It’s been a minute and then some since a post was made here last, but I wanted to let you know that Team Player 90 has undergone much needed structural changes, and has been reborn as Her 90 Minutes!
I am very excited to restart this ‘project’ with a clearer and more mature mind, and can’t wait to start talking about football again. Thank you immensely for your support on this site, and I hope you will carry this same energy on to the new site.
Yes, it is back and yesterday was the first match of the season.
League runners-up Liverpool hosted promoted side Norwich City at Anfield for the first match of Matchday 1.
Liverpool got the first goal of the season after just 7 minutes, but it was through no effort of their own.
Norwich City’s Grant Hanley tried to clear the ball but sliced it past his own keeper instead.
Grant Hanley (left) looks dejected as Bobby Firmino celebrates Hanley’s own goal. (Photo: REUTERS)
Liverpool went on to score 3 goals before halftime, showing absolutely no mercy to the new kids on the block.
However, it came at a cost. Liverpool goalkeeper, Alisson slipped while trying to get the ball and sustained an injury to his calf. He had to be substituted by new signing Adrian.
The visitors managed to get one back near the end of the game, but by then, the damage was already done.
Liverpool won their first match of the season with 3 goals difference and the first goal of the new season was an own goal. A sign of things to come or can this ominous beginning be changed by future matches?
He literally came with instructions and he blew it. He had one job: drink water.29-year old footballer Danny Drinkwater has been charged by the Stockport Magistrate Court for drink-driving after crashing his Range Rover into a wall about 30 minutes after midnight on 8 April, causing damages worth £50,000.He claimed to have been on his way back from a function and his friend was supposed to drive him back, but was unable to, so Danny decided to drive himself and two female passengers while drunk.The prosecutor, Subi Chowdhury said Drinkwater had called emergency services himself after the incident and admitted to drink-driving while talking to the police.When he was tested at Middlewich Police Station, he had 87 microgrammes of alcohol in 100 millimeters of breath while the legal limit is 35 microgrammes only.He suffered a graze to his forehead and the two female passengers were treated for minor injuries as well.His defense lawyer, Robin Sellars, said Danny Drinkwater has had no previous convictions and asked for him to be punished with a fine rather than community service, adding that the footballer was “fully compliant” with the police.
“He only had himself to blame. He understands he’s done wrong.He instructs me he will be employing a driver.”- Robin Sellars in Drinkwater’s defense
But District Judge Mark Hadfield rejected this and sentenced him to a 12-month community order with 70 hours’ community service.The former Manchester United trainee was also ordered to pay £85 prosecution costs and an £85 victim surcharge.Mr Hadfield said: “You knew when you got behind the wheel of that vehicle you should not have been driving.”Danny Drinkwater was handed with a 20-month driving ban and 70 hours of community service.
He was a product of Manchester United’s youth academy but never made a senior appearance as he went on loan to Huddersfield, Watford, Cardiff and Barnsley, eventually ending up in Leicester City in 2012. He was among Leicester City’s Premier League winning team in the 2015-16 season under Claudio Ranieri and was called to England’s senior team for the first time as a result of his performance with Leicester.He made his debut against Norway in 2016.He left Leicester for Chelsea in September 2017 in a £ 35 million deal following in the footsteps of teammate N’ Golo Kante.He played 22 times in all competitions as his first season was disturbed by injury, but under new manager Mauricio Sarri, he hasn’t gotten any Premier League playing time, just a Community Shield appearance.
And it’s all over. The Premier League season is done and what an interesting season it has been.
We’ve gone through managers and players, some even switching teams during this season, and we’ve had happy times and heartbreaks.
There are some major talking points from this season, the most important being…
MANCHESTER CITY WON THE LEAGUE!!
And by only one point over Liverpool. But the Reds have assured the second time champions that they are still very much around and will be coming back with a vengeance. This makes it City’s 4th Premier League win and their second one in a row.
MANCHESTER UNITED WAS BEATEN BY A RELEGATED TEAM
Winning has really not been United’s forte these recent times, as they’ve only won 3 out of 23 league fixtures. They decided to end the league by losing 2-nil at home to 18th placed Cardiff City who won’t even be here next season. Well Ole has a whole summer to sort his squad out so let’s hope next season is better.
EPL GOLDEN BOOT WON BY THREE AFRICAN PLAYERS
Three African players shared the top-scorer title: Mohammed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool), Sadio Mané (Senegal, Liverpool) and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon, Arsenal) all scored 22 goals to emerge as the joint winners of the EPL Golden Boot. Great news for Jürgen Klopp to have two of his players as top goal scorers at the end of the season. It just goes to show how close Liverpool was to winning the league.
There were other Premier League awards given on Sunday, like the Golden Glove which went to Liverpool’s Alisson Becker who had 21 clean sheets this season and the EPL Playmaker Award went to Eden Hazard from Chelsea for his high total of 15 assists this season.
Yesterday all teams played their final matches and here are all the scores:
The Europa League semi-finals were played on Thursday night. And what a night that was.
Two Premier League teams, Chelsea and Arsenal played against Eintracht Frankfurt and Valencia respectively.
Chelsea and Eintracht met again and with a one-all score from the first leg so the reunion was acted out on a level playing field.
The Germans came out pulling all the stops but it was Chelsea who had the lead by half-time, with a goal from Ruben Loftus-Cheek. This definitely put pressure on the visitors to produce a response. And they did.
With the score at 1-1 and the aggregate at 2-2 at full time, the two teams played for an extra 33 minutes and even then there was no headway.
The game went into penalties, with Chelsea winning 4-3.
Arsenal’s story however, was not so unpredictable.
They went into the second leg with a 3-1 advantage and so had the obvious upper hand over their La Liga hosts.
Valencia had a shaky start in the game and if not for the unexpected dramas and sagas in the Champions League, Arsenal could have been so sure of the final.
At half-time, the score was 1-1, but Arsenal showed how much they wanted this by beating the La Liga team 4-2, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang scoring 3 goals and striking partner Alexandre Lacazette completing the score.
That left the aggregate at a whopping 3-7 and Arsenal joining their London brothers in the Europa League final.
What a time for English football, especially considering their World Cup heartbreak last year.
To have two English teams in the Champions League final and two English teams reach the Europa League finals as well, it seems like England is in full control of Europe right now.
So you probably already know this, but unless you’ve been under a rock and just came out, today’s trending football headline is about Tottenham Hotspur. Why?
Well it’s partly because Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino chose to use 5-foot-10 Kieran Trippier to mark spritely 6-foot-2 Matthijs de Ligt, but it’s mostly because of this:
They had a 1-0 aggregate from the first leg of the semi-finals and then a goal from 19 year old Ajax captain Matthijs de Ligt (pronounced Matthias Delete) in the 5th minute and another in the 35th by Hakim Ziyech pushed their goal deficit up to 3.
Spurs’ Brazilian Lucas Moura proceeded to completely blow the minds of all watching and all who would later hear of this story by scoring a hat-trick.
His first goal in the 55th minute was quickly followed by another 4 minutes later, causing Spurs to equalise with their Dutch hosts at the Johan Cruyff (Dutch: Cruijff) Stadium.
10 minutes to the end of the game, Spurs had hounded Ajax continuously and looked quite ragged. That didn’t stop them from making some really close attempts though, as Hugo Lloris had to pay attention to their attacking.
Lucas Moura and Dele Alli set up a goal and a lot of people don’t know how exactly it went in (and in the 6th minute of their allotted 9 minutes of extra time at that). That doesn’t matter now because it did go in and Tottenham reached the final on away goals.
This result is especially amazing because they were not at home and the only other team in the history of this competition to lose the first leg of the semis and then progress to the finals is Ajax.
Also, this final is now the third European competition final with two English teams in it (1972: Spurs vs Wolves in the UEFA Europa League and 2008: Manchester United and Chelsea in the Champions League).
The entire stadium was a whole mix of emotions and the pitch was flooded with tears. Tears of sadness from the heartbreak felt by Ajax and actual tears of joy from Tottenham.
And their usually tight-lipped manager, Mauricio Pochettino, well he was the picture of elation, and after the match he kept saying that his players were superheroes.
Matthijs de Ligt however, felt that Ajax should have scored more goals and didn’t deserve to get their dreams crushes like this after everything they’ve come through.
The away dressing room was loud and full of celebrations, rightfully so as that epic comeback means they are on their way to their first ever Champions League final.
So the first thing I thought when I saw the scores was ‘No way’. And then I saw the scorers and I said ‘No way’ again. And then the realisation hit, but even now it doesn’t feel real that Liverpool could make Barcelona bow like that – but they did.
In last night’s epic match, (possibly the biggest comeback match in European Cup/Champions League recent history), a seemingly disadvantaged Liverpool destroyed the 3-0 lead advantage that Barcelona had going into the second leg match.
Two unlikely players which a lot of mainstream football fans probably won’t know of: Divok Origi (Belgian born son of Kenyan footballer Mike Origi) and Georginio Wjinaldum (pronounced whine-al-dum) were in the spotlight.
Origi has become sort of a Liverpool cult hero among fans now considering he made the Spanish Giants look like a mismatched bag of limbs and scored two very important goals.
He scored the first goal in the 7th minute, after Barcelona keeper Ter Stegen blocked an attempt on goal by pushing the ball right back to him. There was a penalty call when Sadio Mané went down and many other fouls during the first half. Barca was still trying to score at this time.
But it was still obvious they were not great. Messi, whom everyone seems to be hounding at the moment, looked like he had weights tied on him and was moving much slower than a person who wanted to get his team to the finals of the Champions League.
At half-time, there was still hope, as Liverpool had to score at least 2 goals to even have a chance and although they were playing better, no one could have thought the visitors wouldn’t fight back. But we were mistaken. So very mistaken.
Not only did they retreat and release Alisson Becker from stress by shooting at the air, their defending was porous and sad. The Scousers took good advantage of this and half-time substitute Wjinaldum actually scored 2 goals.
He came on in the 46th minute for Andy Robertson who was unable to continue and with help from Xherdan Shaqiri, he scored 2 goals in 2 minutes less than 10 minutes later.
At this point, Liverpool had already levelled; their future was secure. Thanks to youngster Trent Alexander-Arnold’s daring confidence and quick thinking, Divok Origi scored again thereby effectively sealing the fate of their Spanish visitors.
As is expected, everyone had something to say, even people who don’t like football or even properly understood what exactly went down. However, there were also comments from the actual authorities in the sport.
Former Manchester United and Real Madrid manager Jose Mourinho compared Barcelona to an under-14 team, focusing on the goal which Alexander-Arnold set up.
He said if that had happened to an under-14 team, everyone would have said, “The kids are sleeping. They are not playing well.” And now we have a team like this playing like that.
Divok Origi chose to describe last night as “special and unbelievable” and one he surely won’t forget in a hurry.
Manager Jürgen Klopp who had said 4 goals were needed to advance, got what he asked for and thanked the fans as well after the game.
“We know this club is the mix of atmosphere, emotion, desire and football quality. Cut off one and it doesn’t work – we know that.
I’ve said it before. If I have to describe this club then it’s a big heart and tonight it was obviously like crazy, pounding like crazy. You could hear it and probably feel it all over the world.
I’m so happy we could give the people this experience and I’m really happy about having another chance to get things right from our point of view.”
– Jürgen Klopp
This makes Liverpool the second English club to consecutively reach the Champions League finals, after only Manchester United in 2008 and 2009.
Honestly they shouldn’t be asked to play that last Premier League game. They should just be given the trophy based on this performance.
Now you didn’t think we had forgotten about the Europa League, did you?
As the ‘younger brother’ of the Champions League, it often gets looked at as the second-rate League for second-rate European League.
Aaron Ramsey (14), Kalidou Koulibaly (25 own goal)
Arsenal scored two early goals to see them get an advantage over Napoli in the second leg.
Mesut Özil, Aaron Ramsey and Alexandre Lacazette combined forces, and Ainsely Maitland-Niles finally set it up for Aaron Ramsey to return and score from inside the box.
Ramsey and Maitland-Niles had both been blocked from scoring by Kalidou Koulibaly before their combined effort provided a goal in the 14th minute, proving that if at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again, literally.
And then, Lucas Torreira won the ball in the Napoli half, broke up the play and sped towards the goal, before hitting home – but, and this is a big but- there was a deflection off Kalidou Koulibaly, a Napoli player of ‘colour’. And then this led to some racist remarks against him.
Arsenal and Napoli had other chances but failed to convert them. The home team definitely looked more dominant, but the second leg will ultimately determine who goes forward.
Slavia Praha 0
Marcus Alonso (86)
Chelsea gave a sub-par performance, in tune with their English team counterparts in the Champions League.
Slavia Praha started quickly, with two minutes being enough to attempt a goal, but Simon Deli could not direct his header into the net.
In the first half, Chelsea sputtered and fumbled without a single shot on target besides Willian’s shot at the goal post.
When the visitors came out in the second half, however, they returned with renewed vigor, as they began to look like the superior team. Olivier Giroud’s attempt went wide, and Antonio Rudiger shot low but was blocked by Kolar’s feet.
Alonso ghosted into the game in the 86th minute, to catch a cross from Brazilian teammate Willian and headed it past Slavia’s keeper.
With this result, Chelsea has the advantage for the next leg and hopefully for their Premier League match against Liverpool on Sunday.
João Félix (Penalty goal-21, 43, 54), Rúben Días (50)
Eintracht Frankfurt 2
Luka Jović (40), Gonçalo Paciência (72)
It was a busy night for two main people on the pitch on Thursday night: João Félix and referee Anthony Taylor.
Teenager João Félix, a graduate of Benefica’s academy, set a record in Europe, as the youngest ever player to score a hat-trick in the Europa League at 19 years and 152 days. (The days are important!)
The record was previously held by Marko Pjaca who played for Dinamo Zagreb against Celtic in 2014 at 19 years and 219 days.
English referee Anthony Taylor awarded one penalty and a red card against Eintracht’s Evan Ndicka.
Santi Cazorla (Penalty goal-36)
Gonçalo Guedes (6, 90+3), Daniel Wass (90)
Valencia scored their goal first in the 6th minute, being the quickest to rebound to Villareal’s Dani Parejo’s penalty miss, but Villarreal equalised through a successful penalty of their own.
The game looked an agreed draw, until Valencia took it upon themselves to score in the match’s dying minutes, effectively shattering the dreams of their hosts. (Not very polite.)
This has been the song Villarreal has been singing for a while now; feeling that the victory is theirs until it is snatched away from them.
Another English referee, Michael Oliver, was the main man on the pitch, as he awarded two penalties.
By the way, what do you think about the new match score format? Is this way better or worse?
Please let me know in the comments and thanks for reading.
Is this the Champions League or the Champignons League, because the mushrooms seem more interesting than some of the results and matches being played.
What’s wrong with the Champions League? Does no one actually want to win this? Because I’m confused and so are other fans.
Everyone’s playing so badly. Or are they tired of trying?
Manchester United 0 – Barcelona 1
This match confused me to say the least. I believe that the teams in the quarter-final should be top ones and yet, many play such uninteresting football with a lack of determination.
Manchester United went in as the obvious underdogs but had the so-called ‘home advantage’. Barcelona, rulers of La Liga, were favourites to win, with #MessiinManchester trending for about a week now.
So why, pray tell, was the match so flat?
Barcelona played ‘less worse’ than United and that was the main reason they shone. Their stats were high because the Red Devils didn’t even try. A number of times, the ball rolled past players with no one moving to catch it. Passes were sloppy and both teams did not play like they had any objectives.
Ten minutes after kick off, Barcelona began a two minute play which consisted of forty-eight passes led to a header by Luis Suarez and a deflection off Luke Shaw and the only goal of the match.
The ball looked liked it had been pushed by the Uruguayan’s shoulder not his head, but through VAR, the goal was awarded anyway. (Such great software.)
Luke Shaw then went on to get himself booked, ruling him out of the next leg. As did Sergio Busquets for a foul on Paul Pogba.
The goal seemed to awaken something in the hosts, as Chris Smalling’s aggressiveness led to a rearrangement of Lionel Messi’s face and a bloody nose which kept him subdued for the rest of the match.
Apart from the chance missed by Diogo Dalot and Philippe Coutinho’s shot blocked by De Gea’s boot, the match remained uneventful, as Barcelona stayed on their side of the pitch for most of the rest of the second half.
Manchester United missed their chance to get one up on a sub-par Barcelona and at home which was a wasted gift, if you ask me. That definitely won’t be the case in the next leg and it would take some magic greater than the PSG miracle from the round of 16 for United to progress.
Ajax 1 – Juventus 1
‘The Old Lady’ definitely brought game to Amsterdam last night, as the great CR7 made his presence known after fumbling for most of the first half, mostly through no fault of his own, but Ajax really brought the heat with rapid fire attacks.
The hosts played beautiful football and had many attempts at goal, with a dangerous one from duo Dusan Tadic and Hakim Ziyech but Juventus keeper, Wojciech Szczensy, stopped the wonderful effort from being a ‘goal of the season’ contender.
A few minutes to half-time, however the match tipped in favour of the visitors when Ronaldo ran about 40 yards to catch a cross from fellow Portuguese Joao Cancelo and headed it home blazing past Andre Onana.
This marked Ronaldo’s eighth goal against Ajax and his twenty-fourth Champions League goal in twenty appearances. Just shows that he is the GOAT.
But this goal, if anything, just intensified the determination of the Sons of God, with Matthijs de Ligt running all over the pitch, terrorising the Italian club.
And so thirty seconds after return from half-time, Ajax’s David Neres took advantage of a cheap mistake by Cancelo and weaved through the defense before curling a sweet shot in the right corner of the net, leaving Szczensy with no chance. (That’s a hard name to type.)
Ajax piled on pressure with two other attempts and Juventus were denied a penalty based on VAR. (Again, such great software.)
Nineteen year old Ajax substitute, Jürgen Ekkelenkamp (these names though) took a shot at goal which was stopped by Juve’s keeper. Douglas Costa who came on for Mario Mandzukic wriggled past two Ajax players, only to hit the bar.
This leaves the score even, giving Juventus a slight edge, as the next leg will be played in Turin.
The first matches of the UEFA Champions League final were played last night.
Tottenham 1 – Manchester City 0
Manchester City went to Tottenham last night and the performance they put on was very unlike them and below standard. Tottenham on the other hand, encouraged by the new stadium and feeding off the excitement of their fans and the ‘home advantage’ did not disappoint.
Tottenham’s goalie, Hugo Lloris had suffered a bad run in their last Premier League match by letting in a cheap Liverpool goal but he redeemed himself by blocking a potentially dangerous penalty from Sergio Agüero.
However, the goalkeeper was not the only reason City was unable to score yesterday. Tottenham really held City all over the pitch, with Harry Winks showing extreme maturity with his defending and attacking.
Tottenham overcame Agüero’s penalty scare and Harry Kane’s injury which resulted from a struggle with Fabian Delph.
Son’s goal in the later parts of the match was well-deserved and it sealed the deal for Tottenham.
Were Manchester City looking at this match as a walk over? Did they all have Kevin De Bruyne’s sentiment about there being no relation between a new stadium, loud, energetic supporters and match success?
Well whatever they felt, Man City only have themselves to blame and cannot complain. They should have remembered last year’s incident with fellow English club, Liverpool. Only gratitude is expected as Tottenham’s Heung-Min Son scored only one goal.
Liverpool 2 – Porto 0
Liverpool and Porto faced off at Anfield for the first leg of the quarter-final.
Manager Jürgen Klopp said he was left ‘satisfied’ by the performance of his team and of the final result.
Maybe it was underestimation, or maybe it was the bitter cold, but Liverpool’s performance was quite average, even below average at times. Many times, Porto had the upper hand and had a try at goal in the second minute, when Moussa Marega made a shot that went a little too wide.
But three minutes later, Guinean footballer Naby Keïta scored his second goal in two games. His shot was deflected of Porto midfielder, Oliver Torres and could not be stopped by keeper Iker Casillas.
After this Mohamed Salah attempted two shots on goal (one which was as the result of a sloppy Porto pass) and then, in the twenty-fifth minute, Jordan Henderson cut up the visitors’ defense and sent a superb pass to Trent Alexander-Arnold.
The youngster passed to Roberto Firmino who tapped in the ball from close range.
Firmino had another chance to score but kicked the ball from Henderson over the bar.
Sadio Mané had a chance but the goal was ruled as offside. And besides this and Marega’s two other dangerous attempts which were saved by Liverpool’s Allison Becker, there were not really any other attempts in the scrappy second half.
Liverpool might regret their sloppy play in the second leg, because a two goal deficit is easy to overcome, should Porto bring this same fighting spirit.