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Arsenal Defeat Chelsea To Win FA Cup

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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang inspired Arsenal to a record 14th FA Cup win as the Gunners captain struck twice to beat Chelsea 2-1 in the final at an empty Wembley on Saturday.

Christian Pulisic had given Chelsea the dream start, but the Blues unravelled after Aubameyang was brought down by Cesar Azpilicueta inside the area and converted the resulting penalty.

A brilliant finish from Aubameyang 23 minutes from time earned Mikel Arteta silverware in his first season as Arsenal boss before Chelsea were controversially reduced to 10 men when Mateo Kovacic was shown an extremely soft second yellow card.

Arteta said ahead of the final he hoped a taste of success would encourage Aubameyang, who only has a year left on his contract at the Emirates, to commit to a new long-term deal.

The Gabon international’s double took his tally for the season to 29 and ensured the Gunners will not miss out on European football next season for the first time since 1995/96 as they qualify for the Europa League.

An FA Cup final unlike any other with nearly 90,000 empty seats saw the traditional singing of “Abide With Me” performed on the Wembley roof.

Chelsea had already achieved their primary goal from Frank Lampard’s first season in charge by securing a place in next season’s Champions League last weekend and early on they seemed set to cap a top-four finish with Lampard’s first trophy as a manager.

Emiliano Martinez flew to his left to turn Mason Mount’s shot behind, but Arsenal did not heed that warning as Chelsea’s front three combined perfectly for the opener on five minutes.

Mount’s low cross was flicked on by former Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud and Pulisic continued his scoring streak since football’s return in June by showing quick feet before prodding the ball home.

Arteta has gained plenty of plaudits for his tactical nous during his first eight months in a managerial role and the Spaniard managed to reorganise the Gunners during the first-half drinks break to change the momentum of the game.

Aubameyang leads comeback

A minute after play resumed, Nicolas Pepe thought he had curled home a brilliant equaliser from the edge of the box, only to be denied by Ainsley Maitland-Niles being flagged for offside in the build-up.

While Chelsea have already significantly strengthened their forward line for next season with the signings of Timo Werner and Hakim Ziyech, Arsenal are hoping just to hold onto their key man in Aubameyang.

Just like in the semi-final win over Manchester City, he proved to be the match winner as he raced onto Kieran Tierney’s hopeful ball over the top and outpaced Azpilicueta before being brought down by the Chelsea captain just inside the area.

Azpilicueta escaped the double punishment of a red card, but VAR confirmed the spot-kick and Aubameyang coolly slotted home.

Chelsea were further hit by two big injury blows either side of half-time as Azpilicueta and Pulisic pulled up with hamstring injuries that will almost certainly rule them out of the Champions League last 16, second leg against Bayern Munich next weekend.

Despite Chelsea’s major spending spree in reinforcing their attack, it is at the back where they have been found wanting all season and they were caught out too easily for the winner.

Hector Bellerin burst through the weak challenge of Jorginho before the ball was played into the path of Aubameyang, who skipped past Kurt Zouma and nonchalantly lifted the finish over Willy Caballero.

Worse was to come for Lampard’s men when Kovacic was inexplicably sent off for the slightest touch on Granit Xhaka, but Anthony Taylor’s decision could not be reviewed by VAR as it was a second bookable offence.

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Olympics: Disqualified Nigerian Athletes Protest in Tokyo

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Frustrated Nigerian athletes took to the streets of Tokyo on Friday to display their displeasure to the world following their disqualification from the Olympics taking place in the Japanese capital city.

Due to no fault of theirs, the 10 athletes were ruled out of participating in the track and field event because they did not undergo enough out-of-competition doping tests before the Games.

The Athletics Integrity Unit of World Athletics mandates high-risk countries (which Nigeria is classed under due to lax doping controls) to test their athletes at least three times in the months leading to major competitions.

However, the divided Athletics Federation of Nigeria did not perform its duties and of the 20 athletes across the world barred by the AIU for non-compliance, 10 were Nigerians.

The 10 affected athletes include Favour Ofili, Ruth Usoro, Rosemary Chukwuma, Knowledge Omovoh, Chidi Okezie, Chioma Onyekwere and Yinka Ajayi.

The disqualified 10 are part of the 23 Team Nigeria athletes taken to the Games, and they staged a peaceful protest in Tokyo on Friday, the opening day of track and field events.

The athletes, decked in their Team Nigeria tracksuits, carried placards on which they expressed their grievances.

Their placards had hand-written inscriptions such as ‘All we wanted to do was compete’, ‘Why should we suffer because of someone else’s negligence, and ‘We’re not just alternates but potential medallists’, apparently referring to the sports ministry’s suggestion that the disqualified athletes were dispensable.

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Basketball: Australia Defeat Nigeria 108-69 in Exhibition Game

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Australia trounced Nigeria 108-69 to win their third game in a row at the Las Vegas exhibition series on Wednesday as both teams continue their preparation for the Olympics.

The loss is Mike Brown’s first since taking over as coach of D’Tigers in 2020.

The efficient Aussies displayed grit and technical prowess as they swept D’Tigers apart in the first quarter taking a 13-point lead to end 26-13. The third ranked nation in the world continued their dominance in the second quarter ending with a comfortable 20-point lead – 49-29.

The Australians opened a 38-point lead to end the quarter 84-46, then clocking the 100-point mark to win by 39 points ending the game 108-69.

The Australians made it three wins in a row with Chris Gouding scoring 21 points, three rebounds and four steals. He hit 100 per cent accuracy from the three-point line making all seven attempts.

Josh Okogie and Obi Emegano led D’Tigers in scoring with 10 points a piece while Jahlil Okafor had seven points and five rebounds and Ike Iroegbu also scored seven points in a game they will want to forget in a hurry.

Nigeria have had an impressive run during the exhibition series beating powerhouses USA and Argentina before suffering their first loss.

D’Tigers will face the Boomers in their first game at the Olympics on July 25 and will be hoping to get a better return.

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Italy Win Euro 2020, Deny England First Trophy in 55 Years

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Italy have beaten England on penalties to win the Euro 2020, denying the Three Lions their first major trophy in 55 years.

The Italians defeated England 3-2 on penalties in Sunday’s Euro 2020 final as Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho and Bukayo Saka missed in the shoot-out following a 1-1 draw after extra time at Wembley.

Luke Shaw scored for England inside two minutes, the fastest ever goal in a European Championship final, but Leonardo Bonucci bundled in an equaliser at a corner midway through the second half.

Needing to score to keep England alive in the shoot-out, Saka’s spot-kick was saved by Italy goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma as the Azzurri won the tournament for the second time.

AFP

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