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Ferran Torres double sweeps Spain past Italy and into Nations League final

Ferran Torres

Ferran Torres double sweeps Spain past Italy and into Nations League final

So this is how it feels. After three years in charge, having claimed a European Championship and set a new world record, Roberto Mancini finally tasted defeat. After 37 games unbeaten going back to Portugal in September 2018, Italy lost at last. Two first-half goals from Manchester City’s Ferran Torres set Spain on course for a win at San Siro and Sunday’s Nations League final against France or Belgium on this same stage. “Historic,” midfielder Koke called it.

It is not the same, sure, but it was revenge of sorts. Defeated in a semi-final at Wembley, Spain beat Italy back in their own home. Mancini had reminded people that Spain were the team they had most struggled with and it had to happen sometime, somewhere, but few expected it here and now. Luis Enrique’s side came with injuries and absences, debates raging, and with teenagers too, the 18-year-old Yeremi Pino and 17-year-old Gavi making their debuts. Yet, if they were assisted by Leonardo Bonucci’s red card just before half-time, they were superb.

They were also built in the image their manager – often questioned, often proven right – had demanded. “We’re going to go out there and attack because we don’t know how to do anything else,” Luis Enrique had said. The risks remained, he knew, and to start with Italy’s press laid a trap that Spain fell into. Three times they lost the ball in compromising positions in the opening six minutes, Unai Simón having to make a sharp save from Federico Chiesa’s and then an easier one from Nicolò Barella.

Spain’s manager is nothing if not stubborn, though. Bold too, shown by the inclusion of Gavi, who has played only 279 senior minutes in La Liga. The teenager and his new teammates started to get a hold of the game, and soon they were flowing. They took the lead early, Marcos Alonso finding Mikel Oyarzabal on 15 minutes. His wonderful cross found Torres. Leaping, he guided a side-footed volley into the corner.

Time to take the word “false” out of his job description: Torres is running at better than a goal every other game for Spain. That was his 11th international goal in his 21st game. Just before half time he had his 12th.

By then, Alonso’s shot had slipped through Gianluigi Donnarumma’s hands and against the post at one end, while a cleverly disguised Federico Bernardeschi shot was pushed against the post at the other. More important were the moments when Lorenzo Insigne missed a clear chance alone by the penalty spot on 34 minutes, and when Bonucci led with his arm on Sergio Busquets 10 minutes later, earning a second yellow card. That the balance had tilted was confirmed when a wonderful move involving Alonso, Pablo Sarabia and Oyarzabal set up Torres to head the second.

Torres only lasted four minutes of the second half, replaced by another teenager in Yeremi Pino, who was introduced as Torres made his way to the bench where ice was applied, but his job was done and Spain dominated still. Oyarzabal, outstanding throughout, had a shot blocked and then provided for Koke to have a go before Pino stood up a lovely cross from which he nodded just past the post.

Pino was making his debut and making the most of it, providing incision. He was enjoying himself on the right, teeing up Alonso with a brilliant pass that left the Chelsea full-back alone in the area only for Donnarumma to save.

That kept Italy in it and they weren’t going to give up their record easily. A break eight minutes from time made a match of it, Pau Torres making an error from a Spain corner and Chiesa running half the length of the pitch to lay on an easy finish for Lorenzo Pellegrini and set up a tense finale, but the end eventually came, three long years later.

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Governor Ortom Mourns Elder Statesman, Paul Unongo

Governor Samuel Ortom of Benue State has expressed deep pains over the death of an elder statesman Dr Paul Unongo, saying “we have lost a pathfinder and leader of an inestimable value.”

Unongo, a former Minister of Power and Steel in the Second Republic, died at 87 in Jos, Plateau State on Tuesday.

Ortom’s Chief Press Secretary, Mr. Nathaniel Ikyur on Wednesday in Makurdi quoted his principal in a statement, describing Unongo him as a father figure who led the emancipation of the ordinary citizens without ethnic or religious barriers.

“The leadership role Unongo played in the political evolution of Nigeria cannot be forgotten in a hurry.

“He was a mentor to many leaders of today who have great ideas for the socio-political and economic development of the country.

Ortom said Benue’s Iroko tree and one of the last icons of political leadership in Nigeria has fallen, adding that Unongo’s contributions to the politics of the country from post-independence till date cannot be quantified.

“Indeed the state has lost a leader and mentor. His death has created a vacuum that will be difficult to refill.

“We shall miss his intellect, great ideas, oratory prowess and immense capacity for mobilisation and organisation of the people.

“I am consoled that Unongo’s legacies of patriotism, pan Nigerian and philanthropy will endure.

“The state will do the needful to immortalise Unongo for his selfless services and contributions to the development of the state,”Ortom said.

He prayed to God to grant the deceased eternal rest and the immediate family the fortitude to bear the loss.

Unongo too from over Maitama Sule as the chairman of the Northern Elders’ Forum. In 2017.

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BREAKING: Court Jails Student Over Tweet On Aisha Buhari

An Abuja court has sent a university student, Aminu Muhammad, to prison over a post on Twitter mocking first lady Aisha Buhari.

The student, according to BBC Hausa Service, was sent to prison on Tuesday.

The student’s lawyer, CK Agu, told BBC that the judge has refused to grant his client bail.

Mr Aminu was remanded in prion custody till December 5, 2022, the lawyer said.

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Top ISWAP Commander Killed In Airstrike In Lake Chad Region

A top commander of the Islamic State of the West African Province (ISWAP), Muhammad Malik has been killed by troops of the air task force in the Lake Chad region.

Zagazola Makama, a publication focused on the Lake Chad region reported that Malik died on November 29 from the fatal injuries he sustained during the attack.

Nigerian troops were said to have launched a coordinated intelligence-led aerial and ground operation and targeted the jihadist group’s location in the Sabon Tumbun area of Lake Chad on November 24.

This attack was also said to have led to the killing of scores of fighters.

Malik is said to have been a member of the Shura Council in Marte before he went for a course in computer engineering and improvised explosive device (IED) making, sponsored by ISIS in Somalia.

On his return, he reportedly established IED training units where fighters were trained in deploying explosives during attacks.

In the last few months, the Nigerian military has been recording a series of successes in the fight against insurgency in the Lake Chad region and other northern states.

Troops had recently repelled an attack by insurgents at Wawa cantonment in Borgu LGA of Niger state as well as the killing of three commanders of ISWAP in Borno.

 

 

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