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Champions League

Napoli 1-1 Milan: Player ratings as Giroud sends Rossoneri into the Champions League semi-finals



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Victor Osimhen’s late header earned Napoli a 1-1 draw in the second leg of their Champions League quarter-final at home to Milan but it wasn’t enough to overturn the deficit inflicted at San Siro last week, as the Rossoneri advanced to the final four.

Napoli’s suffocating start was punctured by Milan’s first foray out of their own half after 22 minutes. Mario Rui recklessly crashed into Rafael Leao, giving up a penalty which silenced the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona. Napoli’s fervent fans had found their voice after peace talks with the club president were brokered by Italy’s minister of the interior last week and erupted again when Alex Meret beat away Olivier Giroud’s tame spot-kick.

Giroud was rebuffed by Meret from similar range in open play moments later but would not be denied a third time. The first half had been almost entirely conducted inside Milan’s half and that was where Leao picked up the ball in the 43rd minute.

Gobbling up a slack touch from Tanguy Ndombele, Leao slalomed forward, skipping around the blue shirts tumbling in his wake like the waves he surfs in his spare time. Baring down on Meret’s goal, Leao took the goalkeeper out of the equation with a square pass for Giroud to tap in, breaking the deadlock on the night and giving Milan a 2-0 aggregate lead.

Milan’s hand constantly hovered over the handbrake throughout both ties but Stefano Pioli’s side focused almost entirely on bolting the door in the second half of this deciding leg. Napoli had lashings of possession and rattled off a glut of shots but desperately struggled to tease apart the tight stitching of Milan’s rearguard.

Giovanni Di Lorenzo belatedly slipped between the seams, wriggling into a congested penalty area and firing a cutback from the byline. Fikayo Tomori put his arm down to cushion his fall while attempting a slide tackle, inadvertently blocking the ball with his hand. Yet, just as Meret had stood up to Giroud in the first half, Maignan stretched out a meaty paw to palm away Khivcha Kvaratskhelia’s penalty in the final ten minutes.

As Napoli threw caution to the wind – and an increasing volley of crosses into the box – Milan’s resolve finally buckled. Osimhen – shackled in a cage of red and black bars for so much of the contest – fizzed a header past Maignan in the third minute of stoppage time.

Napoli’s leading scorer may have become the first player since Chelsea’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to find the net against the Rossoneri in Europe in six months but it wasn’t enough to earn his side a maiden Champions League semi-final.

While Napoli will have to settle for a first Scudetto since the days of Maradona, Milan can justify their feeble defence of the Serie A title with a Champions League semi-final against one of Benfica or, deliciously, city rivals Inter.

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, Brahim Diaz

Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (centre) was the left prong of Napoli’s attack in the first-ever Champions League quarter-final held in Naples / Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages

GK: Alex Meret – 6/10 – Perfectly read Giroud’s penalty even if it was at a comfortable height for the keeper.

RB: Giovanni Di Lorenzo – 3/10 – Never seemed capable of getting the better of Leao.

CB: Amir Rrahmani – 4/10 – Often the free man when carrying the ball forward, Rrahmani couldn’t stop Leao in full flow – although, few can.

CB: Juan Jesus – 4/10 – Took a blow to the head but was groggy with his passing before that.

LB: Mario Rui – N/A – Gave up a needless penalty before limping off in the first half.

CM: Tanguy Ndombele – 5/10 – Had enjoyed an excellent half before his miscontrol gifted Leao the chance to hare forward.

CM: Stanislav Lobotka – 5/10 – Tasked with covering large swathes of space when Milan tried to break, the pint-sized ratter enjoyed mixed success.

CM: Piotr Zielinski – 3/10 – Struggled to exert a significant influence on proceedings.

RW: Matteo Politano – 7/10 – At the heart of Napoli’s opening flurry of attacks but also had his big night cruelly cut short by injury.

ST: Victor Osimhen – 5/10 – Napoli’s great hope struck too late.

LW: Khvicha Kvaratskhelia – 5/10 – Saw plenty of the ball, digging deep into his bag of tricks which earned him more joy after the break.


Mathias Oliveira (34′ for Rui) – 4/10 – Rarely offered Kvaratskhelia any support down the left flank.

Hirving Lozano (34′ for Politano) – 5/10 – Proved to be much more predictable than Politano.

Eljif Elmas (63′ for Ndombele) – 5/10

Leo Ostigard (75′ for Rrahmani) – N/A

Giacomo Raspadori (75′ for Zielinski) – N/A


Luciano Spalletti – 3/10 – Clearly knew what Milan would do – he and Jesus warned of the opposition counter-attacks pre-game – but couldn’t send out a side to combat that obvious threat.

SSC Napoli v AC Milan: Quarterfinal Second Leg - UEFA Champions League

Milan are Italy’s most successful club in the Champions League with seven titles / Francesco Pecoraro/GettyImages

GK: Mike Maignan – 8/10 – Unerringly composed with the ball at his feet, Maignan’s advanced positioning also limited Napoli’s threat with balls over the top.

RB: Davide Calabria – 8/10 – Revelled in the fiercely (and fairly) contested individual duel with Kvaratskhelia.

CB: Simon Kjaer – 8/10 – A towering figure marshalling Milan’s military-like backline.

CB: Fikayo Tomori – 6/10 – Stood up to the mentally and physically draining task of keeping tabs on Osimhen – unfortunate to give away a soft spot kick.

LB: Theo Hernandez – 6/10 – Limited in his raids forward, keeping focussed on holding his defensive position.

CM: Rade Krunic – 6/10 – Solid if unspectacular at the base of Milan’s midfield.

CM: Sandro Tonali – 6/10 – At times a little too overeager with his pressing but would have done his grandmother – who religiously watches every game even though she’s not fussed on football – proud.

AM: Ismael Bennacer – 7/10 – Shadowing Lobotka to clog up Napoli’s buildup, Bennacer dropped onto Ndombele when Milan shifted even deeper, leaving Giroud to mark the hosts’ pivot.

RW: Brahim Diaz – 5/10 – Wandered infield but remained on the periphery of the contest.

ST: Olivier Giroud – 6/10 – Squandered two golden opportunities before tucking in an unmissable opening.

LW: Rafael Leao – 9/10 – Simply unstoppable when he has the time and space to break into his mesmeric stride.


Junior Messias (59′ for Diaz) – 5/10

Divock Origi (69′ for Giroud) – N/A


Stefano Pioli – 7/10 – Set his side up to strike in transition from the off, leaning more heavily upon the tactic after their lead was extended.

Player of the match – Rafael Leao (Milan)

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Champions League

When Newcastle last played in the Champions League



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One of football’s greatest obscurities will forever be that the legendary Diego Maradona made as many appearances in Europe’s premier club competition as the, well, less legendary Titus Bramble.

The unheralded defender may not have twice broken the world transfer record or inspired his own religion – although, Titus does feature in the New Testament – but he was a cog in the last Newcastle team to play in the Champions League during the 2002/03 season.

Eddie Howe – along with the eye-watering millions invested by the club’s controversial owners (and Jason Tindall, of course) – has achieved the “dream” of leading Newcastle back to the continental summit for the first time in two decades.

Here’s how the Magpies fared during their last Champions League run.

Xavi Hernandez didn’t make it back out onto the pitch for the second half of Barcelona’s trip to St James’ Park in March 2003. 20 years later, Xavi may lead the Blaugrana out in the north eastern cauldron as manager of the La Liga champions.

Barcelona were fortunate to go into the break with the game still goalless as Craig Bellamy squandered Newcastle’s best chances, coming closest with a shot that Victor Valdes tipped onto the post.

Sir Bobby Robson, in charge of his boyhood club and opposite the Catalan side that ruthlessly moved him out of the dugout after just one season, watched on as Patrick Kluivert and Thiago Motta provided Barcelona with the clinical edge which his Newcastle side lacked. Inter’s victory over Bayer Leverkusen rid Newcastle’s game of any consequence but it was a sour end to what had been a thrilling campaign.

After the first three games of the 2002/03 Champions League group stage, Newcastle had zero points and zero goals. No team had ever qualified for the knockout stages of the competition after three opening defeats and only one (Atalanta in 2019/20) has done it since.

Newcastle began their historic turnaround with a narrow 1-0 win at home to Juventus courtesy of the only Champions League goal of Andy Griffin’s career. Second-half strikes from Gary Speed and Alan Shearer completed a comeback win over Dynamo Kyiv, teeing up a grand crescendo to Group E.

Read the latest Newcastle news here

Heading into the final games of the first group stage in November 2002, all four of Feyenoord, Dynamo, Juventus and Newcastle could still qualify – with only the Italian giants guaranteed.

As Newcastle’s match with Feyenoord ticked into the 90th minute, Dynamo were posed to follow the Turin club into the knockout rounds. However, Bellamy was first to the rebound from Kieran Dyer’s shot, firing the ball from a tight angle with so much venom that it squirmed off the midriff of goalkeeper Patrick Lodewijks and over the line.

The 3-2 victory in Rotterdam was widely billed at the time as a £10m jackpot in reflection of the funds Newcastle would earn by finishing second but Robson summed it up much better. “It was a fluctuating and historical evening.”

Newcastle were drawn against Barcelona, Inter and Bayer Leverkusen in the second round of group-stage matches. The Magpies again began with successive defeats – shipping seven goals across heavy losses to Inter and Barcelona.

Robson’s side did defeat the previous year’s finalists Leverkusen home and away before Alan Shearer twice put Newcastle ahead at San Siro, taking his personal haul to six Champions League goals – the same tally as Real Madrid’s latest Galactico Ronaldo. However, the Nerazzurri equalised each time, taking qualification for the quarter-finals out of Newcastle’s hands.

Bellamy may have been wasteful against Barcelona in Newcastle’s most recent Champions League match but it was his goal that saw the Magpies scrawl their name in the competition’s history with that miraculous group-stage rebirth.

Two decades later, Howe has bought tickets for another ride on the European rollercoaster.





Third qualifying round first leg

Zeljeznicar 0-1 Newcastle


Third qualifying round second leg

Newcastle 4-0 Zeljeznicar


First group stage

Dynamo Kyiv 2-0 Newcastle


First group stage

Newcastle 0-1 Feyenoord


First group stage

Juventus 2-0 Newcastle


First group stage

Newcastle 1-0 Juventus


First group stage

Newcastle 2-1 Dynamo Kyiv


First group stage

Feyenoord 2-3 Newcastle


Second group stage

Newcastle 1-4 Inter


Second group stage

Barcelona 3-1 Newcastle


Second group stage

Bayer Leverkusen 1-3 Newcastle


Second group stage

Newcastle 3-1 Bayer Leverkusen


Second group stage

Inter 2-2 Newcastle


Second group stage

Newcastle 0-2 Barcelona


On this week’s edition of Talking Transfers, part of the 90min podcast network, Scott Saunders is joined by Toby Cudworth and Graeme Bailey to discuss all the latest transfer news. On the agenda: Declan Rice, Mason Mount, Granit Xhaka, Martin Odegaard, Ivan Toney, Ruben Loftus-Cheek & more!

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Champions League

Information for Man City vs Inter fans



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The first competitive meeting between Manchester City and Internazionale will take place in the final of the 2022/23 Champions League.

For Pep Guardiola’s imperious outfit, the European showpiece could be the last leg in a historic triptych of success with the Premier League and FA Cup potentially in their grasp.

Inter have not been to the Champions League final since becoming the only Italian team in history to win the treble in 2010. Simone Inzaghi’s side also have the small matter of a Coppa Italia final to contest before duking it out on the grandest of continental stages.

Here’s everything you need to know about nabbing a ticket for a night to remember.

Read the latest Champions League news here

Olympic Stadium

The Ataturk Olympic Stadium has a capacity of almost 75,000 / Eurasia Sport Images/GettyImages

The 2022/23 Champions League final will take place on Saturday 10 June at 20:00 (BST). City will contest the FA Cup final against rivals Manchester United one week beforehand while Inter finish the Serie A season away to Torino on Sunday 4 June.

Just as in 2005, the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul will host a Champions League final between teams from England and Italy. Almost two decades ago, the 75,000-seater venue was the setting for arguably the greatest final in the competition’s history as Liverpool infamously overturned a 3-0 half-time deficit before defeating AC Milan in a penalty shootout.

The venue had been scheduled to play host to the 2020 Champions League final before COVID-19 swept across the globe, hitting Turkey particularly hard. That year, the competition was reformatted from the quarter-finals onwards into an eight-team mini-tournament held in Portugal.

Manchester City made the 2021 final which was also set to be held in Istanbul only for another alteration due to COVID-19 restrictions. City lost to Chelsea in Porto’s Estadio do Dragao that summer.

The cheapest available ticket, the first of four categories, for the biggest game in club football this season will set you back £61 – although, the next most reasonable price range is a steep £156. Category Three tickets go for £425 while a spot in the Ataturk this June could cost as much as £599.

Season ticket holders at Manchester City have priority access in the first round of sales. There is guaranteed to be a second opportunity to secure a spot in Istanbul but prices will be considerably heftier than the initial figures.

Category One: £61
Category Two: £156
Category Three: £425
Category Four: £599

Despite the Ataturk boasting a capacity of 74,753, Manchester City and Inter fans have only been allotted 19,926 tickets each. City have averaged 51,000 fans at their Champions League home games this season, with Inter boasting more than 71,000 for the majority of their European clashes at San Siro this term.

Once City and Inter’s allocations have been filled, there will still be 34,901 seats at the Ataturk. After a public ballot on UEFA’s website, 7,500 of those remaining chairs will be warmed by the general public.

Local organisers, UEFA officials, national football associations, commercial partners and broadcasters will take up the remaining 27,401 seats.

Manchester City v Real Madrid - UEFA Champions League

Manchester City have scored the most goals (31) and conceded the fewest (five) in the Champions League this season / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

For the second time in three years, Manchester City will be lining up for a Champions League final. City’s success in this year’s competition has undoubtedly been underpinned by their imperious home form.

In the knockout stages, City put a combined 14 goals past RB Leipzig, Bayern Munich and reigning champions Real Madrid without conceding at the Etihad. However, since defeating Sevilla at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan in September, City have drawn their subsequent five Champions League games away from home.

While City’s caution on the road in Europe may give Inter hope for the final on neutral territory, Guardiola’s side do boast the leading scorer in this year’s competition. Erling Haaland has netted 12 Champions League goals this term, more than four clubs that qualified for the knockout stages of the tournament.

FC Inter vs AC Milan - UEFA Champions League

Inter celebrate a famous Champions League semi-final victory over city rivals AC Milan / Anadolu Agency/GettyImages

Inter were not favourites to even progress beyond the group stage let alone make it all the way to the final. Despite losing home and away to Bayern Munich, Inter took four points off Barcelona to finish above the Catalans and Viktoria Plzen.

Simone Inzaghi has fostered a deserved reputation as a cup specialist and leaned upon his side’s defensive solidity in the knockout stages, steering the Nerazzurri to five clean sheets in six games.

After a narrow 1-0 aggregate victory over Porto in the round of 16, Inter pierced the hype surrounding Roger Schmidt’s Benfica with a decisive 2-0 win in the first leg in Lisbon.

Played to the backdrop of a cacophonous San Siro, Inter defeated arch-rivals Milan in both legs of a semi-final dubbed the Euroderby.


On this edition of 90min’s Definitive European Power Rankings, part of the 90min podcast network, Sean Walsh and Tom Gott discuss the top 10 teams in Europe after a busy week of football.

If you can’t see this embed, click here to listen to the podcast!

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Champions League

Real Madrid’s financial setback following Champions League exit



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Real Madrid have missed out on a significant financial gain after failing to make the final of the UEFA Champions League.

Manchester City dealt a fatal blow to Real Madrid’s European title defence with a resounding 4-0 victory at the Etihad Stadium on Wednesday, securing their spot in the final next month.

The loss will have financial implications for Real Madrid, who would have earned a significant sum of €15.5m had they progressed to the final and faced Inter.

Additionally, winning the tournament would have secured them an additional €4.5m.

Nevertheless, despite missing out on the final, Real Madrid have enjoyed financial success throughout their campaign in the Champions League. Their run to the semi-finals has already earned them just over €60m, which could help them fund a move for Jude Bellingham – 90min understands the Borussia Dortmund midfielder has agreed personal terms with Los Blancos.

In the aftermath of Wednesday’s defeat, there has been considerable speculation surrounding the future of Real Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti, who has continually been linked to the Brazil job.

Read the latest Real Madrid news here

Despite his team’s inability to retain both La Liga and the Champions League this season, the Italian remains optimistic about continuing in his role for next term.

“It’s been a good season. There are four games to go and we have to give it our best shot. Hopefully we can finish well. Reaching a Champions League semi-final is a success because only four teams can reach it. Losing a sem-final can happen,” he said after the match.

On whether he would stay on as Real Madrid manager, he added: “The club president was quite clear 15 days ago. So nobody has any doubt. What the president tells me privately, I’m not going to say here.”

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