Pohang Steelers came from behind to book their AFC Champions League final spot with a 5-4 penalty shootout victory over 10-man Ulsan Hyundai after a 1-1 draw.

Alex Grant nodded in a late equaliser before Pohang scored each of their five penalties, with Davy Bulthuis missing for Ulsan.

A cagey first half saw just two clear-cut chances, with Lee Seung-mo heading against the left post in the sixth minute for Pohang before Ulsan should have gone ahead on the stroke of half-time as Yun Il-lok headed a free-kick wastefully wide after being found unmarked at the back post.

The deadlock was broken seven minutes after the restart when Yoon Bit-garam's low ball across the face of goal was spilled by Jun Lee, allowing Yun to pounce on the loose ball and fire in from close range.

Pohang threw men forward in search of an equaliser but were nearly caught out as Yoon struck the right post from Lee Dong-gyeong's cutback, with Lee Jun rooted to the spot.

Ulsan were reduced to 10 men as captain Won Du-jae slid in on Lim Sang-hyub with his studs showing, earning himself a straight red card with over 20 minutes of normal time still to play.

The Ulsan midfielder's error of judgement proved costly as Pohang's man advantage paid dividends, with defender Grant heading in off the post in the top-right corner to level the scores with one minute of normal time remaining, forcing extra-time and then spot-kicks.

Ulsan centre-back Bulhuis was the only player to miss from the spot, blazing over the bar, although Lee Chung-Yong saw a tame stutter-stop effort easily saved, but was allowed to re-take it as Jun Lee was off his line.

Pohang scored all five spot-kicks, with captain Kang Sang-woo rifling the final penalty inside the left-hand post to spark wild celebrations.

The K League 1 side will face Saudi Arabian outfit Al Hilal in the final on November 23.

Atletico Madrid have confirmed Marcos Llorente aggravated a thigh injury in Tuesday's Champions League defeat to Liverpool and is being assessed.

The 26-year-old initially sustained the injury during Atletico's 2-0 win over Barcelona on October 2 and was forced to pull out of Spain's squad for their recent World Cup qualifiers.

He was not fit enough to start the dramatic 3-2 loss at the hands of Liverpool but was introduced from the substitutes' bench for the final 10 minutes.

Llorente pulled up late on in the game and is now facing another possible spell on the sidelines.

A statement on Atleti's official website on Wednesday read: "Marcos Llorente has suffered a relapse in the muscle injury he suffered in his right thigh.

"The player has undergone tests at the University of Navarra Clinic, in which it has been detected that the scar from his previous injury had partially opened.

"At the end of Tuesday's game against Liverpool, the player expressed discomfort to the club's medical services in the same area where he had suffered his injury.

"Today he will begin medical and physiotherapy treatment and will soon resume the rehabilitation process. His return to competition is pending evolution."

The versatile Llorente has featured in all 11 of Atletico's matches this season, starting each of those prior to the European clash with Liverpool on Tuesday.

Only goalkeeper Jan Oblak (990) has played more minutes for the LaLiga champions in all competitions this term than Llorente's 886.

While he has yet to score or assist a goal, the 12 chances created by Llorente is bettered only by Rodrigo de Paul (13) among Atleti players.

Diego Simeone's men host surprise leaders Real Sociedad on their return to LaLiga action on Sunday following a three-week break from domestic action, before travelling to Levante four days later.

Chelsea head coach Thomas Tuchel says the club have discussed a move for Erling Haaland and has not ruled out partnering the Borussia Dortmund striker with Romelu Lukaku at Stamford Bridge.

Haaland was touted as a target for a number of European heavyweights during the most recent transfer window on the back of a first full campaign with Dortmund that saw him register 41 goals in the same number of appearances in all competitions.

The 21-year-old has 70 goals in 69 games for the German club overall since making his debut in January 2020 – only Bayern Munich's Robert Lewandowski (88 goals in 73 games) has a better return among players from Europe's top five leagues.

He still has two and a half years to run on his contract at Signal Iduna Park and Dortmund were under no pressure to sell their prolific marksman in the close season after offloading Jadon Sancho to Manchester United for £72.9million (€85m).

However, a rumoured release clause of €75m will come into effect at the end of the current campaign and Tuchel indicated Chelsea could still make a move for the in-demand striker.

"We talked about Erling Haaland a couple of times, including during the transfer window. But then it seemed absolutely unrealistic and not at all feasible," he told Sport Bild.

"We still talk about him regularly, of course, because he's a fantastic player and clearly the defining figure at Dortmund, who are a big rival for us in the Champions League."

 

Chelsea instead re-signed Romelu Lukaku from Inter ahead of the 2021-22 campaign and the Belgium international has scored four goals in his first 10 games back in west London.

Lukaku's minutes-per-goal return of 129.04 at club level since January 2020 is among the best in Europe, but it is still some way off Haaland's 81.74.

Asked if the pair could play alongside each other in the same side, Tuchel said: "We can talk about it. I don't think we've been really serious about it yet, but let's see what will happen in the next few weeks."

Steve Bruce has left Newcastle United by mutual consent following the club's Saudi Arabian-backed takeover.

Bruce was appointed in July 2019 by Newcastle and celebrated his 1,000th match as a manager with a 3-2 defeat against Tottenham on Sunday.

The Magpies sit in 19th, one point ahead of Norwich City, as Bruce becomes the second Premier League manager to leave his post this season following Xisco Munoz's dismissal by Watford.

Graeme Jones will lead Newcastle on interim basis, starting with Saturday’s trip to Crystal Palace, and will be supported by the coaching team of Steve Agnew, Stephen Clemence, Ben Dawson and Simon Smith.

Newcastle revealed that the process of recruiting a new head coach has started and an appointment will be announced in due course.

Former Argentina head coach Alfio Basile has criticised "messy" Paris Saint-Germain's use of Lionel Messi and says the Ligue 1 side have "a weak defence".

Barcelona's financial difficulties forced Messi to find a new club, eventually joining PSG on a free transfer in August. 

The six-time Ballon d'Or winner got off to a slow start in France, scoring just once in his first four appearances across all competitions and missing several games due to injury.

Basile, who had two spells in charge of Argentina (1991-1994 and 2006-2008), winning two Copa Americas and a FIFA Confederations Cup in a successful first stint, hit out at how PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino was deploying Messi.

"The problem that Messi has is that at PSG, he is playing on the right and with Argentina, he plays everywhere, he makes everyone play." Basile said to SuperMitre.

The former Barca superstar, who won the Copa America with Argentina in July and was named the player of the tournament after registering the most goals and assists, enjoyed a breakthrough evening for his new club as PSG beat RB Leipzig 3-2 on Tuesday, scoring twice.

Basile was scathing in his assessment of the Ligue 1 giants as a team, however, pointing out their defensive organisation as a particular problem.

"PSG have a very weak defence and are very messy," Basile added.

PSG have the seventh-worst expected goals against total in the Champions League so far this season (5.39) but have only conceded three goals, keeping one clean sheet.

Newcastle are making plans for the January transfer window following their Saudi ownership takeover.

The Magpies are currently 19th in the Premier League, with three points from eight games and no wins.

Newcastle have been linked with a host of top players at the start of a new era for the club.

 

TOP STORY – OZIL ON NEWCASTLE'S SHORTLIST

Newcastle have shortlisted former Arsenal midfielder Mesut Ozil as one of their transfer targets, according to Ekrem Konur.

Ozil is currently playing in Turkey with Fenerbahce after moving from the Gunners in January.

The Magpies have made no official offer yet, but they see Ozil, along with Fenerbahce goalkeeper Altay Bayindir in their plans.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports that Argentina international Paulo Dybala is set to agree to an extension with Juventus , securing his future with the Turin club until 2026.

- Roma have reignited their interest in Aston Villa's Dutch winger Anwar El Ghazi,  according to Football Insider. Villa are ready to let him go in January for £18million (€21m) if Jose Mourinho's side meet their asking price.

- Netherlands international defender Matthijs de Ligt is unhappy with his role at Juventus and his agent has held talks with Barcelona about a potential move, claims Sport.

- Fabrizio Romano claims that Spain international Yeremy Pino, who turned 19 on Wednesdayis set to agree a new five-year deal with Villarreal.

- Mundo Deportivo reports that Ansu Fati is close to renewing with Barcelona, with an in-principle agreement set to tie him down until 2026.

Bayern Munich defender Dayot Upamecano said Robert Lewandowski and Real Madrid star Karim Benzema are both worthy of this year's Ballon d'Or.

Lewandowski and Benzema are among the nominees for football's most prestigious individual award – the 30-man shortlist will be whittled down to just three players.

Upamecano is team-mates with Lewandowski at Bundesliga champions Bayern, while he also plays alongside Benzema for World Cup and Nations League holders France.

Asked about Lewandowski and Benzema ahead of Bayern's Champions League fixture with Benfica on Wednesday, Upamecano replied: "Very good question!

"Lewandowski or Benzema, both of them deserve it [Ballon d'Or]. They are the two best strikers in the world. They prove it year after year.

"If Lewandowski wins, I would be very happy for him because he is my team-mate at Bayern. If Benzema wins, I also would be very happy for him."

Prior to Madrid's 5-0 rout of Shakhtar Donetsk on Tuesday, Benzema had been involved in more shot-ending sequences of play (76) than any other player in the Champions League.

In this same period, Lionel Messi (12) was the only player who had recorded more multi-shot involvements than Benzema (10), which captures all instances of sequences where a player is both involved in the build-up and takes the shot.

Meanwhile, Lewandowski has scored five goals in six Champions League appearances against Portuguese opponents, including three against Benfica – no player has ever scored more times against sides from Portugal in the competition.

Bayern are on a record unbeaten run of 19 matches away from home in Champions League (W15 D4), netting 54 goals during this streak since losing 3-0 at Paris Saint-Germain in September 2017. Over a third of their goals in this unbeaten run have been scored by their Lewandowski (19 – 35 per cent).

German giants Bayern's eight unbeaten matches against Benfica in the European Cup/Champions League (W5 D3) is the joint-most by a team against an opponent since the tournament began in 1955 – Bayern versus Spartak Moscow (W5 D3) and Barcelona versus Lyon (W5 D3) have also faced eight times without ever losing.

Since the start of last season, Bayern have averaged more goals (3.2) and have a higher expected goals tally (2.6) per game than any other team in the Champions League. Among teams involved in both the 2020-21 and 2021-22 tournaments, they also have the highest shot conversion rate in this period (18.3 per cent).

Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti says Vinicius Junior is brimming with confidence following his wonderful individual goal in their thrashing of Shakhtar Donetsk.

The 13-time European champions romped to a commanding 5-0 victory in Kiev, their biggest away win in the Champions League since beating Viktoria Plzen by the same scoreline in November 2018.

Vinicius was on target twice, his second goal in the 56th minute the highlight of a dazzling performance.

Just five minutes after doubling his side’s lead, the winger beat several defenders with a jinking run from the left, before firing past Shakhtar keeper Anatolii Trubin.

Ancelotti saluted the Brazil international, who now has seven goals in all competitions this season, his highest tally during a single campaign for Los Blancos.

But the head coach insisted the highest praise should be reserved for the entire team as they bounced back from successive defeats, and warmed up nicely ahead of Sunday's Clasico showdown with Barcelona.

"My team thrives on incredible ambition, which is why we've produced the perfect match," Ancelotti said to reporters post-match.

"After our recent results, it was vital to react and we've done it well. We did what we promised to. 

"Vinicius finished very well indeed, but it was a team effort to produce the goals. 

"He's a young guy, a great player in the making, learning and right now, he's brimming with confidence. But the special praise I'll give is to the entire team." 

As well as his two goals, Vinicius teed up international compatriot Rodrygo's goal as the former recorded a goal and an assist for the first time in 24 Champions League appearances.

The 21-year-old is pleased with the strides he is making, while he also expressed his gratitude for the faith shown in him by Ancelotti.

"I'm still 21, there's lots of time for me to grow into a great player," Vinicius commented after the full-time whistle.

"But I'm working hard so that even if sometimes things don't come off for me, other moments will. I've scored seven times this season – better than the last season – and that's important.

"I love playing in pressure matches, that's natural to me. But the trust and confidence this coach has shown in me is important, too."

Salem Al Dawsari struck lucky with a deflected winner as Al Hilal beat Al Nassr 2-1 in a thrilling Riyadh derby to reach the AFC Champions League final.

Anderson Talisca had headed 10-man Al Nassr level following an early opener from Moussa Marega, but Al Dawsari had the decisive say when his 15-yard strike took a wicked deflection for what proved to be the winning goal in the 71st minute.

At the King Saud University Stadium, three-time competition champions Al Hilal snatched a 17th-minute lead when Marega timed his run perfectly to meet a pass from Bafetimbi Gomis. The striker's powerful shot looped in off defender Abdullah Madu, beating Waleed Ali's dive.

Talisca twice went close to levelling just after the half-hour mark, firstly with a low shot from a tight angle that keeper Abdullah Al-Mayoof scrappily pushed out. Brazilian Talisca then struck a rasping drive from wide on the right flank that grazed the right post.

Al Nassr lost a man in first-half stoppage time, left-back Ali Al Lajami sent off for a wild challenge on Marega, catching the striker dangerously on the shin.

Abderazak Hamdallah had a shot turned wide for a corner by Al Hilal keeper Al-Mayoof, but there was no denying Talisca from the set-piece, as he headed powerfully into the right corner from Abdulfattah Asiri's delivery for a 50th-minute leveller.

Al Dawsari headed wide from a great opportunity for Al Hilal, but he made amends in the 71st minute, albeit with a huge slice of luck. His shot came off Al Nassr captain Madu and nestled in the left corner of the goal, wrong-footing Waleed as a second deflected strike beat the goalkeeper.

Nasser Al-Dawsari hit the bar with a delicate 18-yard chip as Al Nassr chased the leveller that never came, Madu firing six inches wide with almost the last kick of the game.

The second semi-final takes place on Wednesday in Jeonju, as Ulsan Hyundai take on fellow South Korean outfit Pohang Steelers.

English Premier League (EPL) club West Ham has committed to sending a specialist doctor with star forward Michail Antonio whenever he is called up for international duty with Jamaica.

The player, who made his debut for the Caribbean team against Panama in September, did not travel for the team’s most recent round of matches against the United States, Canada, and Honduras.

 According to reports, the issue stemmed from a mix-up between the Jamaica Football Federation (JFF) and the player’s club and agent that did not allow Antonio to carry his own personal physician.  The issue has since been resolved, however, and the player will be free to join the team for a crucial round of matches next month.

West Ham have appointed the club’s head of medical services Richard Collinge to travel with the player to ensure the continued health of his hamstrings.  The player has had a history of hamstring injuries and the club is clearly determined to take all precautions to make sure the 31-year-old stays in top shape.  With five goals scored in the EPL already this season, which puts him in the top three, Antonio has been one of the club’s most influential players this season.

Having won their first match of the World Cup qualifiers in the previous round against Honduras, Jamaica will be hoping the return of Antonio will turbocharge the team’s campaign with fixtures away to El Salvador and at home to the United States.

Samuel Umtiti was left hurt by the jeers from Barcelona fans but the out-of-favour defender is more determined than ever to be a success at Camp Nou.

The French centre-back arrived from Lyon ahead of the 2016-17 season and played in 50 LaLiga matches over his first two campaigns.

However, a series of knee injuries restricted his involvement over the next three seasons and the defender was reportedly one of several high earners Barca attempted to shift during the past transfer window as the financially stricken giants try to alleviate their spiralling debts.

The situation came to a head during the Joan Gamper Trophy pre-season game against Juventus in which Umtiti was whistled by spectators when warming up and again a target whenever he touched the ball after coming on as a second-half substitute.

Umtiti has since not played a minute of competitive action this season and his treatment by the fans left him feeling isolated.

"Yes [the whistles hurt], a lot, honestly," he said in an exclusive interview with Mundo Deportivo.

"I never thought this could happen to me in this club because I love it, I love this club. 

"I do everything, everything, to be okay. I have had hard times due to injuries but in the end I do my job and this is the most important thing for me. Work and train hard, and people don't know it.

"[I would tell those who whistle] that I'm fine. That the most important thing is the club, helping the players, you have to help everyone. Whistling is useless. I will give everything for the club, as I have tried to do from day one."

The 27-year-old has been the subject of reported interest from former club Lyon and Manchester United but he remains adamant his future remains at Camp Nou with a January exit ruled out.

"I don't see myself playing at another club, no, impossible. Right now I have it very clear [in my mind]," he added.

"I want to show that I have the level to play here. The most important thing is to get back and show everyone that Samu is okay.

"It is clear to me, the most important thing now is to play here because it is my club, I love this club. I want to succeed here, play, win with my team-mates, with the team. 

"I see myself here, I'm waiting for that moment to play. I have to continue training, working and showing that I have a place."

Despite his ostracization from the first-team picture, Umtiti insists he has no issue with head coach Ronald Koeman – whose own position has been under threat amid an indifferent start to a season that began with the exit of Blaugrana legend Lionel Messi primarily due to the club's financial difficulties.

Umtiti, though, says he has not specifically asked the Dutchman for more playing time as he feels he has to prove his worth on the training pitch.

"I can't ask for anything, because the coach makes the decisions and I have to accept them. I must train and show that I am okay," he said.

"Ask for something? I will not do it and I think it should not be done. I must prove it on the field.

"We have six centre-backs and I knew it was going to be difficult to play but I am like that, if I have something in mind and I am sure I have the level, I intend to prove it."

In terms of his injury issues, Umtiti is adamant he is fitter and stronger than ever and is itching for a chance to prove so, while saying the work he has done behind the scenes to recover has not been fully appreciated.

"Nobody knows what I have done and what I do. The workouts I do, the double sessions. I'm a worker," he said.

"Football is my life, Barcelona is my life. Since I do not speak, people think that I do nothing, that I am on the couch all day doing nothing but at home I work, I train every day.

"We can train every day but I lack the rhythm of matches. Rhythm, rhythm, that I hope it reaches me."

Erling Haaland is the name on everyone's lips.

He has starred for club and country, but Real Sociedad's Swedish forward Aleksandar Isak has also impressed.

Isak could be lured to Barcelona if Haaland is not available.

 

TOP STORY – ISAK WANTED AT CAMP NOU

Barcelona are lining up a move for Real Sociedad forward Alexander Isak if they are unable to sign in-demand Borussia Dortmund star Erling Haaland, according to Diario AS.

Haaland is wanted by Barca and Europe's elite, with the Norwegian linked with Real Madrid, Manchester City, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus and Paris Saint-Germain.

With competition fierce, LaLiga outfit Barca are looking close to home and at Isak as an alternative.

 

ROUND-UP

- Ekrem Konur claims City are considering Barca sensation Ansu Fati as a possible replacement for Raheem Sterling should the England international depart the Premier League champions. Barca are reportedly interested in Sterling on a loan deal.

Dortmund want Ajax's Sebastien Haller to succeed Haaland at the Bundesliga outfit, reports Calciomercato. Former Eintracht Frankfurt forward Haller has starred for the Eredivisie giants.

Juve's objective is to sign Monaco and France star Aurelien Tchouameni, says Calciomercato. Tchouameni is also a target for United, City, Chelsea, Liverpool, PSG and Madrid.

- Gazzetta dello Sport claims Juve, Milan and Tottenham are eyeing PSG's Mauro Icardi.

Marco Rose believes Erling Haaland deserves his Ballon D'Or nomination, with the Borussia Dortmund head coach insisting he would vote for the "extraordinary" star.

Haaland is among the 2021 Ballon d'Or nominees following his exploits for Bundesliga side Dortmund.

The in-demand 21-year-old forward scored 41 goals in as many appearances over 2020-21 – including 27 from 28 in the Bundesliga as he was named the league's player of the season.

Haaland – linked with the likes of Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Manchester United, Liverpool, Juventus, Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona – has 24 goals for Dortmund in just 25 games across this calendar year.

As Dortmund prepare for Tuesday's Champions League fixture against Eredivisie giants Ajax, Rose hailed the Norway international.

"When Jule [Julian Brandt] says that he was better at headers," Rose told reporters. "Then you know exactly which huge step he [Haaland] has made forward in the last months but yes, it’s for sure something where he has made a great development.

"We are a little bit biased because Erling is our player and we always support our players. What he does is extraordinary. He is nominated and deserves it... If you see his experienced competitors who have more years of experience already then it’s just beautiful to have such a young player at this level.

"I think that Erling can win great individual titles in the next [few] years when he stays healthy but the beautiful thing about him is that he cares more about the team titles. That's the most important [aspect]. But if I could take a vote [in the Ballon D'Or], I would vote for Erling."

Haaland has scored nine goals in nine away Champions League appearances so far – a goal in this game will see him become the fastest player to score 10 away goals in the competition, breaking the record of 12 games set by Mario Gomez in February 2011 and Kylian Mbappe in February 2019.

Dortmund have won their last two major European matches in the Netherlands, winning 3-1 against PSV in October 2002 and 4-1 against Ajax in November 2012, both in the Champions League. Their last defeat on Dutch soil was in the 2002 UEFA Cup final, a 3-2 defeat in Rotterdam against Feyenoord under Matthias Sammer.

Meanwhile, Dortmund have won four of their last five away Champions League matches (L1) – more than they had in their previous 15 on the road (W3 D2 L10).

Elaine Thompson-Herah, the fastest woman and alive, said she will use the inspiration of being conferred with the Order of Distinction to help motivate women and young girls to strive without limits.

Thompson-Herah, who rebounded from five years of disappointment, to become the first woman to win both 100m and 200m titles in consecutive Olympic Games at the Tokyo Games in August, was among several sports personalities to receive national honours at the Ceremony of Investiture and Presentation of National Honours and Awards on Monday.

Thompson-Herah, who ran 10.54 on Usain Bolt’s birthday, August 21, 2021, to become the fastest woman alive and the second-fastest of all time at the Diamond League’s Prefontaine Classic in Eugene, Oregon, said the recognition has motivated her to inspire others.

“I have been inspired and motivated by powerful women around the world, powerful women from my island home Jamaica,” she said on Instagram.

“I feel so honoured and overjoyed to be given this Order of Distinction (Commander Class) by my nation. I now use this classification to help motivate and uplift women and young girls to strive without limits.”

The five-time Olympic gold medalist was among three Jamaican sprint queens to be conferred with OD’s in the Commander Class. Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce, the 100m silver medalist in Tokyo, and Jackie Pusey, who at 16, represented Jamaica at the 1976 Olympic Games in Montreal, Canada were also awarded.

Former West Indies captain Jimmy Adams received the Order of Distinction (Officer Class) for his contribution to the sport of cricket.

The late Jamaican striker, Luton Shelton, Jamaica’s leading male scorer, was posthumously awarded the OD (Officer Class) for his contribution to football.  Shelton died in January 2021 from Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

He played for Jamaica on 75 occasions scoring 35 goals.

Meanwhile, Dr Praimanand Mongal Beharry Singh received the Order of Distinction for outstanding dedication and service to the field of sports.

England have been hit with a two-game stadium ban – one of which is deferred for two years – as punishment for the crowd trouble inside and outside Wembley Stadium during their Euro 2020 final defeat to Italy.

July's clash, which Italy won on penalties following a 1-1 draw after extra-time, was overshadowed by serious disturbances as ticketless supporters fought with stewards in an attempt to enter the stadium.

UEFA opened an investigation into the matter in August and announced on Monday that England must play their next match in UEFA competition behind closed doors, which is expected to be their opening 2022-23 Nations League game.

The Three Lions have also been fined £84,500 (€100,000) for the fans' disorder, which also included invading the pitch, throwing objects and jeering during Italy's national anthem.

"Although we are disappointed with the verdict, we acknowledge the outcome," England's Football Association said in a statement on Monday.

"We condemn the terrible behaviour of the individuals who caused the disgraceful scenes in and around Wembley Stadium at the Euro 2020 final, and we deeply regret that some of them were able to enter the stadium.

"We are determined that this can never be repeated, so we have commissioned an independent review, led by Baroness Casey, to report on the circumstances involved.

"We continue to work with the relevant authorities in support of their efforts to take action against those responsible and hold them to account."

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