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Arsenal fight back to earn precious 2-2 draw at Chelsea

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Arsenal staged a stunning fightback from two goals down as Leandro Trossard’s late equaliser rescued a dramatic 2-2 draw at Chelsea on Saturday.

 

Mikel Arteta’s team were 13 minutes away from their first Premier League defeat this season after Cole Palmer’s early penalty and Mykhailo Mudryk’s second-half goal put Chelsea in control.

But a miscued pass from Chelsea keeper Robert Sanchez allowed Declan Rice to give Arsenal a lifeline and Trossard bundled home the leveller with six minutes left.

Arsenal’s gritty comeback extended their unbeaten start to the league season to nine games, leaving them in second place behind leaders Manchester City on goal difference.

It was another display of the character and spirit pulsing through Arsenal over the last 18 months, qualities that are underpinning their bid to finally win the club’s first title since 2004.

 

For Chelsea, it was a hammer blow after they were on the brink of delivering the first signficant statement victory of Mauricio Pochettino’s maiden season in charge.

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The Blues have failed to beat Arsenal on home turf since 2018 and they will never get a better chance to inflict defeat on their London rivals.

Following a minute’s silence to mark the death of former Manchester United and England star Bobby Charlton earlier on Saturday, Chelsea had made a vibrant start in the torrential rain.

The Blues took the lead in the 15th minute after William Saliba’s out-stretched arm blocked Mudryk’s header.

Chelsea’s penalty appeal initially looked set to be ignored, but referee Chris Kavanagh eventually awarded it after being advised by VAR to consult the pitchside monitor.

Palmer calmly drilled the spot-kick past David Raya to claim his second goal since signing from Manchester City earlier this season.

Rice led the Arsenal response as the midfielder fired narrowly wide of the far post from an acute angle.

Late Surge

Palmer was inches away from scoring again with a low drive that fizzed wide from the edge of the area.

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Pochettino told Arteta not to go into coaching when the pair played together at Paris Saint-Germain, advice the Arsenal boss will be pleased he ignored.

The pair, who this week described their relationship as “like brothers” shared a warm embrace before kick-off, but there was little love lost between their teams.

Arsenal’s Bukayo Saka was singled out for some crude challenges by Marc Cucurella, while three players were booked in a feisty half.

Raya gifted Chelsea their second goal in the 48th minute when the Arsenal keeper failed to follow the flight of Mudryk’s miscued cross from the left flank as it drifted over his head into the far corner.

Mudryk’s fortuitous strike was also a painful twist for Arsenal after he spurned them to sign for Chelsea last season.

Raya has been preferred to Arsenal’s former first choice keeper Aaron Ramsdale in recent weeks, but has looked far from comfortable at times.

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Raya’s confidence was shaken by his latest mistake and he almost handed Chelsea another goal with a wayward pass that Palmer intercepted but was unable to convert from 12 yards.

It was a crucial miss as Sanchez returned the favour in the 77th minute with a woeful pass that was seized on by Rice, who gratefully lofted his shot into the empty net from 25 yards.

Suddenly, Chelsea looked riddled with nerves and Arteta’s side made them pay in the 84th minute.

Saka curled a cross to the far post and Trossard got in front of Malo Gusto to slot home from close range.

Eddie Nketiah should have capped Arsenal’s remarkable late surge, but the striker fired wide from a golden chance to steal all three points.

AFP

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Oshoala, Nkwocha, Adesanya, Kamaru make ESPN’s best 25 African athletes list

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The Nigerian quartet of Asisat Oshoala, Israel Adesanya, Perpetua Nkwocha, and Kamaru Usman have been listed among the best 25 athletes from Africa in the 21st century by the prestigious US cable sports channel ESPN.

 

 

Oshoala and Nwokocha are female football players while Adesanya and Usman are mixed martial arts (MMA) male fighters.

 

Ethiopia’s long-distance runner Kenenisa Bekele, who dominated the 5,000 and 10,000-metre track races throughout the 2000s and held the world record in both distances until 2020, occupied the number one position on the list.

 

Oshoala secured the ninth spot, while Adesanya occupied the 15th position. Nkwocha and Usman took the 20th and 23rd spots respectively.

 

Oshoala was honoured for her exploits as a six-time winner of the ‘African Women’s Footballer of the Year’ award and for taking “African women’s football to new heights”.

 

Nwokocha was also recognized for her ruthlessness in front of goal. The attacker scored 80 goals in 99 appearances for the national women’s side, won the ‘African Women’s Footballer of the Year’ honour on four occasions, and is a five-time African Women’s Cup of Nations champion.

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Adesanya and Usman were recognized for their reign in the middleweight and welterweight divisions respectively for four years (2019 to 2022).  They also have similar records of being two-time champions with five successful title defences in the UFC.

 

Adesanya, based in New Zealand, had previously been predicted as the “next big thing” in MMA.

 

Other notable mentions on the list include Samuel Eto’o, Yaya Toure, Sadio Mane, Casper Semanya, and Osi Umenyiora, an American football player of Nigerian descent who won two Super Bowls with the New York Giants.

 

 

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VIDEO: Falcons players rescued after getting stuck in elevator in France

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Some players of the Super Falcons of Nigeria escaped an elevator crisis in Bordeaux, France on Saturday.

 

In a now-viral video of the incident, at least seven players were trapped in the malfunctioned elevator awaiting help at Hotel Mercure in Bordeaux.

 

The Super Falcons are representing Nigeria at the Paris 2024 Olympics women’s football event.

The team arrived in Bordeaux on Thursday from Sevilla, Spain, where they had been fine-tuning preparations for the Olympics.

 

While returning to their hotel rooms, however, the players were stuck in the elevator for minutes due to a technical glitch.

 

“God abeg o,” a player retorted in pidgin English as they awaited an emergency rescue that arrived minutes into the video.

 

“If I survive this one, see that stares, if I no pieces am,” another player promised as they were being evacuated from the elevator.

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Asisat Oshoala, Tochukwu Oluehi, and Uchenna Kanu were some of the players identified in the footage.

 

The Paris 2024 Olympics will begin on June 26 with an opening ceremony on the Seine River in Paris. The Super Falcons will face Brazil in their opening match on the same day in Bordeaux.

 

Randy Waldrum’s Falcons are drawn in Group C alongside Brazil, Spain and Japan

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Argentina beat Colombia to win Copa America

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Argentina beat Colombia to win a record 16th Copa America but the game was marred by the kick-off being delayed by 80 minutes because of trouble outside the ground in Miami.

 

Lautaro Martinez struck in the second half of extra time from Giovani lo Celso’s through ball to secure the win.

 

Captain Lionel Messi was left in tears when he had to be replaced midway through the second half after injuring himself while chasing for the ball – but was celebrating his country’s third successive major tournament at the final whistle.

Kick-off was delayed because of chaos outside the Hard Rock Stadium.

 

Organisers said ticketless fans tried to get into the ground, leaving some fans waiting for hours in the Miami heat for the gates to open.

Fans and police officers and security clashed with several arrests made. Several supporters needed treatment from paramedics.

 

On top of that the half-time break lasted for 25 minutes because of a concert by Colombian popstar Shakira on the pitch, a move that was criticised by Colombia boss Nestor Lorenzo beforehand.

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It was a game of few clear chances in hot, humid conditions, with Colombia’s Jhon Cordoba hitting the woodwork in the first half.

 

Argentina thought they had taken the lead with 15 minutes to go but Nicolas Tagliafico’s effort was ruled out for offside.

 

Martinez would end up as the hero – and win the Golden Boot with five goals.

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