Euro 2020 Takes Shape As Netherlands, Germany And Croatia Qualify

 

The Netherlands, Germany and World Cup finalists Croatia expanded a list of big hitters to qualify for Euro 2020 on Saturday as the trio booked their places at next summer’s finals.

Austria also made it through to the multi-host tournament, which kicks off in Rome on June 12, with 16 sides now ensured of a spot at the 24-team event and only four places remaining from the main qualifying route.

They join other big names such like world champions France, Spain, Italy and England, with European champions Portugal one win away from qualification.

Ronald Koeman’s resurgent Dutch needed a point to qualify for their first major tournament since coming third at the 2014 World Cup and got what they needed in a scrappy goalless draw with Northern Ireland in Belfast.

“It means a lot for us as players. Hopefully it means so much to the Dutch people,” Liverpool defender Van Dijk said.

However they were far from the flamboyant outfit that has so often thrilled in Group C, and survived a huge scare when Steven Davis smashed a first-half penalty high over the bar.

The Dutch dominated possession and stopped the hosts from having a single shot on target but failed to create much themselves.

Davis’ spot-kick blunder left Michael O’Neill’s side third and hoping for a way into the tournament via the playoffs.

Germany join the Dutch

The draw allowed fierce rivals Germany to move top in the group as Toni Kroos hit a brace in a simple 4-0 win over Belarus in Moenchengladbach which saw them qualify for the Euros for the 13th time in a row.

A deft back-heeled goal from defender Matthias Ginter just before the break and impressive finishing by Leon Goretzka and Kroos gave the Germans a comfortable three-goal lead early in the second half.

Captain Manuel Neuer produced a superb save to keep out Belarus striker Igor Stasevich’s penalty before Kroos dribbled through the defence to claim his second goal seven minutes from time and make sure of a routine win.

“Overall we did well, but at the moment I don’t include us among the favourites for the European title,” said Kroos, echoing coach Joachim Loew’s comments from earlier in the week.

A win over Northern Ireland in Frankfurt on Tuesday will guarantee Loew’s new-look side first place.

Croatia survived a scare to secure their place in the Euros after coming from behind beat Slovakia 3-1 in Rijeka.

The World Cup runners up needed just a point to ensure qualification from Group E but Robert Bozenik stunned the home crowd when he tapped the away side ahead in the 32nd minute.

However it was one-way traffic in the second half and Croatia’s qualification was never in doubt once Nikola Vlasic drilled home the leveller.

Bruno Petkovic headed the hosts in front and Ivan Perisic sealed the three points with a thumping finish with 16 minutes left.

“We were trying to stay calm in the dressing room at half-time, we were sure that our quality would prevail. We kept attacking, creating chances, and the goals came,” said Petkovic.

Wales with fighting chance

That win gives Wales a fighting chance of qualifying after their 2-0 victory over Azerbaijan earlier on Saturday.

Ryan Giggs’ side stay third thanks to first-half headed goals from Kieffer Moore and Harry Wilson and Slovakia losing against the Croats.

They are just one point behind second-placed Hungary, who travel to Cardiff on the final day for a winner-takes-all clash.

“It’s massive for us to get the three points and now we go again Tuesday,” said Moore. “We came here for the three points and we got them — now it’s all guns blazing towards Tuesday.”

Austria booked their place with a 2-1 win over North Macedonia that kept third-placed Slovenia at bay despite their 1-0 triumph over Latvia.

They are second in Group G behind Poland, who had already qualified going into this round of games but maintained a three-point lead at the top of the group thanks to a 2-1 win at Israel.

In Saint Petersburg, the Hazard brothers made short work of Russia as already-qualified Belgium maintained their 100 percent record with a 4-1 win that secured them top spot in Group I.

Eden and Thorgan Hazard put Roberto Martinez’s side three goals ahead at the break before in-form Inter Milan striker Romelu Lukaku crashed home the fourth in the 72nd minute to make absolutely sure of the result.

Norwich Stun Manchester City 3-2 In Premier League Clash

 

Newly-promoted Norwich stunned Manchester City with a 3-2 win at Carrow Road on Saturday to inflict a first Premier League defeat on the English champions since January.

READ ALSO: Rashford Penalty Gives United Edge Over Leicester

Kenny McLean, Todd Cantwell and the prolific Teemu Pukki took advantage of a ragged City defence without the injured Aymeric Laporte for a remarkable upset.

Rashford Penalty Gives United Edge Over Leicester

 

Marcus Rashford put the disappointment of a previous penalty miss behind him by scoring from the spot to give Manchester United a much-needed 1-0 win over Leicester at Old Trafford on Saturday.

But manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was left with more unanswered questions about his team’s prospects as Rashford’s first-half penalty secured just his team’s second win of the campaign.

Beaten on their last Old Trafford outing by Crystal Palace, there was little margin for error for United, or £80 million ($100million) defender Harry Maguire who was facing his former club for the first time since his summer move.

Magure was booed and subjected to insulting chants from his former club’s supporters throughout the 90 minutes.

READ ALSO: Son At The Double As Spurs Thump Crystal Palace

There were still long, perplexing periods where United were distinctly second best and outplayed by a Leicester side who started the day in third place.

At least the United manager did not face a further inquisition over penalties after the chaotic start his team has made in that department.

Penalties have dominated much of the news agenda around United in the early stages of the campaign, with Paul Pogba and Rashford both guilty of costly misses that cost their team points against Wolves and Palace.

So when the Reds won their fourth spot kick in five games this season following a push by Caglar Soyuncu on Rashford after six minutes, all eyes were on the taker’s identity.

Pogba, however, was not a candidate for penalty responsibilities, having missed the game with an ankle injury, paving the way for Rashford, who failed from the spot in United’s last home fixture against Palace, with the duty.

The England forward showed admirable poise and composure by placing a right-footed kick into the bottom corner of the Leicester goal and sending Kasper Schmeichel the wrong way.

It was an ideal start for Solskjaer’s side, having endured an uncomfortable international break in which much had been made of their underwhelming start to the campaign.

That pressure had increased, with French pair Pogba and Anthony Martial unavailable for the visit of Brendan Rodgers’ side due to injury.

United went close to breaking the deadlock within two minutes.

They were awarded a free-kick on the edge of the Leicester area, which Andreas Pereira sent flying towards the top corner, forcing Schmeichel into an important and athletic stop.

But there was an almost immediate reminder of how vulnerable United’s defence has looked.

A long clearance from Schmeichel was allowed to bounce twice before James Maddison out-muscled Victor Lindelof and produced a shot which David de Gea did well to block.

The United goalkeeper was equally alert just before the half-hour when he tipped over a brilliant left-footed 25-yard volley from England defender Ben Chilwell following a half-cleared corner.

But either side of half-time saw Leicester start to take control of the game, with Youri Tielemans dominating midfield and Maddison becoming more influential.

The England squad man almost equalised, after 55 minutes, with a right-foot free-kick which sailed just wide of the home goal as United became increasingly bogged down.

There were chances on the counter-attack for Solskjaer’s side — Daniel James shooting over from 20 yards and Juan Mata being denied by Schmeichel — while Rashford’s 83rd minute free-kick struck the City bar.

Abraham Leads The Way For Five-Star Chelsea

 

Tammy Abraham once again demonstrated why Chelsea manager Frank Lampard has placed his faith in the 21-year-old with a superb hat-trick in a crushing 5-2 defeat of Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Wolves were supposed to be celebrating the 130 years in their Molineux home but the celebrations fell flat as Lampard’s young guns swept Nuno Espirito Santo’s side away.

Abraham’s treble was the outstanding contribution as he became the third player aged under 22 to score two goals in three successive Premier League games, matching the achievement of Cristiano Ronaldo at Manchester United and Tottenham’s Dele Alli.

READ ALSO: Mane, Salah Hand Liverpool 3-1 Victory Over Newcastle

But his efforts were well supported by two other graduates from the Chelsea academy, centre-back Fikayo Tomori — who opened the scoring with a stunning 30-yard strike, his first for the club — and midfielder Mason Mount, scorer of the added-time fifth.

Wolves conjured a response in the 69th minute when Romain Saiss header deflected off Abraham into his own net and added an 85th minute second through Patrick Cutrone’s close range finish.

But at that point, Lampard’s side had established a four-goal lead and were providing further vindication for the Chelsea manager’s decision to reverse the trend of the past decade and a half at Stamford Bridge and give the club’s youngsters a chance this season.

A two-window transfer embargo has forced Lampard’s hand to a certain extent but the manager’s strong support for his young players is clearly bearing fruit.

And the former Chelsea midfielder was entitled to draw particular pleasure from the way Tomori, Mount and Abraham – who have each worked their way through the ranks after joining the club at under-eight level – combined for the Blues second goal.

A comprehensive victory that keeps Chelsea level with Tottenham, Manchester United and Leicester in the early battle for a top-four finish could also kickstart the Blues’ campaign.

For Wolves manager Nuno, though, defeat provided cause for concern, particularly ahead of the start of the Europa League group stage.

Wolves came into the game with the unwanted record of being the only Premier League not to have led for a single minute in a game this season.

And that remained the case when Tomori broke the deadlock in spectacular fashion in the 31st minute.

There was an element of luck in the way the ball broke for the 21-year-old after Jonny dispossessed Mount but there was no denying the quality of Tomori’s side-footed effort that curled into the top corner from 30 yards out.

Worse was to come for Nuno’s side three minutes later when Tomori surged forward from halfway, moved the ball on to Mount inside the penalty area and Abraham was on hand to finish when his team-mate went to ground under a challenge from Conor Coady.

Abraham struck again four minutes before the break, heading home from Marcos Alonso’s cross after Jesus Vallejo’s poor clearing header.

And the forward added his third and sent a telling reminder to Gareth Southgate, who left Abraham out of his recent England squad, when he beat Coady and fired past Rui Patricio ten minutes after the restart.

Abraham’s busy afternoon continued when he was given the unwanted credit for Wolves’ first consolation after Saiss headed a Joao Moutinho corner goalwards.

Cutrone then reacted first after Kepa Arrizabalaga parried Matt Doherty’s shot for his first goal in English football, but Mount completed a comfortable win with a composed finish in added time.

Turkish Forces Carry Out Air Strikes On PKK Rebels

Turkish air strikesA day after a deadly bomb attack on a rally for peace in Ankara, Turkish air force planes have attacked Kurdish militants.

The military aircraft pounded Kurdistan Workers Party (PKK) targets in both the south-east and over the border in northern Iraq.

At least 95 people were killed in Saturday’s twin bombing in the nation’s capital, making it the deadliest such attack in years.

Security sources say they suspect the Islamic State (IS) group was behind the attack.

The Air Force struck after the government rejected a new ceasefire announced by the PKK on Saturday.

Turkey was already tense before the attack, with a snap general election slated for November 1.

Kaduna Police Assures Of Security During Elections

kadunaThe Kaduna State Police Command has restated it’s preparedness to ensure peaceful conduct of Saturday’s governorship and House of Assembly elections across the state.

Addressing Divisional Police Officers (DPO) and Area Commanders at the Police Officers Mess in the state capital on Wednesday, the Kaduna State Commissioner of Police, Umar Shehu, assured that the command was ready to provide round the clock security, before, during and after the elections.

While assuring residents of their safety, the Police Commissioner reiterated that the command is adequately prepared for the elections, and has also concluded arrangements to deploy its personnel to the 23 Local Government Areas and 255 wards across the state

Mr Shehu called on the officers to double their efforts and ensure that there is no breakdown of law order during the polls.

He also warned hoodlums and political thugs not to cause trouble, adding that anyone caught will be dealt with accordingly.

 

Anyaoku Tasks Candidates On Peace Pact

anyaokuThe Chairman of the Abuja Accord of January 14, 2015, Chief Emeka Anyaoku, has urged presidential candidates for the elections on Saturday to make conscious efforts to observe the agreement of the accord.

In a statement made available to journalists, Chief Anyaoku observed that despite the agreement, election campaigns have been characterized by hate speeches and violence in some areas.

While he commended security agencies for helping to keep the incidents minimal, Chief Anyaoku stated that the real test of the accord would be during the elections and the days after.

Mr Anyaoku, in the statement, pleaded with political leaders to be more actively engaged in advocating non-violence to their supporters.

He also encouraged everyone to work towards maintaining a positive image for the country as all eyes of the international community are on Nigeria to conduct free, fair and peaceful elections.

Buhari Promises To Give Attention To Disability Law

buhariThe Presidential Candidate of the All Progressive Congress (APC), General Muhammadu Buhari, has encouraged people living with disability never to give up on their dreams and aspiration.

General Buhari gave the advice on Saturday at a meeting with people living with disability, promising to give attention to the disability law if elected to improve the living condition of the group of people.

Echoing the presidential candidate’s view, Governor Tanko Al-makura said never has any government shown interest in addressing issues relating to disabilities.

The participants were happy and encouraged, as some of them said the meeting gave them the inspiration to live on.

 

Boko Haram: Bodies Found In Mass Grave At Damasak

boko haramA mass grave containing at least 70 bodies has been found in a town recently recaptured from Boko Haram, Niger and Chad soldier report.

The soldiers said the bodies were found in Damasak in Mobbar Local Government Area of Borno State in north-eastern Nigeria, a town they entered on Saturday.

Nigeria’s troops had renewed their onslaught against the Boko Haram terrorist after the nation’ general elections were shifted by six weeks to March 28 and April 11.

In an interview with the BBC, Nigeria’s President, Goodluck Jonathan, predicted that all territories would be taken back from the Boko Haram within a month.

“They are getting weaker and weaker by the day,” he said.

The victims, many with their throats slits and some decapitated, may have been killed some time ago, reports suggest.

Chadian army Colonel, Azem Bermandoa Agouna, said he had visited the grave and seen “about 100 bodies spread under a bridge just outside the town”.

Together with the Nigerian Army, forces from Chad, Niger and Cameroon are involved in an offensive against the Islamic militants who are controlling parts of north-eastern Nigeria.

In the renewed offensive, two out of three states, where the Boko Haram terrorists have been trying to establish an Islamic State, have been reclaimed from the Boko Haram terrorists.

Nigeria is preparing to hold presidential elections on 28 March and the Armed Forces, including the Multi Natonal Joint Task Force (MJTF) have reclaimed many towns that have been captured by the terrorist group.

Ebola Virus: Kaduna NMA Advocates Campaign In Rural Communities

TheEbola virus disease Kaduna State branch of Nigerian Medical Association (NMA) has advised both the federal and state governments to focus more of their enlightenment campaign on the Ebola virus disease to the rural communities rather than concentrating on the urban areas.

The association said that this has become imperative because majority of the rural dwellers eat more bush meat than their urban counterparts, and are also not properly enlightened to know the risks associated with the Ebola virus disease.

 

The Kaduna State NMA Chairman, Dr. Mohammed Ibrahim, gave this advice at a press briefing in Kaduna on Saturday, where he debunked rumours spreading round the state since Thursday that there was an outbreak of the deadly Ebola virus in the state.

He advised the residents to always confirm any issue relating to the Ebola case from health personnel instead of relying on rumours. He also advised them to adopt measures of protecting themselves from contracting the virus.

Mr Ibrahim reiterated the willingness of his members to attend to any case of Ebola or any other emergency in the state, despite the ongoing strike by medical doctors across the country.

He, however, expressed dissatisfaction with the Federal Government’s insurance cover for health workers who are attending to victims of Ebola virus, as well as the level of preparedness shown so far by both the Federal Government and the 36 state governments.

 

Pipeline Vandalization Will Soon Be History — Haruna

 The Managing Director of the Pipelines and Products Marketing Company, Mr Haruna Momoh has given assurance that the agency is set to bring to an end the incessant vandalism of NNPC pipeline at Arepo, Ogun state.

Speaking today on our breakfast programme, Sunrise, Mr Momoh disclosed that currently security agents are on ground manning the facility, and a lasting solution to the problem of vandalism will be found in three months’ time.

Watch interview for more details.

Suntai’s Absence: What’s Been Going On In Taraba State?

Since the unfortunate air crash of governor Suntai the governor of Taraba state in Adamawa State, little has been known or heard concerning the Governor and his health since he was flown out to Germany for medical treatment since October.

Sunrise focuses on the development of Taraba state since the absence of the Governor Suntai from the seat of power.

To analyse the situation in the State, present with anchor kayode Akintemi and Alero edun were the Commissioner for Information, Culture and Tourism of the state; Emmanuel Bello and Barrister John Okezie.

Watch video for more details.