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Torres & Michel inspire historic US Open Cup success

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Orlando City beat the Sacramento Republic 3-0 on Wednesday to lift the 2022 US Open Cup title.

It marks the Lions’ first major trophy since becoming an MLS club in 2015, doing so in front of a sold-out Exploria Stadium.

Orlando naturally dominated against their USL opponents but were frustrated by a disciplined defensive performance, failing to register a shot on target throughout the first half – though they were rarely worried by Sacramento in their own box.

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Midway through the second half, Orlando’s superior fitness began to show, and in the 75th minute, Republic defender Dan Casey was caught in possession, with the ball finding its way to Facundo Torres, who dispatched an excellent finish from the edge of the box.

The 10-time Uruguay international made it 2-0 from the penalty spot just five minutes later, while in the dying moments, Orlando homegrown Benji Michel added a third having already assisted Torres’ opener and drawn the penalty for his side’s second despite only coming on in the 61st minute.

There’s no doubting Michel’s introduction tipped the scales in Orlando’s favor on Wednesday, but Facundo Torres was still the star of the show.

The talented Uruguayan was always positive in his play and constantly looked for openings in the Sacramento backline.

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Torres was one of the few players on the field capable of dispatching the sort of finish he managed for the opening goal, while he kept ice-cool composure to send the goalkeeper the wrong way and effectively seal the match from the penalty spot.

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It was also Torres’ precision pass that set Michel away for his dream goal right at the end; a fitting moment for both the homegrown and the South American import alike.

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There was much talk prior to kick-off about the sell-out crowd at Exploria Stadium and whether it would carry Orlando over the line, or serve to add extra pressure to the occasion.

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After the match, head coach Oscar Pareja was left in no doubt about the role of the supporters in Orlando’s success, praising their ‘energy’ and calling on them to turn out in similar numbers when rivals Atlanta United come to town next week.

“It was fantastic to see the energy,” Pareja said. “The players recognized immediately how it’s important. It’s something where the people have been supporting in difficult moments, but seeing the stadium full is great.

“I would like to ask them to come against Atlanta again. There is nothing like seeing that stadium and feeling that energy. Together we can do big things, but we need them.”

As a homegrown player, Michel, in particular, will have enjoyed playing in front of a bumper crowd that generated an atmosphere rarely seen at this stadium until now.

“It’s a good example for the community, our academy, our homegrowns and the introduction of a local guy who came and you saw his family, as you mentioned,” Pareja said of Michel. “It was fantastic to see him celebrating. This is Orlando.”

But, of course, it was the international class of Torres who really helped Orlando find the next level required to overcome a resolute Sacramento team.

Republic boss Mark Briggs was left in awe of the 22-year-old, who truly highlighted the disparity between MLS and USL on the night.

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“We made a couple of errors and when you play against world-class players – Torres is going to the World Cup in November,” Briggs said of Torres. “I think Orlando played $9m for him. That’s more than the value of our club.”





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Conference League

Europa League & Europa Conference League roundup: 06/10/22

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We’re halfway through the group stages of the Europa League and Europa Conference League, with tables now starting to take shape.

Arsenal played host to Bodo/Glimt in one of the later kick-offs, after fellow Premier League sides Manchester United and West Ham jetted off around the continent to face Omonia Nicosia and Anderlecht respectively.

Here’s a round-up of the evening’s action.

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Group A

FC Zurich 1-5 PSV Eindhoven

Rob Holding, Granit Xhaka, Fabio Viera, Marquinhos

Arsenal were flying / Richard Heathcote/GettyImages

Arsenal cruised to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Bodo/Glimt under the lights at the Emirates.

Eddie Nketiah tapped home a rebound after Kieran Tierney’s thumping effort bounced back off the post, minutes before Rob Holding headed home from a cross from the excellent Fabio Vieira.

Bodo/Glimt grew into the game as things progressed but Arsenal killed things off with a third five minutes before full-time as a glorious Gabriel Jesus run ended in a tap-in from Vieira.

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Group B

Rennes 2-1 Dynamo Kyiv
Fenerbahce 2-0 AEK Larnaca

Group C

HJK Helsinki 1-1 Ludogorets

Nicolò Zaniolo

A poor outing from Zaniolo / Silvia Lore/GettyImages

A late meltdown from Roma saw them slump to a 2-1 defeat at home to Real Betis.

Betis were the most dangerous early on but Roma took the lead through a Paulo Dybala penalty just after the half-hour mark, although their lead lasted about five minutes as Guido Rodriguez fizzed in an equaliser before the break.

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Nicolo Zaniolo hit the bar and Dybala saw a volley expertly saved before the interval and Roma continued that momentum after the break. They failed to find the back of the net, however, and were punished for their profligacy as Luiz Henrique headed home a winner with two minutes to go.

Things ended on a sourer note for Roma as they lost Zaniolo to a pointless red card in stoppage time. The Italian kicked out at an opponent and was deservedly dismissed, leaving him suspended for the next game.

Group D

Malmo 0-1 Union Berlin
Braga 1-2 Union SG

Group E

FC Sheriff 0-2 Real Sociedad

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Marcus Rashford

Rashford inspired United off the bench / -/GettyImages

Manchester United came perilously close to a major European upset as they were forced to come from behind to seal a 3-2 victory over Cypriot side Omonia Nicosia.

United could have had a few goals early on – Antony fluffed a cut-back and Bruno Fernandes hit the bar – but some shocking defending saw the Red Devils punished on the counter by Karim Ansarifard ten minutes before half-time.

Seven minutes into the second half, substitute Marcus Rashford fired home a delightful equaliser following an excellent pass from Fernandes, before Anthony Martial came off the bench and fired United ahead shortly after the hour mark.

Rashford tapped home a third with five minutes to go but Omonia grabbed an immediate response to set up a nervy equaliser, but United held on to seal an uncomfortable three points.

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Group F

Sturm Graz 0-0 Lazio
Midtylland 2-2 Feyenoord

Group G

Freiburg 2-0 Nantes
Olympiacos 0-3 Qarabag

Group H

Red Star 4-1 Ferencvaros
Monaco 3-1 Trabzonspor

Group A

Hearts 0-3 Fiorentina
RFS 0-0 Basaksehir

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Group B

Alphonse Areola, Ben Johnson

Areola was the hero / Dean Mouhtaropoulos/GettyImages

A late strike from Gianluca Scamacca fired West Ham to well-earned victory over Belgian giants Anderlecht.

West Ham were dominant from start to finish but had to wait until the 79th-minute for Scamacca to touch down Lucas Paqueta’s flick and fire across goal into the bottom corner to get the lead they deserved.

However, West Ham had goalkeeper Alphonse Areola to thank for the three points as the Frenchman pulled out what will surely be the save of the tournament to repel a close-range header and secure the victory. Sensational stuff.

Silkeborg 5-0 FCSB

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Group C

Lech Poznan 0-0 Hapoel Beer Sheva
Villarreal 5-0 Austria Vienna

Group D

Slovacko 0-1 Nice
Koln 0-1 Partizan

Group E

Dnipro-1 2-2 Vaduz
AZ Alkmaar 3-2 Apollon Limassol

Group F

Molde 3-0 Shamrock Rovers
Gent 0-1 Djurgarden

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Group G

Sivasspor 3-4 Ballkani
Slavia Prague 0-1 CFR Cluj

Group H

Pyunik Yerevan 2-0 Zalgiris
Basel 0-2 Slovan Bratislava



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EPL

Player ratings as Fabio Vieira inspires routine victory

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Arsenal made it two wins from two in the Europa League this season as they secured a convincing 3-0 victory over Bodo/Glimt at the Emirates.

Eddie Nketiah and Rob Holding both found the back of the net midway through the first half, before Fabio Vieira killed things off five minutes from time to seal all three points for Mikel Arteta’s men.

Predictably, Arsenal were on top in the opening stages and Nketiah came close to bending in a nice opener inside the first five minutes, instead watching as his strike whistled wide of the far post.

Some nice play handed Vieira a chance shortly after, but the youngster couldn’t get over his half-volley and sent the ball blazing over the bar when he really should have been testing the goalkeeper.

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The breakthrough finally came 23 minutes in courtesy of Nketiah, who tapped home into an empty net after Kieran Tierney’s glorious strike thundered back off the post and landed right at the feet of the Arsenal striker.

And the second came just moments later. Vieira’s glorious cross was steered home by the head of Holding, putting this game to bed before the half-hour mark.

A free-kick from Granit Xhaka then stung the gloves of Bodo/Glimt goalkeeper Nikita Haikin, before Vieira failed to make the most of an opportunity to add a third as he pulled his own effort wide of the post.

Xhaka drew another save from Haikin just seconds after the half-time break but Arsenal appeared to take a foot off the gas as Bodo/Glimt grew into the game.

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The away side had some excellent spells in control of the ball but lacked any sort of quality in the final third, with Arsenal regularly keeping them at arm’s length with relative ease.

Bodo/Glimt had Arsenal pinned back at times but the Gunners almost had a third when Nketiah found himself through on goal with around ten minutes left, but he sent his effort ballooning over the bar.

Then, with five minutes to go, the third did come. Gabriel Jesus embarked on a ridiculous solo run which saw him skin two defenders and lay the ball back to Vieira, who powered the ball into the back of the net.

Arsenal preserved their clean sheet in stoppage time as Matt Turner’s save threatened to cross the line before being hooked away by Holding, who had to stretch to karate-kick the ball out of the air.

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GK: Matt Turner – 7/10 – Took a while to realise this wasn’t Aaron Ramsdale. Rarely involved in the first half and comfortable under more pressure after the break. Needed to make a few nice saves.

CB: Takehiro Tomiyasu – 8/10 – Staked his claim to return to the starting lineup with an excellent showing. Dominant in the air and comfortable with the ball at his feet. Even did a job on the left after Tierney went off.

CB: Rob Holding – 7/10 – Hardly tested at the back but made an impact in attack, heading home Vieira’s cross.

CB: Gabriel – 6/10 – Did his job without really getting out of second gear.

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RM: Marquinhos – 5/10 – A few bright spells but usually had you wanting more. Feels like he’s inching closer to a loan move.

CM: Albert Sambi Lokonga – 5/10 – Probably a bit too cautious in possession in the first half and started to look out of his depth in the second half when the pressure stepped up.

CM: Granit Xhaka – 7/10 – Put himself about with real energy and quality. Clearly keen to get an early lead and seal himself a well-deserved rest.

LM: Kieran Tierney – 7/10 – Looked really sharp on his return to the team. Unfortunate not to get a glorious goal but at least facilitated Nketiah’s tap-in.

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AM: Fabio Vieira – 8/10 – Growing in confidence with each passing performance. Pulled the strings from start to finish and just seemed to constantly find himself on the ball.

ST: Gabriel Martinelli – 6/10 – Had the odd bright spell but this was undoubtedly an off night for Martinelli.

ST: Eddie Nketiah – 7/10 – A lot of hard work to get himself involved and flashed his natural goalscoring instincts as he tapped home Tierney’s rebound.

SUB: Martin Odegaard (58′ for Xhaka) – 6/10 – One or two nice passes but couldn’t really get on the ball as Bodo/Glimt stepped up their pressure.

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SUB: Bukayo Saka (58′ for Marquinhos) – 6/10 – Surprisingly came on when it wasn’t really necessary. Did well but had fans wincing every time he was tackled.

SUB: Gabriel Jesus (58′ for Martinelli) – 7/10 – Provided some energy to the attacking line and bagged a glorious assist.

SUB: Ben White (70′ for Tierney) – 6/10 – Happy to fly down the right during his cameo.

SUB: Reiss Nelson (82′ for Nketiah) – N/A

Manager: Mikel Arteta – 6/10 – Made some good changes to temporarily break Bodo/Glimt’s rhythm. Surprisingly brought Saka and Jesus off the bench when it wasn’t necessary to risk them.

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Player of the Match – Fabio Vieira

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EPL

Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury

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Chelsea drops Fofana update after initial tests on knee injury

Wesley Fofana’s knee injury is better than initially feared after the first set of tests returned positive results.

The defender suffered a knee injury in a collision with Rafael Leao in the 38th minute of Chelsea’s 3-0 home win against AC Milan, as his night ended in frustrating fashion having scored his first goal for the club earlier in the match.

There is hope that Fofana could return before the World Cup, with Chelsea’s final match before the tournament taking place away to Newcastle on November 12.

The centre-back is likely to miss this weekend’s clash against Wolves and the away match at San Siro against Milan next week.

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Fofana was seen leaving Stamford Bridge on crutches on Wednesday night, with his right knee in a brace as there were worries he may have suffered a serious injury.

Speaking in his post-match press conference after Chelsea’s victory over Milan, Blues boss Graham Potter admitted he was unsure how bad it would prove to be for Fofana.

‘We’ll have to scan it tomorrow and see how he is but there’s nothing to report at the moment,” Potter said.

“That’s the one disappointing thing about the evening so we have our fingers crossed. We’re concerned but I don’t want to speculate on it now.

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“These things happen. He’s a young guy and a strong guy but we’ll support him.”

Source: EveningStandard
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