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Arsenal beat Liverpool to ignite Premier League title race



Arsenal rekindled their bid for a first Premier League title in 20 years by beating leaders Liverpool 3-1 at the Emirates as Chelsea succumbed to another embarrassing defeat, 4-2 at home to Wolves, on Sunday.

Liverpool’s hopes of sending off manager Jurgen Klopp as a champion of England were dented as Arsenal closed to within two points at the top of the table.

Mikel Arteta admitted before the game that his side could not afford a repeat of their 2-0 FA Cup defeat to Liverpool last month if they were to keep their title hopes alive.

As in the cup tie, Arsenal dominated the opening stages but this time got their reward with the opening goal. Bukayo Saka stroked home after Alisson Becker denied Kai Havertz.

Liverpool did not have a shot on target in the first half, but levelled after a defensive mix up, Gabriel Magalhaes turned Luis Diaz’s cross into his own net.

The visitors repaid the favour after the break as Alisson collided with Virgil van Dijk as he rushed out from his goal and presented Gabriel Martinelli with the simple of tasks to roll into an empty net.

Liverpool missed the presence of Mohamed Salah in their push for an equaliser and were left with a mountain to climb when Ibrahima Konate was sent off for a second yellow card after fouling Havertz.

Leandro Trossard then took advantage of the space on the right side of the Liverpool defence as he surged forward and blasted beyond Alisson.

Defending champions Manchester City remain just five points off the top but now have two games in hand, starting with a visit to Brentford on Monday, to overhaul Liverpool.


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Xavi to stay on as Barcelona coach in dramatic U-turn



Xavi Hernández has reversed his decision to leave Barcelona at the end of the season and will stay on as head coach after talks with the club

Xavi Hernández has reversed his decision to leave Barcelona at the end of the season and will stay on as head coach after talks with the club president, Joan Laporta, and board members on Wednesday.

The 44-year-old had previously announced his departure after a 5-3 home defeat to Villarreal in January. Despite being under contract until the end of next season, Xavi had been expected to leave the Camp Nou before the end of June this year – but has now made a dramatic U-turn.

Xavi met face-to-face with Barça director Deco on Wednesday after Laporta had pushed to keep the head coach on board beyond the summer. Despite his reservations over continuing in the job, Xavi has agreed to continue after further talks with Deco, Laporta and other board members at the Barcelona president’s home.

The club are expected to make a formal announcement soon to confirm Xavi will remain in charge next season. It is not clear at this stage whether his contract will be extended beyond its current end date of June 2025.

The former Barcelona captain had insisted the club needed a “change of direction” and that he could “not allow the situation to continue” when he first revealed his intention to step down. “You often feel there is lack of respect, you feel that your work is not appreciated,” Xavi said in January.

Sunday’s controversial 3-2 clásico defeat to Real Madrid was Barça’s first in La Liga since the loss to Villarreal that prompted Xavi’s announcement. The team are second in the table, 11 points behind Madrid, and went out of the Champions League to Paris Saint-Germain in the quarter-finals.


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Everton beat Liverpool 2-0 to end title hopes in derby clash



Liverpool's Premier League title bid was left in tatters after being bullied and beaten by a better side as Everton won a Merseyside derby

Liverpool‘s Premier League title bid was left in tatters after being bullied and beaten by a better side as Everton won a Merseyside derby at Goodison Park for the first time in almost 14 years.

In doing so Sean Dyche’s side, 2-0 victors courtesy of goals in either half from Jarrad Branthwaite and Dominic Calvert-Lewin, virtually assured their own top-flight future after moving eight points clear of 18th-placed Luton with four matches to go.

Jurgen Klopp’s much-celebrated ‘last dance’ is turning into an undignified stagger towards the exit as his first defeat across Stanley Park after two wins and five draws previously came less than a week after they were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta.

The club have moved on his successor – Feyenoord’s Arne Slot – by opening negotiations with the Eredivisie club but this would not have made for a happy watch from his Netherlands home.

Fanciful talk of an unprecedented quadruple barely a month ago now seems like total folly as Liverpool are collapsing in on themselves, leaving Arsenal – three points ahead with a superior goal difference – and Manchester City – a point behind with two matches in hand – to fight it out for top spot.

In March 2019 Everton fans laid claim to ruining Liverpool’s title chances after a goalless draw here as Klopp’s side finished second to City by a point.

They will take even greater delight in ruining Klopp’s farewell.

A third successive home league win for the first time since September 2021 means Everton can breathe easier at the other end of the table and bask in the warmth of a derby well won – only their second in the last 30 encounters in total.

They set about dominating the visitors physically and centre-back Ibrahima Konate, in particular, struggled against Calvert-Lewin, who was only passed fit a couple of hours before kick-off.

But Liverpool were losing battles all over the pitch. In midfield Alexis Mac Allister was regularly hurried out of possession while the front three did not give the impression of knowing what the goal even looked like with Darwin Nunez woefully below the level required.

The hosts’ positive approach seemed to have paid off after just six minutes when Calvert-Lewin was brought down by Alisson Becker after nicking Jack Harrison’s outside-of-the-boot pass past him but the penalty was rescinded after VAR ruled the striker was offside.

Ben Godfrey, who headed wide a Dwight McNeil free-kick, slid in to divert behind Mohamed Salah’s goalbound angled shot from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s delightfully-chipped pass into the penalty area with Curtis Jones and Nunez waiting to turn it in.

Having people in the right place at the right time was a theme of the first half as Jordan Pickford saved from Nunez, Luis Diaz and Andy Robertson – although the first two made his job easier by shooting straight at him.

The goal Everton deserved came in the 27th minute when Branthwaite forced the ball under Alisson and in off the post after Liverpool made a mess of clearing a free-kick with Konate getting in the way of Mac Allister.

Pickford then came to the fore as Nunez blasted at him rather than opting for the more open left side of the goal, then blocked Diaz’s volley with his legs from Nunez’s nod on and finally stuck out an arm to repel Robertson’s shot from a narrow angle.

Another poor performance from Salah saw him scuff a shot into Branthwaite, sparing him the embarrassment of seeing it sail wide, but then slashed the rebound into the Gwladys Street.

In keeping with the emerging pattern over recent weeks Liverpool faded after the break after Virgil van Dijk headed straight at Pickford and when McNeil’s long-range shot was tipped over, Calvert-Lewin rose unchallenged at the far post to nod home the resulting corner.

Dyche and his team had done a brilliant job of exposing Liverpool’s weakness as that was the sixth successive time Klopp’s side had failed to win the first ball at a set-piece.

Branthwaite could have added further embarrassment but headed wide while the closest Liverpool came to a response was when Diaz’s curling shot rebounded off the post and they played out the final minutes with ‘you lost the league at Goodison Park’ ringing around the ground.


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Inter Milan clinch 20th Serie A title with win over AC Milan



Inter Milan beat city rivals AC Milan 2-1 on Monday to clinch the Serie A title, the 20th time the club has lifted the trophy in its history.

Inter Milan beat city rivals AC Milan 2-1 on Monday to clinch the Serie A title, the 20th time the club has lifted the trophy in its history.

Goals either side of half-time by Francesco Acerbi and Marcus Thuram set Inter on their way, but Fikayo Tomori pulled one back for AC Milan in the 80th minute and each side had a player sent off shortly before the end of the game as tempers flared.

Inter were able to see out the result, though, and when the whistle blew to end the game they sat on an insurmountable 86 points, 17 clear of Milan with five games to play in the season.

Inter last won the league in the 2020-21 season but failed to replicate that form in the subsequent two years, watching on as Milan and Napoli triumphed in 2021-22 and 2022-23, respectively.

This time around, it has been a dominant campaign for Simone Inzaghi’s men, with the Scudetto winners having scored the most goals in Serie A while also boasting the stingiest defence.

Lautaro Martínez’s impressive return powered the Nerazzurri’s attack, scoring 23 (before kickoff) goals to be the frontrunner for the Capocannoniere, with Marcus Thuram and Hakan Calhanoglu both reaching double figures.

The wing-back system employed by Inzaghi, with stability from Benjamin Pavard, Alessandro Bastoni and Stefan de Vrij allowing Federico Dimarco and Denzel Dumfries to push forward, proved more than effective in nullifying opponents.

With this triumph, Inter move ahead of Milan in Italian league titles having been tied on 19 ahead of this season. Juventus lead the way with 36 championship wins.

A star is awarded for every 10 Serie A titles. Only Juventus has won more, with a record 36 and thus three stars.

It had long been a matter of when and not if Inter would win Serie A and it knew that doing so in the Derby della Madonnina at San Siro — the stadium it shares with Milan — would be extra special, even if it was technically the away team and only one end of the stadium was reserved for its black-and-blue-clad support.

Moreover, Inter had won the past five derby matches, including both legs of the Champions League semifinal last year and a 5-1 humiliation of Milan earlier this season in Serie A.

Inter took the lead in the 18th minute when Benjamin Pavard nodded on Federico Dimarco’s corner for an unmarked Acerbi to head in from close range.

Lautaro Martínez should have doubled Inter’s lead seven minutes later when he was also left woefully unmarked, but the league’s top goal-scorer inexplicably fired over the bar from point-blank range.

Milan seemed to draw confidence from that miss and Rafael Leão had a great chance to level following a rapid run on the counter-attack from Tomori, but he fired straight at Inter goalkeeper Yann Sommer.

Thuram came close to doubling Inter’s lead but his effort brushed the outside of the far post.

It was end-to-end action and Milan captain Davide Calabria also forced a great save from Sommer at the end of the first half.

But clinching the crown seemed inevitable less than four minutes after the restart when Thuram ran onto a long Alessandro Bastoni ball over the top and feinted around his marker to cut in from the left along the edge of the area and drill into the near bottom corner.

There was a tense finale after Milan pulled one back 10 minutes from time. Sommer did brilliantly to parry Mattia Gabbia’s header onto his post, but Tomori nodded in the rebound before grabbing the ball and gesturing frantically to his teammates as he raced back to the center circle, desperate to get the equaliser that would prevent Inter from securing the title.

As tempers flared, a scuffle broke out in stoppage time and Milan’s Théo Hernandez and Inter defender Denzel Dumfries were sent off. Calabria was also shown a red card moments later following another scuffle.


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‘Huge injustice’- Xavi labels Clasico loss as shameful



The 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid on Sunday night all but ended Barcelona’s slim hopes of retaining the La Liga title as the result meant they

The 3-2 defeat to Real Madrid on Sunday night all but ended Barcelona’s slim hopes of retaining the La Liga title as the result meant they are now 11 points behind the leaders.

It was a game that was tightly contested but ultimately dictated by a few controversial calls made by the match official in the form of a penalty for Real Madrid and Lamine Yamal’s goal being disallowed in the first half.

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez was far from happy with the officiating on the night and made sure to get his message across during the post-match presser, calling what happened at the Bernabeu an ‘injustice’.

“This is shameful. Injustice,” Xavi started off, echoing what Marc-Andre ter Stegen had said.

“This was unfair. It is very clear. Everyone saw it. I repeat, it was a huge injustice today,” he added later in the press conference.

“My feeling today is one of maximum injustice, everyone has seen it. This is evidence.”

“We were better than Real Madrid. We deserved the three points,” the Barcelona manager added.

“Everyone saw that we were better. Imagine when these 17-18 year olds are 20. In the future there will be success.”

Taking a dig at the referee’s performance, Xavi added: “Yesterday I said that I hoped we wouldn’t be speaking about the referee, that would have meant that he did a good job.”

“I will not talk about the referee. Everyone saw, if I speak, they would punish me. The pictures are in front of you,” he remarked.

“The referee didn’t get a single decision right.”

Xavi was far from pleased with what went down at the Bernabeu.

“Today the referee neither made the right decisions nor did it go unnoticed. It’s the only thing I asked for yesterday at a press conference.”

Xavi has been voicing his concerns over the referees since the first day of the season and pointed it out again, saying:

“Since the beginning of the season in Getafe, I said that I do not like what is happening and that everything is hurting us, and today was the end of this story. Well, I’m proud of the team.”

Lamenting the absence of the goalline technology in La Liga, he added: “It’s a shame that La Liga has no goalline technology.

“The league that we consider to be the best league in the world does not have goalline technology! Everyone saw it, the ball went in!”

On the performance of his team, Xavi stressed that they were the better team on the night, saying: “We have to tell the fans that we deserved to win and were better than Real Madrid.”

Dissecting the display, he added: “In defence, we have been good and they have generated little danger for us. In the first half, we didn’t press like we normally do but in the second half we adjusted it.

“The second half was excellent with high pressure. After the second goal, we needed to be calmer. I’m proud of the team, but it’s a heavy loss…”

“I’m proud of the team. It’s hard to digest this,” he stressed.

Admitting that winning the La Liga was extremely hard now, Xavi acknowledged: “There are six games left and the season ahead. Winning La Liga is very difficult but we want to be second to play in the Super Cup.”


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Bellingham snatches late victory for Real Madrid in five-goal Clasico with Barca



Jude Bellingham snatched Real Madrid a dramatic 3-2 Clasico win over champions Barcelona yesterday to take them 11 points clear at the top

Jude Bellingham snatched Real Madrid a dramatic 3-2 Clasico win over champions Barcelona yesterday to take them 11 points clear at the top of La Liga with six matches remaining.

Los Blancos twice came from behind with Vinicius Junior and Lucas Vazquez netting to level Andreas Christensen and Fermin Lopez strikes, before Bellingham rammed home the winner in stoppage time to virtually guarantee his team the title.

Barcelona, second, bounced back with a strong performance after their Champions League exit at the hands of Paris Saint-Germain but their last stand was demolished by Bellingham.

Madrid showed the same grit to stay in the match as they did midweek against Manchester City on the way to the final four in Europe, before Bellingham’s knock-out blow left the Santiago Bernabeu crowd delighted.

The England international, Madrid’s top scorer with 21 goals across all competitions, netted twice in Madrid’s Clasico win over Barcelona in October and is shining in his first season in Spain.

“We had a great night with our fans, something we all deserved, we took a huge step towards La Liga,” Vazquez, key in all three Madrid goals, told Real Madrid TV.

“We’ve had a very good season, we’re on a very good path, now we just have to polish it off and we’ll go for everything.”

Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti made three changes from the side that beat City, with Eduardo Camavinga moving to left-back to replace Ferland Mendy, while Luka Modric started in midfield.

Madrid’s penalty-saving hero against City, goalkeeper Andriy Lunin, made an early mistake to hand Barcelona the lead.

The Ukrainian strayed from his line to try and deal with a corner but got nowhere near the ball and Christensen nodded into the empty net.

However Madrid were quickly level through Vinicius, who fired over a fine chance before levelling from the spot.

The sensational Vazquez escaped Joao Cancelo far too easily and was tripped in the area by 17-year-old Barca centre-back Pau Cubarsi.

Vinicius rolled home from the spot for his 19th goal of the season across all competitions.

Barcelona were not deterred and made inroads down their right flank with Lamine Yamal giving Camavinga a torrid time.

The 16-year-old starlet thought he had equalised with a clever flick from a corner but Lunin pushed the ball to safety, with Barcelona arguing it had already crossed the line.

La Liga does not contract goal-line technology and using VAR the officials could not confirm the ball had completely entered the goal, so the Catalans were left frustrated.

Yamal appealed for a penalty minutes later when Camavinga clipped him in the area but the referee waved their cries away.

Raphinha and Ilkay Gundogan both sent free-kicks narrowly off-target, with Barcelona only having converted one since Lionel Messi departed in 2021.

Barcelona were dealt a blow on the stroke of half-time when midfielder Frenkie de Jong was taken off on a stretcher after hurting his ankle in a challenge by Fede Valverde.

Xavi also brought Lopez on for Christensen at half-time and it paid dividends for the coach after a slower start to the second half.

The midfielder was in the right place at the right time to finish after 69 minutes when Lunin could only parry Yamal’s low effort back into danger.

However Madrid, seeking a fifth league and Champions League double, swiftly struck back when Vinicius crossed to the back post and Vazquez arrived to finish having lost his marker Cancelo.

Marc-Andre Ter Stegen made a brilliant save to thwart Vinicius at his near post as the forward sprinted through on goal with Madrid looking to strike and virtually wrap up their La Liga title.

Bellingham dealt the killer blow, despite largely being kept quiet by the Catalans until he appeared to emphatically decide the match in stoppage time from Vazquez’s cross.

“We fight until the end and we never accept we’re beaten,” Vazquez added.


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Chess marathon: Ezekwezili hails Tunde Onakoya on new 60-hour world record



A former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili, has hailed renowned chess master, Tunde Onakoya, for setting a new 60-hour chess marath

A former Minister of Education, Obiageli Ezekwesili, has hailed renowned chess master, Tunde Onakoya, for setting a new 60-hour chess marathon world record.

She expressed admiration for his achievement and cited a biblical passage, emphasizing the limitless possibilities for those who pursue their dreams.

Celebrating him on her X account, she wrote, “And it came to pass. 1 Corinthians 2v9.

“But as it is written, Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love Him.

“Congratulations to you, #Tunde_OD !

“Your purposeful life will phenomenally unlock all you need to fulfil your dream for children today and generations to come. Godspeed!”

Onakoya broke the record of Norwegian players Hallvard Haug Flatebø and Sjur Ferkingstad, who played for 56-hour, 9-minute in 2018.

Giving an update, his foundation, Chess in Slums Africa, wrote, “60 Hours for those who dare to dream! 60 Hours for the millions of children who have been told to abandon their dreams!

“60 Hours because one person decided that there is no future worth dreaming of that does not include them! It is now #Tunde60HoursofChess #Tunde_OD”

The new record holder said his attempt was to raise funds and awareness for providing educational opportunities to underprivileged children across Africa.


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