AFCON 2019: Nigeria underwhelm in 1-0 win over debutants Burundi

Press Association Sport 08:57 23/06/2019
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Nigeria players gratefully celebrate their victory.

Burundi’s Africa Cup of Nations debut ended in a 1-0 defeat despite an encouraging display against an underwhelming Nigeria in Group B.

The minnows, ranked 134th in the world, were the better side in the first half, with Frederic Nsabiyumva hitting the crossbar.

However, their dream start was spoiled by former Watford striker Odion Ighalo, who scored within five minutes of coming on as a second-half substitute.

The Super Eagles, making their first appearance since winning the trophy in 2013 having missed the last two editions, came into the tournament as joint-third favourites but their performance did not suggest that.

Despite starting with Leicester’s Wilfred Ndidi, Arsenal’s Alex Iwobi, former Chelsea midfielder John Obi Mikel and Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze, the three-time winners struggled to impose themselves on their underdog opponents.

Burundi showed all the promise which had seen them come through their qualifying group as unbeaten runners-up, but they just could not make the breakthrough when on top.

Ighalo, Nigeria’s leading scorer in qualifying, came on in the 73rd minute and converted the best move of the match.

He latched on to the London-born former Chelsea academy graduate Ola Aina’s clever defence-splitting backheel to bend a shot around goalkeeper Jonathan Nahimana and inside the far post

Underdogs Uganda sprang a surprise at the Africa Cup of Nations with a convincing 2-0 victory over a disappointing DR Congo side in Group A.

Patrick Kaddu’s flicked near-post header opened the scoring in the 14th minute and Uganda should have extended their lead before half-time with Emmanuel Okwi wasting a free header of his own.

Everton winger Yannick Bolasie nodded a corner wide before the break but DR Congo’s problems worsened when Okwi did find the target shortly after the restart with a glancing, looping header across Ley Matampi into the far corner.

Substitute Jonathan Bolingi hit the crossbar as Congo tried to find a response but they produced little in the way of a threat in the final 20 minutes.

Uganda’s victory lifted them above hosts Egypt into first place in Group A on goal difference.

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Copa America 2019: Argentina players "need support and not pressure", says coach Lionel Scaloni

Press Association Sport 08:20 23/06/2019
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Argentina coach Lionel Scaloni says their must-win Copa America game with Qatar is “not life and death”.

La Albiceleste have endured a wretched campaign in Brazil so far, losing against Colombia and drawing with Paraguay ahead of their final group game with the Asian invitee on Sunday.

Brazil’s 5-0 win over Peru on Saturday has helped their qualification cause, but Scaloni is not going to worry too much about what happens.

“These guys need support and not so much pressure on them,” he said in a press conference. “It’s not life and death, it’s a football game.

“We have to win it and that’s enough. If what happens, happens, it doesn’t help. They need positivity to do their best.

“If we win we will go through the round, the result of Brazil against Peru did not change much for us because we should win and we are focused on that.

“Psychologically and emotionally we are well. We have to raise the game to go out and win and we will do it.”

Much has been made about Scaloni’s potential team selection, with reports that Paulo Dybala will join Lionel Messi in attack.

“The team is decided and the players know it. But I’m not going to say it because it would give the Qatar manager an advantage,” Scaloni added.

“Qatar plays football well, the coach makes them change systems in the same game and it is a difficult team. I always respect the rivals and this one even more because it is still everything at stake.”

The Asian Cup winners drew 2-2 with Paraguay in their opening game but lost to Colombia.

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Copa America 2019: Brazil cruise into quarter-finals with 5-0 Peru pumping

Press Association Sport 08:17 23/06/2019
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Brazil cruised into the quarter-finals of the Copa America with a thumping 5-0 victory over Peru at the Corinthians Arena in Sao Paulo.

The tournament hosts were booed off by their fans after being held to a goalless draw by Venezuela in midweek but they took their frustrations out on previously unbeaten Peru.

The clash between the top two in Group A was as good as over inside the opening 32 minutes with Brazil storming into a 3-0 lead.

Casemiro opened the scoring in the 12th minute when he headed in from close range following a Philippe Coutinho corner and Roberto Firmino made it 2-0 soon after.

The Liverpool forward blocked Peru goalkeeper Pedro Gallese’s attempted clearance and, after the ball had rebounded back off the post, Firmino collected possession, side-stepped Gallese and tapped in.

Brazil added a third before the break when Everton beat Gallese at his near post with a low drive from outside the box, and the Selecao – looking to win the Copa America for the first time since 2007 – were well on their way to the last eight as group winners.

The scoring did not finish there, though, with Brazil captain Dani Alves emphatically finishing off a one-two with Firmino at the start of the second half, before Chelsea forward Willian made it 5-0 with a brilliant 20-yard effort in the 90th minute.

There was still time after that for Brazil to add a sixth but Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus saw his stoppage-time penalty well saved by Gallese diving to his right.

In the day’s other group match, Venezuela beat Bolivia 3-1 to move above Peru into second place and progress to the knockout stages.

Darwin Machis struck twice for Venezuela before Josef Martinez wrapped up the win after Leonel Justiniano had pulled a goal back for Bolivia.

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