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Lionel Messi’s Panenka wins it for PSG after RB Leipzig threaten upset

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Lionel Messi

Lionel Messi’s Panenka wins it for PSG after RB Leipzig threaten upset

It might sound strange, but despite scoring two goals and winning the game for Paris Saint-Germain with an outrageous Panenka, Lionel Messi did not really have a very good game. Still, nobody at a festive Parc des Princes seemed to mind too much. After looking wooden and curiously passive for an hour, Paris came to life in the last 25 minutes, beating an impressive Leipzig side despite having little cohesion and not much in the way of a tactical plan, but two of the most irresistible attackers on the planet.

With three defeats out of three, Leipzig are now virtually eliminated, and for all their spirit and running, the spotlight will now fall on their new coach Jesse Marsch.

By contrast, you suspect even Mauricio Pochettino does not really know how good this Paris side is. The attacking combinations are still being drilled, the midfield looks overstretched and occasionally the defence gives the impression it wants to run and hide.

In the meantime just savour the entertainment, and the burgeoning bromance between Messi and Kylian Mbappé, who for all their differences, for all the operatic, highly strung drama of recent months, look like they are beginning to enjoy each other’s company.

It was Mbappé who laid on Messi’s first goal and created his second, winning a penalty and allowing Messi a free run at it. In stoppage time Messi returned the favour, spurning the chance of a hat-trick to let Mbappé take the spot-kick, which the France forward duly blazed over the bar. No matter. PSG are back on top of Group A, although not without a few scares.

Even from the early stages you could sense that both teams were there to be got at, and both knew it too. Leipzig pushed high and got the ball forward quickly, trying to create space for their attacking wing-backs. Paris, meanwhile, would look to the spaces in behind, trying to release Mbappé into the open channels. And it was from just such an opening that he got his early goal.

It came via a smart low finish at the end of one of those terrifying, prowling dribbles in which the defender – Willi Orban this time – is almost paralysed with indecision and so ends up being led into a sort of doomed dance. The goal itself was greeted with the imperial assent of a crowd that – without wanting to put too fine a point on it – is used to going 1-0 up an awful lot.

Perhaps the only consolation for Leipzig was that chasing the game required little change in style. Actually, there was another: PSG will generally always give you a chance.

This is, after all, a team that have kept just four clean sheets in 14 games this season. And even as several good opportunities came and went to Konrad Laimer and André Silva (twice), there simply was not the same sort of jeopardy you get when you miss a chance against, say, Chelsea.

Slowly Leipzig were beginning to feel their way into the game, find the spaces. And shortly before the half-hour they were able to stroll the ball up the pitch and work it unfussily from right to left, where Angeliño put in one of his trademark early crosses for Silva to finish from a tight angle. It had been coming.

After a short truce at the end of the first half, Leipzig made their move at the start of the second. Again it came on the counter, the ball spread left to Angeliño, the penalty area packed with white-shirted runners. Nordi Mukiele, the Parisian native, volleyed in Angeliño’s delicious cross, and all of a sudden the heat was on Pochettino, who with precious few attacking alternatives on the bench could change personnel but not the system.

What of Messi? These hectic hard-running games no longer really suit his style: it’s worth remembering that his last game against Bundesliga opposition ended in an 8-2 defeat to Bayern Munich. He had just one touch in the Leipzig penalty area in the first half.

Still, all genius needs is a glimpse. And after bundling the ball in from close range from Mbappé’s unselfish pass he added the coup de grace seven minutes later: an irreverent dink after Mohamed Simakan had pushed the speeding Mbappé over in the area.

In a way, Mbappé’s late missed penalty – awarded after a foul on Achraf Hakimi – felt strangely apt: the comedy bassoon that brought the curtain down on another riotous Parisian farce.

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

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UN chief warns of ‘catastrophe’ from global food shortage

The head of the United Nations warned Friday that the world faces “catastrophe” because of the growing shortage of food around the globe.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the war in Ukraine has added to the disruptions caused by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and inequality to produce an “unprecedented global hunger crisis” already affecting hundreds of millions of people.

“There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022,” he said in a video message to officials from dozens of rich and developing countries gathered in Berlin. “And 2023 could be even worse.”

Guterres noted that harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas will take a hit as farmers around the world struggle to cope with rising fertilizer and energy prices.

“This year’s food access issues could become next year’s global food shortage,” he said. “No country will be immune to the social and economic repercussions of such a catastrophe.”

Guterres said U.N. negotiators were working on a deal that would enable Ukraine to export food, including via the Black Sea, and let Russia bring food and fertilizer to world markets without restrictions.

He also called for debt relief for poor countries to help keep their economies afloat and for the private sector to help stabilize global food markets.

The Berlin meeting’s host, German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock, said Moscow’s claim that Western sanctions imposed over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine were to blame for food shortages was “completely untenable.”

Russia exported as much wheat in May and June this year as in the same months of 2021, Baerbock said.

She echoed Guterres’ comments that several factors underlie the growing hunger crisis around the world.

“But it was Russia’s war of attack against Ukraine that turned a wave into a tsunami,” Baerbock said.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken insisted that Russia has no excuse for holding back vital goods from world markets.

“The sanctions that we’ve imposed on Russia collectively and with many other countries exempt food, exempt food products, exempt fertilizers, exempt insurers, exempt shippers,” he said.

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

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Bandits release Zamfara wedding guests after payment of ransom

Local and federal highways in the North-west have become vulnerable as bandits continue to ambush and abduct travellers.

The gunmen who abducted 29 people returning to Zamfara State from Sokoto State where they had gone to attend the wedding of colleagues have released them after the payment of an unspecified ransom.

The victims, who were mostly dealers of mobile phones and phone accessories at Bebeji Communication Market (Bebeji Plaza) in Gusau, the capital of Zamfara State were abducted in Sokoto 13 days ago.

Secretary of the GSM Dealers Association in the state, Ashiru Zurmi, confirmed the release of the victims but didn’t give details.

One of the victims reportedly died in captivity.

Though the amount paid as ransom to secure the release of the hostages has not been revealed, Abdullahi Lawal, whose brother was among those abducted, said their relatives were asked to make donations. He said his family raised N33,000 while the phone sellers’ association “provided the remaining money.”

“Every family was told to gather N400,000 while the members of the plaza and their colleagues in the state provided the remaining money. Some family members were able to raise the money in full, but we couldn’t. I took the money to the plaza and I was told that they were still negotiating with the bandits” he said.

He said he didn’t know how much was given to the bandits “but I’m happy that my brother is okay,” he said.

From N5m to N700,000

A phone accessories seller, Sharhabilu Muhammad, told PREMIUM TIMES over the phone that the officials of the phone dealers association negotiated with the bandits to reduce the ransom they originally demanded to release the captives.

“You know that the initial money they said was N5m for each of the captives but our officials kept negotiating with them (bandits) until they reduced the money to N700k,” he said.

When asked about the person who reportedly died in captivity, Mr Muhammed said his identity has not been revealed.

“We don’t know because even the bandits didn’t tell but we’ll surely find out when they (captives) arrive at Gusau tonight,” he added.

The police command spokesman, Mohammed Shehu, didn’t respond to calls and SMS sent to him on the development.

Backstory

PREMIUM TIMES reported that the wedding guests were abducted when bandits opened fire on the two buses they were travelling in a few kilometres after Bimasa in the Dogon Awo junction, Sokoto State.

They were returning from Tambuwal town in Sokoto State where they had attended the wedding of a colleague, Jamil Umar.

The captives were travelling on a Toyota Coaster bus belonging to the Universal Basic Education Commission UBEC and another bus owned by Gusau Local Government.

The bandits had demanded a ransom of N145 million to release the 29 hostages.

Bandits have been terrorising North-west states and a part of North-central Nigeria, killing and displacing hundreds of people and rustling domestic animals.

Travelling on federal and local highways is becoming dangerous as bandits block roads, abduct and kill motorists.

Major federal highways including Abuja-Kaduna, Gusau-Sokoto-Birnin Kebbi, and Birnin Gwari-Kaduna have become travellers’ nightmares with attacks and abduction or killing of travellers becoming a daily occurrence.

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

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Reps demand review of public officers’ salaries, allowances

A motion seeking the intervention of the House of Representatives in the conflict between the Chief Justice of Nigeria, Tanko Muhammad, and Justices of the Supreme Court, over issues bordering on welfare and working conditions suffered a setback on Thursday.

While the House called for a general review of salaries and allowances of all political office holders and public servants, the members were divided over which committees should handle the task.

The Chairman of the House Committee on Judiciary, Onofiok Luke, had moved a motion to seek the intervention of the chamber in the crisis rocking the apex court and better welfare package for judicial officers across the courts.

Luke, who moved the motion titled, ‘Need to Address the Deteriorating Working Conditions of Judicial Officers,’ prayed the House to urge the Revenue Mobilisation Allocation and Fiscal Commission to upwardly review the remuneration of judicial officers in line with present economic realities.

The lawmaker prayed the House to urge the Federal Government to increase the budgetary allocation of the judiciary for the upcoming fiscal year and provide special intervention funds for the development of the arm

He further prayed the House to mandate the Committee on Judiciary to ensure compliance and report back within six weeks for further legislative action.

While the lawmakers were making amendments to the prayers, the Deputy Speaker, Ahmed Wase, called for an upward review of the welfare package of all public office holders.

Wase, who stated that he appreciated the memo from the Justices to the CJN, noted that only the RMAFC had the responsibility to review remuneration of government officials.

The Deputy Speaker made reference to a part of the motion that read, ‘The remuneration of judicial officers was last reviewed in 2008 by the RMAFC when the official exchange rate was N117.74 to $1, whereas the naira has considerably depreciated.’

Wase partly said, “I think this particular element does not affect just judicial officers, maybe because they cried out now. I don’t think it is right that we have to wait every time until people write letters of complaints and there is protest before we begin to do the right thing.”

Rephrasing Wase’s proposed amendment, Speaker of the House, Femi Gbajabiamila, said: “The DSP’s amendment is that we should not isolate the Judiciary and all those enumerated constitutional bodies and public office holders. They should be reviewed; a comprehensive review based on all the things that Hon Luke said – the exchange rates and this and that.”

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