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Tired Mbappe Asked to Go Off Against Portugal – Deschamps

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French striker and captain Kylian Mbappe, asked to be substituted during extra-time in the Euro 2024 quarter-final win over Portugal because he was tired, his coach Didier Deschamps said.

The usually prolific Mbappe has not been at his best during the Euros, scoring once from the penalty spot against Poland, but otherwise failing to convert chances and looking uncomfortable in a mask.

This was after he broke his nose in the first game.

Against Portugal in the quarter-finals on Friday night, he spent time on the ground and briefly removed his mask.

This was following a hard hit from the ball on the side of his face, before later asking to be taken off and missing the shootout.

“Yes, he’s always very honest with me and the team, when he feels he doesn’t have the capacity to accelerate…

“He’s not at his top form … he felt very tired indeed,” Deschamps said, referring to muscle fatigue and the nose issue.

“I saw him struggling during the first period of extra time. It was pointless (to leave him on).

“Kylian has always been honest with me and the group, so it was only natural to bring in some new blood.”

In his absence, Mbappe’s teammates did him proud, scoring a perfect five penalties to beat Portugal 5-3.(Reuters/NAN)

SPORTS

King Charles Wishes England Well for Euro Final

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Britain’s King Charles congratulated England for their last-gasp 2-1 victory over Netherlands in the Euro 2024 semi-final on Wednesday.

He, however hoped there would be less drama in the final with England winning without needing late goals or penalties.

Substitute Ollie Watkins scored in the 91st minute to send England through to their second successive European Championship final after beating the Dutch in an exhilarating encounter.

With the match looking set for extra time, Watkins received a pass from fellow sub Cole Palmer and fired a sweet strike into the far corner.

“My wife and I join all our family in wishing you the warmest congratulations on reaching the final of the UEFA European Championship.

“We also send our very best wishes for Sunday’s match,” he said in a message to England coach Gareth Southgate and his players.

“If I may encourage you to secure victory before the need for any last minute wonder-goals or another penalties drama.

“I am sure the stresses on the nation’s collective heart rate and blood pressure would be greatly alleviated! Good luck, England.”

England, who had needed penalties to beat Switzerland in the quarter-finals and scored with all five of their spot kicks, face Spain in Sunday’s final, three years after losing to Italy in the 2021 decider.(Reuters/NAN)

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SPORTS

NPFL: Bayelsa SAWN Congratulates Prosperity Boys

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From Mike Tayese, Yenagoa

Sports Writers Association of Nigeria (SWAN), Bayelsa State chapter, has expressed its delight with the state-owned male football team, Bayelsa United for fighting to remain in Nigeria’s Football Elite Division.

The 2023/2024 Nigerian Professional Football League season has been turbulent for the team, and spent almost half of the season battling to keep its head ‘above the water’.

However, the Prosperity Boys as fondly called were relentless till the last match day, and saw off Bendel Insurance of Benin two goals to nil at the Samuel Ogbemudia stadium, Benin City, to cement its place in the league next season.

The Sports Writers applauded the players for keeping their heads up and for not letting their guards down, even when it seemed hopes were lost, adding that it would have been disappointing for Bayelsa United to return to the Nigerian National League (NNL), where they spent almost six years or more.

A statement by its Chairman, Timinepre Ohia and its Secretary, Patrick Ndubuisi, also lauded the efforts of the State Governor, Senator Douye Diri and his amiable Deputy, Senator Lawrence Ewhrudjakpo for their unflinching moral support to the team, despite having a torrid season.

Bayelsa SWAN described the Governor as indeed, a leader committed to sports development, knowing fully well that a relegated Bayelsa United would have demoralized most football fans and Bayelsans in general.

The statement equally eulogized the Commissioner for Sports, Daniel Igali for working tirelessly to ensure victory for the team.

Also commended for their contributions towards the team’s success include; the Permanent Secretary, Grace Alagoa, Director of Sports, Braveman Wodi, former NFA board member, Dr Peter Singabele, board members, other football stakeholders, as well as the energetic fans of the team.

Bayelsa SWAN enjoined the handlers of Bayelsa United FC to be more proactive and begin early preparations for the forthcoming season, stressing the need to scout for new young and dedicated players so as to ensure the Prosperity boys are successful next season.

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SPORTS

Germany Beat Hungary 2-0 to Reach Euro Last 16 

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 Hosts Germany on Wednesday became the first side to qualify for the Euro 2024 last 16 after Jamal Musiala’s controversial goal and an Ilkay Gündogan strike in a 2-0 win over an enterprising Hungary.

Croatia’s draw with Albania earlier and the situation in Group C means there will be at least two third-placed sides who cannot match Germany’s six points.

The four best third-placed teams out of six groups would qualify for the knock-out stages alongside each top two.

Germany’s 5-1 thrashing of Scotland lit up the opening of the tournament and Julian Nagelsmann unsurprisingly kept the same starting line-up.

Hungary, who lost 3-1 to Switzerland in the first match, started brightly but Germany got the opener midway through the first half.

Musiala rifled home his second of the tournament after good work from captain Gündogan.

Hungary appealed for a foul by Gündogan in the box before he pulled it back, but a video review allowed the goal.

Hungary continued to threaten but Gündogan settled matters on 67 minutes when he swept in left back Maximilian Mittelstädt’s low cross.

Manuel Neuer was kept busy on his 17th Euro appearance as he moved level with ex-Italy icon Gianluigi Buffon as the goalkeeper with the most Euro outings.

The Marco Rossi’s side also had a goal ruled out for offside.

Hungary’s hopes of progressing are slim but they next meet Scotland, who will later play against Switzerland in the other Group A game. (dpa/NAN)

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