Coman a doubt for Liverpool clash as Bayern fear serious injury

Bayern Munich have serious concern for winger Kingsley Coman ahead of their Champions League clash with Liverpool after the attacker was forced off against Augsburg with an injury to his twice-operated on left ankle. 

Coman appeared to pick up a knock in a duel with an Augsburg defender late on in Bayern’s 3-2 win, with the 22-year-old going off despite his side having used all three substitutions.

Niko Kovac admitted the situation looked serious after the match and said they would learn more after tests on Saturday.

“It does not look good,” Kovac told Eurosport. “We’ll have to investigate it tomorrow to find out more.”

The star winger has suffered through multiple injuries to the same ankle over the past 12 months.

Coman required surgery for the injury last season, which cost him much of the second half of the year as well as ruled him out for France for the 2018 World Cup.

Returning to start the Bundesliga season, Coman went down with the same injury in this year’s league opener, requiring another surgery and sidelining him until December. 

The youngster had previously said in December he would consider retirement if his ankle problems continued, though Bayern chief Karl-Heinz Rummenigge encouraged him to stop such thoughts. 

Coman proved vital for the Bundesliga champions in the victory Friday, scoring two goals and erasing a one-goal Bayern deficit each time.

An own goal by Leon Goretzka a minute into the contest put Bayern down early only for Coman to pull them level, while Dong-Won Ji’s 23rd minute tally saw Augsburg in front until the Frenchman leveled the proceedings in first half stoppage time.

It was Coman’s second Bundesliga brace, with it coming nearly two years after his first in February 2017 against Hamburg.

The winger then turned provider, as he picked up the assist on David Alaba’s winning goal in the 53rd minute.

The victory closed Bayern’s gap to Borussia Dortmund at the top of the table to just two points, with the current leaders not in action until Monday against Nurnberg as they look to bounce back from their Champions League first leg defeat to Tottenham at Wembley midweek.

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Bayern now face a nervy wait on Coman ahead of their own round of 16 tie against Premier League opposition, as they host Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool on Tuesday.

The German giants will already be without forward Thomas Muller, who is suspended for the tie after a red card for a dangerous challenge on Ajax defender Nicolas Tagliafico.

They will also be without Arjen Robben and Corentin Tolisso, though goalkeeper Manuel Neuer returned to start the victory over Augsburg.


Ronaldo scores and assists in three straight games for second time in career

Cristiano Ronaldo proved his importance to Juventus once again as he scored and assisted in a match for the third time in a row on Friday.

The 34-year-old helped fire the Serie A leaders to a 3-0 win over Frosinone when he set Paulo Dybala up for the opening goal and then netted his side’s third in the second half.

Having also notched goals and assists against Parma and Sassuolo in the previous two league games, he is on a rare run of form of playing the dual role of scorer and provider for the defending champions.

It is the second time in the 33-year-old’s career that he has scored and set up goals in three games in a row. The last time he put such run together was in November 2014, when he was still with Real Madrid.

Ronaldo’s 19th goal extends his lead at the top of the Serie A goal chart, while he now has made the joint-most assists in the league after getting his eighth of the season against Frosinone.

The 27 Serie A goals he has played a role in is an impressive 52% of his side’s total in the top flight.

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Ronaldo was not the only one showing off his consistency. Leonardo Bonucci’s goal on Friday makes him one of just five defenders to have scored at least two goals in each of the last six seasons in one of Europe’s top five leagues. He is in esteemed company, as Real Madrid duo Sergio Ramos and Marcelo, Barcelona’s Gerard Pique and Arsenal centre-back Laurent Koscielny are the others to have done so.

After extending their lead at the top of Serie A to 14 points, Juve turn their attention to the first-leg of their Champions League last-16 tie with Atletico Madrid on Wednesday.

The Serie A leaders will then return to league play on February 24 when they take on Bologna.


Guardiola ‘sad and sorry’ for keeping Mahrez out of Man City team

Pep Guardiola says he is “sad” and “sorry” that Manchester City record signing Riyad Mahrez has not started a Premier League match since the end of December.

Mahrez joined from Leicester for £60 million last summer and was ultimately the Premier League champions’ only senior signing, after a move for Jorginho collapsed.

The Algerian started to find his feet in Guardiola’s side in the autumn, but found games harder to come by over Christmas and has virtually vanished from the Premier League set-up in the past six weeks.

Guardiola picked the 27-year-old for all four games in the FA Cup and Carabao Cup in January, but left him out of the match day squad to face Huddersfield and kept him on the bench against Liverpool, Wolves, Newcastle and Everton.

Goal reported in the wake of that Huddersfield game that Mahrez had become unhappy with his league playing time, and he has had to make do with late cameos against Arsenal and Chelsea since.

Guardiola was initially coy when asked why Mahrez has not played, before insisting that the winger has done nothing wrong and is not upset, although he did urge him to “keep going and not complain too much”.

“Yeah, I have a reason,” Guardiola said at his press conference. Pressed further, he continued: “My reason. I am the reason. I am the reason. He is not absolutely guilty or he doesn’t feel any special reason why.

“I am sad because he is training incredibly, he is an incredibly talented player but in this moment we have five strikers, for example the last games Leroy [Sane] hasn’t played either. We have incredible players, like for example Bernardo [Silva] and Raz [Sterling] are in top, top form and that is the only reason why, there’s no particular reason, like being upset or something like that.

“He is a guy we are happy with, but unfortunately I am not kind with him, in the fact I cannot give him the minutes he deserves, so I’m sorry, that’s all I can say.”

Guardiola also insists that had Mahrez been given a consistent run of games, he would be performing at the same high level as his team-mates.

“I am unfair in the fact that if he had played the minutes that the others had played he would have been in the top level like the players who are playing,” he added. 

“It’s not easy for one guy who does not play regularly to come in and play at a high, high level. He has a level but give him five or six games in a row playing he is going to play at the level of Sterling or Bernardo or the players who play, because in two months when we played four or five games in a row he was incredible, outstanding.

“I don’t have any doubts about his quality, just to keep going, not complain too much, move forward and fight more and more and more, his time is coming. It’s coming and I’m pretty sure he is going to play good.”

Guardiola also says he “misses” Benjamin Mendy’s presence in the City team, but says he cannot “cry” about it given how they have replaced him and continued to fight for trophies.

Mendy is now nearing a fresh comeback from a knee injury, having made a 27-minute outing in the Carabao Cup semi-final at the end of January, only to miss the next five games.

He will not feature against Newport in the FA Cup on Saturday although Goal understands he will return to full training next week.

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“I said many times we miss him, I miss him,” the Catalan said. “He gives us something special, but he has been a long time injured and he cannot come back and immediately play, he has to be in the rhythm of what we want to do.

“But at the same time in these two seasons we cannot complain too much, in the sense that we solved it, with Fabian [Delph], with Oleks [Zinchenko], with Danilo and another solution with Ayme [Laporte], but of course he’s the only natural player in that position and hopefully he comes back.

“We miss him but we cannot be crying because he is not there. We have to move forward, wait for him, [he has to] prepare himself and come back, he will be fit, understand what we want to do and fight for his mate to take his position.”


‘Ndombele can be a new Pogba’ – Lyon coach Genesio hails Juventus & Man City target

Tanguy Ndombele “can be a new Paul Pogba” according to Lyon coach Bruno Genesio, who is unsurprised that the France midfielder has been linked with Juventus.

Ndombele has thrived since arriving at Lyon – initially on loan from Amiens – in 2017 and has impressed in the Champions League as well as Ligue 1 this term, also catching the eye of Manchester City and Juve among others.

The 22-year-old received his first call up for Les Bleus in October and Genesio believes Ndombele has every chance of replicating his compatriot Pogba in going on to star at Juve should a move to Turin materialise.

“He is strong physically and above all technically,” Genesio told Italian publication Tuttosport.

“With the first touch he manages to pass even three players, and when he starts he is difficult to stop.

“He’s precise with his passing, he has a nice dribble. I do not like comparisons, but in fact Ndombele can be a new Pogba.

“Tanguy will become a top club midfielder so I would not be surprised to see him at Juve in the future. But as I am his coach, I would like to enjoy him a little more here at Lyon.”

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Ndombele has made 33 appearances in all competitions for Lyon so far this term, but has scored just two goals – which both came in group-stage matches against Hoffenheim in the Champions League – and Genesio believes that the youngster must become more clinical in attack to reach his full potential.

“Tanguy can play in all midfield roles, he started scoring, but in the future I expect him to grow in terms of goals. He must become a midfielder with eight to 10 goals per season.”

Ndombele signed a contract extension with Lyon in September, tying him to the club until 2023. 


QPR 0 Watford 1: Capoue strike secures quarter-final berth

Watford edged into the FA Cup quarter-finals as Etienne Capoue’s volley proved enough to see off Championship side QPR 1-0 at Loftus Road.

With Matt Smith, Massimo Luongo and Nahki Wells having passed up opportunities to put the hosts ahead, Capoue struck in clinical fashion on the stroke of half-time.

QPR rallied after the interval, Wells failing to capitalise on a Christian Kabasele error, although Andre Gray had a goal incorrectly ruled out for offside.

That decision almost came back to haunt Watford in the closing stages, but Toni Leistner somehow fired wide of an open goal as Javi Gracia’s side held firm to book their place in the last eight.

Jose Holebas’ swift reactions denied Smith a free header in the 24th minute, with Daryl Janmaat then prodding wide at the other end.

Unsure goalkeeping from Heurelho Gomes almost proved costly soon after, but Luongo’s effort looped inches off target, with Watford’s shot-stopper atoning for his error when he kept out Wells’ low strike.

That save paid further dividends in first-half stoppage time, Capoue sweeping in on the volley after connecting with Tom Cleverley’s scuffed shot.

Kabasele’s dreadful clearance allowed Wells to pounce just after the hour, only for the Burnley loanee to rush his effort and curl wide.

Gray seemed to have doubled Watford’s advantage 10 minutes later, though an errant offside flag cut his celebrations short.

Leistner should have made that good fortune count to take the game to extra time but he failed to hit the target from point-blank range as QPR’s cup run came to an end.