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Italy vs Belgium, result, score, highlights, goals, video, Thibaut Courtois, football news, reaction

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Belgium goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois has hit out at football authorities, claiming “nobody cares” about the players in a scathing assessment of the congested calendar.

Speaking after Belgium’s 2-1 loss to Italy in the UEFA Nations League third-place playoff, Courtois doubled down on comments earlier in the week, where he branded the game “pointless”.

Courtois claimed numerous changes in the lead-up to the game, including the withdrawals of Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku, spoke volumes to his argument.

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“This game is just a money game and we have to be honest about it,” Courtois told Sky Sports.

“We just play it because for UEFA it’s extra money. Look at how much both teams changed. If both teams would have been in the final there would have been other players in the final playing.

“This just shows that we play too many games. They [UEFA] made an extra trophy [UEFA Conference League].

“They can be angry about other teams wanting a Super League but they don’t care about the players, they just care about their pockets.

“It’s a bad thing that players are not spoken about. And now you hear about a European Championship and a World Cup every year, when will we get a rest? Never.”

A biennial World Cup has been floated as one controversial aspect of an overhauled international calendar, with FIFA claiming its plans will protect player welfare.

The world players’ union FIFPRO though claimed such plans will not work without support of male and female players.

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Courtois though believes players are not getting a strong enough voice in the discussion.

“In the end top players will get injured and injured and injured,” he added.

“It’s something that should be much better and much more taken care of.

“We are not robots. It’s just more and more games and less rest for us and nobody cares about us.

“Next year we have a World Cup in November, we have to play until the latter stages of June again. We will get injured. Nobody cares about the players anymore.

“Three weeks of holiday is not enough for players to be able to continue for 12 months at the highest level. If we never say anything it [will be] always the same.”

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ITALY HOLD OFF UNDERMANNED BELGIUM

Italy claimed third place in the Nations League after beating Belgium 2-1 to bounce back from their world record unbeaten run being brought to an end.

A superb volley from Nicolo Barella just after halftime and Domenico Berardi’s 63rd-minute penalty were enough for the Azzurri to see off a Belgium team missing the injured Lukaku and Hazard to win the third-place playoff.

The European champions, beaten by Spain in their semi-final on Wednesday to lose after going 37 matches without a defeat, played with verve on a gorgeous sunny day at Turin’s Allianz Stadium but Belgium’s poor luck continued following their last-gasp semi-final loss to France.

Alexis Saelemaekers, who started in place of substitute Kevin De Bruyne, Michy Batshuayi and Yannick Carrasco all struck the woodwork before Charles De Ketelaere scored with four minutes remaining.

It was a positive day for Italy coach Roberto Mancini, who watched as Federico Chiesa starred up front for an experimental side.

Italy snuck home with the win. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
Italy snuck home with the win. (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)Source: Getty Images

“We played very well today… Chiesa can play anywhere, right or left, today he played on the left and he did really well. He’s an important player,” Mancini told RAI.

Courtois may have called the match “pointless” but the two teams put plenty of commitment into their displays, with some players looking to carve out a place in their national teams.

Giacomo Raspadori, making his sixth Italy appearance, was put through by the impressive Chiesa in the 20th minute but couldn’t get his shot away before Timothy Castagne got across to deflect his effort out for a corner.

Five minutes later AC Milan midfielder Saelemaekers struck the bar with a first-time curling shot which left Gianluigi Donnarumma, captain for the day and cheered heartily by the Turin crowd after being barracked by angry AC Milan fans on Wednesday, rooted to the spot.

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Peter Walton in heated debate on controversial moments in Atletico Madrid vs Liverpool

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Liverpool’s 3-2 win over Atletico Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano ended in controversy after a spate of eventful VAR decisions.

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Liverpool's Jurgen Klopp calls Diego Simeone 'angry with the world' after handshake snub

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Jurgen Klopp watched his Liverpool side maintain their 100% Champions League record against Atletico Madrid on Tuesday.

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Liverpool vs Atletico Madrid, live, red card, reaction, results, Manchester City vs Club Brugge

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Mohamed Salah continued his blistering run of form on Tuesday by scoring twice in a 3-2 victory over 10-man Atletico Madrid as Liverpool took charge of Group B in the Champions League.

Salah gave Liverpool the lead with another splendid goal at the Wanda Metropolitano after dancing past three Atletico defenders and firing in to make it nine consecutive games the Egyptian has scored in.

But a wild contest in Madrid had several twists and turns still to come as Naby Keita doubled the advantage only for Atletico to strike twice before half-time, Antoine Griezmann pulling his team back into the match and leaving Liverpool looking temporarily dishevelled.

“Atletico look like a different side now from those early minutes,” Sky Sports’ Peter Smith said.

“Full of belief and Liverpool’s defence not looking rock solid at all.

“When Liverpool went two up so early on you wondered just what kind of destruction they’d do to Atletico tonight. But what spirit the home side have shown to get back into it.”

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Liverpool was well on top early. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)
Liverpool was well on top early. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)Source: AFP

Yet Griezmann was sent off in the 52nd minute for a high foot into the face of Roberto

Firmino and Liverpool made Atleti pay, a clumsy challenge by Mario Hermoso on Diogo Jota giving Salah the chance to win the game from the spot.

Even with 10 men, Atletico thought they might have snatched a draw late on as Luis Suarez, on off the bench, prepared to take a penalty against his former club with his first touch.

Instead, referee Daniel Siebert infuriated the home crowd by cancelling his decision after consulting the replay.

Liverpool move five points clear at the top of the group, with Atletico seemingly left to scrap it out with Porto for second place. They have four points each.

PSG 3-2 RB LEIPZIG

Lionel Messi scored twice and Kylian Mbappe played a starring role but later missed a penalty as Paris Saint-Germain came from behind to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

Mbappe had given PSG the lead at the Parc des Princes but a Leipzig side beaten 6-3 at Manchester City earlier in the competition did not crumble in the French capital.

Instead goals from Andre Silva and Nordi Mukiele had them in front, and at that point PSG looked as if they might pay the price for another occasionally disjointed display.

However, they were rescued by Mbappe and Messi. The Argentinian was set up by the France star for the equaliser and then coolly chipped in a 74th-minute penalty awarded for a foul on Mbappe.

Mauricio Pochettino’s team, who also saw Mbappe miss from the spot in injury time, are now top of Group A at the halfway stage, a point above City, who won 5-1 at Club Brugge earlier.

Leipzig, beaten by PSG in the semi-finals in 2020, are bottom without a point to their name.

SHAKHTAR DONETSK 0-5 REAL MADRID

Real Madrid thrashed Shakhtar Donetsk 5-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday as Karim Benzema scored on the eve of his trial in France on charges of complicity in blackmail.

A first-half own goal from Serhiy Kryvtsov put Real on their way before Vinicius Junior scored two superb goals before setting up Rodrygo for the fourth.

Benzema added the fifth in injury time in a game played in Kiev. The French international striker goes on trial in France on Wednesday with four other men accused of complicity in the attempted blackmail of his former international teammate Mathieu Valbuena in a case known as the “sextape affair”.

It is not known if Benzema will be present for the start of the trial. It was a welcome win for Real, the 13-time European champions, after they slipped to an embarrassing home defeat to Moldovan minnows Sheriff Tiraspol in their last match.

Sheriff lost 3-1 to Inter Milan on Tuesday but Real are still second to them in Group D with both clubs on six points.

AJAX 4-0 BORUSSIA DORTMUND

Sebastien Haller scored his sixth Champions League goal in three games as Ajax took firm control of their group with a ruthless display at home as they routed Borussia Dortmund 4-0 on Tuesday.

Ajax are on course for the last 16 with three wins out of three European games and Haller remains the competition’s top scorer after netting their fourth goal of the night with a crisp header.

The Ivory Coast forward scored four goals against Sporting Lisbon on his stunning Champions League debut last month, then also hit the net against Besiktas.

The result sees the Dutch champions top Group C, three points ahead of Dortmund as both clubs came into the tie with two straight wins.

CLUB BRUGGE 1-5 MANCHESTER CITY

Manchester City delivered a dominant Champions League performance to sweep past Club Brugge 5-1 on Wednesday and re-emphasise their status as major contenders for a first European title.

Joao Cancelo gave City a deserved lead on the half-hour and Riyad Mahrez converted a penalty just before the break as Pep Guardiola’s side bounced back in style from last month’s loss to Paris Saint-Germain.

Kyle Walker added a third early in the second half and 19-year-old Cole Palmer bagged his first Champions League goal minutes after coming on as a substitute.

Hans Vanaken pulled a goal back to great delight from the home supporters but Mahrez capped a thumping City victory with his second of the night.

The win leaves City side with six points after three games in Group A, with the champions of England and Belgium to meet again in two weeks in Manchester.

Drama filled Premier League wrap | 02:59

INTER MILAN 3-1 SHERIFF

Inter Milan got their Champions League campaign up and running on Tuesday with a 3-1 win over surprise package Sheriff Tiraspol which boosted their chances of getting to the knockout stage for the first time in a decade.

Simone Inzaghi’s side were under pressure for a good result after picking up a single point from their first two fixtures in this season’s competition.

Goals from Edin Dzeko, Arturo Vidal and Stefan de Vrij put them two points behind Group D leaders Sheriff.

The Italian champions are the same number of points away from Real Madrid, who sit second following their 5-0 thumping of Shakhtar Donetsk, and will fancy their chances in the return fixture in Tiraspol next month after an impressive display at the San Siro.

Inter haven’t made it out of a Champions League group since the 2011-12 season and will now believe they have a good chance of doing so this year, as well as being encouraged for the visit of rivals Juventus at the weekend.

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MATCHDAY 3 RESULTS

BESIKTAS 1 SPORTING 4

CLUB BRUGGE 1 MANCHESTER CITY 5

SHAKHTAR DONETSK 0 REAL MADRID 5

PSG 3 RB LEIPZIG 2

ATLETICO MADRID 2 LIVERPOOL 3

INTER MILAN 3 SHERIFF 1

AJAX 4 BORUSSIA DORTMUND 0

PORTO 1 AC MILAN 0

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