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UCL: Virgil van Dijk sends message to critics after Ajax win

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Following Tuesday’s 2-1 victory over Ajax, Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk claims the team pays little attention to criticism of their performance.

Joel Matip’s late winner gave the Reds their first European points of the year on a night when it appeared that they wouldn’t score again after Mohamed Salah gave them the lead.

Last week’s 4-1 loss to Napoli by Liverpool drew harsh criticism, and Van Dijk himself has been singled out for some subpar defending after years of excellence.

Van Dijk acknowledged the poor performance last week, but he continued to criticise the pundits and stated that his team would keep trying to get better.

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The Dutchman responded to the question about how Liverpool’s players were handling the recent rumours: “Not listening to the outside world, that’s the most important thing.

“It’s funny sometimes because a lot of ex-football players know exactly what we are going through.

“They say a lot of things to try and get to us. We know last week was unacceptable and we try to make it right.

“This is a step in the right direction, don’t get carried away because there are so many games but it’s time to focus on the international break then crack on when we return.”

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UCL: Bayern compounds Man U’s woes in 7goals thriller, as Arsenal return with a bang

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Bayern Munich on Wednesday night compounded Erik Ten Hag’s Manchester United’s woes in a seven-goal thriller at the Allianz Arena.

The German champion beat Manchester United 4-3, leaving manager Ten Hag with more questions than answers about his defensive options following the team’s humiliating 3-1 home defeat to Brighton over the weekend.

Goals from Leroy Sane, and Serge Gnabri gave the German side a two-goal advantage in the first half before United fought their way back into the game.

Harry Kane and Mathys Tel completed Bayern’s lead over Man United in a game that was more of a contest than many expected.

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After the break United again started well, pulling a goal back on 49 minutes with Rasmus Hojlund recording his first goal for the club with the aid of two deflections.

Within minutes, Bayern won a penalty which made the game safe, and Eriksen was adjudged – first by VAR, who advised the ref to watch a replay – to have handled Dayot Upamecano’s header.

From the penalty spot, Kane made no mistake, and though Casemiro bagged two late goals to make things interesting, Tel’s goal saw the German champions take control of the group while United desperately needed a break.

Arsenal on the other hand enjoyed a fine return to the Champions League as they thrshed PSV Eindhoven 4-0 at the Emirates Stadium.

The Gunners made a return to the Champions League after six years of absence from Europe’s elite competition. Arsenal last played in the Champions League in 2017.

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Bukayo Saka, Leandro Trossard, Gabriel Jesus, and Martin Odegaard all scored as Arsenal sent the right warning across.

Arsenal started a goal rush with Saka getting Gunner’s first inside eight minutes before Trossard doubled the lead, Jesus added a third before the break and Odegaard capped off a fine evening.

David Raya retained his place in the Arsenal goal having replaced Aaron Ramsdale for Sunday’s Premier League win at Everton.

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Amusan relishes historic Diamond League win

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World women’s 100m hurdles record holder, Tobi Amusan, says the track in Eugene, Oregon holds a special place in her heart and her list of conquests.

The Nigerian wrapped up her season on an outstanding and record-breaking note by clinching the Wanda Diamond League title for the third consecutive year on Sunday night on the track she has come to affectionately call her own.

The 26-year-old posted an impressive performance in the 100m hurdles event at the Oregon Diamond League despite facing tough competition from Olympic champion Jasmine Camacho-Quinn, Kendra Harrison, Danielle Williams, Nia Ali, Tia Jones and Megan Tapper.

Amusan started off strong and maintained her lead, clearing the final hurdle and finishing with an impressive season best time of 12.33secs. Camacho-Quinn from Puerto Rico gave a strong chase, coming in second in 12.38secs, while USA’s Harrison took third place in a time of 12.44secs.

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The world champion, Jamaica’s Williams, finished fourth in 12.47secs.

This remarkable victory marked Amusan’s third consecutive Diamond League title, making her only the second woman in Diamond League history to achieve a hat-trick of 100m hurdles titles.

The Nigerian athlete accomplished this feat on the same track in Oregon, where she had won the World Championship the previous year and set the current world record of 12.12secs.

After the race, an elated Amusan said, “I came out here and said it’s my race to lose, and I will give my all. I said it’s 200 or nothing because, 100 per cent, I am not winning today (Sunday). So, I came out here, and I told God to give me the strength.

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“I said this (racing in Eugene) is God’s track. I came here, I’m like ‘This is my track; I’m going to dominate’ and God did just that.”

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Amusan expressed gratitude to God, dedicating her win to her coach, her family, her fans and everyone who had supported her throughout the challenging year.

“Right now, I just want to rest. I’m just grateful to God; that’s all I can say this season. This win is not about me; it’s for my coach, my family, and everyone who supported me throughout this year. It’s been a rough one, and I’m just thankful,” she said.

The record-setting victory provided a glorious end to the season for Amusan, who had experienced disappointment after failing to defend her world title at the World Athletics Championships in Budapest, Hungary, in August.

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I want to use my global network to help Nigerian soccer academies, says UK-born football agent, Nathaniel

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Chris Nathaniel has, for several years run one of the world’s leading sports talent and entertainment management agencies – his dream is to lead a Nigerian consortium to success with a Premier League team.

Based in London, United Kingdom, and operating throughout Europe and the world for some of the top names in sport, Chris reveals how it all started for him and his team and the interesting things they do for their clients.

Chris, proud of his Nigerian roots, said: “I’ve been in the sports and entertainment business for a long time. I first started with Chelsea legend, John Terry, then Manchester United legend, Rio Ferdinand, when they were both at their peak, so two top England stars.

“I also spent time looking after Wilfred Bonny (ex-Swansea who became the highest ever paid African player with his transfer to Manchester City), Steven Nzonzi (ex-Stoke City and World Cup winner with France in 2018), Brazilian midfielder, Robinho and now Luis Diaz (Liverpool), and quite a few other players.

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“I also looked after other talents like Usain Bolt and former WBC Heavyweight Boxing champion, Deontay Wilder, so sports and entertainment are in my blood. On the music front, I have worked with hip-hop icons like Jay Z, P Diddy, 50 Cent, and other talents, like models and actors, so quite experienced across the whole sports and entertainment industry.”

Nathaniel led the first ever African consortium to bid for a Premier League club Newcastle in 2008, unfortunately the bid was not accepted by then owner Mike Ashley, who eventually sold out to the Arabs.

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However, Nathaniel reveals he has unfinished business and has reached out to wealthy Nigerians, including Dangote, to launch another bid for a Premier league club. Nathaniel points to the recent valuation of clubs like Manchester United and Tottenham to highlight how Premier League clubs are great takeover targets – his knowledge of club values, structures and accessibility as takeover targets is second to none.

They are all profitable businesses and give tremendous global presence and Nathaniel believes having a Nigerian owner of a top club will not only be profitable, but it will give Nigeria a greater global profile, enhancing the economy and encouraging tourism. The potential for booming business in Nigeria will then help with the general development of Nigerian football.

Chris believes football in Nigeria needs an overhaul from top to bottom very similar to what the English FA did after continued failures at major tournaments. In England this resulted in a change of fortune for the English national team, which is now challenging for trophies for the first time since winning the World Cup in 1966.

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Nathaniel said: “We look after football players, we give them full support in coaching, mental health, support their passions and everything you can imagine.

“We take care of every angle for them, our job is to make sure they have long sustainable careers, make sure the right politics are played at their different football clubs, and make sure they get the best out of themselves to become the best they can be.

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