Shanghai SIPG boss Andre Villas-Boas accuses rivals of "creating car accidents"

David Cooper 13/09/2017
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Shanghai SIPG coach Andre Villas-Boas accused Guangzhou Evergrande of dirty tricks after his side’s epic AFC Champions League quarter-final win, claiming the hosts masterminded a series of road “accidents” to delay SIPG’s arrival at the stadium.

Evergrande almost pulled off a miracle in overturning a 4-0 first-leg deficit, before SIPG emerged battered and bruised from a remarkable all-Chinese encounter on Tuesday with a penalty shootout triumph after the tie had finished 5-5 on aggregate.

It is the first time that SIPG have reached the last four of Asia’s premier club competition, but former Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur manager Villas-Boas was seething afterwards.

The Portuguese lashed out at Iranian referee Alireza Faghani, who sent off two SIPG players in extra time, but reserved his fiercest ire for Evergrande, the two-time Champions League winners.

Video footage posted online, apparently shot from the SIPG team coach on the way to the game, appears to show a succession of five holds-ups on the road involving the same cars in the southern Chinese city.

“We came in the bus for this game. The same two cars suffered three accidents in front of us so this is a problem,” Villas-Boas said after the game, pointing the finger squarely at Evergrande.

“This is the greatest achievement for SIPG ever because it looks like one club is dominating the AFC because this club can do everything. They can block hotels, cause people to have accidents in front of us.”

– ‘It’s a disgrace’ –

Evergrande did not immediately comment on Villas-Boas’s claims.

In the footage, the road is blocked on five occasions as two or three silver-coloured cars stop after supposed collisions, though it was not clear if they ever made contact.
Some Guangzhou fans and media countered that SIPG had started the unsavoury gamesmanship during the tie’s first leg.

Shanghai head coach Andre Villas-Boas and Guangzhou boss Luiz Felipe Scolari

Shanghai head coach Andre Villas-Boas and Guangzhou boss Luiz Felipe Scolari

Following SIPG’s 4-0 rout last month in Shanghai, Evergrande coach Luiz Felipe Scolari claimed the air conditioning in the away changing room had been broken, describing it as “like a sauna”.

SIPG reportedly experienced the same at Tianhe Stadium on Tuesday, with the air conditioning not working properly and no hot water.

Villas-Boas, whose side will face either Kawasaki Frontale or Urawa Reds of Japan in the last four, also raged against referee Faghani, who left SIPG with just nine men on the field at the end of 120 minutes.

Faghani also booked SIPG goalkeeper Yan Junling during the penalty shoot-out for unsporting conduct, which will rule him out for the first leg of the semi-final.

“It’s a disgrace, it’s a disgrace,” Villas-Boas exclaimed.

Scolari was magnanimous in defeat on Tuesday night, but could not resist hitting back about the air conditioning.

“Should we move the AC in Shanghai Stadium to Guangzhou for them to experience?” he asked.

Provided by AFP Sport

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Man United defender Victor Lindelof says he is building confidence after Old Trafford debut

Simon Peach 13/09/2017
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Victor Lindelof is confident of proving his worth at Manchester United after stepping out at Old Trafford for the first time.

United acted quickly to make the long-standing defensive target Jose Mourinho’s first summer signing, paying Benfica an initial €35million for the Sweden international’s services.

Lindelof could cost a further €10million in add-ons, although if those clauses are achieved then the centre-back will likely have proved good value.

Many expected the composed 23-year-old defender to slot straight into United’s defence, but Mourinho is easing him in to help his adaptation to the rigours of English football, much like Henrikh Mkhitaryan last term.

Having been reduced to a watching brief since the UEFA Super Cup, Tuesday’s Champions League opener against Basle was Lindelof’s first taste of playing at Old Trafford – a night the Swede will not only cherish but build on.

“I think it was a very good debut,” Lindelof said after the 3-0 win.

“To play my first match at Old Trafford is something I have really waited for. It felt really good.

“I played my own game and did what I was told to do on the pitch.

“Now I’m going to leave the match for a while and then watch the replay to see if there’s anything that I could have done better.

“I feel pretty confident and know what I’m able to do.”

Mourinho plans to revert to the centre-back pairing of Eric Bailly and Phil Jones for Sunday’s Premier League clash with Everton, but Lindelof is set to get another run out against Burton in the Carabao Cup next week.

Asked if he was aware of Mourinho’s comments on his adaptation to Premier League life, the defender said: “I have noticed what’s been written, but it’s not something that I have focused on.

“I try to focus on my game and add as much as I can to the team.

“(The defensive competition) feels good. They are all good players and I think it’s easy to play with them all.

“We’re going to play the system the manager thinks is the best. I’m used to playing with four at the back, but if Mourinho wants to play with five or three, that’s no problem at all.”

Lindelof does not expect Paul Pogba’s absence to prove too much of a problem either.

“It’s tough to lose such a good player,” he said after the midfielder limped off with a hamstring injury against Basle. “But we have good players who can cover for him.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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Marcus Rashford says Man United have strong squad to deal with the loss of key player

Simon Peach 13/09/2017
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Marcus Rashford believes injured Paul Pogba will be a “massive miss” for Manchester United despite the strength in depth at Jose Mourinho’s disposal.

Old Trafford welcomed Champions League football for the first time in 657 days on Tuesday evening, when Romelu Lukaku and Rashford wrapped up a 3-0 victory against Basle following Marouane Fellaini’s first-half header.

The Belgium midfielder, back from a calf injury, was brought off the bench just 19 minutes into the Group A opener after Pogba’s night was abruptly halted during an innocuous passage of play.

Having led United out as captain for the first time, a night that started as one to remember swiftly unravelled as the 24-year-old pulled up holding his hamstring after going into a challenge.

Mourinho’s initial prognosis was to expect Pogba will be out for a “few weeks”, although further assessment is required on a player who left Old Trafford on crutches.

Sunday’s return to Premier League action at home to Everton certainly looks out of the question and Rashford says United will understandably miss one of the stars of the early weeks of the season.

“That’s why you have such a strong squad,” the 19-year-old forward said.

“It’s good for the manager, it’s good for the players as well because we’re always playing for competition.

“But Paul’s going to be a massive miss and hopefully we can get him back fit as soon as possible.

“We have to play every game to win. If we want to be champions, then we have to win them types of games (like Sunday’s).

“It’s going to be difficult. Everton are a really strong team. They made some good signings in the summer and you know they’ve got strength all around the pitch so we have to come here and try and get the result.”

Paul Pogba receives treatment for his injured hamstring

Paul Pogba receives treatment for his injured hamstring

Rashford is confident of this weekend building on Tuesday’s “solid” start to Group A life against Basle – a night when the 3-0 scoreline fairly reflected United’s dominance.

For the 19-year-old, it was a first taste of Champions League football and, like so many times before, a competition debut he capped with a goal.

Rashford has looked bright in the early weeks of the campaign but, much like Anthony Martial, has been unable to nail down a starting berth due to impressive attacking options the teenager believes are helping rather than hindering his development.

“It’s difficult when you’re in and out of the team, but we have to find the positives out of it and I think we have both done that,” the England international said.

“I think the competition is always positive competition because we’re improving each other every day when we’re in training and in the games we’re pushing each other more and more.

“It’s a bit of a headache for the manager but it is a good headache to have.”

The summer arrivals of Victor Lindelof, Nemanja Matic and Lukaku have increased competition across the park, while those returning from injury will swell the group further.

Luke Shaw has played several times for the Under-23s on his way back from ligament damage in his foot, while Marcos Rojo has begun training with the first-team as he recovers from knee ligament damage.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hopes to be back before the end of the year and Ashley Young showed no sign of rust on his first-team return on Tuesday, putting in a fine display at right-back as well as an exceptional cross for Fellaini’s opener.

“That’s the quality that he possesses,” Rashford added on Young.

“He’s been there, he’s done it, he knows what games require so we didn’t expect anything less from him.

“We’re happy because he hasn’t played for a while and he’s been able to come straight back into the team and perform.”

Provided by Press Association Sport

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