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EUROPA League

Man United boost as Rashford, Shaw travel to Sevilla

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Europa League - Manchester United Press Conference - Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, Seville, Spain - April 19, 2023 Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag during the press conference REUTERS/Marcelo Del Pozo

Striker Marcus Rashford and defender Luke Shaw have recovered from injuries to improve Manchester United’s chances of making the Europa League semi-finals, manager Erik ten Hag said ahead of their quarter-final second leg against Sevilla.

The England internationals travelled to Spain with the rest of the squad as United bid to advance on Thursday after last week’s disappointing 2-2 draw at Old Trafford.

“They are available because that’s why they’re in the airplane, but I’ll take my decisions tomorrow,” Ten Hag told a news conference on Wednesday.

“Marcus had one session with the team (prior to today), but he had some more individually.”

Rashford missed the first leg due to a groin injury while Shaw has been nursing a hamstring problem.

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United conceded two late own goals to allow Sevilla to draw the first leg after Marcel Sabitzer’s quickfire double in the first half put them in control of the tie.

“We let them in the game, I think, in the first game,” midfielder Christian Eriksen said. “We had good control for the first hour.

“They’ve had a lot of different coaches this season, but they are now starting to win games and being in a bit safer spot. They’re very direct, they’re in a good shape.”

Ten Hag is looking for more from his strikers.

“I think defensively we’re good, with I think most clean sheets in the Premier League. Our organisation, all over the pitch, is good. In attack… we should have scored more goals during the whole season,” Ten Haag said.

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“But I’m confident, especially now that we have all the players on board, that we should score in every game and I’m confident we can do that tomorrow as well.”

United will be without midfielder Scott McTominay and defenders Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez, who has been ruled out for the rest of the season due to a fractured foot.

Midfielder Bruno Fernandes is suspended after picking up a yellow card in the first game against Sevilla.

United are third in the Premier League on 59 points, three above fourth-placed Newcastle United.

-Reuters

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Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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EUROPA League

Manchester United may be denied Europa League slot

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Manchester United Loses Coach To MLS Side Minnesota United -

It is not yet certain for Manchester United if the struggling former giants will play in the Europa League despite winning the FA Cup.

The club will discover their Europa League fate after UEFA threaten relegation

They have been left concerned they could be relegated to the Europa Conference League after Nice, who Sir Jim Ratcliffe also owns, qualified for the Europa League

According to British publication, Mirror, Manchester United will be allowed to play in the Europa League after UEFA came to a decision on their future in the competition.

Though they finished eighth in the Premier League, Erik ten Hag’s side won the FA Cup. That win earned them automatic qualification to Europe’s second-tier competition for next season.

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But there had been some doubt that they would be allowed to play in the competition after Nice also qualified.

The French side are also owned by Sir Jim Ratcliffe through his INEOS chemical company.They finished fifth in Ligue 1 in the season just gone and UEFA rules state that clubs owned by the same company are not allowed to play in the same European competition.

Normally, the team that finished lower in their respective league would be relegated to the Europa Conference League, in this case United.

But according to The Times, both United and Nice will be allowed to play in the Europa league next term. UEFA’s Club Financial Control Board is due to issue a ruling on multi-club ownership issues on Monday.

It is expected that the CFCB will give their approval to United playing alongside Nice, subject to certain conditions. They will also be warned that the upcoming campaign will be viewed as a transitional one and this leeway will not be given in future years.

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The CFCB is also set to rule that Nice should be operated via a ‘blind trust’ by a panel approved by UEFA. It is a model that was used by AC Milan and Toulouse this season, with both clubs being owned by Red Bird Capital.

It is reported that a UEFA document on multi-club ownership says a blind trust would be a ‘temporary alternative… granted on an exceptional basis for the 2024-25 Uefa competitions’. It also states that UEFA’s multi-club ownership rule may be changed for future seasons.

INEOS only own 27.7 percent of United, but Ratcliffe has been handed control of the club’s football and business operations by majority owners the Glazer family. The British billionaire previously bought Nice in 2019.

Ratcliffe also owns Swiss Super League side Lausanne-Sport, though they have not qualified for a European competition for next year. The ruling around multi-club ownership also affects Manchester City.

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Hat-trick hero Lookman takes winding road to Europa League triumph

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 Europa League - Final - Atalanta v Bayer Leverkusen - Aviva Stadium, Dublin, Ireland - May 22, 2024 Atalanta's Ademola Lookman poses for a picture with the trophy after winning the Europa League Final REUTERS/Paul Childs 

Atalanta’s Europa League hat-trick hero Ademola Lookman admitted that he had to wait a while for success after years in and out of favour at different clubs but said it was “just the beginning” after he sank Bayer Leverkusen on Wednesday.

The Nigeria forward became the first person to score a hat-trick in a Europa League final in the 3-0 win, which handed the Bergamo club their first major trophy in 61 years and ended the German champions’ remarkable 51-game unbeaten streak.

“Maybe it could have come earlier, but it’s come now,” said the 26-year-old Lookman, who bounced around in England with Everton, Fulham and Leicester City and in Germany with RB Leipzig before settling in Atalanta two seasons ago.

“This is just the beginning. I hope for more nights like this and to just keep getting better and better,” he told a news conference.

Lookman, who was a youth international for England, credited the Atalanta coaching staff and leadership of manager Gian Piero Gasperini for his revival. Since arriving at the club, he has scored 30 goals in 76 matches.

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He pointed in particular to Gasperini’s belief in attacking football that has helped him to flourish.

“The first conversations I had with him made me look at football a lot different. It made things simple. It allowed me to play my game in a different light. I’m very grateful to him,” he said.

Asked if he would have imagined such a night in his wildest dreams while starting out as a teenager at Charlton Athletic, Lookman responded: “Probably yeah.”

“I’ve always had the confidence in my ability to create, to score goals, to help my team mates. In the past two years I’ve been able to take my game to a whole new level,” he said.

-Reuters

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Ademola is Player of the Match

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Atalanta’s hat-trick hero Ademola Lookman was named Player of the Match after scoring a historic hat trick for his club in the Europa League final match.

 UEFA’s Technical Observer Panel said: “[It’s awarded] for obvious reasons and his all-round enthusiasm and energy. [He was] really sharp and his execution was spot on.”

Ademola Lookman, Player of the Match, speaking to TNT Sports: remarked: “It’s one of the best nights of my life. It was an amazing performance from the team. We did it – fantastic. I’m just happy we won. We made history tonight.”

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