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14 Sep 2019

EPL: Super Son strikes twice as Tottenham demolish Crystal Palace

When was the last time Tottenham produced a performance this complete in a league game? You’d probably have to go back to last season’s Boxing Day victory over Bournemouth to find one, which goes to show how long it has been since Mauricio Pochettino’s side played with this much energy, class and craft.

In that context this thrashing of Crystal Palace could end up being remembered as one of the most important victories of the Pochettino era. After a spluttering start to the season, not to mention all the angst caused by the uncertainty over Christian Eriksen’s future during the summer, Spurs demonstrated that there is plenty of life left in them yet by devouring a ragged Palace side during a first half in which Son Heung-min stole the show with two goals of the highest quality.

Spurs clearly took their cue from their manager. Before this game Pochettino had told the players who were unhappy not to be sold before the European transfer window shut earlier this month to knuckle down and it was satisfying for the Argentinian to see Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen provide a solid base in central defence, Danny Rose keep Wilfried Zaha quiet and Eriksen produce a typically intelligent display in attack.

The sense was that Spurs needed to score early to ensure the game did not fall into a familiar pattern. They have struggled to pick the lock against deep defences in recent months and few teams are better at spoiling a spectacle than Palace, who used the 4-4-1-1 system that brought them victory at Manchester United last month.

With Zaha and Andros Townsend poised to race down the flanks whenever space appeared on the break, there were no surprises from Palace – other, that is, than their ability to keep it tight during a first half in which Spurs seemed capable of scoring at will.

Roy Hodgson’s suffering began when one peach of a long ball from Alderweireld cut through the red and blue wall in the 10th minute. The Belgian centre-back’s pass drifted over Mamadou Sakho’s head and gave Son the chance to control with his left thigh, skip round the flat-footed Gary Cahill and wrongfoot Palace’s goalkeeper, Vicente Guaita, with a shot that bobbled inside the near post.

 The goal acted as a release for Spurs, enabling them to summon an intensity that suggested reports of their demise are premature. Harry Winks and Moussa Sissoko had an impressive grip on midfield and the hosts tore forward, pinning Palace back and hunting greedily for more goals.

Plan A had gone out of the window for Hodgson’s side, whose increased adventure meant that Spurs had plenty of space to attack. In the 21st minute Serge Aurier received a pass from Son, sauntered into the area from the right and saw Patrick van Aanholt deflect his low cross into the Palace goal.

Poor Van Aanholt. The left-back was horribly exposed by Townsend’s failure to give him enough cover and Spurs were not in a mood to be merciful. They were rampant in the wide areas and made it 3-0 when Aurier, enjoying a fine game at right-back, dropped a deep cross on to the left foot of Son, who clobbered a ferocious volley past a stunned Guaita.

Son was in one of his waspish moods and he was involved in the fourth goal as well, spinning clear in the middle and moving the ball sharply on to Kane, whose bending cross from the right presented the tigerish Erik Lamela with an easy finish.

After a gloomy few weeks everything felt lighter in Pochettino’s world.

Tammy Abraham Shines As Chelsea Hammer Wolves In 7-Goal Thriller

Chelsea hammers Wolves 5-2

This was supposed to be a day of celebration for Wolves, as they marked the 130th anniversary of their first match here. Instead, a new Chelsea goalscoring hero stole the show, as Tammy Abraham struck his first hat-trick for the club after Fikayo Tomori started the rout by opening his own account with a wonderful strike from long-range. Late goals for Romain Saïss and Patrick Cutrone gave the hosts a little cheer and took away some of Chelsea’s satisfaction. Mason Mount restored some it by scoring Chelsea’s fifth in stoppage time.

Dear old Molineux had been a fortress for Wolves for most of this year, with the home side unbeaten in any competition here since January, but by half-time that was all irrelevant history. They were 3-0 down and in danger of an even worse mauling.

For Frank Lampard, the first half was a delight, with his team showing defensive improvement before conceding a flurry of goals. Both managers had taken steps to repair leaky defences for this game but only one oversaw progress.

Lampard, whose side conceded nine goals in their first four league matches, made changes intended to address his team’s weaknesses and reflect the home team’s strengths, as Chelsea mirrored their hosts’ back- three formation. Kurt Zouma was demoted to the bench as Tomori and Andreas Christensen formed the rearguard with Antonio Rüdiger, making his first appearance of the season after a knee injury.

The result was a solid Chelsea team and then, just after the half-hour, came an extraordinary bonus, as Timori stepped out of defence to curl a superb shot into the top corner from over 25 yards. The ball had broken to him after Diego Jota poked it off the foot of Mount near the right wing and Nuno Espírito Santo berated his players for giving Timori so much time to measure up a beautiful shot.

Worse followed for Wolves as three minutes later Timori strode forward again and pinged a low pass to Mount in the box. When Mount went down under a challenge, the referee waved play on and Jesus Vallejo inadvertently helped the ball on to Abraham, who finished smartly from eight yards.

That two-goal salvo had not been clearly coming, as for the first half-hour this had been a tight affair characterised by a midfield logjam and imprecise passes.

Willian was the first to find an opening in the home defence but blasted over the bar from the edge of the area, while Wolves’ main threat came from Adama Traoré, the speedster who spread panic down Chelsea’s left nearly every time he got the ball. Raul Jimenez headed wide from one of his crosses. Later, Traoré dashed in-field and flicked a lovely pass through to Jota, who was closed down by Andreas Christenson before he could shoot.

Wolves continued to show an uncharacteristic raggedness that made one wonder whether their Europa League exertions are already starting to take a toll. Whatever the cause, Abraham was not minded to pardon their slackness. When Marcos Alonso chipped a cross in from the left, Abraham outjumped Conor Coady and headed past a motionless Rui Patricio. On the sideline Nuno was hopping mad.

Zouma was introduced for the second half in place of Rüdiger, who appeared to be struggling towards the end of the first period in what was the only negative note for Lampard. Nuno had a whole lot to ponder. He was given even more unpalatable food for thought in the 54th minute, when Abraham ran on to a cute pass by Jorginho and rammed the ball into the net. The finish and the way the striker held off Wolves’ last defender showed true quality did nothing to advance the Coady for England campaign.

Wolves restored a smidgin of pride when Romain Saïss rose to meet a corner by João Moutinho. Kepa Arrizabalaga made a feeble attempt to keep out his header, succeeding only in pushing it into the net via the foot of the helpless Abraham.

The goalkeeper was fallible again in the 85th minute when he failed to swat away a shot by Matt Doherty, allowing Cutrone to nudge the ball in from close range of his first goal for Wolves.

Chelsea had the last laugh when Mount collected a super pass by Michy Batshuayi and finished nicely.

EPL: Rashford Rediscovers Manchester United Winning Habit Against Leicester

 The good news for Manchester United is that they have rediscovered their winning habit. They won this game despite missing a number of key players with injury and, for that alone, Ole Gunnar Solskjær can probably accept the fact their performance never got any higher than six out of ten – lots of huffing and puffing, but none of the old panache.

Leicester certainly had enough of the ball to believe they ought to have extended United’s winless sequence to four matches. Ultimately, though, Solskjær and his players can reflect on a decent afternoon’s work bearing in mind Leicester have ambitions of their own to break into the Premier League’s top four this season.

Marcus Rashford’s seventh-minute penalty was the game’s decisive moment and, in particular, it must have been a satisfying day for Harry Maguire given the Leicester supporters, for reasons not particularly clear, spent large parts of the afternoon targeting their former player with a very unflattering chant. Maguire played well, winning his personal battle with Jamie Vardy, on an afternoon when United started with great energy before fading around the 20-minute mark and never looking as sharp again.

Solskjær was certainly entitled to feel happy about the commitment of his team – encapsulated by Scott McTominay’s hard but fair challenge on Ben Chilwell in the first half – and it was certainly one of Andreas Pereira’s better games for the club. Daniel James showed some nice touches and Rashford was always a difficult opponent. Solskjær’s team might have reminded us of their flaws at times but, if nothing else, nobody could doubt their determination to make it a happier season than the last one.

Ex-Health Minister Arrested For Embezzling Ebola Funds

Former DR Congo health minister Oly Ilunga has been arrested over allegations he embezzled public funds meant to tackle the Ebola epidemic, police said on Saturday.

Ilunga, who resigned as health minister in July after being removed as head of the country’s Ebola response team, was detained while hiding in an apartment in the capital Kinshasa ahead of a bid to flee the country, officers said.

He is in custody due to “misdemeanours of the mismanagement of funds allocated to the Ebola response,” police spokesman Colonel Pierrot-Rombaut Mwanamputu told AFP.

Ilunga will be referred to prosecutors on Monday, he added.

It comes after Ilunga was questioned in August as part of an inquiry into the management of funds to fight the outbreak, which has claimed more than 2,000 lives since August 2018.

Ilunga, 59, had already been banned from leaving the country.

He stepped down after criticising plans by the UN’s World Health Organization to introduce a new, unlicensed vaccine to fight the epidemic.

His lawyer told AFP in September that some payments had been made to local chiefs after the killing of a WHO doctor in April.

More than 200,000 people have been vaccinated during DR Congo’s tenth and most serious Ebola epidemic.

It is the second-worst Ebola outbreak in history after more than 11,000 people were killed in Guinea, Sierra Leone and Liberia between 2014 and 2016.



(AFP)

Shock As Thieves Steal Solid Gold Toilet From UK Palace

A gang of thieves on Saturday stole an 18-carat gold toilet from an art exhibition at Britain’s Blenheim Palace, police said — causing flooding to the World Heritage Site.

The fully-functioning piece by Italian artist Maurizio Cattelan, dubbed “America”, was once displayed at New York’s Guggenheim museum and offered on loan to US President Donald Trump.

A 66-year-old man has been arrested over the theft at the 18th-century stately home in Oxfordshire,  where an exhibition of Cattelan works opened on Thursday.

“The offenders broke into the palace overnight and left the scene at about 4:50 a.m. (0350 GMT). No-one was injured during the burglary,” local police said.

Detective Inspector Jess Milne said: “The piece of art that has been stolen is a high-value toilet made out of gold that was on display at the palace.

“Due to the toilet being plumbed into the building, this has caused significant damage and flooding.

“We believe a group of offenders used at least two vehicles during the offence.

“The artwork has not been recovered at this time but we are conducting a thorough investigation to find it and bring those responsible to justice.”

Blenheim Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, was closed to the public on Saturday morning due to “an incident”, but it did not give further details.

The palace is home to the 12th duke of Marlborough and his family, and was also the birthplace of British wartime leader Winston Churchill.

Vincent Enyeama Set To Return As Super Eagles Goalkeeper

The former Lille goalkeeper, Vincent Enyeama on Friday revealed that he is open to return to the Super Eagles.

Enyeama, a former Enyimba goalkeeper, said this in an interview with Brila FM, adding that he will not say no if the country’s football authorities calls for his services.

The 37-year-old said, “I cannot say no to Nigeria, that’s the truth. If Nigeria tells me today ‘Vincent, we have goalkeeping problem; we need you’, I will be there. I can’t say no.”

According to the former Israel-based goalkeeper, since his international retirement, no one from the Nigeria Football Federation, NFF, has reached out to ask him to overturn his decision and return to the Eagles.

“Since I left Nigerian football in 2015, no one has contacted me.” he said

The former African Champions League winner has been without a club since August 2018 when Lille terminated by mutual consent.

He recently failed a trial with another Ligue 1 outfit, Dijon, prior to the commencement of the 2019/20 French League season.

Former Minister, Mama Taraba, Decamps To PDP

Former Minister of Women Affairs, Jummai Alhassan, popularly known as Mama Taraba, has decamped to the Peoples Democratic Party, PDP, from United Democratic party (UDP).

Alhassan, who contested the governorship election on the platform of UDP during the 2019 general elections in Taraba State, made the decision during a stakeholders meeting of UDP in Jalingo, Daily Trust reports.

Giving her reason, Alhassan said her defection to PDP was based on the outcome of the opinion poll during stakeholders meeting.

According to her, she had no option than to go by the decision of the majority members of UDP and decamp to PDP.

The stakeholders meeting, held at the former Minister’s Jalingo residence.

It was attended by representatives of UDP members from 168 wards across the 16 local government areas of the state.

 Alhassan in a letter sent to the President dated Saturday, 29 September, 2018, the former Minister quit Buhari’s government.

She thanked President Buhari for the opportunity to serve.

She also left the APC with all local government party leaders as well as some state lawmakers and joined United Democratic Party,UDP.

Benzema Secures First Home Victor For Real Madrid As Hazard Makes La Liga Debut

Karim Benzema scored twice on Saturday in an outstanding performance for Real Madrid against Levante, although his side were left hanging on for a 3-2 win on the day Eden Hazard made his La Liga debut.

The French striker’s goals came just six minutes apart in the first half on a wet afternoon at the Santiago Bernabeu, before Casemiro put Real 3-0 up.

However Levante, who had won their previous two outings, made a fight of it in the second half as they pulled goals back through Borja Mayoral and Gonzalo Melero.

While the manner of their victory was not as convincing as coach Zinedine Zidane might have wished, it was a welcome return to winning ways for Real after they had drawn their previous two games.

Hazard also came off the bench for the final half-hour to make his first appearance in La Liga after a thigh injury had interrupted the start of his Real career following his 100 million-euro ($110 million) move from Chelsea.

The Belgian could now start for Real when they go to Paris Saint-Germain for their opening Champions League game on Wednesday.

Gareth Bale will also be available for that match after suspension kept him out here, but Sergio Ramos will be unable to play against PSG because of a European ban.

Zidane was also without the injured Luka Modric here. However, as well as Hazard, fellow summer signing Eder Militao came off the bench in the second half and the former Porto defender could start in Paris in place of Ramos.


– Barcelona host Valencia –

Real would have won by a greater margin here had it not been for some inspired goalkeeping from Aitor Fernandez, who produced a stunning one-handed stop to keep out a Benzema shot from the edge of the area midway through the first half.

However, the hosts went ahead shortly after that when Dani Carvajal held up a cross from the right for Benzema to bullet home a header from the edge of the six-yard area.

The Frenchman struck again in the 31st minute, with James Rodriguez pouncing when Sergio Postigo headed the ball down into his path, and teeing up Benzema to score his fourth of the campaign.

Benzema was also involved in the build-up to the third goal five minutes before the interval, which concluded with Vinicius Junior squaring for Casemiro to apply the finish.

Levante pulled one back in the 49th minute as Carlos Clerc crossed from the left to the near post where Mayoral — on loan from Real — converted.

Benzema then curled a shot against the post, while Vinicius had a goal disallowed for offside and Hazard tested Fernandez, but it was Levante who scored again.

This time substitute Melero proved too strong for Carvajal at the far post as he headed in a marvellous cross by Jose Campana, yet Madrid held out.

Leaders Atletico Madrid will seek their fourth win in as many La Liga games when they play later at Real Sociedad in the first game at the Basque club’s newly refurbished stadium.

Barcelona are also in action at home to Valencia, who this week sacked coach Marcelino Garcia Toral, replacing him with the former Real Madrid assistant coach Albert Celades.

(AFP)

Xenophobia: South African President Booed, Embarrassed During Speech At Mugabe’s Funeral

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa was jeered and whistled at on Saturday during his speech at Zimbabwe ex-leader Robert Mugabe’s funeral before he apologised for recent xenophobic attacks.

At least 12 people have been killed this month in a surge in violence and mob attacks against foreign-owned businesses in and around Johannesburg, South Africa’s largest city.

A wave of jeers, boos and whistles interrupted Ramaphosa at the Harare national stadium as he started his eulogy at the state funeral for Mugabe, who died age 95 last week.

“I stand before you as a fellow African to express my regret and apologise for what has happened in our country,” Ramaphosa said after one of the organisers tried to calm the crowd.

His comments were met with cheers and blasts of sound horns from the crowd.

South Africa, the continent’s second largest economy, is a major destination for other African migrants. But they are often targeted by some locals who blame them for a lack of jobs.

But with shops and homes burned and looted and clashes between armed mobs of looters and police, hundreds of migrants from Mozambique and Zimbabwe have fled to shelters.

Nigeria’s government has flown around 600 of its citizens home from Johannesburg after some of them were targeted in the violence.

AFP.

EPL: Liverpool Crush Newcastle In 4 Goal Thriller

Sadio Mane wins 50th match at Anfield as Liverpool crush Newcastle 3-1.

Mane bagged a brace in the first half, after Willems had given Newcastle the lead.

Salah settled it in the second half.

Liverpool remain top with a 100 per cent record.
 
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