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WCQ: Belgium leave Hazard and Courtois out for Wales clash

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Belgium left behind captain Eden Hazard and goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois when they travelled to Wales for their last Group E qualifier for the 2022 World Cup, coach Roberto Martinez said on Monday.

Belgium booked a place at next year’s finals with a 3-1 home win over Estonia on Saturday, while Wales are looking to secure a playoff spot by finishing second in the group.

Martinez said he was planning to carry out some experiments in the game in Cardiff.

“It was planned that Eden would play 60 minutes of the qualifier against Estonia and then be allowed to return to Real Madrid. It is because of his lack of matches at his club and his fitness,” Martinez said at a news conference on Monday.

Read Also: WCQ: Lionel Messi will start qualifier v Brazil – Scaloni

Courtois has a minor back injury, the coach added, which also threatened his participation last Saturday.

“It was touch and go to get him onto the park for that game and the plan was that Koen Casteels would play against Wales.”

Centre back Jason Denayer has also withdrawn after pulling out of Monday’s training with a knee injury.

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Ligue 1: Marseille stunned by in-form Brest

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Marseille missed the chance to cement their grip on second place in the Ligue 1 table on Saturday as Jorge Sampaoli’s side threw away the lead to lose 2-1 at home to a Brest team on a record winning run.

Brazilian international Gerson gave Marseille a first-half lead at the Velodrome with his second goal in as many games after playing a one-two with captain Dimitri Payet.

However, Brest drew level early in the second half as Romain Faivre scored a penalty awarded for a handball by Boubacar Kamara.

Franck Honorat then crashed a superb winner in off the underside of the crossbar as the side from Brittany made it six successive league wins, the best run in their history in the top flight.

Read Also: EPL: Masuaku fluke helps West Ham beat Chelsea in London derby

They are up to sixth, while Marseille remain second, 12 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain who are in action later on Saturday at Lens.

Kylian Mbappe could be rested for a PSG side already missing the injured Neymar, but Lionel Messi — who won the Ballon d’Or for the seventh time on Monday — should start.

Marseille could drop down the table depending on results elsewhere this weekend, with Rennes and Nice both sitting within two points of the former Champions League winners.

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Bernardo stars again as Man City move to top of EPL with Watford win

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Bernardo Silva continued his scintillating form as Manchester City surged to the top of the Premier League table with a comfortable 3-1 victory at struggling Watford.

Raheem Sterling opened the scoring with a simple header on four minutes as the visitors threatened to run riot against the home side’s porous defence.

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Jack Grealish had several chances to double the advantage before the in-form Bernardo fizzed in a rebound from a narrow angle just past the half hour.

 

City continued to pose all of the questions following the restart and Bernardo grabbed his seventh goal of the season with a wonderful curler that flew into the top corner on 63 minutes.

For long spells it looked like a case of how many for the visitors but Watford did give the home support some cheer when substitute Cucho Hernandez acrobatically volleyed in a rebound 16 minutes from time.

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The result means City take advantage of former leaders Chelsea’s defeat at West Ham earlier in the day to move a point clear of second-placed Liverpool at the summit. Watford remain three points above the drop zone in 17th spot.

Pep Guardiola’s men will now turn their focus to Tuesday’s Champions League clash at RB Leipzig having already guaranteed top spot in Group A before hosting Wolves in the Premier League on Saturday. Watford travel to Brentford on Friday evening.

 

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EPL: Origi nets in stoppage time as Liverpool take advantage of Chelsea slip

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