your preferred app. We went with Android, and it started downloading the moment we clicked the icon.

Once you install the app and login using your details, you’ll be able to instantly start gaming on the go. We recommend the app if you don’t want the hassle of constantly logging in.

Customer Support

me88 malaysia review

Me88 has only one channel to reach customer support for its Malaysian players via a live chat box. Even though players generally have no issues, it’s still comforting to know that there are customer service representatives available who can assist in resolving any potential issues quickly and seamlessly. They’re very fast, professional, and efficient with their service. We sent a message towards midnight and got a reply in less than two minutes, which is faster than most other Malaysian casinos.

Our Conclusion about Me88 Malaysia

From our experience at Me88, we can see why it’s considered Asia’s most trusted online casino. Starting from the user-friendly and mobile-optimized site to the high-quality games available here, casino lovers will certainly have a good time here.

Although we think they should add more customer support channels and more withdrawal options, the ones they have currently work extremely well. If you’re looking for an online casino in Malaysia where you can enjoy safe and thrilling gameplay, then we recommend Me88. We hope this Me88 Malaysia Review will assist you in making an informed decision.

FAQ on Me88 Casino

Does Me88 have mobile apps for iOS and Android?

Yes, Me88 has dedicated mobile apps for both iOS and Android devices. These apps are downloadable from the website, allowing you to play your favourite games on the go.

What are the responsible gambling tools available at Me88?

Me88’s responsible gambling tools include age verification and partnering with professional organizations like BeGambleAware to offer help to players who need it.

Can we play live casino games at Me88?

Yes, Me88 Casino Malaysia offers a wide selection of live casino games, including blackjack, roulette, baccarat, and game shows. These games are streamed with real dealers for an immersive experience.

What are the best online casinos in Malaysia?

Among the renowned names in the online gambling industry, BK8, Me88, Maxim88, 1xBet, and M88 are the top leading companies. They deliver slot games, a few classic games, live dealer casino options, virtual sports, and many more for Malaysian players. Most importantly, they guarantee a secure gaming environment.

What is the minimum deposit on Me88 to claim a Welcome Bonus?

To redeem Welcome Bonuses on slot games or sports betting, you can deposit a minimum amount of MYR50. Currently, the Me88 Casino has also attractive bonuses such as cash rebates & reload bonuses up to MYR 300.

Related articles:

Win Big with Risk-Free Gambling in Malaysia’s Free Credit Casinos

Best Duitnow E-wallet Casinos in Malaysia: Instants Payout 2024

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NHL Playoff Push: How tight races could impact the trade deadline

Just over two weeks from the deadline we look at a tight standings picture and wonder: how many GMs see this as an opportunity to push some chips in, and how many will nibble at the edges of the roster or not touch it at all and take a chance with what they’ve got.

Justin Bourne explored these two choices in his Wednesday column, pointing out that the NHL’s top team hasn’t finished a regular season with a points percentage below .700 since 2014-15 — Florida, currently at the top of the table, has a .696 percentage. In theory, the fact the league doesn’t appear to have one or two absolutely dominant favourites should inspire GMs search for upgrades and any sort of advantage on the trade market.

The flip side, however, is that some teams could look at this picture and feel they’d have just a good a shot at taking a run in this year of parity if they didn’t spend any assets (or only very minor ones for depth additions) and went in with what they already have. Save those assets for this summer, or the next deadline, when the salary cap begins its post-pandemic climb.

Here’s a look at the playoff picture at this point, with a focus on how a few teams might be thinking about the March 8 trade deadline.




The Eastern Conference feels wide open for the taking, but the question coming towards the deadline will be: how many teams feel bold enough, or have the assets to, take a big swing on the market? Recent seasons have brought plenty of players to the conference’s top teams via the deadline, and many of those buying teams are still contenders — but their cupboards are more bare than ever. And with so many teams in the running, will a “stand pat” philosophy prevail out east?

Florida Panthers: Taking over top spot in the league Tuesday night by points percentage the Florida Panthers could be the team to beat from this side of the bracket in 2024. The defending East champs overcame early-season injuries and have benefitted from a career goal scoring season by UFA-in-waiting Sam Reinhart. A top five team in shot attempt and goals percentage, the Panthers are also among the elite in power play and penalty kill percentages. As long as Sergei Bobrovsky continues to roll, there’s plenty to like up and down the lineup, which should put them in a buyer’s position.

The problem is Florida has spent almost all its prime young assets at recent deadlines. Anton Lundell’s name has appeared in trade rumours with the idea the 22-year-old pending RFA could be used to acquire a more established player. But now Lundell is hitting his stride this season, with six points in his past four games and scoring his first OT winner Tuesday night. Florida is the team everyone in the East is aiming for, but they might not be in position to strike big at the deadline.


Toronto Maple Leafs: A buyer for years, the Maple Leafs’ recent five-game winning streak without Morgan Rielly has taken them off the playoff cutoff line a bit and, with Joseph Woll’s return perhaps on the horizon after being assigned to the Marlies for a conditioning stint, they may be shaping up to lock in the Atlantic’s third seed in the coming weeks.

With defence such an obvious need, the Leafs have been linked to Noah Hanifin and Chris Tanev of course, but needle movers like those are expensive to bring in. The debate in Toronto two weeks from the deadline is whether or not this team is worth trading out a first-round pick to enhance. There are more holes and questions here than the past few seasons, but the East is also there for the taking. For a short time there was some question if these Leafs may not even be a guarantee to make the post-season, but as they separate from the wild card pack will management feel emboldened to take a swing?

Tampa Bay Lightning: A huge reason why the East feels open for the taking this season is that the Lightning are even more vulnerable than last season when their three-year streak of Stanley Cup Final appearances ended in a first-round defeat to Toronto. You can’t count out a team that has had so much success, but one glance at the standings and you’ll notice they’ve played more games than anyone else around them and are closer to the cut-off line than you’d think. Not only have the Lightning been spending trade assets to improve their chances for years now, but they’ve also suffered a wide array of cap casualties. Andrei Vasilevskiy could cover up all that ails them at any moment, but he hasn’t quite been himself this season after off-season back surgery.

“Tampa has traded a lot of their capital to win Stanley Cups and to get back to a final and I completely agree with it, but eventually you reach a point where you’re sitting there saying ‘do we want to do that again?’” Elliotte Friedman wondered on Tuesday’s Jeff Marek Show. “This might not be the year that I would be trading what I have left to run for the Stanley Cup. I just don’t know if they have it this year.”

New Jersey Devils: GM Tom Fitzgerald’s team is one of the more interesting to watch this deadline season for the potential of what they could do. Sitting on the outside of the playoffs, the Devils were expecting to be more of a Cup challenger and may feel some level of pressure to get in. They also have the assets to swing a monster of a deal if they could find one and have a very obvious need in goal, which has them being attached to Jacob Markstrom, Juuse Saros, and any other available starter in trade rumours. But what position do they have to be in, or how do they have to be playing, before management decides now is the time to pull the trigger versus trying again to fix it in the summer? The Devils are 4-5-1 in their past 10 and have lost ground since the all-star break.




The Western Conference has a much different feel than the East, even though it also seems wide open for the taking. What’s different here is that while the Eastern trade outlook is full of trepidation, the West has several teams that want to be buyers (some aggressively) and have the assets to do business with.

Los Angeles Kings: A soft run through January saw the Kings slide down the standings enough to put their playoff outlook in peril so, unable to get a trade done early, GM Rob Blake had to make the decision to move on from head coach Todd McLellan. Now all eyes are on the seventh year GM, who is feeling the pressure to get this team into the playoffs and maybe win a round for the first time since their 2014 Stanley Cup championship. “I fully understand the repercussions if this team does not win or have success,” Blake said after firing McLellan.

Los Angeles is 5-1 since the coaching change to Jim Hiller and now they’re back in the running for a top three spot in the Pacific. And even though Cam Talbot has put together a couple good starts in a row, the prevailing belief is that they’ll scour the market for a netminder after acquiring Joonas Korpisalo at the 2023 deadline for one run. “I don’t know about (Jacob) Markstrom. I’ve thought about (Elvis) Merzlikins, I’ve thought about (Juuse) Saros who has suddenly gone from ‘no way’ to ‘ya it’s possible,’” Friedman said.

St. Louis Blues: When the Blues were sellers last season they had a few players attractive to other teams, getting a first-round pick plus for both of Vladimir Tarasenko and Ryan O’Reilly, and first-round prospect Zach Dean for Ivan Barbashev. This year, if they choose to sell again, the playoff borderline Blues don’t have the same sort of high-end pending UFAs on offer. It’s been known that GM Doug Armstrong has attempted to deal one of his defencemen in the past, but given that Torey Krug, Nick Leddy and Colton Parayko all have no-move clauses, they’re probably not an option to get traded by March 8. If St. Louis does sell, however, Pavel Buchnevich’s name has been floated — a $5.8 million player for another season who scored 26 goals in 63 games last season and has 19 in 53 this season. Of course, the Blues could still factor into this market as a small-time buyer if they look at the situation around them (Nashville, Minnesota, Seattle and Calgary could all sell) and see a scenario they like.

“I don’t think we’re one player away, let’s say trading two first-round picks to get one player and people think ‘well that makes them better than Vegas or Dallas,” Armstrong said on Real Kyper and Bourne last week. “You have to be realistic where you’re at, but also knowing Florida made it to the final last year. Crazy things happen when you get to the playoffs.”

Edmonton Oilers: Capped out or not, the Oilers figure to be one of the most motivated buyers at this deadline, with GM Ken Holland on the edge of retirement and superstars Leon Draisaitl (2025) and Connor McDavid (2026) up for contract extensions in short order. The horrific season start is a distant memory now. Edmonton will buy and get creative to make the cap numbers work. The question is do they focus on the blue line or the forward group with one big add, or perhaps both areas? “I do think Edmonton is going to try to hit a homerun,” Friedman said.

Edmonton may also have to keep Vegas in mind. As long as Vancouver can maintain its hold at the top of the division, there’s a pretty good chance the Oilers and Golden Knights will line up for another slugfest in Round 1. Vegas has a reputation for going big in trades and working magic with the salary cap. Now Mark Stone is expected to be out a while, and if that ends up being a rest-of-the-regular-season situation, suddenly a bunch of money will open up for them. With the Canucks already making a few big deals, Edmonton and Vegas could very well follow up in an arms race.



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Football Managers Sacked This Season: European Leagues

In the high-stakes world of football, the role of a manager is both coveted and perilous.

The 2023-24 season has seen its fair share of managerial departures across Europe’s top leagues, with the Premier League, La Liga, Serie A, Bundesliga, and Ligue 1 all witnessing significant changes at the helm.

The Premier League, often hailed as the most competitive football league in the world, has witnessed a number of managerial changes in the 2023-24 season.

Each sacking, while unique in its circumstances, underscores the relentless pursuit of success and the thin line managers walk between triumph and turmoil.

Wolves Part Ways with Julen Lopetegui

The departure of Julen Lopetegui from Wolverhampton Wanderers set an early precedent for the season. Before the first match had even kicked off, Lopetegui and Wolves agreed to part ways by mutual consent.

This decision was emblematic of the chaotic pre-season Wolves had endured, with the club seeking stability and a fresh direction under new management.

Gary O’Neil, a former Bournemouth manager, was brought in with the hope of revitalising the team, and he has certainly done that in the 23/24 campaign, to the point that he could be in consideration for the best manager plaudits.

Sheffield United Dismiss Paul Heckingbottom

Paul Heckingbottom’s sacking came after a particularly dire start to the season for Sheffield United.

Anchored at the bottom of the league table, a humiliating 5-0 defeat to Burnley was the final straw. The club’s management decided that a change was necessary to salvage their season, leading to Heckingbottom’s dismissal.

Chris Wilder, returning for a second spell at the club, was tasked with steering the Blades away from relegation.

Nottingham Forest and Steve Cooper Part Ways

Steve Cooper’s departure from Nottingham Forest was another casualty of poor results.

A six-game winless streak, leaving the team perilously close to the relegation zone, prompted the club to act.

Cooper, who had previously guided Forest to promising positions, found himself unable to turn the tide, leading to his replacement by former Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo.

Roy Hodgson Steps Down from Crystal Palace

Roy Hodgson’s exit from Crystal Palace was a mix of personal and professional reasons.

Health complications, combined with a series of disappointing results, led Hodgson to step down.

His departure marked the end of a challenging period for Palace, with ex-Eintracht Frankfurt boss Oliver Glasner stepping in to rejuvenate the squad.

Premier League Sackings List

Julen Lopetegui – Sacked by Wolves on August 8th 2023

Paul Heckingbottom – Sacked by Sheffield United on December 5th 2023

Steve Cooper – Sacked by Nottingham Forest on December 19th 2023

Roy Hodgson – Sacked by Crystal Palace on February 19th 2023

Sacked La Liga Coaches This Year

La Liga’s 2023-24 season has been as tumultuous as ever, with several clubs opting to change their managers in hopes of altering their fortunes.

The reasons behind these decisions range from poor performances and loss of the dressing room to strategic misalignments between the managers and the club’s visions.

Villarreal and Quique Setien’s Departure

Quique Setien’s tenure at Villarreal came to an abrupt end after just four games into the season.

With one win and three losses, the club’s hierarchy decided that a change was necessary to reverse their fortunes.

Setien’s tactical approach and the team’s performances did not align with the club’s expectations, leading to his sacking.

Pacheta, his replacement, however, found no better luck and was also shown the door, highlighting the club’s desperate search for stability.

Almeria Parts Ways with Vicente Moreno

Vicente Moreno’s dismissal from Almeria followed a disappointing start to the season, with the team languishing at the bottom of the table.

The decision was driven by the club’s fear of relegation and the belief that a new managerial approach was needed to galvanize the squad.

Gaizka Garritano was brought in with the task of ensuring Almeria’s survival in Spain’s top flight.

Sevilla Sacks Jose Luis Mendilibar

Sevilla‘s decision to sack Jose Luis Mendilibar came after a series of underwhelming performances that left the club in 14th place.

Mendilibar’s approach and tactics were questioned, with the club’s management deciding that a new direction was necessary to salvage their season.

Diego Alonso replaced him but was unable to turn the tide, leading to yet another managerial change at the club.

Barcelona Announces Xavi’s Resignation

One of the most high-profile departures was Xavi from Barcelona. His resignation was announced following a particularly humiliating defeat, marking a low point in the club’s recent history.

Despite his legendary status at the club, the decision underscored the immense pressure at Barcelona to perform at the highest level.

Xavi’s departure was a mutual decision, reflecting both the club’s and his own acknowledgement that a new approach was needed.

Granada and Paco Lopez

Paco Lopez’s sacking from Granada was a consequence of the club’s dire position in the league table.

Sitting 19th, the decision to part ways was driven by the urgent need to avoid relegation.

The club sought a new managerial perspective to inspire a turnaround in their fortunes, with Alexander Medina stepping in as Lopez’s replacement.

La Liga Sackings List

Quique Setien – Sacked by Villarreal on September 5th 2023

Vicente Moreno – Sacked by Almeria on September 29th 2023

Jose Luis Mendilibar – Sacked by Sevilla on October 8th 2023

Pacheta – Sacked by Villarreal on November 10th 2023

Paco Lopez – Sacked by Granada on November 26th 2023

Diego Alonso – Sacked by Sevilla on December 16th 2023

Sergio Gonzalez – Sacked by Cadiz on January 20th 2024

Francisco Rodriguez – Sacked by Rayo Vallecano on February 13th 2024

Sacked Serie A Managers This Season

The 2023-24 Serie A season has been a rollercoaster, with several clubs opting to make significant changes at the managerial helm.

These decisions, often driven by a mix of poor results, tactical mismatches, and a desire for a fresh approach, underscore the relentless pressure and high expectations in Italian football.

Empoli and Paolo Zanetti’s Exit

Paolo Zanetti’s early departure from Empoli was a direct consequence of a disastrous start to the season.

After suffering four consecutive defeats, including a humiliating 7-0 loss to Roma, the club’s management decided that a change was necessary to arrest the slide.

Zanetti’s tactics and team management were under scrutiny, leading to his sacking.

Aurelio Andreazzoli was brought back for his fourth spell at the club, tasked with stabilizing the ship and steering Empoli away from the relegation zone.

Salernitana Sacks Paulo Sousa

Paulo Sousa’s tenure at Salernitana came to an end after a series of disappointing results left the team second from bottom.

The 3-0 defeat to Monza was the final straw, with the club deciding that a new direction was needed to salvage their season.

Sousa’s approach was criticized for not getting the best out of the squad, leading to his replacement by Italy legend Filippo Inzaghi, who also struggled to turn the team’s fortunes around.

Udinese and Andrea Sottil Part Ways

Andrea Sottil’s sacking from Udinese was the result of a winless start to the season, leaving the club languishing in the relegation zone.

The decision to part ways was driven by the club’s management’s belief that a change in leadership was required to rejuvenate the team and secure Serie A survival.

Gabriele Cioffi, who had previously coached the team, was brought in as Sottil’s replacement.

Napoli Says Goodbye to Rudi Garcia

Rudi Garcia’s exit from Napoli came after a series of underwhelming performances that saw the reigning champions fall out of the title race early in the season.

Garcia’s tactics and team selections were questioned, with the club deciding that a new managerial approach was necessary to reignite their campaign.

Former Napoli coach Walter Mazzarri, who had enjoyed success with the club in the past, was chosen to replace Garcia.

Roma and Jose Mourinho’s Departure

Jose Mourinho’s departure from Roma was among the season’s most high-profile managerial changes.

Despite leading Roma to back-to-back European finals and winning the Conference League, Mourinho was sacked due to poor Serie A form.

The decision reflected the club’s high expectations and Mourinho’s inability to consistently deliver in the league.

Legendary former Roma and Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi was appointed as his temporary replacement, signalling a new chapter for the club.

Serie A Sackings List

Paolo Zanetti – Sacked by Empoli on September 19th 2023

Paulo Sousa – Sacked by Salernitana on October 10th 2023

Andrea Sottil – Sacked by Udinese on October 24th 2023

Rudi Garcia – Sacked by Napoli on November 14th 2023

Aurelio Andreazzoli – Sacked by Empoli on January 15th 2024

Jose Mourinho – Sacked by Roma on January 16th 2024

Pippo Inzaghi – Sacked by Salernitana on February 11th 2024

Sacked Bundesliga Managers This Season

The 2023-24 Bundesliga season has seen a notable number of managerial changes, reflecting the league’s competitive intensity and the high stakes involved in German football.

Clubs across the board have made decisive moves, aiming to correct course mid-season for a variety of reasons ranging from poor performances to strategic misalignments.

Augsburg and the Departure of Enrico Maaßen

Enrico Maaßen’s tenure at Augsburg came to an early end after a series of disappointing results left the team struggling near the bottom of the table.

With just five points from the first seven games, the club’s management decided that a new direction was necessary to avoid a relegation battle.

Maaßen’s tactics and approach were under scrutiny, leading to his replacement by Jess Thorup, who was tasked with turning the team’s fortunes around.

Mainz Moves on from Bo Svensson

Bo Svensson’s departure from Mainz was prompted by the team’s poor start to the season, finding themselves in a precarious position with just one win from nine games.

The decision to part ways was driven by the club’s desire to halt their slide towards the relegation zone and inject new energy into the squad.

Svensson’s inability to inspire a turnaround led to his sacking, with the club looking to Bo Henrisken for a fresh start.

Union Berlin and Urs Fischer’s End of an Era

Union Berlin‘s decision to sack Urs Fischer marked the end of a significant chapter for the club.

Having led Union to unprecedented heights, including Bundesliga promotion and European competition, Fischer’s dismissal came after a disastrous run of form that saw the team plummet down the table.

The club’s management felt a change was necessary to revive their fortunes, turning to Croatian coach Nenad Bjelica to steer the ship.

Koln and Steffen Baumgart’s Mutual Departure

Steffen Baumgart’s exit from Koln was somewhat unique, as it came by mutual consent.

With the team languishing in 17th place just before the Christmas break, both Baumgart and the club agreed that a new approach was needed to secure Bundesliga survival.

The decision underscored the club’s precarious position and the mutual recognition that a fresh perspective was required, leading to the appointment of Timo Schulz.

Bayern Munich Announces Thomas Tuchel’s Departure

Perhaps the most high-profile Bundesliga sacking was that of Thomas Tuchel at Bayern Munich.

Despite a storied career and high expectations, Tuchel’s tenure was marred by inconsistency and a series of punishing losses.

The club’s decision to part ways with Tuchel at the end of the season was a clear indication of their lofty ambitions and the need for a reset to maintain their domestic and European dominance.

Bundesliga Sackings List

Enrico Maaßen – Sacked by Augsburg on October 10th 2023

Bo Svensson – Sacked by Augsburg on November 2nd 2023

Urs Fischer – Sacked by Union Berlin on November 15th 2023

Steffen Baumgart – Sacked by Koln on December 21st 2023

Jan Siewert – Sacked by Mainz on February 12th 2024

Thomas Tuchel – Sacked by Bayern on June 20th 2024 (Already confirmed but he will stay till the end of the season)

The 2023-24 Ligue 1 season has been marked by a series of high-profile managerial changes, reflecting the league’s competitive landscape and the varying ambitions of its clubs.

From crisis management to strategic realignments, the reasons behind these sackings offer a glimpse into the pressures and challenges facing top-flight French football teams.

Lyon Parts Ways with Laurent Blanc

Laurent Blanc’s departure from Lyon was a significant moment in the season, signalling the club’s dissatisfaction with their standing and performances.

After weeks of speculation and a series of underwhelming results, Blanc was sacked, with the club languishing in a position far below their expectations.

His replacement, World Cup winner Fabio Grosso, was tasked with revitalising the squad, though his tenure proved short-lived, highlighting the intense pressure and high stakes at Lyon.

Marseille and Marcelino’s Short Stint

Marcelino’s time at Marseille came to an abrupt end following a difficult start to the season, compounded by an early exit from the Champions League playoffs.

The decision to sack Marcelino was driven by the club’s ambition to compete at the highest level, both domestically and in Europe.

Gennaro Gattuso, another former player with a high profile, was brought in as a replacement, signalling Marseille‘s intent to quickly turn their fortunes around.

Rennes Moves on from Bruno Genesio

Bruno Genesio’s resignation from Rennes came amid a challenging period for the club, struggling to find consistency and hovering dangerously close to the relegation zone.

Genesio’s departure and the subsequent appointment of Julien Stephan were aimed at stabilising the club and moving away from the threat of relegation, showcasing the fine line between success and struggle in Ligue 1.

Nantes and the Sacking of Pierre Aristouy

Pierre Aristouy’s sacking by Nantes followed a series of disappointing performances, with the club making a change in an attempt to reverse their fortunes.

The decision was indicative of Nantes‘ desire for a mid-season revival, with Jocelyn Gourvennec stepping in to lead the charge.

This move underscored the club’s commitment to securing a comfortable position in the league and avoiding the pitfalls of a relegation battle.

Gattuso’s Departure from Marseille

Gattuso’s tenure at Marseille, despite starting with promise, ended in dismissal due to the team’s inability to meet the high expectations set by the club and its supporters.

His sacking was a testament to the volatile nature of football management, where past achievements offer little security, and results are the ultimate benchmark.

Ligue 1 Sackings List

Laurent Blanc – Sacked by Lyon on September 11th 2023

Marcelino – Sacked by Marseille on September 20th 2023

Bruno Genesio – Sacked by Rennes on November 19th 2023

Pierre Aristouy – Sacked by Nantes on November 29th 2023

Fabio Grosso – Sacked by Lyon on November 30th 2023

Gennaro Gattuso – Sacked by Marseille on February 20th 2024

FAQs

Who was the first Premier League manager to be sacked in the 2023-24 season? Julen Lopetegui was the first to leave, with Wolves parting ways before the season started.

Which La Liga manager’s departure marked the first of the season? Quique Setien’s exit from Villarreal was the first managerial change in La Liga.

Who replaced Jose Mourinho at Roma? Legendary former Roma and Italy midfielder Daniele De Rossi took over until the end of the season.

Has any manager been sacked in the Bundesliga this season? Yes, several managers have been sacked, including Bayern Munich’s Thomas Tuchel, who will leave at the season’s end.

What trend is noticeable in the sacking of managers? A clear trend is the decreasing patience clubs have with managers, with poor performances quickly leading to dismissals.



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LIVE UPDATES: Gilas vs Hong Kong at Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers

Tsuen Wan Sports Centre

8pm–Philippines-Gilas Pilipinas vs Hong Kong

Live updates: Gilas Pilipinas vs Hong Kong

Gilas starting 5: Sotto, Brownlee, Oftana, Ramos, Thompson

SBP chief Al Panlilio, executive director Erika Dy attends Gilas vs Hong Kong game

Gilas conducting a mini slam dunk contest here at Tsuen Wan Sports Center

Justin Brownlee is a Gilas crowd favorite in Hong Kong

Tim Cone gets some love from Gilas fans

Gilas fans have entered the venue

LOOK: Filipino fans gather to watch Gilas play in Hong Kong

PHOTOS: Gilas Pilipinas last practice before first Fiba Asia Cup qualifying game

Gilas holds last practice on day of Hong Kong match

Japeth Aguilar goofs around with his Gilas Pilipinas teammates during a training session ahead of the Filipinos’ game against Hong Kong in the Fiba Asia Cup 2025 qualifiers. –DENISON DALUPANG

HONG KONG — Gilas Pilipinas fixture June Mar Fajardo is beyond grateful that Japeth Aguilar came in to plug his and AJ Edu’s absences for the Nationals in the opening window of the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers.

“We’re really thankful of Japeth. As you know, he’s been the longest-serving player here,” the soft-spoken big man told the Inquirer on the sidelines of the team’s practice on Thursday at Tsuen Wan Sports Centre here.

Gilas CJ Perez Fiba Asia Cup

Gilas Pilipinas’ CJ Perez during a training session ahead of the Filipinos’ game against Hong Kong in the Fiba Asia Cup 2025 qualifiers. –DENISON DALUPANG

HONG KONG — Gilas Pilipinas’ CJ Perez believes he owes this country a show when the Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers raise its curtains this Thursday.

“Playing here in Hong Kong is a great opportunity to provide entertainment for overseas Filipino workers (OFWs),” he told the Inquirer shortly after the practice at Tsuen Wan Sports Centre on Thursday.

“[Some of them] haven’t been back home for so long and haven’t had the chance to see Philippine basketball live, so you bet we’re excited to bring the game close [to them] and give our best to win the game,” he added.

VIDEO: Justin Brownlee during the post-practice shootaround in Hong Kong

Gilas Hong Kong Fiba Asia Cup qualifiers

Gilas Pilipinas huddles at midcourt after finishing a training session at Hong Kong’s Tsuen Wan Sports Centre. —DENISON REY A. DALUPANG

HONG KONG—When the new look Gilas Pilipinas tests its mettle on Thursday, the Nationals understand how big of a first step they will be taking against a lower-ranked Hong Kong squad in the opening window of the Fiba  Asia Cup Qualifiers.

“As coach Tim (Cone) said, this is one team that we can really beat, so we need to do just that. Winning this first game will be our building blocks,” June Mar Fajardo told the Inquirer on the sidelines of a long practice at Tsuen Wan Sports Centre here.

Carl Tamayo Kevin Quiambao Gilas Pilipinas

Carl Tamayo, left, and Kevin Quiambao, former teammates in high school, team up again this time for Gilas Pilipinas in the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines—Carl Tamayo has a lot of things to be excited about in his return to Gilas Pilipinas for the Fiba Asia Cup Qualifiers one of which is his reunion with Kevin Quiambao.

Tamayo said he can’t wait to share the frontcourt with Quiambao, who was his teammate in high school.

“I’m excited because we faced each other in college and now we have a chance to play together like we did in high school and knowing Kevin, we have our chemistry as teammates where we know how each other plays,” said Tamayo in Filipino.



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Liverpool 4-1 Luton Town: Jurgen Klopp’s Premier League leaders recover to win after first-half scare

Liverpool reasserted their control on the Premier League title race by overcoming a first-half scare to beat Luton 4-1 at Anfield.

Luton led through Chiedozie Ogbene after 12 minutes, as two early missed chances by Luis Diaz only served to highlight the absences of Mohamed Salah and Diogo Jota for a depleted Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk’s headed equaliser from a corner turned the game for Liverpool 11 minutes after the restart, with Cody Gakpo nodding in 125 seconds later to put Liverpool in control.

Image:
Chiedozie Ogbene headed in at the back post to put Luton ahead at Anfield

Diaz scored a third with less than 20 minutes to go, before Harvey Elliott added another at the death to send Liverpool four points clear of second-placed Man City ahead of Sunday’s Carabao Cup final against Chelsea at Wembley – live on Sky Sports.


Sunday 25th February 2:20pm


Kick off 3:00pm


“It was just a firework – my god! Wonderful goals and a fantastic night,” said Jurgen Klopp after the game. “How the stadium and the team together changed that game was just exceptional.”

Asked about injuries, he added: “No. We don’t know anything. We have to see, but I said it before the game, as long as we have 11 players, we will go for it. Will we be big favourites? Definitely not.”

Luton, who held their own for the best part of an hour, suffer a third consecutive defeat and stay in the relegation zone due to Everton’s far superior goal difference.

Player ratings

Liverpool: Kelleher (6), Bradley (8), Van Dijk (8), Quansah (6), Gomez (7), Endo (7), Mac Allister (8), Gravenberch (6), Elliott (8), Gakpo (8), Diaz (7).

Subs: Robertson (7), Clark (5), Danns (N/A), McConnell (N/A).

Luton: Kaminski (7), Mengi (5), Osho (5), Bell (5), Ogbene (7), Lokonga (6), Barkley (7), Doughty (5), Chong (6), Morris (5), Woodrow (5).

Subs: Mpanzu (5), Townsend (5), Clark (5), Kabore (5).

Player of the match: Harvey Elliott.

Liverpool’s full injury list

  • Mo Salah – hamstring
  • Darwin Nunez – muscle
  • Diogo Jota – knee
  • Curtis Jones – ankle
  • Joel Matip – knee
  • Trent Alexander-Arnold – knee
  • Dominik Szoboszlai – thigh
  • Thiago – thigh
  • Alisson – hamstring
  • Stefan Bajcetic – unknown
  • Ben Doak – knee

How Liverpool recovered to go four points clear

Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring his side's first goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Luton Town, at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Image:
Liverpool responded to Man City’s win over Brentford

Liverpool needed a fast start to put the crowd at ease with Man City hot on their heels after Tuesday’s 1-0 win over Brentford, but early missed chances by Diaz set a nervous tone at Anfield.

A ball over the top from Caoimhin Kelleher, standing in for the injured Allison in goal, put the forward through but his miscontrol saw the opening vanish and moments later he fired wide with his left foot in the box.

Team news

Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez were missing for Liverpool to add to their injury troubles as the Reds made five changes from the 4-1 win over Brentford.

Luton were unchanged from Sunday’s 2-1 defeat at home against Manchester United.

Luton punished Liverpool’s uncharacteristic wastefulness as Ogbene headed in at the back post after Kelleher saved Tahith Chong’s shot with his legs and the ball sat up for the winger to score his third league goal of the season.

Diaz had six shots in the first 35 minutes, hitting the target once, as he registered an Expected Goals tally of 0.67, compared to Luton’s 0.68 in the same period. Groans could be heard from the stands, which appeared to rile up Klopp on the touchline.

Liverpool's Luis Diaz takes a shot at goal during the English Premier League soccer match between Liverpool and Luton Town, at Anfield stadium in Liverpool, England, Wednesday, Feb. 21, 2024. (AP Photo/Jon Super)
Image:
Luis Diaz endured a difficult first half but eventually got his goal

Luton took chances at the back in their build-up but Liverpool failed to capitalise and had little luck from set pieces either, unable to convert from their seven first-half corners.

The tide turned for Liverpool, ironically, from a corner as Van Dijk rose highest to meet Alexis Mac Allister’s delivery to level the score in front of the Kop. Barely had the supporters sat down before they were on their feet to celebrate another.

Connor Bradley took advantage of a Luton change as his quick throw found Mac Allister in space down the right and the midfielder picked out Gakpo this time, who nodded in to complete the turnaround.

Luton kept fighting but there was an inevitability to Liverpool after they took the lead, which helped settle Diaz’s nerves. He kept his cool after being played in by substitute Andrew Robertson to add a third with less than 20 minutes to go.

The visitors suffered a further blow when Alfie Doughty pulled up injured soon after Liverpool’s third. Issa Kabore was brought on to replace him.

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Ben Ransom and Juliette Ferrington discuss the importance of Liverpool’s victory over Luton in the title race, despite having major injuries.

In the final minute of normal time, Elliott marked his 100th appearance for the club with a goal to put Anfield in a jubilant mood ahead of Sunday’s trip to Wembley.

Klopp had made up with the crowd by full-time as he delivered his customary post-match fist pumps. No wonder, the victory ensures Liverpool will remain top until they return to league action.

Klopp: The stadium and the team changed the game together

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Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp credited his team and the stadium for the turnaround against Luton

Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp speaking to Sky Sports:

“Exceptional game. I liked lots of the first half already, but I saw that the boys and the crowd didn’t like it as much. We started OK, you have to get used to an opponent, and we had this big chance from Luis Diaz.

“Everything was good until the final third and then we were in a rush. We told the boys at half-time that we had to be calmer in decisive moments.

“I wouldn’t say we were calmer, it was just a firework – my god! Wonderful goals and a fantastic night.

“How the stadium and the team together changed that game was just exceptional.”

On injuries, he added: “No. We don’t know anything. We have to see, but I said it before the game as long as we have 11 players, we will go for it.

“Will we be big favourites? Definitely not. But who cares, it’s a final. Since we played them [Chelsea] they have improved a lot and it will be tricky.”

Edwards: We saw Anfield and Liverpool at their best

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Luton boss Rob Edwards says his side could not cope with Liverpool’s full-throttle football

Luton boss Rob Edwards speaking to Sky Sports:

“First half performance was good. Second half I thought we saw Anfield and we saw Liverpool at their best – that full-throttle football and real quality as well. Their counter-pressing was brilliant.

“We probably played into the hands a little bit too often in some moments. But there was a noise and the fans were incredible and it was probably hard for the players to think. When they get those two quick goals it was hard to wrestle any sort of control back or get any momentum back in the game

“Huge credit to them for turning the game. Our players deserve a lot of credit because I thought we played well in the first half, but we kept going in the second half and trying to do the right things. We kept stepping forward and didn’t sit back – if we had it could have been more.

“Bits for us to learn and we can take a lot of positives. There were a lot of things that were good about us tonight.”

Elliott: Liverpool had to dig deep

Liverpool’s player of the match Harvey Elliott speaking to Sky Sports:

“As I said before the start of the game, Luton are a tough team and we had to dig deep and show the desire.

“The final bit wasn’t really there in the first half. But football is a game of two halves and in the second half we showed it. We had to be a lot better than we were in the first half.

“To be fair we’re not really thinking about the [Carabao Cup] final. It was about getting the job done tonight. It’s a big game at the weekend but tonight was a final. Each and every game is a final. It’s a busy period and we need to recover for the weekend.

“We are a resilient team and we want to fight for one another. It’s a hectic season. For the lads that are injured, we wish them well and we want them to come back quickly.”

Liverpool’s win in stats

  • Liverpool have recovered 22 points from losing positions in the Premier League this season, more than any other side, and their joint-most in a single campaign in the competition (also 22 in 2008-09).
  • With an average age of 25 years and 68 days, Liverpool named their youngest starting XI for a Premier League game since February 2018 against Southampton (24y 355d).
  • Luton are one of two sides, along with Sheffield United, yet to keep a clean sheet away from home in the Premier League this season. The Hatters have shipped 29 goals in 12 away games in the division this season, the joint-most of any side on the road, along with Bournemouth and Sheffield United.
  • There were just 125 seconds between Virgil van Dijk’s equaliser and Cody Gakpo putting Liverpool 2-1 ahead against Luton.

What’s next?

Liverpool take on Chelsea on the Carabao Cup final at Wembley Stadium on Sunday (kick-off 3pm), while Luton host Man City in the FA Cup fifth round on Tuesday February 27 (kick-off 8pm).

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EFL Championship Table: Gameweek 33 Results and Updates

Gameweek 33: Leicester City remain top of the Championship table on 78 points, despite losing 2-1 to Middlesborough over the weekend. Leeds continued their impressive run with a 2-0 victory over Plymouth, taking their tally up to 69 points.

Here is information on the Championship table as it stands today, including relegation battlers, title hopefuls and teams looking to secure Premier League football next season.

Who are the favourites to get promoted from the Championship?

As the EFL Championship season 2023/24 progresses, the race for promotion intensifies, with several teams emerging as strong contenders.

According to the latest betting odds from Goal.com, Leicester City and Southampton are leading the charge, with both teams showing formidable form as they aim for a spot in the Premier League.

Leicester City: The Pace Setters

Leicester City, under the guidance of Enzo Maresca, have established themselves as the hot favourites for promotion.

With a commanding lead at the top of the table and only four defeats in their first 29 league games, the Foxes are on a clear path back to the Premier League.

Their resilience and consistency, even in the face of setbacks, underscore their readiness for top-flight football once again.

Southampton: The Formidable Challengers

Southampton, enjoying some of the best form among Championship teams, are hot on Leicester’s heels.

The Saints have surged up the table, now priced at 4/7 for promotion, following an unbeaten streak that includes six wins and a draw in their last seven league outings.

Their remarkable turnaround from a slow start to the season has seen them climb up the table, making an automatic promotion spot a realistic aim.

Other Contenders

Ipswich Town and Leeds United are also in the mix, with odds of 10/11 for promotion. However, Ipswich has hit a rough patch, winning only one of their last seven league games, which puts their automatic promotion hopes in jeopardy unless they can quickly regain their early-season form.

West Bromwich Albion, with odds of 8/1, and Coventry City, at 11/1, are not out of the race either. West Brom needs to find their scoring touch to close the gap to the top, while Coventry’s unbeaten run has propelled them into playoff contention.

How Many Teams Get Promoted to the Premier League from the Championship?

The English Football League (EFL) Championship is the second-highest division in English football and plays a crucial role in the promotion and relegation system that connects it with the Premier League, the top tier of English football.

Each season, teams in the Championship compete not just for the title but for the highly coveted promotion spots that lead directly to the Premier League, offering not only increased prestige but also significant financial rewards.

Automatic Promotion

At the end of every Championship season, the top two teams earn automatic promotion to the Premier League.

This means that the teams finishing in first and second place in the Championship table bypass any further qualification and move directly up to compete in the Premier League for the following season.

This automatic promotion is a straightforward reward for a season-long performance, recognising the consistency and excellence of the top two teams.

Play-Off Promotion

In addition to the two automatic promotion spots, there is a third promotion spot that is decided through a play-off competition involving the teams that finish third to sixth in the Championship.

This play-off is a mini-tournament that adds an extra layer of excitement towards the end of the season.

The team finishing third plays against the team finishing sixth, and the team finishing fourth plays against the fifth-placed team in the two-legged semi-finals. The higher-ranked team in each tie plays the second leg at home, providing a slight advantage.

The winners of these semi-finals then meet in the Championship Play-Off Final, a one-off match typically held at Wembley Stadium in May. The victor of this final match is promoted to the Premier League, joining the two automatically promoted teams.

This play-off system ensures that the race for promotion remains open and competitive right until the end of the season, offering a chance for teams that may have narrowly missed out on automatic promotion to still achieve their Premier League dreams.

The Importance of Promotion

Promotion to the Premier League is highly sought after, bringing with it not only the prestige of playing in one of the world’s most renowned football leagues but also significant financial benefits.

These include increased revenue from broadcasting rights, sponsorships, and matchday income, which can have a transformative effect on a club’s fortunes.

FAQ: Understanding Promotion from the EFL Championship to the Premier League

How many teams are promoted from the EFL Championship to the Premier League each season? Three teams are promoted from the EFL Championship to the Premier League each season. The top two teams gain automatic promotion, and the third team is determined through a play-off among the teams finishing third to sixth.

What is automatic promotion in the context of the EFL Championship? Automatic promotion refers to the direct advancement of the top two teams in the EFL Championship standings at the end of the season to the Premier League, without the need for additional play-off matches.

How is the third promoted team decided? The third team promoted to the Premier League is decided through a play-off competition involving the teams that finish the season in third to sixth place in the Championship. This includes two semi-final matches and a final, with the play-off final winner securing promotion.

Where is the Championship Play-Off Final held? The Championship Play-Off Final is typically held at Wembley Stadium in London, providing a grand stage for what is often referred to as the most lucrative game in football, given the financial rewards of Premier League promotion.

Why is promotion to the Premier League so significant? Promotion to the Premier League is highly significant due to the prestige of competing in one of the world’s most popular and competitive football leagues. Additionally, it brings substantial financial benefits, including increased television revenue, sponsorship deals, and higher matchday incomes, which can significantly impact a club’s financial health and competitive capabilities.

Can a team outside the top six still get promoted to the Premier League? No, only the teams finishing in the top six positions in the EFL Championship have a chance at promotion to the Premier League. The top two are promoted automatically, while the teams finishing third to sixth compete in the playoffs for the final promotion spot.

How does the play-off system work? The play-off system involves two semi-finals and a final. The third-placed team faces the sixth-placed team, and the fourth-placed team faces the fifth-placed team in the two-legged semi-finals. The winners of these matches then compete in a single final match at Wembley Stadium, with the winner gaining promotion to the Premier League.

What happens to the teams that don’t get promoted? Teams that do not achieve promotion remain in the EFL Championship for the next season, where they will have another opportunity to compete for promotion.

Has the play-off format always been part of the Championship? The play-off format has been a feature of the Football League since the late 1980s and has undergone various adjustments over the years. Its current format, involving teams finishing third to sixth in the Championship, has been in place for many seasons and is a well-established part of the promotion and relegation system.

How Many Teams Get Relegated from the Championship?

In the fiercely competitive landscape of the English Football League (EFL) Championship, the battle to avoid relegation is as intense as the fight for promotion. Each season, the teams finishing in the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th positions face the disappointment of relegation to League One.

This system ensures a dynamic league where every match can significantly impact a team’s future, emphasising the importance of consistent performance throughout the season.

This structure not only maintains the competitive integrity of the Championship but also highlights the fluid nature of English football, where success is rewarded, and underperformance can lead to significant consequences.

The relegation battle adds an extra layer of excitement and tension towards the season’s end, as teams fight tooth and nail to secure their place in the Championship for the following season.

FAQ: Understanding the EFL Championship Relegation

How many teams get relegated from the Championship? Each season, three teams from the EFL Championship are relegated to League One. These are the teams that finish the season in the 22nd, 23rd, and 24th positions in the league table.

What happens to the relegated teams? The teams that are relegated from the Championship move down to League One, the third tier of English football, for the following season. In League One, they will compete with the aim of securing promotion back to the Championship.

How is the Championship League table determined? The Championship League table is determined by the total points teams accumulate over the season. Teams earn three points for a win, one point for a draw, and no points for a loss. The table ranks teams based on their total points, with goal difference and goals scored used as tiebreakers if necessary.

Can a team be promoted back to the Championship after being relegated? Yes, teams that are relegated to League One have the opportunity to be promoted back to the Championship. The top two teams in League One are automatically promoted at the end of the season, and the teams finishing third to sixth compete in a playoff for the final promotion spot.

How does relegation affect a team financially? Relegation from the Championship can have significant financial implications for a team. It often leads to a decrease in revenue from broadcasting rights, sponsorships, and matchday income. Teams may also need to reduce their wage bill and transfer spending to adapt to the financial realities of League One.



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Razorbacks hold off Texas A&M’s comeback attempt

9 minutes ago
Arkansas Athletics

COLLEGE STATION, Texas – Arkansas held off a late rally from Texas A&M thanks to clutch free throw shooting down the stretch for a 78-71 win to sweep the season series with the Aggies.

The Razorbacks took a 35-31 lead into halftime but that lead was quickly erased in the opening minute of the second half with an Aggie layup and a pair of free throws. Makhi Mitchell answered for the Hogs with 17:02 left to put Arkansas back in front for good. The lead eventually grew to 10 points after an and-1 from Tramon Mark with 6:40 on remaining. A&M clawed within three points, 61-58, on a 7-0 run capped by a Wade Taylor IV jumper. Tramon Mark responded with six straight points for the Hogs to push the lead back to nine points with the Aggies never getting closer than five points the rest of the night.

Mitchell continued his recent trend of being a force for the Razorbacks on Tuesday night, scoring a career-high 22 points fueled by a career-best 10 free throws. The fifth-year senior also notched his fifth double-double of the season adding 13 rebounds. Mitchell went 10-for-12 from the free throw line on the night, including sinking a pair with under a minute remaining to push the lead to eight. The Hogs’ free throw shooting put the game on ice over the final 72 seconds with the team’s final nine points coming from the charity stripe.

Arkansas’s four-point lead at the break came despite getting only four points from Mark. The Houston transfer changed that in the second half with 22 points to finish with a game-high 26. The junior took over in the final half, going 7-for-12 from the floor, including 2-for-2 from 3-point range, and adding 6-for-7 from the free throw line.

While Mark and Mitchell, who scored nine of his 22 points in the second half, were turning up the heat on the offensive end, the Razorback defense put the clamps on the Aggie offense holding them to just 26.3% shooting in the second half. Texas A&M’s duo of Taylor IV and Tyrece Radford combined for just 23 points on 8-of-28 (28.6%) shooting on the night.

The Razorbacks were outrebounded by A&M 47-40 with the Aggies pulling down 20 offensive rebounds but Arkansas limited those 20 offensive rebounds to just seven second chance points. The Hogs’ bench also provided a huge boost, outscoring the Aggies’ bench 36-27 led by Mitchell’s 22.

The victory was just the third in College Station for Arkansas since the Aggies joined the SEC.

Arkansas returns home to Bud Walton Arena on Saturday for an 11 a.m. tipoff against Missouri on ESPN2.

COLUMBIA, Mo. – Facing a seven-point deficit with under 16 minutes to play Tuesday night at Missouri, the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team answered the call and stormed back to claim a 72-67 road victory.

Sophomore forward Tobe Awaka posted a career-high 18 points and a co-game-best 10 rebounds for fifth-ranked Tennessee (20-6, 10-3 SEC).

Neither team made a field goal until the 15:31 mark, when junior guard Jordan Gainey’s fast-break dunk put the Volunteers ahead, 2-1, after the two sides combined to miss their first 10 shots and commit seven giveaways in the opening four-and-a-half minutes. Tennessee held Missouri (8-18, 0-13 SEC) without a field goal for the first nine minutes, as the home team missed its first 11 attempts and notched six giveaways.

Neither offense found its groove in the first half, but the Tigers went 3-of-10 (30.0 percent) from beyond the arc and 10-of-13 (76.9 percent) at the line, while Tennessee missed all nine of its 3-point attempts and shot 8-of-13 at the stripe (61.5 percent). Those differentials helped Missouri, despite logging 10 turnovers, take a 29-26 edge into the locker room after leading by as many as five points.

The Volunteers scored the opening four points of the second session, including junior guard Zakai Zeigler drilling a go-ahead 3-pointer with 19:15 on the clock for the team’s first long-range make. The Tigers, though, hit three 3-pointers in 99 seconds to spark a 13-5 run in 3:26, giving them a game-high seven-point edge, 42-35, with 15:23 left.

Tennessee responded with a dominant 32-12 surge over the course of 11 minutes, featuring a trio of 7-0 runs and seven straight made field goals, to go from down seven to up by a game-best 13, 67-54, with 4:03 left. Fifteen of the first 23 points came from fifth-year guard Dalton Knecht, who shot 6-of-8 during a five-minute stretch after not previously making a shot from the floor.

The Volunteers’ lead remained in double digits with under 100 seconds left and at nine with 60 ticks left, but the Tigers scored the final four points, including a buzzer-beating 3-pointer, to make it a five-point final margin in their 20th win of the season.

Awaka’s team-best point total came on a 6-of-8 clip from the field and a 6-of-7 ledger at the line, as he set career highs in both makes categories, as well as in free-throw attempts. His 10 rebounds, half of which came on the offensive end, gave him his second collegiate double-double.

Knecht finished with 17 points and grabbed a season-best 10 rebounds to notch his first double-double in a Tennessee uniform. Junior forward Jonas Aidoo, who eclipsed 100 blocked shots in his career, totaled 14 points and a game-best four blocks. Junior guard Zakai Zeigler added 10 points in the victory.

Graduate student guard Sean East II led all players in both points (24) and assists (six), as he went 7-of-15 from the floor, 3-of-6 on 3-pointers and 7-of-11 at the line. Graduate student forward Noah Carter scored 20 points, shooting 3-of-4 beyond the arc and 7-of-8 at the line, while adding a team-best seven rebounds.

Graduate student guard Nick Honor scored 10 points for the Tigers, although Tennessee held him to 2-of-9 3-point shooting. The Volunteers also limited Missouri’s top scorer in SEC play, junior guard Tamar Bates, to seven points on a 3-of-15 field-goal clip.

Despite having half as many made 3-pointers-the Volunteers went 5-of-17 (29.4 percent) and Missouri shot 10-of-27 (37.0 percent)-Tennessee used its strong interior play to claim the result, as it had a 32-22 advantage in paint points. The victors also had a commanding 26-6 cushion in bench points, good for its third-highest margin (plus-20) of the season.

The Volunteers now head home to Knoxville, Tenn., where they face Texas A&M at Food City Center, live on ESPN, Saturday at 8 p.m.

To keep up with the University of Tennessee men’s basketball team on social media, follow @Vol_Hoops on Instagram and X/Twitter, as well as /tennesseebasketball on Facebook.

TENNESSEE VOLUNTEERS POSTGAME NOTES

• Tennessee head coach Rick Barnes now owns 799 victories in his career, six behind Rick Byrd for No. 14 on the all-time wins list (min. 10 years at a Division I school).
• Barnes has now defeated every other SEC head coach at least once, as Missouri’s Dennis Gates-who joined the league last season-was the lone outlier entering Tuesday.
• Barnes now has 24 total 20-win seasons in his 37-year Division I head coaching career, tying Jim Calhoun and Kelvin Sampson for No. 13 all-time, as well as matching the latter for fifth-most among active coaches.
• Tennessee has now reached 20 victories in five of the last seven seasons, including each of the past three.
• The Volunteers extended their road winning streak against Missouri to five in a row, stretching back to Jan. 17, 2018.
• Tuesday marked the ninth time in their last 10 meetings with Missouri the Volunteers were ranked after never holding a ranking in the first 12 matchups.
• The Volunteers are now 72-22 (.766) as an AP top-10 team and 31-9 (.775) as an AP top-five team in Barnes’ nine-year tenure, all in the past seven seasons.
• The last time Tennessee had two players log double-doubles in the same game was 17 days ago, Feb. 3, when Aidoo and Zeigler did so.
• The Volunteers last had two double-digit rebounders on Nov. 20, 2023, against Syracuse when Aidoo and fifth-year guard Josiah-Jordan James both hit that mark in double-double showings.
• Tennessee’s plus-margin in bench points, 26-6, trailed only its plus-33 ledger, 36-3, on Nov. 6, 2023, against Tennessee Tech and its plus-23 mark, 26-3, on Nov. 21, 2023, against Purdue in Honolulu.
• Through the opening eight minutes, the two teams combined for 10 turnovers (six by Missouri) and a 1-of-17 field-goal clip (0-of-8 for Missouri).
• Missouri, after missing its opening 11 attempts, did not make its first field goal until 10:56 remained in the first half, when Bates hit his lone 3-pointer of the evening.
• The Tigers committed their seventh foul of the second half with 15:01 left, putting Tennessee in the bonus for the final 15 minutes.
• Fifth-year guard Santiago Vescovi recorded two steals to give him 198 in his career, tying C.J. Watson (2002-06) for second place on the Tennessee’s all-time leaderboard.
• With his first point of the night, James became the 40th player in Tennessee history to amass 1,200 points and he ended the night at No. 38 on the program’s all-time scoring list with 1,203 after passing both Howard Wood (1977-81) and Len Kosmalski (1971-74).
• With his first of four blocks on the evening, Aidoo became the 18th individual to record 100 as a Volunteer.
• Awaka’s prior career-best point total was 11 on Dec. 5, 2023, versus George Mason, while his previous top mark in made field goals was four, recorded on four occasions.
• The prior single-game high for Awaka in free-throw makes was five, registered thrice, while the lone other time he attempted seven shots at the line was on Nov. 14, 2023, against Wofford.
• Awaka registered his fifth double-digit scoring performance and fifth double-digit rebounding total as a collegian, including his third of each in 2023-24.
• Awaka’s lone previous double-double came on Jan. 2, 2024, when he amassed 11 points and 10 rebounds versus Norfolk State.
• Knecht is the 10th SEC player in the last 12 years (2012-24) to record 14-plus points in 12 straight league games in a single season and the only Volunteer to do so in at least the last 19 campaigns (2005-24).
• Knecht, who surpassed his prior season high of eight rebounds on Jan. 16 versus Florida, recorded his seventh-career double-double and his first as a Volunteer.

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Inter Milan 1-0 Atletico Madrid: Marko Arnautovic strikes as Serie A leaders open up narrow advantage in Champions League last-16 tie

A late goal from substitute Marko Arnautovic gave Inter Milan a 1-0 home victory against Atletico Madrid in the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie on Tuesday.

The Austria striker, who had replaced the injured Marcus Thuram at halftime, redeemed himself after several missed chances by squeezing the ball home after Lautaro Martinez’s shot was saved by goalkeeper Jan Oblak in the 79th minute.

It was only the second time the teams had played each other, with Atletico winning 2-0 in the UEFA Super Cup back in 2010.

Inter dominated the match and although Atletico had their chances the home side’s solid defence prevented the visitors from getting any attempts on target.

Samuel Lino had Atletico’s first opportunity but his right-footed curler went just wide of the far post.

Ahead of the interval Martinez and Thuram had openings to break the deadlock for Inter but also came up against a resilient defence, with attempts blocked or saved by Oblak.

Inter started the second half on the attack as Federico Dimarco supplied a cross to Arnautovic, who slid in slightly late and ballooned the ball over from close range.

Just after the hour the home fans again expressed their frustration as Arnautovic, having found himself free in front of goal, sent another effort over the crossbar before the villain became the hero of the night with his late winning goal.

For the visitors, Alvaro Morata headed wide from six yards out in the final minutes after getting on the end of Angel Correa’s deep cross.

Inzaghi: We regret winning with just one goal

Image:
Simone Inzaghi gestures from the sidelines

Inter Milan boss Simone Inzaghi:

“This match leaves us with good feelings about the extraordinary performance of the lads against a great opponent. We regret having won with just one goal because it will be an intense match in Madrid. I’m happy for Arnautovic; he’s working very well.

“We had a good first half – not exceptional – against great opponents. In the second half we were not good for the first 10 minutes but then we were amazing with players coming in and giving us great help.

“In this six months we have done very well but the most important months are March and April. The lads have to continue like this. I like to see them training but we know that difficulties will come: tight matches, tiredness, some players will suffer injuries. But we have to continue to work like we are doing now.

“Our performance was very good because we were facing a physical and technical team. It wasn’t easy at all. Now we will have another difficult game in Madrid. There is regret because we deserved something more.”

Simeone: They took advantage of a mistake

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone:

“We competed quite well. We were close to what we were looking for, to block a bit of the very good attack that a team like Inter is generating. In the end they took advantage of many situations where we lost balls to counterattacks and created good goalscoring chances.”

More from Simeone on the goal: “That’s the marvellous thing about football: you can prepare what you want to prepare, but in the end it’s people, they are individual players. Good things happen and so do bad, and today they [Inter] took advantage of a mistake between Rodrigo [de Paúl] and Ray [Reinildo].

“We have to keep improving, we have to keep winning duels, we have to keep running with more intensity and improving. And from that, the good things will come.”

Atletico’s home record keeps tie in balance

Arnautovic reacts after missing an earlier chance
Image:
Arnautovic reacts after missing an earlier chance

Sky Sports’ Ben Grounds:

It is now nine wins in as many games in all competitions in 2024 for Inter Milan – but they were made to sweat for this latest one.

Simeone’s side will be content to return to Madrid with the tie in the balance. His side were second best throughout this first leg, and were indebted to Oblak for keeping Inter at bay until Arnautovic’s intervention 11 minutes from time.

For the Italians, it is now nine clean sheets in their last 14 Champions League games, and they weren’t troubled at all by Antoine Griezmann and co.

Atletico have demonstrated they are supremely difficult to beat on home soil, and it is still all to play for.

Mkhitaryan: We’ll have to play to win again

Lautaro Martinez and Stefan Savic challenge for the ball
Image:
Lautaro Martinez and Stefan Savic challenge for the ball

Inter Milan midfielder Henrikh Mkhitaryan:

“We have another match to play; 1-0 counts for little even if it was nice to win. We created as much as possible to try to score goals but we knew that we were playing against a strong team who play and defend well.

“We go to Madrid with the lead but we will have to play to win again, as if we hadn’t scored tonight. We have to do our best to continue last year’s path; we want to reach the final again.”

Imperious Inter – Opta stats

Arnautovic broke the deadlock in the second half
Image:
Arnautovic broke the deadlock in the second half

  • Inter Milan have won seven of their last nine UEFA Champions League games on home soil (D2), as many victories as they picked up in their previous 21 (D5 L9).
  • Atletico Madrid have lost each of their last two knockout clashes with Italian sides in European competition, also losing to Juventus in March 2019 in the UEFA Champions League (0-3), after winning each of the five before that.
  • Inter Milan are the first Serie A side to win each of their first nine games of a calendar year in all competitions since Juventus in 2016 (10).
  • Atletico Madrid failed to direct a single shot on target in a UEFA Champions League game for the first time since their quarter-final first leg clash with Manchester City in April 2022.

What’s next?

The return leg will be on March 13 at the Wanda Metropolitano, kicking off at 8pm.

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LIVE UPDATES: PVL All-Filipino Conference February 20 games

PVL All-Filipino opening schedule of games (February 20)

Philsports Arena

4 p.m. – Petro Gazz Angels vs Strong Group Athletics
6 p.m. – Chery Tiggo Crossovers vs Capital1 Solar Spikers

FULL SCHEDULE HERE.

PVL Live Updates: Chery Tiggo Crossovers vs Capital1 Solar Spikers

Chery Tiggo Crossovers’ Ara Galang during a game against Capital1 in the 2024 PVL All-Filipino Conference.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–Ara Galang starred for Chery Tiggo in a dominant 25-6, 25-15, 25-15 win over debuting Capital1 to open its Premier Volleyball League (PVL) campaign on Tuesday at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

Wearing a different uniform from the familiar yellow of the defunct F2 Logistics, Galang led the Crossovers with 12 points built around nine attacks, two aces and a block.

PVL Live Updates: Petro Gazz Angels vs Strong Group Athletics

Brooke Van Sickle Petro Gazz Angels PVL

Petro Gazz Angels’ Brooke Van Sickle in her PVL debut.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Brooke Van Sickle admitted she felt first-game jitters but still enjoyed her Premier Volleyball League (PVL) debut.

The Filipino-American sensation only had seven points in their 25-12, 25-20, 25-12 win over the debuting Strong Group Athletics in the All-Filipino Conference opener on Tuesday at Philsports Arena.

Nicole Tiamzon Petro Gazz Angels PVL

Petro Gazz Angels’ Nicole Tiamzon during the 2024 PVL All-Filipino Conference.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines — Nicole Tiamzon shone in Petro Gazz’s first Premier Volleyball League (PVL) game under Japanese coach Koji Tsuzurabara, who wants his players to always have the “challenger’s” mindset.

All eyes were on Brooke Van Sickle after an MVP and title run in the PNVF Champions League but Tiamzon proved she could lead the Angels, who swept the debuting Strong Group Athletics, 25-12, 25-20, 25-12, in the All-Filipino Conference opener on Tuesday at Philsports Arena.

Petro Gazz Angels PVL

Petro Gazz Angels during a win over Strong Group Athletics in the 2024 PVL All-Filipino Conference.–MARLO CUETO/INQUIRER.net

MANILA, Philippines–Petro Gazz spoiled Strong Group Athletics’ Premier Volleyball League (PVL) debut with a 25-12, 25-20, 25-12 whipping in the 2024 All-Filipino Conference on Tuesday at PhilSports Arena in Pasig City.

Getting a bit more playing time under new coach Koji Tsuzurabara’s system, Nicole Tiamzon lifted the Angels with 15 points built around 13 attacks and two aces.

Petro Gazz Angels post-game press conference

Video: Strong Group Athletics ready for its PVL debut

Video: Petro Gazz warms up for its first PVL 2024 game

Petro Gazz Angels' MJ Philips. –PVL PHOTO

FILE – Petro Gazz Angels’ MJ Philips. PVL PHOTO

Just the news that MJ Phillips will soon be returning to Petro Gazz already serves as encouragement for the Angels ahead of the much-awaited return of the Premier Volleyball League in just a few days.

And Petro Gazz knows it can expect more than just motivation once Phillips actually reunites with her local club.

“Just hearing the word of her coming back is a boost,” captain Remy Palma told the Inquirer in Filipino after the launch of the All-Filipino Conference on Wednesday. “Especially for me because we are buddies, partners in the middle.

PVL coaches plays

The top PVL coaches reveal their pet plays during games. —MARLO CUETO

Behind every championship, victory, set and point in volleyball is a stable system designed by coaches that help players execute inside the court.

While basketball plays are pretty much well-known, volleyball strategies remain esoteric even with the continued skyrocketing popularity of the sport.

Running or slide attack, pipe attack, outside hit, high ball or four set, Gap or 31 set. It takes a trained eye to watch these plays develop. In contrast, even casual sports fans can spot a pick-and-roll coming before the point guard crosses the eight-second line.

Ricky Palou

Ricky Palou: Putting things on a reasonable level. —PVL PHOTO

The Premier Volleyball League’s (PVL) plans on pushing for a more equal playing field is slowly taking shape as it eyes to fully implement major changes by midyear.

For the first time since the PVL became a professional league, it will be having a Rookie Draft that will pull the curtains down on direct hirings either from international talent or local collegiate standouts done by the teams to bolster their rosters.



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