RelatedPosts Barca president Bartomeu says he won’t go to war anymore with Messi Aguero could be out of action until November, Guardiola says Messi scores twice in Barca friendly Manchester City is ready to pull back from sensational plans to prise Leo Messi away from Barcelona. The Sunday Express said the Premier League giants had been monitoring the unfolding situation in Catalonia, as Messi publicly quarrelled with Barca director of football Eric Abidal. Now, however, City is “ready to admit defeat” after supposedly being contacted by the player’s representatives and informed Messi will not be leaving. City is one of the few clubs in European football who could afford to match Messi’s astronomical weekly wages, which sit north of the £600,000 mark. But it is now claimed that Messi’s people are making it clear that the six-times Ballon d’Or winner will not be leaving Barca and will remain with the club who he has spent all of his professional career.Tags: Eric AbidalLionel MessiManchester CitySunday Express
RelatedPosts Tyson Fury to Anthony Joshua: Don’t risk fighting Usyk Anthony Joshua, Okolie plot world title double Anthony Joshua wants Tyson Fury, Wilder fight Heavyweight contender Jarrell Miller believes that he would have crushed unified world champion Anthony Joshua – had the two of them collided in the ring back in June of 2019.The fight was scheduled to take place at New York’s Madison Square Garden – but Miller was pulled from the fight after testing positive for several performance enhancing drugs. With only five weeks to go, Miller was replaced by Andy Ruiz, who pulled off one of the biggest upsets in heavyweight history when he dropped Joshua four times and stopped him in the seventh round.Earlier this year, Miller signed a co-promotional deal with Top Rank, who also co-promotes WBC heavyweight champion Tyson Fury.Miller has no doubt that he would have bumped off Joshua in even more spectacular fashion than Ruiz did.“I would have put Anthony Joshua in a casket. I would have put a hurting on Joshua so bad that he’d never look in my direction again. So I had his number. A lot of people don’t know that Andy Ruiz asked me to come out for sparring,” Miller told Behind The Gloves.“I was going to have Andy Ruiz on my training team. A lot of people said: ‘Why are you going to have Andy Ruiz on your training team? He’s short, chubby. He’s a different fighting style. He’s a fighting man, and he’s a good inside fighter. He throws combinations and has fast hands. He’s not a great outside fighter.’ “Joshua tried to mix it up with Andy, and he cracked his behind. If he [Joshua] had fought me, I would have put way more hurt on him. He would have been a sitting duck. And he doesn’t have better legs than me, and he doesn’t have better hand-eye coordination than me. He doesn’t come forward like me. I’m a bull.”Joshua has a tentative date of July 25 to face mandatory challenger Kubrat Pulev at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London.But the fight is likely going to get pushed back for the second time, due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.Tags: Anthony JoshuaJarrell MillerMadison Square
RelatedPosts Kwara Governor to immortalise Rashidi Yekini COVID-19: Plateau state tops, as NCDC announces new infections in Nigeria Ministry reads riot act to NFA, Clubs over resumption of league The Nigeria Football Federation has announced a N30,000 monthly stipend for the mothers of ex-internationals Sam Okwaraji and Rashidi Yekini.The NFF made the announcement via Twitter handle on Thursday. The federation admitted they were making the move following the recent initiative taken by the Minister of Youth and Sports, Sunday Dare, who approved a N10,000 monthly stipend for Yekini’s mother during the eighth year remembrance of the football legend.The NFF tweeted: “In furtherance to, and in appreciation of, the recent pronouncement of the HM Sports @SundayDareSD to put the mothers of late ex-internationals Sam Okwaraji and Rashidi Yekini on a monthly stipend, the NFF has decided to support this noble initiative with a further monthly stipend of N30k to each of the two matriarchs.”Aside the pilot beneficiaries, the NFF also promised it would be doing a broad-based review so that more surviving mothers of ex-internationals that died in active service for the country would be supported financially.“In addition, the NFF will henceforth review the situation of surviving mothers of our ex-internationals that died in active service for the country and resolve what to do for them on a monthly basis,” it said.Yekini died eight years ago in Ibadan, Oyo State after retiring from football. He had a professional career spanning more than two decades and was mainly associated with Vitória de Setúbal in Portugal, but also played in six other countries besides Nigeria.Yekini scored 37 goals as a Nigerian international from 58 games and represented the nation in five major tournaments, including two World Cups where he scored the country’s first-ever goal in the competition against Bulgaria in the USA 94 World Cup.He was also named the African Footballer of the Year in 1993.Okwaraji was a professional footballer who played internationally for Nigeria.He was also a qualified lawyer who had a masters in international law from the Pontifical Lateran University of Rome. He collapsed and died of heart failure in the 77th minute of a World Cup qualification match against Angola at the Lagos National Stadium on August 12, 1989.Tags: NFFRashidi YekiniSam OkwarajiTwitter
Manchester United maintained their Champions League charge after a VAR blunder sparked a 3-0 win at Aston Villa.Bruno Fernandes’ contentious penalty – after he appeared to tread on Ezri Konsa – gave the visitors the platform for victory at Villa Park. Referee Jon Moss gave the spot-kick and his decision was backed up by VAR official Graham Scott, much to Villa’s disbelief and fury.Mason Greenwood’s missile and Paul Pogba’s first goal for 453 days then saw United extend their unbeaten run to 17 games in all competitions in another statement of intent.Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men closed the gap on fourth-placed Leicester to a point.Fifth-placed United go to the King Power Stadium on the final day of the season.Villa raged about the penalty but defeat was another hammer blow to their dwindling hopes of avoiding the drop. Trezeguet hit the post just before Fernandes’ opener, but Dean Smith’s side remain four points from safety with just four games left – starting at home to Crystal Palace on Sunday.United marched on to keep the pressure on the top four in what looks set to be an increasingly frantic race for Europe.Yet the visitors – unchanged for a fourth straight Premier League game for the first time since 2006 – were initially disjointed.Villa pressed and contained United, creating the best chance of a bright opening 20 minutes.The hosts had joy out wide and Konsa’s cross evaded the United backline to reach Jack Grealish, only for the Old Trafford target to fire wide at the far post. With time running out to save themselves Villa needed something special and they almost caught United cold after 25 minutes.Trezeguet strode forward unchallenged after Pepe Reina’s clearance, but his low strike hit the outside of the post, a miss which would prove costly two minutes later.United had been leggy but took their golden chance to open the scoring when Fernandes went down under Konsa’s challenge.Villa were furious, with the midfielder appearing to tread on Konsa – indeed it was more of a foul on the Villa man. But the decision stood after a VAR review.RelatedPosts Runarsson joins Arsenal on four-year deal Ighalo: My best moment as ‘Red Devil’ EPL: Crystal Palace stun sloppy Man U It allowed Fernandes to roll in his seventh goal in just 10 Premier League appearances.It was the turning point and Fernandes should have bagged a second just before the break but could only head Luke Shaw’s cross over from six yards.Villa would have felt hard done by going into half-time a goal behind, yet Greenwood delivered a killer blow in stoppage time.Anthony Martial pressured Tyrone Mings into conceding possession midway in United’s half for Fernandes and Greenwood to break.Martial eventually returned the ball to Greenwood and, with Douglas Luiz standing off, the teenager’s rocket flew into the bottom corner from the edge of the box.Villa’s belief ebbed away and Aaron Wan-Bissaka missed a fine chance to make it 3-0 three minutes after the break, heading Marcus Rashford’s centre wide.Rashford had a goal ruled out with Pogba offside, but United did not have to wait long for their third which arrived after 58 minutes.With Villa’s confidence shot, they left Pogba free 18 yards out and he had time to sweep a fine finish low past Reina – his first United goal since April 2019.Martial smacked the bar as United threatened to run riot, but they were forced to settle for what they had after Rashford was denied by Reina late on.Tags: Aston VillaEzri KonsaManchester UnitedPremier League
The 28-year-old, on loan from Sunderland – for whom he has also not scored – was caught by a high tackle from Barry and departed on a stretcher to be replaced by Sagbo. Strangely his loss appeared to galvanise the Tigers and centre-back Abdoulaye Faye twice failed to capitalise on good headed chances from corners, the second after Sylvain Distin’s overhit knee-high backpass was sliced into the Park End by Tim Howard Having escaped sanction earlier Barry was booked for going over the top in a challenge with Sone Aluko, and despite having just clipped the top of the ball other referees may not have been as lenient as Neil Swarbrick. Aluko showed no ill-effects, however, as he returned to the action to immediately setting up the equaliser having beaten Baines to the byline to cross for Sagbo to convert first-time at the near post. Having struggled to get into the game in the opening half-hour midfielder Ross Barkley began to find some space and time on the ball in the closing stages of the half. Mirallas continued to be Everton’s best attacking outlet after the break though and it was he who provided the pin-point cross to set up Pienaar’s goal. The South African, who had missed four league matches with a hamstring problem, deserves huge credit for the quality of the finish though as he brilliantly steered home left-footed. Sagbo somehow escaped without even a booking after a foot-up challenge on Phil Jagielka as Hull’s competitiveness occasionally stretched the boundaries. The fight should have been knocked out of them in the 76th minute when Arouna Kone, on for a subdued Romelu Lukaku, did brilliantly in dropping his shoulder to wrongfoot Faye but with just McGregor to beat from close range he somehow managed to crash his shot against the post. Fortunately for the Ivory Coast international his miss-of-the-season contender did not prove costly as Hull ran out of steam – seeing their four-match unbeaten run ended – as Everton moved up into fifth place in the table. Substitute Steven Pienaar produced a stunning comeback after six weeks on the sidelines as he scored with his first touch to get Everton back to winning ways. The South African, whose last appearance before a hamstring injury was on August 31, brilliantly converted Kevin Mirallas’ cross within 30 seconds of coming off the bench. His goal proved the decider in a 2-1 win at home to Hull in which Mirallas had seen his early strike cancelled out by Yannick Sagbo. Pienaar’s return is more than timely after the loss of fellow midfielder Darron Gibson to an anterior cruciate ligament rupture this week. His attacking combination down the left with Leighton Baines has become something of a trademark and while they have coped admirably in his absence, his comeback gives manager Roberto Martinez yet another attacking outlet. Pienaar’s intervention was particularly welcome for Everton, as having lost the only remaining unbeaten league record at Manchester City prior to the international break they appeared in danger of throwing away their early advantage. Mirallas put them ahead in the eighth minute but Hull could have a valid argument for it being disallowed. At first glance it seemed Allan McGregor appeared to leave the Belgium international’s low shot just before it cannoned in off the inside of his right-hand post. However, replays showed Gareth Barry was running back from an offside position and even tried to backheel the ball as it went past him and so the Hull goalkeeper could be given the benefit of the doubt. It was the first Premier League goal at the Gwladys Street End since Mirallas scored against West Ham on May 12 and the first Hull had conceded in 232 minutes of league football. If Hull were a touch unfortunate with the goal their luck worsened in the 15th minute when they lost Danny Graham, still desperately seeking his first goal for the club, to injury. Press Association
Press Association The Brazilian has been sidelined since the 2-2 draw at Swansea on September 16 and while Brendan Rodgers does not think he will be ready for Saturday’s visit of West Brom, the Reds boss is eagerly awaiting his comeback. “He might just be short for this weekend,” Rodgers said. “I think, after the weekend, he’ll be fine. He has got really good strength in his shoulder now, it’s just getting him up to speed in training and joining the group. “He has rejoined training with the group. He’s been on the field doing a lot of physical work and he has joined in with the team on a non-contact basis. “He has been in the last couple of days and has looked brilliant to be honest, like he has never been away with his flow and fluency with the ball. “His work has been excellent. It’s great to see him back in and it’s another quality player back for us. “You always miss quality.” Injury and suspension means Rodgers has so far this season been denied the opportunity to play his primary attacking triumvirate of Daniel Sturridge, Luis Suarez and Coutinho. But while the latter was the man pulling all the strings in the final third before his injury the other two have not been adversely affected. Sturridge has maintained his impressive form since joining in January with his goal in the 2-2 draw at Newcastle last weekend taking his tally to 20 in 26 appearances. Liverpool playmaker Philippe Coutinho is edging closer to a first-team return after a shoulder operation. In doing so he became the quickest player to hit 20 career goals for Liverpool since Fred Pagnam reached the landmark after 22 matches in 1915. The club’s record goalscorer Ian Rush has backed Sturridge to break the 20-goal barrier this season but Rodgers insists he has not given the striker a specific aim. “The way I’ve always worked with Daniel is I don’t set him goal targets – I think he’s a natural goalscorer,” said the Reds boss. “For me, the communication and the talk with Daniel is about him getting into areas and working hard. “I think you’ve seen already this season the types of goals he can score, whether it be with his head, his left foot, his right foot, his pace or his power. “I believe he’s a natural goalscorer, it’s just about him understanding his role in the team, with the ball and the intensity without the ball.”
“It took him a little while to settle with the injury he had earlier in the season, but at the moment he is in really good form. “If we are able to provide him with the service, he has that type of quality that we know he can score goals.” Norwich host Fulham on Boxing Day and after the visit of a rejuvenated Manchester United to Carrow Road, will travel to Crystal Palace on New Year’s Day. United apart, it is conceivably a run of matches which could see the Canaries put clear daylight between themselves and the relegation scrap. Hughton, though, is not looking to far ahead. “I don’t think you can with the amount of games that you have,” he said. “Any thoughts of who else we have to play after Sunderland can wait. “You can’t plan for Fulham and Manchester United when you don’t know what could happen against Sunderland. “You are never sure how form and injuries affect it. What you do know is it is a lot of games in a short period and recovery will be key.” The Black Cats pulled off a shock win over Chelsea on Wednesday night through an extra-time strike from Ki Sung-Yueng which secured a two-legged play-off with Manchester United in January for a place at Wembley, and manager Gus Poyet hopes the result will now help inspire their battle to stay up in 2014. Hughton takes his side to Wearside on the back of an impressive away win at West Brom and a battling draw against Swansea, and will be looking to continue their own steady drive up the table with another positive result over the Barclays Premier League’s bottom club. “It will be as big a challenge as any other game we will play in this division,” said Hughton, who is set to have both Holland forward Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Scotland winger Robert Snodgrass back from injury for the trip to the north-east. “Sunderland are on the back of a very good win, albeit not in the league, so they will be buoyed by that – but that is them. “We are also in good form ourselves, on the back of a very good away win at West Brom and a good performance against Swansea, so will be looking for that to continue. “We have gone through a spell of late where we have shown some confidence in front of goal. “Gus Poyet is the Sunderland manager and has to do everything he can to make sure his team get the result, but I am the manager here at Norwich and my concerns and thoughts are only to focus on our own team and getting the result we want to get.” Key to that will again be the performance of forward Gary Hooper, who cracked home a fourth goal in six games with a superb 30-yard strike to equalise against Swansea at Carrow Road on Sunday, and then almost secured all three points with a late close-range effort which was turned away brilliantly by Swansea keeper Michel Vorm. Hughton is hoping the £5million summer signing from Celtic can continue to impress following his recovery from a shin problem. “We have been delighted with his overall performance and hard work which he has given the team as we have been with his goals,” said Hughton. Press Association Norwich manager Chris Hughton warned his side they must be ready to bring Capital One Cup semi-finalists Sunderland back down to earth when they travel to the Stadium of Light this weekend.
Press Association Liverpool boss Brendan Rodgers believes Manchester United will face a big task to qualify for the Champions League in future if they miss out on the competition this season. And Rodgers believes a lack of Champions League football means United, who made the final three times in four years between 2008 and 2011, will struggle to attract the calibre of players required to get them back to the top. “We still have a lot of work to get in to the Champions League,” he told various national newspapers. “But when you’re not in it, even though this club is a worldwide, monumental club, we found it difficult because the best players want to play in the best competitions. “This was Liverpool and we weren’t in the Champions League. In order to get in some of the type of players we want, that’s where we need to be and we’re trying to be. “Any club will suffer the same when they’re not in there. There is no doubt it will hurt you, but they (United) will know that.” Liverpool won the Champions League title in 2005 but have not won the English top flight since 1990 and Rodgers has warned that United could face a similar drought after dominating English football for two decades. “We were talking about the great Liverpool teams – one year becomes two and then all of a sudden it was 20 years since they won the title,” he added. “It can get away from you very quickly. “It’s our focus and drive to arrive back (in the Champions League). We have a long way to go but have shown great potential to be in there. I believe if we can get to that level then it gives us a massive advantage as a club.” David Moyes’ men are nine points behind fourth-placed Manchester City going into Sunday’s match against the Reds but their city rivals have two games in hand and the champions are 11 points behind Arsenal and Liverpool, who have played the same number of games. That means United will need a remarkable sequence of results in the closing stages of the season if they are to make Europe’s elite competition, while Liverpool are currently on course to return to the top table for the first time in four years.
Liverpool moved back to the top of the Barclays Premier League table as captain Steven Gerrard scored two penalties to see off a spirited West Ham side at Upton Park. Press Association Now Liverpool can prepare for an Anfield clash with trophy rivals Manchester City next Sunday, knowing another win would bring a first league title for 24 years even closer. The Reds’ return to top spot seemed to be going smoothly as Gerrard’s first penalty put them ahead late in the first half, b ut the hosts hit back almost immediately with a controversial Demel leveller after former Liverpool striker Andy Carroll appeared to foul Simon Mignolet in the build-up. The visitors’ second penalty was another contentious decision, with referee Anthony Taylor deciding Jon Flanagan had been fouled by Adrian, b ut Gerrard thrashed the spot-kick home to wrap up a ninth consecutive win for Liverpool. The Premier League’s leading goalscorer Luis Suarez could not add to his tally but hit the woodwork twice, with Carroll also kept at bay by the crossbar with a strong header after the interval. Suarez sent out a warning shot inside the opening three minutes as he bent a 30-yard free-kick just over the top of Adrian’s crossbar. He went closer still with his next effort as he clipped a shot over the West Ham goalkeeper, only to see the ball come back into play off the woodwork. All of Liverpool’s threat was coming courtesy of 29-goal man Suarez as he looked to whip the ball past Adrian from another opening, with James Tomkins bravely heading the shot behind. Unlike his strike partner, Daniel Sturridge had been shackled well in the opening 30 minutes and could only balloon a chance high over the crossbar as the ball dropped to him. With Chelsea’s win over Stoke on Saturday moving the Blues to the summit, Brendan Rodgers’ side reacted to the pressure with an unconvincing win – the type teams with title-winning aspirations are nevertheless all too happy for at this stage. Gerrard struck from the spot in either half, with Guy Demel drawing West Ham level in first-half stoppage time. The England man faired little better after Tomkins fluffed his lines as he tried to clear the ball, arrowing a shot wide of Adrian’s goal. With just a minute remaining of the first half Suarez was released by a sumptuous Gerrard pass and, as the Uruguayan looked to cut inside, the ball hit the arm of Tomkins, with referee Taylor pointing to the spot. Gerrard stepped up confidently to send Adrian the wrong way and put the visitors ahead. But West Ham did not let their heads drop and levelled in controversial circumstances on the stroke of half-time. Mark Noble’s corner was aimed towards Carroll, whose hand caught Mignolet in the face as the goalkeeper looked to take possession, with Demel on hand to turn the ball in. Taylor gave the goal after a long consultation with assistant referee Stuart Burt and was in deep discussion with Rodgers as the teams disappeared down the tunnel at half-time. The Hammers started the second half under pressure but managed to soak up anything Liverpool could throw at them before the hour-mark before creating the best chance to take the lead. Demel and Diame combined down the right before the latter swung in a cross which was attacked from deep by Carroll, whose header cracked off the crossbar with Mignolet well beaten. Sturridge burst past Matt Taylor and Winston Reid as the half went on but once again his direction was slightly askew and he failed to test Adrian. West Ham skipper Kevin Nolan was replaced by Antonio Nocerino with a little over 20 minutes remaining having struggled with a back injury throughout the week. Moments later Liverpool were rewarded a second penalty as Adrian was adjudged to have brought down Flanagan, despite getting a hand to the ball before bundling into the full-back. Gerrard again made no mistake from 12 yards, scoring a pair of penalties for the second time this season and putting the visitors back in front at Upton Park. Sturridge finally managed to find the target with 10 minutes remaining as he fired in a dipping volley which was too close to Adrian to cause the Spaniard any real trouble. Suarez once again hit the crossbar, this time with a swerving lob, and was denied by the feet of Adrian late on, with Sterling also forcing a smart save from the West Ham goalkeeper in injury time. Liverpool then saw out the remaining four minutes of added time without incident to return to the top of the Premier League pile.
Press Association The Baggies announced on Saturday they had paid an undisclosed fee for the 26-year-old left-back, who saw his chances of going to the World Cup ended by injury. The 12-cap international has also played for Genk, AZ Alkmaar and Standard Liege. He is new boss Alan Irvine’s fourth summer signing and replaces Billy Jones, who signed for Sunderland. “Sebastien is an experienced left-back who has played at a high level for many years,” Irvine said. “After being named in Belgium’s provisional World Cup squad, he just missed out on Brazil, mainly because he hadn’t played enough games towards the end of the season. “But he’s joined us with a real hunger to prove himself at Albion and get back into the international set-up.” Belgium defender Sebastien Pocognoli has joined West Brom on a three-year contract from Hannover.