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Ter Stegen propels Barcelona to Super Cup Finals

Benjamin Ukpabi

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Ter Stegen propels Barcelona to Super Cup Finals

Marc-Andre ter Stegen’s heroics ensured Barcelona edged past Real Sociedad on penalties on Wednesday to reach the Spanish Super Cup final, without the injured Lionel Messi.

Messi was watching on as Ter Stegen did his best to fill the void in Cordoba, the goalkeeper immense both in the shoot-out and during normal time, which had finished 1-1.

Frenkie de Jong’s header was cancelled out by a penalty from Mikel Oyarzabal, who then missed in the shoot-out, one of two crucial saves made by Ter Stegen before 21-year-old Riqui Puig hit the winning shot.

“I wasn’t down to take one but we needed one more taker and I stepped forward,” said Puig.

Barca advance to meet either Real Madrid or Athletic Bilbao in the final on Sunday, when Messi is expected to be available again, although coach Ronald Koeman was cautious at full-time.

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“We have to wait,” he said.

Koeman’s team have a mountain to climb in La Liga’s title race but they are improving, now nine games unbeaten and with a trophy in their grasp.

This is the second year of the Spanish Super Cup’s new format, which has four teams playing each other in a semi-final and final.

Athletic Bilbao and Real Sociedad joined after reaching the final of last season’s Copa del Rey, which is still to be played, while Barcelona finished runners-up to Madrid in La Liga.

Yet while last season’s version controversially took place in Saudi Arabia, the pandemic means this year’s semis are in Cordoba and Malaga, with the final to be played in Seville.

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Barca were the better side in the first half but had Ter Stegen to thank for not conceding early as Alexander Isak sped into the area only to see his chipped finish saved by the goalkeeper.

It was De Jong’s dash to the near post that brought the first goal, an Antoine Griezmann cross hanging just long enough for the midfielder to get there first and direct a superb header in.

Yet De Jong gave Real Sociedad a way back just after half-time, the ball striking him on the hand and allowing Oyarzabal to equalise from the spot.

Barca nearly pulled ahead instantly as De Jong swivelled in the box, only to take an unnecessary extra touch. Ousmane Dembele fired just wide and Trincao, on as a substitute, also had a chance to win it before the 90 minutes were up.

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Zaldua unleashed in extra time but Ter Stegen tipped over. Dembele’s finish was saved too while Adnan Januzaj poked wide at the end of a brilliant run and then hit the post with a free-kick.

Into the shoot-out, and Jon Bautista’s first attempt was parried away by Ter Stegen, only for De Jong to hit the post.

But Oyarzabal, who had scored earlier from the spot, this time missed, Ter Stegen guessing right again. Dembele scored before Willian Jose struck the post. Miralem Pjanic tucked in and so did Mikel Merino under pressure.

Griezmann could have won it but ballooned over before Januzaj converted for 2-2, which left it up to Puig to win it for Barca, the youngster slamming home for a spot in the final.

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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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