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Belgium, Germany win big; France bounce back in Euro 2020 qualifiers

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Germany players celebrate a goal in their 8-0 win over Estonia.

Madrid: Belgium, Germany, Italy and Northern Ireland all won their respective matches to stay perfect in the Euro 2020 qualifiers, while World Cup champions France regained their form after an unexpected loss to Turkey.

In Mainz, Marco Reus and Serge Gnabry each had a brace as Germany romped 8-0 against Estonia on Tuesday. Leon Goretzka, Ilkay Gundogan, Timo Werner and Leroy Sane scored the other goals for Die Mannschaft, reports Efe news.

Their third victory in as many matches lifted Germany to nine points, three behind Northern Ireland, who won 1-0 away to Belarus on Tuesday to retain the top spot in Group C thanks to a goal in the 86th minute by Patrick McNair.

Romelu Lukaku scored twice and Kevin de Bruyne added a third goal to power Belgium over Scotland 3-0 in Brussels, leaving the Red Devils atop Group I with 12 points.

Second place belongs to Russia, who defeated Cyprus 1-0 on a goal by Aleksey Ionov, while Kazakhstan routed San Marino 4-0 to climb into the third spot with 6 points and a better goal difference than Scotland.

France, getting goals from Kylian Mbappe, Wissam Ben Yedder, Florian Thauvin and Kurt Zouma, cruised 4-0 against Andorra and reclaimed first place in Group H.

Les Bleus have nine points, the same as second-place Turkey and Iceland in third, but enjoy an edge on goals.

The Turks, meanwhile, missed a chance to surge ahead of France, losing 2-1 to the Icelanders. Albania blanked Moldova 2-0 in the other Group H contest.

Italy conceded a goal to Edin Dzeko in the 30th minute to fall behind 1-0 against Bosnia and Herzegovina in Turin, but Lorenzo Insigne equalized for the hosts at the start of the second half and Marco Verratti got the winner with four minutes left in regulation.

With 12 points, Italy lead Group J by three points over Finland, who bested Liechtenstein 2-0 on Tuesday.

Armenia are third in the group after beating Greece 3-2 in Athens.

In Group E, Hungary held Wales 1-0 to move into first place with 9 points, though Slovakia and Croatia – both with 6 points – each have a game in hand.

The Welsh, who have only three points from three matches, face an uphill battle to qualify.

Marek Hamsik had two goals for the Slovaks in a 5-1 away triumph over Azerbaijan. Stanislav Lobotka, Juraj Kucka and David Hancko also scored for the visitors.

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India suffer another big defeat in Intercontinental Cup

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India next play Syria in their last group league match on Tuesday.

Ahmedabad: India’s desperate attempt in the second half wasn’t enough as they went down 2-5 to DPR Korea in their second match of the Hero Intercontinental Cup at the EKA Arena.

With two losses in as many games, India still have a chance of making it to the final, provided they beat Syria by a huge margin in their next match, and hope Tajikistan beat DPR Korea in the other.

While Lallianzuala Chhangte, and Sunil Chhetri scored one each to reduce the margin for India, DPR Korea captain Jong Il Gwan was the star of the show scoring two, and assisting another. Furthermore, Sim Hyon Jin, and Ri Un Chol, and Ri Hyon Kin scored one apiece for the winners.

Indian national team head coach Igor Stimac said that there was “courage, and confidence on display in the second half.”

“In the second-half, we came out with out with heads up. We had the courage, and confidence when we decided to play football. In the first-half, we played without courage and self- confidence,” he stated in the post-match press conference.

“I gave the players the chance to play for India and asked them to enjoy their football. But if you do not show courage, and fight you cannot win,” he added.

“In the second-half, we started taking responsibility, and created chances. We were dangerous in front of their goal. But it was difficult to keep shape, and go up and down continuously. But I’m proud of the way they played,” the Coach explained.

Down 0-3 in the first half, a couple of changes by India Head Coach Igor Stimac at half-time brought back the thrust for India. The introduction of Lallianzuala Chhangte, and Udanta Singh in place of Manvir Singh, and Brandon Fernandes provided India the much-needed impetus.

The Blue Tigers pulled one back soon when Sunil Chhetri latched on to a stray ball, and played Chhangte through the channel. The latter, took control, and smashed it into the bottom corner. However, Ri Chol soon added a fourth for Korea, after being played through by captain Gwon.

In the 71st minute, Sunil Chhetri managed another one for India – his 71st International goal off a cross from Udanta.

India next play Syria in their last group league match on July 16.

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Barcelona sign Griezmann transfer from Atletico Madrid

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Barcelona: Barcelona have announced that they have signed French forward Antoine Griezmann on a five-season contract.

The announcement came after the player’s international representatives paid his 120-million-euro buyout clause included in his contract with Atletico Madrid at the LaLiga offices.

“FC Barcelona has paid the 120 million euro buyout clause to release Antoine Griezmann from Atletico Madrid,” the Catalan club said in a statement on its website on Friday.

“The player will sign a contract with his new club for the next five seasons, through to 30 June 2024, with a buyout clause of 800 million euros.”

The 28-year-old could be unveiled to the media and fans during the weekend so that he can join the team for the first pre-season training session scheduled for July 15.

This is Barcelona’s third signing for the new season, following midfielder Frenkie de Jong on a move from Ajax and goalkeeper Neto who joined Barcelona from Valencia.

It came a year after Griezmann turned down an offer by Barcelona and his refusal was revealed in a controversial documentary produced by Barcelona’s Spain defender Gerard Pique.

He preferred to stay at Atletico and renew his contract with the capital team, an agreement that included a substantial salary raise.

However, it did not close the door for his potential departure as the 200-million-euro buyout clause was reduced to 120 million as of July 1.

Twelve days later, Griezmann became a Barcelona player.

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FC Goa sign winger Alex Romario Jesuraj for three years

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Alex Romario Jesuraj along with Ravi Puskur, Head of Technical Operations at FC Goa.

Panaji:  Winger Alexander Romario Jesuraj has joined FC Goa on a 3-year-deal, which will keep him at the club until the summer of 2022.

The 22-year-old made 34 appearances for I-League side Chennai City FC across the previous two seasons, ending 2018-’19 with a winners’ medal. The flying winger is widely considered as an exciting player, scoring four goals for CCFC, earning the sobriquet of “Namma Neymar Romario” (Our Neymar Romario).

Named after Brazilian legend and FIFA World Cup winner Romario, the winger from Dindigul broke into the Tamil Nadu Under-16 team at 13, also earning himself a place in the India Under-13 camp. He started his senior level career at Arrows FC in the Chennai Football Association Senior Division before switching to I-League side Chennai City FC.

Romario was happy to join FC Goa and reserved words of praise for their style of football. “I am very excited to join the best club in India. I watched them play last season and understood that this is the type of football that I wanted to play.”

Ravi Puskur, Head of Technical Operations at FC Goa, said, “We are very pleased with the capture of Romario, adding to the roster of highly talented Indian youngsters at the club. He is an exciting winger who is very dynamic on the pitch. He is also a proven winner, having won a league title at a relatively young age.”

The Tamil Nadu winger will be sent out on loan to Mohun Bagan for the upcoming season.

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