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FOOTBALL

Schalke’s prospects of Champs final dim

Manchester United produced a devastating attacking performance to record a 2-0 win over Schalke 04 in the first leg of their Champions League semi-final on Tuesday.

Schalke's prospects of Champs final dim
Schalke's Kyriakos Papadopoulos and Manchester's Wayne Rooney. Photo: DPA

Schalke goalkeeper Manuel Neuer, a reported United target, kept the three-time champions at bay almost single-handedly before quick-fire second-half goals from Ryan Giggs and Wayne Rooney brought United a deserved victory.

The result puts Sir Alex Ferguson’s side firmly in the driving seat ahead of next week’s return leg at Old Trafford, when they will seek to book their place in the Champions League final for the third time in four seasons.

“It was a very professional performance tonight,” said Ferguson. “The concentration, intensity and passing were all top class. They have all done fantastically well.”

Rooney believes his team could have scored more.

“We’re delighted but a bit disappointed in terms of not scoring more,” he said. “We have done very well. We have to be professional for the second leg as Schalke can’t be taken lightly. They went to Inter and won 5-2 (in the first leg of their quarter-final).”

Giggs was always confident of victory.

“I thought if we kept creating chances then they would go in,” said the Welshman who, at 37, became the oldest player to score a Champions League goal.

“We could have been four or five up at half-time. Before the match we would have taken 2-0 but it’s quite disappointing in terms of the final result now.”

Schalke defender Christoph Metzelder admitted his side were outplayed.

“We have to recognise that we were dominated by a team playing in a different dimension,” he said. “We still have hope, anything is possible.

We’ll try and do everything to win at Old Trafford.”

Schalke upset defending champions Inter Milan in the previous round but the visitors’ onslaught meant they were unable to cause Edwin van der Sar any real problems as the United goalkeeper kept his 50th clean sheet in the competition.

Neuer has been the subject of intense speculation since he announced he was not going to extend his contract but the Schalke captain demonstrated why he is so highly sought after with a string of world-class stops in the first half.

The first, on three minutes, saw him brilliantly palm away a Rooney curler, before he plunged to his right to keep out a low Park Ji-Sung drive two minutes later.

United’s best early chance fell to Javier Hernandez but, having beaten the offside trap from Park’s pass, the Mexican international found his route to goal blocked by the imposing frame of the Germany number one.

Hernandez ruffled the side netting and flashed a shot across the face of goal before a stunning one-handed stop from Neuer prevented Giggs heading United in front.

It seemed only a matter of time before semi-final debutantes Schalke buckled and Atsuto Uchida had to produce a tremendous block to deny Park after Neuer’s save from Hernandez left the Korean with an open goal.

Neuer was at it again seconds from half-time, boldly racing from his line to deny Giggs, after Schalke had seen a penalty appeal rejected when Antonio Valencia nudged Alexander Baumjohann in the back beneath a high ball.

A Rooney header from a Giggs free-kick prompted more acrobatics from Neuer early in the second half, while Giggs should have done better than blaze wide moments later after flummoxing three defenders with a cunning feint.

A rare sight of goal at the other end saw Jose Manuel Jurado slice a volley wide, before the breakthrough that United’s first-half dominance merited finally materialised in the 67th minute.

Rooney bought himself space on the edge of the box by shaping to shoot and as the Schalke defence advanced to close him down, he slipped a pass through for Giggs to roll the ball between Neuer’s legs.

The deadlock finally broken, United required just two minutes to stretch their lead. Hernandez drove infield from the right flank before stabbing the ball to Rooney, who beat the exposed Neuer with a first-time shot into the bottom-left corner.

Victory could even have been more handsome, had Patrice Evra’s low shot two minutes from time not whistled narrowly wide of the right-hand upright.

AFP/djw

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FOOTBALL

British football teams allowed to skip Germany’s quarantine for Euro 2020

Germany's government announced on Tuesday it will allow England, Scotland and Wales to enter the country without quarantine to play at Euro 2020 despite a recent rise in cases linked to the Delta variant of Covid-19 in Britain.

British football teams allowed to skip Germany's quarantine for Euro 2020
One of the venues for Euro 2020 is in Munich. Photo: picture alliance/dpa | Sven Hoppe

The three teams could potentially reach the quarter-final held in Munich on July 2nd.

If that were the case, they would be exempt from the rule that travellers from the United Kingdom and Northern Ireland must currently observe a 14-day isolation period due to the virus strain of concern – Delta – first identified in India.

“The people accredited for the European football Championship are exempt from the quarantine obligation, even after arriving from an area impacted by a variant” Berlin said in a statement.

“This exemption concerns all the people who have been accredited by the organising committee for the preparation, participation, the holding and the follow-up of international sporting events,” it added.

The exemption does not include fans, who will be obliged to follow German government self-isolation rules.

Germany declared the UK a ‘virus variant area of concern’ on May 23rd due to rising cases linked to the Delta variant in parts of the country. 

READ ALSO: Germany makes UK ‘virus variant area of concern’: How does it affect you?

This reclassification came just seven days after the UK was put back on Germany’s list at the lowest risk level, and barely a month after it was taken off all risk lists completely.

The ban was put in place despite the UK’s relatively low Covid rates as a precautionary measure.

A general ban on entry is in place for people coming from countries on the ‘virus variant’ list – such as India and Brazil – the highest of Germany’s risk categories. 

There are some exceptions for entering from these countries – for example German residents and citizens. However, anyone who does enter from Germany is required to submit a Covid-19 test before boarding the flight and must quarantine for 14 days on arrival, regardless of whether they are fully vaccinated or not.

READ ALSO: Germany’s new relaxed quarantine and testing rules after travel

Euro 2020 starts on Friday as Italy host Turkey in Rome with the Bavarian city hosting three group games as well as the last-eight match.

Around 14,000 fans will be allowed into the Allianz Arena for the fixtures.

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