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Wolves 2 Crystal Palace 0: Ait-Nouri scores on debut as Podence adds second to continue best top-flight start since 1979

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wolves 2 crystal palace 0 ait nouri scores on debut as podence adds second to continue best top flight start since 1979

NUNO ESPIRITO SANTO struck gold as he finally found an alternative to Raul Jiminez to provide Wolves’ goals.

The Mexican striker had been responsible for two-thirds of Wolves’ six league goals prior to last night and a staggering 41 per cent of their shots.

Rayan Ait-Nouri is congratulated after his debut goal for Wolves

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Rayan Ait-Nouri is congratulated after his debut goal for WolvesCredit: Jamie McPhilimey – The Sun
Castelo Podence added the second before the break to seal the points

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Castelo Podence added the second before the break to seal the pointsCredit: Times Newspapers Ltd

However to his relief, Jimenez discovered he has a couple of support acts as new-boy Rayan Ait-Nouri scored on his Wolves debut and Daniel Podence joined in on the act with a second.

Those first half strikes ensured the Molineux side made their best start to a season since 1979.

However they will be frustrated, knowing they could have been top of the Premier League this morning had they not succumbed to a last-gasp Jacob Murphy free kick in Sunday’s 1-1 draw with Newcastle.

Palace meanwhile had one of those nights when nothing went right for them. 

Roy Hodgson saw his side denied one goal, two penalties and had skipper Luka Milivojevic sent-off – all on the say-so of VAR – as Martin Atkinson needed a helping hand to get some key decisions right.

Milivojevic could have no complaints as he raked his studs down the back of sub Joao Moutinho as it all went pear-shaped for Palace.

Wolves meanwhile were clearly still smarting from the late loss of two valuable points to Steve Bruce’s Geordies.

Because once both sides had paid their Remembrance respects and observed a minute’s silence for Nobby Stiles, the sombre mood swiftly changed.

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From the first whistle Nuno’s pumped up players menaced poor Palace who didn’t know quite how to deal with the snarling beast which was unleashed on them.

It wasn’t as if Roy’s boys started particularly poorly.

They carved out the first chance of the night when Andros Townsend’s positive run ended with him picking out Wilf Zaha who blazed his shot over.

They even thought they had broken the deadlock after 17 minutes when they put together a neat passing sequence and comeback defender Patrick van Aanholt swept in a superb cross which was swept home expertly by Michy Batshuayi.

Unfortunately for the Belgian hitman eagle-eyed assistant ref Lee Betts had spotted him straying just offside.

That was a hugely significant decision because, spooked by that narrow escape, Wolves immediately retaliated by taking the lead 60 seconds later from an unlikely source.

Nineteen-year-old left wing-back Rayan Ait-Nouri was only drafted in to make his debut because Brazilian Marcal called off injured at the 11th hour.    

But the French teenager didn’t take long to become an instant hit with watching Wolves fans as he made a sensational start to his Premier League career with a stunning goal.

Luka Milivojevic was sent off late on for Crystal Palace

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Luka Milivojevic was sent off late on for Crystal PalaceCredit: PA:Press Association

Daniel Podence’s searching cross skimmed off Kouyate’s head and dropped at the feet of Ait-Nouri who smashed a stunning left foot shot low past Guaita and into the far corner – what a way to introduce yourself.

Ait-Nouri hardly played for his French club Angers last season due to a facial injury which required surgery and the coronavirus shutdown.

Yet Wolves were happy to take the former Barcelona and Manchester United target on loan with a view to a £21million permanent deal if they like what they see.

On this evidence there is a lot to like!

The same could be said of Wolves who had Neves in fabulous form as he pulled the strings, pinging the ball all over the park to change the direction of attack.

Leo Dendoncker headed a fraction wide from a Podence cross before the Portuguese winger bent in a shot which Guaita spectacularly tipped over at full stretch.

On the other flank ex-Barcelona right-back Nelson Semedo cut inside and fired narrowly wide to Guaita’s relief.

Dendoncker then came at Palace through the middle with a rasping shot which beat the Palace keeper from 25 yards but bounced to safety off the junction of post and bar.

Martin Atkinson red carded the Eagles skipper after checking VAR

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Martin Atkinson red carded the Eagles skipper after checking VARCredit: PA:Press Association

This wasn’t in the script from a Wolves side who are notoriously slow-starters and usually keep their best for after the break.

Wolves had only scored one first half goal this season at Sheffield United on the opening day of the season, the only game where they had scored more than one goal.

Yet they went two up here before the half hour when they hijacked a Palace throw-in to steal possession back and score.

Jimenez fed Neto who provided the cross and Podence stole in at the back post to sidefoot a volley beyond Guaita.

To their credit Hodgson’s team refused to lie down and thought they had earned a penalty when Boly was judged to have tripped Van Aanholt in the box.

However with Luka Milivojevic holding the ball in his hands ready to take the spot kick, VAR spotted that Van Aanholt’s leading foot was narrowly offside when he accepted Zaha’s pass and Martin Atkinson was forced to reverse the award.

However Wolves confidence was summed up when Neto cheekily tried to chip Guaita from 35 yards forcing the keeper to frantically claw the ball over his own bar.

The chances continued to stack up after the break but Zaha was denied a penalty after a VAR check decided there had been no illegal contact from Ait-Nouri and Neves.

Then Dendoncker slashed a volley over at the back post which would have provided the icing on the cake.

Before Milivojevic was sent packing to end any faint hopes the Londoners had off staging a late fightback.

Crystal Palace star Andros Townsend wants the Premier League to scrap VAR now

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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Sergio Aguero tweets tribute to Diego Maradona, who was his son’s grandfather

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sergio aguero tweets tribute to diego maradona who was his sons grandfather

Sergio Aguero has paid tribute to his former father-in-law and Argentine icon Diego Maradona following his tragic death at the age of 60 on Wednesday.

Football was left in a state of shock after Maradona passed away following a cardiac arrest, which came just a fortnight after he had surgery on his brain, and tributes immediately poured in throughout the world.

And Manchester City striker Aguero, after his involvement against Olympiacos in the Champions League on Wednesday, penned a poignant message on social media in honour of Maradona.

Sergio Aguero paid tribute to his former father-in-law Diego Maradona following his death

Sergio Aguero paid tribute to his former father-in-law Diego Maradona following his death

Sergio Aguero paid tribute to his former father-in-law Diego Maradona following his death

Aguero wrote on Twitter: 'We are never going to forget you. You will always be with us.'

Aguero wrote on Twitter: 'We are never going to forget you. You will always be with us.'

Aguero wrote on Twitter: ‘We are never going to forget you. You will always be with us.’

Legendary footballer Maradona (above) passed away at the age of 60 after a cardiac arrest

Legendary footballer Maradona (above) passed away at the age of 60 after a cardiac arrest

Legendary footballer Maradona (above) passed away at the age of 60 after a cardiac arrest

Alongside a picture of the pair embracing and Maradona winning the World Cup in 1986, Aguero captioned his Twitter post: ‘We are never going to forget you. You will always be with us. #GraciasDiego RIP.’

Earlier in the evening, Pep Guardiola described the late Maradona as one of the ‘few incredible players’ in football history. 

The Manchester City manager joined the world of football in paying tribute to Maradona after his side beat Olympiacos on Wednesday night, while Guardiola also gave his public support to striker Aguero, who is the Argentinian’s former son-in-law.

Pep Guardiola also paid tribute to Maradona after the Argentine's death on Wednesday

Pep Guardiola also paid tribute to Maradona after the Argentine's death on Wednesday

Pep Guardiola also paid tribute to Maradona after the Argentine’s death on Wednesday

Aguero was married to Gianinna Maradona, the youngest daughter of the former Argentine footballer who was there at the birth of the couple’s son Benjamin in 2009. 

The couple separated in 2012 with Aguero and Maradona reportedly falling out, but Guardiola still sent his thoughts and prayers to the Manchester City striker’s family.

The Spaniard told BT Sport on Wednesday night: ‘First (I think about) Sergio. His son, Diego was his grandfather. 

‘There was a banner in Argentina which says, “It doesn’t matter what you have done in your life, it matters what you have done in our lives.” Imagine what Maradona would have done in our generation (of football). 

‘There are few incredible players in our history, he’s one of them. He was someone who made this sport better. On behalf on Manchester City a big hug for all his family.’

Guardiola gave his support to City striker Aguero (pictured here with his son Benjamin)

Guardiola gave his support to City striker Aguero (pictured here with his son Benjamin)

Guardiola gave his support to City striker Aguero (pictured here with his son Benjamin)

Maradona was best known for his stunning attacking displays for Argentina, playing an integral role in the country’s 1986 World Cup triumph in Mexico, including two goals against England in the quarter-finals. 

The Argentine is also a cult-hero at Napoli and Boca Juniors, winning two Serie A titles with the former in 1987 and 1990 along with the 1989 UEFA Cup. 

Before joining the Italian side, Maradona spent two seasons at Barcelona and scored 38 goals in 58 games whilst playing for the Catalans.

Maradona is known for his time at Napoli - but also spent two seasons at Barcelona (above)

Maradona is known for his time at Napoli - but also spent two seasons at Barcelona (above)

Maradona is known for his time at Napoli – but also spent two seasons at Barcelona (above)

Guardiola (above) came through the Barcelona ranks just after Maradona left Barcelona

Guardiola (above) came through the Barcelona ranks just after Maradona left Barcelona

Guardiola (above) came through the Barcelona ranks just after Maradona left Barcelona

While former Barcelona midfielder Guardiola admitted he never played with Maradona, the Spanish manager understands the impact the legendary forward had on the game.  

Guardiola added: ‘When I arrived at the Barcelona academy, he left for Napoli and he was there before. 

‘It was a short time but the impact was not like what it was like in Argentina, in Boca or in Napoli but what he has done in the world of football is incredible.

‘In Argentina, people know (what he’s done). But he was one of the best for many people. There have been others (such as) Pele but he’s one of them. 

Maradona was an inspirational figure in Argentina, helping them win the 1986 World Cup

Maradona was an inspirational figure in Argentina, helping them win the 1986 World Cup

Maradona was an inspirational figure in Argentina, helping them win the 1986 World Cup

‘His influence in football and how he lived his professional, it’s difficult to find a personal player who loves the game more. It’s a sad day for football.’

The Argentinian Government have announced three days of mourning following Maradona’s death, while the residents of Napoli are flooding the streets of their city to pay tribute to their former forward.

Meanwhile, Guardiola’s City beat Olympiacos 1-0 on Wednesday evening thanks to a first-half goal form Phil Foden. 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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‘It’s a crime’: Jurgen Klopp takes a swipe at BT Sport for scheduling early kick-off for Liverpool

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its a crime jurgen klopp takes a swipe at bt sport for scheduling early kick off for liverpool

Jurgen Klopp hit out at the Premier League schedule once again but refused to blame the fixture list for Liverpool‘s shock 2-0 defeat by Atalanta on Wednesday.

The Reds blew the chance to qualify for the Champions League knockout stages with two games to spare as goals from Josip Ilicic and Robin Gosens gave the Italian side a 2-0 win at Anfield

It was Liverpool’s first home loss in a 90 minute match since September 2018, with the Premier League champions failing to register a shot on target.

Jurgen Klopp hit out at at the fixture list once again after Liverpool lost 2-0 to Atalanta

Jurgen Klopp hit out at at the fixture list once again after Liverpool lost 2-0 to Atalanta

Jurgen Klopp hit out at at the fixture list once again after Liverpool lost 2-0 to Atalanta

Two second-half goals consigned a much-changed Liverpool side to a rare defeat at Anfield

Two second-half goals consigned a much-changed Liverpool side to a rare defeat at Anfield

Two second-half goals consigned a much-changed Liverpool side to a rare defeat at Anfield

Klopp, whose Liverpool side travel to Brighton for the 12.30pm kick-off on Saturday, claimed his side lacked intensity as they negotiate a packed fixture list between now and Christmas.

He told BT Sport after the Atalanta game: ‘I’m afraid to say but I think it (running out of steam) could happen not only to us but to other teams as well.

‘You (BT Sport) my special friends ask us to go on Saturday at 12.30pm which is nearly a crime to be honest. It has nothing to do with the game tonight but congratulations for that.

‘My only interest in the moment is that I get a thumbs up, nobody injured, let’s recover immediately. We take it.

Klopp's side now need to recover quickly to take on Brighton in the Saturday 12.30pm kick-off

Klopp's side now need to recover quickly to take on Brighton in the Saturday 12.30pm kick-off

Klopp’s side now need to recover quickly to take on Brighton in the Saturday 12.30pm kick-off

The German manager described this week's schedule for the Brighton game as a 'crime'

The German manager described this week's schedule for the Brighton game as a 'crime'

The German manager described this week’s schedule for the Brighton game as a ‘crime’

‘The boys are completely disappointed, frustrated, really, but we don’t have time for it to be honest. It’s just get fresh legs as quick as possible and go again, that’s it.’

Klopp – along with his rivals Pep Guardiola and Ole Gunnar Solskjaer – has been critical of the Premier League schedule in recent weeks, with all three managers taking aim at broadcasters over kick-off times following Champions League action.

After Liverpool’s 3-0 win over Leicester last weekend, Klopp hit out at Sky Sports and BT in an angry rant, saying: ‘It was never about us when I spoke about it. It’s about all the players, England players, players who play next summer in the European Championships. 

‘But if you (Sky) don’t start talking to BT then we’re all done. Sky and BT have to talk because if we keep playing on Wednesday and then Saturday (at) 12:30, I’m not sure if we will finish the season with 11 players – all the top seven.

‘But I know you (the broadcasters) don’t care and that’s the problem.

Klopp demanded BT and Sky Sports talk to find a solution over kick-off times last weekend

Klopp demanded BT and Sky Sports talk to find a solution over kick-off times last weekend

Klopp demanded BT and Sky Sports talk to find a solution over kick-off times last weekend

‘No it’s not wrong to say it because we’ve discussed it for a long time already and nothing’s happened.

‘Everyone tells me it’s really difficult but it’s really difficult for the players, the rest is just a decision on a desk in an office.

‘I’m happy about the game but we lost another midfielder (Keita). Also on the bench we don’t have a lot but that’s the situation.

‘But it’s not about us I don’t talk about Liverpool, I talk about all the football players out there. Yesterday, (Gerard) Pique massive knee injury. (Bukayo) Saka, maybe, I’m not sure, looked like a knee injury – he played all three games for England during the international break.

‘Now people tell us to rotate players but who? We have some offensive players but the rest are kids.

‘It’s a massive problem. Wednesday and Saturday 12:30 is a broadcaster problem and nothing else. We play against Atalanta on Wednesday and then 12:30 (Saturday) against Brighton. It’s an early Christmas present. We will show up there shaking. I think about sending the points. That’s how it is.

‘Gentlemen, start talking and start making decisions. I know it’s not you. I like the relationship with you.

‘If someone tells me again about contracts I’ll go really nuts. Because these contracts aren’t made for a Covid season.

‘We all have to adapt. You stand here with a face mask, a year ago did you think you would have to go somewhere with a face mask and interview like this?

‘That’s the situation so everything’s changed but the contract with the broadcasters is still: ‘We have this, so we keep this’. What? Everything changed, the whole world changed!’

Despite the short amount of time between matches this season, Liverpool have begun the season well and are level on points with Premier League leaders Tottenham – but a lengthy injury list has threatened to damage their campaign. 

With the likes of Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gomez and Thiago Alcantara out with long-term issues, Klopp rested the likes of Roberto Firmino, Andy Robertson and Diogo Jota from the starting line-up against Atalanta.

But Klopp claimed that the Champions League tie on Wednesday was so intense that his back-up players struggled to keep up with proceedings at Anfield. 

Klopp claimed his back-up players struggled to keep up with Atalanta on Wednesday night

Klopp claimed his back-up players struggled to keep up with Atalanta on Wednesday night

Klopp claimed his back-up players struggled to keep up with Atalanta on Wednesday night

The German added: ‘Usually when the first half is done you’re settled a bit more but for some players who didn’t play for a while you could see it was very intense for them so we didn’t really find a way in the game to create. 

‘We didn’t have enough bodies between the lines, not enough bodies in behind and all these kind of things.

‘I’m not surprised. It’s difficult to win a game (when you don’t have a shot on target.’

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand did not have much sympathy for Klopp after he ranted about the fixture list once again.

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand (above) had little sympathy for Klopp after the final whistle

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand (above) had little sympathy for Klopp after the final whistle

BT Sport pundit Rio Ferdinand (above) had little sympathy for Klopp after the final whistle

The former Manchester Untied defender argued: ‘Everyone’s in the same boat. It doesn’t make it right but when you look at the depth of his squad, they’re sitting in a better position than most. 

‘With the schedule they’ve had of late and they’ve had a few injuries as well, it’s a challenge and you can understand the frustrations. He’s the loudest-speaking at the moment.’ 

Former Liverpool striker Peter Crouch added: ‘The clubs agreed to it (the fixture list) at the start of the season and we are in unprecedented circumstances. 

‘Managers have complained about lots of games since the beginning of time. I remember Sir Alex Ferguson used to go on about international games a lot. It will always continue.’ 

This post first appeared on dailymail.co.uk

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Dallas Cowboys coach Markus Paul dies at 54 after being rushed from practice to hospital over ‘medical emergency’

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dallas cowboys coach markus paul dies at 54 after being rushed from practice to hospital over medical emergency

DALLAS Cowboys strength and condition coach Markus Paul died Wednesday at the age of 54 – just a day after he was rushed to the hospital from team practice.

Paul was taken to the Plano Presbyterian Hospital on Tuesday morning after experiencing a “medical emergency”, a team statement said.

Strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul died Wednesday after being rushed to the hospital Tuesday morning

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Strength and conditioning coach Markus Paul died Wednesday after being rushed to the hospital Tuesday morning

Paul died surrounded by his family Wednesday evening.

A cause of death has not been announced.

Cowboys owner and general manager Jerry Jones paid tribute to Paul and his work on the NFL team.

“The loss of a family member is a tragedy, and Markus Paul was a loved and valued member of our family,” Jones said in a statement.

“He was a pleasant and calming influence in our strength room and throughout The Star.”

“His passion for his work and his enthusiasm for life earned him great respect and admiration from all our players and the entire organization,” Jones said.

“We offer our love and support to his family in this very difficult time.”

Paul started as an assistant coach in 2018 before becoming strength and conditioning coach in 2020

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Paul started as an assistant coach in 2018 before becoming strength and conditioning coach in 2020

“Our hearts are broken for his family and all of the individuals whose lives he touched and made better,” he ended.

The Cowboys will honor Paul at AT&T Stadium before their annual Thanksgiving Day game against the Washington Football Team.

The Cowboys coach – who has three Super Bowl rings through his past work with the Patriots and Giants – was treated by team medical personnel before being transported to a local hospital just before 7:30AM Central Time Tuesday.

Head coach Mike McCarthy cancelled practice on Tuesday, before resuming practice Wednesday for 75 minutes – which is considered normal under the circumstances.

Paul joined the Cowboys in 2018 as an assistant to then strength and conditioning coach Mike Woicik before taking the job in 2020 when McCarthy became head coach.

McCarthy offered kind words to Paul and his family.

A Dallas Cowboys tweet expressed condolences for Paul and his family

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A Dallas Cowboys tweet expressed condolences for Paul and his familyCredit: Twitter

“We extend our love, strength and support to Markus’ family during this most challenging of times and ask that their privacy be respected moving forward,” McCarthy said in a statement.

“Markus Paul was a leader in this building,” McCarthy continued. “He earned the players’ respect and attention because he cared so much and was a naturally gifted communicator – both on the personal and professional levels.”

“He handled every situation, sometimes with a smile and a pat on the back, and sometimes with tough love,” said McCarthy.

“He had innate toughness in a job that requires that quality, and he was admired throughout the NFL by his peers and the players he coached.”

“It was a privilege to work with him as a coach and laugh with him as a friend,” McCarthy ended. “Markus did everything the right way.”

Paul played as a defensive back for both the Chicago Bears and Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 1989 to 1993. He was a two-time All-American after playing four seasons at Syracuse.

He first began coaching in 1998 with the New Orleans Saints, before spending five years working under Woicik with the New England Patriots from 2000 to 2004.

Paul spent 11 years with the New York Giants as an assistant strength coach before joining the Cowboys

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Paul spent 11 years with the New York Giants as an assistant strength coach before joining the CowboysCredit: AP:Associated Press

He then became director of physical development and head strength and conditioning coach for the New York Jets from 2005 to 2006.

Before joining the Cowboys, he spent 11 years with the New York Giants as an assistant strength coach.

His teams took to Twitter to also share their condolences.

The Cowboys tweeted a photo of Paul smiling with the caption “Sending our deepest sympathies to the family & friends of Markus Paul. The Dallas Cowboys strength & conditioning coach passed away Wednesday at the age of 54.”

The Jets also tweeted, “Our thoughts and prayers are with the loved ones of Markus Paul, who spent two years with us in 2005-06. He was a kind man who made a lasting impact on those fortunate to have crossed his path.”

The Giants echoed similar thoughts, calling Paul “a beloved member of our organization for several years,” and adding: “Our prayers of comfort and peace are with his family, the Dallas Cowboys and his many friends across the NFL and beyond. He will be greatly missed.”

This post first appeared on thesun.co.uk

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