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Real Madrid, Atletico into Champions League last 16 as PSG win suspended game

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Karim Benzema sent Real Madrid through to the last 16 of the Champions League on Wednesday alongside their rivals Atletico, while Neymar scored a hat-trick as Paris Saint-Germain beat Istanbul Basaksehir in a match that was delayed for 24 hours over a racism row

Real Madrid are Europe’s most decorated club with 13 European Cups but they needed to beat Borussia Moenchengladbach in Madrid to be sure of making it through the group stage of the Champions League for a 24th straight year.

Benzema was their hero, easing the pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane with two fine back-post headers in the first half securing a 2-0 win in a game played behind closed doors at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.

“Each match is a final and I think that if we always play how we did today, no team can hurt us,” said Benzema, who has played in four Champions League final wins with Real in the last seven seasons.

The Frenchman also hit the bar in the second half and in the end it was a result that suited both teams, with a 0-0 draw between Inter Milan and Shakhtar Donetsk allowing Real to top Group B and Gladbach, former European Cup runners-up, to go through as runners-up.

Players from the German club gathered around smartphones and laptops after fulltime in Madrid to follow events in Milan, where a winner for either team would have knocked Gladbach out.

They celebrated wildly when their qualification was confirmed.

“Moments like that live long in the memory. It was absolutely incredible and the joy was uncontainable,” said Gladbach midfielder Christoph Kramer.

INTER FAIL AGAIN

Shakhtar go into the Europa League while Inter finish bottom of their group, failing to reach the last 16 for a third season running.

Meanwhile Atletico needed to beat Red Bull Salzburg in Austria to qualify as runners-up in Group A behind Bayern Munich, and did so with Mario Hermoso and Yannick Carrasco scoring in a 2-0 victory.

“I think in the nine years we’ve been here, we have reached the last 16 eight times,” said Atletico coach Diego Simeone.

“I enjoy looking back at that. Lots of people will say it’s just normal for us but I don’t think it’s normal.”

Salzburg now go into the Europa League while reigning European champions Bayern completed the group stage unbeaten as Niklas Suele and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting gave them a 2-0 win over Lokomotiv Moscow.

ATALANTA THROUGH

The other team to clinch qualification on Wednesday was Atalanta, whose 1-0 win away to Ajax secured second place in Group D behind Liverpool and a last-16 spot for the second year running.

Luis Muriel scored a late winner for Atalanta in Amsterdam after Ryan Gravenberch was sent off for the hosts, who drop into the Europa League.

Already through, Liverpool were able to give a chance to several younger players in their 1-1 draw with Midtjylland in Denmark, where Mohamed Salah put the 2019 winners ahead early on but Alexander Scholz’s penalty gave the hosts an honourable draw.

NEYMAR HAT-TRICK

PSG had wrapped up their qualification for the last 16 on Tuesday thanks to Manchester United’s defeat at RB Leipzig, despite their own game being suspended after an unprecedented walkout.

Both sets of players refused to continue after a row erupted over an alleged racist remark by the fourth official aimed at Basaksehir’s assistant coach, Pierre Webo.

With a new set of officials, the game restarted in the 14th minute on Wednesday and an irresistible Neymar scored a hat-trick while also winning a penalty converted by Kylian Mbappe.

That was Mbappe’s first Champions League goal in 12 months, and he scored again later on after Mehmet Topal pulled one back. With their 5-1 victory, PSG go through as group winners.

Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City made it five wins and a draw in Group D as they eased to a 3-0 victory against Marseille with Ferran Torres and Sergio Aguero getting second-half goals before an Alvaro Gonzalez own goal.

Also already qualified, Porto beat Olympiakos 2-0 in Piraeus courtesy of Otavio’s early penalty and a Matheus Uribe goal. The Greeks, who ended with 10 men, finish third in the section.

The draw for the last 16 is on Monday.

– supersport.com

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10 Nigerian athletes banned from Tokyo Olympics

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Ten athletes from Nigeria among 18 athletes banned from participating in the ongoing Tokyo Olympics.
While the names of the affected athletes were not released, a statement from the Athletics Integrity Unit indicated that a total of 18 athletes had been declared ineligible, with Nigeria being the most affected.
According to the AIU, the 10 athletes from Nigeria failed the minimum testing requirements under Rule 15.
It stated, “Under the framework of Rule 15 governing National Federation Anti-Doping Obligations, which came into force in January 2019, National Federations are accountable for ensuring appropriate anti-doping measures are in place in their respective jurisdictions.
“Among other things, the Rule sets out minimum requirements for testing on the national teams of ‘Category A’ federations deemed to have the highest doping risk and considered as a threat to the overall integrity of the sport.
“The key requirement in Rule 15 is that an athlete from a ‘Category A’ country must 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. Only then do they become eligible to represent their national team at the World Athletics Championships or the Olympic Games.
“For the year 2021, the seven identified ‘Category A’ National Federations are: Belarus, Bahrain, Ethiopia, Kenya, Morocco, Nigeria, and Ukraine.

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Tokyo Olympics: Australia beat Nigeria 84-67 in Basketball opener

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Australia’s Boomers beat Nigeria’s Tigers 84-67 in a commanding performance on Sunday night in Tokyo with star player Patty Mills scoring 25 points as both nations opened their quest for a first Olympic medal in men’s basketball.

Australia matched its best finish by finishing fourth at the Rio Games in 2016 but is capable of going further this time with a veteran roster full of NBA players.

The Australians, ranked third in the world, pulled away in the fourth quarter of a game that had been evenly matched between teams with the most NBA players outside of the U.S.

Nigeria’s D’Tigers featured eight current NBA players and the Australians seven.

Both teams won exhibition games in Las Vegas against the Americans, who have 12 NBA players on their roster.

Australia opened an 11-point lead midway through the third quarter after holding the Nigerians without a basket for more than five minutes to open the second half.

But the Australians lost momentum soon after when the game was delayed because the horn was malfunctioning, and Nigeria cut the deficit to five early in the fourth.

But Matisse Thybulle of the Philadelphia 76ers made a 3-pointer and then Mills, the San Antonio Spurs guard who was a flag bearer for the Australians in the opening ceremony, helped break it open.

Obi Emegano scored 12 points for Nigeria, led by Golden State Warriors assistant coach Mike Brown.

Australia plays Italy on Tuesday in matchup of teams that won in Group B on the opening day. Nigeria faces Germany.

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PHOTOS: Nigeria dazzles in Tokyo Olympic opening parade

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