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Van Dijk, Messi and Ronaldo vie for UEFA Player of the Year award

Friday, 2019-08-16 07:19:08
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Soccer Football - UEFA Super Cup - Liverpool v Chelsea - Vodafone Arena, Istanbul, Turkey - August 14, 2019 Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk during the warm up before the match REUTERS/Kemal Aslan
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Lionel Messi, Cristiano Ronaldo and Virgil Van Dijk have been shortlisted for the UEFA Player of the Year award, the sport’s European governing body said on Thursday.

While Ronaldo, a three-time winner, has been ever-present in the final three since the award was created in 2011, centre back Van Dijk makes his first appearance after helping Liverpool win the Champions League title last season. Two-time award winner Messi was the leading scorer in both La Liga (36 goals) and the Champions League (12 goals) last season but his Barcelona side fell in the semi-final stage to Liverpool, who overcame a three-goal deficit in the second leg to advance.

* Justin Thomas and Jason Kokrak matched the Medinah course record with seven-under 65s to share the first round lead at the BMW Championship on Thursday while a fit-again Tiger Woods struggled to get anything going and finished the day six off the pace. A shot behind the leading pair were 49-year-old Jim Furyk, Lucas Glover, Brandt Snedeker, Patrick Cantlay and Joel Dahmen, while Rickie Fowler and Australian Adam Scott headline a group of nine on 67, two back on the leaders.

* Wolverhampton Wanderers celebrated their biggest aggregate win in Europe on Thursday after the Premier League side beat Armenia's Pyunik 4-0 on the night, and 8-0 overall, to set up a Europa League playoff with Serie A's Torino. The winner of the home and away legs on Aug. 22 and 29, with the first match played in Italy, will progress to the group stage.

* Vahid Halilhodzic signed a four-year contract as the new coach of Morocco. The 67-year-old Bosnian replaces Herve Renard, who quit after Morocco were eliminated in the last-16 of the Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt despite being one of the favourites.

* The ATP has fined Nick Kyrgios a total of US$113,000 following his second-round loss at the Cincinnati Masters on Wednesday, when the Australian argued loudly with the chair umpire and smashed several rackets.

* Aston Villa defender Tyrone Mings can put himself in the frame for an England call-up now that he's set for regular games in the Premier League, manager Dean Smith said on Thursday. The 26-year-old was on loan from Bournemouth last season, before signing a permanent 20 million pound move in July, and faces his former employers at Villa Park on Saturday.

* The English Football League (EFL) has suspended League One side Bury's league fixture against Rotherham United next Tuesday after the third-tier club failed to provide evidence of a viable plan to settle their debts, the league body said on Thursday. Bury, who were promoted last season despite their money problems, were served a notice of withdrawal of its EFL membership last month and a deadline of Aug. 23 is still in place.

* Mesut Ozil and Sead Kolasinac are "good options" for Arsenal's match against Burnley after missing the team's Premier League opener due to a security situation being investigated by the police, manager Unai Emery said on Thursday. The duo, who escaped unhurt after an attempted carjacking last month, were not in the squad at Newcastle United last weekend due to "further security incidents" which the club did not elaborate on.

* West Ham United have the squad they need to compete in the Premier League despite a crushing defeat in their opening match but must focus on improving their style of play rather than worrying about long-term goals, manager Manuel Pellegrini said on Thursday. The London club spent close to 73 million pounds on new recruits in the close season as the Chilean manager looks to improve on their 10th-place finish last season.

* Three times Indianapolis 500 winner Dario Franchitti will be getting back behind the wheel at next month's Goodwood Revival meeting for his first race since injury-enforced retirement in 2013. The Scot suffered spinal fractures, concussion and a broken ankle in a career-ending crash at the Houston Grand Prix that October.

* Eduardo Villegas has been sacked as manager of Bolivia's national team following a poor showing at the Copa America, the country's football association said on Thursday. The announcement came less than two months after Bolivia's group-stage elimination from the Copa America in Brazil. The Verde lost each of their three matches in the tournament - against Brazil, Peru and Venezuela - scoring just two goals and conceding nine.

* Jonathan de Guzman's sole goal helped Eintracht Frankfurt to beat Vaduz 1-0 (6-0 on aggregate) in the second leg of UEFA Europa League's third qualification round on Thursday. With the result, the "Eagles" will clash with Strasbourg in the Europa League's play off.

* Hoffenheim have recruited midfielder Diadie Samassekou from Salzburg, both clubs confirmed on Thursday. The "TSG" have reinforced their midfield with the signing of the 23-year-old Mali international, who has put pen to paper on a five-year deal, which keeps him at Hoffenheim until June 2024.

* Chinese striker Wu Lei opened the scoring as Espanyol assured their place in the final qualifying round ahead of the group stage of the Europa League on Thursday night with a 3-0 home win over Swiss side, Luzern. Espanyol will have a much tougher rival in the final qualifying round as they now face Ukranian side Zoyra, who knocked CSKA Sofia out of the competition, with the first leg in Espanyol's home ground next Thursday.

* Israeli soccer club Hapoel Beer Sheva entered the playoff of UEFA's Europa League after beating Sweden's IFK Norrkoping 3-1 on Thursday evening.

* Legendary FC Dynamo's midfielder Olexiy Mikhaylichenko, 56, was appointed the club's head coach for the second time, the club's official website said on Thursday. Mikhaylichenko had directed FC Dynamo from 2002 to 2004, during which the club won the Ukraine's Championship twice.

* The 2019 ITTF World Tour Bulgaria Open opened in the town of Panagyurishte on Thursday, with a record number of 316 paddlers from 38 countries and regions taking part.

Reuters, Xinhua