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Unbeaten Union Berlin win in Cologne to go atop Bundesliga

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An early own goal from Timo Hübers handed Union Berlin a 1-0 victory at Cologne on Sunday.

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The win took the capital club top of the Bundesliga for the first time in their history.

Fans of the Köpenick cult club revelled in their latest success of a strong start to the season which has brought four wins and two draws for a provisional best 14 points.

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Freiburg could have reclaimed top spot when they hosted Borussia Mönchengladbach in the final game of the weekend but were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw.

Champions Bayern Munich are two points short of Union after three successive draws and one behind second-placed Freiburg.

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A frantic start brought Union Berlin the early opener when Hübers turned in Sheraldo Becker’s cross.

Jordan Siebatcheu had a penalty kick saved by Marvin Schwäbe after handball from the hosts’ Luca Kilian.

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Becker had a goal disallowed for offside to cap a crazy first 15 minutes, while after the break Union’s Christopher Trimmel hit the bar bar from a well-worked free-kick.

Thereafter, Killian’s second yellow card for denying a counter-attack ended Cologne’s faint hopes of an equaliser.

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“We are on a run,” Union Berlin captain Trimmel later said, adding that his team “did well in phases. But we have to improve when it comes to playing with the ball”.

Cologne attacker Florian Kainz was annoyed: “In the first half it was far too little.”

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Both clubs are between mid-week European fixtures and made five changes to their starting 11, with the rotation handled much better by Union Berlin.

They even recalled Timo Baumgartl to the bench for the first time since his testicular cancer diagnosis in April.

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“It was a deserved win,” admitted Cologne coach Steffen Baumgart. “It’s been a while since I’ve seen a team here play as well as they did in the first half an hour.”

Union Berlin had an anxious wait for Gladbach to help them out in Freiburg, which they did largely thanks to inspired goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

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The Swiss goalkeeper made saves from Michael Gregoritsch, Ritsu Doan and Jeong Woo Yeong, though at the other end Marcus Thuram also tested Mark Flekken.

“It was a good 0-0 today,” said Gregoritsch. “It was a good performance, we won the ball well a lot.

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“We played a good game and 0-0 is okay because Gladbach also did well and had chances.”

Gladbach edged up to eighth with their draw, behind local rivals Cologne on goal difference.

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“It was a top game, to and fro,” said Gladbach midfielder Julian Weigl. “I think we can take the point with us [happily].”(dpa/NAN)

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BREAKING: Mikel Obi announces retirement from football at 35

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By Gloria Ikibah

Former Super Eagles captain, John Obi Mikel, has announced his retirement from football at the age of 35.

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The Chelsea FC hero disclosed this on his social media accounts on Tuesday.

In a post on Instagram on Tuesday, the former Chelsea of England star said it was a wrap for his 20 years footballing career as he begins another chapter of his life.

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Naijablitznews.com recalled that the 35-year-old retired from international football three years ago, after he led the Super Eagles to finish third at the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.

Mikel Obi made a total of 89 appearances for Nigeria between 2005 and 2019, scoring six times befroe leaving the Super Eagles, and has now called it quits for club football.

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“There is a saying that “all good things must come to an end”, and for my professional football career, that day is today,” he said.

“I look back at the past 20 years of my career, and I must say that I am very satisfied with all that I was able to achieve and more importantly the human it has helped shape.

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“All of this would not have been possible without the unwavering support of my family, managers, clubs, coaches, teammates and most importantly my ever-loyal fans.

“You supported me through my highs and lows, even on days that I did not live up to your expectations. I say a big thank you.

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“I will also like to encourage everyone who I may have inspired one way or the other in the course of my career to never give up on their dreams, for every time you think about quitting, remind yourself why you started.

“This is not goodbye, it’s the start of another journey, another chapter of my life. I look forward to what the future holds and I hope you will walk with me. Thank you.”

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A post shared by Mikel Obi (@mikel_john_obi)

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Mikel helped Nigeria win the 2013 AFCON, and was with the Flying Eagles at the 2005 FIFA U-20 World Cup, where he won the silver ball as the tournament’s second-best player behind Argentina’s Lionel Messi.

At Stamford Bridge, the midfielder lifted every major honour, which included two Premier League titles, the Champions League and the Europa League, among others. He clocked up a mammoth 372 appearances in a Chelsea shirt.

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Croatia, Netherlands Qualifies For Nations League Semi-finals

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Croatia and the Netherlands booked their places in the last four of the Nations League as champions France needed a favour to avoid relegation from the top tier on Sunday 25 September, 2022.

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Les Bleus were beaten 2-0 in Denmark to finish with just one win from their six group games, but Croatia’s 3-1 win at Austria saved the world champions from the drop.

Didier Deschamps will be hoping to have a number of key men back from injury by the time France’s defence of the World Cup begins against Australia on November 22 2022.

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They will also come up against the Danes in the group stage in Qatar and the Euro 2020 semi-finalists showed they are more than capable of causing France more trouble in two months’ time.

Both goals came before half-time as Kasper Dolberg stretched to turn home Mikkel Damsgaard’s cross before Andreas Skov Olsen volleyed in from the edge of the area.

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France were without Hugo Lloris, Jules Kounde, N’Golo Kante, Paul Pogba and Karim Benzema through injury.

But the star trio of Antoine Griezmann, Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe failed to find a way back into the game.

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Denmark’s win meant Croatia needed to get all three points in Austria to top the group.

Luka Modric got the 2018 World Cup finalists off to a flying start, but they were quickly pegged back by Christoph Baumgartner’s header.

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Two goals in three second half minutes proved decisive as Marko Livaja and Dejan Lovren headed in at the far post.

Defeat relegated Austria to League B.
The Netherlands made sure of top spot in Group A4 with a 1-0 win over Belgium thanks to Virgil van Dijk’s header 17 minutes from time.

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The Dutch just needed to avoid defeat by a three-goal margin after winning 4-1 in Brussels earlier in the group.

A Belgian revival never looked likely and Van Dijk settled the game when he was left completely unmarked to head in a corner inside the six-yard box.

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In the same group, Wales were relegated after losing 1-0 at home to Poland.

Karol Swiderski scored the only goal in Cardiff from Robert Lewandowski’s cushioned through ball.

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Why I Hired A Witch Doctor – Paul Pogba

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Juventus midfielder, Paul Pogba has confessed to hiring a witch doctor.

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The French International, however, said it was not to harm anyone but to help him with his injuries.

He explained to investigators working for France’s Central Office for the Fight against Organised Crime (OCLCO) that he was “looking to be protected against injury” and “also to help poor kids in Africa” he was in connection with through an aid organisation.

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Two judicial sources in Paris confirmed the revelations and the transcript from interviews completed last month.

Pogba’s confession comes after his brother, Mathias, claimed ‘The Marabout’ who calls himself ‘Ibrahim the Great’ was paid to cast evil spells on Mbappé.

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Five suspects including Mathias, have been charged with trying to blackmail Pogba out of more than £ 11 million.

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