Brighton & Hove Albion
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Crystal Palace
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Manchester United
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Manchester City
Newcastle United
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Atletico Madrid
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Roma, Inter at crossroads


Angola eliminate Cameroon from CHAN 2018


Adios Champions, Adios Pellegrini

This was the week in which ducks ate Urawa Reds' training pitch, Sergio Ramos indulged in a spot of nipple rubbing, Real Madrid boss Manuel Pellegrini was called a ''coward'', Samir Nasri scored a goal of the season contender and dummy-spitting Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner is dubbed the 'greatest of all time'.

Kaka's adviser calls Pellegrini a 'coward'

Wednesday night was not good one for Real Madrid boss Manuel Pellegrini. His expensively assembled team crashed out of the Champions League, Madrid's most popular newspaper Marca called for the coach to be sacked and he was also lambasted as a "coward" by one of Kaka's irate advisors.

Kaka, who cost Real €65 million in the summer, was hauled off in the 77th minute of the 1-1 draw with Lyon at the Bernabeu and Diogo Kotscho used his personal Twitter account to accuse Pellegrini of "trying to take the focus off [his] own incompetence" with the substitution.

Maybe somewhat surprisingly since Real fans have been calling for Pellegrini's head from virtually day one, Kotscho was bombarded with criticism but rather than skulking off and closing down his Twitter account, like so many before him, the advisor defiantly tweeted: "I gave my opinion at the moment and I will not erase."

As for Kaka, who will probably be at the Bernabeu for far longer than Pellegrini, he was a tad more diplomatic when he said: "I was not angry about the change, but the scoreline."

Sergio Ramos indulges in a spot of nipple rubbing

Sticking with Real Madrid, Sergio Ramos's bizarre nipple rubbing celebration in the 3-2 win over Sevilla wasn't because his equalising goal had made them erect, as GolTV's Ray Hudson suggested, but because he was paying tribute to a shy prisoner... obviously.

It eventually transpired that back in February Ramos had visited Madrid's Valdemoro prison - hence the 'V' sign at the start of the celebration - and, while there, the defender signed the chest of a prisoner, who when it came to showing the autograph to the cameras came over all coy and covered his nipple.

Unfortunately this is all true and documented here. Fortunately, 'nipplegate' didn't overshadow the rest of the game as Real fought back from two goals down to show just the type of mental grit needed to win the La Liga title.

JFA rules crafty penalty illegal

A couple of weeks ago, this column featured the controversial paradinha (a piece of skill in which the penalty-taker runs up, stops to allow the keeper to commit himself and calmly rolls the ball into the open side of the net) technique that was doing the rounds in Brazil and now it seems as though the Japanese have also become bored with regular spot-kicks and are pushing the boundaries of the laws of the game.

In fact, Hiroshima Sanfrecce's Tomoaki Makino and Hisato Sato have pushed things a little too far according to the Japan Football Association (JFA) , who have ruled the duo's prank penalty in the third minute of the 1-1 draw with Shimizu S-Pulse as illegal.

After Hiroshima were awarded the penalty, defender Makino placed the ball on the spot before retreating to the edge of the box to start his run-up. At that moment, stealthy striker Sato rushed in from the right and smashed the ball into the net, taking the referee and S-Pulse goalkeeper and players by surprise. The goal stood.

"Makino was clearly identified as the designated kicker (having placed the ball)," the party-pooping JFA ruled after the game. "The moment Sato entered the penalty area there should have been a free kick to Shimizu and a yellow card for unsportsmanlike conduct for Sato. The match officials are supposed to know the rules of the game and were unable to make the right decision. We will consider what (punitive) measures to take."

Urawa Reds duck for cover as "Project Eagle" launched

While Hiroshima were out on the training pitch having fun and games conjuring their dubious penalty routines, J-League rivals Urawa Reds were up to their necks in droppings and down after their facilities were taken over by an army of ducks.

The winged invaders fowled the training pitches with hundreds of feathers, mounds of poo and also nibbled off bite-sized chunks of the pitch, leaving Urawa manager Volker Finke unamused as he attempted to work on rectifying his side's inefficiencies following a 2-0 defeat at champions Kashima Antlers.

With the club's daily duck patrols failing to scare off the visitors, the Reds launched "Project Eagle," which involved bringing in crack teams of birds of prey to scare off the common dabbling ducks.

"We've taken a number of measures to clean things up, including falcons ... The things you have to do sometimes!" said Urawa's public relations chief Daisuke Maruyama. "It seems the ducks feel safe inside the fence which surrounds the training ground. But our measures look like they're slowly bearing fruit."

Dummy-spitter Bendtner the 'greatest of all time'

It has been a week of two-halves for Arsenal striker Nicklas Bendtner. He was correctly pilloried in the press for squandering eight great chances to score against Burnley at the weekend and then netted a match-winning hat-trick against Porto to send the Gunners through to the quarter-finals of the Champions League.

After his three-goal performance the Dane reportedly refused to talk to some of the English media that had been particularly harsh on him post-Burnley, which may go some way to explaining The Sun's hilariously tongue-in-cheek apology to the striker.

"The Sun today unreservedly apologises to Nicklas Bendtner ... We may have inadvertently given the impression Bendtner could not hit a cow's Arsenal with a banjo after his misses against Burnley. But last night the giant striker proved he is the greatest ever striker to grace the Emirates with the first treble of his career to crush Porto."

Ouch! One hat-trick does not a world beater make. And unfortunately for Bendtner, Danish legend Brian Laudrup agrees: "He did ok. But he is not suddenly the best striker in the world because of three goals and he certainly needs to work on his first touch."

VT of the Week

He can't score from there can he? He can you know!

This week's clip from our friends at 101greatgoals showcases Samir Nasri's entry for goal of the season as he put Arsenal 3-0 up against Porto. The Frenchman went on a mazy run past three Porto defenders before darting into the box and flashing a bullet into the far corner.

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