(Watch Video) Benzema scores ‘crazy’ own goal in Al-Ittihad’s AFC Champions League match

Karim Benzema endured a misfortune during Al-Ittihad’s AFC Champions League round of 16 clash with Navbahor Namangan at the King Abdullah Sports City Stadium on Thursday.

Starting his second consecutive game of the year, the 36-year-old faced a nightmarish beginning to the crucial match in Jeddah.

In the 25th minute, Benzema inadvertently scored an own goal, giving the Uzbekistan club the lead.

The unfortunate incident occurred when a freekick was delivered into Ittihad’s box. Despite being on defensive duties, the Frenchman unintentionally headed the ball into his own net.

The own goal provided the visitors with an undeserved advantage, as the Tigers had dominated much of the game in their pursuit of an opening goal, only for Benzema to inadvertently break the deadlock at the wrong end.

Photo Credit: TheNassrZone/ X

Football star jailed for sexual assault

Catalonia’s top court on Thursday found former Brazil footballer Dani Alves guilty of sexually assaulting a woman in a Barcelona nightclub in 2022, sentencing him to 4½ years in prison.

The court also ordered that Alves pay 150,000 euros ($162,990) to the victim.

“The sentence considers that it has been proven that the victim did not consent, and that there is evidence, in addition to the testimony of the plaintiff, to consider the rape proven,” the court said in a statement.

Alves had maintained the sex was consensual and his lawyers told reporters outside the courthouse that he intends to appeal the sentence, which also includes a five-year probation upon release and a 9½-year restraining order.

However, Alves will be able to request leave for short periods from the prison near Barcelona where he is being held once he has served a quarter of the sentence and meets other requirements, a court official said.

The court said that as well as the victim’s testimony, it considered as evidence that she suffered a knee injury after Alves pushed her to the floor, as well as Alves’ behaviour and hers following the event and the fact that she suffered aftereffects.

“We are satisfied as the sentence recognises what we’ve been saying all along: that the victim was telling the truth and that she suffered,” David Saenz, a member of the victim’s legal team, told reporters, adding that the team would analyse whether the sentence corresponds to the gravity of the crime.

Alves’ lawyer, Inés Guardiola, disagreed with the sentencing, saying: “We are going to appeal. I still believe in Dani Alves’ innocence. We haven’t read the whole sentence yet because it’s very long, but we are going to study it in detail now. We defend [Alves’] innocence.”

The prosecutor had sought a nine-year prison term for Alves and the victim requested 12 years, but the court landed on 4½ years, saying it considered that he had opted to pay the victim the compensation regardless of the outcome of the trial as a mitigating factor.

The victim’s lawyer, Ester García, questioned whether it was fair that defendants with money should be able to pay for a lighter sentence.

“I reserve the right to take legal action and it is my understanding that from a legal point of view there should be an appeal,” García said.

Even so, Garcia said her client was satisfied that Alves had been found guilty. “In the end, they believed me,” the victim said, according to García.

Alves, 40, was arrested in January 2023 after being accused of sexually assaulting a woman in the bathroom of an upscale Barcelona nightclub in the early hours of Dec. 31, 2022.

Alves had remained in preventive pretrial prison in Spain ever since, with a judge turning down regular requests for bail and deeming him a flight risk.

The case was heard over three days at a court in Barcelona earlier this month, with Alves changing his story for the fifth time shortly before the trial began.

At first, he maintained he did not know the woman accusing him. He later said he had met the woman in the bathroom of the club but that nothing happened.

The former Barcelona and Paris Saint-Germain defender, when confronted with biological evidence, changed his version of events again, saying she had consensually performed oral sex on him.

In April, following the results of further biological tests, Alves admitted for the first time that he had sex with the woman, claiming it was consensual and that he had lied to hide his infidelity to his wife.

Chelsea legend begs Jurgen Klopp to take up job after leaving Liverpool

Michael Ballack has publicly pleaded with Jurgen Klopp to take over as manager of Germany after he leaves Liverpool in the summer.

Klopp left fans at Anfield stunned in January when he confirmed this season would be his last at his helm, following eight-and-a-half years in which he’s cemented himself as a legend.

The 56-year-old has insisted he will initially take a break from football before taking up what he vows will be a final career role. The mounting speculation over Thomas Tuchel’s future has seen him touted for the Bayern Munich job, but ex-Chelsea man Ballack only wants to see him in one job.

“Of course, in a normal career, one day he would become manager of the German national team, everyone is looking for that,” he told Jeff Stelling on Football’s Greatest Podcast. Ballack however, who won 98 international caps for his country, also believes that Klopp’s success in England means there will be an abundance of offers on the table.

“He did a great job, he built something really special with his club. He’s now in that position he can make his own decision, he can build his own career,” he added. “He could train every club in the world, every club would be happy to have him. But he’s a guy who loves consistency and he has values.

“He has this calmness to not make quick decisions, he can take 10 times longer to pick his move especially from such a good environment that he has built himself. But we would love it one day because he has this quality, he has this character to symbolise all German attitudes. We need a leader like him. Whenever he’s ready I think the people and the fans would love it.”

The German side have been in disarray ahead of a home Euro 2024 tournament this summer. The 2014 World Cup winners are on a run of just one win in four friendly games, and in November suffered back-to-back defeats against Turkey and Austria.

Chelsea set to truncate Liverpool, Manchester United move for Premier League star

Chelsea can scupper Liverpool’s reported interest in Crystal Palace defender Marc Guehi with a clause to match any bid for the England international.

Liverpool are weighing up a summer approach for Guehi, but the Reds could face competition from Manchester United, reports The Telegraph.

Guehi is under contract at Selhurst Park until 2026, however it is reported that the chances of the 23-year-old renewing his deal is low, which may see Palace part ways with him this summer.

Liverpool are reportedly keen on the England international, but rivals Manchester United could also make a move. The outlet says that if Dan Ashworth is to join the Red Devils as sporting director, the chances of United attempting to lure Guehi to Old Trafford could increase, with Ashworth previously plotting a deal for the player at Newcastle United.

Alongside Manchester United, Liverpool’s interest could be rivalled from Guehi’s former club Chelsea. The report reveals that Chelsea are believed to have a “matching option” for any approaches for the Cobham graduate and, with Thiago Silva set to depart Stamford Bridge in the summer, the Blues could be tempted into making an offer.

Chelsea could hijack any deal, though, due to a clause inserted into Guehi’s contract when he signed for the south Londoners nearly three years ago. The Blues will be notified if an offer is ever made for Guehi, allowing them to match the proposal.

They do not have a buy-back agreement, as they do with several other players, but will also receive a chunk of any figure Palace receive for Guehi in the future. The deal that took the former Swansea loanee to Selhurst Park is believed to have been in the region of £18m.