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

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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.

AFP

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Transfer: I want to play for a bigger club – Nwabali hints at next move

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Super Eagles goalkeeper, Stanley Nwabali, has dropped the biggest hint that he could leave Chippa United this summer.

Nwabali burst onto the scene at the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations in January this year.

The 27-year-old goalkeeper finished the competition with four clean sheets in seven appearances.

He also made two penalty saves in the shoot-out against South Africa in the quarterfinals.

This season, Nwabali has kept 11 clean sheets for Chippa United in 26 appearances.

Following his impressive performances, Nwabali has become a target for clubs abroad.

Saudi Pro League club Al Ettifaq, English Championship side Queens Park Rangers, and South African side Kaizer Chiefs have all been linked.

Following the final game of the season – a 2-0 defeat to Orlando Pirate – Nwabali dropped a hint on his future.

“Well, everyone would love to leave because when you are in some position, you need to grow,” said Nwabali.

“Like everyone in my position, I would like to grow more. I’m talking about clubs higher than this [bigger than Chippa United] because I have been giving my all to my club this season.

“I just wish to have another challenge at some other place,” Nwabali said.

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Just in: 2024-2025 Premier league start date revealed

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The 2024-2025 English Premier League campaign will commence 90 days after the 2023-2024 season ended in a historic way as Manchester City became the first side to win four Premier League titles in a row.

This newspaper platform can confirm that the 2024-2025 Premier League season will kick off on the weekend of August 17 and 18, 2024.

The forthcoming season will feature one Bank Holiday matchweek, 33 weekends of Premier League games, and four midweek rounds of league games.

In the forthcoming season, the Premier League plans to arrange the games in such a way that no club plays within 60 hours of another match. This is expected to prevent the “congested schedule across Christmas and New Year”.

Unlike last season, there won’t be games on the eve of Christmas (December 24) during the 2024-2025 Premier League season.

The forthcoming season is expected to end on Sunday, May 25, 2025, and just like last season, all the games will have the same kickoff time.

As for the 2024-2025 Premier League fixtures, the fixtures and kick-off time of all 20 clubs (380 fixtures in total) are expected to be released at 9 a.m. (UK time) on Tuesday, June 18.

Note that three clubs have been promoted to the Premier League ahead of the 2024-2025 season. The newly promoted clubs are Leicester City, Ipswich Town, and Southampton.

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Onyedika wins Belgian League title with Club Brugge

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Nigeria midfielder Raphael Onyedika has won the Belgian Pro League title with Club Brugge.

Club Brugge were held to a 0-0 draw by local rivals Cercle Brugge in their final game of the season on Sunday night.

Onyedika featured for 90 minutes in the game.

It was his 30th league game of the season for Club Brugge and he has scored three goals.

The 23-year-old also won the league title during his time with FC Midtylland in Denmark.

Nicky Hayen’s side finished the Championship playoff with 50 points, a point ahead of Union St. Gilloise.

It was the Blue and White’s 19th league title.

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