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Chelsea, Man Utd Go Goal-Wire In Premiership …Thumps Villa 7-1, Bolton 4-0, Respectively

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English Premier League title contenders, Chelsea and Manchester United yesterday made it a goal harvest in their respective league matches against Aston Villa and Bolton Wanderers.

While Chelsea thumped Aston Villa 7-1 at the Stamford Bridge to go top of the table, United responded in an almost like manner against Bolton, 4-0 away, to reclaim top spot in one of the tightest race to the premier league title in recent time.

Frank Lampard passed the 150 goal mark for Chelsea as they threw the gauntlet down to Premier League pace-setters Manchester United by destroying Aston Villa at Stamford Bridge.

Lampard’s four goals made him the third-highest scorer in the club’s history eclipsing legends Roy Bentley and Peter Osgood with 151 goals.

His efforts, two from the penalty spot, were the centrepiece of an emphatic Chelsea victory as they followed up their 5-0 midweek win at Portsmouth with another goal-laden attacking display.

And as coach Carlo Ancelotti insisted the disappointment of their Champions League exit at the hands of Inter Milan may yet aid their attempts to regain the title, Chelsea’s embarrassing superiority over a Villa side with sights set on the top four provides the perfect tonic for next Saturday’s visit to Old Trafford.

It was a win made all the more impressive because it was achieved without main marksman Didier Drogba, who was rested on the substitutes’ bench after picking up a knock in the victory at Fratton Park. To say he was not missed is an understatement.

Lampard gave Chelsea an early lead when he converted Florent Malouda’s cross at the far post, but John Carew quickly put Villa level after good work by Ashley Young.

The game took a crucial twist right on half-time when Lampard put Chelsea back in front from the spot after Yuri Zhirkov was brought down by James Collins – and there was no way back for Villa as Ancelotti’s side cut loose after the interval.

Malouda took advantage of more fine work from Zhirkov to beat Friedel, and Lampard completed his hat-trick with another penalty. He made his mark in Chelsea history by slipping his spot-kick comfortably past Villa keeper Brad Friedel after another run from the rampant Zhirkov drew a foul from Dunne.

Villa crumbled and Malouda piled on the agony after he was set up by Lampard and substitute Salomon Kalou made it six when he shot low past Friedel after Nicolas Anelka had been given what seemed like an age to turn in the area.

It was fitting that Lampard rounded off the rout with his fourth goal in the dying seconds, turning home his effort inside the area as Villa gave every impression of a side who simply could not wait for the whistle to sound.

And as if this was not enough to ignite ecstasy around Stamford Bridge, the roars were deafening as news of Birmingham City’s late equaliser against Arsenal filtered through.

Barely one hour later at the Reebok stadium, Dimitar Berbatov scored twice as Manchester United returned to the top of the Premier League with a 4-0 win away to Bolton Wanderers

Jlloyd Samuel opened the scoring with an unfortunate and somewhat absurd own goal on 38 minutes, Berbatov provided two cool finishes after the break and substitute Darron Gibson completed the rout.

United leapfrogged Chelsea to go a point clear, and they are now four ahead of Arsenal who drew at Birmingham. It completed a satisfactory evening for United that began amid injury worries over two of their leading players.

Fears over the state of Wayne Rooney’s knee inflammation appear to be well-founded after the England striker was left out of United’s match squad altogether despite having a week to recover since their last game against Liverpool.

Less surprising was the omission of Rio Ferdinand, following his umpteenth back twinge of the season – both absences will cause major concern for fans of both United and England with the World Cup less than three months away.

The first half initially offered little in the way of excitement before exploding into life late on. Ryan Giggs returned from a broken arm and was deployed through the middle to replace some of Rooney’s spark, but the Welshman failed to assert himself.

United carved out some half-chances, with Berbatov volleying at Jussi Jaaskelainen and Jonny Evans thrashing a left-foot shot over following a corner.

But Bolton came closer, bringing two world class saves from Edwin van der Sar. First Johan Elmander raced onto an exceptional through ball from Jack Wilshere, but saw his shot repelled by the Dutchman’s strong wrist at the near post.

Then Van der Sar had to be at his acrobatic best to leap and tip over a Fabrice Muamba shot that appeared destined for the top-left corner.

But between those two saves came Samuel’s aberration. Giggs sent in a low cross from the left and Samuel met it at the back post, planting the ball back across goal into the far corner, giving Jaaskelainen no chance. A great finish, if only he had meant it.

It was the 11th own goal scored in United’s favour in the Premier League this season – the previous record for any side is six.

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NDDC U-17 Peace Cup To Resume In Uyo

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The long awaited finale of the Niger Delta Development Commission (NDDC) U-17 Peace Cup would expectedly resume next week as two qualified teams from the nine states converge in Uyo, the Akwa Ibom capital.
Technical Director of the tournament  Etim Esin in a statement on behalf  of the Local Organising Committee Chairman John Ekpeyong and Secretary Ada Gwegwe yesterday said the Minister of the Niger Delta Affairs, Chief Senator Godswill Akpabio, CON, will declare the tournament open.
It added that the Special Assistant to the President Muhammad Buhari, on Sports Development, Coach Daniel Amokachi, NFF Technical Director Coach Augustine Eguavoen along with football legend Taribo West and other notable Niger Delta-based and foreign scouts will be on ground.
The LOC appreciated the Sole Administrator of the NDDC, Effiong Akwa, for his support towards the conclusion of the tournament, adding that it is better late than never, as the competition will still be among his numerous legacies.
According to the statement, the arrival date for participating teams is 11th of December, while screening of teams and official kick off, will take place the following day.
The statement further called on the Coordinators of the states not to forget the rules of engagement, especially on the age bracket of the players, as the screening will be strict, for the aim of the competition to be achieved.

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FIBA World Cup: Kida Lauds D’Tigers’ Strong Qualifiers Start

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Top basketball administrator and immediate past Nigeria Basketball Federation (NBBF) president, Engr Musa Kida, has congratulated the D’Tigers for starting their 2022 FIBA World Cup on a strong note after picking two victories in three matches.
With five points from a possible six and a superior point difference, the team sits comfortably atop group A ahead of the next round of games coming up by the 27th of June, 2022.
Kida described the team’s performance as inspiring despite peculiar circumstances surrounding the federation’s election as well as FIBA’s stance over Nigeria’s participation at the qualifiers.
“It is really nice to start such important qualifiers on a winning note which is very good for our chances of qualifying for the World Cup. We had to put our administrative differences aside for the sake of Nigeria and Nigerians.”
“We feel elated and justified that our decision to give FIBA the go ahead to register the team which enabled them participate paid off in the long run as we join hands with all stakeholders to continue growing the game in Nigeria”.
16 teams are vying for the available five spots at the 2023 FIBA Basketball World Cup with Nigeria grouped alongside Mali, Cape Verde and Uganda.
“The top three teams from each group will advance to the Second Round of the African Qualifiers and will join three other teams to create two six-team groups with results from the preliminary rounds carried over,” Musa added.

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AWCON Qualifiers: Ebi Targets Revenge Against Ivory Coast

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Super Falcons defender, Onome Ebi, says the team will go all out for revenge when they clash against Ivory Coast in their final 2022 Africa Women’s Cup of Nations qualifiers next year.
The qualifying game which will be played on a home and away basis is scheduled for February 13 and 17 with the winners qualifying for the AWCON in Morocco.
The Falcons who will be hoping to defend the title they won at the 2018 in Ghana are eyeing their 10th trophy Morocco but to qualify for the event, they’ll have to go past the Ivorians who knocked them out of contention for the 2020 Olympics in Japan.
Ebi, who is Nigeria’s current longest-serving player says her aim is to avenge the loss that saw them miss out on the 2020 Olympics at the hands of the Ivorians.
“I can tell you that we still nurse the pain of missing out of the Tokyo Olympics as a result of the loss to Cote d’Ivoire in the qualifying series,” Ebi said.
“This time, we will repay them in their own coins. Personally, I want to play in the Africa Cup of Nations and the FIFA World Cup, and I know it is the same for my teammates.”
The Falcons are the most successful African women’s team in the world and have won the AWCON a record nine times and will be hoping to get their 10th next year after the 2020 edition was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

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