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Manchester United stun Manchester City 2-1 to win FA Cup

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•Manchester United’s Players celebrates their victory at the end of the English FA Cup final football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley stadium, in London, on May 25, 2024. Manchester United wins 2 – 1 against Manchester City. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)
•Manchester United’s Players celebrates their victory at the end of the English FA Cup final football match between Manchester City and Manchester United at Wembley stadium, in London, on May 25, 2024. Manchester United wins 2 – 1 against Manchester City. (Photo by Ben Stansall / AFP)
Erik ten Hag made a convincing case to be spared the sack as Manchester United upset Manchester City to take the FA Cup with a shock 2-1 victory in Saturday’s final.

Ten Hag was reportedly set to be dismissed regardless of the result at Wembley after a troubled campaign that even the United manager described as “terrible” this week.

But United’s hierarchy might be having second thoughts after Ten Hag’s tactical masterclass ruined City’s history bid.

City were hot favourites to win a second successive Premier League and FA Cup double.

Yet Ten Hag found a way to neutralise Pep Guardiola’s side as first half goals from Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo put United on course to win the FA Cup for the first time in eight years.

Jeremy Doku squeezed an 87th minute strike past Andre Onana’s weak attempted save but it was too late to rescue City.

Having ended a turbulent season on a high note, if Ten Hag’s two-year reign does end, his exit would provoke memories of fellow Dutchman Louis van Gaal’s Old Trafford departure.

Van Gaal was fired just two days after United’s FA Cup final victory against Crystal Palace in 2016.

Ten Hag will hope a more apt comparison is Alex Ferguson’s 1990 FA Cup final win against Palace, which kick-started his remarkable run after calls for his sacking earlier that season.

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Ferguson was in attendance as a match labelled Ten Hag’s funeral turned into a triumph for the much-maligned Dutchman.

United shareholder Jim Ratcliffe, who has control of football operations at Old Trafford, was also watching from the stands alongside co-owners Joel and Avie Glazer.

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Linked with Thomas Tuchel, Mauricio Pochettino and Gareth Southgate, among others, there is still plenty for Ratcliffe to ponder after United finished eighth in the Premier League this season — their lowest final position since 1990 — and crashed out of the Champions League in the group stage.

Ten Hag believes a lengthy injury list was the root of the problems and can point to the two trophies he has won in three cup final appearances with United as proof of what he can do when his team are at full strength.

Ten Hag ended United’s six-year trophy drought by winning the League Cup last year and has now avenged their 2-1 loss to City in the FA Cup final 12 months ago despite finishing 31 points behind the champions this term.

–       Stay of execution –

United will also qualify for the Europa League, avoiding a first season without European action since 2014-15.

They benefitted from an unusually tepid City performance as their double bid fell flat in their first domestic defeat since losing at Aston Villa in the league 171 days ago.

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Last weekend, City became the first team to win the Premier League in four consecutive seasons.

But Guardiola’s men looked hungover after the celebrations that followed their sixth title in seven years.

City were furious when their strong penalty appeal was rejected inside the first minute after Lisandro Martinez’s shove sent Erling Haaland sprawling.

Content to sit deep with all 11 men behind the ball, United stifled City impressively and gleefully accepted their gift-wrapped opener in the 30th minute.

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Diogo Dalot’s punt forward should have been dealt with by Josko Gvardiol, but the left-back hesitated as he looked for an offside flag.

Gvardiol headed the ball over City keeper Stefan Ortega, who had rashly rushed off his line, leaving Garnacho with the simple task of tapping into the empty net as Ten Hag clenched his fist in celebration.

Garnacho, 19, was the first teenager to score in the FA Cup final since Cristiano Ronaldo for United against Millwall 20 years ago.

Just nine minutes later, the 19-year-old Mainoo punished more sloppy City defending.

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Garnacho advanced unchecked down the right wing and found Fernandes, whose superb first-time pass reached the unmarked Mainoo for a clinical close-range finish.

City pushed harder after the interval but although Doku’s shot slipped through Onana’s grasp to set up a tense finale, it wasn’t enough to deny United.

As the final seconds ticked away, Ten Hag stood in the sunshine nervously waiting to celebrate a dramatic win that could earn an unexpected stay of execution or serve as his final fling. (AFP)

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Man City win historic fourth straight English Premier League title

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Manchester City created English football history on Sunday, beating West Ham 3-1 to win an unprecedented fourth straight Premier League title.

The Catalan coach has masterminded six Premier League wins in the past seven seasons.

 

In four of those years, City have also surpassed 90 points. They were pushed this season to deny Arsenal a first title since 2003-04.

The Gunners celebrated a 0-0 draw at the Etihad last month that kept them one point in front of City with nine games to play.

But the champions were relentless in the run-in, winning their final nine league games while scoring 33 goals.

Guardiola conceded City had felt the pressure in a nervy 2-0 win at Tottenham in midweek that kept the destiny of the title in their own hands.

In the same scenario two years ago, they needed a remarkable late fightback from 2-0 down to beat Aston Villa 3-2 on the final day.

There was far less drama as West Ham melted under the baking Manchester sun in David Moyes’ final game in charge of the Hammers.

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FODEN MASTERCLASS

Foden was recently crowned the football writers’ player of the year for his best-ever goalscoring season and ended any suspense after just 79 seconds.

The England international arrowed a blistering drive into the top corner to ensure there was no nervous wait for the title party to get started.

Foden doubled City’s lead inside 20 minutes with another cool left-footed finish from Jeremy Doku’s cross for his 27th goal of the season.

City should have been out of sight before halftime as Alphonse Areola denied Kevin De Bruyne and Erling Haaland failed to turn in from point-blank range.

SEE ALSO:  Man City win historic fourth straight English Premier League title

Out of nowhere, there was a twist in the tale of the first half when, from a West Ham corner, Mohammed Kudus’ outrageous overhead kick flew high past Stefan Ortega.

Haaland claimed his second Golden Boot in as many seasons in the Premier League despite a day to forget in front of goal.

The Norwegian missed a huge chance to restore the home side’s two-goal cushion when he spooned over another inviting Doku cross.

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City swiftly restored order at the start of the second period and fittingly it was Rodri, himself a player of the year contender, who delivered the knockout blow to Arsenal’s title hopes.

The Spaniard has not been on the losing side for club or country since March 2023.

City’s only three Premier League defeats came in the three games the 27-year-old was suspended.

This time Areola should have done better as the Frenchman failed to turn Rodri’s tame effort round the post.

City could cruise to the finish line and extend a remarkable 35-game unbeaten streak in all competitions from open play.

The only blip on that run was a penalty shootout defeat to Real Madrid in the Champions League quarterfinals that denied Guardiola’s men the chance of back-to-back trebles.

They can make it double next weekend when Manchester United have the unenviable task of stopping their local rivals in the FA Cup final.

By achieving a degree of league dominance never seen before, City have made their case to be considered the greatest side English football has produced.

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There was an anti-climactic end as City players had to tell fans to get off the pitch before the fulltime whistle.

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Thousands of supporters poured onto the field at the end despite pleas from the club to stay off the playing surface.

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JUST IN: Ex-Eagles star Babaginda dies in auto crash

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Super Eagles player Ibrahim Babangida

Former Super Eagles player, Ibrahim Babangida, has died in an accident along Zaira road.

His brother, Tijani, who was with wife, son and maid, was also involved in the crash.

Tijani is president of Professional Footballers Association of Nigeria.

A statement by the General Secretary of (PFAN), Emmanuel Babayaro, confirmed Ibrahim died in the crash.

But Tijani and rest of his family were said to be responding to treatment.

Details later..

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Gov Mbah joins 2024 Coal City Marathon, says it’s opportunity for talent discovery

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Gov Mbah addressing the Marathoners

…promises world-class marathon
…Participants win big

Governor of Enugu State, Dr. Peter Mbah, has received cheers and commendations from residents of the state for actively participating in the 2024 Coal City Half Marathon held in the state’s capital on Saturday.

This was even as the governor promised that his administration was working towards strengthening and improving subsequent marathons in the state by making it attractive enough for international athletes to participate as a world-class sporting event.

Governor Mbah, who joined in the 21.79km half marathon, which kicked off at the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, stated that the event would serve as an opportunity to discover young talents and for all sports lovers as well as the elderly to keep fit and live a healthy lifestyle.

He said his administration was keen on sustaining and consolidating the huge success recorded in this year’s marathon through the right investment in the development of the sports industry in the areas of sporting infrastructure and facilities, adding that the state saw sports as business and source of wealth creation for the people.

“We’re investing hugely in our sports sector, and we’re not only treating sports as leisure or recreation, but we’re also seeing the sports industry as key business. That’s why in addition to quickly returning the pitch, once we came in, to enable Rangers International return to the Nnamdi Azikiwe Stadium, we just awarded the contract to renovate and overhaul our stadium and bring it to world-class standard.

“You also know that in that sector, we’ve just recently entered a memorandum of understanding to build a world-class entertainment and sports centre and this is all going to reinforce our position in the sports industry,” he added.

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While congratulating the participants, who came from over 20 states across the country, the governor stressed that the goal of the event was to promote unity, discipline and cooperation amongst Nigerians, saying in a few years, the state would join the league of world athletics competitions because of the level of investments the administration was committing to the industry.


“What is even more important is the desire of the state to take the Enugu State Marathon event to the next level. In few years, I want you to note that the Enugu State Marathon is going to be part of the world international athletic events. Just as you have the Boston Marathon, the London Marathon, you’ll also have the Enugu Marathon in the international athletics calendar,” he added.

Earlier, the Commissioner for Youth and Sports, Barr Lloyd Ekweremadu, explained that part of the goals of the marathon was to continue to foster the culture of sports and fitness, which engenders healthy development.

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He expressed satisfaction over the success of the event, saying participants from other states were happy about the hospitality and the excellent works the governor was doing in the state through his infrastructural drive.

Commending the Zenith Bank PLC for partnering with the State Ministry of Youth and Sports, the commissioner maintained that this year’s event couldn’t have been possible without the support of the governor, community patrons, and other businesses.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of prizes to the winners of this year’s Marathon. Francis James, Israel Sadjo, and Nenfort Mathias clinched the sum of ₦1,000,000, ₦500,000 and ₦300,000 as the 1st, 2nd, and 3rd places respectively in the male category, while Patience Dahyop, Agofurb Charity and Munitikat Emmanuel also clinched the same amounts as the winner, 1st and 2nd runners up, respectively, in the female category

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