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Paris St-Germain 2-0 Real Sociedad: Kylian Mbappe marks return from injury with goal

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Kylian Mbappe marked his return from injury with a goal as Paris St-Germain took control of their Champions League last-16 tie against Real Sociedad.

The French champions have an underwhelming record in the competition and were enduring a frustrating night until Mbappe pounced.

Having missed his side’s previous match with an ankle problem, Mbappe scored at the back post after a corner.

Bradley Barcola added the second with a lovely finish past Alex Remiro.

Real Sociedad keeper Remiro had earlier denied Mbappe a second when he tipped his attempt on to the crossbar.

PSG, who have never won the Champions League, were far from their best in the first half and Real Sociedad’s Mikel Merino hit the bar just before half-time.

“If you told me at half-time we would win 2-0, I would be dancing for two hours,” PSG manager Luis Enrique told TNT Sports.

“We had to change everything because they were pressing us very high. We couldn’t press and it was like a nightmare.

“When that happens you are going to lose confidence, but football is unbelievable and we could change that. In the second half it was more what we wanted.”

Real Sociedad will believe they can turn it around in the second leg in Spain on 5 March, but will have to offer a much more attacking threat than in Paris.

Qatar-owned PSG have spent vast sums on transfer fees and wages in recent years only to be eliminated from the last 16 of the Champions League five times in the past seven seasons.

They have won nine Ligue 1 titles since Qatar Sports Investments took over in 2011 but, with European success eluding the club, they have also appointed seven managers in that time – four of those in the past four years.

Enrique, their latest manager who steered Barcelona to Champions League glory in 2014-15, returns to Spain for the second leg in three weeks’ time knowing his team are in a strong position to advance thanks partly to Mbappe.

With the forward’s contract running out at the end of June there has been much speculation about his future, but to his credit the 2018 World Cup winner with France has delivered goals all season.

Mbappe has been directly involved in 38 in 30 appearances for his club this season – 31 goals, seven assists – the most of any player in Europe’s big five leagues.

In addition, he has now scored 44 times in 68 Champions League appearances for Monaco and PSG.

In January Mbappe, who has been linked with Real Madrid, said he had not made a decision about his future and it remains to be seen where he will be playing his football next season.

His performance against Real Sociedad illustrated what a huge asset he is to PSG, with four of his seven attempts on target.

He would have walked away with the match ball but for Remiro, who denied Mbappe as early as the sixth minute after he was played in with only the keeper to beat.

This was Real Sociedad’s first knockout tie in the competition for 20 years.

It appeared to be going to plan for the team from the Basque Country as they limited PSG to a handful of chances in the first half, before conceding twice in the space of 12 minutes.

The absence of captain Mikel Oyarzabal because of injury was a blow, and manager Imanol Alguacil will hope his leading goalscorer is fit to play in the return leg.

Real Sociedad conceded as many goals in the French capital as they did in the entire group stage – two in six games – while this was their first defeat in European competition since March 2023, ending a seven-match unbeaten run.

“Two goals is nothing, and at home, with our fans pushing as we have done in the last games in the Champions League, I think we have a chance,” said former Newcastle midfielder Merino about his side’s hopes of turning the match around in the second leg.

“It’s all about being efficient, about scoring goals, which is what we haven’t done lately but we know that with our fans we can do it.”

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Football Legend, David Beckham Wins £240m Legal Fight

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David Beckham has won a massive £240million legal battle against several counterfeiters who were selling fake versions of his designer gear online.

The former football legend, 48, who is the director of DB Ventures had been seeking a staggering £1.58billion from 150 internet sellers.

Case files revealed the fraudsters were selling the fake goods on sites including Amazon, eBay, and Etsy by firms or individuals based in China or elsewhere in Asia.

These items consisted of designer clothing, footwear, perfume, hair, and body products, posters, footballs, video games, eyewear, jewellery, and watches.

The complaint said: ‘Their sale poses a real threat to DBV’s brand, and affects the sustainability of its business.

‘It also affects individuals and companies who unwittingly purchase them.’

The paperwork filed in the US also claimed the dodgy sales ‘erode the brand’s reputation’ and cost the company ‘considerable lost sales and harm’.

But now after almost three months since initiating legal action, Beckham has won the case, according to The Sun.

Last summer a temporary injunction and asset freeze were granted to Becks, which have now been made permanent by the judge.

Additionally, DB Venture’s motion for a default judgment against 44 defendants was granted, awarding £8,000 for each infringement.

However, the total award of £352,000 is significantly lower than the £ 240 million sought by Beckham’s team from the 15 firms collectively.

The former England captain will be happy to know that the counterfeiters are required to stop selling and forfeit any profits they accumulated.

DB Ventures enlisted the expertise of trademark specialists, The Sladkus Law Group, to put an end to the illicit sales.

In the filing, partner Jeffrey Sladkus explained that tracking the sites was challenging due to their lack of accurate address or phone number information.

He emphasised that legal threats were the sole effective method to halt their activities.

Beckham allegedly sold a 55 per cent stake in the firm to Authentic Brands in 2022 for £200million, despite the company’s profitable turnover doubling to £72million in the same year.

The company owns fashion brands Juicy Couture and Forever 21.

A source previously told the publication: ‘Authentic Brands want to crack down on people ­making cash from flogging goods with David’s name attached to it.

‘David and the team pride themselves on the quality of what they sell, including their clothes and ­fragrances, and they don’t want ­people being unwittingly ripped off when they buy a fake.’

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Bayer Leverkusen win Bundesliga to end Bayern Munich’s 11-year title streak

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Bayer Leverkusen lifted the Bundesliga title for the first time in their 120-year history on Sunday, a 5-0 victory over Werder Bremen breaking Bayern Munich’s 11-year stranglehold on the German top flight.

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen knew victory would secure the title with five games to spare, and there were no signs of nerves in a dominant performance.

A hat-trick from Florian Wirtz and goals from Victor Boniface and Granit Xhaka extended their unbeaten run to a stunning 43 games in all competitions.

Leverkusen’s maiden title, coming after five second-place finishes in their history, keeps their dream of a remarkable treble alive while shedding their unwanted ‘Neverkusen’ nickname for good.

With 10 minutes to go, the long-suffering fans began making their way to the sidelines and a few jumped the gun, storming the pitch with the match still ongoing.

Leverkusen’s players ushered the fans back and some obliged, albeit briefly, with the stands swiftly emptying on the 90-minute mark as tearful fans made their way onto the grass to celebrate with the players.

Leverkusen are now on 79 points — the best tally after 29 games in German league history — and are 16 clear of second-placed Bayern and third-placed Stuttgart.

“It’s impossible to describe. Personally I can’t quite grasp what we did. I needed to go back to the locker room to clear my head,” Xhaka told DAZN.

“We’ve already started the party with the supporters.”

Xhaka, who arrived from Arsenal in summer having disappointingly missed out on the Premier League title after leading for much of last season, said the side “could not imagine what we would achieve at the start of the season.”

“It was when we started winning some matches, with a dominant style of play, that’s when I realised we could do a little better than just making the Champions League.”

-Sea of red and black –
The Bayer Leverkusen bus arrived at the stadium 90 minutes before kick-off, wading through a sea of fans clad in black and red on the way to the 30,000-capacity BayArena.

Normally known as Bismarck Street, fans had stuck temporary signs saying ‘Xabi Alonso Street’ along the main road in honour of the club’s coach.

Alonso looked ahead to Thursday’s Europa League trip to London to face West Ham, making seven changes to his starting XI and benching stars Wirtz, Jeremie Frimpong and Alex Grimaldo, the latter for the first time in the league this season.

Piero Hincapie, Grimaldo’s replacement, had an early effort at goal saved but it would be the fit-again Boniface, making his first start since mid-December, who put the home side in front.

With 22 minutes gone, Jonas Hofmann was felled in the box by Bremen’s Julian Malatini, with the referee pointing to the spot after VAR urged him to view the contact again on the monitor.

Boniface stepped up and nervelessly slotted the penalty past a helpless Michael Zetterer to send the home fans into raptures.

Hofmann was almost the provider again shortly before half-time, his pass finding Amine Adli who fired against the crossbar.

Bremen started the second-half strongly but their hopes of spoiling the party were snuffed out on the 60-minute mark, Boniface finding Xhaka who unleashed a long-range rocket before slapping his badge in front of the ecstatic home fans.

Wirtz, who came on at half-time for Adli, replicated Xhaka’s effort eight minutes later from almost the same spot on the pitch.

Wirtz added another with seven minutes remaining before sealing his hat-trick in the 90th minute as Bayer Leverkusen rid themselves of their nearly men tag in style.

Earlier on Sunday, a 36th-minute goal from Ritsu Doan took Freiburg to a 1-0 win at Darmstadt, pushing the last-placed hosts closer to immediate relegation.

Winless since October and with only two victories all year, the loss leaves Darmstadt dead last, eight points from second-last and 13 points from safety with five games remaining.

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Zambian legend, Rainford Kalaba is dead

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The football world is in mourning following the tragic death of Zambian football legend Rainford Kalaba, who died in a road traffic accident on April 13, 2024, in Kafue, Lusaka Province.

The accident also claimed the life of his partner, adding to the grief of Kalaba’s family and fans.

Kalaba, aged 37, was a celebrated striker for TP Mazembe and a national hero for Zambia.

He was a key player in Zambia’s 2012 Africa Cup of Nations victory and had a distinguished club career with TP Mazembe, winning the CAF Champions League, Confederation Cup, and Super Cup.

Making his national team debut in 2005, Kalaba scored 15 goals in 105 appearances.

His personal highlight was winning the Golden Boot at the 2016 CAF Confederations Cup, where TP Mazembe triumphed over Algeria’s MO Béjaïa.

Kalaba’s legacy extends beyond his accolades; he is remembered for his role in the Zambian team that defied expectations to win the 2012 AFCON.

His career also included stints with Zambian clubs Kitwe United and ZESCO United, as well as loan spells in Portugal with Gil Vicente and Leiria.

The African football community has expressed deep condolences to Kalaba’s family, honouring the memory of a player who brought glory to his nation and joy to fans across the continent.

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