Defender Matthias Ginter scored one goal and was involved in two more as Germany comfortably saw off Belarus 4-0 on Saturday.
The victory ensured that Germany clinched their place at Euro 2020, qualifying for the finals for a record 13th time in a row.
The inspired Ginter broke the deadlock in the 41st minute with a clever backheel, provided a dummy which allowed Leon Goreztka to score the second and the pass for Toni Kroos to add the third.
Germany goalkeeper Manuel Neuer saved a penalty from Igor Stasevich in the 75th minute.
And Kroos added a fourth goal to complete his first national team brace since the 7-1 World Cup semi-final win over Brazil in 2014.
Group C leaders Germany were given a helping hand by arch-rivals the Netherlands who held Northern Ireland 0-0 away to ensure the Dutch and Germans qualified with one match to spare.
Germany have 18 points —- from six draws and one defeat — while the Dutch have 16 and Northern Ireland 14.
Belarus have four points but could still qualify as they have reached the playoffs of the Nations League which offers four more places.
As expected, Germany quickly took control although their early attacks were somewhat predictable.
They were given a fright when Stasevich’s dipping long-range shot forced Neuer into a difficult save and they went ahead shortly afterwards.
Serge Gnabry wriggled past his marker and fired a low ball across the face of goal which was flicked in by Ginter for his first Germany goal on his 29th appearance.
Germany increased their lead four minutes after halftime when Kroos sent a low corner to the edge of the area, Ginter dummied and Goretzka fired home.
Six minutes later, Ginter’s pass found Kroos on the edge of the area and he swept the ball home with a trademark first-time shot.
Belarus were awarded a penalty when Robin Koch tripped Pavel Nekhaychik but Neuer dived to his right to save Stasevich’s spot-kick.
Kroos rubbed it in when he collected the ball in the area, spun past his mark, evaded another and fired a low shot past Aleksandr Gutor to complete the rout.
edited by Sadiya Hamza
Manchester City sign Valencia winger on 5-year deal
Manchester City announced on Tuesday they have signed Spanish winger Ferran Torres from Valencia, with the 20-year-old putting pen to paper on a five-year deal.
Financial details were not disclosed by the English Premier League (EPL) clubside, but British media reported the transfer fee was 23 million euros (20.73 million pounds).
Torres scored six goals and had eight assists for Valencia in all competitions last season as they came ninth in the Spanish La Liga.
“I am so happy to be joining Manchester City. Every player wants to be involved in attacking teams and Manchester City are one of the most attacking in world football,” Torres told the club website.
“Pep (Guardiola) encourages a really open, aggressive style, which I love, and he is a manager with a proven track record of improving players. To have him overseeing my development is a dream.”
Torres joins Manchester City as a replacement for Germany winger Leroy Sane who moved to Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich last month for 45 million euros plus add-ons.
“He’s young and still developing, but his technical qualities are exactly what we are looking for in a winger,” Manchester City’s director of football Txiki Begiristain said of Torres.
“He’s quick, direct, can create space with one movement and is capable of producing match-winning moments.”
Manchester City have also been linked with a 41 million pounds (53.56 million dollars) move for Bournemouth central defender Nathan Ake.
This is noteworthy as Guardiola looks to close the gap on Premier League champions Liverpool next season.
Second-placed Manchester City finished 18 points adrift of the Anfield side but won the League Cup and are still in the UEFA Champions League.
They lead Real Madrid 2-1 ahead of their last 16 second leg home match on Friday.
Edited By: Olawale Alabi) (NAN)
UK immigration to EU bloc nations up 30% since Brexit, naturalisations jump – Research
The number of UK nationals, who have acquired citizenship in European Union (EU) nations has jumped by 30 per cent since the Brexit referendum in 2016, a research has found.
The yearly average of UK citizens moving to any of the other 27 EU nations from 2008-2015 was nearly 57,000, while that same figure from 2016-2018 showed an average of over 73,000 annual migrations, the research by the Berlin Social Science Center, published on Monday, claimed.
This data does not account for the UK citizens who had been residing in EU nations but decided to register after the referendum, The Guardian reported.
That number grew by some 500 percent according to figures from the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and Eurostat.
Spain was the most popular destination for UK expatriates, with over 21,000 registrations in the two years following the Brexit vote, compared to an average annual number of 2,300 prior, the paper found.
France and Germany also saw a big jump in the number of UK nationals putting themselves on the path to citizenship.
About half of the 120,000 UK nationals in Germany are expected to have dual citizenship by the end of the year.
The authors of the study were unambiguous about the impact that Brexit had on decisions to migrate.
Because the Brexit negotiations between London and Brussels look likely to restrict employment and residency rights UK citizens had enjoyed, cosmopolitan and mobile Britons prefer to maintain access to a larger pool of employment opportunities and services.
The contentious 2016 Brexit referendum was followed by years of political crisis and a polarised public sphere in the UK.
After multiple delays, the UK finally exited the bloc in January 2020.
A transition period will run to the end of this year, during which time the two sides must reach deals in a host of fields.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Early voting in Belarusian presidential election begins
Polling stations for casting ballots in the Belarusian presidential election have opened in most regions of the country for citizens unable to vote during the national election day on Aug. 9, according to a Sputnik correspondent.
Early voting will take place from Aug. 4 to Aug. 8.
Polling stations will be open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (from 07:00 to 11:00 GMT) and from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
The voting is taking place in the presence of at least two members of the precinct election commission at the commission’s office.
According to the Belarusian Central Election Commission, more than 6.8 million citizens will be able to vote in the current presidential election, including 5,319 people currently residing abroad.
A total of 5,767 polling places have been set up for the vote, including 44 in Belarusian embassies and consulates in 36 foreign countries.
However, early voting is not being held in sanatoriums, preventoriums, hospitals, and other health organisations providing medical care in stationary conditions.
The presidential election in Belarus is scheduled for Aug. 9.
Five people are registered as candidates, including the current head of state, Alexander Lukashenko.
The campaigning started on July 14 and will last until Aug. 8.
Edited By: Emmanuel Yashim (NAN)
Lobbying for Russian pipeline spikes in Washington
As United States lawmakers plot to stop one of Moscow’s most important projects in Europe, the Nord Stream 2 pipeline, lobbyists supporting it are busier than ever but disclosing few details of their work, according to government filings and current and former United States officials.
The pipeline linking Russian gas fields to Western Europe has become a lightning rod of contention in United States-Russia relations.
This is as the Trump administration concerned it would dangerously expanding the region’s energy dependence on Moscow but backers, including in Europe, saying the gas is needed.
United States President Donald Trump has already signed a sanctions bill that delayed construction on the $11 billion project, wholly-owned by Russia’s state-run Gazprom and headed by Alexei Miller, a long-time ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
But lawmakers fearful the measures are not enough to prevent the pipeline’s completion are contemplating further action.
That is more than double the amount during the same period a year ago, and more than all of 2018, the first full year the project lobbied in Washington.
But exactly who the lobbyists meet with is a mystery because they have not registered with the Department of Justice under the Foreign Agent Registration Act (FARA), a law passed in 1938 to limit the influence of Nazi Germany and Communist Russia in United States politics.
Under FARA, lobbyists must disclose every meeting with United States officials, along with the materials they distribute.
Instead, the Nord Stream 2 lobbyists have registered under the 1995 Lobbying Disclosure Act, a law that amended FARA by allowing lobbyists for foreign companies or individuals to report much less information as long as their work is not intended to benefit a foreign government.
Representatives for Nord Stream 2 and the lobbying companies did not respond to requests for comment.
But Nord Stream 2 has characterised itself as a commercial, not political, project.
A senior Trump administration official took issue with that, saying the lobbyists are seeking to further Moscow’s national interests.
“The fact that you’ve got people working for Gazprom, which is essentially the Russian state, you know to manipulate our processes … it’s crazy,’’ the official said, asking not to be named discussing the issue.
Danielle Nichols, a spokesperson for the Department of Justice, which handles FARA registrations, said the department had no comment at this time.
Lobbyists for Nord Stream 2’s foreign opponents, by contrast, have registered under FARA.
Andriy Kobolyev, Naftogaz’s Chief Executive told Reuters in an email that company representatives travel to Washington about once a month to provide updates on the status of Nord Stream 2 and discuss how to stop the pipeline.
Nord Stream 2 will double the capacity of an existing line to Germany under the Baltic Sea to 110 billion cubic meters of gas per year, enough to supply 26 million households.
It would circumvent United States ally Ukraine, depriving it of potentially billions of dollars in transit fees, and compete with United States efforts to sell liquefied natural gas into Europe.
United States senators Ted Cruz, a Republican, and Jeanne Shaheen, a Democrat, are among the pipeline’s biggest opponents in Congress.
Both are pushing new sanctions measures that would target insurers of Gazprom vessels that would lay the last 100 miles (160 km) of pipe in Danish waters, where unexploded bombs from World War II lie in the pipeline’s path.
Neither senator responded to a request for comment.
Nord Stream 2 backers say Germany and other European countries need Russian gas and Germany has threatened retaliatory action if United States sanctions stop the project.
Edited By: Abdulfatah Babatunde (NAN)