Ross Barkley said his penalty miss in Chelsea's 1-0 defeat to Valencia would not have kept him from taking another spot-kick because he swiftly brushed off the disappointment.

Frank Lampard's men fell behind to Rodrigo Moreno's 74th-minute strike in the Champions League clash at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday, and the Blues boss sent Barkley on as a substitute six minutes later.

The England international had been on the field for just seven minutes when his side won a penalty and he stepped up despite Willian and Jorginho both appearing to stake their claims to take it.

Barkley's spot-kick grazed the top of the crossbar on its way over and Chelsea began their European campaign with a defeat, but the midfielder told reporters: "If there was another penalty in the game I would have been confident of taking it.

"You can miss penalties. It's not the end of the world.

"We've got five more group games to go that we're aiming to win."

While backing himself to convert penalties in the future, Barkley said his team-mates were not vying to take the kick before he stepped up.

"We've got a lot of good penalty takers in the squad," said Barkley. "On a sheet in the changing room, it says I'm on penalties when I'm on the pitch, otherwise it's Jorginho.

"All players feel confident of taking penalties, but we can all miss them. It's more 'good luck with the penalty' type of thing, encouraging me. They would have been willing to take it as well, but I felt confident.

"They were just encouraging me, encouraging me to score the goal. They are confident of taking penalties as well, but I take penalties every day.

"I don't miss them in training and in pre-season I was scoring penalties. I've missed penalties before, when I was at Everton.

"I'm gutted I missed, but these things happen."

The Coupe de la Ligue will cease to run from next season after French football authorities opted to suspend the tournament indefinitely.

The move is designed to provide players with a less taxing competitive schedule, according to the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP).

Unlike the Coupe de France, the country's most prestigious knockout competition, the Coupe de la Ligue is open only to professional clubs, most of which compete in Ligue 1 and Ligue 2.

It has existed in its current form since 1994 but will not continue beyond this season's final, to be held on April 4.

An LFP statement read: "Meeting on September 18, the Board of Directors and the General Assembly of the LFP decided to suspend the organisation of the Coupe de la Ligue at the end of the 2019-2020 edition.

"Depending on the market conditions, the LFP reserves the right to restart this competition later.

"This decision will lighten the competition schedule, give players more recovery time and offer an additional place in European competitions via the Ligue 1 classification at the end of the 2020-2021 season."

At present, the winner of the Coupe de la Ligue is eligible for a spot in the Europa League qualifying rounds.

Paris Saint-Germain won the competition for five straight years before Strasbourg ended their stranglehold by beating Guingamp in last season's final.

Samuel Eto'o joked he will "kill" Xavi if his former Barcelona team-mate never coaches the Catalan giants.

Xavi, who won multiple major honours as a player at Camp Nou, has long been seen as a future Barca coach and has started his managerial career in Qatar with Al Sadd.

With Ernesto Valverde again coming under pressure amid an underwhelming opening to the season for the Catalan giants, Eto'o offered a clear suggestion on who could replace him. 

"He is the f******g boss in Qatar and in Spain," Eto'o told Cadena SER of Xavi.

"If he doesn't end up coaching Barca, I'll kill him!"

Xavi and Andres Iniesta were part of one of football's great midfields, with Eto'o hailing the latter's talent.

"In the [2006 Champions League] final in Paris he played like [Diego] Maradona, [Lionel] Messi and Cristiano [Ronaldo] combined," Eto'o added.

"I already said in my first interviews: he's the best player I have trained with.

"People were surprised I didn't say Ronaldinho or Messi, but time has proved me right.

"He's never been recognised at the level of Leo or Cristiano, but Xavi and Iniesta are at that level."

Barca's next great star could be Ansu Fati, the 16-year-old becoming the youngest player to feature for the club in the Champions League when he started against Borussia Dortmund on Tuesday.

Fati already has two goals in three LaLiga appearances and Eto'o is excited by the forward's huge potential.

"Only God knows what's to come with Fati. He's very good," said the former Cameroon striker. "That one has two pairs of balls... he doesn't have one pair, he has two."

Fati has been playing alongside Barca's new signing Antoine Griezmann, who also has two LaLiga goals this term.

"Playing at Barca is like drinking a good glass of wine," Eto'o added. "Griezmann is drinking from that glass and enjoying it for a long time."

Victor Lindelof has signed a new long-term Manchester United contract, the club have confirmed.

Sweden defender Lindelof has committed his future to the club to 2024, with an option to extend the contract by a further year.

The centre-back joined from Benfica two years ago and has started all five Premier League games for United this term, forming a partnership with new signing Harry Maguire.

"Since the day I arrived at United it has felt like home," Lindelof told the club's official website.

"I have grown significantly both as a player and as a person in the last two years and for that I am grateful to everyone at the club for their help and support. I love playing football and my aim now is to help the team to win trophies and repay the fans for their unrivalled support.

"I know that everyone at the club shares this vision and will give everything to get Manchester United back to where it belongs.

"I'm still young and know I can improve further but with the help of the boss and his coaching staff, I believe that only good things are ahead for this great club."

The 25-year-old has made 74 appearances in all competitions for United, with manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer delighted to have secured the defender's future.

"Victor has established himself here and has become a very important part of our team," Solskjaer said. "He brings calmness on the pitch and I can see that he is determined to help this club and to be successful here.

"I'm extremely happy that he has committed his future to Manchester United. We're all looking forward to working together to deliver the success and get United back to where we know the club belongs."

Lindelof commits his future to United in the same week Spain goalkeeper David de Gea finally signed a new long-term contract at Old Trafford.

United begin their Europa League campaign at home to Astana on Thursday.

Kashima Antlers saw their AFC Champions League defence ended in the quarter-finals as Guangzhou Evergrande progressed to the last four with a 1-1 second-leg draw.

The sides played out a 0-0 draw in the first leg in China but Anderson Talisca's 40th-minute header in the return game gave Guangzhou control of the tie.

That left Kashima needing to score twice to go through and, though Serginho levelled matters six minutes after the restart, they could not find the decisive goal as Guangzhou won on away goals.

Guangzhou will face Urawa Red Diamonds over two legs for a place in the final.

Talisca beat goalkeeper Kwoun Sun-tae to a near-post corner from Huang Bowen to power home the opening goal five minutes before half-time.

Fortune appeared to be favouring Kashima, however, when Serginho's effort took a heavy deflection beyond Zeng Cheng.

Serginho struck the crossbar and Leo Silva saw a goal-bound effort cleared as Kashima sought to complete the turnaround.

However, Guangzhou clung on and are two games away from a third Champions League final, having won the competition in 2013 and 2015.

Neymar was met by boos on his return to action for Paris Saint-Germain and Thomas Tuchel will understand if supporters continue to subject him to jeers.

The Brazil international, who is suspended for Wednesday's Champions League clash with reported suitors Real Madrid, shrugged off the rough treatment to score a spectacular overhead kick winner in a 1-0 victory over Strasbourg on Saturday.

Neymar said afterwards that all matches would be "away games" for him now, having irked fans with his desire to leave the club in the last transfer window.

Tuchel reiterated there is no issue between him and the former Barcelona star, but can see why fans may choose not to forgive Neymar for his actions.

"He did not want to be here. He tried everything that was in his power [to leave the club]," Tuchel told DAZN. 

"That did not help make him popular. You could feel that and I can understand it, if the crowd are angry, even permanently.

"Nevertheless, there is also a side between me as a coach and him as a player. There was never a break or a discrepancy. That's why it was very easy for me to let him play.

"He has always trained professionally. I feel that the decision was a relief to him, even though it fell against his wish.

"Then the concentration and reflection on the task automatically occurs. As an athlete you will not have much else left. You have to give gas. He is hungry and a competitive guy who always wants to win.

"He has to withstand it now, that's the reality. He has to go through, we have to go through all in the home games a bit. The best thing is to come to terms with it."

Fernando Ricksen has died aged 43 following a battle with motor neurone disease, his former club Rangers have announced.

The 12-cap Netherlands international's condition came to light in October 2013, shortly after his retirement from football.

Rangers announced the news of Ricksen's death on Wednesday as they paid tribute to their Hall of Fame member.

A club statement read: "Rangers is deeply saddened to announce that former player Fernando Ricksen passed away this morning following his battle with motor neurone disease.

"In October 2013 he revealed he was suffering from motor neurone disease and since then has fought a terrific battle against the condition, raising awareness and funds for the Fernando Ricksen Foundation, which aims to help others suffering from the illness.

"A benefit match was held at Ibrox in January 2015 and attracted over 41,000 fans to Ibrox.

"It raised £320,000 with the proceeds split between Fernando, his daughter Isabella, MND Scotland and the Rangers Charity Foundation.

"The thoughts of everyone at Rangers is today with his wife Veronika, his daughter Isabella and all his family and friends."

Chris Coleman has defended Gareth Bale's reserved nature and revealed the oft-criticised Real Madrid winger can speak perfect Spanish.

Wales star Bale almost left LaLiga for China during a turbulent close season in which Zinedine Zidane attempted to force him out of the Santiago Bernabeu.

The pair's relationship reportedly became fractured as Madrid fans showed increasing coldness towards the four-time Champions League winner, their treatment of him described as a "disgrace" by the player's agent.

Criticism of Bale has tended to centre on his speculated inability to learn Spanish as part of a wider reluctance to integrate into the country's culture.

Coleman, who managed the former Tottenham talisman for over five years at international level, believes such accusations are at least in part unfounded.

"I saw John Toshack saying Gareth hasn't given enough of himself to the public in Madrid," the former Wales boss told The Athletic.

"Well he's never done that. It's not his character. When he comes home he plays golf, stays with his family, in his little circle.

"I just thought it was unfair when people were picking him apart. He should do this, do that. No, be yourself. If he's not happy in his head he won't be right on the pitch.

"I've been with Gareth in Madrid, in a restaurant, and he's speaking perfect Spanish, ordering food, greeting people.

"He was very polite, but it's his own space. He has done all his talking on the pitch. He is the most decorated foreign import from the UK."

Bale was Coleman's key man when Wales exceeded expectations by reaching the semi-finals at Euro 2016.

Coleman stepped down the following November to take up an ill-fated opportunity at Sunderland, with Ryan Giggs named as his replacement.

Performances have not been entirely convincing but the former Fulham manager expects his successor to prove a shrewd appointment.

"I think he'll be good at it," Coleman said. "He is different to me and will do it his own way. Ryan's quiet, but he's super strong mentally."

He added: "Ryan's ego is not big enough where he thinks he's got all the answers, because none of us have. This is his first job, we mustn't forget that. He's going to get better and better."

There could be a fight to prise Fabian Ruiz from Napoli.

Fabian has established himself as one of Europe's premier midfielders and the Spaniard is reportedly attracting interest.

Two LaLiga giants and the Champions League holders are said to be eyeing Fabian.

 

TOP STORY - THREE-WAY BATTLE FOR FABIAN

Barcelona, Real Madrid and Liverpool are chasing Napoli star Fabian Ruiz, according to the Daily Mail.

Fabian swapped Real Betis for Napoli in 2018 and the Spain international has quickly become one of Europe's most sought-after midfielders.

Now three of the biggest clubs in the world are reportedly eyeing the 23-year-old.

ROUND-UP

- The Sun reports Manchester United are preparing a January move for Bournemouth striker Callum Wilson. The Red Devils have limited options up front following the departures of Romelu Lukaku and Alexis Sanchez. Wilson, who has already scored three goals this season, fits the bill at Old Trafford as manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer eyes talented English players.

Juventus, Liverpool and Manchester City are all interested in Real Madrid playmaker Isco, claims Calciomercato.

Barcelona are set to offer 16-year-old sensation Ansu Fati a new five-year deal to fend off interest from European rivals, claims the Daily Mail.

- League One side Southend United want to hire former Celtic, Barca and Manchester United striker Henrik Larsson as their manager, says the Daily Mail. Southend are second bottom in the league after eight games, while Larsson was last in charge of Helsingborg before quitting in August.

- According to Globo Esporte, Flamengo are negotiating to bring Fredy Guarin to the club. The 33-year-old former Inter midfielder is a free agent after leaving Chinese side Shanghai Shenhua.

Jadon Sancho said he does not know what the future holds but the Borussia Dortmund star wants to win titles with the German side amid growing links to Manchester United.

Sancho has reportedly emerged as United's top transfer target following previous speculation over a move to Old Trafford during the off-season.

The 19-year-old England international produced another impressive display as Dortmund drew 0-0 with Barcelona in their Champions League opener on Tuesday.

Asked about his future post-game, Sancho told Viasport: "I can't tell the future. I just take it game by game. I just wanna give 100 per cent for Borussia Dortmund.

"I really wanna do well with Dortmund. Obviously I want to win titles and give everything."

Sancho has established himself as one of Europe's best talents after leaving Premier League champions Manchester City in 2017.

He scored 12 goals and supplied 14 assists as Dortmund finished runners-up to Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga last season, while Sancho already has two goals and four league assists this term.

"It's crazy. Everything has come so fast," Sancho told Viasat. "But I have a great team. They keep me humbled. I just take it game by game and give 100 per cent."

Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc was asked about Sancho prior to the goalless draw against LaLiga champions Barca on Tuesday.

"We didn't talk to them [United]," Zorc told Viasport. "They were asking us for a meeting [during the off-season]. Sancho is not for sale."

Jurgen Klopp said Napoli can win the Champions League, while the Liverpool manager backed his team to bounce back from their defeat.

Defending champions Liverpool were beaten 2-0 by hosts Napoli in a controversial Group E opener on Tuesday.

Dries Mertens converted an 82nd-minute penalty after Jose Callejon appeared to go down under minimal contact from Andy Robertson at Stadio San Paolo, where the referee's decision was ratified by a VAR check, and Fernando Llorente sealed the win.

Liverpool manager Klopp, whose side lost 1-0 to Napoli in last season's group stage, was frustrated with the penalty decision afterwards and when asked about the Champions League chances of Carlo Ancelotti's side, he said: "They can win the competition, that’s how it is.

"If you have a good plan, if you have good players, which is what they obviously have, then they can win the competition. We experienced that you don't have to be the best team in the world to win the Champions League.

"You have to be in the right moment, you need to be lucky in some situations and when there's only two guys in the room that think it's a penalty you still have to accept that's a penalty, but that's all. They can win the competition, of course."

Klopp was pressed as to whether Napoli were fresher and finished stronger than Liverpool due to Serie A starting later than the Premier League, and the German was not happy.

"Tonight, the questions are really a challenge, to be honest," Klopp said. "I think the guy from Sky Italia asked me or told me Napoli was much better than us. I didn't see that game, so I don't know exactly where he was when the game happened.

"But now you say we were tired. Who had the cramps? Who was on the ground? Liverpool players or Napoli players? After the 2-0 they looked fresher than us, after the 1-0 they looked fresher than us – that's normal. You have a boost. But there was no fresher team on the pitch. There was no physical problem apart from the normal physical problems in a game like this, which is very intense [because] both teams fight hard and all that stuff. It's not a physical problem tonight.

"We have to finish the situations off. How everybody is in life, you need positive moments and you can run forever. We didn't have really positive moments tonight. They obviously got the second air, so they could go again. That's normal, but that was not the reason."

Klopp added: "I hope it [the result] is not decisive. Give us at least a few more games to change the table. In the moment it looks like Napoli’s through, but we still will be playing. We will not stop."

Cristiano Ronaldo has claimed sex with model girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez is superior to the best goal of his glittering football career.

Speaking in an interview on ITV, Ronaldo was asked about a spectacular overhead kick he scored against Juventus for Real Madrid in April 2018.

The 34-year-old agreed it was the best goal of his career, but it still did not match a night between the sheets with 25-year-old Rodriguez.

"No, not [when compared] with my Geo, no!" Ronaldo said as he laughed at the question.

"I tried to score this goal for many, many years. I had scored 700-odd goals but I hadn't done this. I thought 'finally I had scored a bicycle, the beautiful jumping'.

"The way I had done against Gianluigi Buffon, against Juventus, in the Champions League. It was a beautiful goal."

Ronaldo spoke about how it was "love at first sight" with Spaniard Rodriguez, who he first encountered at a Gucci shop.

"Geo's the mum of my kids, and I'm so passionate for her, you know. It's great," explained the Juventus forward.

"Geo, is, you know, part of me. She helped me so much. Of course, I'm in love for her.

"She's my friend. We have conversations, I open the heart for her, she open the heart for me."

When pressed by Morgan on whether he would soon marry Rodriguez, Ronaldo added: "One day. No, we'll be [married] one day, for sure. 

"It's my mum's dream as well. So, one day. Why not?"

Ajax head coach Erik ten Hag says his side needs to "play smarter" despite a resounding 3-0 win over Lille to open their 2019-20 Champions League campaign.

Last season's beaten semi-finalists were largely in dominant mood against their Ligue 1 opponents. Quincy Promes headed them into an 18th-minute lead before Edson Alvarez scored his first goal for the club five minutes after the interval.

Nicolas Tagliafico added a third with a thumping header after 62 minutes but Lille did carve out a number of golden opportunities over the course of the 90 minutes.

While Ten Hag was delighted to start their Group H campaign with a win, he did urge his side to sharpen up.

"My players have an enormous urge to push forward," he told Ziggo. "We have many players who want to get to the goal quickly but there are times when you have to brake and keep the ball longer. 

"Otherwise, you make the opponent stronger. From an organisational point of view, we have to play smarter.

"We sometimes want way too much and that made it an open game. We talked about it in advance because Lille are a powerful side. We want to give a final pass too quickly instead of holding the ball."

Lille coach Christophe Galtier, meanwhile, was left to rue his side's missed chances and pointed to Ajax's ruthlessness as the only difference between the two teams.

"We played as we wanted to play," he said.

"We wanted to be dangerous. The difference came in being clinical in the penalty areas. They were, and we weren't. The man of the match was the Ajax goalkeeper, which shows we created chances.

"But at this level, you have to put them away and punish your opponents. We didn't do that."

Dries Mertens and Fernando Llorente struck late to earn Napoli a 2-0 win at home to holders Liverpool in the first game of the Reds' Champions League defence.

Carlo Ancelotti's men won the corresponding fixture last term with Mertens' spot-kick and Llorente's injury-time goal enough to ensure history was repeated in the Group C clash at the Stadio San Paolo on Tuesday.

Andy Robertson was deemed to have tripped Jose Callejon in the box and, after VAR ratified the penalty decision, Mertens squeezed his penalty past Adrian in the 82nd minute.

Liverpool rode their luck in reaching the knockout rounds in 2018-19 and Jurgen Klopp's men will again have to bounce back from an away loss to Napoli this year after Llorente's first goal for the club sealed all three points.

Napoli had an early strike ruled out for offside when Hirving Lozano headed home the rebound after Adrian's excellent double save from Fabian Ruiz.

Sadio Mane's shot was saved by Alex Meret in the 20th minute - Liverpool recording their first shot on target in the game having failed to manage any in last season's visit.

And the Reds should have gone into the break 1-0 up, Firmino heading wide a fine James Milner cross on the Brazil forward's 200th Liverpool appearance.

Napoli had the first big chance of the second half, Adrian showing superb reactions to prevent Mertens from turning in Fabian's deep cross, then Mane overhit a pass to Mohamed Salah as Liverpool broke at speed.

Liverpool were starting to build pressure and, after successive errors from Kalidou Koulibaly and Kostas Manolas handed him a sight of goal in the 65th minute, Salah's drive was turned around the post by Meret.

Napoli's goalkeeper had to deny Mane again as Liverpool looked to finish strongly, but when Callejon jinked into the box he went over Robertson's outstretched leg to win a penalty.

Mertens had to wait for the VAR check, but calmly drilled his strike past Adrian, with Virgil van Dijk's terrible error in stoppage time ensuring former Tottenham striker Llorente could ease home a second.

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