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Van Gaal still Waiting for 'Perfect' United

Louis van Gaal has told his predecessor Alex Ferguson he is still far from happy with Manchester United’s performances despite an impressive run that has catapulted them into the Premier League top three.

At least the United manager looks set to have record signing Angel di Maria available for the busy holiday schedule of games after his recovery from a hamstring tear.

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Balotelli Banned 1 Match for Social Media Post

Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli is banned from Sunday's match against Arsenal as punishment for posting racially offensive comments online.

The FA on Thursday imposed the one-match ban and a fine of 25,000 pounds ($39,000), while also ordering Balotelli to attend an education program for the "aggravated breach" of its discrimination rules.

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Bernie Ecclestone back on F1 Board, to Stay as CEO

Bernie Ecclestone's control of Formula One was fully restored on Thursday after overcoming court cases that threatened his grip on the motorsport series.

The 84-year-old Ecclestone stepped down as a board member of F1's holding company this year while standing trial for bribery in Germany. The case was closed in August when Ecclestone made a $100 million settlement payment.

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Juventus Beats Cagliari to End Year Top of Serie A

Juventus eased to a 3-1 win at relegation-threatened Cagliari on Thursday to ensure it ended the year at the top of the Serie A standings.

Early goals from Carlos Tevez and Arturo Vidal gave Juventus a comfortable lead in the opening 15 minutes, and Fernando Llorente sealed the match shortly after halftime.

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Atletico Sets up Copa del Rey Clash with Real

Atletico Madrid set up a crosstown Copa del Rey clash with Real Madrid despite drawing 2-2 with third-division Hospitalet on Thursday, advancing 5-2 on aggregate.

Athletic Bilbao, Malaga and Elche also won to complete the last 16.

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Warriors Overcome Slow Start to Beat Thunder 114-109

Golden State rallied from an early 17-point deficit to beat Oklahoma City 114-109 on Thursday, with Stephen Curry having 34 points and nine assists for the NBA-leading Warriors.

The victory moved the Warriors two games clear of Memphis for the overall league lead, while Oklahoma City slipped to a mediocre 12-14 record and lost star player Kevin Durant to a sprained right ankle.

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Third Suspect Charged for Death in Spain Football Fight

A Spanish judge charged a third person on Thursday for the death of a football fan following a brutal street fight between rival "ultra" groups before a match in Madrid last month.

Police also arrested 17 more who allegedly participated in the massive street brawl before the game between Atletico Madrid and Deportivo La Coruna.

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Ben Arfa Won't Play for Hull again Says Bruce

Hull City manager Steve Bruce says French winger Hatem Ben Arfa has played his last game for the Premier League club after a troubled loan spell at the KC Stadium.

Ben Arfa has played just nine times for Hull since his temporary move from Newcastle United and reports in France last weekend indicated that he had returned to Paris and was training on his own.

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Beijing Ramping up Bid for 2022 Winter Olympics

Beijing is ramping up its bid for the 2022 Winter Olympics by holding a series of international athletic competitions and promotional events.

Games organizers said Thursday the upcoming season-opening Freestyle Skiing World Cup in Beijing's Bird's Nest stadium will be the first of six international competitions in the capital city and Shanghai. Skating events make up most of the remainder.

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Qatar: Building Team to Spring Surprise in 2022

It's a cold, hard fact of football: Countries with tiny populations don't generally beat big ones with deep wells of talented players.

So how embarrassing might the score be when Qatar — smallest host in World Cup history, with just 282,750 citizens — plays the opening game of its 2022 tournament against, for example, titans Brazil or Germany?

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