Borussia Dortmund goalkeeper Mitchell Langerak has apologised to former team-mate Robert Lewandowski after their goal-mouth collision left the Bayern Munich striker with a fractured cheekbone, nose and concussion. Ex-Dortmund forward Lewandowski, who has scored 23 goals in his first season with Bayern, spent Tuesday night in a Munich hospital following the collision with Langerak in extra time during Dortmund’s German Cup semi-final win. “Robert and I are friends and of course I am sorry for what happened,” said Langerak. “I hope he can play as soon as possible. Anyone who knows me knows it wasn’t intentional and that I wanted to clear the ball.”
Borussia Dortmund have confirmed that midfielder Ilkay Gundogan will not renew his contract, which expires in 2016. The obvious implication is that he will be leaving this summer, with Manchester United among the clubs linked with the combative Germany international.
Belgian footballer Gregory Mertens has died of heart failure, three days after collapsing during a match. The 24-year-old Lokeren defender was treated on the pitch during the first half of Monday’s reserve-team game with Genk but did not recover after time in hospital on a life-support machine. A club statement said: “The medical staff have done everything to save Gregory, but they finally had to acknowledge their impotence. “Gregory passed away at around 16:30.” The former Belgium Under-21 international’s condition had worsened since he was taken to hospital in Genk, with doctors giving him little chance of survival. On Thursday his family agreed his life support should be switched off. Lokeren say that the exact nature of Mertens’s heart condition has yet to be established. But he passed all pre-season health tests required by Europe’s football governing body UEFA, and was judged to be one of the fittest players at his club. He joined Lokeren in January 2014 from Cercle Brugge and played 15 league games this season, as well as featuring against Hull City in the Europa League in August. The club statement continued: “Gregory was only one-and-a-half years at the club, but in that short time his quiet modesty made him an indispensable person. “Now we will have to learn to live with the loss.”
Qatar have sacked Algerian coach Djamel Belmadi just over a month before the start of their joint 2018 World Cup and Asian Cup qualifying campaign. The Qatar Football Association said: “We’re currently on the look-out for a new coach. We thank Mr Belmadi for his services and co-operation. “We got some very good results in his stint as coach. He was one of our finest coaches. “He lifted the spirit of the players and carried out his tasks well.” Belmadi, who was appointed in March 2014 after a spell with the B side, seemed to have Qatar on the right path by winning the Gulf Cup of Nations in November but they endured a miserable Asian Cup campaign in January. The 2022 World Cup hosts lost all three matches in Australia to finish bottom of Group C. Qatar have been drawn with China, Bhutan, Maldives and Hong Kong in 2018 World Cup and 2019 Asian Cup qualifying and begin their campaign on 11 June.
Parma have been relegated from Serie A after a turbulent season in which they were declared bankrupt and docked seven points for financial irregularities. Defeat at Lazio and Atalanta’s 2-2 draw at Cesena leaves Roberto Donadoni’s side bottom of the table and 16 points from safety with five games to play. Parma were declared bankrupt in March with debts estimated at £54m. Their players have not been paid this campaign and have had to do their own laundry and drive the team bus. Second-placed Lazio scored three in six minutes through Marco Parolo, Miroslav Klose and Antonio Candreva before Balde Keita added a fourth in a one-sided encounter at the Stadio Olimpico. Parma, who have changed ownership twice this season, were Serie A runners-up in 1997, won the UEFA Cup in 1995 and 1999, and the Cup Winners’ Cup in 1993. The club had in the past featured great players like Hernan Crespo, Faustino Aspirilla, Gianfranco Zola, Dino Baggio, Fabio Cannavaro, Gianluigi Buffon and Lilian Thuram.
A former Premier League footballer has been jailed for two-and-a-half years after being convicted of match fixing allegations. Delroy Facey, of Woodhouse Hill, Huddersfield, was found guilty at Birmingham Crown Court of conspiring to bribe non-league players. Judge Mary Stacey said Facey’s offences struck “at the very heart of football”. Facey, who played for Bolton Wanderers, West Bromwich Albion and Hull City, had denied any wrongdoing. Former non-league player Moses Swaibu, 25, of Tooley Street, London, was also found guilty of conspiracy to commit bribery. He was jailed for 16 months for his part in the conspiracy. The two were arrested as part of a National Crime Agency investigation into match fixing. The trial heard Facey urged a footballer at a struggling non-league club to make some “easy money” by fixing the result of a match. He also told a contact some Football Conference teams would “do” a game in return for payment, the jury heard.
Chelsea stand one win away from the Premier League title after mounting an impressive comeback to beat Leicester City at the King Power Stadium. Jose Mourinho’s side needed to call on all their reserves of quality and resilience to overcome Leicester City’s fiercely determined challenge which earned them a deserved first-half lead through Marc Albrighton. As expectations of another victory on the road to Premier League safety rose in a thunderous atmosphere, Chelsea responded in the style of champions-elect to earn the victory that means they will be crowned champions for the first time in five years if they beat Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge on Sunday. Didier Drogba restored equality early in the second half and further goals from captain John Terry and Ramires wrapped up a win that was testimony to the qualities that have put Chelsea on the brink of glory.