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Messi hat-trick fires Barca to victory over PSV

By Sports Desk,

Lionel Messi scored his 48th career hat-trick as Barcelona thrashed Dutch champions PSV Eindhoven in their opening Champions League group game.

Barca’s captain curled home a stunning free-kick to open the scoring before Luis Suarez’s clever 20-yard lob hit the crossbar.

The impressive Ousmane Dembele spun to lose two defenders and blasted home Barcelona’s second from outside the box.

Messi half-volleyed Ivan Rakitic’s aerial pass home for their third before Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti was sent off for two yellow cards.

The 10 men got a fourth goal when Suarez picked out Messi, who guided the ball past goalkeeper Jeroen Zoet from 15 yards.

The other game in Group B saw Inter Milan come from behind to beat Tottenham 2-1 at the San Siro.

Messi, now Barcelona’s captain after Andres Iniesta’s departure, looks to have put another disappointing World Cup behind him – he scored once as Argentina lost in the last 16 in Russia.

He has now scored seven goals in six games this season, as well as going close with another free-kick in the second half and creating good chances for Suarez and Roberto.

All his goals were excellent. First he whipped in his eighth free-kick of 2018 – right into the top corner beyond Zoet’s reach from 20 yards. He sweetly struck home Rakitic’s lofted ball and late on met Suarez’s pass to add a third.

He has now scored 104 goals – including eight hat-tricks – in the competition and has netted in a 14th consecutive Champions League campaign, a joint record with Real Madrid legend Raul.

Barcelona have been knocked out at the quarter-final stage for three consecutive years – with Real Madrid winning the tournament in each of those campaigns.

Barca players have spoken this summer about how much the Champions League means to them as they bid to win it for the first time since 2015.

Last season’s Spanish double winners looked sharp against a side who had won their previous seven games and scored 13 goals in the past two – although PSV were better than the 4-0 scoreline suggests.

With starts for nine of the 11 players who capitulated to Roma last season, Bar

Icardi, Vecino score late goals as Inter Milan sinks Tottenham

By Sports Desk,

Inter Milan celebrated their return to the Champions League with a dramatic Group B win.

Christian Eriksen’s deflected strike earlier in the second half looked to have been decisive for Spurs, who stepped up a gear after an unconvincing first period, beset by poor passing.

However, Argentine Icardi, a peripheral figure for long periods, levelled with a 20-yard volley five minutes from time.

And Uruguayan midfielder Vecino then headed a winner in added time to send Spurs to a third consecutive defeat.

It had looked like being a good evening for Mauricio Pochettino’s side, even if they started as though back-to-back Premier League defeats by Watford and Liverpool had taken their toll.

If that encouraged a vociferous San Siro crowd, Luciano Spalleti’s team were unable to capitalise.

Instead they carried their indifferent Serie A form – they are 15th after winning just one of their first four games – into European competition, and were eventually punished by Denmark midfielder Eriksen.

The 26-year-old was the visitors’ stand-out performer and followed up on his own parried shot to give Spurs the lead with an effort that veered over goalkeeper Samir Handanovic via a nick off Inter defender Miranda.

For drama, it all looked a far cry from the clubs’ last meeting in the competition in 2010, when the Italians led 4-0 after 35 minutes before a 21-year-old Gareth Bale announced himself with a hat-trick that nearly transformed the game.

But drama there was, at the very last, as Inter first looked to have salvaged a point, and then stole all three to follow group leaders Barcelona with a opening-day win.

It was a night of contrasting fortunes for Harry Kane and his opposite number Icardi, who both average better than a goal every two games for their clubs.

They shared the frustration of being isolated for long periods, with Icardi touching the ball 15 times and Kane 25.

While Kane did some of his best work in central positions linking the play with team-mates, it was his failure to convert a glorious first-half opportunity that will again raise question marks over his form and fitness.

Having rounded goalkeeper Handanovic, Kane, the World Cup Golden Boot winner, ran the ball out of play with the goal at his mercy.

In contrast, the Argentina forward inspired a remarkable turnaround with his first effort on goal – dispatching Kwadwo Asamoah’s left-wing cross with a sumptuous volley that flew into the bottom left corner.

Ambode picks governorship re-election form

By News Desk,

The Lagos State Governor, Akinwunmi Ambode, has picked 2019 governorship re-election form of his party, All Progressive Congress (APC), the action of which would enable him contest for retaining of his present office come 2019, should he scale through the APC direct primary.

As learnt from a source close to the governor, Ambode picked his office at APC’s secretariats in Abuja in Monday and he would be making it public once he return to Lagos.

Details later.

Ronaldo buys controlling stake in Real Valladolid

By Sports Desk,

Brazil World Cup winner Ronaldo has become the majority shareholder of Real Valladolid, after purchasing a 51% controlling stake in the Spanish club.

The 42-year-old played for Real Madrid, Inter Milan, AC Milan and Barcelona in an 18-year playing career.

Valladolid are 16th in La Liga and yet to win a game this season.

“The arrival of Ronaldo puts Real Valladolid on the map and will allow the club to take a leap in quality,” said president Carlos Suarez.

Ronaldo scored 62 times for Brazil, including both goals when they beat Germany in the 2002 World Cup final.

Speaking at a news conference on Monday, he said: “I have gone through many stages in my training in football to prepare. Football is a passion.

“This new management will be defined by four words: competitiveness, transparency, revolution and social.”

Ronaldo won two La Liga titles with Real Madrid and the Uefa Cup with Inter. He was part of the Brazil squad who won the 1994 World Cup – although he did not play – and helped them reach the 1998 final.

He picked up the Ballon d’Or award for the best player in the world in 1997 and 2002.

Last month, he was admitted to hospital in Ibiza with pneumonia.

Saraki to run for president

By News Desk,

Nigeria’s Senate President Bukola Saraki said on Thursday he will run for president in 2019, making him the highest profile contender to incumbent Muhammadu Buhari announced so far.

Saraki, Nigeria’s third most senior political official, made the announcement at a political event in the capital Abuja.

The Senate President listed several challenges which he believes have clogged the wheels of progress in the nation.

He highlighted extreme poverty, hunger, lack of education and mass unemployment as some of the things that have paved way for more crime and insecurity in the nation, adding that it is now time for Nigerians to rebuild the nation with new leadership.

Also, he stated that the economy is broken while the nation has now, more than ever, witnessed division along regional, religious and ethnic lines, a situation he believes should be addressed urgently in order for the nation to grow.

He said, “​It is with all these in mind and taking account of the challenges that I have outlined, that I have decided to answer the call of teeming youth who have asked me to run for President.

“Accordingly, I hereby announce my intention to run for the office of President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria in the coming General Elections in 2019 on the platform of the People’s Democratic Party (PDP). I do so with the firm conviction that I have what it takes to secure inclusive growth for Nigeria and Nigerians.”

Samuel Ogundipe regains freedom

By News Desk,

Premium Times journalist, Samuel Ogundipe, who was detained on Tuesday has been released on bail by the Kubwa Grade 1 Magistrates’ Court, Abuja.

He was granted the bail in the sum of N500,000 and a surety who must be resident within the court’s jurisdiction.

Ogundipe, who was represented in court by Mr. Jide Ogunye, met the bail conditions, had been released.

The Nigeria Police Force had said Ogundipe was being investigated and prosecuted for theft and unlawful possession of restricted and classified documents.

Ogundipe was arrested on Aug. 14 for alleged publication of the Inspector-General of police interim report on the investigation on the former Director-General of DSS, Lawal Daura.

Daura had authourised operatives of the DSS to lay siege to the National Assembly.

The Force Public Relations Officer, Jimoh Moshood, said on Thursday in Abuja that the documents were inimical to state and national security.

He added that the documents could jeopardise peace, breakdown of law and order capable of causing crisis in the country.

Moshood said that Ogundipe was also being investigated and prosecuted under other offences which violate Official Secret Act, Cyber Crime Act, and the Penal Code Law for which he has volunteered statements and standing trial.

He said that he was arrested on completion of preliminary investigation and promised that he would be arraigned in a court of competent jurisdiction in the FCT in less than 24 hours.

The spokesman said that he was remanded in police custody and the case was adjourned to Aug. 20.

“The Nigeria Police force as a law abiding organisation will continue to ensure that the Rule of Law and its supremacy which are essentials of democracy prevails at all times,” he said.

He said that individual or group of persons who violate the law must be brought to justice.

Moshood added that the force would also ensure that all Nigerians irrespective of profession, practice or carrier are subject to the same Law.

APC win Senatorial election in Katsina

By News Desk,

The Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) has declared the candidate of the All Progressives Congress (APC), Ahmed Kaita, as the winner of the Katsina Senatorial Bye-election.

INEC Returning Officer, Professor Hudu Abdullahi, declared the candidate of the ruling party as the winner of the election which was held on Saturday.

He said APC’s Kaita got 224, 607 votes to defeat five other candidates in the poll.

Kaita, who is a member of the House of Representatives, representing Kankia/Kusada/Ingawa Federal Constituency, defeated his elder brother, Kabir Usman Babba Kaita of the opposition Peoples Democratic Party, (PDP) who scored 59, 724 votes.

The Senatorial seat became vacant in April following the death of Senator Mustapha Bukar.

Ronaldo, Five Madrid players lead UEFA nominees for positional awards

By Sports Desk,

Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi and Mohamed Salah have all been nominated for UEFA’s Champions League positional awards, with the list dominated by Real Madrid players.

Madrid won their third consecutive European title with thanks to a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev, Gareth Bale netting a brace.

Bale did not make the cut of players voted for by coaches of the 32 teams from the 2017-18 Champions League group stage and 55 journalists representing each of UEFA’s member nations, with Ronaldo, Messi and Salah the attackers put forward.

Keylor Navas may have his position at Madrid under serious threat following the signing of Thibaut Courtois but is nominated in the goalkeeping category alongside Alisson and Gianluigi Buffon.

Madrid have a clean sweep among the defenders in the shape of Marcelo, Raphael Varane and captain Sergio Ramos, while only Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne – accompanying Luka Modric and Toni Kroos – prevents a similar scenario for the midfielders.

The three nominees for the Europa League Player of the Season award are drawn from the final and continue the Spanish theme.

Atletico Madrid duo Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin have been named alongside Marseille’s Dimitri Payet.

Godin lifted the trophy after Griezmann scored twice in a 3-0 win over the Ligue 1 side in Lyon.

The winners will be announced at the respective Champions League and Europa League group stage draws in Monaco on August 30 and 31.

The three nominees for the Europa League Player of the Season award are drawn from the final and continue the Spanish theme.

Atletico Madrid duo Antoine Griezmann and Diego Godin have been named alongside Marseille’s Dimitri Payet.

Godin lifted the trophy after Griezmann scored twice in a 3-0 win over the Ligue 1 side in Lyon.

The winners will be announced at the respective Champions League and Europa League group stage draws in Monaco on August 30 and 31.