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Ukraine Stun Slovakia with Late Winner in Euro 2024 Thriller

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In a pulsating encounter at the Dusseldorf Arena, Ukraine snatched a dramatic 2-1 victory over Slovakia in their Euro 2024 Group C opener. The Ukrainians left it late, scoring the winner in the 88th minute to send their fans into raptures.

Slovakia started brightly, with their attacking trio of Haraslin, Duda, and Suslov causing problems for the Ukrainian defense. Their pressure paid off in the 35th minute when midfielder Juraj Kucka headed home a corner to give Slovakia a deserved lead. Slovakia’s initial dominance was characterized by their sharp, incisive play and a relentless pressing game that kept Ukraine on the back foot.

Ukraine struggled to find their footing in the first half but came out with renewed purpose after the break. Their persistence paid off in the 62nd minute when striker Roman Yaremchuk expertly finished a well-worked move to level the scores. This goal was the result of Ukraine’s tactical adjustments and increased tempo, which finally broke through Slovakia’s resilient defense.

The game seemed destined for a draw, but Ukraine had other plans. In the 88th minute, substitute midfielder Mykola Shaparenko popped up with a stunning winner, curling a shot into the top corner to send the Ukrainian bench into delirium. Shaparenko’s goal was a moment of sheer brilliance, highlighting his technical prowess and composure under pressure.

The win marks a dream start for Ukraine in Euro 2024, while Slovakia will rue their inability to hold on for a point. The defeat leaves them with an uphill task in a group that also includes powerhouses France and the Netherlands. Ukraine’s resilience and tactical nous were on full display, setting a positive tone for their campaign.

Ukraine’s next match against France promises to be a mouthwatering clash, as they seek to build on their momentum. Meanwhile, Slovakia will seek redemption against the Netherlands, aiming to bounce back from this setback. Both teams will need to bring their A-game to advance in this highly competitive group.

Euro 2024 continues to deliver exciting and unpredictable football, with Ukraine’s late winner against Slovakia being a prime example. Fans can look forward to more thrilling action as the tournament progresses, with each match bringing new twists and turns. Stay tuned for more updates and in-depth coverage of this spectacular event.

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EURO2024: Spain Defeats France, Advance To Final

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Lamine Yamal, 16, became the tournament’s youngest-ever goalscorer as Spain came back to beat France 2-1 in Munich on Tuesday and reach the Euro 2024 final.

Trailing after Randal Muani headed in a Kylian Mbappe cross in the 9th minute, Spain turned the match around in four minutes, scoring twice against a side that had only conceded once in five previous games in this tournament.

Yamal, who turns 17 a day before Sunday’s final against either the Netherlands or England in Berlin, equalised with a superb strike from outside the box, curling a long-range effort into the top corner and past the fingertips of an airborne Mike Maignan.

Spain took the lead on 25 minutes as Dani Olmo expertly gathered a loose ball and fired a low shot into the net with the aid of a deflection off Jules Kounde.

Masters of midfield game management, Spain, shut up shop after taking the lead, frequently holding possession rather than attacking on the counter, controlling the match and claiming the win.

Three-time champions Spain became the first team to win six games at a Euros and are one game away from a record-breaking fourth crown.

Finalists in three of the past four major tournaments, questions will be asked of how France failed to click up front despite boasting enviable attacking riches.

France had only scored three goals heading into the match, none of which were scored by a French player from open play and coach Didier Deschamps reacted, benching forward Antoine Griezmann for Ousmane Dembele.

Yamal created the first chance of the match four minutes in, lofting a curling cross to an unmarked Fabian Ruiz, who headed over from point-blank range.

Four minutes later, Mbappe skated down the left flank and sent in a carbon copy of Yamal’s cross, but Kolo Muani’s header was on target to give France the lead.

While the pre-match doubts focused on Spain veterans Jesus Navas, 38, and Nacho, 34, who replaced suspended duo Dani Carvajal and Robin Le Normand, the younger Aymeric Laporte and Marc Cucurella were at fault for Kolo Muani’s opener.

France’s strike seemed to take the wind out of Spain’s sails but it was the youngest player on the pitch who produced a piece of sublime brilliance to level the scores.

Collecting the ball well outside the box, Yamal cut inside, took one look at the goal and unleashed a perfect curling strike into the top left corner.

The goal made Yamal, who already has three assists at Euro 2024, the youngest scorer in the competition’s history, beating the previous record by a year and a half.

Lamal’s goal, 13 minutes after France’s opener, ignited Spain’s attack and La Roja took the lead four minutes later through Olmo.

Olmo leapt acrobatically to collect a cleared cross, shed a defender and smashed goalwards, his shot taking a deflection off Kounde before bouncing in.

France’s best chance to force extra time fell to their captain with five minutes remaining, but Mbappe blasted well over with only goalkeeper Unai Simon to beat.

AFP

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Search goes on for Moroccan footballers lost at sea

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Moroccan club Ittihad Tanger has told the BBC the search continues for two footballers who went missing off the country’s northern Mediterranean coast on Saturday.

Five staff members from the top-flight side were taking part in an excursion on a yacht rented from the beach resort of M’diq – north of the city of Tetouan.

Emergency services rescued three people after the incident, but senior players Abdellatif Akhrif, 24, and Salman El-Harrak, 18, are missing.

Oussama Aflah, Soumaimane Dahdouh and Abdelhamid Maali, a Morocco Under-20 international, were rescued after being out at sea for several hours.

Aflah is a club employee, while Dahdouh and Maali are considered promising young players with the reserve team.

Ittihad Tanger president Mohamed Cherkaoui confirmed the “search for the missing players is still ongoing”.

He also asked members of the media and fans on social media to continue to be careful with information they share about the pair.

‘We were swimming within sight of the shore’

After being rescued, Aflah spoke to Tanjaoui – a local media outlet – about what happened on Saturday afternoon.

“Everything was normal – we woke up, had breakfast and rented a boat from the marina,” he said.

“On our way out to sea, we were even stopped by the coastguard who made sure our papers were in order and that we had life jackets.

“Everything was fine and we were swimming within sight of the shore and just a few metres from the boat before the sea completely changed and heavy winds took us away from the boat.”

The club’s deputy president Anass Mrabet told Reuters the men were not wearing life jackets when they went swimming.

Ittihad Tanger have been in Morocco’s top flight since 2015 and won the league title for the first and only time in their history in the 2017-18 season.

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Former Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino becomes pastor in hometown

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By Francesca Hangeior

Former Liverpool striker Roberto Firmino has embraced a new calling, announcing his ordination as an evangelical pastor at the age of 32.

The Brazilian footballer shared the news on his social media accounts, revealing a significant transition in his life.

Firmino, alongside his wife, was ordained as a pastor at the church they founded three years ago.

The dedication ceremony took place last Sunday in his hometown of Maceio.

In a heartfelt message, Firmino expressed that becoming a pastor was not an initial goal, but a mission that emerged from his encounter with Christ.

“Since our encounter with Christ, a longing burns in our hearts… that people may know this love that has reached us. Now we have another responsibility… To be pastors according to the heart of God and to cooperate with the Kingdom,” Firmino stated.

He also extended his gratitude to pastors Jairo and Keila for their belief and encouragement in his spiritual journey.

Firmino enjoyed a prolific career at Liverpool from 2015 to 2023, during which he secured seven major titles, including the 2019/20 Premier League and the 2018/19 UEFA Champions League.

One of his standout moments was scoring the decisive goal in the 2019 Club World Cup final, securing the title for the Reds.
Last season, Firmino played 34 games for Al-Ahli, scoring nine goals. He also represented the Brazilian national team, participating in the 2018 World Cup.

Currently, Roberto Firmino continues his football career with the Saudi Arabian club Al-Ahli, where he played 34 matches in all competitions last season, scoring nine goals and providing seven assists.

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