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  1. Mohamed Salah yesterday scored his 40th goal of the season as Liverpool produced a scintillating performance to overcome Bournemouth and top off the perfect week as they cemented their place in the top-four of the Premier League. With the goal, he becomes the first African player to reach 30 Premier League goals in a single season. Didier Drogba was the previous highest African scorer with 29 goals in 2009-10. Salah’s goal means he’s now the first player to 30 league goals in Europe’s big 5 leagues this season and marks the 40th in all competitions in a remarkable campaign that still has a minimum of six and possibly seven games to run. He also becomes only the seventh player in history to score 30 goals in a 38-game Premier League season. Sadio Mane got the Reds off the mark after only five minutes with his 17th goal of the season, to ensure Jurgen Klopp’s side had something to show for a blistering first-half display. After beating Manchester City to clinch their place in the semi-final of the Champions League where they will meet Roma, Klopp insisted his side wouldn’t be distracted domestically, and there was little doubt Liverpool were motivated for the tie as they carved Eddie Howe’s side open time and time again. The German named a strong starting line-up, making just one change from the side on Tuesday night, but a combination of profligate finishing and stout defending meant it looked like Liverpool may have to endure a tense finish to the game. However, Salah produced a moment of magic in the 69th-minute when he headed a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross past Asmir Begovic to put the result beyond doubt and further furnish an already incredibly impressive first season at Liverpool. The third member of the Reds’ irrepressible front three, Roberto Firmino, added a third in the last minute to put further gloss on an already polished performance. Liverpool are now only a point behind second-placed Manchester United and move 10 points clear ahead of Chelsea in fifth, while Bournemouth remain 11th.
  2. PSV Eindhoven stormed to a 24th Eredivisie title after beating Ajax 3-0 on Sunday. PSV came into the game with a seven-point lead over their second-placed visitors but made that 10 with just three games to play after a comfortable win. Goals from Gaston Pereiro, Luuk de Jong and Steven Bergwijn made it a champagne afternoon for Phillip Cocu’s men. To complete a miserable day for Ajax, they finished with nine men after late red cards for Nicolas Tagliafico and Siem de Jong and have now gone four seasons without lifting the title.
  3. Manchester City Coach, Pep Guardiola has now added the English Premier League title to his previous domestic successes in both Spain and Germany, as the English club has officially been crowned Premier League champions. Without even playing on Sunday, Manchester City won the English Premier League after their nearest challenger Manchester United were shocked with a 1-0 loss at home, to bottom-placed West Bromwich Albion. This is City’s third title in seven seasons and easily its most convincing, with Pep Guardiola’s team 16 points clear and still having five games to play this season. “We’ve won you the league, Manchester City, we’ve won you the league,” sang West Brom’s fans near the end of the game. By completing the job after 33 games, City have emulated the achievement of United, who also secured the crown with five matches to spare in 2001. The Manchester United manager, José Mourinho, said City’s consistency had earned them the title. “Manchester City won the title because they won more points than everybody else, because yesterday they won against Tottenham, because during the season they lost only two matches,” he said. “Our Time. Our City. Premier League Champions 17/18,” City tweeted soon after the final whistle when the fifth English top-flight title of its history was assured. City boss Pep Guardiola had planned a day of golf with his son Marius on Sunday, so the Spaniard might have learned of his first Premier League while on the course. Speaking after the win over Tottenham, Guardiola admitted winning the title in England would be one of the greatest achievements of his glittering career. He won three league titles with Barcelona and twice lifted the Champions League trophy during his Camp Nou reign. The 47-year-old also took the German title three times with Bayern Munich, but he believes the unique strength in depth and physical demands of the Premier League makes this triumph among his very best.
  4. Legendary goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon launched an extraordinary attack on referee Michael Oliver, labelling him a ‘murderer’ and accusing him of having ‘no heart in his chest’ after Juventus were knocked out of the Champions League by Real Madrid. Buffon was left furious after Juve clawed back a three-goal first-leg deficit at the Bernabeu, only for Oliver to award the hosts a penalty in the 93rd minute for Mehdi Benatia’s challenge on Lucas Vazquez. The veteran goalkeeper fumed at Oliver after the decision and was sent off for his aggressive reaction, which saw him scream and point his hand in the English official’s face. Cristiano Ronaldo converted the spot-kick after Buffon had departed the pitch, sending Real Madrid into the semi-finals with a 4-3 aggregate win and ending the Italy legend’s hopes of winning the Champions League for the first time in his illustrious career. Buffon was still seething after the final whistle, as he blasted Oliver and his decisions during a passionate post-match interview. ‘It was a tenth of a penalty,’ Buffon, who was playing in his last-ever Champions League game, told Mediaset. ‘I know the referee saw, it was certainly a dubious incident. ‘And a dubious incident at the 93rd minute when we had a clear penalty denied [for a challenge on Juan Cuadrado] in the first leg, you cannot award that at this point. ‘The team gave their all, but a human being cannot destroy dreams like that at the end of an extraordinary comeback on a dubious situation. ‘Clearly you cannot have a heart in your chest, but a bin. On top of that, if you don’t have the character to walk on a pitch like this in a stadium like this, you can sit in the stands with your wife, your kids, drinking your Sprite and eating crisps. You cannot ruin the dreams of a team.’ ‘You have to be a murderer to make the last two decisions the referee made,’ Buffon added later, on a Spanish radio station. Buffon conceded that Madrid were worthy winners but said he was proud of his team for coming close to advancing despite entering the second leg 3-0 down. ‘Real Madrid deserved to go through over the two legs,’ Buffon said. ‘I wish them the best and it has always been an honour for me to face this club, but objectively we at least deserved to go to extra time.’ ‘We started out knowing full well we had 0.0000005 per cent chance of doing it. But I am so truly proud to be part of a team that would play like this, work so hard and give everything. I am proud to be with this group of men. Naturally, there is regret and, well, anger.’ Gary Lineker came to the defence of Buffon on BT Sport’s coverage of the match, questioning whether it was necessary for Oliver to send the 40-year-old off in what turned out to be his final match in the competition. ‘I thank Lineker for what he wrote, but as I said, it’s an issue of sensitivity,’ Buffon responded. ‘It means you don’t know where you are, what teams are facing off, what players are involved. It means you’ve understood absolutely **** all. ‘It disappointed me to leave the boys with 10 men, but I said objectively Real Madrid deserved the victory, we shake their hands and move on. We will be furious when stepping on to the pitch in Serie A this weekend. Furious.’ Benatia maintained his innocence in the penalty incident, insisting that he did not push Vazquez and claiming the Madrid winger went down out of desperation. ‘I can promise you, I did not push him. He went down because he had nothing else to do at that point,’ Benatia said. ‘Giving a penalty like that at the 93rd minute is simply absurd. Bayern Munich had the exact same thing last year. What can you do?’ Buffon has never won the Champions League during his 23-year career, despite reaching the final three times with Juventus in 2017, 2015 and 2005.
  5. Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu has apologized to fans after being knocked out of the Champions League on Tuesday night. Barcelona went out of the competition on away goals after Roma won 3-0 on the night to level the aggregate score at 4-4. Bartomeu spoke after the defeat at the Stadio Olimpico and said Barcelona let down the fans who traveled. He said: ‘I’m really sorry. Roma was the better team on the pitch. Roma believed and showed that when you try hard, you can achieve your objectives. ‘Of course [this defeat] affects us, but we have some important games coming up and the players will recover.’ Barcelona is 11 points clear at the top of La Liga but Bartomeu hinted that Valverde may no longer be the club’s first choice to take the club forward. He said: ‘This team is always prepared to win on all fronts, be it with Ernesto Valverde or another coach.’We fight to win everything every season, but tonight it wasn’t to be.’ Barcelona is back in action in Spain on Saturday when they take on Valencia.
  6. Barcelona star man Lionel Messi has blamed his team’s Champions League exit on want away defender Samuel Umtiti. The Argentina international feels the reason for the Frenchman’s lack of concentration is United’s persistent interest in signing him in the summer. According to Diario Gol, Messi blamed Manchester United, claiming the France defender was not fully focused on the task at hand. The Spanish media outfit also stated Messi gave the Umtiti a verbal dressing down at half-time, imploring him to get his mind on the Roma match. The center-back has a £53m release clause in his contract and Mourinho has reportedly identified the Barca man as the ideal partner for Eric Bailly in United’s central defence. The 30-year-old was also said to be angry at Jordi Alba who played badly in the disastrous loss in Rome. Messi and his teammates did not sparkle at the Stadio Olympico as Roma overturned the three-goal first deficit in stunning fashion. The Catalan giants have failed to make it past the quarter final stage of the Champions League for the third consecutive year. Goals from Edin Dzeko, Daniele de Rossi and Kostas Manolas saw the Italian side seal their passage into the next round on a 4-4 aggregate scoreline. The shock result means Eusebio Di Francesco side are now dreaming of Champions League glory and could meet Liverpool in the semi-finals. On the other hand, the Nou Camp outfit will have to watch on as bitter rivals Real Madrid attempt to make history by winning the trophy for the third consecutive time.
  7. Kostas Manolas sent Roma through to the semi-finals of the Champions League after an incredible 3-0 victory over Barcelona at the Stadio Olimpico on Tuesday saw them overhaul a 4-1 first-leg deficit and advance on away goals. The superb Edin Dzeko set the ball rolling in the sixth minute, and after Daniele De Rossi converted a penalty 13 minutes after the break to get the home fans believing, Manolas glanced home a brilliant header with eight minutes left to send the Roma supporters into raptures and leave Barca wondering what had hit them. Just as they were at the Camp Nou, Roma were aggressive from the off, and Dzeko gave the home side a deserved lead after just six minutes, brilliantly bringing down De Rossi’s clipped through ball, holding off Samuel Umtiti and poking the ball past Marc-Andre ter Stegen. Patrik Schick had the best chances to double Roma’s lead before half-time on his Champions League debut, but continued the poor form in front of goal that has blighted his club-record move from Sampdoria. He sent two glorious headed chances wide, the first from a vicious 13th-minute Aleksandar Kolarov corner. The second, just before the half-hour mark was even more glaring, a free header on the penalty spot that should have hit the target. He was however unlucky not to control Radja Nainggolan’s miSh!t shot when it flashed to him in the area just two minutes later. Roma started the second half as they started the first and got their reward in the 58th minute when Edin Dzeko was chopped down by Gerard Pique and De Rossi slotted home the spot-kick. Eusebio Di Francesco’s side smelled blood, and with the raucous crowd urging their team they tore into wobbling Barca. De Rossi flashed a header wide in the 69th minute, and 10 minutes later it looked like Ter Stegen had saved the away side’s skin with an incredible close-range stop from Stephan El Shaarawy. However with just seven minutes left Manolas met another fizzing Kolarov corner with a unsaveable header, sparking wild celebrations on and off the pitch. Barca finally came out of their shells as Roma tried to hold on to the result, but the hosts held on brilliantly to see the result out and go through to the semis for the first time since 1984, when they lost the final at home to Liverpool, Tuesday’s other victors.
  8. Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, is attracting interest from Real Madrid. According to The Sun, the club wants him if they sack Zinedine Zidane at the end of this season. Zidane is expected to remain at the club if he wins the Champions League, but the club’s poor league form has put his position under threat. Klopp has become a target for the LaLiga giants, following his success with Borussia Dortmund and Liverpool in the European competition. The Liverpool boss could still have a say in whether Madrid will retain the Champions League if both sides progress to the semi-finals. Bayern Munich has also been linked with Klopp, but reports in Germany say Madrid hold the most interest.
  9. Former Hull City manager Phil Brown says ex-Super Eagles captain Austin Okocha “brought magic to the Premier League”. Brown made the declaration during a special SuperSport TV interview showcasing Okocha and his nephew Alex Iwobi, according to Scorenigeria.com. “He was one of the iconic footballers who hit the Premier League,” the new Swindon manager, who worked as assistant manager when Okocha was at Bolton, said. “He brought magic to the Premier League.” Okocha described the rise of his nephew Iwobi at Arsenal as “amazing”. “It is amazing what he has become and he’s enjoying what he is doing,” former PSG midfielder Okocha said. “It’s even beyond your wildest dreams. “But I knew (he will make it big in the game) because he had so much interest in football. “His favourite then was Alan Shearer because he scored a lot of goals.” He said despite the pressure on Iwobi when he is compared to him, the Arsenal player must be himself. Okocha said, “Let him be his own man. He’s my son, I speak a lot with his parents about him, it’s my duty to make sure he is successful.” Iwobi revealed that he does not ask for advice from “Uncle Jay” rather “he gives me advice”.
  10. Nigerian international Wilfred Ndidi has been included in the Premier League’s 30 players who have been in the best form this season. After the 32nd round of fixtures played over the weekend in England, the 30-man list was drawn up by Sky Sports who updated their player power rankings. And according to Sky Sports, power rankings work by assessing each player’s performance with a complex system which analyses 32 different match-day stats. According to the rankings, Super Eagles star Wilfred Ndidi is placed at number 23 on 41,985 points, among the 30 shortlisted players. Liverpool striker Mohamed Salah who has been impressive this season for the Reds occupies the first position on the rankings with 83,732 points. Sky Sports Premier League 30 best in form players this season: 1 – Mohamed Salah/Liverpool (83,752 points) 2 – Kevin De Bruyne/Manchester City (74,746 points) 3 – Harry Kane/Tottenham Hotspur (67,466 points) 4 – Sergio Aguero/Manchester City (58,440 points) 5 – Roberto Firmino/Liverpool (57,530 points) 6 – Christian Eriksen/Tottenham Hotspur (56,592 points) 7 – Raheem Sterling/Manchester City (56,290 points) 8 – Eden Hazard/Chelsea (56,030 points) 9 – Riyad Mahrez/Leicester City (54,208 points) 10 – Romelu Lukaku/Manchester United (52,121 points) 11 – David Silva/Manchester City (52,062 points) 12 – Leroy Sane/Manchester City (51,067 points) 13 – Alexis Sanchez/Manchester United (49,927 points) 14 – Dele Alli/Tottenham Hotspur (49,347 points) 15 – David De Gea/Manchester United (48,850 points) 16 – Fernandinho/Manchester City (48,009 points) 17 – Heung-Min Son/Tottenham Hotspur (46,714 points) 18 – Abdoulaye Doucoure/Watford (46,405 points) 19 – Ederson/Manchester City (42,895 points) 20 – Nicolas Otamendi/Manchester City (42,886 points) 21 – Marcos Alonso/Chelsea (42,850 points) 22 – Xherdan Shaqiri/Stoke City (42,155 points) 23 – Wilfred Ndidi/Leicester City (41,985 points) 24 – Cesar Azpilicueta/Chelsea (41,474 points) 25 – Nemanja Matic/Manchester United (40,550 points) 26 – Nick Pope/Burnley (40,230 points) 27 – Willian/Chelsea (39,956 points) 28 – Sadio Mane/Liverpool (39,927 points) 29 – Pascal Gross/Brighton and Hove Albion (39,688 points) 30 – Jan Vertonghen/Tottenham Hotspur (39,659 points) Meanwhile, Super Eagles star Wilfred Ndidi has been superb this season for Leicester City and he is also expected to shine for Nigeria at the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia. The 21-year-old is no doubt a force to reckon with since he joined Leicester City in 2017, as he was named the Premier League’s top tackler half way into the current season. However, Liverpool among-st some other clubs have shown interest in signing the Super Eagles defensive midfielder who has been likened to Chelsea’s N’Golo Kante due to his style of play.
  11. Liverpool thrash Premier League leaders Manchester City 3 – 0 in the first leg of their Champions League quarter final clash at Anfield. The Citizens head into the game the favourites considering their League form and the fact that a win against city rivals Manchester United will give them the Premier League title this weekend. And at the end of the first 45 minute, it was Liverpool that walked into the tunnel with their shoulders high on a highly comfortable 3 – 0 lead. Manchester City started the second half with much intensity but they could trouble the formidable defence setup by Liverpool. All eyes will be on the return leg that will take place at Anfield in a fortnight time, but with City trailing by three goals, the tie might just be a mer formality. In other Champions League quarter final clash, Barcelona thrash AS Roma 4 – 1 at the Camp Nou.
  12. 9jaonline

    History of The UEFA Champions League

    As the UEFA champions league resumes today, we thought it better to give you a background into the most watch club football competition in the world. The UEFA Champions League is an annual continental club football competition organized by the Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) and contested by top-division European clubs. It is one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world and the most prestigious club competition in European football, played by the national league champions (and, for some nations, one or more runners-up) of the strongest UEFA national associations. The UEFA Champions League final is the most watched annual sporting event worldwide. The final of the 2012–13 tournament had the highest TV ratings to date, drawing 360 million television viewers. Introduced in 1992, the competition replaced the European Champion Clubs’ Cup, or simply European Cup, which had run since 1955, adding a group stage to the competition and allowing multiple entrants from certain countries. The pre-1992 competition was initially a straight knockout tournament open only to the champion club of each country. During the 1990s, the format was expanded, incorporating a round-robin group stage to include clubs that finished runner-up of some nations’ top-level league. While most of Europe’s national leagues can still only enter their national league champion, Europe’s strongest national leagues now provide up to five teams for the competition. Clubs that finish next-in-line in each nation’s top level league, having not qualified for the UEFA Champions League competition, are eligible for the next-level UEFA Europa League competition. In its present format, the UEFA Champions League begins in mid-July with three knockout qualifying rounds and a play-off round. The 10 surviving teams enter the group stage, joining 22 other teams qualified in advance. The 32 teams are drawn into eight groups of four teams and play each other in a double round-robin system. The eight group winners and eight runners-up proceed to the knockout phase that culminates with the final match in May. The winner of the UEFA Champions League qualifies for the UEFA Super Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup. Real Madrid is the most successful club in the competition’s history, having won the tournament 12 times, including its first five seasons. Spanish clubs have accumulated the highest number of victories (17 wins), followed by England and Italy (12 wins apiece). England has the largest number of different winning teams, with a total of 5 clubs having won the title. The competition has been won by 22 different clubs, 12 of which have won it more than once. The reigning champions are Real Madrid, who secured their twelfth title in the competition after defeating Juventus 4–1 in the 2017 final. Thus, they became the first team in the UEFA Champions League era to successfully defend their title. The first pan-European tournament was the Challenge Cup, a competition between clubs in the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Mitropa Cup, a competition modelled after the Challenge Cup, was created in 1927, an idea of Austrian Hugo Meisl, and played between Central European clubs. In 1930, the Coupe des Nations (French: Nations Cup), the first attempt to create a cup for national champion clubs of Europe, was played and organised by Swiss club Servette. Held in Geneva, it brought together ten champions from across the continent. The tournament was won by Újpest of Hungary. Latin European nations came together to form the Latin Cup in 1949. After receiving reports from his journalists over the highly successful Campeonato Sudamericano de Campeones of 1948, Gabriel Hanot, editor of L’Équipe, began proposing the creation of a continent-wide tournament. After Stan Cullis declared Wolverhampton Wanderers “Champions of the World” following a successful run of friendlies in the 1950s, in particular a 3–2 friendly victory against Budapest Honvéd, Hanot finally managed to convince UEFA to put into practice such a tournament. It was conceived in Paris in 1955 as the European Champion Clubs’ Cup. 1955–66: Beginnings The first edition of the European Cup took place during the 1955–56 season. Sixteen teams participated: Milan (Italy), AGF Aarhus (Denmark), Anderlecht (Belgium), Djurgården (Sweden), Gwardia Warszawa (Poland), Hibernian (Scotland), Partizan (Yugoslavia), PSV Eindhoven (Netherlands), Rapid Wien (Austria), Real Madrid (Spain), Rot-Weiss Essen (West Germany), Saarbrücken (Saar), Servette (Switzerland), Sporting CP (Portugal), Stade de Reims (France), and Vörös Lobogó (Hungary). The first European Cup match took place on 4 September 1955, and ended in a 3–3 draw between Sporting CP and Partizan. The first goal in European Cup history was scored by João Baptista Martins of Sporting CP. The inaugural final took place at the Parc des Princes between Stade de Reims and Real Madrid. The Spanish squad came back from behind to win 4–3 thanks to goals from Alfredo Di Stéfano and Marquitos, as well as two goals from Héctor Rial. Real Madrid successfully defended the trophy next season in their home stadium, the Santiago Bernabéu, against Fiorentina. After a scoreless first half, Real Madrid scored twice in six minutes to defeat the Italians. In 1958, Milan failed to capitalise after going ahead on the scoreline twice, only for Real Madrid to equalise. The final held in Heysel Stadium went to extra time where Francisco Gento scored the game-winning goal to allow Real Madrid to retain the title for the third consecutive season. In a rematch of the first final, Real Madrid faced Stade Reims at the Neckarstadion for the 1958–59 season final, easily winning 2–0. West German side Eintracht Frankfurt became the first non-Latin team to reach the European Cup final. The 1959–60 season finale still holds the record for the most goals scored, but the record is overshadowed by the 7–3 thrashing Eintracht Frankfurt received in Hampden Park, courtesy of four goals by Ferenc Puskás and a hat-trick by Alfredo Di Stéfano. This was Real Madrid’s fifth consecutive title, a record that still stands today. Los Merengues reign ended in the 1960–61 season when bitter rivals Barcelona dethroned them in the first round. Barcelona themselves, however, would be defeated in the final by Portuguese side Benfica 3–2 at Wankdorf Stadium. Reinforced by Eusébio, Benfica defeated Real Madrid 5–3 at the Olympic Stadium in Amsterdam and kept the title for a second, consecutive season. Benfica wanted to repeat Real Madrid’s successful run of the 1950s after reaching the showpiece event of the 1962–63 European Cup, but a brace from Brazilian-Italian José Altafini at the Wembley Stadium gave the spoils to Milan, making the trophy leave the Iberian Peninsula for the first time ever. Internazionale beat an ageing-Real Madrid 3–1 in the Ernst-Happel-Stadion to win the 1963–64 season and replicate their local-rival’s success. The title stayed in the city of Milan for the third year in a row after Inter beat Benfica 1–0 at their home ground, the San Siro. Fast forward to the present 2018 and the competition is still waxing strong with great fixtures scheduled for today. Strong European teams still in contention and we wait anxiously ti see who will lift the trophy at the end.
  13. – Paul Pogba could be on his way to Barcelona at the end of the season – Lionel Messi will be happy to play with him at Nou Camp according to report Spanish giants Barcelona are reportedly eyeing a move for Manchester United star Paul Pogba, and the Catalans will try to lure him to Spain this summer. Initially, Barcelona are said to be considering the signing of Atletico Madrid striker Antoine Griezmann, but the latest report suggests they have changed their minds. According to the report by Diario Gol, Barcelona star Lionel Messi will be happy to play with Paul Pogba next term at the Nou Camp. Pogba’s agent, Mino Raiola, is said to have touted his client around to a host of top clubs across Europe including Real Madrid. But the report added that Cristiano Ronaldo has told Real Madrid chiefs not to sign the Frenchman because of his personality and habits. Barcelona are now expected to make their move for Paul Pogba at the end of the season since Lionel Messi would be happy to play with him. Recently, the former Juventus star has struggled to impress at Old Trafford, with many reports that he is not currently happy with the position he plays since the arrival of Sanchez. He has also reportedly had a bust-up with Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho who has benched him for some games.

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