Napoli players took to the pitch wearing a special Argentina-inspired jersey on Sunday in honour of club legend Diego Maradona, going on to crush Serie A rivals Roma 4-0 in his memory.
Captain Lorenzo Insigne curled in a free-kick after half an hour, celebrating his goal by holding up and kissing the No. 10 jersey of the Argentina legend, who died aged 60 on Wednesday.
“It’s sure these days after Maradona’s death have given us an extra boost, our idol has passed away and it hurts,” said Insigne.
“Today we wanted more than usual to perform and get a result, for him and for the whole city that is suffering. We dedicate the victory to him.”
Napoli’s jersey with white and light blue vertical stripes, was specially designed to pay tribute to Napoli’s legendary number 10 who led the club to their only league titles in 1987 and 1990 and the UEFA Cup in 1989.
Insigne added: “Tonight’s game must be a starting point, if we play like this we can beat anyone.
“Head down and work, we can do great things.”
Players also wore black armbands, with a minute’s silence observed before the game, as in all matches in Italy, in memory of Maradona who spent seven years at Napoli.
A photo of the former Argentina star was projected onto giant screens in the 10th minute, as players stopped to applaud.
Fabian Ruiz added a second just after an hour with club record goalscorer Dries Mertens slotting in a third with 10 minutes to go.
Substitute Matteo Politano added a fourth with a solo run through the Roma defence four minutes from time as the side from the capital fell to their first away defeat this season.
Napoli, who had lost two in a row at home, overtook Roma to move fifth in Serie A, with both teams equal on 17 points after nine games.
AC Milan are top of the table with 23 points after extending their unbeaten run this season by winning 2-0 against Fiorentina.
The launch of Napoli’s new jersey had already been planned before Maradona’s death, the club said.
“A year ago, together with Kappa, we thought of designing a special jersey that echoes Diego Maradona, his beloved Argentina and the very strong bond with the people of Naples,” Napoli said in a statement.
“Together we hoped that Diego could see it, maybe wear it and share in the excitement with us.”
“The shirt that will be worn by the players… will have an even greater significance than initially assumed,” it added.
On Thursday, Napoli players took to the pitch wearing Maradona’s iconic number 10 jersey before their 2-0 Europa League win over Croatian side Rijeka.
The Stadio San Paolo is expected to soon be renamed after the 1986 World Cup winner following a suggestion made by the Mayor of Napoli.
Robert Lewandowski claimed his 15th goal this season in all competitions as Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich came from behind to claim a 3-1 win at Stuttgart on Saturday.
Stuttgart striker Tanguy Coulibaly, 19, fired the hosts into a shock early lead after a cross caught Bayern center-backs David Alaba and Jerome Boateng napping.
However, Kingsley Coman equalised with a superb low finish before Lewandowski drilled home from 20 metres to put Bayern 2-1 up at the break.
Brazil winger Douglas Costa, a second-half replacement for Coman, grabbed Bayern’s third goal late on to seal a win which leaves the holders two points clear of RB Leipzig.
Dortmund is third, four points behind Bayern, after crashing to a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Cologne.
Tunisia midfielder Ellyes Skhiri tapped in both Cologne goals from corners by ex-Dortmund winger Marius Wolf after being left unmarked at the far post on both occasions.
With Dortmund 2-0 down on 60 minutes, coach Lucien Favre brought on three forwards — 16-year-old sensation Youssoufa Moukoko, Giovanni Reyna, and Thorgan Hazard.
Reyna, 18, set up Hazard to pull a goal back, but it was too little, too late.
After scoring six goals in his previous two games, Dortmund striker Erling Braut Haaland was held in check, squandering a golden chance to equalise just before the whistle.
Cologne avoided a club record 19th match without a win with their first victory in Dortmund since 1991.
Leipzig climbed above Dortmund to second, two points behind Bayern, thanks to a 2-1 home win over plucky strugglers Arminia Bielefeld.
Manchester City loanee Angelino gave Leipzig a first-half lead after a superb pass by 18-year-old Lazar Samardzic split the Bielefeld defence.
Just 60 seconds after coming off the bench, forward Christopher Nkunku netted Leipzig’s second goal early in the second half.
However, Bielefeld, who is second from the bottom, finished the stronger.
Their captain Fabian Klos pulled a goal back, just after Leipzig striker Alexander Sorloth had his penalty attempt saved on 73 minutes.
The Norway international bought to replace Timo Werner who joined Chelsea in the summer is yet to score in 10 games for Leipzig after netting 24 goals in 34 games for Trabzonspor last season.
Union Berlin is sixth after their action-packed 3-3 draw at home to Eintracht Frankfurt.
Max Kruse converted a penalty as Union raced into an early 2-0 lead, only for Portugal forward Andre Silva to net twice as Frankfurt led 3-2 late on.
Former Germany striker Kruse, 32, bagged a superb strike to claim his sixth goal in nine games to equalise just before the whistle.
Freiburg is winless in their last eight games after a 1-1 draw at Augsburg.
Wolfsburg is fifth after their 5-3 win over Werder Bremen on Friday.
Dutch striker Wout Weghorst struck twice for Wolfsburg while Bremen had goalscorer Kevin Moehwald sent off for a second booking.
By Abankula/ PM NEWS
Nigeria’s Super Eagles have landed in Freetown for their African Nations Cup qualifying match with the Leone Stars on Tuesday.
It is not an ordinary qualifying match.
It is a redemption match for the Eagles, to salvage their image.
The Eagles squandered a 4-0 lead against the Leone Stars on Saturday at Ogbe Stadium in Benin.
Nigerian fans and the players were embarrassed as the Leone stars clawed their way back into the game, forcing a 4-4 draw.
Captain Ahmed Musa had since apologised for the blunder, pledging an improvement in Freetown.
William Troost-Ekong, one of the Eagles said: “It is our Naija spirit to overcome and succeed. Hungry and ready for redemption Tuesday”.
The Eagles left Nigeria earlier today, and upon landing at the Lungi International Airport were ferried to the city.
According to reports, the Eagles will be training at Siaka Stevens Stadium today at 5.45pm Nigerian time for the cracker with the hosts.
The match will be played at 1700 Nigerian time on Tuesday.
Nigeria has a thin lead in Group I with seven points.
Second placed member of the group, Benin Republic has six points.
Sierra Leone has two and Lesotho just one point.
Former National Basketball Association All-Star, “Fast” Eddie Johnson, who was hit with a lifetime ban from the NBA for drug use and jailed for sexual assault is dead.
He died while serving a life sentence after he was sent to prison for sexual assault of a child.
He was 53-year-old when he got a mandatory life sentence in 2008 after he was found guilty of sexual assault on an 8-year-old girl
The former NBA star was serving the life sentence at Santa Rosa Correctional Institution in Milton, Florida when an undisclosed illness led to his death.
His death was confirmed on Tuesday, November 3rd by Rocker-Cusack Mortuary in Leesburg, Florida.
Johnson, who was a third-round pick from Auburn by the Hawks in the 1977 NBA draft, became an immediate contributor and then starter for the Hawks.
Johnson averaged 15.1 points in 10 NBA seasons he received a lifetime suspension from the NBA in 1987 for his cocaine use.
The mortuary announced that Johnson will be buried at Weirsdale (Florida) Community Cemetery on Saturday.
Eden Hazard scored his first goal for Real Madrid in over a year and his team appeared to turn a corner as they beat newly-promoted Huesca 4-1 in La Liga on Saturday.
Hazard has had a terrible time with injuries since joining Madrid for 100 million euros ($113 million) from Chelsea in 2019 but the Belgian will hope his stunning strike from distance at the Alfredo di Stefano can kick-start his career in Spain.
“I’m happy with his performance,” said Zidane. “The other day he played 20 minutes, now a little more. It’s step by step.”
Karim Benzema and the excellent Fede Valverde made the win secure before Huesca scored through David Ferreiro, only for Benzema to add his second and Madrid’s fourth in injury-time.
Zinedine Zidane’s side jump above Real Sociedad to the top of the table to cap an encouraging week, which began with a Clasico win over Barcelona at Camp Nou and finishes with them moving nine points clear of the Catalans, who play away at Alaves later on Saturday.
In between, Madrid came too close for comfort to another damaging defeat in the Champions League but two late goals salvaged a draw at Borussia Monchengladbach that in the end felt like a win.
Huesca, who are yet to win this season, might feel the scoreline was harsh after they squandered early chances.
Madrid will hope the dip that put Zidane under pressure earlier this month is over.
Zidane will have been particularly delighted with Hazard, whose goal was his first for Madrid since he scored against Granada in October last year, and his second overall in La Liga.
Ankle surgery kept Hazard out for the majority of last season and he was not fit for the start of this one, with Madrid only describing his latest setback as a “muscle injury”.
But he made his first appearance off the bench in the Champions League in midweek and, against Huesca, marked his first start with a brilliant goal in the first half.
“We know the quality that Eden has,” Zidane said. “He scored a good goal and we needed it in the first half, because after his first goal the game was different.”
Until then, Huesca had been the better team but Hazard’s strike turned the contest in the 40th minute, when he received the ball on the half-turn and swerved a superb shot into the corner from 30 yards out.
Benzema made it two, chesting down Lucas Vazquez’s cross at the back post and driving in, before Valverde struck a sweet half-volley into the corner.
Ferreiro gave Huesca brief hope with 16 minutes left but Madrid were never overly troubled and Benzema rounded off the win in injury-time, converting a smart header back from Rodrygo.
Nigerian-born UFC fighter Israel Adesanya defended his middleweight title for the second time early on Sunday morning with a second-round technical knock out victory against Paulo Costa.
The UFC 253 fight, held on Fight Island in Abu Dhabi, ended in an embarrassment for Costa who before the fight boasted to take the crown from the Last Style Bender.
But it was Adesanya, a truly gifted and flamboyant fighter, who delivered on his promise of smashing the burly Brazilian, who was undefeated before the bout.
“In real life, I can feel it, he was slow,” Adesanya told ESPN after the fight. “He hit me on the ribs twice. He didn’t touch me on my face once.”
Adesanya now has 20 victories from 20 MMA fights, and nine out of nine since he joined the UFC in 2018.
He is now tied with former middleweight champion Chris Weidman for the second-longest winning streak in the middleweight division of UFC and five victories behind Anderson Silva, the all-time middleweight leader with 13 consecutive victories.
“I think he’s gonna be the new Anderson Silva of the division,” UFC president Dana White said after the fight.
“He’s got his own style and his own way about him. I think he’s gonna be the next big superstar here, especially after tonight’s performance.”
If his last victory over Yoel Romero in March was considered boring, Adesanya’s show against Costa was nothing short of technical masterclass from the man Costa had called skinny in the build up to the fight.
“I told you he’s dumb. I’m smart. I understand this f—ing game,” said Adesanya, who competed in kickboxing and boxing before coming to the UFC. “This was my 100th win in combat sports all around. I’m not a f—ing baby in this game. I’ve been in this s— for a long time.”
Adesanya is looking to go up against Jared Cannonier next, should Cannonier win his upcoming bout with Robert Whittaker.
The manager wasn’t completely pleased with what he saw on Saturday but reserved praised for his Danish star, who has struggled at times in Milan
Antonio Conte enjoyed seeing his substitutions pay off as Inter claimed a roller coaster 4-3 win over Fiorentina in Serie A and believes Christian Eriksen is poised for a better season with the club.
Inter came from behind with two goals in the final five minutes of a wild game in their season opener against Fiorentina at San Siro on Saturday.
Franck Ribery was outstanding for Fiorentina and teed up two goals in the second half, with substitute Dusan Vlahovic squandering a chance to give the visitors a 4-2 lead after another exceptional piece of play from the veteran Frenchman.
Ribery was hauled off after 83 minutes, with Fiorentina taking the chance to give him a rest, but the Viola were then rocked by late goals from Romelu Lukaku and Danilo D’Ambrosio that earned 2019-20 Europa League runners-up Inter all three points.
Inter head coach Conte sent on Achraf Hakimi and Alexis Sanchez, and it was their crosses that led to the late goals. Like Hakimi, former Barcelona player Arturo Vidal was introduced off the bench for a Nerazzurri debut in the second half.
Conte said via Inter’s website: “The changes brought benefits. I am happy and the guys know it. It will be a long and tiring season. There will be room for everyone and everyone will be needed.
“The three points are important, we have had many chances and we found the way to goal four times. This is the positive aspect but at the same time we cannot concede three goals like this.”
“In this respect we were not careful and we need to improve,” Conte said. “If you want to play high-level championships, balance is the basis of everything.”
“Compared to when he arrived he has increased the engine revs, he is playing in his ideal position,” Conte said.
“I think he had a good game. We are working with him because we know he has important qualities.
“I have faith in him, he is a guy who trains very well and makes himself available to the team. I hope he will soon be able to strike the spark that will take him to the maximum.”
The Blades have signed seven players during the current transfer window, but Oliver Burke has been the only attacking reinforcement for them.
They are yet to make a fresh offer, but it is reported that the club are optimistic over a deal after CEO Stephen Bettis held positive discussions with the Gunners’ hierarchy.
Wilder is keen on adding a new striker to the squad in the near future, particularly with Lys Mousset likely to be sidelined for sometime after an operation for a toe ligament injury.
Balogun has yet to make his competitive debut for the Gunners and that has contributed to his decision to decline a new contract beyond next summer.
Despite this, the north London side are in no rush to part ways with Balogun and they are reportedly holding out for a significant fee of around £15m.
Aside from the 19-year-old, the Blades have also made an approach for Rhian Brewster of Liverpool, who has been unable to break into Jurgen Klopp’s plans.
It has previously been reported that the Reds could sanction the sale of Brewster for £20m, provided they are able to agree on a buy-back clause.
Stats from Transfermarkt.com
MADRID — Lionel Messi will be there when Barcelona starts its season on Sunday, just as he has been for the last two decades.
His every move, however, will be scrutinized like never before.
After all, never before had Messi told the club that he wanted to leave, and never before had Messi been forced to stay.
Will Messi still give his best? Will he still be motivated? Will the transfer saga affect him?
Some of those questions may start being answered on Sunday when Barcelona opens its Spanish league season against Villarreal at the Camp Nou. It will be the club’s league debut after the first two matches were postponed because of its participation in the Champions League late last season.
The team’s last official match was the embarrassing 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich in the Champions League quarterfinals in August, one of the worst defeats in the club’s history and in Messi’s career. The result thrust Barcelona into one of its worst crises ever, and led Messi to make public his desire to leave.
The Argentina great eventually backtracked after Barcelona denied his request to leave for free. He said he didn’t want to get into a legal dispute with the “club of his life.” But Messi made it more than clear that he would have rather left, and openly criticized club president Josep Bartomeu for not keeping his promise to let him go.
Still, Messi said he would give his best despite having wanted to leave, and there were no signs of any letdown in the preparation matches in which he played ahead of what should be his final season with the club.
“For a moment I thought he wouldn’t stay with us,” Barcelona teammate Sergi Roberto said. “He’s our captain, the best player this club has ever had and the best player in the history of soccer. I couldn’t imagine Barça without Leo. It’s normal that he may have wanted a different experience, but he has given it all for this club throughout the years. He has been motivated since he came to the first team. He is very professional.”
Messi stayed but Barcelona will have a new coach as part of the profound changes announced by the club following the loss to Bayern. Ronald Koeman arrived to replace Quique Setién, and it didn’t take long before the Dutch coach said he wanted to revamp the squad. Barcelona will start the season without some of its key players from recent years, including Ivan Rakitic, who rejoined Sevilla, and Luis Suárez, who joined rival Atlético Madrid.
Also new for Barcelona is the fact that it will be coming off a trophy-less season for the first time since 2007-08. The team finished five points behind Real Madrid in the league last season despite having the lead when the competition was interrupted by the coronavirus pandemic with 11 matches remaining.
MADRID VS. PELLEGRINI
Defending champion Real Madrid has a difficult second match on Saturday against Real Betis, which has won two in a row to start the season under veteran Chilean coach Manuel Pellegrini, a former Madrid coach.
Madrid struggled in attack in its opening 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad last Sunday, when Eden Hazard still wasn’t available. It remains unlikely that Hazard will be fit to face Betis at the Benito Villamarín Stadium.
Atlético will make its Spanish league debut on Sunday against Granada at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, but it’s unclear if Suárez will be ready to play after joining from Barcelona.
Diego Costa was set to be in the attack after Álvaro Morata joined Juventus to open space for Suárez.
Like Atlético and Barcelona, Sevilla also had its first two matches postponed because of European competition after winning the Europa League in August. And it’s opener on Sunday at promoted Cádiz will come only three days after it plays Bayern Munich in the the Super Cup.
Tottenham have been linked with a move for the Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik this summer.
According to Calciomercato, the 26-year-old striker’s entourage held talks with the officials of the London club earlier today and the discussions have been quite positive.
It seems that a loan deal with an obligation to buy is on the cards. Milik will be a free agent next summer and therefore he is expected to sign a short extension with Napoli before going out on loan.
Such an agreement would be beneficial for both parties. Tottenham will not have to pay for the striker this summer and Napoli will not lose the player on a free transfer next year.
It will be interesting to see if the two parties can secure the agreement in the coming weeks now.
Milik needs to join a club where he can play more often and a move to the Premier League would be ideal for him. The 26-year-old managed to score 14 goals for Napoli last season and he could be the ideal backup option to Harry Kane. Alternatively, he could partner the Spurs star depending on the tactics and opposition.
Spurs need more depth in their attack if they want to compete with the likes of Manchester United, Chelsea and Arsenal for a top-four place.
Harry Redknapp is being considered as the next manager of Nigeria.
Current Super Eagles coach Gernot Rohr sees his contract expire at the end of the month and there is serious doubt over the German's future.
It has led the Nigerian hierarchy to review their options meaning Redknapp could be set for a return to management.
A Super Eagles source told the Star : “The feeling is Harry Redknapp will be coming to manage Nigeria soon.’’
The African nation and the former Tottenham boss have previously held discussions about the role.
That was back in 2016 but negotiations broke down, however they are confident of completing a deal this time round.
The vast majority of Nigeria's players ply their trade in Europe and are well known.
Friendlies are also held in London on a regular basis given the amount of Nigerians playing in the Premier League which could prove advantageous in discussions.
Redknapp has never tried his hand at international management despite being heavily linked with the England job back in 2012.
He was favourite to replace Fabio Capello who had resigned just months before that summer's European Championships.
The FA ultimately opted for Roy Hodgson despite Redknapp guiding Tottenham to the Champions League quarter-finals 12 months earlier.
His hugely successful spell in north London came to an end in 2012.
Since then he has taken charge of QPR and Birmingham - helping the former achieve promotion from the second tier back in 2014.
His last job was at St Andrews but he was shown the door in September 2017 and subsequently said there was "every chance" it was his final job in football.
Borussia Dortmund were in clinical mood on Saturday afternoon battering Schalke 04 4-0 as Bundesliga returns after coronavirus lockdown.
However, the victory was in an empty stadium with players also observing social distancing during celebration.
19-year-old striking sensation, Haaland opened scoring in 29 before Raphael Guerriro(two goals) and Hazard joined.
The England captain thought he had scored the equaliser at St Mary’s only to have the goal chalked off for offside and injuring himself in the process
With around a quarter of an hour to play at St Mary’s and Jose Mourinho’s side trailing 1-0, Kane side-footed a tidy finish in for what looked like the equaliser – but the linesman had his flag immediately up for offside.
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Kane felt his left hamstring straight away, and was promptly replaced by Erik Lamela.
Ole Gunnar Solkjaer has reportedly come up with a list of five attacking targets for the January window as the Red Devils boss is looking to bolster the squad.
Red Bull Salzburg hitman Erling Braut Haaland is top of the priority list while Everton winger Richarlison is also being targeted.
According to reports from the Mirror, Solkjaer could be left frustrated in his attempt to lure Richarlison to Old Trafford. Carlo Ancelotti, the new Toffees boss, sees the £70million-rated Richarlison as central to his plans for the club, and will have the final say on transfer dealings.
Since switching to Merseyside on a big-money transfer from Watford, Richarlison has established himself as an important player for his club and country.
The Brazilian started off as a wide left-winger but has showcased his versatility while playing as a centre forward as well. The 22-year-old has scored six goals and provided two assists for the Toffees in the Premier League so far.
Ancelotti asserted that taking Everton to the Champions League is the long-term goal and objective, and certainly, it won’t be achieved by selling his key players. Thereby, it is unlikely that United would be able to land Richarlison in January and only crazy money can soften Everton’s stance on the Brazilian.
Everton began their new era under Ancelotti with a hard-fought win against Burnley in their previous game. The Toffees will face Newcastle United next at St James’ Park on Saturday in the Premier League.