What the papers say
It is the statistic that undermines the good Manchester United have done in the Premier League this season: they have failed to score a single goal in open play against opponents from the so-called big six.
Their only return in what is now seven attempts came from a Bruno Fernandes penalty in the 6-1 home defeat against Tottenham. This was their fifth 0-0 draw and, although it was more watchable than some of the others, it illustrated why they lag so far behind Manchester City. In the decisive matches they have not only mislaid their creativity and cutting edge, they have seemed risk averse.Continue reading...
Ole Gunnar Solskjær isn’t just picking a more defensive team away from home – he’s picking a more effective one
On the road with Manchester United: a journey in 19 acts. As with most road stories, the biggest question around United’s record unbeaten away run is whether, for all the fun, the jazz, the poetry, the roman candle pyrotechnics, it’s actually leading them anywhere.
This is a bildungsroman that will head back to its start point once again on Sunday afternoon. It is almost exactly a year since United set off on their magic bus tour with a 2-0 victory at Stamford Bridge. Those 19 Premier League away matches without defeat have cut across two seasons, the mixed and varied delights of pre- and post-Covid football, plus one disorientating midsummer overspill. From here United face two immediate tests: Chelsea and then Manchester City’s title-bound cavalry charge at the Etihad a week later.Continue reading...
Chelsea disappointed for the first time under Thomas Tuchel in last week’s draw with Southampton so all eyes will be on his side, scrutinising how they respond. Tuchel was particularly upset with Callum Hudson-Odoi, who received the ignominy of being a subbed substitute, so Reece James will be eager to continue impressing on the right flank. James will have to be working hard to help shut down Manchester United’s impressive attacking unit. Bruno Fernandes is easy to single out as key to United’s successes but Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s defence need to continue their improvement, since a shocker against Everton, if they are to best Chelsea. Graham Searles
Sunday 4.30pm Sky Sports Premier LeagueContinue reading...
- Last-16 draw also pairs Arsenal with Olympiakos
- Spurs face Dinamo Zagreb, Rangers to play Slavia Prague
Zlatan Ibrahimovic is returning to Old Trafford after Manchester United were drawn against Milan in the last 16 of the Europa League.
The 39-year-old striker established himself as a fan favourite during his almost two-season spell at Old Trafford, scoring in the Community Shield and League Cup triumphs in 2016-17. Ibrahimovic played a key role in that season’s victorious Europa League run, but a serious knee injury in the quarter-final against Anderlecht ruled him out of the remainder of the campaign.Continue reading...
Leicester out, Manchester United, Arsenal and Rangers through: Europa League clockwatch – as it happened
Arsenal, Manchester United and Rangers progress, while Leicester meekly bow out
Jamie Jackson was at Old Trafford. His report is in, so you know what to do: click and enjoy. That’s it for this Clocko. Thanks for reading! Nighty night.
So does a much happier Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. “You remember defeats more than wins. Especially semi-finals. We’ve had three of them, so this group feels hurt, and wants to go further. We are a group that’s very tight. We’ve had a few setbacks and knocks, but it lifts us, we want to go further. If you fail in three semis, you want to do better and improve. It’s exciting. It’s a group of players that will improve, because we’re still a young team.”
A very gracious Brendan Rodgers speaks to BT Sport. “I felt I picked a team that could win the game. But we didn’t create enough tonight, and didn’t defend with any intensity. So we gave away two disappointing goals. The best team won, the best team got through, and we just have to recover and get ready for the weekend. They play a man-marking style so you have to be patient. We got into some good areas but lacked quality when we got there. We didn’t have enough quality to break them down. I don’t want to give too many excuses, but you can see what we have, injury wise. However, I still expected us to show up more. There will be learning from it. Tonight we weren’t good enough, and when you’re not good enough at this level you’ll get punished. Good luck to Slavia in the next round.”
“I see Leicester brought on a midfielder called Tavares. If their centre-back can’t thread a pass through to him then Evans Must Be Missing An Angle.” Please be upstanding for David Griffiths, everyone. Speaking of Leicester’s meek exit, Paul Doyle witnessed it, and here’s his verdict.
The full-time scores of the 8pm kick-offs.
A bit of a non-event at Old Trafford, but 17-year-old Shola Shoretire, now United’s youngest-ever representative in Europe, will remember it for ever. As may poor Axel Tuanzebe, whose first-ever senior goal was wiped out thanks to the antics of his slapstick partner Victor Lindelof.
Slavia Prague run out worthy winners at the King Power. Leicester offered nothing. Brendan Rodgers is yet to crack the European code.
GOAL! Roma 3-1 Braga (Mayoral 90); agg 5-1. Well that wasn’t much of a consolation, was it.
GOAL! Roma 2-1 Braga (Cristante og 87); agg 4-1. A late consolation for the Portuguese.
GOAL! PSV 2-1 Olympiacos (Kouka 88); agg 4-5. PSV were going through on away goals ... until Ahmed Hassan Kouka had his say.
GOAL! Club Brugge 0-1 Dynamo Kiev (Buyalsky 83); agg 1-2. Have the Ukrainian giants won it at the death?
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-2 Young Boys (Fassnacht 86); agg 3-6. Young Boys never lose it / Young boys always shiii-iii-iiine!
86 min: Slavia have done a proper number on Leicester here. Kolar has been barely troubled in their goal. “I played in a Neil Young covers band (two gigs) called Neil Young Boys,” writes/admits Jon Collin. “We’ll reform if the price is right.” Anyone interested should contact the Guardian in the first instance. We’ll take no more than 15%.
GOAL! Roma 2-0 Braga (Perez 74); agg 4-0. A breeze for the Giallorossi.
It looks like Slavia Prague have made it to the last 16. Abdallah Sima drops a shoulder, nudges the ball to his right, and whistles an unstoppable shot into the bottom right from 25 yards. Such a lovely strike, and Brendan Rodgers’ continental misery looks set to last another year.
77 min: A little bit of history is made at Old Trafford, where Shola Shoretire, 17 years and 23 days old, replaces Mason Greenwood. He becomes the youngest player to represent Manchester United in Europe, beating a long-standing record held since the early 1980s by Norman Whiteside (17 years, 131 days).
75 min: Leicester still haven’t forced Slavia Prague keeper Kolar into action. “Could you help with some academic research via your readers, both of them in fact?” asks Graham Moger, the old charmer. “Am I the only one who uncontrollably blurts out ‘Young Boys!’ in the style of the Village People, every time I see the team name in print? The crux of my research paper will indicate I’m not alone in that habit.” I’m more of a mid-era Duran Duran man myself.
71 min: Marko Gobeljic of Red Star Belgrade has been sent packing after picking up a second yellow in Milan. His team are currently going out on away goals, the tie delicately poised at 3-3 on aggregate. Stating the obvious, but that isn’t going to help, is it.
70 min: Leicester continue to huff and puff. Brendan Rodgers can boast a fine domestic record, with positive contributions made at Swansea, Liverpool, Celtic and now Leicester. But he’s been conspicuously poor in Europe so far. Can his side help him buck a miserable continental trend?
67 min: Martial swans in from the left and sends a pearler towards the top right. Just over. That was such a sweet strike.
It’s a no-brainer of a decision. Poor Tuanzebe has the first senior goal of his career disallowed, thanks to the needlessly aggressive intervention of his defensive partner. Just a booking for Lindelof, which is probably right, it was clumsy rather than anything else, but you could certainly make an argument for his dismissal. Somewhere in the multiverse, Sociedad scored their penalty and United are down to nine men.
64 min: But this might be chalked off, because Lindelof has clumsily leapt into Bautista. Leaping high and out of control, his knee whacks into the poor guy’s startled coupon!
Tuanzebe rises highest at a corner to plant a glorious header into the top left. It’s his first senior goal!
63 min: Barnes has a first gander down the left, but goes nowhere. Slavia remain in total control.
60 min: Leicester get themselves some of that sweet triple-sub action. Albrighton, Amartey and Choudhury are replaced by Barnes, Ricardo and Castagne. Might as well roll the dice, with two goals required in the next half-hour.
59 min: So here comes 18-year-old Amad Diallo, making his first appearance at Old Trafford. James trudges off shaking his head sadly.
58 min: The in-form Dan James is down, clutching his calf. Looks like his evening is about to come to an end. “There’s a lot to be said for placing curses on football clubs,” begins Ian Burch, with reference to the earlier entry regarding Benfica banjaxer Bela Guttmann. “As legend has it, Birmingham City had a curse put on them back in 1906 which they’ve been trying to lift ever since. Former manager Ron Saunders supposedly had crucifixes placed on the floodlights while Barry Fry decided to do his bit to set things right by watering the corner flags in a way which possibly only Barry Fry and Aston Villa fans could think of doing. The curse was supposed to last for 100 years, but it doesn’t look like ending anytime soon.”
55 min: United made a triple change at half-time, by the way, Bruno Fernandes finally getting some well-deserved rest. On come Rashford, Williams and Tuanzebe; Fred and Wan-Bissaka are the other two chaps to give way.
GOAL! Bayer Leverkusen 0-1 Young Boys (Siebatcheu 47); agg 3-5. Just like Leicester, Leverkusen now need two goals to progress.
52 min: United should be down to ten. Williams, having just been booked, sticks his studs onto the top of Merino’s boot. It’s clumsy rather than malicious, but nevertheless the young full-back is fortunate not to be walking.
50 min: Meanwhile at Old Trafford, there’s action at both ends, Rashford inches away from steering a free kick into the bottom right, Sagnan planting a header onto the United crossbar.
Slavia come again down the left. A deep cross by Stanciu. Provod is unmarked at the far post. He meets the dropping ball sweetly, sweeping into the bottom right. That’s a fantastic goal, though Leicester’s central defenders had gone AWOL.
The second halves are underway. Almost immediately at the King Power there’s an almighty scramble in the Leicester box, Slavia Prague coming out of the blocks at pace. The hosts clear. But ...
Half-time entertainment. It’s been a good couple of days for the Light Blues, hasn’t it.
GOAL! JUST BEFORE HALF-TIME! PSV 2-0 Olympiacos (Zahavi 44); agg 4-4. Eran Zahavi scores his second of the evening, and it means his team go in ahead on away goals. So the half-times in the 8pm kick-offs look like this:
Someone will need to do something at some point.
La Real have had their chances to reduce the deficit and start dreaming about achieving the seemingly impossible. Most notably captain Mikel Oyarzabal’s absurd penalty. But here we are.
45 min: More Leicester irritation, as Choudhury goes over a non-existent leg and claims a penalty he’s never going to get.
42 min: Choudhury sends Vardy scampering into space down the left flank at the King Power. An opening to shoot doesn’t present itself, though, and Vardy ends up scooping harmlessly into Kolar’s arms from the tightest of angles. He boots the hoardings in frustration, a result of Leicester’s inability to get going this evening.
40 min: Nothing to report. Arsenal and Rangers spoiled us earlier.
37 min: Brendan Rodgers begins to chew his gum with Allardycian ferocity, as his Foxes continue to toil. “That penalty, eh!” begins Justin Kavanagh. “Oyarzabal looked like a man swaggering up to the bar to chat up Penelope Cruz … and tripping on his own shoelaces.” It definitely had more than a bit of classic sitcom-style ineptitude about it, like Del Boy falling through the bar, or Mainwaring inadvertently shopping Pike. Perhaps manager Imanol Alguacil should have arrived, stage left, and thrashed him with the branch of a tree.
GOAL! Dinamo Zagreb 1-0 Krasnodar (Orsic 31); agg 4-2. Mislav Orsic gives the Croatians a cushion against the side from southern Russia.
30 min: Leicester need to pick it up a bit. This tie, the first leg of which finished goalless in Prague, already has the gamey whiff of extra-time and penalties.
GOAL! AC Milan 1-1 Red Star Belgrade (Ben 24); agg 3-3
GOAL! PSV 1 -0 Olympiacos (Zahavi 23); agg 3-4
GOAL! Roma 1-0 Braga (Dzeko 23); agg 3-0
A flurry of goals in ties that are in differing states of order and disorder.
24 min: Bruno Fernandes, racing onto a Greenwood pull-back down the right, nearly recreates his astonishing goal against Everton the other week. A power curl towards the top left from 25 yards that pings off the crossbar and away. It’s not difficult to work out why Solskjaer wants to play him all the time; it’s just questionable whether he should, four goals up and all.
Meanwhile, golf and Scottish football’s Ewan Murray rounded off a busy 24 hours with a trip to Ibrox. Here’s his verdict on another rollercoaster ride for the Teddy Bears.
Nick Ames’ report on Arsenal’s last-gasp victory over Benfica has landed. Here ‘tis.
19 min: Still fairly quiet on the east-midland front. Meanwhile back at Old Trafford, United continue to find themselves pinned back. Sociedad are stroking it around very nicely, the former United starlet Januzaj the latest to cause the hosts’ rickety defence some problems, swanning in from the right flank and nearly finding one of the three team-mates in the box.
15 min: And the thing is, La Real could have scored three already. in the immediate aftermath of his embarrassing penalty miss, Oyarzabal rolls a delicious ball through the six-yard box from the left. Lindelof hooks clear just in time, with players waiting at the far post to tap home. Then Guevara creams a shot inches wide of the top right. It’s a good start from the Basques, with one fairly obvious caveat.
13 min: PREPOSTEROUS PENALTY MISS AT OLD TRAFFORD! James concedes it, clumsily clipping Gorosabel, who was going nowhere. But no matter! Oyarzabal takes a Fernandesesque skip before taking the spot kick, and wedges it disgracefully high and wide left. Bruno makes it look easier than it actually is.
GOAL! AC Milan 1-0 Red Star Belgrade (Kessie pen 9). So having said that, Milan score the first goal of the evening kick-offs. They lead 3-2 on aggregate.
9 min: No early goals anywhere, in fact. Probably just as well, given the breathless end to the Arsenal game. Need some time to recover. Poor old Benfica, though. Yet another year without a European trophy for the two-time European Cup winners. Bela Guttmann will be up there laughing.
7 min: How about those Rangers, though, huh, Peter Oh? “Rangers needed to work 9-5! What a way to make a livin’!” He’s only doing it so you don’t have to.
5 min: Nothing of note has happened at Old Trafford yet. Time to ponder, then, on Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s slightly strange decision to select Bruno Fernandes, who has clocked up the miles since joining last January and could surely do with a rest. Ruth Purdue elaborates: “So when Fernandes breaks down due to fatigue later on in the season, again, maybe, just maybe the manager will learn his lesson on managing workloads.”
2 min: Leicester have started quickly at the King Power. A fine run down the right by Under. He tees up Soyuncu who spoons over. Then Vardy embarks on a busy run down the inside-left channel, only for his shot to be blocked.
Yep, Napoli’s goose is indeed cooked. The game ends 2-1, and that means Granada Club de Futbol win 3-2 on aggregate.
Thanks Ben. News of Napoli-Granada when we have it ... but unless something positively psychedelic happens in the eighth minute of injury time, the Italian giants are heading out. Meanwhile the teams are out in Manchester and Leicester. We’ll be off in a minute. A quick reminder of where the 8pm kick-offs stand after the first leg:
Napoli v Granada (2-3 on agg) are into seven minutes of second-half stoppage time. Scott Murray will bring you the full-time result from that one, plus stay tuned for Leicester and Manchester United, of course ...
Arsenal 3-2 Benfica (4-3 on agg)
Hoffenheim 0-2 Molde (3-5)
Ajax 2-1 Lille (4-2)
Napoli 2-1 Granada (1-3)
Rangers 5-2 Antwerp (9-5)
Shakhtar D 1-0 M Tel Aviv (3-0)
Villareal 2-1 Salzburg (4-1)
Another entertaining game for Steven Gerrard and co.
Arsenal advance to the last 16!
Home and dry at Ibrox.
Full-time: Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 M Tel Aviv (3-0 agg)
90 min: ... there will be four added minutes in Athens ...
90 min: Into stoppage time in Arsenal v Benfica ...
The La Liga side inch in front on the night.
89 min: Arsenal send on Calum Chambers and Mohamed Elneny in place of Martin Odegaard and Bukayo Saka.
David Neres strikes!
88 min: Arsenal, as it stands, are heading through to the last 16 with Rangers, who are cruising against Antwerp in another goal-fest.
What were you all worrying about? Aubameyang heads in Saka’s wonderful cross. Aubameyang cannot miss at the back post. The VAR checks for offside but the goal stands.
86 min: Tierney crosses from the left but Benfica wallop it clear. Benfica break on the counter but back come Arsenal ...
85 min: Benfica bring on Nuno Tavares in place of Grimaldo, who takes an age to trudge off the pitch ...
84 min: ... Arsenal need a goal to save their season ...
82 min: Arsenal need a goal to stay in the competition ...
Looking very good. Rangers lead 8-5 on aggregate.
80 min: Scott Arfield is on for Ianis Hagi at Ibrox. Rangers looking good to advance to the last 16. They lead 7-5 on aggregate ...
Yusuf Yazici hammers in from 12 yards.
77 min: Benfica gift possession to Arsenal, with Helton’s clearance closed down by Aubameyang. The ball runs kindly for Saka but the winger skews an effort wide. Always rising. Lacazette enters in place of Héctor Bellerín as Arsenal chase a late winner.
75 min: Here comes Alexandre Lacazette ... stripped and readied.
72 min: So, Bruno Fernandes starts for Manchester United. That game gets under way at 8pm (GMT) and Scott Murray will guide you through all the key moments. First, a stat via Opta: since the start of last season, only Fernandes (10) has scored more Europa League goals than Rangers’ Alfredo Morelos (nine, excluding qualifiers).
69 min: Willian had a hand in the Arsenal equaliser, teeing up Tierney strike. He came on seconds after Arsenal fell behind, with Mikel Arteta hooking Dani Ceballos, who was at fault for both goals. Thomas Partey has also entered, coming on in place of the quiet Emile Smith Rowe.
Game on! Kieran Tierney sends a left-foot bullet into the bottom corner after Willian, a substitute a moment ago, cut the ball back for the marauding defender. Tierney immediately waves his team-mates back to try and get another one. They need another goal because, as it stands, Benfica would prevail on away goals.
A delightful player, and potentially a big goal.
Manchester United: Henderson, Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Bailly, Telles, Fred, Matic, James, Fernandes, Greenwood, Martial
Subs: De Gea, Grant, Bishop, Maguire, Rashford, Diallo, Shaw, Williams, Tuanzeba, Galbraith, Shoretire.
63 min: Benfica lead 3-2 on aggregate!
A defensive nightmare for Arsenal. Benfica welly the ball upfield from goal after an Arsenal corner ... Dani Ceballos inadvertently flicks the ball on – it is a dreadful, blind header – allowing the Benfica striker to surge through on goal. Leno rushes out to the D, Rafa Silva skips around him and taps into an empty net. Arsenal will need two goals to go through. Mountain-to-climb territory.
57 min: Benfica make changes. Gabriel replaces Seferovic and Everton is on for Pizzi, one of their more lively players.
Steven Gerrard promised they would go for the jugular and they now have a 7-4 lead. Ryan Kent, who teed up Morelos for the opener, strikes and surely Rangers are heading into the last 16?
54 min: Patterson was in the doghouse last week but that strike gives Rangers a bit of breathing space on the night. They lead Antwerp 6-4 on aggregate with half-hour or so to play. Patterson, Bongani Zungu, and Calvin Bassey, all of whom started among the substitutes this evening, completed a period of self isolation after attending a party this month. The group were fined by the club, who were also in dialogue with the Scottish FA and government about the incident.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Amartey, Evans, Soyuncu, Thomas, Tielemans, Ndidi, Albrighton, Choudhury, Under, Vardy
Subs: Ward, Barnes, Ricardo Pereira, Mendy, Castagne, Fuchs, Jakupovic, Leshabela, Tavares, Flynn.
50 min: Aubameyang has the ball in the net ... but the striker strays offside before dinking the ball in. This time it was Odegaard who slipped in the captain but otherwise it was almost a carbon copy of the Arsenal opener. There is a VAR check, but he is ruled offside.
An inspired half-time substitution! Nathan Patterson, who replaced Leon Balogun at the interval, pounces in the box. It is a redemption story of sorts too, given Patterson was one of three Rangers players forced to quarantine after breaking Covid-19 rules.
The second halves are almost upon us. Bjorn Kuipers is ready to get things started in Athens – no changes for Arsenal or Benfica at the break. My colleague, Paul Bellsham points out one oddity ... both teams are carrying the same shirt sponsor: Emirates.
Arsenal 1-1 Benfica (2-2 on agg)
Hoffenheim 0-1 Molde (3-4)
Ajax 1-0 Lille (3-1)
Napoli 1-1 Granada (1-3)
Rangers 1-1 Antwerp (5-4)
Shakhtar D 0-0 M Tel Aviv (2-0)
Villareal 1-1 Salzburg (3-1)
45+1 min: ... Arsenal look rattled by that equaliser.
45 min: Benfica are hunting for a second before the break ...
A belting free-kick! Diogo Goncalves bends a wonderful right-footed strike into the top corner, and postage-stamp territory. Ceballos was penalised for fouling Weigl. Benfica had not penetrated much but a sloppy foul – and an exquisite free-kick – gives them a route back in.
41 min: Saka goes close! Ceballos slips in the winger and he gets a shot away ... but the goalkeeper Helton is alert and makes a fine save. It looked as though it may have been chalked offside anyway.
The La Liga side open up a 3-1 lead on aggregate.
38 min: Saka is looking really bright for Arsenal. He jinks away from one Benfica shirt and then debates taking on another but plays in Smith Rowe. Saka then spurts off, making a clever run into the box, but Smith Rowe doesn’t spot him and the chance evaporates.
33 min: Jan Vertonghen raises the Arsenal alarm, heading over after beating David Luiz to a free-kick from the right. It loops harmlessly over in the end but Arsenal looked panicked for a moment.
Ah. Rangers’ lead is not quite so insurmountable now. They are up 5-4 on aggregate with an hour to play at Ibrox. Jordan Lukaku picks out Lior Refaelov with smart pass, and he latches on to it inside the box and beats the goalkeeper.
30 min: Arsenal win a free-kick just inside their own half. So far, so good. Since the start of last season, Bukayo Saka has provided more assists in all competitions than any other Arsenal player (17).
The La Liga side level things up.
24 min: Dani Ceballos takes aim from 25-30 yards but gets it all wrong and it screws wide. Arsenal lead 2-1 on aggregate!
Who else? Aubameyang clips the ball over Hélton and it is a delightful finish – but it is all about the vision of the brilliant Bukayo Saka. The youngster spies Aubameyang’s run and slips a ball into the Arsenal captain, who dinks the ball over the Benfica goalkeeper. There was a VAR check for offside – and it was tight – but the goal is given. It was an incisive attack, all very Arsenal. That should settle any nerves. They’re in the box seat now.
Mergim Berisha strikes! But they still trail 2-1 on aggregate.
Davy Klaassen gives Ajax the lead, the former Everton midfielder heading in from Dusan Tadic’s cross.
15 min: Benfica work the ball down the left flank and into Seferovic, who is in space and able to get a shot away ... but he scuffs his effort and it drags across the box. There was no one in support but the striker should have at least tested Leno there.
12 min: Benfica break through Goncalves down the right flank after Taarabt sprays a pass wide. Arsenal cut the ball out near the penalty spot. They have seen plenty of the ball but Benfica have been compact and fairly mean opponents.
That’s a big goal for Rangers. They now lead 5-3 on aggregate. Ryan Kent, leading the charge, wins the ball back in the Antwerp box before cutting back for Morelos to do the rest. Dream start at Ibrox.
7 min: The more you see that Taarabt crunch on Gabriel, the worse it looks. It was a crude challenge and perhaps the Moroccan was fortunate to escape with just a booking, let off the hook given it was in the opening blows.
The Serie A side lead. Game on!
4 min: Taarabt gives Gabriel a bump and the Arsenal defender is not best pleased. The former Spurs midfielder is booked for a poor challenge, with his left boot planting on top of the Brazilian’s ankle.
3 min: Bernd Leno makes his 100th appearance for Arsenal this evening becoming the fifth German player to reach the milestone for the club. The others? Jens Lehmann (200), Per Mertesacker (221) Mesut Ozil (254) and Shkodran Mustafi (151). Leno has had nothing to do so far this evening. Arsenal, dominating possession, have made an encouraging start.
1 min: A bit of Arsenal-related news as Mikel Arteta’s side stride through midfield early on in Athens through Ceballos.
We’re under way in Athens, at Ibrox, and beyond!
A gentle reminder that Arsenal, despite flying four hours east to Athens, are at ‘home’ this evening. Away goals still count.
Arsenal team news: Kieran Tierney is in at left-back to replace Cedric Soares but the midfielder Thomas Partey is back on the bench after recovering from a hamstring problem. The 18-year-old Karl Jakob Hein is among two goalkeepers on the Arsenal bench. The former Spurs midfielder Adel Taarabt starts for Benfica.
Rangers team news: Nathan Patterson, Calvin Bassey and Bongani Zungu have rejoined Steven Gerrard’s squad after being forced to quarantine having breached Covid-19 rules. Captain – and talisman – James Tavernier and striker Kemar Roofe remain out injured.
Essential pre-match reading:
Arsenal (4-2-3-1): Leno; Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel, Tierney; Ceballos, Xhaka; Ødegaard, Smith Rowe, Saka; Aubameyang
It never stops, does it? After Manchester City made winning in Europe look worryingly look easy, no doubt Arsenal and Rangers will do their best to make a pig’s ear of the respective tasks facing them. Later tonight, Scott Murray will guide you through the going-ons at Old Trafford, the King Power Stadium and beyond.
Not one to up the ante or to indulge in hyperbole, Mikel Arteta has only gone and described their ‘home’ match against Benfica akin to a final. They drew the first leg in Rome and will now do battle in Athens, hoping to secure a spot in the last 16. Winning the Europa League is Arsenal’s best hope of qualifying for the Champions League after a run of two wins in six Premier League games has left them languishing in mid-table, 11 points off the top four.
Rangers, by comparison, are laughing. And not only because Neil Lennon has walked, with Steven Gerrard’s side on the brink of the Scottish title and unbeaten in 30 league games. Their first leg against Antwerp was a belter – a 4-3 win after they trailed with 10 minutes to go – but Gerrard just wants them to get the job done, whether it is another thriller or not. “We’re at home, we’re not going to sit and wait and protect,” he said. “This is our home and we want to show everyone how difficult it is to play against us.”Continue reading...
Manchester United were in control of this tie as soon as last week’s opening leg finished 4-0 in their favour. To Real Sociedad’s credit, they came to play and Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side did an efficient job of containing the Spaniards and thus can be happy with a clean sheet and the knowledge they are safely into Friday’s last-16 draw.
Whoever United are paired with will hardly relish facing them as they seek to go further than the semi-final, one of three reverses at that stage last season.Continue reading...
- Manchester United were close to buying Norwegian last year
- ‘I know him ... Erling is a top player,’ says Solskjær
Ole Gunnar Solskjær remains in contact with Erling Haaland but Manchester United’s manager is non-committal regarding whether the Borussia Dortmund forward may be the target of a future bid from Old Trafford.
In January 2019 United were close to a deal for the Norwegian, whom Solskjær managed at Molde. Yet the transfer from Red Bull Salzburg collapsed because the club balked at financial demands which included a high payment to the player’s representative, Mino Raiola.Continue reading...
- McQueen played for Manchester United and Leeds
- Family say he wonders whether heading has been a factor
Gordon McQueen, who was revered for his bravery in the air in a career during which he played for Leeds and Manchester United and earned 30 caps for Scotland, has warned modern-day footballers of the risks of heading balls after he was diagnosed with vascular dementia.
His family said that although the 68-year-old was still fully aware of his friends and relatives, his cognitive functions were no longer the same. They said he feared that heading a ball repeatedly may have been a factor.Continue reading...
Daniel James can be maligned but his strike here was precious. It lifted a stuttering Manchester United who went on to kill off Newcastle courtesy of Bruno Fernandes’s 22nd goal of the season. It means Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side remain 10 points behind leaders Manchester City and can retain some hope of catching them.Continue reading...
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59 min: “Someone needs the explain to Martial that the term ‘false 9’ is not a reference to standing up top doing absolutely nothing,” miaows David Flynn. And with that, Martial wakes up and fires a shot that Darlow has to make a fine save to stop.
58 min: That goal, like Manchester United’s opener, was against the balance of play.
Oh Newcastle. Oh no. Matic’s feint past Willock and a pass across the box and James gobbles up the chance with a smashing finish. The ball took a slight, inadvertent touch off Fernandes.
55 min: Newcastle change, on comes Ryan Fraser, with Brad Willis highlights, to replace Joelinton. Does that mean Steve Bruce has gone ‘false nine’?
53 min: Manchester United’s attacking is sluggish, sloth-like. They are missing the dynamism of Cavani and McTominay.
51 min: Manchester United have been poor again. A comparison of their play to Manchester City is just not fair, is it? Bruno Fernandes has been anonymous.
50 min: Saint-Maximin - again - from a half-cleared free-kick, gets a shot it. De Gea dpes well to save it with everything behind the ball. Good play from all concerned.
49 min: Shelvey has a dig from distance. It’s not a good effort, to be quite honest. Those go in once a season. Newcastle are still at it, and Saint-Maximin’s piece of skill sends Dan James to Rawtenstall and back before the more considered Wan-Bissaka gets it clear.
47 min: No changes by the way, with Joelinton OK to carry on. He’s the target for a free-kick that Harry Maguire heads away when Ciaran Clark was lurking with intent.
46 min: Back away we go. Can Newcastle keep up all that energy from the first half?
Tom Hall gets in touch: “Man Utd fan here. Whenever I see Daniel James play, I am reminded of a documentary I watched once about the Tiger beetle which can run so fast that it goes blind. It might just be me, but this may explain why he looks a bit startled when he approaches the box.”
Steve Bruce has only ever picked up one point before at Old Trafford and he’s on course for it, with his team the better side. Marcus Rashford’s goal owed much to Karl Darlow’s mistake while Allan Saint-Maximin’s goal was a corker.
45 min: Two minutes to be added on. Ole Gunnar Solksjær looks miserable as sin on the bench.
44 min: Joelinton is down, and in some distress. Looks like a problem with his back. That’s a decision to make at half-time.
43 min: Steve Bruce urging on his men, making sure they don’t put all their good work to waste. Almiron sets off on another solo run, and again is suffering from a lack of support.
41 min: Martial holds the ball up, and then plays in Fred for a shot from distance. Fred would not be the man you’d back to score from there and he doesn’t.
40 min: Newcastle continue to be the better team here. Joelinton is booked for kicking the ball away and there has been an edge of aggression to their play.
38 min: A contretemps between Bruno Fernandes and Isaac Hayden results in a yellow card for both of them.
37 min: Newcastle deserved that, and that came because they put men forward.
Saint-Maximin forces a corner with a fizzing shot and from that Maguire heads the ball weakly away and Saint-Maximin once more fizzes it and it’s an equaliser.
34 min: Manchester United have got a happy knack of scoring goals when not playing well. Unfortunately for their hopes of the title, they don’t play well enough, either.
33 min: Newcastle had been good, too, if rather unlikely to score. Their chances have suffered from a lack of conviction, not enough bodies piling forward.
31 min: Karl Darlow looks very annoyed with himself. As well he might. Rashford took on the shot, and got his prize. Manchester United now the highest scorers in the Premier League on 51.
The knight in waiting cuts in from the left, steps inside, Krafth allows him the space to shoot and Darlow is beaten far too easily at his near post.
29 min: United switch the play from right to left, then back again in search of an opening. Wan-Bissaka shoots with his left and that will not trouble Darlow.
27 min: Almiron shoots from distance; he’s had a fine game so far though that was nevr likely to trouble David de Gea.
26 min: “I think Shona Shoretire might be a winger?” says Josh Holtby, from his very posh seat of learning. “But I’ve never seen him either, so who knows?”
25 min: Joelinton gets back up. Perhaps he got tired chasing Almiron.
23 min: United are very left-sided but James is speeding down the right for them. He has a habit of just smashing the ball. This time it leads to Almiron burning past everyone including his own colleagues until he is outnumbered. Joelinton didn’t chase hard but we see why now. He appears to have a muscle problem.
21 min: Newcastle back in numbers as Rashford and Shaw have to slow down play. Then Martial’s hold-up play fails as he pokes the ball out of play rather than releasing a teammate.
20 min: A flash of something from Manchester United. Not much, but something, as James’ fizzing cross is saved by Darlow.
19 min: Alun Pugh emails in: “Newcastle fan here. Wondering whether to spend this evening watching the game or hacking off my genitalia with a rusty knife I found in the hospital sharps bin.”
Wor lads are playing well, bonny lad.
18 min: Manchester United try to put together some passing but they are being swarmed on by neon-shirted dervishes.
16 min: Almiron makes another escape and his cross has to be claimed by De Gea. Joelinton seemed a tad slow to chase his chance for a header.
14 min: Newcastle the better team here. Manchester United have been very slow out of the blocks.
12 min: Fernandes is felled, and United of Manchester have a free-kick. Fernandes scoops that to the back post where Darlow gets the ball ahead of Maguire.
10 min: Almiron is OK and he presses the ball so well that Shelvey has a chance to shoot from the edge of the box. Steve Bruce curses as it flies over the bar.
9 min: Almiron goes down, holding the back of his leg after an altercation with Maguire. There was no contact.
8 min: Dan James sets off on a surge. And is hacked down. Newcastle are engaging the press heavily and Rashford and Martial are crowded out on the left-hand side. Newcastle attack at speed again and Maguire has to cut off a pass from Almiron to Joelinton.
6 min: Newcastle have started well, playing far adventurously than might be expected. The influence of Graeme Jones? Though Steve Bruce may not like that reference to his assistant, who it was speculated was brought in to replace him.
4 min: Newcastle corner, and they take their time. The ball eventually comes back out to Joelinton, and he turns a pings a deflected shot that De Gea saves well.
3 min: Rashford scampers down the left but is then ushered off the edge of the field by Lascelles. Newcastle go swiftly up the other end, and then Joelinton similarly falls over untouched in the box.
1 min: And away we go. Both teams need a win here. Harry Maguire begins with some risky business and is a tad lucky not to be robbed in midfield of the ball.
The teams take to the field at Old Trafford. With Nicky Butt and Mark Dempsey accompanying Ole, as the rest of his staff is in isolation.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær speaks.
As a precaution we have isolated some of the coaching staff. So Nicky [Butt] and Mark [Dempsey] are in with me. Hopefully Thursday, maybe Sunday for Cavani. Danny [James] played really well against Sociedad. Dan has worked very hard. Scott [McTominay] as well is injured. He hurt his ankle. Nemanja [Matic] has played many games. We’ve cut the squad a little bit and the kids get a chance and we hope we can give them some experience. I really locale like them since Graeme [Jones] came in. They will come to give us a good game.
PA Media’s take on that team news.
Manchester United have made five changes from Real Sociedad. David de Gea, Victor Lindelöf, Luke Shaw, Nemanja Matic and Anthony Martial came into the starting line-up, while Newcastle-born 17-year-old Shola Shoretire joined fellow teenager Amad Diallo on the bench. Scott McTominay, Donny Van De Beek and Edinson Cavani missed out through injury against the Magpies, who brought Joelinton in for Dwight Gayle.
Key stat of the night, though I’ve heard two different stories.
Shola Shoretire is the first player who was born after Bob Monkhouse died to be on the bench for Manchester United in a Premier League game.
Been a big day for Manchester United alumni.
One change for Newcastle from Monday’s defeat at Chelsea as Joelinton replaces Dwight Gayle.
Two Manchester United changes to the side that drew 1-1 with West Brom. Nemanja Matic and Dan James replace Scott McTominay and Edinson Cavani, neither of whom make the bench, on which January signing Amad Diallo is named.
Manchester United: de Gea, Wan Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw, Fred, Matic, James, Bruno Fernandes, Rashford, Martial.
Subs: Bailly, Mata, Greenwood, Diallo, Henderson, Alex Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe, Shoretire.
Newcastle: Darlow, Krafth, Lascelles, Clark, Lewis, Willock, Hayden, Shelvey, Almiron, Joelinton, Saint-Maximin.
Subs: Dubravka, Dummett, Carroll, Ritchie, Gayle, Hendrick, Fraser, Murphy, Sean Longstaff.
Referee: Paul Tierney (Lancashire)
Steve Bruce loved his time at Manchester United, and the fans loved him. He scored 51 goals for the club as a hulking central defender. He’s also been an opponent his old club have long enjoyed facing. Last season saw him break his duck, when Matty Longstaff’s goal for Newcastle was a first win over his old club in 25 attempts, but that was followed up by two 4-1 defeats. That Bruce is still in charge of Newcastle rankles with plenty of the club’s followers, with just two wins picked up in 2021, and the rest defeats. But without those two wins from the last four, defeats of Everton and Southampton, they would be in the drop zone. And Fulham’s defeat of Sheffield United last night meant there are just three points separating Newcastle from the bottom three. Manchester United start the match in third, having slipped somewhat in recent weeks, with draws against Everton and West Brom both poor performances. Perhaps Thursday’s destruction of Real Sociedad might have lifted spirits though it might also tire them out. Time then for Brucey to be brave at his old stamping ground, where the fake crowd are bound to receive him warmly.
Kick-off at 7pm UK time. Join me.
When Manchester United fire they can blow opponents away, as Real Sociedad found out, so Newcastle will hardly relish this visit to Old Trafford after Thursday’s 4-0 demolition of the Spanish club. United are 10 points behind Manchester City so if Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side are to retain any hope of a title challenge they have to start a long winning run. Jamie Jackson
Sunday 7pm BT Sport 1Continue reading...
Liverpool and Everton have defensive issues, Leicester must be more ruthless and West Ham can deepen José Mourinho’s woes
Without a win at Anfield in 22 years, an Everton side blowing hot more often than cold will fancy their chances of chalking one up against a Liverpool side who had lost three consecutive league matches before sparking back into life in the Champions League against RB Leipzig. While Dominic Calvert-Lewin is struggling to be fit, Yerry Mina will definitely miss out after hobbling off against Manchester City in midweek. Ben Godfrey or Mason Holgate could fill in at centre-back, but Liverpool’s shortcomings in that particular area have long been a source of greater concern. Should Fabinho win his battle to be fit, one suspects Ozan Kabak has already done enough in his first two games to merit a start alongside the Brazilian. That would allow Jordan Henderson to move back into his rightful place in midfield, where he has been sorely missed by the champions. BG
Liverpool v Everton, Saturday 5.30pm (all times GMT)
Wolves v Leeds United, Friday 8pm
Manchester City v Arsenal, Sunday 4.30pm
Southampton v Chelsea, Saturday 12.30pm
Manchester United v Newcastle, Sunday 7pm
Burnley v West Brom, Saturday 3pm
West Ham v Tottenham, Sunday 12pm
Aston Villa v Leicester, Sunday 2pm
Fulham v Sheffield United, Saturday 8pm
Brighton v Crystal Palace, Monday 8pmContinue reading...
- Sociedad 0-4 Man Utd, Wolfsberger 1-4 Spurs, Slavia 0-0 Leicester
- Live scoreboard | Hopes and fears in Benfica’s academy
- Get in touch! Email Rob with your thoughts
Antwerp 3-2 Rangers The Antwerp keeper Alireza Beiranvand has gone off injured, with Ortwin De Wolf replacing him.
The latest scores
GOAL! Molde 3-3 Hoffenheim (Fofana 74) Molde have come from 2-0 and 3-1 down to equalise!
Benfica 1-1 Arsenal Another good chance for Arsenal. Gabriel’s ball over the top finds Aubameyang, who controls it majestically on the run to move through on goal. But then, instead of shooting, he tries to cut back inside Verissimo and is tackled.
Benfica 1-1 Arsenal Adel Taarabt surges through midfield and finds Everton on the left. He runs at David Luiz, cuts inside and whips a curling shot just wide of the far post.
GOAL! Molde 2-3 Hoffenheim (Ulland Andersen 70)
For the love of Scottish football. Antwerp have taken the lead again! Martin Hongla is given too much time on the edge of the D and whips an excellent shot across McGregor into the far corner.
GOALS PLURAL! Lille 1-0 Ajax (Weah 72), Salzburg 0-2 Villarreal (Nino 71)
Benfica 1-1 Arsenal It’s been a more even game in the second half, with Benfica carrying more of a threat. I suspect Arsenal would be happy with this result, although we said that in 1991.
Antwerp 2-2 Rangers Arfield’s low cross shot is saved by Beiranvand. Rangers are much the better team at the moment.
“On looking at said Portuguese table from 1990/91,” begins Jimmy Maloney, “I was amazed to see only 3 points separating a relegation place from a European place. Squeaky-bum times all round.”
That’s an excellent spot, although I’ve seen worse.
With James Tavernier off injured, Borna Barisic steps forward and smacks the penalty through the hands of the diving Alireza Beiranvand. Rangers are level!
PENALTY TO RANGERS! This time VAR does intervene, with Ritchie de Laet penalised for pulling the shirt of Alfredo Morelos.
Benfica 1-1 Arsenal Benfica almost take the lead again. The substitute Rafa Silva beats Gabriel with ease, moves into the D and flicks a nonchalant shot with the outside of the boot. Leno springs to his right to push it away.
The latest scores
Antwerp 2-1 Rangers Joe Aribo almost equalises on the break, but Maxime Le Marchand boots his low shot away inside the six-yard box. Actually, replays suggest the shot might have been going wide anyway, though Le Marchand didn’t know that.
Yes, it stands. It was beautifully worked: Odegaard slipped a lovely pass through to Cedric on the left of the area, and his precise cross was turned in from close range by Saka.
NO GOAL! Molde 1-3 Hoffenheim Dabbur is denied a hat-trick by VAR.
An excellent equaliser from Arsenal - but it’s being checked by VAR.
GOAL! Molde 1-4 Hoffenheim (Dabbur 55) Munas Dabbur completes a hat-trick in Norway, and all but puts Hoffenheim into the last 16.
Benfica 1-0 Arsenal It’s quite hard to see what happened with that penalty award. I’m pretty sure it hit Smith-Rowe’s hand, but it may have deflected off his body first.
Pizzi scores with a swagger, stopping in his run up and then sliding the ball into the bottom-right corner. Leno went the right way but couldn’t get there.
PENALTY TO BENFICA! Grimaldo’s cross hits Smith-Rowe, who is penalised for handball. His arm was up, though it may have hit his chest first and then deflected onto his arm. After a brief VAR check, the penalty is given!
Benfica 0-0 Arsenal An excellent chance for Arsenal. Bukayo Saka surges thrillingly into the area, only to drag a tame shot wide of the near post.
“There seems to be no VAR debates when the midweek Euro games are on,” says Ian Copestake. “Is that a) because they are not using it, b) they are but the refereeing is far better or c) because of Brexit?”
Obviously you’re not a golfer you haven’t been following the Rangers game. I suspect Steven Gerrard will have plenty to say about the penalty not being overturned.
Benfica 0-0 Arsenal Benfica have made a lively start to the second half, with the captain Pizzi forcing an admittedly comfortable save from Bernd Leno.
“Not really relevant to the football, but that was a wonderful song you linked to earlier,” says Matt Dony. “I’ve never heard of Lael Neale, but the Sub Pop logo was more than enough to tempt me. Until I was about 13, I desperately wanted to be Liverpool’s striker. Then I discovered music, and all I could dream of was signing a contract with Sub Pop. I have thus far conspicuously failed to realise either dream. Ah well. Still time, I guess.”
Especially with the way Firmino’s playing roflcopter.
Peep peep! The second halves are under way. Most of them, anyway: Rangers are a bit behind due to the four hours of added time in the first half.
Right, these are the half-time scores. Study them, digest them, embrace them while I get a drink.
Half time: Antwerp 2-1 Rangers How did that happen? Rangers were good for most of the first half yet they find themselves 2-1 down. Their frustration will be compounded by the fact the penalty was such a soft one, with Davis barely touching Refaelov.
Rangers have also lost two players to injury: James Tavernier early on and now Kemar Roofe, who was replaced by Ryan Kent just before the penalty.
Refaelov curls he penalty over McGregor, who went the right way but couldn’t reach it.
PENALTY TO ANTWERP! Steven Davis has been penalised - harshly, I think - for a challenge on Refaelov. We’re in the seventh of four added minutes.
GOAL! Molde 1-3 Hoffenheim (Baumgartner 45+3)
Half time: Benfica 0-0 Arsenal A low-key first half in Rome. Arsenal were the dominant side, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang missed an absolute sitter, but the pace of play has been very slow.
Antwerp have equalised out of nothing! A free-kick on the right was curled towards the edge of the Rangers area, where Felipe Avenatti strained his neck muscles to loop a superb header over McGregor and into the corner. That’s a brilliant finish.
“‘Kenedy, on loan from Chelsea’,” says Ed Rostron of the Granada goalscorer. “Do you think it’ll say that on his gravestone?”
GOAL! Salzburg 0-1 Villarreal (Alcacer 41) Paco Alcacer has put Villarreal in front in Austria.
GOAL! Molde 1-2 Hoffenheim (Ellingsen 41) Martin Ellingsen gets one back for Molde.
Rangers take the lead! The keeper Alireza Beiranvand came a long way off his line to dive at the feet of Roofe, but the ball slithered out of his grasp towards Morelos. He laid it back to Joe Aribo, who curled the ball calmly into the empty net from 25 yards. After a slow start, Rangers have been the better team and deserve to be in front.
“Naples calling,” says Colum Fordham. “A bit of a nightmare start for Napoli with manager Rino Gattuso under pressure. Napoli just edged The Arch Enemy Juventus on Saturday 1-0 but this doesn’t bode well for their Europa League hopes. Hope local heartthrob Insigne comes up with a bit of magic.”
Imagine telling Rino Gattuso he’s fired. I’d probably do it via WhatsApp and then change the locks.
GOAL! Maccabi Tel-Aviv 0-1 Shakhtar Donetsk (Patrick 31) And it’s in there from Alan Patrick!
Benfica 0-0 Arsenal A good Benfica attack ends with a low shot from Darwin Nunez that is saved at the second attempt by Leno.
Benfica 0-0 Arsenal On that Benfica team of 1991, look what they had to do just to qualify for the European Cup. FC Porto finished second with the equivalent of 98 points (it was two for a win in those days).
Antwerp 0-0 Rangers An excellent chance for Morelos, who goes through one on one but hammers his shot straight at Alireza Beiranvand.
GOAL! Molde 0-2 Hoffenheim (Dabbur 28) A second goal for Munas Dabbur.
Wolfsberger 1-4 Spurs
Benfica 0-0 Arsenal Every time I look at this game, Arsenal have the ball. Charles Antaki will be thrilled to hear that Benfica don’t look up to much.
Antwerp 0-0 Rangers Tavernier is replaced by Leon Balogun.
GOAL! Granada 2-0 Napoli (Kenedy 21) Two in three minutes for Granada! Kenedy, on loan from Chelsea, has got the second.
Antwerp 0-0 Rangers The Rangers captain Jame Tavernier is struggling after injuring his knee during a block tackle on the edge of the Antwerp area. I don’t think he’ll be able to continue.
GOAL! Granada 1-0 Napoli (Herrera 19) Yangel Herrera has put Granada ahead in - where’s this being played - Granada.
Benfica 0-0 Arsenal Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang has missed a rare old sitter, sliding Bellerin’s low cross past the post from eight yards. That was a shocking miss for a player of his class.
There isn’t a huge amount going on. These are the latest scores:
“Lovely Arsenal v Benfica video you shared, and super nice to see Yuran and Kulkov combining to score,” says Philip Bickerstaffe. “Not something we saw much of five years later when they both came to the Den to join Millwall.”
That’s the year you were relegated after being top early in the season, isn’t it? Or was that 1989-90?
Benfica 0-0 Arsenal Sterile domination so far from Arsenal, though I suppose that’s better than being 4-0 down. They have looked confident in possession, if slightly one-paced.
“Evening Rob,” says Tom Hopkins. “As a lad, this was routinely presented to me as the peak of sporting achievement, so any game involving Benfica still has a certain frisson. I assume Eusebio is not playing tonight though?”
It would be quite the story if he was.
The first goal of the 8pm games has been scored: Munas Dabbur has put Hoffenheim ahead away to Molde.
Antwerp 0-0 Rangers Not much going on in Antwerp, though Premier League alumnus Ritchie De Laet has just driven wide from long range.
Slavia Prague 0-0 Leicester
Real Sociedad 0-4 Manchester United
Benfica 0-0 Arsenal Bellerin wins a corner for Arsenal, who have made an assured start in Rome. Nothing comes of it but Mikel Arteta will be pleased with how his team have started.
“Hi Rob,” says Charles Antaki. “I remember Benfica is being absolutely wonderful in the, when was it, 80s? 90s? I haven’t looked it up to see how good they are at the moment. I could do; but it would only worry me. Could you say a word or two about them being absolutely dreadful, just to give a bit of comfort to Arsenal fans as we start?”
Actually, they’re not having a great season – they’re fourth in the league, miles behind the runaway leaders Sporting Lisbon.
“Saka, Smith-Rowe, Odegaard and Auba starting today after starting vs Leeds,” says Emmanuel Dairo. “Does it mean Arteta has written off the City game on Sunday as a loss?”
Either that or he wants to win this game.
Tonight’s match in Rome is the first time Arsenal have met Benfica since that traumatic night at Highbury in 1991. You’re welcome.
Peep peep! The 8pm games are under way.
Arsenal have named an unchanged side for the first time since September 2018, it says here. Crikey.
Cheers Scott, hello everyone. There’s an 82-second break, give or take, between matches. Why not fill it with a bit of fragile beauty?
So that’s all the 5.55pm kick-offs done and dusted, but there are a load of 8pm kick-offs still to come. Time to hand over to your friend and mine, Mr Rob Smyth, who’ll take you by the hand and treat you real nice.
Here are the full-times in the other matches, then.
Young Boys reclaim the lead against Bayer Leverkusen at the death! Theoson Siebatcheu snatches an 89th-minute winner to secure a remarkable 4-3 win. Leverkusen will be sickened after coming back from three down, though those away goals will stand them in good stead come the second leg. Meanwhile a late equaliser for ten-man Red Star Belgrade against Milan, the appropriately named Milan Pavkov with that one.
Real Sociedad 0-4 Manchester United
Slavia Prague 0-0 Leicester City
Wolfsberger AC 1-4 Tottenham Hotspur
Vinicius with the reflex, poking home from close range. Wolfsberger are on a ride and they want to get off.
James zips down the right flank, cuts inside, and nutmegs the keeper at the near post. Easy as that. United have been rampant; La Real a rabble.
Spurs and United continue to run down the clock, while Leicester search in desperate fashion for that crucial away goal. “Interesting that Spurs are playing their Austrian opponents in Budapest, in the same stadium where Liverpool took on Germany’s RB Leipzig. With apologies to Duran Duran, this is certainly no Ordinary World we find ourselves in at the moment. The ‘home’ team look so starved for chances, you might say they’re Hungary Like the Wolfsberg.” New romantic satirist Peter Oh, ladies and gentlemen. He’s here all week. Try the industrial quantities of cocaine.
Iyayi Atiemwen restores Dinamo Zagreb’s lead in short order. They’re 3-2 up at Krasnodar. Otherwise, a lull descends across Europe.
Now Greenwood drags a shot wide left from 12 yards. As fine as United have been tonight, Real Sociedad are a shambles. Meanwhile Ole Gunnar Solskjaer takes Ruth Purdue’s hint and takes off Fernandes, albeit on 83 minutes with his side long home and hosed. He’s replaced by Mata.
Fernandes remains on the pitch, and here he is rampaging down the middle of the park, releasing James into acres down the right. James enters the box and slaps his shot straight at the keeper. United could quite easily have run up a cricket score this evening.
Krasnodar’s Viktor Claesson has made it 2-2 against Dinamo Zagreb. Elsewhere, Manchester United and Tottenham are coasting home. “Fernandes needs to come off now,” argues Ruth Purdue. “That’s now, not in minutes 80. He burnt out last season due to not being rested. Sir Alex understood when to take/rest his best players when there was a large lead.”
Never say Neverkusen! The comeback is complete! Moussa Diaby’s 68th-minute goal has drawn Bayer Leverkusen, three down at the break, level at Young Boys! Meanwhile a Theo Hernandez penalty has given Milan a 2-1 lead at Red Star.
Still goalless between Slavia Prague and Leicester, though that’s not to say there’s nothing of interest to report. “I am watching Europa League match Slavia Prague against Leicester City,” begins Giorgio. “I am pretty used to empty stadium sound ambience, so I was pretty distracted when I heard jeering and whistling against Leicester during the match. I was wondering who possibly could do these sounds in the empty stadium. Luckily a photographer form Deník Sport newspaper made a picture. Apart from usual suspects from our political scene you can see our former Minister of Health Roman Prymula who just today called for complete lockdown (and who had to step down in October after he himself violated covid 19 restrictions imposed by himself). I can’t watch the game anymore.”
Kromě tradičních celebrit typu Mynáře nebo Vondry dorazil na fotbal Slavia - Leicester i Roman Prymula (dolní řada, druhý zleva). Někdo má holt kliku.
Foto: Pavel Mazáč (@DenikSport) pic.twitter.com/9YkkRU64LE
United find the net again, Greenwood roaring down the left wing and slipping the ball across for James, who sidefoots off the base of the right-hand post and into the net. But this one’s offside, Greenwood having gone a wee bit too early. There wasn’t much in it, though, and United look in the mood to finish this tie off tonight, if they haven’t done that already.
This is too easy ... or are Manchester United simply making it look too easy? Fred strokes a perfectly weighted pass down the inside-left channel to release Rashford, who enters the box, opens his body, and sidefoots across Remiro and into the bottom right. You could argue that United should have scored six tonight. They may yet manage it!
Mind you, great as that United move was, they were helped by some more thoroughly confused Sociedad defending. James and Fernandes were given free rein to run all sorts of baroque patterns without challenge. “Is it fair to say that Real Sociedad are a tribute act to the Manchester United defence of that comical night against Istanbul Basaksehir last November?” wonders Justin Kavanagh. Meanwhile elsewhere, a Guelor Kanga penalty has levelled things up for Red Star against AC Milan, while Bruno Petkovic makes it 2-1 for Dinamo Zagreb at Krasnodar.
A lovely goal, this. Rashford breezes down the left and passes infield for Fernandes. But Fernandes leaves it for James, just behind him. James flicks it instantly back into Fernandes’s path. Fernandes does what Fernandes does, steering the ball delightfully into the bottom right. There’s an interminable wait for VAR to check things, because the flag’s gone up for offside ... but the goal’s given. That was some mighty fine football.
The Wolfsberg captain Liendl steps up and rolls the penalty into the bottom left.
Penalty for Wolfsberger AC! Sissoko dozes, allowing himself to be robbed in the box by Wemitznig. Sissoko sticks out a leg and brings his opponent down. What a brain fade. Out of nothing!
Well, well, well. Another goal for Patrik Schick, three minutes after his first, and suddenly it’s Young Boys 3-2 Bayer Leverkusen. The extremely unlikely suddenly looks more than possible.
Is the big Bayer Leverkusen comeback on? Well, probably not, but Patrik Schick has pulled a goal back on 49 minutes against the Young Boys. It’s 3-1.
Spurs meanwhile have sent on Carlos Vinicius against Wolfsberger AC. Son has contributed more than enough already and is rewarded with the chance to fling his boots up onto the desk. Other big challenges lie ahead.
The second halves are underway. Real Sociedad are on the front foot immediately, Le Normand channelling his inner Beckenbauer by striding forward and creaming a long-range shot towards the top right. Henderson is always going to claim it easily, but it was a sweet strike nonetheless.
Benfica (3-5-1-1) Leite; Verissimo, Otamendi, Vertonghen; Diogo Goncalves, Taarabt, Weigl, Pizzi, Grimaldo;
Substitutes: Svilar, Vlachodimos, Gilberto, Everton, Gabriel, Cervi, Seferovic, Chiquinho, Rafa Silva, Pedrinho, Nuno Tavares, Joao Ferreira.
Arsenal (4-2-3-1) Leno; Bellerin, David Luiz, Gabriel, Cedric; Ceballos, Xhaka; Saka, Odegaard, Smith-Rowe; Aubameyang.
Substitutes: Ryan, Hein, Tierney, Lacazette, Willian, Holding, Pepe, Chambers, Pablo Mari, Elneny, Nketiah, Martinelli.
Antwerp (3-4-2-1) Beiranvand; Seck, Le Marchand, De Laet; Buta, Boya, Hongla, J Lukaku; Refaelov, Gerkins; Avenatti.
Substitutes: Chevaughn, De Wolf, Verstraete, Miyoshi, Nsimba, Ampomah, Gelin, Pavlic, Van Den Bosch.
Rangers (4-3-3) McGregor; Barisic, Helander, Goldson, Tavernier; Arfield, S Davis, Kamara; Roofe, Morelos, Aribo.
Substitutes: McLaughlin, Hagi, Jack, Itten, Kent, Wright, Stewart, Balogun, Simpson.
A flurry of activity just before half-time. Meschack Elia makes it 3-0 for Young Boys against Bayer Leverkusen, while Youssef El Arabi restores Olympiacos’s lead over PSV Eindhoven. It’s 3-2, and that looks like a cracker. So here are the other half-times in the 5.55pm kick-offs...
Theo Hernandez thought he’d given AC Milan the lead at Red Star Belgrade on 12 minutes. That was chalked off by VAR, but the Italians are ahead now, Radovan Pankov putting through his own goal.
In the blink of an eye, the 1-1 scoreline between Olympiacos and PSV has turned into 2-2. Yann M’Vila put the hosts ahead on 37 minutes, only for Eran Zahavi to score his second for the Dutch side two minutes later.
Real Sociedad are beginning to ask a few questions of United. Greenwood, of all people, is forced to slice over his own bar under severe pressure; Bailly hacks a header off the line. A couple of textbook examples of last-ditch defending. Grant Tennille is watching this game in the US, and reports: “Watching the Spanish channel feed of the United game, and you’ll not be surprised to learn the commentators were just name-checking Larry, Curly, and Moe.”
“How did Januzaj react to the United goal?” wonders Robin Hazlehurst. “Please tell us he was in mid mid-air-fist-pump when he remembered where he was.” I can report that he’s not looking particularly happy right now, having just clanked a witless cross out of play when in a load of space just inside the United box on the left. Meanwhile Marcus Berg has equalised for Krasnodar against Dinamo Zagreb: it’s 1-1.
Spurs have one foot in the last 16 already. Moura shimmies his way past two defenders down the inside-left channel, gives the keeper the eyes, and passes the ball into the bottom left. That’s another sensational effort. All three of Tottenham’s goals have been a delight.
Wolfsberger AC nearly haul themselves back into contention immediately. Vizinger sends a close-range header towards the top left, but Lloris fingertips it onto the bar and Spurs clear their lines.
This is lovely! Bale scampers down the right, after Doherty’s through ball. He’s level with the six-yard box, and stops dead, pulling the ball back and sending Scherzer aquaplaning off the pitch. He then opens his body and curls powerfully into the top left. Gorgeous goal! He’s still got it, you know.
It’s fair to say this had been coming. A simple ball shovelled down the inside-left channel. Remiro comes off his line and clatters into both Zubeldia and Le Normand. The three Sociedad players crumble in a heap as Fernandes swans past and walks the ball into the unguarded net. What a slapstick farce!
PSV have equalised at Olympiacos. Eran Zahavi on 14 minutes. Young Boys are now 2-0 up against Bayer Leverkusen, Theoson Siebatcheu after 19 minutes. And Bruno Petkovic has put Dinamo Zagreb ahead at Krasnodar after 15.
Leicester have been knocking at the door in Prague. They should be a goal up, the ball dropping to Barnes, in space in an otherwise crowded area, on the left-hand edge of the six-yard box. He pulls his shot into the side netting. What a chance!
And another! The Sociedad back line is a sick joke. Telles sends Fernandes bombing down the left, in acres of space. Rashford is free in the middle. Fernandes sets one up on a plate. Rashford, on the penalty spot, meets the ball first time and aims for the bottom left. The keeper blocks again. This is absurd, and great fun.
Another huge chance in Turin! McTominay bursts into the Sociedad box down the right, and is one on one with Remiro. He fires towards the near post, and the keeper hacks clear. A fine save, though he shouldn’t have been allowed to make it. Somewhere in the multiverse, this game is 2-2. It should be 2-2. Both defences are in full Slapstick Mode.
Spurs take the lead against their Austrian opponents! Doherty worms his way down the right and feeds Bale, who clips back from the byline towards Son. The striker crouches and steers a delightful header across the keeper and into the bottom right. Kind of a mirror image of one of Ian Rush’s goals in the 1989 FA Cup final. Sort of. If you remember that.
A fine burst down the United left by Rashford, who feeds Telles on the overlap. The resulting cross is dangerous, but headed powerfully clear by Monreal. Meanwhile Andreas Bouchalakis gives Olympiacos the lead against PSV on nine minutes.
Wan-Bissaka goes into the book for a crude lunge on Nacho Monreal from behind. Meanwhile here’s a reassuring word from Alex Brown: “Folk don’t unsubscribe from The Fiver in disgust. Just a vague sense of disappointment.”
Five minutes into the game between Wolfsberger AC and Spurs, and Son cuts in from the right and nearly curls delightfully into the bottom left. It’s lively elsewhere, too, Eden Dzeko giving Roma an early lead away to Braga, Young Boys going one up at home to Bayer Leverkusen, Christian Fassnacht opening the scoring on three minutes.
It’s an absurd start to the game in Turin. Seconds after Januzaj’s attempt on goal, Rashford is sent clean through down the other end! He’s denied by Remiro in the Sociedad goal. And then Alexander Isak goes racing towards the United goal, firing towards the bottom right, forcing Henderson into a save. Just over two minutes gone, and the score could be - should be - Real Sociedad 2-1 Manchester United. As it stands, it’s still 0-0.
Nearly the perfect start for former Manchester United starlet Adnan Januzaj! Space down the right. He opens his body, and nearly Ooh-Wakka-Doo-Wakka-Days one into the top left! Inches wide and high. Henderson was beaten all ends up.
There’s already been one match played in the Round of 32 tonight. Dynamo Kyiv have drawn 1-1 against Club Brugge.
The teams are out! Of the three English clubs kicking off in a minute, only Leicester are wearing their first-choice clobber. Manchester United have chosen to play in black, despite their red kit not clashing with La Real’s blue and white, while Spurs are forced into third-choice tangerine by the famous Pellets of Wolfsberger AC. Off in a minute!
Today’s Fiver concerns the Real Sociedad v Manchester United tie. Subscribe now for your daily fix o’ football fun! You can always unsubscribe in disgust later.
A reminder that Covid concerns have taken their toll on these fixtures. Manchester United are denied a visit to lovely San Sebastian; they’ll take on Real Sociedad in Juventus’s stadium in Turin ...
Slavia Prague: Kolar, Bah, Kudela, Zima, Boril, Sima, Stanciu, Holes, Provod, Olayinka, Kuchta.
Subs: Deli, Stejskal, Dorley, Hromada, Traore, Masopust, Kovar, Lingr.
Leicester City: Schmeichel, Amartey, Evans, Soyuncu, Thomas, Ndidi, Tielemans, Albrighton, Maddison, Barnes, Vardy.
Subs: Ward, Iheanacho, Under, Choudhury, Mendy, Fuchs, Jakupovic, Leshabela, Tavares, Flynn.
Wolfsberger AC: Kofler, Novak, Baumgartner, Lochoshvili, Scherzer, Sprangler, Taferner, Liendl, Wernitznig, Joveljic, Vizinger.
Subs: Giorbelidze, Henriksson, Peric, Pavelic, Dieng, Rnic, Leitgeb, Stratznig, Rocher, Skubl, Schofl, Kuttin.
Tottenham Hotspur: Lloris, Doherty, Dier, Alderweireld, Davies, Sissoko, Winks, Bale, Alli, Lucas Moura, Son.
Subs: Hojbjerg, Sanchez, Lamela, Hart, Bergwijn, Tanganga, Ndombele, Whiteman, Vinicius, Scarlett, Bowden, Lavinier.
Real Sociedad: Remiro, Zaldua, Elustondo, Zubeldia, Monreal, Silva, Illarramendi, Merino, Januzaj, Isak, Oyarzabal.
Subs: Portu, Munoz, Guridi, Sagnan, Guevara, Merquelanz, Gorosabel, Barrenetxea, Le Normand, Bautista, Marrero, Zubimendi.
Manchester United: Henderson, Wan Bissaka, Bailly, Maguire, Alex Telles, McTominay, Fred, Greenwood, Bruno Fernandes, James, Rashford.
Subs: de Gea, Lindelof, Mata, Martial, Grant, Diallo, Shaw, Matic, Williams, Tuanzebe, Shoretire.
Welcome to EuroClocko™! Some big ties in the Europa League round of 32 this evening. It’s Benfica versus Arsenal and Antwerp versus Rangers later, but first off there are a tranche of kick-offs at 5.55pm GMT, and here are the three we’ll be concentrating on:Continue reading...
Manchester United dazzled in the second half to surely kill this last-32 tie off. Real Sociedad simply had no answer for the pace and ruthlessness embodied by the irrepressible Bruno Fernandes, who scored twice – once in each half – as Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s side made a fine return to winning ways after three consecutive draws.
The Spaniards are at Old Trafford on Thursday for the return leg but there is almost certainly no way back for them. United will hope this win can reignite a season that had stuttered, and will now host Newcastle on Sunday with their confidence sky-high.Continue reading...
- Four strikers have 19 league goals between them
- United take on Real Sociedad in Europa League
Ole Gunnar Solskjær believes the 19 Premier League goals scored by his forwards Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial, Edinson Cavani and Mason Greenwood is too low but that Manchester United will have an extra edge for the closing phase of the season if this can be improved.
The midfielder Bruno Fernandes is the side’s highest scorer in the league, with 14, followed by Rashford’s eight. Yet the manager was optimistic as he noted that United’s 50 goals led the division by four before Manchester City’s game in hand at Everton on Wednesday.Continue reading...
A month ago Manchester United went top of the table, since when they have looked anything but possible champions. Two wins in seven games means the gap to Manchester City is seven points – with United having played a game more – but this is about more than just numbers: United simply don’t look like a team with the fluency to put together the sort of run that could apply pressure.
Ole Gunnar Solskjær insisted that United have not given up on the title, but he did not sound especially convincing. “No one will give it away this early,” he said. “No one knows this season – it’s so unpredictable, life is unpredictable, anything could happen. We’re not going to settle for second.”Continue reading...
Sam Johnstone made a spectacular injury-time save to earn West Brom a deserved point and extend Manchester United’s poor run of form
Here’s Harry Maguire
“We created enough to win the game. For me their goal was a foul. We huffed and puffed and it was a great save from Sam at the end. We felt we deserved more than a point; we can do more, for sure, but it’s disappointing. It was a tough start, and we made it hard for ourselves by conceding early. Sometimes we played a little bit too slowly, but in the second half we played with a great tempo.
More more more
That was a spectacular save from Sam Johnstone, who has become a seriously good goalkeeper. What a lovely moment, especially against his old club. As for the result, it isn’t much good for either side, though West Brom will be proud of their resilient performance. United were poor and didn’t really deserve anything more.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side have now taken six points from their last five league games - although, contrary lot that they are, that poor run of form includes a 9-0 win. They have improved since last season but - as most people suspected, even during their giddy January - they are not yet good enough to challenge for the title.
90+5 min: Johnstone makes a glorious save! Shaw swings in a deep cross from the left, which Maguire meets with an immense looping header from 12 yaqrds. It is about to drop into the net when Johnstone leaps to his left to fingertip it onto the post!
90+5 min Into the last minute, and not much is happening.
90+3 min Fernandes has a pop from 25 yards, but it’s an easy save for Johnstone.
90+3 min Shaw’s deep corner is headed down by McTominay and hits a West Brom defender.
90+2 min A nice flick from van de Beek finds Wan-Bissaka, who wins a corner. Shaw goes over to take it...
90+2 min West Brom deserve at least a draw; they’ve had the better chances.
90 min Five minutes of added time.
90 min Greenwood charges into the area and flashes the ball across the face of goal. There was nobody in the six-yard box.
89 min Diagne is booked for plunging his studs into Rashford’s achilles. That was a poor tackle.
88 min: Diagne misses a sitter! West Brom should have won the game there. Gallagher played the ball out to Furlong, who curled a sensational low cross around Maguire and Lindelof. It reached Diagne at the far post, but he lifted a first-time shot over the bar from eight yards.
87 min West Brom’s final change: Robert Snodgrass, who looks shattered, is replaced by Matt Phillips.
86 min Fernandes floats the free-kick to the far post, where Furlong does superbly to head clear under pressure from Maguire. In fact, the referee has penalised Maguire.
86 min Fernandes scored from a not dissimilar position against Liverpool last month, though this is slightly further to the left...
85 min Rashford is hacked down just outside the area by Snodgrass, who is booked. The free-kick is a fair way to the left of centre, so it might be too wide for a shot.
82 min For all Man Utd’s dominance, the West Brom keeper Sam Johnstone hasn’t had much to do in this match.
81 min “With so much of discussion about the quality of Chelsea’s youngsters, how would you rate Conor Gallagher?” asks Kishalay Banerjee. “He seems to be having a decent season, with Bilic singing his praises near the start, but is he good enough to break into Chelsea’s first team?”
No. But he’s an impressive, busy player, and he’s only 21.
80 min Heeeeeeeeeeeeeeere’s Donny. He has come on in place of Fred.
79 min Maitland-Niles is booked for pulling back Greenwood.
78 min: Vital double save from de Gea! Diagne muscles Maguire off the ball on the edge of the area to move through on goal. De Gea blocks the shot with his legs and then, as the ball loops up towards Diagne, reacts really smartly to claw it away. Diagne was strangely indecisive on the second chance, though, waiting for it to drop onto his head rather than leaping to meet it halfway.
76 min Donny van de Beek is getting ready to come on.
75 min West Brom break and Lindelof makes a vital lunging tackle on Diagne, who would have been through on goal had he got to the ball first.
74 min Maguire rumbles forward and finds Shaw in the area, but his cutback is cleared at the near post. West Brom are starting to look really tired.
72 min: Chance for West Brom! Snodgrass plays a fine pass out to Maitland-Niles on the left, and suddenly West Brom are two against one with only Maguire back. Maitland-Niles tries to stab the ball across to Diagne with the outside of his foot, but he gets too much on it and the ball runs through to de Gea.
71 min Gallagher shoots over the bar from 25 yards.
69 min: Furlong clears off the line! Wan-Bissaka’s fast low cross is put behind at the near post by Barkley. After a decent five-minute spell before the non-penalty, West Brom are back in defensive mode. Shaw’s corner is headed down by Maguire to Greenwood, whose low shot is kicked away by Johnstone. It rebounds to McTominay, whose follow up is cleared off the line by Furlong.
69 min A draw would move United back to second, above Leicester on goal difference, though it would still be a pretty wretched result.
68 min Rashford, on the left now, zips infield and is well challenged in the D by Gallagher.
67 min And now a change for West Brom: Jake Livermore comes on for the quietly impressive Okay Yokuslu.
66 min A change for Manchester United: Mason Greenwood replaces the sadly ineffective Anthony Martial.
65 min “This game has strange echoes of United’s filleting by the Blades,” says Rick Harris. “The first goal in each match should have been ruled out for fouls, and although under the cosh for most of the game the Baggies could still nick the points with a deflected shot from one of their occasional excursions up the pitch.”
64 min Apparently they didn’t check the offside, not that it matters now.
NO PENALTY! Craig Pawson has changed his mind.
Craig Pawson is going to the monitor. That suggests it wasn’t offside. Ajayi did put his hand on Maguire’s shoulder, and there might have been a tangle of legs. I don’t think it was a penalty - the hand on the shoulder wasn’t particularly strong - but I’m not sure it was a clear and obvious error either.
I think Maguire was offside, so this will probably be reversed. I’m not sure it was a foul anyway. Maguire went down very easily.
PENALTY TO MAN UTD! Ajayi has been judged to have tripped Maguire in the area. Craig Pawson took an age to give it.
61 min Bartley is booked for a foul on McTominay.
61 min It’s still pelting down at the Hawthorns, since you asked.
60 min Martial, who is having a bit of a stinker, is penalised for a challenge on Snodgrass.
59 min “Van de Beek please for a holding midfielder,” says Ruth Purdue. “He is a better passer than both of them combined.”
58 min At the other end, Fernandes’ 20-yard shot takes a big deflection and is held to his left by Johnstone.
57 min West Brom are having more of the ball now. Furlong beats Martial with ease and puts in a good deep cross that is headed away by Wan-Bissaka.
54 min Now West Brom do cross the halfway line, and create a half chance in the process. Maitland-Niles, with too much time on the ball, threads a nice pass through to Pereira on the left side of the area. He gets the ball out of his feet and drags a low shot wide of the far post.
53 min Furlong gets a vital headed touch to steer a cross away from the prowling Cavani. West Brom have barely crossed the halfway line since the interval.
50 min “Well Rob, you are correct about the lack of consensus on what a foul is,” says Mary Waltz. “It’s good that we have VAR to solve that problem, right?”
49 min McTominay takes Wan-Bissaka’s pass beautifully in his stride and hits a stinging shot that is blocked by Bartley. Moments later, Rashford whips a terrific ball that flashes right across the face of goal.
49 min United have made a very fast start to the second half, playing with much greater urgency than they did before the break.
48 min ... and it’s headed away by Yokuslu.
47 min Fernandes’s cross is chested behind by Bartley. That moves started with a spectacular crossfield pass from Maguire to Rashford. Shaw will take the corner...
46 min Peep peep! Man Utd begin the second half. West Brom have made a half-time change, with Darnell Furlong replacing the injured Lee Peltier.
“I have no wish to go back to the days where players slashed and hacked each other, often to slop more skilled players,” says Mary Waltz. “But it is still a contact sport and Lindelof was simply outworked on that first goal.”
I’ve been watching football for over 30 years and I can’t remember a time when there was less consensus over refereeing decisions (or, for that matter, just about anything).
Replays show that Diagne had his hand in Lindelof’s face just before he scored the goal, so it probably was a foul. But was it a clear and obvious error? I haven’t a clue anymore.
That was a half of few chances, yet it was still pretty compelling. Mbaye Diagne bullied Victor Lindelof to give West Brom a very early lead, and United were still struggling to get going when Bruno Fernandes volleyed them level just before the break.
45+2 min West Brom win three corners in quick succession. The last one is headed away by McTominay and United set off on a very dangerous counter-attack, four on three... until the referee blows the half-time whistle. United are fuming, though the added time has been played.
45 min Two minutes of added time. Bruno Fernandes, eh.
Maguire again gave United a bit of impetus with a surge through the inside-left channel. He slightly overhit his pass to Shaw, who thus had no option but to stand up a first-time cross. Fernandes, unmarked near the penalty spot, hooked an acrobatic left-footed volley into the top of the net and roared with a kind of angry delight. He may have shinned it, on reflection, but either way it flew past Johnstone.
Bruno Fernandes has been rubbish all half - and now he’s scored a beauty!
43 min Maguire bursts into the area again and plays a nice little pass to Martial, whose short cross is poked away at the near post. Fernandes was running with Yokuslu when he went over, though there didn’t seem to be much in it.
42 min Shaw crosses into the area, where Fernandes goes down off the ball. Nothing is given on the field, or in Stockley Park. We haven’t seen a replay so I’m not sure what happened.
41 min Bruno Fernandes has the face on. You know the one.
38 min Rashford quickens things up with a run and pass to Cavani on the right. His very deep cross almost falls for Martial, but Snodgrass pushes the ball behind for a corner. Bartley was lucky not to be booked for an off-the-ball foul on Rashford after he played the ball to Cavani.
37 min Gallagher is booked for a late tackle on Fred.
36 min Cavani, on the left wing, spots McTominay in loads of space on the far side of the penalty area - but then he overhits a fairly routine cross. That was a chance.
33 min Maguire surges 40 yards into the West Brom area, where the diligent Diagne slides in to concede a corner. Shaw’s outswinger is cleared.
31 min West Brom are working so hard defensively, and Sam Allardyce will be thrilled with how the match has gone so far. There have been a few signs of United stirring in the last 5-10 minutes, but West Brom deserve to be ahead.
27 min: Good save from de Gea! Maitland-Niles moseys down the left, turns and plays thbe ball back to Townsend. He swings a cross into the middle, where Snodgrass gets in front of Shaw near the penalty spot and loops a header towards goal. The leaping De Gea arches his back to tip it over the bar.
26 min United are starting to wake up. Rashford’s twinkle toes take him past a couple of defenders on the right side of the box, but then he plays a poor pass to the heavily marked Fernandes.
24 min Lindelof fouls Diagne on the left wing, which gives West Brom another chance to dump a free-kick into the area. Pereira’s delivery is decent, curling towards the penalty spot, and Diagne steers a header well wide.
23 min A fine deep cross from Rashford on the right is thighed just past the post by Peltier, under pressure from Martial. The referee gives a goalkick.
21 min West Brom have been very comfortable defensively. There’s a break in play while Peltier receives treatment to his left ankle.
19 min A couple of you have suggested Lindelof was fouled for the goal. I only really had eyes for Diagne, and it looked like a classic case of a striker outmuscling a defender, but I’ll keep an eye out for any more replays.
17 min West Brom are picking their moments to go forward. When they do commit they are very aggressive, trying to bully United physically. It worked perfectly for the goal.
15 min Fred plays a long pass straight out of play. United are not yet at the races.
14 min “The lack of crowds must be having a big effect on goalkeepers,” says Luke Jones. “They spend a large amount of time standing still with nothing to do, and then have to make quick decisions and movements. It must be hard to keep the level of focus and intensity high when it’s so quiet.”
Interesting point; I’d not thought of that.
13 min Yokuslu is fouled just past the halfway line, which allows West Brom to send the big men forward. Pereira’s free-kick is a poor one that goes straight out for a throw-in.
11 min United are having loads of the ball, which I suspect would have been the case even without an early goal for West Brom, but they haven’t yet found their passing rhythm.
9 min United have won seven games away from home this season after going behind. It’s not, however, the brightest strategy for winning football matches.
7 min Shaw plays a one-two with Martial and fires a low cross that is missed by Cavani at the near post. Then Fred hits a half-volley from 20 yards that is comfortably saved to his left by Johnstone.
6 min Fernandes’ clever flick releases Rashford, though everybody knows he’s offside and they all go through the motions until the attack breaks down and the flag goes up.
5 min “Was thinking apropos of Alisson that it’s becoming increasingly difficult (between the playing schedules and the insanity of being constantly plugged into social media) for top keepers to maintain that which gives them the edge: focus, calm, stability, all the mental stuff without which even the most gifted ones amount to no more than a Víctor Valdés,” says Phil Podolsky. “Haven’t seen enough of DGG to form an opinion, but a keeper declining at 27 is pretty strange, even taking into account how precociously early he peaked.”
4 min Gary Neville is fuming on Sky Sports, pointing out that Lindelof and Maguire were far too slow to get out when the ball was played back for Gallagher to cross first time. It meant that Diagne was only six yards out when he beasted Lindelof and headed towards goal.
That was such a simple goal. Gallagher, in the inside-right channel, curled a terrific dipping cross towards the far post, where Diagne muscled Lindelof aside and steered a diving header past de Gea from six yards. That’s an excellent goal from West Brom’s point of view, though Lindelof and maybe de Gea could have been done better.
Well I never!
1 min Peep peep! West Brom kick off from right to left.
The players emerge on a grim afternoon at the Hawthorns. It’s wet and windy, perfect weather for Robert Snodgrass to swing a few corners under the crossbar.
Full time: Southampton 1-2 Wolves That’s a big win for Wolves, though Southampton will feel they were robbed by VAR.
“Maguire and Lindelof have been really solid and get a ridiculous amount of over-the-top criticism,” says Francis Mead. “Maguire has generally been superb recently.”
I agree that Maguire has been very good for the last 2-3 months, and that Lindelof has an unfair reputation (though he doesn’t help himself at times). I’m still not sure they’re a title-winning partnership, mind, and United are still prone to conceding Andrex-soft goals.
“While I agree that de Gea was a much better keeper previously than he appears to be now,” says Patrick Cullen, “I always felt that the things he was good at were a way of making up for the things he was so bad at - that the need to make those unbelievable reflex saves came about from a basic inability to command his area and impose himself on the opposition’s attackers, and just as importantly, his own defenders. Yes, without doubt, United could improve on their central defensive partnership, but without a dominant goalkeeper behind them to organise things, there’s a limit to what even the best defenders in the world can achieve.”
That’s fair, though I do think he has become even less dominant in the last few years. I don’t think hed have conceded that Calvert-Lewin goal, for example, in 2017.
“It is all good saying DDG has declined (and he surely has),” says Kelechi Dennar. “However, we also need to ask whether he has declined to a level where Henderson is now better? He is nowhere near that 2018 level but I think he is still at a high level. I suspect this will be DDG’s last season at United but I am not sure Henderson has proven to be a better option by his fee performances so far. Next season, all bets are off.”
Agreed. I’m not sure about Henderson yet, though he is more dominant and he wouldn’t have conceded that Everton equaliser last week. He is also on the way up. If United do try to sign a new keeper in the summer, I’d go for Martinez. Villa won’t want to sell but anything’s possible in modern football.
Pedro Neto has given Wolves the lead at St Mary’s!
A debatable Ruben Neves penalty has brought Wolves level at Southampton. It’s 1-1 with half an hour remaining.
“Good afternoon Rob,” says Jon Collins. “Looking at that Manchester United teamsheet, the weakest point is now surely David de Gea. It’s sad to see a player who single-handedly made them competitive for years become a liability, but how much longer do you think Solskjaer will stick with him?”
I think it’s already been too long, and he certainly hasn’t consulted his What Would Fergie Do book. One of the saddest things about all this is that a lot of people have forgotten how astoundingly good de Gea was from 2012-18. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a keeper make so many miraculous reflex saves. But he’s been struggling for nearly three years now, so it’s quite a leap of faith to think it’s ever coming back.
It’s already been a bad-news day for United, who will now be stuck with the Maguire/Lindelof partnership until the end of days.
Southampton 1-0 Wolves is the half-time score in the midday game. You get precisely no points for guessing the scorer.
West Brom (4-1-4-1) Johnstone; Peltier, Ajayi, Bartley, Townsend; Yokuslu; Snodgrass, Gallagher, Maitland-Niles, Pereira; Diagne.
Substitutes: Button, Furlong, O’Shea, Livermore, Phillips, Sawyers, Robson-Kanu, Robinson, Grant.
Manchester United (4-2-3-1) de Gea; Wan-Bissaka, Lindelof, Maguire, Shaw; McTominay, Fred; Rashford, Fernandes, Martial; Cavani.
Substitutes: Henderson, Bailly, Telles, Williams, Tuanzebe, James, Matic, van de Beek, Greenwood.
Hello. The predictability of modern football means that, in most Premier League seasons, the expectations and ambition of a particular team stay roughly the same from autumn to spring: win the title, finish top four, avoid relegation, etc etc. But in 2020-21, most clubs have had to regularly revise their hopes and dreams.
Take Manchester United. In September, their realistic ambition was to finish third for the second season in a row, while getting closer to the points tally of Liverpool and Manchester City. After a desperate start to the season, a top-four place became a reasonable aim. Then, for a few giddy weeks after Christmas, they were outsiders for the title. Now, with Manchester City suddenly omnipotent, United’s sights are fixed on finishing second and continuing a year-on-year improvement under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.Continue reading...
- RB Leipzig centre-half signs five-year contract
- Defender had been tracked by Premier League clubs
Bayern Munich have signed the defender Dayot Upamecano from RB Leipzig with the French centre-back set to join the European champions in July before the 2021-22 season, the Bundesliga club said on Sunday.
Upamecano, 22, agreed to sign a five-year contract that will keep him at Bayern until 2026. Financial details of the transfer were not provided but German media reported Bayern had triggered his release clause which is worth around €42.5m.Continue reading...
Manchester United threw away the chance of three points against Everton last week but should find the going much smoother with a trip to the Hawthorns. West Brom look likely to finish bottom on current form and with United’s quality they will pick apart a defence that has conceded 19 in their past four home games with ease. Nothing has worked for Sam Allardyce so far but the introduction of Okay Yokuslu to midfield is worth a shot. Graham Searles
Sunday 2pm Sky Sports Premier LeagueContinue reading...
This was an FA Cup tie of tepid entertainment and so there was scant surprise extra-time was required. At the end of 90 minutes Craig Dawson missed a header from a corner that would have sent West Ham through against a disappointing Manchester United. But, then, Scott McTominay, one of Ole Gunnar Solskjær’s five substitutions, took responsibility, hitting home Marcus Rashford’s lay-off for a 97th-minute winner.Continue reading...