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Rodrygo shows star quality as Real Madrid beat Athletic Club 2-0



A double from Rodrygo helped Real Madrid restore their eight-point lead at the top of LaLiga EA Sports after a routine 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

With title rivals Barcelona temporarily closing the gap to five points and Girona sealing a last-gasp win over Real Betis earlier in the day, it was down to Los Blancos to demonstrate their capability as potential champions when the title race reaches its climax in May.

And it didn’t take Carlo Ancelotti’s side long to prove their point, with just seven minutes on the clock when Rodrygo opened the scoring with a sublime solo goal.

The 23-year-old might lose his place in the three-man attack to Kylian Mbappe next season if the PSG star, as expected, signs on a free transfer. But the Brazilian showed he still has plenty to offer with an outstanding strike, dribbling through the middle and curling past goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala from 25 yards out.

That moment of quality was the only clear-cut chance to separate the two sides going into the interval in an otherwise cagey first half, with a long-range strike from Federico Valverde and effort from Aurelien Tchouameni the only other opportunities.

After the break, Athletic offered some more attacking intent without truly troubling Andriy Lunin in the Real Madrid goal and Ernesto Valverde’s decision to take off top goalscorer Gorka Guruzeta said everything about his quiet night up front.

But with Ancelotti’s men in control, they soon put the game to bed – and it was that man Rodrygo again, who shimmied past substitute Dani Vivian and coolly slotted past Agirrezabala to make it 15 goals for the season in all competitions.

That proved to be enough to quash any chance of a comeback from the visitors, and while Athletic may have been forgiven for having one eye on their Copa Del Rey final against Real Mallorca on April 6, this defeat could prove costly at the end of the season. Atletico Madrid are now only a point behind them in fifth place and possess a game in hand in the race for a top-four spot.

But for Real Madrid, who still haven’t lost a match to Athletic in their last 18 meetings, their healthy advantage means it would take the most dramatic of title collapses to deny them a 36th LaLiga crown now.



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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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Super Eagles will have a coach in next one or two weeks – Minister



The Super Eagles have been without a substantive coach following the expiration of the contract of Jose Peseiro after the Africa Cup of Nations in February

The Super Eagles have been without a substantive coach following the expiration of the contract of Jose Peseiro after the Africa Cup of Nations in February where the team finished as runners up.

Finidi George, who was one of the assistants to Peseiro coached the team in the last two friendly matches they played against Ghana and Mali, but the Minister said the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) will soon name a permanent coach for the team.

“Unfortunately, the senior national team doesn’t have a coach. We played two freindlies and had just Finidi George oversee those two matches,” Senator Enoh said in exclusive interview on Channels Televisions Sports Tonight on Thursday.

“The first responsibility of getting a coach lies with the NFF and I have been in touch with the NFF because I think Nigerians didn’t expect that after AFCON and after the contract with coach Peseiro came to an end and wasn’t renewed, that it will take as long and not have a coach yet.

“But NFF is conscious and mindful that our next qualifiers in June, what I can assure is that in the next one or two weeks at the most that the senior national team will have a new coach.

“My engagement and interactions with NFF suggest to me that NFF is conscious of expectations of Nigerians, they are conscious that they cannot afford to lead the country to another non-appearance at the World Cup, the NFF knows what Nigeria lost by not being at the last World Cup and they are working very hard to ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The Super Eagles did not make it to the last world cup and have started the 2026 World Cup qualifiers on a poor note, drawing with Lesotho and Zimbabwe, a start the Minister admitted is not good enough.

He insisted that Nigeria cannot afford to miss out on going to another World Cup considering all the losses that caused the nation.

“I think we have not had a tremendous start, it’s a shaky one and therefore there is a milage to cover given that we didn’t go for the last World Cup. We cannot afford not to go for the next and therefore everything needs to be done.

“Coming after AFCON and coming after we have had a tremendous show somewhat, I think everybody expects that we should be able to consolidate on that and take it from there,” Enoh said.


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Liverpool bows out of the Europa league



The Reds travelled to Italy on the back of a 3-0 defeat at Anfield last Thursday and, despite controlling the game for the large periods

The Reds travelled to Italy on the back of a 3-0 defeat at Anfield last Thursday and, despite controlling the game for the large periods, could not find the required goals and lost 3-1 on aggregate.

Mohamed Salah‘s seventh-minute penalty, after a Trent Alexander-Arnold cross was handled, gave them hope.

As the first half drew to a close, the Egypt forward lofted well wide when put through one-on-one, but Klopp’s side struggled to create meaningful openings in the second period.

It marks the end of a difficult 12 days for the Reds, who drew at Manchester United and lost at home to Crystal Palace to surrender their lead at the top of the Premier League.

Attention will now turn back to the title race with Liverpool sitting third behind second-placed Arsenal and two points off leaders Manchester City.

The league now represents their final chance to give Klopp a fairytale ending to his eight and a half years on Merseyside and add to their success in the Carabao Cup in February.

Ultimately, Liverpool lost this game in the first leg at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp said they would need to play the “complete game” in Italy to progress, and while they had more than 70% possession, this was Liverpool far from their best.

They lacked an incisiveness going forward and with the pace of Darwin Nunez starting on the bench, they failed to get in behind the Atalanta defence and stretch the game.

Klopp used his bench, calling for Nunez, Diogo Jota and Harvey Elliott with 25 minutes remaining, but it made little difference with the Reds only having two shots in the second half.

Their expected goals was a meagre 0.11 in the second period, demonstrating the lack of quality they showed in the final third.

Atalanta sit sixth in Serie A, 32 points behind leaders Inter Milan, but they were superb in this tie, defending valiantly and attacking with creativity, and deservedly set up a semi-final against Marseille, who beat Benfica on penalties.

Klopp has managed Liverpool in four European finals during his tenure, but there will not be a fifth.

Their season is in danger of petering out. Three away games in the Premier League in the next nine days could well define how their campaign pans out from here.


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