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Mbappe Hat-Trick Helps PSG Thrash Barcelona, Liverpool Win At Leipzig

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A hat-trick from Kylian Mbappe helped Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) hammer FC Barcelona 4-1 at the Camp Nou on Tuesday in the 2020/2021 UEFA Champions League.

Liverpool, just like PSG, is also on course for the quarter-finals of the competition, after having won 2-0 away to RB Leipzig.

The elite tournament resumed with the first knock-out ties of the last 16 in the continental competition played during the coronavirus pandemic.

Read Also: PSG Sack German Coach Thomas Tuchel

Barca hosted PSG behind closed doors while RB Leipzig welcomed Liverpool to Budapest as Germany is currently not allowing non-citizens/residents to enter the country from the UK.

Lionel Messi’s penalty kick gave FC Barcelona the lead but Mbappe struck either side of half-time.

Moise Kean added another and Mbappe completed his hat-trick with a superb finish as PSG took control of the tie that was a repeat of the sensational encounter at this stage in 2017.

On that occasion, FC Barcelona overturned a 4-0 first leg deficit 6-1 at home and must now launch a similar comeback attempt this time in Paris on March 10.

That is when six-time champions Liverpool, the last winners in 2019, will expect to finish the job against RB Leipzig at Anfield.

Second-half goals from Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane earned them a deserved win in the duel between German bosses Juergen Klopp and Julian Nagelsmann in the Hungarian capital.

On Wednesday, FC Porto meets Juventus and Sevilla host Borussia Dortmund while holders Bayern Munich resume away to Lazio next Tuesday.

Neymar was influential in turning the tie with PSG in FC Barcelona’s favor four years ago but the Brazilian star missed the match with his former club due to injury.

But PSG with 22-year-old Mbappe almost untouchable scarcely missed him.

Mbappe’s quick-feet in the penalty box after a nice flick from Marco Verrati leveled the match.

His clinical finish when Marc-Andre Ter Stegen could only parry a 65th-minute cross put PSG in front.

Ter Stegen had previously denied Mbappe on several occasions and did so again before Kean was given space at a free-kick to head home unchallenged with 20 minutes left.

Barca tried to rally but left themselves exposed and Mbappe curled into the top corner after Julian Draxler raced clear on the counter to cap a glorious night for Mauricio Pochettino.

He had coached PSG only since early this year.

PSG, who beat RB Leipzig in the semi-finals last season, was superior even when Messi gave the hosts the lead from the penalty kick spot. That was after Layvin Kurzawa accidentally clipped Frenkie de Jong in the 27th minute.

RB Leipzig too is up against it, having come within inches of the opener at the Puskas Arena when Dani Olmo headed off the post in just two minutes.

Liverpool slowly took control and had already threatened several times before RB Leipzig imploded with two horrific errors early in the second half.

Marcel Sabitzer’s pass inadvertently released Salah to finish well.

And when Dayot Upamecano who confirmed a move to Bayern Munich this week fluffed a 58th-minute clearance, Mane showed no mercy.

Liverpool, who are riddled with defensive problems and injuries all season, are out of contention to retain their Premier League title but at least one more round in the Champions League looks likely.

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Olympic Marseille To Scout For Players At Gov. AbdulRasaq’s Talent Hunt

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Olympic Marseille To Scout For Players At Gov. AbdulRasaq’s Talent Hunt

No fewer than 20 clubs and football academies in Nigeria are to take part in a 6-day scouting program, tagged First Governor A.A Talent Hunt Tournament 2021, in Ilorin, Kwara.

The General Coordinator of the program, Bashir Badawiy in a statement on Sunday in Ilorin, said officials of the French Ligue 1 side, Olympic Marseille, will also be around to scout new talents.

According to him, the talent hunt is expected to kick-off from March 2 to March 8, at the Kwara Stadium Complex, Ilorin.

Read Also: Gov. Bala Signs Into Law Bill To Establish Oil & Gas Academy, Alkaleri

The U-17 football Talent Hunt will feature the Kwara United Youth Team, ABS Youth Team, Kwara Football Academy (KFA), La Planet SA, House of Prayers Football Academy, Leacon Football Academy, Offa, Musty, and Yolymike Football Academies.

Others are Emmy for Geo Football Academy, Debby Football Academy, Genesis Stallion Football Academy, Arsenal Kiddies Football Academy, B3 Warriors Football Academy, De-missionary Football Academy, and Foresight Football Academy.

Other participating teams include Royal Football Academy, Elite Football Academy, and Barrier Football Academy.

Badawiy said all arrangements have been concluded for a hitch-free tournament while officials of the French club are due in the country in a few days’ time.

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FIFA Ranking: Nigeria Drops By One Spot, Now World 36th

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FIFA Ranking: Nigeria Drops By One Spot, Now World 36th

Nigeria’s Super Eagles have dropped by one spot in the January Ranking of the Federation of International Football Associations (FIFA) to now occupy the 36th position in the world.

In the ranking table released by the world football governing body on Thursday, the Nigerian team retained the 1474 points they had in the month of December.

The ranking which is the first in 2021 saw Nigeria retaining its fifth spot on the continent behind Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco respectively.

Read Also: FIFA Ranking: Nigeria Drops By 3 Spots, Now World 32nd

On the global scene, a total of 43 full internationals (including one played in December 2020) were taken into account.

The standout tournament in recent weeks has been the African Nations Championship (CHAN), where a total of 32 games took place and Nigeria not participating.

These fixtures, as well as the other 11 games played, have been classified as friendlies because only players competing in their countries’ national championships are eligible to participate in CHAN.

In the standings, CHAN winners Morocco (33rd, +2), and runners-up Mali (54th, +3) have made the most progress.

Read Also: FIFA Ranking: Nigeria Drops By 3 Spots, Now World 32nd

Third-placed Guinea (72nd, +1) and quarter-finalists Congo (90th, +1) have also advanced.

Other teams moving in the right direction include Costa Rica (50th,+1), currently back in the Top 50 after an absence of several months, Cape Verde (80th, +1), and Oman (81st, +1).

There are also Benin (82nd, +1), Azerbaijan (108th, +1), Estonia (108th, +1), Thailand (110th, +1), Guinea-Bissau (119th, +1), Tajikistan (120th, +1), and Guatemala (130th, +1).

Those teams aside, no other country has enhanced its position since December, and the Top 32 places in the standings remain unchanged since the end of 2020.

Read Also: FIFA Ranking: Nigeria Drops By 3 Spots, Now World 32nd

Belgium, France, Brazil, England, and Portugal continue to occupy the top spots, with the leading trio of Belgium, France, and Brazil only separated by 37 points.

The fight for top spot promises to be an exciting one this year, with a string of major tournaments scheduled (Copa America, UEFA EURO, and CONCACAF Gold Cup).

There is also the resumption of qualifying competitions for the 2022 FIFA World Cup scheduled for Qatar.

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UFC 258: Usman Retains Welterweight Title With Knockout

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UFC 258: Usman Retains Welterweight Title With Knockout

UFC welterweight champion, Kamaru Usman has retained his welterweight title with a third-round knockout win over challenger, Gilbert Burns, in UFC 258 in Las Vegas on Sunday, February 14, 2021.

The win is Usman’s third title defence after previously dispatching Colby Covington and Jorge Masvidal in 2019 and 2020 respectively.

Burns, a friend, and ex-team-mate of Usman, could not go beyond the third round despite showing early signs he was going to push the ‘Nigerian Nightmare’ all the way in the main event of UFC 258.

Burns was able to rock Kamaru Usman with a right hand in the opening seconds of the first round but could not sustain the tempo to secure a finish.

Then in round two, Usman rebound by rocking ‘Durinho’ with a big right hand of his own. ‘The Nigerian Nightmare’ carried that momentum into round three where he dropped Burns with a jab and then finished him with ground and pound.

The 31-year-old Nigerian has held the title since March 2019 and this is the third defence of the belt as he now improved his UFC record to 18 wins with just one loss.

“I dictate what happens in a fight,” Usman told BBC Sport Africa before this latest win. “Based on how prepared my opponents are, that dictates how the fight goes but rest assured that one thing is for sure – at the end of the fight, my hand will be raised.”

Apart from keeping his title, this latest win recorded by the Nigerian Nightmare has seen Usman break the record for most consecutive wins at 170lbs in the promotion (13).

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