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Jota fires Liverpool past Arsenal to boost Champions League top-four bid



Talk about an instant impact. Talk about a big contribution in a big game. Talk about a top-class signing; talk about Diogo Jota.

The Portugal star is becoming the go-to man for Liverpool, and he delivered again at the Emirates on Saturday, scoring twice off the substitutes’ bench to hand the Reds a vital 3-0 win over a subdued, overmatched Arsenal.

That’s a dozen goals now in a Liverpool shirt for Jota, who has looked a million dollars since his summer switch from Wolves. As buys go, there have been few better in the Premier League this season.

It was 0-0 when he arrived into this game, replacing Andy Robertson just after the hour mark. Liverpool had dominated the ball and created all the better chances, but had lacked that killer touch in front of goal. They were tentative, unsure, hurried and imprecise in the final third. Until Jota came on, that was.

Within three minutes, the £45 million ($62m) man had timed his run into the penalty area perfectly to meet Trent Alexander-Arnold’s delicious cross from the right. His back-post header was too powerful for Bernd Leno, and Jurgen Klopp’s men had the lead they craved.

They built on it soon enough, and in fine style too. Four minutes later, Fabinho sent a pass in behind Gabriel for Mo Salah, who wriggled free of the Brazilian defender before slipping the ball through Leno’s legs for 2-0.

That’s 26 goals in all competitions for the Egyptian, whose persistence and bloody-mindedness never fails to impress. This was his 150th Premier League game, and his 93rd goal.

Liverpool were the better side from the word go, albeit against an Arsenal team devoid of ambition and threat, and they would extend their advantage further through Jota before the night was out.

Again, he was in the right place at the right time, slamming home after Salah’s pass had run away from Sadio Mane in the penalty area, eight minutes from time.

The move, again, had been started by Alexander-Arnold, who turned in a statement performance having been overlooked by England for their recent World Cup qualifiers.

If there’s a better right-back in this league, then he’s keeping himself well hidden. “World class,” said Klopp. Spot on.

All in all, then, this was a perfect Saturday for Klopp and his team. Their rivals lost, with Chelsea stunned at home to West Brom at lunchtime and Leicester beaten by Manchester City in the early-evening kick-off, and they took full advantage.

With eight games to go, the gap to fourth is just two points. After a dark winter, spring brings with it new hope. Their confidence is repaired and their spirits restored.

That’s three straight wins – the first time they’ve managed that since November – and three clean sheets in a row too.

Defensively, they were rock solid again, even if Arsenal offered precious little across the 90 minutes.

Next up, Real Madrid. Can Liverpool confirm their revival by taking down a European heavyweight in the quarter-finals of the Champions League?

With Jota in this kind of mood, they have to fancy their chances.


UEFA: We’ll ban players in Super League from World Cup, others



UEFA President Aleksander Ceferin says all players that play in the Super League will be banned from the World Cup, European competitions and other global football events.

The threat followed the decision by 12 top European football clubs to found a Super League, which was announced in a joint statement late on Sunday.

The founding clubs of the mid-week league were listed as English Premier League clubs Manchester United and Manchester City, Arsenal, Liverpool, Tottenham and Chelsea. The others are Italy’s Juventus and Milan clubs AC and Inter, and the Spanish trio of FC Barcelona, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

“It is anticipated that a further three clubs will join ahead of the inaugural season, which is intended to commence as soon as practicable,” the 12 clubs said in the statement.

Reported to be financially very lucrative, the project does not have the support of football’s governing bodies.

UEFA and football leagues and federations from England, Italy and Spain described it as “a project that is founded on the self-interest of a few clubs at a time when society needs solidarity more than ever.”

Fifteen of the 20 participating clubs are to be permanent members, and the remaining five will “qualify annually based on achievements in the prior season,” the statement said the 12 clubs involved in the Super League had “spat in the face of football.

“The players that play in the Super League will be banned from playing in the World Cup and Euros.”

He also said, “We will take all the sanctions that we can. I cannot stress more strongly how everyone is united against this disgraceful, self-serving proposals, fuelled by greed above all else.

“We urge everyone to stand tall with us as we do everything in our power to ensure this never ends up in fruition.”

According to the New York Times the new league would “generate hundreds of millions of dollars in additional revenue for the participating teams.”

The club’s are already the richest clubs in the sport.

It was however reported that 2019/2020 UEFA Champions League winners Bayern Munich and finalists Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) were not among the clubs that had signed up or expressed interest.

In a statement UEFA and football leagues and federations from England, Italy and Spain said, “As previously announced by FIFA and the six federations, the clubs concerned will be banned from playing in any other competition at domestic, European or world level.

“Their players could be denied the opportunity to represent their national teams.

“We thank those clubs in other countries, especially the French and German clubs, who have refused to sign up to this.”

Before the announcement the Premier League in England said it “condemns any proposal that attacks the principles of open competition and sporting merit. These are at the heart of the domestic and European football pyramid.”

German Football League chief Christian Seifert spoke of his body’s opposition, saying, “We reject any kind of European Super League concept” which would “irreparably damage the national leagues as the basis of European professional football.”

The latest development comes on the eve of a UEFA executive committee meeting.

The meeting, apart from finalising the host cities for the summer’s Euro tournament, is also to approve a Champions League reform from 2024 onwards.

The powerful European Club Association (ECA) and UEFA’s club competitions committee were reportedly in agreement Friday about the reform.

Under this, the elite event is to be increased from 32 to 36 teams and each team plays 10 instead of six group games in what is known as “the Swiss model.”

Two of the additional four clubs are to controversially come via historic results not through qualification via domestic action.

The large number of additional matches is a threat to domestic competitions.

Fan groups have also voiced their dissent, with an even bigger outcry expected if a Super League becomes reality.

The reports said that European officials were discussing counter measures which could include banning Super League clubs from next season’s Champions League.

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Tottenham sack Jose Mourinho



Tottenham Hotspur management has sacked coach Jose Mourinho.

The announcement comes after Tottenham Hotspur drew 2-2 with Everton on Friday evening, leaving them down in seventh place in the table.

Mourinho was appointed as Tottenham manager in November 2019, a day after the sacking of Mauricio Pochettino.

He guided them to sixth place in the table by the end of the campaign, but his style of football often didn’t win him much acclaim from fans.

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Kelechi Iheanacho fires Leicester City into FA Cup final



Leicester City have booked their place in the FA Cup final against Chelsea as Kelechi Iheanacho’s second-half strike seals the win over Southampton.

It is Leicester City’s first FA Cup final since 1969.

The striker converted from close range in the 55th minute after good work from Jamie Vardy set him up during a counter attack.

It is the fifth time the Foxes have reached the FA Cup final and they will now face Chelsea next month after the Blues defeated Manchester City in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Iheanacho’s strike was the 14th he has scored in this competition since 2015 and no player – not Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane – has scored more FA Cup goals during that time. The cup has become his playground.

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