Real Madrid head coach Carlo Ancelotti bemoaned one of the biggest upsets in Champions League history, the Italian believing his side did not deserve to lose to giant-slaying debutants Sheriff.

Sheriff caused a boilover at the Santiago Bernabeu, where the Champions League debutants and Moldovan visitors won 2-1 on Tuesday.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev opened the scoring with a powerful header in the first half, before Karim Benzema's emphatic penalty levelled the scores for Madrid.

But Sebastien Thill rifled home a stunning effort from the edge of the box in the 89th minute to hand the Moldovan outfit a dramatic win in Madrid.

Los Blancos had 31 shots, hitting the target with 11, and recorded over 75 per cent possession, while Sheriff took just four shots, but came away with all three points in the Spanish capital.

The result leaves Madrid second in Group D, three points behind Sheriff, who have won their first two games in the competition.

"More than worried, we're sad," Ancelotti said after the game. "We played with intensity and were looking good. We lost because of small details, even though the side played well. We could've been better when it came to the final third but it's tough to explain.

"It's small details that cost us this game. It's a lesson for us in the future as it's a defeat we didn't deserve. We had chances, we were creating out wide and [Luka] Jovic came on and had a couple of opportunities. I think that in the end, everything went well for them and bad for us.

"We've missed out on three points and the group is wide open. We need to win our next game."

Madrid were beaten for just the second time in their last 32 group-stage games in the Champions League when playing at the Santiago Bernabeu (W25 D5) – losing against CSKA Moscow in December 2018 and Sheriff on Tuesday.

Los Blancos star Casemiro lamented the team's defensive lapses and profligacy in front of goal on a humbling night for the LaLiga leaders.

"That's football for you," Casemiro said after the full-time whistle. "One team has more than 20 shots on goal and plays well and the other team that comes here to defend and had two shots go and score twice.

"That's how things go in football and you've got to be more focused defensively. We fully dominated the game and had the chances to have made it 1-0, then 1-1 and they’ve ended up scoring a screamer.

"You've got to win in football, but this year we've already produced some poor performances and won, but that wasn't the case tonight. If you're not clinical, you end up paying the price at the back."

Madrid face Shakhtar Donetsk away from home on October 19 in their next Champions League outing, where they will seek to right the wrongs of their defeat to Sheriff.

Sheriff's win over Real Madrid was a "dream come true" but captain Frank Castaneda warned the Champions League debutants will not dwell on the upset as they target the last 16 amid their giant-slaying run.

In one of the biggest shocks in Champions League history, Sheriff claimed a late 2-1 victory at Spanish giants Madrid on Tuesday.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev's first-half header was cancelled out by Karim Benzema's spot-kick after the interval in the Spanish capital, given following a VAR check after Vinicius Junior went down in the box.

However, Sheriff had the final say to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group D, Sebastien Thill's thunderous strike in the 89th minute earning the Moldovan visitors a remarkable triumph.

"For us this is a dream come true to have won here," Castaneda said. "We're so happy, and just enjoying it. We have full faith in what we've been doing and things are going well for us.

"We came here to win. We didn't just come here to sit around, we know how good our players are and luckily for us Madrid weren't able to take their chances and we took ours.

"Thill's goal is out of this world. It's one you dream of. I thanked him at the end of the game!

"We are dreaming of getting into the last 16 and that's our objective. Our attention now turns to Inter and we'll work hard in order to ensure we keep getting positive results." 

Sheriff – who beat Albanian champions Tueta Durres, Armenian titleholders Alashkert, Serbian champions Red Star Belgrade, Croatian titleholders Dinamo Zagreb and Ukrainian champions Shakhtar Donetsk during their European campaign this term – became the first team to win their first two games in the Champions League since Premier League outfit Leicester City in the 2016-17 campaign.

This was just the third ever away victory by a Moldovan team in a major European competition, following Zimbru Chisinau in the UEFA Cup in 1995 and Sheriff themselves in the UEFA Europa League in 2017.

Sheriff head coach Yuriy Vernydub said: "I'm happy to play a game like that against Madrid. I'm so full of emotion and thankful to my boys for what they've done. They went out there as a side, and we deserved it.

"Of course we knew that we were going to have to defend. We did that well and we countered really well too, and we were able to score a winner right at the end.

"I'm happy and proud of my side, these boys. We're on the right path and we'll continue to follow it."

Sheriff are three points clear of Madrid atop of Group D, while they are five points ahead of Inter and Shakhtar.

"We aren't thinking about the last 16 yet as we still haven't done anything extraordinary, we're just going forward step by step," said Vernydub. "We have four very important games to go, and when it comes to the final group stage game then we'll talk about the next round."

Sheriff match-winner Thill added: "We're so happy today. We played a really good game. The side were so brave with how we played and luckily enough I was able to score a bit of a stunner.

"It's the best and most important goal of my career, that's for sure! We'll go game by game. We've got a tough group, and we'll give our all in what's left of it."

Champions League debutants Sheriff pulled off one of the biggest upsets in the competition's history by stunning Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu with a dramatic 2-1 victory.

Jasurbek Yakhshiboev's first-half header was cancelled out by Karim Benzema's spot-kick after the break, given following a VAR check after Vinicius Jr. went down in the box.

However, it was the visitors who claimed a remarkable win to maintain their 100 per cent record in Group D, Sebastien Thill's stupendous left-footed strike in the 89th minute earning the Moldovan club their most famous win.

Los Blancos subjected the minnows to a 31-shot barrage, with goalkeeper Georgios Athanasiadis forced into 10 saves, but the competition's most successful team were unable to salvage anything from the contest on a fairytale night for Sheriff.

 

 

Raphael Varane is convinced Manchester United have a squad that is set up for success despite some alarming recent results. 

The last fortnight has seen United lose their Champions League opener to Young Boys and crash out of the EFL Cup against West Ham prior to Saturday's shock Premier League defeat at home to Aston Villa. 

Expectations are high for United in 2021-22 after World Cup winner Varane joined from Real Madrid, while long-term target Jadon Sancho came in from Borussia Dortmund and Cristiano Ronaldo made his sensational return from Juventus. 

The pressure is back on manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer going into Wednesday's match with Villarreal, but Varane is not overly worried as he sees the ingredients required for success within the club. 

"What I've been able to see is, with my team-mates, there's a lot of quality in our squad," Varane said as he sat alongside Solskjaer at the pre-match news conference. 

"We've got huge potential, I'm convinced of it. 

"We're working really hard, we're working well in training and improving all the time. Since the start of the season I think we're on a positive, upward curve. 

"There is talent, there's experience there as well. We've got everything you need to have that belief that you can do well. 

"I think that's a really key issue - we've got to believe in ourselves, be convinced that we can do it. We have got to be ambitious, believe in our own potential and then I think you can achieve things when you do that. 

"Everything is there in the right place. Each time we go into a game, we go on that track and keep on that road of positivity, think on how we can improve in little details. 

"We are on the right road." 

Varane may have to hold a weakened United defence together when they face Villarreal at Old Trafford. 

Fellow centre-back Harry Maguire is out for a few weeks with a calf injury, while Aaron Wan-Bissaka is suspended and Luke Shaw will be a late fitness check. 

United face a tough test, having failed to win in their five previous meetings with Villarreal, scoring just once in those contests. 

Villarreal are also unbeaten in their last 16 major European games (W12 D4) across the Europa League and Champions League, the longest current run of any side.  

Ahead of the key Group F clash, Varane agreed the pressure of playing for United can be compared with what he experienced during his time at Madrid. 

"Big clubs are always wanting a lot of their players, they expect a lot from the players," he said. 

"There are a lot of demands. It is always hard to make comparisons but I believe that it's fairly similar in terms of the hopes and demands and expectations at big clubs. 

"After a defeat or a draw, you know what it's like, it's always very negative when that happens.  

"The key is to keep up good runs of results and be positive. That pressure you kind of live with it at big clubs - there is always a lot of expectation, for sure." 

Gareth Bale has been ruled out of Wales' crucial World Cup qualifying double-header next month with what boss Rob Page describes as a "significant hamstring tear".

The 32-year-old has not featured for club or country since sustaining the injury during a training session with Real Madrid three weeks ago.

Madrid boss Carlo Ancelotti recently said he is unsure how long Bale will be out but there was hope he would be back in time for Wales' trips to the Czech Republic and Estonia.

However, Bale – who is one cap short of a milestone 100 for Wales – was left out of Page's squad on Tuesday and is also a doubt for his side's final three qualifiers in November.

"Hamstring injuries are graded from one to four and this is a four. It's a significant hamstring tear," Page said at a news conference.

"This camp has come too soon for him. He's not going to be involved, and that may also be the case progressing to November's camp."    

Bale started Madrid's opening three games of the season and featured in all three of Wales' matches last month, scoring a hat-trick in the 3-2 win away at Belarus.

That ended a 17-game drought without a goal for the Dragons – his second-longest such run – but he could not find a way through in the goalless draw with Estonia last time out.

Wales are third in Group E after four matches, one point behind next opponents the Czech Republic with a game in hand as the pair fight for second place behind runaway leaders Belgium.

Page's side will head into that clash in Prague without undisputed star player Bale, who has been involved in all five of his side's goals this campaign (three goals and two assists).

"He's been first class for Wales over the years, so of course it's a blow for myself and the supporters," Page said. "But it does give others a chance.

"We can't cry about it. Gareth showed his worth in the last camp and he was at another level.

"We've got new players coming through, and an abundance of players who can fill the position he plays. There aren't many Gareth Bales in the world but others will have a chance." 

 

Juventus midfielder Aaron Ramsey is back involved for Wales after withdrawing from the last squad through injury.

Ramsey has featured four times in Serie A this term and leads the way for passes per 90 minutes (67.71) and successful passes (61.71) among Juventus midfielders.

He has missed several key fixtures for Wales this campaign, but Page insists the former Arsenal man's commitment cannot be questioned.

"We're confident he'll be with us," Page said.

"I understand the fans' frustration because they want the best players turning up. He can put a shift in and did a full pre-season with Juventus.

"Players like him are prone to picking up injuries. He's managing his body better now and I think we're seeing the best of it.

"He's become more robust and shown over the summer he's more capable of playing games. His training will be adapted but we expect him to play both games."

Bruno Fernandes expressed his delight in working with a proven winner in Raphael Varane as Manchester United look to challenge for trophies this term.

Varane completed a move to United in a deal worth a reported £42.7million (€50m) in August, following a decade at Real Madrid.

The France international boasts a World Cup medal from 2018, along with three LaLiga titles and four Champions League triumphs to his name from his time in the Spanish capital.

Since his debut against Wolves at the end of August, no player has played more Premier League minutes for the Red Devils than Varane (360) and Fernandes hailed the impact the centre-back could have on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side.

"Of course, he’s a winner," Fernandes told United Review. "Everyone knows that. He’s a nice guy and works really hard and is always pushing everyone to do better.

"I think he has a great mentality but, at the same time, we cannot forget the other players. Rapha [Varane] has been brilliant, but Victor [Lindelof] has had an amazing, brilliant beginning to the season.

"Eric [Bailly] comes later because of the Olympic Games, but he’s a player we trust a lot. 'H' [Harry Maguire] we already know is doing really well."

 

Indeed, Varane led from the front for Madrid last term as well in the absence of Sergio Ramos.

United's new acquisition ranked second for Los Blancos among defenders for duels won (110) and interceptions (36) in LaLiga, while recording 73 aerial successes – more than double the tally of any of his defensive colleagues.

And Fernandes is looking forward for the leadership aspects Varane will bring to United, who currently sit fourth in the top flight after losing to Aston Villa last Saturday.

"Rapha is really important for us, and has been really important for us," he continued. "But the main point is everyone being okay to do the best that they can.

"In football, we all have different qualities, and Rapha has different qualities to Victor, H, Eric and Phil [Jones], but they can all add different things.

"Still he [Varane] is a little bit shy in some ways, because it’s the beginning for him at United, but I think he’s a leader. I think he can help in that part of the game."

Paris Saint-Germain will be out for revenge when they face Manchester City in a blockbuster Champions League clash. 

City reached their first Champions League final last season by beating PSG 4-1 on aggregate last season and they will meet again in a Group A clash at the Parc des Princes. 

PSG were held by Club Brugge in their opening game, while Premier League champions City hammered RB Leipzig 6-3. 

Milan face Atletico Madrid in their first home match in Europe's premier cup competition since 2014. 

Leaders Liverpool travel to Porto in the other Group B game with fond memories of their previous two trips, while Real Madrid entertain Sheriff in the battle between the top two in Group D. 

Here, Stats Perform look at the key Opta data ahead of the games taking place on Tuesday. 

 

Paris Saint-Germain v Manchester City: Messi could face another Guardiola reunion

Lionel Messi, who was linked with City before his sensational move to PSG, has been sidelined be a knee problem and it remains to be seen if he recovers in time for a reunion with his former boss Pep Guardiola.

PSG and City will meet for the sixth time, while the Ligue 1 side still looking for their first win in this fixture (D2 L3). Only against Juventus (8) have they played more games in European competition without winning.

City are unbeaten in 10 away Champions League away games (W8 D2), not losing in the competition outside of England since December 2017 (against Shakhtar Donetsk).

Milan v Atletico Madrid: Rossoneri eyeing happy homecoming

Milan and Atleti's only previous meetings came in the 2013-14 Champions League, with the Rossoneri losing both legs in the round of 16. The clash with the reigning LaLiga champions seven years ago was Milan's last at home in the competition. 

Antoine Griezmann is Atleti's all-time top scorer in the European Cup/Champions League (21 goals), and could also become their outright top scorer in away games if he finds the net in this game (currently on five). 

In the loss at Anfield, Brahim Diaz (22 years 43 days) became the youngest player to score on his Champions League debut for Milan since Yoann Gourcuff in September 2006 (20 years 64 days v AEK Athens). 

Porto v Liverpool: Reds to cut loose again?

This will be the fifth time Liverpool have faced Porto in the Champions League since Jurgen Klopp became the club's manager – they have won more games (3), scored more goals (11) and kept more clean sheets (3) against them than any other opponent in the competition.

Porto have only scored once in those four previous meetings (D1 L3), despite attempting 45 shots. In contrast, Liverpool's 11 goals have come from 54 attempts. 

Sadio Mane has been directly involved in five goals against Porto, scoring four times and providing one assist. Mane's four goals are the joint-most by a Liverpool player against an opponent in the competition, along with Steven Gerrard v Marseille and Philippe Coutinho v Spartak Moscow. 

Real Madrid v Sheriff: Madrid on brink of century

Madrid are one short of becoming the first team to record 100 home victories in the Champions League. Their win percentage of 73 is the highest for any team in the competition's history with at least 10 home games played (99/136). 

Sheriff won 2-0 on their Champions League debut last time out against Shakhtar Donetsk - they are looking to become the first team since Leicester City in 2016-17 to win their first two games in the competition. 

Sheriff's Cristiano scored twice on his Champions League debut against Shakhtar, becoming the first Brazilian to score a brace in his first game in the competition since Chelsea’s Oscar in September 2012 (v Juventus). 

 

Other fixtures:

Ajax v Besiktas

4 - Ajax striker Sebastien Haller scored four goals on his Champions League debut against Sporting CP. If he gets another against Besiktas, he would move clear of a tie with Marco van Basten, Diego Simeone, Didier Drogba and Erling Haaland for the most by a player in their first two appearances in the competition.

2 - Besiktas have conceded at least two goals in each of their previous four games against Ajax (10 in total).

Shakhtar Donetsk v Inter

1 - Shakhtar have only scored one goal in their previous five meetings with Inter and have failed to find the back of the net in the three most recent encounters.

32 - Inter and Shakhtar played out two goalless draws in the Champions League last season despite the Serie A champions attempting 32 shots, with an expected goals total of 3.1 across the two games.

RB Leipzig v Club Brugge

10 - Club Brugge have not won any of their past 10 games against German opponents in European competition (D3 L7).

4 - Christopher Nkunku scored a hat-trick for Leipzig against City, but became just the fourth player in Champions League history to score at least three goals and still end on the losing team. 

Borussia Dortmund v Sporting CP

100 - Dortmund have a 100 per cent win record at home to Portuguese opposition in European competition, winning all six of their previous games by an aggregate score of 17-2.

63 - Erling Haaland has averaged a goal every 63 minutes in home games for Dortmund in the Champions League. His seven goals at Signal Iduna Park is the most of any player at a single stadium in the competition since he joined the club.

Manchester United are in the market for a midfielder. 

With a long-rumoured target looking unlikely, United are shifting their gaze from one England midfielder to another. 

Could they prise another up-and-coming star from Leeds United? 

 

TOP STORY – UNITED SHIFT SIGHTS TO PHILLIPS

Kalvin Phillips is Manchester United's latest target in an effort to shore up the midfield, the Daily Star reports. 

The Leeds star has gained favour at Old Trafford as United have given up hopes of adding West Ham's Declan Rice thanks to his reported £90million price tag.

Phillips, 25, is under contract at Elland Road through 2024 and reportedly is valued at £60m. 

 

ROUND-UP

– Barcelona are still in pursuit of Matthijs de Ligt and are prepared to offer Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Memphis Depay to Juventus in a deal for the Netherlands defender, who is valued at €75m, according to Calciomercato.

– Franck Kessie has turned down Milan's latest contract offer and is eyeing a move to the Premier League, 90min reports, with United and Liverpool said to be interested. 

– Juan Mata is considering a move away from Old Trafford in January due to a lack of playing time this season, the Manchester Evening News reports. 

– Everton are considering loan deals with Real Madrid for Isco and Luka Jovic, claims Defensa Central.

– West Brom teen Reyes Cleary is drawing attention from Borussia Dortmund and Hoffenheim, says the Daily Mail. 

– Steven Nzonzi is nearing a move from Roma to Al Rayyan, Calciomercato reports. 

UEFA has abandoned its disciplinary case against the three rebel Super League clubs, declaring the proceedings "null and void". 

European football's governing body announced in May it was opening a case against Barcelona, Real Madrid and Juventus for a "potential violation" of its legal framework amid their continued support for the Super League project. 

The case was paused in June until further notice following a ruling from a Madrid court and has now been closed by UEFA's independent appeals body. 

UEFA also said it would not request payments from the nine other clubs that withdrew from the project. Potential fines and a collective €15million "goodwill fund" formed part of the agreement announced in May that saw Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool, Chelsea, Arsenal, Tottenham, Inter, Milan and Atletico Madrid rejoin UEFA competitions. 

On Monday, UEFA said in a statement: "UEFA understands why the disciplinary proceedings are declared null and void. UEFA has always acted in good faith and reasonably understood that the decision by its independent disciplinary body, the UEFA Appeals Body, to suspend the disciplinary proceedings was in full compliance with the Court Orders of the Madrid Commercial Court No. 17, and given that the three mentioned clubs have since been admitted to UEFA club competitions. 

"UEFA maintains its view that it has always acted in accordance with not only its statutes and regulations, but also with EU law, the European Convention on Human Rights and Swiss law in connection with the so-called Super League project. UEFA remains confident in and will continue to defend its position in all the relevant jurisdictions. 

"In relation with the Club Commitment Declarations UEFA received in May 2021 from nine of the 12 clubs that acted as founders of the so-called European Super League project, and with which such nine clubs had informed UEFA of their unilateral decisions to withdraw from the so-called Super League project, UEFA has informed the nine clubs that in view of the pending Court proceedings in Madrid, and to avoid any unnecessary complication, UEFA will not request payment of any of the amounts offered in the May Declarations of the clubs, as long as the Court proceedings in Madrid involving, among others, UEFA are pending." 

Barca, Madrid and Juve have refused to renounce the Super League despite the intense backlash from the football world that prompted the nine other clubs to withdraw from the plans. 

Bianconeri president Andrea Agnelli wrote to club shareholders to describe the Super League as a means of "guaranteeing stability for the football industry". 

Agnelli said it was "a new meritocratic paradigm and a return to the fundamentals of cost control and transparency". 

Carlo Ancelotti believes Real Madrid's history in the Champions League gives them a slight advantage over their biggest rivals.

The Italian was in charge in 2014 when Madrid at last won the competition for the 10th time, beating Atletico Madrid in the final in Lisbon.

Los Blancos then achieved an historic three titles in a row under Zinedine Zidane from 2016 to 2018, a feat unseen in the modern format and only surpassed by Madrid themselves in the days of the European Cup, when they won five in a row from 1956 to 1960.

Madrid started their 2021-22 campaign with a 1-0 victory at Inter and are expected to follow up with three more points on Tuesday when they host competition debutants Sheriff.

Ancelotti admits his side's past successes help a little when it comes to their chances this season, as he aims to replicate Zidane's remarkable achievements.

"For us to represent this club is something special, it's the most complicated, most difficult competition," he said on Monday. "We are more used to winning it than others. We have a little advantage.

"It's difficult [to compare this team with Zidane's] because the players changed a little, the squad has changed, plus I don't like to compare this team with Zizou's team.

"Zizou did things as well as he could have done. He won the Champions League three times in a row. Hopefully, I can win another one."

Madrid played their home games at the Castilla's Estadio Alfredo Di Stefano last season while renovation work was being completed at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It means Sheriff, the 108th different side they have faced in the competition, will be the first to visit the famous ground in the Champions League since Manchester City in the last-16 first leg in 2019-20.

"It's a Champions League game. You have to prepare well for all Champions League games. We're really excited to return to the Bernabeu because we have really good memories," said Ancelotti.

"Sheriff are doing well. We have to be careful because it's a team not much is known about, but they're organised, fast going forward... we have to hold maximum concentration. We need three points."

Defender Nacho Fernandez claims the squad are not interested in whether others consider them among the favourites for this year's trophy, insisting they are confident they can challenge in the latter stages.

"The question of being favourites is not one that the rest of the squad and I are really bothered about," he said. "We face the same level of pressure regardless of whether we're favourites or not.

"We've got a great squad, are feeling really confident and are raring to having a good year in the Champions League. Nobody rules Real Madrid out from being involved right until the end."

Is the end nigh for Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford?
 
Wan-Bisakka joined Manchester United in a big-money deal in 2019 but the Red Devils are reportedly ready to replace the Englishman.
 
A talented RB Leipzig defender could be the team's next right-back.

 

TOP STORY – NEW RIGHT-BACK SET FOR OLD TRAFFORD?

Manchester United are eyeing RB Leipzig right-back Nordi Mukiele, according Fichajes.net.

United are reportedly keen to sign a replacement after losing patience with Aaron Wan-Bissaka at Old Trafford.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is believed to be interested in Leipzig's 23-year-old star Mukiele.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Milan and Juventus are interested in United States and Dallas sensation Ricardo Pepi. The 18-year-old has also been linked with Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich.

- Inter are willing to let Alexis Sanchez leave the Serie A champions, reports Calciomercato. Marseille, Real Betis and Sevilla are among the possible options for the 32-year-old Chilean.

Tottenham are weighing up a move for Aston Villa's Ollie Watkins, per Fichajes. It comes amid continued uncertainty over Spurs star Harry Kane, who has been linked with Manchester City, Real Madrid, Barcelona, Paris Saint-Germain and Juventus as well as United.

 

Cristiano Ronaldo is showing no signs of slowing down, despite his advancing years.

But the evergreen 36-year-old is still planning for life once he decides to call it quits.

A coaching career in Manchester is believed to be on the cards.

 

TOP STORY – RONALDO DOESN'T WANT TO LEAVE OLD TRAFFORD

Cristiano Ronaldo wants to stay at Manchester United beyond his retirement, according to The Sun.

Ronaldo is back at United for a second spell after re-joining from Juventus before the transfer window closed, having left Old Trafford in 2009.

The 36-year-old, however, is already planning for life after football as he eyes a coaching role with United's youth team in order to work with his son Cristiano Jr.

 

ROUND-UP

- Calciomercato claims Chelsea, Liverpool and Bayern Munich are interested in Juventus star Federico Chiesa, who has also been linked with Borussia Dortmund.

- Chelsea are preparing to make a big-money move for Juve centre-back Matthijs de Ligt after missing out on Sevilla star Jules Kounde, reports Diario AS.

- The Daily Mail says Arsenal and Tottenham are eyeing a January loan move for Barcelona misfit Philippe Coutinho.

- Staying in London and the Mirror claims Tottenham are considering an approach for Juve's Dejan Kulusevski.

Atletico Madrid are hoping to sign Fabian Ruiz from Napoli, according to Calciomercato. Determined to prise the Spain international, LaLiga champions Atletico could use Marcos Llorente as part of the deal. Fabian has also been linked with Real Madrid and Barca.

- Per Corriere della Serra, United, Chelsea and Juve are among the heavyweight clubs plotting a move for disgruntled Paris Saint-Germain goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma, who has found himself on the bench since joining on a free transfer.

 

Thibaut Courtois kept his 100th clean sheet in LaLiga but the Real Madrid goalkeeper was left frustrated after a "bitter" goalless draw with Villarreal.

Belgium international Courtois became one of only five goalkeepers to achieve a hundred or more shut outs in LaLiga in the 21st century.

Only Atletico Madrid goalkeeper Jan Oblak (182) has reached the milestone in fewer games than Courtois (217).

However, the 29-year-old was more concerned with dropped points as Madrid missed the chance to increase their lead at the top of LaLiga to five points after city rivals Atletico lost earlier in the day to Alaves.

"A clean sheet is not bad after conceding in the last games," he told Movistar.

"It is a bit of a bitter draw because it is at home and if a direct rival loses you want to win the three points. The point is not enough for us. 

"We have prepared the game to try to put pressure on them, but in the first half they did very well. It was difficult to take the ball from them. 

"We have missed too many passes. Sometimes it happens."

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti felt his tactics were spot on even though his side managed just two shots on target.

Both of them came in the second half after Madrid failed to register an attempt on goal in the opening 45 minutes for the first time under Ancelotti.

"I don't think the approach was wrong but correct," Ancelotti said in a media conference.

"It was difficult to play between the lines because they defended very well. In the first half, we had difficulties because we did not have Etienne Capoue under control. 

"In the second half we had more control, but we did not find a good opportunity. We put in more intensity, but it was very difficult to pressure them because they handled the ball well."

The match was the 800th that Ancelotti had presided over as a coach in Europe's top five leagues and notched up his 182th draw to go with 475 wins and 143 defeats.

Madrid are three points clear of second-placed Sevilla, who have a game in hand.

"We finished with a clean sheet and that is positive after the last matches," added the Italian.

"Against Villarreal, if it's not your best night it's difficult to win. We are still up there in the league and that is what matters."

Real Madrid missed the chance to increase their lead at the top of LaLiga after they were held to a goalless draw by Villarreal on Saturday.

Carlo Ancelotti's side struggled to break down a disciplined Villarreal side at the Santiago Bernabeu in what was the Italian's 800th game as a coach in Europe's top five leagues.

Arnaut Danjuma went close for the Yellow Submarine in the first half as Madrid failed to register a shot on target before half-time for the first time in a game under Ancelotti.

Madrid's best chance fell to Isco late on but his header was blocked to leave Ancelotti's side three points above second-placed Sevilla, who have a game in hand.

Anthony Martial has reportedly been permitted to explore his options by Manchester United.

Martial has fallen down the pecking order at Old Trafford since Cristiano Ronaldo's return.

France international Martial scored four league goals for United last term, after netting 17 times in the 2019-20 Premier League campaign.

 

TOP STORY – DORTMUND PLOTS MARTIAL MOVE

Borussia Dortmund are bracing for Erling Haaland's departure by plotting a move for Manchester United forward Anthony Martial, claims 90Min.

Haaland, who has a release clause in his contract that activates in mid-2022, is being chased by a host of top clubs, including Premier League champions Manchester City, Real Madrid, Bayern Munich, Paris Saint-Germain, Barcelona, Liverpool and United.

Martial is still contracted to the Red Devils until 2024, having penned a five-year deal in January 2019, amid reported interest from Barca, Tottenham and Arsenal.

 

ROUND-UP

- The Transfer Window podcast claims City owner Sheikh Mansour wants to hijack Madrid's bid for PSG star Kylian Mbappe and sign him "at any cost". Mbappe has also been linked with United and Liverpool.

- Barcelona are looking at Reims' Spanish head coach Oscar Garcia as a replacement for under-pressure boss Ronald Koeman, per RMC Sport.

- Madrid midfielder Isco has held numerous rounds of negotiations with Serie A challengers Milan about a move to Italy, according to Todo Fichajes.

Barca are considering a move for Porto's Colombia international forward Luis Diaz next off-season, claims El Nacional.

- Diario AS says Theo Hernandez is ready to commit his long-term future to Milan amid interest from PSG and City.

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