Man United Suffer Back-To-Back Defeat After Slumping Against Istanbul Basaksehir

Manchester United’s Portuguese midfielder Bruno Fernandes reacts during the UEFA Champions League football match group H, between Istanbul Basaksehir FK and Manchester United, on November 4, 2020, at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim stadium in Istanbul. OZAN KOSE / AFP


Manchester United suffered an unexpected Champions League setback on Wednesday as they lost 2-1 to Istanbul Basaksehir in Turkey.

Goals from Demba Ba and Edin Visca gave the Turkish side their first win in the competition, with Anthony Martial scoring for United who had won their opening two games in Group H against Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig.

– Defensive chaos –

United started the game in the comfort zone, with no sign of the defensive chaos to come in front of a small but vocal crowd.

Luke Shaw fizzed a ball past the far post with his left foot but United, with Marcus Rashford and Martial up front, lacked penetration.

The home side were ahead in the 12th minute after inexplicably poor awareness and organisation allowed unmarshalled ex-Chelsea forward Ba to collect a long ball and race from the halfway line to score, trailed helplessly by Nemanja Matic.

Axel Tuanzebe, who impressed in Paris, had a heart-stopping moment after he pulled Ba back but escaped with a yellow card.

Basaksehir remained threatening on the break, with United worryingly open at the back, and the visitors were caught napping again five minutes before half time.

Deniz Turuc robbed Juan Mata of possession down the left and raced forward, sending over a cross that Ba stepped over and Visca smashed past Dean Henderson, making his Champions League debut in place of David de Gea.

United crucially reduced the deficit in the 43rd minute when Martial steered a Shaw cross home with his head.

Solskjaer hooked off Tuanzebe at the interval, with Scott McTominay coming on and Matic dropping back to play at centre-back alongside Harry Maguire.

United once more enjoyed territorial advantage at the start of the second half and Bruno Fernandes had a free-kick pushed away.

Solskjaer threw on Edinson Cavani and Paul Pogba in place of Mata and Donny van de Beek to add impetus to the attack but ponderous United struggled to create clear chances.

Mason Greenwood came on for Rashford as United continued to search for a way through.

They went agonisingly close to an equaliser in stoppage time when Alexandru Epureanu hacked off the line but they could not rescue a point in the Group H tie.

United appeared to have turned the corner after their 6-1 mauling by Tottenham last month but they have now suffered consecutive defeats to Arsenal and Basaksehir.

“They (two losses) have set us back a lot,” said Solskjaer, whose team travel to Everton on Saturday. “You get a reality check every time you play a game of football.”

Rodrygo Sinks Struggling Inter To Give Real Madrid Crucial Win

Real Madrid’s Brazilian forward Rodrygo (L) scores a goal during the UEFA Champions League group B football match between Real Madrid and Inter Milan at the Alfredo di Stefano stadium in Valdebebas, on the outskirts of Madrid, on November 3, 2020. PIERRE-PHILIPPE MARCOU / AFP


Real Madrid thwarted a second-half comeback from Inter Milan to win 3-2 on Tuesday and give their Champions League bid lift-off in Group B. 

Madrid’s 19-year-old Brazilian Rodrygo came off the bench to score the winner at the empty Alfredo di Stefano stadium, where Inter threatened a remarkable turnaround after drawing level from two goals down.

Lautaro Martinez and Ivan Perisic gave Inter hope of victory after Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos had put Madrid in command, Ramos heading in a second after half an hour for his 100th Real Madrid goal.

But Rodrygo had the last word, his cool finish in the 80th minute earning Zinedine Zidane’s side their first win to leave Inter with a mountain to climb if they are to make the last 16.

These teams were expected to fight for the top two spots in the group but both came into this game on the back of stumbling starts, Inter taking two points and Madrid just one from opening games against Borussia Moenchengladbach and Shakhtar Donetsk.

Neither coach could afford another slip-up either after a bumpy few weeks. Antonio Conte’s Inter have now won only one of their last seven games while Madrid appear to have turned a corner following consecutive losses last month.

The lively Perisic replaced the injured Romelu Lukaku up front for Inter and Eden Hazard started for the second time this season for Madrid. The Belgian delivered only in glimpses before being taken off shortly after the hour.

Inter’s right-back Achraf Hakimi also went up against the club that sold him for 40 million euros in July and although he was dangerous going forward, it was his poor backpass that led to Benzema’s opening goal.

Madrid were the stronger side in the first half but conceded chances and were vulnerable on the break.

Marco Asensio went close after a cutback from Hazard before two Inter counters saw Nicolo Barella hit the crossbar and Martinez force a save from Thibaut Courtois.

Fede Valverde should have scored but scuffed a half-volleyed finish after a neat header from Benzema, who then did score, capitalizing on Hakimi’s error to round the goalkeeper and slot home.

When Ramos headed in Toni Kroos’ corner in the 33rd minute, Madrid looked comfortable but in the 35th they let Inter back in, a sumptuous flicked backheel from Barella spinning into the path of Lautaro, who made no mistake.

Hazard went off just after the hour, with Madrid less dominant and Inter’s confidence growing.

They equalized with the first real chance of the half as Perisic darted onto Martinez’s header and finished into the far corner.

The game was in the balance. Lautaro curled over and Perisic fired wide, with Inter even looking the more likely to grab a winner.

But it was Madrid who struck again, the two substitutes combining on the break as Vinicius Junior sped clear on the left and crossed to Rodrygo on the right, his fellow Brazilian controlling and sweeping in.


Schalke Beat Lowly Schweinfurt To Win First Game Since February

Schalke 04’s German goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann (C) saves a penalty from Schweinfurt’s Amar Suljic (2ndR) during the German Cup (DFB Pokal) football match 1. FC Schweinfurt 05 v FC Schalke 04 in Schweinfurt, western Germany, on November 3, 2020. AFP


Struggling Schalke enjoyed their first win since February on Tuesday when they came from behind to beat fourth-tier minnows Schweinfurt 4-1 in a re-arranged German Cup, the first-round match.

Schalke are winless in 22 Bundesliga games, dating back to January, and their previous win in any competition was a German Cup tie the following month.

Schalke head coach Manuel Baum got his first win on his fifth game in charge despite Schweinfurt taking a shock early lead through winger Martin Thomann at the Veltins Arena.

Schalke roared back in Gelsenkirchen with goals by striker Vedad Ibisevic and winger Benito Raman while attacking midfielder Alessandro Schoepf netted twice.

However, the match was in the balance well into the second half, with Schalke goalkeeper Ralf Fahrmann pulling off a superb penalty save on 74 minutes with the top-flight side at that point just a goal ahead.

“We can be very happy that Ralf Fahrmann saved the Schweinfurt penalty,” Schalke winger Steven Skrzybski told Sky.

“We weren’t exactly bursting with self-confidence, but we’re all working hard and finally got the reward we deserve.”

The match should have taken place in mid-September, but a legal appeal by third-division side Turkgucu Munich, who argued they should have taken Schweinfurt’s place in the cup draw, was only settled in court last week.


Liverpool Crush Atalanta 5-0 In Champions League

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah (L) celebrates after scoring a goal during the UEFA Champions league football match Atalanta Bergamo vs Liverpool, on November 3, 2020 at the Atalanta stadium in Bergamo.  AFP


Diogo Jota scored a hat-trick as Liverpool demolished Atalanta 5-0 in the Champions League on Tuesday to secure a third win in as many matches in Group D.

Portugal forward Jota struck twice in the first half in Bergamo before Mohamed Salah and Sadio Mane added goals early in the second period. Jota completed his treble on 54 minutes.

Jurgen Klopp’s side have a maximum of nine points and are five clear of both Atalanta and Ajax, who won 2-1 at Danish champions Midtjylland.


Gladbach Hammer Shakhtar, Atletico Held In Champions League

Borussia Moenchengladbach’s French forward Alassane Plea shoot and scores the third goal during the UEFA Champions League football match group B, between Shakhtar Donetsk and Borussia Moenchengladbach, at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kiev on November 3, 2020. AFP


Alassane Plea scored a hat-trick as Borussia Moenchengladbach romped to a 6-0 win at Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Tuesday, while Atletico Madrid were held to a 1-1 draw by Lokomotiv Moscow.

As well as Plea’s goals, a Valeriy Bondar own goal and counters from Ramy Bensebaini and captain Lars Stindl gave Gladbach their finest European victory since their 1970s glory days.

After being pegged back to draw 2-2 in their first two outings in Group B, away to Inter Milan and at home to Real Madrid, the victory moves Marco Rose’s Gladbach to the top of the section, one point above Shakhtar.

It is the Ukrainian champion’s worst defeat in a home game in Europe, although they are currently hosting matches in Kiev having been exiled from Donetsk since 2014 when conflict broke out in the east of the country.

French forward Plea met Stefan Lainer’s low cross with a first-time finish to put the visitors in front in the eighth minute before a horror show from Bondar allowed them to double their lead.

First, his miskick gifted the ball to Plea, and then Christoph Kramer’s shot took a huge deflection off the Shakhtar defender on its way in.

Plea’s superb strike into the top-left corner made it 3-0 in the 26th minute, and Algerian defender Bensebaini got the fourth from close range just before the break.

Stindl’s goal to make it 5-0 arrived with 11 minutes left, and there was still time for Plea to make it six after being played in by Marcus Thuram for a goal that was given after a VAR review confirmed he was onside.

The result is a bitter setback for Shakhtar after they began their campaign by beating Real Madrid 3-2 in Spain and then held Inter last week.

Real and Inter meet in Madrid later on Tuesday.

Meanwhile, Atletico were left frustrated in Moscow as their second-half pressure failed to produce a winner against Lokomotiv in Group A in a rare European game this season to be played before a sizeable crowd.

Atletico beat the Russians home and away in the group stage last season and went ahead in the 18th minute here when Hector Herrera’s cross was headed in by Jose Maria Gimenez.

However, Lokomotiv were given the chance to equalize shortly after when Herrera was penalized for a handball in the box following a VAR review.

Anton Miranchuk converted the spot-kick to get the railway-backed club back on track.

They then soaked up the pressure, as Angel Correa’s long-range shot struck the bar before the interval and Guilherme saved superbly from Joao Felix after the restart.

Substitute Koke also headed against the woodwork for Atletico before Luis Suarez converted the rebound only to be flagged offside.

The result means Lokomotiv have now gone eight Champions League games without winning, and reigning champions Bayern can go five points clear of Atletico at the top of Group A if they beat Salzburg later.


Entire Lazio Squad In Quarantine After COVID-19 Positives

Players of Lazio observe a minute of silence for the victims of Genoa’s Morandi Bridge collapse at the Olympic stadium in Rome on August 18, 2018.  AFP


Lazio, already deprived of several players, announced on Saturday that it had put its entire squad in quarantine after positive coronavirus tests. 

Lazio fielded a depleted team in Brugge in the Champions League on Wednesday and drew 1-1 without last season’s top European scorer Ciro Immobile and midfielders Luis Alberto, Manuel Lazzari, Lucas Leiva and Djavan Anderson.

The club said in a statement on Saturday that it had conducted a further round of tests on Friday.

“Some members of the team group tested positive,” it said without giving any names.

It is the first time Lazio has explicitly confirmed cases of Covid-19 in its squad after talking about “doubtful” tests during the week, even though it omitted players from its squad.

“The whole team will repeat today’s checks in order to identify the players that can be used in tomorrow’s match between Turin and Lazio,” the club said.

“The positive results were placed in isolation at home while the team will observe a period of quarantine under active supervision by the medical staff.”

Lazio are 12th in the Italian Championship and travel to Petersburg to play Zenit in the Champions League on Wednesday.


Injured Neymar To Return End Of November, Says Tuchel

(File Photo) Paris Saint-Germain’s Brazilian forward Neymar receives medical treatment at the Basaksehir Fatih Terim Stadium in Istanbul. AFP


Paris Saint-Germain coach Thomas Tuchel said on Friday he expects Neymar to be sidelined until the international break after injuring his thigh in Wednesday’s Champions League win in Istanbul.

Brazil forward came off just 25 minutes into PSG’s 2-0 victory over Turkish champions Istanbul Basaksehir and will likely miss his team’s next three games.

“I don’t think it’s possible he will play” for the national team, said Tuchel.

“If he plays that means he’s not injured, and that’s a bad message. The news for me is that he will return after the break.”

Neymar has been called up to his country’s squad for 2022 World Cup qualifiers against Venezuela and Uruguay on November 14 and 17. He scored a hat-trick in a 4-2 win over Peru earlier this month.

He will miss Saturday’s trip to Nantes in Ligue 1, the Champions League clash with RB Leipzig next week and the visit of third-placed Rennes on November 7.

PSG go to Monaco on November 20 following the international break.

“With Ney, we’re sad because he has a small adductor injury,” said Tuchel, who is already without a number of key players.

Mauro Icardi, Julian Draxler and Leandro Paredes are unavailable for the match against Nantes, while Angel Di Maria is still suspended.

Tuchel is hopeful Icardi and Paredes can return on Wednesday for the RB Leipzig game.

“I really hope they’re with us at training on Monday. We have to accept they can play with just one session before,” he said.

“Normally I would say they’re not ready for the Champions League, but in this situation perhaps they have to play.”


CAF Postpone Champions League Semi-final, Final


The CAF Champions League semi-final return match between Zamalek of Egypt and Raja Casablanca of Morocco has been postponed from November 1 to a date to be decided, CAF said Thursday.

Many of the Raja squad have tested positive for the coronavirus, leaving only 10 fit players, an official of the Casablanca club told AFP.

Zamalek lead 1-0 from the first leg in Casablanca with Moroccan Achraf Bencharki scoring the only goal midway through the first half.

CAF also announced that the final between Zamalek or Raja and Al Ahly of Egypt, scheduled for an Egyptian venue on November 6, has been postponed indefinitely.

Covid-19 has wreaked havoc with the two-leg semi-finals and single-match final of the elite African club competition, originally set for last May.

The matches were rescheduled for September, then put back again to October and November.


Felix Double Inspires Atletico Comeback Against Salzburg

Atletico Madrid’s Portuguese forward Joao Felix celebrates his goal during the UEFA Champions League group A football match between Atletico Madrid and Salzburg, at the Wanda Metropolitano stadium in Madrid on October 27, 2020. AFP


Joao Felix scored twice, including a late winner, as Atletico Madrid came from behind to beat Salzburg 3-2 in the Champions League on Tuesday.

After being thrashed by Bayern Munich last week, another slip would have put Atletico’s prospects of qualification from Group A in serious doubt.

But Felix’s double salvaged a dramatic victory at the Wanda Metropolitano where Salzburg led 2-1 thanks to goals from Dominik Szoboszlai and Mergim Berisha shortly after half-time. Marcos Llorente had earlier put Atletico in front.

Diego Simeone’s side will travel to Lokomotiv Moscow next week placed second in the group after Lokomotiv were beaten 2-1 at home by Bayern.

Felix now has four goals in seven games this term for Atletico, continuing his encouraging start to the season alongside new signing Luis Suarez and in the absence of the injured Diego Costa.

“When I play in the Champions League, it’s what I like to play in most and you can see the happiness with which I play,” said Felix afterwards.

The 20-year-old had already struck the crossbar with a spectacular bicycle kick when he pulled Atletico level in the 52nd minute before driving in sweetly from inside the penalty area with five minutes left.


Champions League: Salah, Jota Score As Liverpool Edge Past Midtjylland

Liverpool’s Egyptian midfielder Mohamed Salah scores their second goal from the penalty spot during the UEFA Champions league Group D football match between Liverpool and Midtjylland at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on October 27, 2020.  AFP


Lacklustre Liverpool beat Midtjylland 2-0 on Tuesday to make it two wins out of two in the Champions League but their defensive problems mounted as Fabinho limped off injured.

The Premier League champions were toothless in the first half but finally clicked 10 minutes after the break when the impressive Trent Alexander-Arnold set up Diogo Jota for a tap-in.

A late penalty scored by substitute Mohamed Salah gave the scoreline unwarranted gloss.

The manager left his first-choice attack of Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino on the bench against the Danes, giving his second string a chance to shine.

But Liverpool, lacking urgency and fluency at an empty Anfield, struggled to break down the hard-working visitors, who lost their Champions League opener to Atalanta 4-0.

The opening could have been worse for Klopp’s men.

Midtjylland had a chance to take a shock lead in the opening minutes when a long clip down the middle sent Anders Dreyer in on goal and Alisson Becker had to make a smart save.

Liverpool, who beat Ajax away in their Champions League opener, hogged possession but struggled to create clear chances in the early stages.

Most of what little threat there was in the first half came from full-back Alexander-Arnold, who produced a cross which Takumi Minamino failed to connect with.

Alexander-Arnold then danced through the Midtjylland defence midway through the opening period but failed to find the Japan international.

But Klopp’s problems became a lot more serious just before the half-hour, when Fabinho, filling in alongside Joe Gomez in central defence, limped off with an apparent hamstring injury.

Klopp is already coming to terms with the absence of central defensive lynchpin Virgil van Dijk, who could be out for the whole season.

As half-time approached, Alexander-Arnold drilled another cross to Minamo, who headed wide.

But Liverpool failed to register a single first-half shot on target for the first time in 51 home games in all competitions, since October 2018.

Gini Wijnaldum replaced captain Jordan Henderson at half-time and after a few minutes Klopp ordered Salah and Mane to warm up on the sidelines.

The breakthrough finally came when Alexander-Arnold received the ball on the right and exchanged passes with Xherdan Shaqiri before crossing for Jota to finish from close range.

It was Liverpool’s 10,000th goal in all competitions, 128 years after their first, netted by Jock Smith in September 1892.

Salah and Mane came on just after the hour mark for Minamino and the disappointing Divock Origi but Liverpool still struggled for rhythm.

Firmino missed a clear chance for Liverpool in the closing minutes after yet more good work from Alexander-Arnold.

They almost paid the price immediately but Dreyer could only find the side-netting after drifting past Gomez.

Liverpool escaped and Salah won the penalty which he converted.


Lukaku, Inter Left Frustrated In Shakhtar Draw

Inter Milan’s Belgian forward Romelu Lukaku (4 L) in action during the UEFA Champions League football match between Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan at the Olympiyskiy stadium in Kiev on October 27, 2020. Sergei SUPINSKY / AFP


Romelu Lukaku and Inter Milan endured a frustrating night in Kiev on Tuesday as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League.

Six days after stunning Real Madrid in Spain despite missing 10 first-team players due to coronavirus, Shakhtar were fortunate to take a point against the Italians but the result leaves them in a strong position in Group B.

Inter came closest to scoring, twice hitting the woodwork in the first half at the Olympic Stadium.

Nicolo Barella hit the crossbar early on and Lukaku then had a free-kick turned onto the frame of the goal by Shakhtar ‘keeper Anatoliy Trubin as the interval approached.

Lautaro Martinez then contrived to miss the target from an excellent position after the break, as Inter drew again, following a 2-2 stalemate with Borussia Moenchengladbach last week.

Shakhtar top the group with four points, but Madrid can now go up to second with a win away to Gladbach in Germany later on Tuesday.

Kimmich Strike Maintains Bayern Munich’s Record Run In Europe

Bayern Munich’s German midfielder Joshua Kimmich, Lokomotiv Moscow’s Russian forward Fedor Smolov and Bayern Munich’s French midfielder Corentin Tolisso vie for the ball during the UEFA Champions League football match between Lokomotiv Moscow and Bayern Munich in Moscow on October 27, 2020. MAXIM SHIPENKOV / POOL / AFP


Match-winner Joshua Kimmich admitted holders Bayern Munich were made to work for their 2-1 win at Lokomotiv Moscow on Tuesday which secured a record 13th straight Champions League victory for the German giants.

After Leon Goretzka gave Bayern an early lead in Russia, Lokomotiv deservedly equalised when midfielder Anton Miranchuk finished off a counter-attack on 70 minutes.

However, Germany midfielder Kimmich made sure Bayern stayed top of their group when he turned just outside the area and fired a superb strike into the bottom corner on 79 minutes.

“We had to work hard for the victory,” Kimmich told broadcaster DAZN.

“They didn’t do badly, but we still should have decided the game earlier.

“They had some dangerous counters, but in the end we are happy to win despite not being at our best.”

Lokomotiv squandered a golden chance early on when forward Fyodor Smolov headed straight at Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer from point-blank range.

Bayern striker Robert Lewandowski shot wide before the European champions took the lead with a goal created by France internationals Corentin Tolisso and Benjamin Pavard.

Midfielder Tolisso passed across the penalty area to Pavard, whose cushioned volley picked out Goretzka to expertly head inside the near post on 13 minutes.

Bayern’s French pair linked up to great effect again to set up a chance for Kingsley Coman, who hit the post on 25 minutes.

However, Lokomotiv started to find space to exploit down the flanks, with Smolov and left-back Maciej Rybus forcing Neuer into saves at the end of the first half.

Bayern head coach Hansi Flick made a double substitution at the start of the second half with Germany winger Serge Gnabry — making his first appearance since recovering from coronavirus — and Javi Martinez introduced.

Bayern came within centimetres of a second goal just before the hour mark.

Gnabry fired in a quick cross, but Kimmich’s shot clipped the boot of Lokomotiv centre-back Slobodan Rajkovic and goalkeeper Guilherme gratefully gathered the loose ball.

At the other end, only a good challenge from David Alaba prevented Lokomotiv striker Ze Luis finishing a counter-attack.

When Lewandowski went down in the area on 65 minutes, referee Istvan Kovacs pointed to the spot, but the decision was overturned when the VAR spotted an offside in build-up.

Lokomotiv grabbed the deserved equaliser when Ze Luis burst free down the right and squared to Miranchuk who turned home.

The Cape Verde international wasted a huge opportunity to put Lokomotiv in front when he opted to go for goal himself rather than square for an unmarked Rifat Zhemaletdinov.

Kimmich made the hosts pay the price moments later when he received the ball outside the penalty area, taking one touch to control and drive home.

Bayern captain Manuel Neuer said the team’s belief got them through.

“We always believe in ourselves,” Neuer told DAZN.

“I think we’ve shown the spirit in our team over the last few weeks and months, but we can’t rely on that, we always have to start from scratch.

“You could see it wasn’t easy tonight.”