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U20 Men's Football Nationals: West Bengal seal quarter-final berth

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Narainpur (Chattisgarh), April 16 (IANS) West Bengal became the first team to book their spot in the Swami Vivekananda U-20 Men’s NFC quarter-finals as they beat Uttarakhand 3-0 at the Ramakrishna Mission Ashrama Ground on Tuesday.

Ahead of the last matchday in Group E, Uttarakhand and Tamil Nadu were the other two sides vying for a last-eight berth. However, the latter could only earn a last-gasp draw against already-eliminated Punjab to bow out of the first-ever U-20 Men’s NFC.

West Bengal took an early lead in the must-win clash after Santanu Naskar scored in the third minute. Rahul Naskar and Shibam Munda added a second and a third in the 60th and 69th minute, respectively. The former is West Bengal’s top scorer in the tournament so far with three goals. While the winners finished atop Group E with seven points, Uttarakhand ended their campaign in third place with a solitary win over Punjab on the opening day to their name.

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West Bengal will face the winner of Group C in the first quarter-final on April 19.

–IANS

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'All round team, hard to defeat': Kumble, Watson pick KKR as favourites to lift IPL 2024 trophy

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New Delhi, May 26 (IANS) Former India spinner Anil Kumble and ex-Australian all-rounder Shane Watson have picked Kolkata Knight Riders (KKR) as favourites to lift the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2024 title against Sunrisers Hyderabad (SRH) in the final at MA Chidambaram Stadium in Chennai on Sunday.

Kumble backed KKR for the blockbuster clash due to their firepower in both batting and bowling while Watson feels SRH will have an advantage of knowing the wicket without dew but Kolkata will head fresh into the summit clash and they are going to be very challenging on the field.

“It gives Sunrisers an edge for sure as they know how the wicket plays, especially when there is no dew. They will have to back-up, and regenerate their mental and physical energy quickly, but for me, KKR are the favourites. They are fresh as a daisy; they have got world-class players through their team, and they are going to be very hard to defeat,” said Watson on JioCinema.

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This season has proved to be a run-fest with a team total of 250 plus being achieved eight times, which is four times more than what was achieved in the history of IPL. This onslaught was led by the two teams playing the finals, with SRH crossing 250 in three games whereas KKR achieved the score on two such occasions.

“Both these teams have redefined how to go about in the powerplay, and we saw that. This is a surface that requires you to utilise the powerplay and we saw how SRH did that. Two teams that have done well throughout the tournament dictated the terms right from ball one consistently and no wonder they are playing the finals in Chennai on Sunday,” said Kumble.

“KKR has been the all-round team, with the ball or with the bat. You name it, you have the players with Rinku Singh yet to chip in. When you have a side with explosive batters, a bowler like Starc who is coming into his form, we saw his impact in the last game and Shreyas Iyer. Even he has done exceptionally well as a captain, he has been calm and used his resources well. He got the best out of Andre Russell and they have the firepower with both the bat and ball,” he added.

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Menawhile, former India all-rounder Suresh Raina feels that eight overs of spin will be the deciding factor in the summit encounter and also highlighted Pat Cummins’ leadership skills that handed Australia their sixth ODI World Cup last year.

“Sunrisers should back their batting first approach and put runs on the board, but the eight overs of spin will be crucial. With KKR having won an IPL in Chennai, the pressure will be different. The key point for SRH is Pat Cummins who has already won the World Cup, he knows how to keep the dressing room running. You follow the process, you are switched on for the finals, the players know their roles, and everything will be organised,” Raina said.

KKR will be backing themselves to go to the Chepauk Stadium and lift their third IPL trophy and win the title after a 10-year long wait. Hyderabad, on the other hand, are playing the final for the first time in six seasons. They last reached the final in 2018 and lost the title to MS Dhoni-led Chennai Super Kings.

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KKR last clinched the IPL title in 2014 under the leadership of Gautam Gambhir, who is now the mentor of the franchise. Meanwhile, SRH secured the title in 2016 with David Warner as captain and, in 2024, they are once again being led by an Australian cricketer.

–IANS

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'If they don’t want me…': Erik Ten Hag addresses exit rumours after FA Cup triumph

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London, May 26 (IANS) Manchester United manager Erik Ten Hag silenced much of the criticism by defeating Manchester City to win the FA Cup final. Amid recent rumors suggesting that the Dutch manager is soon to be sacked, the 54-year-old addressed his future, stating that if “the club doesn’t want him, he’ll go elsewhere to win trophies.”

Ten Hag’s comment stem from the reports which suggested that the club’s stakeholders has already made it’s decision and he will be sacked despite the result in the FA Cup final. However, more developments on the matter should follow in the coming days.

“I don’t think about this. I am in a project and we are exactly where we want to be, we are constructing a team for the future. When I took over we were in a mess,” said Ten Hag in the post game press conference.

Manchester United’s 13 FA Cup trophy is sure to be one of the sweetest for the club considering the side is coming off a group stage exit in the UEFA Champions League and their worst ever finish in the Premier League.

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“The team is developing, the team is winning and the team plays to an identity but you need the players to be available and a a strong squad especially when you play in England and Europe. There is a lot of work to do but we have value in the squad, high potentials, the team is progressing and we are winning trophies,” added the former Ajax Manager.

“Two trophies in two years is not bad, three finals in two years is not bad. If they don’t want me, then I go somewhere else to win trophies because that is what I do,” he concluded.

–IANS

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'Thank you for everything', Toni Kroos gives heartfelt tribute to Real Madrid prez Florentino Perez

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Madrid, May 26 (IANS) Real Madrid’s most loyal servants stepped onto the Santiago Bernabeu for one final time on Saturday. On a night where it was all about Toni Kroos, the German gave a heartfelt tribute to Real Madrid president Florentino Perez.

Once the match and all tributes for the 5-time Champions League winner were over, Kroos and Perez stepped onto the pitch and had a photo clicked with all 22 trophies that the Kroos garnered during his time in Madrid.

“To my dear president, thank you for everything,” the German midfielder gave a shirt to Florentino with this dedication.

The ‘German Sniper,’ announced his shocking retirement just days before and will be playing his final game in a Los Blancos shirt on June 1 (June 2 as per IST) in Real Madrid’s attempt to grab their record extending 15th UEFA Champions League trophy.

Following the Champions League final he will be making his way back to Germany to join up with the National Team for the 2024 European Championship, which will take place in his home country.

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Over the course of his decorated career there is only one trophy that still eludes one of the greatest players of the game and that is the Euros.

A deep Euro’s run could be the fairytale ending to a career unlike no other.

–IANS

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Real Madrid playout goalless draw with Betis; Dovbyk wins top scorer, Unai Simon best keeper awards

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Madrid, May 26 (IANS) Real Madrid prepared for next weekend’s Champions League final with a 0-0 draw at home to Betis.

With the title in the bag and nothing to play for, Carlo Ancelotti used the game to rotate his side to try and have his players in the best shape for next Saturday’s match against Borussia Dortmund, but the fact Thibaut Courtois played over an hour in goal, with Andriy Lunin didn’t get a single minute, could be a pointer for the big final.

Nico William scored midway through the second half to give Athletic Club Bilbao a 1-0 win away to Rayo Vallecano in Rayo’s centenary game.

Nico took advantage of great work from Alex Berenguer down the left in the 66th minute, just after Athletic had substituted goalkeeper Unai Simon after he had gone 60 minutes without conceding a goal, to guarantee to win this season’s ‘Zamora’ trophy for the best goalkeeper.

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Relegated Almeria said goodbye to La Liga in style as they won 6-1 at home to Cadiz, whose relegation was confirmed last weekend.

Sergio Arribas and Luis Suarez both scored twice, while Gonzalo Melero added an own goal did for Cadiz, who had taken a first-half lead through Brian Ocampo, reports Xinhua.

Girona got the last round of games of the season underway on Friday with a 7-0 demolition of Granada, whose coach Jose Ramon Sandoval announced he was quitting as coach before the game. He criticized players’ attitude at the already-relegated club.

Artem Dovbyk scored a hat-trick to take his tally of league goals to 24 for the season and give him a one-goal lead over Alexander Sorloth, who was unable to overtake him in Villarreal’s 1-1 draw away to Osasuna after suffering a first-half injury.

Ante Budimir put Osasuna ahead with his 17th goal of the season, with Jose Luis Morales leveling in the 57th minute, to see Jagoba Arrasate end his successful spell as Osasuna coach with a draw.

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Atletico Madrid ended their season with a 2-0 win away to Real Sociedad thanks to an eighth-minute goal from Samuel Lino and an injury-time strike from Reinildo Mandava, which ended Real Sociedad keeper Alex Remino’s chance of ending the season with the best goalkeeping record.

–IANS

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Leverkusen beat Kaiserslautern to lift German Cup title

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Berlin, May 26 (IANS) Bayer Leverkusen clinched the DFB Cup after Granit Xhaka’s sole goal was enough to down Kaiserslautern 1-0 at Berlin Olympia stadium.

Second-division outfit Kaiserslautern started brightly into the encounter and tested Leverkusen goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky in the early stages as Daniel Hanslik unleashed a dangerous effort.

Leverkusen remained unimpressed and gained the upper hand as the match progressed as Jeremie Frimping, Patrik Schick and Florian Wirtz kept Kaiserslautern’s defense busy, reports Xinhua.

The unbeaten Bundesliga champions showed no mercy and opened the scoring with 15 minutes into the final when Xhaka hammered home a loose ball from 19 meters into the top left corner to leave Kaiserslautern custodian Julian Krahl hapless.

Leverkusen gained momentum and should have doubled its advantage, but Schick couldn’t make the most of Alejandro Grimaldo’s good build-up work.

Kaiserslautern sparked to life in the closing stages of the first half as Leverkusen’s Odilon Kossounou received his marching orders for his second bookable offense. The second division side nearly capitalized on its numerical advantage but for all that, Tobias Raschl wasted a promising opportunity to restore parity.

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After the restart, outnumbered Leverkusen assumed control again but continued wasteful in front of the target as neither joker Amine Adli nor Josip Stanisic could beat Krahl.

Kaiserslautern chanced its luck with long-range efforts, but Hradecky was equal to the shots from Ragnar Ache in quick succession at the hour mark.

Leverkusen’s defense stood firm, but Xabi Alonso’s man failed to extend the lead as Wirtz and Frimpong pulled wide in the closing stages.

“We have suffered a lot today. The red card made the second half really difficult for us. Everyone fought though. It is a forgiving end of the season after we couldn’t win against Atalanta Bergamo in Dublin,” said Alonso.

–IANS

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