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EPL: Liverpool survive Burnley scare to regain top spot

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Liverpool survived a scare from struggling Burnley to regain first place in the Premier League with a 3-1 win at Anfield on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side had been knocked out of pole position by Manchester City’s 2-0 victory against Everton earlier in the afternoon.

It looked as though Liverpool might end the weekend off the summit after Burnley’s Dara O’Shea cancelled out Diogo Jota’s opener.

But Liverpool recovered their composure in the second half as goals from Luis Diaz and Darwin Nunez lifted them two points clear of second-placed City.

It was a hard-fought success rather than an eye-catching performance, with Liverpool’s flu and injury-hit side dragging up just enough quality to dispatch second-bottom Burnley.

In front of Liverpool’s record league crowd of 59,896, following the full opening of the Anfield Road stand, the Reds responded to last weekend’s damaging defeat at title rivals Arsenal.

Liverpool were without goalkeeper Alisson Becker and defender Joe Gomez, while their fitness issues mounted when Trent Alexander-Arnold was forced off early in the second half.

Fortunately for Klopp, it was Alexander-Arnold’s replacement Harvey Elliott who set up the goals for Diaz and Nunez.

For 25 minutes it looked a struggle for Liverpool, with Caoimhin Kelleher required to be out quickly to block Zeki Amdouni’s shot.

The breakthrough came in the 31st minute when Clarets goalkeeper James Trafford misjudged the flight of a corner and Jota headed in his fifth goal in six games.

O’Shea produced an even better header from 12 yards from Josh Brownhill’s corner, outjumping Wataru Endo to power the ball past Kelleher in first-half stoppage time.

Seven minutes after the interval, Elliott made his first significant contribution when his low cross took a deflection off Maxime Esteve and allowed a stooping Diaz to nod in at the near post.

Kelleher made a key save in the 64th minute in a one-on-one against David Datro Fofana, with Wilson Odobert blazing over the rebound with only the goalkeeper to beat.

Visiting sides rarely get the chance to make amends for such profligacy in the Klopp era and Nunez delivered the knockout blow in the 79th minute when he flicked a header inside the far post from Elliott’s cross.

AFP

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BREAKING: After Benin disaster, Finidi George resigns as Super Eagles coach

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By Kayode Sanni-Arewa

After the Benin Republic disaster, Super Eagles coach, Finidi George has resigned following moves by the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to get a foreign technical adviser.

Super Eagles media officer Toyin Ibitoye announced George’s departure in a social media post on Saturday.

He wrote, “News just in. Finidi George #FinidiGeorge_FG has resigned from his #NGSuperEagles manager position.”

Details soon…

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Euro 2024: Mourinho spotted with Sir Alex Ferguson at Germany vs Scotland game

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Former Manchester United managers, Jose Mourinho and Sir Alex Ferguson, were spotted together as Euro 2024 kicked off on Friday night.

The two men watched Germany’s 5-1 win against Scotland at the Allianz Arena.

13-time title winner Fergie and three-time title winner Mourinho could be seen deep in conversation at the game.

They then cracked wide smiles as they posed together for a picture.

“With the Scottish legend. I have to be with them! Great Man,” Mourinho said.

With the future of Erik ten Hag uncertain at Old Trafford, Mourinho took his next coaching job at Fenerbahce.

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Hosts Germany Hammer Scotland 5-1 In Euro 2024 Opener

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Germany thrashed 10-man Scotland 5-1 as the Euro 2024 hosts kicked off the tournament in style in Munich on Friday, the start of a journey they hope culminates in a record fourth continental title.

Florian Wirtz struck the opening goal 10 minutes in and Jamal Musiala soon doubled Germany’s lead with an emphatic finish.

A greatly awaited night for Scotland went from bad to worse before half-time when Ryan Porteous was sent off for a two-footed challenge on Ilkay Gundogan, with Kai Havertz tucking away the resulting penalty.

Niclas Fuellkrug powered in a fourth midway through the second half after coming on as a substitute and not even a late own goal from Antonio Ruediger could spoil an otherwise perfect start to the campaign for Germany.

There was even time for Emre Can to add a fifth goal with the final kick of the game.

Scotland could surely not have envisioned such a disastrous beginning, but they must regroup quickly with games to come in Group A against Switzerland and Hungary.

After three successive failures at major tournaments, including back-to-back group stage exits at the 2018 and 2022 World Cups, this was a strong statement of intent from an experienced Germany side.

It is Germany’s first men’s major tournament as hosts since the 2006 World Cup, and they are looking to recreate the magic that helped rekindle the passion for the national team after a spell in the international doldrums.

Germany coach Julian Nagelsmann had spoken of his players’ hunger to atone for the failures of recent times, with the outlook improving and optimism gradually increasing since his appointment in September.

His counterpart Steve Clarke on the other hand urged Scotland to “fear no one” going into the country’s second straight Euros after more than two decades in the international wilderness.

Almost right away Germany took the game to a Scotland side who arrived in Munich with only one win from their past nine matches — an unimpressive 2-0 victory over lowly Gibraltar last week.

Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn alertly blocked from an offside Wirtz, but Germany did not wait long in grasping the match by the scruff of the neck.

Toni Kroos, coaxed out of his Germany retirement earlier this year, pinged a ball out to Joshua Kimmich, who teed up Wirtz to sweep in from the edge of the area as Gunn could only help the shot in via the post.

Kroos will hang up his boots for good after the tournament, but with him and Gundogan running the Germany midfield they bring a level of knowledge and maturity few can match.

Gundogan threaded a pass through the Scotland defence to Havertz, who worked it back towards Musiala, the Bayern Munich attacker created himself space to crash a strike into the roof of the net.

Germany were initially awarded a penalty as Musiala went down in a heap after getting caught between Ryan Christie and Kieran Tierney, but referee Clement Turpin deemed the foul occurred outside the area after consulting the touchline monitor.

That merely delayed Germany’s third goal, which did eventually come from the spot following another VAR review that led to Porteous being sent off for a crude challenge on Gundogan, who was chopped down attempting to convert the rebound from his own header.

Havertz calmly sent Gunn the wrong way and drained any remaining optimism from Scotland’s once boisterous and sizeable travelling contingent of supporters.

Scotland tried to limit the damage in the second half, but there was no stopping Fuellkrug’s thumping drive into the top corner within a few minutes of his introduction as a replacement for Havertz.

Fuellkrug had the ball in the net a second time, but fortunately for Scotland they were spared further misery when he was ruled offside.

The only bright spot for Scotland came three minutes from time as Ruediger inadvertently diverted Scott McKenna’s header past goalkeeper Manuel Neuer.

But there was still more punishment to come as substitute Can curled home from 20 yards right at the death to cap a glorious night for the Germans.

AFP

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