Saturday, 22 January 2022

BUSINESS AND ECONOMY

Sports

Sports (322)

Manchester City’s 12-game winning run in the Premier League came to an end as Aymeric Laporte rescued a 1-1 draw against Southampton on Saturday.

City were rocked by Kyle Walker-Peters’ first ever top-flight goal in the opening minutes at St Mary’s.

After a poor first half by their high standards, Pep Guardiola’s side kicked into gear after the break.

City defender Laporte headed the equaliser, but the runaway leaders could not extend their winning streak in a one-sided finale that saw the visitors lay seige to the Southampton goal.

The champions had to settle for a result that left them 12 points clear of second-placed Liverpool, who have two games in hand and face Crystal Palace on Sunday.

For the first time since they were beaten 2-0 by Palace on October 30, City finished a league game without all three points.

They remain firmly in pole position for a fourth title in five seasons, but their draw on the south coast will give a glimmer of hope to Liverpool and third-placed Chelsea.

Ruben Dias returned to the City defence in place of John Stones, but the champions’ rearguard was quickly exposed.

City were rocked in the seventh minute when Walker-Peters linked up with Nathan Redmond on the right flank.

Walker-Peters cut inside and, with City backing off, the right-back had space to shoot into the far corner with the outside of his foot.

It was just the 14th goal City had conceded in the league this term and they were nearly breached again nine minutes later.

Armando Broja was played in behind the City defence and slotted past Ederson, only for the goal to be ruled out for offside.

Frustrated by Southampton’s high-energy display, City were struggling to find their usual rhythm.

Laporte saves City

Raheem Sterling nearly snatched an equaliser against the run of play with curler that whisted just wide from a tight angle.

Sterling should have brought City level moments later, but the forward fluffed his lines from Phil Foden’s pass, allowing Fraser Forster to save his under-hit close-range effort.

Ederson made an instinctive stop to keep out Jan Bednarek’s near-post header early in the second half.

Rodri’s miscued strike from the edge of the area almost caught out Forster, who turned it around the post at full stretch.

Laporte made a superb last-ditch block to frustrate Broja after the Southampton forward raced clean through on goal.

Broja should have scored from the resulting corner, but headed James Ward-Prowse’s delivery against the woodwork from just four yards.

It was a crucial miss and City finally equalised in the 65th minute as Laporte exploited Southampton’s weakness in the air.

Kevin De Bruyne swung a free-kick to the far post and Laporte was left completely unmarked to score the 11th headed goal against Southampton in the league this season.

As City pushed for a winner, De Bruyne hammered a 25-yard rocket against the post and Forster saved Gabriel Jesus’s header with his legs.

City were denied a penalty after VAR ruled Oriol Romeu’s foul on De Bruyne had taken place just outside the area.

Stuart Armstrong was fortunate to escape a red card following a VAR check of his high foul on Laporte.

In the tense final minutes, Forster pushed away Foden’s goalbound deflected cross and De Bruyne’s close-range effort was repelled by the inspired Saints keeper.

Posted On Saturday, 22 January 2022 21:17 Written by

Vinicius Junior scored his 10th goal of the season as Real Madrid thrashed Granada 4-1 on Sunday to shoot back to the top of La Liga.

Marco Asensio and Nacho Fernandez put Madrid two up inside the opening 30 minutes at Los Carmenes, where Granada briefly made a game of it when Luis Suarez pulled a goal back, only to be blown away in the second half.

Vinicius finished off a sumptuous Madrid passing move and was then on the end of a rash challenge from Granada’s Monchu, who was sent off with 23 minutes left to play.

With the extra man, the lead was never really in doubt and Ferland Mendy made it four to complete a convincing victory, which sends Madrid two points clear at the top of the table.

Granada sit 18th, four points off the bottom.

Carlo Ancelotti now turns his attention to Wednesday’s Champions League game away at Sheriff Tiraspol, with qualification to the last 16 not yet secured.

Inter Milan are two points behind in Group D and Sheriff only one point further back.

Madrid, though, appear to be hitting their stride after recording their fourth consecutive win and extending their unbeaten run to seven in all competitions. They face second-placed Sevilla next weekend.

Vinicius has been key and the Brazilian was on target again versus Granada, making it double figures for goals in a season for the first time for Madrid. He already has four more than he managed in the entirety of last term.

With Eden Hazard ill and out of favour and Gareth Bale injured, the third forward position, alongside Vinicius and Karim Benzema, is one of those up for grabs in Ancelotti’s starting line-up.

Asensio furthered his claim with a smart goal in the 19th minute as Granada were dispossessed in midfield and Toni Kroos sent Asensio in behind the defence, the 25-year-old holding his finish until the last moment before poking into the far corner.

“There’s a lot of competition but when he plays, the most important thing is he has played well, he’s scored and he’s brought his best qualities,” said Ancelotti.

Nacho made it two six minutes later, diverting in off the crossbar at the near post after a slick short-corner routine between the impressive Kroos and Luka Modric.

Vinicius’ rougher edges were exposed for Granada’s goal as a sloppy touch allowed Suarez space to unleash from range, with a deflection off Nacho giving Thibaut Courtois no chance.

But any hopes of a comeback were quickly dashed as Vinicius made it three in the 56th minute and Monchu was sent off in the 67th.

Benzema could have gone for goal himself but played in Modric at the back post. The Croat then tapped inside for Vinicius, who had an open net.

A frustrated Monchu slid in on Vinicius giving Madrid added security. Casemiro played in Mendy, who duly tucked home a fourth.

Posted On Sunday, 21 November 2021 22:36 Written by

Nigerian striker Taiwo Awoniyi netted two goals against his old club Sunday as Union Berlin fought from a goal down to beat Mainz 2-1 and continue their fine start to the Bundesliga season.

Awoniyi struck twice in four minutes in the second half to give high-flying Union their first away win of the season and fire them up to seventh in the table.

After a sluggish first half with few chances at either end, it was Union loanee Marcus Ingvartsen who gave Mainz the lead shortly before the break.

A mistake from Union midfielder Genki Haraguchi allowed the home side to launch a lightning-quick attack down the left, and the unmarked Ingvartsen stroked Karim Onisiwo’s low cross inside the near post.

But it was former Mainz striker Awoniyi who had the last laugh as Union bounced back after the break.

Having missed a handful of chances throughout the game, the Nigerian levelled the scores with a cool finish on the counter-attack 20 minutes from time.

A few minutes later, the 24-year-old scored an almost carbon copy of his equaliser to put Union ahead, once again latching onto a long ball and holding off the Mainz back line before slotting the ball into the bottom corner.

Posted On Monday, 04 October 2021 00:56 Written by

Premier League giants Manchester United have, on Friday evening, confirmed when recent addition Cristiano Ronaldo is set to link up with the rest of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.

CR7 returns

A fine summer all told on the red half of Manchester of course came to a spectacular head this day last week.

As if the high-profile additions of Jadon Sancho and Raphael Varane were not enough, those in a position of power at Old Trafford set the world of football alight with their third and final reinforcement to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s squad.

The player brought in? 5-time Ballon d’Or winner and Reds prodigal son Cristiano Ronaldo.

After the Portuguese made clear his desire to depart Serie A heavyweights Juventus on the back of three seasons in Turin, United swooped decisively for his signature, beating out competition from neighbours Man City.

In turn, Ronaldo put pen to paper on a two-year contract at the Theatre of Dreams, coming full circle on the back of a 12-year spell away from the club.

CR7 latest

Excitement, in turn, has since inevitably begun to spread throughout the Red Devils’ fanbase.

Ronaldo has been tipped to potentially make his 2nd United bow as early as next weekend, when Solskjaer and co. welcome Newcastle United to Old Trafford.

And, if the latest word stemming from the club’s official website is anything to go by, then such a possibility cannot be ruled out.

In a post across their social media platforms on Friday evening, Manchester United revealed a series of photos of their latest addition touching down in Manchester.

The 36-year-old was subsequently greeted by ex-teammate Darren Fletcher in a private airport terminal, before, crucially, an insight into exactly when he is expected to begin training with his new club was forthcoming.

As per the announcement:

‘Cristiano is now preparing to begin training with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side at Carrington next week.’

Posted On Saturday, 04 September 2021 16:18 Written by

Cristiano Ronaldo completed a medical in Lisbon over the weekend ahead of his return to Manchester United and has reportedly agreed personal terms on a two-year contract with the Premier League club, according to Sky Sports.

United said last week they had agreed a deal to re-sign Ronaldo from Juventus after he told the Serie A club he had no intention of staying, but the transfer was still subject to the agreement of personal terms and a medical.

The clubs have yet to confirm the Portugal forward’s transfer. The Premier League’s summer transfer window closes tonight at 2200 GMT.

Sky reported the fee agreed for the 36-year-old Portuguese was around 15 million euros ($17.70 million) plus a further eight million euros in add-ons.

United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was relishing Ronaldo’s return and said on Sunday that the announcement would be made once the paperwork was done.

With the league paused for the international break, Ronaldo is expected to play his first game when United host Newcastle United at old Trafford on Sept. 11.

Ronaldo won eight major trophies at United from 2003-2009, and the Ballon d’Or as the world’s best player in 2008, before sealing a then world record 80 million-pound ($110.1 million) move to Real Madrid.

Posted On Tuesday, 31 August 2021 04:06 Written by

Chelsea are confident of landing the signature of Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku with a final bid, reputed journalist Fabrizio Romano claims.

The Blues have been locked in negotiations with the Nerazzurri for the Belgian. They recently submitted an £85 million offer plus Marcos Alonso that was rejected.

Inter prefer a straight cash deal for a reported fee of around £102m. It is now reported that the Blues are confident of landing the marksman in the next few days.

Sportslens view:

The west London giants have been impressive in pre-season, but there has been a similar situation up front with their tendency to squander clear-cut chances.

Lukaku, who bagged 30 goals and 10 assists last term, would provide an ideal solution for manager Thomas Tuchel as the club look to mount a title challenge.

The Belgian was initially happy to stay with Inter next season, but his stance has changed recently after learning about the interest from the Blues.

He believes he has unfinished business at the club. Lukaku was previously with the Blues between 2011 and 2014 but hardly made a mark for them.

The 28-year-old spent two seasons away from the club before he left them permanently for Everton. The Blues attempted to sign him three years later but failed to do so.

Manchester United hijacked the deal at the final hurdle. Lukaku has since joined Inter, where he has played well over the past two seasons.

It looks increasingly likely that they will get their hands on Lukaku this time around with just a £17m difference in the valuation between the clubs.

Posted On Saturday, 07 August 2021 21:28 Written by

The club announced the departure of its highest goal scorer in a statement on his website on Thursday evening.

It reads: “Despite FC Barcelona and Lionel Messi having reached an agreement and the clear intention of both parties to sign a new contract today, this cannot happen because of financial and structural obstacles (Spanish Liga regulations).

“As a result of this situation, Messi shall not be staying on at FC Barcelona. Both parties deeply regret that the wishes of the player and the club will ultimately not be fulfilled.

“FC Barcelona wholeheartedly expresses its gratitude to the player for his contribution to the aggrandisement of the club and wishes him all the very best for the future in his personal and professional life.”

Posted On Friday, 06 August 2021 00:57 Written by

Surprise French champions Lille beat Cup winners Paris Saint-Germain 1-0 in the Champions Trophy season curtain raiser in balmy Tel Aviv on Sunday.

Portuguese midfielder Xeka scored the winner just before half-time with an unstoppable strike from outside the penalty area that left PSG stopper Keylor Navas no chance.

“We showed who we are and we deserve this trophy,” said Xeka.

“A few months after the league title we can all celebrate this new one. Work pays, and that’s how we intend to continue.”

Having won the previous eight Champions Trophy matches, PSG arrived in Tel Aviv Saturday without Kylian Mbappe, Neymar, Angel di Maria as well as new star signings Spanish defender Sergio Ramos and Italian ‘keeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

A positive test for Covid-19 ruled out PSG midfielder Idrissa Gueye.

There was a lively debut for Georginio Wijnaldum signed from Liverpool on a free transfer and who came on with twenty minutes to play.

PSG had their chances and Mauro Icardi had the ball in the Lille goal on 76 minutes, twisting a deft clip from close range, but what would have been a peach of an equaliser was ruled off side.

Lille brought a strong side and took the game to the Parisians, who they pipped to the French title last season by a single point in a tense run-in.

New Lille coach Jocelyn Gourvennec thanked his predecessor Christophe Galtier for his work and said the new title was partly his too.

“PSG play an amazing technical game, but our lads were ready athletically and our collective play was tight. The team knows what it’s doing,” he said.

The match was the first domestic football aired in France by streaming giant Amazon.

Some 27,500 fans were on hand to see the game at Bloomfield Stadium, home of Hapoel and Maccabi Tel Aviv, on a baking evening with regular water breaks for players with the temperature at 29C (84F.)

Israeli billionaire Sylvan Adams brought the French season-opener to Israel.

The entrepreneur who runs the cycling outfit Israel Start-Up Nation said the host nation would emerge a winner from staging the contest.

Posted On Sunday, 01 August 2021 22:47 Written by

By Ifeanyi Ibeh 30 July 2021 | 6:18 am/ GUARDIAN.NG

…It’s the first time two Nigerians will be racing in the 100m semis since 2012

For the first time since 2012, two Nigerian athletes will be running in the semifinals of the women’s 100m after Blessing Okagbare and Nzubechi Grace Nwokocha qualified from their respective heats Friday in Tokyo, Japan.

Nwokocha had to run a new personal best of 11.00 seconds to secure her qualification to the semis in what is her debut Olympic Games.

The 20-year-old has also moved into fifth in the Nigeria all-time list behind Okagbare (10.79), Glory Alozie (10.90), Mary Onyali (10.97), and Damola Osayomi (10.99.

The Nigerian-based athlete, who ran 11.09s personal best at the time, back in March, to secure her qualification for the Olympics at the MOC Grand Prix in Lagos, will, however, need to make further history by breaking the 11-second barrier to stand a chance of joining Onyali and Okagbare as debutants who ran to the final of the 100m event.

She has been drawn to run from lane nine in the third semifinal heat with the fastest woman alive, Shelly-Ann Fraser-Pryce of Jamaica, Daryl Neita of Great Britain, Teahna Daniels of the USA and fellow African, Muriel Ahoure, of the Ivory Coast.

While Nwokocha qualified for her first semifinal, Okagbare will be running in her third since she made her debut in the event at the 2012 Olympics in London.

The 32-year-old ran 11.05 seconds to win her first-round heat.

She has been drawn in the first semifinal heat alongside two heavyweights of the event, defending champion Elaine Thompson-Herah of Jamaica, who ran 10.82s to win her first-round heat, and Great Britain’s Dina Asher-Smith, the 200m world champion two years ago in Doha, Qatar, who ran 11.07s to come second in her first-round heat.

The 2008 Beijing Olympics long jump silver medallist will be in action at exactly 11.15 am Nigerian time on Saturday.

Posted On Friday, 30 July 2021 23:02 Written by

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on Saturday, has provided a brief update on the status of the club’s contract negotiations with Paul Pogba.

Sancho in/Varane to follow?

Ongoings on the red half of Manchester have of course taken centre stage in the media of late.

This comes as Solskjaer and co. go about building a squad capable of mounting a sustained challenge for the Premier League title over the season to come.

Thus far, the most high-profile arrival at Old Trafford has come in the form of Jadon Sancho, after the Red Devils finally struck a deal with Borussia Dortmund worth a fee believed to be in the region of 73 million pounds.

The board at the Theatre of Dreams, though, look far from ready to rest on their laurels.

Moves for both a midfielder and defender have also been touted, with the current favourite to fill the role of the latter coming in the form of Real Madrid stalwart Raphael Varane.

Pogba latest

As such, it goes without saying that things are looking up at Old Trafford ahead of the 2021/22 campaign getting underway.

Continuous speculation surrounding the future of key midfielder Paul Pogba has therefore come as something of a surprise.

Recent weeks have seen media reports push the narrative that the World Cup winner is leaning away from putting pen to paper on a new United contract, despite the club finally beginning to build a squad around him which looks capable of challenging for major honours.

The current favourites to land Pogba, meanwhile, come in the form of big-spending Paris Saint-Germain.

Despite having already added the likes of Gianluigi Donnarumma, Sergio Ramos and Achraf Hakimi to the club’s ranks this summer, it has been suggested that the French giants remain keen to lure Pogba back to his home country.

On Saturday, however, one particular section of the PSG faithful have made crystal clear their feelings regarding the possibility of the United star joining the club.

Posted On Saturday, 24 July 2021 22:31 Written by
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