Ambode Unveils 22ft ‘Football Forever’ Statue In Lagos

In a series of art project commissioning around the state, Lagos State Governor, Mr. Akinwunmi Ambode has unveiled the ‘Football Forever’ statue at Teslim Balogun Stadium, Surulere. The unveil coincided with the much celebrated qualifications of the Nigerin Super Eagles for Russia 2018 FIFA World cup tournament.

The statue, a 22ft tall sculpture of four players, two aside, stands on an eight feet concrete pedestal announcing and showcasing the prowess, commitment and passion of Nigerians for the beautiful game.

The Governor’s Special Adviser on Tourism, Arts and Culture, Hon. Adebimpe Akinsola, described the statue as a monument of great value that describes the passion Lagosians and Nigerians bestow upon sports and football in particular. He said, “The Monument seeks to educate the Nigerian youth and all visitors to Lagos State that our passion for sport is not only captured by iconic infrastructure facilities and competitions but include giving opportunity to expose artistic representation of its value creative minds.

“The monument reveals Lagosians dexterity in the game of football and projects our fitness and readiness for glory as it conveys vital sport education knowledge and the promotion of sports tourism in Lagos State.”

Akinsola then encouraged all sport enthusiasts to always come around to draw inspiration from the monument.

Asisat Oshoala Invites Arsenal Scouts To Lagos For Football Clinic

As part of efforts to develop the game of female football among girls in Lagos, the maiden edition of the Lagos State Secondary Schools Girls Football Clinic will start in November.

The football clinic which is endorsed by the Nigeria Football Federation and the Lagos State Football Association is supported by the Office of the First Lady of Lagos State , her Excellency Mrs Bolanle Ambode in partnership with the reigning African CAF women football of the year Asisat Oshoala as part of her efforts to develop the game of Women’s Football in Lagos.

The five-day event will see scouts and coaches from Arsenal and China visit Lagos to train Lagos State Secondary Schools Girls about the game of football.

About 5,000 girls from different secondary schools are expected to take part in the competition.

Balls, boots, jerseys, school bags and other educational and sports equipment are to be distributed to all participants.

 

Source: All Nigerian Soccer

I Have 24 Brothers And Sisters – Evra Reveals Why He Is Still Playing At 36

Former Manchester United defender, Patrice Evra has revealed that he is still playing at the age of 36, because he still has “24 brothers and sisters to feed”.
Evra spent eight years at United between 2006 and 2014 and the left-back returned on Sunday to Old Trafford, for Michael Carrick’s testimonial game.

The Frenchman, who currently plays for Ligue 1 side Marseille, has also urged Carrick to continue playing for a longer time.

“I hope he will play for many years, he has to keep playing like me. I am still playing because I still have 24 brothers and sisters to feed so I can’t stop, I have to run,” Evra told ITV.

“Michael Carrick is still an important player for Manchester United and I remember this year always when he was playing the result was always positive.”

Rangers Int’l FC Overcomes Goalkeeping Worries

Rangers Int’l FC of Enugu Goalkeeper trainer, Suleiman Shuibu, says the club has overcome its goalkeeping injury crisis that affected it in the first stanza of the league.

Speaking in Enugu on Wednesday, Shuibu said that goalkeeping injury crisis of the club was over.

According to him, at the moment the club need not worry because a new goalkeeper, Saidu Matawakilu, is doing well.

“At the moment we have a goalkeeper, Saidu Matawakilu, who is under the leadership of the goalkeeping for now.

“So you do not need to change a winning team overnight.

“We know that Nana Bonsu is the first choice goalkeeper no doubt, but Matawakilu is doing well at the moment.

“Mutawakilu can be changed along the line when the need arises but for now, we cannot touch that area because it is a sensitive area in football,” he said that the club first choice goalkeeper, Nana Bonsu was injured in their match with Lobi Stars at the beginning of the season and was replaced by Itodo Akor, who was also injured before their exit from CAF competition.

Rangers suffered an injury in their goalkeeping department to an extent that Nana Bonsu had to be rushed back unfit against Zesco United FC of Zambia in their confederation second leg match in Zambia.

“At the early stage of the season, it was unfortunate that we could not clear all the goalkeepers in our rank.

“We only succeeded in registering three goalkeepers and out of the three, Emmanuel Daniel left to South Africa and we were left with two.

“Along the line, the two keepers were injured but we have to manage what we have but all that is over now,’’ he said.

He said that the other goalkeepers were cleared in the mid-season transfer window and that the club was happy that the injured ones were back to fitness.

Ibrahim Credits The New Management Board For His Sucess

Wikki Tourists captain and right back, Mustapha Ibrahim has tagged ‘magic of the new board’ his side’s emphatic win against Abia Warriors.

The Bauchi Elephants defeated the Umuahia Warriors 3-1 in Sunday’s top-flight matchday 20 clash at the Abubakar Tafawa Balewa Stadium (ATBS) in Bauchi.

Ibrahim said the convincing victory is clear evidence that the much talked about positive turnaround has just started in the Bauchi outfit.

“I think the new board has 100% hand in our biggest win so far in the on-going season against Abia Warriors, the success is simply the magic of the new management board.

“The board upon coming has done a lot to ginger and motivate us to action even though nothing concrete has been promised but they have gone out of their way to make us happy.

“We are happy with their coming and the five-star performance in the clash against Abia Warriors is our own little way to appreciate the board and in so doing tell the government that we are truly happy with them.

“And I must confess that the real turnaround in the team has just begun with the superb result against Abia Warriors.

“Or how else does one explains starting the second stanza of the season on a winning note it means that something big and great is coming to us in the future.

“Already, our chairman is dreaming of the continental ticket based on our performance saying that the league race is quite open.

“And we believe him that nothing is simply impossible for us to achieve at the moment once we are able to sustain the momentum.

“We have headed back to the trenches to prepare for the weekend clash at Nasarawa United in Lafia.

“We know the side’s antics and mindset and sure to contest in a big way the three points at stake,” said the former Nigerian junior international strongman to supersport.com.

The hard earned victory against the Umuahia outfit has upped Wikki Tourists placement on the 20-team top-flight log to 16th on 24 points 12 behind leaders, Plateau United.

Akwa United Goalkeeper Excited ABout Match Fixture Against MFM

Akwa United goalkeeper Olorunleke Ojo has said he is looking forward with keen interest to his possible debut at Mountain of Fire Miracles Ministries (MFM) FC.

The Promise Keepers are guests of the Olukoya Boys in Sunday’s Nigeria Professional Football League (NPFL) matchday 20 clash at the Agege Township Stadium.

The former Nigerian junior international shot stopper switched loyalty to the Uyo outfit from Sunshine Stars in the mid-season transfer window.

Ojo said despite the presence of good goalkeepers in the camp of the Uyo landlords he will always find his right footing to excel.

“I’m ordained to lead and rule in the presence of stiff challenges, mine is to work very hard and leave the rest to God.

“Goalkeeping is not a strange role for me in any club I find myself. It’s what I’m cut out to do exceedingly well.

“Nothing is strange as I will always find my feet to perform and I’m at Akwa United to perform as I have been doing in other clubs.

“Akwa United are in a good position on the league log prior to joining the side so I’m here to further help the side go up higher on the log.

“I have the best of intentions joining the side and I want the very best for the team in the on-going Nigerian top-flight.

“Yes, Akwa United can win the league title. It’s quite possible as the title is largely open to the entire teams.

“Of course, I’m looking forward to our match at Mountain of Fire Miracles Ministries (MFM) FC in Lagos on Sunday.

“If I’m called upon to man the post I’m sure to grab the offer with both hands and pray fervently I announce my debut with a clean sheet performance and victory, too,” said the former Giwa FC goaltender to supersport.com.

Akwa United are fifth on the 20-team top-flight on 29 points, six behind league leaders Plateau United.

Highest Goals Scorers In World Football History

1. Arthur Friedenreich – 1,329 goals:

Surprisingly the man who tops this list is not Pele, but another Brazilian who went by the name Arthur Friedenreich. The Brazilian striker played for an astonishing 26 years from 1909-1935 scoring an absolutely incredible 1,329 goals in his career. He was the Copa America player of the tournament and the golden boot winner in 1919.
However, he never represented Brazil in a World Cup as there was a serious misunderstanding between the Football Leagues of the States of Rio de Janeiro and Sao Paulo. Nicknamed the ‘Tiger’, he was the game’s first outstanding black player and he had to face many barriers and widespread racism throughout his career.
He played a starring role in Brazil’s 1919 and 1922 Copa America campaign and he was crowned as the “King of football” in Brazil’s 1925 tour of Europe. The late Arthur Friedenreich with 1,329 goals is the greatest goalscorer in football history.
2. Pele – 1,281 goals:

In the 1958 World Cup, a 17 year and 239-day old Brazilian striker emerged as probably the greatest prodigy of all time.With his pace, effortless grace, immense poise, impressive power and most importantly supreme intelligence, Edson Arantes do Nascimento, fondly known as Pele, is probably one of the greatest footballers of all time.
Winning three World Cups in 1958, 1962 and 1970, the only player in the world to achieve such a feat Pele has also scored a whopping 1281 goals in 1363 games. The striker who made the world believe in this game through his game, a player who brought a whole nation together, surely it is difficult to have found someone who has done it better than the legend Pele.Pele never played in Europe, spending the majority of his career at childhood club Santos. He spent a couple of seasons at New York Cosmos before calling time on his stunning career.

3. Josef Bican – 805 goals :

The player with a most incredible goals to game ratio of 1.52, Josef Bican was the season’s highest scorer in Europe on five separate occasions. Bican had the ability to play with both feet; he also had considerable pace and was able to run 100 metres in 10.8 seconds, which was as fast as many sprinters of the time.
The International Federation of Football History & Statistics (IFFHS) awarded Bican the “Golden Ball” as the greatest goalscorer of the last century.Bican is best known for his time with Rapid Vienna and Slavia Prague.
He is the only person in the history of the game to score 7 goals in a game on three different occasions. His goalscoring exploits with Vienna and Prague are scarcely believable.In 49 games for Vienna he scored 52 times while with Prague, he played 217 times scoring an astonishing 395 goals. With 805 goals in his career, the tall, handsome and speedy Austrian is the third highest goalscorer in the history of the game.

4. Romario – 743 goals :

In a long and successful career which spanned for close to 24 years, Romario cemented his legacy as one of the greatest goal scorers to ever play the game. The Brazilian is best remembered for his times at PSV Eindhoven and Barcelona.
Blessed with supreme dribbling skills and finishing, Romario’s laid back manner and supreme self-confidence made him one of the most dangerous forwards of all time. He scored 165 goals in 167 games for PSV and he also scored a very impressive 39 goals in his two seasons at Barcelona.In a nomadic career where he played for clubs like Flamengo, Vasco Da Gama, PSV, Barcelona and Valencia, Romario scored an amazing 688 goals in his 886 appearances.
He also scored 55 goals for Brazil and with 743 goals in his career, Romario is the fourth greatest goal scorer of all time.
5. Gerd Muller – 711 goals :

Gerd Müller is the most lethal finisher in the history of football. The German was not one to show fancy footwork or waste his time doing some eye-catching stepovers. What he did do was score goals and he scored everytime he played.Müller’s statistics are truly astonishing.
He has scored an amazing 711 goals for club and country and he even held the record for the most goals in a calendar year before it was broken by Lionel Messi. Müller scored 365 goals in 427 Bundesliga matches for Bayern Munich, almost 100 goals more than the second most successful Bundesliga scorer, Klaus Fischer.
Famous football author David Winner best epitomized Muller’s game when he said:“He never fitted the conventional idea of a great footballer, but he had lethal acceleration over short distances, a remarkable aerial game, and uncanny goalscoring instincts. His short legs gave him a strangely low center of gravity, so he could turn quickly and with perfect balance in spaces and at speeds that would cause other players to fall over. He also had a knack of scoring in unlikely situations.”Muller is quite simply the best finisher in football history.

6. Ferenc Puskas – 700 goals:

Blessed with a thunderous left foot and superb positioning skills, Ferenc Puskas is easily one of the greatest players to ever play the game. He was the lynchpin of the all-conquering “Magical Magyars” and led the Hungary team to unprecedented success.
During the second half of his career, Puskas formed a deadly combination with the great Alfredo Di Stefano during his stint at Real Madrid as they the duo tore up defences and guided the Los Blancos to five straight league titles and three European Cups. The legendary Hungarian striker was La Liga’s top scorer for 4 seasons in a row. His phenomenal goal scoring prowess can be seen from the fact that he scored an astonishing 616 goals in 620 appearances for his club sides.
He is also Hungary’s record scorer having scored 84 times in 85 appearances. With 700 goals in his amazing career, Puskas is the sixth highest goalscorer of all time.

7. Eusebio – 621 Goals

Statistics in football are often overrated, but 621 goals in 637 appearances, makes the Portuguese ‘black panther’ Eusebio one of the greatest goalscorers of all time. For many, including the great Pele, Eusebio was the undisputed king of football.
That he had a god given talent, was clear to everyone who was fortunate enough to watch him play. Blessed with an athletic physique and an incredible eye for goal, Eusebio is best remembered for his time with Benfica, where he won a European Cup and 11 Premiere Ligas.
In 440 matches for the Portuguese giants, he scored an incredible 473 times and he is still considered by many to be the greatest Portuguese footballer of all time.Eusebio won various personal accolades in those years, winning the Ballon d’Or in 1965 and coming second the following year where he lost to Bobby Charlton by a single vote. In 1968, he was awarded the Golden Boot for most number of goals in Europe, and achieved that feat again five years later.
‘The black panther’ definitely one of the greatest strikers to ever play the beautiful game.

8. Cristiano Ronaldo – 593 goals :

One of the two standout players of this generation, Cristiano Ronaldo is easily one of the greatest players of all time. Ronaldo joined Real Madrid from Manchester United for a then world record fee of £80 million and he has been worth every single penny so far. Ever since his move to Real Madrid, his goalscoring exploits have been simply mind boggling. In 389 appearances, Ronaldo has scored an astonishing 399 goals and has been at the forefront of Real Madrid’s two Champions League triumphs in the last 3 years. He was also prolific with Manchester United where he scored 118 times in 292 games. Ronaldo has now scored an incredible 522 goals for his club sides making him the greatest goalscorer among the current footballers.
With 71 goals for Portugal, he is their all-time record goalscorer. He has scored a total of 593 goals in his career, and if he continues his incredible goalscoring exploits, he is sure to be ranked much higher than #9 by the time his career is over.

9. Ferenc Deak – 576 goals:

With 576 goals recorded for club and country, legendary Hungarian footballer Ferenc Deak takes the #8 position on this list. Deak was a supreme goalscorer who had an astonishing 1.15 goals to game ratio throughout his career.He played for several clubs in his active career which includes Szentlrinci SE, Ferencváros and Budapesti Dózsa.
He also represented the Hungary national team 20 times where he netted a phenomenal 29 goals.For his astonishing goalscoring efforts, Ferenc Deak was named the Hungarian footballer of the year in 1946. The second world war prevented Deak from playing more for Hungary, otherwise, this legendary goalscorer might have well been higher up on this list.

10. Lionel Messi – 571 goals :

The only footballer ever to win the Ballon d’Or five times, Lionel Messi is an absolute phenomenon. The diminutive Argentine has been Barcelona’s main man since 2008 and has put in some spell bounding performances for both Barcelona and Argentina. The Argentine maestro who is still only 29 has scored an incredible 513 goals in 621 matches for the Catalan giants. A player who has defined a generation along with Cristiano Ronaldo, Messi is definitely one of the greatest footballers of all time. Also, Messi is the highest scorer for his national side as well with 58 goals in 117 appearances. One of only two active players on this list, Messi’s position will definitely be much closer to the top when he calls time on his illustrious career.

AS Roma Stop Juventus Party

Club icon Francesco Totti applauded from the sidelines then celebrated at the whistle as Roma kept Juventus waiting for the Serie A title with a defiant 3-1 win at the Stadio Olimpico on Sunday.

Treble-chasing Juventus travelled to the capital hoping to secure at least a point to mathematically ensure a record sixth consecutive scudetto with two games to spare.

But despite heading in for the half-time on equal terms after Daniele De Rossi levelled Mario Lemina’s 21st minute opener for the visitors, Juventus were stunned by a pair of second-half strikes from Stephan El Shaarawy and Radja Nainggolan.

Roma’s 26th win of the campaign moved Luciano Spalletti’s men back up to second place, only four points off the lead, to sit one point ahead of Napoli, who saw Jose Callejon hit a brace in a 5-0 rout at Torino earlier.

It kept the capital side in contention for the league’s second automatic Champions League spot and, to boot, ended Juve’s hopes of celebrating at the ground of their bitter league rivals.

Juve can wrap up the title with a win at home to relegation-haunted Crotone next week, but their fifth defeat of the campaign ended Massimiliano Allegri’s hopes of securing the scudetto before they face Lazio in the Italian Cup final against Lazio on Wednesday.

Allegri rested several players as the champions, who face Real Madrid in the June 3 Champions League final, target an unprecedented club treble.

Argentinian playmaker Paulo Dybala started on the bench alongside defenders Giorgio Chiellini and Dani Alves, handing a rare start to Mario Lamina.

Only days ago the Frenchman complained of his lack of playing time in Turin, but after a couple of early Juve chances he was eating his words.

Ghanaian defender Kwadwo Asamoah, too, was given a rare start and drew gasps with a ferocious left-foot drive following a corner that smashed off the upright after just seven minutes.

Gonzalo Higuain’s drive then curled over, but the visitors broke the deadlock soon after, Lemina side-footing Higuain’s generous ball past Wojciech Szczesny after controlling Stefano Sturaro’s long ball from midfield.

Roma striker Edin Dzeko’s absence due to a calf strain robbed Roma of the aerial threat usually provided by the Bosnian.

But when Kostas Manolas rose high to meet a corner with a powerful header that forced Juve ‘keeper Gianluigi Buffon to parry, the rebound fell to De Rossi, who beat the Italy ‘keeper at the second time of asking.

Roma resumed in determined fashion after the interval, De Rossi earning a quick a caution after clattering into Miralem Pjanic.

Minutes later, the Olimpico erupted — and Totti began clapping — when El Shaarawy goal collected a cross from Nainggolan, cut inside and unleashed a low, right-footed strike that took a slight deflection before squeezing inside the far post of Gianluigi Buffon’s net.

The goal took the wind out of Juve’s sails, but not as much as Roma’s third.Egyptian forward Mohamed Salah delivered a great cross for Nainggolan deep in Juve territory before the Belgian controlled and beat Buffon with a ferocious drive on 65 minutes.

A stunned Allegri introduced Dybala for Sturaro minutes later, but, as Totti personally experienced when he replaced Salah for the final two minutes, it was too little, too late for the Turin giants.

Super Eagles Static On World Football Ranking

Nigeria’s Super Eagles remain static in the latest rankings released by the world football governing body, Fifa on Thursday.

The Super Eagles are still ranked 40th in the World and fifth in Africa with 725.67 ranking points following little activity in the month of April.

Egypt, Senegal, Cameroun and Burkina Faso are the only African national teams better ranked than Nigeria in the latest classification.

The Super Eagles will return to competition in June with an African Cup of Nations (Afcon) qualifier against South Africa.

Top 10 national teams in Africa

1. Egypt (19)

2. Senegal (30)

3. Cameroon (33)

4. Burkina Faso (35)

5. Nigeria (40)

6. Congo DR (41)

Tunisia (42)

Ghana (45)

The Ivory Coast (48)

Top 10 national teams in the world

1. Brazil

2. Argentina

3. Germany

4. Chile

5. Colombia

6. France

7. Belgium

8. Portugal

9. Switzerland

10. Spain

Unstoppable Bayern Win Fifth Straight German League Title

Bayern Munich have been crowned Bundesliga champions for the fifth straight season on Saturday after Robert Lewandowski scored twice in a 6-0 thrashing of a Wolfsburg side reduced to 10 men.

After second-placed RB Leipzig were held to a goalless draw by Ingolstadt, Bayern wrapped up the title with a thumping away victory that left them 10 points clear with three games left.

“Five times in a row, that’s unbelievable. We completely deserve to be champions,” Bayern chairman Karl-Heinz Rummenigge told Sky.

Carlo Ancelotti has delivered a 27th league title in his first season as Bayern’s manager.

“I am very happy, this win was important and it’s a fantastic experience,” said the Italian.

Ancelotti has now won four national league titles after also lifting the Premier League with Chelsea, Serie A with AC Milan and Ligue 1 with Paris Saint-Germain.

“I want to thank this great club,” he said. “We deserved the title and have played good football, now is the time to celebrate.”

Lewandowski’s double leaves the Polish predator on 28 goals this season, one more than Borussia Dortmund’s Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang in the race to be the league’s top marksman.

The league triumph is consolation for Wednesday’s 3-2 German Cup semi-final defeat at home to Dortmund, which denied Ancelotti the chance of emulating predecessor Pep Guardiola with the domestic double in his first season.

It also goes a small way towards making up for the disappointment of going out in the quarter-finals of the Uefa Champions League to Real Madrid.

Bayern were barely made to work for their win as David Alaba drilled home a trademark free kick on 19 minutes to put the visitors 1-0 up after a foul on Thomas Muller.

Lewandowski doubled the lead on 36 minutes when Kingsley Coman’s cross was flicked on by Muller and the Poland hotshot fired home.

He bagged his second and Bayern’s third just before the half time whistle after Coman delivered another cross from the left wing.

The floodgates opened late on as Arjen Robben netted on 66 minutes before Wolfsburg’s Luiz Gustavo, a former Bayern player, was sent off for a second booking on 78 minutes.

Bayern exploited their numerical advantage as Muller banged home Lewandowski’s pass before Joshua Kimmich sealed the rout.

Bayern’s latest comfortable title win was made possible by Leipzig’s draw at the Red Bull Arena, where Ingolstadt defender Alfredo Morales was sent off with four minutes to play.

Dortmund, who face Eintracht Frankfurt in the German Cup final on May 27, hold on to third place, which would mean a direct Champions League place next season, despite their goalless draw at home to Cologne.

Both Aubameyang and Cologne’s Anthony Modeste, who has 23 league goals, drew blanks at Signal Iduna Park.

Hoffenheim, coached by Julian Nagelsmann, 29, the youngest manager in Bundesliga history, can leapfrog Dortmund if they beat Eintracht in Frankfurt on Sunday.

Werder Bremen’s remarkable finish to the season continues as they earned a 2-0 win to home to Hertha Berlin to stay sixth.

Bremen remain on course for a Europa League place having risen from bottom in September after losing their first four games.

Werder striker Max Kruse’s dream April continued as he netted Bremen’s second after Fin Bartels’s opener for his eighth goal in six games this month.

Bremen are unbeaten in their last 11 games.

Mainz remain just a point from the bottom three after Japan striker Yoshinori Muto scored their consolation goal in a 2-1 home defeat. Lars Stindl and Nico Schulz scored for Borussia Monchengladbach.

Plucky bottom side Darmstadt again delayed their relegation with a 3-0 win at home to Freiburg.

Torsten Frings’s side picked up their third straight victory thanks to goals by Felix Platte, Jerome Gondorf and Sven Schipplock.

Darmstadt are still eight points from safety with three games left.

Barcelona Fall to Shock Defeat

Barcelona missed the chance to move level on points with Real Madrid in LaLiga as they were shocked 2-0 by Malaga, with Neymar dismissed.

Neymar was sent off as Barcelona’s title hopes suffered a shock setback with a 2-0 defeat against Malaga in Saturday’s LaLiga encounter at La Rosaleda.

Luis Enrique’s men would have moved level on points with Real Madrid with a win following the capital side’s earlier draw against Atletico Madrid, but the Catalans endured a miserable evening as they returned home empty-handed instead.

Sandro Ramirez dealt his former club’s hopes of going top of the league a blow before the break when he made the most of some poor defending from Jeremy Mathieu.

And things went from bad to worse after the interval with a second booking for Neymar – his first red card in LaLiga – following a reckless foul on Diego Llorente near the corner flag.

Jony then added a second in stoppage time at the end of counter-attack as the champions chased a way back into the game that never materialised.

Barcelona had every reason to be confident heading into the encounter, having gone unbeaten at the Rosaleda in the league since 2003, but the scoreless draw from the reverse fixture was an indication that Malaga would not be pushovers.

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Michel’s men drew extra confidence from their 1-0 win over Sporting Gijon in midweek, thus ending a six-game winless streak, and they frustrated Barcelona for a second time in 2016-17 following a strong display, Sandro and Jony the heroes for the hosts.

The result means Barcelona remain three points off the pace, while leaders Madrid still have a game in hand.

Barcelona were in charge right from the off and Luis Suarez came close to handing the Catalans the lead in the 16th minute. The Uruguay international did well to bring down Jordi Alba’s long ball after beating the offside trap, only to then aim a shot straight at goalkeeper Carlos Kameni from inside the area.

Malaga slowly grew into the game from there on and Recio could have handed his side a surprise lead halfway through the first half after a poor pass from Marc-Andre ter Stegen, but the midfielder aimed wide from 30 yards out as the Barcelona goalkeeper was fortunate not to be punished for his sloppy play.

And the hosts did go a goal up when Sandro found the net following a rapid counterattack in the 32nd minute, beating Ter Stegen with a low shot at the near post after some unconvincing defending from Mathieu.

Barcelona continued to dominate possession after the break, but they nearly went two goals down in the 57th minute after Sandro did well to set up Juanpi in a dangerous position, the Venezuelan midfielder aiming a shot straight at Ter Stegen.

A superb individual moment from Neymar then almost resulted in the equaliser on the hour mark, but the winger saw his shot from a narrow angle hit the upright before bouncing wide for a goalkick.

The Brazilian’s frustrations got the better of him in the 65th minute and referee Jesus Gil Manzano saw no other option but to show the attacker his second yellow card of the evening after a reckless challenge on Llorente.

Malaga thought they had doubled their lead when Adalberto Penaranda had the ball in the net after a quick break, but the goal was questionably chalked off for offside.

The linesman’s decision would have no influence on the final result, however, as Malaga got their second goal after all in the dying minutes. Pablo Fornals coolly laid the ball off for Jony after yet another counter-attack and the substitute had no trouble firing home to seal the win.