Liverpool’s Dutch defender Virgil van Dijk celebrates after scoring his team’s fourth goal during the UEFA Champions League quarter-final second leg football match between FC Porto and Liverpool at the Dragao Stadium in Porto on April 17, 2019. Paul ELLIS / AFPLiverpool manager Jurgen Klopp is hopeful Virgil van Dijk will be fit to…
Former Ghana and Nottingham Forest forward Junior Agogo has passed away in a London hospital at the age of 40.
Although the cause of his death is yet to be known, Agogo suffered from a stroke in 2015 and had to battle public stigma during his recovery.
The ex-Ghana international had several stints across England, USA, Egypt and his last competitive outing was at Hibernian back in 2012.
He was a standout player for Ghana at the 2008 Africa Cup of Nations on home soil where he scored three goals in six outings as the Black Stars settled for third-place.
His notable contribution during the continental competition was his late match-winning effort that gave Ghana a 2-1 win over arch-rivals Nigeria.
Agogo made his international debut for the West African country in 2006 and he went on to score 12 goals in 27 international appearances.
Prior to his death, the former Sheffield Wednesday and Bristol Rovers attacker went into the fitness training business in England.
Super Eagles striker Kelechi Iheanacho scored his first pre-season goal for Leicester City in Tuesday’s 3-0 win over
The goal ended Iheanacho’s 10-month old goal drought, which dates back to September 2018 when he last found the back of the net for Leicester City.
The Nigeria international was a substitute in the Foxes pre-season 3-0 thumping of Cambridge United and he hit the net in the 83rd minute, courtesy of a header, for his side’s second goal on Tuesday night.
Before the goal, the 23-year-old had missed a sitter but he went on to redeem himself by netting a second for Leicester minutes later.
Elsewhere, Semi Ajayi made his first start for West Bromwich Albion in Tuesday’s 1-1 draw with his former club, Rotherham United, just three days after joining the club.
Ajayi gave away a penalty two minutes into the game, when he tripped Freddie Ladapo. Ladapo roofed the resultant spot-kick before Dara O’Shea salvaged a draw for the Baggies.
Nigeria and Arsenal legend, Nwankwo Kanu has hailed Nigerians for their support as Super Eagles slid into semi final of 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON.
Kanu, who had earlier expressed confidence that Gernot Rohr’s men would beat the Bafana Bafana at the Cairo International Stadium, congratulated Super Eagles on their victory against South Africa on Wednesday night.
Samuel Chukwueze gave Super Eagles a 1-0 lead at the break after an assist from Alex Iwobi.
However, South Africa levelled in the second half, thanks to Video Assistant Referee (VAR) decision.
With the match looking to head into extra time, William Troost-Ekong forced the ball over the line in the final minute of play.
The 42-year-old, in a video posted on his official Twitter page on Wednesday, wrote:
“Incredible support from Nigeria Super Eagles fans. Another fantastic win well done boys.
“The boys gave it a great teamwork effort and push. We are all proud. Nigeria officially through to the #caf2019 semifinals. We thank God.”
The victory over South Africa means Nigeria will now play the winner between Ivory Coast and Algeria in the semi-final on Sunday.
Incredible support from @ng_supereagles fans. Another fantastic win well done boys.The boys gave it a great teamwork effort and push. We are all proud. Nigeria officially through to the #caf2019 semifinals. We thank God.
.#goal #football #semifinals #Nigeria #africa #Egypt2019 pic.twitter.com/BnnBeJebTu
— Kanu Nwankwo (@papilokanu) July 10, 2019.
Tunisia defeated Ghana 5-4 on penalties Monday with Ferjani Sassi converting the decisive spot-kick to end a 54-year Africa Cup of Nations losing streak against the Black Stars.
After a 1-1 draw following extra time in Ismailia, Tunisia scored from all five penalties while Ghana substitute Caleb Ekusan had his attempt saved by Farouk Ben Mustapha, who came off the bench especially for the shootout.
Victory was sweet for Tunisia as they had lost six times to Ghana in the African football showcase from 1965 after drawing the first meeting between the nations two years earlier.
On Thursday, the Carthage Eagles play giantkillers Madagascar in a quarter-final in Cairo with the winners meeting Senegal or Benin for a place in the July 19 final.
Losing on penalties ended a Ghana run of six consecutive top-four finishes in the Cup of Nations and puts the future of coach Kwesi Appiah in doubt.
Four-time former champions Ghana changed two of the team that began a 2-0 win over Guinea-Bissau that enabled them to pip Cameroon for top spot in Group F on goals scored.
Both alterations were on the left side of a 4-3-3 formation with defender Nuhu Kasim and midfielder Afriyie Acquah replacing Joseph Aidoo and Owusu Kwabena.
Tunisia coach and 1980s France star Alain Giresse reacted to an embarrassing 0-0 draw with minnows Mauritania in their previous match by dropping four of the team.
A big surprise was the exclusion of forward Wahbi Khazri, who had been the outstanding Tunisian attacker in the group phase and scored one of their two goals.
Bassem Srarfi, Naim Sliti and Karim Aouadhi were also relegated to the bench with Ghaylen Chaalali, Ferjani Sassi, Taha Yassine Khenissi and Anice Badri promoted.
After early yellow cards for Ghanaian John Boye, the first player to be red-carded in the group phase, and Tunisian Dylan Bronn, the first half became a cagey, even affair.
Ghana came close to scoring on 16 minutes when a Kasim header struck the post and Andre Ayew fired the rebound straight at goalkeeper Hassen Mouez.
Andre Ayew was convinced he had put the Black Stars ahead on 41 minutes when he backheeled a cross into the net, but the referee ruled that Thomas Partey handled in the build-up.
Replays showed the ball touching the chin of the Atletico Madrid midfielder rather than a hand and the disallowed goal infuriated the Ghanaians.
Midway through the second half Giresse had second thoughts about the composition of his attack, which was making little impression, and sent on Khazri in place of Badri.
Khazri needed just five minutes to make an impact with his brilliant backheel creating space for Wajdi Kechrida to cross and Khenissi scored with a shot that went in off the near post.
The woodwork foiled Ghana a second time when a Mubarak Wakaso shot from outside the box struck the far post 10 minutes from the end of regular time with Mouez beaten.
In the first minute of stoppage time, the Blacks Stars drew level with an attempted headed clearance by Bedoui looped over Mouez, who had strayed off his line.
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) – Nigeria ousted holders and bitter rivals Cameroon from the Africa Cup of Nations as they scored twice in three minutes to come from behind and win a thrilling last-16 match 3-2 on Saturday.
Odion Ighalo gave Nigeria a 19th-minute lead but Cameroon hit back with two goals in quick succession before halftime from Stephane Bahoken and Clinton Njie to take a 2-1 lead.
Ighalo levelled again for Nigeria in the 63rd minute amid suspicions of offside before Alex Iwobi snatched the winner for the jubilant Super Eagles three minutes later.
The win earned Nigeria a quarter-final against hosts Egypt or South Africa who were meeting later on Saturday.
(Reuters) – Manchester United’s Paul Pogba is ready to leave the Premier League side in the summer with a transfer “in the process”, the French midfielder’s agent Mino Raiola told the Times newspaper.
Pogba, who moved to United from Juventus in 2016 for a then-world record fee of 89.3 million pounds, has produced inconsistent displays despite scoring 31 goals in 142 appearances in all competitions.
“Everyone within the club from the manager to the owner knows Paul’s wishes,” Raiola told the Times newspaper.
“Everyone knows the willingness of Paul to move on. We’re in the process of that. Everyone knows what the feelings of Paul are.”
British media has linked the 26-year-old World Cup winner with a move to Real Madrid, where he will link up with coach Zinedine Zidane, or a return to former club Juventus.
Pogba had suggested last month in Tokyo that now “could be a good time to have a new challenge somewhere else”.
He is currently in New York this week on a promotional tour, with United’s squad set to fly out to Australia shortly for a series of pre-season games that begin next week.
Raiola did not confirm if Pogba would make the trip. “I can’t tell you anything. I live day by day,” he added.
United kick off their new league campaign against Chelsea at Old Trafford on Aug. 11.
LYON, France (Reuters) – The United States beat the Netherlands 2-0 to win the women’s World Cup for a record-extending fourth time on Sunday.
Captain Megan Rapinoe converted a VAR-awarded penalty in the 61st minute and Rose Lavelle wrapped up the victory eight minutes later as the U.S. added to their 1991, 1999 and 2015 titles.
LYON, France (July 2, 2019) – Before a captivated audience of 53,512 fans at Stade de Lyon, the U.S. Women’s National Team battled past England, ranked No. 3 in the World, with a 2-1 triumph that secures the USA a record fifth appearance in a FIFA Women’s World Cup Final.
On her 30th birthday Alex Morgan tallied the game winner on a header in the 31st minute after Christen Press had opened the scoring, also with a header, in the 10th minute. The Americans got a victory-securing penalty kick stop from goalkeeper Alyssa Naeher late in the second half. It was the first-ever penalty kick save by a U.S. goalkeeper in the regulation time at a World Cup.
The USWNT will now contest the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final against the winner of Wednesday’s second semifinal between the Netherlands and Sweden, which kicks off at 3 p.m. ET from Stade de Lyon (FOX, Telemundo). Kickoff for the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final at Stade de Lyon is set for 11 a.m. ET on Sunday, July 7, and the game will be broadcast on FOX and Telemundo.
U.S. head coach Jill Ellis made two changes to the starting XI from the side that beat France in the quarterfinal, bringing in Press up top for Megan Rapinoe (who had a hamstring strain) and restoring Lindsey Horan to the midfield in place of Samantha Mewis. The changes proved key as both players provided fresh legs, contributed to the scoresheet and also made an impact on the defensive side of the ball.
Inside the first five minutes Rose Lavelle nutmegged England defender Millie Bright along the right end line, cut inside and blasted a shot at Carly Telford in the England goal that she palmed the ball away. The rebound evaded two crashing U.S. players before another chance was put over the bar. Moments later, Press floated a free kick into the box that drifted just over Morgan’s head as she tried to redirect it on goal in an early dress rehearsal of events to come.
Ten minutes in, the USA’s early pressure produced the game’s initial breakthrough. Tobin Heath’s through-ball was dummied by Lavelle, and Kelley O’Hara ran onto the ball down the right wing before whipping in a far post cross. The ball flew over England defender Lucy Bronze and straight to Press, who powered a header past Telford into the upper left corner for her first goal of the World Cup and the 1-0 lead.
Ellen White responded for England nine minutes later, deftly redirecting in Beth Mead’s cross after sneaking behind the U.S. defense. Her shot hit the right post and caromed in, giving Naeher no chance.
The teams continued trading chances with Lavelle forcing Telford into a strong save in the 25th minute.
Just after the half-hour mark, Morgan scored what proved to be the game-winner, heading home Horan’s cross for her tournament leading sixth goal. At the other end in the U.S. goal, Naeher came up with a flying finger-tip save to preserve the 2-1 advantage as England banged on the door looking for an equalizer just before half time.
Morgan is the first player in Women’s World Cup history to score a goal on her birthday. She turned 30 today.
An hour into the match, Press had the chance to put the U.S. ahead by two but failed to capitalize on a Telford mistake, curling a shot wide of the left post after she had picked off a pass from the England ‘keeper at the top of the box.
The miss looked to have cost the USA in the 67th minute when White slipped between the U.S. center backs and rolled the ball into the net. After a review, the Video Assistant Referee correctly determined that White was offside.
White nearly made amends in the 78th minute when Nikita Paris centered for her and referee Edina Alves Batista awarded a penalty kick after VAR revealed that White had been inadvertently tripped by U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn. England captain Stephanie Houghton stepped up to take the spot kick, but Naeher read her well and got down to her right for the massive and perhaps historic save.
With time draining away, England continued to push hard for a crucial second goal. The pressure got the better of center back Millie Bright however as she was sent off after receiving a second yellow card in the 86th minute for a cleats-up foul on Morgan, who she had earlier smacked in the face in the 40th minute to draw her first caution.
Despite seven minutes of added time, the U.S. salted the game away with two-time FIFA World Player of the Year Carli Lloyd coming on to harry the England defense, win a string of free kicks that took the sting out of final minutes and help push the USA into a third consecutive World Cup Final.
Next on the Schedule: The USA faces the winner of Wednesday’s semifinal between 2017 UEFA Women’s Euro champions the Netherlands and 2016 Olympic runners-up Sweden in the 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup Final on Sunday, July 7 at 11 a.m. ET at Stade de Lyon in Lyon.
Broadcast information: FOX, Telemundo
Social: Twitter, Instagram (@ussoccer_wnt) and Facebook
Goal Scoring Rundown:
USA – Christen Press (Kelley O’Hara), 10th minute: Tobin Heath drove the ball deep into the England half before pulling up and sending a through-ball down he right side and past a pair of England. Rose Lavelle dummied the ball and it ran to O’Hara, who collected the pass in the right corner and whipped a pin-point cross to the back post where Press powered a line-drive header into the upper left corner. USA 1, ENG 0 [WATCH]
ENG – Ellen White (Beth Mead), 19th minute: Keira Walsh hit a cross-field ball to the left wing for Mead who had time to bring the ball down and curl in a low cross that bounced just in front of the six-yard box. White timed her run perfectly to meet the ball and re-directed a right-footed volley into the right side of the goal for her sixth of the tournament. USA 1, ENG 1 [WATCH]
USA – Alex Morgan (Linsey Horan), 31st minute: Abby Dahlkemper pulled up near the right side of midfield and hit a big switch to Christen Press on the left sideline. Press brought the ball down well and picked out Horan, who took one touch to settle, picked up her head to spot the run of Morgan and lofted a sumptuous cross into the center of the box. Morgan made easy work of the chance, leaping in stride to nod the ball into the left side of the net. USA 2, ENG 1 [WATCH] FINAL
The USA is 11-4-2 all-time against England. Of their last six meetings, five have been decided by a single goal – four wins for the USA and one for England – while one was a 2-2 draw in the previous meeting at the 2019 SheBelieves Cup.
The U.S. and England had only met one previous time in a World Championship tournament with the USA prevailing 3-0 at the 2007 World Cup in China.
The USA is the only nation to have reached the semifinals of all eight FIFA Women’s World Cups that have been held since the inaugural tournament in 1991.
This is the third World Cup in which the USWNT has never trailed entering the final, a feat also achieved in 1991 and 2015.
The U.S. has scored more goals (six) in the opening 15 minutes of matches at the Women’s World Cup than any other team. England was second with four. The USA has scored in the first 15 minutes of each of its World Cup matches.
The U.S. is unbeaten in its last 16 Women’s World Cup matches (13W-3D), winning the last eleven in a row. They are the only team to win 11 consecutive WWC matches, besting Norway’s run from 95 to 99. Six of the USA’s 1a wins have been by multiple-goal margins.
After the win vs. England, the USWNT is now 39-4-6 all-time in World Cup play, outscoring opponents 136-38 in 49 games. The 39 wins, 49 games-played and 136 goals scored are all FIFA Women’s World Cup records.
The victory was the 101st of Jill Ellis’ career at the helm of the USWNT. Only the late Tony DiCicco (105) has more.
The USWNT has had nine different goal scorers at this tournament. Only the 2003 German team (10) and the 1999 American team (10) have had more at a single WWC.
– U.S. Women’s National Team Match Report –
Match: U.S. Women’s National Team vs. England
Date: July 2, 2019
Competition: 2019 FIFA Women’s World Cup; Semifinals
Venue: Stade de Lyon; Lyon, France
Kickoff: 3 p.m. ET (9 p.m. local)
Weather: 82 degrees, sunny
Scoring Summary: 1 2 F
USA 2 0 2
ENG 1 0 1
USA – Christen Press (Kelley O’Hara) 10th minute
ENG – Ellen White (Beth Mead) 19
USA – Alex Morgan (Lindsey Horan) 31
USA: 1-Alyssa Naeher; 5-Kelley O’Hara (11-Ali Krieger, 87), 7-Abby Dahlkemper, 4-Becky Sauerbrunn, 19-Crystal Dunn; 9-Lindsey Horan, 8-Julie Ertz, 16-Rose Lavelle (3-Samantha Mewis, 65); 17-Tobin Heath (10-Carli Lloyd, 80), 13-Alex Morgan (capt.), 23-Christen Press
Substitutes not used: 18-Ashlyn Harris, 21-Adrianna Franch, 2-Mallory Pugh, 6-Morgan Brian, 12-Tierna Davidson, 14-Emily Sonnett, 15-Megan Rapinoe, 20-Allie Long, 22-Jessica McDonald
Head Coach: Jill Ellis
ENG: 13-Carly Telford; 2-Lucy Bronze, 5-Steph Houghton (capt.), 6-Millie Bright, 12-Demi Stokes; 4-Keira Walsh (16-Jade Moore, 71); 7-Nikita Parris, 8-Jill Scott, 17-Rachel Daly (19-Georgia Stanway, 89), 22-Beth Mead (10-Fran Kirby, 58); 18-Ellen White
Substitutes not used: 1-Karen Bardsley, 21-Mary Earps, 3-Alex Greenwood, 14-Leah Williamson, 15-Abbie McManus, 20-Karen Carney, 23-Lucy Staniforth, 9-Jodie Taylor, 11-Toni Duggan
Head Coach: Phil Neville
Stats Summary: USA / ENG
Shots: 10 / 6
Shots on goal: 4 / 4
Saves: 3 / 2
Corner Kicks: 2 / 2
Fouls: 9 / 12
Offside: 0 / 1
ENG – Millie Bright (caution) 40th minute
USA – Lindsey Horan (caution) 47
USA – Becky Sauerbrunn (caution) 83
ENG – Millie Bright (caution) 86
ENG – Millie Bright (sent off) 86
ENG – Nikita Parris (caution) 90+5
Referee: Edina Alves Batista (BRA)
Assistant Referee 1: Neuza Back (BRA)
Assistant Referee 2: Tatiane Sacilotti Dos Santos Camargo (BRA)
Fourth Official: Melissa Borjas (HON)
Budweiser Woman of the Match: Alex Morgan.
Megan Rapinoe did it again. And again.
Team USA’s co-captain scored in the fifth minute to give the U.S. an early lead on France in the Women’s World Cup quarterfinal, and the team never looked back, defeating the host country, 2-1, Friday at Parc des Princes in Paris.
France scored off of a set piece from Wendie Renard in the game’s 81st minute.
USA’s Tobin Heath also landed a ball in the net 75 minutes into the game. USA’s Crystal Dunn, who crossed to Heath for her goal, was deemed offside, and the goal was declared invalid.
Rapinoe has scored five goals in the tournament after netting both goals in USA’s 2-1 win over Spain in the Round of 16 on Monday and scoring one of its 13 goals in the opener against Thailand.
The U.S. will face England in the semifinals Tuesday at Stade de Lyon in Lyon.
CAIRO (Reuters) – Kenya, helped by a Michael Olunga brace, twice came from behind to beat East African neighbours Tanzania 3-2 on Thursday and chalk up their second-ever win at the Africa Cup of Nations in a match both coaches described as crazy.
Simon Msuva and Mbwana Samatta put Tanzania in front but Olunga and Johanna Omolo levelled for the Harambee Stars before Olunga struck the winner nine minutes from time.
Kenya, who had won only once in 15 previous matches in the competition, have three points from two games in Group C, level with Senegal. Tanzania, yet to get off the mark, became the first team to be eliminated in the 24-team tournament.
“It was completely crazy and the coach at this time is just a spectator,” Kenya coach Sebastien Migne said. “The players wrote history tonight, now everything is possible, we have nothing to lose.”
Tanzania coach Emmanuel Amunike was surprisingly critical of his team.
“There were a lot of crazy things….we committed a lot of mistakes,” said the former Nigeria international. “You practise and practise, but players are players and as a coach you stand on the touch-line and you are helpless.”
Although neither side are among the heavyweights of African football, they produced a remarkably open contest with a hatful of chances.
Migne said before the match that it was time for his team, who are taking part at their sixth Afcon tournament, to end their run of falling at the first hurdle each time.
But they were caught napping in the sixth minute as Tanzania took a shock lead. An end to end move ended with Samatta being sent clear down the left, his shot was parried by Patrick Matasi and Msuva turned in the rebound.
Helped by the generous amount of space given to them by Tanzania, Kenya began to create openings and Erick Ouma had a close-range effort brilliantly stopped by goalkeeper Aishi Manula before Olunga hit the crossbar
They equalised in the 39th minute with an acrobatic effort. A free kick into the area was pushed away by Manula, the ball bounced off Tanzania defender Erasto Nyoni and was hooked into the net by Olunga who showed excellent reactions.
Kenya still seemed to be celebrating one minute later when Samatta won the ball in the penalty area and the Belgian-based forward fired a low shot into the net.
The game continued in the same vein in the second half and Kenya levelled again in the 63rd minute, Omolo scoring with a diving header from a low cross at the near post.
Kenya snatched victory when they broke out of defence and the ball was played to Olunga, whose snot sneaked between Manula and his near post.
Rivers Angels goalkeeper Chiamaka Nnadozie and FC Robo defender Chidinma Okeke made Nigeria’s 25-player provisional squad for 2019 All African Games in Morocco.
Nnadozie and Okeke helped Nigeria to the Last 16 at the 2019 Women’s World Cup in France and were recalled to the U20 team by coach Christopher Danjuma for the showpiece.
The squad is dominated by home-based professional players who represented the nation at the 2018 U20 Women’s World Cup in France last year, and won the 2019 Wafu Women’s Cup.
Also invited are usual suspects like Ijamilusi Folashade, Akarekor Rita, Adebisi Saheed, Efih Peace, Amoo Bashirat and Monday Gift and Obia Christiana.
The team is expected to commence camping preparations for the tournament in the first week of July in Abuja ahead of the trip to Morocco in the second week of August.
Nigeria are drawn against South Africa, Cameroon and Zambia in Group B and will begin their campaign against Basetsana at Stade Academie Mohamed VI on August 18.
The women’s football championship, which will be the fifth edition for women is featuring U20 sides for the first time and is scheduled to be held from August 17 – 29 in Rabat, Morocco.
FULL SQUAD LIST:
Duru Joy ( Nasarawa Amazons), Efih Peace ( Rivers Angels), Amoo Bashirat ( Confluence Queens), Peter Monday Uduakobong ( Ibom Angels), Monday Gift ( FC Robo), Saheed Adebisi ( Bayelsa Queens), Chiamaka Nnadozie ( Rivers Angels), Igboamalu Grace Chinyere ( Nasarawa Amazons), Saiki Mary ( Nasarawa Amazons), Okeke Chidinma ( FC Robo), Tarnum Dooshima (Nasarawa Amazons), Olapade Zainab (Sunshine Queens), Ogbona Akudo (Sunshine Queens), Momoh Esther ( Confluence Queens), Innocent Patricia (Sunshine Queens), Kenneth Katherine Ijeoma (Rivers Angels), Obia Christiana Chinaza (Osun Babes), Akarekor Rita (Sunshine Queens), Mathias Josephine (Rivers Angels), Aku Cynthia (Rivers Angels) Sule Rufiat (Bayelsa Queens), Adeboye Esther (FC Robo), Anjor Mary (Bayelsa Queens), Oshobukola Omowumi (Sunshine Queens), Folashade Ijamilusi (FC Robo).
ALEXANDRIA, Egypt (Reuters) – Africa Cup of Nations debutants Madagascar took a giant stride towards the next round as Marco Ilaimaharitra hammered home a late free kick to beat Burundi 1-0 in their Group B match on Thursday.
Madagascar advanced to four points from their opening two games and even if they do not finish in the top two places in the group, probably have enough points to fill one of the places in the last 16 for the four best third-placed teams.
After holding Guinea to a 2-2 draw in their opening game, the Malagasy went one better with their first ever finals victory.
Midfielder Ilaimaharitra blasted home in the 76th minute after Burundi had given away a free kick on the edge of their penalty area.
Madagascar made a lively start with Carolus Andriamatsinoro having two good first-half chances, the second one of which was cleared off the line by Burundi midfielder Gael Duhayindavyi.
But Burundi proved the stronger side after the break, ironically after they took off a struggling captain Saido Berahino.
Fiston Abdul Razak sent a header just wide in the 64th minute ands Burundi might have opened the scoring four minutes later but a free kick from Gael Bigirimana was saved.
Then Ilaimaharitra broke the deadlock and might have scored a second from a similarly placed free kick two minutes from the end but this time it was saved by Burundi goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana.
It was the second loss for Burundi, also competing at the finals for the first timer, after a 1-0 defeat by Nigeria.
Nigeria top the group with six points while Guinea have one. Madagascar finish the group stage against Nigeria on Sunday while Burundi meet Guinea at the same time.
Mohamed Salah scored his first goal of the Africa Cup of Nations as hosts Egypt secured a place in the last 16 on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Ahmed Elmohamady prodded Egypt ahead on 25 minutes after a wicked Salah cross and the Liverpool star slammed in a second shortly before half-time to spark frenzied celebrations at a packed Cairo International Stadium.
Record seven-time champions Egypt rode their luck at times as DR Congo twice struck the crossbar in the first half but the Group A leaders held firm to join Nigeria as the first teams through to the knockout phase.
Egypt overcame the distraction of Amr Warda being banished from the squad earlier in the day over mounting sexual harassment allegations. The claims surfaced earlier this week on social media platforms. Multiple women posted screenshots and testimonies of Warda’s alleged lewd comments.
“I think the team is strong and the squad is strong but we are not happy to lose a member of our family,” said coach Javier Aguirre. “The team focused more on our match and played the 90 minutes in a serious manner. I don’t think the Egyptian team will be affected by the absence of anyone.”
Mexican Aguirre fielded the same side that defeated Zimbabwe 1-0, with centre-back Ahmed Hegazy sporting a mask after breaking his nose in the opening game of the tournament.
Salah was guilty of missing a hatful of chances in the curtain-raiser and this season’s Premier League joint top scorer again threatened inside five minutes here when an interception broke his way only for the Egyptian to skew wide under pressure.
After four days of small crowds, another capacity 75,000 crowd turned out to cheer on the hosts in the capital, but they were nearly silenced when Marcel Tisserand slammed against the bar at a corner.
- Salah takes over –
DR Congo came to Egypt as one of the most unpredictable qualifiers having finished third in 2015 only to make a timid quarter-final exit two years ago, and they fell behind for the second straight game as Elmohamady forced home after the ball fell kindly to him following an aerial challenge with Christian Luyindama.
Having created the opener with his vicious right-wing cross, Salah then stung the palms of Ley Matampi with a powerful 25-yard free-kick.
Egypt would be rescued by the woodwork once more though when a deep cross was nodded back across goal by Bokadi Bope and Jonathan Bolingi’s looping header bounced back off the bar.
With his side riding their luck, Salah rose to the occasion and settled Egyptian nerves two minutes before half-time with a typically brilliant finish.
Played into space down the right by Mahmoud ‘Trezeguet’ Hassan, Salah skipped inside Tisserand and ripped a crisp low drive inside Matampi’s near post to cue a volcanic eruption from the masses of delirious Egyptian supporters.
Mohamed El Shenawy produced an excellent sprawling second-half save to claw out a Jacques Maghoma header, but despite an improvement on a horror first outing, DR Congo now know they must beat Zimbabwe in their final game in order to possibly advance as one of the four best third-place finishers.
“The feelings are mixed when you play such a match. Unfortunately we lost so the feeling is one of hurt, particularly for my players. They gave a lot and fought hard but didn’t get the result,” said DR Congo coach Florent Ibenge, whose side fell 2-0 to Uganda in their opening match.
“We’ve got one match left against Zimbabwe and we can hope for third place. We’re going to fight until the end.”
Nigeria became the first team to qualify for the Africa Cup of Nations knockout phase as Kenneth Omeruo’s goal earned a 1-0 win over Guinea in Group B.
In a largely uneventful contest in Alexandria, Nigeria made the breakthrough when Omeruo headed in from Moses Simon’s 73rd-minute corner.
Liverpool midfielder Naby Keita returned to fitness to make his first start for either club or country since May 1, but could not inspire Guinea, who are in real danger of an early exit.
Guinea goalkeeper Ibrahim Kone had been the star performer with two excellent saves from a pair of Alex Iwobi efforts, but his display proved fruitless as Omeruo’s header ended Nigeria’s four-match winless streak against the Syli Nationale.
After coming on as a substitute in Guinea’s draw with Madagascar, Keita almost marked his first start in eight weeks with an assist early on, but Sory Kaba failed to take the midfielder’s throughball into his path.
Francois Kamano sent a free-kick just wide as Guinea kept up the pressure, though Nigeria would have had the lead before half-time had Kone not got down to Iwobi’s effort.
Kone came to Guinea’s rescue once more just after the hour, doing well to prevent another Iwobi strike dipping in.
Keita’s underwhelming return came to an end in the 71st minute when he was replaced by Lass Bangoura, and Guinea’s resistance was broken moments later – Omeruo glancing a header into the far corner after connecting with Simon’s delivery.
Guinea rallied late on, though Nigeria had little trouble in holding out for a win which guarantees their place in the last 16 with a game to spare.
Key Opta Facts
- Nigeria have won their last six games at the Africa Cup of Nations, their longest streak in their history, never conceding more than one goal in each of their six encounters.
- Guinea are winless in their last seven games at the Africa Cup of Nations (D5 L2), their longest streak in their history.
Guinea have conceded at least one goal in each of their last 14 AFCON games.
The Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) has confirmed receiving part of the money approved by the Federal Government for participation of some national teams in international competitions, including the Super Eagles’ participation at the ongoing 32nd Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) in Egypt.
NFF’s Acting President, Barrister Seyi Akinwunmi (in the absence of the board’s President, Amaju Pinnick, who is fully involved with organisation of AFCON), said the federation received part of the money yesterday morning, and immediately launched the process to convert same to American dollars to pay the players their only outstanding entitlement – the win bonus for the match against Burundi in Alexandria, last Saturday– and for subsequent matches.
“We want to specially thank President Muhammadu Buhari for his keen interest in resolving this matter quickly, which has enabled us to receive part of the money in record time. We have immediately started the process of converting the money to American dollars at the Central Bank, in order to pay the players the bonus for the win over Burundi three days ago, as well as plan for subsequent games,” Akinwunmi said in a statement, yesterday.
He added that on Monday, the NFF had transferred to the players and their officials allowances up to the last day of the group phase matches at the AFCON 2019, as well as the appearance fee for the friendly against Zimbabwe in Asaba on June 8.
“We have paid the monies through our funds managers, Financial Derivatives Company, on Monday, June 24, 2019. The only issue we had was some players did not send their bank accounts and, instead, authorised the bank to pay their monies to some other individuals. The bank requested clear authorisation for this to happen.
“I was on a telephone discussion with the captain of the team, Mikel Obi, this morning and can safely say that all clarifications have been made, and the usual cordial relationship and understanding between the players and we the administrators is still intact. I have challenged them to go all out and win the trophy, assuring them that their monies all the way to the final is guaranteed. It is now for the players to focus on the championship and deliver glory to the nation. I have no doubt of their ability to do that.”
Akinwunmi also specially commended the maturity of the team and its leaders, including skipper Mikel John Obi and for their unflinching focus on the job at hand which is winning the AFCON Trophy.
Super Eagles on Wednesday defeated defeated Guinea in Egypt, to become the first team to qualify for the second round knockout stage at the ongoing Africa Cup of Nations, AFCON 2019. The only goal of the march was scored by kenneth omeruo in the second half.
The only goal of the march was scored by kenneth omeruo in the second half.
Striker Ighalo has also replaced Paul Onachu in the game that is ongoing in Alexandria.
The Super Eagles players are on a massive $95,000 bonus each to win the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations in Egypt, Sports Extra reports.
The Eagles are already guaranteed $10,000 for their 1-0 win over Burundi on Saturday. They are also guaranteed $20,000 if they win their remaining Group B matches against Guinea and Madagascar.
The players will receive $12,500 should they record another win in the round of 16.
Gernot Rohr’s men will get $15,000 and $17,500 respectively for victories in the quarter-final and the semi-final, while a win in the final will see the three-time AFCON winners earn a $20,000 match bonus each.
“Group stage wins: $10k; Round of 16: $12.5k; QF: $15k; SF: $17.5k. And if they win the final: $20k. So, each player would earn $95,000 for winning AFCON2019,” a member of the Nigeria Football Federation’s Reforms Committee, Osasu Obayiuwana, disclosed.
He added that Rohr would earn twice the amount of what his players get, while goalkeepers trainer and assistant coach Alloy Agu and Imama Amapakabo will receive 75 per cent of what Rohr gets. The backroom staff are entitled to 75 per cent of what the players earn.
The Eagles take on the Syli Nationale of Guinea in their next Group B match on Wednesday, at the Alexandria stadium.
SAO PAULO (Reuters) – Brazil overwhelmed Peru with three goals in a superb first half to set up a crushing 5-0 victory on Saturday and cruise into the Copa America quarter-finals.
Looking like their imperious old selves, the host nation went ahead after 12 minutes when Casemiro nodded home after a goalmouth scramble and Roberto Firmino made it two seven minutes later after keeper Pedro Gallese made a hash of his kick out.
Firmino charged down the kick and the ball rebounded off the post but Firmino picked up the rebound and rounded the keeper to roll the ball into the empty goal.
Man of the Match Everton added a nice third after 32 minutes when he cut in from the left and unleashed a low shot that sneaked inside Gallese’s near post and Dani Alves made it 4-0 eight minutes into the second half when he finished off a neat team move and lashed the ball into the roof of the net.
Substitute Willian made it five with a vicious strike from outside the box in the final minute, before Gallese made up for his earlier error by saving a spot-kick from Gabriel Jesus in stoppage time.
The result, combined with Venezuela’s 3-1 win over Bolivia, means the hosts top Group A and will play one of the two third-placed teams at the Gremio arena on Thursday.
Second-placed Venezuela will face the second team in Group B on Friday at the Maracana stadium in Rio de Janeiro, while Peru must wait to see if their four points are enough to earn them a place as one of the two best third-placed sides.
“It’s not up to us now, that’s the uncomfortable situation,” Peru coach Ricardo Gareca said.
“They were better than us from start to finish. Brazil had lots of chances in their other games and never took them. Today they took them.”
The 2019 AFCON draw pitted hosts Egypt with Zimbabwe, Uganda and Congo, while defending champions Cameroon landed in Group F with newcomers Benin and Ghana
ANDY HALL 12/04/2019 22:24
It’s been a long night but it was worth the wait. Here’s how Groups A-F stand following this evening’s 2019 AFCON draw in Giza, Egypt.
Group A: Egypt, Zimbabwe, Uganda, DR Congo
Group B: Madagascar, Burundi, Guinea, Nigeria
Group C: Kenya, Tanzania, Algeria, Senegal
Group D: Namibia, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Morocco
Group E: Angola, Mauritania, Mali, Tunisia
Group F: Guinea-Bissau, Benin,Ghana, Cameroon
2019 AFCON draw live online, latest news
The 2019 AFCON will be held between 21 June and 19 July, with group games to be confirmed by CAF.
Group F: Guinea-Bissau, Benin, Ghana, Cameroon
Group E: Angola, Mauritania, Mali, Tunisia
Group D: Namibia, South Africa, Ivory Coast, Morocco
Group C: Kenya, Tanzania, Algeria, Senegal
Group B: Madagascar, Burundi, Guinea, Nigeria
Group A: Egypt, Zimbabwe, Uganda, DR Congo
Well, that’s the draw over!
Cameroon complete Group F with Guinea-Bissau Benin Ghana
Tunisia go into Group E
Morocco, the Atlas Lions in Group D
Senegal in Group C
Nigeria in Group B
Group F for Ghana, with Guinea-Bissau and Benin
Mali in Group E
Ivory Coast into Group D
Algeria, Group C
Group B for Guinea
DR Congo into Group A!
Benin go into Group F
South Africa in Group D
Group C for Kenya
Madagascar join Burundi in Group B
Uganda, in Group A with the hosts…
Group F for Guinea-Bissau
Angola, land in Group E
Namibia – Group D
Tanzania, into Group C
Newcomers Burundi in Group B
First team out, from Pot 4 – Zimbabwe.
Yaya Touré strides onto the stage.
Here comes Yaya Touré… off we go!
Ahmed Hassan: “Good luck to all of the teams taking part, I hope it’s an great, honest competition”.
Now, former Egypt captain Ahmed Hassan, who made a record 184 appearances for the Pharaohs is on stage. We’re ready for the draw, we hope, possibly.
A few Africa Cup of Nations stats while we are waiting: all-time top scorer in this tournament is the great Samuel Eto’o – much loved in these parts, with 18 goals for Cameroon. The oldest player to score at an AFCON tournament is Zambia’s Kalusha Bwalya who was 36 years and 167 days young when he found the net in the 2000 edition.
Former Ghana international Anthony Baffoe is now onstage addressing the audience. We’ve had an hour and a half build-up to the draw… don’t worry, it’ll definitely be starting soon!
Worldwide audience following the 2019 AFCON Draw is around one billion, say organizers…
The draw ceremony has been very impressive so far, if a little long. More dancers have taken to the stage. Should be starting soon…
Egyptian Football Federation (EFA) President Hany Hassan Abo Rida: “Today everybody all over the world is watching tonight’s draw. We hope for a future that his happier, brighter and a tournament which reflects the peace and love that Egypt is known for”.
The pre-draw entertainment provided by an African dance troupe who we must say, are very good indeed.
Egypt superstar Mohamed Salah came off the bench but did not score as the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations hosts defeated fellow qualifiers Guinea 3-1 Sunday in a warm-up match.
Marwan Mohsen gave the Pharaohs an early lead in Alexandria that was cancelled by Sory Kaba midway through the second half.
Ahmed Ali, recalled for the Cup of Nations after a lengthy absence from the national squad, put Egypt ahead again and Omar Gaber scored a late goal to ensure victory.
It was the second warm-up victory for Egypt, who defeated qualifiers Tanzania 1-0 three days ago at the same stadium.
Egypt are in Group A with the Democratic Republic of Congo, Uganda and Zimbabwe for the June 21-July 19 tournament as they seek a record-extending eighth African title.
While Egypt are on a winning streak, serious title contenders Morocco suffered a second home loss in a row as they fell 3-2 to non-qualifiers Zambia.
Ajax Amsterdam star Hakim Ziyech equalised twice for a team considered one of the biggest threats to title favourites Egypt only for Enock Mwepu to snatch a 75th-minute winner.
Morocco, who lost to the Gambia last Wednesday, are guided by Frenchman Herve Renard, the only coach to win the Cup of Nations with different countries.
He led outsiders Zambia to the title in 2012 and repeated the feat three years later with perennial underachievers the Ivory Coast.
Everton star Idrissa Gueye scored the first half goal that gave Senegal a 1-0 victory over Nigeria behind closed doors in Ismailia, one of the venues for the African showpiece.
Three-time champions Nigeria and former runners-up Senegal are expected to go far in the first Cup of Nations to feature 24 teams, up from 16 two years ago in Gabon.
Andy Delort, a late call-up by Algeria after the axing of Haris Belkebla for baring his back side online, scored the winner in a thrilling 3-2 victory over Mali in Doha.
Mali were in front twice before Delort netted nine minutes from time for Algeria, whose lone African title came at home 29 years ago.
This match was also played behind closed doors as coaches put the final touches to preparations for a tournament that kicks off Friday with a match between Egypt and Zimbabwe.
Zimbabwe led at half-time through a Knox Mutizwa goal and Mbwana Samatta equalised for Tanzania in a 1-1 draw between the qualifiers in Cairo.
LAGOS, June 10 (Reuters) – Nigeria have cut Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho from their final 23-man squad for the Africa Cup of Nations, which starts in Egypt next week.
Iheanacho was the only major omission by coach Gernot Rohr, who retained 15 players from the squad that went to the World Cup in Russia last year. Back-up goalkeeper Ikechukwu Ezenwa from Katsina United is the only home-based player in the squad.
Nigeria have been drawn to play in Group B against Guinea, Madagascar and Burundi, who they play first in Alexandria on June 22.
Goalkeepers: Daniel Akpeyi (Kaizer Chiefs), Ikechukwu Ezenwa (Katsina United), Francis Uzoho (Anorthosis Famagusta).
Defenders: Olaoluwa Aina (Torino), Chidozie Awaziem(Rizespor), Leon Balogun (Brighton and Hove Albion), Jamilu Collins (Paderborn), William Troost Ekong (Udinese), Kenneth Omeruo (Leganes), Abdullahi Shehu (Bursaspor)
Midfielders: Oghenekaro Etebo (Stoke City), John Obi Mikel (Middlesbrough), Ahmed Musa (Al Nassr), Wilfred Ndidi (Leicester City), John Ogu (Hapoel Be’er Sheva)
Forwards: Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal), Odion Ighalo (Shanghai Shenhua), Alex Iwobi (Arsenal), Samuel Kalu (Girondins Bordeaux), Paul Onuachu (Midtjylland), Henry Onyekuru(Galatasaray), Victor Osimhen (Charleroi), Moses Simon (Levante).
PARIS — France’s women took a first step to follow in the World Cup footsteps of the French men.
Wendie Renard, at 6-foot-2 the tallest player in the tournament, scored twice on headers off corner kicks, and Les Bleues overwhelmed South Korea 4-0 Friday night in a gala World Cup opener.
Eugénie Le Sommer and Amandine Henry also got goals on a cool, windy night at Parc des Princes, the home of Paris Saint-Germain. French pop star Jain provided the pregame entertainment for the sellout crowd of 45,261, and French President Emmanuel Macron was among the spectators singing “La Marseillaise” and looking on.
“We knew that it was going to be a really emotional evening. But I think we managed it well,” Renard said. “When you have more than 45,000 people singing the French national anthem, obviously it drives you forward.”
France is hosting the tournament at a time when women’s teams are increasing their push for equal treatment from FIFA and other soccer governing bodies. It is vying to become the first nation to hold both the men’s and women’s World Cup titles at the same time.
“I’m sure people expect or hope, and the same goes for us, we’d like to follow in the footsteps of the senior men’s national team,” French coach Corinne Diacre said. “But everything takes time. We won tonight, but we haven’t still won anything. We have six more steps on the road that need to be taken. We need to be serious and focused for six games, and then we’ll see what comes of it.”
Norway and Nigeria meet in the other Group A opener on Saturday. France faces Norway on Wednesday and Nigeria on June 17.
France’s margin of victory was the largest in a Women’s World Cup opener since China beat Norway by the same score at the first tournament in 1991. Four years ago, all nine teams that won their opener advanced from the 24-nation group stage to the round of 16.
The world’s fourth-ranked team wasn’t tested by No. 14 South Korea. France had a 17-0 advantage in shots during the first half and 21-4 overall.
Les Bleues, eliminated by Germany on penalty kicks in the quarterfinals four years ago in Canada, applied pressure from the start on goalkeeper Kim Minjung.
Le Sommer scored in the ninth minute off a cross from Henry and held up her hands in the shape of a heart in celebration after her 75th international goal, the earliest in a Women’s World Cup opener. South Korea has conceded the first goal in all eight World Cup games it has played.
Griedge Mbock Bathy appeared to score in the 30th minute but the goal was disallowed in a video review, technology also used by FIFA at last year’s men’s tournament in Russia.
“On the spur of the moment you’re happy and when the goal’s disallowed it’s frustrating, but you have to switch quickly,” she said. “We had a lot of time left and we had a lot of opportunities to score.”
Renard doubled the lead in the 35th from Gaëtane Thiney’s corner kick as the crowd chanted “Wendie! Wendie!”
She made it 3-0 from Amel Majri’s corner kick in stoppage time with her 22nd international goal. Ten of her last 11 goals have come on headers.
“It really feels good on a personal level,” Renard said. “But I think above all as a team, because these were very important goals. It allowed us to go into the break with a 3-goal lead.”
Henry added her 12th international goal off a pass from Le Sommer in the 85th.
South Korea substitute Lee Mina had the best chance for her team on a breakaway in the 76th minute, but the shot went just wide.
Renard, selected player of the match, is among seven players on France’s roster that play for Lyon, which routed Barcelona 4-1 to win the women’s Champions League for the fourth straight year and sixth time overall.
Diacre had surprised many when her roster did not include PSG’s Marie-Antoinette Katoto, a 20-year-old who led the French league in scoring. Diacre also made the somewhat unexpected decision not to start Valérie Gauvin, who entered in the 70th. The coach said the decision was tactical.
France eliminated South Korea 3-0 in the round of 16 four years ago. Yoon Deok-yeo, South Korea’s coach since 2012, said his team was simply outmatched by Les Bleues.
“The first match, the result is not that good,” he said through a translator. “So for the upcoming two matches, we have to do our best. It is a must.”
After signing a two year deal with Barcelona Ladies, Asisat Oshoala revealed that her ambition is to help the team win titles.
LAGOS – Flying Eagles of Nigeria kicked off their 2019 FIFA Under-20 World Cup campaign with a 4-0 defeat of Qatar on Friday.
The coach Paul Aigbogun lads lived up to expectations from the blast of the referee’s whistle as Maxwell Effiom scored the first goal in the 12th minute of play while Henry Offia made it two in the 24th minutes for the Nigerians.
Manchester City young star, Tom Dele Bashiru scored the third goal in the 68th minutes as Olasunkanmi Aliyu capped the goals for the Nigerians in the 74th minutes.
Meanwhile, Coach Aigbogun in spite of the victory, has promised that they would not underrate any team at the ongoing tournament.
“We have started well and it is our prayer that the players will continue to live up to expectations.
“Winning the first group match is something that is good for the team, but sustaining the tempo is another thing.
“We hope to sustain the tempo in our subsequent matches.
“We are here to do our best and to make Nigeria proud,” Aigbogun told media.
“No team is a small team anymore. We want to do our best and come out top of the group.
“We have a few lads in the team that are new because we made a few changes to the team that played the African qualifiers. These players will hopefully add quality to the team.”
It would be recalled that the Flying Eagles have never won the Under-20 World Cup, with their best outings being the 1989 and 2005 editions, where they finished as runners-up behind Portugal and Argentina, respectively.
The Flying Eagles will now play the United States on Monday, May 27 in their second Group match.
In some of the other matches played on Friday, Honduras lost 0-5 to New Zealand while Colombia shocked hosts, Poland 2-0. In another match already decided Japan drew 1-1 with Ecuador.
Earlier on Thursday, Senegal had defeated Thaiti 3-0.
The post Nigeria Start FIFA U20 World Cup On A Winning Note appeared first on Independent Newspapers Nigeria.
Arsene Wenger is eager to return to football, but the former Arsenal boss is unsure if his comeback will be in management.
Wenger, 69, ended a 22-year stay with the Premier League side at the end of last season before stepping away from management for this campaign.
The Frenchman, who has reportedly turned down numerous opportunities, said he would return, although he is unsure in just what role.
“I will go back into football, for sure,” Wenger told The Guardian.
“In what position I don’t know, whether that is as a manager or not. The appetite, the desire, is still there.”
Wenger, who also managed Nancy, Monaco and Nagoya Grampus Eight during his career, said he would quickly decide what kind of position he wanted for his first job away from the Gunners since 1996.
“Originally I said I want to manage straight away again. After that I thought maybe I take a little distance,” he said.
“I came to the conclusion that I want to share what I learned in my life. Because life is only useful if at some stage you share what you know. In what way will it be, will it be just winning football games or in another way? That’s what I have to decide. That decision will come very quickly.
“Football is still my passion. That’s the only thing I have a little bit of a feeling I know a little bit about.”
During his time with Arsenal, Wenger led the Gunners to three Premier League titles, with the most recent being the famous Invincible season in 2003-04.
The Gunners also claimed seven FA Cups during his tenure as well as seven Community Shields.
Another half century for the GOAT
Lionel Messi made it 50 goals for the season for just the sixth (!) time in his career on Sunday against Eibar.
The Barcelona captain scored his 49th with a low finish to make it 1-1 after 31 minutes and then a minute later brought up another landmark in some style.
Messi raced from the halfway line and then dinked the ball over goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic for his 50th goal in all competitions:
31′ ⚽️ Messi
32′ ⚽️ Messi
That’s 5⃣0⃣ goals for Leo Messi in all competitions this season! #EibarBarça pic.twitter.com/bddZSjCoBw
— LaLiga (@LaLigaEN) May 19, 2019
The Barca captain now has 36 in La Liga and will finish the season as the top flight’s top scorer. He will pick up the pichichi for a sixth time in his career and equals a record held by Telmo Zarra.
6⃣ Leo Messi equals Telmo Zarra as the player with the most Pichichi awards ⚽
— FC Barcelona (@FCBarcelona) May 19, 2019
Messi also looks set to win the European Golden Shoe for a sixth time this season, PSG’s Kylian Mbappe could pip him to the award but is four goals behind with a game left to play.
Eden Hazard scored twice, including a contender for goal of the season, to give Chelsea a vital 2-0 win over West Ham that moves them up to third in the Premier League.
Hazard showed superb skill to get past three West Ham players before lashing home (24), and got another with a cute touch and finish late on (90) to wrap up the points.
West Ham had their share of chances to equalise in the second half, but the result means Chelsea have a three-point cushion over Arsenal in fifth, although they have played a game more. West Ham stay 11th, five points off the top seven.
Chelsea dominated the ball in the opening period, but had to wait until the 24th minute to cut West Ham open thanks to some Hazard brilliance, hours after it was reported on Sky Sports News that Real Madrid were increasingly confident of signing the Belgian in the summer.
Picking up the ball on the turn 45 yards out, Hazard took on Mark Noble and slalomed past Angelo Ogbonna and Fabian Balbuena with a fine piece of skill before poking past Lukasz Fabianski with his left foot from 15 yards.
Moments later, Hazard nearly set up Gonzalo Higuain for a second as the Argentinian hit the post from an angle, and he was then denied by Ryan Fredericks’ superb block after the striker had controlled and shot from close range.
As it happened | Premier League tableLive football: What’s on Sky Sports this weekPremier League top scorers
Hazard was running the show, and had a strong appeal for a penalty turned down after Marko Arnautovic looked to have barged him to the ground.
The game opened up after the break as Manuel Lanzini forced a smart save from Kepa Arrizabalaga, while Aaron Cresswell struck just wide from range on the half volley with West Ham pushing hard for a leveller.
Barkley was then inches away from converting Callum Hudson-Odoi’s centre across the face of goal, and at the other end Emerson produced a vital block as Arnautovic looked to head home sub Robert Snodgrass’ wicked cross.
It was not entirely comfortable for Chelsea, but they got their two-goal cushion in the last minute as Hazard took down Barkley’s cross 10 yards out, before finding the bottom left corner past Fabianski on the half volley.
Maurizio Sarri: “When Hazard is able to play like this in matches, we’re very lucky as it’s easy to win the match. He’s able to make the difference.
“[£100m] is too cheap in this market. I have no idea but we have seen it’s very hard to change Hazard with another player.”
Manuel Pellegrini: “When a player with the quality of Eden Hazard, you know he can make different things. Going through four players is not easy. But we could have done better in the way we defended that goal and our play.
“We changed things and we had a chance to draw. I saw the personality in the second half but in the first half, no.”
Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 13 home league meetings with West Ham (W9 D4) since a 2-3 loss in September 2002.
West Ham have scored just one goal in their last seven away Premier League games (D1 L6), a Mark Noble penalty in a 1-1 draw at Crystal Palace.
Chelsea have lost just one of their last 20 home Premier League matches (W12 D7 L1), a 0-1 defeat to Leicester City in December 2018.
Hazard has scored 19 goals in all competitions in 2018/19 – his joint-best tally in a season for Chelsea (level with 2014/15).
Hazard has been directly involved in 11 goals in his last 10 Premier League games at Stamford Bridge (6 goals, 5 assists).
Hazard has been directly involved in more Premier League goals than any other player this season (16 goals, 12 assists).
Ruben Loftus-Cheek has had a hand in four goals in his last three Premier League games for Chelsea (2 goals, 2 assists), after a run of 11 appearances without a goal involvement in the competition.
Man of the match – Eden Hazard
Not much of an argument here. On the day his future was questioned again, the Belgian completely ran the show.
Stats-wise, he had the most shots, dribbles completed, chances created and passes into the box of all the players, but the first goal was a joy to behold. His low centre of gravity will be giving West Ham’s defence nightmares for a few weeks. He is so, so good.
“You feel sad in some ways that there is so much talk of Real Madrid,” said Gary Neville on MNF after the game. “If this is his last five league games, it’s a real problem for the Premier League.
Jamie Carragher has compared Chelsea’s fight to retain Eden Hazard to when Barcelona came calling for Luis Suarez.
“I don’t think you can ever stop players moving to Real Madrid and Barcelona. I think most players see that as the pinnacle, and it’s happened at both Manchester United and Liverpool.
“It’s sad as I love watching him week in, week out. But I almost feel like Hazard has to play for Real Madrid or Barcelona.”
Chelsea now go to Slavia Prague on Thursday for their Europa League quarter-final, first leg, before travelling to Anfield to face Liverpool on Super Sunday, live on Sky Sports Premier League at 4pm; Kick-off is at 4.30pm. West Ham go to Manchester United on Saturday in the Premier League at 5.30pm.
Shola Ameobi says he will welcome a coaching role with Newcastle United Academy.
The former Nigeria international has been linked with one of three new roles in the Magpies’ youth set-up.
The 37-year-old who made 397 appearances for the Magpies, scoring 79 goals currently coaches Newcastle kids and is delighted to give back to the club that ‘invested’ in him.
“The Academy stuff is something I have always done. Even when I was a player I would go down in the afternoons to the Academy,” Ameobi told Chronicle.
“If the Academy and club hadn’t invested in me I wouldn’t be where I am. It has always been a passion of mine.
“The Foundation too, is all about the community and what we can do. Football has a huge part to play in the city.
“You have to look at it as a positive light and to affect as many people as you can. The Foundation does that and I’m passion about it.
“I enjoy the coaching and engaging with the kids and do everything I can to help them on and off the pitch to be adults.
“That is something I will always do and what I’m about it. There will always be a part of me for Newcastle United if they want me.
“It’s something I’d love to see where it goes and if I can play a part in helping the club I’m all in.”