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Messi ’s Majestic Run And Finish Leaves Manchester City Trailing In PSG’s Wake

Messi ’s majestic run and finish leaves Manchester City trailing in PSG’s wake

It had to be him. The occasion had called for it. The crowd had come to see it and they had spent most of this box office Champions League tie willing it to happen. And then it did.

When Lionel Messi picked up possession and scuttled in from the right wing, he swapped passes with Kylian Mbappé and, in what felt like the blink of an eye, Manchester City were carved open. It really was the most perfectly weighted of flicks from Mbappé and the chance was on.

Paris Saint-Germain were 1-0 up, despite City having had the better of the previous 73 minutes. Could the maestro pick out the top corner from the edge of the area to secure the win? It was a silly question, not least for Pep Guardiola, who has seen this movie before – over and over again. Of course Messi could. It seemed to happen in slow motion, a swing of the left boot and the ball flying unerringly beyond Ederson before the explosion from the home support, the outpouring of joy and love.

It feels as though they still cannot believe Messi is a PSG player. But this was the night when he announced himself as one. After three largely underwhelming appearances for his new club and a niggling knee injury, he chose his first Champions League tie at a raucous Parc des Princes to come alive.

Guardiola won it all with Messi during four glorious seasons at Barcelona – 14 trophies, including two Champions Leagues – but it is also true that since the manager’s departure from Catalonia, no player has scored more goals against his teams. It is now seven in five games. City had tried to sign Messi in the summer of last year and, if the timing of his departure from Barcelona had been different over this past one, they might have tried again.

Guardiola’s shoulders sagged as the delirious PSG fans whipped out their camera-phones to capture the goal for posterity, to prove that they were there. They chanted Messi’s name, the way the Barcelona supporters used to do, which felt a little incongruous, and City were left to reflect on the cruelty of it all.

They had conceded early to an Idrissa Gueye rocket, also perfectly placed inside the angle of post and crossbar, only to recover and ask plenty of questions. City were the better team in the first half, when Bernardo Silva advanced a contender for miss of the season, and they remained on the front foot in the second period until Messi’s goal, even if clear chances became more scarce.

Mauricio Pochettino, the PSG manager, had reason to be thankful to another of the club’s new signings – the goalkeeper, Gianluigi Donnarumma, who made a string of fine saves – and a crucial sequence for City had taken a turn that they wanted to avoid. They had started it superbly on Saturday with the win at Chelsea. Now they must shake their heads clear before the visit to Liverpool on Sunday.

There was a buzz whenever Messi got on the ball, as he did in the buildup to the breakthrough goal, although the energy for the move was provided by the ever-dangerous Mbappé. Having played a give-and-go with Messi, Mbappé popped the ball off to Achraf Hakimi and darted for the byline, getting it back unattended before crossing for Neymar, who scuffed his shot. Gueye, though, nipped in ahead of Kyle Walker, took a touch and rasped past Ederson.

Silva will still not be able to explain how he did not equalise on 27 minutes. The excellent Kevin De Bruyne picked out Raheem Sterling in the middle with the outside of his boot – a sumptuous cross – and Sterling had to score only to head against the crossbar. Then Silva really had to score on the rebound and yet, from point‑blank range and with an open goal gaping, he hit the crossbar. Presnel Kimpembe cleared.

City had more than enough of the play to be level at half-time. They were confident on the ball, advancing through Jack Grealish on the left or making quick switches to Riyah Mahrez on the other flank. They looked capable of springing men in behind a PSG backline that endured nervous moments. João Cancelo and Rúben Dias extended Donnarumma. PSG’s threat came to be measured on the counter but that is where Mbappé thrives. He blasted around the back on 38 minutes to tee up Ander Herrera only for Ederson to tip over.

Should City have finished the first half with 11 players on the pitch? De Bruyne stretched in on Gueye in the 39th minute, looking to play the ball, but he ended up planting his studs into his opponent’s calf. It did not look good on the replays but the VAR was happy with the yellow card that was given in the moment.

De Bruyne worked Donnarumma again on 55 minutes and it was City who continued to push. Neymar almost got in after sprinting away from Walker but then you-know-who did. Donnarumma would save from Mahrez late on. For City, there was only frustration.

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EFCC Arrests Fake State House Staff for N22m Employment Scam

Operatives of the Economic and Financial Crimes commission, EFCC, have arrested a syndicate of fake State House Staff in Abuja for alleged criminal conspiracy, false representation and employment scam.

The suspects were arrested separately following investigation on petitions by various victims who were promised jobs as “Directors General” at the Ministry of Communication, Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation Limited, NNPCL, Federal Road Safety Corps, FRSC and other ministries.

The suspects are; Augustine Enamegbai Umogboi, who claimed to be a former staff of the State House, Eleojo Josephine Idakwo, a fake staff of the Ministry of Information in the Registry Unit, and Kingsley Onuh who also claimed that he just concluded his National Youth Service Corps, NYSC.

Others are Omata Sunday and Eljayon Nigeria Limited, one of the companies which bank account they were using to get money from their victims. Besides, they had different account numbers of different banks through which they were receiving the money amounting to N22,350,00 (Twenty Two million, Three Hundred and Fifty Thousand Naira) from different victims.

Umogboi was arrested on June 16, 2024, Idakwo was arrested on April 30, 2024, while Onuh was arrested on April 3, 2024.

Many victims narrated their bitter experience in a series of petitions written to the EFCC.

A sample of such a petition reads : “we were reliably informed that sometime around April 2023, Mr. Gabriel Kingsley Onuh notified our clients about job opportunities in the Nigerian National Petroleum Corporation LTD(NNPCL) and Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC). With support of Eleojo Josephine Idakwo who claimed to work in NNPCL, they undertook to assist Mr. Toheeb Adesina and Miss Asabe Gambo to secure employment in NNPCL, as well as Mr. Tertindi Reginald Igbayue in FRSC, subject to the payment of a fee. It was agreed that the payment would be in two tranches-initials part payment and the balance payment when the employment letter is ready and when documentation of credentials commences”.

Another victim in a petition written to the EFCC stated that “Sometime in May 2023, one of my friends, Sunday Omata approached me that one Eleojo Josephine Idakwu told him that their office in the Presidential Villa is responsible for screening applicants for the appointment of ‘Directors General’ for all Ministries and Parastatals in the current government of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu.

“As such they want me to apply for the position of Director General in the Ministry of Communication… She however gave me a condition that I must pay them Five Million Naira (N5,000,000) before they can start the process.

“Since it involves a big office, they cannot do all the contacts for free and their boss in the office requires some money too. Since then, they have been requesting all sorts of money from me with various accounts”.

They suspects have given useful information to the EFCC and will be charged to court upon conclusion of investigation.

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Ondo Govt reacts to court judgement declaring new LCDAs ‘illegal’

The Ondo State Government says necessary legal action will be taken on the judgement nullifying the creation of the 33 Local Council Development Areas (LCDAs) in the state.

The government’s reaction is contained in a statement by the Attorney General of Ondo State, Mr Kayode Ajulo SAN, made available to  newsmen on Friday in Akure.

Justice A.O Adebusuoye of the state High Court had in a judgement on Thursday described the creation of the LCDAs as unlawful.

The court said it was illegal for a governor to sign a law outside the State.

The court said that the Local Government Creation Law 2023 signed by the late Governor Rotimi Akeredolu in Ibadan was unconstitutional, illegal, null and void.

The statement said the government has taken cognizance of Ondo State High Court’s judgement and had requested for a Certified True Copy of it.

Ajulo said after it was studied and analysed, a legal opinion would be presented to the state government.

“Subsequently, all necessary measures, in accordance with our laws, will be taken to safeguard the interests of our citizens, foster peaceful coexistence, and uphold the rule of law.

“The Attorney General remains steadfast in his commitment to prioritizing the well-being and welfare of our citizens, working tirelessly to ensure that justice and the law are served,” the statement said.

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LASTMA impounds 40 vehicles in Oyingbo, ijora, idumota axis

The  Lagos State Traffic Management Authority (LASTMA) has impounded another 25 commercial and 15 private vehicles operating illegal garages and causing serious road obstructions around Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota areas of  Lagos.

Mr Taofiq Adebayo, Director, Public Affairs and Enlightenment Department of LASTMA, said this in a statement on Friday in Lagos.

Adebayo said impounding the vehicles at these areas was a decisive move by LASTMA to restore order and ensure the free flow of traffic.

He said the operation was led by LASTMA Head of Enforcement, Mr Kayode Odunuga, under the directives of the Special Adviser to the Governor on Transportation, Mr Sola Giwa.

Adebayo that they were specifically directed to target illegal garages that had been a persistent source of congestion and inconvenience for residents and commuters.

He said the impoundment, which began in recent weeks, was part of a broader initiative by the  Lagos State Government to enhance the efficiency of the city’s transportation network.

He quoted Giwa as emphasising that government is committed to maintaining law and order on the roads, ensuring that all traffic regulations are strictly enforced.

“illegal garages have been a significant challenge in our quest to maintain a seamless traffic flow in Lagos.

“These impoundments send a strong message to all offenders that the state will not tolerate activities that disrupt public order and endanger the lives of our citizens.

“Our goal is to create a safe and orderly environment for all road users and this action is a crucial step in that direction,” Giwa said.

He noted that the targeted areas, Oyingbo, Ijora, and Idumota, are known hotspots for traffic congestion due to unauthorised parking and the establishment of makeshift garages.

He said that these activities not only obstruct the free movement of vehicles but also pose safety risks to pedestrians.

“LASTMA’s intervention aims to clear these bottlenecks and enhance the overall traffic situation in these critical areas.

“Residents and business owners have expressed their support for the government’s action, noting the positive impact it will have on their daily activities.

“LASTMA has also assured the public that the operation will be sustained and extended to other parts of the city where illegal garages and related activities are prevalent,” he quoted Giwa as saying.

He urged all vehicle owners and operators to adhere to the state’s traffic regulations and cooperate with authorities to avoid sanctions.

He reiterated that the government’s primary objective was to create a better and more livable Lagos for everyone.

He also urged motorists to take ownership of the roads and to promptly inform LASTMA of any broken down or abandoned trailers or trucks via the Agency’s hotlines: 0810056586008129928503.

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