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Late VAR Call Denies Liverpool In Derby Draw Against Everton

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Liverpool captain Jordan Henderson had a stoppage-time winner ruled out for offside as Everton twice came from behind to salvage their unbeaten start to the Premier League season on Saturday in a pulsating Merseyside derby that ended 2-2.

Everton have still not won a derby for 10 years, but manager Carlo Ancelotti will be the happier of the two managers to escape with a point after Henderson’s strike did not stand for the most marginal of offside calls against Sadio Mane in the build-up following a VAR review.

A share of the spoils means Everton remain three points clear of their city rivals at the top of the table.

Liverpool were smashed 7-2 by Aston Villa in their last game before the international break, but started like a side keen to make amends.

Mane missed the Villa Park mauling after testing positive for coronavirus and the Senegalese showed why he was badly missed with a smart finish from Andy Robertson’s cut-back to open the scoring.

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Everton had a major let off moments later when Virgil Van Dijk was on the receiving end of a dangerous late lunge from Jordan Pickford as a free-kick was swung into the box.

However, no penalty was awarded on a VAR review because Van Dijk had been marginally offside and Pickford also incredibly avoided a red card.

Ancelotti’s men made the most of that reprieve to level on 19 minutes when Michael Keane’s header from James Rodriguez’s corner had too much power for Adrian.

But it was Liverpool who remained the more dangerous side for the remainder of the first-half. Pickford leapt to his right to make a stunning save from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s free-kick before Mane then had a similar chance to the opening goal only to this time skew Robertson’s cross wide.

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Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s nine goals have been a major part of Everton’s flying start to the season, but the newly-capped England international missed a huge chance to put the home side in front as he failed to connect with Lucas Digne’s low cross five minutes into the second-half.

James has been a player reborn since his move from Real Madrid to join up with Ancelotti at a third club and the Colombian’s sumptuous cross nearly teed up Richarlison for the winner, but the Brazilian’s header came back off the outside of the post.

Those chances looked set to come back to haunt Everton as a moment of magic from Mohamed Salah put Liverpool back in front 18 minutes from time.

Alexander-Arnold’s cross was cut out by Yerry Mina but broke to the Egpytian on his left and he arrowed a shot into the far corner for his sixth goal in five appearances this season.

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Pickford kept Everton in the game with an incredible save from Joel Matip’s header and then to parry another piledriver from Salah.

That proved crucial as Calvert-Lewin produced an incredible leap and header from Digne’s cross to level once more.

Everton did finish the game down to 10 men as Richarlison was shown a straight red card for another dangerous lunge, this time on Thiago Alcantara.

Henderson thought he had won the game when Pickford failed to keep out his England teammate’s low shot in stoppage time.

However, the drama did not end there as VAR deemed Mane to be offside as he provided the cross.

 

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SWAN President, Aigbona Congratulates Babafemi Raji, Oluchi Tobe-Chukwu, Commends NFF Over Appointment

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The President of Sports Writers Association of Nigeria ( SWAN), has felicitated with Babafemi Raji and Oluchi Tobe-Chukwu over their appointment as media officers of the Super Eagles and Super Falcons respectively.

Aigbona in a statement described the appointment of the duo as well deserved and commendable.

The SWAN President believes that the dou of Tobe-Chukwu and Raji are capable of discharging their duties in their respective positions accordingly and in high spirit of professionalism.

Aigbona commended Nigeria Football Federation ( NFF) for the choice of the dou; Babafemi Raji and Oluchi Tobe-Chukwu, stating that SWAN members across the country are ready to work closely with the newly appointed media officers and give necessary support to them. “Their success is our priority,” he said.

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“As Sports Writers, and the dou being committed and dedicated members, we believe so much in their abilities to deliver proficiently in their new positions. SWAN is urging them that their new offices are sensitive and that must be handled carefully.

” We again, as an association reiterated our commitment and support for the NFF, as we desired to see the federation doing better in the future.” Aigbona states.

While also applauding the contributions of the outgoing media officers; Toyin Ibitoye and Jane Onyinye Nweze, Aigbona explained that their contributions towards promulgating the activities of their respective offices in the past cannot be ignored by anyone.

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Aigbona prayed that the outgoing and the incoming officers succeed in their future endeavorLogo

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Crisis Never Far Away For Zidane As Real Madrid Doubts Linger

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Real Madrid have released the pressure on Zinedine Zidane temporarily, with the next job to fix their dismal start in the Champions League.

Madrid’s 3-1 victory over Barcelona in the Clasico on Saturday swerved a third consecutive defeat after losses to Cadiz in La Liga and Shakhtar Donetsk.

“There are always bad spells,” said Sergio Ramos. “Hopefully this one has only lasted a week.”

But the effects of the implosion against Shakhtar, who had 10 first team players missing due to coronavirus infections, still linger, with Madrid sitting bottom of Group B.

A win away to Borussia Monchengladbach on Tuesday would limit the damage, especially after Monchengladbach’s draw with Inter Milan kept the group tight.

And Zidane will know a convincing performance in Germany should suspend talk of a crisis and dispel doubts about his future, at least for now.

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Even for Real Madrid, two defeats seemed scant ammunition for the uncertainty around their coach that followed.

Some reports in the Spanish press were even discussing the arrival of Mauricio Pochettino if mistakes were not rectified at Camp Nou.

“I have always been critical of myself, it is what drives you to improve,” said Zidane. “After a loss, as a coach, most of the criticism comes at me and that’s normal.”

The quickness to question the Frenchman has become a regular feature of his tenure, even while the players sing his praises and the trophies have poured in.

It was only three months ago Real Madrid were winning their second La Liga title of his three full seasons in charge, to go with three triumphs in the Champions League.

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Success, though, has never been enough for Zidane. His reputation as a man-manager has always been a back-handed compliment, even if getting the best out of good players is surely the key to being the coach of a team like Real Madrid.

Barcelona wanted a return to the club’s DNA by putting Quique Setien and now Ronald Koeman in charge – but few could argue they are not worse off now than under the more pragmatic Ernesto Valverde.

The decision to sack Valverde was “not coherent or logical”, Gerard Pique told Catalan newspaper La Vanguardia on Friday.

If capitulation has become Barca’s recurring flaw, it is inconsistency that undermines Zidane’s Madrid.

When they stormed to the title during the 11-game run-in last season, it was with no other distractions and a trophy in sight.

With a less immediate prize and against lesser opponents, like Cadiz and Shakhtar Donetsk, the suspicion is those players Zidane trusts completely become unreliable.

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“I have won many things with these players,” Zidane said. “I will always be with them until the end.”

Zidane routinely sidesteps the issue of his future, which creates a nervousness after he resigned so unexpectedly after winning the Champions League in 2018.

And perhaps that contributes to the sense of short-termism, an ageing team managed by a coach that seemingly refuses to look beyond the end of the week.

Every slip-up is projected as a slump and any doubts feed the idea Zidane might suddenly depart.

“Nothing changes,” he said. “Last year? The same. In my first spell? The same. What I have to do is do my job.”

Anything but a win on Tuesday and the cycle begins again.

 

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Racism: Neymar Avoided A Ban

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Paris Saint-German’s Neymar and Marseille’s Alvaro Gonzalez have avoided punishment after allegedly making racist and homophobic remarks in the meeting between the sides earlier this month, the French league (LFP) announced on Wednesday.

The world’s most expensive player was accused of making the remarks towards Marseille’s Japan right-back Hiroki Sakai and Gonzalez. The Brazil attacker claimed the Spanish centre-back had called him a “monkey”.

“The disciplinary commission states that it does not have sufficient proof to allow it to establish the substance of the facts concerning discriminatory language,” the LFP said.

Marseille’s victory at Parc des Princes on September 13 was marred by an injury-time scuffle which saw five players red-carded. Neymar was sent off for slapping Gonzalez on the back of the head and was given a two-match ban for the incident.

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Last week, PSG’s Angel Di Maria received a four-match ban for spitting during the fixture.

 

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