NYC defeat Montreal to advance to Eastern Conference Final, Austin beat Dallas

By Sports Desk October 23, 2022

New York City are through to the final four in the MLS playoffs for the second season in a row after a convincing 3-1 victory away from home against Montreal on Sunday.

City – the reigning champions after defeating the Portland Timbers in the 2021 MLS Cup – moved one step closer to going back-to-back when a smart cutback from Gabriel Pereira presented Maximiliano Moralez with an open goal in the sixth minute.

Their lead was doubled in first-half stoppage-time as Santiago Rodriguez picked out a beautiful ball through to Heber in behind the Montreal defence, and he tucked it away stylishly with his first-time strike from just outside the six-yard box.

Talles Magno was brought off the City bench in the 58th minute, and he assumed penalty responsibilities just three minutes later, finishing calmly into the bottom-left corner to make it 3-0.

Montreal were able to salvage a consolation goal through Djordje Mihailovic in the 85th minute, but that would be all they could muster as New York booked their place in the Eastern Conference Final against the Philadelphia Union – the east's top seed.

Later on Sunday night, two first-half goals in quick succession was enough for Austin to eliminate Dallas 2-1.

Austin jumped ahead in the 26th minute when a corner bounced its way through a crowd and found Moussa Djite at the back post, and just three minutes later they led 2-0 after Sebastian Driussi capitalised on a midfield turnover and finished well on the counter.

A slick team move resulted in Dallas pulling one goal back through Alan Valasco in the 65th minute, but they were unable to find an equaliser.

Austin will play the Western Conference's top seed, LAFC, in the Western Conference Final on Sunday.

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    Germany will be without Bayern Munich's Aleksandar Pavlovic for Euro 2024 after the 20-year-old came down with tonsillitis three days before their Group A opener against Scotland. 

    Pavlovic was set to feature in his first international tournament for his country despite only earning his first cap in a recent friendly against Ukraine.

    However, he has since been ruled out after being absent from training in Herzogenaurach on Monday and Tuesday. 

    Die Mannschaft coach Julian Naglesmann was quick to name his replacement, welcoming Borussia Dortmund captain Emre Can to his ranks. 

    Can helped guide his side to the Champions League final where they lost to Real Madrid at Wembley, with Nagelsmann identifying the former Liverpool midfielder, who has 43 caps for Germany, as an ideal replacement for Pavlovic. 

    "We wanted another Six in the squad and we decided to nominate Emre Can," Nagelsmann said.

    "He was instantly excited and said he was ready to join the team. We wanted a player in the squad who has played a lot of matches and who knows how to handle pressure. He fits the profile and we can now use him."

    Pavlovic's absence in the German squad will be felt having enjoyed a breakthrough campaign at the Allianz Arena under the guidance of Thomas Tuchel. 

    The 20-year-old made 19 appearances in the Bundesliga this season, winning 15 of those, with the team scoring 54 goals in the process. 

    Pavlovic would miss 15 games in the league, and his presence in midfield was missed as Bayern would win just eight times in the German's absence, as well as conceding 14 more goals.

  • Gundogan relishing 'huge honour and privilege' to lead Germany at Euro 2024 Gundogan relishing 'huge honour and privilege' to lead Germany at Euro 2024

    Ilkay Gundogan says it will be "a huge honour and privilege" to lead host nation Germany in what will be a "once-in-a-lifetime opportunity" at Euro 2024. 

    The three-time champions will host their first major international tournament since the 2006 World Cup, where they finished third after losing to eventual champions Italy in the semi-finals. 

    Julian Nagelsmann's side are seeking an upturn in fortunes, having suffered back-to-back World Cup group-stage exits, while they were beaten by England in the round of 16 at Euro 2020.

    Germany, whose final two warm-up games brought a goalless draw with Ukraine and a narrow 2-1 win over Greece, have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 12 games at major tournaments, last keeping a clean sheet against Slovakia in the round of 16 at Euro 2016.

    DFB will launch the tournament at Munich Football Arena on Friday against Scotland, a team they have beaten in both previous major tournament encounters at the 1986 World Cup and 1992 European Championship.

    And former Manchester City captain Gundogan, who skippered the Citizens to an historic treble in 2022-23, hopes he can use his leadership skills to inspire his nation to a strong showing on home soil.

    "It's a huge honour, a huge privilege to be captain," the Barcelona midfielder said. "I have experienced an awful lot in my career, lots of great times but also lots of difficult times. I kind of know what it takes to be successful.

    "All I can do is lead from the front, both on and off the pitch. I think the people of Germany – not just the fans – deserve some success.

    "We know it'll be a tough game against Scotland. They have a lot of quality, lots of stars from the Premier League, so it's going to be a challenge, but we are confident.

    "We're very well set up, full of quality and there's lots of potential in the squad; we just have to deliver now. We haven't done ourselves justice in recent tournaments.

    "We hope this time that we benefit somewhat from the euphoria in our home country and the support of the fans, and that this carries us along. But we know we first have to earn the trust of our fans on the pitch. If we do, I think we will go a long way.

    "Playing a [tournament] in your own country is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, so obviously it feels really special."

    Gundogan also praised the impact of Nagelsmann, who is preparing for his first major international tournament as head coach since replacing Hansi Flick last September.

    The 36-year-old is aiming to become the first Germany boss to win a competition at his first attempt since Jupp Derwall at the 1980 European Championship.

    "He has brought structure to the team," Gundogan observed. "He has clear ideas about what he wants, but still, there is a calmness about how the coaching team deals with the squad, and there's a sense that they have confidence in the players, which reflects well on us.

    "We knew that not everything would go perfectly, we knew we would make mistakes, but we have always felt that the coach was right behind the team. We have the right set-up and are capable of producing our best, to pay back the confidence he has in us."

  • Stones absent from England training through illness Stones absent from England training through illness

    John Stones missed England's second training session in Germany through illness four days before the start of their Euro 2024 campaign. 

    The Manchester City defender featured in the Three Lions' 1-0 defeat to Iceland last week, but was substituted at half-time after picking up an injury.

    However, he was involved in training on Tuesday in Blankenhain. 

    Gareth Southgate has had to deal with several absentees and fitness concerns in the build-up to the tournament, with Stones' long-term international defensive partner Harry Maguire having been left out of the squad due to injury. 

    "The Three Lions squad is out at training this morning, except John Stones who misses out through illness," England posted to X on Wednesday ahead of their Group C fixture with Serbia on Sunday. 

    Of the available central defenders in the 26-man squad, Stones has the most appearances for his nation (72), 19 of which have come during major tournaments. 

    The 30-year-old's total is third-highest in the England squad, and is double the amount of times Joe Gomez, Marc Guehi, Lewis Dunk and Ezri Konsa have featured for their country combined (36). 

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