By defeating Real Madrid 2-1 in Sunday’s Clasico, Barcelona made a huge stride toward LaLiga greatness. Franck Kessie scored a stunning late winner.
Kessie, a midfielder for the Blaugrana, scored in the 92nd minute at Camp Nou to put Xavi’s team 12 points ahead of Madrid, who thought they had already won it when Marco Asensio had a goal disallowed in the 81st.
When Sergi Roberto equalized the score in the 45th minute, Madrid had taken an amusingly early lead thanks to a Ronald Araujo own goal.
With 12 league games remaining, Barca was within one win of winning the championship when Kessie made a last-second contribution, putting the ball past Thibaut Courtois after Asensio’s goal had been disallowed for offside.
Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha were stopped by Courtois’s excellent saves, but Madrid scored first after nine minutes.
Araujo, who was defending Vinicius Junior’s hopeful left-wing center, strangely headed into his own net at the near post.
When Xavi’s team ultimately fought back on the cusp of halftime, Courtois stopped a Barca rally by stopping clever flicks from Andreas Christensen and Raphinha.
Sergi Roberto received the ball after a frantic Eder Militao block on Raphinha, and he blasted into the bottom-right corner after a tiny deflection caught Courtois off guard.
After the break, Lewandowski’s shot off Eduardo Camavinga almost undid Madrid once more, but it whistled wide to Courtois’ left.
Asensio thought he had snatched victory when turning home Dani Carvajal’s right-wing cross, only for a VAR review to adjudge the substitute offside.
More late drama was to follow when Kessie coolly finished into the bottom-right corner from Alejandro Balde’s low centre as Barca edged closer towards a first top-flight crown since 2019.
Why does that matter? Chaos-filled conclusion brings Barca within striking distance.
Madrid hasn’t played at their best for significant portions of the season, so it was fortunate that they were still in the game at the break thanks to a strong showing from Courtois.
After this heartbreaking loss, Carlo Ancelotti’s visitors may not have many complaints, but that won’t help to lessen the impact of such a big setback in the title fight.
After a 13th such game without a loss, a spirited performance also preserved Barca’s unblemished home record in LaLiga this season; it is this form, along with highlights like Kessie’s winning goal, that will likely make the difference should the Blaugrana prevail.
De Jong impresses.
Kessie may receive credit for his late goal, but Frenkie de Jong was at the center of all the Blaugrana’s creative endeavors despite Xavi’s decision to start Barca with the tenacious Sergi Roberto in midfield.
The Dutch international demonstrated his talent against seasoned world stalwarts Toni Kroos and Luka Modric in the Madrid midfield by creating a game-high five chances.
Unpunished Araujo makes a mistake
Araujo scored Barca’s first goal against Real Madrid in any competition since Gerard Pique in August 2017’s Supercopa de Espana, which was the first Clasico own goal in LaLiga this century.
The mistaken action by the Uruguayan player did not, however, prove to be expensive as Xavi’s Blaugrana prevented the defender from looking foolish and stopped a late Madrid title push with a thrilling victory.
Jordan Ayew equals John Paintsil’s Ghana record
After earning his 91st appearance against the Central African Republic in the final round of the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifiers, Jordan Ayew hit a significant milestone in his Ghanaian career.
The 31-year-old gained further honors when he assumed leadership of the team in the absence of his brother Andre Ayew. He entered Ghana’s encounter with his head held high after winning the Crystal Palace Player of the Month award for August.
Mohammed Kudus’ outstanding free-kick goal and Ernest Nuamah’s late goal for the Black Stars—who was making only his second appearance—in the 88th minute helped Ghana, led by Jordan Ayew, come from behind to defeat their opponents 2-1.
In terms of Ghanaian internationals with the most outings, Jordan Ayew is now tied for fourth place with Andre Ayew (114), Asamoah Gyan (109), and Richard Kingson (93).
The former Olympique Marseille player declared after the game that he was prepared to raise his total with other contests.
He added, “I still have games left to play.”
Ayew, who has played for the squad consistently since his debut in 2010, has scored 19 goals and is expected to play a bigger role in Ghana’s upcoming games, including those in the 2026 World Cup qualifications and the 2023 AFCON competition, which will take place in Ivory Coast next year.
Neymar claims Saudi league could top Ligue 1 already
According to Brazilian captain Neymar, the football league in Saudi Arabia may already be more competitive than Ligue 1 in France.
The 31-year-old attacker left Paris Saint-Germain in August for approximately £77.5 million with add-ons for the Saudi Pro League.
In a transfer window that saw Saudi teams spend more than £700 million on foreign players, Neymar signed with Al-Hilal.
I wouldn’t be astonished if the Saudi league is superior to the French, he remarked, given the names that were sent to Saudi Arabia.
According to data from the football governing organization Fifa, Saudi clubs’ spending on foreign agreements this summer was second only to the Premier League, whose teams spent just under £1.6bn on foreign transactions.
Although Al-Ittihad was unable to lure Mohamed Salah away from Liverpool, other Premier League players, including Jordan Henderson, Roberto Firmino, and Fabinho, moved to Saudi Arabia.
Karim Benzema of Real Madrid, Georginio Wijnaldum of PSG, and Sadio Mane of Bayern Munich were also courted by Saudi clubs.
Marcelo Brozovic, the captain of Inter Milan in the Champions League final, Franck Kessie of Barcelona, Jota of Celtic, and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic of Lazio are among more players who have made the move to the Saudi Pro League.
A brand-new transfer world record might have also occurred. After making a £259 million offer, PSG allowed Al-Hilal to speak with Kylian Mbappe. However, the forward chose to stay with the French champions, and Neymar was instead sold.
Although Neymar’s tenure in Paris was limited by ankle ailments after transferring from Barcelona for a record sum of £200 million in 2017, he assisted PSG in winning five Ligue 1 championships.
While representing Brazil internationally, Neymar said: “I can promise you that Saudi Arabian football is the same. We have goalposts, and the ball is spherical.
“There is no mystery. There, we practice hard because we still have a strong desire to win.
“I want Al-Hilal to win championships. Not much has changed.
Saudi Pro League, according to Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp, poses a greater threat than not.
The Saudi deadline, which ended over a week after the top leagues in Europe, drew criticism from a number of Premier League managers.
Jurgen Klopp, the manager of Liverpool, stated last week that the Saudi Pro League felt more dangerous than not. According to Klopp, it’s important to “protect the game and ensure that European leagues remain as strong as they are.”
Henderson, a staunch ally of the LGBTQ+ community, claimed that criticism of his transfer had “really hurt” him.
Given that same-sex sexual conduct is prohibited in Saudi Arabia, some LGBTQ+ activists have questioned his decision.
Richard Ofori and Jordan Ayew train with the Black Stars in Kumasi
Prior to their upcoming encounter against Central African Republic (CAR), Black Stars teammates Richard Ofori and Jordan Ayew arrived in Kumasi in time for their team’s first training session.
After landing in Kumasi, the team held their first practice at the Baba Yara Stadium with 24 players present (Joseph Paintsil was not there).
when previously reported by DEK360ghana, the squad held its first practice on Monday in Accra with only approximately 12 players present. However, most of the players eventually joined when they traveled from the capital to Kumasi.
While his teammates continue to train in Kumasi in preparation for the crucial encounter, Paintsil is the only unfit player who is considered present in Accra.
However, because the event was intended to be private, access to the Baba Yara Stadium was refused to both media and spectators.
As the pivotal game in the 2023 Africa Cup of Nations (AFCON) qualifier approaches, the team is slated to hold another practice that will likely be accessible to the media.
Ghana must either win or draw to qualify for the tournament, which will be hosted by Ivory Coast’s neighbors the following year, while CAR must win in order to advance.
The game kicks off on Thursday at the Baba Yara Stadium at 16:00GMT