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Player ratings as Fernandes double secures qualification

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Portugal booked their spot in the last 16 of the World Cup with a game to spare after a battling 2-0 win over Uruguay.

Uruguay always had the look of a team who were going to relish playing a spoiling game and that is exactly how the first half set off. Portugal dominated the ball but they found it hard to break down the disciplined and physical South Americans.

Half-chances came and went for Portugal, and William Carvalho would have expected to do better with an early long-range effort after fine hold-up play by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo himself got a glimpse of goal when he chested down a cross at the back post, but he was crowded out before he could get a shot away.

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Although Portugal had more of the ball, the best chance of the first half fell to Uruguay. The brilliantly dynamic Rodrigo Bentancur was able to wriggle through the Portuguese defence and found himself one-on-one with Diogo Costa. However, his composure abandoned him at the crucial moment and the Porto stopper was able to scramble it clear.

Portugal started the second half much more brightly, and Joao Felix found himself in a great position in the inside left channel to open the scoring. However, he couldn’t find the target.

That proved to be the warning shot, though, and just a couple minutes later Portugal had the lead. Bruno Fernandes clipped a delicious ball into the box and Ronaldo looked to get the slightest of touches on it. It didn’t look like he did, though, despite his celebrations, and Fernandes’ cross dropped straight in.

Uruguay then had to abandon their spoiling and come out a lot more, although they took a while to really find their stride with it.

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It wasn’t until Maximiliano Gomez and Luis Suarez replaced Darwin Nunez and Edinson Cavani up front that they were able to build pressure. Gomez rattled the post with a fine effort from outside the box, while Suarez could only find the side netting when the ball dropped to him in the six-yard box.

Another substitute, Giorgian De Arrascaeta, was next to miss a great chance, as he failed to beat Costa when through on goal.

It all looked set up for a grandstand finish, but VAR had other ideas. Jose Gimenez was adjudged to have handballed in the area while falling backwards. It was highly contested, but Fernandes didn’t care and he converted from the spot to put Portugal into the knockout stage.

Fernandes even hunted a hat-trick in the dying seconds of the game, but the post denied him.

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For the stats lovers, it was Portugal’s first World Cup win over South American opposition since they beat Brazil at Goodison Park in 1966.

Cristiano Ronaldo
Cristiano Ronaldo – Might have scored the winner? / BSR Agency/GettyImages


GK: Diogo Costa – 7/10 –
Came up big with a crucial save in the first half.

RB: Joao Cancelo – 6/10 – Neither marauding nor maddening.

CB: Ruben Dias – 7/10 –
Quality and assured.

CB: Pepe – 6/10 – His nous was important on the night, although rarely felt all that safe.

LB: Nuno Mendes – 5/10 – Didn’t do anything wrong but didn’t influence the game either. Off with an injury in the first half.

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CM: Ruben Neves – 5/10 – Did okay but didn’t seem to fancy the physical stuff as much as others.

CM: William Carvalho – 6/10 – Important physical presence in the midfield.

CM: Bruno Fernandes – 7/10 – Scored the opener, although he might have to fight Ronaldo for it. Literally. Nearly had a hat-trick.

RM: Bernardo Silva – 6/10 – Typically neat and tidy, but not much more.

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CF: Cristiano Ronaldo – 7/10 – He might be a fading force, but he was still a thorn in the side of Uruguay’s experienced defence all night.

LF: Joao Felix – 6/10 – Always threatened to do something but never actually did.

SUB: Raphaël Guerreiro (42′ for Mendes) – 6/10 – Slotted in nicely.

SUB: Rafael Leao (69′ for Neves) – 6/10 – Lively.

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Manager: Fernando Santos – 7/10 – Wasn’t pretty but got his team through a tough test.

Darwin Nunez
Not the best game for Darwin Nunez / Matthew Ashton – AMA/GettyImages

GK: Sergio Roche – 6/10 – Well-protected in the main by the Uruguay defence until they left him horribly exposed for the first goal.

CB: Jose Gimenez – 5/10 – Out of step with his central defensive partners too often but very unfortunate to give away a penalty.

CB Diego Godin – 6/10 – A fading force. His brain is still sneaky but the body isn’t quite as willing.

CB: Sebastian Coates – 6/10 – Dependable but not dominant.

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RM: Mathias Olivera – 6/10 – Had the energy and the will but not the quality.

CM: Federico Valverde – 6/10 – Some way short of his best.

CM: Rodrigo Bentancur – 7/10 – Uruguay’s best player on the night for sure.

CM: Matias Vecino – 5/10 – Never stamped his authority on the game.

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LM: Guillermo Varela – 5/10 – Didn’t really impress at all.

CF: Darwin Nunez – 5/10 – Will be disappointed with his performance.

CF: Edinson Cavani – 5/10 – Not at his best but poorly supported.

SUB: Giorgian De Arrascaeta (62′ for Vecino) – 6/10 – Made a difference but missed his big chance in front of goal.

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SUB: Facundo Pellistri (62′ for Godin) – 6/10 – Injected some pace and purpose into the Uruguay attack, although little product.

SUB: Maximiliano Gomez (72′ for Nunez) – 6/10 – Rattled the woodwork and unlucky not to score.

SUB: Luis Suarez (72′ for Cavani) – 6/10 – Missed a great chance from inside the six-yard box.

SUB: Matias Vina (86′ for Oliviera) – N/A

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Manager: Diego Alonso – 6/10 – Bit unlucky as his subs should have got him something.

Player of the match – Bruno Fernandes

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EPL

Nottingham Forest announce signing of Andre Ayew

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Nottingham Forest have confirmed the signing of free agent Andre Ayew despite interest from Everton.

The forward has been heavily linked with a move to the Toffees in recent days, but Forest have swooped in to sign the Ghanian.

Speaking to the club’s official website after finalising the move, the forward said:  “It’s a great feeling to sign for Nottingham Forest.

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“I know how big the club is and I know how much the club means to the city and the fanbase. It’s always been difficult whenever I’ve played against Forest and at The City Ground and I love the stadium.

“Steve Cooper is someone who knows me very well and knows how to work with me both on and off the pitch. We have a strong relationship, he’s a special coach and a special human being and someone who I really look up to.”

“I know what I can bring to the team, I’m ready to give my all and make sure that we are able to stay in the Premier League.”



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EPL

Wolves vs Liverpool – Premier League: TV channel, team news, lineups & prediction

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Liverpool will be looking to make a statement with a Premier League trip to Wolves this weekend, having been dumped out of the FA Cup by Brighton last Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side are without a league win in their last three attempts and have slipped as low as ninth in the table. Depending on what Chelsea do against Fulham on Friday night, the Reds could be 10th by the time they kick-off at Wolves.

Wolves are still yet to really find their groove under Julen Lopetegui, although at least remain out of the relegation zone on goal difference for the time being.

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Wolves team news

Wolves have no new injury concerns ahead of this one, with Pedro Neto, Boubacar Traore, Sasa Kalajdzic and Chiquinho all still sidelined.

Wolves predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): Sa; Semedo, Collins, Kilman, Bueno; Neves, Nunes; Traore, Sarabia, Hwang; Jimenez.

Liverpool team news

Centre-back Ibrahima Konate is the latest Liverpool player to join the injury list, ruled out until at least mid-February with a hamstring problem.

Virgil van Dijk is also still out, as are Roberto Firmino, Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota. Arthur Melo is making progress but is a couple of weeks away from resuming training.

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Liverpool predicted lineup (4-3-3): Alisson; Alexander-Arnold, Matip, Gomez, Robertson; Henderson, Fabinho, Thiago; Salah, Nunez, Gakpo.

It’s certainly feasible that Wolves could continue to pile the misery on Liverpool.

The Reds had beaten Wolves in seven consecutive meetings until a recent FA Cup tie ended in 2-2 draw at Anfield. It was then only a single goal that decided the replay in the Merseysiders’ favour.

Prediction: Wolves 1-1 Liverpool

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Mason Greenwood releases statement after Greater Manchester Police drop all charges

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Mason Greenwood has released a short statement stating that he is ‘relieved’ after the Greater Manchester Police dropped all charges against the Man Utd forward.

Greenwood was charged with attempted rape, engaging in controlling and coercive behaviour and assault, allegations relating to the same woman last year and, following an investigation, GMP have confirmed that all charges have been dropped.

The GMP confirmed the news in a statement earlier on Thursday: “Given the significant media coverage of this case, it is only fair that we share the news that the 21-year-old man, who had been arrested and charged in connection with an investigation opened in January 2022, no longer faces criminal proceedings in relation to this.

“The investigation team has remained in regular contact with the legal team, providing any updates of note, and so understand the rationale for the discontinuation of proceedings at this stage, and that this decision has not been taken lightly.

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“Despite the media and public’s interest in this case, we have decided not to comment on it in any further detail.

“I would, however, like to use this opportunity to reiterate GMP’s commitment to investigating allegations of violence against women and girls and supporting those affected, regardless of their circumstances, throughout what can be a hard and upsetting time for them. An ever increasing number of officers are receiving specialist training and the force is more consistently utilising tools, available via the criminal justice system, to keep people safe and care for victims.”

Greenwood has now responded with a statement of his own, writing: “I am relieved that this matter is now over and I would like to thank my family, loved ones and friends for their support. There will be no further comment at this time.”

Manchester United are due to conducted their own internal investigation on the matter.

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