Report: Messi magic gets Argentina up and running

“Rio de Janeiro (AFP) – Lionel Messi scored a trademark individual goal as Argentina opened their World Cup campaign with a narrow 2-1 win over Bosnia-Hercegovina at Rio de Janeiro’s renovated Maracanã on Sunday.”

My AFP report on the night Messi illuminated the Maracanã can be read here.

Related link: Shot-shy Rooney gives Hodgson England dilemma

Report: Italy’s Balotelli sinks England in muggy Manaus

“Manaus (Brazil) (AFP) – Mario Balotelli’s second-half header earned Italy a 2-1 victory over an enterprising England side in an engaging World Cup Group D opener in Manaus on Saturday.”

My first World Cup match report for AFP on a captivating encounter at the Amazonia Arena can be read here.

Reaction: Hodgson shields Rooney after opening defeat
Reaction: Prandelli blasts ‘absurd’ lack of time-outs

Feature: Resolute Rooney determined to enjoy World Cup

“Rooney was one of few United players to find form during a disastrous 2013-14 season and he feels that a pre-season pep talk with former manager David Moyes helped him rediscover some of his famous fire. ‘He felt I had lost a bit of aggression out of my game -€“- which I was asked to do, by the way. He said he wanted me to find that aggression back,’ Rooney said of Moyes, who was sacked by United in April. ‘I thought about it a lot. It wasn’t really me. Maybe there are times when you have to try and lift the crowd with a tackle — obviously not a stupid one, but a run back and tackle can lift the fans and even turn a game round.’”

My first AFP dispatch from the 2014 World Cup, on Wayne Rooney’s eagerness not to let another major international tournament pass him by, can be read here.

Profile: Ryan Giggs, from pin-up to old master

“Following his parents’ divorce, Giggs adopted his mother’s surname and it was with that name on the back of his shirt that he was to become an international sporting icon. Giggs was the first member of United’s feted ‘Class of ’92′ youth team to infiltrate the senior squad, setting an example that David Beckham, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and the Neville brothers would go on to emulate. A wiry, jet-heeled left-winger, Giggs’s weaving runs made him one of the stars of Ferguson’s first great United team and moved team-mate Gary Pallister to comment that he gave his opponents “twisted blood”.”

My AFP profile of Ryan Giggs, who announced his retirement on Monday after an era-defining 23-year career, can be read here.

Report: Ramsey completes Arsenal comeback in FA Cup final

“London (AFP) – Aaron Ramsey scored an extra-time winner as Arsenal ended their nine-year trophy drought by coming from two goals down to beat Hull City 3-2 in a gripping FA Cup final on Saturday.”

My AFP match report on one of the best FA Cup finals of recent years can be found here.

Reaction: Wenger urges Arsenal to build on FA Cup win

Report: Man City stroll to Premier League title

“London (AFP) – Manchester City secured a second Premier League title in three seasons by comfortably defeating West Ham United 2-0 at a jubilant Etihad Stadium on Sunday.”

My AFP report on the final day of the 2013-14 Premier League season can be read here.

Analysis: Man City out-punch rivals to Premier League glory
Review: Liverpool slips allow Man City to succeed United

Report: Džeko sends 100-goal City to brink of title

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Manchester City are within touching distance of the Premier League title after overwhelming Aston Villa 4-0 on Wednesday to close to within a point of the championship.”

My AFP match report from a soggy but satisfied Etihad Stadium can be read here.

Reaction: Manchester City will be worthy champions, says Pellegrini

Report: Man United past and future see off Hull

“Manchester (United Kingdom) (AFP) – Teenage debutant James Wilson scored twice as Manchester United rang out the old and ushered in the new in a 3-1 win at home to Hull City on Tuesday.”

My AFP match report on a night of hellos and goodbyes at Old Trafford can be read here.

Reaction: Giggs ‘still undecided’ on Man United future

Report: Palace fightback shreds Liverpool’s title bid

London (AFP) – Liverpool’s Premier League title bid was left in ruins after Crystal Palace mounted a sensational comeback from 3-0 down to draw 3-3 at Selhurst Park on Monday.”

My AFP match report on an extraordinary night at Selhurst Park can be found here.

Reaction: Rodgers proud despite Liverpool collapse

Report: Norwich leave Chelsea’s title bid in tatters

“London (AFP) – Norwich City all but ended Chelsea’s Premier League title challenge and gave themselves a fighting chance of avoiding relegation by recording a 0-0 draw at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.”

My AFP match report on the day that Chelsea’s title dream died can be read here.

Reaction: Chelsea wait on trio amid title disappointment

Report: Atlético sink Chelsea to set up all-Madrid final

“London (AFP) - Atlético Madrid set up a Champions League final against city rivals Real Madrid after coming from behind to win 3-1 at Chelsea in their semi-final second leg on Wednesday.”

My AFP report on how José Mourinho was denied a Champions League final reunion with Real Madrid can be read here.

Reaction: Mourinho rues Courtois friendly fire
Reaction: Simeone ‘excited’ by all-Madrid final
Analysis: European exit exposes Chelsea’s limitations

Report: Gerrard slip lets Chelsea back into race

“Liverpool (AFP) – An untimely slip by Steven Gerrard inadvertently helped Chelsea claim a 2-0 win over Premier League leaders Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday that reignited their title ambitions.”

My AFP match report on the day that Liverpool appeared to let the Premier League title slip through their fingers can be read here.

Reaction: Chelsea ‘parked two buses’, fumes Rodgers
Reaction: Mourinho revels in Liverpool derailment

Analysis: Man United break with tradition in Moyes sacking

“Whereas United had not lifted the English title for 18 years when [Alex] Ferguson was appointed in November 1986, [David] Moyes’s job was to take command of the juggernaut that his predecessor had built. Ferguson hoped the structures he had put in place would allow Moyes — who failed to win a trophy in his 11 years at Everton — to slot seamlessly into place, thereby enabling United to maintain a tradition of appointing promising, hungry, British managers. It was for these reasons that United opted for Moyes, rather than a brash upstart such as José Mourinho, but the former Everton manager’s subsequent failure laid bare the shortcomings in their recruitment process.”

I wrote a piece for AFP on how the David Moyes affair exposed the fallacy of the club’s attachment to tradition, and you can read it here.

Profile: How Moyes shrivelled beneath the United spotlight
Analysis: Five issues for Moyes’s successor to address
Profile: Studious Giggs set for another reinvention

Report: Liverpool beat Man City in title crunch clash

Liverpool, United Kingdom (AFP) – Philippe Coutinho’s 78th-minute winner gave Liverpool a crucial 3-2 victory over Premier League title rivals Manchester City on a day of raw emotion at Anfield on Sunday.”

My AFP match report on an emotional and unforgettable afternoon at Anfield can be read here.

Reaction: Tearful Gerrard calls for Liverpool focus

Report: Fabiański stars as Arsenal reach FA Cup final

“London (AFP) - Łukasz Fabiański saved two penalties as Arsenal beat holders Wigan Athletic 4-2 in a shootout at Wembley on Saturday to reach their first FA Cup final for nine years.”

My AFP match report on the season’s first FA Cup semi-final can be read here.

Reaction: FA Cup run can inspire top-four push – Wenger

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