Liverpool’s Van Dijk Escapes Penalty Pain In City Draw

Manchester City’s German midfielder Leroy Sane (L), Manchester City’s Algerian midfielder Riyad Mahrez (2L), Manchester City’s Portuguese midfielder Bernardo Silva (3L) and Manchester City’s Brazilian striker Gabriel Jesus (4L) talk as English referee Martin Atkinson (C) talks with Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk and awards Manchester City a penalty during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and Manchester City at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 7, 2018. Paul ELLIS / AFP

 

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk was a relieved man after giving away a late penalty that Riyad Mahrez missed in a goalless draw with title rivals Manchester City on Sunday.

City, the reigning Premier League champions, were given a gilt-edged chance to leave Anfield with a win for the first time since 2003 when Van Dijk brought down Leroy Sane inside the box five minutes from time.

But Mahrez, City’s club-record signing, blasted high over the bar with regular penalty-taker Sergio Aguero having already been substituted by Pep Guardiola.

“It is not smart to dive in there,” Van Dijk told Sky Sports.

“It was a penalty and it shouldn’t have happened, but I’m very happy we didn’t concede.”

Unlike some players, he added he had watched the penalty.

“I watched it because I wanted to get the rebound if he missed it,” Van Dijk explained.

“They did well, as did we, up until the penalty moment.

“We were unlucky not to score, and lucky not to concede as well, so I think we cancelled each other out. It was a tough game against the champions and I’m happy we kept the clean sheet,” he added.

Mahrez has now missed five of his last eight Premier League penalties, four for Leicester, from where he signed for £60 million ($78.7 million), and one for City.

But City defender John Stones defended the decision to let him take the high-pressure spot-kick by saying: “It is one of those things in football.

“Riyad Mahrez was taking them really well in training all week, but it happens and we have to move on.”

AFCON 2015: We Will Win This For Ghana – Ayew

ayewAhead of the Africa Cup of Nations AFCON 2015 final match that is to hold at the Bata Stadium on Sunday, the Ghanaian team are optimistic of the outcome.

Andre Ayew, the Ghanaian forward has vowed that the Ghanaian team will fight to win Sunday’s AFCON final match against Cote d’Ivore for the whole of Ghana.

The Ghanaian forward has shone in this competition, scoring three goals but he insisted it was the result of the confidence he has enjoyed both from his teammates and the coach.

“I have tried to raise my game because I have been given responsibilities both on and off the pitch. It is due to the group and the confidence from the coach,” he said.

He also blamed inexperience for the Black Stars loss at the 2010 AFCON final to Egypt saying that 14 players had been brought from the U20 World Cup and the team was in the final after three months of the tournament where they were attacking, but couldn’t score.

Ayew said, “I remember the red coat my father wore (sitting on the sidelines in the 1992 final). My father is a Ghanaian and so I want to win this cup for all Ghanaians.”

Ghana last won this competition in 1982 with Andre’s father, the legendary Abedi ‘Pele’ Ayew, one of the top stars from that triumph in Libya.

Ten years later, Ayew senior could not play another Africa Cup final after he picked up a second yellow card against Nigeria in the semi-final and Cote d’Ivoire went ahead to beat the Black Stars 11-10 on penalties after a goalless 120 minutes of action. “When you get to the final, you need to do everything to win the trophy,” he said.

Ghanaian Black Stars Captain, Asamoah Gyan, returned to training in Bata on Saturday ahead of the AFCON 2015 final against Ivory Coast.

Gyan did not join his colleagues during the team work out, but trained separately with physical trainer Jamie Lawrence due to his health status.

Gyan must pass a late fitness test to make Avram Grant’s starting line-up for the final against Ivory Coast.

The 29-year-old missed Ghana’s AFCON 2015 semi-final against Equatorial Guinea due to a hip injury he suffered against Guinea last Sunday.

Avram Grant, the black star coach also said that reaching the final of the AFCON tournament is as important to him as reaching the UEFA Champions league final.

“For me, I do not rate any final as the best; it’s a good achievement we have reached with these guys and all Ghanaian should get behind the team,” he said.

The former Chelsea boss took charge of the West African giants three weeks to CAF’s flagship competition, but has managed to reach the final of the competition.

Barcelona spoiling for triumphs this season – Messi

Argentine forward and Barcelona ace player Lionel Messi has credited his club the Spanish giants on their readiness on the challenge of competing on all the tournaments this season.

Barca appeared on course to retain both their league and Champions League triumphs as last season drew to a close.

But they were knocked out of Europe’s premier club competition by Chelsea in the semi-finals and lost their domestic crown to Real Madrid.

He admitted that as always, he would have loved to win the champions league last season and every other tournaments as it has been their trademark for a while now.

He said further that not beating Chelsea who were crowned the new European Champions last season and playing the final was painful for Barcelona and the most painful for him was the penalty he missed but all that is behind now because Barcelona will be going all out for laurels again for they are very prepared.

The Argentine said although new coach Tito Vilanova had a different personality to previous boss Pep Guardiola, his approach to football is the same.