Shinji Okazaki: Leicester Striker Scores Overhead, Game-Winning Goal Against Newcastle

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Okazaki scored the only goal of the match 25 minutes in with a bicycle kick. Leicester regains its five-point lead at the top of the Premier League with eight matches remaining.

For a team in new, dizzying territory Leicester City are doing a fine job of showing they can enjoy the view from the top of the Premier League without suffering a debilitating bout of vertigo. This might not rank among the more distinguished performances of an almost implausible season but every team who win the championship stack up a few stodgy 1-0 victories and the upshot is that Claudio Ranieri’s side have re-established a five-point lead with eight games to go.

Leicester have certainly passed the ball with more authority and penetration this season and for large parts of the second half a nervous crowd was longing for the final whistle. Yet even when the Premier League leaders were struggling for their usual fluency, with their star players becoming increasingly peripheral and an anxious Ranieri waving his arms to demand more from his team, there were signs of the stubbornness that will be essential if they are to maintain this position.

In their past seven home games they have now kept six clean sheets. Newcastle United’s players looked eager to impress Rafael Benítez in his first match as manager but Leicester’s defence, superbly marshalled by Robert Huth and Wes Morgan, formed an impenetrable barrier in front of Kasper Schmeichel. The goal came from their only shot on target – a wonderful piece of improvisation from Shinji Okazaki – and this was their third 1-0 win in their past four games. Nervous as Leicester appeared at times, they still had enough to grind out an unspectacular yet crucial win.

 

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In the process they made it a losing start for Benítez on a night that demonstrated why his team have found goals so elusive this season. Benítez has inherited a side who have managed only eight in their past 21 away games, failing to score in 14 of them, and, though there were half-chances for Aleksandar Mitrovic, Jack Colback and Moussa Sissoko, they were unable to conjure up a really presentable opportunity all night. If Newcastle are to avoid dropping into the Championship it is clear the first area of improvement has to be their attack.

Benítez’s arrival certainly seemed to have sharpened a few minds judging by the way a team entrenched in relegation danger matched Leicester for long spells, no matter the 39-point difference that now exists between the two sides. Newcastle’s fans never sang Steve McClaren’s name but Benítez was loudly serenaded by the away end and his team showed a new-found confidence until the game ticked into the 25th minute and Okazaki decided it was time to add some stardust to the occasion.

Okazaki, a bustling, eager player with a licence to roam, may not always catch the eye in the same way as Jamie Vardy or Riyad Mahrez but the Japan international has also shown his own capacity for unsettling defences and this was a perfectly executed overhead kick. Newcastle had failed to clear a free-kick and when Marc Albrighton clipped another cross into the penalty area Steven Taylor, stretching to head the ball, could only knock it to the far post. Vardy was there to head it across and Okazaki, showing great anticipation and technique, launched himself into the air to score with an acrobatic finish.

Vardy had been marginally offside as he outjumped Colback but every successful team needs a slice of good fortune and for the rest of the first half Leicester looked more like their usual selves, attacking in numbers and causing problems with their speed and directness. Albrighton came close to adding a second barely three minutes after Okazaki’s goal and perhaps they would have been able to relax if his curling shot had not drifted beyond the far post. Vardy and Okazaki were difficult, elusive opponents in the first half and, every so often, there was a reminder of Mahrez’s soft-touch refinement.

Newcastle, however, did not crumple in the way that had become the hallmark of McClaren’s teams and as the game wore on their opponents started to retreat. The problem for Newcastle was their attacks had a tendency to break down on the edge of the penalty area. Mitrovic often found himself up against both Huth and Morgan and there were not enough times when the visiting midfielders took a risk and tried to run behind the home defence. It was rare to see a team have so much of the ball yet create so little.

For Leicester the second half was about keeping their structure

For Leicester the second half was about keeping their structure, not panicking and getting through. Danny Drinkwater has been outstanding this season but this was not one of his better nights and it was unusual to see Leicester’s more penetrative players have so little effect after the break. Vardy and Mahrez seldom threatened and Albrighton and Okazaki were taken off. Ranieri was clearly alarmed judging by the way he started gesturing to his team, then signalling to the crowd he wanted more noise.

Newcastle might have had a late penalty when Morgan jutted out an elbow to block Sissoko’s shot but, equally, Leicester though they could have had one of their own in the first half when Vardy went down under Daryl Janmaat’s challenge. In Newcastle’s position, second from bottom of the league, a late onslaught might have been anticipated. It never happened and, at the final whistle, there was a burst of relief from the home crowd. “We’re going to win the league,” they sang.

Do You Know How Many Matches India U-19 Has Lost Since Rahul Dravid Took Over?

INDIA U-19

The India U-19 team made it to the finals of the ICC U-19 World Cup winning their semi-final clash with Sri Lanka by 97 runs. This performance, however, was more or less expected from the Indian team. Why, you ask?

The explanation is simple. Under new coach Rahul Dravid, the Indian U-19 team has not lost a single match in 13 consecutive games. Yes, that’s correct. After Dravid took over, the India U-19 has not lost a single game and is a favorite now to win the ICC Under-19 World Cup for the fourth time since its inception.

Do-You-Know-How-Many-Matches-India-U-19-Has-Lost-Since-Rahul-Dravid-Took-Over

© Twitter

The atmosphere in the team, however, was tense just two days before the semi-final clash as many of the current U-19 players went under the hammer in IPL Auctions 2016. Rishabh Pant and Lomror were both picked up Delhi Daredevils. Rahul Dravid has also been in talks with the franchise for a coaching assignment.

This is the fifth time that the Indian team has reached the finals of the premier U-19 event. Earlier, India  also won ICC U-19 World Cup trophies under Mohammed Kaif, Unmukt Chand and Virat Kohli. This time the team is captained by Ishan Kishan and is on an invincible run.

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© Twitter

Sarfaraaz Khan, along with Ishan Kishan, is also in stellar form in the tournament. Ishan Kishan was grabbed by Pune Super Giants at a hefty pay of Rs. 35 Lac, and Sarfaraaz is currently in RCB squad for Rs. 50 Lac.

The team will now face either Bangladesh or West Indies in the finals.

Photo: © Twitter (Main Image)

Sachin Tendulkar’s Life Will Inspire You To Never Give Up On Your Dreams

sachin tendulkar dream

Sachin Tendulkar’s sprawling and illustrious career is peppered with stories of struggle, hardships, perseverance, discipline and success. And so, it is not a surprise that even after retiring from cricket in 2013, Tedulkar is often in the news, and we are not complaining because the fans just can’t get enough of him. Recently, while interacting with the students of Prabodhan Vidyalaya in Amravati district at the foundation stone laying ceremony of a proposed sports complex, he shared some inspiring stories from his past.

Speaking in front of a large crowd of sports enthusiasts and students, Sachin shared his wisdom on the significance of perseverance and discipline early in life: “Chase your dreams and never give up at any moment. Most of the people try but leave the race when actual target is just a couple of steps ahead. Goal setting is important but working on them with total dedication is more important. Do not go for short cuts in sports and studies. To achieve something big, you must follow a proper procedure,” said he.

These Stories From Sachin Tendulkar’s Life Will Inspire You To Never Give Up On Your Dreams© BCCL

Tendulkar then went on to share how he never gave up on his dream to win the world cup even though he had every possible record to his name in cricket, “Ever since I started playing cricket, lifting the World Cup was my dream. I needed 22 years to achieve my dream. We were close to winning the World Cup on few occasions but just couldn’t get it right. That did not stop me from working hard. I kept my focus and ultimately got it. Nothing is impossible in the world if you try passionately,” he said.

Sachin is widely respected around the world because apart from being a great sportsperson, he is also a wonderful human being and, that for him, is the basis and foundation of a successful career. “There is a right time for everything in life. You have to face it and accept the challenge as you move on. During my school days, we all had fun but I never disrespected my teachers, parents and guru. Whatever I achieved in my life was only because of them. Achrekar Sir found a spark in me and moulded me in his own way. He gave me the opportunities and I grabbed them with both the hands. I believe those who don’t respect their guru and parents are not normal people.”

Sachin Tendulkar will always continue to inspire us, no matter what, because legends never retire.

Earlier in 2014, Sachin had delivered a similar inspiring speech in front of 15,000 people. Watch the full speech below.