EPL

Almiron signs new Newcastle deal and plans to celebrate with EFL Cup final victory

By Sports Desk February 24, 2023

Miguel Almiron has signed a new contract at Newcastle United and hopes to have further cause to celebrate after the EFL Cup final on Sunday.

Almiron joined Newcastle from Atlanta United in January 2019, signing a five-and-a-half-year deal that was to expire at the end of next season.

Signed by Rafael Benitez, who soon left the club, Almiron initially struggled to replicate the form that had made him such a star in MLS.

His first Premier League goal did not come until December 2019, and he had netted only nine times in the competition heading into this campaign.

But Almiron has been a key man in an impressive Newcastle team under Eddie Howe, and is their top scorer with 10 goals in the league.

He has earned a three-and-a-half-year contract that will add two years to his previous agreement and keep him on Tyneside until 2026.

Newcastle are fifth in the Premier League, with a game in hand over fourth-placed Tottenham, and will face Manchester United in a Wembley final this weekend.

For Almiron, apart from the extension, playing a role in the club's first domestic cup win in 68 years would be reward for years of toil.

"The truth is that I've worked really hard since I came to Newcastle to improve my level and to be where I am at the moment," he said upon signing his contract.

"I also thank the staff and my team-mates, who have helped me a lot during these four years. I think this is a reward for that hard work, and I am very happy.

"On Sunday, we have a very important match, and while the new contract makes me really happy, the most important thing is that we celebrate this contract with a victory on Sunday."

Almiron is yet to score in the EFL Cup this season but provided assists in both the quarter-finals and semi-finals.

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  • Dorival bemoans lack of end product as Brazil frustrated in Copa America opener Dorival bemoans lack of end product as Brazil frustrated in Copa America opener

    Dorival Junior bemoaned a lack of end product after Brazil were frustrated in a goalless draw with Costa Rica in their Copa America opener on Monday.

    Despite enjoying 73.5% of the possession and firing off 19 shots to their opponents' two, Brazil failed to win their first game at a Copa America for the first time since 2016.

    The Selecao's 49 final-third entries throughout the match were the joint-most since such data began being recorded in 2011, alongside their own tally versus Paraguay in 2019, yet they only registered a paltry three shots on target.

    The result means Brazil have lost early ground on Colombia, who lead Group D following their 2-1 win over Paraguay earlier on Monday.

    Speaking after the game, Dorival said: "We rotated the ball well, went from side to side and got our attackers one-versus-one. 

    "We have a smaller field and that makes it easier for those who defend and difficult for those who attack. Vini received the ball with two men on him and a third approaching. 

    "We tried with Savio and were successful in some moments. The detail and definition were lacking, but freedom was given, everyone had the opportunity. 

    "We lacked some in-depth moves. It was the aspect that we intensified the most in training, this dirty work to find space between the opposing lines.

    "Our ball recovery was impressive. In my opinion, what was missing too much was that we failed to do this job of spreading the opponent's backline more."

    Vinicius Junior endured an underwhelming performance, being replaced by future Real Madrid team-mate Endrick with 71 minutes gone after failing to record a single shot and only managing five touches in the Costa Rica area.

    Asked about the decision to withdraw the winger, who shone as Madrid won a Champions League and LaLiga double in 2023-24, Dorival said: "We put him on the side, on the inside, we didn't find the way with either. 

    "He was well marked and we had to look for a solution, to make a change. 

    "I believe the game was well played within a context. We played closely, we created good chances, but we weren't happy with the finishing. 

    "The games will be like this, we have to find ways to improve. It is natural that if the result does not come, questions arise, but I know what we are developing." 

  • Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica: Wasteful Selecao frustrated in Copa America opener Brazil 0-0 Costa Rica: Wasteful Selecao frustrated in Copa America opener

    Brazil began their Copa America campaign with a frustrating goalless draw against Costa Rica at the SoFi Stadium.

    The Selecao dominated large periods of the Group D clash. Marquinhos saw a goal ruled out following a VAR review, while Lucas Paqueta rattled the woodwork from distance.

    Yet despite enjoying just under three-quarters of the possession and registering 19 shots to their opponents' two, they could not find the breakthrough and failed to win their opening match in the competition for the first time since 2016.

    Dorival Junior's side subsequently lost early ground on Group D leaders Colombia, who beat Paraguay 2-1 earlier in the day.

    Brazil quickly asserted their authority on proceedings in California as they sought the game's opening goal.

    Rodrygo steered a shot wide following a jinking run into the penalty area, while Raphinha was denied by Patrick Sequeira after latching onto a diagonal ball over the top of the Costa Rica defence.

    The Selecao thought they had broken the deadlock on the half-hour mark when Marquinhos applied the finishing touch after Rodrygo glanced Raphinha's free-kick towards the far post, only for the strike to be ruled out for offside following a VAR review. 

    Rodrygo fired narrowly over in first-half stoppage time and, then on 63 minutes, Lucas Paqueta saw his ferocious 25-yard drive crash against Sequeira's left upright.

    Dorival withdrew the quiet Vinicius Junior in favour of Endrick and Savinho for the final 20 minutes, and both looked dangerous upon their introductions.

    The latter's cross almost saw Costa Rica defender Haxzel Quiros head into his own net with his blushes spared by Sequeira, who then beat away Guilherme Arana's fierce volley.

    Savinho was involved again in stoppage time as he teed up one final opportunity for Bruno Guimaraes, who bent his first-time shot narrowly wide to compound a frustrating start to the tournament for the nine-time winners.

    Selecao stutter on return to States

    It is fair to say Brazil do not boost particularly fond recent memories of playing in the United States in recent years.

    After all, the Selecao crashed out in the group stages when the Copa America was last held in this nation eight years ago.

    Neymar, who was part of that side, watched on from the stands having been ruled out of this tournament through injury.

    Try as they may, his team-mates just could not break down their opponents and turn their dominance into the elusive goal, with just three of their 19 attempts on target.

    Fresh from playing a starring role in Real Madrid’s LaLiga and Champions League double, Vinicius Junior was unable to inspire his nation – his tallies of 45 touches and 23 passes were the lowest recorded by any of Brazil’s outfield starters.

    On a brighter note, Marquinhos made his 16th Copa America appearance – with only Dani Alves (19) and Thiago Silva (18) playing more times for the Selecao in the competition since 2000 – though a VAR review prevented him from marking the occasion with a goal.

    Another clean sheet for repellent Costa Rica

    Costa Rica were heavy underdogs on their return to the Copa America for the first time in eight years.

    Not since 2004 have Los Ticos progressed from the group stages of this competition, but they certainly know what it takes to claim a scalp on the big stage.

    Exactly 10 years ago, they beat Uruguay and Italy to top Group D, which also featured England, on the way to reaching the World Cup quarter-finals.

    Fast forward a decade and Joel Campbell, who was part of that side, came off the bench for his 140th cap as his nation halted a run of nine successive defeats by Brazil. 

    More impressively, Costa Rica have kept clean sheets in each of their last four competitive games.

    Their failure to record a single shot on target for the first time in a Copa America match since 2011 will be a slight concern, but that defensive stubbornness will stand them in good stead as they look to progress in this tournament.

  • 'He knows he has a whole country behind him' - Scaloni empathises as Messi spends birthday on road 'He knows he has a whole country behind him' - Scaloni empathises as Messi spends birthday on road

    Lionel Scaloni empathised with Lionel Messi after the Argentina captain spent another birthday "away from home".

    Messi, who turned 37 on Monday, and his team-mates are preparing to resume their Copa America title defence against Chile on Tuesday.

    The reigning champions, who began their campaign with a 2-0 victory over Canada, celebrated their skipper's big day by presenting him with a cake.

    Messi wrote on Instagram: "Thank you so much for all the greetings and congratulations! Another year that coincides with my birthday being with the National Team, so celebrating a little bit more and we keep getting ready for our next game."

    And Scaloni understands it must be difficult for the Inter Miami forward not to have the opportunity to celebrate with his family.

    "I know how hard it is for him to be away from home on his birthday," the head coach told reporters during his pre-match press conference.

    "We try to make sure he has the best time possible with his team-mates. We are used to it. He knows he has a whole country behind him.

    "The important thing is that Messi is here. He trained normally and is fit to play [against Chile]."

    Messi was part of the Argentina side that lost to Chile in successive Copa America finals on penalties in 2015 and 2016.

    The eight-time Ballon d'Or briefly retired from international duty following the latter, in which he missed his spot-kick, but overturned his decision before eventually leading his nation to Copa America and World Cup glory in 2021 and 2022 respectively.

    And Scaloni insisted Argentina are not out to avenge those defeats when they lock horns with La Roja at the MetLife Stadium.

    "There is nothing left of [those finals]. Just as it is with last year’s World Cup, it's history. There's no point in going back.

    "We have played many matches with these types of characteristics. We will face the match as it happens."

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