GERMANY: Bayern Munich advances to Cup final with 6-2 win in Leverkusen
LEVERKUSEN, Germany — Thomas Mueller scored a hat trick as Bayern Munich booked its place in the German Cup final with a 6-2 win at Bayer Leverkusen on Tuesday.
Bayern, which eased to the league title with five rounds remaining, will face Schalke or Eintracht Frankfurt - who meet in the other semifinal on Wednesday - in the German season-ending showpiece in Berlin's Olympiastadion on May 19.
It will be Bayern's 22nd German Cup final.
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had warned before the game that Leverkusen could rival the Bavarian powerhouse for the Bundesliga title next season, but it seemed little more than platitudes as the visitors raced into a two-goal lead against his former side.
Javi Martinez scored after two minutes on a rebound after Bernd Leno blocked Thomas Mueller's effort.
Six minutes later it was 2-0. Franck Ribery eluded two defenders and floated over a cross for Robert Lewandowski to shoot inside the far post against the retreating Leno's direction.
Leverkusen didn't buckle, however, and Lars Bender pulled one back shortly afterward, heading in over the helpless Sven Ulreich after a scramble.
Karim Bellarabi drew a brilliant save from Ulreich before the break but Leverkusen looked shaky in defense — especially on the wings, where Arjen Robben and Ribery were causing problems.
Kevin Volland and Bellarabi missed good chances after the break, before Mueller restored the visitors' two-goal cushion.
Thiago Alcantara ended the home side's hopes of a comeback on the hour-mark, minutes before Mueller grabbed his second.
Leon Bailey gave the home fans some reason to cheer with a brilliant free kick, but Mueller had the Bayern fans singing again when he claimed his third.
Bayern, which faces Real Madrid in the Champions League semifinals, is going for a repeat of the treble it secured in 2013 in Heynckes' previous stint in charge. The veteran coach was coaxed back out of retirement in October for his fourth stint following Bayern's all but forgotten lackluster start.
ENGLAND: Kane ignites Golden Boot bid as Spurs draw 1-1 at Brighton
BRIGHTON, England — Harry Kane ignited his bid to reel in Mohamed Salah in the race to finish top scorer in the Premier League by grabbing his 26th goal of the season in Tottenham's 1-1 draw at Brighton on Tuesday.
With four games left, the striker moved to within four goals of Salah, who may yet miss some matches in the run-in because of Liverpool's involvement in the semifinals — and maybe final — of the Champions League.
Kane has won the Golden Boot the past two seasons.
The England international benefited from determined work near the byline by Son Heung-min to drive in a shot that deflected into the net in the 48th minute, enlivening a game that failed to sparkle in the first half at Amex Stadium.
Brighton equalized within two minutes, with playmaker Pascal Gross converting a penalty following Serge Aurier's foul on Jose Izquierdo.
The point inched Brighton closer to securing a second straight season in the Premier League, eight points clear of the relegation zone with four matches remaining.
Fourth-place Tottenham moved eight points ahead of fifth-place Chelsea in the race to seal an automatic qualification spot in next season's Champions League. Chelsea has a game in hand, at Burnley on Thursday.
Toby Alderweireld made his first Premier League start for Spurs since October, having been sidelined since because of injury and a reported falling-out with manager Mauricio Pochettino.
Alderweireld replaced Davinson Sanchez at center back and had little to do, with Brighton barely threatening except for the attack that led to the penalty that was clumsily given away by Aurier.
The Belgium defender will be looking for more game time in the final month of the season, ahead of the World Cup in Russia starting in June. Tottenham next play in the FA Cup semifinals against Manchester United on Saturday.
ASIA CHAMPIONS LEAGUE: Fabio Cannavaro leads Guangzhou into knockout round
SEOUL, South Korea — Fabio Cannavaro led Guangzhou Evergrande into the knockout round of the Asian Champions League on Tuesday.
Brazilian midfielder Alan Carvalho scored two goals in Guangzhou's 3-1 win over Japanese club Cerezo Osaka in Group G. Huang Bowen also scored for Guangzhou, while Takaki Fukumitsu briefly equalized for the visitors.
Cannavaro, a former Italy captain who won the World Cup in 2006, is in his second stint as coach of the Chinese club.
"We did what we had to do," Cannavaro said. "We have qualified for the next stage but we know that we still have a lot of work to do."
Guangzhou, winner of the last seven Chinese league titles, is a two-time continental champion and was unbeaten in the group stage.
Only the top two teams from the eight groups advance to the last 16.
Thai club Buriram United finished second in the group and also advanced. The team beat South Korean club Jeju United 1-0 with Korrakot Wiriyaudomsiri scoring the lone goal.
Suwon Bluewings 1, Kashima Antlers 0
Dejan Damjanovic scored a first-half goal to give South Korean team Suwon Bluewings a 1-0 victory over Japanese club Kashima Antlers in Group H, but both teams advanced.
Sydney FC 0, Shanghai Shenhua 0
Australian champion Sydney FC was eliminated after a 0-0 draw with last-place Shanghai Shenhua.
BRAZIL: Neymar says he'll be well rested when World Cup starts
SAO PAULO — Brazilian star Neymar expects to be in better shape at the World Cup in Russia than he was before his foot injury.
The Brazilian forward said on Tuesday that while it has been hard to miss a crucial part of the season because his first major surgery, the bright side is that he will be well rested when soccer's showcase tournament begins on June 14.
"I will have enough time to get to the World Cup in good shape and prepare myself," Neymar told journalists during an event for one of his sponsors in Sao Paulo. He arrived using crutches and asked to be seated as quickly as possible when he was on stage.
"I expect to get there better than I was," he said. "There are doubts, of course. I feel that too. But that is normal for someone that got injured. It has been hard not to play and practice."
Neymar also said he will have his last post-surgery medical exam on May 17, and could be available for Brazil's training sessions that start May 21 near Rio de Janeiro.
The Paris Saint-Germain striker had surgery in March on a cracked fifth metatarsal in his right foot.
The Brazilian also said it was hard not to be with his PSG teammates to celebrate their French league title on Sunday.
"It is very bad to see my team score, win a title and I am not able to be there. But my health is above this," he said.
Asked about players who could have a great World Cup — aside from himself, Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo — Neymar did not single out any of his PSG teammates.
"Phillipe Coutinho and Gabriel Jesus will make a difference (for Brazil), I hope. Mohammed Salah doesn't play for a famous team, but could have a good World Cup. Eden Hazard, Kevin de Bruyne, Luis Suarez too," he said. "I am glad to be part of a team that is the strongest, that has the skills to win."
ENGLAND: Aguero set to miss rest of season after 'minor' knee op
MANCHESTER, England — Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero is set to miss the rest of the Premier League season after undergoing knee surgery on Tuesday.
City said it was a "minor operation," potentially easing concerns about the Argentina international's participation in the World Cup in Russia that starts on June 14.
Aguero missed most of City's games in March because of a left knee injury sustained in training. He returned as a substitute for the 3-2 loss to Manchester United on April 7, during which he aggravated the injury in a challenge by Ashley Young, according to City.
He came on during the second half in the second leg of City's Champions League quarterfinal against Liverpool three days later.
Aguero didn't give a timescale for his return, saying only he is "fully motivated to get back soon to the field."
City's all-time top scorer, Aguero is on 199 goals for the recently confirmed Premier League champions and will have to wait for his 200th until next season. He scored 30 goals in all competitions this season.
GERMANY: Bayern midfielder Arturo Vidal's season over after surgery
MUNICH — Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has been ruled out for the rest of the season after undergoing surgery on a knee injury sustained in training.
The Chile midfielder will miss both legs of Bayern's Champions League semifinal against Real Madrid, and the German Cup final should the side get past Bayer Leverkusen in Tuesday's semifinal without him.
The Bundesliga side says on its website: "The loose body that had been diagnosed beforehand was removed. The attachment of the rear lateral meniscus which was damaged by the loose body was repaired. The season is over for Arturo Vidal."
Bayern coach Jupp Heynckes had said on Monday that Vidal needed keyhole surgery on his right knee after twisting it awkwardly when he slipped on Sunday in training and that the Chile midfielder would be out for a "short while."
Vidal was a key player in Bayern's midfield, chipping in six goals in 22 Bundesliga appearances, while he also made eight Champions League and four German Cup appearances.
FIFA charges World Cup host Russia for fan racism
MOSCOW — FIFA charged World Cup host Russia with fan racism on Tuesday, less than two months before the tournament begins.
Monkey chants were aimed at black French players, including Paul Pogba, during France's 3-1 friendly win over Russia in St. Petersburg last month.
"Disciplinary proceedings have been opened against the Russian Football Union for this incident," FIFA said.
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Arkady Dvorkovich, who is overseeing World Cup preparations, told state news agencies on Tuesday that Russia was cracking down on racist fans.
"We'll do anything so there are no discrimination cases," he said. "But if that happens ... there should be zero tolerance for these people."
The RFU said it is cooperating with the FIFA investigation.
"A request has been made to the Interior Ministry to identify several persons who were involved in these incidents," RFU anti-discrimination officer Alexei Smertin was quoted as saying Monday by the Tass news agency. "If these people's guilt is proven, then there's a high likelihood they won't be allowed to attend World Cup and Russian league games."
Russia was previously charged with racist behavior by its fans at the last two European Championships. On both occasions, the RFU paid a fine.
It's the third racism case this season at St. Petersburg Stadium, which will host a World Cup semifinal match. Zenit St. Petersburg has twice faced UEFA charges for racism by its fans in Europa League games.
Zenit fans flew a banner praising convicted war criminal Ratko Mladic when playing a Macedonian club in November and are accused of using a racially charged term to mock an injured black player in a game against Leipzig. The second case is due to be heard by UEFA on May 31, two weeks before the World Cup begins.
Russian prosecutors reveal plot to disrupt World Cup
MOSCOW — Russia's chief prosecutor says law enforcement agencies have thwarted an alleged plot by right-wing soccer fans to derail events at the World Cup.
Prosecutor General Yuri Chaika's report to the upper house of parliament says the suspected organizers — described only as "extremists" — envisaged engaging members of the radical soccer fan group T.O.Y.S. to disrupt World Cup events in the city of Samara on the Volga River.
Chaika's report released by the Tass news agency on Tuesday didn't elaborate on the actions the perpetrators planned to take.
The radical nationalist group was outlawed by a Russian court last year on charges of fomenting extremist sentiments. Known for its hard-line nationalist views and conflicts with other fan groups, T.O.Y.S. is a faction of fans of the second-tier club Krylya Sovetov Samara.
Local media reported last year that a leader of T.O.Y.S., Evgeny Gavrilov, was given a suspended prison sentence and banned from attending football games after being accused of propagandizing far-right ideology. Members of the group reportedly have also been accused of attacking migrants.
Samara is one of 11 host cities for the June 14-July 15 tournament and will host six games, including a quarterfinal.
Russia, Colombia, Senegal and Australia are among the teams due to play there in the group stage.
GREECE: Under threat of relegation, club settling Essien debt
ATHENS, Greece — Panathinaikos says long-delayed payments have been made to Michael Essien and two others in an effort to avoid losing nine points as the Greek club struggles with mounting debts and the threat of relegation.
A sports judge ordered Panathinaikos to settle debts with Essien, Argentine winger Sebastian Leto and Spanish forward Toche within three days or lose the points. Club officials did not say how much money had been paid.
Essien moved to Panathinaikos from AC Milan in 2015 and left the following year after an injury-plagued season.
Normally a title contender, Panathinaikos is currently 10th in the 16-team Greek league. AEK Athens leads with 60 points from 26 matches, two ahead of PAOK with three games remaining.
GERMANY: Troubled Cologne hires coach Markus Anfang for next season
COLOGNE, Germany — Relegation-troubled Cologne has signed Markus Anfang as coach for next season, when the club will most likely be playing in Germany's second division.
Cologne, which is last in the Bundesliga with four rounds remaining, says the 43-year-old Anfang, a native of the city, will switch from Holstein Kiel along with assistant Tom Cichon for the 2018-19 season. Both signed three-year deals.
Anfang, a former midfielder, played for Fortuna Duesseldorf, Kaiserslautern, Duisburg and Schalke, before he started his coaching career with Kiel in September 2016. He led Kiel to promotion from the third division in his first season, and the side is well placed to earn another promotion to the Bundesliga this year.
Cologne sporting director Armin Veh says, "Anfang is a coach that manages to transfer his ideas well to the team. He has proven that in Kiel."
Kiel is third in the second division's playoff race, two points behind Nuremberg in an automatic promotion spot, with four games remaining. The side's next game is at home to Nuremberg.
Cologne's chances of survival under current coach Stefan Ruthenbeck appear slim as it is nine points from safety. The club announced last Thursday that Ruthenbeck would not be continuing regardless of how the season ended.