Paris Saint-Germain may have suffered Champions League elimination at the last-16 stage for the third successive year, but they can console themselves with the self-proclaimed title of Instagram 'champion'.

The Ligue 1 giants were dumped out of Europe's elite competition this month by Manchester United, with Marcus Rashford's controversial late penalty securing the Red Devils a 3-1 win in Paris which saw them progress on away goals.

Despite the shock exit, PSG are still bringing in followers on social media and they dubbed themselves the 'champion' of Instagram after surpassing the 20-million mark on Friday.

"The Parisian club is making dazzling progress and exceeds the milestone of 20 million followers," their statement read.

The announcement came on the same day star man Neymar – who was injured for the defeat to United – was charged with "insulting/molesting acts against a match official" on the same social media platform after Rashford's contentious spot-kick.

To compound matters, PSG are also seven million followers behind United on the photo and video-sharing social networking service.

Neymar has been charged by UEFA for "insulting/molesting acts against a match official" following his outburst on social media after Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League defeat to Manchester United.

The Brazil international watched from the stands at Parc des Princes as United claimed a 3-1 win in the second leg of their last-16 tie to progress to the quarter-finals on away goals.

Marcus Rashford scored the crucial third from the penalty spot after a contentious handball decision against defender Presnel Kimpembe, prompting a furious response from Neymar on Instagram.

"This is a disgrace, they put four people that know nothing about football in charge of looking at the replay for VAR," he wrote.

"There is no penalty. How can it be a handball when it hits his back?! Go f*** yourselves!"

UEFA appointed an inspector to investigate Neymar's remarks and on Friday confirmed the charge against the player.

The case will be heard by UEFA's Control, Ethics and Disciplinary Body, with a date for the hearing yet to be confirmed.

UEFA also confirmed there will be no action taken following reports of vandalism and fans carrying weapons ahead of the Women's Champions League match between Chelsea and PSG on Thursday.

The Metropolitan Police told the BBC that class A drugs and weapons were found on a supporters' bus ahead of the game at Kingsmeadow, while close to 50 fans were denied entry to the ground for the quarter-final first leg.

There were also reports that the stadium and train stations in London were damaged.

PSG released a statement on Friday criticising police for not providing evidence for the alleged wrongdoing and expressed their "fullest support" to fans for travelling to London to back the team.

Gareth Bale has moved to deny rumours he had a bad relationship with former Real Madrid team-mate Cristiano Ronaldo.

The duo, once the most expensive two players in football, played alongside one another at the Santiago Bernabeu between 2013 and 2018 but were said to have a poor rapport prior to the Portuguese's transfer to Juventus.

However, the Wales star now says he relished playing with his former team-mate despite the rumours to the contrary.

"Cristiano is an incredible player, I thoroughly enjoyed playing with him," he said on a segment of BT Sport's What I Wore series.

"Obviously the media try and hype all these problems which were never there. We got on really well. An incredible player, what he did for the club and the amount of goals he scored, and he’s still going now."

Reflecting on his career, Bale picked out his two goals in last season's Champions League final, one of them a spectacular bicycle kick, as highlights, and revealed that being left on the bench for the Kiev showpiece inspired his match-winning cameo.

"Going into the final, I'd been playing really well and scoring a lot of goals and I felt kind of angry that I wasn't starting because I felt like I deserved it," he added.

"Coming on in the final I had a bit of anger and that spurred me on to score such a good goal, and even take on the second shot from such a distance."

Bale was the subject of a €100million deal to take him to Madrid from Tottenham in 2013 and opened up on how he felt at the time.

"My unveiling at the stadium – there was about 40, 50,000 people there and I was just like, 'Oh god'," he said.

"I appreciated everything Tottenham had done for me but I think they did understand at the time that when such a big club like Real Madrid comes calling, it is difficult to turn them down. You have to take it in your stride. You just have to try your best, give it a go and enjoy the experience."

Cristiano Ronaldo will be available for Juventus' Champions League quarter-final against Ajax having been punished with a €20,000 fine for his celebrations during the last-16 comeback versus Atletico Madrid.

Trailing 2-0 from the opening game, Juve won the second leg 3-0 thanks to a Ronaldo hat-trick at the Allianz Stadium to book a meeting with Real Madrid's conquerors.

Ronaldo celebrated the feat with a groin-thrusting celebration, apparently in response to Atleti boss Diego Simeone grabbing his crotch when his team took control of the first fixture between the teams at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Simeone, like Ronaldo, was charged with improper conduct before also being hit with a €20,000 fine, and he was free to coach his side from the touchline in Turin.

UEFA's announcement on Thursday means Ronaldo will be available for Juve against Ajax, with the first leg to be played in Amsterdam on April 10.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo will be available for Juventus' Champions League quarter-final against Ajax having been punished with a €20,000 fine for his celebrations during the last-16 comeback against Atletico Madrid.

Trailing 2-0 from the opening game, Juve won the second leg 3-0 thanks to a Ronaldo hat-trick at the Allianz Stadium to book a meeting with Real Madrid's conquerors .

Ronaldo celebrated the feat with a groin-thrusting celebration, apparently in response to Atleti boss Diego Simeone grabbing his crotch when his team took control of the first fixture between the teams at the Wanda Metropolitano.

Simeone, like Ronaldo, was charged with improper conduct before also being hit with a €20,000 fine, and he was free to coach his side from the touchline in Turin.

UEFA's announcement on Thursday means Ronaldo will be available for Juve against Ajax, with the first leg to be played in Amsterdam on April 10.

 

Paul Pogba says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has made football fun again at Manchester United since taking over from Jose Mourinho.

United have won 15 of their 19 matches under caretaker boss Solskjaer, with their form propelling them back into the top-four chase in the Premier League and the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

Although they have lost back-to-back games against Arsenal in the Premier League and Wolves in the FA Cup, the Red Devils' performances and results have led to calls for Solskjaer to be given the manager's job on a permanent basis.

Pogba, who has backed Solskjaer to land the full-time post, admits United have enjoyed themselves more since the combustible Mourinho left in December.

"We talk a lot about me but it's mostly down to the team," he told Eurosport. "It's going much better. We have a lot more of the ball. We attack a little more, too. I player higher and try to be a little more decisive. I was not so decisive before, but the stats proved it wasn't that bad.

"I'm a challenger. I always want to do more. Since the new coach has arrived, we take more pleasure, we're happier and play more as a team.

"When he came to talk to us, he asked us to enjoy playing football again. That's what we like - to play football."

The suspended Pogba watched from the stands as United beat Paris Saint-Germain 3-1 away to reach the Champions League's last eight, where they will face Barcelona.

The midfielder claims it was a more stressful evening at Parc des Princes than it was during France's World Cup final triumph last year.

Now, though, Pogba is relishing the prospect of facing Barca - a team he considers to be one of the best there is.

"It's pretty strange. I think there was more pressure against PSG than in the final of the World Cup. [Marcus] Rashford's penalty... I was stressed, I was crazy," he said.

"When you play football, you always believe - even after a 2-0 defeat. I was surprised because it was PSG; we know the players they have. In addition, we played at Parc des Princes, so they had the advantage.

"Barcelona are a team I always watch. You can always learn as a midfielder. I like watching football.

"Their system of playing, their culture... it can always help me. Barca is a great team, one of the best in the world. They have extraordinary players and it's a match where I want to have fun. Playing against one of the best teams in the world is always a pleasure.

"They're a team I lost against in the Champions League final. It's always good to play against the best."

Alvaro Morata defended Diego Simeone from criticism following Atletico Madrid's Champions League elimination and thanked him for restoring his own confidence. 

Atletico looked to be in with a great chance of reaching the Champions League quarter-finals after beating Juventus 2-0 at home in the first leg of their last-16 tie last month. 

But a Cristiano Ronaldo hat-trick inspired Juve's second-leg turnaround, securing a 3-2 aggregate victory to dump Atletico out. 

Simeone was criticised for a pragmatic approach in the second leg, as Atletico offered precious little in attack, but Morata believes flak is harsh on the coach, who has helped restore his own belief after a difficult period at Chelsea. 

When asked if he is now happy at Atletico, Morata – who is away on Spain duty – told reporters: "Yes, especially at Atletico, but it would be more so if the last week had been better. 

"We have been knocked out of the Champions League, but life goes on. Everyone knows what it means [to Simeone]. He is Atletico. A defeat in the Champions League or in the league is not [a reason] to criticise. 

"I am where I wanted to be for a long time, I thank Simeone and the coaches for their confidence, because thanks to them I am finding my level. 

"It's clear that I needed confidence [after leaving Chelsea], I came from bad times, but I do not have to consider the past."

Adrien Rabiot's mother claimed the Paris Saint-Germain outcast is a "prisoner" at the club as she hit out at the Ligue 1 champions.

Rabiot has been frozen out of the PSG squad since mid-December after failing to agree a new contract, with the French midfielder set to leave at season's end amid reported interest from Tottenham, Barcelona, Bayern Munich and Arsenal.

The 23-year-old was also criticised by PSG sporting director Antero Henrique for visiting a nightclub in the hours following the side's Champions League last-16 exit at the hands of Manchester United.

And Rabiot's mother, Veronique, lashed out at PSG for their treatment of her son in the French capital.

"I do not want to cry about it, or to weaken even more Adrien saying he is not good. We are attacking the human side here," she told L'Equipe. "We are modest. I can only tell you that he feels very badly [about] everything that happens.

"Adrien is a prisoner. He is even held hostage by PSG. Soon it will be dry bread, water and dungeon! This environment is cruel..."

"Adrien trains, but I do not want to tell you where, with whom and how. But of course, he works out. He has to. A high-level footballer like him, who is not injured, cannot stay for 13 days without working out," she continued.

"And since the access to Saint-Germain [Camp des Loges] is totally forbidden to him, it was necessary to organise."

"I can already say that we blamed him for liking the wrong video," Veronique said. "This is not the one where Patrice Evra 'celebrates' the elimination of Paris.

"And then, there is this nightclub outing... But PSG wants to take care of Adrien's private life too, when they don't even want him anymore! They want him to put on his pyjamas at nine o'clock, before the game, in front of his TV, to go to bed at eleven o'clock! These people do not know the rhythm of life of the players?

"When a player plays, which is his job, he has a training rhythm. In this case, nothing happens for Adrien. Adrien is not going to take a pottery class until something happens. He must take care of himself, let him live!"

Paris Saint-Germain have condemned Patrice Evra's "deeply shocking" comments after his former club Manchester United's Champions League victory over the Ligue 1 side.

Evra was in the stands in the French capital alongside current United midfielder Paul Pogba when the Premier League team overturned a two-goal first-leg deficit to advance to the Champions League's quarter-finals on away goals.

Footage posted on social media showed Evra wildly celebrating Marcus Rashford's late penalty and he followed that up with an expletive-laden rant that contained homophobic slurs, which emerged online after ex-Monaco team-mate Jerome Rothen had criticised the former French international's antics in the stands.

In a statement issued on Le Parisien's website, PSG said: "Paris Saint-Germain strongly condemns the homophobic insults proffered by Patrice Evra against the club, its representatives and former player.

"The remarks were deeply shocking within the club, which was particularly committed to the values of respect and openness to others.

"The fight against homophobia is at the heart of PSG's action. The fight against homophobia and all discrimination is at the heart of the action and the values of Paris Saint-Germain, which has been engaged for many years alongside Rouge Direct to combat homophobia and against all forms of racism.

"The club wanted to inform Manchester United about their former player.

"PSG will support any initiative initiated by its associative partners, Rouge Direct, Sportitude-France, SOS Racisme."

Evra later posted a video on Twitter in order to "clarify a massive, massive misunderstanding" in which he claimed his words were misconstrued.

"I'm not homophobic, you know who I am [...] I love everyone," he said.

"If I offend someone or I hurt someone, I really apologise.

"But you know it's not my intention, they're just trying to put me down. I understand about the equality; you have to be free whatever you do in life.

"I would never judge anyone. My mum raised me and educated me that way."  

Paris Saint-Germain's appeal against UEFA's decision to reopen an investigation into alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play rules has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

UEFA confirmed last September that it was looking again at a probe into PSG's financial conduct, which was first opened in September 2017 in the wake of the world-record €222million signing of Neymar and the €180m loan-to-buy deal for Kylian Mbappe.

UEFA's Club Financial Control Board closed the investigation last June after deciding PSG had complied with FFP rules but reopened it after a review.

However, CAS has now ruled that the original decision to close the case is "final and binding" after upholding PSG's claim that the CFCB's request for a review was made outside of a stipulated 10-day time limit.

In a statement released on Tuesday, CAS said: "The appeal filed at CAS on October 3 2018 by Paris Saint-Germain against the decision issued on September 19 2018 by the Adjudicatory Chamber of the UEFA Club Financial Control Body (CFCB) (the Challenged Decision) is upheld and the Challenged decision is set aside.

"The decision issued on 13 June 2018 by the Investigatory Chamber of the UEFA CFCB in which the investigation into Paris Saint-Germain's compliance with the UEFA Financial Fair Play regulations was closed is thus final and binding.

"On June 22 2018, the Chairman of the UEFA CFCB, on the basis of Article 16 (1) of the UEFA CFCB Procedural Rules (the Applicable Rules), ordered that the Adjudicatory Chamber review the decision taken by the Investigatory Chamber on 13 June 2018. The Adjudicatory Chamber ruled on September 19 2018 that the case should be referred back to the Investigatory Chamber for further investigation.

"On October 3 2018, Paris Saint-Germain filed an appeal at the CAS seeking to have such decision annulled on the basis that Article 16 (1) provided for a 10-day review period during which any review should be instigated and completed and that the Challenged Decision was manifestly late.

"The CAS Panel in charge of the matter issued its decision on the basis of the parties' written submissions. The CAS Panel concurred that the 10-day time limit which starts to run from the date of communication of the decision of the Chief Investigator to the CFCB Chairman, as set out in Article 16 (1) of the Applicable Rules, did indeed mean that the review conducted by the Adjudicatory Chamber should have taken place within ten days and that since the Challenged Decision was issued beyond the 10-day time limit, the Challenged Decision was untimely and must be annulled."

UEFA's initial investigation was to examine whether PSG had flouted rules aimed at preventing clubs from spending more than they generate through revenues.

The regulations were introduced to prevent clubs becoming at risk of financial instability through unmanageable spending, although they have been criticised by some who claim they inhibit teams from competing with the established European elite.

In 2014, PSG were fined €60m and saw their Champions League squad size reduced after a previous separate UEFA investigation into alleged FFP breaches.

The Parc des Princes club has invested significantly in the playing squad since being taken over by Qatar Sports Investments in 2011.

Paris Saint-Germain's appeal against UEFA's decision to reopen an investigation into alleged breaches of Financial Fair Play rules has been upheld by the Court of Arbitration for Sport (CAS).

Liverpool winger Xherdan Shaqiri has pulled out of the Switzerland squad after sustaining a groin injury.

The issue has been described as "a painful inflammation in the groin area" and he will now miss the Euro 2020 qualifiers against Georgia and Denmark.

Shaqiri has been on the periphery for Liverpool in recent weeks but Jurgen Klopp will be loath to lose a member of his squad ahead of a season-defining run of matches.

The Reds are through to the Champions League quarter-finals and are challenging for the Premier League title, thanks in part to the six goals Shaqiri scored from October to December.

Switzerland will announce a replacement for the 27-year-old on Tuesday.

Gibraltar and the Republic of Ireland are the other nations joining Vladimir Petkovic's men in Group D of Euro 2020 qualifying.

Mauricio Pochettino does not think he has "missed the Real Madrid train" but reiterated he is happy to stay at Tottenham.

Pochettino, who signed a contract running to 2023 last year, was strongly linked with the LaLiga giants after the shock resignation of Zinedine Zidane following Madrid's third consecutive Champions League title.

After Julen Lopetegui's short reign Pochettino was reportedly again a top target for Madrid president Florentino Perez, but he remained with Spurs.

Zidane is now back at the Santiago Bernabeu after Lopetegui's successor Santiago Solari also failed to see out the season with Madrid, the Frenchman signing a deal to June 2022.

But Pochettino, who has also regularly been connected with Manchester United, indicated he believes the chance to manage Madrid may come his way in the future.

"I don't have the feeling that I missed the Madrid train," the Spurs boss said at an event in Barcelona on Monday. 

"I don't look at the long term, I'm very happy and I still have four years left on my contract."

Asked directly if Madrid have shown interest in giving him the job, Pochettino replied: "You put me in a compromising position...

"There are always rumours, not only with me but with other colleagues, but 90 per cent are false. I'm very happy at Tottenham."

Last week's Champions League draw paired Spurs with Premier League rivals Manchester City, who they will now face three times in April.

Manchester United will take on LaLiga leaders Barcelona with Pochettino hailing the fine form of captain Lionel Messi, who scored a stunning hat-trick in Sunday's 4-1 win at Real Betis.

"Barca have excellent players, extraordinary players and then a genius," Pochettino added of his fellow Argentinian. "He is different, he does things that nobody expects and continues to surprise.

"What surprises is his regularity, his consistency. He does it in every game, every three or four days, during the last 11 or 12 years, leading in the first team.

"I've been lucky to have seen him and I''ve also suffered against him, it's a shame not to have had a player like that on my team."

Luis Suarez is set to be fit for Barcelona's Champions League quarter-final against Manchester United despite suffering a sprained ankle.

Suarez sustained the injury during Barca's 4-1 LaLiga victory at Real Betis on Sunday, where he made way for Philippe Coutinho during the closing stages after a goalscoring contribution.

Barcelona have confirmed a 10-15 day absence for the 32-year-old, ruling him out of Uruguay's forthcoming participation in the China Cup friendly tournament.

But Suarez could be back in action for the league derby against Espanyol on March 30 and his prognosis means he will be available for the clash with second-placed Atletico Madrid on April 6, as well as the trip to Old Trafford four days later.

The goal against Betis was Suarez's 18th in LaLiga this term and took him level with Diego Forlan as the highest-scoring Uruguayan of all time in the competition, with 128.

Victory moved Barcelona 10 points clear of Atleti at the summit with 10 games remaining.

Juan Mata accepts Manchester United's team spirit under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will be tested after successive defeats including an FA Cup exit at Wolves.

United suffered their first Premier League defeat since Solskjaer took over in going down away to Arsenal after their stunning Champions League comeback at Paris Saint-Germain.

And they followed that loss with a 2-1 defeat at Molineux on Saturday that knocked United out of the FA Cup at the quarter-final stage.

United are reportedly set to make Solskjaer their permanent successor to Jose Mourinho despite going into the international break with consecutive setbacks.

And Mata feels it will be important for United to respond when they return to action at home to Watford on March 30 at the start of the run-in.

"It hurts to say that Saturday's defeat against Wolves was deserved, as it saw us head out of the FA Cup and you all know the hopes that we had riding on this competition, especially after progressing through some really tough knock-out ties," Mata wrote in his regular blog. 

"We fought until the very last minute but they were better than us and we have to accept it. These are the kinds of situations that put your personality and the spirit in the dressing room to the test, which is something we've talked about when we have been winning.

"I'm sure that we are going to leave this defeat behind and head towards the most important part of the season with our batteries fully charged after the international break. The time is approaching."

United's incredible comeback in Paris led to Solskjaer's side being paired with Barcelona in the draw for the Champions League quarter-finals.

It will mean a second-leg return to Camp Nou, where Solskjaer scored an injury time winner to incredibly beat Bayern Munich in the 1999 final, for United.

Mata expects a tough tie against the runaway LaLiga leaders, for whom captain Lionel Messi has scored six goals in his last three appearances.

"Obviously, it is a huge challenge, but this is what this club is made of, overcoming adversity, demanding a lot from yourself and wanting to win," Mata said ahead of next month's tie. 

"As Barca are one of the toughest opponents in world football, we will have to put all of that into practice.

"For the boss, returning to Camp Nou will be very special, as well as for everyone who was there on that special night in May 1999.

"This tie will ask us to put in a huge effort, but we are ready to give our best to try to go through.

"In LaLiga, Barca beat Real Betis, thanks to another masterclass from Lionel Messi, and we will have to hope that he isn't so inspired when we play against them."

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