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    Ajax 0 Arsenal 1 (Agg 2-3): Miedema nets to send Gunners through to Champions League group stages

    VIVIANNE MIEDEMA struck as Arsenal dispatched Ajax on a rain-sodden Champions League night in the Netherlands.The Dutch hotshot netted with the Gunners clinching a 1-0 away victory to book their group stage place. 
    Vivianne Miedema was on target against Ajax with her third goal of the season across all competitions for ArsenalCredit: EPA
    The Gunners will compete in the group stages of the Champions League following their round two defeat of AjaxCredit: Getty
    The round two second leg result saw Arsenal win 3-2 on aggregate this evening.
    But the visitors suffered injury scares with Rafaelle Souza crocked and Beth Mead subbed off after a nasty-looking blow to her head.
    Last Tuesday saw the Gunners frustrated by their battling Dutch opponents who caught them cold with a late goal.
    But tonight’s match – played on the outskirts of Amsterdam – was a different story as Jonas Eidevall’s side put that result to bed with a battling display. 
    The visitors began positively with the hosts intervening to snuff a second-minute break for the box
    But then Ajax made their presence felt going forward with Ashleigh Weerden jetting down the left, but unable to find a team-mate with her tenth-minute cross.
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    Moments later a dangerous through-ball found Romee Leuchter before Leah Williamson snuffed out the threat.
    Arsenal tested keeper Lize Kop in the 19th minute before a defence-splitting Katie McCabe pass almost found Wienroither in the box six minutes later.
    A dodgy back pass from Steph Catley almost caught Manuela Zinsberger out of position shortly before a Blackstenius shot in the 36th minute
    Eidevall was forced to shuffle his deck with Rafaelle limping off following an earlier kick from Chastity Grant.
    And Miedema fired a shot over the crossbar close to half-time
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    The Gunners striker bagged her third goal of the season, across all competitions, burying a bottom corner strike in the 51st minute.
    Later Mead entered the fray for the visitors shortly after Tiny Hoekstra was subbed on for Ajax with 25 minutes of normal time left.
    And Hoekstra came dangerously close to sliding in a leveller before a nasty clash of heads between Mead and Nadine Doordam saw the latter cautioned.
    Mead was later forced to come off after feeling the effects of the blow to her head in the closing minutes.
    The visitors held out to join Chelsea in the Champions League groups stages.
    Beth Mead was forced to come off late in the game after Nadine Noordam clashed heads with the forwardCredit: Getty More

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    Anthony Gordon ‘100 per cent focused’ on gatecrashing England’s World Cup party as £60m Everton man eyes shock call-up

    ANTHONY GORDON claims he can gatecrash boss Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squad.The £60million-rated Everton forward, 21, was one of the most sought-after players this summer, with Chelsea having two bids rejected for him.
    Anthony Gordon has shone for England’s Under-21sCredit: REX
    But the Everton ace is determined to play his way into Gareth Southgate’s World Cup squadCredit: Rex
    Now Gordon has set his sights on being on the plane to Qatar — even if he admits himself it is a long shot.
    The England Under-21 star said: “I’m one hundred per cent focused on making the World Cup squad.
    “If it doesn’t happen, it doesn’t happen. It’s out of my control — but I’ll definitely give it my best try.
    “To get there, I will need to score a lot of goals in the next couple of games. I’m ready for that challenge. I’m hopeful.
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    “If I didn’t have the ambition to play for England at the World Cup, then I would be a bit stupid.
    “But I understand the squad is so good at the minute, that it’s going to be really tough to get in.”
    Gordon helped England’s Under-21s to an impressive 3-1 win over Germany at Bramall Lane on Tuesday night, teeing up Conor Gallagher’s crucial goal just after half-time.
    Once again his pace, trickery and bravery when taking on defenders caught the eye.
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    Interestingly, Gordon said that — even if he was a shock inclusion to go to Qatar this winter with the seniors — then he would also still like to be involved in the Under-21 Euros next summer in Romania and Georgia.
    He explained: “If I got the opportunity to do both, I’d love that.
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    “Especially because of the work I’ve done here.
    “I’ve played most of the qualifiers with the Under-21s — so I’d like to see it out now.”
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    Goals changed for Arsenal’s Champions League clash with Ajax after Gunners club official spots crossbar is 10cm too low 

    JONAS EIDEVALL says Arsenal were faced with the bizarre scenario of having goals changed before their Champions League clash with Ajax.The Swede revealed the Dutch side’s goals were 10cm too small, saying: “I’ve never experienced anything like this in my life.”
    Jonas Eidevall was shocked that Ajax’s goals were too smallCredit: Getty
    The goals had to be changed prior to kick-offCredit: Getty
    IFAB rules state the bar must be eight feet high and the width between the two posts eight yards.
    But Ajax use the smaller goals in Dutch League games.
    Arsenal spotted the bar was nearly four inches too low in the warm-up and demanded the goals were changed ahead of their 1-0 second round, second leg win.
    Eidevall, 39, said: “It has been weird coming here and playing a big club like Ajax and we have to measure the goals.
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    “We can only control what we can control.”
    Later in the game, Arsenal were prevented from bringing on a concussion sub for Lionesses star Beth Mead, who suffered a head injury.
    He added: “Beth needed to be taken off.
    “The problem I had is that I asked the fourth official if we could do a concussion sub and she said yes.
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    “Then when we were about to do it she said no. I don’t understand it.
    “But the players defended well with 10.”
    Vivianne Miedema blasted the Gunners into the Champions League group stages with a 3-2 aggregate win.
    The Dutch hotshot struck in the 51st minute for her third goal of the season.
    Meanwhile, Fran Kirby and Sam Kerr helped thwart West Ham’s hopes of a top-flight shock as Chelsea trounced the Irons 3-1.
    The match saw Emma Hayes drop an F-bomb as the titleholders took the lead before bagging back-to-back wins.
    The Hammers – who are yet to beat their London rivals in the WSL – took a third-minute lead with skipper Dagny Brynjarsdottir’s towering header.
    Kirby chipped in a 40th-minute leveller before Kerr gave the hosts the lead with just over half an hour of normal time left.
    And Millie Bright made it 3-1 with a classy, headed effort.
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    Chelsea looked to extend their lead when Lauren James won a penalty after being brought down by Lucy Parker.
    But the forward saw her spot-kick saved in the 77th minute as the WSL champs moved to fourth ahead of their trip to Everton after the international break. More

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    My £60million price tag is crazy… NOBODY is worth that but I won’t talk myself down, says Chelsea transfer target Gordon

    ANTHONY GORDON reckons transfer price tags like his own have gone “absolutely crazy”.Chelsea had several bids turned down for the England Under-21 star this summer, with Everton unwilling to sell their prize asset.
    Anthony Gordon is happy at Everton and keen to continue improvingCredit: Alamy
    Gordon cannot believe the price-tag Everton have put on his headCredit: Getty
    It came in a summer when the Blues splashed £62million on Brighton’s Marc Cucurella and £70m on Wesley Fofana of Leicester.
    Gordon’s fellow Young Lion Morgan Gibbs-White left Wolves for Nottingham Forest in a £42.5m deal.
    Gordon himself is valued at around £60m but would never look in the mirror and arrogantly believe he is worth that eye-watering amount of dough.
    The whizkid, 21, said: “The minute you do that, there’s only one way you’re going to go.
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    “You need to stay humble. You need to focus on today and tomorrow and don’t look too far into the future.
    “The money in football, that’s just how it is nowadays. It’s absolutely crazy.
    “I don’t think any player is worth that amount of money but I’m also not going to talk myself down.
    “I wasn’t too focused on that because I can only control what I can control.”
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    Newcastle and Tottenham also showed interest in Gordon this summer but the winger was happy to stay put at his boyhood club.
    He added: “When you’re doing well there’s always going to be that speculation.
    “But because the place (Everton) is so good, it’s not a place where I’m, like, devastated because I have to stay.
    “That’s never been the case. I was never desperate to leave Everton.”
    To the contrary, Gordon seems to be loving life at Goodison Park this season.
    He hailed his manager Frank Lampard for being “amazing” with him throughout the summer while transfer talk surrounded him.
    You need to stay humble. You need to focus on today and tomorrow and don’t look too far into the future.Anthony Gordon
    While the fleet-footed forward believes summer signings such as Conor Coady and James Tarkowski have been crucial to transforming the mood around the club.
    That pair already have had an effect on shoring Everton up at the back, with Lampard’s side conceding just six goals in seven league games so far this term.
    If Gordon and Co can start banging in more at the top end of the pitch, then the Merseyside club should steer well clear of the relegation scrap they experienced last term.
    Gordon added: “We’re in a completely different place to where we were last year. The place is class, I couldn’t speak more highly of it at the minute.
    “The team we’ve got, the morale we’ve got around the place is unbelievable. So I feel really confident.
    “We’ve made really, really good signings, people and players. Sometimes the people part can go a bit under the radar.”
    Chelsea had multiple bids rejected for Gordon in the summerCredit: Getty
    Gordon has not looked like a player struggling under the pressure of seeing his profile skyrocket in the last few months.
    He has already netted twice this season, coming in back-to-back 1-1 draws at Brentford and Leeds in August.
    The forward said: “I like playing with pressure. I thrive under it and my performances always rise with the pressure.
    “If I want to be a top player, I have to do that regardless of if the pressure is there.
    “I’ve handled that quite well but I can still get better. I can still score more goals and stuff.”
    Yet Gordon knows he must considerably add to his tally between now and October 20 when Gareth Southgate names his England squad for the World Cup if he is to have any chance of realising his ambitious target of a shock inclusion.
    He impressed on Under-21 duty at Sheffield United’s Bramall Lane on Tuesday night as Lee Carsley’s Young Lions came from a goal down to beat Germany 3-1.
    I don’t think any player is worth that amount of money but I’m also not going to talk myself down.Anthony Gordon
    His clever flick sparked the counter-attack that led to Flo Balogun’s equaliser. Gordon then superbly teed up Conor Gallagher as the hosts took the lead.
    Southgate puts a lot of stock in a player’s attitude both on and off the field.
    So Gordon’s pledge that he would still want to play in next summer’s Under-21s Euros even if he did go to Qatar will surely impress the Three Lions boss.
    England have not won the competition for 38 years and have failed to make it out of the group stage in five of the last six tournaments, despite boasting players such as Phil Foden, Jordan Henderson and Harry Kane for some of those failures.
    Gordon added: “If you look at the past players who have played for England in the Under-21s, they should have won some tournaments and it hasn’t been the case.
    “In the back of our minds is we want to be the team to really go and do well.
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    “I see the camaraderie here similar to Everton. We really get on which is, I’m not going to say uncommon, but it’s difficult when everyone is coming from different clubs.
    “We’ve got a really good group, we all interact with each other. Our football speaks for itself at times. When we’re on it, we’re unstoppable.” More

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    Two thirds of former players think Cristiano Ronaldo has had a BETTER career than Lionel Messi, surprise poll says

    CRISTIANO RONALDO’s legendary career TRUMPS that of rival Lionel Messi – according to a survey of former footballers.The global superstars have been the subject of comparison from footy fans for the best part of two decades.
    The Cristiano Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi debate has raged on for the best part of 15 yearsCredit: GETTY
    The pair have 12 Ballon d’Or wins to their namesCredit: GETTY
    Two-thirds of ex-pros believe Ronaldo’s career trumps Messi’sCredit: AP
    Messi, 35, holds more individual accolades to his name, winning the Ballon d’Or seven times to Ronaldo’s five scoops of the prestigious award.
    But a whopping two-thirds of ex-footballers reckon five-time Champions League winner Ronaldo, 37, has had a better career than his Argentine adversary.

    In a poll recently conducted by The Athletic, a whopping 66 per cent of the former players quizzed picked Ronaldo when asked which of the pair had a better career.
    That stat could stem from Ronaldo’s stints at multiple clubs during his career – an area he trumps Messi on.
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    The Portugal international has enjoyed two spells at Manchester United, a historic stint with Real Madrid and a trophy-filled stay with Juventus in addition to his humble beginnings at Sporting Lisbon.
    Messi, meanwhile, remained loyal to Spanish giants Barcelona until the summer of 2021 when he joined French champions Paris Saint-Germain.
    Ronaldo and Messi’s rivalry lit up La Liga for the best part of 12 years – which the latter looks back on with great fondness.
    Upon claiming his seventh Ballon d’Or victory, Messi said: “I have always wanted to better myself, not look at what others were doing.
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    “There was competition with Cristiano Ronaldo as we were in the same league for several years.
    “That was great and helped us grow in our careers, but without looking directly at each other.”
    “I just wanted to be the best I could be.
    “I have never said that I’m the best in history, and I try not to think about that.
    “Being considered one of the best is enough and something I’d never have imagined.”
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    Ronaldo and his Manchester United team-mates will be back in action on Sunday afternoon, locking horns with local rivals Manchester City.
    PSG and Messi, meanwhile, will face Nice on Saturday night.
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    Cristiano Ronaldo’s sister Katia Aveiro slams ‘sick and ungrateful’ Portugal fans following criticism of Man Utd icon

    CRISTIANO RONALDO’S sister Katia Aveiro has leapt to his defence after he was slammed by Portugal fans following the 1-0 loss to Spain.The defeat meant Portugal lost their place at the top of Nations League Group A2 with Spain instead qualifying for the final four.
    Katia Aveiro showed support for Cristiano Ronaldo while slamming Portugal fans
    Ronaldo was criticised following Portugal’s Nations League exitCredit: Getty
    Supporters were quick to criticise Ronaldo after the match with some questioning whether he should still be picked.
    But Katia rejected the backlash and accused the fans of being cruel and ungrateful while claiming Ronaldo receives little support and is still the “best player in the world”.
    She wrote on Instagram: “He has his family and those who love him by his side. They will always be by his side, no matter what.
    “But the current times don’t surprise me at all. The Portuguese spit on the plate they eat [from], it has always been that way.
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    “That’s why when someone appears from the ashes and changes mentalities, it bothers… With you always, my king. Calm down.
    “It is necessary to give a hand to those who have always given theirs to Portugal. But the Portuguese are sick, petty, soulless, stupid, ungrateful and forever ungrateful. This guy who’s sitting, he’s on his knees… There’s no one to give him a hand.
    “It is cruel. And it was already so much, but so much that he gave and gives. The one sitting is called Cristiano Ronaldo and he is just the best player in the world.”
    Katia was in attendance at the Braga Municpial Stadium supporting Ronaldo alongside his Spanish girlfriend Georgina Rodriguez.
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    Georgina, 28, wowed in a low-cut dress and big sparkling earrings but could not be the good luck charm for CR7.
    Ronaldo even played through the pain barrier after sustaining a cut on his nose and a black eye in Portugal’s previous game against the Czech Republic.
    The striker was left in a bloody mess after being whacked in the face by Czech Republic goalkeeper Tomas Vlacik but later returned to the pitch with a bandage on his nose. More

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    Footballer Ched Evans secretly marries his girlfriend Natasha – who stood by him during rape trial

    FOOTBALLER Ched Evans has secretly married his girlfriend Natasha Massey – the woman who stood by him during his rape trial.The Welsh striker, 33, tied the knot in a lavish ceremony this summer to the beauty therapist, 32.
    Ched Evans and Natasha Massey have tied the knot in a lavish ceremonyCredit: Getty Images – Getty
    Natasha and Ched couldn’t stop smiling on their wedding day, a source revealedCredit: Neil Jones – The Sun
    He was found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2012 – a verdict which was later overturned before he was found not guilty in a retrial.
    Natasha had been dating the ex-Sheffield United player for almost three years when he cheated on her with the teenager at a Premier Inn in Rhyl, North Wales, which left her heartbroken.
    The daughter of wealthy businessman Karl Massey wore a lace bodice dress for her wedding day and beamed as she posed with her footballer husband who was pictured in a tuxedo.
    A source said: “Natasha has stood by Ched through thick and thin and their wedding day showed that they have firmly put the past behind them.
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    “The couple couldn’t wipe the smile off their faces as they said ‘I Do’ in front of their closest family and friends.“
    Natasha was heartbroken when Ched cheated on her but is hoping the ring on his finger will ensure he doesn’t do the same again.”
    Evans, who always admitted having sex with the accuser but insisted that it was consensual, was convicted in 2012 of rape and was sentenced to five years in jail after the woman was deemed “too drunk to consent”.
    Speaking on This Morning in 2014, Natasha said: “As soon as I found out he’d been questioned over rape, my instinct was kind of protective and I thought I had to stand by him.
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    “So my thoughts and feelings over the cheating were put to one side and I stepped in to help him through this terrible time.”
    Evans served two-and-a-half years in jail where he worked as a painter and decorator and accepted an out-of-court settlement of around £800,000 with his original lawyers who defended him in his first rape trial.
    Natasha had been dating the ex-Sheffield United player for almost three years when he cheated on herCredit: PA:Press Association
    Evans was found guilty of raping a 19-year-old woman in 2012 – a verdict which was later overturnedCredit: PA:Press Association More

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    Mauro Icardi hints he has kissed and made up with Wanda Nara in Instagram post despite calling wife ‘toxic’ after split

    MAURO ICARDI appears to have made up with wife Wanda Nara days after she announced they had split up AGAIN.The couple had problems in October last year amid allegations Icardi had cheated on his wife.
    Mauro Icardi hinted at being back together with Wanda Nara with this Instagram picCredit: INSTAGRAM
    Wanda announced the split last Friday
    The TV star said the break-up had been “very painful”
    The couple also had relationship problems last yearCredit: INSTAGRAM/Wanda Nara
    The pair patched things up on that occasion and appear to have done so again
    On that occasion he skipped PSG training to patch things up with Wanda and he seems to have done so again despite his partner being in Argentina.
    Icardi, 29, shared a loved up photo of him and Wanda on Instagram alongside a simple caption of a loveheart.
    It comes just days after the on-loan Galatasaray striker accused his partner of nine years of being “toxic”.
    Wanda announced they had broken up on Friday, expressing the pain she was going through.
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    But Icardi showed no sign of a separation while he scored his first goal for Galatasary and later suggested Wanda was controlling.
    He said: “When you are single, or you say you are, but you are toxic.”
    “Now you want to manage my life separately too?”
    Wanda is currently living long-stance from her husband due to her TV work commitments in Argentina.
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    She revealed it has been painful living without Icardi and declared their marriage was over.
    Wanda replied to a follower asking how long she has been married to Icardi, writing: “We were nine years.”
    She followed that up with another post writing: “It is very painful for me to live this moment.
    “But given my exposure and the things that are transcending and the media speculation, it is preferable that they know about it from me.
    “I have nothing more to clarify and I am not going to give any kind of detail about this separation.
    “Please, I ask that you understand not only for me, but also for our children.” More