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Kessie’s stunner hands Barcelona comeback win over Real Madrid

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LaLiga – FC Barcelona v Real Madrid – Camp Nou, Barcelona, Spain – March 19, 2023 FC Barcelona’s Franck Kessie scores their second goal REUTERS/Juan Medina

LaLiga leaders Barcelona’s pursuit of a 27th Spanish title gained momentum after substitute Franck Kessie scored a stunning goal in added time to secure a 2-1 comeback win over Real Madrid on Sunday.

Barca took a huge step towards winning their first league title in four years by beating the champions for a third successive time. The result left second-placed Real 12 points adrift of the leaders.

Roared by almost 100,000 fans in a sold-out Camp Nou, Barca were the better side and earned a well deserved win against a Real Madrid side that at times seemed resigned to their fate.

“We have to be honest… We never gave up, but we are already four games behind them. Nothing is impossible, but the truth is that it’s very difficult (to win the title),” Real goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois told Movistar Plus.

It was an electrifying game from the start with Barcelona pressing high and they almost scored in the sixth minute with a point-blank header by Raphinha that Courtois brilliantly stopped with a reflex save using his right fist.

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From the rebound, Sergi Roberto fired a fierce shot inches over the bar.

But it was Real who took an early lead four minutes later after a Vinicius Jr cross deflected off defender Ronald Araujo and went inside his own goal.

But Barcelona were quick to regroup and they took control of game.

Andreas Christiansen could have scored twice from two corners and Raphinha, who was arguably Barcelona’s most dangerous player, attempted an angled shot from the edge of the area that Courtois denied with another great save.

Real seemed content to sit on their lead but their strategy backfired. At the stroke of halftime, their defence failed to clear the ball from the box and Sergi Roberto quickly pounced to fire an unstoppable strike to the left of the goalkeeper.

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Barcelona did not take the foot off the gas after the break and created several opportunities but it was Real substitute Marco Asensio who netted a goal that could have changed the script in the 81st minute.

However, his close-range effort was ruled out by the VAR after the replay showed he was fractionally offside.

Barca kept pushing for the winner and finally got it in added time when Alejandro Balde raced down the left channel and crossed to Kessie who was left unmarked in the far post. He unleashed an unstoppable first touch strike to give Barca the win of the season.

-Reuters

Kunle Solaja is the author of landmark books on sports and journalism as well as being a multiple award-winning journalist and editor of long standing. He is easily Nigeria’s foremost soccer diarist and Africa's most capped FIFA World Cup journalist, having attended all FIFA World Cup finals from Italia ’90 to Qatar 2022. He was honoured at the Qatar 2022 World Cup by FIFA and AIPS.

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La Liga

Napkin used by Barcelona to sign Messi sold for nearly $1 million

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A signed and framed napkin on which soccer club Barcelona promised to sign a 13-year-old Lionel Messi is displayed at the Bonhams auction house in London, Britain May 8, 2024. REUTERS/Will Russell/File Photo

The napkin on which Barcelona promised to sign Lionel Messi when he was a 13-year-old has been sold for 762,400 pounds ($969,000, auction house Bonhams said on Friday.

The napkin was signed in December, 2000 by Barca’s former sporting director Carles Rexach and transfer advisor Josep Minguella along with Argentine agent Horacio Gaggioli over lunch at a tennis club.

Messi became one of Barcelona’s greatest players, winning over 30 trophies and leaving the Catalan club as their all-time leading scorer with 672 goals.

He also won a record eight Ballon d’Or awards for the world’s best player and led Argentina to the World Cup crown in 2022. Messi now plays for U.S. club Inter Miami in Major League Soccer.

“Yes, it’s a paper napkin, but it’s the famous napkin that was at the inception of Lionel Messi’s career,” Ian Ehling, the head of fine books and manuscripts at Bonhams New York, said in a statement.

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“It changed the life of Messi, the future of FC Barcelona, and was instrumental in giving some of the most glorious moments of football to billions of fans around the globe.”

-Reuters

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La Liga

Racially Abused Senegalese Goalkeeper Speaks Out After Abandoned Spanish Match –

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Racially Abused Senegalese Goalkeeper Speaks Out After Abandoned Spanish Match -

Senegalese goalkeeper Cheikh Sarr has heard racial slurs directed at him from the stands before, but when a fan allegedly approached just to racially insult him during a Spanish third-tier league game last Saturday, he decided he’d had enough.

“I grabbed him and asked why he was insulting me. My attitude was not aggressive, I just wanted to ask him why,” the 23-year-old told reporters on Tuesday of the incident in Sestao, a working-class town in northern Spain, which led to the game being abandoned.

“Other times it could be seen as something playful or a joke. However, this was not the case on Saturday, as it was something horrible and I could not stop myself. It was a very sad and ugly thing what they were saying,” he added.

The match between Sarr’s Rayo Majadahonda and Sestao River Club was suspended in the 84th minute after the altercation first led to Sarr being expelled by the referee, who was too far to hear the alleged insults, and then his team mates leaving the pitch in protest.

Racism in sport has been a hot topic in Spain, especially after Real Madrid’s Brazil winger Vinicius Jr, who has suffered from several incidents of racist abuse and is part of a campaign against racism, last year called LaLiga and Spain racist.

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On Saturday, he spoke out in support of those affected on social media again, citing “three despicable cases of racism” on that day alone, including Sarr’s.

Sevilla’s Argentina defender Marcos Acuna and coaching staff were also the target of “racist and xenophobic insults” from fans in a LaLiga game at Getafe, the club said.

Sarr said he was thankful that Vinicius had tagged him on social media showing support.

“If more players said no to racism like he does, they (racists) wouldn’t have the power they have now,” he said.

Reuters

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La Liga

Sex-convict, Alves Spends First Day Of Provisional Freedom With All-night Party –

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Former Barcelona star, Brazilian Dani Alves, who was provisionally released from prison after over a year in prison celebrated his temporary reprieve with an all-night party.

Although his release from prison was temporary, after he was convicted and faces a 4-and-a-half-year prison sentence, Italian newspaper,  Corriere dello Sport reported that the Brazilian organized a noisy party to celebrate his father’s birthday.

The newspaper indicated that Alves held this party last Tuesday, and continued until five in the morning in the presence of family and friends, to celebrate his father on the one hand, and also to enjoy his freedom on the other hand after spending a long period behind bars.

The camera of the Spanish “Telefónico” network was following the steps of the legend of the oldest Brazilian player to participate in the World Cup, until he arrived at his home, located 25 minutes from downtown Barcelona.

The first thing Alves did after arriving at his home was to order a large amount of “burgers” for dinner, the first meal that the former right-back ate after his release from the “Brian 2” prison in Barcelona.

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According to several Spanish media outlets, Alves distributed his belongings  such as clothes and a small fan to the prisoners who had been by his side for more than 430 days,

Alves, 40, was accused of raping a woman in a nightclub, and was sentenced to 4 and a half years in prison last February, before a decision was issued for his conditional release

 

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