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The Hat-trick | NorthEast United Hold Bengaluru; Racism Mars PSG vs Istanbul Basaksehir Champions League Match | Former Argentina Coach Sabella No More

The Hat-trick (Top Football News of the Day): Luis Machado brace helps NorthEast United FC secure a 2-2- draw against Bengaluru FC | Racism Mars Champions League fixtures with PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir Players walking off | Alejandro Sabella, the coach who took Argentina to the FIFA World Cup final in 2014, died aged 66 after battling with cancer and heart problems.
Luis Machado

Luis Machado of NorthEast United FC celebrates after scoring the equaliser against Bengaluru FC in the Indian Super League (Pic: NorthEast United, Twitter).

For around eight minutes or so, Udanta Singh seemed the hero for Bengaluru FC after scoring in the 70th minute to give his side a 2-1 lead in their Indian Super League (ISL) match on Tuesday. It was Luis Machado’s night though. Machado scored his second in the 78th minute to earn North East United a well-fought 2-2 draw at the Fatorda Stadium.

Machado gave NEUFC the lead as early as the fourth minute while Juanan Gonzalez restored parity nine minutes later while Udanta’s strike came late in the second half for the Blues.

NEUFC took control of the match early thanks to the Machado strike. It came off a brilliant move initiated by Machado himself, whose long ball found VP Suhair on the right flank. Suhair dribbled past Ashique Kuruniyan and passed the ball onto Rochharzela inside the box. His shot took a deflection off Machado's chest and went into the back of the net. 

Bengaluru restored parity following a long throw-in from Rahul Bheke. It came off Dylan Fox's chest and Juanan slotted the ball, coming up trumps in the melee inside the box. 

Besides the goals, the action was more-or-less end-to-end through the first half with both sides showing attacking intent. 

After the break, Gurpreet Singh Sandhu denied Kwesi Appiah from increasing the lead for NorthEast in the 51st minute. Suhair crossed into the box for Appiah, whose header was on target but an acrobatic save from Sandhu denied the Ghanian.

Gurmeet Singh on the other end denied Bengaluru a chance in the 63rd minute, stopping Kristian Opseth's shot from point-blank range.

The Blues finally took the lead in the 70th minute. Paartalu sent a cross into the box which was kept in play by Sunil Chhetri. Dylan Fox, who had ample time to clear the ball, delayed it and allowed Udanta to intercept and score.

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NEUFC, however, restored parity in the 78th minute from a counter-attack. Idrissa Sylla flicked a long ball with the back of his head towards Machado who beat Juanan and slotted the ball home.

Bengaluru FC coach Carles Cuadrat felt his side had a wonderful night. It was possibly the best they have played so far this season just that they could not translate it into a win.

"We were trying our best to get the three points, said Cuadrat. “But the last goal was not possible. [Best performance this season?] I think so. The guys are getting fit and ready. It's a step-by-step process. We spent two hours to get to the stadium because of some problems on the road. We are doing our best in this bubble situation so is the ISL.”

His rival manager Gerard Nus justified the large number of changes he made for the match saying the idea was to prevent injuries. He made four changes to the lineup which defeated East Bengal 2-0 the match before. Fox, Lalrempuia Fanai, Suhair and Roccharzela replaced Mashoor Shereef, Lalengmawia, Ninthoinganba Meetei and Idrissa Sylla.

 "We wanted to get the three points. The way the game went I can take this point as a positive, said Nus. “Last game was three days ago. 21 players took their chances so I am proud of the team. To be honest we have always had ideas of Plan A, B and C and also what happens in the game. We need to prevent the injuries as well so need this kind of rotation in the team. Players are doing well on the training as well.”

Racism Mars Champions League 

Racism in Istanbul vs PSG Champions League match

The penultimate matchday of the group stages of the UEFA Champions League last night was marred by a hugely embarrassing incident of racism that will perhaps cause reverberations much after all is done and dusted in the tournament. In an unprecedented move, players from PSG and Istanbul Basaksehir left the pitch in the 23rd minute of their game in the French capital following an incident of alleged racism by the fourth official, Sebastian Coltescu.

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Play was immediately suspended and while attempts were made to bring the players back, the game was eventually abandoned after Basaksehir refused to return to the pitch. Instead, the remainder of the match will resume from 5.55pm GMT today.

Things kicked off after Basaksehir’s Cameroonian assistant coach Pierre Webo was shown a red card in the 16th minute for protesting against a refereeing decision. That led to the team’s striker Demba Ba, a substitute on the night, confronting Coltescu over what he said as he called on referee Ovidiu Hategan to dismiss Webo. Reuters reported the words as being: “The black one over there. Go and check who he is. The black one over there, it’s not possible to act like that.”

In response, a clearly aggravated Ba can be seen in video footage saying to Coltescu: “You never say ‘this white guy’, you say: ‘These guys’. So, listen to me, why when you mention a black guy do you have to say ‘this black guy’?” Ba also confronts Hategan, and says to him: “Why he say negro?”

The show of support from PSG players was swift and decisive. Defender Presnel Kimpembe could be seen in footage saying: “Is he serious? We are heading in. We’re heading in. That’s it, we’re heading in,” as tensions rose. Striker Kylian Mbappé later posted a message on Twitter in support too.

Uefa has announced it has launched a “thorough investigation” of the incident. Both sets of players walking off the pitch against racism is rare and this could well prove to be a turning point in the lip service the game does to kick racism out of the game. A huge amount of course depends on UEFA’s investigation and the sanctions they issue should Coltescu be found guilty.

In the other Champions League fixtures, Cristiano Ronaldo fired two penalties against FC Barcelona at the Camp Nou to take Juventus to top spot in their group and darken the cloud over the Catalan club. The game was built as a Ronaldo vs Lionel Messi encounter, and Messi was clearly overshadowed by his Portugese rival this time. It is worth noting though that this was the first occasion in which Ronaldo scored against a club featuring Messi in the Champions League. Barcelona were dismal from start to finish, their seven shots on goal all courtesy Messi. It also meant their 25-game unbeaten streak in the group stage of the Champions League stretching to 2016 came to an end. 

Two late goals for Manchester United were not enough to condemn them to a loss against RB Leipzig, which meant they were dumped out of the Champions League in the group stages of the competition. United needed just a draw to stay on. 

Former Argentina Coach Sabella No More

Alejandro Sabella

Alejandro Sabella, who coached Argentina to the 2014 FIFA World Cup final in Brazil, died after a prolonged battle with cancer and heart ailments. He was 66.

Sabella’s death came less than two weeks after the passing of Diego Maradona, They were teammates for the national squad in the 1980s. 

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The hospital where Sabella had spent the last couple of weeks released a statement saying he died from the consequences of a “secondary dilated cardiomyopathy and long time cardiotoxicity.”

Considered a tricky winger and midfielder during his prime as a player, Sabella was the star at River Plate in the 1970s. His performances in Argentina earned him a stint at Sheffield United. His transfer made him one of the first South American players to play in the English league. 

His two years at Sheffield was followed by a spell at Leeds United before returning to Estudiantes in 1982. He started the managerial stint at the Argentine club in 2009, leading them to their fourth Copa Libertadores crown. Juan Sebastian Veron was his biggest star at the club and his success at Estudiantes earned him the job as coach of the national team in 2011.

After the 2014 World Cup final -- a 0-1 loss to Germany after extra time in Ruo de Janeiro --  Sabella retired and, struggling with health issues, never took up a coaching job. 

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