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EPL: HAALAND, FODEN HAT-TRICKS AS MANCHESTER CITY THRASH MANCHESTER UNITED 6-3

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Erling Haaland and Phil Foden scored hat-tricks to fire champions Manchester City to a rampant 6-3 thrashing of local rivals Manchester United in the Premier League on Sunday.

City’s football was slick, incisive and ruthless in its execution as Haaland claimed his third hat-trick in eight league games and Foden netted his first Premier League treble on a humbling afternoon for United.
After a disappointing start under Erik ten Hag this season, with the Dutchman tasting defeat in his first two games, a run of four successive league wins had promised better times ahead but United were brought firmly back to earth by the neighbours.

No City player had scored a hat-trick against their bitter rivals since Francis Lee in 1970 and in the space of 90 minutes two men achieved the feat.
“We scored six goals, what can I say, it’s amazing,” Haaland told Sky Sports. “To win at home, score six goals, it’s nice.
“You can feel it all the time. You can see the passes we give each other. We always want to go forward and to attack. It’s what I love about the team.”

Foden grabbed the first inside eight minutes, becoming the first English City player to score in a home league derby against United since 2006, sweeping home Bernardo Silva’s low cross, before Haaland headed his first in the 34th minute to put City in command.

FODEN FOURTH

Haaland has settled seamlessly into the Premier League and the Norwegian struck again in the 34th minute on the stretch before Foden added the fourth three minutes later.

Big-money signing Antony curled a stunning strike into the net early in the second half to give United faint hope of a remarkable comeback, before Haaland fired home his 17th goal of an incredible season.
Foden completed his first Premier League treble to finish off the perfect afternoon for irresistible City. Aged 22 years and 127 days, the England international also became the youngest player to reach 50 goals under Pep Guardiola, surpassing Lionel Messi.
United substitute Anthony Martial added a late consolation double, one from the penalty spot, to make the scoreline more respectable, but the margin of victory does not tell the true story of the gulf between the sides.
“It’s quite simple, it’s a lack of belief,” Ten Hag told the BBC. “When you don’t believe on the pitch then you can’t win games, that is unacceptable.
“We get undisciplined at following rules and you get hammered, that’s happened today.”
Pep Guardiola’s team moved to within a point of Arsenal at the top of the standings and a bruised United stayed sixth.
“Perfection doesn’t exist, it’s impossible,” Guardiola said. “But we must try to look there. We did good, we can do better, many, many players had sloppy passes. This is not good. We have to be more consistent. In some areas we were still not good.
“Some players were not good today so they have to improve.”

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JAPAN, SPAIN INTO W’CUP LAST 16, GERMANY CRASH OUT

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Spain's teammates react at the end of the Qatar 2022 World Cup Group E football match between Japan and Spain at the Khalifa International Stadium in Doha on December 1, 2022. (Photo by JAVIER SORIANO / AFP)

Spain staggered through to the World Cup last 16 on Thursday despite a 2-1 defeat by Japan, who remarkably won Group E on a rollercoaster night which saw four-time champions Germany eliminated.

Japan secured another incredible triumph after beating Germany in their opening game, with their progression from the “group of death” one of the greatest achievements in the country’s footballing history.

For a few heart-stopping minutes Spain were poised to head out when Costa Rica were leading in the other game, but the 2010 champions squeezed through after Germany did them a favour by coming back to beat Los Ticos.

Spain and Germany ended on four points each, but La Roja progressed on goal difference.

Alvaro Morata sent Spain ahead early on with a towering header, but Japan dramatically struck back at the start of the second half.

Ritsu Doan and Ao Tanaka’s goals saw them mount a sensational comeback, just as they did against Germany.

Tanaka’s goal was highly controversial after the officials relied on VAR to decide Kaoru Mitoma had kept the ball in play by a hair’s breadth to set him up.

Spain struggled to create chances against a staunch Japanese defence in the final stages, with the Asian side aware that conceding another goal would see them eliminated.

Japanese players collapsed at full-time in celebration, exhausted and elated, while the substitutes raced on to celebrate.

Spain face Morocco in the last 16, while Japan play Croatia.

– Rollercoaster night –

Both sides made five changes, with Luis Enrique bringing in Morata to lead the line, and handing Alejandro Balde and Nico Williams their full debuts.

Japan started with five at the back, hoping to keep Spain at bay, but pressed high in attack to try and capitalise on any mistakes.

Spain are sometimes guilty of glaring defensive errors and Pau Torres exemplified that with a sloppy touch which led to Japan’s first chance, fired into the side-netting by Junya Ito.

Morata sent La Roja ahead in the 12th minute with a towering header from Cesar Azpilicueta’s cross, rekindling the connection which occasionally worked at Chelsea after the striker’s arrival in 2017.

Japan coach Hajime Moriyasu replaced the ineffective Takefuso Kubo and Yuto Nagatomo at the break with Mitoma and Doan, and it paid instant dividends.

Balde lost the ball under pressure and from the edge of the box winger Doan hammered past Unai Simon, who might have done more to keep it out.

Three minutes later and Japan had turned the game on its head, Tanaka bundling home from on the goalline after Mitoma had miraculously kept the ball in play as he crossed it — according to VAR.

Spain were shellshocked and struggled to react, with Luis Enrique making a raft of substitutions to try and regain control.

The coach, alone and perched on the edge of his technical area, was unaware that for a few moments his team faced elimination, when Costa Rica took the lead against Germany in the other game to go 2-1 ahead.

Spain survived, progressing thanks to their superior goal difference, on a night that was far more terrifying than they had anticipated — and Japan secured a hugely unlikely achievement.

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AL HILAL MAY REPLACE IGHALO WITH RONALDO

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Portugal Striker, Cristiano Ronaldo

Saudi Arabian champions, Al Hilal, are not keen to extend the contract of Odion Ighalo as they explore the options of landing former Manchester United forward Cristiano Ronaldo in January, PUNCH Sports Extra reports.

Al Hilal Striker, Odion Ighalo

Ighalo arrived Al Hilal from rivals Al Shabab in January for a fee in the region of €2.9m and his contract with the club ends June 30, 2023.

According to Sky Sports, Al Hilal are preparing to make the first mega offer to Ronaldo barely a week after the 37-year-old became a free agent.

Ronaldo and Manchester United parted ways after the Portuguese icon launched a scathing attack on the club, manager Erik Ten Haag and some of the club’s players in an explosive interview with journalist Piers Morgan.

Al Hilal are big admirers of Ronaldo and reports suggest the Saudi Arabian giants made a proposal for the former Real Madrid star’s signature during the summer transfer market. Manchester United, however, turned down their multi-million euros approach and that could change, though, with Ronaldo free to negotiate his transfer.

“He is one player Al Hilal is looking to sign but that depends on some departures,” the Sky Sports report stated.

Spanish newspaper outlet Marca, also revealed that Ronaldo sensationally agreed a two-and-a-half year deal with Al Nassr worth an eye-watering £172.9m per year, that will see him play until the age of 40.

Should Ighalo chooses to stay at Al Hilal despite Ronaldo’s arrival, the Nigerian will go head-to-head with the Portuguese superstar.

The Nigerian striker fired the goals that powered the team to win the Saudi Premier League title on the season’s final day last year.

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MOROCCO SEND CANADA OUT OF W’CUP, SECURE KNOCKOUT SPOT

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Hakim Ziyech Celebrates his goal against Canada

Morocco on Thursday secured a spot in the World Cup knockout stage after they beat Canada 2-1

For the first time in 36 years, Morocco march on to the last 16 as they finished top of Group F.

The celebrations at the final whistle on the pitch showed how the African side cherish the win.

In a group supposed to be filled with the best of Europe, Morocco emerged top of Group F with Ziyech and En-Nesyri locating the back of the net in a phenomenal display.

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