A second-half penalty from Sergio Ramos helped lift Real Madrid to a 1-3 victory over Barcelona in the latest instalment of El Clasico on Saturday evening at the Camp Nou.
The two sides produced a thrilling first half in which Fede Valverde and Ansu Fati exchanged goals in the first 10 minutes, before Barcelona seemingly took control early in the second stanza. However, a key penalty call via VAR earned Real Madrid a penalty, which Ramos duly converted, and a late Luka Modric strike polished things off for Los Blancos.
The win for Real Madrid halts a two-match losing streak, while it marks a second straight La Liga loss for the Catalans.
There was a strong infusion of youth in the starting XI of Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman, with 17-year-olds Pedri and Ansu Fati getting the nod on the wings, as did 19-year-old right-back Sergino Dest, who became the first ever United States player to start and play in a Clasico.
As for the visitors from the capital and maligned head coach Zinedine Zidane, Marco Asensio was a notable inclusion in attack for Los Blancos, while it was surprising to see veteran midfielder Modric relegated to the bench. Ramos also won his race to fitness and was slotted in at his customary centre-back position.
Zidane’s men were quick out of the gates and drew first blood inside the first five minutes when a perfectly weighted pass from Karim Benzema found a wide-open Valverde, who sent a rocket into net for a 0-1 Real Madrid lead.
But the defensive frailties showed by Real Madrid in their previous outings were exposed in short order and a ball over the top from Messi found the streaking Jordi Alba on the left wing.
The veteran left-back, who was making a return from injury, then hit a perfect square ball for Ansu Fati to turn into net to even things up 1-1.
The action was end-to-end and seconds after Real Marid goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois denied Messi at the near post, Barcelona shot-stopper Neto had to come up big with a save from a Benzema shot after a superb cross from Toni Kroos.
Shortly before half time, Zidane was forced into his first change with the hobbling Nacho having to yield his spot to Lucas Vazquez. Barcelona had the stronger start of the two in the second half and a Ansu Fati cross floated to Philippe Coutinho could have been headed in, but the Brazilian missed wide.
Right when Barcelona were displaying their best football, controversy erupted and a penalty was awarded to Real Madrid after VAR ruled that Clement Lenglet had pulled on Ramos’ shirt in the area.
The captain stepped up and like he has so many times, coolly converted the spot-kick to hand Real Madrid a 1-2 lead.
An injury to a woozy Fede Valverde provoked the second change for Real Madrid, as Modric came on for the young Uruguayan.
With less than a quarter-hour to play, Koeman finally made his first changes, with Antoine Griezmann, Francisco Trincao and Ousmane Dembele came on for Ansu Fati, Pedri and Busquets, while Zidane swapped off Asensio for Rodrygo Goes.
Barcelona’s frustrations began to grow, while Real Madrid looked very comfortable holding the late lead. Los Blancos had a trio of chances to put the nail in the coffin, the first two coming off the boot of Kroos, followed shortly by a clear-cut chance for Ramos, only to see Neto rise to the challenge and make a pair of spectacular saves.
Martin Braithwaite was the next roll of the dice from Koeman in replacing Alba, but it was all for naught when Neto spilled the ball with Vinicius charging and Modric cleaned things up by depositing the ball into the net to complete the 1-3 scoreline.
Reps summon Sunday Dare over athletes’ disqualification at Tokyo Olympics
The house of representatives has summoned Sunday Dare, minister of youth and sports development, over the disqualification of 10 athletes at the Tokyo 2020 Olympics.
The lower chamber passed the resolution during plenary session on Wednesday following the adoption of a motion sponsored by Lawrence Ayeni, lawmaker from Osun state.
The minister is to brief the lawmakers on the level of Nigeria’s compliance with extant regulations set by the International Association of
Athletics Federations (IAAF) and Athletics Integrity Unit (AIU).
It was reported how the AIU disqualified 10 Nigerian track and field athletes for failing to comply with the out-of-competition testing (OCT) requirement.
AIU said Nigeria is among countries deemed to have the highest doping risk, and the athletes were expected to undergo “at least three no-notice out-of-competition tests (urine and blood) conducted no less than 3 weeks apart in the 10 months leading up to a major event”.
Leading the debate on the motion on Wednesday, Ayeni said Nigeria was disqualified despite the “huge funds” available to the sports ministry and preparation made by the athletes.
“Nigeria delegation to the Olympic Games fared well in terms of performance, thereby raising the country’s rating the comity of nations,” he said.
“Concerned that despite the huge funds being made available yearly for the regulatory agencies in the sports sector, adequate efforts have not been made to get Nigeria into the category where they would be deemed to have made significant improvements in anti-doping tests.”
The motion was unanimously adopted after it was put to a voice vote by Femi Gbajabiamila, speaker of the house.
While mandating its committee on sports to investigate the cause of the “failed doping test to forestall future occurrence,” the green chamber asked the ministry of sports to put measures in place to “ensure compliance with extant regulations at both local and international competitions”.
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D’Tigress beat Angola to make Afrobasket quarter-finals
D’Tigress, Nigeria’s senior women basketball team, on Monday in Yaoundé beat their Angolan counterparts 85-65 to advance to the quarter-finals of the 2021 FIBA Women’s AfroBasket Championship.
In their final Group B game, the Nigerian side dislodged the Angolans who were leading the group to make it two wins from two matches and emerge as group leaders.
The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that a loss would have seen the Nigerian side finishing second and going to play in the qualifier to quarter-finals match against Cape Verde on Wednesday.
It was a similar route their male counterparts, D’Tigers, carved for themselves at the Men’s AfroBasket a few weeks ago in Rwanda, and it did them no good.
On Monday, D’Tigress ensured none of that by leading from the first quarter, which they won 31-18.
They extended their lead with a 21-10 win in the second quarter, heading for the game’s long break period comfortable leaders with a whooping 24 points.
They however stepped off the throttle in the third and fourth quarters, losing 15-19 and then drawing 18-18 respectively,
Adaora Elonu was a top performer for them, with 10 points, three rebounds and four assists, while Ezinne Kalu grabbed 12 points, just as Ify Ibekwe also had eight rebounds.
With the 67-50 win over Mozambique in their opening group phase game on Saturday, D’Tigress won the group and will now face either one of Cote d’Ivoire or Guinea in the quarter-finals on Thursday.
The two west African sides will meet on Wednesday in the qualifier to quarter-finals to decide which of them would advance to meet Nigeria.
Nigeria have thus avoided the qualifier to quarter-finals stage, where D’Tigers lost to Uganda at the Men’s AfroBasket in Rwanda.
Angola, Group B runners-up after the loss to Nigeria, now have to overcome the hurdle of facing Cape Verde before they can play in the quarter-finals.(
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