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Bernardo Silva gets hat-trick as Manchester City whip Watford 8-0



A Bernardo Silva hat-trick helped Manchester City to secure the joint second biggest English Premier League (EPL) victory in history on Saturday.

They thrashed a bewildered Watford 8-0 at the Etihad Stadium, in an immediate response to their first league defeat since January at Norwich City last weekend.

They blew Watford away by becoming the first side to score five goals in the first 18 minutes of a Premier League game.

David Silva got Manchester City up and running after finishing off a delightful pass from Kevin De Bruyne in the first minute.

Sergio Aguero’s 100th Premier League goal doubled the hosts’ advantage from the penalty kick spot thereafter.

Riyad Mahrez curled a brilliant free kick into the net in the 12th minute, with a Bernardo Silva header and a Nicolas Otamendi tap-in completing the 18-minute rout.

Watford brought on an extra defender just after the half-hour mark to try to stem the tide, seeing themselves through to half-time without further damage.

Bernardo Silva added a sixth goal three minutes into the second period.

He completed his first top-flight hat-trick with a close-range finish to make it seven.

De Bruyne hammered home a superb eighth as Manchester City came up one short of Manchester United’s record 9-0 victory over Ipswich Town in 1995. (Reuters/)

(Edited by Joseph Edeh and Olawale Alabi)

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Football: Bernardo Silva comes under fire from anti-racism charity over Mendy tweet



Manchester City midfielder Bernardo Silva has come under fire from anti-racism body Kick It Out after a Twitter post concerning team mate Benjamin Mendy that he deleted an hour after posting.

Silva, who scored a hat-trick in Manchester City’s 8-0 hammering of Watford on Saturday, posted a message comparing Mendy to the character used in the logo for Conguitos, a brand of confectionery popular in Spain and Portugal.

“We are extremely disappointed to see the tweet posted by Bernardo Silva, which has since been deleted.

“Racist stereotypes are never acceptable as ‘banter’, and we’re shocked that someone who is a role model to millions has failed to understand the discriminatory nature of his post,” Kick it Out said in a statement on Monday.

Kick It Out said the FA had been notified and that they believe “retrospective action” should be taken, including “mandatory education”.

Silva, who deleted the post an hour after it was published on Sunday, posted another message saying “Can’t even joke with a friend these days….you guys.”

The two players were team mates at Monaco before joining Manchester City in 2017. (Reuters/)

(Editing by Peter Ejiofor)

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WHO alerts on cyber attacks, calls for vigilance



The World Health Organisation (WHO) says it has seen a dramatic increase in the number of cyber attacks directed at its staff members and email scams targeting at the public since the start of COVID-19 pandemic.

WHO, in a statement on Thursday said that this week, 450 active WHO email addresses and passwords were leaked online along with thousands belonging to others working on the novel Coronavirus response.

“The leaked credentials did not put WHO systems at risk because the data was not recent.

“However, the attack did impact on older extranet system, used by current and retired staff as well as partners.

“WHO is now migrating affected systems to a more secure authentication system,” it said.

The world health agency warned that scammers impersonating WHO in emails have also increasingly targeted the general public to channel donations to a fictitious fund and not the authentic COVID-19 Solidarity Response Fund.

It disclosed that the number of cyber attacks was now more than five times the number directed at the organisation in the same period last year.

Bernardo Mariano, WHO’s Chief Information Officer, said, “Ensuring the security of health information for Member States and the privacy of users interacting with us is a priority for WHO at all times, but also particularly during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We are grateful for the alerts we receive from Member States and the private sector. We are all in this fight together.”

WHO said it was working with the private sector to establish more robust internal systems to strengthen security measures and educating staff members on cyber security risks.

The health agency advised the public to remain vigilant against fraudulent emails.

It recommend the use of reliable sources to obtain factual information about COVID-19 and other health issues.


Edited By: Olagoke Olatoye (NAN)

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Italian tourist industry decries ‘dramatic’ impact of coronavirus



Trade associations in Italy are lamenting as they report a major drop in bookings, saying tourism industry risks being crippled by the novel coronavirus crisis.

Confturismo-Confcommercio on Wednesday estimated that the number of nights spent in Italy by domestic and foreign tourists would drop by 31.6 million in the period between March/May.

The organisation said this would result in a loss of around 7.4 billion euros (8.2 billion dollars) for the industry, calling it a prudent estimate.

Confturismo President Luca Patane said in a statement, “the situation is dramatic for the entire sector,’’ blaming alarmist media for scaring off tourists.

“Unfortunately, we are paying the consequences of media reporting which has been far more lethal than the virus, hysteria is actually the worst virus.’’

According to the most recent full-year figures, dating from 2018, Italy recorded just under 430 million nightly stays in its tourist accommodation establishments.

So the loss in business estimated by Confcommercio would amount to about 7 per cent of the yearly total, assuming no change from 2018 figures.

Italy is facing the worst outbreak of the novel coronavirus in Europe. As of Tuesday, more than 2,500 infections were reported, including 79 deaths.

The outbreak is concentrated in the northern regions of Lombardy and Veneto which include Milan and Venice, normally major destinations for business and leisure travellers.

Federalberghi President Bernardo Bocca told the ANSA news agency “we are seeing Milan and our most important cities empty like Kabul,’’  speaking for another hoteliers’ group.

Several trade fairs have been cancelled in Lombardy and Veneto, including the wine industry’s Vinitaly in Verona and Milan’s furniture and eyewear fairs.

Edited By: Hadiza Mohammed/Felix Ajide (NAN)



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Manchester City see off West Ham United as fans take aim at UEFA



Manchester City showed no signs of letting their off-field problems distract them as they comfortably beat relegation-threatened West Ham United 2-0 in their re-arranged English Premier League (EPL) game on Wednesday.

Manchester City took the lead on the half hour from a well-worked corner kick routine, Rodri rising to meet Kevin De Bruyne delivery with a superbly-angled header at the near-post.

De Bruyne doubled the lead in the 62nd minute, squeezing in a right foot shot at Lukasz Fabianski’s near-post after a swift exchange with Bernardo Silva.

UEFA handed Manchester City a two-year ban from European football on Friday for serious breaches of their Financial Fair Play regulations.

The Premier League champions deny the charges and are appealing against the decision.

While manager Pep Guardiola deflected pre-game television questions about the issue, Manchester City fans had no such reticence.

They shouted chants aimed at UEFA, including one which ended with “we will see you in court”.

Manchester City are second in the league but are 22 points behind leaders Liverpool while West Ham remained in 18th position, deep in the relegation battle.

The game was originally scheduled for Feb. 9 but was postponed due to stormy weather.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)

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Manchester United pummel Tranmere Rovers in FA Cup mauling



Manchester United thrashed English football league third tier Tranmere Rovers 6-0 on Sunday to join Manchester City in the fifth round of the FA Cup.

A muddy and bobbly Prenton Park pitch looked the perfect stage for a shock but Tranmere Rovers were blown away as Harry Maguire’s early thunderbolt settled any Manchester United jitters.

Tranmere Rovers had knocked out English Premier League (EPL) Watford in a replay on Thursday.

But apart from an early flurry of pressure they were never in Sunday’s tie as United scored five times before the break.

Diogo Dalot, who like Maguire had not scored all season, made it 2-0 after weaving into the penalty area and delivering a fierce finish.

Later on, Jesse Lingard curled a right-footed shot inside the post for only his second goal of the season.

Phil Jones got in on the act with a looping header from a corner kick, ending his own near six-year goal drought.

Anthony Martial added a fifth goal just before the break.

It was the first time since 2001 that Manchester United had scored five before half-time and they continued the onslaught after the break when Mason Greenwood converted a 56th-minute penalty kick.

Earlier, holders Manchester City beat Championship side Fulham 4-0.

It was a task made easier as Fulham played virtually the whole game with 10 men after Tim Ream was red-carded for conceding a penalty kick converted by Ilkay Gundogan.

Bernardo Silva made it 2-0 and Gabriel Jesus scored twice after the break as Manchester City reached 100 goals for the season in all competitions.

They are the first club to do so in Europe’s top leagues.


Edited By: Olawale Alabi)

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Manchester City spank Fulham 4-0 to reach FA Cup last 16



Holders Manchester City served up an attacking masterclass as they thrashed Fulham 4-0 in the FA Cup fourth round on Sunday, with Gabriel Jesus scoring twice within three second half minutes.

Any hopes of Championship side Fulham causing an upset at the Etihad Stadium were dented in less than six minutes after captain Tim Ream received his marching orders.

This was for dragging down Brazilian striker Jesus inside the penalty area.

Germany midfielder Ilkay Gundogan converted the resulting penalty kick for his fifth Manchester City goal of the campaign, before Bernardo Silva made it 2-0 for the hosts.

Phil Foden slid the ball across the edge of the box to Silva, who made a sharp turn before driving the ball past Fulham goalkeeper

Marek Rodak into the bottom right corner.

Manchester City continued to carve open Fulham in the second half, with substitute Raheem Sterling striking the crossbar from close range on the hour mark.

The game was eventually put to bed by Jesus, who scored two headed goals in quick succession to take his tally to 16 goals across all competitions this season.

Edited By: Olawale Alabi)

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De Bruyne says 15 minutes of planning led to Manchester City’s win over Manchester United



Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola needed only 15 minutes in training to get the tactical changes which led to Tuesday’s 3-1 win over Manchester United, playmaker Kevin De Bruyne said.

The 3-1 win was in the League Cup semi-finals on Tuesday.

Guardiola opted to play without a recognised striker at Old Trafford.

He thus gave De Bruyne and fellow midfielder Bernardo Silva licence to push forward centrally, and the move worked perfectly as Manchester City scored three times before half-time.

“We did 15 minutes on it (tactics) in the morning. That’s about it,” De Bruyne told the British media on the plan to play with a

`false nine’ in the first leg.

“We didn’t train that but it’s not like we never did it before —– we did it sometimes against teams that prefer to play man-against-man; Cardiff City, Manchester United, in Barcelona away we did it the first year with Pep… we’ve done it a couple of times.”

In spite of Silva’s unfamiliarity in the position, he scored the opening goal in the 17th minute before Riyad Mahrez doubled the lead and Manchester United’s Andreas Pereira scored an own goal.

Manchester United pulled one back in the 70th minute through striker Marcus Rashford to give themselves a chance in the tie.

“With Bernardo dropping (back) it’s four against three in midfield, so they have to choose what they do,” De Bruyne said.

“If they put their defender up there’s more space behind and if not Bernardo’s going to be free. That’s what we tried to do. I think overall we played well.

“The second half they tried to put a bit more pressure on us and we made one mistake and they scored from it.”

Manchester City, who succumbed to Manchester United’s counter-attacking might in a 2-1 English Premier League loss at the Etihad Stadium in December, host their neighbours in the second leg of the semi-final on Jan. 29.


(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)

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League Cup final in sight for City after first leg win across Manchester at United



Holders Manchester City took a big step towards another League Cup showpiece with a 3-1 win over Manchester United in their semi-final first leg clash at Old Trafford on Tuesday.

Manchester City outclassed their neighbours in the first half, going in 3-0 at the break with goals from Bernardo Silva, Riyad Mahrez and an Andreas Pereira own goal.

This was before Manchester United regrouped and avoided what could have been a more emphatic defeat.

“We could have gone in four or five up at half-time. We had the chances. They pressed us higher in the second half, we got tired. But, overall, we are happy,” Bernardo Silva said later.

The hosts suffered a blow before kick-off with their 80 million pounds central defender Harry Maguire failing a fitness test and Phil Jones was handed a rare start.

Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola opted to play without a recognised striker, giving midfielders Kevin De Bruyne and Bernardo Silva licence to push forward centrally.

With Raheem Sterling and Mahrez on the wings, the approach worked superbly against a flimsy-looking defence.

It was then a brilliant strike from Bernardo Silva that put City ahead in the 17th minute, the winger cutting in from the right before unleashing a superb shot into the far, top corner.

The busy Portugal international then created Manchester City’s second in the 33rd minute, collecting a poor headed clearance from Victor Lindelof.

He danced past a challenge before threading the ball to Mahrez who rounded goalkeeper David de Gea and slotted home.

Manchester City then punished Manchester United after 38 minutes with a counter-attack which ended with De Bruyne leaving Jones on the ground and blasting goalwards.

De Gea’s parry ricocheted off Manchester United midfielder Pereira into his own net.

Manchester United looked more solid after the introduction of midfielder Nemanja Matic at the break and got a foothold in the tie through a 70th minute goal from Marcus Rashford.

The England striker was picked out by a perfectly-weighted pass from Mason Greenwood and coolly slipped the ball past goalkeeper Claudio Bravo.

The last 15 teams to win away from home in the first leg of the League Cup semi-final have all progressed to the final, but Guardiola said the tie was far from over.

“Of course Manchester United can come back. Last year here (in the UEFA Champions League), they lost to PSG and still qualified,” he said, referring to Manchester United’s 2-0 home defeat by Paris St-Germain in the last 16 which they overturned with a 3-1 win in Paris.

“They have the shirt which means history and pride,” added the Spaniard, whose Manchester City team lost 2-1 to their rivals at the Etihad in December’s English Premier League clash.

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on his part, said his side had not performed well in the crucial period after Manchester City’s opening goal.

“From their first goal, and especially the second, we struggled to get to grips with them.

“We responded with a good reaction in the second half. But in the first half until they scored it was back and forth. We didn’t cope with the setback well enough,” he said.

Leicester City face Aston Villa in the first leg of the other semi-final fixture on Wednesday.

(Edited by: Olawale Alabi)

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Ronaldo moves onto 99 as Portugal qualify for Euro 2020




Portugal captain Cristiano Ronaldo scored his 99th international goal as the defending champions edged past Luxembourg 2-0 in difficult conditions away from home on Sunday to qualify for Euro 2020.

Bruno Fernandes broke the deadlock in the 39th minute and Ronaldo wrapped it up with four minutes left to ensure that Portugal finished second in Group B with 17 points, three ahead of Serbia who drew 2-2 with Ukraine.

Diogo Jota’s shot appeared to be going in any way but Ronaldo prodded it over to claim the goal.

He is one short of joining Iran’s Ali Daei, the only player to have scored a century of goals for a national team.

“I would have been very proud to have scored my first goal for the national team, but the important thing is we won.

“It doesn’t matter who scores — we are in the Euros and that is what we wanted,” Jota said.

Portugal survived several early scares as they struggled to impose their game on a rain-soaked pitch full of divots at the Josy Barthel stadium.

Ronaldo, in particular, was not enjoying the conditions and gestured angrily at the pitch after sending a speculative wide in the first half.

Needing a win to qualify without having to worry about Serbia’s result, Portugal were in trouble early on as Luxembourg saw a chance to spring an upset.

Maurice Deville got above his marker and headed over from Laurent Jans’ cross and Vincent Thill, a thorn in Portugal’s side, had a goalbound shot blocked by Ruben Dias.

Luxembourg were even closer when a corner found Gerons Rodrigues unmarked but he headed over.

Portugal began to adapt to the conditions and their more direct approach was rewarded with a goal.

Bernardo Silva floated a pass over the Luxembourg defence from deep inside his own half and into the path of Fernandes who took it superbly in his stride and fired a low shot between Anthony Moris and the near post.

The second half was more comfortable for Portugal as they dominated possession although there still anxious moments.

Ronaldo nearly sealed it when he curled a free kick narrowly wide from the edge of the area.

With four minutes left, Silva’s cross found Jota and Moris got a hand to it but could not stop it crossing the line and Ronaldo poked it home for good measure.

“We won’t be favourites but we are going there to win,” said Portugal coach Fernando Santos, whose side also won the inaugural Nations League this year.

“We are not the prettiest team but we have won two European tournaments in the last four years.”

Edited by Joseph Edeh

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