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Ibrahimovic Scores, Limps Off As AC Milan Stay Top In Serie A

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored twice to bring his tally to 10 league goals this season before limping off with a muscle strain as AC Milan stayed top in Serie A on Sunday with a 3 -1 win at 10 -man Napoli.
Milan move back two points ahead of Sassuolo — 2- 0 winners earlier at Hellas Verona — with Roma third after Henrikh Mkhitaryan netted a brace in a dominant 3 – 0 win over Parma.
“ For me Zlatan is stronger now than 10 -12 years ago ,” said Napoli coach Gennaro Gattuso of his former Milan teammate .
“ Milan strongly believes in Ibra, his teammates trust him 100 percent .
“ In my opinion, their team is not the strongest but they have the mentality.
“ We play well but lose as soon as it gets difficult. ”
Ibrahimovic continued his fine form , heading in a Theo Hernandez cross after 20 minutes , sending in the second with his knee nine minutes after the break .
But the 39 -year – old pulled up clutching his left hamstring and was substituted after 79 minutes.
The Swede has scored in all six games he has played this season, having missed two after contracting coronavirus.
Coach Stefano Pioli missed the trip south with Covid- 19 , but his side got their first league win in Naples since October 2010 , the season they last won the Scudetto , with Ibrahimovic also on the scoresheet that time .
Napoli played the final half an hour a man down after Tiemoue Bakayoko was sent off for two yellow cards , just after Dries Mertens had pulled a goal back for the hosts .
Norwegian Jens Petter Hauge completed the scoring five minutes into injury time , the 21 – year -old getting his first Serie A goal .
Champions Juventus are fourth — four points off top spot — after winning 2 -0 at Cagliari on Saturday .
Last season’ s runners -up Inter Milan are just behind in fifth , after a Romelu Lukaku double inspired a 4 -2 comeback win over Torino , with Napoli dropping from third to sixth — six points off top spot .
– Inter ‘lack ferocity ’ –
In Milan , Torino got off to a strong start despite playing without top striker Andrea Belotti who pulled up during the warm – up .
Simone Zaza took the skipper ’ s place and scored the opener just before the break with Cristian Ansaldi adding a second from the penalty spot after an hour .
Inter reacted in the 64 th minute , with Alexis Sanchez bundling the ball in after Lukaku ’ s initial effort was tipped onto the crossbar , before the Chilean set up his fellow former Manchester United forward for the equaliser three minutes later .
Lukaku pulled Inter ahead from the penalty spot six minutes from time and then provided the cross for substitute Lautaro Martinez to score the fourth on 90 minutes.
“ I didn’t like what I saw ,” said Inter coach Antonio Conte three days before his side host Real Madrid in the Champions League.
“ We lack the ferocity of last season.
“ But we showed character as being 2 -0 down could have destroyed us. ”
Torino drop into the relegation zone after their fifth defeat .
In Verona , Sassuolo continued their impressive run thanks to goals in either half from Jeremie Boga and Domenico Berardi .
The side from Emilia Romagna are unbeaten this season and are the joint top scorers with 20 goals .
Roma meanwhile stretched their unbeaten run in all competitions to 10 matches , cementing victory with three first- half goals .
Borja Mayoral got his first Serie A goal just before the half -hour mark, with Mkhitaryan adding two more before the break to bring his tally to five in two games after scoring a hat -trick last time out against Genoa .
In Tuscany , Cesare Prandelli had a nightmare start as coach of struggling Fiorentina with a 1 -0 home defeat by Benevento .
Former Italy coach Prandelli returned to the ‘ Viola ’ a decade after leaving for the Azzurri job in 2010 , but the team fell to their fourth defeat.
To add to Prandelli ’s woes, French midfielder Franck Ribery went off injured .
“ The fragility worries me most , ” said Prandelli .
“ Perhaps the team succumbed to their fears and negative thoughts when Franck came off .”
Riccardo Improta scored his first Serie A goal for Benevento on 52 minutes , slotting in a Gabriele Moncini cross after a Cristiano Biraghi defensive error.
Fiorentina slip to 15 th in the Serie A table , just behind Benevento.
(AFP)

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Super Eagles Defender Balogun Pens Contract Extension

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Super Eagles Defender Leon Balogun has penned a contract extension with Scottish champions Rangers FC till 2022
Balogun played a key role for the Glasgow club in achieving domestic league success, making 28 appearances en route to clinching their 55th SPFL titles ahead of bitter rivals Celtic.
Balogun speaking on his contract extension said: “Today is a very happy day and a very proud day announcing my contract has been extended for another year.
“I am proud to be a part of this amazing club and I felt that pretty early on I had fallen in love with the club and the working environment, the way the players and the management staff work and the way the club is a big family, I am happy and proud that I can call myself a Rangers player.
“I am happy to be a part of the team that won the league, but what we have been saying recently is we are just getting started and I am happy that I can be a part of this. I said a few weeks into one of my family, I wish I had been at a club and an environment like this early on in my career.
“I am very, very happy and proud that this can now be announced. One thing too, I was never going to leave before witnessing a full Ibrox Stadium, and if everyone was happy, I was going to stay.”
A delighted Rangers boss, Steven Gerrard said: “I am delighted to secure the services of Leon for another year. Leon has been a consistent performer for me this season and has played a key role in strengthening our defence.
“His professionalism is obvious both on the field and in the dressing room as well. He is a role model for other players and has been a very positive influence within the squad.
“Although he is now 32, he can clearly continue to have a key influence in our squad for another year. I know that he is still ambitious to become a better version of himself and I know he is hungry for more success.”

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Fifa Bans Chad Indefinitely From Global Football Over Government Interference

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Agency Report

 

The move comes after the minister of youth and sports dissolved the Federation of Chad Football Associations in March.

After the announcement by the Chadian government the Confederation of African Football disqualified the national team from last month’s final two rounds of qualifying for the Africa Cup of Nations.

Chad do not have any upcoming international fixtures having been knocked out of 2022 World Cup qualifying by Sudan in 2019.

An official statement from football world’s governing body said: “the Bureau of the Fifa Council or the Fifa Council may lift this suspension at any time before the next Fifa Congress takes place and we will inform you accordingly.”

The next congress is due to be held online on 21 May.

“The FTFA loses all its membership rights, as defined in article 13 of the Fifa Statutes, with immediate effect and until further notice,” the Fifa statement explained.

“FTFA representative and club teams are therefore no longer entitled to take part in international competitions until the suspension is lifted.

“Moreover, we remind you and your affiliates not to enter into any sporting contact with the FTFA and/or its teams while the FTFA is suspended.”

 

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Racism: Valencia Players Walk Off Pitch Against Cadiz

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Agency Report
Valencia’s players walked off the pitch during their La Liga game against Cadiz on Sunday, after the club said their player Mouctar Diakhaby was racially abused.
After a short delay, the Valencia team returned to resume the match, this time without Diakhaby, who the club said had requested his team-mates continue.
Diakhaby had shared a heated exchange with Cadiz’s Juan Cala at the Ramon de Carranza stadium before indicating to the referee he was leaving the field, with the Frenchman’s team-mates then following him off in the 37th minute.
Valencia posted messages on social media soon after, which read: “The team have held a meeting and decided to continue the game, in order to fight for the honour of the club, but denounce racism of any kind.
“We offer our complete backing to @Diakhaby_5. The player, who had received a racial insult, requested that his teammates return to the pitch. We support you Mouctar.”
Cala was then also substituted at half-time, having earlier scored the opening goal for Cadiz, with Kevin Gameiro equalising for Valencia.
Diakhaby was replaced by Hugo Guillamon and watched the second half sitting in the stands.

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