Austin ended a run of eight matches without victory by crushing Portland Timbers 4-1 in MLS.

Not since May 1 had Austin won a game but that changed on Thursday thanks to Jon Gallagher, Diego Fagundez, Alexander Ring and Hector Jimenez.

Austin – who have Hollywood star Matt McConaughey as part of their ownership group – also celebrated their first victory at Q2 Stadium.

Josh Wolff's Austin had become the third team in MLS history to fail to score in the first two home matches in franchise history after the New York Red Bulls (then-MetroStars) in 1996 and the Miami Fusion in 1998 – New York's first home goal came in the 72nd minute of their third home match (Cle Kooiman own goal), while Miami's was scored in the 27th minute of their third home match by Jerry Tamashiro.

Austin opened their account via Gallagher in the 28th minute in front of a capacity crowd on Thursday before star team-mate Fagundez doubled the lead five minutes later.

The Timbers – who had not won any of their last three away matches against MLS expansion teams (D1 L2), dating back to April 2015 – pulled a goal back via Jeremy Ebobisse in the seventh minute of first-half stoppage time.

That was as good as it got for Portland, however, as quick-fire goals from Ring and Jimenez inside the final 13 minutes sealed maximum points.

Austin are ninth in the Western Conference, level on points with seventh-placed Portland – who occupy the final play-off spot.

Sven-Goran Eriksson heaped praise on "perfectionist" Roberto Mancini as the Italy head coach continues to oversee the stunning transformation of the Azzurri at Euro 2020.

Italy will face Belgium in the quarter-finals on Friday after setting a new national record by extending their unbeaten streak to 31 games thanks to a last-16 triumph over Austria.

A proud football country but a national team on their knees after failing to qualify for Russia 2018, their first World Cup absence since 1958, Mancini is the mastermind behind a drastic recovery following his appointment more than three years ago.

Banishing the nightmares of Gian Piero Ventura's dismal tenure, Italy have only conceded more than once in one of their past 18 matches at major tournaments, dating back to the beginning of Euro 2012.

They have conceded just 13 goals across these matches (eight clean sheets) with the only game where they did concede more than once coming in the 2012 European Championship final against Spain (a 4-0 defeat).

As a whole country unites behind 1968 European champions Italy, former Roma, Sampdoria, Lazio, England and Manchester City boss Eriksson hailed Mancini.

"Italy are playing very, very well," Eriksson, who coached Mancini at Sampdoria and Lazio in Serie A, told Stats Perform. "In the first two, or the first three games, they were the team that played the best football of all. Why? I don't know. However, they have many good players without any doubt, playing in top clubs, important ones.

"And then they have Mancini, Roberto. Clearly, he's been a manager for a long time now, he's been in Italy, he's been in England, in Russia I think, in Turkey as well. However, I knew, 25 years ago, that Mancini would have become a great manager. Because I've had him as a player for eight-nine years, and back then he already was like a manager.

 

"He was everything at Sampdoria: warehouse worker, cook, everything. And manager as well. Because he lives for football and it's always been like that for him. He is very curious – 'Why are we doing this during training?', 'Why don't we do this, or that?'. He would always come to me with questions about our training. And he was always talking about football.

"He's doing a great job, I understand it and I am very, very happy for him because he is also, in his job and I think in his life, a perfectionist. There are no half measures with Mancini. He is all or nothing. When he goes to training, he is all. When he changes club, like when he came with me from Sampdoria to Lazio, he was the same at Lazio. He was giving everything, and he wanted to win at any cost. He is a winning mind, a very winning one."

Eriksson added: "He is also a very generous man. For example, he would invite all the players and the whole coaching staff to the restaurant, once a week or every two weeks.

"Fantastic, fish-based, from Genova. And he would always pay, everything. He's a great man. I think very highly of him, and I am happy that he is doing very well."

Italy have reached the quarter-finals of the European Championship for a fourth consecutive tournament. Each of those previous three appearances at this stage have been decided by a penalty shoot-out, with the Italians eliminated by Spain in 2008 and Germany in 2016 while progressing past England in 2012.

Indeed, that accounts for three of a total of five European Championship penalty shoot-outs Italy have participated in – more than any other nation prior to the 2020 edition.

Italy have won all four of their matches at Euro 2020. They have never won five consecutive games at European Championship finals, while only twice previously have they won five or more in a row at any major tournament (World Cup and Euros), winning seven in a row at the World Cup from 1934 to 1938 and five in succession at the World Cup in 1990.

"I don't see a weak spot. Mancini, as perfectionist as he is, always wants to play good football. And maybe this is a weak spot," Eriksson said. "However, it's not actually. I like seeing the football played by Italy, because they attack, they play the ball pushing forward, they don't play like tic-tac, tic-tac. They get the ball, they steal the ball and then go. They lose the ball, they fall back, they defend, aggressive. This is a kind of football that is very nice to see.

"It's clear that Barcelona, Spain, play good football. However, I don't like it that much, because there are a thousand passes before they decide to attack for real. I know that Mancini is not like that. Mancini wants to attack. I hope that this style gets to the end."

Paraguay will need to end a torrid run of form against Peru if they are to book a place in the semi-finals of the Copa America. 

Eduardo Berizzo's side have failed to win any of their last seven games against Peru, with their last victory coming in a friendly in November 2014. 

A 1-0 defeat to Uruguay in their final Group A game meant Paraguay finished third with six points from four games. 

They suffered a blow in that clash when influential midfielder Miguel Almiron limped off.

A late decision will be made on the Newcastle United man's fitness ahead of the match at Estadio Olimpico Pedro Ludovico in Goiania, with Oscar Romero and Andres Cubas among the options to come into the starting XI.

Peru, meanwhile, wrapped up their Group B campaign with a slender 1-0 victory over Venezuela. 

Although anything but progress to the knockout stages would have been considered disappointing, Ricardo Gareca's team perhaps did better than they expected in beating Colombia to second place in the group.

Peru claimed two wins and a draw from their four games, with their only defeat coming against Brazil, who may well be their semi-final opponents should they progress.

Speaking at a media conference on Thursday, Gareca said: "We are improving day by day, game by game. Now it is the elimination stage so we need to be more attentive during the game. 

"The more we can develop what we believe and understand what our strengths are there will be possibilities for us."

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Peru – Christian Cueva

If Peru are to secure progression to the last four then the creative burden will likely fall on the shoulders of Cueva. Three key passes, one shot, five tackles and eight possession regains summed up an all-action performance from the 29-year-old against Venezuela last time out.

Paraguay – Junior Alonso

There was little to get excited about in the defeat to Uruguay, but captain Alonso can be pleased with his performance. The Atletico Mineiro defender made more interceptions (four) than any other player on the pitch, while no player made more than his five clearances.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Peru have only lost one of their last four games against Paraguay in the Copa America (W1 D2), after being defeated in the previous four.
- Paraguay conceded less than one goal per game on average in their last seven Copa America games.
- In fact, Paraguay have not conceded more than two goals in the competition since June 2015 (1-6 v Argentina).
- No other team has scored more left-footed goals in this Copa America than Paraguay. Four of their five goals have come this way.
- Alonso is the player with the most successful passes so far in this Copa America (256).

Roberto Martinez will decide on Friday whether Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard will play any part in Belgium's Euro 2020 quarter-final tie with Italy.

De Bruyne was forced off early in the second half of Sunday's 1-0 last-16 win over Portugal with an ankle problem, while Hazard damaged his hamstring later in the same game.

Both players have travelled to Munich for Friday's showdown with Italy, though neither took part in Belgium's final training session ahead of the match.

Martinez admitted on Monday it was unlikely either De Bruyne or Hazard would be fully recovered in time, and the Spaniard still remains unsure if either player will make the squad.

"As you know they have not been able to train today," he said at Thursday's pre-match news conference. 

"There is still another 24 hours to go and they are positive they can recover. It is now a race against time to make a decision.

"We won't make a decision until the last minute. At the moment it's impossible to say whether they will get fit."

Asked if he is playing mind games by making Italy guess as to the pair's availability, Martinez said: "We are trying to get them fit. It has nothing to do with games or arrogance.

"We are in tournament mode. If they are not available tomorrow, we hope to have them available later."

Injury-plagued forward Hazard has struggled for fitness over the past couple of seasons and Martinez appeared to suggest the Real Madrid man has less of a chance of being fit.

"For Eden, it's difficult as it's a muscle injury," he said. "For Kevin, it's another type of injury. It's a decision for the medical staff. We will then make a decision when we hear back."

 

The winners of Friday's match at the Allianz Arena will face either Switzerland or Spain for a place in the final.

Italy needed extra time to overcome Austria in the last round, with that 2-1 victory extending the Azzurri's unbeaten run to a new national record of 31 matches.

Roberto Mancini's side have conceded more than once in only one of their last 18 games at major tournaments, conceding just 13 times in total across that sequence.

Martinez got the better of Mancini in the 2013 FA Cup final, with Wigan Athletic stunning Manchester City, but the Spaniard is full of praise for what his opposite number has achieved.

"Italy are a great team," he said. "They press with many players and are very dynamic, with many players able to counter-attack.

"If I have to mention one quality in particular it is the synchrony. That is credit to Mancini and that is why they are unbeaten for so long.

"Italy and Belgium are statistically the best teams in the European Championship, and the teams that have won the most games since qualifying.

"It's a pity we're meeting them already, just like we faced Portugal too early."

Against no side have Belgium played more games at major tournaments without winning than Italy (four, level with France and Germany).

The only European nations Italy have faced more often at the same tournaments without losing, meanwhile, are Germany (nine) and Austria (five).

However, the Red Devils have won seven of their last eight matches at the European Championships – the exception being a 3-1 loss to Wales in the 2016 quarter-finals.

Italy head coach Roberto Mancini hopes Belgium duo Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard will feature in Friday's Euro 2020 quarter-final clash despite Red Devils boss Roberto Martinez suggesting they will not be fit. 

De Bruyne was forced off early in the second half during his side's 1-0 win over Portugal on Sunday.

The Manchester City midfielder was seen with ice on his left ankle while watching on from the sideline, where he was later joined by Hazard after the Real Madrid winger damaged his hamstring late in proceedings.

Martinez revealed on the eve of the game – the first ever between Italy and Belgium in a knockout tie at a major tournament – that it is "impossible" to predict whether the pair will be available to play a part in Munich.

Mancini, however, said the best players deserve to play in the biggest games and would have no issues should they recover in time. 

"It's always nice for the fans to see all the best players on the pitch; that's what makes football special," he told a media conference.

"We face the best team in Europe along with France, maybe the best in the world. They are on top of the ranking, but we'll try to win. 

"I respect Belgium, but we'll need to play as we know, we are aware of our qualities. Belgium are preparing for an important game and the same goes for us."

 

So impressive in the group stage, the Azzurri had to be patient before landing the decisive blows against Austria in a last-16 clash at Wembley that went to extra time.

Mancini's side prevailed 2-1 in the end, setting a new national record in the process as they extended their unbeaten run to 31 games.

"We knew Austria could create trouble for us and we knew it could have been the most difficult game because it was the first one in the knockout phase," Mancini explained.

"Every game can make you stronger if you improve. We suffered against Austria, but we had 27 shots. It was a tough game, but we deserved to win. There are no easy games, that's what the Euros are teaching us."

This is Italy's fourth consecutive appearance in the quarter-final stage of the European Championship.

Each of those previous three appearances have been decided by a penalty shootout, with the Italians eliminated by Spain in 2008 and Germany in 2016 while progressing past England in 2012.

Indeed, that accounts for three of Italy's five European Championship penalty shootouts – more than any other nation prior to the 2020 edition.

Luis Enrique pledged there will be no complacency from his Spain side as La Roja prepare to take on Switzerland in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020.

While Spain needed extra-time to see off a resurgent Croatia 5-3 in the last 16, Switzerland stunned world champions France 5-4 on penalties after a dramatic 3-3 draw in Bucharest.

Both of those ties took place on Monday, albeit Switzerland's game edged into Tuesday local time, and the teams now face a quick turnaround for Friday's contest in Saint Petersburg.

This is the first meeting between Switzerland and Spain at the European Championship.

Their three previous meetings in a major tournament came in the 1966, 1994 and 2010 World Cups, with La Roja winning the first two and Switzerland triumphing last time out – albeit Spain went on to win the trophy despite that group-stage defeat.

However, that defeat in South Africa is Spain's only loss to Switzerland in 22 meetings in all competitions.

The teams met in October and November last year, in the Nations League group stage, with Spain winning 1-0 at home before drawing 1-1 on the road, and Luis Enrique is under no illusions as to the scale of test his team will have to pass if they are to face either Belgium or Italy in the last four.

"The reality is Switzerland have got through and nothing else matters," Spain's head coach told a news conference.

"The good thing for us is that both teams know each other very well. We competed recently in the Nations League.

"They're going to be a very tough team to face and I think for the spectator there might not be some big names, but they're a great group of players.

"They're a match for us in terms of the way they press, the way they attack, so it's going to be very difficult for us."

Spain are the first team in European Championship history to score five or more goals in consecutive games, having defeated Slovakia 5-0 in their final group match before edging Croatia in a thriller.

They had not scored more than four goals in any of their first 42 matches in the competition, though Switzerland have netted three times in each of their last two games, having never scored more than twice in any of their first 15 matches at the Euros.

"We need to be hungry again, greedy, to make it to the next round," Switzerland coach Vladimir Petkovic, who will be shorn of the suspended Granit Xhaka, told reporters.

"From this point on I can't say I'm satisfied and happy that we made it so far because, for me, the next step is always the most important.

"We want to succeed, make it to the next round. We know that we have to play against one of the strongest teams, Spain, one of the favourites, but we will try to take our chance and make it to the next round."

Alexander Isak has signed a contract extension with Real Sociedad that ties him to the LaLiga club until the end of the 2025-26 season.

The Sweden striker has scored 26 league goals in Spain since arriving from Borussia Dortmund, while he also found the net seven times during a successful Copa del Rey run in the 2019-20 campaign that ended the club's 34-year trophy drought.

After helping his country reach the last 16 at Euro 2020, Isak has committed his long-term future to La Real, who reached an agreement with Dortmund over a buy-back clause earlier in the offseason.

According to reports in the Spanish media, the new deal for the 21-year-old – who has been linked with a move to the Premier League – sees his release clause rise to €90million.

"I'm very happy to continue at La Real. It is a great club, I feel loved here and hope to enjoy things with this team for many more years," Isak said.

 

Real Sociedad finished fifth in LaLiga last term, good enough for Europa League qualification.

Isak scored 17 times in the domestic competition and while unable to grab a goal for his country during Euro 2020, his performances helped Sweden top a group that included Spain, Slovakia and Poland.

Their run in the tournament came to a dramatic end at Hampden Park on Tuesday, however, as a last-gasp winner at the end of extra time saw them go down 2-1 to Ukraine.

Brazil have recent history on their side as they take on Chile on Friday, with a place in the Copa America semi-finals up for grabs.

The tournament hosts – and defending champions – won their opening three fixtures before a second-string team drew 1-1 with Ecuador last time out.

Their place at the top of Group B pitted them against Chile, who finished fourth in Group A.

Champions in 2015 and 2016, Chile won only one game in the group stage, beating Bolivia 1-0. They recorded two draws either side of that victory before a disappointing 2-0 reverse to Paraguay.

Tite's team have won their previous four Copa America clashes with Chile, and what would appear an easier passage to the final awaits them should they extend that run in Rio de Janeiro.

Peru, thrashed by Brazil 4-0 in the group stage, or Paraguay will be the semi-final opponents for the winner of Friday's encounter, and though Brazil will be confident, Chile's single group-stage loss was their only defeat in their past seven games.

"The objectives set were for performance and results in the first stage," Tite told a news conference on Thursday.

"We got three wins and a draw; we used all the players. We are prepared for what is coming with confidence. The objectives were fulfilled.

"In those decisive games, we have to be very strong in four factors: the tactical, technical, physical and emotional parts. If we are, we are much closer to victory."

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Brazil – Richarlison

No other Brazil player has had more touches in the opposition box at the Copa America than Richarlison (26). Indeed, only Uruguay's Luis Suarez (27) has managed more.

Chile – Arturo Vidal

Inter's Vidal had a game-high 113 touches in Chile's defeat to Paraguay, though he had just one attempt and failed to create a chance. Against a star-studded Brazil team, Martin Lasarte will need the combative midfielder at his battling best.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Brazil's draw with Ecuador snapped a 10-match winning streak, which stretched back to a friendly defeat to Argentina in November 2019.
- Across Brazil's four straight wins over Chile in the Copa America, they have scored 11 goals, conceding just once in return.
- In fact, Brazil have been able to keep a clean sheet against La Roja in three of the past four games in the Copa America.
- The last time Chile were able to score more than one goal against Brazil in the competition was in the 1993 edition, in a 3-2 victory.
- No other team has scored more headed goals at this year's tournament than Brazil (three).

Cristiano Ronaldo has not signalled that he wants to leave Juventus and will soon join up with his team-mates for pre-season training, according to football director Federico Cherubini.

Portugal international Ronaldo is into the final year of the four-year contract signed when joining from Real Madrid in a €112million (£99.2m) deal.

The 36-year-old has been tipped to leave Turin ahead of the new campaign, with former clubs Manchester United and Real Madrid among those to have been linked, along with Paris Saint-Germain.

Speculation over Ronaldo's future comes amid a period of change at Juve, with Massimiliano Allegri returning as head coach and Cherubini replacing Fabio Paratici, while Maurizio Arrivabene has been named CEO.

However, speaking at a news conference on Thursday to officially mark his appointment, Cherubini dismissed recent reports that Ronaldo is looking to move on during the current transfer window.

"There has been no signal from Ronaldo," he said. "Especially [on] the rumours that there should be a transfer. There's no sign from Juventus in this regard.

"Last season he scored 36 goals in 44 games. The numbers don't always say everything but hide many truths. 

"We are happy that Ronaldo will join the team as soon as he has finished his holidays."

 

Ronaldo is being given an extended break after featuring four times for Portugal at Euro 2020.

The five-time Ballon d'Or winner could not fire the reigning European champions beyond the last 16, where they fell to Belgium, but he did score five times to equal Ali Daei as the leading all-time goalscorer in international men's football on 109.

Ronaldo scored 29 times in 2020-21 to win the Capocannoniere, meanwhile, having previously also been the top scorer in the Premier League and LaLiga.

Since joining Juve in July 2018, only Robert Lewandowski (103) has scored more goals in all competitions than Ronaldo's 73 among players in Europe's top five leagues.

Ronaldo's 83 goal involvements over that period rank fourth behind Lewandowski (121), Lionel Messi (106) and Kylian Mbappe (97).

Speaking about his club future ahead of Portugal's ultimately underwhelming Euros campaign, Ronaldo said reports of interest from rival clubs were causing him "no sleepless nights".

Asked to clarify if Ronaldo will still be a Juventus player in 2020-21, Cherubini said: "I don't have a crystal ball. Right now, there are no signals regarding a possible transfer. But let me reaffirm: I'll be happy if he stays."

 

Juve announced on Wednesday that a cash injection of €400m has been sanctioned to help redress the financial damage wrought by the coronavirus pandemic.

The Italian club's analysis of the cost of the pandemic's impact suggests they are set to lose €320m in total between 2019 and 2022.

President Andrea Agnelli, who led attempts to form a breakaway Super League, used Thursday's news conference to discuss the magnitude of the financial problems now facing football clubs in general. 

"UEFA knows the whole situation in all leagues. UEFA estimates a liquidity need of around €8.5bn for the clubs," he said.

"There's a risk that around 120 clubs will be at risk of insolvency in the short term. Some operations have been announced on the debt side and I'm thinking of Barcelona, Inter, West Ham, Porto for significant amounts.

"Then there are capital increases such as Roma, Atletico Madrid and we are here too. We fit into this context. It's important that the shareholders support the growth of this club. 

"The ownership is one of the strengths of this club, I say this as president and a member of the family."

Agnelli also reiterated that he expects Juventus to compete in the Champions League next season, despite the ongoing fallout from the Super League plans.

"We have calmly received the letter from UEFA admitting us to the next Champions League," he said. 

"On our part there's a willingness to talk and we are not afraid of the threats that have been made in recent months and are convinced that legal actions will lead to successes."

Lionel Messi became a free agent on Thursday, but Xavi believes it is a matter of time before the captain and record goalscorer re-commits to Barcelona.

While away with Argentina at the Copa America, Messi has been focusing on that tournament, and as July arrived there was no word of a new contract at Camp Nou.

That meant his previous deal expired, making Messi potentially available to suitors that may wish to sign him.

Interest from Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain has appeared to go quiet amid an assumption that Messi will stay with Barcelona.

Former team-mate Xavi feels Messi is moving closer to signing again with the Catalans and would put money on the 34-year-old doing so, even if small doubts linger.

"These are market circumstances, we have to wait," Xavi said. "I imagine he is talking to the club and the president.

"I wish Leo the best, as a friend of his and as a cule [a Barcelona fan], I wish him to continue at Barca. Hopefully, it can be announced as soon as possible."

Speaking to Mundo Deportivo, Xavi, who is coach of Al Sadd, added: "If I had to bet, I would say that he will continue at the club, although many things have been said in football, but I would say that he will continue.

"Leo needs Barca and Barca need Leo. He is happy in Barcelona; he has spent his life there. I would bet on him renewing."

Messi was again hugely influential for the LaLiga giants last season, finishing as the league's top scorer and managing 38 goals and 12 assists across all competitions.

He created 117 chances for others and netted a goal every 110.32 minutes, when taking all competitions into account.

Jordi Alba was next on the list of the most chances created, teeing up 85 goalscoring opportunities, while of players with more than five goals, Antoine Griezmann had the next-best minutes-per-goal ratio, with one every 195.2 minutes.

 

In terms of the most games played, top-flight rookie Pedri finished top of the pile with 52 games, and he has since gone on to play for Spain at Euro 2020.

Pedri will then go on to the Olympic Games and will have had barely any break by the time LaLiga gets under way in 2021-22.

Barcelona are reportedly unhappy at the demands placed on the shoulders of the 18-year-old midfielder, but Xavi thinks such experiences are priceless.

He said: "If I were Pedri, I would go to the Games. I had the opportunity at the time, and they are opportunities that do not return.

"He is 18 years old and footballers want to play. It's a unique opportunity to go to the Games. If you ask Pedri, he will tell you that he is excited."

A fully fit Leon Bailey has been included in Jamaica’s 23-man squad named today for the 2021 Gold Cup competition in the United States.

Borussia Dortmund head coach Marco Rose is confident Borussia Dortmund can adapt to life without Jadon Sancho once the winger completes a move to Manchester United.

BVB confirmed on Thursday an €85million (£72.9m) agreement is in place with United for the England international, which will make him the Red Devils' fourth-most expensive signing.

The transfer will officially go through once the 21-year-old completes a medical and agrees personal terms following the conclusion of England's Euro 2020 campaign.

Sancho arrived at Dortmund from Manchester City in 2017 and scored 50 goals and provided 57 assists in 137 appearances for the German side across all competitions

He is the only player from Europe's top five leagues to have scored 10 goals or more and had at least 15 assists across all competitions in each of the past three seasons.

Rose accepts Sancho's exit will leave a void in attack, but the new BVB boss intends to adapt in order to get the most out of the players available to him.

"Jadon's qualities are unpredictable. Every coach likes to have a player like Jadon Sancho on his team," Rose said at his introductory news conference on Thursday.

"We knew there was a chance Jadon wouldn't be here next season. We'll try to replace him and find solutions. We see opportunities in repositioning ourselves in certain areas."

 

Only champions Bayern Munich (99) scored more Bundesliga goals than the 75 Dortmund managed last season, but they let in 46 at the other end of the field.

That tally was bettered by Bayern, Union Berlin, Bayer Leverkusen, Wolfsburg and RB Leipzig, and Rose hopes to improve on that record in his first season in charge.

"BVB conceded too many goals last season. We will tackle that," he said. "We want to stabilise the defence without neglecting other aspects of our game.

"We have to be flexible and play different ways. We want to master three at the back and four. The diamond is an interesting system, too.

"What matters is where the boys feel comfortable. We have to play the type of football that people here can identify with.

"The way we want to play is already clear in my head. It then depends on which players you have in the squad and the basic structure also depends on it."

While Sancho's future is close to being resolved, there remain plenty of questions regarding fellow attacker Erling Haaland.

Haaland has scored 57 goals in 59 games in all competitions since arriving at Dortmund from Salzburg in January 2020 and has been linked with numerous heavyweight clubs.

The Norway international previously worked with Rose at Salzburg and the Dortmund head coach has not been surprised by the prolific striker's development.

Asked how he would describe the past 18 months for Haaland, Rose said: "Like a rocket! But I have to say it didn't surprise me.

"We have spoken on the phone and exchanged messages. He is not in training yet and has another few days off."

Manchester United have confirmed an agreement in principle has been reached to sign Jadon Sancho, who will complete his move after Euro 2020.

Sancho is set to become the fourth most expensive signing in United's history, behind Paul Pogba, Harry Maguire and Romelu Lukaku, after the Premier League club agreed an €85million (£72.9million) fee with Borussia Dortmund.

United were keen on the 21-year-old last year but could not drive through a deal at the time, with Dortmund reluctant to sell one of their chief assets.

However, the Bundesliga club confirmed on Thursday they have agreed to sell the winger who arrived at Signal Iduna Park from Manchester City, with the Red Devils ready to conclude the transfer once the player has finished representing England at the ongoing European Championship.

"Manchester United is delighted to announce it has reached agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of Jadon Sancho," a short statement from United read.

"The signing is subject to contractual terms and a medical, which will be completed after Jadon's involvement in the European Championship."

 

Gareth Southgate's England face Ukraine in the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 in Rome on Saturday.

Sancho has featured for just six minutes in the tournament so far, despite scoring 50 goals and providing 57 assists in 137 appearances across all competitions for Dortmund.

He became the first Englishman to reach at least 10 assists for three straight seasons in Europe's top-five leagues since former United star David Beckham, who achieved the feat between 1997-98 and 2000-01.

Indeed, only Thomas Muller (48) and Lionel Messi (43) have managed to provide more assists at that league level since the start of the 2018-19 campaign than Sancho (41).

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is set to have another attacking option to add to his squad; they begin the new Premier League season against Leeds United at Old Trafford on August 14.

Italy and Belgium will meet in a knockout tie for the first time at a major tournament on Friday, with two European heavyweights ready to fight it out for a semi-final spot at Euro 2020.

So impressive in the group stage, the Azzurri had to be patient before landing the decisive blows against Austria in a last-16 clash at Wembley that went to extra time.

Roberto Mancini's side prevailed 2-1 in the end, setting a new national record in the process as they extended their unbeaten run to 31 games.

That streak now faces a serious test against Belgium, who knocked out reigning champions Portugal in the previous round. Victory did come at a cost, however, as both Kevin De Bruyne and Eden Hazard suffered injuries in the 1-0 result.

While the Italy game may come too soon for the pair, Roberto Martinez retains hope they will be able to feature again, provided, of course, their team-mates find a way to get past Italy.

"I think they are the team that have played the best games," Belgium forward Dries Mertens – who plays his club football for Napoli in Serie A – said ahead of the fixture against some familiar faces.

"For sure the first three games they played very good football and they were very combative, it was beautiful to see them play."

Italy have reached the quarter-final stage for a fourth consecutive edition, and each of those previous three last-eight appearances at European Championships have been decided by a penalty shoot-out.

Considering the respective form of both nations – Belgium have won seven of their previous eight outings, going back to Euro 2016 – it would be no surprise to see the eye-catching battle go the distance in Munich.

 

PLAYERS TO WATCH

Belgium - Thorgan Hazard

There will still be a need for Italy to be on Hazard watch at the Allianz Arena: Thorgan – younger brother of the injured Eden – has been directly involved in six goals in his past seven starts for his country (four goals, two assists) and has scored in his previous two appearances at Euro 2020.

The Borussia Dortmund man could become just the second player for Belgium to score in three consecutive major tournament appearances, matching the feat of Marc Wilmots at the 2002 World Cup.

Italy - Matteo Pessina

Atalanta midfielder Pessina has scored in successive games, but no player has ever managed to do so for three in a row when representing Italy at a European Championship campaign.

Christian Vieri has done so at a World Cup previously, enjoying a four-game scoring streak at the 1998 edition. Italy exited at the quarter-final stage on penalties that year to eventual winners France.

KEY OPTA FACTS

- Against no side have Belgium played more games at major tournaments without winning than Italy (4, level with France and Germany). The only European nations Italy have faced more often without losing are Germany (9) and Austria (5).

- Italy have only conceded more than once in one of their past 18 matches at major tournaments, dating back to the beginning of Euro 2012. They have conceded just 13 goals across these matches (eight clean sheets) with the only game where they did concede more than once coming in the 2012 European Championship final against Spain (a 4-0 defeat).

- Belgium have won seven of their last eight matches at European Championships – the exception in this run was at the quarter-final stage of Euro 2016, when they lost 3-1 to Wales.

- Italy have never won five consecutive games at a European Championship, while only twice previously have they won five or more in a row at any major tournament. They managed seven in succession at the World Cup from 1934 to 1938, then five on the bounce at the 1990 edition.

- Belgium eliminated reigning champions Portugal in the round of 16 – four of the five nations to win a knockout stage tie (including finals) against the reigning European champions have gone on to win the trophy, with the exception being Italy at Euro 2016.

- Since Roberto Martinez's first game in charge in September 2016, Belgium have won more games (47) and scored more goals (175) than any other European nation in all competitions.

Luis Enrique's free-scoring Spain will look to avoid the same fate as France when they take on European Championship quarter-final debutants Switzerland.

Switzerland pulled off one of the tournament's all-time greatest shocks by eliminating competition favourites France on penalties in the last 16 after a thrilling 3-3 draw.

La Roja were also involved in a game that saw six goals inside an eventful 90 minutes, before going on to beat Croatia 5-3 in extra time in another Euros classic.

In doing so, Spain became the first side in European Championship history to score five or more goals in successive games, having seen off Slovakia 5-0 in their final group match.

Ahead of Friday's showdown with Switzerland, Luis Enrique has vowed to stick to an attacking style of play.

"I'm ready for games like the one against Croatia if we have another – but I'm not sure if my family or the fans feel the same," he said.

"We won't play long ball, defensive football even if playing the way we do brings wild matches. We only defend by trying to own the ball and play."

Switzerland have reached the last eight of the World Cup on three occasions, but this is the furthest they have ever made it at a European Championship.

They have never previously made it to the semi-finals of a tournament but, buoyed by their famous triumph against France, Vladimir Petkovic's players have a chance to change that.

"The game against France was almost too emotional. All my players gave 120 per cent," said Petkovic, who will be without suspended skipper Granit Xhaka.

"It was probably one of my team's best games ever. We will now need a similar performance against Spain in the quarter-finals."

Spain have lost just one of their 22 meetings with Switzerland in all competitions (W16 D5), with that solitary defeat coming in the 2010 World Cup in South Africa.

 


PLAYERS TO WATCH

Switzerland - Haris Seferovic

Benfica striker Seferovic scored just one goal in his first 13 major tournament appearances for Switzerland, but he has now netted three in his last two appearances at Euro 2020.

That includes a couple of well-taken goals in the win against France, and he is now out to become the second Swiss player – after Josef Hugi at the 1954 World Cup – to score in three successive appearances in a single tournament.

Spain - Ferran Torres

Manchester City attacker Torres was recalled to Spain's starting line-up for the Croatia match after scoring from the bench in the resounding win against Slovakia.

He made the most of his opportunity with another goal and an assist in the last 16, making it eight goal involvements – seven goals and one assist – in his last nine international appearances.


KEY OPTA FACTS

- This is the first clash between Switzerland and Spain at the Euros. Their three previous meetings in a major tournament came in the 1966, 1994 and 2010 World Cups, with Spain winning the first two and Switzerland triumphing last time out.

- Spain have scored five-plus goals in consecutive European Championship games. They had not scored more than four goals in any of their first 42 matches in the competition.

- Switzerland have scored three times in each of their past two Euros matches, having never scored more than twice in any of their first 15 in the competition. They previously scored three-plus goals in three straight matches in all competitions in October 2017.

- Having scored with just 8.5 per cent of their shots in the group stages (4/47), Switzerland converted 25 per cent of their attempts in the last-16 meeting with France (3/12).

- Spain are averaging 73.4 per cent possession and have a passing accuracy of 89.5 per cent at Euro 2020 so far. Both figures are their highest on record in a single European Championship (since 1980).

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.