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Chelsea Whip Real Madrid to Reach Champions League Final

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Chelsea set up an all-England UEFA Champions League final against Manchester City on Wednesday with a 2-0 defeat of Real Madrid in London for a 3-1 aggregate victory.

Timo Werner and Mason Mount settled the semi-final second leg match with a goal each.

Werner headed in from almost on the goal-line after Germany team-mate Kai Havertz hit the bar and Chelsea spurned several chances before Mount secured a 2-0 victory.

But, following last week’s 1-1 first leg in Madrid, that was enough to reach a first Champions League final since they lifted the trophy nine years ago 3-1 on aggregate.

It also returns manager Thomas Tuchel to the final after he lost the showpiece last season with Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) against Bayern Munich.

Tuchel has turned Chelsea’s season around since his appointment in late January as replacement for Frank Lampard with a top four berth in the league looking likely.

And they will not fear domestic champions-elect Manchester City in Istanbul on May 29.

They have already defeated Pep Guardiola’s otherwise all-conquering side in the FA Cup semi-finals to set up a final with Leicester City two weeks before their big day in Turkey.

Chelsea and Manchester City also meet in a dress rehearsal in Manchester on Saturday where the hosts can confirm the Premier League title.

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“I can’t put it into words at the moment,” a delighted Mount said. “It was a great performance. We should have had about five, but the most important thing is that we won.

“I haven’t won anything yet, but we have two massive Cup finals, and hopefully we can win. The final is going to be a stunning game.”

Tuchel transforming Chelsea mid-season will spark memories of Roberto Di Matteo doing so after his appointment in March 2012.

It was just a few months before Chelsea stunned Bayern Munich to lift their only title in the tournament.

“We deserved to win,” Tuchel said. “We could have scored so much earlier, so much more to be safe, but now is no time for criticism.

“It is a fantastic achievement and big congratulations to the team.

“It is not done yet, we want to go all the way, we arrive in Istanbul to win.”

N’Golo Kante surged through the midfield to set up the 28th minute opener and though Havertz’s delicate chip landed on the bar, Werner could not miss the rebound.

Karim Benzema, who scored for Real Madrid in the first leg, was twice denied by Edouard Mendy as the guests showed a rare bit of urgency.

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Zinedine Zidane’s side limped to defeat and ended their coach’s previous perfect record in Champions League semi-finals.

When Kante won the ball in midfield and released Christian Pulisic, the American crossed for Mount five minutes from time and Real Madrid were done.

“We can say that ‘yes, they deserved the win’,” Zidane said. “We fought and tried but they deserved to win and go through.

“I’m proud of my boys: we tried, we have got this far – just one game from the final.”

The second half had been a string of Chelsea chances.

The Real Madrid defence, even with the influential Sergio Ramos back from a three-month absence due to a calf injury, was frequently in tatters.

Havertz and Mason Mount both struck the bar while only one-on-one saves by Thibaut Courtois on Havertz and Kante kept Real Madrid’s outside chance alive a little longer.

Chelsea were rarely troubled in reaching their third final with the first lost against the other Manchester side, Manchester United in 2008, in Moscow.

And Real Madrid, 13-time record champions of Europe, will now try to salvage their season by emerging on top of a four-way battle for the Spanish domestic title.(dpa/NAN)

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SPORTS

French Open: Djokovic Ready for Nadal Showdown

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Novak Djokovic and Rafa Nadal will add another chapter to their rivalry when they face off in a much-anticipated clash today but there will be more at stake than just a spot in the Roland Garros final.

A semifinal battle between world No 1 Djokovic and 13-time Roland Garros winner Nadal was the expected outcome once they were placed on the same side of the draw after the Spaniard slipped down the rankings to third behind Russian Daniil Medvedev.

It would be a 58th career meeting between the pair with Nadal looking to draw level with Djokovic on 29 wins while the victor would also book a 29th Grand Slam final appearance, behind only Roger Federer on 31.

The 35-year-old Spaniard, a year older than Djokovic, is, however, the more dominant of the two on clay and has gone on to win the title at Roland Garros all 13 times he has reached the last-four stage.

Djokovic, who lost to Nadal in a one-sided final last year, and the retired Robin Soderling are the only players to have defeated the Spaniard on the red clay in Paris.

“I’m confident. I believe I can win, otherwise I wouldn’t be here. Let’s have a great battle,” Djokovic said of the matchup.

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A win on Friday will also give the victor a chance to shake up the race for the most men’s major titles.

Nadal could take sole ownership of the record with a win on Sunday and move ahead of Federer with 21 titles while a second Roland Garros trophy would move Djokovic to 19.

German Alexander Zverev and Stefanos Tsitsipas of Greece meet in the other semifinal with both chasing a maiden Grand Slam title.

Many pundits believe that the four best men’s players have reached the last-four stage and the odds are no longer heavily stacked against the younger generation to upset Nadal and Djokovic in a major final.

“When you looked at the draw this is the dream scenario,” seven-time major winner and Eurosport tennis expert Mats Wilander said.

“This is one of the first times I have felt this but regardless of who wins between Rafa and Novak this is going to be tough against Tsitsipas or Zverev – they have a great chance to win their first Grand Slam, a great chance.”

While Zverev reached the 2020 US Open final, Tsitsipas, 22, has lost all his three previous Grand Slam semifinals, but the Greek will head into the match with a 5-2 lead in previous matchups.

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Boris Becker, a six-time major winner and a former world No 1, believes the gap between ‘king of clay’ Nadal and the other title aspirants at Roland Garros was decreasing.

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NSSF Urges Governments to Intensify Efforts at Reviving Athletics in Schools

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The Nigeria Schools Sports Federation (NSSF) has urged governments at all levels to revive the athletics sport in secondary schools so as to develop future sports champions for the country.

Dickson Tinism, NSSF’s Vice President 1, made the call while speaking with journalists at the 2021 Maltina School Games on Thursday in Bauchi.

He said track and field sports, such as shot-put, high jump, running and long jump, among others, have been neglected in schools.

Tinism added that there was the need for governments at all levels to revive such sports by providing facilities and encouraging students to participate.

“The Maltina School Games has been an avenue for supporting an all-round development of young people through physical activities and sports across the country.

“We should be grateful to Maltina for organising such a competition to complement government efforts in sports activities.”

Tinism, who is also the Adamawa State Coordinator of NSSF, explained that the Maltina School Games platform was carefully designed to promote the development of children.

“From improving their social and leadership skills to bettering their well-being through sports, the Games have well designed.

“Sports and education have been veritable instruments of lifting millions out of poverty and for Maltina, with its School Games initiative, more people will enjoy the results.

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“The platform is getting the needed attraction that will further aid the development of talents in the country,” he said.

On his part, Mikhail Adamu, a Director in the Bauchi State Ministry of Youth and Sports, commended the efforts of Maltina in encouraging the young students.

“Maltina has played its part by creating a talent expressive platform for young boys and girls to develop themselves.

“This is unlike in my days, when we only participated in inter-house sports and occasionally in invitational school relay races.

“This platform from Maltina is one that will open the doors for more opportunities for young athletes in the country, “ he said.

Chiamaka Kingsley, a student at Central Junior Secondary School Alkaleri, said the competition has motivated her and others  to continue with sports.

“I got a medal from the 400 metres competition, and I am overwhelmed because this is my first time. This is the beginning and I will not relent,” she said.

Kingsley also called on government to provide school sports facilities and organise competitions among schools to get the best athletes among the young ones.

The overall best athletes of the Maltina School Games would be announced after compilation of the results.

Meanwhile, three schools emerged winners of the parade.

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The first winners, Divine International School, got a cash prize of N500,000, and the second winners were Sa’adu Zungur Secondary School who got N300,000.

The third winners were Adamu Jumba Junior School who got N200,000.(NAN)

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Ex-Nigeria U23 Captain Joins Croatian Club NK Istra 1961

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Former Nigeria U23 captain Erhun Obanor has ended speculation about his future by joining Croatian top-flight club NK Istra 1961 on a free transfer.

NK Istra 1961 have announced through their Facebook page that Obanor is a new player of the club without disclosing the financial terms and duration of the deal.

Allnigeriasoccer.com can exclusively report that the ex-Dream Team VI star has signed a two-year contract with NK Istra 1961, until the end of the 2022-2023 season.

Obanor’s past club KF Laci were keen to retain his services for the forthcoming season but the central defender opted to move on to pastures new.

The 25-year-old is presently in Benin City and is planning to link up with his new club at the end of the month as he has to apply for a visa.

Obanor had attracted interest from clubs in Azerbaijan and South Africa before settling for NK Istra 1961.

He is the second Nigerian played signed by NK Istra 1961 this week, after onetime Golden Eaglets invitee Theophilus Solomon, who joins from Kuwaiti side Qadsia SC.

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