Bayern Munich won the European Cup for the sixth time on Sunday as Kingsley Coman’s goal gave them a 1-0 win over Paris Saint-Germain in an engrossing Champions League final in Lisbon, completing a fantastic season for the German giants and leaving their opponents still searching for the trophy they covet more than anything.
It was often a cagey final, with a bit of needle between the teams, but chances too, especially before Coman appeared at the back post to head in Joshua Kimmich’s inviting 59th-minute cross and wrap up a treble for a team who had already won the Bundesliga and German Cup.
Hansi Flick’s team will feel they deserved their victory, yet PSG will regret not taking any of the chances that were offered up to them on a surreal occasion at an empty Estadio da Luz.
Kylian Mbappe in particular should have done better than shoot straight at Manuel Neuer right on the stroke of half-time.
The France World Cup-winning forward had spoken of his determination to go down in his country’s history by helping PSG become just the second French winners of European football’s greatest prize.
But they will have to wait for the chance to match Marseille, who won the inaugural Champions League in 1993.
PSG’s Qatari owners spent a combined 402 million euros ($474m) on Neymar and Mbappe in 2017 to win this competition, not just reach the final. However, in the end, it was one who got away from Paris who denied them.
The 24-year-old Coman was born in Paris and started his career at PSG, only to leave in 2014 for Juventus, sensing he wouldn’t get the regular football he desired if he stayed put.
He had been on the bench in the semi-final against Lyon but was promoted to the starting line-up for the final, replacing Ivan Perisic on the left-wing.
Now he may not be welcome back in his home city again.
But at Bayern, he will always be remembered as the man who won them this trophy in 2020, in the club’s 11th final and seven years after they were last European champions.
– Mbappe’s big miss –
Flick’s team have ended this season with 21 straight victories and unbeaten in 30 matches. They deserved to be crowned in a full stadium.
However, only a few hundred lucky invitees were inside the cavernous home of Benfica to see the denouement of the ‘Final Eight’, at the end of a competition so long delayed by the coronavirus pandemic.
The strangest of finals pitted together two clubs who have taken very different routes to becoming part of Europe’s elite, with Bayern’s status as Germany’s most successful and powerful side long-established and PSG having left the rest of the French game behind following the Qatari takeover of 2011.
But if this was a mismatch in terms of history, on and off the pitch right now they are almost perfectly balanced.
That translated into the kind of proper match-up on the field that neither side often experiences these days.
Bayern came desperately close to opening the scoring midway through the first half when Lewandowski — looking for his 56th goal of the season — took down an Alphonso Davies cross, turned and struck a shot against the post.
The Pole also came close with a header that was saved by Keylor Navas, PSG’s goalkeeper who won the Champions League three times with Real Madrid and who was returning after injury ruled him out of the semi-final against RB Leipzig.
But Bayern take risks by playing with such a high line, and PSG should have punished them in the first half.
Neymar was denied by an excellent Neuer save after being set up by Mbappe, while Mbappe himself contrived to fire straight at the goalkeeper after David Alaba gited him the ball in the Bayern box.
Alaba had earlier seen his central defensive colleague, Jerome Boateng, limp out seemingly with a recurrence of the hamstring problem that forced him off against Lyon.
Niklas Suele replaced him and helped contain the Paris attack as Bayern held onto their lead.
Bayern had broken the deadlock just before the hour mark in a move that began with a sprayed Thiago Alcantara pass forward, and ended with Coman arriving to head in Kimmich’s perfect delivery.
Neymar ended the game with a yellow card for chopping down Lewandowski, and a runners-up medal, while Bayern celebrated.
Olympics: Disqualified Nigerian Athletes Protest in Tokyo
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.
Basketball: Australia Defeat Nigeria 108-69 in Exhibition Game
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.
Italy Win Euro 2020, Deny England First Trophy in 55 Years
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.
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