Spain maintained their 100 per cent record in Euro 2020 qualifying with a 2-1 away win over Romania in Group F.Sergio Ramos’ 10th penalty for his country opened the scoring in Bucharest on Thursday, with Paco Alcacer adding Spain’s second early in the second half.The Euro 2012 winners had to survive a fightback as substitute Florin Andone scored his first Romania goal since 2015, but the hosts could not find an equaliser despite Diego Llorente’s late red card. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Emery out of jail – for now – as brilliant Pepe papers over Arsenal’s cracks What is Manchester United’s ownership situation and how would Kevin Glazer’s sale of shares affect the club? Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? La Roja’s victory came in their first game since Robert Moreno was confirmed as coach on a permanent basis after Luis Enrique stepped down, the former Barcelona boss last week revealing his nine-year-old daughter, Xana, has died from bone cancer.Spain’s intent and incision was evident from the off, Ciprian Tatarusanu twice denying Alcacer in the first six minutes, with defenders Ramos and Jordi Alba then both kept out.Romania looked to be holding Spain at bay until George Puscas’ challenge on Dani Ceballos saw referee Deniz Aytekin point to the spot, with Ramos easily converting the resulting penalty.Spain’s lead was duly doubled within two minutes of the restart, Saul Niguez bisecting the Romania defence for Alba to square a low cross to Alcacer, who could not miss.Paco Alcácer #EURO2020 pic.twitter.com/fwyixMS7iH— UEFA EURO 2020 (@UEFAEURO) September 5, 2019Moreno’s side let Romania back into the game, though, Andone capitalising on slack Ramos marking to nod a clever Puscas headed pass beyond Kepa Arrizabalaga.Spain had to see out the last 11 minutes with 10 men after Llorente clumsily brought down Puscas as he raced through on goal, but after Kepa brilliantly kept out an injury-time Puscas header with his left leg, they have five wins from five.What does it mean? Stumbling start to Moreno eraMoreno told reporters this week he would step down should Luis Enrique want to return to the post and there were mixed signs for his side. Spain were positive and fluid on the ball, dominating possession, as expected, and creating plenty of chances.But there were some nerves at the back for Real Sociedad defender Llorente, who got himself in a tangle chasing Puscas, while Andone’s introduction made Romania a greater threat in the second half.Cosmin Contra’s side have slipped to fourth in the group, though, thanks to wins elsewhere for Sweden and Norway.Paco on the mark againAlcacer perhaps should have scored more goals than his solitary strike, but the Borussia Dortmund striker remains a dangerous presence in the box. Since the start of the new season, he has scored in every outing for club and country.PACOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!! #NoPacoNoParty https://t.co/AWSQVfHytZ— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) September 5, 2019Ramos at faultSpain skipper Ramos was warned by Moreno ahead of the game his place is not guaranteed, but he did not appear to heed the coach’s words. The Real Madrid star’s positioning for Andone’s goal, standing yards behind his defensive line, was frankly bizarre.What’s next?Both teams have winnable home games on Sunday. Spain host the Faroe Islands, while Romania welcome Malta. read more
Atlanta United head coach Frank de Boer fears star forward Josef Martinez suffered a “serious” injury in the defending MLS champions’ win over the San Jose Earthquakes.Martinez was carried off on the stretcher after hurting his knee as Atlanta defeated the Earthquakes 3-1 on Saturday – ending an MLS-record 15-match scoring streak stretching all the way back to May.The Venezuela international and reigning MLS MVP landed awkwardly after colliding with a team-mate before he was substituted in the 79th minute at Mercedes-Benz Field. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career It sent shockwaves around Atlanta, where Martinez has scored 26 goals to help the titleholders up to third in the Eastern Conference in their pursuit of back-to-back MLS championships while battling alongside the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Carlos Vela for the golden boot.Asked about Martinez post-match, De Boer told reporters: “I’m afraid that he has something serious, but we have to wait. They’re evaluating him now.””Probably tomorrow we can have a better diagnosis and then we have to make our plan,” the former Inter and Crystal Palace boss added. “Hopefully it’s not so bad. But I can’t say if it’s good or bad. I don’t know.”We know Josef a little bit — he’s a tough guy. He will not suddenly step off the field. He will have something, that’s for sure. But we have to wait. It’s too early to predict. “But I think it’s not a good sign that he goes off … but it’s like that. We have to deal with it. Again, we have to wait.”Martinez has absolutely dominated MLS since joining from Torino in February 2017, winning the MLS regular season MVP, All-Star Game MVP and MLS Cup MLS MVP last season.He scored 31 regular-season goals in 2018, having scored 19 in 17 games in his debut season, with his total currently sitting at 76 goals from 82 matches.Goals from Justin Meram, Emerson Hyndman and Gonzalo Martinez saw Atlanta clinch a home playoff match.Next up for Atlanta United is a visit to Eastern Conference leaders New York City FC, who maintain a three-point lead over the defending MLS Cup champions with a game in hand.After that, Atlanta will conclude the regular season with matches against the Montreal Impact and New England Revolution.
When Lille sold Nicolas Pepe and Rafael Leao in the summer, the fans feared that their club was losing two irreplaceable assets.However, thanks to the shrewd work of sporting director Luiz Campos, they now have an attacking talent who looks every bit as capable as those who departed.At just 20 years old, and with six Ligue 1 goals to his credit in just 700 minutes on the field, Victor Osimhen has quickly established himself as one of the young players to watch in Europe this season. Article continues below Editors’ Picks Ox-rated! Dream night in Genk for Liverpool ace after injury nightmare Messi a man for all Champions League seasons – but will this really be Barcelona’s? Are Chelsea this season’s Ajax? Super-subs Batshuayi & Pulisic show Blues can dare to dream Time for another transfer? Giroud’s Chelsea spell set to end like his Arsenal career What’s more, Lille made approximately €109m (£97m/$119m) by selling Pepe and Leao to Arsenal and AC Milan, respectively.Osimhen was snapped up from Charleroi for just €12m (£15.5m/$13m), with the potential for a further €2m (£1.8m/$2.2m) to follow in bonuses.The Nigerian scored 12 times in 25 top-flight appearances in Belgium last term, after previously failing to make the grade at Bundesliga outfit Wolfsburg.However, it now seems that both clubs may have underestimated a player who has made the most decisive start to a Ligue 1 career since Neymar.Osimhen’s rise to prominence has taken everyone by surprise, though.After all, we are talking about a young man who lost his mother early in life and used to scavenge for football boots in a dump as a child.“It was survival,” he told France Football. “Sometimes you found yourself with a right-footed Nike boot then you’d have to look for the other foot… Finally, you find a left boot and it’s a Reebok!“My brother sold sports newspapers, my sister, oranges in the street, and me, bottled water in Lagos in the middle of the traffic.“Part of my life has been a struggle to survive. But that’s what made me all I am today. Each event created my personality.”Even a bout of malaria, which played a role in failed trials with Club Brugge and Zulte Waregem, could not stop his push to the top, and the determination required to beat that illness and return to the elite level oozes through his performances.For Osimhen, Wednesday’s Champions League meeting with Chelsea is the biggest game yet of his fledgling career – and not least because he’s previously been compared to a Stamford Bridge legend.“I’m sure he’s going to be a phenomenon,” Charleroi goalkeeper Nicolas Penneteau told Voix du Nord back in August. “I’d compare him to Didier Drogba. He really makes me think of him. He has the same profile. He can do everything and he’s phenomenally powerful.”Drogba, of course, started out in France, though it was not until he was 24 and playing with Guingamp that his career really took off, leading to a season in Marseille and two spells that Chelsea that wrote him into the club’s history, notably scoring the penalty that won the Blues the 2012 Champions League.If Osimhen can be compared to the Ivory Coast great, it is best to equate him with the raw form of Drogba, the one who played at Stade du Roudourou and the Velodrome.He does not yet have the muscular physique that Drogba boasted at his peak and he has yet to display the same level of aerial prowess.However, Osimhen has the same relentless determination and keen eye for goal.There were certainly hints of a young Drogba on show just 19 minutes into his competitive debut, when he chested down a long ball forward from Jose Fonte, showed the Nantes defence a clean pair of heels, and then rolled home a composed finish.Ten minutes from time in the same match, he was equally clinical, lashing home a powerful shot from a tight angle into the roof of the goal.Lille boss Christophe Galtier has already admitted that he fears his side are becoming too reliant on a youngster who is fast becoming their talisman.Following the weekend’s draw with Nice, he grumbled: “We were too gentle offensively. We’ve not played to win. It’s as if the players are resting on Victor.”Osimhen’s six goals account for more than half his side’s tally of 12 in Ligue 1, and when one considers that he has chipped in with a couple of assists too, there is little doubt that he is amply filling the void the summer transfer market imposed upon the team.“He’s started at a very high level,” Galtier said before last month’s 1-1 draw against Rennes, during which the Nigeria international grabbed an assist. “I hope for him and the team it continues.“In general, when a team has a good season, one player is a revelation. And, automatically, when an attacker is decisive regularly, the team is powerful.”If he continues along this path, Lille will struggle to hold onto him for more than a season – let along the duration of his five-year contract. Osimhen already looks a player purpose built for Premier League play. His raw assets are formidable, possessing that priceless instinct of getting into goalscoring positions, and even in the areas where there is room for development, he has already demonstrated that he has the capacity to progress.For now, the standard of Drogba is some way off, but there is no doubt that his start in France proves that he’s working along the correct lines.If he could make his mark against the team that his fellow African carried to Champions League glory, it would be another step on his own unique path to potential greatness.
President Maithripala Sirisena says several changes will be made in state institutions over the next two weeks.The President said the changes will be made to ensure state institutions perform more effectively. The President expressed these views at a meeting with media heads in Colombo today.