Apr 292016
Platini became president of European football’s governing body in 2007

Uefa president Michel Platini said he was optimistic of overturning his six-year ban from football, as he began his Court of Arbitration for Sport appeal.

As he arrived at the hearing in Lausanne, the Frenchman said: “We’re at the beginning of the game, a new game, in the final. I hope the outcome will be good.”

Platini and former Fifa counterpart Sepp Blatter were last year barred from the sport after being found guilty of ethics breaches over a $2m (£1.3m) “disloyal payment” between the pair.

Both men, who deny wrongdoing, had the bans upheld but cut from eight years. Platini, 60, wants the verdict annulled.

A decision could come early next week.

The three-member Cas panel judges the former France player’s case afresh and has the option of imposing a life ban for corruption.

Fifa’s ethics and appeal committees ruled there was “not sufficient evidence” to establish the payment was a bribe but said both men demonstrated an “abusive execution” of their positions.

Blatter, 80, is likely to attend the hearing to give evidence about the Fifa payment he approved for Platini in 2011 as backdated, uncontracted salary.

Blatter’s appeal against his six-year ban will be heard at a later date.

Gianni Infantino has succeeded Blatter as Fifa president, while Uefa has named Angel Maria Villar as acting president.

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Sport quiz of the week

 Posted by at 6:30 PM
Apr 292016

It’s BBC Sport and A Question of Sport’s weekly quiz – have you been paying attention to what’s been going on in the world of sport in the past week?

Shakhtar Donetsk 2-2 Sevilla

 Posted by at 5:17 AM
Apr 292016
The match was played in Lviv, 800km to the west of Donetsk because of the ongoing conflict in eastern Ukraine

Holders Sevilla came from behind to earn a draw against Shakhtar Donetsk in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final in Lviv.

Sevilla, winners of the tournament in 2014 and 2015, led early on through Vitolo’s close-range strike.

Marlos equalised with a composed finish from 18 yards before Taras Stepanenko headed the Ukrainian side in front before half-time.

But Kevin Gameiro’s late penalty earned the Spaniards a draw.

The French attacker showed no signs of nerves, converting confidently from the spot after Facundo Ferreyra fouled Vitolo just inside the area.

The result leaves Sevilla on course for a third consecutive Europa League success, with the two away goals making them firm favourites to advance to the final in Basel.

No team has won three consecutive European titles since Bayern Munich achieved the feat 40 years ago, and if Unai Emery’s side progress from next Thursday’s second leg in Spain, only Liverpool or Villarreal stand between them and a piece of history. The first leg of that tie ended 1-0 to Villarreal.

Sevilla have not won away from home all season in this competition and have managed just one victory on their travels in La Liga, so a draw in Lviv represents a fine achievement.

But their home form is excellent – they have won 14 of 18 league games at their Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium – meaning their bid to become the first team to win the Europa League three times in a row remains very much alive.

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Villarreal 1-0 Liverpool

 Posted by at 5:15 AM
Apr 292016
Liverpool will need at least three goals if Villarreal score at Anfield

Liverpool’s ambitions of reaching their first European final in almost a decade suffered a blow as Villarreal netted an injury-time winner in the first leg.

After a first half of few chances, Cedric Bakambu’s header clipped the Reds upright shortly after the break.

Liverpool went closest when Roberto Firmino’s low shot hit the post.

The Reds looked set for a creditable draw in Spain until they switched off to allow substitute Adrian Lopez to tap in Denis Suarez’s low cross.

Despite the dramatic winner, the Europa League semi-final still remains delicately poised before next Thursday’s return leg at Anfield.

The winners will face either Spanish holders Sevilla or Ukrainian side Shakhtar Donetsk, who drew 2-2 in their first leg, in the Swiss city of Basel on 18 May.

Relive all the late drama from El Madrigal

Football Daily podcast: ‘Klopp made a mistake’

Could late defensive lapse prove costly?

Liverpool have not reached a European final since losing to AC Milan in the 2007 Champions League showpiece, but a stoic display at La Liga’s fourth-placed team looked set to leave them a home win away from ending that barren run.

However, the Premier League side lost their defensive discipline in the final few seconds – and it could prove crucial.

Left-back Alberto Moreno wandered up field, leaving the space for former Manchester City youngster Suarez to exploit before squaring to Lopez for the easiest of finishes.

Moments before Villarreal’s winner, Spain defender Moreno raced forward on the counter-attack and lashed wide

BBC Radio 5 live summariser and former Reds defender Mark Lawrenson said: “Where did the left-back disappear to? Injury time at 0-0 in a Europa League semi-final – and he’s probably 70 metres up the pitch.

“0-0 would have been a very good result. All of a sudden because of one aberration you’re under pressure for the second leg.”

Liverpool will have to score at least twice to go through in 90 minutes at Anfield, but Villarreal know an away goal would mean the Reds then need a minimum of three.

Reds lack attacking threat

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side were installed as favourites to win Europe’s secondary club competition after their thrilling quarter-final win against Bundesliga club Borussia Dortmund.

Publicly the 48-year-old German insists there has been no thought about the possibility of reaching the final – but winning the trophy will cap an encouraging debut season with a place in next season’s Champions League.

His predecessor, Brendan Rodgers, named an inexperienced side in the Reds’ opening two matches in the competition, but Klopp has chosen stronger teams since arriving in early October.

However, he decided to play without a recognised striker at Villarreal, leaving England international Daniel Sturridge on the bench throughout – and the Reds offered little attacking threat.

Wales midfielder Joe Allen wasted the best chance in a tight first half, side-footing straight at home keeper Sergio Asenjo early on.

Further opportunities were rare, although Brazil forward Firmino – playing as Liverpool’s most advanced player – thumped an angled 12-yard drive against the base of the right post.

Villarreal pay Hillsborough tribute

Villarreal fans in El Madrigal’s South Stand held up the banner when the teams walked out

Liverpool were playing their first match since inquests concluded 96 Reds supporters who died as a result of a crush in the 1989 Hillsborough disaster were unlawfully killed.

Villarreal paid tribute to the victims by providing a banner – bearing the number 96 and Liverpool club slogan ‘You’ll Never Walk Alone’ – for their fans to hold up before kick-off.

“We were very saddened by the Hillsborough tragedy and we planned events to show the solidarity and support which our club and our fans have with Liverpool and those who were affected,” said the Spanish club.

‘This race is not over’

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp:

“Of course I’m not too happy with the goal we conceded in the last second. Counter-attacking in the 92nd minute makes not much sense – but it is only the first leg.

“It is 1-0 and they have to come to Anfield where we know how strong we are. We had our moments, we defended really good. This race is not over.

“If we had enough players around the box it was no problem but they played this one chip ball over Kolo [Toure], I don’t know where Alberto [Moreno] was in this moment but that was the only big mistake we made in this game and they scored with it.”

Villarreal manager Marcelino:

“Until the final whistle you can score or concede a goal and this time we were lucky enough to score in the very last minute.

“We managed a good result but we don’t know if it will be enough or not until the end of the tie.

“It was not an unfair result and we didn’t beat Liverpool by being lucky.”

Man of the match – Denis Suarez (Villarreal)

Denis Suarez’s prodigious talent caught the eye of Barcelona when they signed the then-teenager from Manchester City in 2013. And the 22-year-old winger, who joined Villarreal last summer, showed glimpses of his ability – including the alert run and calm pass for Lopez’s winner

What’s next?

Seventh-placed Liverpool return to Premier League action with a visit to 15th-placed Swansea on Sunday.

The Reds look unlikely to earn Champions League qualification through the Premier League, sitting nine points behind fourth-placed Arsenal with four matches left, although they do have a game in hand on the Gunners.

Villarreal are better positioned to earn La Liga’s final qualifying spot, holding a four-point advantage over Celta Vigo with three matches remaining.

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Apr 292016

BBC Sport’s football expert Mark Lawrenson is pitting his wits against a different guest each week this season.

Lawro’s opponents for this weekend Premier League fixtures is comedian and Brentford fan Nathan Caton.

Caton says his all-time favourite Brentford player is Kevin O’Connor, who played for the Bees between 1999 and 2015. He explained: “Kevin is a legend, an old-fashioned one-club man. I met him a few years back and he is not just a loyal servant, he is a nice guy too.”

Caton told BBC Sport: “The mighty Bees are my local club in west London and they are my team.

“The best moment I have had supporting them was either getting promoted to the Championship in 2014, or beating our neighbours Fulham 4-1 at Craven Cottage last season.

“I went to that game and it was brilliant to see all our goals go in.”

You can hear more of Caton’s tales of supporting Brentford on Football Focus at 12:10 BST on Saturday on BBC One and the BBC Sport website.

A correct result (picking a win, draw or defeat) is worth 10 points. The exact score earns 40 points.

Last weekend, Lawro got three correct results and no perfect scores from seven Premier League matches, to give him a total of 30 points.

He drew with world heavyweight champion boxer Anthony Joshua, who also got three results correct, with no perfect scores.

Lawro also picked up 40 points for correctly predicting Arsenal’s 3-0 win over West Brom on 21 April. Another world champion boxer, super-bantamweight Carl Frampton, also added 10 points to his score for choosing the right result.

Make your own predictions now, compare them to Lawro and other fans and try to take your team to the top of the leaderboard by playing the BBC Sport Predictor game.


All kick-offs 15:00 BST unless otherwise stated


Everton v Bournemouth

Bournemouth ended up losing 4-1 to Chelsea last week but that game was a lot closer than the scoreline suggests.

The Cherries will go on the attack, which should help Everton, and I am going to back the Toffees on the basis that they need to win a lot more than Bournemouth do.

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Highlights: Everton 1-2 Man Utd

Following their FA Cup semi-final defeat by Manchester United, the most important thing for Everton on Saturday is a win, followed by a good performance.

They need to send the punters home happy from Goodison Park – otherwise there really will be some flak flying around.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Caton’s prediction: Everton lost at Wembley last week but they played really well in the second half against United. 2-0

Newcastle v Crystal Palace

Crystal Palace are on a good run in the Premier League – they have only lost once in five games – and now they are in the FA Cup final as well.

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Highlights: Crystal Palace 2-1 Watford

Newcastle’s form has picked up too and you could argue this game is their cup final, which is why I am backing them to win it.

It adds a little bit of spice that this is Alan Pardew’s first game back at St James’ Park since he left Newcastle to take charge of Palace last year, but not much.

Pardew has moved on and so have Newcastle. Their current predicament has nothing to do with him.

Some of their fans might realise now that he was actually a good manager for Newcastle and, subsequently, I think he will get a good reception.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Caton’s prediction: Palace will be on a high after winning their semi-final but they might be saving themselves for the final, while Newcastle are scrapping. 1-0

Stoke v Sunderland

After being thrashed by Manchester City last week, Stoke have now conceded four goals in each of their past three games.

It looks like the Potters are on their holidays already, which I would not expect from a team managed by Mark Hughes.

Sunderland’s season is definitely not over, though. They are just trying to inch away from the relegation zone, but they are still in trouble because their performances have been better than their results.

The Black Cats have made themselves hard to beat, and have only lost one of their past seven games.

But they have only won one of their past seven too, and I think they might have to settle for another draw here. Their manager Sam Allardyce would probably be happy with that too.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Caton’s prediction: I have a sneaky feeling Sunderland will get something. 1-1

Watford v Aston Villa

Aston Villa are already in crisis and, if they sack their manager, Watford could soon be in one as well.

I know the Hornets did it last summer too, but I do not understand why Quique Sanchez Flores’ job is under threat.

Watford were seventh at Christmas and their form since has been poor, but they are still 12th.

If you flipped the season so their results in the past 10 games had come at the start, and they had recovered to where they are in the table now, we would be talking about how well they have done after looking like they are dead and buried.

Flores should be judged on where Watford finish and results over the whole season, not just the past couple of months.

I am not sure it will make any difference if his side beat Villa, but they will.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Caton’s prediction: Villa could play a bit better now that relegation has taken the weight off their shoulders, but I’m backing Watford. 2-0

West Brom v West Ham

West Ham have had an outstanding season but they are out of the FA Cup and have fallen out of contention for a top-four place too.

Their season will not just peter out because they will want to give Upton Park a big send-off with their last couple of home games against Swansea and Manchester United before they move to the Olympic Stadium – but I am not sure what to expect from them at The Hawthorns.

West Brom ended a run of three straight defeats with a draw against Tottenham on Monday.

Tony Pulis’ side never seem to have to wait too long to pick up a point – and when they get one decent result they tend to get two or three on the bounce.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-1

Caton’s prediction: West Ham are still going for a European spot and I think they will have too much for the Baggies. 1-3

Arsenal v Norwich (17:30 BST)

Mathematically, Arsenal’s title hopes ended last weekend but, realistically, they had been over for a lot longer.

The Gunners cannot just down tools because they still need some wins to make sure of a top-four finish. I do not see them having many problems getting one of them here.

Norwich have lost their past two games but, on top of that, their away form is dreadful.

The Canaries have scored only 13 goals in 17 games on the road this season, taking eight points from a possible 51. Only Newcastle and Aston Villa have fared worse, and I don’t see that record improving at the Emirates Stadium.

Lawro’s prediction: 2-0

Caton’s prediction: 3-0


Swansea v Liverpool (12:00 BST)

The Europa League is the priority for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, so with this game coming between both legs of their semi-final, I am expecting him to field some of his fringe players.

But even if Liverpool are not at full strength, Swansea will have to be much-improved on their showing against Leicester last weekend.

Like Stoke, they are another team who are now safe and some of their players might have half an eye on Euro 2016. Plus it does not help that the future of their manager, Francesco Guidolin, is in doubt too.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Caton’s prediction: This was the Brendan Rodgers derby – I guess it is the Joe Allen derby now. 1-2

Man Utd v Leicester (14:05 BST)

Claudio Ranieri caught everyone out with the way Leicester played without Jamie Vardy last week, bringing in Jeff Schlupp for Marc Albrighton.

The Foxes’ 4-0 win was such a good result but it was against Swansea, who were abysmal.

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Tom Hanks: I put money on Leicester City to win Premier League

This is not a must-win game for Leicester but it is for Manchester United, who need a victory to stay in touch with the top four.

I would still maintain that whatever happens in the FA Cup final, United boss Louis van Gaal needs to finish fourth or better to keep his job.

Leicester will just sit in at Old Trafford and United are not great at breaking down teams who do that.

I think it will be a draw, which would be a decent result for Leicester, although it would prolong the title race to Monday night when Tottenham play Chelsea.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Caton’s prediction: Oh, this is a massive game. If United play like they did in the first half of their FA Cup semi-final against Everton then I can’t see them losing. With Leicester striker Jamie Vardy still suspended I am going for United to shade it. 2-1

Southampton v Man City (16:30 BST)

I still cannot work out whether Manchester City’s 0-0 draw with Real Madrid at Etihad Stadium in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final was a good result or not.

This game comes three days before the return at the Bernabeu but I think City will win at St Mary’s because they know they are close to securing a top-four place.

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Man City: Real Madrid are not favourites – Manuel Pellegrini

Southampton are in good shape too, with only one defeat in their past seven games overall and four wins in their past six at home, but I think City will deal with them.

As for the Real game, I think City will score in Spain but I also think Madrid will go through.

Lawro’s prediction: 0-2

Caton’s prediction: Both teams are on form, but City might want it a bit more to cement a top-four place. 2-3


Chelsea v Tottenham (20:00 BST)

If Leicester draw at Old Trafford on Sunday and Tottenham drop points too then the title race is all over.

It is clear that Chelsea’s fans would love Spurs to miss out – and so would the some of the Blues’ players. In fact, Eden Hazard spoke out about it this week.

I think they might get their wish.

Lawro’s prediction: 1-1

Caton’s prediction: Chelsea will not let Tottenham beat them, I know that for a fact. So as good as Spurs are playing, Chelsea will be playing their hearts out to let Leicester win the league. 2-2

Lawro was speaking to BBC Sport’s Chris Bevan.

*Does not include score for postponed games

Lawro’s best score: 160 points (week 19 v Guy Mowbray)

Lawro’s worst score: 20 points (week one v Graeme Swann & week 23 v Ice Cube and Kevin Hart)

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