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Arsenal agree £2.5m Martin Odegaard loan with medical set as Mikel Arteta plays key role

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Western United to host games in Tasmania

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A-League football will return to Tasmania for first time in eight years when Victorian club Western United play two home matches at York Park in Launceston this season.

United’s partnership with the Tasmanian Government and Football Tasmania will also have them playing two home games at York Park next season.

Since the start of the A-League in 2005, only two competition matches have been played in Tasmania.

They were hosted by Melbourne Victory, also at York Park, in the 2012-2013 season, with both games – against then A-League club Gold Coast United and Central Coast Mariners – finishing in 1-1 draws.

Melbourne Victory's Marcos Flores (left) battles with the Central Coast Mariners' Oliver Bozanic the last time an A-League match was played in Launceston on January 12, 2013. Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Picture: AAP Image/Chris Crerar
Melbourne Victory’s Marcos Flores (left) battles with the Central Coast Mariners’ Oliver Bozanic the last time an A-League match was played in Launceston on January 12, 2013. Saturday, Jan. 12, 2013. Picture: AAP Image/Chris CrerarSource: AAP

“On behalf of the Tasmanian football community, I’d like to thank Western United and the state government for bringing the A-League back to Tasmania,” Football Tasmania CEO Matt Bulkeley said.

“With close to 40,000 participants, football is Tasmania’s most-played team sport and continues to rise in popularity, especially among junior players.

“The next step in growing the sport in Tasmania is to increase the A-League’s presence, and partnerships like this are integral to maintaining football’s position as Tasmania’s most-played team sport.”

The A-League’s return to Tasmania comes as the state government is locked in a battle to have a team from the Apple Isle in the AFL.

While the AFL continues to deliberate on having a Tasmanian team, the state government seems willing to invest in other sports, with the Tasmanian Jack Jumpers joining the National Basketball League next season.

Western United CEO Chris Pehlivanis said the club’s partnership with the Tasmanian government and Football Tasmania was in keeping with the club’s “dream big” mantra.

“The shared values of being self-made and hardworking naturally align both the people from Victoria’s west and the Tasmanian community,” Pehlivanis said.

“In addition to growing the game of football at a grassroots level in Tasmania, our ambition is to also work with tourism bodies in Australia to give the industry a much-needed boost after a difficult 2020 and start to 2021 with COVID-19 lockdowns and border closures.

“We see sport as being in the business of entertainment, and entertainment and tourism go hand-in-hand.”

With the A-League’s flexible and rolling schedule, the dates and opponents for United’s two games at York Park this season are yet to be confirmed.

However, at least one, and possibly both, seem set to be played in April.

The partnership will also include a women’s exhibition match between Calder United and a local Tasmanian representative team.

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Neil Lennon to leave Celtic after board hold crisis talks

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Neil Lennon is apparently set to leave Celtic.

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Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea, Lazio vs Bayern, Olivier Giroud, Thomas Tuchel

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Olivier Giroud’s magnificent bicycle kick broke Atletico Madrid’s resistance and earned Chelsea a crucial away goal on Tuesday, a 1-0 victory giving Thomas Tuchel’s side a slender advantage in the Champions League last 16.

Giroud’s acrobatic strike was initially ruled out for offside but stood after VAR showed Mario Hermoso had got the final touch, delivering a huge blow to Atletico’s hopes of reaching the quarter-finals.

Diego Simeone’s side had put on a typically disciplined defensive performance until that point but Giroud’s moment of genius means they will have to score in London on March 17 if they are to avoid an early exit.

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Giroud continues to prove himself an astute £18 million ($A32m) purchase for Chelsea and now has 15 goals from 16 UCL and UEL starts at the Blues.

Chelsea, meanwhile, passed their biggest test since Tuchel was appointed at the end of January, backing up a strong run against lesser lights in the Premier League with a polished display against one of Europe’s elite.

Giroud’s goal in the 68th minute was only the third Atletico have conceded in 14 home legs of the Champions League knockout stages under Simeone, even if this fixture was at home only in name.

Restrictions imposed by the Spanish government meant the game had to be played in Bucharest instead of Madrid, despite the return match remaining at Stamford Bridge in three weeks’ time.

Tuchel admitted the switch gave his side an advantage but Simeone refused to complain on Monday, insisting he felt fortunate to play during the pandemic, “however and wherever that might be”.

Their defeat makes it three home losses out of three for Spain’s teams in the Champions League last 16 so far, after Barcelona were thrashed by Paris Saint-Germain and Sevilla were beaten by Borussia Dortmund last week.

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HUDSON-ODOI GIVEN ANOTHER CHANCE

Callum Hudson-Odoi started for Chelsea, despite Tuchel criticising the 20-year-old’s attitude against Southampton on Saturday.

Atletico started with Suarez, Joao Felix and Angel Correa but an attacking line-up took up a typically defensive shape, a six-man wall quickly forming in front of Chelsea in the opening stages.

The first half was tight, each side able only to create openings but failing to find the pass to make a chance.

Edouard Mendy’s heavy touch in the opening minutes almost gave the chasing Saul Niguez a tap-in while Timo Werner’s angled shot was saved by Jan Oblak and Suarez miskicked at the near post.

Chelsea looked most dangerous down the flanks, where Marcos Alonso and Hudson-Odoi pushed Atletico back. Atletico had space on the break but lacked the precision to capitalise.

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Felix sprung into life early in the second half, feeding Thomas Lemar and then meeting the Frenchman’s cross with an acrobatic volley that flew over.

The game looked destined to finish goalless only for Atletico to briefly lose shape, allowing the instinctive Giroud to take advantage.

Alonso had raced away from Marcos Llorente down the left and his cross was diverted backwards to Giroud, who brilliantly bicycle-kicked into the corner, but looked offside, only for the replay to show it was Atletico’s Hermoso who had given him the assist.

The goal stood and Chelsea’s players celebrated, seemingly as surprised as anyone and delighted with a precious advantage.

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BAYERN MUNICH ROUT LAZIO

Holders Bayern Munich brushed off their recent poor domestic form to throw down a Champions League marker with an emphatic 4-1 win at Lazio in Tuesday’s last 16, first leg.

Robert Lewandowski gave Bayern an early lead before 17-year-old Jamal Musiala scored his first Champions League goal on only his fourth appearance in Europe.

A Leroy Sane strike gave Bayern a three-goal half-time cushion at the Stadio Olimpico before Francesco Acerbi scored an own goal just after the break.

Joaquin Correa pulled a goal back early in the second half to give the scoreline some respectability for Lazio.

However, Simone Inzaghi’s side need a near miracle in the return game in Munich on March 17.

Bayern coach Hansi Flick pulled a surprise by starting Musiala in place of Thomas Mueller, who was sidelined after testing positive for Covid-19.

Benjamin Pavard was also out with coronavirus, while midfielders Corentin Tolisso and Serge Gnabry were both missing with thigh injuries.

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Despite dropping five points in the Bundesliga last week and bringing a depleted squad to Rome, Bayern needed less than nine minutes before Lewandowski pounced on a mistake in the Lazio defence.

The Poland star snapped up a weak back-pass by Mateo Musacchio — who was subbed off soon after — to dribble around Lazio’s veteran goalkeeper Pepe Reina and fire into an empty net.

It was Lewandowski’s 72nd Champions League goal, taking him solo third on the all-time list ahead of Real Madrid great Raul.

England Under-21 midfielder Musiala, who has reportedly opted to play for Germany’s senior side, then showed maturity beyond his years to calmy drill past Reina to make it 2-0 on 24 minutes.

The lead was extended just before half-time when Kingsley Coman’s shot was parried and Sane tapped in the rebound.

There were two goals in the space of three minutes just after the break, with Acerbi turning the ball into his own net as Bayern counter-attacked from a Lazio corner.

Lazio were in danger of matching their heaviest home defeat in Europe having lost 4-0 to Chelsea in the 2003/04 group stage.

But Bayern’s defence has often crumbled in recent weeks and Lazio forward Joaquin Correa took advantage of poor marking to fire past Manuel Neuer in the 49th minute.

Bayern are now unbeaten in their last 18 Champions League games, with only a 1-1 group stage draw at Atletico Madrid last December denying them a perfect record of wins.

Ronaldo with a beautiful brace! | 00:44

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