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Arsenal again show class hammer Newcastle 4-1 at Emirates



Bukayo Saka scored for a fifth game in a row as Arsenal moved to within two points of Premier League leaders Liverpool with a dominant 4-1 win over Newcastle on Saturday night.

Transformed from the passive side beaten in Porto on Wednesday night and inspired by wingers Saka and Gabriel Martinelli who had struggled in that Champions League tie, Arsenal were electric from the first whistle, and deservedly two up inside 24 minutes.

Loris Karius, the surprise selection in goal for Newcastle with Martin Dubravka ill, had little protection on his first Premier League appearance in almost six years.

He was unable to force away Gabriel’s header from a corner which was knocked into his own goal by Sven Botman and completely exposed when Martinelli cut back for Kai Havertz to stroke in the second.

The visitors eventually found something of a foothold in the second half – but were swiftly hit by another double blow, with Saka cutting back on his left and cracking in a super strike before Jakub Kiwior forced home a header from another corner off Lewis Miley, which Karius could only fumble on its way through.

There was a late consolation for the travelling fans to cheer when Joe Willock headed in against his former club with six minutes to play. It was Newcastle’s first goal at Arsenal in over nine years. But defeat leaves them eighth, 15 points off the top four and 10 behind fifth-placed Tottenham.

Arsenal, infuriated by VAR’s decision to allow Anthony Gordon’s winner to stand at St James’ Park in November, may have felt like they had a score to settle after that frustrating defeat but the major statement they made with this result and performance is that they are firmly in the three-horse title race.

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Champions League semi-final fixtures confirmed



The two semi-final fixtures in this year’s Champions League have been confirmed.

This follows the completion of all quarter-final ties on Wednesday night.

Bayern Munich will play Real Madrid after they beat Arsenal 1-0 at the Allianz Arena to qualify with a 3-2 aggregate.

Madrid drew 1-1 on the night at the Etihad, before winning the penalty shoot-out 4-3.

In the other semi-final clash, Paris Saint-Germain will take on Borussia Dortmund.

PSG sent Barcelona packing with a 6-4 aggregate win on Tuesday, while Dortmund eliminated Atletico Madrid with a 5-4 aggregate victory.

The last-four fixtures have been scheduled for April 30 and May 7, 2024.

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Mbappe’s PSG Punish 10-man Barca To Reach Champions League Semis



Kylian Mbappe struck twice as Paris Saint-Germain battled back to beat 10-man Barcelona 4-1 and book a place in the Champions League semi-finals with a 6-4 aggregate triumph on Tuesday.

Raphinha fired Barcelona ahead early on but Ronald Araujo’s 29th-minute red card turned the tide in PSG’s favour, despite the Spanish champions leading by two goals following a 3-2 quarter-final first-leg win.

Ousmane Dembele and Vitinha levelled the tie for PSG and the deadly Mbappe hit a brace to put them into the final four for the first time since 2021.

The French champions have never won the trophy despite huge investment but demonstrated they have the attacking weapons in their squad to do so.

Five-time winners Barcelona were dreaming of a first semi-final return since 2019 but Araujo’s red card for pulling down the relentless Bradley Barcola undermined their grip on the tie.

PSG coach Luis Enrique, who led Barca to the 2015 Champions League, said he believed his team would turn things around despite never having managed to after a first-leg defeat, and so it proved.

The visitors started with determination and penned Barcelona back in their territory, but it was the hosts who took the lead.

Explosive 16-year-old starlet Lamine Yamal ripped past Nuno Mendes and crossed to the near post where Raphinha turned home despite pressure from Achraf Hakimi.

It was the Brazilian winger’s third goal of the tie after his brace in Paris.

Robert Lewandowski fired another chance over the top for Barcelona before Barcola tilted the tie in PSG’s favour. The winger was a nightmare for his French compatriot Jules Kounde to handle.

Barcola teed up Mbappe but Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied him well before Araujo was sent off for bringing him down.

The Uruguayan centre-back pulled Barcola back as he burst into the area, leaving Barca with 10 men.

Dembele whizzed the resulting free-kick narrowly over, but soon found the net, as he did in the first leg.

The former Barcelona winger struck after 40 minutes from another Barcola cross, which raked across the area to the back post where Dembele was arriving to fire into the roof of the net.

Barcelona sacrificed Yamal for defender Inigo Martinez after Araujo’s red card and it left them with few outlets in attack.

With PSG controlling the game Barcelona soon paid the price for their inability to keep possession.

Vitinha was given far too much space on the edge of the box and he drilled into the bottom corner to put PSG ahead on the night.

Ilkay Gundogan hit the post at the other end for Barcelona before their coach Xavi was sent off for a show of dissent on the touchline.

The Catalans were losing their heads and Joao Cancelo clumsily fouled Dembele to hand PSG a penalty.

Mbappe, who had been kept quiet in the first leg, hammered it into the top corner for his 40th goal across all competitions.

The striker’s future may lie in Spain, with Real Madrid aiming to sign him in the summer at the end of his contract, and he made no friends in Barcelona by hopping the advertising hoardings and running towards fans to celebrate.

Another member of Barcelona’s backroom staff was dismissed after Gundogan had a penalty appeal waved away and it became clear the hosts had no response.

Mbappe wrapped up the win in the 89th minute after a fine Ter Stegen double save, leaving Barcelona the victims of another bitterly disappointing night in Europe.


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CAF Set To Scrap Confederation Cup, Elevate African Football League



The Confederation of African Football, CAF, is set to scrap its second-tier club competition, the Confederation Cup, according to reports.

The Confederation Cup was established in 2004 from a merger of the CAF Cup and the African Cup Winners’ Cup.

CAF introduced a new competition, the African Football League last year.

The African Football League, which started with eight teams will now be expanded to include more teams.

It will now be the major club competition on the continent.

The CAF Champions League will take the place of the CAF Confederation Cup as Africa’s second-tier club competition.

The winner of the African Football League will now be representing the continent in the FIFA Club World Cup.

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