Saka And Bellingham Sparkle As Ruthless England Crush Iran

England’s forward #17 Bukayo Saka (C) celebrates with teammates after he scored during the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group B football match between England and Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on November 21, 2022. (Photo by Fadel Senna / AFP)

 

England made a scintillating start to their World Cup campaign as Bukayo Saka and Jude Bellingham inspired a 6-2 rout of outclassed Iran in Monday’s Group B opener in Doha.

Saka and Bellingham were England’s driving forces with dynamic displays that underlined their emergence as two of the game’s brightest young stars.

Bellingham, 19, shattered Iran’s hopes of frustrating England when he rose to head his maiden senior international goal in the first half.

Gareth Southgate’s side were in sparkling form at the Khalifa International Stadium and goals from Saka and Raheem Sterling put them in complete control before half-time.

Saka, 21, netted again after the interval and, although Mehdi Taremi struck twice for Iran, Marcus Rashford and Jack Grealish completed the demolition.

There will be far sterner tests to come for England as they bid to win their first major trophy since the 1966 World Cup.

But this was a welcome step in the right direction for Southgate, whose team arrived in Qatar on a six-match winless run that triggered scathing criticism of the Three Lions boss and his perceived negative tactics.

The only concern for Southgate was the sight of Harry Maguire being replaced in the second half after being checked for a potential head injury.

England play their second match against the United States on Friday and conclude their Group B fixtures against Wales on November 29.

Just hours before kick-off, England revealed captain Harry Kane would not wear a rainbow-themed ‘One Love’ armband after the Football Association and several other European countries dropped their campaign in support of LGBTQ rights.

Because the armband was not a FIFA-approved piece of kit, it was reported any player wearing it would be booked — a risk England were apparently unwilling to take.

The match also took place against the background of turmoil in Iran after months of female-led demonstrations sparked by the death in custody of Mahsa Amini, a 22-year-old woman of Kurdish origin who was arrested by the morality police in Tehran.

Iran’s players refused to sing their national anthem in apparent support for anti-government protesters.

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Sublime Saka 

Having reached the World Cup semi-finals in 2018 before losing to Italy in the Euro 2020 final, England are desperate to take the last step to silverware in Doha.

Southgate had urged his team “play on the front foot” and they responded in style, after initially finding their rhythm disrupted by a long delay when Iran goalkeeper Alireza Beiranvand smashed into team-mate Majid Hosseini.

Despite being in no state to continue amid fears of a concussion, the bloodied Beiranvand played on before finally being substituted.

England eventually penned Iran deep inside their own half and Bellingham delivered in the 35th minute.

Sterling found Luke Shaw on the left flank and his cross was perfectly weighted for Bellingham, who looped a fine header into the far corner.

Playing for Birmingham in the Championship just two years ago, the Borussia Dortmund star’s goal made him England’s second youngest scorer at a World Cup behind Michael Owen.

Eight minutes later another of England’s gifted prodigies doubled the lead.

Maguire headed down a corner and Arsenal forward Saka swivelled to lash a superb left-foot finish into the top corner.

Sterling put the result beyond doubt with his first goal at a World Cup in first-half stoppage time.

Bellingham fed Kane, whose pin-point cross was volleyed home by Sterling with the outside of his boot.

Saka made it four in the 62nd minute when he shuffled across the Iran area before stroking his shot past Hossein Hosseini.

Taremi fired into the roof of the net to reduce the deficit three minutes later.

Rashford’s cool finish in the 71st minute, 49 seconds after he came on, was followed by Grealish’s 90th-minute tap-in.

Taremi struck from the penalty spot with the last kick of the game after a shirt pull by John Stones, but the margin of victory reflected England’s total dominance.

AFP

Saka’s Strike Gives Lucky Arsenal Precious Win Against Leeds

Arsenal’s English midfielder Bukayo Saka celebrates after scoring the opening goal of the English Premier League football match between Leeds United and Arsenal at Elland Road in Leeds, northern England on October 16, 2022. (Photo by Lindsey Parnaby / AFP)

 

Arsenal shaded an entertaining first half at Elland Road and grabbed all three points following Bukayo Saka’s fourth league goal of the season.

The goal came in the 35th-minute lead following Rodrigo’s wayward pass. Martin Odegaard slipped Saka in on the right edge of the area and the England winger slammed the ball into the roof of the net.

Play was earlier halted by referee Kavanagh over the communication issues less than four minutes after kick-off. Leeds officials confirmed that a power cut at the stadium had caused the problem.

Leeds missed the chance to equalise in the 64th minute when Patrick Bamford dragged his penalty wide.

Manchester United ‘Improved’ Despite Loss To Arsenal – Rangnick


Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes misses a penalty kick during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 23, 2022. Ian Kington / IKIMAGES / AFP

 

Ralf Rangnick believes Manchester United have improved despite the loss to Arsenal. He also thinks his team were unlucky against the Gunners on Saturday.

“Improved performance but poor result, I think we created enough chances to score more than that one goal, we bounced back well to that early goal that we conceded where again we didn’t defend well inside and around our own box,” he said after the defeat at the Emirates.

“This was the only negative issue regarding today’s game but after coming back from 2-0 down we had numerous chances, the penalty, the crossbar, we hit the post twice, and a few VAR decisions and that’s putting it in an extremely mild way, we were unlucky. That’s why we are very disappointed about the result but our overall performances were much better.”

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Rangnick also admitted Manchester United’s hopes of Champions League football next season are over after the 3-1 loss

Nuno Tavares, Bukayo Saka, and Granit Xhaka struck for Mikel Arteta’s men to move them three points clear of Tottenham, who face Brentford later on Saturday.

Sixth-placed United are six points adrift of the top four and could miss out on European football completely for only the second time since 1990.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 22nd goal of the season on his return to the United side after missing Tuesday’s 4-0 thrashing at Liverpool due to the death of his newborn son.

However, Ronaldo will regret letting Bruno Fernandes take a second-half penalty with the game finely poised at 2-1 to the Gunners.

“For me, even before that game it was not very likely, but after today’s result the top four is gone,” said United interim boss Rangnick.

The German described his side’s display at Anfield as “humiliating” and “embarrassing”.

United reacted to that defeat by formalising the appointment of Ajax boss Erik ten Hag as the man to take charge at Old Trafford from next season.

However, the Dutchman will not have been impressed by another shambolic start from the side he will inherit.

It took just two minutes for the visitors’ defence to be breached as David de Gea’s fine save from Saka’s initial effort counted for nothing as Tavares swept home the rebound.

Support For Ronaldo 

Manchester United’s Portuguese striker Cristiano Ronaldo looks on during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Manchester United at the Emirates Stadium in London on April 23, 2022. (Photo by Glyn KIRK / AFP) / RESTRICTED TO EDITORIAL USE. 

 

There was another show of support for Ronaldo as just as at Anfield in midweek the entire stadium applauded during the seventh minute.

On the field, the Portuguese was receiving little help from his teammates.

De Gea stood up well to parry a piledriver from Eddie Nketiah from close range.

Seconds later, Nketiah found the net from another one-on-one.

A VAR review found the England under-21 international offside, but Saka was fouled by Alex Telles as he played the ball into Nketiah’s path.

Saka took responsibility to send De Gea the wrong way from the penalty spot to double Arsenal’s lead.

Ronaldo hit back within two minutes as he swept home Nemanja Matic’s cross for his 100th Premier League goal.

Arsenal’s nerves began to show and United should have been at least level by the time Xhaka fired home the final blow.

Tavares needlessly handled a corner into the Arsenal box on the hour.

Ronaldo stood aside to let Fernandes take the penalty, but his compatriot rolled the ball onto the post.

“Goals change games,” said United midfielder Scott McTominay.

“There is a whole load of problems, but we have to have pride when you go onto the pitch. Go home and take a look at yourself in the mirror. The last four games are about pride for us.”

Ronaldo had another instinctive finish ruled out for offside before he teed up Diogo Dalot’s shot which was turned onto the post by Aaron Ramsdale.

Arsenal had lost three consecutive games prior to a much-needed 4-2 win at Chelsea in midweek that revived their top-four ambitions.

The relief around the Emirates was palpable when Xhaka restored the two-goal cushion with a powerful shot that flew past De Gea from 25 yards.

“You can’t expect to win every match as that is only afforded to one or two teams in the league,” said Arteta.

“We have to earn our right to win games and need a bit of luck, and today we had it.”

AFP

EPL: Saka Stars In Ruthless Arsenal’s Mauling Of Norwich City


Arsenal’s English midfielder Bukayo Saka (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Norwich City and Arsenal at Carrow Road Stadium in Norwich, eastern England, on December 26, 2021. Lindsey Parnaby / AFP

 

Arsenal consolidated their position in fourth with a routine 5-0 win at rock bottom Norwich.

Goals from Bukayo Saka and Kieran Tierney put the result beyond much doubt before half-time.

Saka added a second before Alexandre Lacazette’s penalty and substitute Emile Smith Rowe rounded off a fifth consecutive win for Mikel Arteta’s men.

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Spurs Cruise


Tottenham Hotspur’s South Korean striker Son Heung-Min (L) celebrates with teammates after scoring their third goal during the English Premier League football match between Tottenham Hotspur and Crystal Palace at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in London, on December 26, 2021.
Adrian DENNIS / AFP

 

Spurs moved up to fifth, six points behind their north London rivals but with three games in hand, after easing past a depleted Crystal Palace.

Palace’s request for the game to be postponed was dismissed by the Premier League despite a coronavirus outbreak that left them without manager Patrick Vieira.

The Eagles were still able to field a strong side that featured just one change from their previous outing.

However, a rejuvenated Spurs under Antonio Conte never looked back after scoring twice in two minutes just after the half hour.

Harry Kane swept home just his third Premier League goal of the season before Lucas Moura powered in a header.

Palace’s task was made even tougher when Wilfried Zaha was stupidly sent-off for two bookable offences before half-time.

Son Heung-min added a third 16 minutes from time.

West Ham’s bid for the top four is falling apart fast as they were beaten 3-2 at home by Southampton.

The Saints led three times through Mohamed Elyounoussi, James Ward-Prowse and Jan Bednarek and held out to move nine points clear of the bottom three.

Chelsea badly need to end a poor run of one win in four league games when they visit Aston Villa, who will be without manager Steven Gerrard due to a positive Covid test.

The Blues are now nine points off City and just three clear of Arsenal.

Villa’s next match against Leeds, scheduled for December 28, was also called off on Sunday taking the total number of Premier League games postponed over the past two weeks to 14.

No restrictions have yet been put in place for the size of crowds at matches in England, although supporters do have to provide proof of vaccination or a negative test taken in the previous 48 hours.

Sport in Wales will be forced back behind closed doors from today, while in Scotland a restriction of 500 outdoor public events has seen Scottish Premiership clubs bring forward their winter break by a week after Sunday’s fixtures.

Arsenal’s Saka Makes England Debut As Three Lions Wallop Wales

Wales’ defender Connor Roberts (L) tackles England’s defender Bukayo Saka during the international friendly football match between England and Wales at Wembley stadium in north London on October 8, 2020. Nick Potts / POOL / AFP

 

In-form Everton striker Dominic Calvert-Lewin scored on his England debut as Gareth Southgate’s experimental side beat Wales 3-0 in Thursday’s friendly.

Calvert-Lewin opened the scoring at Wembley with his 10th goal this season after netting nine times in six games for Everton.

The 23-year-old’s first-half strike was followed by another maiden England goal as Wolves defender Conor Coady struck after the interval.

On his first England start, Southampton striker Danny Ings got the third goal — his first for his country — with a fine overhead kick.

With Tammy Abraham, Ben Chilwell and Jadon Sancho missing following their Covid-19 breach and a squad packed with players who have already featured heavily for their clubs, Southgate turned to his understudies before England’s Nations League matches against Belgium on Sunday and Denmark on Wednesday.

 

England’s defender Conor Coady (R) scores their second goal during the international friendly football match between England and Wales at Wembley stadium in north London on October 8, 2020.  England won the game 3-0.  Glyn KIRK / POOL / AFP

 

It was an encouraging display for the England manager as the least experienced Three Lions team in 44 years, with a total of 54 caps, gave him some food for thought.

Aston Villa playmaker Jack Grealish provided the assist for Calvert-Lewin’s goal and was a lively presence in his first England start.

Arsenal teenager Bukayo Saka lined up at left wing-back and the debutant gradually grew into the game, while Nick Pope replaced error-prone Jordan Pickford in goal and produced a composed display.

Wales, without Gareth Bale and Aaron Ramsey, were beaten for the first time in nine games dating back to June 2019.

They remain without a win over England since 1984, but boss Ryan Giggs had one eye on their Nations League games against the Republic of Ireland and Bulgaria.

– Phoney war –
In their first meeting since England beat Wales at Euro 2016, the visitors should have taken an early lead when Saka’s weak headed clearance fell to Kieffer Moore, who scuffed his shot wide from 12 yards.

It was England’s first game at Wembley in 11 months because of the coronavirus pandemic and the sterile behind closed doors atmosphere meant the ‘Battle of Britain’ felt more like a phoney war at times.

Calvert-Lewin raised the tempo when he got behind the Wales defence and rounded keeper Wayne Hennessey, only to see his shot cleared.

It was a warning that Wales failed to heed and Calvert-Lewin extended his hot streak in the 26th minute.

Grealish cleverly worked a yard of space to loft a fine cross into the six-yard box, where Calvert-Lewin timed his run to evade the flat-footed Chris Mepham and head past Hennessey.

Moore had a chance to equalise when he barged his way through England’s defence, but Nick Pope charged off his line to save at the Wales striker’s feet.

Set up by Southgate with three centre-back and two holding midfielders in Kalvin Phillips and Harry Winks, England were too conservative in the first half — a criticism that was labelled at them in their goalless draw with Denmark in September.

They were much improved after the break and Wales couldn’t cope.

In the absence of the rested Harry Kane, Kieran Trippier was serving as the ninth different England captain under Southgate and the Atletico Madrid defender celebrated the honour by setting up the second goal in the 53rd minute.

Trippier swung his free-kick to the far post and Coady arrived to guide a half-volley past Hennessey from close-range.

Ings put the result beyond doubt in the 63rd minute, meeting Tyrone Mings’ header with a superb overhead kick from six yards.

Grealish was denied a goal by two saves from Hennessey, but England’s new-boys had already made their mark.

AFP

Pepe, Saka On Target As Arsenal Survive Sheffield Scare At Emirates

Arsenal’s English striker Bukayo Saka (C) celebrates scoring the opening goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 4, 2020. Kirsty Wigglesworth / POOL / AFP

 

Ivorian striker, Nicolas Pepe and youngster Bukayo Saka scored a goal each to help Arsenal secure a 2-1 win over Sheffield United in a Premier League encounter on Sunday.

Arsenal’s French-born Ivorian midfielder Nicolas Pepe (R) celebrates scoring his team’s second goal during the English Premier League football match between Arsenal and Sheffield United at the Emirates Stadium in London on October 4, 2020.  Kirsty Wigglesworth / POOL / AFP

 

Liverpool can now leapfrog Leicester to move joint top of the table alongside Merseyside rivals Everton if they win at Aston Villa later on Sunday, while Jose Mourinho takes his Tottenham team to Old Trafford hoping to exact revenge on Manchester United for his sacking nearly two years ago.

Arsenal have taken nine points from their opening four games as they look to return to Champions League football for the first time in five years next season.

But the Gunners were fortunate to take all three points at the Emirates as they had an early escape when David Luiz escaped a red card for a pull on Oli Burke.

Mikel Arteta’s men got going after the break and a fine team move opened the scoring on the hour mark when Bukayo Saka headed home Hector Bellerin’s cross at the far post.

Bellerin was the provider again moments later as Nicolas Pepe drove forward to curl the ball in off the far post.

David McGoldrick halved the deficit seven minutes from time with the Blades first league goal of the season, but they remain without a point.

Arsenal are now level on points with Leicester as the Foxes suffered a huge fall from grace just a week on from thrashing Manchester City 5-2.

AFP

Saka Decries Poor Treatment Of Upcoming Actors

Actor and comedian Afeez Oyetoro popularly known as Saka, has expressed displeasure over what he describes as poor treatment of upcoming actors.

Speaking with Rubbin Minds on Channels Television, the actor explained that there is discrimination between upcoming actors and old actors especially when it comes to payment.

“There is discrimination between the young act and old act, I just believe in time, things will change. Maybe because of the resources available and then because of the organisation we have that is not strong enough to protect the interest of the actor to demand better pay, but things will change, we are working on it.”

Speaking about his personality, Oyetoro who is also a lecturer at Adeniran Ogunsanya College of Education said there is a huge difference between his real self and the character ‘Saka’.

“Saka is a very noisy person and he speaks a lot but Afeez Oyetoro is quiet and a little reserved, Afeez is a shy person and a family man. I teach theatre art and the student of theatre art know the difference between Afeez and Saka. In school majority of the people see Afeez the lecturer and not Saka.”

On the future of theatre arts, Saka explained that sponsors are now very much part of it, bringing more hope for a greater future.

“I see a very fantastic future, it was not like this when we started especially for our seniors but now things are working well. Banks and government are coming in, cooperate bodies are coming in, people have started seeing theatre as a real business. Creative people are coming up and a lot of innovation is being introduced in the packaging of entertainment.”

Speaking of his current plans he hinted that he is working on a TV series, ‘We We’ and would soon go on location.