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Against All Odds, Spain Beat Italy 4-0 To Win The 2012 Euro Cup

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Spain are crowned Euro 2012 champions after a record-breaking 4-0 victory over Italy in the final at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev on Sunday.

La Roja’s victory, added to their Euro 2008 and World Cup 2010 successes, makes them the first team in history to win three major international tournaments in a row.

David Silva opened the scoring after a quarter of an hour with a header, before a lung-busting run and finish from Jordi Alba put Spain two goals ahead by half-time.

The second half saw chances for both teams, but the match changed on the hour mark after Thiago Motta was strechered off moments after coming off the bench, reducing Italy to 10 men with all three substitutions already used.

There was no way back for the Azzurri after that, as Spain put on a passing exhibition to drain the life out of Cesare Prandelli’s men. With time running out, Fernando Torres and Juan Mata added clinchers in the 84th and 88th minutes respectively to capture the European Championship for La Roja for the third time.

The milestones continued to fall for Spain, with 13 members of their squad becoming the first players to play in and win two Euro finals, while Torres’ late goal gave him the Golden Boot.

Despite pre-match comments hinting that he would play with a recognised striker, Vicente Del Bosque opted for Cesc Fabregas to lead the line ahead of Alvaro Negredo and Torres in a ‘false nine’ role.

Prandelli also made one change to his starting XI, with Ignazio Abate recovering in time from a hamstring injury to replace Federico Balzaretti at right-back, while Mario Balotelli continued in attack after his match-winning double against Germany.

Spain wasted little time in dictating the tempo, with Italy forced to defend deep against the wave of red shirts and relieve pressure on the counter whenever they could.

Sergio Ramos sent an early header off-target, but the first real chance fell to Xavi, whose one-two with Fabregas ended with a crashing drive that flashed inches over the bar after 10 minutes.

It was an opportunity to mark the initial dominance of Spain, and four minutes later, La Roja would find themselves ahead.

Andres Iniesta was the architect, threading in Fabregas on the overlap down the right, who clipped towards Silva at the near post to glance a header past Gianluigi Buffon.

Italy attempted to hit back straight away, with a 20-yard free-kick from Andrea Pirlo deflected about a foot too high. From the resulting corner, the Juventus midfielder forced Iker Casillas to stretch to tip away his dangerous delivery.

The Azzurri were handed a blow after 21 minutes, as defender Giorgio Chiellini limped off after picking up an injury, with Balzaretti coming on. Moments later, Gerard Pique became the first player booked for a crunching challenge that sent Antonio Cassano flying.

Italy, to their credit, did not allow Spain to walk all over them after the opener, and were able to hold a respectable amount of possession in the face of La Roja’s famed tiki-taka football.

Balzaretti was active since his introduction, with a devilish cross tipped by Casillas away from the head of Balotelli, before finding space to squeeze in a shot from the left side that was easily saved.

Just past the half hour mark, the Spanish captain was called into action again to parry Cassano’s strong drive from 20 yards out.

The Azzurri kept up the pressure in midfield, as viewers were treated to the somewhat unfamiliar sight of Spain playing through the counterattack.

However, La Roja proved that they were just as effective on the breakaway, as they doubled their advantage four minutes before half-time through a move started, and finished by Alba.

The left-back played the ball to Xavi near the halfway line, surged behind the Italian defence, and latched onto the Barcelona midfielder’s pinpoint return pass to slot his side further ahead.

Spain were jubilant, but had Casillas to thank once again for punching clear Riccardo Montolivo’s attempt from outside the area to maintain their two-goal lead at the interval.

Prandelli attempted to respond, hauling off Cassano for Antonio Di Natale and the Udinese striker nearly struck gold with his first touch, heading Abate’s inviting cross narrowly over the bar.

That sparked a period of intense Spain pressure, where Fabregas fired just off target before last-ditch blocks from Buffon and Abate denied Iniesta from close range.

Italy were then lucky to escape a penalty after an apparent handball by Leonardo Bonucci in the box, but referee Pedro Proenca waved play on, to the incredulity of many members of the Spanish team.

Di Natale managed to find space once more in the area, but Casillas was equal to his well-struck attempt before smothering the forward’s chance from the rebound.

Shortly after, Silva and Montolivo made way for Pedro and Motta as both coaches looked to shuffle their packs.

But Motta, barely three minutes after making his appearance, was taken off on a stretcher clutching his hamstring, leaving Italy a man short as Prandelli had already used all three of his substitutions.

The Azzurri were floored by the setback as Spain, a man up and two goals ahead, began to kill the game off with large periods of leisurely possession in the opposition half.

With 16 minutes left, Fabregas was called to the bench as Torres, scorer of the only goal in the 2008 final, came on for the final stretch.

At that point, the only question remaining was whether Spain would score again, and they nearly achieved that feat with a bad miss from Pedro, which was tempered somewhat by the offside flag.

However, Torres would make no such mistake with six minutes remaining, finishing another perfect through pass from Xavi to confirm his status as the first player to score twice in a Euro final, while Xavi became the first to register two final assists.

Mata replaced Iniesta late on as the Spanish parties began in the stands, and they were kicked up a notch two minutes from the end as he stroked home Torres’ cutback to make it 4-0.

Goal.com

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Talented Nigerian Players of the NFL

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The NFL is quickly becoming one of the most popular leagues for Nigerian athletes. Over the last few years, we have seen some immensely talented players from Nigeria, or with Nigerian ancestry, come into the league and take over. While all positions in the sport of American football have benefited, notably there has been a focus on defensive positions from these athletes, with linebackers and defensive ends rising to prominence. Here are some of the most talented Nigerian athletes in the NFL that you need to know.

Jeremiah Attaochu

Jeremiah Attaochu is a 6’3”( 1.91m) outside linebacker who is currently playing for the Denver Broncos. He was a member of the 2014 draft, selected in the 2nd round as pick #50 overall. Attaochu played briefly for several teams like the 49ers and the Jets as he gradually tried to find the perfect fit. Recently, Attaochu has been re-signed by the Broncos on a one-year $1.5 million contract. Clearly, the Broncos liked what he brought to their defensive line.

Since Peyton Manning left the Broncos, the squad has been testing new offensive schemes, but their defense remains very strong. All-star player Von Miller has recently been placed on the injury list, so Attaochu will be called on to perform his best. With his aggressive tackling and limitless gas tank, Attaochu certainly helps bring the Broncos favorable American football odds. The team’s main division rivals are the Kansas City Chiefs who have one of the strongest offenses in the league. Heading into the 2020 season, defense is a priority for the Broncos.

Jeff Okudah

Okudah was born in Texas, USA in 1999 to Nigerian parents, making him one of the youngest players on this list. In the most recent NFL draft, Okudah was one of the most in-demand athletes and was selected #3 overall by the Detroit Lions. In the buildup to his NFL debut he quickly became known as the best cornerback in the entire country, and has proven to be yet another exceptional Nigerian athlete to gr3aduate from Texas universities.

This is excellent news for the Lions, who certainly need all the help they can get on defense. Okudah made his NFL debut this past Sunday, playing against the Green Bay Packers and MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers. All things considered, Okudah played well and showed that he can perform at the professional level.

Emmanuel Ogbah

Born in Lagos, Nigeria, Ogbah has come a long way on his journey to becoming the standout outside linebacker that he is. He was drafted by the Cleveland Browns in 2016 as the #32 overall pick. After two years with the squad, he was traded to the Kansas City Chiefs, where he really came into his own as a linebacker.

Ogbah played a big role in the Chief’s 12-4 record while he was active during the 2019 season. His standout performance was during week 3 versus the Baltimore Ravens, when Ogbah sacked quarterback Lamar Jackson 1.5 times. Unfortunately, a pectoral injury ended his exceptional season at game 10, but his efforts ultimately helped the Chiefs get to the playoffs and win the Super Bowl. Afterwards, Ogbah signed a two-year $15 million dollar contract with the Miami Dolphins, where he currently helps round out their defense.

Noah Igbinoghene

This young athlete is an exceptionally talented cornerback. He was recently drafted in the first round as #30 overall by the Miami Dolphins. Though he was born in the US, he is of Nigerian descent and lived in the country for part of his life in his earlier years.

Notably, both of his parents were talented athletes in their own right. Igbinoghene’s father not only competed in the Men’s Triple Jump in the 1996 Olympics, but also won a bronze medal at the 1990 Commonwealth games. His mother was a track and field star, and was part of the relay team that won a bronze medal for Nigeria at the 1992 Olympics.

NFL analysts gave the Dolphin’s an A+ for the Igbinoghene pick, saying that he was the right player for their team and helped the Dolphins patch up a weakness on defense. He played well against the Buffalo Bills this past weekend, ultimately blocking many passes that came his way.

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Barcelona Sell Luis Suarez To Atletico Madrid

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Barcelona have sold striker Luis Suarez to La Liga rivals Atletico Madrid.

The transfer was confirmed on Wednesday evening, with Suarez reportedly crying as he left Barcelona’s training grounds for the last time the same day.

“FC Barcelona would like to publicly express their gratitude to Luis Suarez for his commitment and dedication and wishes him all the best for the future,” the statement said.

The club said a “farewell event” would take place for Suarez on Thursday before a press conference.

Suarez leaves Barcelona after six successful years. He scored 198 goals – making him Barcelona’s third top scorer, and won 13 titles.

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Messi and Ronaldo miss out on UEFA Men’s Player of the Year nominations

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No Messi or Ronaldo in UEFA Men’s Player of the Year nominations for first time in 10 years as De Bruyne & Lewandowski battle it out.

Bayern Munich goalkeeper Manuel Neuer is also in the running for the award, with a new winner set to be announced at the start of October.

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have been left off the final shortlist for the UEFA Men’s Player of the Year award for first time in 10 years, with Kevin De Bruyne and Robert Lewandowski set to battle it out for the individual prize.

Ronaldo, who currently plies his trade in Italy with Juventus, has picked up the accolade on three occasions and also has a total of nine nominations to his name, while Barcelona superstar Messi has won it two times and made the final shortlist in six of the last 10 seasons.

Both men have stood out as the best players of their generation for well over a decade, but as they continue to advance into their thirties, an inevitable changing of the guard is beginning to take shape.

News Credit: Goal.com

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