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Copa del Rey: Athletic Bilbao dump Barca

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Ferran Torres scored his first Barcelona goal on Thursday but was on the losing side at Athletic Club clinched a 3-2 win after extra time to reach the last eight of the Copa del Rey. 

It’s been a tough start to life for Ferran at Barça after joining from Manchester City for 55 million euros. His debut saw the team knocked out of the Supercopa to Real Madrid.

The former Valencia forwarded commented that “we knew what we were up against. I think we played well, but we made individual errors. We’re on the right path. We have to congratulate Athletic.”

Barça played poorly but showed great fighting spirit to come back from behind twice.

Sadly, they conceded a penalty in extra-time and lost both Ansu Fati and Pedri to injuries in what might go down as the most costly defeat of the season for Xavi’s men.

FIRST HALF

Just 90 seconds into the game, Nico Williams beat Jordi Alba for pace on the right side and crossed it along the ground to find Iker Muniain down the left.

The Bilbao captain saw Marc-André ter Stegen out of position and chipped the German to score an amazing goal and put the home team ahead.

Athletic started the game with an insane level of intensity and Barça simply couldn’t match it.

But after 15 minutes the Blaugrana finally started passing the ball in the Athletic half and looked a little more in control.

And in their first real chance of the game, Barça scored a beautiful goal: after an excellent passing sequence down the left wing the ball found Ferran Torres, who cut inside on his right foot and curled a beauty into the top corner to score his first Barça goal in style.

The final 25 minutes of the half followed a simple script: Barça had the ball but wasted possession time and time again with more sloppy passing.

Athletic created really good chances on the counter.

Young Nico Williams was an absolute thorn in Alba’s side and every Bilbao opportunity came from that flank.

SECOND HALF

For large parts of the second half there was little to no action as Barça took control of possession but struggled to break down a very well-organized Athletic defense.

Xavi brought Nico González, Ansu Fati and Frenkie De Jong off the bench early on and all three had a very positive effect on the game, making Barça’s attack more dynamic and less predictable.

As extra-time looked more and more likely, Athletic found the winner.

Iker Muniain sent a free-kick into the box, Ter Stegen saved the initial header by Álex Berenguer but the ball fell to Iñigo Martínez who was first to the rebound and found a way to send it home.

Just as their hopes seemed to fade, the Blaugrana made it 2-2 when Jordi Alba sent a cross into the box, Dani Alves won the second ball with a spectacular bicycle kick assist and Pedri found the back of the net in the 93rd minute.

EXTRA-TIME

The first half of the extra period could not have gone any worse for Barça, who lost both Ansu Fati and Pedri to muscle injuries.

Next, they conceded a third goal when Jordi Alba was called for a handball in the box and the penalty was given after a VAR check.

Muniain stepped up to the spot, scored his second of the game and made it 3-2 Athletic.

Barça had 15 minutes to try and take it to penalties and Bilbao put every player behind the ball to protect their lead.

However, Bilbao managed to frustrate Barça who couldn’t come back for a third time and saw the final whistle come to confirm their exit from the Cup.

Squads

Athletic: Agirrezabala; De Marcos (Lekue 105’), Vivian, Martínez, Yuri (Balenziaga 91’); N. Williams (Zarraga 110’), D. García, Vesga (Nolaskoain 117’), Muniain; Sancet (I. Williams 52’), R. García (Berenguer 79’)

Goals: Muniain (2’, pen 105+1’), Martínez (86’)

Barcelona: Ter Stegen; Alves, Araujo, Piqué, Alba; Pedri (Braithwaite 105+3’), Busquets, Gavi (De Jong 61’); Ferran, Jutglà (Fati 61’ (Dest 96’)), Abde (Nico 46’)

Goals: Ferran (20’), Pedri (90+3’)

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FOOTBALL

WATCH: Cristiano Ronaldo performs obscene gestures as fans chant Lionel Messi’s name

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Cristiano Ronaldo, Lionel Messi

During the Saudi Pro League game between Al Shabab and Al Nassr, Nassr skipper Cristiano Ronaldo was seen making obscene gestures towards rival fans. The Shabab fans were chanting Ronaldo’s biggest rival Lionel Messi’s name. Not for the first time though, some Saudi football fans do prefer Messi over the Portuguese player. Meanwhile, during the game on Sunday, the Portugal international crossed all the limits as he made some obscene gestures.

Watch the video here

Talking about the game, the Yellow Brigade, Nassr won against Shabab. Ronaldo gave his team as he made the most of the penalty in the 21st minute of the game. However, in the injury time of the first half, Yannick Carrasco scored an equalizer before going into the break. In the first minute of the second half, Anderson Talisca gave a lead to Nassr. In the 67th minute, Carlos scored the equalizer for Shabab, and the game looked like ending in a tie before Talisca scored the match-winning goal in the 86th minute.

Meanwhile, the former Real Madrid player is set to face disciplinary action. As per the Saudi writer and television host, the disciplinary committee might take action.

“The disciplinary committee is facing the biggest test. We will wait and see. Everything has its limits, no matter how famous you are. This is how the major leagues are” Waleed Al Farraj, a prominent Saudi writer and television host, said on X.

Cristiano Ronaldo faced disciplinary action during his stint with Manchester United

A few months before the FIFA World Cup 2022, he threw a fan’s phone when he was part of the English club, Manchester United. He was banned for a few games which meant that he missed a few games for his current club, Nassr. However, the ban didn’t apply in the World Cup as he was available for selection during the tournament, in which his team lost the Quarterfinal to Morrocco.

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FOOTBALL

Virgil Van Dijk’s late strike in extra time helps Liverpool beat Chelsea in Carabao Cup final

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Liverpool emerged victorious in the Carabao Cup final in 2024. In a thrilling game which was full of twists and turns, Liverpool managed to beat Chelsea to clinch the cup. Jurgen Klopp’s men were awarded with the winner’s medal as they edged out Chelsea in a low-scoring thriller that went to extra time. The defence of both sides was good to watch.

The match had many edge-of-the-seat moments. In the first half, Liverpool attempted a lot of shots over Chelsea. While some were out of target, some were in the target, but stopped by the goalkeeper. Cody Gakpo was unlucky to find the ball hit the goalpost. The strike of the youngster went in vain as the first half did not witness any goal.

Liverpool’s skipper was brilliant in the game. He martialed his troops well and got the coordination going for a long time. He in fact nearly had a goal in the first half, only to be ruled out by the VAR, which was highly controversial. There is a debate for the legitimacy of the goal which was not given despite the help of the technology. Liverpool did not get carried away with the moment.

Captain brilliant Virgil Van Dijk steps up in crunch moments

Klopp deployed younger players as substitutes in the 2nd half. It helped Liverpool a lot as they were able to not just put pressure on Chelsea but also create a lot of chances. While none of them were converted to goals in the second half, they ensured that Chelsea’s players were in check. At one stage, the absence of Mohammad Salah in the middle was felt.

The match went to the extra time, where things got a bit closer. Chelsea attempted to score goals but ended up giving more advantage to Liverpool. The younger legs marked well and provided good assists to the forwards. The moment came in the 118th minute of the game, when Van Dijk netted the goal and helped Liverpool to win the prestigious title.

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Virat Kohli picks his ‘Sporting GOAT’

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Virat Kohli was asked to pick his ‘Sporting GOAT’ in a recent interview. The star cricketer was interviewed by Team Blue Rising who asked him to name the greatest sportsperson of all time. “Who is your Sporting GOAT?” asked the host to the star batter. Kohli did not hesitate to take the name of one of the greatest Football players as his pick for the question.

The Indian batter claimed Cristiano Ronaldo to be the greatest Football player of all time. “For me, it’s Cristiano Ronaldo,” said Virat in the interview. It came as no surprise to the fans, as Virat has always been a huge admirer of the star Footballer. Even in the past, the 35-year-old has expressed his admiration for the star player from Portugal.

In many instances, the Indian batter has claimed Ronaldo to be his favourite player. Ronaldo has been one of the best players the sport has ever seen. Many claim him to be arguably the greatest Sportsperson of all time. Virat has joined the list of those to claim him to be the greatest athlete in the sports world. Ronaldo has some records to back his claim for the title.

Legacy of Cristiano Ronaldo and Virat Kohli

The Portuguese Footballer has the greatest number of goals for an international team. He also has the greatest number of international caps for a player. The star player is the only player to win four major cups with two different clubs. He did it with Manchester United and Real Madrid. Cristiano has the second most number of Ballon d’Or titles (Five) after Lionel Messi.

Virat, on the other hand, is a great cricketer. He has the greatest number of hundreds for a batter in ODIs. Virat has the greatest number of hundreds in ODIs while chasing. He is also the highest run scorer for India in T20Is. Kohli has the most runs for a batter in the IPL. He has the greatest number of POTT awards for a player in the T20 WC and the ODI WC.

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