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Pitch Invaders Disrupt Portugal vs Turkey Euro 2024 Match in Pursuit of Ronaldo

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A Group F match at the ongoing Euro 2024 between Portugal and Turkey was interrupted several times on Saturday as pitch invaders repeatedly attempted to get close to Cristiano Ronaldo for a photograph.

The first intruder, a young boy wearing a red tracksuit top, emerged from the stands midway through the second half, approaching the Portugal captain. Ronaldo graciously posed for a photo before the boy ran off, attempting to evade the stewards who eventually caught and escorted him away to applause from the stands.

At least five other fans managed to get onto the pitch, either during the match or after the final whistle, attempting similar stunts. However, Ronaldo grew increasingly exasperated with the unwanted attention.

Portugal coach Roberto Martinez expressed relief that none of the multiple fans who invaded the pitch during the game had ill intentions. “It is a concern because today we were lucky that the intentions of the fans were good,” Martinez told reporters after Portugal secured qualification for the last 16.

Martinez acknowledged the admiration fans have for big stars but stressed the potential danger. “I think that we all love a fan who recognizes the big stars who are icons in their lands. I think we all agree with that, but you can understand that it is a very difficult moment if those intentions are wrong. Then the players are exposed, and we need to be careful with that. Probably there is a lot of security and protection and I don’t think it should happen.”

Martinez, the former Belgium boss, added, “Probably we should give a message to the fans that it is not the right way. You are not going to get anything out of it, and what you do is that probably the measures get worse for the future, and it is not good to get the players so exposed when you get people running on the pitch.”

Ronaldo, one of the most recognizable celebrities on the planet, has dealt with similar situations throughout his career. His teammate, Bernardo Silva, who scored the first goal in the game, acknowledged the challenges that come with such fame.

“I am not really concerned. It is just a bit annoying in terms of always having to stop the game because a fan enters the pitch,” the Manchester City player said. “Apart from that, I think that is the price you pay for being so recognized in the world of football. But in terms of feeling in danger, I don’t think so, not me personally at least.”

The disruptions underscore the fine line between fan admiration and the need for player security, highlighting the challenges faced by high-profile athletes in maintaining a balance between their public and private lives.

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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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