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Georgia stun Sweden with 2-0 qualifying win

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Sweden’s hopes of qualifying directly for the World Cup finals in Qatar suffered a serious blow as they slumped to a 2-0 defeat away to Georgia in Group B on Thursday.

Sweden still top the group on 15 points but second-placed Spain can overtake them with victory in Greece later on Thursday. Spain host Sweden in the final qualifier on Sunday.

Read Also: Gerrard explains decision to become new Aston Villa boss

Zlatan Ibrahimovic returned to the Sweden side after a knee injury that kept him out of Euro 2020, but not even the presence of their record goalscorer could not save them from an embarrassing defeat.

The Swedes racked up 15 efforts on goal, including gilt-edged chances for Alexander Isak and Viktor Claesson, but it was the home side who took the lead through Khvicha Kvaratskhelia in the 61st minute and the winger added a second 16 minutes later to secure a famous victory.

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Serie A: Napoli mark Maradona anniversary with dazzling win

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Napoli paid the perfect tribute to Diego Maradona on Sunday by thumping Lazio 4-0 to move three points clear at the top of Serie A.

Fifa president Gianni Infantino was among those present in Naples as the southern Italian city honoured one of its adopted sons, who led Napoli to their only two league titles and the 1989 Uefa Cup and died a year ago on Thursday.

Fans chanted Maradona’s name as a statue, which depicts their idol in full flight atop the number 10, was carried around the pitch.

A tribute from Pele was shown on the stadium’s big screens, while players came out for their pre-match warm-up to the sound of “Life Is Life” by Opus, the song to which Maradona does keepie-uppies in one of the most beloved pieces of footage of the Argentine in his pomp.

Inspired by the emotional ceremony, Napoli took full advantage of AC Milan crashing to a 3-1 home defeat against Sassuolo to go it alone at the summit with an at times electrifying performance.

Kitted out in shirts which bore Maradona’s face, Luciano Spalletti’s table toppers came out like a team possessed and blew Lazio out of the water with three superb first half goals.

MERTENS SWEEPS LAZIO ASIDE

In almost perfect synergy with the occasion it was another adopted Neapolitan in Dries Mertens who led the charge, the Belgian nicknamed ‘Ciro’ scoring a brilliant brace of which Maradona himself would have been proud.

Piotr Zielinski got the ball rolling in the seventh minute by almost ripping a hole in the net with his rocket opener, and just three minutes later Mertens took the roof off the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona when he ended a brilliant move by dumping Patric on the deck with a feint and slotting home a cool finish.

After Luis Alberto and then Francesco Acerbi went close for Lazio in the space of a minute, Mertens effectively sealed the win with more than an hour to play with another wonderful goal, clipping a first-time strike that sailed over a despairing Pepe Reina and increased his club-record goal tally to 139.

The 34-year-old’s three superb strikes in his last two Serie A matches will also give Spalletti hope that he can get by without star striker Victor Osimhen, out for up to three months with facial fractures.

Fabian Ruiz capped a perfect night when he lashed home the fourth from distance.

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Spurs powerbrokers agreed over push for Fiorentina striker Vlahovic

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Fiorentina striker, Dusan Vlahovic, remains high on the agenda at Tottenham.

Tottenham are said to be leading the race to land Vlahovic, with Juventus also said to be keeping a close eye on the situation.

It seems as though Spurs may be inclined to throw all of their resources behind a move for the forward if Harry Kane ends up joining Manchester City ahead of next season.

read also:No tension!, Rodgers confident about Premier League chances

Spurs manager Antonio Conte and technical director Fabio Paratici are both fully convinced that Vlahovic would serve as the ‘ideal heir’ to the England skipper, says Tuttomercatoweb.

The report claims that Spurs may be starting to plan for life without Kane, who is ‘destined’ to leave the club after failing to push through an exit during pre-season.

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Ronaldo ‘determined to retire with more Ballon d’Or’s than Messi’

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Manchester United attacker Cristiano Ronaldo is reportedly determined to retire with more Ballon d’Or’s than Lionel Messi.

The Portuguese has won the award on five occasions, firstly scooping the prize in 2008 before further triumphs in 2013, 2014, 2016 and 2017.

In contrast, Lionel Messi boasts six wins in the Ballon d’Or, with the 34-year-old taking the titles in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015 and 2019, with the 2020 edition cancelled due to the coronavirus pandemic.

read also:No tension!, Rodgers confident about Premier League chances

Now, award chief Pascal Ferre has claimed that Ronaldo has informed him of his ambition to win more Ballon d’Or’s than his Argentine counterpart before he hangs up his boots.

Speaking to Marca, Ferre said: “Ronaldo has only one ambition and that is to retire with more Ballon d’Or than Messi and I know because he told me.”

Ronaldo boasts 10 goals and two assists from 14 games in all competitions for Man United since returning to the club in the summer.

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