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England sweep history and Germany aside to move into last eight

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Photo: Reuters
(Last Updated On: June 30, 2021)

Raheem Sterling and Harry Kane struck late goals as England reached the Euro 2020 quarter-finals with a 2-0 win over Germany at Wembley on Tuesday, their first knockout victory over their old rivals since the 1966 World Cup final.

England will play either Sweden or Ukraine, who meet later on Tuesday in Glasgow, in the last eight after a victory which sent the home crowd of over 40,000 into wild celebration.

It was England‘s first ever knockout round win at the Euros inside 90 minutes and after a build-up dominated by talk of historic and bitter tournament losses to Germany, their focus will now be on making some history of their own.

The visitors’ defeat marked the end of Joachim Loew’s time as Germany coach after 15 years in charge, during which he guided them to the 2014 World Cup title in Brazil.

Debate will continue about England manager Gareth Southgate’s selections but it was telling that both goals came after midfielder Jack Grealish was introduced from the bench in the 69th minute when the entire tempo and mood of the game changed.

Six minutes after Grealish came on he was involved in a flowing passing move which ended with left wing back Luke Shaw deftly slipping the ball across the face of the goal for Sterling to slide in his third goal in four Euro 2020 games.

Yet shortly after scoring Sterling almost gifted the Germans a leveller when he gave the ball away on the halfway line and Kai Havertz sent Thomas Mueller through on goal.

The experienced World Cup winner had only England keeper Jordan Pickford to beat but dragged his shot wide of his right-hand post, leaving Sterling, who watched in anguish on his knees, to leap to his feet in relief.

After that reprieve, and with the crowd roaring England on, Grealish was the direct provider for the second goal, crossing from the left for captain Kane to beat keeper Manuel Neuer with a stooping header.

It was Kane’s first goal of the tournament and his return to scoring ways will be another positive for Southgate as he looks ahead at a potential route to the final.

Southgate’s decision to play a five-man defence and two holding midfielders was a cautious one, but England did start the game brightly.

Sterling tested Neuer in the 16th minute, cutting in from the left flank and finding room to unleash a drive towards the far corner which the Germany keeper did well to get across to.

Much of England‘s probing was coming from Kieran Trippier down the right and he found Harry Maguire in a promising position with a lofted ball to the back post but the centre half’s header was over the bar.

Germany were enjoying plenty of possession in midfield with England sitting deep but they provided a warning of their threat when Havertz slipped through Timo Werner, although Pickford was out quickly to smother.

Just before the break Mats Hummels had to intervene quickly to clear as Kane looked to pounce after Sterling’s burst into the box had caused chaos.

After the interval Germany sensed England had lost their way and went close when Havertz’s powerful drive was superbly tipped over by Pickford.

The game was in the balance but then came Grealish, whose name had been sung by the England fans throughout the game and who lived up to those hopes and expectations by providing the spark England had been missing.

England will head into their quarter-final in Rome on Saturday knowing victory will set-up a semi and potentially a final on home turf back at Wembley.

“Any team will be looking at us and know that we’re dangerous. We want to go all the way so need to keep it up,” said Kane.

“There isn’t anything bigger than this when the expectation is on and we delivered so we should be proud but we can’t stop here. We have a vision of where we want to go and we can’t stop now. Hopefully we’ll be back here in the semi-finals and the final.”

Southgate, though, is as restrained with his words as he is with tactics and said he had been quick to calm his players down.

“We played extremely well, we deserved the win, but I’ve had to say to them straight away, I’m the party pooper; if we don’t capitalise on that on Saturday, it doesn’t count for anything.”

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IEA delegation due in Norway for humanitarian talks

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Representatives of Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) will arrive in Norway on Sunday for three days of talks on how to alleviate a humanitarian crisis, the Norwegian foreign ministry said on Friday, Reuters reported.

“These meetings do not represent a legitimisation or recognition of the Taliban [IEA]. But we must talk to the de facto authorities in the country,” Norwegian Foreign Minister Anniken Huitfeldt said in a statement.

“We cannot allow the political situation to lead to an even worse humanitarian disaster,” she said.

Millions of Afghans have been plunged deeper into poverty since last year’s IEA takeover, which resulted in disruption to aid programmes and deteriorating food security, Reuters reported.

The IEA representatives will meet Norwegian authorities as well as diplomats from several other countries from Jan. 23 to Jan. 25.

“Meetings will also take place between the Taliban [IEA] delegation and other Afghans with backgrounds from a range of fields. These include women leaders, journalists, and individuals working to safeguard human rights and address humanitarian, economic, social and political issues,” Norway said.

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IEA says EU reopens embassy in Afghanistan

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Foreign Ministry of the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA) on Thursday, announced that European Union officially reopened its diplomatic office in Kabul.

Spokesman of the Ministry Abdul Qahar Balkhi on the Twitter post said that the EU’s diplomatic office has officially resumed its operations in Afghanistan.

“Following consecutive meetings and reaching an understanding with EU representatives, the European Union officially opened its embassy with a permanent presence in Kabul and practically commenced operations.” Balkhi tweeted.

Meanwhile, Abdul Qahar Balkhi said that the EU announced 268 million euro additional assistance apart from the 220 million euro humanitarian aid to Afghanistan.

He added that a portion of the money will be used for teachers and their salaries which he welcomed.

The reopening of the embassy comes as the IEA is yet to be recognized by any country but a number of countries have started consular services in the country.

This comes after Afghanistan’s caretaker government on Wednesday called on the international community to formally recognize the IEA administration which is governing the country after toppling the U.S.-installed government last year.

Mullah Hassan Akhund, acting prime minister of the caretaker government, made the statement at an economic conference in Kabul, which convened IEA officials, some countries’ representatives and UN envoys.

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Turkey, Qatar reached preliminary deal on Kabul airport security

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(Last Updated On: January 21, 2022)

Turkey and Qatar have reached agreement on ensuring security at Kabul’s main airport should they be awarded the mission amid ongoing talks with the Islamic Emirate (IE) government, Turkish diplomatic sources said on Thursday, Reuters reported.

Kabul’s international airport is landlocked Afghanistan’s main air link to the world. Following the August takeover of Afghanistan by the Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan (IEA), Turkey has said it would be open to operating it with Qatar but only if its security demands are met.

Reuters has reported that the United Arab Emirates also held talks with the Taliban to keep the airport operational.

The sources told reporters on Thursday that Ankara and Doha had agreed on a security framework for the airport mission, but added talks continued on other aspects such as financing.

“It is expected for the Taliban [Islamic Emirate of Afghanistan] to ensure security outside, and for whoever runs the airport to ensure it inside,” one of the sources said. “The process is continuing constructively,” the person said on condition of anonymity.

They added that a delegation of Turkish and Qatari officials were holding talks on the issue in Kabul this week, Reuters reported.

Qatar’s state news agency said the IEA government will be in Doha next week to complete discussions with Qatar and Turkey over the operation and management of the airport.

It added that delegations from Qatar and Turkey have held two days of “intense negotiations” in Kabul this week over control of the airport.

Qatar – which helped run the airport along with Turkey after playing a major role in evacuation efforts following the chaotic U.S. withdrawal in August – say that Ankara, Doha, and the IEA have agreed that discussions are going to be completed next week.

Qatar’s role at the Kabul airport has ensured that flights have operated between Doha and Kabul since September, allowing Qatar to become a hub for countries to maintain links to Afghanistan and to meet the IEA government. The United States, United Kingdom, Canada and several other countries have moved their Afghanistan embassies to Qatar, Reuters reported.

On Wednesday, Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan said Turkey was sending 700 tonnes of emergency aid and supplies to Afghanistan, without providing a date.

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