Sunday, March 31, 2019

Zidane’s Son Luca Starts In Goal For Real, Concedes Early Goal

Zinedine Zidane’s son Luca got off to the worst possible start after starting in goal for Real Madrid against Huesca on Sunday, conceding within three minutes against the rock-bottom side.

 Luca Zidane, 20, was helpless as Cucho Hernandez crashed a shock early opener into the top corner at the Santiago Bernabeu.

 The goal came moments into his second start between the posts for Real, ahead of injured first-choice stopper Thibaut Courtois and Keylor Navas, who has only just returned from international duty with Costa Rica.

An Under-20 France international, Luca is the third Zidane to wear the Real Madrid kit, after his father and brother Enzo, who currently plays for Rayo Majadahonda in the Spanish second tier.

Zidane also rested Raphael Varane, Luka Modric and Toni Kroos for the match against rock-bottom Huesca, as third-placed Real look to stay on the heels of local rivals Atletico Madrid in second.

Liverpool Back On Top As Late Own Goal Secures 2-1 Win Over Tottenham

 Liverpool moved back top of the Premier League in dramatic fashion as Toby Alderweireld’s last-minute own goal beat Tottenham 2-1 at Anfield on Sunday.
Jurgen Klopp’s side moves two points clear of Manchester City once more at the top of the table, but City has a game in hand.
Liverpool’s hopes of ending a 29-year wait to win the title looked set to be dealt a massive blow as Lucas Moura’s strike 20 minutes from time cancelled out Roberto Firmino’s early opener.
However, Hugo Lloris could only palm Mohamed Salah’s header into the path of the unfortunate Alderweireld to condemn Tottenham to a fourth defeat in five Premier League games.
Spurs are now in serious danger of crashing out of the top four as they remain level on points with Manchester United and could be usurped by north London rivals Arsenal into third should the Gunners beat Newcastle on Monday.
And the visitors will be left to regret a huge missed chance by Moussa Sissoko five minutes from time when Liverpool was wobbling.
The hosts had got off to the perfect start when Firmino headed home the opener on 16 minutes from a delightful Andy Robertson cross.
That was Robertson’s 12th assist of the season from left-back and the Scotland captain was involved again in a flowing move moments later as he forged down the left and neat touches from Salah, and Georginio Wijnaldum teed up Sadio Mane to curl just wide.
Tottenham boss Mauricio Pochettino was serving the last of a two-game touchline ban and without the guiding hand of the Argentine, they lacked inspiration in the final third.
However, Liverpool was often causing their own problems by gifting away possession inside their own half and Dele Alli pounced on a slack pass by his England teammate Jordan Henderson to power a volley that dipped just over the bar with Spurs’ best effort of the first half.
Virgil van Dijk had a great chance to double the hosts’ lead at the start of the second period, but the Dutch defender headed over after a well-worked short corner between Trent Alexander-Arnold and James Milner.
However, Liverpool was thankful again to Robertson at the other end as he made a vital block to prevent Christian Eriksen firing home the rebound after Alisson Becker was forced into his first save of the afternoon by Harry Kane.
When these two sides met at Anfield last season, Salah scored one his many goals of the season candidates amidst an incredible 44-goal campaign.
The Egyptian still has a respectable 20 this season, but only one of those has come in the last 11 games and he passed up a great chance to give Liverpool some badly needed breathing space when his shot was blocked by Alderweireld with Mane better placed and begging for a pass.
That missed opportunity looked costly as Tottenham struck back. Kane’s quick thinking and excellent long-range pass picked out Kieran Trippier, who fed Eriksen and his scuffed shot fell perfectly for Moura to turn home.
As Liverpool surged forward in search of a winner, Spurs could have picked them off as Sissoko blazed over with just Alisson to beat before Alli clipped shot inches wide.
Instead, there was delirium in front of the Kop end as Lloris should have handled Salah’s header, but instead parried the ball into Alderweireld and the ball ricocheted over the line to breathe fresh life into Liverpool’s title challenge.

Latest EPL Result For Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur

The match of the week in the Premier League this weekend, will be between Liverpool and Tottenham Hotspur at Anfield on Sunday.

Jurgen Klopp’s will be aiming to climb back to the top of the table, following Manchester City’s 2-0 win at Fulham.

Spurs know a defeat might see them slip out of the top four, with Manchester United winning 2-1 against Watford and Arsenal hosting Newcastle on Monday.

Kick off is 4.30pm West African time.

Sunday, March 31
16:30 Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur

Latest Premier League Results for Week 32 (Sunday), 2018/2019 EPL Scores

There will be only two fixtures in the English Premier League on Sunday.

Liverpool welcome Tottenham Hotspur to Anfield, in what will be the clash of the week.

The Reds are fighting toe-to-toe with champions Manchester City at the top of the table and cannot afford further slips, while Spurs are in danger of falling out of the top four.

Chelsea travel to Cardiff City in the first game of the day.

Sunday, March 31
14:05 Cardiff City vs Chelsea
16:30 Liverpool vs Tottenham Hotspur

Liverpool’s Squad Against Tottenham Hotspur Revealed

Liverpool have released their line-up that will tackle Tottenham Hotspur in today’s Premier League fixture at Anfield.

According to Independent UK, the Reds manager, Jurgen Klopp has released a list of 19 players.

Liverpool head to the game following a 2-1 victory over Fulham in their last Premier League encounter.

Below is the Liverpool squad against Tottenham Hotspur:

Alisson, Alexander-Arnold, Van Dijk, Matip, Robertson, Fabinho, Wijnaldum, Milner, Mane, Salah, Firmino, Mignolet, Lovren, Moreno, Henderson, Lallana, Shaqiri, Sturridge, Origi.

The kick-off time for the match is 4:30pm.

Chelsea’s Squad Against Cardiff City Revealed

Chelsea have released their line-up that will tackle Cardiff City in today’s Premier League fixture.

According to Tribuna, the Blues manager, Maurizio Sarri has released a list of 21 players.

Chelsea head to the game following a 2-0 defeat to Everton in their last Premier League encounter.

Below is the Chelsea squad against Cardiff City:

Goalkeepers: Kepa Arrizabalaga, Willy Caballero, Rob Green.

Defenders: Antonio Rudiger, Marcos Alonso, Davide Zappacosta, Cesar Azpilicueta, Ethan Ampadu, Andreas Christensen, David Luiz, Emerson.

Midfielders: N’Golo Kante, Mateo Kovacic, Jorginho, Ross Barkley, Ruben Loftus-Cheek.

Forwards: Eden Hazard, Willian, Callum Hudson-Odoi, Gonzalo Higuain, Olivier Giroud, Pedro.

The kick-off time for the match is 2:05pm.

Unai Emery Hints at New Deal for Welbeck

Arsenal manager, Unai Emery, has hinted that Danny Welbeck may still have a future at the club.

Welbeck suffered a severe ankle injury in November and has been out of action ever since.

The 28-year-old signed from Manchester United for £16million in 2014 and is on course to be a free agent in June.

But as Emery admitted that although Welbeck is training again he’s unlikely to return before the season ends, he revealed there will be talks about his future, after their final Premier League fixture away to Burnley on May 12.

“Danny is starting to touch the ball again – and to work on the pitch. His progress with such a big injury is going very well.

“I think it’s difficult for him to play any matches this season, but maybe the doctor will say he can come and train with us in the last weeks of this season. And then after that, his individual thing will be to speak with the club (about his contract),” Emery said according to the UK Mirror.

Solskjaer Reveals Why Pogba Played Badly Against Watford

Manchester United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, has defended Paul Pogba following his disappointing display in their lacklustre 2-1 win over Watford.

Pogba has been in scintillating form for United since Solskjaer took over the reins from Jose Mourinho back in December, but the 26-year-old was unable to exert his usual influence against Javi Gracia’s men.

Though, Abdoulaye Doucoure’s last-gasp strike set up a nervy finish, following goals from Marcus Rashford and Anthony Martial, the Red Devils managed to hold on for three points.

Pogba played every minute of France’s Euro 2020 qualifying victories over Moldova and Iceland during the international break and Solskjaer says the midfielder must have been fatigued.

“Paul [Pogba] is important for us and we couldn’t keep the ball today.

“He’s been away for two games with France and played a bit deeper, so maybe we have to get him more of the ball.

“After PSG was a mental challenge for everyone. Wolves was worse than this.

“Today at least from 20 to 45 we played some fast, flowing, counter-attacking football.

“It’s [top four] so tight, there’s four very good teams challenging for two places,” Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

PSG Ready to Offer De Gea £350,000-a-week Deal

David De Gea may leave Manchester United during the summer, as the club continue negotiations over a new contract, The UK Sun reports.

The Spain keeper wants £350,000 per week, with French giants Paris Saint-Germain happy to meet his demands.

Man United activated the one-year extension in his contract earlier this season, but want to tie the 28-year-old down to a longer deal.

De Gea is thought to be open to stay, after an upturn in fortunes under new boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who was appointed permanently last week.

However, PSG are willing to offer £60million for the stopper to test Man United’s resolve.

The Parisians are also interested in Ander Herrera, whose contract expires in the summer and has yet to agree new terms.

Pogba Takes Final Transfer Decision

Manchester United midfielder, Paul Pogba has expressed his desire to join Real Madrid at the end of the season.

Marca reports that Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, has spoken with the La Liga giants about the possibility of signing the France international from Manchester United this summer.

The report claimed that Raiola has spoken with Madrid’s executives twice in the last few weeks and has made player’s desire clear.

Pogba was reportedly desperate to leave Old Trafford during former Red Devils’ boss, Jose Mourinho’s tenure following a series of bust-ups with the 56-year-old.

However, since the arrival of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in December, Pogba’s form has drastically improved.

Ferrari’s Leclerc Takes Maiden Pole

Ferrari’s Charles Leclerc beat team-mate Sebastian Vettel to take his maiden pole position at the Bahrain Grand Prix. The Monegasque, 21, beat the four-time world champion by 0.294 seconds as Lewis Hamilton and Valtteri Bottas took third and fourth for Mercedes.
Leclerc was fastest in all three parts of qualifying, a powerful statement of intent. Hamilton was 0.324secs behind, pipping Bottas by just 0.66secs.
Leclerc said: “I am truly happy. In the last race I was not satisfied with my qualifying and I worked really hard to do better.
“Seb is an amazing driver and I have learned a lot from him and I will learn from him all year. But today is a good day for me.”
Vettel, who had only one run in final qualifying, said: “Charles did a very good job today and he deserves to be on pole. I felt happy with my only run and we are in a good place for the race.”
Leclerc’s switch to Ferrari this year, as a replacement for Kimi Raikkonen, was highly anticipated as he has talent in abundance.
He qualified fifth for his first race two weeks ago but finished it on Vettel’s tail and had to be told to back off by the team to protect their positions in the closing stages.
Ferrari team boss Mattia Binotto said on Friday that Leclerc was free to lead the race and stay there, so their new driver has a great opportunity to take his first win today if he can convert pole into a lead at the start.
It remains to be seen whether Ferrari really will carry through on their commitment to let the drivers race, but with this performance Leclerc has confirmed his huge potential. He has looked quicker than Vettel for much of the weekend and was ahead throughout qualifying.

Guardiola Reveals What Manchester City Must do to Beat Liverpool to Title

Manchester City manager, Pep Guardiola, has said his team must win their seven remaining Premier League games, to pip Liverpool to the title.

City have the slight advantage in the title race, sitting top by a point after the 2-0 win at Fulham, having played the same number of games as Liverpool.

Guardiola’s men then play Cardiff at the Etihad on Wednesday night, to make up the games again.

“Seven games left for the Premier League, and it’s easy: we have to win every game to be champions.

“We have a tough, tough opponent. But that’s the challenge,” Guardiola told Sky Sports.

Solskjaer Relieved to Avoid Watford ‘Banana Skin’

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer celebrated his first match as full-time Manchester United manager with a 2-1 win over Watford though he was happier to have avoided slipping up on what he termed a potential ‘banana skin’.
The 46-year-old Norwegian — who was named permanent manager on Thursday after reviving the team following the sacking of Jose Mourinho — professed himself happier with the result than the performance.
Victory lifted United into fourth place and potentially a place in next season’s Champions League, though, Arsenal can go back ahead of them if they beat Newcastle on Monday.
“I’m happy with the result if not the performance,” said Solskjaer.
“It was one of those first games back after the international break that you know could be a potential banana skin.
“It didn’t really feel any different for me because the focus is always the next game but we as a team felt it was a new start after the disappointment of Wolves (they lost in the FA Cup quarter-finals), it was almost like the first game of the league.”
Solskjaer, who has also guided United into the Champions League quarter-finals, believes his side have built up the momentum to finish in the top four.
They, third-placed Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea are effectively battling it out for the remaining two Champions League spots — the top two Manchester City and Liverpool look to be too far ahead to be caught.
“We came away with a win, which is great but I think everyone knows we can perform better,” sad Solskjaer.
“There are four very good teams challenging for two places but we almost feel like we are in the driving seat.
“We have given ourselves a good chance.”
‘Presence of mind’
Solskjaer had been greeted with a huge banner from the Stretford End as he emerged from the tunnel, but he was soon sitting uncomfortably as Watford took control with David De Gea by far the busier goalkeeper.
But United took the lead with one of those counter-attacks the club has become famous for down the years as Luke Shaw stopped a Watford move and sped forward from left-back.
He then had the presence of mind to play a perfect through ball behind the defence for Marcus Rashford to run onto and finish coolly past the advancing Ben Foster.
It was a ninth goal for Rashford since Solskjaer took over and further evidence he has become United’s main man up front in the last three months with Romelu Lukaku only on the bench.
Foster made a brilliant instinctive save to deny Anthony Martial a second before the home side were again forced backwards at the start of the second half with De Gea saving well from Roberto Pereyra in a period of sustained pressure.
Solskjaer responded by making a double change and his two substitutes, Andreas Pereira and Jesse Lingard, combined to set up Martial, who scored at the second attempt from close range, as the defenders appealed for offside.
Watford finally found the net in the 90th minute as a reward for their enterprising play after a sharp one-two and some excellent footwork from Abdoulaye Doucoure.
Their manager Javi Gracia was frustrated with the result but happy with how his players performed at the start of an important week, as they gear up for their FA Cup semi-final with Wolves at Wembley next Sunday.
“It is difficult to explain because I think we had a good performance,” said the Spaniard.
“It wasn’t enough to get points but I am happy with the performance.”

Messi Names Best Five Players in the World

Barcelona superstar, Lionel Messi, has revealed the five players he thinks are the best in world football.

Messi picked his compatriot, Sergio Aguero, who plays for Manchester City and Chelsea’s Eden Hazard.

The Argentine captain considered both players to be the top five in the world, alongside Kylian Mbappe, Luis Suarez and Neymar.

“Excluding Ronaldo and me, the best players in the world are Mbappe, Hazard, Suarez, Aguero and Neymar,” Messi told 947FMRadio.

Messi and Ronaldo have shared the last 10 Ballon D’Or prizes between each other.

“I Miss Having Ronaldo In La Liga” – Lionel Messi

Barcelona Star Lionel Messi has said he misses facing rival Cristiano Ronaldo in La Liga.
After helping Real Madrid win the Champions League last summer, Ronaldo left the club and joined Juventus.
Ronaldo has continued to save his best for Europe’s elite club competition, with a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid firing Juveinto the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
In La Liga, Madrid are lagging 12 points behind Liga leaders Barca and Messi suggested he misses the competition provided by Ronaldo.
“I miss Cristiano,” Messi told FM Club 947 in Argentina.
“Although it was a bit difficult to see him win trophies, he gave La Liga prestige.
“Juventus are a great candidate to win the Champions League since the arrival of Cristiano, and the match against Atleti must have given them a lot of confidence.”

Saturday, March 30, 2019

Alcacer’s injury-time double fires Dortmund top as Bayern stumble

Bayern coach Niko Kovac said that next Saturday’s clash with Dortmund is now a must-win game after his side were held to a 1-1 draw at Freiburg and slipped two points behind their title rivals.
“It is very frustrating because we had done so well to catch up with Dortmund, and now we have to start again,” Kovac told Sky.
“I assume my players know what is at stake next weekend. We have to win now.”
Dortmund survived a tough afternoon at Signal Iduna Park without captain Marco Reus before Alcacer snatched a dramatic victory.
Reus missed the game to be at the birth of his first child, and Dortmund toiled against Wolfsburg’s energetic pressing in his absence. Yet Alcacer’s starring role saw them reclaim top spot as Bayern slipped in the Black Forest.
“We always believed we were going to score” Dortmund’s Mario Goetze told Sky. “It wasn’t easy, and we were a bit fortunate, but it shows the quality we have.”
Bayern were left stunned when Freiburg took the lead after just three minutes.
Lucas Hoeler, who scored a late equaliser in Munich in November, towered over Mats Hummels to head in Christian Guenter’s cross.
Yet the champions hit back 20 minutes later, Robert Lewandowski hooking in the equaliser with an elegant finish. Lewandowski hit the post in added time but Bayern could not force a winner.
The two title contenders will to go head-to-head at the Allianz Arena next Saturday.
“We’re very happy that we are back on top, and it’s a good feeling to be flying to Munich as league leaders,” Dortmund sporting director Michael Zorc told Sky.
– Gladbach in free fall –
Borussia Moenchengladbach suffered a fourth defeat in seven games as they were put to the sword by local rivals Fortuna Duesseldorf.
Duesseldorf’s Benito Raman tormented Gladbach from the wing early on, setting up two goals for Rouwen Hennings and one for Kevin Stoeger in the first quarter of an hour. Denis Zakaria then grabbed a late consolation goal for the visitors.
Having been hot on the heels of Bayern and Dortmund earlier in the season, Gladbach are now in free fall, and will drop out of the top four for the first time since September if Eintracht Frankfurt win on Sunday.
Goals from Mikael Ishak, Matheus Pereira and Eduard Loewen gave Nuremberg a ray of hope in the relegation fight as they battled to a 3-0 win over Augsburg.
Loewen sealed the win late on to give his team their first win in 21 games and bring them within four points of the relegation play-off place.
Elsewhere, Werder Bremen moved into the Europa League spots with a 3-1 win over Mainz.
Milot Rashica gave Bremen an early lead, and Max Kruse blasted in Bremen’s second on 36 minutes. Robin Quaison pulled one back for Mainz after half-time, but Kruse struck again shortly afterwards to restore Bremen’s two-goal lead.

Man City back on top, Huddersfield equal record for earliest relegation

Manchester City’s Argentinian striker Sergio Aguero (2nd L) celebrates with teammates after scoring their second goal during the English Premier League football match between Manchester City and Arsenal at the Etihad Stadium in Manchester, north west England, on February 3, 2019.

Amid the drama at the top and bottom, Manchester United celebrated Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s first match as permanent manager with a 2-1 win over Watford to climb into fourth place.
Bernardo Silva’s fifth-minute strike from the edge of the area was followed by Sergio Aguero’s cool finish as City effectively wrapped up the points in the first 27 minutes.
City lead Liverpool by one point with seven games remaining for both sides, but Jurgen Klopp’s men can regain pole position with victory over third-placed Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday.
Pep Guardiola’s side remain on course for an unprecedented quadruple of Premier League, Champions League, FA Cup and League Cup, which they retained last month.
A potential 14 games now stand between them and history, but there will be far tougher tests in wait than struggling Fulham, who are 16 points adrift of safety with just six games left.
“The way we started was amazing. They surprised me again, the first 15-20 minutes was exceptional,” Guardiola said.
“Every game we have to win if we want to be champions. We have tough opponents, but that is the challenge.”
Bottom-of-the-table Huddersfield’s two-season stay in the top flight came to an end at Selhurst Park as they slumped to a 24th defeat in 32 league games by losing 2-0 at Palace.
Huddersfield are only the second club to be relegated from the Premier League in March after Derby went down with 11 points in 2008.
They survived just one day longer than Derby in 2008 and equalled their unwanted Premier League record of relegation after 32 games.
Already destined for the drop, Jan Siewert’s side had their fate sealed due to their result and wins for Burnley and Southampton.
Luka Milivojevic’s 76th-minute penalty put Huddersfield behind after a foul on Palace winger Wilfried Zaha.
Patrick van Aanholt’s 88th-minute strike pushed the bedraggled Terriers back to the Championship.
“It is hard to say what I am feeling, disappointment of course. It sums the season up that a penalty decides the direction. I haven’t counted but we’ve conceded maybe eight to 10 penalties this season,” Siewert said.
“For me in life there is failure and success and it belongs together.
“I don’t want to talk about those failures publicly, but it is important to learn as a club and this club is willing to do it.”
– Lethal United –
At Old Trafford, Solskjaer received a rapturous reception from the crowd when he strolled down the touchline just before kick-off, days after agreeing a three-year contract following his successful spell as interim boss.
After Watford dominated the early stages, Solskjaer was applauding a lethal United counter-attack to open the scoring through Marcus Rashford in the 28th minute.
Luke Shaw unfurled a superb pass from deep in his own half and Rashford sprinted clear to clip a deft finish over Watford keeper Ben Foster for his 13th goal of the season.
After successive defeats against Arsenal and Wolves before the international break, Anthony Martial ensured United got back on track when he bundled home in the 72nd minute despite Watford’s appeals for offside.
It is the first time since the 1995-96 season that United have had four players score 10 or more goals in a Premier League campaign as Martial joined Rashford, Romelu Lukaku and Paul Pogba in double figures.
Abdoulaye Doucoure scored for Watford in the 90th minute, but United are level on points with Tottenham and one point above fifth-placed Arsenal, who host Newcastle on Monday.
At Turf Moor, Burnley moved five points clear of the relegation zone with a 2-0 victory over Wolves.
Sean Dyche’s side took the lead in the second minute when Chris Wood’s shot hit a post and deflected off Conor Coady for the Wolves’ defender’s third own goal this season.
Dwight McNeil netted in the 77th minute to improve Burnley’s chances of survival.
Southampton also took a step towards beating the drop with a 1-0 win over south-coast rivals Brighton.
Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg chipped in from Nathan Redmond’s pass in the 53rd minute to leave Saints five points clear of third-bottom Cardiff, who face Chelsea on Sunday.
Leicester beat Bournemouth 2-0 with goals from Wes Morgan and Jamie Vardy.

Zidane’s Praise For Pogba Opens Door To Possible Real Bid

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane opened the door to a possible bid for Paul Pogba on Saturday when he hailed the Manchester United star as “a player who knows how to do everything”.
The French World Cup winner has thrived under new United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but has made no secret of his admiration for Real.
“It’s one of the biggest clubs in the world. I’ve always said Real Madrid is a dream club for every player,” the midfielder said last week.
Zidane is a self-confessed Pogba fan, the Real boss telling a press conference: “I really like the player, that’s nothing new.
“I know him personally… He’s a really different player, somebody who brings something few others can to the pitch.
“He’s capable of doing everything. There are midfielders who know how to defend really well, others who are very good in attack. He knows how to do everything.”
Zidane, who returned as Real manager after replacing Santiago Solari, added: “One day if he has the chance to do something else after Manchester United, he’s always said that Madrid was a club that interested him a lot.”
Pogba, 26, moved from Juventus to United for 105 million euros in 2016 with his contract terminating in 2021.
Spanish media suggest Real will go on a massive recruitment drive this summer with a war chest of up to 500 million euros.

Messi Double Sends Barcelona 13 Points Clear

Image result for Messi Double Sends Barcelona 13 Points Clear

Lionel Messi continued his remarkable run of form with a second-half double as Barcelona continued their march towards the La Liga title on Saturday with a 2-0 win over Espanyol.

The visitors gave their city rivals a tough game at the Camp Nou, but Messi’s chipped free-kick with 19 minutes to play and a late second sent the reigning champions 13 points clear at the top ahead of second-placed Atletico Madrid’s game at Alaves later on Saturday.

Messi has now netted eight times in his last four games for Barca, and leads the way in the La Liga scoring charts with 31 goals, 13 ahead of teammate Luis Suarez.

Ernesto Valverde’s men struggled to break down Espanyol early on, with Messi, Suarez and Ivan Rakitic all wasting half-chances in the first period.

Barcelona saw a penalty appeal waved away by both the referee and VAR on the stroke of half-time, and Malcom was denied just after the hour mark by away goalkeeper Diego Lopez as the Catalan giants grew frustrated.

But Messi has been consistently unplayable this season, and he dinked in a wonderful effort from a set-piece despite Victor Sanchez’s best efforts to clear on the line.

 The points were sealed in the 89th minute as Malcom ran clear on the breakaway, before cutting the ball across for Messi to sweep a trademark finish low into the bottom corner.

Barcelona next visit Villarreal on Tuesday with a second successive title looking even more like a mere formality after a sixth straight victory extended their unbeaten league run to 17 matches.

 Earlier on Saturday, fourth-placed Getafe missed the chance to solidify their spot in the Champions League places as they slumped to a 2-0 home defeat by Leganes.

Uruguayan Michael Santos and Juanfran scored in the second half for Leganes to give Alaves the chance to move into the top four with a win over Atletico.

Guardiola Salutes ‘Incredible’ City After Beating Fulham

Pep Guardiola hailed his “incredible” Manchester City stars as they swept back to the top of the Premier League with a 2-0 win at Fulham on Saturday. 
First-half goals from Bernardo Silva and Sergio Aguero moved Guardiola’s side one point clear of previous leaders Liverpool.
It was a confident display from City in the west London sunshine and Guardiola was impressed with the rhythm his team showed after the two-week international break.
“Our first 15-20 minutes was one of the best of the season. We played with incredible spirit, we could have scored more. After the goals we controlled it,” he said.
“It was an incredible result after the international break and have played away. We did what we should do.
“After the break playing at home is different to playing away. Always you have doubts about how they’re going to react.
“Fulham was a tough game for Liverpool and Chelsea so we knew it was going to be tricky, 12:30 on Saturday, a sunny day.
“That is unusual and that is why I am so satisfied.”
Although Liverpool would regain pole position if they beat Tottenham at Anfield on Sunday, City have a game in hand and will be crowned champions for the second successive season if they win their last seven matches.
Guardiola isn’t thinking that far ahead just yet and he urged his players to take it one game at a time.
“Liverpool and Man City have done incredibly so far so deserve the credit. We will have 80 points with six games to play if we win next week,” he said.
“We are going to do everything to win. No matter the next competition, we will win the game.”
City, who have already won the League Cup, remain in contention for an unprecedented quadruple as they chase Premier League, Champions League and FA Cup glory.
But Guardiola said: “We don’t think too much about what people say about the quadruple. Enjoy the moment and dream to win another game.”

Rivaldo Sends Strong Message to Eden Hazard

Brazil legend, Rivaldo has urged Chelsea’s star player, Eden Hazard to make a transfer move to the La Liga giants, Real Madrid, in this summer transfer window.

Rivaldo believes the Belgium international will be a perfect signing for the Los Blancos.

The ex-midfield maestro believes Hazard will become successful at the Santiago Bernabeu if he eventually leaves Stamford Bridge at the end of the season.

Hazard has been heavily linked with a mega move to the Champions League holders over the past two years.

The 28-year-old, who has been in top form this season, is yet to sign a new contract at Chelsea.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Cardiff City on Sunday, Rivaldo was quoted by Metro UK as saying: “Hazard could be more than just a great player at Madrid.

“Eden Hazard would be a perfect signing for Real Madrid, not only for his talents as a player, but also as a leader.

“He lead the Belgian team at the World Cup and does the same currently at Chelsea.

“He already has the experience and know-how of taking responsibility on his own and could be an important piece in this transition phase the club is in after Ronaldo’s departure.

“He, as well as other new players that be signed before the new season starts, could put Real Madrid back to winning ways in Europe and Spain, battling for titles with Barcelona and other big clubs.”

Hazard’s contract with Chelsea will expire in June 2020.

Livescore: Latest Premier League Results For Week 32 (Saturday), 2018/2019 EPL scores

The English Premier League returns this weekend, following the last international break this season.

Manchester City travel to Fulham in the early kick-off, hoping to overtake Liverpool at the top of the table.

Brighton host Southampton, Leicester City clash with Bournemouth and Everton travel to West Ham.

Manchester United will host Watford, as they continue their fight to finish in the top four.

Saturday, March 30
FT: Fulham 0 vs Manchester City 2
16:00 Brighton & Hove Albion vs Southampton
16:00 Burnley vs Wolverhampton Wanderers
16:00 Crystal Palace vs Huddersfield Town
16:00 Leicester City vs AFC Bournemouth
16:00 Manchester United vs Watford
18:30 West Ham United vs Everton

Man United’s Squad Against Watford Revealed

Manchester United have released their squad that will tackle Watford in today’s Premier League clash at the Old Trafford.

According to Manchester Evening News, Man United manager, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer released a list of 20 players.

Manchester United head to the game following a 2-0 defeat to Arsenal in their last Premier League encounter.

Below is the Man United squad against Watford:

David de Gea, Sergio Romero, Lee Grant, Diogo Dalot, Ashley Young, Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Luke Shaw, Ander Herrera, Andreas Pereira, Nemanja Matic, Scott McTominay, Fred, Paul Pogba, Juan Mata, Jesse Lingard, Anthony Martial, Romelu Lukaku, Marcus Rashford.

The kick-off time for the match is 4pm.

Barcelona manager reveals why Messi has been in pain since Christmas

Barcelona manager, Ernesto Valverde, has revealed that captain Lionel Messi “has been in pain since Christmas”.
Messi, 31, suffered a groin injury while on international duty with Argentina last week, on what was his first return to the international stage since the 2018 World Cup.
He played the full 90 minutes of La Albiceleste’s 3-1 defeat to Venezuela, but was forced to miss the 1-0 win over Morroco on Tuesday.
Messi has since resumed full training with the Barca senior squad and he is in line to feature in Saturday’s derby against Espanyol.
Valverde has however admitted that the player has struggled with fitness issues since the turn of the year.
“We think it’s OK but he has been coping with these issues for a long time.
“We were taking care of it before Christmas. We have tried to make the pain subside and we will continue doing it. Now he has had a few days of rest.
“We do everything naturally, we talk to him after suffering a little problem in training and we do everything together. We make decisions together and talk to him to see how he is like I do with others,” he told a press conference.

Messi, Suarez fit to start ‘fundamental’ week for Barcelona

Lionel Messi has overcome a groin injury while strike partner Luis Suarez has sufficiently recovered from a sprained ankle to play in this weekend’s derby against Espanyol, Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said on Friday.
Messi and Suarez were included in the squad of 18 ahead of Saturday’s La Liga game at the Camp Nou.
Ousmane Dembele is still absent, suffering from a thigh problem.
In his press conference, Valverde was cautious about Messi, who was forced to leave the Argentina squad last Sunday because of chronic groin pain.
Asked if his captain was 100 per cent, Valverde said: “We think he is, but, hey, Leo has been carrying this problem for some time and we have been working to allow him to recover.”
“It flared up with his national team. He’s had a rest and he is better. We’ll be careful with Messi because of the fundamental importance of the matches.”
Suarez missed Uruguay’s recent games after twisting his ankle but Valverde said “the rest did him good.”
Valverde said he could not give a date for Dembele’s return. The Catalans visit Manchester United on April 10 for the first leg of a Champions League quarterfinal.
Before then, Barca have three Spanish league games in eight days.
They go into Saturday’s fixture 10 points ahead of second-place Atletico Madrid. On Tuesday, Valverde’s men travel down the Mediterranean coast to face Villarreal and then entertain Atletico next weekend.
“We have in mind that it is a derby, which is motivating for us and for them,” Valverde said.
“This week we have three League games and three difficult games. When you play for nine points in a week, at this stage of the season, it can be decisive.
“We know what we are playing this week.”

Why I miss Cristiano Ronaldo – Messi

Barcelona superstar, Lionel Messi, has admitted he misses facing rival Cristiano Ronaldo, as the former Real Madrid forward gave “prestige” to LaLiga.
Ronaldo left Madrid to join Serie A giants Juventus last summer, after winning three consecutive Champions League titles with the club.
The Portuguese has continued to save his best for Europe’s elite club competition, with a hat-trick against Atletico Madrid firing Juve into the quarter-finals of the Champions League.
The draw subsequently ensured Messi and Ronaldo cannot meet unless both clubs advance to the final.
“I miss Cristiano. Although it was a bit difficult to see him win trophies, he gave La Liga prestige.
“Juventus are a great candidate to win the Champions League since the arrival of Cristiano, and the match against Atleti must have given them a lot of confidence,” Messi told FM Club 947 in Argentina.

Racist abuse: The problem is not about football itself, it’s the society – Guardiola

England players were subjected to racist abuse in an impressive 5-1 victory over Montenegro in Podgorica on Monday, including City’s Raheem Sterling and Chelsea’s Callum Hudson-Odoi on his full international debut.
Guardiola insisted that society’s ills and not just football are to blame, but warned against the rise of racist incidents in recent times, including in England.
Sterling was also the subject of alleged racist abuse at Chelsea in December, while Arsenal striker Pierre Emerick-Aubameyang had a banana skin thrown at him in the North London derby against Tottenham in the same month.
Asked about the prospect of leading his side off the pitch, Guardiola said: “I would have to involve the club, the chairmen and CEOs and my captain and the team and the players, if we all together decide we can signal to do it, why not?
“The situation changes when you do something, if not it’s impossible and the situation is always the same. That is why when people like him (Sterling) or other cases express what they express it’s good for our future, for our society to do it.
“The problem is not about the football itself, it’s the society, what is happening in Europe? The extreme-right side is going there and the message they are sending to win elections, to win votes, we are not safe.
“It’s not a football problem, it’s society itself.”
– ‘Stupid people in every country’ –
Hudson-Odoi was also the subject of alleged racist abuse in Chelsea’s Europa League match at Dynamo Kiev earlier in March.
Lamenting the “stupid people” responsible for racism in football, Sarri claimed he would like to see tougher rules that allow teams to walk off at least temporarily.
“We need a rule I think, a rule for the Premier League, but for all the championships, for all of football. A rule that can permit us to stop the match.”
Former Napoli boss Sarri worked in Italy for many years where racism has been an issue.
A friendly between AC Milan and Italian lower division club Pro Patria was abandoned after players walked off because of racist chants in 2013.
Milan’s Kevin-Prince Boateng sparked the walk-off by picking up the match-ball midway through the first half and kicking it into the crowd.“In every country there are some stupid people I think, so it’s a big problem,” added Sarri.
“I think that we need to do something different, probably it’s right to stop the match for 10 minutes in the first situation.”
Chelsea have offered counselling to Hudson-Odoi over both incidents, but Sarri said he has not spoken directly about the issue with the winger.
“Not for the moment, I don’t like to speak to him about this problem because unfortunately I am not able to solve it,” he said ahead of Sunday’s trip to Cardiff.
“Of course he is very young, but I think that he is really very strong.
“The character is really very strong. I saw him very well yesterday, so I think that he is strong enough.”

Wu Lei to help Espanyol’s budgerigars fly out of Barcelona shadow

Wu was the Chinese Super League’s top goal scorer when he moved to the ‘Periquitos’ (The Budgerigars) in January and has scored once and claimed two assists in seven La Liga appearances.
“He’s one of the most important transfers for Espanyol in recent years but on the media level he is probably the most important,” Espanyol’s director of marketing Agusti Filomeno told AFP.
Wu’s impact off the field has seen the number of followers on the club’s social media channels cross the 2 million mark, 800,000 of them on Chinese platforms, an overall increase of 65 per cent in two months.
The club has also sold just under 10,000 shirts with Lei’s name and his number, 24, on the back, compared to the 700 personalised jerseys sold on average for other players each season.
“We haven’t been able to sell more due to a lack of stock,” Filomeno added.
According to reports in the Spanish press more than 25 million watched Wu open his account for the club and become La Liga’s first Chinese goal scorer in the victory over Real Valladolid in February.
Espanyol’s glory days were in the mid-2000s when they lifted the Spanish Cup and were runners up in the UEFA Cup. They have languished in mid-table since a fifth place finish in 2005.
The club have been majority-owned by Chinese management group Rastar since 2016.
“His arrival is an important forward step especially for a club the size of Espanyol,” said Esteve Calzada former director of marketing for rival Barcelona’s former.
“At the moment there are two countries where clubs are trying to break, China and the US,” added Calzada who now runs a sports marketing and player management company. “Their importance is strategic.”
Since Wu’ arrival in Catalonia Chinese flags have started to adorn the stands of the Estadio Cornella-EL Prat, but Espanyol’s director of football Francisco Perez Rufete warned the striker still has improvements to make.
“For us, if there was a player that would make the jump, it was Wu Lei. He’s on the right track but there’s still a lot of work to do,” Rufete told AFP.
Helping Espanyol claim a first victory at the Camp Nou since 2009 would be one way to win over his coach having already made an early impact among supporters both in Spain and in China.

Herrera ‘seriously considering’ Manchester United exit

Manchester United midfielder, Ander Herrera, is seriously considering a lucrative three-year offer to join Paris Saint-Germain, once his contract at Old Trafford expires in the summer, ESPN reports.
United have been trying to tie Herrera down to a new deal since last year, but the 29-year-old is yet to agree terms.
However, it is believed he could turn down the proposal from United and sign a three-year deal with PSG, as he sees their offer as too good to decline.
PSG are chasing Herrera to replace wantaway midfielder Adrien Rabiot.
Herrera joined United from Athletic Bilbao in 2014 for £29million.

How Raja Casablanca ended 19-year wait for second African Super Cup

Wydad Casablanca’s players celebrate after winning the CAF Champions League final football match between Egypt’s Al-Ahly and Morocco’s Wydad Casablanca on November 4, 2017, at Mohamed V Stadium in Casablanca.

Goals from Abdelilah Hafidi, a superb first half strike from 20 yards, and a neat close-range finish from captain Badr Benoun in the 65th minute sealed victory for Raja.
Those goals came either side of a wonderful equaliser from Esperance’s Mohamed Youcef who smashed home an unstoppable shot in the 57th minute to give the Tunisian side brief hope.
But they could not come back a second time and there were delirious scenes at the end as Raja’s players celebrated their first Super Cup trophy in 19 years.
The Super Cup is an annual one-off match pitting the winner of the CAF Champions League and second-tier CAF Confederation Cup against each other.
Friday’s match was played in 2022 World Cup host nation, Qatar, the first time it has been played outside Africa.
It attracted a near capacity crowd of 18,378.
The victory was some consolation Raja’s French coach Patrice Carteron.
He was the manager of the Egyptian team, Al Ahly, who lost to Esperance in the Champions League final last November, which led to him being sacked.
“I am very happy, I am very proud to bring this title to Casablanca,” he said.
There was little chance of him ending up on the losing side again on Friday as his team dominated for long stretches of the final.
Mahmoud Benhalib, and Soufiane Rahimi went close in the first half before Hafidi’s fine finish in the 22nd minute.
Rahimi also spurned a chance just six minutes later to double Raja’s advantage.
Esperance — described as the best team in Africa by Carteron before the match — took until 36 minutes to threaten Raja’s goal, but should have equalised with their first opportunity when Taha Yassine Khnissi spurned an easy chance while through on the goalkeeper.
The Tunisians did draw level early in the second half though through Youcef and at that stage appeared the most likely to win.
But Raja quickly reasserted their dominance when Benoun flicked in a winner from close range following a corner.
Raja could have also had a penalty in the closing stages after an apparent handball was missed by the referee and Rahimi also had a goal ruled out for offside in the 75th minute.
Carteron said he hoped the victory would “motivate the team for the rest of the season”, as they seek to qualify for next year’s Champions League.
A downcast Moine Chaabani, coach of Esperance, congratulated his rival and added: “It’s a disappointment for us.
“We had an eye on the title, we had hopes. For me we put in a more than average game.”

Super Eagles Player, Kelechi Nwakali Visits Imo State Governor-Elect Emeka Ihedioha

Imo State born professional footballer Kelechi Nwakali & former flying Eagles star who plays as a midfielder for FC Porto B, on loan from Premier League club Arsenal, came calling on His Excellency, Rt. Hon. Emeka Ihedioha, the Imo State Governor-Elect, earlier this morning at His Owerri Civic Centre residence.

UEFA Places Nigerian Sports Journalist, Oma Akatugba In Their Media Portal

Union of European Football Associations, UEFA has placed Nigerian sports journalist Oma Akatugba in its media portal as a video journalist.
Oma Akatugba who made the big announcement on Twitter wrote 'UEFA has now placed me under the category of video journalist in their media portal. Fantastic category for me. Video journalist aptly describes me these days.'

In Remembrance Of Sam Okwaraji: 5 Facts About Nigeria’s Football Martyr

It’s been about 30 years since former Nigeria International, Samuel Sochukwuma Okwaraji, died right on the field of play while representing his country in a football match. Ripples Nigeria’s Ben Ugbana curates the following facts about the man whose death came as a shock to the football world.
1. Okwaraji was an Imo indegene
Sam, who would later become a fine midfielder in the round leather game, was born on 19th of May, 1964 in Orlu, Imo State, Nigeria.
2. He died at 25 of heart failure
Okwaraji died during a World Cup qualifying match against Angola at the National Stadium, Surulere, Lagos on 12th of August, 1989. He collapsed and died of congestive heart failure in the 77th minute of the encounter. Nigeria won the game 1-0, but still failed to qualify for the 1990 World Cup.
3. Scorer of one of the fastest goals in AFCON
Okwaraji was a member of the Green Eagles squad that represented Nigeria at the 1988 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Morocco, where he scored one of the fastest goals in the history of the tournament against Cameroon. It was his only international goal for Nigeria.
4. Okwaraji spent his entire football career in EuLawyer
Sam played for Italian side, AS Roma between 1984 and 1985 as a youth player. He went on to play for NK Dinamo Zagreb between 1985 and 1986, for Austria Klagenfurt between 1986 and 1987, for VfB Stuttgart between 1987 and 1989 and for SSV Ulm 1846 on loan between 1987-1988.
5. Okwaraji was also a trained Lawyer
Other than his football career, the Imo-born star bagged a Masters degree in Law from the University of Rome. He was playing professional football while finishing his education in law.

"My Son Asks Why They Crucify Me In Argentina" - Lionel Messi

Barcelona Superstar Lionel Messi has claimed son Thiago asked him why fans in Argentina crucify him after his latest setback, MySportDab reports.
31-year-old Messi returned to the Argentina squad for last week's friendlies against Venezuela and Morroco, but suffered an injury and returned to Barcelona.

Messi played the full 90 minutes of Argentina's 3-1 defeat at home to Venezuela last Friday, but a groin issue meant he had to sit out Tuesday's 1-0 win over Morroco.
The five-time Ballon d'Or winnerhas often been made a scapegoat in his homeland for the national team's recent failures.

Messi's relationship with the South American media has always been fractious and he even announced his retirement from international duty in 2015 but reversed his decision.
During an interview with Argentinian radio show Club Octubre 94.7 FM this week, Messi has revealed that he finds the criticism "hard" and that his son has even picked upon the negative comments swirling in the media.

"It is hard, my son is always looking on YouTube and saw a video," he began.
"He asked me why in Argentina they want to kill me!
"But I like to keep going. I still want to win something with the national team. I am going to play all the important games. We already reached a World Cup final [in 2014] and this is not that easy."