Salah Not World Class – Ince

LONDON: Former Liverpool star Paul Ince claims Mohamed Salah is not a world-class player.

Ince admits Salah, who has scored 23 goals in all competitions this season, is a world-class goalscorer.

However Ince insists Salah cannot be considered world class due to his overall game.

Speaking to talkSPORT , Ince, who played for Liverpool between 1997 and 1999, said: “Is he a world-class goalscorer? Yes.

“I think his record proves everything. Is he a world-class player, technically? I disagree.

“But as far as world-class players scoring goals and making things happen, I think yes.”

Since joining Liverpool in 2017, Salah has scored 209 goals in 340 appearances.

Only Ian Rush, Roger Hunt, Gordon Hodgson and Billy Liddell have scored more goals for the Reds than Salah in the club’s history.

With Liverpool so far, Salah has won the Champions League, the English Premier League, the FA Cup and two League Cups.

The 31-year-old’s current contract at Anfield will expire in the summer of 2025.

Ronaldo Scored Hat-trick In First Half

ABHA: Cristiano Ronaldo continued his scoring streak in the Saudi Pro League with Al-Nassr by scoring his first hat-trick against Abha, including two goals from free kicks.

The Portuguese icon is already leading the league scoring charts, and last night gifted his team back-to-back hat-tricks – his 65th career hat-trick.

Ronaldo opened the scoring in the 11th minute with a low free kick and doubled the score 10 minutes later with another free kick.

This time the 39 year old player took a swerving kick which killed Abha’s goalkeeper, Ciprian Tatarusanu.

Ronaldo completed his hat-trick by once again beating Tatarusanu, this time in a one-on-one situation with a stunning finishing move.

Al-Nassr finished the first half with a score of 5-0 after Sadio Mane and Abdulmajeed Al-Sulaiheem also contributed goals.

Ronaldo has now scored 29 times in the league this season and leads the scoring list with the closest competitor being Aleksandar Mitrovic from Al-Hilal.

Overall he has scored 42 goals in 41 appearances in all matches for the Saudi Arabian club this season.

Last Saturday, Ronaldo also completed a hat-trick in the 5-1 win over Al-Tai.

Ronaldo might have been able to feast on goals against Abha, but he was substituted before the break in the second half which saw Al-Nassr add three more goals for an 8-0 win.

Al-Nassr is still 12 points behind leaders, Al-Hilal who are still unbeaten this season.

Brazil Came Back To Tie Spain 3-3

MADRID: Brazil’s Lucas Paqueta converted an injury-time penalty to snatch a 3-3 draw with Spain in a tense international friendly at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, early this morning.

The hosts took control early in the action with teenagers Lamine Yamal and Nico Williams being thorns in the flesh for their opponents on the flanks.

16-year-old Yamal grabbed a disputed penalty for Spain in the 12th minute when he went down after being denied by Joao Gomes following a superb piece of individual play down the right flank.
Replays showed there were minimal touches but the referee awarded a penalty and no VAR was in operation to review the decision.

Spain captain Rodri drilled in a penalty to put the hosts in front before Dani Olmo doubled their advantage in the 36th minute, outfoxing two Brazilian defenders before slotting in.

However, Rodrygo closed the gap before the break after goalkeeper Unai Simon’s mistake and teenager Endrick came off the bench to equalize following a corner four minutes after the break.

Spain were back in front in the 86th minute following another disputed referee’s decision that sparked anger in the visitors’ dugout, with stadium security officials forced to intervene to resolve the situation.

Portuguese referee Antonio Nobre awarded a penalty following Lucas Beraldo’s tackle on Dani Carvajal in the penalty box and Rodri shot into the middle of the goal.

But Brazil managed to equalize five minutes after injury when Galeno was fouled in the box and Paqueta completed the spot kick.

“We often want to win,” Endrick told Brazilian television station Globo.

“We are Brazil and we often want to win, to honor our legacy.

“We are not promising that we will win every match, but we will not reduce our efforts, our resilience, our enthusiasm, we will not lack anything.”

Guardiola Hopes Klopp Will Return To EPL

LIVERPOOL: The greatest feud between two English Premier League managers – Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola ended in a draw at Anfield.

Klopp’s Liverpool drew 1-1 with Guardiola’s Manchester City, leaving this season’s title race wide open between three teams – including leaders Arsenal.

Klopp will leave Anfield at the end of the season after almost a decade with Liverpool and won every major tournament and competed fiercely with Guardiola’s men for several titles.

Yesterday’s meeting at Anfield was the 16th Premier League match between the two managers.

Guardiola has now recorded five wins, four losses and seven draws against Klopp in the English Premier League.

The feud between Alex Ferguson, Arsene Wenger and Jose Mourinho often ends in tension, but the opposite is true for Guardiola and Mourinho when the two managers respect each other and hug at the end of the game.

“He will be back! He loves this job so much. What can I say? He made us a better team, made me a better manager. I hope he will be back soon, because football needs a personality like him.

“Praise to Liverpool. They once again proved that what they did was amazing in this match,” said Guardiola.

Klopp refused to reveal what he said to Guardiola after the final whistle.

“It is personal, even in the football stadium. We respect each other and maybe after this career we will be close friends,” said Klopp.

Forest-Liverpool Referee Made A Big Mistake

LONDON: Former referee Mike Dean admitted Paul Tierney made a ‘big mistake’ before Liverpool scored a late victory over Nottingham Forest yesterday.

Darwin Nunez scored the only goal of the game in stoppage time as Liverpool won 1-0 to strengthen their challenge for the Premier League title.

However, much of the post-match analysis focused on Tierney following the incident involving Liverpool goalkeeper Caoimhin Kelleher.

Play was stopped after Liverpool defender Ibrahima Konate suffered a head injury when Callum Hudson-Odoi tried to cross for Forest.

After Konate recovered quickly, Kelleher resumed play but ended up passing the ball to his friend when he should have given the ball back to Forest.

Liverpool finally managed to find the net with substitute Nunez scoring the winning goal.

Although there was plenty of time between the incident and the goal, Dean felt Tierney should have stopped the game first.

Dean told Sky Sports : “Of course Nottingham Forest are angry, I would be angry too if I was involved with Nottingham Forest, but unfortunately the referee made a big mistake.

“I think he will know this morning that he made a mistake and hopefully he won’t repeat the same thing in the future.

“Unfortunately for Paul it was a mistake and it was a bad mistake, it led to the goal.

“The rules say whoever has the ball when play is stopped, the ball should be given back to them. Hudson-Odoi clearly had the ball and it should have been given to Nottingham Forest on the wing.”

Dean said that a statement should be issued after the match admitting that a mistake had been made.

However Dean said the incident which saw Forest owner Evangelos Marinakis clash with Tierney after the match should not have happened.

Chelsea Eyeing Pochettino’s Replacement

LONDON: Chelsea are reportedly drawing up a list of Mauricio Pochettino’s replacements after they lost in the English League Cup final yesterday.

Sporting Lisbon boss Ruben Amorim remains under the watch of Todd Boehly.

The Blues lost 1-0 to Liverpool at Wembley following Virgil van Dijk’s header in the 118th minute.

Jurgen Klopp’s team emerged as champions despite fielding several youth academy players in the squad.

Chelsea remain trophyless under Boehly after spending £1 billion since he took over in 2022.

The American has worked with three managers, first sacking Thomas Tuchel before bringing in Graham Potter and Frank Lampard.

According to The Mail newspaper, Boehly may make it four when he starts looking for Pochettino’s replacement.

Top of the Sporting Lisbon boss’ list was Amorim who was the main candidate for the job last summer.

His club is two points behind the Primeira Liga leaders with one game less to play.

Amorim is among several names on the list to replace Pochettino should Chelsea decide to sack him.

Bayern Munich And Thomas Tuchel Part Ways

BERLIN: Bayern Munich will end their partnership with Thomas Tuchel at the end of the season despite having a contract until 2025, the club said today.

Bayern have lost their last three games in all competitions and are eight points behind Bayer Leverkusen in the Bundesliga table.

They also lost 0-1 at the hands of Lazio in the first 16th of the Champions League last week.

Tuchel took over in March 2023 from Julian Nagelsmann.

Despite leading his club to the Bundesliga title on the final matchday last season, they failed to repeat the form that saw the squad dominate German football over the past decade.

Ten Hag Thrilled By The Young Trio’s Performance

MANCHESTER, England: The image of Manchester United’s young trio – Rasmus Hojlund, Alejandro Garnacho and Kobbie Mainoo – celebrating their 3-0 win over West Ham United deservedly resonated on social media last night.

Erik ten Hag’s side surged past West Ham in sixth place in the Premier League with their biggest home league win of the season and the manager said seeing the trio in action and celebrating the win validated his hopes for them.

“You don’t believe me,” said Ten Hag, scolding journalists after the match.

“We bought players in the summer for the future. We made the choice to give players who deserve a chance in the squad, Garnacho and Mainoo. Hojlund is improving.

“We have an attack line that is a threat to every opponent and they have fun playing football. Three players celebrate together, it’s not about one player, it’s about the team, 11 defending, 11 attacking, it’s fun to watch that match.”

Garnacho, 19, scored twice, Hojlund scored on his 21st birthday and 18-year-old Mainoo was brilliant in midfield and Hojlund and Mainoo left the pitch to thunderous applause from the Old Trafford crowd.

Despite a difficult season that has raised questions about the stability of Ten Hag’s team, the Dutch manager stressed the team still has a lot of work to do.

They have 38 points after 23 matches, leaving them eight points behind fourth-placed Aston Villa who they visit next Sunday.

“I’m not telling you we’re there, where we want to be, but you see the potential,” Ten Hag said.

“(Young players) definitely need games, they need experience and the only way you can get that is to play in the first team.

“They have the right attitude and if you have the attitude to improve every day, I’m sure they can reach a high level but they need experienced players to help them and put them in the right position.”

Inter Reclaims Top Spot In Serie A

FLORENCE, Italy: Inter Milan reclaimed the top spot in Serie A when they beat fifth-placed Fiorentina 1-0 early this morning thanks to Lautaro Martinez’s early header.

Inter, who were crowned champions of the Italian Super Cup for the third consecutive year on Monday, returned to the top of the league table with 54 points, one point ahead of second-placed Juventus with a game in hand.

Juve squandered a chance to extend their lead over Inter when they were forced to a 1-1 draw by lowly Empoli yesterday after playing most of the match with 10 men.

“This team did well in the first half and that’s where we should finish, maybe score another goal,” coach Simone Inzaghi told reporters.

“Even in the first half I wasn’t satisfied with 1-0. Fiorentina… often makes you languish, it’s an important win but not decisive anymore.”

Fiorentina thought they had taken the lead when striker M’Bala Nzola tricked visiting goalkeeper Yann Sommer in the 11th minute but the Angolan striker was ruled offside.

Martinez put Inter ahead three minutes later, heading in a free kick from a difficult angle.

Inter, who were without midfielders with the help of Hakan Calhanoglu and Nicolo Barella, allowed Fiorentina to have control of the ball but the hosts wasted many chances.

The Viola, who are in fifth place with 34 points and have played less than one game, will next visit the 14th place team, Lecce this Friday.

Inter hosts a visit from Juventus on February 4.

“A match between two teams that are doing well at the moment. We will try to prepare as well as possible,” said Inzaghi about the meeting with Juve.

Liverpool’s Attack Was The Fastest, Man City’s Was The Slowest

LONDON: Liverpool are currently at the top of the English Premier League and the latest statistics prove why Jurgen Klopp’s squad deserves to be there.

Attacking speed has been the mainstay of Liverpool’s victories this season – with 1.96 meters per second (m/s) recorded to be the fastest team in attack.

In second place, Everton and West Ham recorded 1.94m/s, while Nottingham Forest was third at 1.93m/s.

Luton Town, who are 18th in the league, are fourth at 1.92m/s, followed by Manchester United (1.89m/s) and Bournemouth (1.87m/s).

Crystal Palace and Sheffield United are tied at 1.80m/s while Brentford record 1.79m/s.

Aston Villa averaged 1.74m/s, while Tottenham Hotspur – who were plagued by injuries – at 1.72m/s.

Fulham (1.69m/s), Newcastle United (1.68m/s), Chelsea (1.67m/s) and Wolverhampton Wanderers are below Spurs while Brighton and Hove Albion at the top of group three is dropped at 1.59m/s.

Arsenal and Manchester are in the last three groups with records of 1.54m/s and 1.26m/s. Burnley are in the middle of the pack of championship contenders at 1.45m/s.