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La Liga round-up: Real Madrid beaten 4-1 by Valencia

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  • Carlos Soler scores hat-trick of penalties

Zinedine Zidane’s Real Madrid side suffer defeat in the absence of coronavirus-infected Eden Hazard and Casemiro; Real Sociedad beat a nearly unrecognisable Granada side 2-0

Karim Benzema put Madrid ahead with a scorching strike from outside the area only for Valencia to pull level eventually with the first of Soler’s three penalties after a most unusual turn of events.

Soler saw his spot-kick saved by Thibaut Courtois and then hit the post on the rebound, while team-mate Yunus Musah netted the loose ball, only to see the goal ruled out after a VAR review showed him encroaching in the area.

A re-take was ordered and Soler made no mistake at the second attempt.

Valencia took the lead before half-time through a freak own goal from Raphael Varane, who unwittingly sent the ball flying over his head and just over the line, the goal being awarded several minutes later following another VAR review.

Valencia’s teenage forward Lee Kang-in almost struck a third early in the second period but Courtois turned his shot onto the post.

The home side kept up the momentum though and won two further penalties, for a foul by Marcelo on Maxi Gomez then a handball by Sergio Ramos.

Soler converted each time, becoming only the third player in the history of La Liga to score three penalties in a single match.

Five in a row for Real Sociedad

Real Sociedad's players beat virus-depleted Granada

Real Sociedad’s players beat virus-depleted Granada

Earlier, Real Sociedad beat a nearly unrecognisable Granada side 2-0 to return to the top of La Liga.

The visitors’ attempt to get the game postponed due to a spate of coronavirus cases was turned down by authorities, meaning they were forced to make nine changes from last week’s 1-1 draw with Levante and started with five players aged 20 or under.

Granada’s makeshift side made a bright start but Sociedad took the lead midway through the first half through left-back Nacho Monreal, before a Mikel Oyarzabal penalty five minutes later doubled their advantage.

Brazilian forward Willian Jose had a spot-kick saved by Granada’s 18-year-old ‘keeper Angel Jimenez in the second half and Sociedad ended the game with 10 men as defender Robin Le Normand was shown a straight red card in the 86th minute.

Granada earned a penalty in added time but Darwin Machis was denied by an excellent save from Alex Remiro and the Basques celebrated a fifth consecutive La Liga victory.

Other La Liga results:

Getafe 1-3 Villarreal

Levante 1-1 Alaves

Valladolid 2-1 Athletic Bilbao

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Balogun to critics: You can’t criticise me for not trying

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Leon Balogun

Super Eagles defender Leon Balogun has defended his commitment to the Nigeria national side after recent criticisms directed at him over his performances.

The Rangers Glasgow’s defender has come under scathing criticisms following the country’s defeat to Central African Republic during their 2022 World Cup qualifier at the Teslim Balogun Stadium, Lagos last Thursday.

The centre-back was held responsible for the late goal conceded against the minnows following a mix-up with his defensive partner William Troost-Ekong, allowing CAR forward Karl Namnganda through on goal before slotting past Francis Uzoho, in goal for the Eagles.

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However, the 33-year-old redeemed himself by scoring against CAR in the second game of the double-header clash in Douala, Cameroon – his first strike for Nigeria since he made his debut in 2014.

In an interview with ESPN, the centre-back said he had always given 100 per cent for Nigeria.

You’ve seen me play for a few years now. And you know that when I step onto the pitch I always give 100 per cent and I am always passionate,” Balogun said.

“Whether I am having a good performance or a bad performance, you can never actually criticise me for not trying. That is what I always give, that is the least I can do.”

Punch

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2022 WCQ: Super Eagles Beat CAR In Douala To Maintain Group C Lead

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Nigeria’ Super Eagles defeated their Central African Republic counterparts 2-0 in the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 qualifier decided at the Stade Japoma de Douala in Cameroon.

First half goals from Leon Balogun and Victor Osimhen ensure that the three-times African champions picked maximum three points away after losing at home to CAR in the first leg match last Thursday in Lagos.

The result sees the Super Eagles five points ahead of CAR and Cape Verde, while Liberia are bottom of the log with just the three points after three matchdays.

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Lagos SWAN berates Iheanacho over unruly behaviour

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The Sports Writers’ Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Lagos Chapter, on Saturday berated Super Eagles’ striker, Kelechi Iheanacho over his disrespect to a journalist, Yinka Oyedele of Brila FM, during an encounter in Lagos.

Iheanacho’s attitude, according to a statement by Lagos SWAN’s Chairman, Debo Oshundun, was unsportsmanlike.

“The attention of SWAN Lagos Chapter has been drawn to Super Eagles’ striker Kelechi Iheanacho’s disrespect to one of our members, Yinka Oyedele of Brila FM.

“Oyedele, according to our findings, was arrogantly shoved off by the Leicester City forward while the reporter was making an attempt to interview him after the team’s training on Tuesday.

“Lagos SWAN frowns at this embarrassing act and disrespect to a journalist.

“Oyedele, a professional in the practice, doesn’t deserve such ill treatment from Iheanacho or any national team player,” he said.

Oshundun added “We urge the Nigeria Football Federation (NFF) to as a matter of urgency call the player to order.

“It is also not out place for the football house to educate the players on etIquette and relationship with the men of the fourth estate of the realm and fans alike.

“Such measures if put in place would prevent future occurrence.

“The Super Eagles take a prime place in every Nigerian journalists’ hearts and treatment such as this can only discourage reporters from doing more and giving their best for the course of our darling national team.

“We wish the senior national team and Iheanacho the best of luck in their reverse 2022 FIFA World Cup qualifying fixture against Central Africa Republic on Sunday,” he said. (NAN)

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