Adam Hlozek has signed for Bayer Leverkusen on a five-year deal, joining Czech Republic team-mate Patrik Schick in the Bundesliga side's attack.

The 19-year-old moves from Sparta Prague, where he scored 34 goals in 105 games across four seasons in the Czech Liga.

Leverkusen are reported to have paid €13million for Hlozek, who was also linked with Sevilla.

He boosts Gerardo Seoane's options going forward ahead of the 2022-23 campaign, when Leverkusen will return to the Champions League.

They have also committed leading scorer Schick to a new contract, although Florian Wirtz remains out following an ACL tear and Moussa Diaby has been linked with a move away.

Alfredo Morelos scored both goals as Rangers booked their place in the Europa League knockout stages with victory over Sparta Prague.

The Colombia international opened his group-stage account with a strike inside the opening quarter of an hour of Thursday's Group A contest.

He doubled the lead by capitalising on a huge defensive error early in the second half to give Giovanni van Bronckhorst a winning start at Ibrox and guarantee continental football in the New Year.

The hosts subsequently went second in Group A – three points ahead of Sparta – and progress to the knockout rounds at their opponents' expense with a superior head-to-head record.

Rangers made a strong start in the first match of Van Bronckhorst's reign, with Joe Aribo rattling the crossbar after a positive run by Ryan Kent.

And they took the lead in the 15th minute – Ianis Hagi stretching to help James Tavernier's pass into the path of Morelos, who confidently swept the ball home.

Hagi was involved again eight minutes later, but Aribo was unable to keep the ball down from his delicious cross.

Allan McGregor was then called into action at the other end with smart reflexes to deny Martin Minchev from close range.

Moreles doubled his and Rangers' tally four minutes into the second half and it was an absolute gift.

Filip Panak ludicrously opted to play the ball across his own penalty area, with the Colombian intercepting the attempted pass and heading into an empty net. 

Sparta had won six of their seven previous European matches against Scottish opposition, and looked to keep their hopes alive.

Although forcing McGregor into a wonderful double save later on, they rarely troubled Rangers, who condemned them to a ninth defeat in 11 away Europa League games.

UEFA will not open a disciplinary case against Sparta Prague after finding insufficient evidence of discriminatory behaviour in their Europa League match with Rangers.

The game, won 1-0 by the Scottish champions, was originally due to be played behind closed doors following the racist abuse of Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni in August but around 10,000 school children and accompanying adults were allowed to attend.

The contest was marred by the booing of Rangers' black players, with Glen Kamara seemingly subjected to particularly vocal taunts.

Last March, UEFA ruled Kamara had been the victim of a racist slur from Ondrej Kudela in Rangers' fixture against Sparta's Czech rivals Slavia Prague.

However, following an investigation by a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector, European football's governing body said no further action would be taken.

A statement confirmed: "In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector was appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding potential discriminatory incidents which allegedly occurred during the 2021-22 UEFA Europa League group stage match between AC Sparta Prague and Rangers FC played on September 30, 2021.
 
"The investigation has now concluded that there was insufficient evidence of racism or discriminatory conduct at the match to warrant the opening of disciplinary proceedings against AC Sparta Prague."

After the game, Sparta issued a statement to insist any allegations of racism were unfounded.

"It is absolutely unbelievable that after a match we have to watch innocent children being attacked and face unfounded accusations of racism," the club said. 

"You are describing the behaviour of children incorrectly, arrogating to yourself the right to judge the expression of emotions of six-year-old children who have no idea what racism is. It's an impertinence."

UEFA has launched an investigation into alleged "discriminatory incidents" in Sparta Prague's Europa League clash with Rangers.

The fixture, which the Scottish Premiership champions won 1-0, was originally due to be played behind closed doors following the racist abuse of Monaco midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni in August but around 10,000 school children and accompanying adults were allowed to attend.

The match last Thursday was marred by the booing of Rangers' black players, with Glen Kamara seemingly subjected to particularly vocal taunts.

Last March, UEFA ruled Kamara had been the victim of a racist slur from Ondrej Kudela in Rangers' fixture against Sparta's Czech rivals Slavia Prague.

European football's governing body said in a statement on Tuesday: "In accordance with Article 31(4) of the UEFA Disciplinary Regulations, a UEFA Ethics and Disciplinary Inspector has been appointed to conduct a disciplinary investigation regarding potential discriminatory incidents allegedly occurring during the 2021/22 UEFA Europa League group stage match between AC Sparta Praha and Rangers FC played on 30 September 2021."

Following the fixture, Gers boss Steven Gerrard called for harsher punishments to tackle incidents of racism.

"Sadly, these things keep raising their head far too often and, unfortunately, the punishments are not severe enough," Gerrard said.

Sparta released a statement in response, claiming that the actions of the children watching had been misunderstood and that allegations of racism were wide of the mark.

"It is absolutely unbelievable that after a match we have to watch innocent children being attacked and face unfounded accusations of racism," the statement said. 

"You are describing the behaviour of children incorrectly, arrogating to yourself the right to judge the expression of emotions of six-year-old children who have no idea what racism is. It's an impertinence."

Steven Gerrard called for tougher punishments to tackle racism after Glen Kamara was booed during Rangers' 1-0 defeat against Sparta Prague in the Europa League.

The midfielder was the subject of what UEFA declared to be "racist behaviour" by Ondrej Kudela, who plays for neighbouring Slavia Prague in April, before being subjected to more reported abuse in Thursday's game.

The crowd was restricted to children and their chaperones after Sparta were sanctioned by UEFA for racially abusing Monaco's Aurelien Tchouameni, but Gerrard admitted he could hear the booing after watching a replay of the game.

"I'm fully aware now [of the booing] having watched the game back with audio and I'm actually surprised I wasn't aware of it during the game," Gerrard told reporters on Friday.

"Sadly, these things keep raising their head far too often and, unfortunately, the punishments are not severe enough."

Sparta responded with a statement in which they defended their young fans, insisting their actions had been misinterpreted while stating the match will be remembered positively in the club's history.

"It is absolutely unbelievable that after a match we have to watch innocent children being attacked and face unfounded accusations of racism," the statement said. "Insulting children on the internet and in the media is unacceptable, desperate and ridiculous.

"Stop attacking our children! Our club will proudly defend our children - our future and our pride. Slandering children on the internet is extremely cowardly.

"We are seeing unprecedented xenophobic statements against the Czech Republic, its citizens and even its children on social media.

"You are describing the behaviour of children incorrectly, arrogating to yourself the right to judge the expression of emotions of six-year-old children who have no idea what racism is. It's an impertinence.

"This match will go down in the club's history in a positive sense. We ask the representatives of Rangers to do their part to stop the xenophobic atmosphere directed towards our children, our beautiful country and its inhabitants."

Ten-man Rangers fell to a second straight defeat to begin their Europa League campaign as they went down 1-0 to Sparta Prague at Generali Arena. 

The Gers went unbeaten on their travels in this competition last season but failed to respond in the Czech capital on Thursday after David Hancko headed Sparta into a first-half lead. 

Jakub Pesek missed an open goal early in the second period but Rangers, who lost 2-0 to Lyon in their opening game, had Glen Kamara sent off 16 minutes from time and were unable to get off the mark in Group A. 

The defeat leaves Steven Gerrard's side bottom of the standings, six points off leaders Lyon – who beat Brondby 3-0 – and four adrift of Sparta in the other qualification spot. 

Sparta's stalemate with Brondby two weeks ago had the lowest expected goals (0.8) of any matchday-one fixture, but Pesek and Martin Minchev forced Rangers goalkeeper Allan McGregor into a couple of good saves inside the opening 25 minutes. 

Hancko found a way through for Sparta soon after with a flicked header that went in off the far post despite McGregor's attempt to claw the ball away before it was awarded by goal-line technology. 

The hosts wasted a huge chance to double their tally 22 seconds into the second half when Adam Hlozek broke free and teed up Pesek for what looked like being a simple finish, only for the winger to blast the ball against the crossbar with the goal gaping. 

After surviving a scare less than a minute later when Fashion Sakala's close-range finish was ruled out for offside, Sparta were again denied by McGregor as he used his feet to keep out Lukas Haraslin from a one-on-one. 

That ensured Rangers still had some hope of at least snatching a point, but Kamara was shown a second yellow for a raised arm on Michal Sacek and they were unable to muster any further clear-cut openings. 

What does the future hold for Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez?

The pair helped Inter to their first Scudetto since 2009-10.

But both could depart San Siro as Inter look to cut costs.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU AND LAUTARO TO LEAVE INTER?

Inter could be forced to sell star forwards Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martinez, according to Corriere dello Sport.

Antonio Conte's Inter have been crowned Serie A champions this season, but the Nerazzurri have financial problems as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

Lukaku has been linked with former club Chelsea, Barcelona and Real Madrid, while team-mate Martinez has long been tipped to join Barca.

Alessandro Bastoni is also listed in the report amid links to Manchester City and Liverpool, while star full-back Achraf Hakimi is said to be of interest to Arsenal and Bayern Munich.

 

ROUND-UP

- The front page of Thursday's Mundo Deportivo reports Barca look at the idea of signing City's Sergio Aguero favourably. Aguero is out of contract at season's end and he has been linked with Inter, Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Tottenham. But the Argentina star reportedly wants to play alongside countryman Lionel Messi. A move for Aguero would not prevent Barca from signing fellow free agent and Lyon captain Memphis Depay. Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland is also a target for the LaLiga giants. It comes amid doubts over the future of head coach Ronald Koeman.

Manchester United and Arsenal are battling to sign Sparta Prague sensation Abdallah Sima, claims the Mirror. Sima is reportedly valued at £25million (€29m).

- Sky Sports says United are interested in Juventus defender Cristian Romero, who could cost £34m (€40m). The 23-year-old Argentinian joined Atalanta on a two-year loan deal from Juve and the Serie A side have an option to buy Romero. United have also been linked with Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Lille defender Sven Botman, Villarreal centre-back Pau Torres and Real Madrid duo Sergio Ramos and Raphael Varane.

- Former Chelsea boss Frank Lampard could replace Roy Hodgson at Crystal Palace after emerging as a leading contender, according to the Daily Telegraph.

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