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Ronaldo Is Back And That Is What Matters

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In the style of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Cristiano Ronaldo spoke of himself in the third person after Juventus’ victory over Spezia, in which he returned and scored a brace.

When asked about his criticism of the PCR, he said that what matters is that he is back.

Ronaldo is back. He knows it, Juventus know it, and Spezia know it. Everyone knows it. But, just in case someone missed it, he reminded himself of it in his statements after scoring a brace in the match he returned, in which his team won.

When he was asked about his controversial criticism of the PCR, the most used test to detect if someone has COVID-19 or not, he said: “Ronaldo is back, that’s what matters”. An expert already criticised him for these words that he didn’t want to comment on.

“I missed playing, but luckily I didn’t have any symptoms and I was very well. I’m back to my old self, now I hope to get back to my best shape, I’ve been stopped too long”, the Portuguese explained about if he is in form or how he feels on the pitch.

He was also asked about how he thinks Juventus’ chances are of winning the league: “The league is complicated, but I think it’s good, it’s more competitive. Milan are doing well, but we have to keep an eye on Napoli, Lazio and several other teams”.

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EPL: Sargent nets brace as Norwich beat Watford to climb out of drop zone

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Josh Sargent scored twice as Norwich secured a crucial 3-0 victory on the road against relegation rivals Watford.

Norwich looked marooned a matter of weeks ago, but their fortunes have been revived by Dean Smith – and the win was his 200th as a manager.

For Watford, the loss drops them below Norwich into the relegation zone, and Claudio Ranieri’s Hornets are heading in the wrong direction.
Burnley against Watford Premier League match postponedBurnley against Watford Premier League match postponed.

The visitors started the brightest and had a good chance to go ahead in the early stages.

Sargent picked the ball up on the right flank, cut inside to unleash a strike but his effort was wide of the mark.

After a poor half in terms of quality, Watford slowly grew into the game, and had a great chance to head into the break with the advantage.

Josh King made a run down the right flank in behind the Norwich defence and crafted an inviting ball towards the oncoming Moussa Sissoko, who could not sort his feet out and sent the ball well wide.

Early in the second half Norwich broke the deadlock. Sargent, who looked threatening all evening, latched onto a Teemu Pukki cross that was clipped in behind the 21-year-old, but after some incredible improvisation, he managed to get a flick on it with a trailing leg and put the Canaries ahead.

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There was an 11-and-a-half minute delay in the second half as a section of the Vicarage Road lights went out, but after consulting with both managers referee Mike Dean decided to play on with most of the lights still active.

Minutes after play resumed, Sargent doubled Norwich’s lead with a brilliant header, rising highest at the back post and guiding the ball beyond the outstretched Daniel Bachmann.

An own goal from Juraj Kucka, minutes after coming on, rubbed salt into Watford wounds.

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Howe defends Newcastle’s Saudi trip despite ‘sportswashing’ fears

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Eddie Howe confirmed on Friday that Newcastle would travel to Saudi Arabia for a training camp despite a fresh warning from Amnesty International that the kingdom was “trying to sportswash their appalling human rights record”.

Relegation-threatened Newcastle, who are 80 per cent-owned by Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF), will fly to the Middle East after their Premier League game at Leeds on Saturday.

Amanda Staveley’s consortium bought the club in October against a background of concern over the Gulf state’s human rights record and accusations of “sportswashing”.

But Howe, who was appointed as Newcastle boss the following month, insisted the focus would be entirely on football.

“It’s a football decision,” he told his pre-match press conference, confirming the trip, which had been widely reported.

“We’re doing it for the benefit of the players, the group, in our fight to stay in the division, and that’s my only thought.

“The facilities and everything around the trip are going to be first-class. We will train and we will train hard and we will train in preparation for our next game, so that’s always going to be my only focus.”

Staveley’s consortium had to give assurances to the Premier League of the separation between the PIF, of which Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is the chairman and club chairman Yasir Al-Rumayyan the governor, and the Saudi state in order for its takeover to be approved.

Asked whether he would be happy to meet the Crown Prince and if that might prove a distraction, Howe added: “There’ll be no distraction from my side.

“As I said, it’s about the training and making sure that the players are focused on our next game. We’re just doing it in a different environment to bring the group closer together.”

AMNESTY WARNING

Amnesty International UK, however, warned that Newcastle’s trip could become “a glorified PR exercise for Mohammed bin Salman’s government”.

Chief executive officer Sacha Deshmukh said: “A training camp like this could easily turn into yet another PR opportunity for the Saudi authorities, who are clearly pursuing an aggressive policy of trying to sportswash their appalling human rights record.”

He said Newcastle players and staff ought to be prepared to speak out about human rights while in Saudi Arabia.

“If the Newcastle training camp becomes a glorified PR exercise for Mohammed bin Salman’s government, it will prove once again that sportswashing human rights crimes is the name of the game here, not football,” he added.

Read Also: EPL: Tottenham on a high ahead of trip to Chelsea

Newcastle, second from bottom of the Premier League after just one win in 20 matches, have brought in defender Kieran Trippier and forward Chris Wood this month but further new signings have proved elusive.

“It’s been a slightly frustrating week for us in the transfer market,” said Howe.

“We obviously know we’re against a deadline and we’re desperately trying, everyone connected with the club, desperately trying to improve the squad, working very hard behind the scenes.”

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England to host Ivory Coast as part of World Cup build-up

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Gareth Southgate’s England will face Ivory Coast in a Wembley friendly on 29 March as part of their build-up to the World Cup in Qatar.

The match against the two-time African champions, currently competing in the Africa Cup of Nations, will be the first meeting between the two nations at senior level.

It will be the first time that the Euro 2020 runners-up have faced non-European opposition since November 2018.

Read Also: EPL: Lindelof given time off by Man Utd after home burgled

England are hosting Switzerland, also at Wembley, on 26 March.

England play four Nations League fixtures in June, then complete Group A3 in September – the final international meet-up before the World Cup in Qatar, which starts on 21 November.

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