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EPL: Giroud on target as Chelsea beat Spurs to stay fourth

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Chelsea’s Olivier Giroud and Marcos Alonso returned to the starting line-up with stunning effect by grabbing a goal apiece in a crucial 2-1 home win over Tottenham Hotspur on Saturday.


Their goals had a telling effect in the battle between the London rivals for fourth place, with the win cementing Chelsea’s position and preventing Spurs from leapfrogging.

It was only Chelsea’s sixth win in 14 home English Premier League (EPL) games this season.

But it was fully deserved as they remain in fourth, the last UEFA Champions league qualification spot, with 44 points from 27 games, while Tottenham have 40 points.

Such was Chelsea’s dominance that the derby lacked its usual intensity, although there was a flashpoint when Giovani Lo Celso got away with a dreadful tackle on Chelsea skipper Cesar Azpilicueta.

The incident went on to prompt another VAR controversy, with the off-field umpire first ruling it was no sending-off and later accepting the decision was a mistake.

A poor run of form had dented Chelsea’s top-four hopes for some time now.

But from the moment French international Giroud, making his first league start since November, rifled a shot past goalkeeper Hugo Lloris in the 15th minute they were in control.

Alonso, back for only his seventh league start under Frank Lampard, doubled the lead three minutes after the break with a thumping finish.

It did give Chelsea a boost ahead of their UEFA Champions League last 16 first leg game at home to Germany’s Bayern Munich on Tuesday.

Tottenham, badly missing injured strikers Harry Kane and Son Heung-min, were lacklustre and a late Antonio Rudiger own goal made the contest look closer than it actually was.

The hosts held on comfortably though as Lampard got the better of his former Chelsea boss Mourinho for the second time this season after a 2-0 win at Spurs in December.

The margin of victory should have been bigger with Tottenham’s Lloris making several fine saves and Alonso also curling a free-kick against the bar late on.

“It was a shame about the goal at the end because it gave us a few nervous minutes,” Lampard said.

“I’m delighted for them both (Giroud and Alonso). They are experienced lads and it’s not easy when they are not playing.”

Tottenham’s three-game winning run in the league ended in disappointing fashion and it could have been worse as Lo Celso should have been dismissed in the second half.

The Argentine midfielder appeared to stamp on the shin of Azpilicueta and although it was apparently missed by referee Michael Oliver it was reviewed by VAR.

Yet somehow Lo Celso stayed on the pitch, much to Lampard’s amazement.

“I hate to call for red cards but that is a leg-breaker,” Lampard said. “VAR is here to clear things up, but this is another huge question mark.”

Tottenham set up to defend and there was an inevitability about the result which means their record at Stamford Bridge now reads just one win in their last 34 visits.

Spurs forward Lucas Moura had an early effort well stopped by Willy Caballero, again preferred by Lampard to world record signing Kepa Arrizabalaga.

But they were mainly on the back foot with Mason Mount forcing Lloris into a save soon after.

That it was 33-year-old former Arsenal striker Giroud, linked with a move to Tottenham in January, who opened the scoring was galling for the away fans.

Played through by Jorginho, Giroud’s initial shot was saved by the legs of Lloris.

Ross Barkley’s follow-up bounced up against the woodwork and, when the ball came back to the French striker, his powerful shot beat Lloris at his near post.

Giroud was also involved in the flowing move that resulted in Chelsea’s second goal.

His flick released Mount who played a low ball towards Barkley, another player recalled by Lampard.

The midfielder helped it to Alonso who did not have to break his stride to smash a low left-foot shot past the diving Lloris.

Mourinho sent on England midfielder Dele Alli, surprisingly left out of the starting line-up, as well as Erik Lamela and it was the Argentine’s shot which was deflected in by Rudiger.

It was too little too late for Tottenham though.

OLAL

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Edited By: Olawale Alabi)



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Olawale Alabi: is a graduate and a professionally trained journalist, with experience in national news reporting/editing and verification at the News Agency of Nigeria. NNN is a Nigerian online news portal that publishes breaking news in Nigeria, and across the world. Our journalists are honest, fair, accurate, thorough and courageous in gathering, reporting and interpreting news in the best interest of the public, because truth is the cornerstone of journalism and they strive diligently to ascertain the truth in every news report. Contact: editor[at]nnn.com.ng

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British cancelled, Masters to November in major rescheduling

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The British Open will not be played this year for the first time since 1945, golf officials announced Monday as they tried to reconfigure a major championship schedule that would end with the Masters being played two weeks before Thanksgiving.


Still to be determined is when — or even if — golf can resume depending on the spread of COVID-19 that has shut down sports worldwide.

The R&A announced that the British Open, scheduled for July 16-19 at Royal St. George’s in England, will be pushed back until July 15-18 in 2021, leaving the 150th Open for St. Andrews in 2022.

“I can assure everyone that we have explored every option for playing The Open this year, but it is not going to be possible,” R&A chief Martin Slumbers said.

The Masters, which was supposed to start Thursday, was rescheduled for Nov. 12-15. That would follow the PGA Championship on Aug. 6-9 at Harding Park in San Francisco and the U.S. Open — still at Winged Foot in New York — for Sept. 17-20.

“We hope the anticipation of staging the Masters Tournament in the fall brings a moment of joy to the Augusta community and all those who love the sport,” Augusta National Chairman Fred Ridley said.

“We want to emphasise that our future plans are incumbent upon favorable counsel and direction from health officials.”

Golf’s major organisations have been trying to piece together a puzzle for the last three weeks and each agreed to announce their schedules at the same time in a show of collaboration.

Still missing is the starting line, along with details on what could be the most hectic pace golf has ever known.

The PGA Tour has the most moving parts, and it tentatively has planned to complete its FedEx Cup season close to schedule, with the Tour Championship wrapping up the postseason run on Labor Day.

It also is contemplating putting tournaments in dates that previously belonged to the U.S. Open, British Open and Olympics.

“It’s a complex situation, and we want to balance the commitments to our various partners with playing opportunities for our members — while providing compelling competition to our fans,” PGA Tour Commissioner Jay Monahan said.

“But all of that must be done while navigating the unprecedented global crisis that is impacting every single one of us.”

The new schedule features:

— Aug. 6-9: PGA Championship.

— Aug. 13-16: End of PGA Tour regular season at Wyndham Championship.

— Aug. 20-23: Start of FedEx Cup playoffs at The Northern Trust.

— Aug. 27-30: BMW Championship, second playoff event.

— Sept. 4-7: Tour Championship for the FedEx Cup.

— Sept. 17-20: U.S. Open at Winged Foot.

— Sept. 25-27: Ryder Cup at Whistling Straits.

It was not immediately clear how the teams from Europe and the U.S. would be determined for the Ryder Cup, although European captain Padraig Harrington has said he would not be opposed to picking all 12 players.

For the 24 players, that means going from what long has been regarded as the toughest test in golf to what has become the most tiresome three days in golf at the Ryder Cup.

Other details still to be sorted out is U.S. Open qualifying. Like everything else, it all starts with when golf resumes.

The next tournament still on the schedule is Colonial on May 21-24, though that appears unlikely.

Ridley said every player who has received invitations to play the Masters in April will stay on the list, with more details to be sorted out later.

He also said the Augusta National Women’s Amateur was canceled, and every player can keep their spots for next year provided they don’t turn pro.

Winged Foot just north of New York City is about 5 miles away from a hot spot for the new coronavirus.

Construction for the U.S. Open was stopped two weeks ago as the USGA tried to determine its best course. For now, it’s to stay in New York with a September date.

The last time the U.S. Open was this late in the year was in 1913, when amateur Francis Ouimet took down Harry Vardon and Ted Ray at Brookline to put golf on the map in the United States.

The U.S. Senior Open at Newport Country Club and the U.S. Senior Women’s Open at Brooklawn Country Club in Connecticut have been cancelled.

The PGA Championship, which last year moved to May for the first time in some 70 years, returns to August at Harding Park in San Francisco.

The British Open was last cancelled in 1945 because of World War II. Slumbers said those with tickets or hospitality package can use them in 2021 or get a full refund.

Meanwhile, the claret jug stays with Shane Lowry of Ireland, who won last year at Royal Portrush. He won’t have possession as long as Dick Burton, who won in 1939, the year before it was canceled because of the war.

Lowry said in a video tweet he understood and supported the R&A’s decision.

“You can trust me when I say the claret jug is going to be in safe hands for another year,” Lowry said.

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Edited By: Emmanuel Okara/Peter Ejiofor)
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NBA coaches prepare for possible intriguing playoff matchups

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With NBA games indefinitely on hold there has been a lot of discussion about postseason possibilities — including by coaches around the league.


They’re preparing for what a resumption of the season that was shut down on March 11 could look like in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic.

Toronto coach Nick Nurse said he’s trying to prepare for every possibility that would allow the Raptors a chance to defend their title.

“We’re ready for whatever is thrown at us,” Nurse said recently during a conference call with reporters.

“I don’t think it really matters. What matters is that we attack the title in whatever format it’s going to be presented in and we go for it.”

No one knows what will be thrown at the NBA or the rest of the sports world. Looking at guidelines from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, if NBA games do resume this season the calendar will play a major factor in how the league proceeds.

The ideas are many, from a shortened version of the remaining schedule played without fans to the very real possibility of jumping straight to the playoffs to ensure a season is completed before the end of summer.

Milwaukee coach Mike Budenholzer said he has spent part of this hiatus studying the Orlando Magic and Brooklyn Nets — the Bucks’ two most likely first-round playoff foes — as well as other Eastern Conference teams.

Nurse had already begun thinking postseason before the season was suspended.

“When we hit March 1, we’ve got a kind of playoff prepping plan thing that kicks in,” the Raptors coach said.

“We spread the teams around our staff members and they prepare a pretty detailed couple of hour video sessions.

“They would normally come into my office and start showing that to me one-on-one. It’s a two-hour video that we go through probably in about three hours on certain teams in the East and then a handful of them in the West as well.

“The coaches were started in on that already and they’ll continue on that. The only difference is there’s no real one-one-one time with me yet.

“They’ll probably just have to send me their edit and then I’ll just have to watch them and talk to them on the phone.”

There would be several intriguing matchups if the NBA resumes the season with the start of the postseason. Nurse and Toronto would be the No. 2 seed in the East and would host No. 7 Brooklyn.

Other matchups would be: No. 1 Milwaukee vs. No. 8 Orlando; No. 3 Boston vs No. 6 Philadelphia; No. 4 Miami vs No. 5 Indiana.

In the West: No. 1 LA Lakers vs No. 8 Memphis; No. 2 LA Clippers vs No. 7 Dallas, No. 3 Denver vs No. 6 Houston; No. 4 Utah vs No. 5 Oklahoma City.

As good as the matchups look on paper there could be some sloppy postseason basketball.

Celtics center Enes Kanter estimates it would take a minimum of two to three weeks for players to get their bodies in game shape. Part of the reason, he said, is the shear time players have had away from the court.

Kanter believes a second training camp-like period would probably be needed.

“You can’t just say ‘OK, we’re going to play the games a week later.’ Some players are doing some things.

“Some players are in their apartments not doing anything,” Kanter said during a conference call. “We need to make sure everybody is doing their stuff and is in good shape to go out there and compete if we jump straight into playoffs.”

Kanter said a training camp setting would also help players refocus. He said while he’s staying in shape, he’s also taken up other endeavors to avoid going stir crazy such as reading, watching documentaries and teaching himself to cook and play the piano.

It is clear time is not the NBA’s friend.

Monday marked the 26th day of the shutdown, a stoppage that has already cost the league more than 100 games.

And the CDC is recommending that all in-person events involving 10 or more people be extended through the end of April as the U.S. fights the spread of the pandemic.

That extends beyond the 30-day shutdown the NBA put in place March 11.

Kanter said if a decision is made to jump straight to the postseason, he hopes the length of the series won’t be affected.

“We’re competitors, man. We want to go out there and push through and finish the season,” he said.

“It’s crazy because we have a really good chance to go out there and get a championship. So, it’s like for sure you want to go out there and compete.”

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Cramped conditions could rule out VAR after COVID-19, Italian referees official says

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Serie A matches may have to do without the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) when action resumes following the coronavirus outbreak, the head of Italy’s referees’ association (AIA) said on Monday.


Marcello Nicci, who is chairman of AIA, said this would be because the cramped conditions where video officials work could be a health problem.

“In some cases for the video assistants today, we use narrow spaces, such as vans, where the referees work in a space of two square metres, without a safe distance between them and other workers,” he told RAI television.

“I hope this doesn’t happen but the risk is there, I hope they give us sanitised spaces.”

Nicci added that referees had been forgotten amid the debate over if and when Serie A, which has been suspended since March 9, could re-start.

“I haven’t heard any serious proposals regarding the protection of the referees,” he said.

“The referees are ready, they are respecting the rules, they are working in video conferences with the technical bodies, and they are keeping fit indoors.

“But, before moving on to phase two, we will have to worry about them too.”

He said further that referees were as much at risk as anyone else.

“They travel alone on trains and planes, going through airports and stations… If we start again, I will want to know what guarantees are offered.”

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 I cannot encourage my children to Weightlifting except – NSF Medalist 

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Former National Sports Festival (NSF) Weightlifting Medalist, King-Solomon Adeleke, has vowed never to encourage any of his children to the sport, except there is change of attitude from the Federal Government in the area of funding.


Adeleke said this while speaking with newsmen on Monday in Ilorin.

He flayed the Federal Government’s concentrating funding only on football at the expense of other Sports at the grassroots, including Weightlifting.

Adeleke who represented Kwara State at the “Bendel 1981” National Sports Festival, explained that, an athlete in Weightlifting at the Olympics can win as many as three medals, while at least 22 players cannot win more than a medal at most, in an event.

The man, popularly called King Solo, said as a result of the neglect, other sports in the country have suffered greatly, thereby denying young people the opportunity to strive through sports.

The medalist who runs a thriving private security outfit, said where Weightlifting is, today, is not where he envisaged the Sport to be, when he was still active in the Sport.

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Italy’s Serie A recommends wage cuts for players, coaches

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Italy’s Serie A football league has recommended that clubs impose wage cuts of between two and four months’ pay on playing and coaching staff to reduce losses during the coronavirus outbreak.


After an emergency general assembly by video conference, the league said in a statement on Monday that the stoppage caused by the contagion had left Italian football in a “very difficult” situation.

The league added that this had led to an urgent need for a reduction of costs.

It proposed cutting annual wages by one third if Serie A was unable to resume and by one sixth if it was able to restart.

However, it added that each club would have to negotiate the cuts with its players.

Nineteen of Serie A’s 20 clubs voted for the recommendation while Italian champions Juventus abstained, having already reached a separate agreement with their players, a Serie A source said.

Serie A has been suspended since March 9 because of the coronavirus pandemic which has claimed 15,887 lives in Italy, almost a quarter of the global death total.

It is not certain when or even if the season will restart.

But Italian football federation president Gabriele Gravina said on Sunday that the season, originally due to finish in May, could run until September or October if necessary.

Serie A said the move was “necessary to safeguard the future of the entire Italian football system.

“The intervention… foresees a reduction of one third of the total gross annual salary in the event that it is not possible to resume sporting activity, and a reduction of one sixth… if the remaining matches of the 2019/2020 season can be played in the coming months,” it said.

It added that “the clubs are ready to do their part by incurring huge losses to ensure the future of Italian football” and that “the main expense for the clubs is represented by the payroll.”

European football’s governing body UEFA has urged all national leagues to try and complete the season.

It had warned that clubs from competitions which are abandoned may be barred from the Champions League and Europa League next season.

“The assembly confirmed the desire to play again and finish the season, but without running risks and only when health conditions and government decisions allow,” added the Serie A statement.

Juventus announced on March 28 that coach Maurizio Sarri and his players, including Cristiano Ronaldo, had agreed to a wage cut.

It was a cut which would save the Turin club 90 million euros (79.3 million pounds).

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Scrap English Premier League season and start from scratch, Manchester United’s Shaw pleads

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The 2019/2020 English Premier League season must be scrapped and declared null and void if it cannot be restarted due to the coronavirus pandemic, Manchester United defender Luke Shaw has said.


The Premier League confirmed last week that the season, originally suspended until April 30, would not resume at the beginning of May.

The season would only return when the situation stabilises.

League leaders Liverpool need six points to seal the title while European spots and relegation candidates are still unclear with nine games to go.

This has raised questions about how they would be decided if the season does not resume.

“Scrap it and start again. Start it again, yeah,” Shaw said during the Combat Corona fundraiser for UNICEF, a FIFA 20 competition that was streamed on Twitch.

“It’s got to be, you know. If we can’t carry it on, it’s got to be void.”

Shaw was part of the event —– which also had Gareth Bale, Paulo Dybala, Dominic Calvert-Lewin, Jordan Pickford and Ruben Loftus-Cheek —– which raised around 17,000 pounds (20,920 dollars) through online donations.

Some Premier League clubs had mulled finishing the season by playing games without spectators in attendance.

But Shaw said that was not a view he endorsed as fans filling up stadiums was crucial.

“Fans are so important. You realise it even more (now),” Shaw, 24, added. “I think the sport is for fans really… I think if you don’t have fans, and you don’t play in front of fans, it just doesn’t feel right.

“Especially on match days, the fans are always amazing and always help the team. Whether it’s home or even away, our fans are always brilliant and I feel like they’re always there with us.”

Manchester United were three points behind fourth-placed Chelsea before the season was suspended, a position which left them out of reckoning for a UEFA Champions League ticket.

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Man City coach Guardiola’s mother dies after Coronavirus infection

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The mother of Manchester City coach Pep Guardiola has died after being diagnosed with the novel Coronavirus, the English Premier League champions said on Monday.


“The Manchester City family are devastated to report the death today of Pep’s mother Dolors Sala Carrió in Manresa, Barcelona after contracting Coronavirus. She was 82-years-old,” City said in a post on their official Twitter account.

“Everyone associated with the club sends their most heartfelt sympathy at this most distressing time to Pep, his family and all their friends.”

Guardiola, who has also coached Barcelona and Bayern Munich and spent most of his playing career with Barca, donated one million euros (881,057 pounds) last month to fight against the virus, contributing to a campaign launched by the Angel Soler Daniel Foundation and Medical College of Barcelona.

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COVID19: England boss Southgate takes 30% wage cut as FA revenue hit

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England manager Gareth Southgate has agreed a 30% wage reduction according to British media reports after the FA’s CEO Mark Bullingham said on Monday that its highest earners would take significant pay cuts during the coronavirus crisis.


The pandemic has brought English football to a standstill and Bullingham said the lack of international matches and FA Cup games will cost the country’s soccer governing body around 100 million pounds.

“In the spirit of those on higher salaries taking the greater responsibility, the senior management team have agreed to cut their pay by 15%, with the highest earners in the organisation agreeing to reduce their pay by up to 30%,” Bullingham said in a statement here on the FA website.

“We are proposing that all employees earning 50,000 pounds or more per annum will take a temporary pay reduction of 7.5%,” he said, adding that the FA could lose more than 150 million pounds in revenue if the situation does not stabilise soon.

“We’re also looking into what options are available to us through the government’s furlough scheme as a contingency plan while we continue to plan for the return of football, once it is safe to do so.”

The Times reported that Southgate would take a wage cut of 225,000 pounds over the next three months, while England Women’s team manager Phil Neville and the men’s England under-21 manager Aidy Boothroyd will take reductions in the region of 15-30%.

The FA decision contrasts with the approach of some Premier League clubs, such as league leaders Liverpool, who said they would be using the government’s job retention scheme to pay some non-playing staff who are furloughed.

Tottenham Hotspur, Newcastle United and Norwich City have taken similar decisions, sparking criticism from the government who have taken a dim view of millionaire players and managers not taking wage cuts while the league is suspended.

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Australia’s Kyrgios offers to drop food at doorstep of those in need

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(Reuters) Tennis player Nick Kyrgios once again showed his compassionate side on Monday, pledging to help hungry people and drop off food at doorstep for those in need during the coronavirus pandemic.


Kyrgios, who was placed on probation by the governing body of men’s tennis over his on-court behaviour last year, emerged as Australia’s hero earlier in 2020 during the bushfire crisis.

His “bad boy” image was transformed since his appeal to the tennis world kick-started a campaign.

The campaign raised millions of dollars for the victims of the crisis before and during the Australian Open Grand Slam in Melbourne.

“If ANYONE is not working/not getting an income and runs out of food, or times are just tough … please don’t go to sleep with an empty stomach,” Kyrgios wrote on Instagram with a caption “real talk”.

“Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to send me a private message. I will be more than happy to share whatever I have.

“Even just for a box of noodles, a loaf of bread or milk. I will drop it off at your doorstep, no questions asked!”

The 24-year-old Australian is spending time in his hometown of Canberra with the sport suspended across the world till at least mid-July.

This situation is as a result of countries going into lockdown to contain the spread of the virus.

OLAL

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Edited By: Olawale Alabi)
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