Tottenham Fight Back To Beat Brighton

Tottenham Hotspur’s English striker Harry Kane controls the ball during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Brighton and Hove Albion at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on December 26, 2019. Tolga AKMEN / AFP

 

Dele Alli got Tottenham back on track as the England midfielder capped a gritty escape act with the late winner in Thursday’s 2-1 victory against Brighton.

Jose Mourinho’s side were in danger of a second successive Premier League defeat when Adam Webster headed Brighton into a shock lead at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

But Harry Kane equalised after the interval and Alli finished off a flowing Tottenham move in the closing stages to erase the bitter taste of last weekend’s acrimonious London derby loss to Chelsea.

Avenging their defeat at Brighton in October, Tottenham, unbeaten in Boxing Day fixtures since 2003, have won three of their last four league games as they try to climb into the top four.

That Chelsea setback was completely overshadowed by the alleged racist abuse of Blues defender Antonio Rudiger by Tottenham fans after his role in Son Heung-min’s red card.

Amid widespread calls for stronger action to stamp out racism in football, Tottenham fans appeared to behave better this time.

Initially, there were worrying signs for Mourinho on the field however as Steven Alzate escaped Moussa Sissoko, making space for a low strike that drifted just wide.

Since Mourinho’s first game in charge of Tottenham, no Premier League team had conceded more goals than the 14 his side allowed across all competitions heading into this round of matches.

Those defensive frailties were on display when Alzate lost his marker and forced Paulo Gazzaniga into a sprawling save, while Aaron Mooy went close from the edge of the area.

Kane has a knack of scoring on Boxing Day and the Tottenham striker thought he had netted again when he fired home from Winks’ pass, but the goal went to a VAR review and was ruled out by the narrowest of offside decisions.

Clinical Kane

Brighton made the most of that let-off to take the lead in the 37th minute.

Pascal Gross swung over a free-kick and Webster rose above Toby Alderweireld and Davinson Sanchez to plant a powerful header past Gazzaniga for his third goal of the season.

Mourinho must have been furious that Tottenham wilted against such a simple set-piece and his team’s record of one clean-sheet in his nine matches suggests a defender could be high on his January shopping list.

Underlining the urgency to address that problem area, Brighton’s Bernardo forced Gazzaniga to save from a corner moments later to the audible frustration of the Tottenham crowd on a dank, wet day in north London.

Mourinho, standing rain-soaked on the touchline, revealed before the game that his Christmas was ruined by the death of his family’s pet Yorkshire Terrier.

But Kane put a smile back on his manager’s face in the 53rd minute when he seized on a deflection off Lucas Moura after the Brazilian’s determined run.

Drilling a shot that Mat Ryan could only push back out, Kane gobbled up the rebound with a clinical finish for his eighth goals in five Premier League games on Boxing Day.

Kane’s 16th club goal this season was not immediately a catalyst for a Tottenham surge and Gazzaniga had to be alert to keep out Gross’s fierce free-kick.

But Mourinho made a significant switch when he sent on Christian Eriksen for Harry Winks, who moments before was lucky to escape a red card for a foul when he had already been booked.

Eriksen made an immediate impact in the 72nd minute when he floated a delicate pass to Serge Aurier who flicked the ball into the path of Alli, who guided a superb lofted finish over Ryan.

 

AFP

FG Declares December 26, 27 And January 2 Public Holiday

Abdulrahman Dambazau, Public HolidaysThe Federal Government has declared Monday and Tuesday, December 26 & 27, 2016 and Monday, January 2, 2017 as public holidays to mark the Christmas, Boxing Day and New Year 2017 celebrations respectively.

The declaration was made on Wednesday on behalf of the government by the Minister of Interior, Lieutenant General Abdulrahman Dambazau (rtd).

General Dambazau enjoined all Christians and Nigerians in general to remain committed and support the administration of President Muhammadu Buhari, in his sustained efforts towards building a peaceful, united and prosperous Nigeria.

He also urged the citizens to use the occasion to pray for peace, unity and peaceful co-existence across the country.

The minister wishes all Nigerians at home and abroad, a Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.

The announcement was contained in a statement issued by the Acting Permanent Secretary at the Ministry of Interior, Mr Muhammadu Maccido.

Van Gaal Admits Pressure Increasing After Man-U Loss

Van GaalManchester United suffered a 2-0 defeat to Stoke City on Boxing Day to make it their fourth consecutive Premier League defeat.

Louis van Gaal, who expressed disappointment when talking to Sky Sports and MUTV after the final whistle at the Britannia Stadium, criticized his team for failing to play.

“My thoughts are that we didn’t dare to play football in the first half and then we gave a very bad goal away. That was too much. They scored from a free-kick and then it was half-time.

“We have spoken with each other and I have to say the second half was much better, we created one or two chances and you have to score. Then the belief is coming back and we played better in the second half, but the problem is we didn’t dare to play.

Manchester United face Chelsea in their next match and van Gaal knows beating the Blues could be a tough task, “You can say we can quickly get revenge for this defeat against Chelsea but in the time in between, you have to recover because the players have given everything and then you have to manage that you are very confident to start the game, and that you dare to play our football.

“It is very difficult to do that in just two days but we shall try.”

Several fans are calling for the Dutchman to be sacked and his future has been a subject of speculation in the media but he has been confident about turning things around for the Red Devils.

However, the loss seems to have affected the confidence as he admitted that the pressure had increased, “I have tried to do everything but the pressure shall be higher and higher with every match. That is the problem now.

“It is more difficult because I am also part of the four matches we have lost so people are looking at me and I have to deal with that, but more importantly the players have to deal with that because they are the ones who have to perform.”

Abia Governor Pardons 20 Prisoners

Abia Governor Pardons PrisonersIn light with the boxing day, Abia State Governor, Okezie Ikpeazu, has ordered the release of 20 prisoners convicted of stealing, armed robbery, conspiracy, intent to commit felony among other offences.

The release of the prisoners by the Governor was on the advice and recommendation of the Abia State Advisory Council on prerogative of mercy headed by the State Attorney General and Commissioner for Justice, Barrister Umeh Kalu.

Barrister Kalu, through a press release, urged the released prisoners to be law abiding and join hands with fellow Abians in the drive to provide a better future for the state and country at large.

Some of the prisoners released were being held in prisons at Aba, Umuahia, Port Harcourt as well as Enugu Federal Prisons.

I Feel Warmth And Support From Manchester United – Van Gaal

Manchester Manchester United manager, Louis van Gaal, has revealed that he had the support of the club as his team prepare to face Stoke City at the Britannia Stadium on Boxing Day.

United have fallen out of the top four in the Barclays Premier League as well as exiting the UEFA Champions League in a run where they have won just three times in 13 matches.

Without a victory in any of their last six matches in all competitions, it is United’s worst winless run in a single season since December 1998, the campaign in which they went on to win an historic treble.

“I held meetings with the players with my members of staff, I hold a Christmas lunch, I did a speech and I feel the warmth and support of everybody in Carrington,” Van Gaal said Prior in a press conference he cut short after three questions. “But I didn’t feel that in the media.

“Of course I can imagine that you can write about that subject [our bad results] but you have to stick to the facts.

“Four weeks ago we were first in the Premier League and in about four weeks we could be back in that position.

“I only say now I am focused on Stoke City and that I help my players.”

Van Gaal will hope United can continue their fine record in Boxing Day fixtures, having won 18 and drawn one of their last 19 matches played on 26 December.

Stoke’s progress has slowed in recent weeks as they followed a run of five victories from seven league matches by only winning one of their last four, although that solitary triumph was a home victory over Manchester City.

Mark Hughes’ men have slipped to 11th, but are only six points adrift of United in fifth. Stoke’s Marko Arnautovic is the highest league goal scorer from either of the two teams with five and is optimistic about his side’s chances ahead of United’s visit.

“It is a huge game,” the forward told the Stoke Sentinel.  “They come to us and know it is going to be a difficult game in Stoke and we know they are a good side.

“Manchester United is always a top game and we will try and win this game. If we perform like the last week [against West Ham and Crystal Palace], but score the goals, then I think we can take the three points.”

Bastian Schweinsteiger is suspended, while United are also without Matteo Darmian and Jesse Lingard (both hamstring), although Van Gaal hopes the Italian will be back to face Chelsea on 28 December.

Stoke are still without Geoff Cameron (hamstring), Peter Crouch (groin) and Stephen Ireland (hamstring).

Chelsea Win More Than Just Three Points – Jose Mourinho

ChelseaChelsea Manager, Jose Mourinho, hailed a victory he felt meant “more than just the three points” after his side saw off Stoke City 2-nil at the Britannia stadium to secure the English Premier League Christmas number one spot.

“To win here we must play a very good game,” he said.

“We did it because we adapted well to their style of play, when they had the ball. When we had the ball we tried not to lose our identity and play our game.

“To score in the beginning is important but not so much in this stadium because they are always strong, the crowd is behind them and the team is mentally strong.

“They have good players, a good bench and Mark Hughes can make changes because he has players for that. It was a very difficult victory.

“It’s a victory that means a bit more than the three points, not just because it’s difficult but because to win here you need to put more than just your quality in.

“The players were together, they coped well with a difficult style and were not afraid to have responsibility. Our creative players were not afraid to assume the game and create, our defensive players were very solid, so only with a great team performance is it possible to be successful against Stoke,” Mourinho said of his Chelsea team’s performance.

The league leaders went 1-nil up in the second minute through John Terry’s header before wrapping up the win through Cesc Fabregas’ scuffed effort with 12 minutes remaining.

In-form West Ham are the visitors to Stamford Bridge on Boxing Day ahead of trips to Southampton on December 28 and Tottenham on January 1.