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France Knocks Lionel Messi and Argentina Out of World Cup

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Lionel Messi’s fourth World Cup ended in bitter, frustrating and all-too-familiar defeat on Saturday, with Argentina tumbling out of the tournament with a 4-3 loss to a suddenly impressive France in the round of 16.

Messi departs after a frustrating tournament in which Argentina only barely escaped a humiliating elimination in the group stage. But it ended as all his major tournaments with Argentina’s senior national team have: without a trophy, and while carrying the burden of a team defeat on his slight shoulders. At 31, he may choose to make this his last World Cup.

For a few minutes in the second half, it almost seemed as if Argentina’s troubled trip at this World Cup might be extended. Angel Di Maria scored a gorgeous long-range goal just before halftime, and then Gabriel Mercado turned in a low shot by Messi three minutes into the second half for a 2-1 lead.

But France was simply too good. The teenage forward Kylian Mbappé won a penalty in the first half with a three-quarter-field run, and then scored two goals of his own four minutes apart to stick in the knife on Argentina.

Antoine Griezmann scored France’s first goal, converting the penalty Mbappé had won, and right back Benjamin Pavard slashed in France’s second in the 57th minute — a volleyed goal that was the equal of Di Maria’s stunner — after some nervous moments early in the half.

After pulling even, France simply pulled away. Mbappé restored his team’s lead with the cool of a veteran in the 64th minute, calmly finding space in the area to rip home the go-ahead goal.

Then, four minutes later, he finished off a flowing move that began deep in France’s half by slotting his second goal of the day — and third of the tournament — past Argentina’s goalkeeper Franco Armani.

Argentina got a final lifeline deep into stoppage time, when the substitute Sergio Aguero headed in a Messi cross — Messi’s second assist of the game. But Argentina needed one more, and within two minutes, it, and Messi, were out of time.

France will play the winner of Saturday’s second game, Uruguay vs. Portugal, on Friday in Nizhny Novgorod.

The victory will embolden French hopes that this team might just be good enough to win the tournament. France, while it had not lost a game in Russia, had been unimpressive in the group stage. Its final group game, a listless 0-0 draw against Denmark, was played to a chorus of boos.

But the France that tore apart Argentina was a different team. And with its core — Mbappé and Griezmann up front, Paul Pogba and the tireless N’Golo Kanté dominant in midfield, and center backs Raphael Varane (Real Madrid) and Samuel Umtiti (Barcelona) forming an unusually harmonious alliance — it might have what it takes to repeat its only triumph at the World Cup, on home soil in 1998.

The 19-year-old Mbappé became only the second teenager to score two goals in a World Cup match — after Brazil’s Pelé in 1958. A star at Paris Saint-Germain, he immediately pushed back on any comparisons.

“Let’s put things in perspective,” he said when told of the achievement. “Pelé is another category.”

Born six months after France won the 1998 World Cup, he is seen as the country’s best hope for delivering a second this summer, and he has embraced the challenge with poise and skill.

“In a World Cup you have the top players, so it’s an opportunity to show your abilities and what you can do,” he said. “There’s no better place than a World Cup.”

New York Times

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Zimbabwean Liverpool Star, Isaac Mabaya Makes Under-21 Debut

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ISAAC Mabaya, a Zimbabwean 17-year-old, made his debut for the Liverpool Under-21 side last night but it may not be one he would want to remember.

His young Reds’ team lost 1-4 defeat to Bolton Wanderers in the English Football League Trophy, also known as the Papa John Trophy.

Mabaya was introduced in the 25th minute as a replacement for injured Matteo Ritaccio.

The young Reds gave a good account of themselves in the Group D contest but fell short against the League One side at the University of Bolton Stadium.

  • Zimbwabwe And Ghana In Double Header Swim Or Sink Battle
  • Nathan Delfouneso opened the scoring for the hosts in the 27th minute, with Amadou Bakayoko’s brace and a Jarell Quansah own goal adding to the scoreline in the second half.

    The Liverpool Under-21 side fought until the end and pulled one back courtesy of Elijah Dixon-Bonner’s fine finish with 72 minutes on the clock.

    Despite the defeat, Mabaya, who can play either in midfield or at full-back, enjoyed the midfield tussles alongside Tyler Morton.

    Before last night’s dance with the Under-21s Mabaya, a key member of the Liverpool Under-18s, had made two appearances for the Under-18 side this season.

    He last featured in the 2-5 defeat at Leeds where he was given a straight red card in the 24th minute for a foul challenge on an opponent.

    He then missed last weekend 3-0 win over Sunderland due to the red card suspension and only to turn up on the bench for the Under-21 side last night.

    Mabaya, who was born in Preston to Zimbabwean parents, signed his first professional contract with Liverpool last month.

    He first attended the Reds Academy at the age of six and broke into the Liverpool Under-18s side as an Under-16 player last season. He featured 17 times and ended the league season with four goals and five assists.

    The highly rated fullback is touted among the bright prospects at the Liverpool Academy, having also received call-ups for the England national youth teams.

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    Kaizer Chiefs fires coach Middendorp

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    ernst middendorp fired

    ABSA Premiership runners up Kaizer Chiefs on Wednesday parted ways with head coach Ernst Middendorp.

    The German mentor, who had a year left on his contract, was shown the exit door four days after Amakhosi failed to clinch the league title despite being on top for most on the season.

    In delivering the news, club founder and chairman Kaizer Motaung said: “We deliberated and considered many aspects related to the team, including our way of playing, our performances and the results before coming to the decision,” confirms Motaung.

    “We truly believed and hoped that our 50th anniversary year would be better, and it indeed looked promising. The decision taken is part of a strategy to have the team win trophies again and to make our supporters happy because they deserve better.

    “After giving the coach and the technical team the ammunition required to compete in the new season,” Motaung adds, “there were some improvements, and this was evident during the first seven months of this 2019/2020 season.

    “However, when the league restarted post-lockdown, things changed, and we looked a totally different side in our last eight league matches.

    We witnessed some heart-stopping performances and we were overtaken on the log in the last game of the season, which truly broke our hearts. We have to take responsibility – we can’t wait and allow this situation to continue.”

    On the way forward, the chairman said: “The squad has been given time off after a grueling completion of the season and will return before the end of September to start preparing for the 2020/21 season.

    “We will announce the new coach before the team returns for pre-season training.-Soccer 24

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    Rampant Celtic spoil Billiat’s party

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    Zimbabwe international forward, Khama Billiat, saw his 30th birthday anniversary spoiled by Kaizer Chiefs’ 1-3 defeat at the hands of a rampant Bloemfontein Celtic yesterday.

    The Warriors talisman turned 30 yesterday.

    But, his Amakhosi were humbled by the impressive Celtic at Tuks Stadium.

    In the fourth minute, Celtic midfielder Wandisile Letlabika tried to catch Chiefs goalkeeper Daniel Akpeyi off his line with a cheeky long-range lob, forcing the Nigerian to backpedal and tip the ball over his bar.

    With 10 minutes gone, Victor Letsoalo got in to a pocket of space between the Chiefs defence and midfield before firing away a shot which was tipped around the post by a diving Akpeyi.

    Nine minutes later, Celtic switched play well as Andile Fikizolo found Letsoalo, who in turn found Ndumiso Mabena and the talismanic striker turned well before firing away a shot which Erick Mathoho did well to block.

    Chiefs were showing their aerial prowess, putting plenty of balls into the Celtic box.

    A Billiat corner on the hour mark found Leonardo Castro at the back post, whose powerful header forced Chaine into a good save.

    Shortly afterwards, Mathoho broke the deadlock with his fifth goal of the season when he towered above the Celtic defence and headed home powerfully from a Parker corner.

    However, Phunya Sele Sele equalised on the stroke of half-time. Lantshene Phalane’s slide-rule pass released Sifiso Ngobeni, whose left-footed cross-cum-shot from the left-hand byline was tapped home by Sera Motebang.

    Celtic took the lead slightly fortuitously shortly after the interval when Lantshene Phalane’s deflected shot found its way to an unmarked Motebang Sera in the box, who stroked the ball past Akpeyi and into the back of the net with ease.

    Soon after, Nurkovic hit the crossbar with a shot that caught Chaine off his line as Celtic survived a scare to see their lead remain intact while Willard Katsande’s attempted long-range piledriver was straight at Chaine in the 53rd minute.

    There was no goalmouth action until the 75th minute when Celtic scored their third.

    Letsoalo did brilliantly to run onto the second ball and control it at at pace before firing past Akpeyi into the bottom right-hand corner.

    Billiat had a golden opportunity to pull a goal back for the Glamour Boys in the 89th minute.

    Cardoso dinked the ball into the box and the Zimbabwean was unmarked in the box but couldn’t control the header as it sailed over the bar, with the Soweto giants failing to extend their lead over second-placed Mamelodi Sundowns. — Kick-Off.

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