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Ronaldo conquers Covid-19 and Spezia

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Ronaldo marked his recovery from the coronavirus by scoring twice on his return to help Juventus beat newly promoted Spezia 4-1 in the Italian league on Sunday.

Juventus was struggling to break Spezia down until Ronaldo was brought on as a substitute in the 56th minute. He put Juventus 2-1 up three minutes later and also converted a penalty to seal the result for the Bianconeri.

“We had a good game, we should have been more clinical in the first half and finished off the match sooner,” Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo said. (Ronaldo)

“Then we did well when we came back out in the second half, with the desire to win the match, and Cristiano gave us a hand.”

Juventus moved third, four points below early leader AC Milan, which won 2-1 at Udinese thanks to a late winner from Zlatan Ibrahimovic. Surprising Sassuolo moved to within two points of Milan with a 2-0 win at Napoli. (Ronaldo)

Ronaldo had been out for three weeks after testing positive for COVID-19 while on international duty. The Portugal forward missed three Juventus matches — draws with Crotone and Hellas Verona in Serie A as well as a loss to Barcelona in the Champions League.

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Ronaldo started from the bench against Spezia with Alvaro Morata again replacing him in the starting lineup.

Morata had three goals ruled out for offside against Barcelona on Wednesday and the flag was again raised when he fired in from Weston McKennie’s assist in the 14th minute, but this time video review came to his aid and the goal was given.

Morata did have a goal ruled out for offside shortly after and Spezia drew level when Tommaso Pobega’s effort was deflected in.

Ronaldo replaced Paulo Dybala early in the second half and he had an immediate impact when he ran onto Morata’s through-ball, rounded the goalkeeper and scored into an empty net.

Fellow substitute Adrien Rabiot extended Juve’s lead and the Bianconeri were awarded a penalty when Paolo Bartolomei tripped up Federico Chiesa.

Ronaldo stepped up and cheekily chipped the spot kick into the back of the net.

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Ibrahimovic continued to roll back the years with an overhead kick seven minutes from time to snatch all three points for Milan, which extended its unbeaten run to 23 matches.

He also set up Franck Kessie’s opener. The 39-year-old Ibrahimovic, who recently recovered from the coronavirus, has now scored seven goals in his last four league matches.

Milan took the lead in the 18th minute with a superb team move. Ismael Bennacer sent a long ball over the top that Ibrahimovic chested down and held up before laying it off to Kessie, who blasted it into the top right corner. (Ronaldo)

Udinese levelled early in the second half when Alessio Romagnoli fouled Ignacio Pussetto and Rodrigo De Paul converted the resulting penalty.

Just as the match appeared to be heading for a draw, Ibrahimovic reacted quickest in the area to acrobatically hook the ball into the back of the net.

OTHER MATCHES

Sassuolo rose to second by handing Napoli its first loss on the field courtesy of goals from Manuel Locatelli and Maxime Lopez. Napoli’s only other defeat was decided by the league judge for not travelling to face Juventus amid an outbreak of coronavirus cases. An appeal is pending.

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Two stoppage-time goals saw Lazio snatch a 4-3 win at Torino.

Torino thought it was heading for its first win this season when Saoa Lukic put it 3-2 ahead with three minutes remaining but Ciro Immobile levelled from the spot five minutes into stoppage time and Felipe Caicedo managed to score in a goalmouth scramble.

Also, Sampdoria and Genoa drew 1-1 in a derby. Play was interrupted shortly after the start by a flare launched from outside the stadium with a mini-parachute attached that landed on the pitch.

No fans are allowed inside Italian stadiums according to the latest restrictions for the coronavirus.

Leonardo Spinazzola and Pedro scored in Roma’s 2-0 win over visiting Fiorentina, which finished with 10 men

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Kelechi Iheanacho Sends Leicester To First FA Cup Final Since 1969

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Leicester City book their place in the FA Cup final against Chelsea as Kelechi Iheanacho’s second-half strike seals Wembley win over Southampton

Leicester City have reached their first FA Cup final since 1969 after Kelechi Iheanacho’s strike saw off Southampton at Wembley.

The striker converted from close range in the 55th minute after good work from Jamie Vardy set him up during a counter attack.

It is the fifth time the Foxes have reached the FA Cup final and they will now face Chelsea next month after the Blues defeated Manchester City in the other semi-final on Saturday.

Iheanacho’s strike was the 14th he has scored in this competition since 2015 and no player – not Sergio Aguero or Harry Kane – has scored more FA Cup goals during that time. The cup has become his playground.

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David de Gea ‘could leave Manchester United on loan’

Wisdom Nwachukwu

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Manchester United could reportedly loan out goalkeeper David de Gea ahead of the 2021-22 campaign.

The 30-year-old was between the sticks for his team’s Europa League clash with Granada on Thursday night but appears to have dropped behind Dean Henderson in the pecking order at Old Trafford.

Henderson is expected to start Sunday’s Premier League clash against Tottenham Hotspur, with De Gea set to drop back down to the bench.

The Spain international has recently been linked with a move away from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s side, but he still has more than two years left to run on a lucrative contract at Old Trafford.

According to ESPN, Man United are unlikely to find a buyer for De Gea in the upcoming market and could therefore decide to loan him out for the 2021-22 season.

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The former Atletico Madrid youngster has made 435 appearances for the 20-time English champions in all competitions, including 30 outings during the current campaign

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NXT takeover stand and deliver results 7th April 2021

Benjamin Ukpabi

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NXT takeover stand and deliver results 7th April 2021

Here are the results for the NXT takeover pay per view

Zoey Stark vs. Toni Storm (Pre-show): Stark continued to impress as she has in a series of matches with stop stars, hitting some nice early moves, including a good-looking springboard missile dropkick. Storm took over the match after the strong start, using some power offense with snap suplexes and a body slam, but before she could capitalize, Stark hit a superplex from the second rope to start a comeback. A half-nelson suplex set up a running knee for the first convincing near fall of the match. Stark continued to keep up the pressure until Storm hit a series of German suplexes before going for Storm Zero, which was countered awkwardly by Stark into a small package for the victory.  (NXT takeover)

Pete Dunne vs. Kushida: An exchange of submission attempts opened the match as both men were attempting to establish their technical superiority early. Kushida had a small edge in the grappling until the action spilled outside where Dunne hit an X-plex onto the ring apron. Dunne brutally went after the arm of Kushida for a brief run, but Kushida fired up and ran the length of the entrance ramp for a kick. After an exchange of strikes, Dunne went back to work on the arm — and the fingers — of Kushida.

The action continued to flow back and forth, with Dunne’s aggression being met by Kushida blow-for-blow. Kushida hit a superplex while holding his Hoverboard Lock, switching to an armbar, but Dunne managed to get a foot on the ropes for a break. Kushida continued going for Dunne’s arms, locking in another Hoverboard Lock and then switching arms with the hold when Dunne reached the ropes. Dunne went back to the fingers, softening up Kushida for a kick to the head and Bitter End to bring the match to a close.

Leon Ruff vs. Isaiah “Swerve” Scott vs. Bronson Reed vs. Cameron Grimes vs. Dexter Lumis vs. LA Knight (Gauntlet Eliminator for North American championship opportunity): Scott jumped Ruff before the match, getting off to an early advantage when they were the first two men in. Ruff eventually hit a cutter on Scott, springboarding off the announce table to hit the move. That wasn’t enough to keep Scott down, as he continued to blitz Ruff with big moves until Ruff countered a top rope powerbomb into a rana before Reed entered the match. Reed ran wild until hitting a double-German suplex on Scott and Ruff. Grimes came into the match and paid off Scott to help him go at the other competitors. During Lumis’ entrance, Scott was able to quickly pin Ruff to take him out of the match. Lumis delivered suplex after suplex until running into Reed with the two big men exchanging strikes and neither getting the upper hand. Knight made his entrance as the final man into the match and soon pinned Lumis as Lumis had Grimes locked in Silence. Reed eliminated Knight moments later after a senton, leaving Scott, Reed and Grimes as the final three in the match. (NXT takeover)

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Grimes and Scott teamed up against Reed, but Reed shrugged off strikes from both men until the temporary alliance fell apart and Scott rolled up Grimes with a handful of tights — reversing Grimes’ own attempt to grab Scott’s tights in a pin — for the elimination. Reed went to the top rope, but Scott caught him with a kick and then slammed Reed from the top rope onto the ring apron. Scott followed up with a 450 splash for a near fall. Reed fired up through a trio of House Call kicks from Scott before hitting Tsunami for the victory.

NXT UK Championship — WALTER (c) vs. Tommaso Ciampa: Ciampa looked to try to neutralize WALTER’s strength with speed early but eventually snapped and blitzed WALTER with a flurry of strikes. That only served to anger the champion, leading him to deliver a series of titanic chops. WALTER tried to deliver another chop as Ciampa was leaned on the announce table, but Ciampa moved out of the way, causing WALTER to chop through a portion of the table. Ciampa tried to take advantage of the now-injured hand of WALTER but ran into a big boot. When WALTER had trouble locking in submissions due to not being able to use any strength in his grip, he resorted to delivering more big kicks to the face of Ciampa. Ciampa delivered clothesline after clothesline, trying to take WALTER off his feet, sending the champion stumbling before falling into the ropes where Ciampa’s clotheslines continued until WALTER delivered a chop. Ciampa came right back with yet another clothesline, finally driving WALTER to the mat. After another flurry of offense, Ciampa hit the Fairy Tale Ending for a near fall.

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WALTER came back with an attempt at a choke before a German suplex and lariat for a two count of his own. Ciampa continued his incredible performance, blasting WALTER with strikes and forcing the big man to turtle up. Another strike exchange followed shortly after before WALTER focused in on the neck of Ciampa with a series of stomps and powerbombs, again resulting in a near fall. Walter hit another suplex and a big chop, this time putting Ciampa down for the three count, retaining his title.  (NXT takeover)

Tag Team Championship — MSK vs. Grizzled Young Veterans vs. Legado Del Fantasma: This match was for the vacant title. Pure fire from the jump with everyone in the match flying around the ring at full speed. Every team in the match got early spots to shit, with Grizzled Young Veterans taking the early action before MSK took over and Legado del Fantasma finally took control with simultaneous dives and then a pair of Van Terminators (without the chair) on Nash Carter for a near fall. Legado continued their run of control by continuing to take the fight to Carter until he finally made a tag to Wes Lee, who took out all four men on the other teams before a huge dive and a series of backflips into a Pele kick to the back of James Drake’s head. (NXT takeover)

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Zack Gibson finally involved himself to take out Lee, holding his hand inside the turnbuckle pad so Drake could deliver a dropkick to the already inured hand. Gibson locked up Lee’s hand and Lee was ready to tap until Carter was able to crawl through a Drake choke to grab his partner’s hand. Things broke down to GYV vs. MSK, with Lee hitting a double cutter and then a twisting blockbuster while Carter had Gibson lifted up to score the win and take home the titles.

Women’s Championship — Io Shirai (c) vs. Raquel Gonzalez: Gonzalez used her power early, forcing Shirai to have to resort to slick defensive maneuvers and quickness, hitting a rana and then taking the fight to Gonzalez in the corner. Gonzalez caught a Shirai stomp and tried to reverse the momentum but found herself on the outside, getting knocked to the floor after a Shirai asai moonsault. Gonzalez was finally able to slow down the champ by driving her into the ring post before going back to the ring where she began to toss Shirai around the ring.

Every time it seemed Gonzalez had Shirai on the defensive, the champion would find a way to counter and launch into her own high impact offense, including a Code Red for a near fall. Gonzalez caught Shirai on the top rope and tried to walk her to the center of the ring for a chokeslam, but Shirai managed to counter and roll into a crossface, forcing Gonzalez to crawl to the ropes for the escape. Shirai followed up with a moonsault from the top rope onto the entrance ramp. Shirai wandered out of the ring area before appearing on top of the giant skull that made up the set background on the ramp, hitting a diving crossbody onto Gonzalez. (NXT takeover)

Gonzalez refused to stay down, coming back to hit a chokeslam outside the ring and throwing the champion in for a near fall. Moments later, Gonzalez managed to hit a big lariat and then another chokeslam to score the pinfall and win the belt.

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