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The referee decisions that went against England against France

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It’s fair to say that England have a right to seethe at the refereeing performance that overshadowed some brilliant football played in the Three Lions’ 2-1 World Cup quarter-final defeat to France.

Brazilian official Wilton Sampaio was the centre of attention following Les Bleus’ narrow progression to the final four in Qatar, proving the butt of much criticism from fans, pundits and even players alike.

And, it must be said, some of the decisions – made by the VAR team as well as the man in the middle – left spectators scratching their heads. So, what were some of the decisions that went against the Three Lions in that defeat to Didier Deschamps’ side?

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The first indication of what was to come was in the build-up to France’s opening strike. Prior to Aurelien Tchouameni thundering a long-range strike into Jordan Pickford’s bottom corner in the 17th minute, Bukayo Saka looked to have been dispossessed illegally at the other end of the pitch.

The Arsenal winger went to ground under the pressure of Dayot Upamecano’s clumsiness and overly close attention, with what looked like a blatant kick sending Saka to the floor. A few seconds later, Les Bleus were off celebrating Tchouameni’s opener.

Upamecano was in for a difficult evening following that moment. After Harry Kane had rolled the burly defender with ease and seen Hugo Lloris save his effort well, the Tottenham striker was evidently hacked to the ground by the Bayern Munich centre-back on 25 minutes.

Rushing into the area, Kane was tripped by Upamecano’s desperate flailing leg, with contact looking to have terminated inside the area. Sampaio, however, saw nothing wrong with the challenge and VAR went with his decision.

Following the break, England’s fortune didn’t improve.

While Tchouameni’s rash challenge on Saka was immediately given as a penalty six minutes after the interval – scored emphatically by Kane – the officials later dismissed second-half claims for spot kicks from Jude Bellingham, whose right knee was visibly knocked off balance by another lazy and clumsy challenge from Upamecano (prompting the below reaction from the Three Lions starlet), and Harry Maguire, who might have had a small case with his arm being held and pulled back from a late set-piece.

Nothing doing, though, according to the officials.

Gareth Southgate’s men were eventually awarded a second penalty of the evening after Olivier Giroud headed France back into the lead in the 78th minute. Although Sampaio came in for more scrutiny at his handling of the events.

The referee initially waved away despairing claims from Mason Mount and his teammates, after the Chelsea midfielder went to ground under the barge of Theo Hernandez. Upon a review by VAR, the Milan full-back had clearly thrown his shoulder into Mount’s back, denying the Englishman a clear goal-scoring opportunity.

After going to the pitch-side monitor via the instruction of the VAR, however, the Brazilian referee did reverse his decision and give Southgate’s men a spot kick, which Kane failed to convert as he blazed over the crossbar. Sampaio still managed to anger England once more by only giving Hernandez a yellow card, though, despite the Frenchman seemingly making no attempt whatsoever for the ball in denying Mount a route through on goal.

In the end, it must be noted that England did have the opportunity to draw level and failed to take it. However, there is little doubt that the eventual outcome was affected by an objectively bizarre – as much as shockingly poor – officiating performance.

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Brighton vs Liverpool – FA Cup: TV channel, team news, lineups & prediction

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Brighton host Liverpool in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Sunday afternoon, a fortnight after dismantling Jurgen Klopp’s side at the Amex Stadium in England’s top flight.

Roberto De Zerbi’s south coast hot-shots sit two points and three places above Liverpool in the Premier League table at the halfway stage of the season, underlining their advantage with a 3-0 triumph against Sunday’s foes two weeks ago.

Jurgen Klopp described that “horror show” as “the worst game I’ve ever seen from a team of mine”. Liverpool have kept consecutive clean sheets against Wolves and Chelsea after “everything went wrong” against the Seagulls.

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Here’s everything you need to know about one of the standout fixtures from the FA Cup fourth round.

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Brighton team news

Alongside long-term absentee Jakub Moder, Levi Colwill (quad) and former Liverpool midfielder Adam Lallana (muscular) will sit out the upcoming cup tie.

Moises Caicedo is entirely fine physically but has been asked by the club to take a step back for the rest of the January transfer window. Bids from Arsenal and Chelsea lured the integral midfielder into a public declaration of his desire to leave, prompting the club to take action and effectively sideline Caicedo for Sunday’s match.

Brighton predicted lineup (4-2-3-1): Sanchez; Veltman, Dunk, Van Hecke, Estupinan; Mac Allister, Gilmour; March, Gross, Mitoma; Ferguson

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Liverpool team news

Diogo Jota and Roberto Firmino are still recovering from calf injuries while Virgil van Dijk and Arthur Melo are “a couple of weeks” away from shaking off respective hamstring and thigh problems.

Luis Diaz is a longer term absentee with a serious knee issue while fellow forward Fabio Carvalho is a doubt after missing this week’s training. Back-up centre-back Nat Phillips has been laid low with a cold in the buildup to Sunday’s fixture.

Liverpool predicted lineup (4-3-3): Kelleher; Alexander-Arnold, Konate, Gomez, Robertson; Keita, Bajcetic, Thiago; Salah, Nunez, Gakpo

Prior to the riotous victory on the south coast, De Zerbi led his new side to a thrilling 3-3 draw against Liverpool at Anfield on his debut in the dugout. Brighton haven’t only proven to be prolific against the Reds, rattling in 19 goals across six matches since Christmas Day.

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Liverpool have drawn a blank in two of their last three games. Klopp was keen to highlight the “little step” forward represented by last weekend’s 0-0 draw with Chelsea but Liverpool are still struggling to rediscover anywhere near the same edge that took them to two titles – including the FA Cup – last season.

It’s highly unlikely that Klopp would allow his side to be as outrageously open as they were on their previous visit to the Amex. And without Caicedo snaffling around in midfield, Brighton may have a tougher time muzzling Liverpool going the other way in a contest which could lead to a rematch at Anfield.

Prediction: Brighton 1-1 Liverpool



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Anthony Hudson comments on head coach future amid USMNT restructure

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United States Men’s National Team interim boss Anthony Hudson says he’ll remain in the role as long as he’s required as the federation undergoes a restructure.

The Englishman took charge of his first match as an experimental group full of MLS talents and European youngsters lost 2-1 to Serbia at LAFC’s BMO Stadium on Wednesday evening.

Up next is another friendly against Colombia at LA Galaxy’s Dignity Health Sports Park on Saturday in what was initially thought to be Hudson’s final game in charge.

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However, since his appointment, sporting director Earnie Stewart has left for PSV Eindhoven, while legendary USMNT striker Brian McBride’s contract as general manager was not renewed. With nobody currently around to pick a successor, Hudson is happy to keep steering the ship for now.

“Obviously there’s been some changes,” Hudson told reporters, adding: “My focus is just to keep preparing the team for as long as I’m asked to do it.

“I wasn’t really expecting any of this, how this has evolved. But my focus is purely on, when we get back, I’m going to focus on the next window. And if I’m still asked to do the one after that, I’m going to prepare for that one. And I’ll continue doing all I can. This is a really, really special team. I know how important this national team is and I want to do all I can to make sure it’s in a good place for whoever comes in, whenever that is.”

So, with his future assured for now, Hudson’s focus returns to Saturday’s game against Colombia. The priority, as is usually the case in these January friendlies, is on giving new players a chance to thrive who wouldn’t usually get one in an international window.

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“Everyone having played in these two games, that’s the objective,” said Hudson. “We want to see new players; can we add depth to the squad? And also by doing that, we need to make sure that we carry the players through these two games physically in the right way. Of course, we want to win every game we go into, but we are led by the physical capacity of each player in these games.”



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Real Madrid vs Real Sociedad

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Real Sociedad will have the chance to move level on points with Real Madrid when they face the reigning La Liga champions on Sunday.

Both clubs have enjoyed strong league campaigns and look set to finish inside the top three with Real Madrid 10tenpoints clear of Atletico Madrid and Sociedad seven ahead of Diego Simeone’s side.

Whether David Silva and co battle one Madrid side for a top-two spot and maybe even the title or just focus on staying ahead of the other in the closing stages of the season will largely depend on how they do at the Bernabeu.

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Here’s everything you need to know about one of the biggest games of the La Liga season.

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Real Madrid team news

It was hoped David Alaba would make his return against Atletico Madrid after picking up a calf injury but he was unable to do so, suffering a setback that will likely keep him out of this match too. He’s not the only defender with fitness issues, with Ferland Mendy and Dani Carvajal doubts as well along with Lucas Vasquez and Eden Hazard.

(4-3-3): Courtois; Nacho, Militao, Rudiger, Camavinga; Modric, Kroos, Ceballos; Valverde, Benzema, Vinicius.
Bench: Lunin, Lopez, Odriozola, Vallejo, Martin, Hazard, Rodrygo, Asensio, Diaz.

Real Sociedad team news

Real Sociedad have a long injury list with a number of key players on it including David Silva, Mikel Merino and Andoni Gorosabel. They’ll all miss out on the match with Real Madrid as will Umar Sadiq, Ander Guevera, Alex Sola, Martin Merquelanz, Jon Pacheco and Mohamed-Ali Cho.

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(4-3-1-2): Remiro; Elustondo, Zubeldia, Le Normand, Rico; Mendez, Zubimendi, Marin; Kubo; Sorloth, Oyarzabal.
Bench: Zibiaurre, Munoz, Olasagasti, Martin, Turrientes, Illarramendi, Barrenetxea, Navarro, Fernandez.

With Real Madrid trailing Barcelona and Sociedad behind Real Madrid in the standings, this a match both teams will be aiming to win. That along with the fact that both sides will be missing several key players should make it an open affair with plenty of goals.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side undoubtedly have the firepower to cause their opponents big problems, but they look far less convincing at the other end with a makeshift defence.

Prediction: Real Madrid 2-2 Real Sociedad

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