Lionel Messi became the first player to reach 300 La Liga goals as he scored twice in Barcelona’s victory over Sporting Gijon. Messi opened the scoring from just outside the box for goal number 300 but Carlos Castro levelled moments later. Messi added his second from a pass by Luis Suarez, who then had a penalty saved before curling home a third goal.
Former Golden Eaglets coach, Emmanuel Amuneke has been appointed as the new coach of the Nigerian U20 National team, the Flying Eagles. His appointment was confirmed by the Nigerian Football Federation in a communiqué at the end of its executive Board meeting on Tuesday. His appointment could be seen as a deserved promotion after he successfully guided the Golden Eaglets to defend their title at the 2015 FIFA U17 world in Chile. Success in Chile earned him a nomination for the African Coach of the year award, which he lost to Ivory Coast’s Herve Renard. His first task in charge of the Flying Eagles would be to ensure that the Flying Eagles Qualifier for the 2017 African youth Championship. Amuneke was named African Footballer of the Year in 1994. He will be assisted by Kabiru Baleria and Emeka Amadi as assistant coach and goalkeeper trainer respectively. The Flying Eagles of Nigeria will face the winner of the qualifying tie between Burundi/ DR Congo in the second round of qualification for the competition. Nigeria is yet to win the world cup in this category. The lads coached by Tunde Disu and Samson Siasia got the second positions in 1989 (in Saudi Arabia) and 2005 (in Holland) respectively. We wish Coach Amuneke and his new team the best of luck.
Germany’s World Cup-winning captain and coach Franz Beckenbauer has been warned and fined by FIFA’s ethics committee. He had earlier been provisionally banned for “failing to cooperate” with its inquiry into the bidding processes for 2018 and 2022 World Cups, won by Russia and Qatar respectively. Beckenbauer, 70, was one of 22 men who voted to decide the tournament hosts. FIFA says he did not cooperate during an in-person interview and in response to written questions. Beckenbauer, who subsequently demonstrated a willingness to cooperate according to FIFA, was fined 7,000 Swiss Francs.
Wayne Rooney has been left out of the Manchester United squad for Thursday night’s Europa League match against FC Midtjylland in Denmark. The England captain stayed behind as his team-mates made the trip and that means Anthony Martial is likely to start up front with Will Keane offering cover off the bench. Matteo Darmian is also not involved, as expected, after dislocating his shoulder during the 2-1 defeat against Sunderland at the weekend.
Manchester United squad to face FC Midtjylland:
De Gea, Romero, Love, McNair, Smalling, Blind, Poole, Riley, Carrick, Herrera, Schneiderlin, Lingard, Pereira, Weir, Mata, Memphis, Martial, Keane.
Argentina forward Ezequiel Lavezzi is the latest player to join the football revolution in China, turning down a Chelsea move to sign a big-money deal with Chinese Super League club Hebei China Fortune. The 30-year-old has moved for an undisclosed fee and pens a reported £400,000-a-week contract to make him the highest paid player in football history. Lavezzi was linked with a move to Premier League side Chelsea with his contract at Paris Saint-Germain due to expire in the summer. He turned down an extension with the French champions but favoured a stay in Europe, and was said to be in contact with the Blues and Inter Milan over a possible move. However the lure of a lucrative switch to China proved too hard to resist. The contract will be for two years and will see the Argentina international earn around £22million during his stay in the Far East. Lavezzi is the latest big name to head to China after Chelsea midfielder Ramires joined Jiangsu Suning and Atletico Madrid striker Jackson Martinez moved to Guangzhou Evergrande. He also joins former Arsenal striker Gervinho at Hebei China Fortune, who arrived from Italian side Roma this month.
A Russian footballer taunted Turkish fans by pulling off his shirt to reveal a picture of President Putin after a match in Istanbul. Lokomotiv Moscow midfielder Dmitri Tarasov’s vest showed Mr Putin in a navy cap along with the words “the most polite president”. The politically-charged Europa League match was the biggest sporting encounter between the nations since Turkey shot down a Russian jet in November. Turkish side Fenerbahce won 2-0. Lokomotiv Moscow are now likely to face punishment because European football’s governing body Uefa does not allow political statements during matches.
Real Madrid forward Cristiano Ronaldo walked out of a news conference on Tuesday after being questioned about his record in away matches this season. Ronaldo, 31, has scored 32 goals this season but has not netted away from the Bernabeu since 29 November. “Who else has scored more goals away from home than me since I arrived in Spain?” said Ronaldo, the all-time top scorer in the Champions League. “Name one player who has scored more than me. No answer? OK. Thank you.” Ronaldo was speaking at a news conference before the first leg of Real’s Champions League last-16 tie against Roma at the Stadio Olimpico on Wednesday. In December, the Portuguese became the first player to score 10 goals in the competition’s group stage. Eleven of his goals this season have come away from home, but he has not scored in his past four away games. “It’s understandable that people have doubts,” said Ronaldo. “It’s like with a son when you give him everything and then when you take it away, he cries. “I hope that I can keep this ‘bad form’ up until the season’s end.”