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Leverkusen Beat Heidenheim To Go Eight Clear In Bundesliga

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Goals from Jeremie Frimpong and Amine Adli earned Leverkusen a 2-1 win at Heidenheim on Saturday, sending Xabi Alonso’s Bundesliga leaders eight points clear of Bayern Munich in second.

Leverkusen’s win extended their unbeaten run to 32 games in all competitions this season, equalling the record set by Hansi Flick’s Bayern across the 2019-20 and 2020-21 seasons.

Frustrated by the resolute hosts early, Leverkusen eventually broke through right before half-time when Frimpong’s deflected shot found the net.

Midfield maestro Florian Wirtz hit the crossbar late but helped seal the result shortly after, laying on a perfect pass for Adli to round the goalkeeper and score.

Heidenheim’s Tim Kleindienst headed in a goal with three minutes remaining, the first time Leverkusen had conceded in six hours in the league.

“Altogether we did it very smartly, other than the late goal we conceded,” Leverkusen’s Granit Xhaka told Sky.

“The team is ripe. We showed again how dominant we can be.”

Second-placed Bayern, thumped 3-0 by Leverkusen last week, can narrow the gap when they play on Sunday at Bochum.

Elsewhere, RB Leipzig’s won 2-0 at home against Borussia Moenchengladbach in a match overshadowed by the death of a spectator who fell ill in the stands.

Leipzig tweeted during the game that medical staff had “tried to resuscitate” the individual but were unsuccessful.

Leipzig midfielder Xavi Simons gave his team the lead with a brilliant goal, bouncing a Dani Olmo pass off his thigh before unleashing a rocket from the edge of the box.

Lois Openda doubled Leipzig’s lead after 57 minutes, chipping over the goalkeeper’s head and into the goal.

Openda, who arrived from Ligue 1 side Lens in the summer, has 16 league goals this season and has scored in each of his past five games.

Leipzig’s win took them one point behind fourth-placed Borussia Dortmund, who drew 1-1 at struggling Wolfsburg, with home midfielder Yannick Gerhardt’s second-half header cancelling out an early Niclas Fuellkrug goal.

Having absorbed some early pressure from the hosts, Dortmund scored after eight minutes, Fuellkrug kneeing in a rebound from a Marco Reus shot on the counter.

Gerhardt equalised after a long interruption due to fan protests against an investor deal for the Bundesliga, heading in from close range after a deflected clearance from the Dortmund defence.

“We didn’t have enough chances on the whole,” said Dortmund goalkeeper Gregor Kobel. “We are not satisfied with the point.”

Serhou Guirassy scored his first goal of the calendar year as 10-man Stuttgart won 2-1 at Darmstadt to go five clear of Dortmund in third.

Guirassy headed in from close range 15 minutes in for his 18th league goal of the season.

Both sides scored in second-half injury time as Stuttgart held on despite being reduced to 10 men late in the first half.

Union Berlin secured a crucial victory in their bid to avoid the drop, American midfielder Brenden Aaronson scoring late for a 1-0 win at Hoffenheim.

Both sides played the second half with 10 men after Hoffenheim’s Stanley Nsoki and Union’s Kevin Volland picked up second yellow cards just before half-time.

Union’s win took them eight points clear of the relegation spots in an increasingly crowded lower half of the table.

Mainz won just their second match of the season 1-0 at home over Augsburg, with Liverpool loanee Sepp van den Berg’s first-half strike enough despite Nadiem Amiri missing a penalty.

AFP

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PHOTOS: Eni Aluko Becomes 1st Black Female Football Club Owner In Italy

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In a groundbreaking move, Eni Aluko, a former sports director for Aston Villa and Angel City, has become the first black female football club owner in Italy.

Aluko is part of a $100 million ownership group, known as Mercury 13, that has acquired a majority stake in FC Como Women, a club based in northern Italy.

Aluko, who has primarily focused on football broadcasting since her retirement, has now ventured into sports ownership, joining the Mercury 13 group. This move not only makes her the first black woman to own a football team in her native Italy but also serves as an inspiration for black sports investors and black ownership in general.

The Mercury 13 ownership group has pledged to invest $100 million in women’s football teams across Latin America and Europe, reflecting the growing interest and investment in the sport. With Aluko’s majority ownership of Como FC, the group is positioning itself to build a stable of women’s clubs, capitalizing on the increasing popularity of the women’s game.

Aluko’s journey to club ownership is a testament to her passion for the sport and her desire to make a lasting impact. As a former sports director, she brings a wealth of experience and expertise to her new role, and her involvement is expected to further elevate the profile of women’s football in Italy and beyond.

This landmark acquisition by the Mercury 13 group, with Eni Aluko at the helm, represents a significant milestone in the history of Italian football and the ongoing efforts to promote diversity and inclusivity in the sport.

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NFF appoints new coach for Golden Eaglets

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Board of Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has appointed Manu Garba Golden Eaglets’ as Head Coach to the Golden Eaglet.

Notable, Manu Garba was a former U17 World Cup winner and now appointed as Head Coach of the Nigeria U17 boys, Golden Eaglets.

This was disclosed in a statement by Ademola Olajire, Director of Communications at NFF, on Friday in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that Garba had, in the same role, led the Golden Eaglets to win the FIFA U17 World Cup for Nigeria in the United Arab Emirates in 2013.

Garba’s squad in 2013 included Kelechi Iheanacho, Taiwo Awoniyi, Isaac Success, Musa Mohammed, Chidiebere Nwakali, and goalkeeper Dele Alampasu.

The squad, which finished as runners-up at the African U17 Championship in Morocco after a penalty shootout defeat by Cote d’Ivoire, defeated Mexico 6-1 in their opening game.

It drew 3-3 with Sweden and hammered Iraq 5-0. In the Round of 16, they defeated Iran 4-1, dispatched Uruguay 2-0 in the quarterfinals, and trounced Sweden 3-0 in the semi-finals.

 

They went ahead to dislodged Mexico by the same margin in the final to lift the trophy.

According to Olajire, Garba is to resume immediately and take charge of the team’s preparations for the WAFU B U17 Championship, scheduled for Ghana in May.

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Liverpool On Brink Of Europa League Exit After Atalanta Thrashing

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Atalanta stunned Anfield as Gianluca Scamacca scored twice in a 3-0 win on Thursday to leave Liverpool with a mountain to climb to reach the Europa League semi-finals.

Mario Pasalic added a third seven minutes from time to condemn Liverpool to a first home defeat in all competitions for 14 months.

The Reds had been favourites to end the Jurgen Klopp era by completing the German’s set of trophies won as Liverpool boss in his last game in charge in the Dublin final.

With Liverpool locked in a tight three-way battle for the Premier League title alongside Arsenal and Manchester City, Klopp showed that remains his priority as he made six changes to the side that were held 2-2 by Manchester United on Sunday.

Mohamed Salah was one of those left on the bench but he was unable to inspire a response despite being thrust into action right at the start of the second half after a lacklustre first 45 minutes from the home side.

Atalanta had won just two of their previous nine games in all competitions.

But the side sitting sixth in Serie A were a threat from the first whistle.

Pasalic missed a glorious chance to open the scoring after just three minutes when he fired into Caoimhin Kelleher’s face as the Irish international spread himself.

Harvey Elliott hit the crossbar and Darwin Nunez sliced wide when clean through on goal but those promising Liverpool attacks were few and far between.

Scamacca failed to shine during his one season in the Premier League with West Ham, but he has now scored three times in England for club and country this season.

Atalanta made the breakthrough on 38 minutes when the Italian international fired low through Kelleher’s grasp from Davide Zappacosta’s cross.

Teun Koopmeiners should have made it 2-0 before the break when he failed to beat Kelleher one-on-one.

Klopp reacted at half-time as Salah, Dominik Szoboszlai and Andy Robertson were sent on in a rescue mission.

However, even the changes failed to muster a response from a jaded looking side in their 50th game of the season.

Scamacca was offered an acre of space to slot home Charles De Ketelaere’s cross on the hour mark.

Luis Diaz and Diogo Jota were then introduced by Klopp but Liverpool continued to create little despite their abundance of attacking talent on the field and left themselves open to the counter-attack.

Atalanta took full advantage to close to within the brink of just their second ever European final.

Scamacca turned provider for the third after Szoboszlai gifted possession away inside his own half.

Ederson’s first effort was saved by Kelleher, but Pasalic thumped home the rebound to the delight of the travelling fans.

Liverpool have a history of thrilling comebacks in the European competition, most notably from 3-0 down at half-time in the 2005 Champions League final against AC Milan.

But they will need a fightback of that magnitude to keep alive the dream of sending Klopp out with a European trophy.

AFP

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