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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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Man United contact Napoli for Osimhen

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Victor Osimhen

Undergoing a massive rebuild and in desperate need of a goal scorer, Manchester United are reportedly interested in signing Napoli striker, Victor Osimhen this summer.

According to Corriere dello Sport (via thefaithfulmufc), the Red Devils have contacted the Partonopei to discuss a potential move for the Nigerian forward. After enduring a disappointing 2021/22 campaign, United are looking at a fresh approach this summer under new manager Erik ten Hag.

Last season, the 13-time Premier League champions scored just 57 goals in 38 Premier League games. 37-year-old Cristiano Ronaldo was the club’s most impressive forward as he scored 18 goals in 30 games, but the five-time Ballon d’Or winner wasn’t supported by his teammates. Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Edinson Cavani scored just nine league goals between them.

Furthermore, the club are set to part ways with Cavani, Jesse Lingard, and Juan Mata after the expiration of their contracts at the end of the month. They are therefore expected to prioritize signing a top-quality forward.

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Victor Osimhen who joined Napoli from Lille in the summer of 2020 for a club-record fee of €70 million might just be the answer to their prayers and provide the support a veteran Ronaldo needs.

The striker, who scored 18 times and made six assists in 32 games last season, is also on the radar of other top English clubs including Arsenal and Newcastle.

Labelled a ‘phenomenal‘ player for his performances in the past, Osimhen has already scored 15 goals and provided 8 assists in just 23 games for Nigeria. He scored four goals as the Super Eagles thrashed Sao Tome and Principe 10-0 in a match-day two fixture of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations qualifying match.

He was also on target on match-day one for the Eagles as they rallied back from a goal down to beat Sierra Leone 2-1 at the Moshood Abiola National Stadium, Abuja.

The Italian side’s president, Aurelie De Laurentiis, is renowned for being a tough negotiator and is reportedly reluctant to entertain the idea of selling Osimhen for less than £86m.

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Chelsea, Man United tussle over Neymar

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Neymar

Chelsea, Newcastle, and Manchester United could make a move for PSG winger Neymar this summer.

Neymar is highly regarded as one of the best players to have ever graced a football pitch, and the Brazilian has won countless trophies during his time at Barcelona and PSG.

His time at the French champions could be over, however, with RMC Sport reporting that he is considering looking for a move away from the club this summer.

The report also claimed that three Premier League clubs could make a move, naming Newcastle, Chelsea, and Manchester United.

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Due to the likely astronomical wages that come with signing Neymar, not many clubs will be able to afford the Brazilian winger.

Although the report doesn’t suggest the trio of clubs are seriously considering signing Neymar, there’s no doubt there would be interest from all three clubs, simply due to what he can offer to their side.

Neymar has managed 342 goals during his whole career, but that is only a small percentage of what he can provide. His creativity and dribbling ability mean he’s such a handful for opposition defenders, and the prospect of him playing in the Premier League is an exciting one.

A move to Manchester United and Newcastle seems unlikely due to their Champions League status, but linking up with former manager Thomas Tuchel and former teammate Thiago Silva could be on the cards.

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Okoye: My ambition is the Premier League

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Super Eagles goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye

Super Eagles goalkeeper, Maduka Okoye is preparing ahead of the new season and has indicated his desire to help the club gain promotion back to the top flight.

Okoye, 22, was a £5m signing from Dutch side, Sparta Rotterdam in January.

He only joined up with the Hornets at the off season having been on loan at Sparta Rotterdam since January.

“I think in every player’s head is going back up to the Premier League,” the former Fortuna Düsseldorf goalkeeper said. Okoye was quoted by Watford Observer as saying;“ It’s important to have ambition.

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“On a personal level, I just want to help fulfill that ambition for the other players and the club. The more playing time the better, but most of all I want to see myself grow as a person and a goalkeeper.”

The German-born goalkeeper said English football has always been a dream and he will work hard to make it come true.

”If I can get playing time and improve then that is fantastic. I grew up watching English football and it was always a dream to play in this country.

“As a kid, it was English football I wanted to play in and now I’m going to put the work in to make that happen.”

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