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Núñez, Liverpool’s Hero After Stoppage-Time Strike Floors Nottingham Forest

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Nunez on the prowl

This game, in truth, only came to life during second-half stoppage time. Then, 36 seconds into the initial eight minutes of added time, chaos ensued.
Darwin Núñez, who arrived on the hour, leapt high to meet Alexis Mac Allister’s dinked cross and generated just enough power to drop a header inside the post, a priceless win in Liverpool’s bid to win the Premier League.
Jürgen Klopp was mobbed by Adrián and the rest of Liverpool’s substitutes flooded the pitch.

For Nottingham Forest, deserving of a crucial point in their fight to avoid relegation, it was a thoroughly demoralising end to a frenetic finale.

By the end of the game, the referee, Paul Tierney, was heading down the tunnel to a wall of boos from the angry home crowd, just seconds after sending off Forest’s first-team coach, Steven Reid.

For so long, it seemed at the end of Klopp’s long Liverpool farewell that this would be one of the few grounds he could not consider a happy hunting ground.

Ryan Yates, the Forest captain who crouched on all fours at the final whistle, made a superb block to deny Núñez in the 90th minute and Matz Sels did brilliantly to prevent Murillo’s clearance from dropping in at a corner on 95 minutes.

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With Manchester City not in action until Sunday in the derby, Liverpool were – late on – able to stretch their legs and move four points clear at the top of the pile.

Liverpool’s last league win here was in 1984, when Ian Rush and Ronnie Whelan were on the scoresheet.

As Guns N’ Roses’ Welcome to the Jungle blared as the teams emerged from the tunnel, Klopp high-fiving Nuno Espírito Santo on the touchline, the nature of the tight schedule – this was both teams’ seventh game in 27 days – felt somewhat pronounced.

Three days since both did battle in the FA Cup, six since Liverpool lifted the Carabao Cup at Wembley. It also seemed strange to watch Liverpool’s team bus reverse into position at the City Ground – amid much commotion – in preparation for a 3 o’clock kick-off, this only their third of the season, in part due to their Europa League success, with a last-16 first-leg meeting at Sparta Prague in the diary for Thursday.

Klopp made four changes from the team that overcame Southampton to reach the FA Cup quarter-finals in midweek, with Ibrahima Konaté, Mac Allister, Andy Robertson and Luis Díaz returning to the starting lineup.

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Bobby Clark made his first top-flight start in a three-man midfield alongside Joe Gomez and Mac Allister.

For Klopp, there were a couple of familiar faces in the Forest XI in Neco Williams, who spent 15 years on the books at Anfield, and Divock Origi, for ever a Liverpool cult hero for his goals en route to lifting the Champions League in 2019.

Another later arrived off the bench – Taiwo Awoniyi, who scored the only goal in this fixture last season.

It was Williams and Origi who combined in the seconds after kick-off, the former feeding Origi who lured Virgil van Dijk, the Liverpool captain, into conceding an early corner.

Origi operated off the Forest right and, five minutes after flashing the game’s first shot wide after bumping off the challenges of Robertson and Gomez, he slipped Anthony Elanga in on goal but he was thwarted by Caoimhin Kelleher.

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Elanga almost beat Van Dijk in a foot race, but an alert Kelleher saved with his left foot, and while Konaté and Van Dijk looked along the line for assistant referee Richard West to flag Elanga offside, redemption never came.

Until then, Lis best effort was a Díaz shot that cannoned off the right boot of the Forest defender Andrew Omobamidele and into the side netting.
Omobamidele’s centre-back partner, Murillo, also made a superb block to prevent Díaz from stabbing the ball in from inside the six-yard box.

It was hardly a vintage Liverpool display but there was a sense that Forest were waiting for the visitors to turn the screw. Omobamidele diverted a Robertson effort clear of goal after Nicolás Dominguez prevented Conor Bradley’s cross from landing at the feet of Díaz on the penalty spot.

Then Núñez and Wataru Endo entered from the bench. Núñez stretched his legs with his first touches, haring down the left channel, but Omobamidele tracked him all the way to the goalline and later rattled a shot against the side netting. Núñez had the final say.

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SPORTS

Thierry Henry Given Task Of Winning Olympic Gold With France, Says Fabian Barthez

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Henry

The Paris 2024 Olympic Games will see the French football team hoping to win gold on home soil for the first time since 1984. With the sport excelling at the national level at the moment, Fabian Barthez spoke exclusively to Eurosport to assess his nation’s chances both at the Games and the upcoming European Championships in Germany.

Fabian Barthez says that Thierry Henry will be “expected” to win gold with France at the Paris 2024 Olympic Games this summer.

Les Bleus’ legendary striker will be in the dugout as he takes charge of the Under-23 team on home soil looking to improve on the group stage exit in Tokyo last time out.

France has only participated in two tournaments since triumphing back in 1984 but speaking to exclusively to Eurosport, Barthez backed former team-mate Henry, who assumed the role in 2023, to lead the team to glory.

“Of course, people expect him [Henry] to win gold,” Barthez said. “‘Titi’ knows elite football well, so I’m not worried about him. We’re pretty close, and I wish him all the best and hope that he brings back the gold.”

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The former international goalkeeper, who lifted the World Cup with a young Henry when France hosted that tournament in 1998, also suggested that home advantage could again play a key role.

He added: “It’s the Olympics, so it’s a global event. That’s what the Olympic Games represent. It’s the event, so you can understand why it’s so wonderful and magical to have the Olympics here in France.

“The aim is always to win. As an elite athlete, you gain experience over the years, but you go into these things for one thing only: to win. If not, it’s not worth going.

“We should be wary of everyone, but before we think about anyone else, we should focus on ourselves because we’re our own biggest threat. So, we should focus on our team, on ourselves, and we’ll see about the rest.”

The French Olympic football team won gold 40 years ago after beating Brazil in the final at the Los Angeles Games in a historic year in which the senior men’s team also won the European Championship for the first time – coincidentally, another tournament held in France.

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With France among the favourites for this year’s Euros in Germany, the prospect of repeating that unique feat is a realistic possibility with Barthez optimistic that they can attack on two fronts.

“Why not?” he said on the possibility of another double. “Of course it’s possible! You have to start with that mindset and that belief.

“If we could bring back a gold medal and a nice little trophy, that wouldn’t be too bad. Of course, it’s possible.”

About the Euros, France will look to continue the recent run that has seen reach finals in three of the last four international tournaments, including two World Cup finals, something Barthez also believes they are capable of this time around.

“These major tournaments come down to such fine margins,” he said. “Especially at the Euros, there are so many big sides, but it’s conceivable.

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“France are a great team and have gained a lot of experience. Like every other major tournament, it’s tough, but France have a chance, of course.”

Having taken over in 2012, Deschamps has also led the team to the finals of Euro 2016 and the most recent World Cup in 2022.

Also winning the UEFA Nations League in 2021, Deschamps is France’s most successful manager and has been lauded for the way he manages to keep them competitive.

“How does Deschamps freshen up the team?” pondered Barthez. “Well, I don’t live in his head, but from what I know about these top-level competitions, the number-one priority is the squad. So, Didier Deschamps’s priority is how his squad is doing.

“It’s not about individuals. It’s not about this player or that player; it’s about the squad. So, Didier knows that to win, his team needs to be united.”

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On whether Deschamps can be considered France’s greatest-ever manager, Barthez said: “The stats speak for themselves. He’s been in charge of the national team for over 10 years now.

“For me. I do have a soft spot for Aime Jacquet! But of course, Didier has shown that he’s a great manager and a great national-team head coach.”

 

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SPORTS

Arne Slot To Become Liverpool FC’s New Head Coach July 1

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Liverpool Football Club has announced that Arne Slot has agreed to become the club’s new head coach, starting on June 1, 2024, subject to obtaining a work permit.

The 45-year-old will join the Reds from Feyenoord for the 2024-25 season after agreeing to terms with the Eredivisie club.

Slot will take over as manager after Jürgen Klopp announced his decision to step down at the end of the current season.

The Netherlands-born coach will arrive after three highly successful seasons at Feyenoord, where he led them to the league title in 2023 and was named Eredivisie Manager of the Year twice.

More recently, he helped Rotterdam win the KNVB Cup in April by defeating NEC Nijmegen 1-0 in the final.

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Prior to joining Feyenoord, Slot was the head coach of AZ Alkmaar, where he led them to second place in the table, trailing leaders Ajax by a goal difference, when the Dutch season was cancelled due to COVID-19 in 2019-20.

During his playing career, he primarily played as a midfielder for FC Zwolle, NAC Breda, Sparta Rotterdam, and PEC Zwolle before retiring in 2013.

He will soon become Liverpool FC’s first Dutch head coach, with his first pre-season in charge of the squad scheduled to begin in July.

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SPORTS

Jurgen Klopp Last Words At Anfield

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On how he feels about what he experienced due to the fact it is ‘not normal’ for a manager to receive such a send-off when leaving a club…

No, I don’t think it’s normal. I knew for a long time already that our relationship was pretty special, I love that. I think that the people made a difference for this club. As I said, these people are the superpower of this club, these people keep the club going, these people push the club, and these people carry the club through difficult moments. These people are the club. So, we had a really good time together, nine years, nearly a decade. It was absolutely crazy. Kids who today were in the stadium, kids of the staff who were today in the stadium and I saw after the game, they don’t know another manager of Liverpool FC. That’s how it is – they just think I was always there and will always be there and now I’m gone.

I expected… I was a bit afraid of a breakdown. I had one or two moments during the week where it was not great and during the game the last few minutes were tricky, but the general feeling today was it felt more like a start than an end because I know the goodbye is about me but in general it is about the team and I saw a wonderful team and I saw a wonderful team on the way. I saw a team that was ahead of schedule in their development. It’s a tough league and you never know where you start again but I saw just a good football team, and I saw all the young players who saved our backside a couple of times this year and none of them besides Conor [Bradley] and Jarell – Jarell played and Conor was on the bench and the others were all not involved today. They are there as well and that’s what gave me the feeling of, ‘OK, job done.’

I love you all, I love all and everything about the club but it’s time for me to go. But look, it’s not burning behind me and that gives me a good feeling. It’s not that you think, ‘Come on, get out of here!’ So, I know I can come back and I will come back and how I said after the game, from today, from three hours ago when the game finished, I’m a Liverpool supporter and I love that.

On how the last week has impacted him…

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Everything impacted me. It was fantastic. As I said, the boys showed class. It’s difficult to deal with these kind of things. I could not use the exit of the AXA Training Centre, I could not go out there, I would still stand there and sign autographs. The people show me so much love, and that’s fine. You cannot come to my house and stuff like this. It’s really difficult to take. It’s so positive and I wish it would be for somebody else and I would be his best friend. That would be great – my best friend gets all this attention. But I get all the attention, that’s really tricky to take, to be honest. I just try to get through this and there will be a moment when nobody asks me anymore, nobody looks at me anymore and I just go down for a few hours or days, I don’t know, we will see that. But for the moment I have to function and I have to keep going and do that.

But today it was wonderful. I want to thank everybody. I love how we said goodbye to the staff, and how the players said goodbye to the staff. For the public, it’s Jürgen Klopp, Jürgen Klopp, Jürgen Klopp, Jürgen Klopp. But Jürgen Klopp is Pep Lijnders, Jürgen Klopp is Peter Krawietz, Jürgen Klopp is Vitor Matos, Jürgen Klopp is John Achterberg, Jack Robinson, [Claudio] Taffarel, Jürgen Klopp is Andreas Kornmayer, Andreas Schlumberger. Jürgen Klopp is so much more than Jürgen Klopp. I alone would have done absolutely nothing. It’s really nice how the people did that today because everybody felt really appreciated. I don’t have a lack of appreciation, obviously, everybody shows me in the first moments and tells me they will miss me. I’m happy that all the other guys got their attention as well.

It was an incredible time. I love it. My family was on the pitch, which was nice, really nice. Now we will have a party and then we will come back next for another event. And I will come back occasionally just, as I said, as a supporter now, and I’m fine with that, honestly. Maybe not for the first game of the season – that’s early, wow! Maybe after the second international break or something like that. What can I say? There must be a difference if the things go bad, always worse, worse, worse or if the things go well and go. I’m really happy that we could have done it like that – that we did it that way. Third, that’s alright.

On what he’ll do on his first day not being Liverpool manager…

I have no clue. Packing probably, I think so but I don’t know. I have enough things to do. [A] private life must be planned and I didn’t plan anything yet because I was here. Probably Ulla will update me on where we go and stuff like that but I follow happily. But I have no clue what’s coming. I know we have a party tonight – that’s what I know.

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In the future…

I don’t know exactly why nobody believes I probably will not be a manager again, but I understand because it seems to be a drug, looks like everybody comes back and everyone works until they are 70-something. I always had the idea that I would not do that long. Look, other people are smarter, other people can do it in different ways. I have to be all-in, I have to be the spark, I have to be the energy, I have to be all these kinds of things and I’m empty. That’s it. My biggest worry today was John Achterberg was coughing all the time next to me and I thought I would wake up tomorrow morning and be ill because he was coughing in my direction. I have to start with the rest now and then we will see. But it’s not now that I feel now already and [think about] maybe the next opportunity. You only have to look outside which clubs are available and stuff like that. There will be opportunities but I don’t sit here and think, ‘Maybe in a year I take that.’ At this moment, see you later.

 

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