Samuel Eto'o

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Wacky extra time own-goal sends Senegal into Africa Cup of Nations final

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Each side saved a penalty in the second half of the Africa Cup of Nations semifinal match between the top two FIFA-ranked teams in the competition, but Senegal got around a wasteful performance up front thanks to a wild stroke of luck.

With the game 0-0 after 90 minutes, the key moment came in extra time as Senegal swung a free-kick into the box, and Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen came flying out for the punch. With no Senegalese players in sight, is clear came off the head of Tunisian defender Dylan Bronn and deflected into the back of the net.

The goal made right for Senegal a host of other missed opportunities, including a saved penalty off the foot of Henri Saivet in the 80th minute that would have broken the scoreless deadlock.

There were a total of 26 efforts on net between the two sides in the match, but only three total on target. Senegal hit the post in the 30th minute on what was close to a sensational goal by Youssouf Sabaly who cut in from the left and unleashed a wonderful curler that struck the top-right corner of the bar. They came close again in the 38th minute as Sadio Mane got through the back line and rounded the goalkeeper, but couldn’t get his shot on net as his touch took him wide right at a tight angle.

Tunisia will also rue a failed penalty attempt, with Ferjani Sassi’s weak effort saved comfortably in the 75th minute by Alfred Gomis after Kalidou Koulibaly handled a shot in the box.

Senegal makes the Africa Cup of Nations final for just the second time in its country’s history after reaching in 2002 and falling to Samuel Eto'o‘s Cameroon on penalties. They will play the winner of Algeria and Nigeria in the final on Friday.

VIDEO: Liverpool opens Champions League final with Salah penalty after 20 seconds

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For Liverpool, it was a dream start. For Tottenham, it spelled complete disaster.

The Reds opened the scoring in the Champions League final with a Mohamed Salah penalty, deposited following Moussa Sissoko‘s handball in the box after just 20 seconds of play.

Off the opening kickoff, Sadio Mane received the ball and pulled back play on the top-left corner of the penalty area. With Sissoko defending Mane, Sissoko began pointing instructions to teammates and was caught off guard by Mane’s chipped cross. It clipped Sissoko’s shoulder and rebounded onto his outstretched arm, an incredibly unlucky break for the Spurs midfielder.

After a few minutes of protest, Salah stepped up and blasted the penalty home past Hugo Lloris, with the effort quite central but with plenty of power, ripped past the Frenchman who had little chance to make a reflex save despite guessing correctly with his dive.

Anytime a second-minute opener arrives in such a big match, it can set the stage for 90 minutes of mayhem, but for neutrals it actually fell a bit flat. While the hot start no doubt gives the match even more of an edge, it felt slightly undeserved, unlucky on Spurs rather than well worked for Liverpool. Still, the Reds will take it and now Spurs must work to calmly respond.

The goal is also a milestone moment for Salah, who has now scored in every single Champions League round for Liverpool in just two seasons at the club. He also becomes the fifth African player to score in the Champions League final after Rabah Madjer, Samuel Eto'o, Didier Drogba and Sadio Mane.

Tagliafico announces stay at Ajax for another year

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There may be an exodus of young talent from Dutch side Ajax this coming summer as the club continues its stunning run through the Champions League, but they are doing their best to convince as many players as possible to stick around.

The club announced Friday that Argentinian international Nicolas Tagliafico would not be leaving this summer, and while there was no contract extension to go along with the announcement, it was a short and sweet statement from the defender to help ease fans before the impending sales to come.

The 26-year-old left-back, who was a consistent starter for Argentina at the 2018 World Cup and has since worn the captain’s armband for a few post-World Cup friendlies in Lionel Messi’s absence, joined Ajax last summer from Argentinian club Independente and signed a four-year deal through the summer of 2022.

The announcement marks a slight change in heart for the Argentinian, who just a month ago admitted he could leave the Dutch side soon. “I think in the summer it could be a natural time to take the step,” Tagliafico said in early April. “But I try not to think about taking that step just yet because we have many important games to focus on. Yes, it [the transfer speculation] is flattering because I think it’s the most competitive league. When you are a child, the target is to come to Europe and play in a top league like the Premier League. I came to Ajax because of the philosophy, the style of football and the club.”

Tagliafico’s announcement comes just a month after goalkeeper Andre Onana committed his long-term future to the club with a contract extension signed in late March. “I like to play and here I have the opportunity to play and that’s why I extend my contract,” the 23-year-old goalkeeper said to the club’s official website after signing his extension through 2022. “Ajax did so many things for me and that’s why I extend my contract. For me it’s important to give something back. It was a difficult decision but when you’re a young player, it’s important to choose game time, not only going to a big club when you’re not going to play.”

Onana joined Ajax from Barcelona’s youth academy in 2015, having made his way to Spain through Samuel Eto'o‘s academy in Cameroon. His previous deal was set to expire in 2021, meaning this summer would have been the two-year mark, a popular selling time for a club that wishes to cash in on a player before his value diminishes. He had been linked with a number of top sides including Manchester United and a return to Barcelona, but the extension will give Ajax firm control over anyone who wishes to come make an offer.

Midfielder Frenkie de Jong has already been officially sold to Barcelona, while fellow young Dutch stars such as Donny van de Beek and Matthijs de Ligt have been highly touted and are widely speculated to be leaving the club this summer, along with Moroccan international Hakim Ziyech. Ajax will no doubt profit greatly from their departure, but will want to learn from the mistakes Monaco made after allowing a wealth of young talent like Kylian Mbappe, Benjamin Mendy, Bernardo Silva, and Tiemoue Bakayoko all leave the club in one summer, leaving the club in a dire position this season battling relegation.

Former Manchester United goalkeeper Edwin van der Sar, who now serves as the club’s CEO, addressed the potential departures, admitting that is the way the club stays afloat and continues the pipeline, but cautioned against selling too much.

“We know that’s a fact. That’s the history of Ajax all along. It has been in the 70s, 80s and 90s, so we know that,” he said to BT Sport before the Champions League first-leg match against Tottenham earlier in the week. “That also gives space for the younger players, guys who are 19 or 20. In two years time, they will be playing at this kind of level. We’re not going to sell seven players. We need to make sure we can stay competitive. We like this stage of the competition and we like the recognition, so we’re not going to break up the complete team. Of course that’s Ajax development, giving young players a chance.”

The presence of Tagliafico alongside veterans Daley Blind, Lasse Schone, and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar, plus Onana’s stay will give the club a solid base to flow more young talent through the ranks.

Liverpool duo, Aubameyang are CAF Player of the Year finalists

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Mohamed Salah‘s bid to become the third player to win consecutive African Player of the Year awards faces some stiff competition.

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Salah (Egypt) is joined by Liverpool teammate Sadio Mane (Senegal) and Arsenal striker Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Gabon) as finalists for the confederation’s award, set to be handed out Jan. 8 in Senegal.

The Egyptian won in 2018 — his first year as a finalist — edging second place Mane and third place Aubameyang last year. Aubameyang won the award in 2015, and Leicester City’s Riyad Mahrez claimed the honors in 2016.

Salah will be the heavy favorite despite Aubameyang’s outstanding year, if only because he was the lone member of the three to appear in the 2018 World Cup.

Still injured from a Sergio Ramos challenge in the UEFA Champions League Final, Salah scored both of the Pharoahs goals as Egypt failed to claim a point in a group with Russia, Saudi Arabia, and Uruguay.

Salah already won the BBC’s award. Surprisingly, Aubameyang was left off the BBC’s five-man shortlist, which instead chose Kalidou Koulibaly, Mehdi Benatia, and Thomas Partey. That’s trying a bit too hard, in this man’s view. Alex Iwobi and Wilfred Ndidi were also denied by the CAF.

El Hadji Diouf, Samuel Eto'o, and Yaya Toure were the others to win back-to-back African POTY honors.

Ronaldinho reportedly marrying two women at same time

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Ronaldinho always had a knack for making the difficult look simple.

He’d better hope that skill extends to a pretty unique marital arrangement.

The retired 2002 World Cup champion is going to marry two women at the same time, Priscilla Coelho and Beatriz Souza, in August.

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Apparently he’s been living with the pair since December, having dated Coelho since 2013 and Souza beginning in 2016.

Ronaldinho, 38, co-existed in a three-pronged offense with Lionel Messi and Samuel Eto'o, so maybe?

From Yahoo! Sports:

Bigamy and polygamy are illegal in Brazil, but Ronaldinho’s case is a little different. He’s not planning to marry one woman, and then the other; he’s planning to marry both at the same time. That’s considered a three-person civil union, and they do exist in Brazil. The first one, between two women and a man, was recognized in 2012. Another was recognized in 2015, between three women who intended to raise a child together.