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Bellingham brace helps leaders Madrid crush title rivals Girona

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Jude Bellingham struck twice as leaders Real Madrid took control of La Liga with a punishing 4-0 win over second-placed Girona on Saturday, opening up a five-point cushion.

Vinicius Junior drove home the opener and then set up Bellingham for the second as Carlo Ancelotti’s side dominated the Catalan minnows, leaving the surprise title contenders reeling.

Bellingham tapped in the third after the break from close range but limped off with an ankle problem early in the second half.

Rodrygo kept the goals flowing with a fine individual effort as the record 35-time Spanish champions taught Girona, in the top flight for only the fourth year in their history, a compelling lesson.

Victory leaves Madrid 11 points clear of champions Barcelona, third, who host Granada on Sunday.

Madrid’s victory was convincing, with swagger at times but also sweat to keep the league’s top goalscoring side quiet, despite significant injury absences.

Carlo Ancelotti started with a makeshift central defensive pairing of Dani Carvajal and Aurelien Tchouameni, with all four of the club’s specialists in the position out.

Girona were without the suspended Daley Blind and Yangel Herrera, as well as coach Michel Sanchez, watching on helplessly from a high vantage point as his team were dismantled.

They started well against Madrid but conceded early in a thorough 3-0 home defeat earlier in the season and committed the same mistake again at the Santiago Bernabeu.

This time Vinicius broke the deadlock in only the sixth minute, cutting in from the left and bending a vicious strike beyond Paulo Gazzaniga and in at the far post.

Back in the team after missing the Madrid derby with a neck problem, Vinicius’ drive was his seventh league goal of a season disrupted by injury.

Eduardo Camavinga, skipping forward from midfield, was shoved over by Juanpe on the edge of the box as Madrid pushed for a second, with Gazzaniga saving Fede Valverde’s low free-kick.

Bellingham, who started the match level with Girona’s Artem Dovbyk on 14 goals as the league’s joint top scorer, doubled Madrid’s lead.

The England international rounded Gazzaniga and then stroked home from a tight angle after a superb Vinicius pass sent him hurtling in on goal.

It ended a run of just one goal in eight games for Bellingham, who had scored freely at the start of the season as he hit the ground running following his move from Borussia Dortmund.

– Bellingham brace –

Bellingham tapped in his 16th of the season in La Liga early in the second half after Gazzaniga could only tip Vinicius’ shot into his path.

It was his last contribution, Ancelotti quickly withdrawing him afterwards for an ankle injury which he iced.

Bellingham might have sustained it when challenged by Pablo Torre, or slipping on it and colliding with Eric Garcia, both in the first half.

Madrid face RB Leipzig in the Champions League on Tuesday and will hope he is fit, after Bellingham reached 20 goals in 29 games across all competitions.

However Los Blancos have plenty of other firepower if he needs to rest.

Rodrygo rattled in the fourth after darting into the area as Girona collapsed — and perhaps their unlikely title bid has too.

Brahim Diaz curled inches wide and Joselu hit the post with a penalty after Yan Couto fouled Arda Guler as Madrid dominated from start to finish.

AFP

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Ex-Super Eagles goalie, Egbo wants to continue from where coach Peseiro stopped

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Ex-Nigerian goalkeeper Ndubuisi Emmanuel Egbo has thrown his hat in the battle for the vacant Super Eagles coaching role.

Former Nigeria goalkeeper Ndubuisi Emmanuel Egbo has said he would be open to taking the vacant coaching role with the Super Eagles.

Recall the search for the next Nigeria coach has begun after Jose Peseiro parted ways with the team following a 22-month stint.

Egbo, who made history as the first African coach to win a major European league title, spoke about the Super Eagles role following his feat years ago in Albania.

“It is my country, I’m 100% Nigerian even though I have a European passport,” Egbo told Channels TV in an interview.

Emmanuel Egbo started off his managerial career as a goalkeeper coach.
Emmanuel Egbo started off his managerial career as a goalkeeper coach. (Photo Credit: Egbo/IG)
“Anytime I’m called upon to come and help, to raise the football of my country up because I am expecting Nigeria one day to be challenging to win the World Cup, which we have not done for a long time now.”

“So, I’m always open; we can never say never to our country,” he stated about the possibility of managing the Nigerian job if offered.

It’s like a military service that anytime we are called upon we have to do it for our country,” he added.

The 50-year-old led KF Tirana to the Albanian league title in 2019/2020 season – their first championship in 11 years.

Egbo is a former Super Eagles goalkeeper, earning 12 caps and playing at two Africa Cup of Nations tournaments – 2000 and 2002.

After retiring, he moved into coaching, starting as a goalkeeper coach before he worked his way up to become Tirana manager three years ago.

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Our Performance Against City Was Very Good, Says Ten Hag

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Manchester United boss, Erik Ten Hag, believes his side put in a very good performance against Manchester City on Sunday but were unlucky not to get a point out of the game

The Red Devils had a bright start as early as the eight-minute with a 26-yard screamer from Marcus Rashford to beat Ederson but a Phil Foden double turned the tide in City’s favour, before Erling Haaland put the game to rest in injury time.

But the Dutchman says his side did well despite the defeat at the Etihad Stadium.

”I think also [in] defending, we closed the middle very good, we defended the box very good. So the performance from our side was very good,” he said in a post-match interview.

“It’s about getting behind the defending line and with the speed from Garnacho and Rashford. And I think that went very well – we were already up after a couple of minutes. Good breakthrough from Garnacho, Rashford was in the perfect scoring position and then, quickly after the goal from Rashford, we had our moments and more throughout the game.”

‘A Win Was Possible’
Ten Hag indicated that he was impressed with how his side’s tactical awareness, feeling they were simply undone in a couple of ‘defining moments’,

”We had our moments after it as well, to go for a second one. I think we defended very well. But then [there were] two I will say defining moments where we almost make a breakthrough and we conceded the first goal and also the second goal after also a defining moment, when Garnacho is through on the break. So yeah, then you are disappointed,” he said.

”We have to accept it, but it is what it is. But still, I think we had the opportunity to at least get one point, but also a win was possible.”

Despite the loss, the Dutchman believes his side are still improving and do not need to dwell on a bad night at the Etihad.

“We had one bad, bad performance last week [against Fulham], where we didn’t play that well, but from this year on, I think we are really progressing. You have to get some points back, and then you have to win a game like today against City. And there are more coming games,” he said.

”There are still many games to play and everyone can beat everyone. So things can quickly turn around. So we have to win our games. Number five could be a position for the Champions League, so, as I say, we have to fight for it.”

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Details Of How Man City Beat Man Utd 3-1 To Close In On Liverpool

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Phil Foden scored twice as Man City came from behind to beat Man United 3-1 on Sunday and close to within one point of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Erling Haaland also struck in stoppage time to leave the title race perfectly poised ahead of City’s trip to Liverpool next weekend.

Marcus Rashford’s wonder strike had fired United into a shock lead at the Etihad.

Haaland was then guilty of a miss that will go down in Premier League folklore when he fired over with an open goal just before half-time.

Foden ensured City did not slip up in the title race as he blasted into the top corner to level and produced a composed finish 10 minutes from time.

Haaland then rolled in his sixth goal in four Premier League derbies against United to atone for his earlier miss.

An 11th league defeat of the season for United leaves Erik ten Hag’s men 11 points adrift of the top four with 11 games remaining.

The former Ajax boss was furious that City’s equaliser was allowed to stand as he claimed Rashford had been fouled at the other end seconds earlier.

But United could have few complaints after being thoroughly outplayed by their rivals for almost the entire match.

Rashford rounded on his critics this week as he hit back at questions of his commitment.

The England international has been a pale imitation of the forward who scored 30 goals last season for most of this campaign but showed a glimpse of the quality he is capable of to open the scoring on eight minutes.

City pleaded in vain for an offside flag against Bruno Fernandes and he layed the ball back for Rashford to smash in a stunning long-range effort off the underside of the bar.

Pep Guardiola’s men dominated from that moment on but were kept at bay for nearly an hour by wayward finishing and some fine goalkeeping by Andre Onana.

Twice the Cameroonian foiled Foden when clean through, while Rodri was also denied by a smart stop low to his left.

At the other end, Rashford should have doubled United’s lead before the break.

A slip from Ruben Dias put Rashford clean through, but a poor touch allowed Kyle Walker to race back and clear.

United’s lead remained intact until half-time but only thanks to a moment that will be replayed for years to come.

City finally cut the visitors’ mass ranks of defence to shreds as Rodri’s cross was headed back across goal by Foden, inviting the finishing touch by Haaland.

However, he incredibly turned the ball over with the goal gaping from point-blank range.

The rearguard action from the Red Devils was finally undone as Foden produced a strike to match Rashford’s in the first half.

Ten Hag was furious that a foul had not been awarded to Rashford at the other end, but he appeared to go to the ground too easily under contact from Walker.

Rodri picked out Foden, who cut inside and arrowed a blistering shot into the top corner.

A slick one-two between Foden and Julian Alvarez opened up the United defence for the decisive goal as the England international fired in his 18th of the season.

Haaland’s redemption rounded off a fine afternoon for the English champions.

Rodri dispossessed Sofyan Amrabat and teed up the Norwegian to curl beyond Onana.

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