Thursday Kickoff: Wenger blames referee for defeat; Ribery eyes comeback date; and more

Thursday Kickoff: Wenger blames referee for defeat; Ribery eyes comeback date; and more

South American Soccer

Thursday Kickoff: Wenger blames referee for defeat; Ribery eyes comeback date; and more

ArseneWengerArjenRobbenArsenalBayernMunich-UCL2014 (Getty)

By DAN KARELL

In Arsene Wenger’s mind, Arsenal’s match on Wednesday night against Bayern Munich was over in the 37th minute.

The French manager, on the losing end of a 2-0 scorline with the German and European champions, said following the game that referee Nicola Rizzoli’s decision to show Wojciech Szczesny a red card, “killed the game.” Szczesny had collided with Arjen Robben in the box, conceding a penalty kick to Bayern and forcing his team to go down to 10 men.

“The referee made a decision that killed the game,” Wenger told reporters following the match. “Our keeper went for the ball, he touched Robben, who made more of it. Robben has enough experience to know to make more of it.

“Overall I thought Bayern made a lot of every single contact. We are not used to that in England. “There were fouls given today that usually are not given in the Premier League, but it’s different rules and we have to accept it. The game was, until then, top quality, and in the second half it was boring for neutral people. It was one-way traffic.”

Wenger also criticized Mesut Özil for his poorly-taken penalty kick, which was palmed away by Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

Here are some more stories to start your Thursday:

RIBERY EYES BAYERN RETURN

One player who wasn’t in action on Wednesday evening was Bayern Munich winger Franck Ribery.

The 30-year-old returned to light training on Tuesday at the club’s training ground less than two weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a blood clot. Ribery is already targeting his return in Bayern’s match against FC Schalke on March 1.

“I have been able to run on the pitch for the last two days,” Ribery told Sky Germany on Wednesday. “This week I have to run well, for conditioning and also to get back the rhythm.

“Why should I not go against Schalke? I have no pain.”

German publication Kicker writes that even if Ribery doesn’t play against Schalke, he is expected to be available for Bayern’s second-leg match against Arsenal on March 11.

CLUB LEON HOLD ONTO DRAW IN BOLIVIA

An early goal from Mauro Boselli back on South American soil was enough to give Club Leon an important point on the road in Copa Libertadores action.

Facing Bolivar in the high-altitude city of La Paz, Bolivia, Boselli fired a shot in the second minute of the match that took a deflection and found its way into the net for a 1-0 lead to the Mexican club. Bolivar battled back and in the second half, Juanmi Callejon put his head on the end of a cross to tie the score.

The draw puts Leon ahead in Group 7 with four points from two games, though Ecuadorian side Emelec could take the lead Wednesday with a victory against Flamengo.

Also in action on Wednesday, Uruguay’s Defensor Sporting throttled Real Garcilaso of Peru, 4-1, and Chilean side O’Higgins defeated Colombia’s Deportivo Cali, 1-0.

QUICK KICKS

Alexandre Song could return to the English Premier League this summer after finding first team minutes hard to come by in Barcelona. (REPORT)

Former AC Milan forward and current youth team coach Filippo Inzaghi said that he could leave the club this summer. (REPORT)

Manchester United midfielder Adnan Januzaj has reportedly declined an invitation to play for Kosovo against Haiti next month. (REPORT)

Schalke 04 youth player Donis Avdijaj hasn’t played a minute of Bundesliga soccer yet, but he is about to sign a new contract with the club that includes a release clause of just below 50 million euros ($64 million). (REPORT)

Police in Brazil arrested 13 Corinthians supporters after an investigation led to arrest warrants on those who took part in an invasion of the club’s training ground on Feb. 1. (REPORT)

River Plate suffered a surprising 2-1 defeat to Godoy Cruz, with stud defender Eder Alvarez Balanta getting sent off in the 67th minute. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you agree with Wenger’s comments? Do you think Ribery could play against Schalke? Where do you see Song heading this summer?

Share your thoughts below.

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