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Brilliant Bayern humiliate hapless Barca with 8-2 crushing

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(Last Updated On: August 15, 2020)

German champions Bayern Munich utterly humiliated Barcelona with an extraordinary 8-2 demolition job on Friday that sent them through into the semi-finals of the Champions League.

Thomas Mueller scored twice for a rampant Bayern, who led 4-1 after 31 astonishing minutes, as Lionel Messi and his team mates were condemned to a thrashing that felt like the end of an era for the illustrious Catalan club.

“We feel devastated, although shame is the real word I’m looking for,” said Barca defender Gerard Pique, adding that the historic defeat called for urgent changes across the club.

Barca coach Quique Setien, who is unlikely to survive the looming inquest, called the drubbing “a tremendously painful defeat”.

Bayern coach Hansi Flick hailed an “outstanding” display from his side but stressed that they were firmly focused on the semi-final, which will be against Manchester City or Olympique Lyonnais.

Mueller added: “We had so much fun today. Of course, Barcelona are special, so we had to be even more aggressive and come back again and again.

“You can imagine we feel good after this match but we have to be quiet and regenerate.”

The scoreline recalled Germany’s 7-1 semi-final win over Brazil in the 2014 World Cup, a game where Flick was on the bench as the national team’s assistant coach.

It began with Bayern grabbing a fourth-minute lead when Mueller collected Ivan Perisic’s cross from the left and played a clever one-two with Robert Lewandowski before drilling home.

But within three minutes Barca had struck back – Clement Lenglet’s super long ball found Jordi Alba in space and David Alaba’s attempt to deal with his searching cross ended up flying past his own keeper Manuel Neuer.

Neuer then had to be quick off his line to foil a goal-bound Luis Suarez but was almost caught out by Messi’s cross-shot from the right which drifted through the area and struck the post.

But just as Barca seemed to have established themselves, the Germans regained their lead in the 21st minute — Serge Gnabry fed Perisic on the left and the Croatian glanced up to see his options before drilling past Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

Bayern then added the third as Barca’s defence was opened up again with ease. Thiago Alcantara was given plenty of space in midfield to find Leon Goretzka whose superb ball picked out Gnabry, who had got behind Lenglet and then made no mistake with the finish.

Flick’s side were running riot and it got worse for Barca when a low cross from Joshua Kimmich was turned in at the near post by Mueller — another goal of ruthless simplicity making it 4-1 at the break.

The Spaniards desperately needed to find a way to shift the momentum after the break and Suarez, one of the few Barca players to emerge with any credit from the encounter, provided a route back into the game with a fine strike, in the 57th minute.

Jordi Alba found Suarez on the edge of the box and the Uruguayan jinked passed Jerome Boateng before blasting home.

But Bayern were in no mood to turn down the heat and six minutes later they restored their three-goal advantage thanks to some outstanding work from their Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies.

The left back dribbled in from the flank, danced past Nelson Semedo to get to the byline and then pulled the ball back to fellow full back Kimmich to slot home and make it 5-2.

Somehow Bayern had managed to score five goals without prolific striker Robert Lewandowski, who had scored in his previous seven Champions League matches, getting in on the act.

Eight minutes from the end, the Pole put that right.

Substitute Philippe Coutinho, who is on loan at the German club from Barca, floated over a cross from the left which Lewandowski firmly headed home at the back post.

To add insult to the already painful injury, Coutinho then scored two more before the end, as Barcelona fell apart in unimaginable fashion to the brilliance of the Bavarians.

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Taliban team member says contentious issue is US-Taliban deal

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

A member of the Taliban’s negotiating team, Khairullah Khairkhwa, said on Saturday that the main point of contention in the ongoing intra-Afghan talks in Doha was that the Afghanistan Republic was refusing to deal with the current talks in the framework of the US-Taliban agreement.

This agreement was conditions-based and was signed in Doha in February – which ultimately led to bringing the two warring sides together.

Khairkhwa said in a video recording that “real controversy is that the Afghan side is reluctant to accept that intra-Afghan talks are underway as part of a Taliban deal with the United States.”

According to Khairkhwa, the second point of contention is that Shiites say that decisions should not be based solely on Hanafi jurisprudence. The Afghan negotiating team want Hanafi, Shiite and human rights included.

Hanafi is one of the four schools of thought of religious jurisprudence within Sunni Islam and makes considerable use of reason or opinion in legal decisions.

Talks started two weeks ago between the two sides which clearly appear to have reached some sort of deadlock although very few details have been released on the discussions by either side.

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Taliban record video of their checkpoint actions close to Kabul

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

Afghanistan’s Ministry of Interior downplayed claims of Taliban checkpoint activity in Kabul on Saturday but a video clip shared on social media sparked concern among the city’s residents. 

The video clip, appearing to have been taken by the Taliban, surfaced on Saturday indicating Taliban checkpoints had been in PD5 in Kabul – in Bagh-e-Dawood, Qale Haidar Khan and in Company area and Arghande in Paghman district. 

One Taliban member had a radio with him while a second was armed. A third Taliban member appeared to have taken the video. 

In the video the insurgents stopped and questioned truck drivers and at least one taxi driver on where they were heading and where they had come from. They also asked one driver about the situation along the Kabul-Ghazni highway.

One Taliban said to a truck driver: “Company area of Kabul province where Islamic Emirate Mujahideen are present and asking people and … (to the driver) how are you? You, you ok?

Staring at the driver of the truck he said: “Where have you come from?”

The driver answered he had come from Ghazni and said he was on his way to Kabul. 

The Ministry of Interior, however, downplayed the claims, saying that the Afghan security forces have an active presence in the areas.

“The group’s physical presence is not lasting. They always flee from one place to another area. Our joint security forces have an active presence where the Taliban claim to be,” Tariq Arian, the ministry’s spokesperson said.

The video sparked a worried response from social media users and one resident in PD5 told Ariana news that government is not maintaining security in the area. 

He said a friend had recently been shot dead by the Taliban but “government did not address the issue and police told us you [must] pay Usher (taxes) to the Taliban,” for protection. 

Meanwhile, Afghan National Police said during the night Taliban’s Red Unit launched attacks on security checkpoints on the outskirts of Kabul city, including Company area.

This comes amid rising violence across the country that has sparked serious concern among the country’s leaders and the international community – especially as the Afghan government and the Taliban are still engaged in the early stages of peace negotiations in Doha. 

Leaders across the world have called for a reduction in violence and an urgent ceasefire to end the ongoing conflict that is taking its toll on war-weary Afghans who have lived through almost 40 years of war. 

 

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Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate quits as country’s crisis deepens

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(Last Updated On: September 26, 2020)

Lebanon’s Prime Minister-designate Mustapha Adib resigned Saturday after failing to form a new government in the crisis-hit country. 

Adib was tasked with forming a new government last month after the resignation of Prime Minister Hassan Diab’s cabinet following the massive explosion in Beirut that caused widespread destruction across the city.

The blast came at a time when the country was reeling under a crippling economic crisis while dealing with the coronavirus pandemic.

Adib’s resignation is a blow to French President Emmanuel Macron’s bid to rally sectarian leaders to tackle the worst crisis since the nation’s 1975-1990 civil war.

Adib’s appointment came after Macron intervened and secured a consensus on naming him in a country where power is shared between Muslims and Christians.

On Saturday, Adib told reporters he was stepping down after it became clear that the kind of cabinet he wished to form was “bound to fail”.

A source close to Macron reportedly said the situation that led to Adib’s resignation amounted to “collective betrayal” by political parties.

“It is indispensable to have a government capable of receiving international aid. France will not abandon Lebanon,” said the official.

Lebanon is in desperate need of financial assistance but France — the former colonial power — and others have refused to provide aid before serious reforms are made.

Adib announced he was stepping down but said Lebanon must not abandon the French plan or squander Macron’s goodwill.

“I stress that this initiative must continue,” he said after meeting President Michel Aoun.

He wished his successor well in the “hard task” of forming a government.

Politicians had promised Paris they would have a government in place by mid-September.

“It’s a setback, but we’re not giving up,” a French diplomatic source said.

Under the French roadmap, the new government would take swift steps to tackle corruption and implement reforms needed to trigger billions of dollars of international aid to fix an economy that has been crushed by a mountain of debt.

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