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Man United’s Garnacho scores overhead stunner in 3-0 win at Everton

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Premier League - Everton v Manchester United - Goodison Park, Liverpool, Britain - November 26, 2023 Manchester United's Alejandro Garnacho scores their first goal Action Images via REUTERS/Jason Cairnduff Acquire Licensing Rights

Manchester United’s Alejandro Garnacho scored with a magical overhead kick in the third minute to send the visitors on their way to a 3-0 win on Sunday over an Everton team already reeling in their first Premier League game after being docked 10 points.

The 19-year-old Argentine leapt acrobatically to meet Diogo Dalot’s cross, firing the ball into the opposite corner past stranded goalkeeper Jordan Pickford before celebrating with a Cristiano Ronaldo-style pirouette at Goodison Park.

A Marcus Rashford penalty and clever Anthony Martial finish wrapped up the victory in the second half

Garnacho’s stunning strike drew comparisons to Wayne Rooney’s famous goal for United in the 2011 Manchester derby.

“Superb – something amazing and I have no words to describe it. It is out of this world. Special from a special kid,” said United captain Bruno Fernandes.

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“I still expect more from him we are aware of his capabilities, we know what he can do in football.”

Erik ten Hag’s United team are now sixth in the standings on 24 points after 13 games, while Sean Dyche’s Everton side, who were 14th before their points deduction for breaches of the league’s financial rules, are second-bottom on four points.

Rashford doubled United’s lead with a penalty in the 56th, awarded after VAR ruled Martial was tripped by Ashley Young. Fernandes handed the ball for the spot kick to Rashford, who had only scored once this season and not since Sept. 3.

“Because Marcus needed a bit of confidence, he needed his goal – he is an excellent penalty taker,” Fernandes said. “I was sure he could score that penalty and Marcus did it perfectly.”

Martial then sent hundreds of Everton fans heading to the Goodison Park exits in the 75th minute when he ran onto Fernandes’s pass and dinked it over Pickford for an easy goal.

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United, who had stumbled to their worst start to a season in 61 years, have won five of their last six games and their five wins and 15 points since the start of October are a league-best.

Everton had a flurry of shots near the end of the first half, the best being Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s shot from the edge of the box that Andre Onana pushed away before Dwight McNeil’s follow-up was cleared off the line by a sliding Kobbie Mainoo.

“A lot of the performance was right,” Dyche told Sky Sports. “In the first half (United) had a great finish, it changed the feel of the early part of the game. Then we got a grip on the game. We had chances but couldn’t take them.

“A pretty decent performance from our point of view.”

United dominated the second half although deflated Everton did have some more opportunities including Vitalii Mykolenko’s shot in the 77th minute that hit the crossbar.

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Only goal difference is keeping Everton above basement side Burnley who are the only team with fewer league points at home this season than the Toffees – zero against four.

Everton fans turned Goodison into a sea of pink in protest at their points punishment, holding bright pink signs that read “Corrupt” under the Premier League’s lion’s head logo. They booed loudly during the pre-game playing of the league’s anthem.

“Ten points taken away from anyone will change their season,” Dyche said. “Until the appeals process goes through we have to play away the noise.”

-Reuters

 

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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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Nigerian-born Man United’s new striker promises  creativity and unpredictability to fans

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Manchester United newcomer Joshua Zirkzee said fans can expect to see a creative, unpredictable player who developed his skills in cage football, and idolised Ronaldinho and Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

He is a Dutch, but has Nigerian mother.

The 23-year-old striker signed for the Red Devils on July 14 after an excellent season with Italian Serie A club Bologna, where he scored 11 goals and made five assists and helped them secure a place in the Champions League.

“Yeah, it’s been a roller-coaster the past few weeks, but some very good experiences. I’m very happy to be here,” Zirkzee said in an interview for United’s website on July 17.

“Obviously, (I’m arriving) at a good point, making a transfer to Manchester United is something very positive. So yeah, I just can’t wait to get started and continue what I basically did last season.”

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The 1.93m-tall Dutchman is technically gifted for a player his size, which he attributes to his childhood in Spijkenisse, in the south of the Netherlands where he developed his skills in Johan Cruyff cages – enclosed football pitches named after the Dutch football great.

“As a young boy growing up, playing mostly with tougher, bigger guys who are older than you makes you adapt, so I think that’s something that you learn at a young age in Holland, especially where I grew up,” Zirkzee added.

“(I’m a) creative player, good with the ball, I’m just a bit unpredictable at times.”

He laughingly recounted the countless times he got in trouble with his mother for coming home late.

“I hope she forgives me now for all the times I came home late, or if I broke something in the backyard,” he said.

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“Eventually, it all worked out pretty well… that was just life back when I was younger, playing football, forgetting about the time and getting back home late.”

Zirkzee also said that having a Dutch manager in Erik ten Hag is a “privilege” and the added presence of Ruud van Nistelrooy – the former Netherlands and United striker who joined ten Hag’s coaching staff earlier this week – will help him adjust to his new team.

But they are not the only reasons he made the move to United.

“Manchester United is a great, huge club so it’s just an extra privilege,” he said.

“Having some Dutch people around obviously makes it a bit easier, (but) to be fair I’m not too difficult adapting.

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“When I was younger, watching the Dutch national team, Manchester United, watching (van Nistelrooy) play, he was one of the guys who you pretend to be when you were playing with friends. So, having him out here is a bit special.

Zirkzee was a late addition to the Netherlands squad for the European Championship, making his senior debut in the quarter-final victory against Turkey.

On the heels of Euro 2024, he will be given some time off and is not expected to link up with his new teammates until early August.

Following his arrival at Old Trafford for a fee of about £36.5 million (S$63.6 million), United are set to sign Lille’s promising teenage defender Leny Yoro in a £52 million swoop, according to reports on July 17.

The 18-year-old had been linked with a move to European champions Real Madrid, but he has since travelled to England and has undergone a medical test with the Red Devils, before putting pen to paper.

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United will reportedly pay £52.7 million as an initial fee, with add-ons worth a further £6.7 million.

Yoro, who made his Lille debut at the age of 16, has been ranked as one of the best young players in Europe.

Ten Hag has been keen to land a new centre-back after Raphael Varane left at the end of last season.

Varane and Lisandro Martinez were United’s starting centre-backs in their FA Cup final victory over Manchester City in May, with Harry Maguire missing the showpiece due to an injury that also ruled him out of Euro 2024.

United have also been chasing Bayern Munich’s Dutch defender Matthijs de Ligt and is understood to have had two offers rejected for Everton’s Jarrad Branthwaite.

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Reuters/AFP

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Sancho back in training with Man United after positive meeting with Ten Hag

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Jadon Sancho was back training with Manchester United for the first time in 10 months, with a club source confirming the winger and manager Erik ten Hag have resolved their differences following their public fallout last year.

Sancho and Ten Hag had a positive meeting at Carrington Training Centre and the two have decided to draw a line under last season’s drawn-out argument, the club source said.

The 24-year-old Sancho made just three appearances for United last season, spending the second half of the campaign on loan to Borussia Dortmund after his relationship with Ten Hag soured in September.

Ten Hag had left the winger out of his squad for United’s 3-1 loss to Arsenal, saying Sancho’s performances in training had not warranted a place in his team. Sancho immediately lashed out on social media, accusing Ten Hag of making him a “scapegoat.”

He was banished from the first team and trained with United’s youth squad before returning to his former club Dortmund in January, where he shone during their Champions League semi-final victory against Paris St Germain, earning praise from Ten Hag. Dortmund were beaten by Real Madrid in the final.

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“(Sancho) is a very good player… he showed why Manchester United bought him and he showed he represents a high value for Manchester United, which is good,” Ten Hag told reporters following Dortmund’s 1-0 win over PSG in the first leg.

“I’m happy for Jadon, for the performance, and we’ll see what is going to happen in the future.”

Sancho will not travel with the team to Norway for their pre-season opener against Rosenborg since he began training later than the other players but the club source said he would be available for selection after that.

-Reuters

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Another Nigerian blood replaces Ndidi at Leicester

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Wilfred Ndidi who has just left Leicester City will have another Nigerian blood replacing him.

Leicester has never been without a Nigerian since Ahmed Musa joined in 2016. Ndidi and Kelechi Iheanacho joined in 2017.

Another Nigerian blood, Caleb Okoli, a centre back, has just been signed from Italian  Serie A side Atalanta on a five-year contract. Born in Itali, Caleb Okoli is Igbo and Yoruba by descent.

The 22-year-old, who spent the last season on loan at Frosinone Calcio, represented Italy at the European Under-21 Championship last year.

“I think now is the right moment (for me) to make a step forward and a very big one. I’m very happy with the choice I made, so I’m very excited to start in the Premier League,” Okoli said in a statement. The clubs did not disclose financial details of the deal.

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