Binnabook Magazine: Sports Reviews


Showing posts with label Sports Reviews. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Sports Reviews. Show all posts

Arsenal Signed Gabriel Jesus from Manchester City

 Gabriel Jesus has signed from Manchester City on a long-term contract.

The 25-year-old forward joins us having established himself as one of the leading strikers in the Premier League in recent seasons. He scored 95 goals in 236 appearances in all competitions during his five seasons in Manchester.

Gabriel has won the Premier League title four times, the FA Cup, and the League Cup three times. He is a regular in the Brazil national team, making 56 appearances and scoring 19 times since making his full international debut for his country in September 2016. He was a member of the squad which won the Copa America in 2019. During his international career Gabriel has also notably won a gold medal at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games, and featured at the 2018 FIFA World Cup.

Gabriel developed through the youth setup at Palmeiras, signing a youth contract in 2013, with his prolific goalscoring ensuring he quickly progressed into the first-team squad, making his debut as a 17-year-old in March 2015. During his time with Palmeiras, Gabriel was an integral part of the club’s Campeonato Brasileiro Serie A winning side in 2016, when he was voted as the league’s Bola de Ouro – Player of the Season. 

Technical Director Edu said: “We are delighted that we have secured the transfer of Gabriel. Everyone who knows football well, knows the qualities of Gabriel Jesus.

"Gabriel is a player who we have admired for a long time now. He is 25 years old and an established Brazil international who has consistently demonstrated that he is a player at a very high level. We look forward to seeing him join up with his new teammates ahead of the new season. We all welcome Gabriel to Arsenal.” 

Mikel Arteta added: “I’m very excited. The club has done a tremendous job to recruit a player of this stature. I know Gabriel personally very well, and we all know him well from his time in the Premier League and being really successful here.

"This is a position that’s been on our radar for a long time now and we have managed to get a player that we all wanted, so I’m really happy.”

Gabriel will wear the number 9 shirt and will join up with the Gunners squad for pre-season training soon.

Everyone at Arsenal welcomes Gabriel to the club. 

The transfer is subject to the completion of regulatory processes.

Gabriel Jesus

Qatar 2022 World Cup To Use Semi-automated Offside Technology

Fifa has confirmed semi-automated, state-of-the-art technology will be used at the World Cup in Qatar to speed up the time taken to reach offside decisions.

 In addition to a sensor in the middle of the ball, which sends data 500 times a second to determine the exact kick-point, 12 dedicated multi-tracking cameras that are "100% synchronised" will be mounted on the roof of each stadium to track the ball and 29 points on each player, sending data 50 times per second to calculate their exact position on the pitch.

Any player in an offside position will trigger an alert in the video assistant referee booth that can be relayed to the on-pitch referee.

The system was trialled at last year's Arab Cup and Club World Cup, where it was estimated to have reduced the time taken to make offside VAR decisions from 70 to 25 seconds.

"We are very positive. It is ready," said Fifa's head of refereeing Pierluigi Collina.

No robot referees

It has been claimed the increased use of technology is rendering referees virtually impotent in terms of decision-making.

Collina, who was voted the world's best referee for six consecutive seasons from 1998 to 2003 and took charge of the 2002 World Cup final between Brazil and Germany, denies this is the case and says there will still be room for debate around decisions.

"I read about robot referees," he said. "I understand this is very good for headlines but it is not the case.

"The match officials are still involved in the decision-making process. The semi-automated technology only gives an answer when a player is in an offside position when they play the ball. The assessment of interfering with an opponent and seeing if a handball or foul was committed remains at the discretion of the referee.

"Our goal is to get referees taking decisions correctly on the field. If something wrong should happen, the referee may take advantage of the technology to get a better vision of what happened - but there will still be room for discussion."

You are either offside, or you're not

Premier League pair Anthony Taylor and Michael Oliver have been selected among the elite panel of referees who will gather in Qatar two weeks before the World Cup for final instructions.

While there has been debate about the time taken to determine offsides - especially what have been dubbed 'toenail decisions' - Collina does not view the new offside technology any differently to the systems used to determine whether a ball has crossed the line or not.

Famously, that did not work in the first game of the Premier League's Project Restart, when Hawk-Eye did not spot Aston Villa keeper Orjan Nyland had carried the ball into his own goal. Collina does not feel that is an issue.

"Technology works most of the time," he said. "That is one wrong decision I remember in thousands of correct ones.

"Goalline technology offers very high accuracy. If the ball crosses or doesn't cross the line by a few millimetres everyone is happy. It is the same with semi-automated technology. If the player is on or offside, the technology should be praised then as well.

"We cannot get it down to four or five seconds for a decision. That would be the wrong expectation. But we have come down from 70 seconds to 20 or 25. That is important. This system will be faster and more accurate."

Nottingham Forest have signed Nigeria forward Taiwo Awoniyi from Union Berlin for a club record fee

 The 24-year-old joins newly promoted Forest on a five-year deal for a reported £17m.

Awoniyi scored 20 goals in 43 games across all competitions last season and becomes Forest's first signing since gaining promotion back to the Premier League.

"It's always been my dream to play in the Premier League," said Awoniyi.

"Having spoken to [Forest boss] Steve Cooper about our ambitions and looking at Forest, with its great history, it's a club that I want to be part of."

After a season-long loan, Awoniyi joined Union Berlin on a permanent deal in July 2021 from Liverpool, where he started his career.

He did not make any first team appearances for Liverpool after signing for the club in 2015 and spent the majority of his six years with the Merseyside side out on loan.

Forest manager Cooper said Awoniyi was a player the club had been monitoring closely over the past few months.

"There's been a lot of interest of Taiwo from other Premier League clubs, and other clubs across Europe, so we're delighted he's chosen Nottingham Forest," Cooper said.

"He's a player who we really believe in and we look forward to him going on to fulfil his potential and become a top Premier League striker with Nottingham Forest."

Scoring 15 goals in 31 league games, Awoniyi was the Bundesliga's sixth highest scorer last season and helped Union Berlin to a fifth-place finish which guarantees the club Europa League football for the first time since the 2001-02 season.

Since making his senior debut for Nigeria in October, the striker has made four appearances and scored his first goal for his nation against Sudan in January at the Africa Cup of Nations.

Forest are expected to sign goalkeeper Dean Henderson, 25, on loan from Manchester United this summer and are also in talks to sign central defender Moussa Niakhate, 26, from Mainz.

Vincent Kompany Has Been Appointed As New Manager Of Burnley

 Burnley have confirmed the appointment of former Manchester City defender Vincent Kompany as their new manager at Turf Moor.

Kompany left Belgian side Anderlecht last season and has now opted to take up a huge management job in the Championship after Burnley's relegation from the top flight in 2021-22, and will be tasked with immediate promotion.

He replaces Sean Dyche - who had been at Turf Moor for 10 years - before he was axed in the last campaign, with interim coach Mike Jackson unable to prevent their drop down to the second tier.

Mauricio Pochettino: PSG Reach Agreement To Part Ways With Head Coach

 Paris Saint-Germain have reached an agreement with head coach Mauricio Pochettino that will see the Argentine leave his role ahead of the upcoming season after 18 months in charge, The Athletic has learned.

Pochettino is believed to have met the PSG hierarchy last week to discuss the 2021-22 campaign, during which his men won Ligue 1 but lost to eventual winners Real Madrid in the Champions League round of 16.

It is understood the conversation produced a mutual decision that the former PSG captain will not continue in the Parc des Princes dugout, with both sides identifying a parting of ways to be the most sensible step.

Given Pochettino’s contract was scheduled to expire in 2023, his exit still needs to be finalised. But the club are already looking for their new leader; Christophe Galtier of Nice is thought to be among various options.

Pochettino had chances to depart the French capital last summer — Real placed him high on the list of candidates to succeed Zinedine Zidane and Tottenham Hotspur showed firm interest in naming their ex-manager as Jose Mourinho’s replacement — however, a move for the 50-year-old did not materialise.

That followed Pochettino establishing himself as just the third PSG boss to guide them to a European Cup semi-final, beating a Lionel Messi-inspired Barcelona and defending champions Bayern Munich en route.

His charges also lifted the French Cup and while they were surprisingly pipped to the top-flight crown by Lille, Pochettino had inherited a team which was third when he took over from Thomas Tuchel in January 2021 and improved their points-per-game ratio.

On the one other occasion their Qatari ownership changed coach mid-season — swapping Antoine Kombouare for Carlo Ancelotti in December 2011 — that, too, failed to result in a league triumph.

Georginio Wijnaldum, Achraf Hakimi, Sergio Ramos, Gianluigi Donnarumma, Messi and Nuno Mendes were recruited at significant expense to strengthen Pochettino’s squad and they sealed the French title quicker than counterparts in England, Germany, Italy and Spain.

They did so by the biggest margin and Manchester City were the only winners to gain more points, although question marks persisted about the style of play and supporters vented their displeasure. Meanwhile, the constant links to potential employers such as Manchester United became a theme of Pochettino’s tenure.

He stunned City to make the Champions League semi-finals with Tottenham in 2019, but his PSG were eliminated by them in 2021 and the nature of a collapse against Real in March felt fatal to his future.

Barcelona, Bayern Munch, City and Real provided the opposition in 10 of Pochettino’s 14 Champions League games at PSG, yet ultimately he suffered the same outcome as Tuchel, Unai Emery, Laurent Blanc and Ancelotti. Each of that quartet bar Blanc has carried on working at the elite level and subsequently collected major European silverware, indicating there is life outside PSG.

There has been criticism for what Pochettino was able to achieve with the resources at his disposal, but the comparable challenges those predecessors experienced suggest the unique environment of PSG might not be the most accurate barometer of coaching prowess. He was not aided by arriving in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic, nor the protests and anger directed towards some players and executives at games.

The collateral damage Pochettino has sampled goes beyond PSG, as the long-term favourite to secure the United post missed out to Erik ten Hag.

Considering how close he came to that vacancy and the regard in which the former Espanyol and Southampton trainer appears to be held across the industry, there is a good chance he will remain in contention for leading opportunities going forward.

Real Madrid have won their 14th Champions League title, beating Liverpool

 Real Madrid have won their 14th Champions League title in front of a sell-out crowd at the Stade de France in Paris thanks to a single goal by Vinicius Junior (59'). The game was delayed by 36 minutes as Liverpool fans were unable to access the stadium on time due to organizational problems. Images of fans being pepper-sprayed by police and being held in bottlenecks outside the stadium dominated social media ahead of the game and throughout the first half. 

Once the game did get underway, Liverpool quickly took control creating the best chances throughout the first half. Sadio Mané and Mohamed Salah both came close but both times Thibaut Courtois was there to keep the ball out. Then just before halftime, Karim Benzema scored for Real Madrid but the goal was called back after a lengthy VAR check. 

Finally, in the 59th minute, the deadlock was broken when a fantastic cross by Fede Valverde found Vinicius Junior inside the box. The Brazilian benefitted from the fact that Trent Alexander-Arnold had lost the winger in his back allowing him to easily tap the ball across the line.

Real Madrid win 14th title - Courtois player of the match

Liverpool pressed for an equalizer but Courtois had an outstanding game keeping the Reds off the scoreboard. The Belgium goalkeeper was easily the best player on the pitch guiding his club to a historic 14th title in the competition. 

Rangnick Confirms He Will Leave man United

 Ralf Rangnick has announced that he will not be staying on at Manchester United as a consultant due to the demands of his new role as Austria manager.

Rangnick confirmed the news in a press conference with Austria on Sunday and Manchester United said:

“We would like to thank Ralf Rangnick for his efforts as interim manager over the past six months.

“By mutual agreement, Ralf will now focus solely on his new role as manager of the Austria national team and will not therefore be taking up a consultancy role at Old Trafford.

“We would like to wish Ralf the best of luck in this next chapter of his career.”

Rangnick took charge at the beginning of December and led the team through the remainder of a challenging season, with his spell as interim boss providing United with crucial time to conduct a thorough search for our next manager, resulting in the appointment of Erik ten Hag.

He will now take charge of Austria for their upcoming Nations League fixtures, as they face Croatia, Denmark and France in Group A1.

Once again, we are grateful to Ralf for all his hard work and wish him the best for the future.

Manchester City crowned 2021/22 Premier League champions after

 Man City have been crowned 2021/22 Premier League champions after a dramatic final day to the Premier League season.

City, who knew a victory would secure them the title, were 2-0 down to Aston Villa with just 15 minutes remaining, but turned the game around with three goals in five minutes to win 3-2 in thrilling scenes to rival the famous 2012 Premier League title victory.

Liverpool were 3-1 winners against Wolves, but fell short by just a point after a stunning 38-game duel, ending their Quadruple hopes.

Pep Guardiola 

City have now won four Premier League titles and eight major trophies under Pep Guardiola since his arrival in the summer of 2016.

Pep: We are legends

Pep Guardiola speaking to Sky Sports:

"The moment we found a goal it changed everything. We are playing in not normal circumstances but you have to handle it.

"Gundogan is the best inside runner we have. We were arriving down the sides and we needed a player with the sense of tempo in the box and he's the best.

"We are legends. When you win the Premier League four times in five seasons it's because these guys are so, so special. We will be remembered. The first title we won with lots of margin, then at Brighton, then winning at home without fans and now with people, it's the best.

"The magnitude of your achievement is defined by the magnitude of your rival. I've never seen a team like Liverpool. I know it's tough but a huge congratulations to them. They help us to be a better team.

"Today is special as it's the fifth anniversary of the Manchester arena attack when 22 people were killed. This is for the families. Today was special."

Analysis: Man City too strong again

Manchester City's consistency was the difference in the Premier League this season. Liverpool have won more games since the turn of the year but the damage was done before then as points leaked away in defeats away to West Ham and Leicester.

Guardiola's side had the odd slip of their own, notably losing to Tottenham on the opening weekend. But they never faltered for long. Winning the next three after that setback, scoring 11 goals without reply. That resilience proved to be a theme.

When the next Premier League defeat arrived against Crystal Palace in late October, City responded by winning their next 12 games in the competition. When Spurs completed the double over them, they thrashed Manchester United in the derby on their Etihad return.

Perhaps most impressively of all, as Liverpool embarked on a relentless run of victories, and that defeat to Real Madrid put the spotlight on their character like never before, City scored five goals in each of their next two games to underscore their dominance.

Joao Cancelo and Rodri, omitted from the Champions League final starting line-up at the end of last season, began this one with a point to prove and were sensational from the start. Kevin De Bruyne took longer to find his best form but was irresistible when he did.

Bernardo Silva was brilliant throughout but another theme of City's season has been that there was always another player ready to step up. Riyad Mahrez was the team's top scorer in all competitions but, incongruously, started only 14 Premier League games.

It was not about one man. Fifteen different players have scored twice or more for Guardiola's side in the Premier League this season. Raheem Sterling was the Premier League player of the month for December. Gabriel Jesus scored six times in April.

In one-off games, Liverpool were their match, drawing twice in the league, and eliminating Manchester City from the FA Cup. But over a long season, once again, no other team was able to do what they could do. Sustained excellence is what has set City apart.


Lyon Beat Barcelona To Win The Women’s Champions League For The Eighth Time

 Lyon beat Barcelona 3-1 in the Women’s Champions League final on Saturday after midfielder Amandine Henry netted a brilliant solo goal and striker Ada Hegerberg scored one and made another in the first half of an entertaining clash.

Henry gave the French side the lead with a stunning strike in the sixth minute, winning the ball and cutting inside on her right foot before firing a rocket of a shot from distance into the top right corner.

Hegerberg added a second with a header in the 23rd minute and the Norwegian striker teed up Catarina Macario to score Lyon’s third with a tap-in 10 minutes later, with Alexia Putellas pulling one back for Barcelona before the break.

Barca’s Patricia Guijarra chipped a stunning lob from inside the centre circle against the bar in a frenetic second half but Lyon were able to preserve their lead to secure an eighth Champions League title.

Barcelona striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang Announces Retirement From International Football

 Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has retired from international football after 13 years representing Gabon, Newspremises reports.

Barcelona striker, has decided to focus on his club career.

Aubameyang, former Arsenal captain who announced his retirement from international football, on Wednesday, represented his nation for 13 years and also wore the captain’s armband.

The 32-year-old had appeared 72 times for Gabon, scoring 30 goals.

In a letter to the Gabonese FA, Aubameyang wrote, according to Mundo Deportivo: “After 13 [thirteen] years of pride in representing my country, I announce that I’m ending my international career.

“I would like to thank the Gabonese people and all those who have supported me in the good and the bad times.

“Sharing it with all the people was an unforgettable moment. I thank our President, his Excellency Ali Bongo Ondimba who has always supported the Panthers and has always worked for football to evolve in our country.

“I would also like to thank all my coaches, staff and the players that I have come across during this career.

“Finally, I thank my father who gave me the desire to do like him, hoping to have made him proud by wearing our colours.”

Arsenal's Champion League hopes in tatters after Newcastle defeat

Arsenal arrived in Newcastle needing a win to keep Champions League qualification in their own hands. The left like a team heading back into the Europa League with a manager who could not seem to know how or why the capitulation had occurred.

Mikel Arteta looked like a man who had just seen a car crash. Ashen faced, hollow eyed, a mixture of stress, anger and disappointment. 

He had the stare of a man who could not quite comprehend what he had just seen. Arsenal had not just been beaten in a game they had to win to move back above their bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur. They were outplayed, roughed up, out-passed and outclassed. 

They completely and utterly, no excuses, no mitigating circumstances, deserved to lose a game where their ability, but also their mental strength, fell short.

They walked into a wall of noise when they emerged from the tunnel at St James’ Park, were rocked back onto their heels and could not get on to the front foot all evening. In the first half they just about hung on, somehow repelling wave after wave of Newcastle attacks, but in the second they were blown apart after Ben White’s own goal.

Mikel Arteta

The home side should have scored another three or four, they were that dominant. Instead, they had to make do with a second from their new star, Bruno Guimares. The Brazil international, who chose to sign for Newcastle instead of Arsenal, in January, was the best player on the pitch.

It all helps to create a picture of a club in black and white that is the rising power in English football and one in red and white stuck where it has been for most of the last 15 years. 

Good, but not good enough. Impressive when at their best, soft and too easy to play against when they are either poor or mediocre.

When the crunch came, Arsenal came up short again. They have been doing a variation of this self-implosion for years. Whatever the process is under Arteta, it was not supposed to lead here. Arteta did not try to defend it. Not that he could.

“Normally I sit here, I can defend, but today Newcastle were 100 times better than us in every department. From the beginning to the end and it is very hard to accept it

“We knew [what to expect in terms of the atmosphere] but we didn’t cope with it, we didn’t compete. We never got into the game. We put ourselves in trouble. 

“We lost every duel. Newcastle deserved to win the game, probably by a bigger margin. We need to win and we need a defeat for them [Spurs]. In football anything can happen. We have to put our head down and swallow every poison possible.”

They certainly have to take their medicine. This was never going to be an easy game against a Newcastle side which could well be pushing for a European place themselves next season given the remarkable progress they have made under Eddie Howe.

Yet, you cannot escape from the brutal verdict Arsenal tossed away fourth place through their own carelessness and weakness. They buckled under pressure.

Arsenal's Ben White scores an own goal

Tottenham now have to lose at the worst team in the league, Norwich City, on Sunday to let Arsenal leapfrog above them. It is very, very hard to see that happening.

Arsenal’s first-half performance was summed up by goalkeeper Aaron Ramsdale, who kept falling over kicking the ball out and almost gifted Miguel Almiron a goal when his kick was charged down.


But the visitors did at least hang in there, they did not concede before half-time despite rarely getting out of their half, Ramsdale making two good saves from Sean Longstaff and Allan Saint-Maximin.

This was Saint-Maximin at his very best but why did Arteta leave him one on one against right back Takehiro Tomiyasu? The Japan international could not cope and was removed from the match six minutes before half-time for his own wellbeing.

Newcastle played like a team possessed, not one winding down for the summer and this was a fully deserved first victory over a top-six side this season.

There was more bite in Arsenal play at the start of the season,  but it was a player who had a tooth knocked out in the first half, Callum Wilson who gave them the lead they deserved - or at least he would have done had White not done it for him, sliding in to cut out Joelinton’s cross.

Wilson was close to a second on the volley as Arsenal were forced to chase the game. He was denied again after that by a deflection from an Emil Krafth pull back.

Arsenal had to gamble. Only a win would do but all they could do was concede a second and it should have been three of four by the end.

“Brilliant way for us to sign off here,” said Howe. "I was very, very pleased with the performance, I think it is our best by some distance since I have been at the club. 

“It feels a step forward, definitely. That was a challenge we posed, can we get a result against one of the top six? I think you saw tonight a progression and evolution to how we played. I think we are seeing an improvement in all areas.”


Manchester City Sign Erling Haaland

 Manchester City can confirm we have reached an agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of striker Erling Haaland to the Club on 1st July 2022.

Manchester City can confirm that we have reached an agreement in principle with Borussia Dortmund for the transfer of striker Erling Haaland to the Club on 1st July 2022.

The transfer remains subject to the Club finalising terms with the player.Erling Haaland, new Man City player �⭐️ #MCFC

▪️ Manchester City will pay €60m [not €75m] release clause to BVB, plus commission to be added.

▪️ His salary will be worth £375,000/week, same level as de Bruyne.

▪️ Medical has been already completed.

The saga is over.

Ronaldo, Fernandez, Salah Lead FIFA Premier League Team Of The Season

 FIFA 22 Premier League TOTS squad confirmed featuring Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo and Fernandez

Latest FIFA 22 as the FIFA 22 Ultimate Team (FUT 22) Team of the Season (TOTS) Premier League squad is revealed, with players from Man City, Liverpool, Man United and more.

EA Sports have released the Premier League Team of the Season (TOTS) squad in FIFA 22, featuring the likes of Mohamed Salah, Cristiano Ronaldo and Heung-Min Son.

The FIFA 22 Premier League Team of the Season (TOTS) squad was revealed and released into packs by EA Sports at 18:00 PM BST on Friday, May 6 2022, with the final squad chosen by the FIFA community.

Liverpool and Manchester City players dominate the squad that also features Manchester United's Portuguese duo Cristiano Ronaldo and Bruno Fernandes.

The Team of the Season Promo awards the best performing players around the world with special, heavily boosted player items in FUT 22. Mohamed Salah and Cristiano Ronaldo lead the Premier League TOTS squad as the highest-rated players, rated 97 overall.

Along with Salah are some of the worlds best players including Liverpool's Virgil van Dijk, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Alisson, Manchester City's Kevin De Bruyne and Joao Cancelo and Spurs' Heung-Min Son. The 15-man squad features six Liverpool players and five Manchester City players, highlighting the impressive performances from both teams this season.

Man City stunned by extraordinary Real Madrid in Champion League Semi Finals

Over two legs was this the greatest Champions League semi-final ever? Quite possibly so.

It is no comfort at all for a broken Manchester City that their names will go down in history, an unwanted desperate history, as the team who went into the 90th minute of the second leg of the tie apparently certain to reach the final and a date with what they believe is their destiny and within 10 minutes conceded the three goals that sent them out. Just 10 minutes. No more.

The ramifications are huge. For Real Madrid it is a 17th final, as they chase winning a 14th European Cup, and they will face Liverpool in Paris later this month; a Liverpool who are hell-bent on revenge after Kyiv in 2018 which was Real’s last appearance.

For City they have traumatically found another way to fall short in the competition they crave the most and still have not won, and for Pep Guardiola there will be a feeling that he is simply cursed when it comes to meeting again with a trophy that, a decade ago, appeared set to become his preserve. Instead he has lost six semi-finals and a final.

Whatever City go on to achieve this will stay with them as Real, the miracle men of Madrid, drew on all the mythical strength of their name, their jersey, their fans and their iconic stadium to complete the most incredible of comebacks.

It was Karim Benzema, of course it was him, who scored the decisive goal from the penalty spot in an extra-time that no-one saw coming and he now has 43 goals in 43 games this season with 15 of those in 11 Champions League games.

That is simply phenomenal, but then so was this outcome with City having appeared to manage the game superbly and kill off Real. That, as Paris Saint-Germain and Chelsea have found out, is impossible. Liverpool be warned as Real scored in the 90th, the 92nd (of five minutes of added time) and the 95th minute when the extra 30 minutes were played.

The first two of those goals were scored by substitute Rodrygo and it is the latest two goals have ever been scored by one player in a Champions League knock-out tie.

As the teams gathered for the start of that added period Guardiola was gesturing manically, clearly furious, losing control. Real coach Carlo Ancelotti? He was strolling around his players. It added to this extraordinary drama and there is another dimension. What will this trauma mean for the Premier League title race? Will City draw on it or be defeated by it?

It means that having been 2-0 down to PSG on aggregate with half an hour to play Real prevailed; having been 3-0 down to Chelsea they found a way and having been 5-3 down to City, on aggregate, until minute 90 of the second leg they still won. They looked dead and buried and yet they somehow rose again.

It was crueller and crueller for City. Rodrygo was not the only substitute to have chances. Before he intervened one of City’s replacements, Jack Grealish, twice went agonisingly close and as incredible as Rodrygo’s contribution was Real were hugely indebted to their goalkeeper, Thibaut Courtois, who has been formidable along with Benzema in this extraordinary campaign.


The improbability of this Champions League run, and even though they regained the Spanish title last week, had if anything fuelled belief among the Real fans and so it proved. So used to being the favourites they have entered each of their knock-out ties with the expectation that they would lose. And there was no doubting who was carrying their hopes with a huge banner unfurled showing a drawing of Benzema as the stadium filled and the noise climbed towards kick-off.

City tried everything to dampen it. They tried to slow the play, goalkeeper Ederson took ages over goal-kicks and there was even something of a hint of the dark arts to their approach and no-one could blame them. The stakes were so high and these are the kind of things that sometimes have to be done in these encounters. Real certainly know that as Liverpool can testify.

Nevertheless in a tense and taught first-half City had the clearest chance with Courtois denying Bernardo Silva who tried to beat him at his near post after evading Casemiro – who was fortunate to escape two bookings after a scissor-tackle on Kevin de Bruyne and pulling back Phil Foden by his shirt. Somehow he was not even cautioned.

It remained cagey but City’s game-plan appeared to work when they found some cohesion and Silva sprinted forward before prodding the ball intelligently out to Riyad Mahrez who ran in and struck a fierce first-time shot that was too much for Courtois.

Riyad Mahrez

There were just 17 minutes left and surely that was it? Surely City had done enough? The clock was ticking and if anything Real looked deflated as Grealish skipped through.

His first was blocked on the line by Ferland Mendy, while his second was superbly saved by Courtois. But still the clock was running down and injury time was coming before Benzema did well to guide a cross, with a volley, back into the six-yard area for Rodrygo to tuck home from close-range.

And so everything changed. Yes, this is Real. Yes, this was such a big occasion. But it did not explain City’s collapse as Rodrygo rose unmarked to head home Dani Carvajal’s cross.

Even after that City had a chance, wasted by Phil Foden who shot woefully over from 12 yards, but also could have lost it in normal time as Ederson saved with his legs.

Instead, in a clear indictment, they lost in early in extra-time. Ruben Dias has been a rock but he crumbled. He was at fault for all three goals and certainly when he rashly challenged Benzema as he ran towards Rodrygo’s cross.

It was a clear penalty and Benzema rolled it into the corner of the net. This time there was no ‘Panenka’ but Benzema still had ice in his veins. Suddenly, incredibly, improbably, unbelievably, City were heading out.

Excruciatingly they would have one last opportunity with Courtois getting fingertips to Foden’s flicked header. Still, substitute Fernandinho should have turned it home at the far post but he bundled it wide. It summed it all up.

It was in City’s hands and they let it slip. It will take some time to recover from this. If they recover at all.

UCL ACTION Villarreal vs Liverpool –Reds into Champions League final

 All day long torrential rain had sluiced through the tight streets in this tiny outpost of eastern Spain and in the evening Liverpool rode out another storm to reach the Champions League final.

For 45 minutes this was the night when the hunt for the quadruple almost caught up on them, when this Liverpool team appeared human after all and when maybe fighting on all fronts was proving too much.

But it is not for nothing that Jürgen Klopp labelled them the “mentality monsters” and they brilliantly drew on that extraordinary resilience to claim three second-half goals in a whirlwind 12-minute burst that overwhelmed Villarreal who finished with 10-men after Étienne Capoue followed his two assists with two yellow cards born of frustration.

Liverpool also have the irrepressible Luis Diaz who came on as a half-time substitute and undoubtedly turned the game against the so-called ‘Yellow Submarine’ who had shocked Juventus, stunned Bayern Munich and were threatening to do the same to Liverpool.

But they are made of stronger stuff and so Klopp, again brilliantly marshalling his replacements, has gloriously guided them to the final of this competition for the third time in five years.

It is a return to Paris on May 28, the city where the six-time winners claimed their third European Cup in 1981, and where they will of course face either Manchester City or Real Madrid – who they beat that night and lost to so painfully in 2018 – with profound resonance for both opponents.

Whoever they play it will be epic and it followed a thrilling comeback that means Liverpool have won all six away games in Europe this season, something that has not been done before, as they continued their relentless march. It is one defeat in 29 games in 2022 and that was in the second leg of the tie against Inter Milan which was already won. They go on and on. Can anyone stop the first English club to reach the final of the European Cup, the FA Cup and the League Cup in the same season?

Incredibly it briefly felt like Villarreal might although there was always the suspicion – after the worst opening half in years under Klopp – that not only would the Spaniards struggle to sustain their intensity but, surely, that Liverpool would improve. Even so, it took a powerful half-time talk from the manager and Diaz’s introduction to effect it. There was also the weak link: Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli who had been exposed in the first leg and was culpable here. It was as if he was shouting out his first name as he charged around.

Before that Liverpool had surrendered their 2-0 advantage. And it was a meek surrender. Klopp had claimed they might suffer and so it proved. “A 90 minutos de nuevro sueno” (“90 minutes from my dream”) read a banner behind the goal Villarreal were defending and within three minutes those dreams were electric. They scored.

Worryingly, in a sign of what was to come before the break, Liverpool were carved open with Capoue stealing in front of Andrew Robertson, who was caught out, to reach a cross and cut it back first time for Boulaye Dia to slam past a stranded Alisson.

It was the earliest Liverpool had conceded in a Champions League game for more than four years – and to do so in a semi-final away from home when the absolute instruction, the first command, was to quieten the opposition.

Dreams and nightmares. This was the start that Klopp will have hammered home to his players that they simply had to avoid. After the downpours, which had relented, Liverpool needed to gather themselves but could not. The scarves had twirled, the songs had been sung inside the Ceramica but even the most fervent of Villarreal fan did not expect this ferocity as they exploited the space behind both of Liverpool’s full-backs. Even Virgil van Dijk looked flustered.

Liverpool were not winning enough duels; their passing was not accurate enough and it was summed up when Naby Keïta played the ball straight to Gerard Moreno who turned and threaded it through to Giovani Lo Celso who attempted to go around Alisson with the goalkeeper clattering into him. Villarreal screamed for a penalty but their feverish demands were waved away by the Dutch referee Danny Makkelie, who felt the goalkeeper got a touch, although it looked like a let-off.

Fuelled by the sense of injustice Villarreal tore forward again with Capoue once more beating Robertson, this time to a cross-field pass, and he sent the ball back into the penalty area. Francis Coquelin just wanted it more than Trent Alexander-Arnold and rose high to power a header into the net. “Highway to Hell” blasted out on the PA and Liverpool were in purgatory.

It had to change. It really did. And once more Klopp got his changes right and what a difference Diaz made. Suddenly there was tenacity and purpose and Liverpool took over. After Alexander-Arnold’s deflected 30-yard shot bounced off the top of the cross-bar Fabinho started and ended the move that began it. He exchanged passes with Mohamed Salah, thought about crossing from the right-hand corner of the area but instead fired in a shot that ricocheted between Rulli’s legs and inside his near post.

Villarreal were reeling and Alexander-Arnold was quickly afforded the space to deliver a precise inswinging centre that was met by Diaz with a clever run and smartly guided header to beat Rulli who capped it all by then rushing out to try and get to Keïta’s through ball before Sadio Mané. Inevitably the forward was far too quick, whisking it away and taking his time before slotting the ball into the empty goal.

It meant Liverpool have scored 139 times in 57 games this season. Fifty seven games down and six to go. By the end the roar of the rain had long abated and the air was still apart from the celebrations of Liverpool’s fans, led by Klopp. In this unprecedented campaign their last game will be another final, a 10th European Cup final.

Fulham promoted to Premiership after beating Luton 7-0

 Fulham promoted to Premiership after beating Luton 7-0

Record-breaking Aleksandr Mitrovic reached 43 goals in a season by scoring twice as Fulham clinched the Championship title in style with a 7-0 win over Luton Town.

Tom Cairney scored the team's 100th goal of the campaign with a thunderous first-half strike and a thumping long-range shot from Kenny Tete doubled the tally, as Luton crumbled under injuries and Fulham's dominance.

Fabio Carvalho made it three after the break, before Mitrovic scored his record-equalling 42nd goal of the campaign.

Bobby Decordova-Reid and Jean-Michael Seri extended the rout, before Mitrovic tapped in his second and Fulham's title celebrations began.

The defeat wais Luton's heaviest of the season and sees them drop down a place to sixth. While a place in the play-offs is still in their hands, they need a result against Reading to prevent Middlesbrough overtaking them.

Football Super Agent Mino Raiola has died at the age of 54

Football Super Agent Mino Raiola has died at the age of 54 after a short illness, his family have confirmed. The Italian represented the likes of Paul Pogba, Erling Haaland and Matthijs De Ligt and was renowned for being one of the toughest negotiators in the game.

"In infinite sorrow, we share the passing of the most caring and amazing Football Agent that ever was," his family wrote in a statement released on Raiola's official Twitter account. "Mino fought until the end with the same strength he put on negotiation tables to defend our players. As usual, Mino made us proud and never realised it.

"Mino touched so many lives through his work and wrote a new chapter in the history of modern football. His presence will forever be missed. Mino's mission of making football a better place for players will continue with the same passion.

"We thank everybody for the huge amount of support received during these difficult times and ask for respect to the privacy of family and friends in this moment of grief. The Raiola Family."

Real Madrid have been crowned 2021-22 La Liga champions.

Real Madrid have been crowned 2021-22 La Liga champions.

Los Blancos claim a record- extending 35th title and now hold 9 more championships than second place Barcelona.

Carlo Ancelotti becomes the first coach to win league titles in Spain, England, Italy, France and Germany

CAF Approved Akwa Ibom Stadium For CAF Confederation Cup Finals In Uyo

 The decision of the African Football body to host the 2021/2022 CAF Confederation’s Cup Final at the Godswill Akpabio International Stadium aka the Nest of Champions is heartwarming.

Uyo is peaceful, clean, safe and has the capacity to host these big games. Kudos to Governor Udom Emmanuel for maintaining this facility, it’s very expensive to ensure 24/7 power supply, lush-green natural turf, etc

It’s a win for us all.

Tyson Fury knocks out Dillian Whyte with brutal uppercut to stay world heavyweight king

 Tyson Fury knocks out Dillian Whyte with brutal uppercut to stay world heavyweight king

Tyson Fury outclassed heavyweight rival and former sparring partner Dillian Whyte at Wembley Stadium on Saturday evening in what he had insisted would be his final bout as a professional boxer - securing a TKO victory in the sixth round.

The pair met in front of a record 94,000 spectators in London as Fury put his WBC, The Ring and lineal heavyweight titles on the line against his fellow Brit, nicknamed the Bodysnatcher.

The self-proclaimed Gypsy King had been full of respect for his foe in the build-up to the fight despite years of bad blood, and was again asked to clarify his boxing future in the ring following his triumph.

ECOWAS Leaders have lifted economic and financial sanctions imposed on Mali

 Leaders from the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS) gathered to assess efforts to secure timetables for restoring civilian ...


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