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Are the World Cup finalists suffering from a hangover after their loss to France in Russia? Their Nations League opener certainly suggested so!

Losing a World Cup final can’t be easy, but just how damaging it could be to a side was on full display in Croatia’s crushing defeat at the hands of Spain.

Croatia followed their World Cup heartbreak with a lacklustre 1-1 friendly draw against Portugal last week, but in their first competitive match since the 4-2 defeat at the hands of France, Zlatko Dalic’s side set an unwanted record with the 6-0 loss at the hands of Spain in the UEFA Nations League – the biggest defeat in the country’s history by a distance.

The previous worst loss for the nation came in 2009 in a World Cup qualifying match against England when the side suffered a 5-1 loss at Wembley.

That match marks the only other time in history that Croatia have fallen by more than three goals, with the side having suffered five losses by three goals in their history.

Real Madrid star Marco Asensio was the man of the moment for Spain, scoring once and setting up four more in Luis Enrique’s second match in charge, and Croatia had no answer for the Spanish star on the night.

The match also kept Spain’s perfect record when playing against Croatia star Luka Modric.

The Real Madrid star has now lost all three matches he’s played against Spain in his career.

Spain return to the pitch in a month to face Wales in a friendly before return to Nations League action against England.

Croatia will also be back in action in October, but face another tough test against the Three Lions on their return to the pitch.
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Simeon Nwankwo and Henry Onyekuru were on target in the encounter staged to honour president George Weah

Nigeria defeated the Liberian national team 2-1 in an international friendly played on Tuesday night at the Samuel Kanyon Doe Stadium, Monrovia.

Goals from Simeon Nwankwo and Henry Onyekuru handed the Super Eagles a slim victory over the Lone Stars who got their lone strike via the penalty spot.

The game which saw retired James Debbah handed a starter’s role was organised in honour of President George Weah who retired his famous no.14 jersey.

President George Weah’s old team mate James Debbah is also on the pitch for the Lone Star.
Expectedly every touch of the ball by Weah is greeted with loud cheers and applause. — 🇳🇬 Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) September 11, 2018

Gernot Rohr’s men took the lead in the 11th minutes after Onyekuru made good use of John Ogu’s pass to set the stadium alive.

Nwankwo doubled the lead in the 33rd minute after Oghenekharo Etebo floated a corner kick in the goal area of the hosts.

HT: Liberia 0-2 Nigeria.
Our goals scorers are Henry Onyekuru and Simeon Nwankwo.#SoarSuperEagles #Team9jaStrong. — 🇳🇬 Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) September 11, 2018

However, Liberia got the consolation goal in the closing stages of the game after Semi Ajayi had been adjudged to have handed the ball in his vital area.

Penalty to Liberia.
The referee rules that Semi Ajayi touched the ball with his hands in the box.
Gooooaal
Liberia.
1-2.#SoarSuperEagles #Team9jaStrong. — 🇳🇬 Super Eagles (@NGSuperEagles) September 11, 2018

Weah won Liberia’s presidential election in December, after securing 12 of the 15 counties in the west African nation, thus, succeeding Ellen Johnson Sirleaf.

The 1995 Fifa Ballon d’Or winner and three-time African Player of the Year defeated 73-year-old Joseph Boakai to become the country’s 24th president.
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Emre Akbaba scored twice late on as Turkey completed an extraordinary comeback from 2-0 down to beat Sweden in the Nations League.

The Swedes, beaten by England in July’s World Cup quarter-finals, seemed to be comfortable when Viktor Claesson added to Isaac Kiese Thelin’s opener.

Hakan Calhanoglu’s curling shot made it 2-1 in Solna before late drama.

Emre finished off a superb team move to equalise in the 88th minute, then glanced in Serdar Gurler’s fine cross.

That goal, two minutes into stoppage time, gave Turkey their first win in League B’s Group 2, having lost their opener 2-1 on Friday at home to Russia – the early leaders of the table.

Sweden, playing their first competitive match since England beat them in Samara, had scored the most spectacular goal of the night when Claesson thumped into the top corner from 25 yards to put them two ahead.

Janne Andersson’s side, bottom of the group, will seek to gain their first Nations League points when they play Russia in Kaliningrad on 11 October.
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Andre Silva struck a stylish goal as Portugal took control of their Nations League group by beating Italy.

Silva, who had a poor season in Italy with AC Milan before joining Sevilla on loan in August, controlled and steered in Bruma’s cross in the 48th minute.

Portugal were without Cristiano Ronaldo, excused from international duty and pictured relaxing with his family on a yacht in St Tropez.

Yet Fernando Santos’ side still had the better of this League A Group 3 match.

The win took them to the top of the group on three points, two clear of Poland and Italy.

Roberto Mancini’s side, showing nine changes from the team who drew their Nations League opener 1-1 with Poland in Bologna on Friday, looked disjointed for much of the night in Lisbon.

Mancini left former Manchester City and Liverpool striker Mario Balotelli out of the squad altogether, and retained only goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma and Chelsea midfielder Jorginho from Friday’s starting line-up.

Donnarumma, the AC Milan teenager, was fortunate not to concede just before the half-hour mark, fumbling Bruma’s header under pressure, then watching as Bernardo Silva’s drive goalwards was cleared off the line by Alessio Romagnoli.

The keeper redeemed himself in the second half after his team went behind, though, with a flying save to tip away Manchester City forward Silva’s 20-yard angled shot, and was sharp again late on to stop substitute Renato Sanches’ low shot.

Portugal should have been in front before they did score; Bryan Cristante deflected a Mario Rui cross against his own bar just after the half-hour mark, and the home side were then denied a penalty when Domenico Criscito blocked off Pizzi inside the area – with Scottish referee Willie Collum declaring it a fair challenge.

Italy were better in the closing stages, once Domenico Berardi and Emerson Palmieri came on, but without creating any clear chances.
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Obuh is not carried away by the victory as he expected more from the Super Eagles, especially against a team ranked 188 in the world.

Injuries and new entrants should never alter Nigeria’s ‘coordination’ against a lowly-placed side like Seychelles, says John Obuh, after the Super Eagles ran out 3-0 victors in Saturday’s African Cup of Nations qualifying match in Vitoria.

The Nigeria set-up was depleted after injuries to some key players including captain John Obi Mikel, and, thus, Rohr made four changes to the team that started against Argentina in their final World Cup group game in June.

The German tactician restored Ogenyi Onazi, Chidozie Awaziem and Odion Ighalo to the lineup, with Samuel Kalu handed his debut. He also opted to set his side up in 4-3-3, as opposed to the 3-5-2 majorly deployed at the big summer in Russia.

However, despite getting their Afcon qualifying campaign back on track with the win at Stade Linite, the former Nigeria U20 coach insists that the team did not do enough against the tiny East African nation, as such games are used to ‘improve’ a team.

“Thank God for the victory anyway, but I think we still have to work very hard most especially anytime we are meeting a team of that level,” Obuh told Goal.

“I expect we should use that situation to make sure that we keep the coordination of the ball very well, the position of the ball very well and pass the ball very well.

“When we’re attacking we know we’re attacking, we’re defending we know we are defending. We had a lot of situation for counter-attack which we didn’t use well.

“I think the most important thing anyway is we’ve won the game but then we must try to make sure that when we are playing that kind of level we should use it to improve on our team.”

Also, Obuh suggests that there should be a laid down template which would ease the team, and its invitees.

“I wouldn’t want to say that [injury-enforced changes altered coordination of the game]. I just want to think that we are still in the process of testing,” he continued.

“There were some people who came into the team for the first time either because of the injuries or whatever but what I’m trying to say is let’s have a sort of game plan; what we are looking for each time we are playing.

“After the victory, we should able to tell what we are going to play so we’d be able to understand how we are playing and how we are going about it, irrespective of the changes, after all, we still have a couple of players who are stable in the team,” he concluded.

Nigeria play Liberia in a friendly encounter in Monrovia on Tuesday, and four Nigeria Professional Football League players [Mfon Udoh, Ebube Duru, Sunday Adetunji and Olamilekan Adeleye] have been called up.
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The Frenchman has been out of work since leaving Real Madrid, but he is being mooted as a replacement for Jose Mourinho and plans to be back “soon”
Zinedine Zidane has fuelled speculation that he could be being lined up to replace Jose Mourinho at Manchester United by revealing that he plans to return to management “soon”.

The Frenchman has been out of work since leaving Real Madrid at the end of the 2017-18 campaign.

He walked away from that post on the back of an historic third successive Champions League triumph, with La Liga title glory also savoured at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Zidane left Madrid claiming that the Blancos needed “something different” to keep them competitive at the highest level.

He has enjoyed a break from the stresses of coaching, but the 46-year-old is now eager to get back into the dugout.

Zidane told TVE: “Certainly I’ll be coaching again soon because it’s what I like doing and what I’ve done all my life.”

It has been suggested that the former France international’s next job could be in England.

He is being heavily linked with a move to Old Trafford amid Manchester United’s early struggles in 2018-19.

Jose Mourinho has claimed that it will cost the Red Devils too much to sack him, with the Portuguese having committed to a new contract in January.

He is, however, under pressure to deliver results after overseeing an inconsistent start to the new season.

If he is unable to turn the tide, then United will be left with little choice but to make a change.

Zidane would likely be among those taken into consideration if he remains without a job.

A spell with Real is the only top-level experience taken in by the World Cup winner, but he proved himself capable at the Santiago Bernabeu and is well respected throughout the game.
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Agbonlahor open to Celtic move

Former Aston Villa and England striker Gabby Agbonlahor says he would be open to signing for Celtic.

The 31-year-old was released from Villa while Celtic lost star striker Moussa Dembele to Lyon at the end of the transfer window.

And after featuring in a charity match at Celtic Park, Agbonlahor said he would be happy to wear the hoops full time.

“I think every player if they had the chance to play for Celtic would take it,” he told The Herald. “Can you imagine playing in front of 60,000 people inside this place.

“You can never rule anything out – can you? I will try and speak to Brendan Rodgers and we will see what happens!”

Man Utd to swap Pogba for Dybala

Red Devils & Juve stars to trade places

Having identified Juventus forward Paulo Dybala as a top target, Calciomercato claims that Manchester United are prepared to swap Paul Pogba for the Argentine forward.

Barcelona have been leading the hunt for the Red Devils’ World Cup-winning midfielder, but he would be open to returning to Turin for a second spell.

Dortmund will demand £68m for Weigl
Manchester City ​will have to pay Borussia Dortmund £68 million (€76m/$88m) to sign midfielder Julian Weigl, according to the Daily Star.

Pep Guardiola is looking for cover for 33-year-old Fernandinho in defensive midfield, and sees the 23-year-old as the ideal candidate.

City could launch a bid for Weigl in the January transfer window.

Varane sees door opened for Man Utd Move

Real Madrid are prepared to part with Raphael Varane in the summer of 2019, with Diario Gol claiming that the Frenchman is destined to head for Manchester United.

Jose Mourinho has made no secret of his admiration for the World Cup winner and is prepared to pay whatever it takes to get a deal done.

Pavard offered to Barcelona

Benjamin Pavard’s agent has contacted Barcelona over a possible deal for the France international but will have to pay around €35 million (£31m/$40m) to sign him, Mundo Deportivo reports.

The Stuttgart star has attracted interest from Bayern Munich following his impressive performances at the World Cup and is expected to move on next summer.

However, Barca do not have any space on the right side and are unlikely to make a move for the 22-year-old.
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Croatia’s first match since their World Cup final defeat by France ended in a draw as Pepe headed an equaliser for Portugal in a friendly in Lisbon.

The visitors took the lead, with Ivan Perisic volleying in from close range in the 18th minute.

But Pepe, who scored in his country’s last-16 loss to Uruguay in Russia this summer, headed in Pizzi’s cross on 32 minutes to earn the home side a draw.

Portugal’s Cristiano Ronaldo missed the game after declaring himself unfit.

Sergio Oliveira and Gedson Fernandes won their first caps after coming on as second-half substitutes for the visitors, who also had Wolves midfielder Ruben Neves and Southampton defender Cedric Soares in their starting XI.

Croatia, beaten 4-2 by France in the World Cup final in July, are now without retired goalkeeper Danijel Subasic and striker Mario Mandzukic, while influential midfielder Ivan Rakitic was rested for the game.

Both countries begin their Nations League campaigns next week, with Portugal hosting Italy in Group A3 on Monday, while Croatia are in Spain on Tuesday in Group A4, which also contains England.
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World champions France were held to a goalless draw by Germany in League A of Uefa’s Nations League.

Playing their first game since beating Croatia to win the World Cup, France forward Antoine Griezmann forced Manuel Neuer into a smart save.

The match improved after a poor first half with Marco Reus and Matthias Ginter both denied by France goalkeeper Alphonse Areola on his debut.

France host Netherlands in the second group game on Sunday (19:45 BST).

After the home and away fixtures between the teams, the group winners move to next June’s finals with the three other League A group winners and the chance to be crowned Nations League champions.

Didier Deschamps’ side will be looking to progress once more after being beaten in the final of Euro 2016 by Portugal, but triumphing in Russia this summer.

They claimed a credible point away to four-time world champions Germany, who were back in action after a humiliating group stage exit at the World Cup.

RB Leipzig forward Timo Werner caused problems with his pace but was unable to deliver a telling pass in the final third, while defender Mats Hummels forced Paris Saint- Germain’s Areola – the only change from the World Cup final starting line-up – into a sharp stop after a foray forward.

Manchester City winger Leroy Sane returned to the German side late in the second half – after being left out of the World Cup squad – but was unable to make an impact in his seven minutes on the pitch.
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Manchester United midfielder Paul Pogba believes “there will always be talk” amid continuing speculation about his future at Old Trafford.

The 25-year-old fell out of favour last season and was linked with a return to Juventus, or Barcelona in the summer.

On Wednesday, Pogba fuelled speculation when he said: “Who knows what will happen in the next few months.”

However, on Thursday, he said: “It’s not me who’s talking. I’m trying to do my job and work on myself physically.”

The World Cup winner was speaking either side of France’s 0-0 draw with Germany in their opening Uefa Nations League match.

When asked if he was “fed up” with all the speculation, he replied: “I got back late [from the World Cup], so I’m trying to perform as well as possible.”

Asked about his relationship with United boss Jose Mourinho, Pogba replied: “We have a pure coach-player relationship, that’s right.

“One thing I can assure you, I will always give 100% – no matter which coach I always give everything for United. I cannot say more.”

The former United youth player returned to the club on a five-year deal after four years with Juventus, signing for a then world record £89m fee in 2016.

Last season, he was dropped to the bench by Mourinho for both legs of United’s Champions League last-16 defeat by Sevilla.

But he was made captain for the opening two games of the Premier League season in the absence of Antonio Valencia and has scored twice so far.
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