Manchester United are hoping to bring in Newcastle sporting director Dan Ashworth, the PA news agency understands.

Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s deal to acquire a 25 per cent stake of the Old Trafford giants and take control of football operations is expected to be completed next week.

The Ineos chairman’s determination to hit the ground running has seen his team move to strengthen United’s football leadership team, with recruitment a particular area of focus.

Manchester City’s Omar Berrada is coming in as chief executive and the Red Devils are hoping Newcastle sporting director Ashworth will form part of their new-look hierarchy.

United want to bring in the former Football Association technical director, but a deal is not necessarily straightforward given negotiations with the Magpies over cost and timeframes.

The PA news agency understands poor player trading has been a key area targeted for improvement by Ineos as they prepare to take control of football operations.

Sales have been pinpointed as a concern on top of United’s missteps making signings.

Cole Palmer admits it will be “weird” going back to Manchester City on Saturday as a Chelsea player.

Palmer makes a first return to the Etihad Stadium since moving to west London in a surprise switch at the end of the summer transfer window.

The 21-year-old cost Chelsea an initial £40million with an additional £2.5m in possible add-ons, but the deal has proved value for money as Palmer tops the Blues’ scoring charts with 12 goals.

“I have been surprised by how well it’s gone here so quickly, but I always back myself to succeed,” Palmer told the club’s official website.

“I’m looking forward to going back to the Etihad. It will be strange, a weird feeling, but I’m looking forward to it and the team’s looking forward to it.

“I’m very excited to be honest, even though it will be strange.

“Obviously I played against them at Stamford Bridge, but I think going back to the Etihad will be even stranger.”

The two teams produced a remarkable 4-4 draw at Stamford Bridge in November when Palmer equalised from the penalty spot in the fifth minute of stoppage time.

Ten of Palmer’s Chelsea goals have come in the Premier League and his form has catapulted him into contention for a place in England’s Euro 2024 squad this summer.

“When I made the decision to come down here with my family it was a really tough decision to leave,” said Palmer, who joined City at the age of eight and began the season by scoring for them in the Community Shield and Super Cup final.

“But I felt like I was ready to play week in, week out and showcase my ability.

“So thank you to the club and everyone who has supported me.

“It’s down to the manager (Mauricio Pochettino) giving me the freedom, the club giving me the opportunity and the lads, who have been great with me since I came in.

“I’ve settled fast so I’m enjoying it here.”

Chelsea have had an inconsistent season under Pochettino and are currently 10th in the Premier League, 20 points behind leaders Liverpool and 18 adrift of City.

But successive 3-1 wins at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace, the former coming in the FA Cup, have ensured that Chelsea take on Pep Guardiola’s English, European and FIFA World Club champions with growing confidence.

Palmer said: “The manager helps us all every day. Little conversations telling us what to do.

“We have meetings and he believes in us and we believe in ourselves.

“Everyone’s going to talk when you’re not doing well, but we just need to try and block it out and focus on ourselves.”

Cyriel Dessers spoke of a growing “connection” with James Tavernier after the Rangers skipper set him up for a double in the 3-1 cinch Premiership win over Ross County on Wednesday night.

The Gers striker latched on to a pass from Tavernier after only five minutes at Ibrox to lob Staggies goalkeeper George Wickens and get the home side off to a flying start.

Philippe Clement’s men required a three-goal win against second-bottom County to go above leaders Celtic but they passed up several chances to stretch their lead – Dessers hit the post with one attempt – before Simon Murray levelled against the run of play.

Dessers grabbed his second from a Tavernier cross just before the break but there were more opportunities passed up in the second-half before defender John Souttar headed in a third, again from a delivery from the Ibrox captain, in the second of seven added minutes

Despite 23 shots on target, Rangers could only finish the game with three goals and although they moved level with Celtic on 61 points and on goal difference, they have scored four goals fewer to keep them second.

Dessers, who has now scored 14 goals this season, noted the contribution of the Light Blues’ right-back, saying: “It’s the small things, sometimes we just need eye contact to know what we’re doing.

“That’s the connection you work on in training and games and obviously, those things were not there in August or September, these things are growing and these goals are a good example but also it happened in December.

“Tav gets the balls there  – it’s the job of the striker to finish them.”

Rangers were seven points behind Celtic last October when Clement took over from Michael Beale but the Belgian boss has rejuvenated the club.

Clement has already brought the Viaplay Cup back to Ibrox and the Light Blues are in the last-16 of the Europa League.

Rangers have won seven in a row since the winter break and as the chase of Celtic in the title race continues – and the Gers take on Hibernian in the quarter-finals of the Scottish Gas Scottish Cup – Dessers looked forward with optimism as he noted the appreciation of the fans who are becoming increasingly excited about their side’s performances.

He said: “The team and me are in a good place.

“Everyone is scoring and contributing and you also feel the atmosphere, especially in the last games, it’s becoming a little extra compared to the games before.

“We as players feel that as well. That’s really positive, a huge thing which can be a boost for the next 13 games in the league and hopefully that can make the difference.

“Obviously it is a good feeling to get recognition from the fans, it means I have been doing things well.

“Especially for a striker, it’s all in the package of the team.

“It’s a nice feeling and I think there is a really positive vibe in the stadium and the training ground.

“We’re in a good place and want to keep this going. Not just in the locker room but with the fans and we are on a good way with that.”

Bayern Munich have condemned the racist abuse directed at Dayot Upamecano following their Champions League defeat at Lazio on Wednesday.

France defender Upamecano was sent off in the 67th minute after conceding a penalty, which Ciro Immobile converted for Lazio’s 1-0 round of 16 first-leg win.

“FC Bayern strongly condemn the racist comments being directed towards Dayot Upamecano on social media,” the German champions said in a statement on X, formerly known as Twitter.

“Anyone who comments hateful words such as these is no fan of our club. We’re all behind you, Upa!”

Upamecano’s red card means the 25-year-old will miss the second leg in Munich on March 5.

Bayern’s defeat increased the pressure on former Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel after Saturday’s 3-0 defeat to Bayer Leverkusen saw them fall five points behind Xabi Alonso’s Bundesliga leaders.

Tuchel’s side also suffered a shock second-round German Cup exit to third division minnows Saarbrucken in November.

What the papers say

Wolves may look to sell star winger Pedro Neto this summer to avoid breaching profit and sustainability rules, with several papers reporting the Midlands outfit are willing to do business. Liverpool, Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester United are interested in the 23-year-old, who has scored two goals with eight assists in 15 games this season.

Barcelona have shown interest in Manchester City and England winger Lauren Hemp with her contract set to expire in summer and reports of uncertainty over her future at the club, the Standard says. Hemp has scored seven goals with five assists this season.

The Guardian says Crystal Palace are looking at former Eintracht Frankfurt boss Oliver Glasner to replace Roy Hodgson if they decide to part ways with the veteran manager, while the Telegraph says former Chelsea manager Graham Potter could replace David Moyes at West Ham.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Michael Olise: Palace will be in a battle to keep their 22-year-old winger with 90min reporting Manchester United are showing interest in the French under-21 international.

Lucas Paqueta: The West Ham midfielder with two goals and five assists in 18 games in the Premier League is on Manchester City’s radar, Football Insider says.

League One Bradford claimed another Premier League scalp to book their place in the FA Cup quarter-finals for the first time in 39 years on this day in 2015.

Billy Clarke’s deflected third-minute effort – which went down as a John O’Shea own goal – and a cool 61st-minute finish from Jon Stead saw the Bantams build on their stunning fourth-round win over Chelsea by dispatching Gus Poyet’s Sunderland 2-0 with embarrassing ease.

From Clarke’s effort on, the underdogs seized control of the game in front of a sell-out Valley Parade crowd of over 24,000 and heaped more woe on a Black Cats side struggling in the top flight.

At times it seemed like throwback football – a frenetic pace, a muddy pitch cutting up more by the minute, a pair of players swathed in thick white headbands after an early head clash, and a controversial lack of television cameras present to show the action live.

The roar released by the home fans at the final whistle could probably be heard in the offices of TV executives across the land as Phil Parkinson’s men confirmed their richly deserved place in the last eight for the first time since 1976.

Parkinson said at the time: “There was always a danger that, because we beat Chelsea, everyone would expect us to win today, and we had to guard against that and go in there with the underdog mentality.

“Right from the first whistle we played with great desire and great spirit and we were first to every ball all over the pitch.

“Today is another terrific day and, to have Valley Parade full of 24,000 fans, it’s like a throwback. The lads were absolutely revelling in it and they deserve the support because of their performances and the effort they have put in over the years.”

Bradford’s run was ended in the last eight by Reading, with the sides drawing 0-0 in the first match before the Royals won the replay 3-0.

Preston manager Ryan Lowe believes the anniversary of Sir Tom Finney’s death inspired his side to their 2-1 victory over Middlesbrough.

The club marked the 10th anniversary of the death of the Preston and England great by sporting special edition kits in honour of the famous number seven.

An ovation in the seventh minute seemed to rouse the Lilywhites and goals from Liam Millar and Emil Riis took them to the brink of the play-offs.

“It did give us extra motivation,” said Lowe. “We wanted to have a bit of a celebration because I think that’s what it was, we wanted to show the family and our fans what we can do.

“It was important that we got a win on the back of that because there can be too much pressure on it.

“I’ve obviously got to be mindful of the fact that we have a game to play and try and win and it was a great occasion.

“We kept it simple, we knew what we were here to do, we respected the occasion and I think we’ve sent the Finney family and all of our fans home happy.”

The Lilywhites went in front in the 23rd minute when Millar brought down Matt Clarke’s attempted clearance with his right foot and fired a left-footed shot past Tom Glover from just outside the box.

Boro continued to push for a leveller and it arrived through Finn Azaz in the 57th minute, opening his account for the club with a rocket of a shot into the top corner from 20 yards out.

Boro soon found themselves behind again, though, with Riis tapping home on the hour-mark – his sixth goal in as many games for Preston against Boro – after Will Keane’s shot deflected and fell kindly to him.

It earned Lowe’s side their third league win in a row and they are outside of the top six only on goal difference.

“The lads are dead on their feet, they’ve worked their socks off,” said Lowe. “Their resilience, wow, it’s massively pleasing.

“Sometimes you can’t help but drop the way we dropped and soak it up. We gave the ball away a couple of times, or more than a couple of times, to let them have penetration on us and we need to nullify it and stop it.

“But then for us to show that resilience and character and desire to get right back into the game right afterwards (after the equaliser) was massively pleasing.”

Boro, meanwhile, are without a win in four Championship games and have slipped seven points adrift of the play-off places.

“I think it’s a tough result to take for sure,” said manager Michael Carrick. “I think the results definitely aren’t going our way. I thought tonight we definitely deserved an awful lot more from the game.

“But we’re not getting it, so we need to accept that and we’ve got to do something about it.

“I can’t fault the boys in terms of effort. Some of the quality of the play was really, really good, but we’ve definitely not got the balance between performance and results at the moment.

“They hadn’t had a touch in our box and we were 1-0 down today. That was the only time they’d gone up there.

“It’s happened probably two or three times over the last six weeks or so. With that, there’s a lot of good things.

“There’s a lot of good things in the game, but those moments are going against us and we have to accept that and we’ve got to do something about it.”

Huddersfield interim boss Jon Worthington insists his side’s “committed performance” earned the Terriers a 1-0 victory over Sunderland at the John Smith’s Stadium.

The all-important moment came in the 38th minute when Jack Rudoni’s free-kick was beaten away by Anthony Patterson, only for Matty Pearson to bundle in the rebound to make it 1-0.

Huddersfield had chances to put the game to bed when Josh Koroma hit the near post from a free-kick before Rudoni’s glancing header was cleared off the line by Jobe Bellingham.

The Terriers were almost punished for those missed chances, but goalkeeper Lee Nicholls fantastically denied Trai Hume at the death before stopping Tom Lees’ from putting into his own net.

Worthington thought his side backed up a good performance in their 5-3 defeat to Southampton at the weekend with all three points.

He said: “Another game I really enjoyed – a committed performance from the lads. We had to go again from Saturday’s performance, in terms of the result, and I was happy with the desire the lads showed.

“I think it was a real squad effort to make sure we all dug in together to get over the line and the result.

“From the first minute we were on the front foot, wanting to run forward and support each other. ”

Pearson, operating at right-back instead of his usual position in central defence, scored his third goal of the season with the winner in the 38th minute.

It was his second goal in the last three games to help Huddersfield move five points away from the relegation zone.

And Worthington was quick to praise the all-round performance of the match-winner.

He added: “I know he will definitely run for me and do anything I ask of him. I was delighted for him today, that was an individual duel I was talking about.

“He puts his head and body in where others probably don’t and that’s a rarity when you’re brave like, and that brings you goals.”

Sunderland slipped to their seventh away league defeat of the season and missed the chance to climb back into the play-off places.

Boss Michael Beale thought his side wasted opportunities to claim points from the game and was unhappy to see his side lose from a set-piece.

He said: “To concede off a set-piece away from home is not good enough is it?

“It’s a pretty standard set-piece we’ve conceded from before half-time. We had our moments, but it’s a bad night.

“It’s a disappointing night. I thought Huddersfield made it a physical game and there was a point in the first half when we needed to roll our sleeves up and give a bit back, and I’m not sure we did that.

“On our best day we are slightly better than teams in this league, but I don’t think we are going to blow anyone away. We don’t score enough goals to blow teams away.”

Steven Schumacher hopes Stoke’s “important” 1-0 win over fellow strugglers QPR lifts the confidence of his side.

Wouter Burger’s strike before half time was the difference as the Potters ended a four-match losing streak.

The Dutch youngster, who also scored in the reverse fixture, converted the winner with a tap-in from Lewis Baker’s corner.

In the process, Schumacher secured a first home league win as boss and the club’s first at the bet365 Stadium since October.

With victory, Stoke gave themselves daylight from the relegation zone as they moved six points above the dotted line.

“We were all aware of how important the game was,” noted the Potters’ boss.

“It was an important win and a tough game against a team close to us in the league.

“The performance isn’t one that we’ll remember forever and the game wasn’t a classic, but to get that win at home was so important.

“It’s relentless and it’s important that we back it up now and I hope that that result gives the players some confidence.

“It’s not been easy to play here all season and it’s been too long since we’ve won (at home), so hopefully that stigma has gone.

“We’ve played a lot better since I’ve been here than we did tonight but that doesn’t matter; we got the win and the fans go home happy.

“Sometimes, you’ve got to come to a realisation of what’s important at certain stages.

“The results haven’t been what we wanted, so we changed our shape and played more direct and we were harder to beat.

“At this stage of the season and as a coach you’ve got to recognise what’s important and the win was what was all that mattered today.

“But we can’t relax now; it’s only one win and the league is still really tight.”

Meanwhile, the travelling Hoops could only muster one shot on target as their four-match unbeaten run ended.

QPR remain entrenched in the relegation zone as they drift to four points from safety.

“I’m disappointed,” said boss Marti Cifuentes.

“We had some good chances in the first half to take the lead but unfortunately, we went 1-0 down after a corner.

“They played a back-five and they showed respect to us and we couldn’t get the flow we wanted, especially in the second half.

“It was not easy for us to break them down. Still, we tried to compete to the very last second but it was just one of those games.

“Today was a very important game in terms of the table but at the same time, whatever happened today, it wasn’t going to be a season changer.

“We need to stay very calm; we’re of course disappointed and angry, but we were unbeaten for four games and perhaps someone could think this would be easy.

“When I arrived at the club, we were eight points away and the team is showing improvements almost every week.

“I do believe in what we’re doing and I think that the team is showing that we can compete every game.

“My target now is to make sure we get a new trend of good results to pick up the points that we need.

“In less than three months at the club, we’ve had two good trends so I’m sure we can have another one.”

Philippe Clement will look to focus on finishing after Rangers missed a host of chances in their 3-1 win over Ross County at Ibrox.

The Gers had to win by three clear goals to leapfrog Celtic at the top of the cinch Premiership and it looked on when striker Cyriel Dessers opened the scoring after five minutes.

The Light Blues struck the post twice but the second-bottom Dingwall side, with Don Cowie in charge for the first time, levelled in the 25th minute with a Simon Murray strike.

Dessers grabbed his second just before the break but there were more opportunities passed up in the second half before defender John Souttar eventually headed in a third in added time.

Rangers drew level with Celtic on 61 points and on goal difference, but they have scored four goals fewer so remain second.

Boss Clement, whose side were seven points behind Celtic when he took over last October and have won seven in a row since the winter break, said: “I think for sure in my period, but also all season, it’s our game with the most shots on target and 23 on target.

“I see a team growing week by week, month by month.

“We had wave after wave of attacks, good possession play, good runs together, good tempo, good shot.

“But we also had a goalkeeper on the other side (George Wickens) who maybe had an evening of his life and a few times luck also on his side.

“It could’ve been much more. But of course, as a manager you need to be happy, although I’m not so fast happy, with a 3-1 victory.

“I cannot ask more of my players than what they are doing now.

“I think every supporter who was in the stadium, and was there four months ago, they would say, ‘what a difference for all the players on the pitch’.

“I think our finishing was also not that bad. But it was about centimetres.

“But we can do better, raise our level to be more precise. But those are the next steps to take. The team has already taken a lot of steps.

“You cannot ask much more of the players where they are now in the period we’ve been working together.”

Cowie, in charge for the first time following the departure of Derek Adams last week, was pleased with his side’s spirit but admitted that they carried some luck.

“We were fortunate because Rangers were that good,” he said.

“But a club like Ross County coming to the big grounds need fortune and we got that at times.

“Whether it was finishing or very good goalkeeping we just have to move on from it in terms of what I want.

“I saw a team putting their bodies on the line to stop the ball going into the net.

“It was a difficult night. I thought Rangers were excellent from the get go.

“They came out the traps really quick and it was a challenge for the players.

“The positive for me was that they stuck at it, playing against a level of team in great form.

“Going into 90 minutes it’s 2-1 and that’s all I asked for before the game. Try to stay in it before the game and that’s what they did.”

Plymouth boss Ian Foster spoke of his disappointment following a late Coventry equaliser in the 2-2 Sky Bet Championship draw.

Liam Kitching claimed the last touch on Victor Torp’s free-kick to claim the goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time which snatched a point for the visitors.

Morgan Whittaker – with his 17th Championship goal of the season – and Mikel Miller scored for Plymouth, with Ellis Simms briefly levelling for the Sky Blues.

Foster said: “We never get too excited when we win or too disappointed when we lose.

“Tonight is a difficult one. It feels like a defeat, it’s another point closer to where we want to be.

“I think you are always in danger to become too emotional, particularly after the game.

“We are disappointed in the manner of the (last) goal, and not to come away with all three points.

“Taking the emotion out of the game, we are quite pleased with how we played the game.

“We are desperately disappointed over the course of the 97 minutes, but we have got to be pleased with how brave we were and how we performed against a top team in the division.

“It was difficult, when you are planning the team for tonight, you have Saturday – and Leeds – in mind, and it’s the same when you are making substitutions.

“It was nice to get Jordan (Houghton) back on the field and Julio (Pleguezuelo) always does well for us.

“We found out again if you make mistakes in this division you get punished.

“We can take heart from taking a point from a top team, looking for promotion to the Premier League.”

Coventry boss Mark Robins, whose side return to sixth place in the table, said: “We managed to score at the last knockings and ended up getting a point from a position where we didn’t look like we would get anything.

“We were in total control in the first half, they are a good attacking side, with pace and a real threat.

“We got ourselves back into the game, but we didn’t defend properly. We allowed them to play outside, attack outside and allowed them to get crosses in and we didn’t defend those crosses properly.

“We looked a little bit lacklustre, but we attacked pretty well.

“It was a decent attacking game with chances either side. The decision-making was poor and we need to get on the training ground and work, but we haven’t got time.

“There was some good attacking play, but we have to be more ruthless.

“We have got a really good attacking threat, it is just what we did with it from back to front and how we get there.

“But we switch off and we need to have that fire in our belly to win the game at Stoke on Saturday. We came away with a point, we had brilliant support, so we will end it on a positive.”

Neil Warnock likened the VAR “computer” to the Horizon Post Office software after his Aberdeen side were denied a winner for a marginal offside decision in a six-goal thriller with Motherwell.

Warnock joked he was expecting the sack when Motherwell went three up inside 26 minutes thanks to Theo Bair’s double and an Adam Devine strike.

With Richard Jensen missing through illness, Warnock had started with one centre-back and two full-backs in his defence but his double change on the half-hour sparked an instant response.

With centre-back Angus MacDonald and attacker Duk on for midfielders Shayden Morris and Dante Polvara, the latter sub netted within 30 seconds after Motherwell lost the ball from their own throw-in.

Motherwell continued to look vulnerable from set-pieces and goals from Stefan Gartenmann and Duk had Aberdeen level by the 50th minute.

Both sides had potential winners disallowed – Aberdeen striker Bojan Miovski for offside and Motherwell’s Harry Paton was denied after a VAR review.

Miovski looked level with the last Motherwell defender and Warnock was unconvinced by referee Kevin Clancy’s faith in the VAR system.

“VAR, I don’t believe it, me,” Warnock said. “He said VAR is a computer. I think it’s the Horizon computer.

“You can’t tell me that’s offside. I’ve seen the lines. I don’t believe it’s offside. I don’t know how they do it.”

Warnock reacted swiftly to change matters after Motherwell went three ahead, but he admitted chairman Dave Cormack might have been thinking similarly.

“I was thinking ‘what times are the planes to Cornwall tomorrow’, expecting a call on the bench from Dave,” he said.

“We lost Jensen this morning to an illness so we changed it and thought we could play that way but it showed we couldn’t.

“All credit to the boys, at 3-0 a lot could have gone under but when we made the changes we enjoyed it and I enjoyed watching them.”

Motherwell manager Stuart Kettlewell was also disappointed with VAR after seeing Paton’s goal disallowed for Calum Butcher’s push on Jamie McGrath.

“There were a lot of contacts in the box and without question he has two hands on the back of his opponent but he didn’t push him two or three yards,” Kettlewell said.

“Was it an obvious error? He said it was but from two or three angles I’ve seen I don’t think it was a contact that propelled him into his keeper.

“I felt it was a little soft and if you look at it so many times are we looking for something that isn’t obviously there?”

Kettlewell bemoaned his side’s defending from set-pieces which led to Aberdeen’s goals, including Duk’s first, which came from a Motherwell throw-in.

“There are three restarts in the game where if we are better then we win,” he said. “It lets me focus on it and try to educate some of the younger guys.”

Kieran McKenna believes promotion-chasing Ipswich were “long overdue” a night like their 4-0 win at Millwall.

The Tractor Boys had won just once in nine games ahead of travelling to south London but survived a slow start to run out deserved victors at The Den.

Nathan Broadhead scored one and forced a Wes Harding own goal while in-form Bournemouth loanee Kieffer Moore headed home and Ali Al-Hamadi converted a stoppage-time penalty as Ipswich eased to just a second league win of the calendar year.

Despite their drop-off in form, McKenna’s side lost just twice in that run and the former Manchester United assistant will be hoping this result heralds a return to form – with a trip to Swansea next up on Saturday.

Asked about the return to winning ways, McKenna said: “I think we are long due a night like that to be honest.

“Statistically, in the last nine games we have been creating more shots and having less against than in the first nine games but sometimes football works like that.

“We were clinical and we produced the defensive moments whenever we needed to, we have been long overdue a night where things went our way.

“It was a good night’s work, a good performance in different areas. I thought we were solid in free play and controlled large chunks of the game with the ball, created a few good opportunities and were really clinical when they came.”

Ipswich survived a slow start as Millwall created a number of good chances to put themselves on the front foot.

Instead, the Lions fell behind and never recovered, with manager Joe Edwards bemoaning the outcome.

“It is a bit of deja vu, we started well with a clear plan that the players were executing,” he said.

“Their goalkeeper had a few saves to make early on. When you play against a team like Ipswich’s level, they can score goals at any time but the manner of that (first) goal can’t happen.

“It is a combination of things that throws us, we were feeling in a good place, with momentum and then the wind is taken out of your sails with a poor goal and from there until half time it just unravelled.”

Edwards has now seen his side take just one point from their last six league games and – with Stoke and Huddersfield both winning – they have dropped to 21st in the table.

“I’m not going to disregard it in a casual way,” Edwards said when asked if he looks at the table with Millwall struggling.

“Where we are in relation to the relegation zone, people are going to talk about that. The reality is we are in a rut where we are not winning games or getting points at the moment.”

Ciro Immobile’s second-half penalty earned Lazio a shock 1-0 first-leg win over 10-man Bayern Munich in the Champions League last-16.

Striker Immobile sent Manuel Neuer the wrong way from 12 yards in the 69th minute after Bayern defender Dayot Upamecano was sent off for a late challenge on Gustav Isaksen.

The Bundesliga side, who arrived in Rome on the back of a damaging 3-0 defeat to title rivals Bayer Leverkusen, dominated first-half possession but were unable to capitalise, with Harry Kane largely starved of service.

Leroy Sane and Jamal Musiala each went close for the six-time European champions before Immobile’s spot-kick settled the contest to increase pressure on Bayern boss Thomas Tuchel.

Kylian Mbappe set Paris St Germain on course for a 2-0 success over Real Sociedad in Wednesday’s other tie.

The France star opened the scoring in the 58th minute at Parc des Princes by volleying home Marquinhos’ flick on following Ousmane Dembele’s right-wing corner.

Bradley Barcola secured breathing space for the Ligue 1 leaders ahead of the return match on March 5 with his first Champions League goal.

The 21-year-old forward burst past Hamari Traore on the PSG left before poking the ball beyond Sociedad goalkeeper Alex Remiro with 20 minutes remaining.

Manchester United’s squad at the end of last season was the most expensively-assembled on record, according to a UEFA report.

The Red Devils’ squad at 2023’s financial year-end cost a collective 1.42 billion euros (£1.21bn) in transfer fees, eclipsing the figure of 1.33 billion euros recorded by Real Madrid in 2020.

The United squad at the end of 2022-23 included £82million Brazilian winger Antony, £80m England defender Harry Maguire, £73m signing Jadon Sancho and the £60m Brazil midfielder Casemiro.

Further recruits last summer such as Mason Mount, Andre Onana and Rasmus Hojlund are not counted within the figures.

UEFA’s European Club Finance and Investment Landscape report found three other clubs’ squads – Manchester City, Chelsea and Real Madrid – cost more than one billion euros in transfer fees in their most recently disclosed financial year-end figures. Chelsea’s most recent figures go up to the year end June 30, 2022, and therefore do not include their heavy spending in the summer of that year or the January 2023 window.

United have become one of 15 English top-flight clubs recognised within the report as being part of a multi-club investment group, with the purchase of a 25 per cent stake by Ineos founder Sir Jim Ratcliffe almost complete. Ineos also holds majority stakes in French side Nice and Swiss club Lausanne.

In all, 105 top-division European clubs (13 per cent of the total number) have a cross-investment relationship with one or more other clubs, the report found.

There were 31 purchases of majority stakes and seven purchases of minority stakes in 2023 by groups holding a stake in at least one other European club, according to the report.

However, less than one transfer per club on average is actually executed within the same multi-club structure, the report found.

As the size of multi-club investment groups has increased, that proportion has even decreased (0.6 transfers per club in 2023 compared to 0.8 in 2021), suggesting the multi-club investment trend is not entirely driven by player transfer considerations.

Andrea Traverso, UEFA’s director of financial sustainability and research, said: “More than 300 clubs are part of multi-club investment groups, leading to an increased risk of seeing two clubs with the same owner or investor facing each other in the same competition, creating potential integrity risks at the European level.

“The current context demands strict enforcement of cost control regulations and more harmonisation of financial rules between leagues. This is paramount to limit overspending, ‘creative finance’, and rules circumvention.

“As long as differences on key regulatory matters continue between leagues, inflationary tensions will persist, contributing to imbalances and instability.”

Elsewhere, the report found spending on player wages dropped by 1.1 per cent among the clubs with the 20 largest player wage bills, with United spending 88m euros (£75m) less on player wages in 2023 compared to the year before. Barcelona and City had large increases in player wages spending – 158m euros and 68m euros (£134.8m and £58m) respectively.

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