Stefano Pioli was angered by the late awarding of a penalty to Juventus as his Milan side had to settle for a frustrating 1-1 draw in the Coppa Italia semi-final first leg at San Siro.

Ante Rebic's volley just after the hour deservedly put Milan ahead and preceded a red card for Rossoneri full-back Theo Hernandez.

It took until injury time for Juve to make the most of the extra man with Davide Calabria harshly pinged for blocking Cristiano Ronaldo's acrobatic effort with his arm in the area.

Ronaldo rifled in the spot-kick, but head coach Pioli felt the decision does not marry with a separate incident in a fixture between Cagliari and Brescia earlier in the season, which he says referees said should not have been awarded.

Speaking to Rai, Pioli said: "I got angry first and foremost because there was a foul on Zlatan Ibrahimovic earlier in the move. 

"Plus I remember the referees showed footage of that Cagliari-Brescia penalty at the start of the season and said it was an error to award it because the player couldn't see the ball.

"Here the situation is the same as Calabria couldn't see it. Alberto Cerri, in that situation, jumped and could not just cut his arms off, you have to use your arms when jumping."

Pioli, who saw Milan denied on several occasions by veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon, believes his team can be proud of their performance though.

"I told the players to leave the pitch without regrets. I can say, they will have no regrets. I am very proud of their performance, so are the Milan fans," he added.

"We wanted to get the victory, we were in a strong position to do so, but this is just the first leg and we'll try to do even better in the second."

Real Sociedad scraped past second-tier Mirandes at Anoeta on Thursday to claim a narrow 2-1 first-leg advantage in their Copa del Rey semi-final.

La Real stunned Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu in the previous round, but Mirandes had knocked out three LaLiga teams en route to the last four and caused concern for top-flight opposition once more.

Captain Mikel Oyarzabal dispatched a ninth-minute spot-kick for Sociedad, yet they were pegged back by Matheus Aias and scarcely deserved the second Martin Odegaard lashed in to restore their lead before the interval.

The second period brought marginal improvement in the home ranks but no further goals, leaving the tie in the balance ahead of the return fixture next month.

Sociedad's opener came only after Alex Remiro was forced into a smart, low stop from Martin Merquelanz with just five minutes on the clock.

Portu earned a penalty as Odei Onaindia dallied in the area and allowed the home winger to get between man and ball before going down, and Oyarzabal coolly converted from 12 yards.

Mirandes deservedly levelled six minutes before half-time, as Mickael Malsa pounced on some careless play 20 yards from goal and fed Matheus Aias, the striker twisting to send in a low shot that deflected beyond Remiro.

But Sociedad responded swiftly. Limones spilled Odegaard's powerful drive but recovered well to block Portu's follow-up, only for the Real Madrid loanee to rifle in a second rebound.

Matheus Aias blazed over from close range heading into the break, while there were big saves at either end following the restart, Limones denying Portu before Remiro parried an Antonio Sanchez strike.

The two goalkeepers were largely underworked thereafter until Limones superbly turned away a header from one of his own defenders in the fourth minute of stoppage time, teeing up an intriguing second leg at Estadio Municipal de Anduva.


What does it mean? Sociedad warned

Mirandes' earlier exploits in this competition meant La Real had no excuse as they faced this stern examination, surely well aware of the threat their opposition posed. The LaLiga side still struggled to get to grips with Merquelanz and Alvaro Rey, though, and must be better in the return leg to get the job done.

Martin up for the cup

Odegaard is enjoying a fine season in San Sebastian, and he has saved some of his best performances for this cup run. His third goal in the competition this term came at a crucial time, while a gorgeous pass early in the second half set Portu through, the busy wide man unable to beat Limones for a two-goal lead that might have put the tie beyond Mirandes.

Lacking in key areas

On the balance of play - particularly in the first half - Mirandes were good value for at least a draw from this first leg, but shortcomings at either end of the pitch proved costly. Onaindia paid the price as he reacted slowly to a ball into the box and felled Portu, while Matheus Aias, despite scoring a fortunate equaliser, missed one big opportunity.

What's next?

Focus returns to league action for the coming weeks, with La Real visiting Eibar on Sunday as Mirandes host Albacete. The two sides reconvene for the Copa second leg at Mirandes on March 4.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a last-gasp penalty to earn Juventus a scarcely deserved 1-1 draw against 10-man Milan in Thursday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg at San Siro.

It was the prolific Portugal forward's athletic effort that struck the arm of Davide Calabria to earn the spot-kick, awarded after a VAR check, and he duly rifled home in added time.

Prior to the late drama, Milan had made the breakthrough just after the hour. Having been thwarted on several occasions by veteran Gianluigi Buffon, Ante Rebic finally scored before Theo Hernandez was sent off for a second bookable offence.

The Rossoneri were made to rue their missed chances, however, and face a tricky task in Turin to reach the final at the expense of Juve, who have a huge table-topping clash with Inter and a Champions League last-16 first-leg tie in Lyon among their fixtures before the return clash.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic is a "phenomenon" and will have the final say on whether to extend his stay at Milan, says director of sport Ricky Massara.

Veteran striker Ibrahimovic returned to the Rossoneri in January on a deal that runs until June with the option to extend his stay by a further 12 months.

Ibrahimovic, who won Serie A during his first stint with Milan, has scored three goals in six games across all competitions since re-joining and was in the starting line-up for Thursday's Coppa Italia semi-final first leg against Juventus.

Massara hailed Ibrahimovic's quality and said the Swede will be the one to decide his future.

Speaking to Rai Sport, Massaro said: "It'll ultimately be up to him, how he feels and how long he wants to continue.

"He truly is a phenomenon, and we are very happy with his performance."

Milan are 10th in Serie A after 23 games, 10 points adrift of the top four but only two away from Hellas Verona in sixth.

Erling Haaland already had his heart set on a move to Borussia Dortmund by the time Manchester United made a move for his services.

Dortmund signed Haaland after agreeing to meet his €22.5million release clause at Salzburg in late December, and the 19-year-old has made a flying start to life in Germany, with eight goals in five appearances.

A host of leading European clubs were linked to the striker, including United – led by his former Molde coach Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – but Haaland told Viasport his mind was made up by the time their interest was declared.

"Ole Gunnar has been very important for me in getting to where I am today," he said.

"But we concluded that Dortmund was the best option for me. That was what I felt best about and therefore it became Dortmund."

Indeed, Dortmund as a next stop in his career was put forward by Haaland himself as his father – former Leeds United and Manchester City utility man Alf-Inge Haaland – surveyed other options.

"The thing is, when the season was over, my father and I started talking

"At that point he didn’t mention Dortmund. Then I asked him, 'What about this club? That would have been nice'. Then he said, 'We'll see'.

"Suddenly it became an option and then that was what I felt all along.

"The process was pretty simple on my end. I really just played football and wasn't very involved until the first half of the season was over.

"So, I didn't have that much to do with it, to be honest. The process was to find the best possible club for me."

Haaland made light of suggestions his move to Dortmund was primarily motivated by money and praised agent Mino Raiola for his role in making the transfer happen.

"It's kind of comical if I were to get that label [being greedy]," he said.

"All the people close to me know that's not the kind of person I am. It's really been kind of comical."

On Raiola, Haaland added: "He's the best in the world at what he does. As simple as that.

"He's the best agent. He gets a lot of negativity and that's probably because he's doing such a great job for those he's working for

"He has helped a lot and he's a good guy to have around."

Manuel Neuer is a doubt for Bayern Munich's trip to Cologne on Sunday after he missed training due to illness.

Bayern confirmed their captain sat out Thursday's session at Sabener Strasse because of a gastro-intestinal infection.

Neuer, 33, has been an ever-present for Bayern in the Bundesliga and Champions League this season.

There was better news for head coach Hansi Flick as Joshua Kimmich and Alphonso Davies were back among the first-team group having been laid low by a cold and an ankle knock respectively.

Following last weekend's 0-0 draw against second-place RB Leipzig, Bayern retain a slender one-point advantage as they pursue an eighth consecutive Bundesliga crown.

Flick's side resume their Champions League campaign with a last-16 trip to Chelsea on February 25.

Ernesto Valverde is reluctant to consider whether he was harshly treated at Barcelona following his Camp Nou sacking in January.

The former Athletic Bilbao coach had been in charge of Barca since May 2017, winning LaLiga in each of his two full seasons, also claiming the Copa del Rey and Supercopa de Espana in 2018.

But the Blaugrana's Champions League humblings at the hands of Roma and Liverpool in consecutive campaigns, collapsing from healthy first-leg leads on both occasions, increased pressure on Valverde.

A Supercopa semi-final defeat to Atletico Madrid ultimately spelled the end for Valverde, yet he is choosing not to spend too much time reflecting on his departure.

"I don't think about that," Valverde said at the Bilbao International Football Summit. "If I have been unfairly treated, I have to avoid it.

"It's about turning the page. In the end, we are thinking about what has happened and why. We're going to look forward, I don't have to look back."

Sporting director Eric Abidal sparked a row with Lionel Messi and chaos at Camp Nou last week as he suggested Barcelona players were not working hard enough for Valverde before the head coach's exit.

But Valverde would not speculate on the matter, adding: "Why did I leave? It is not a question for me.

"This is a part of our trade that you have to accept. Would I like it to be different? Yes, of course."

Valverde, who also represented Barcelona as a player, acknowledged he was well aware of the scrutiny he would face at the Catalan club upon his arrival.

"I was incredibly fortunate to coach Barca," he said. "I have been there as a player. I know what it means when you go to a club of this calibre. I am delighted to have been there.

"When you sign the contract, you know that you are important at the club and, from there, decide the results. We know that the coach is responsible for the players' performances."

Barcelona are three points behind rivals and LaLiga leaders Real Madrid under new coach Quique Setien, while they face Napoli in the last 16 of the Champions League later this month.

Jurgen Klinsmann will not be allowed to revert to a position on Hertha Berlin's board after his "unacceptable" departure as head coach of the Bundesliga side.

Klinsmann stepped down after 11 weeks in charge of Hertha and three wins from nine league matches, citing a lack of "trust" from the club's hierarchy.

In a Facebook Live video on Wednesday, the former Bayern Munich, Tottenham and Germany striker expanded on this – alluding to interference from above and disagreements on "many things".

When he resigned, Klinsmann said he expected to resume a role on Hertha's supervisory board, but primary investor Lars Windhorst told a news conference on Thursday that his conduct had made this an untenable prospect.

"Unfortunately, I must say that the way Jurgen Klinsmann resigned makes a further working relationship with him on the board of Hertha BSC impossible," Windhorst said.

"Unfortunately, the way he left is so unacceptable that we cannot continue a constructive collaboration between him and the other people in charge.

"If we can count on him and his guidance in some other form in the future after all the dust has settled, we will see. I am neither shutting any doors, nor am I knocking anyone out as it has been written today.

"However, it is regrettable that his resignation has been so abrupt, which is why Jurgen Klinsmann lost a lot of credibility. That is really sad."

Hertha's sporting executive Michael Preetz conceded there were differences of opinion between himself and Klinsmann, although he felt the latter might have exaggerated these for his own ends.

"There are different views [between Klinsmann and me] on how the job of a head coach is defined," Preetz said.

"It is correct that we could not agree until he resigned. However, things that I heard yesterday, that I am sitting on the bench and show up on the sideline, were never discussed between the two of us.

"If there are problems and conflicts then I am used to discussing them and to try and find a solution. You can't do that if you turn around and run away."

A 3-1 defeat at home to Mainz in what proved to be Klinsmann's final game at the helm left Hertha 14th in the Bundesliga – six points ahead of third-bottom Fortuna Dusseldorf.

Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech will join Chelsea at the end of this season in a deal that could be worth up to €44million (£36.7m), the Eredivisie champions have confirmed.

Chelsea will pay an initial €40m for the Morocco international, with the remainder of the fee dependent upon unspecified "variables".

The Premier League club announced the deal remains subject to the agreement of personal terms with Ziyech, who will remain with Ajax until the conclusion of the 2019-20 campaign.

Ziyech joined Ajax from Twente in August 2016 and was a star performer as Erik ten Hag's men reached the semi-finals of the Champions League and secured a domestic double last term.

Since moving to Amsterdam, the 26-year-old leads the Eredivisie in goal involvements thanks to a haul of 38 goals and 51 assists.

He scored five goals over the course of their 2018-19 Champions League run, concluding with the strike that put Ajax 2-0 up at home to Tottenham, preceding their heart-breaking collapse as the final beckoned.

Ziyech's performances during that run only heightened purported interest from a number of Europe's heavyweight clubs, with Chelsea emerging from the pack over recent days.

"Ziyech to Chelsea? A transfer was coming, we expected it to happen," Ten Hag told Fox Sports after Wednesday's KNVB Beker win over Vitesse.

"I actually already expected this one or two years earlier. And each time it was: 'Wow, he stayed again.'

"We are just happy that we will still have him until the end of the season."

Ziyech becomes Chelsea's first major signing since their player registration ban from FIFA was halved on appeal.

He will provide another exciting wide attacking option for head coach Frank Lampard, alongside Christian Pulisic and Callum Hudson-Odoi, while Willian might join Pedro in heading from the Stamford Bridge exit door.

RB Leipzig will be without Tyler Adams for the first leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Tottenham.

Head coach Julian Nagelsmann announced at a news conference on Thursday the United States international sustained a calf injury in training and will be out for at least a week.

Leipzig face Werder Bremen in the Bundesliga on Saturday before taking on Jose Mourinho's Tottenham in north London four days later.

Adams, who turns 21 on Friday, has made five appearances in all competitions this season, having only returned from seven months out with a groin issue in December.

He started the 0-0 draw with Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich on Saturday that left Leipzig winless in four games in all competitions.

However, Nagelsmann is confident his team are primed to reproduce their best form as they hit a crucial part of the season.

"Our football improved against Bayern. It's a step in the right direction. The game has given the players confidence; training has been full of determination and power this week," said Nagelsmann.

"The team lacked stability before Bayern. There have been a lot of new elements in training in recent weeks that challenged them.

"I'm confident we can shake off this mini struggle, though, and believe that we already have."

Ajax playmaker Hakim Ziyech will join Chelsea at the end of this season in a deal that could be worth up to €44million (£36.7m), the Eredivisie champions have confirmed.

Jadon Sancho is a player in demand.

The former Manchester City youth player is a man in demand due to exploits with Borussia Dortmund.

The Premier League's elite are circling…

 

TOP STORY – LIVERPOOL WANT SANCHO AMID UNITED LINKS

Liverpool want to sign Borussia Dortmund star and Manchester United target Jadon Sancho, according to the Daily Mail.

United are reportedly confident of luring the 19-year-old England international to Old Trafford, ahead of Premier League rivals Chelsea.

However, a fresh report claims Premier League leaders Liverpool have joined the race for the teenager as Jurgen Klopp hopes to take advantage of the relationship with former club Dortmund. Sky Germany also says Sancho will leave Dortmund at the end of the season.

 

ROUND-UP

Barcelona are preparing to re-sign Neymar from Paris Saint-Germain, reports El Confidencial. Neymar, who left Barca for a world-record €222m fee in 2017, has been heavily linked with a return to Camp Nou. After missing out on an off-season move, Neymar could be on his way back to the LaLiga giants – who are reportedly willing to sell one or two players to finance the blockbuster transfer.

- According to The Sun, Chelsea are battling United for the signature of 16-year-old Birmingham City sensation Jude Bellingham, who could cost up to £50million. The teenager has also attracted interest from Barcelona and Real Madrid.

- United recruit Odion Ighalo has been barred from the club's training ground due to ongoing coronavirus precautions, says The Mirror. Ighalo arrived from Chinese Super League side Shanghai Shenhua on deadline day, moving to United on loan until the end of the season. The Nigeria international, however, has not been allowed to train at Carrington.

Barca have ruled out signing Real Sociedad striker Willian Jose, reports Marca. With Ousmane Dembele and Luis Suarez sidelined, Barca are set to receive permission to sign an emergency forward within Spain. Real Betis' Loren Moron now reportedly tops the list of targets.

- Sandro Tonali has been valued at €55m and €60m by Brescia amid interest from Serie A champions Juventus and Inter, according to Calciomercato.

- Liverpool, United and Bayern Munich are eyeing Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka, reports the Daily Mail.

- AS claims Real Valladolid defender Mohammed Salisu is at the centre of a transfer tug-of-war between Madrid, United and Atletico Madrid.

The Coppa Italia semi-final between Milan and Juventus will pit two of the greatest goalscorers of the modern era against each other.

Milan's Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Juve's Cristiano Ronaldo are set to renew acquaintances when San Siro plays host to Thursday's first leg.

Both Ibrahimovic and Ronaldo are in the latter stages of their careers, but the prospect of them sharing the pitch still adds an extra layer of intrigue to the occasion.

Here we look back at the previous meetings between two of world football's most feared finishers.

 

2009: Inter 0-0 Manchester United, Manchester United 2-0 Inter

Ronaldo got the better of Ibrahimovic and Inter in the last 16 of the Champions League as, after a goalless draw at San Siro in the first leg, the Portugal great headed United's second goal of the return to secure their progression.

2009: Barcelona 1-0 Real Madrid

Ibrahimovic left Inter for Barca at the end of the 2008-09 season, while Ronaldo made a then world-record move to Madrid following United's Champions League final loss to the Blaugrana. CR7 would again be frustrated by Barca as Ibrahimovic wrote his name into Clasico folklore with a superb far-post volley from Dani Alves' perfectly placed right-wing cross.

2010: Real Madrid 2-0 Milan, Milan 2-2 Real Madrid

Though Ibrahimovic lasted only one season at Camp Nou, he renewed acquaintances with Ronaldo in the Champions League group stages. Ronaldo set in motion a victory for Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu with a low free-kick from the edge of the area, but both players were held in check at San Siro in an entertaining draw.

2013: Portugal 1-0 Sweden, Sweden 2-3 Portugal

The second leg of the World Cup qualifying play-off between Sweden and Portugal proved unquestionably the best encounter featuring Ronaldo and Ibrahimovic so far, as they each delivered their best with a place in Brazil on the line. 

Ronaldo earned Portugal a 1-0 advantage in the first leg, and looked to have given them complete command of the tie five minutes into the second half in Solna. Ibrahimovic, though, turned the tie around with a headed equaliser followed by a rasping free-kick, only for Ronaldo to have the final say by superbly finishing off a counter and then emphatically converting from Joao Moutinho's throughball.

2015: Paris Saint-Germain 0-0 Real Madrid, Real Madrid 1-0 Paris Saint-Germain

The most recent meetings between the two featured no such fireworks as Madrid and PSG largely cancelled each other out across two Champions League group stage encounters, with Nacho scoring the goal that ultimately proved decisive in Los Blancos topping the group.

Neymar is in doubt for Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League last-16 first leg at Borussia Dortmund, according to head coach Thomas Tuchel.

PSG were without star forward Neymar for Wednesday's 6-1 rout of Dijon in the Coupe de France quarter-finals due to a rib injury.

Neymar stayed in Paris as the Brazilian continues to recover from the injury, which he suffered against Montpellier on February 1 and led to him missing Ligue 1 wins over Nantes and Lyon.

After travelling to Amiens in Ligue 1 on Saturday, PSG will then make the trip Dortmund for the opening leg of their Champions League tie against the Bundesliga outfit on Tuesday.

Asked about Neymar post-game, Tuchel told reporters: "I can't say that he will be 100 per cent to play against Borussia Dortmund.

"We will discuss and decide on Friday, the latest possible time to do so. We can't risk his fitness."

Tuchel added: "We aren't going to take risks against Amiens, it's clear. We will have a strong team, but if we have little doubts, we won't take risks."

PSG sailed into the Coupe de France semi-finals thanks to the midweek demolition at Dijon.

An early own goal from Wesley Lautoa opened the scoring for PSG, though the visitors were pegged back by Mounir Chouiar 12 minutes later.

However, a Pablo Sarabia brace and goals from Kylian Mbappe and Thiago Silva, as well as a Senou Coulibaly own goal secured PSG's passage.

"Dijon started very aggressively, took a lot of risks and put in a lot of effort. We were also very focused, and battled for second balls," Tuchel said.

"We were very careful but were able to step up our tempo. We were patient and played quickly, simply and created space in the second half. We controlled the game and scored two more goals quickly."

The Jamaica national team coach Theodore Whitmore has revealed a friendly next month against the Spanish region of Catalonia will be used to assess players who could potentially represent the Reggae Boyz.

The historic match-up against the Catalonia squad will be one of two matches scheduled for the national team next month.  The Jamaicans are expected to play a match against Bermuda on March 11, before taking on the Spanish region on March 30. 

According to the federation, while the match against Bermuda is expected to consist of mostly local players, the match in Spain will consist of overseas-based players.

“One of the things we will emphasizing is the conditioning of the players and how they can operate in various positions,” Whitmore said of the friendly.

“There isn’t a lot to it.  It’s just for them to go out and enjoy themselves.”

The Reggae Boyz are currently ranked 48th in the world.  The Catalonia national football team is not affiliated with either FIFA or UEFA and is therefore not allowed to participate in either the FIFA World Cup or the UEFA European Championship.  Since 1904, the team has played nearly 200 games against various national, regional and club teams.

 

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