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Hag Says Man United ‘Have Character, Determination’ After 2-2 Draw With Barcelona

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Erik ten Hag said Manchester United “have a lot of character and determination” after his side contested a thrilling first-leg draw at Barcelona to leave their Europa League play-off tie finely poised.

Having previously met in two Champions League finals – both of which Barca won – the sides are trying to reach those heady heights again.

This encounter at the Nou Camp in Europe’s secondary competition was another step on that road back to the top.

Xavi’s men grabbed the opener when Marcos Alonso headed in at the back post from Raphinha’s corner, but United responded immediately through the in-form Marcus Rashford as he slipped in a finish at the near post.

They showed their resilience to turn the game around as Rashford’s cross was then turned into his own net by Barcelona defender Jules Kounde.

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But United were unable to hold on as ex-Leeds winger Raphinha’s cross from wide on the right sailed all the way into the net.

Barca, though, almost snatched a late victory when Casemiro’s attempted clearance struck his own post, but little separated the sides heading into next Thursday’s second leg.

United manager Ten Hag told BT Sport: “I think it was a great game. Two attacking teams, I think it was a Champions League game, even more than that, so I really enjoyed the game. In the end (it finished) 2-2, and we have to finish it in Old Trafford.

“Of course, I will credit Rashford definitely because he is in great form, but the whole team did well. I think it was a really good team performance.

“We have a lot of character and determination in this team. The belief we had to score the first goal and the meaning of the first goal is so important and that’s what we didn’t do.”

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They meet at this juncture after Barca went out of the Champions League group stage for the second consecutive season, while United’s second-placed finish in their Europa League group provided this extra play-off to navigate.

Red Devils boss Ten Hag said both sides “belong in the Champions League” – which will be the key priority come the end of the campaign – but the progression from this knockout tie will see them reach the last 16 of the Europa League.

It was a stunning spectacle that ebbed and flowed, but the 90 minutes provided no indication as to which side will go through, setting up a fascinating return leg.

United suffered a 3-0 defeat on their last visit to Barcelona under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in 2019, but the measure of their recent revival showed as they went toe-to-toe this time and almost came away with a famous victory.

An early spell of pressure saw Robert Lewandowski’s powerful drive pushed out by David de Gea and Alonso curled a free-kick over.

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But United grew into the game and their first clear-cut opportunity fell to Wout Weghorst as the Dutchman latched onto Bruno Fernandes’ through-ball but his low shot was kept out by Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

It was the sort of chance visiting teams dream of getting at the Nou Camp and the German goalkeeper then made a superb, full-stretch save to stop Rashford’s curling effort.

The La Liga leaders went ahead on 50 minutes when Alonso headed in, but United levelled just two minutes later when Rashford smashed in his 22nd goal of a superb campaign, matching his best scoring tally for the club.

England forward also played a major part in the 59th-minute second goal, skipping past his marker and delivering a dangerous cross that France defender Kounde bundled into his own net.

Raphinha’s fortunate strike, which seemed more of a cross intended for Lewandowski, made it honours even again 14 minutes from time.

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United felt they should have had a penalty when 2-1 ahead. Rashford was brought down when driving towards the goal, but the referee waved play on, much to the anger of boss Ten Hag who was booked for his protestations.

“I also think the refereeing had a big influence in this game,” said the Dutchman. “I think it’s a clear foul on Rashy.

“You can discuss if it’s in or outside the box, but then it’s a red card because he was one-on-one with the goalkeeper.

“It’s a big influence, not only on this game but in this round, and referees can’t make such mistakes.”

Substitute Ansu Fati was also denied by De Gea as Barcelona – who will be without midfielder Gavi through suspension for the return – came closest to a late winner.

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United face a pivotal week in their quest for success this season, hosting Barcelona on Thursday before playing Newcastle in the Carabao Cup final the following Sunday as they aim to win their first trophy since the Europa League in 2017.

  • BBC
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Group Calls For Protection Of Journalists In Bayelsa, Imo, Kogi States

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The Media Rights Agenda (MRA) has urged for necessary measures to protect journalists and other media workers during this weekend’s off-cycle elections in Bayelsa, Imo, and Kogi States.

The group sent the request to the federal and state governments, as well as law enforcement and security agencies, stressing that the role of journalists in disseminating information about the electoral process is critical to ensuring free, fair, and transparent elections.

In a statement issued ahead of the elections in Lagos and signed by the Communications Officer, Media Rights Agenda, Idowu Adewale, MRA also urged journalists to be cautious and to use its existing hotline (08138755660) to report any threat or attack they may encounter during the process, as well as any obstacle.

Adewale said in the statement: “Given the pattern of heightened attacks on journalists and the media during previous elections, including the recent 2023 general elections, as well as the tense political climate in the three states in the lead-up to the elections, measures must be taken to ensure general security during the elections and provide adequate protection for journalists covering the elections.”

“Access to information allows citizens and other members of the public to have the information they need about political and electoral processes, facilitating effective public participation in elections,” he says.

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“Journalists and the media play an important role in ensuring residents and other members of the public have access to information and may participate in the process.

“As part of efforts to preserve the integrity of the polls, it is also critical that the safety and well-being of these interlocutors be assured and safeguarded.”

Lamenting the increased number of attacks on journalists in the run-up to the off-cycle elections, as well as earlier this year in the run-up to the general elections, he emphasised that “a free and vibrant media is fundamental to a healthy democracy, and journalists must be able to carry out their duties without fear, coercion, or violence.” During this vital phase, MRA stands ready to assist them and assure their safety.”

 

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Police Nab Husband, As Mother Of ‘Mummy Be Calming Down’ Boy Takes Own Life

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Men from the Edo State Police Command are said to have detained Mrs. Toluige Olokoobi’s husband after he allegedly murdered her.

Olokoobi was the mother of Oreofeoluwa Lawal-Babalola, the tiny boy whose video went viral in 2020 after he pleaded with his mother, “Mummy be calming down.”

Oreofeoluwa rose to prominence on social media after a video of him crying in an attempt to confidently appeal to his mother, who chastised him, went viral.

The film inspired Lagos State Governor Babajide Sanwo-Olu, who used it to deliver an Eid-el-Kabir appeal to Muslims and Lagos people in general to remain calm during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Following that, the youngster and his family met with the governor, who praised his bravery and poise.

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While little has been heard about the family in three years, heartbreaking news broke on social media on Tuesday that the boy’s mother had committed suicide.

According to an X user, Olokoobi committed suicide in Benin, the capital of Edo State, for unknown reasons.

The X user, who stated that he was present at the site on Monday afternoon, went on to say that she had refused to disclose her difficulties with anyone before committing herself.

“The woman in the viral Mummy Calm Down video has just committed suicide here in Benin,” he stated in an email.

“She refused to discuss her problems with anyone.” She abandoned three children for her husband, including the well-known Mummy Calm Down boy.”

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Meanwhile, confirming Olokoobi’s death in a chat with BBC Pidgin, the spokesperson of the Edo State police command, Chidi Nwabuzor, said her husband has been arrested and detained for questioning.

Nwabuzor said the husband reported the matter to the police.

The police spokesperson quoted the husband to have said that “he came home from the market when he saw his wife hanging with rope on her neck”.

Nwabuzor said she was rushed to the hospital and then to the mortuary after she was confirmed dead. (Adapted from a Vanguard report).

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Anambra: CP Aderemi Adeoye Decorates Promoted Officers With New Ranks

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The Anambra State Police Command Headquarters Conference Hall was a hive of activity Thursday as CP Aderemi Adeoye took turns decorating around 18 promoted officers of the command with their new titles.

The delight of some of the officers whose wives assisted the CP in decorating their husbands with their new ranks knew no bounds, as their husbands duly saluted their wives and the CP for their new positions and responsibilities.

Obi Innocent, one of the officers elevated to the rank of Chief Superintendent of Police (CSP), whose wife joined CP Aderemi Adeoye in adorning him with his new rank, said it was wonderful that the Inspector General of Police thought him worthy.

CSP Obi Innocent, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13, Police Zonal Headquarters Ukpo, stated that his new rank was a call to service and that he would do his best to uphold the charge given to them by CP Aderemi Adeoye to respect and protect the citizenry’s fundamental rights in the discharge of their new assignments.

Charity Akharame, who was honoured with the rank of Deputy Superintendent of Police (DSP) and was the only female officer among the 18 promoted officers decorated with new ranks, said it was not an easy feat but she was grateful to be among those who were decorated with their new ranks.

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DSP Charity Akharame, the officer in charge of stores in the Anambra State Police Command, recalled how she began as a Police Constable and worked her way up to her current position as Deputy Superintendent of Police.

She stated that as a very disciplined police officer, she would follow the Police Commissioner’s directions regarding respect for all and sundry in the fulfillment of her constitutional obligations.

Jane-Frances Obi, one of the spouses of the officers elevated to the level of CSP, stated that being the wife of a police officer was not an easy assignment. As a result, she recommended any lady who is married to a police officer to be patient and understanding because the job is quite demanding.

Jane-Frances Obi, whose husband is Innocent Obi, the officer in charge of the Legal Department at Zone 13 Ukpo, believes the promotion is a reward for years of being patient, understanding, and standing in for them when they are not present.

Meanwhile, Emenike Chinenyenwa, who was decorated with the rank of Assistant Commissioner of Police (ACP) and presented a vote of appreciation, expressed deep gratitude to the IGP and the Chairman of the Police Service Commission for considering them worthy of being adorned in their new ranks.

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ACP Emenike, the officer in charge of Medicals, stated that the elevation comes with increased responsibility and that they will work harder in their new tasks.

CP Aderemi Adeoye praised the current promotion winners in his remarks, noting that two aspects make the police career very interesting and eventful. He stated that one is for promotion and the other is for positions.

CP Adeoye, on the other hand, urged the newly honored officers to develop more empathy, compassion, care, and dedication in the performance of their jobs.

The police chief insisted that newly promoted officers must first recognise that they share the same humanity as others, and as a result, they must treat all people with dignity and protect their fundamental human rights at all times.

CP Aderemi Adeoye stressed that without the enormous roles of spouses, they wouldn’t have been successful in their careers. He therefore congratulated all the promoted and prayed that God gives them good health to enjoy the new ranks and the energy to discharge the responsibilities of their new offices.

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  • Source: Independent

 

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