Three goal burst puts Nigeria into Nations Cup final

Updated 07 February 2013
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Three goal burst puts Nigeria into Nations Cup final

DURBAN: Nigeria scored three goals in a blistering 20-minute first-half spell as they routed Mali 4-1 to reach the final of the African Nations Cup for the first time since 2000 yesterday.
After Mali settled first and threatened to take an early lead, Nigeria clicked into gear with goals from Elderson Echiejile after 25 minutes, Brown Ideye in the 30th minute and an own goal from Mali defender Momo Sissoko just before halftime.
Substitute Ahmed Musa, who replaced the outstanding Victor Moses after 53 minutes added the fourth shortly after coming on when he beat the offside trap and slipped the ball through goalkeeper Mamadou Samassa’s legs.
Mali, who famously came back from 4-0 down to draw 4-4 with Angola in the opening game of the 2010 finals, never looked like repeating that feat but did score a consolation goal when Cheick Diarra fired home in the 75th minute.
In Sunday’s final, Nigeria will meet the winners of the second semi between Ghana and Burkina Faso being played later at Nelspruit.
Nigeria coach Stephen Keshi is one victory from becoming the second man to win the tournament as player and coach but, before the goal onslaught, Mali had the better of play and created three good chances inside the first 15 minutes. Modibo Maiga and Seydou Keita both had headers that went close and Sissoko unleashed a thunderous effort from 30 meters out that went just over Vincent Enyeama’s crossbar.
But Nigeria, with John Obi Mikel, Ogenyi Onanzi and Moses asserting themselves in midfield, took control of the game with devastating effect.
Ideye went close to opening the scoring with a fierce angled drive which Mali keeper Samassa did well to save with his foot before Mikel shot narrowly over the bar in the 22nd minute from 30 meters.
Nigeria made the breakthrough when Moses turned and nutmegged Mali defender Adama Tamboura wide on the left and sent in a low cross which Nigerian defender Echiejile, unmarked, stooped to head home.
Five minutes later, Ideye doubled their lead from another Moses cross, bundling the ball home with Samassa powerless to prevent him scoring.
Onanzi came close to making it three when he tried to lob Samassa two minutes later and Nigeria did not have to wait long for the third goal.
Gambian referee Backary Papa Gassama awarded Nigeria a free kick on the edge of the box just before halftime and Emenike’s powerfully struck effort took a big deflection off Sissoko leaving Samassa watching the ball go into his net.
That effectively killed the game as a contest and although Mali coach Patrice Carteron replaced Modibo Maiga with Cheick Diarra up front, the damage was already done.
It got worse for Mali after 56 minutes when Musa stayed onside, advanced on Samassa and scored by slipping the ball through his legs.
Mahamadou Samassa, the cousin of the Mali keeper, had a good chance for a consolation goal before the team did finally score but it was too little too late.


Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test

Updated 23 April 2018
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Liverpool's Andrew Robertson ready for Roma Champions League test

  • Young Scottish star was very impressive during Liverpool's 5-1 aggregate destruction of Man City in last-eight clash.
  • Robertson refuses to take Roma lightly after their shock victory over Barcelona in the last round.

LIVERPOOL: With a desire stoked in the stands of Parkhead, Andrew Robertson is now fired up to fulfil a childhood dream.
While following the fortunes of Celtic, the defender’s first Champions League final memory was when Zinedine Zidane volleyed Real Madrid to success in 2002 as the contest was staged in Robertson’s home city of Glasgow. He was just eight years old.
While Robertson was deemed too small to play for his boyhood idols, released at 15 with a future uncertain, he has grown to prove his worth on Europe’s biggest club stage with Liverpool.
Now, with a semifinal encounter against AS Roma after beating Premier League champions Manchester City in the last eight, he wants to emulate those Reds heroes who lifted the trophy five times before.
“I was a big Celtic fan growing up and my heroes were Henrik Larsson and Co,” Robertson told Arab News ahead of tonight’s first-leg clash 
at Anfield.
“But these heroes who have won the European Cup and Champions League for Liverpool, you have to look up to them — and we want to emulate them and hopefully get a winner’s medal too.
“The club’s won it five times and the history of the club has always been this, the Champions League, where the fans create a special atmosphere and the club challenges for the trophy. It would be unbelievable to be a part of that history.
“This is the highlight for me so far and an incredible feeling, but it just makes you hungry for more. I don’t want it to end.
“As a kid, you sit back and watch how great it would be to play in this competition, let alone in the final.
“I always used to go to Celtic and we didn’t progress very far in the Champions League, but the occasions at Parkhead were always unbelievable.
“The fans at Celtic are incredible, world renowned, but Anfield was unbelievable against Man City and we have another chance for them to create that same atmosphere and hopefully we can put in another great performance.”
Having beaten Pep Guardiola’s City so convincingly, 5-1 over two gripping games, Liverpool will start favorites against Roma.
That is despite the Italians upsetting Barcelona in the previous round with an epic 3-0 win in the second leg after a 4-1 loss at the Nou Camp.
But Robertson will take nothing for granted against a Roma side who last reached the final in 1984 where they were beaten by Liverpool in a penalty shootout at their Stadio Olimpico home.
“Barca are an unbelievable team,” added the Scotland left-back, 24. “But let’s not kid ourselves. For Roma to score three goals against Barcelona, that’s special.
“They’ve been unbelievable this season too in the Champions League and deserve to be in the semifinals. It will definitely not be an easy game.
“But once you get to the semis, the fear of who you are playing has gone because you know how good the teams are.
“It’s like you look forward to the possibility of playing in the final, that’s what drives you forward. We will have fire in our bellies because we are so close to getting there.”
Jurgen Klopp’s men will no doubt be looking to Mohamed Salah to conjure more magic against the club he left in the summer for £36.9 million ($51.5 million).
But Robertson insisted Liverpool are no one-man team and the Egyptian, crowned PFA Player of the Year on Sunday night after scoring 41 goals in an unforgettable campaign, epitomizes a team united and ambitious in their quest for glory.
“He’s just unbelievable,” said Robertson of the frontman.
“In the first half (of the second leg) against Man City we struggled to get him in the game and he wasn’t quite at it. But the second half he was different class and pops up with a goal to help us win it. That’s what he does.
“His goals have been incredible and long may that continue. He’s a great guy, so humble, and for someone who has done so much this season he’s so down to Earth.
“That’s credit to our squad because we don’t let anyone get ahead of themselves.
“Mo is no different, he’s a lovely person and stands for what we are as a team.”

 

HEART OF GOLD

Five years ago Andrew Robertson was playing in the fourth tier of Scottish football with Queen’s Park and earning extra money by selling concert tickets in the corporate offices at Hampden Park.
Last summer he suffered relegation from the Premier League with Hull City before Liverpool signed him for £10 million ($13.9 million).
In a career fraught with setbacks and hardships, he has been grateful, supporting foodbanks that help those in need.
“It’s all about giving something back to the less fortunate,” said Robertson.
“I’m in a fortunate position where I do a job I love and get paid well and it’s nice to give something back, especially in my hometown. I’ll always do that.
“It’s been a great journey for me in my career, and I’ve enjoyed every minute. But I don’t forget where I came from. Maybe it is rare, but a lot more people are doing it now and I hope even more will.”