1 Real Madrid have vehemently denied reports in the Italian media that they have made an approach to sign Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba.There has been speculation that Pogba will leave the Turin giants this summer even though Juve are keen to keep the 22-year-old.Italian newspaper La Stampa reported that Real were willing to offer Pogba a five-year contract, earning 10million euros net per season.A statement from the club on Thursday read: “Following reports published in Italian newspaper La Stampa concerning an alleged offer from Real Madrid for the player Paul Pogba, the club wishes to state the following: Real Madrid have had no contact either with Juventus or the player’s agent and, as a consequence, the reports published in this newspaper are completely false.”Pogba has been a big hit since arriving at Juve from Manchester United in 2012.The France international is tied to the Turin giants until June 2019.Pogba played a major role in helping Juventus clinch their third successive Scudetto last season, scoring seven goals and setting up seven more in 36 Serie A appearances for the Bianconeri.A hamstring injury has limited Pogba to 25 league appearances for the Serie A champions this season.Pogba has been strongly linked to Paris St Germain while his former club Manchester United as well as neighbours Manchester City and Premier League champions Chelsea are also reported to be interested in signing the talented midfielder.Juve, who have already lifted the Serie A and Coppa Italia trophies this season, face Real’s arch-rivals Barcelona in the Champions League final on June 6 in Berlin. Juventus midfielder Paul Pogba
CINCINNATI – Carson Palmer stood his ground and held the ball an extra second, waiting for rookie Chris Henry to run past a defender and get open. That one second changed everything. AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MORECoach Doc Rivers a “fan” from way back of Jazz’s Jordan Clarkson The Steelers (12-5) will play in Indianapolis next Sunday, a chance to show how far they’ve come in the past month. Pittsburgh lost at the RCA Dome 26-7 on Nov. 28. “We’re the underdogs going into their place,” said Ben Roethlisberger, who threw three touchdown passes. “Now we get to see what we can do.” The Bengals (11-6) will spend an offseason reliving the play that effectively scuttled their first playoff appearance in 15 years – and could have a longer-lasting impact. Palmer tore the anterior cruciate ligament, an injury that requires surgery and months of tough rehabilitation. The Bengals are hoping the USC product is recovered by training camp in July. “I knew right away that it was bad,” said Palmer, who was on crutches after the game. “I felt my whole knee pop. I didn’t feel a lot of pain. It was just a sickening feeling because I knew what it was and that my season was over.” The Bengals were initially angered and inspired by the injury, but the emotion lasted only so long. They faded during the third quarter, when they started bungling and the Steelers acted like they’d been to the playoffs before. “We had that letdown, we didn’t get that (second-half) field goal and it kind of deflated us,” said Kitna, who took over for Palmer and spent most of his time scrambling. “We never recovered from that.” In his second playoff go-round, Roethlisberger was coolly efficient – 14 of 19 for 208 yards and three touchdowns without an interception, a vast improvement over his shaky rookie postseason. “Last year, everything was new to Ben,” said receiver Hines Ward, who had a 5-yard touchdown catch. “Tonight, he was pretty crisp. The intangibles that he brings, I like a lot.” The crowd of 65,870 erupted, then went sickeningly silent on the Bengals’ first pass play – one that went down as the longest in Cincinnati playoff history, and the costliest. Palmer held onto the ball long enough to let Henry beat a defender down the right sideline for a 66-yard catch. As the ball left Palmer’s hand, a falling von Oelhoffen’s shoulder drove into the quarterback’s left knee. Several Bengals yelled at von Oelhoffen, who spent his first six seasons in Cincinnati and still counts some of the Bengals as friends. “Guys were infuriated,” right tackle Willie Anderson said. “But I know him. He’s not a dirty player. His momentum just kept him going into Carson. It wasn’t a dirty play.” The nose tackle explained himself on the field. “They had every right to be upset. They lost their best player,” von Oelhoffen said. “I hope Carson gets better. My apologies to him and his family. “I was worried about Carson. That kid deserved to play this game.” Kitna finished 24 of 40 for 197 yards with two interceptions and four sacks. He kept the Bengals in it until their inexperience and lack of a Pro Bowl quarterback started to show in the third quarter. First, the Bengals botched a field-goal attempt because of a high snap. Then, Kitna knocked the ball out of his own hand while scrambling, scuttling a drive. Finally, a shanked 30-yard punt – something out of the old Bungles days – put the Steelers in position to take control. Three plays later, they used a little sleight-of-snap to do just that. Antwaan Randle El took a direct snap in front of Roethlisberger, ran to his right, turned and threw the ball back to the quarterback. Cedrick Wilson was 10 yards beyond the confused coverage for his 43-yard touchdown catch that put the Steelers up 28-17. 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Steelers nose tackle Kimo von Oelhoffen dived at Palmer on his first pass Sunday, hitting Palmer at the knee and knocking the Pro Bowl quarterback out of the game with a torn ligament. Pittsburgh took advantage of his absence, harassing backup Jon Kitna and rolling to a 31-17 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals that set up a rematch with the AFC’s top team.