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Pele, Messi, others pay tribute to Maradona

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  • Pele: I hope we can play football together in the sky
  • Diego is eternal, says Mess

Pele paid tribute to his fellow all-time great Diego Maradona after the Argentina legend’s death at the age of 60, saying, “One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky.”

The Brazilian three-time World Cup winner has consistently been compared as Maradona’s closest competitor in debates and polls to decide the greatest footballer of all time.

Pele, 80, issued heartfelt praise for Maradona, writing on his official Twitter account: “What sad news. I lost a great friend and the world lost a legend.

“There is still much to be said, but for now, may God give strength to family members. One day, I hope we can play football together in the sky.”

Maradona’s death was confirmed by Argentina’s football association. He had been in hospital in Buenos Aires after surgery to remove a blood clot on the brain earlier this month.

He captained his country to World Cup glory in Mexico in 1986, and later led Napoli to two Serie A titles in 1987 and 1990.

Lionel Messi, the greatest Argentina player of the current generation, wrote on Instagram: “A very sad day for all Argentines and for football. He leaves us but does not leave, because Diego is eternal.

“I keep all the beautiful moments lived with him and I wanted to take the opportunity to send my condolences to all his family and friends. RIP.”

Argentina eliminated England from the 1986 finals at the quarter-final stage, as Maradona scored twice. The first was a blatant handball – ‘the Hand of God as Maradona described it – and the second a stunning solo effort.

Gary Lineker, who was playing for England that day, tweeted: “By some distance the best player of my generation and arguably the greatest of all time.

“After a blessed but troubled life, hopefully he’ll finally find some comfort in the hands of God. #RipDiego”

Lineker later added on BT Sport: “I played for a Rest of the World side at Wembley, when I was at Barcelona, all the great players like (Michel) Platini on the pitch were all totally in awe of him.

“The first thing he did in the dressing room was sit there in just a pair of shorts, juggling his socks on his left foot for about five minutes.

“Then he went out on the pitch and did something incredible, one of the most unbelievable things I have even seen on a football pitch.

“He juggled the ball all the way out to the centre circle, when he got there, still juggling, he went ‘bang’ and kicked the ball up as high as he could, then waited.

“It came down; he went ‘bang’ and did it again. He did it 13 times and the most he ever did was walk three paces to it.

“All of us were sitting there saying: ‘that is impossible’.”

European football’s governing body UEFA held minute’s silences before all Wednesday night’s Champions League matches in tribute to Maradona.

Boca Juniors, where Maradona made his name before securing a then world-record transfer to Barcelona in 1982, tweeted: “Eternal thanks. Eternal Diego.”

Asif Kapadia, who directed the 2019 film Maradona, tweeted: “Can’t quite believe DM has gone. Hard to process.

“He always seemed indestructible. I had 10 hours with the man!! I touched his left foot. We did our best to show the world the man, the myth, the fighter he was. The greatest.”

Peter Reid, another member of the England side which suffered from the left foot – and hand – of Maradona in 1986, spoke highly of the South American’s incredible footballing gift, exhibited so gloriously during the 2-1 quarter-final win.

He said, “The crowd in the stadium exploded in terms of the first goal being given. There were a few of us running after the Tunisian referee but they didn’t see it. It was cute the way he did it, but to us on the pitch, it was obvious.

“My Spanish ain’t great and his Scouse wasn’t great, but I met him in Dubai a few years ago and I did ask him about it. He laughed, and he reiterated to me that it was the ‘Hand of God’. I am going to argue, because he cheated. But as bad as that one was, the second one was a great goal.”

Regarding that second goal, a slaloming solo effort voted the best of the century on an online FIFA poll in 2002, Reid said:”It’s something that I’ve seen once or twice, if I’m being honest. We were playing against someone who was at the absolute height of his career and as bad as the first goal was, that was outstanding.

“I saw him go past the great Alan Hansen in 1981 for the first time. He had this in his locker. He made people, like the No 16 [Peter Reid], look foolish.”

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola said: “There was a banner in Argentina some time ago when it said ‘it doesn’t matter what you have done with your life, it matters what you have done with our lives’.

“I think Maradona would have done in our generation. There are a few incredible players in history, and he is one of them.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, who alongside Messi is regarded as one of the game’s greatest current players, also offered his own personal tribute.

The Juventus and Portugal star posted on Twitter: “Today I bid farewell to a friend and the world farewells to an eternal genius.

“One of the best ever, an unmatched magician. Leaves too soon but leaves a boundless legacy and a void that will never be filled. RIP. You will never be forgotten.”

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Klopp proved right about Tuchel after Chelsea’s win over Man City in FA Cup

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Chelsea booked their place in this season’s Emirates FA Cup final with a 1-0 win over Manchester City at Wembley on Saturday evening.

Hakim Ziyech, who joined the Blues from Dutch giants Ajax last summer, netted the only goal of the game just ten minutes into the second half after he connected with Timo Werner’s square pass.

The Moroccan’s fifth goal of the campaign, and his second in his last two FA Cup appearances, was enough to seal the win for Thomas Tuchel’s charges, meaning they brought an end to City’s hopes of completing a famous quadruple this season, with Pep Guardiola’s side currently riding high at the top of the Premier League table, in the final of the Carabao Cup and just two games away from the final of the UEFA Champions League.

t is fair to say that Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp was bang on the money when waxing lyrical about Tuchel when he was in charge of Paris Saint-Germain.

Klopp had hailed Tuchel as a “fantastic manager” and spoken highly of the way he had changed the French club’s style of play, something he most certainly had not been afraid to do since arriving in West London.

“A fantastic, fantastic manager. You can see really his influence, it has changed a lot their style of play, how they play, different formations and stuff like that,” Klopp said back in 2019, as quoted by Get French Football News.

He also said, “I know a lot of people who have worked with him, they all are full of respect for him. You cannot be in the Champions League only because of spending money; that is not how it is.

“You need to have on the pitch a good organisation, because all the others we are not blind.

“We do our job as well and you need to have the right tools in the right moments and Thomas has that.”

Tuchel reacts

Although City have been a dominant force in England this season, sweeping almost everybody aside who they have come up against, Tuchel had the measure of them. The German implemented his tactics to perfection and guided his side to a fully deserved victory.

The win over City capped off what can only be described as an outstanding week’s work. The Blues defeated Crystal Palace 4-1 at Selhurst Park last weekend, securing their biggest win of the Tuchel era so far, before booking their place in the semi-finals of the Champions League for the first time in seven years on Tuesday evening. Now, they have ended the week by moving to within one game of lifting the FA Cup for a ninth time.

Considering Chelsea was a club that was in serious danger of missing out on the top-four when they sacked Frank Lampard towards the end of January, to still be in with an excellent chance of finishing third this season, booking a place in the final of the Champions League and lifting the FA Cup deserves enormous amounts of praise.

And the vast majority of that praise should be sent in Tuchel’s direction. The German has arrived at Stamford Bridge and wasted no time in setting out his own philosophy for how he wants his team to play. He has changed the formation, their outlook and the belief they have within as a squad. They fear nobody, proven with wins over Atletico Madrid (twice), Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur and City.

To have beaten all of those clubs, and done so without conceding a single goal, deserves massive amounts of plaudits.

-Football.london

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UCL: PSG advance to semis, beat Bayern on away goals

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There was joy around Paris, France, last night and among fans of the Paris Saint-Germain Football Club globally as the French team defeated Bayern Munich on away goals to qualify to the UEFA Champions League semifinal.

Eric Maxim Choupo Moting’s header levelled the scores on aggregate but the PSG’s three away goals allowed the French champion to progress to the next round.

In a match where the PSG had many chances to score, it can count itself lucky as the missed chances did not come to bite them at the end as Bayern failed to get the all-important second goal.

In the other quarterfinal, Chelsea conceded a late goal in the 93rd minute but it did not matter as Chelsea qualified to the semifinal with a 2-1 aggregate.

Mehedi Taremi’s exceptional overhead kick beat Chelsea keeper Mendy at the twilight stages of the game but Mason Mount and Ben Chilwell’s goals from the first leg were enough to shepherd Chelsea to the Champions League semis for the eighth time, more than any English side in the competition’s history.

Full-time: PSG 0 Bayern 1 (Aggregate Score- PSG 3 Bayern 3).

PSG qualifies to the UEFA Champions League semis via the away goals rule.

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National Sports Festival: Boxer knocks out opponent in 15 seconds

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Ondo state boxer, Adedeji Adegbola, on Friday, knocked out his opponent, Oluwafemi Adetoye of Yobe state, in a record 15 seconds of their first round heavyweight boxing bout at the ongoing National Sports Festival in Benin.

The bout, held at the Oba Akenzuwa Cultural Center, Benin, was at the semi-finals stag

With the win, Adegbola has qualified for the semi finals of the heavyweight category and placed him with the medals range, alongside five team mates vying in other weight categories.

Adegbola said that he trained very hard for the festival, while expressing his optimism of clinching the gold medal in the heavyweight category.

“I am happy and I thank God, I trained very well ahead of the festival and I thank my coaches for the advice and the training process,” he said.

According to Guinness World Records, the fastest knockout in boxing history was in a Golden Gloves tournament at Minneapolis, United States on Nov. 4, 1947, when Mike Collins knocked out Pat Brownson in four seconds.

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