Kepa stars in Bernabeu stalemate

Kepa put on a goalkeeping show to earn Athletic Bilbao a 1-1 draw with Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu on Wednesday night.

  • Real Madrid 1 Athletic Bilbao 1
  • Ronaldo hits the crossbar early on
  • Williams (14') beats Navas with chip
  • Kepa pulls off heroics in Bilbao goal
  • Garcia denied by woodwork
  • Ronaldo (87') spares Real's blushes

Match Summary

After Cristiano hit the woodwork early on, Inaki Williams made the breakthrough at the other end with a brilliant chip on 14 minutes, before Kepa produced his heroics with a string of fine saves as the first half wore on.

Raul Garcia was denied by the frame of the goal in the second half, and Kepa looked to have secured a hard-fought victory for Los Leones when he kept out Lucas Vazquez three minutes from time, but Ronaldo popped up to equalise with an instinctive backheeled flick on the rebound.

Full Report

The contest got off to a lively start as Mikel San Jose forced Keylor Navas into a save at his near post, before Ronaldo rifled a shot against the crossbar from Dani Carvajal's cross on the right.

After Ronaldo went close again on 12 minutes when he cut inside from the left and fired wide of the far post on 12 minutes, the opener arrived two minutes later.

However, it was the travelling fans that were celebrating the lead as Williams raced onto Inigo Cordoba's ball over the top and chipped Navas to score.

Zinedine Zidane's side looked to respond and Ronaldo saw his deflected strike smartly kept out by Kepa, who was well placed to catch Marcelo's stinging drive soon afterwards.

The Spanish keeper was relieved when Marco Asensio blasted over in a promising position on 22 minutes, and he was at his best again just after the half-hour mark to prevent Raphael Varane's header from crossing the line.

Kepa continued to thwart the hosts as Asensio skipped through a couple of challenges before forcing an outstanding save from the youngster, who preserved the visitors' lead at the interval.

Los Blancos struggled to regain their rhythm in the second half and Sergio Ramos rescued them on 56 minutes with a vital interception to deny Williams from converting Garcia's knockdown.

They survived another scare when Garcia struck the crossbar after a scramble inside the box, which saw Williams swing at fresh air and Cordoba's attempt blocked by Carvajal.

Substitute Gareth Bale almost made an immediate impact when he flicked Marcelo's cross just wide on the volley, but it seemed to be one of those days for the champions of Spain, who were denied again by Kepa at the death.

The 23-year-old was required to parry away Vazquez's shot in the 87th minute, but Real came right back and Luka Modric's gamble paid off when drive was diverted past Kepa by the heel of Ronaldo.

Red Devils claim routine win over Cherries

A much-changed Manchester United returned to winning ways in the Premier League as they strolled past Bournemouth at the Vitality Stadium on Wednesday night.

  • Bournemouth 0 Manchester United 2
  • Rashford tests Begovic from an angle
  • Smalling (28') converts Lingard's pass
  • Wilson denied penalty in second half
  • Lukaku (70') finishes swift move

Match Summary

United boss Jose Mourinho made seven changes from the team that lost 1-0 to West Brom at Old Trafford on Sunday, and they responded with goals in each half from Chris Smalling and Romelu Lukaku securing all three points.

The Red Devils opened up a four-point gap on Liverpool in the race for second place in the table and automatic qualification for the UEFA Champions League group stages. 

Full Report

The visitors enjoyed the lion's share of the possession on the night and bossed proceedings once they took the lead just before the half-hour mark.

After a quiet opening, Jordon Ibe had the first sniff at goal on 11 minutes when Callum Wilson collected the ball on the left and squared for the winger, who hit a low shot wide of the left post from outside the box.

Asmir Begovic was called on to make a routine save five minutes later as Ander Herrera's deflected strike from 21 yards out looped up into the air, and the veteran keeper was tested again on 27 minutes by Marcus Rashford from an angle on the right after the striker did well to win the ball off Nathan Ake and raced into the area.

United opened the scoring just moments later as Herrera slipped in Jesse Lingard with a threaded pass and the winger squared the ball across the six-yard box, where Smalling slid home.

Eddie Howe's side were looking dangerous on the counter and Ryan Fraser had a good opportunity on 31 minutes when Lewis Cook surged forward and played in the Scottish winger, who was off balance as he shot, and David De Gea made an easy save.

De Gea had to be alert just before half-time as he parried away a fierce strike from Joshua King inside the box on the right to keep the Red Devils on the front foot at the break.

They were fortunate to survive a penalty appeal 11 minutes into the second half as King delivered a perfect cross into the six-yard box for Wilson, who failed to make contact with the goal gaping. However, TV replays showed that Luke Shaw had held the striker back, which went unnoticed by the match officials.

A breakaway from the hosts on 64 minutes presented another chance for WIlson, who advanced on goal after being released down the right, but he fired wide of the near post as Phil Jones got back to make a sliding challenge.

United then put the game to bed 20 minutes from time. Paul Pogba was the architect of the goal as he powered towards the opposition box from the halfway line and played in Lukaku, who lifted the ball over the advancing Begovic from 10 yards out on the left. 

The south coast club finished the game strongly and Lys Mousset fizzed an effort over the crossbar from inside the box on the right after being fed by Cook on 82 minutes, before Dan Gosling also cleared the target with a curler from 25 yards out on the left two minutes from time.

Matsatsantsa dumped out of CCC

SuperSport United failed to qualify for the CAF Confederation Cup group stages after losing to Gor Mahia on away goals in the play-off round.

  • SuperSport United 2 Gor Mahia 1 (2-2 on agg)
  • Mnyamane clips top of bar at end of first half
  • Shakava (60') OG puts Matsatsantsa ahead
  • Kahata (61') swiftly restores parity
  • Oluoch pulls off a string of saves
  • Mnyamane hits the post late on

Match Summary

The 2017 losing finalists needed to overturn a 1-0 deficit from the first leg, and they took the lead at the Lucas Moripe Stadium on the hour mark, only to be pegged back immediately by K'Ogalo, who got the all-important away goal.

Kaitano Tembo's side gave themselves a fighting chances with a second goal in the closing stages, but it was not enough to continue their adventure on the continent, as the Kenyan giants booked their place in the group phase.

Full Report

The hosts made a bright start and went close to breaking the deadlock on the quarter-hour mark when Sipho Mbule blazed over the crossbar following good work from Onismor Bhasera to fashion to create an opening.

They threatened again through Dylan Stoffels, who got his attempt on target, but Gor keeper Boniface Oluoch was equal to the task. Thabo Mnyamane was next to test Oluoch just before the half-hour mark with a free-kick just that was comfortably saved.

Dylan Kerr's men had done most of the defending in the first half, but they wasted a good opportunity to seize control on 42 minutes when Bernard Ondiek missed the target after finding himself unmarked.

Mnyamane was a whisker away from making the breakthrough on the stroke of half-time with a curling effort from the edge of the box that clipped the top of the crossbar.

Matsatsantsa quickly got into their stride after the restart and after Stoffels forced Oluoch into a sharp save at close range on 52 minutes, an own-goal from Haron Shakava in the 60th minute levelled the tie.

However, their lead lasted just one minute as Francis Kahata hit back for the visitors when SuperSport switched off at the back.

Mnyamane finally had the beating of Oluoch, though, when he drilled a shot beyond the Kenyan gloveman to give the Tshwane outfit the lead on the night and 2-2 on aggregate in the two-legged tie.

SuperSport piled on the pressure in the final 20 minutes and Oluoch was called on to keep out efforts from Mnyamane and Darrel Smith, before Reyaad Pieterse pulled off a superb save to deny Kahata his brace on 82 minutes.

The woodwork came to K'Ogalo's rescue at the death when Mnyamane lined up a shot from distance that came back off the post to cruelly deny the Premiership club passage into the next round.

Wits fail to reach CCC group stages

Bidvest Wits were sent packing from the CAF Confederation Cup on the away goals rule after drawing 0-0 with Enyimba in the second leg of their play-off tie on Wednesday.

  • Enyimba 0 Bidvest Wits 0
  • Klate goes close
  • Ibenegbu threatens
  • Khumalo sees header saved
  • Peters stops late penalty

Match Summary

The South African champions enjoyed some early chances through veteran winger Daine Klate but were denied by some last-ditch defending.

In the second stanza, both teams had opportunities, with Wits keeper Kyle Peters saving a penalty from Ifeanyi Anaemena in the closing stages.

Match Report

The Clever Boys started positively and went close when Klate volleyed just over from a flick-on by Eleazar Rodgers. Not long after, the Nigerian outfit showed great alertness as an attempt by Klate was cleared off the line.

Nonetheless, the People's Elephant were close to taking the advantage as Chinonso Okonkwo found a pocket of space but failed to hit the target.

It was end-to-end stuff and Ike Ibenegbu came close as his half-volley tested Peters and the rebound dropped to Abdulrahman Bashir, but he fired wide.

After the interval, Bongani Khumalo's header came close, although Fatau Dauda produced a solid save.

The action was heating up and  Freedom Omofoman may have done better as he dragged a strike wide from a fine pass from Bashir.

The hosts were boosted when Edwin Gyimah saw red for a rough foul on Austin Oladapo, with just over 20 minutes to go.

In the closing stages, Rodgers came within inches of winning the tie for the visitors, but he was just unable to connect with a cross from Thobani Mncwango.

At the death, Omofoman was pulled down in the box for a penalty, but Peters produced a fine save with Anaemena hitting the side-netting on the follow-up attempt.

Leicester City v Southampton

Leicester City will be aiming to snap a two-match losing streak when they host relegation-threatened Southampton in the Premier League on Thursday.

The Foxes suffered 2-1 defeats against Newcastle at home and Burnley away in their last two league fixtures, but have not lost three in a row all season.

The clash may have special significance for Leicester manager Claude Puel, who was sacked by Saints in June last year despite leading them to an eighth-placed finish in the league and reaching the EFL Cup final.

"Southampton is not my concern. I don't want to comment about Southampton," Puel said in his pre-match press conference.

"I can say I like a lot of people working at Southampton. I have a good relationship with a lot of players and people still there, but my focus is on Leicester and on this game.

"We want to defend our place in the top half of the table. We need to keep a serious ambition and defend our place because a lot of teams are close behind us. It is important for us to finish strongly and to prepare also for next season."

Meanwhile, Mark Hughes' side are on a poor run of form and are now in the bottom three with only five games remaining to get themselves out of trouble. The south coast club have not won in their last seven league outings, losing five.

"The message is to enjoy the challenge. It's not an easy situation but don't be cowed by it, just get out there and show people what you are about," Hughes told the press.

"You have the opportunity to make a statement every time you put the shirt on. There is a lot of talk about fear of failure. My interpretation of that is you should not allow people the opportunity to criticise you and use that motivation to drive yourself on to bigger and better things."

In team news, Leicester could be missing goalkeeper Kasper Schmeichel and striker Shinji Okazaki, but midfielder Wilfred Ndidi is available again after serving his suspension.

Southampton are expected to be without midfielders Mario Lemina and Sofiane Boufal, as well as the suspended Jack Stephens.

Seaman: Hart has handled all that before

Former England goalkeeper David Seaman believes Joe Hart's experience gives him the edge to start for his country at the World Cup in Russia.

Hart was overlooked in recent international friendlies, with Three LIons manager Gareth Southgate opting for Jack Butland and Jordan Pickford.

However, Seaman feels the pressure might be too much for the duo and would prefer Hart, who has played on the big stage before.

"For me, it has always been Joe," the former Arsenal shot-stopper told Sky Sports. "Obviously, the two other guys Butland and Pickford are getting really close.

"Joe's fortunately started playing for West Ham which is going to help; it is going to give Gareth a hard decision to make, whether he goes with Jordan or Jack we do not know.

"Only Gareth will know, but he is going to have to be a little bit careful because it is a World Cup and its big pressure. Joe's handled all that before, Jordan and Jack have never really been anywhere near that.

"When I think of that situation I always think to Scott Carson when he got put in at Wembley against Croatia. He made a mistake in the first five minutes and his game just went because he had no experience to fall back on.

"The standard is good and Jordan and Jack are getting really close."

Obi: Big chance to make World Cup squad

Torino midfielder Joel Obi is confident of making the Nigeria squad for the 2018 World Cup after featuring in their friendly matches last month.

Obi has impressed for the Toro this season, making 24 appearances in Serie A and scoring six goals, which he feels could boost his chances of going to Russia with the Super Eagles.

The 26-year old admitted it was heart-breaking to miss out on the 2014 edition in Brazil and said he is working hard to be included in Gernot Rohr's final 23-man party.

"This big tournament is the ultimate ambition of every professional footballer and I hope to work harder to fulfil that dream," he told the BBC.

"I was heartbroken for missing the World Cup in Brazil, but I now have another big opportunity four years later.

"Coach Gernot Rohr has made it clear that everyone must earn their place in the team. That's equally encouraging and challenging, so I'm looking forward to the competition for a spot."

Obi has won 15 caps for his country over an eight-year period and he's hopeful of staying injury free to secure a ticket to Russia.

"I've had a period when injury robbed me of playing for my country but with Russia in mind, it would just be unbelievable to finally be playing at a major tournament for Nigeria," he added.

"I had a chance to play for the Italy youth side and potentially at a youth World Cup but I stood firm that Nigeria was definitely my future, 100%. I want to play for the Super Eagles.

"If I keep going, play well for Torino and do well for my country with every chance I get, I think there's a big chance for me to go to the World Cup."

Herrlich annoyed by Bayern mauling

Bayer Leverkusen head coach Heiko Herrlich admits the 6-2 thrashing at the hands of Bayern Munich in the DFB-Pokal semi-finals on Tuesday hurts his team.

Lars Bender and Leon Bailey scored consolation goals for the hosts while Thomas Muller netted a hat-trick, Robert Lewandowski bagged a brace and Thiago Alcantara also found the back of the net for Die Roten to book their place in the final.

Herrlich believes it could have turned out differently if Leverkusen were able to stay on level terms in the first 10 minutes, instead of letting in two Lewandowski goals, but admits Bayern were simply too strong.

"Of course it's unfortunate to be two down after eight minutes. The team still displayed commitment, and we soon created big chances. We tried to keep on fighting and play football," he told the club's official website.

"It was a good and evenly-balanced match until half-time. Then we transformed and were a bit more open. Things would have gone differently if we had used out first few chances. Bayern then made it 3-1 and we conceded three goals in succession.

"They really smashed us today, it hurts, it annoys me. Bayern have the quality, they were very efficient. They became ecstatic, it's impressive that they don't ease off. They have this hunger, this greed."

De Gea: WBA defeat was a tough one to take

Manchester United goalkeeper David De Gea has revealed that the camp is struggling to recover from the 1-0 shock defeat to West Brom at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Manchester City were confirmed as the champions of England after United were stunned by the Baggies, who are rock-bottom of the Premier League.

The Red Devils now find themselves under pressure from arch-rivals Liverpool in the race to finish second the runaway Citizens.

De Gea was speaking ahead of Wednesday's trip to Bournemouth, where Jose Mourinho's side will be hoping to bounce back from the weekend's disappointment.

"It was a tough one to take; it was a real blow and we're all a bit down," the Spain international told MUTV.

"It was such an unexpected defeat but the good thing is we have got a game coming right up on the back of it. It is a real chance to lift ourselves and get back to winning ways.

"What we have got to make sure of now is that we finish second this season. That's what we've got to hope for league-wise.

"We've got to make sure we put in a good performance and get the win midweek and make sure we hold on to that second place."

Ntshangase upbeat he'll shine at Chiefs

Siphelele Ntshangase has taken his relatively limited game-time with Kaizer Chiefs as a challenge rather than a setback and is determined to up his efforts.

Since arriving from Baroka FC in January this year, Ntshangase has made just one start for Amakhosi with a further seven appearances off the bench.

His most recent game-time came last weekend, when the creative midfielder featured for the final half an hour in the 1-0 league win over Platinum Stars.

He'll now be hoping to get the chance to impress when the Glamour Boys face Free State Stars in a Nedbank Cup semi-final clash in Durban on Saturday.

Speaking this week, the 24-year-old Ntshangase made it clear that he's in good spirits, delighted to be a Chiefs player, and says he will give his all to try and make a success of his time with the Soweto giants. 

"I'm trying‚ and I don't have anything against the coach for not playing me. I'm not taking it badly," he said.

"Given an opportunity to play‚ that's where I'm looking to impress. I'm not under pressure.

"The team is not about Ntshangase‚ but it's about the brand‚ so what's important is to win. The guys have welcomed me with open arms.

"What's important is for me to work hard. Whenever I'm given a chance I must work. I haven't got enough game time but I'm still working hard."

The former Black Leopards playmaker says one area he needs to improve in, is defence.

"He [coach Steve Komphela] wants me to be a complete player – one who can defend and attack. I think one of the things that lacks for me is defending."