NPFL 22: Enyimba Lose Again As Remo Stars Maintain Lead

Remo Stars have had a good start to the new season. Photo: Remo Stars

 

Kano Pillars defeated Enyimba 2-0 in a Nigerian Professional Football League (NPFL) game on Sunday, the second consecutive loss for the Peoples Elephants in the league.

Enyimba had lost by a lone goal to Rivers United in matchday 3 of the NPFL, after a sterling start to the new season that saw them winning their first two games.

Captain Rabiu Ali gave the Kano-based side the lead just before halftime after he converted a penalty.

In the 56th minute, Kokoette Udoh doubled the scoreline for the Sai Masu Gida. The defeat leaves Enyimba on ninth on the table with six points after four games.

On the other hand, Kano Pillars are now 13th having lost two games, drawn one, and won one.

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Another game on Sunday saw Remo Stars maintain their grip on the table despite a 1-1 draw against Dakkada FC in Uyo. The newcomers are on eight points after four games but Kwara United will leapfrog them if they beat Abia Warriors.

A Samuel Anakwe goal cancelled Dakkada’s early lead from Muritala Lawal to keep the Blue Stars at the zenith.

Nasarawa United also beat defending champions, Akwa United 2-0 in Lafia.

Elsewhere, Rangers International defeated Niger Tornadoes 4-0 in Nnewi thanks to a brace from Kenechukwu Agu, and a goal each from Aseigbu Shedrack, and Nnaji Christian.

This was as Plateau United returned to winning ways when they dispatch Heartland 3-0.

Meanwhile, MFM’s poor run continued following a 3-0 defeat to Wikki Tourists in Bauchi. The Olukoya Boys have only three points from four games and are 17th on the table.

And in Port Harcourt, Rivers United could not replicate the form that saw them beat Enyimba on matchday 3. They managed a goalless draw against Sunshine Stars at the Port Harcourt Stadium.

NPFL Fixtures

Three games will be played on Monday and they are as follow:

Abia Warriors Vs Kwara United
Gombe Vs Lobi Stars
Shooting Stars Vs Katsina

NPFL 22: Enyimba, Remo Stars Maintain Fine Form

Remo Stars starting line-up against Heartland FC

 

Enyimba Football Club of Aba and newly promoted Remo Stars have recorded wins on matchday 2 to continue their fine start to the new 2021/2022 Nigeria Professional Football League season.

Remo Stars produced arguably the major talking point from the opening day with a stunning 2-0 win over MFM FC at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos while Enyimba got their season to a flying start with a 2-1 victory over Abia Warriors in Aba.

In Enugu, the Peoples Elephant showed they mean business with this campaign as they laboured to a 0-1 win over rivals Rangers International Football Club. The Flying Antelopes also had a good opening day win, beating Katsina United 2-1 to open their campaign with an away win. They had hoped to consolidate on that performance against Enyimba but their plans didn’t materialize.

Whenever the Antelopes and Elephants clash, it’s always a tight encounter and Sunday wasn’t different. It was looking like it will end in a barren draw till the 77th minute when coach Finidi George sent in Emeka Obioma to replace Victor Mbaoma. That substitution made the difference.

In the 88th minute, Obioma proved to be a super-sub as he scored the only goal of the match to seal victory for the visitors. Perfect start to the season for the People’s Elephant who are enjoying a good time under new manager Finidi George.

READ ALSOSaka Stars In Ruthless Arsenal’s Mauling Of Norwich City

Remo’s Christmas Package

Remo Stars also made it two wins out of two matches with an impressive 3-0 win over Heartland FC of Owerri. Andy Okpe scored a brace to improve his goals tally to 3 in two matches. It was a beautiful Christmas package for Coach Gbenga Ogunbote and the fans who are so loving the Sky Blue Stars.

Beaming with confidence from Matchday One, the home team showed their intent early in the match. Three minutes into the game, Okpe opened the scoring with a lovely left-foot finish. A minute later, Okpe doubled the lead with a beautiful header. Heartland couldn’t explain what hit them. It was a rush!

The visitors had their moments and tried to get back into the contest but Remo defended the lead so well. In the 72nd minute, Samuel Anakwe sealed a fine performance for the hosts when he scored with a half volley. The win placed Remo Stars on top of the league table with 5 goals from two matches and 6 points.

Rivers United also had a good Christmas package beating Katsina United 3-0. The Pride of Rivers got close to winning on Matchday One but were held to a 1-1 draw at Lobi Stars. On Sunday, they were in control from the beginning till the end of the match.

Rafiu Ishaq scored a brace with Chijioke Akuneto registering one to give the host a comfortable victory. Rivers United are 4th on the log with 4 points.

Boxing Day Love

The number of draws recorded on Sunday in the league confirms that teams were in the boxing day mood.

League champions, Akwa United were held to a 1-1 by the newly-promoted Shooting Stars of Ibadan. Utibe Archibong scored first for the hosts but a late goal Ayo Adejubu spoiled the party for the host as the spoils were shared. An Ibibio man scored for the South West team, while a Yoruba man scored for the South-South team. That’s the power of football!

In Kaduna, Kano Pillars and Lobi Stars played a goalless draw while Nasarawa United and Gombe United played 1-1. This is the second draw result for both teams. Abubakar Abdullahi scored for the Solid Miners in the 48th minute and it stayed that way till the closing minutes of the match when Yusuff Abdulazeez scored the equaliser and spoiled the Christmas party for the hosts.

In another Matchday 2 games played, Dakkada FC bounced back from their opening day defeat to Kwara United to beat MFM FC 2-0. Aniekan Ekpe and Musa Bashiru scored the goals while Mohammed Zulkifilu’s goal gave Plateau United a 1-0 win over Kwara United.

Abia Warriors also recorded their first win of the season with a 1-0 win over Sunshine Stars of Akure while Wikki Tourists got their campaign going with a 1-0 win over newly-promoted Niger Tornadoes.

NPFL 22: Akwa United Spank Kano Pillars To Begin Title Defence

File Picture of Akwa United players celebrating a league win

 

Defending champions of the Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL), Akwa United, have kicked off their title defence campaign with an impressive 3-0 victory over Kano Pillars in Uyo.

Opening day action against a decent Pillars team was the sort of test coach Kennedy Boboye was hoping to use in assessing if his team can continue the brilliant show they put up last season. And, oh yes, the champions showed class.

The first half was a cagey affair and just when the home fans thought there will be no celebration before the break, Ezekiel Bassey, broke the deadlock. The hosts took the lead into the break.

When action resumed, it didn’t take long before Stephen Chukwude opened his goal account for the Promise Keepers with a brilliant finish off Ubong Friday’s low cross.

In the 79th minute, the visitors had a chance to pull one back but Kokoette Udoh’s strike flashed across the face of goal and goes wide. That move reawakened the attacking prowess of the league champions. In the closing minutes of the match, Ubong Friday made a good run onto a long ball, dribbled Bassey Akpan cleverly, and finished calmly.

Good start to the 2021/2022 NPFL season for the Promise Keepers who showed their intent to defend the title they won in style last campaign.

READ ALSOGov. Udom Splashes N100m On Title-Winning Akwa United

Away Wins For Remo Stars, Rangers

MFM and Remo Stars clashed in the opening game of the new season. Photo: Remo Stars

 

Newly-promoted Remo Stars produced a stunning performance to beat MFM FC 2-0 at the Mobolaji Johnson Arena in Lagos. This is the first league win for the Sky Blue Stars over the Olukoya Boys since 2017.

Akanni Qudus gave the visitors the lead in the 55th minute, and Andy Okpe with an easy tap in at goal placed the icing on the cake. New manager, Gbenga Ogunbote, praised his team for not respecting the hosts and wants the team to continue the season-opening form in the next home match against Heartland FC of Owerri.

Enugu Rangers also got their league campaign to a flying start with a 1-2 win over Katsina United. The Flying Antelopes gave new manager, Abdul Maikaba the sort of experience he needed to get things going.

Ossy Martins is still on fire. He continued his impressive league form to score a brace for the visitors. The former Lobi Stars man opened the scoring in the 13th minute, Saliu Mustapha, scored to level up for the hosts. In the 54th minute, Martins scored again to give Rangers a vital away victory.

Shooting stars are making a return to the NPFL.

 

Shooting Stars of Ibadan, also making a return to the top flight held another newcomer, Gombe United to secure a vital away point on the road.

Enyimba Rules Abia Derby

Enyimba Football Club of Aba continued their dominant display in the Abia Derby with a 2-1 win over Abia Warriors.

The Peoples Elephant got the lead through Ekene Awazie’s goal in the 34th minute. Proceedings stayed that way till the second half when Paul Samson equalized for the visitors. Coach Finidi George made some useful changes to take control of the game and in the 77th minute, Chigozie Obasi, scored the winner.

Meanwhile, in Owerri, it was goals galore. Visiting Nasarawa United held Heartland FC to a 3-3 draw. Some familiar names in the goalscorers sheet include Chinedu Ohanachom and a brace by Otegbeyi Ajibola.

In Ilorin, Dakkada FC was no match for last season’s surprise package, Kwara United. Steven Jude’s brace and one from Junior Lokosa sealed a 3-0 win for the Harmony Boys who will be looking forward to repeating their impressive performance from the last campaign.

In Makurdi, Lobi Stars were held to a 1-1 draw by Rivers United, Niger Tornadoes beat Plateau United 1-0 while the game between Sunshine Stars and Wikki Tourists couldn’t hold because the Elephants failed to show up. The League Management Company (LMC) is yet to make an official statement on the situation

Tuchel Blasts Premier League For Putting Chelsea At ‘Huge Risk’ 

Chelsea have drawn their last two games.

 

Thomas Tuchel has criticised the Premier League for putting his coronavirus-hit Chelsea side at “huge risk” by forcing them to play at Wolves on Sunday as leaders Manchester City put Newcastle to the sword.

Chelsea drew 0-0 at Molineux while City eased to a 4-0 away win before Tottenham held 10-man Liverpool to a 2-2 draw, denting the Reds’ title hopes.

But the action on the pitch was overshadowed by Britain’s worsening Covid-19 crisis, with just four games played in total out of 10 originally scheduled.

Premier League clubs will meet on Monday to discuss what action to take over the chaos, with growing questions over the integrity of the competition as the busy festive period looms.

The Athletic reported that clubs would discuss whether to postpone an entire round of fixtures on December 28, 29, and 30 in an attempt to ease the pressure.

Chelsea, who had their request for a postponement rejected, could only field 14 outfield players in their matchday squad on Sunday, with N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, and Trevoh Chalobah all featuring despite struggling for match fitness.

“We were put in a huge risk of health and safety to the players, not just because of Covid but also physically,” said an angry Tuchel, whose side mustered just one shot on target.

Tuchel, whose stuttering team are now six points behind leaders City, said he did not know what would happen with Chelsea’s fixtures against Brentford in the League Cup and Aston Villa in the coming week.

“I’ve got no idea what happens now,” he said. “We had an idea (on Saturday evening) what’s going to happen, but then that didn’t happen.”

READ ALSO: Why Is FIFA Proposing A Biennial World Cup? 

Newcastle Calamity

Manchester City’s English midfielder Raheem Sterling (2nd R) celebrates with teammates after scoring their fourth goal during the English Premier League football match between Newcastle United and Manchester City at St James’ Park in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, north east England on December 19, 2021. Oli SCARFF / AFP

 

Defending champions City crushed relegation-threatened Newcastle to confirm their position at the top of the table at Christmas.

Eddie Howe’s side shot themselves in the foot in just the fifth minute, when Ciaran Clark inexplicably chose not to make a simple-headed clearance and Ruben Dias nodded the loose ball into the net.

Newcastle briefly rallied but City silenced St James’ Park shortly before the half-hour when Joao Cancelo smashed a right-footed shot past Martin Dubravka from the edge of the area.

City maintained their firm grip in the second half, with Riyad Mahrez and Raheem Sterling on the scoresheet to ensure an eighth consecutive league win.

It was City’s 34th league victory of 2021, establishing a new record for the most top-flight wins by a team in a calendar year.

They finished the weekend three points clear of second-placed Liverpool.

Liverpool’s preparations for their visit to Spurs were hit after midfielder Thiago Alcantara became the latest of Jurgen Klopp’s players to return a suspected positive test for Covid.

Harry Kane gave Spurs an early lead and was then fortunate to escape a red card for a two-footed tackle on Andy Robertson.

Diogo Jota equalised in the 35th minute against the wasteful hosts and Robertson stooped to head Liverpool into the lead midway through the second half.

Tottenham were level five minutes later when Son Heung-Min made the most of a failed effort by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker to clear, steering the ball into an empty net.

Moments later Robertson was sent off for a wild tackle on Emerson Royal following a VAR review but Liverpool held on to earn a point.

Klopp said it was impossible to continue as normal in the current situation, flagging the impossibility of his side playing league games on December 26 and 28 as scheduled.

“There’s a big thing that we all have to talk about, can we carry on or not?” he told Sky Sports. “But if we carry on we cannot just carry on like usual and think ‘let’s have a look at who can play and who cannot play’.”

“It’s maybe not fair if some teams lose players and other teams don’t lose players,” Klopp added. “It’s a bit of a lottery. We try everything we can but then you have to be lucky.”

AFP

NWFL: Rivers Angels Beat FC Robo To Record First League Win

Rivers Angels are seven-time NWFL champions. Photo: [email protected]

 

Rivers Angels defeated FC Robo Queens 1-0 on Wednesday to record their first win in this season’s Nigeria Women’s Football League (NFWL). 

FC Robo began the game on a good note with Opeyemi Ajakaye hitting the woodwork in the first ten minutes.

But it was Oghenebrume Ikekhua who scored from close range in the 15th minute of the encounter at the University of Port Harcourt Sports Complex to hand the Jewel of Rivers the lead.

As the Lagos-based outfit pressed for a leveller, Ndubuisi Esther almost doubled the lead for Rivers United. Her setpiece, however, hit the post in the 67th minute.

READ ALSO: [NWFL] We Can’t Afford To Slip, Coach Tasks Rivers Angels Ahead Of Robo Queens Match

‘A Tough Fight’

Wednesday’s win means Rivers Angels, defending champions of the NWFL, are on four points from two games. Over the weekend, they were held to a barren draw by Delta Queens in Asaba, the capital of the oil-rich state.

Edwin Okon’s side will now travel to Warri where they face Royal Queens in their next NWFL match.

Before the encounter, the coach had said his girls were battle-ready for the tie, even though he conceded it would not be an easy game.

“I’m expecting a tough fight from Robo Queens tomorrow [Wednesday] because they have a very young side but notwithstanding, victory will be ours,” he said on Tuesday.

“This season will be quite an interesting one because of the opportunity to qualify for the continental showpiece next year so one cannot afford to slip at all.

“I’m looking forward to a good game come tomorrow and hope the odds will favour us.”

In other games played on Wednesday, Bayelsa Queens and Delta Queens shared the spoils in a south-south derby with goals from Grace Henry and Mercy Itimi.

Nasarawa Amazons, away from home, walloped Pelican Stars 3-0 just as Abia Angels and Royal Queens’ encounter ended in a goalless draw.

There was also another barren draw in Matchday 2 of the NWFL. This was the game between Edo Queens and Naija Ratels.

Osun Babes, however, lost one nil to Confluence Queens.

Volleyball: Kwara United, Kada Kings Emerge Champions Of Division One League

Trophy presentation to Kada Kings, champions of the men’s division one league at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja.

 

Kada Kings from Kaduna state and Kwara United VC  have emerged champions of the category of the National Volleyball Division One League.

The 2021 National Division 1 League played at the indoor of the package B of the Moshood Abiola National Stadium in Abuja came to a thrilling conclusion with Kwara United ending the unbeaten run of Kada Kings.

A total of 10 teams are participating in the league, eight male teams and two female teams.

READ ALSO: Ballon d’Or: Evra Congratulates Messi Ahead 2021 Award Ceremony

The men’s team include Kada Kings of Kaduna, Wikki Spikers of Bauchi, Kwara United, ABM of Kastina, Oluyole Spikers of Oyo, Spartans Spikers of Yola, Caliphate Spikers of Sokoto and Equity Spikers of Kebbi.

The Kaduna based team lost 2-3 (25-13, 26-24, 21-25, 21-25, 13-15).

Head Coach of Kada Kings, David Jonathan said his players got distracted after winning the two first sets.

“Kudos to Kwara United the really fought well to win the game, this is the only one match we lost in the league with that we are still the winner,” he said.

“My boys did well in all their matches, now we need to start preparing for the premier league immediately.”

Meanwhile, the coach of Kwara United VC, Adewale Gbadamosi is proud with his team’s performance and relishing the victory.

“People have been calling Kada Kings unbearable so we wanted to prove them wrong by defeating them which is what we did.

“My boys were determined to win this match and they did. We camp for one month training morning and evening; my players were fit for the league.

“We will go back home and fortify the team with two to three players ahead of the premier league next year,” Gbadamosi said.

In the female category, only two teams feature Zamfara Queens and Kwara United VC babes. Kwara United defeated Zamfara Babes 3-0 (25-17 25-20 25-23) to emerge champions.

Kada Kings finished tops with total of 40 , Kwara United finished second total of 33points, Wikki Spikers of Bauchi finished third with 31 points while Sparkans VC of Yola fourth with 27 points.

‘It’s Not Simple’: Conte Says He Is No Magician After Mura Loss

File photo: Tottenham Hotspur’s Italian head coach Antonio Conte gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Leeds United at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on November 21, 2021. Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Tottenham manager Antonio Conte said he has quickly realised the level of his squad is “not so high” after an embarrassing  2-1 loss to Slovenian minnows NS Mura in the Europa Conference League.

Spurs will now likely have to beat Rennes at home in their final group game to avoid crashing out of Europe’s third-tier competition.

And they can no longer catch Rennes at the top of the group meaning they would progress to the last 32, while the group winners are parachuted into the last 16.

Harry Kane started as one of just two players to be retained by Conte from Sunday’s 2-1 win over Leeds in the Premier League, which had appeared to launch Conte’s reign.

READ ALSO: Ronaldo Fires Manchester United Into Champions League Last 16

However, the Italian was given an early lesson into the strength of his squad with an embarrassing night in Maribor against a club founded just nine years ago.

“After three weeks I am starting to understand the situation. It is not simple,” said Conte. “At this moment the level at Tottenham is not so high.

“I must be honest and tell you that after three-and-a-half weeks, I am starting to understand the situation. I can tell you that the situation is not simple.”

Conte has won a league title at each of his previous three clubs during spells at Juventus, Chelsea and Inter Milan.

His arrival has sparked hopes of a return to the Champions League next season via a top-four finish in the Premier League.

But he warned he will need time to lift standards around the club.

“Someone (might) think that a new coach arrives and Conte won in the past and then I am a magician. But the only magic I can do is to work,” he added.

“To bring work and work to improve, to bring my methods, my ideas of football. But we have to understand that we need time.”

Tomi Horvat put the hosts into a shock lead before Ryan Sessegnon’s red card left Tottenham a man down for the final hour.

Kane restored parity 18 minutes from time, but even the introduction of five first-team regulars off the bench in the second half could not prevent Amadej Marosa’s stunning stoppage time winner.

AFP

Solskjaer Under Fresh Pressure As Norwich Fire Farke

File photo:  Manchester United’s Norwegian manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer gestures on the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford in Manchester, north west England, on October 24, 2021. (Photo by Oli SCARFF / AFP) /

 

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is under renewed pressure after Manchester United were outclassed 2-0 by Manchester City on Saturday as Norwich sacked manager Daniel Farke despite their first Premier League win of the season.

Struggling Burnley struck late to draw 1-1 at Chelsea while Eddie Howe watched a 1-1 draw from the stands in Brighton as Newcastle edged closer to appointing a new boss.

Two weeks after their embarrassing 5-0 humiliation at the hands of Liverpool, United were again palpably second best in a limp display at Old Trafford.

Eric Bailly’s own goal and Bernardo Silva’s strike on the stroke of half-time proved the difference but goalkeeper David de Gea made a string of saves to prevent another drubbing.

United have won just one of their past six Premier League games, giving Solskjaer — and club bosses — plenty to ponder during the international break.

Last week’s 3-0 win at Tottenham gave Solskjaer hope his team had turned the corner and a late Cristiano Ronaldo goal earned them a valuable Champions League point against Atalanta in midweek.

The Norwegian admitted his men, who finished second behind City in the Premier League table last season, were well below par.

But despite the string of poor results, he said he did not feel he was on borrowed time at the club, trophyless since 2017.

“I have good communication all the time with the club and that’s very upfront and honest about the situation,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

“I work for Man United and I want the best for Man United and of course as long as I’m here I want to do what I can to improve this.”

City deservedly took the lead in the seventh minute when Bailly sliced Joao Cancelo’s cross into his own net.

De Gea kept the marauding City attackers at bay but was at fault for their second when Silva stretched a leg to meet Cancelo’s cross and the United stopper allowed the ball to squirm into his own net.

City boss Pep Guardiola praised his team after the win, which lifted them above Liverpool to second in the table and to within three points of Chelsea.

“The best way to silence Old Trafford is to have the ball with a lot of passes and attack the box in the right moments and we did that,” he said. “We played a really good game.”

READ ALSO: Barca Blow Away Three-Goal Lead Against Celta Vigo

Farke Fired 

Norwich sacked Farke just hours after they beat Brentford 2-1 to register their first three points of the season following their return to the Premier League.

“We feel that now is the right time for a change to give ourselves the best opportunity of retaining our Premier League status,” sporting director Stuart Webber said in a statement.

Farke — the fourth top-flight managerial casualty this season — gave no indication of his fate when speaking after Saturday’s win, hailing the “spirit and belief in this dressing room”.

On the pitch, Chelsea were frustrated as Matej Vydra’s late equaliser ended the European champions’ four-match winning run despite 25 shots from the home side.

The Blues led through Kai Havertz’s first-half header and were 11 minutes away from moving five points clear at the top before Vydra stabbed home from close range.

“Of course I’m disappointed,” said Chelsea boss Thomas Tuchel. “If we played this game 100 times, we’d win 99 times. Today we didn’t win it.

“The second goal would have decided it. It’s always possible you miss one ball, one cross, and this can happen.”

Newcastle, who edged back above Norwich after their draw at Brighton in the late kick-off, are understood to have agreed a deal in principle with former Bournemouth manager Howe to take over at St James’ Park, more than two weeks after Steve Bruce’s exit following a Saudi-led takeover.

But despite the enormous resources at his disposal, Howe faces a huge task just to keep the northeast club in the English top flight.

Crystal Palace are up to ninth after Wilfried Zaha and Conor Gallagher scored in a 2-0 win over Wolves.

AFP

Barca Blow Away Three-Goal Lead Against Celta Vigo


Celta Vigo’s Spanish forward Iago Aspas (C) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match between RC Celta de Vigo and FC Barcelona at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo on November 6, 2021. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

Barcelona threw away a three-goal half-time lead on the day Xavi Hernandez was appointed coach as Celta Vigo scored in the 96th minute to complete a stunning comeback in La Liga on Saturday.

Another deflating result for Barca was made worse by another injury for Ansu Fati, who gave his team an early lead and then had go off with a hamstring problem.

Goals from Sergio Busquets and Memphis Depay had Barcelona 3-0 in front after 34 minutes but Celta came back, Iago Aspas scoring twice either side of one from Nolito to seal a 3-3 draw.

Aspas’ equaliser, with a brilliant shot from the edge of the area, came with 95 minutes and 34 seconds on the clock and left the Barcelona players crumpled on the floor.

It is now Xavi’s job to pick them up, with the team’s new coach watching from Barcelona, where he had landed around three hours before kick-off.

The 41-year-old had flown from Doha following confirmation of his sensational return to the club in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Barcelona’s chaotic defending and inability to manage a game when they looked in charge, will have come as little surprise to Xavi but Fati’s hamstring injury will be a concern, especially with a crunch Champions League game against Benfica to come on November 23, shortly after the international break.

Eric Garcia was also forced off with a calf strain while Nico Gonzalez appeared to be in discomfort when he was substituted before the hour.

Fati’s absence for any length of time would be a blow for Barca, and also for Spain, who will be without the 19-year-old for crucial World Cup qualifiers against Greece and Sweden next week.

It all started so well for Fati and Barca, who took the lead in the fifth minute with a goal out of nothing, Fati drifted in from the left and squared up Celta right-back Hugo Mallo.

Fati shaped to go left towards the line and then came back onto his right, bending a shot into the far corner.

Three minutes later it was two. Nico bustled down the left and picked out Busquets, who shifted across the edge of the penalty area and planted a shot inside the post.

When Depay headed in Jordi Alba’s cross at the near post, Barcelona looked home and dry but then Fati dropped to the ground and Garcia was replaced at half-time by Ronald Araujo.

Celta Vigo’s Spanish forward Iago Aspas (2ndR) celebrates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match between RC Celta de Vigo and FC Barcelona at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo on November 6, 2021. MIGUEL RIOPA / AFP

 

Celta were transformed after the break, with Thiago Galhardo finding the net after an Aspas ball through, only to be ruled offside, before Aspas did pull one back moments later.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen should have held Franco Cervi’s cross and after he spilled it, Araujo should have cleared. Instead he scooped the ball straight to Aspas, who finished.

Again, Celta had a goal ruled out as Nolito was adjudged to have controlled with his hand before cushioning a shot into the corner but again, Celta were undeterred.

When Busquets was dispossessed, Cervi crossed and Nolito headed in.

Celta had 16 minutes to find an equaliser and then five minutes of injury-time, but it was in the sixth when Aspas finally struck.

Javier Galan teed him up from the left but Aspas still had a lot to do, wrapping his left foot around the ball to whip it right, past the hand of Ter Stegen and in.

AFP

 

French League To Take Six-Week Break For 2022 World Cup

French Ligue 1

 

The French top-flight will have a six-week break across November and December next season for the 2022 World Cup in Qatar, the league announced on Wednesday.

The 2022/23 Ligue 1 campaign kicks off the weekend of August 6 and will be paused during the World Cup, stopping on November 13 and resuming on December 28.

Next year’s tournament, which runs from November 21 to December 18, will be the first not to be held in May, June or July due to Qatar’s intense summer heat.

Players are due to be released by their clubs for international duty on November 14, a week before the opening game of the World Cup.

READ ALSO: UEFA Seeks Candidates To Host Euro-2028

The French season will conclude June 4, two weeks later than the end date for the current campaign.

The league in June voted to decrease the number of clubs in Ligue 1 from 20 to 18 from the 2023-24 season.

Four clubs will be relegated from the top division at the end of the 2022-23 season, with just two promoted from Ligue 2.

AFP

COVID-19: Nigeria Women Football League Postpone Week Five Games

Logo of the Nigeria Women Football League (NWFL).

 

The board of the Nigeria Women Football League have announced the postponement of Week five matches to attend to the issue of collation and validation of COVID-19 test being conducted by the premiership clubs.

The NWFL secretariat confirmed that the clubs have failed to meet up with the directives on COVID-19 test for players and team officials.

“The NWFL do not want to take the risk with any of the clubs going by the fresh wave of increased Covid-19 infections due to the new variants of the deadly disease which have left more people dead in Nigeria than before,” Chairperson of the NWFL, Aisha Falode said on Monday

“We are currently verifying and validating results sent in by some of the 14 clubs not up to half of the clubs in the league.

“We are also going to verify the authenticity of the test centres sent in by the clubs from the Federal Ministry of Health and the relevant state’s Ministry of Health, going by the reports that some clubs are going to unapproved centres to conduct the test.

“Tests from unapproved centres will be rejected after verification and the clubs involved suspended from the league.

“The postponement of the league by one week is due to the tasking process of collation and validation. Because of this, the board of the NWFL found imperative to postpone the Week 5 matches to allow the Secretariat to complete their job on the ongoing Covid-19 test on clubs concerned.”

Falode said that the board has given enough time to the clubs to complete the test and send results with proof (pictures) from government-approved test centres, to the Secretariat by mail and hard copies (original) on or before Friday 15th January 2021.

Falode, who is also a board member of the Nigeria Football Federation, declared that any club found wanting at the end of the exercise will be suspended from the league indefinitely. And the NWFL may have to take over the testing of all the clubs to avoid any of the clubs putting the league into disrepute.

The postponed Week 5 matches will be played on Wednesday, January 20, 2021.

Bayern Munich Told To Start League Season Behind Closed Doors

Bayern Munich's Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies (4thR) celebrates scoring his team's fourth goal with teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt on May 23, 2020 in Munich, southern Germany. ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP
Bayern Munich’s Canadian midfielder Alphonso Davies (4thR) celebrates scoring his team’s fourth goal with teammates during the German first division Bundesliga football match between FC Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt on May 23, 2020 in Munich, southern Germany.
ANDREAS GEBERT / POOL / AFP

 

Bayern Munich must kick off the new Bundesliga season behind closed doors because of a rising coronavirus infection rate in the Bavarian capital, city officials said on Thursday.

The decision puts an end the European champions’ plans to allow 7,500 fans into the Allianz Arena to watch Friday’s opening game at home to Schalke.

“It would be the wrong signal to let spectators into sports stadiums against the background of the current figures,” said Munich mayor Dieter Reiter.

Germany’s politicians have given Bundesliga clubs the green light to allow the partial return of fans into stadiums, providing the rate of infection in each region remains below 35 per 100,000 inhabitants.

However, the figure for Munich was revised to 47.6 per 100,000 on Thursday.

While the defending champions must kick off without fans, set numbers of spectators are expected to attend other Bundesliga matches on the opening weekend of the league season.

Reiter said he could understand the frustration of the club and Bayern’s fans, but “for me, this high number means that we at least have to think about much more drastic restrictions in public life.

“I can’t let thousands of fans into the stadiums at the same time.”

Bayern head coach Hansi Flick accepted the news as they start their quest to win their ninth Bundesliga title in a row.

“I’ve always said I’m in favour of keeping an eye on things,” Flick told reporters on Thursday.

“We have to protect ourselves and make the best of the situation.

“You have to take the numbers into account. These are things that I can’t do anything about, we have to be prepared for them.”

AFP