Juventus pulled themselves out of the Serie A relegation zone on Wednesday after earning their first league victory of the season at the fifth attempt, coming from behind to win 3-2 at Spezia. It was also their first Serie A win since Cristiano Ronaldo left the club.
Massimiliano Allegri’s side moved up to 12th in Italy’s top flight on five points following the hard-fought win which at one point looked to be heading for an embarrassing defeat.
Emmanuel Gyasi and Janis Antiste had put Spezia ahead shortly after the break following Moise Kean’s 28th-minute opener, the Italian’s first goal for Juventus since returning from Everton.
However substitute Federico Chiesa levelled midway through the second half with his first league goal of the season and a few minutes later Matthijs de Ligt struck the winner when the ball fell kindly to him from a Paulo Dybala corner.
It was a far from convincing performance though and Spezia could have levelled late on, with Wojciech Szczesny at his best to push away Giulio Maggiore’s volley with five minutes remaining.
Portuguese skipper Cristiano Ronaldo continued his impressive form since returning to England as he netted once in Manchester United’s 1-2 win over West Ham on Sunday, his third league goal for the season.
Ronaldo tapped in to cancel out Said Benrahma’s opener and substitute Lingard appeared to have won the match for the visitors in the 89th minute.
But there was time for late, late drama when the home side were awarded a penalty for a Luke Shaw handball in added time.
Mark Noble came on to take the spot kick but United goalkeeper David de Gea dived to his left to keep it out, sparking a frenzy among United players.
United move into second place in the table, level on points with Liverpool.
Ronaldo was jeered and whistled by the home fans at the London Stadium as he tried his trademark stepovers and feints but proved a handful throughout at the point of United’s attack.
The Portuguese superstar was supported by Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes and Mason Greenwood, with no starting place for Jadon Sancho, who has struggled to make an impact since his big-money move from Borussia Dortmund in July.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is still trying to work out how best to juggle his impressive forward resources and United are still seeking fluency despite a bright start to the Premier League season.
West Ham proved a stern test for the visitors just five days after 10-man United crashed to a 2-1 defeat against Swiss side Young Boys in their Champions League opener.
Both sets of players lined up before kick-off as the stadium observed a minute’s applause for England great Jimmy Greaves, who died on Sunday at the age of 81.
West Ham, without suspended forward Michail Antonio, engineered the first clear opening of the game when De Gea was forced to save wth his legs from a Jarrod Bowen shot.
As the game opened up, West Ham goalkeeper Lukas Fabianski got his fingertips to a rasping Fernandes shot, touching it onto the post.
But it was West Ham who took the lead in the 30th when Benrahma’s effort from the edge of the box took a huge deflection off Raphael Varane and completely wrong-footed De Gea.
The goal galvanised the visitors and they were level just five minutes later, with Ronaldo poking the ball past Fabianski after the goalkeeper had saved his initial shot following a Fernandes cross.
Nikola Vlasic went close to restoring West Ham’s lead, flashing over following a cross by Aaron Cresswell.
Fabianski was called into action early in the second half racing off his line to block Ronaldo’s effort when he had seemed destined to score.
Both sides pushed forward as the second half wore on but there were few clear-cut openings.
Lingard, who spent a period on loan at West Ham last season, got a warm reception from the home fans when he came on as substitute alongside Sancho with 17 minutes to go, replacing Greenwood and Pogba.
But he left the home fans with a bitter taste in their mouths when he curled a beautiful shot into the top right corner, which ultimately proved to be the winner.
In the other 1400 GMT kick-off, Brighton beat Leicester 2-1 to move up to third in the table ahead of the late kick-off between Tottenham and Chelsea, both former clubs of Greaves.
Neal Maupay converted from the penalty spot with 10 minutes remaining of the first half following a handball by Jannik Vestergaard.
Danny Welbeck doubled the lead five minutes after half-time, flicking a near-post header past Kasper Schmeichel following a Leandro Trossard free-kick.
Leicester pulled a goal back through Jamie Vardy but it was not enough.
All eyes are once again on Cristiano Ronaldo as Manchester United aim make amends for a shock Champions League defeat to Young Boys when the Premier League leaders head to West Ham on Sunday.
Second-placed Chelsea are behind United only on goals scored and will look to extend their unbeaten start in a London derby at Tottenham.
Liverpool and Manchester City will not expect to be troubled when Crystal Palace and Southampton visit Anfield and the Etihad respectively on Saturday.
But the pressure is on under-fire Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta when the Gunners travel to fellow strugglers Burnley.
United must do better
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has demanded an immediate response from United after the optimism engendered by Ronaldo’s return was punctured in Bern.
Solskjaer’s side had won three of their first four matches in an unbeaten start to the Premier League campaign, including a Ronaldo-inspired rout of Newcastle on the Portuguese superstar’s Old Trafford return last weekend.
Ronaldo was on target again in Bern, but United succumbed after Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s red card to lose to the lowest seed in their Champions League group.
“Our attitude is like you’d expect; focused, a little disappointed but not too downbeat,” Solskjaer said. “It’s a setback, we have to do better.”
It was Jesse Lingard’s woeful backpass that condemned United to defeat against Young Boys.
Lingard is back at United after shining on loan at West Ham in the second half of last season.
The Hammers were keen to sign Lingard on a permanent basis, but Solskjaer convinced him to stay and retains his faith in the England international.
“We really want to see the best of Jesse this season and we hope to see him, we support him, and we hope to keep him here with us. He’s a Red through and through,” Solskjaer added.
Chelsea striker Romelu Lukaku will go head to head with Tottenham’s Harry Kane in a fascinating shoot-out between two of the Premier League’s leading marksmen.
Lukaku has made a flying start on his return to Chelsea following his club record £98 million ($135 million) move from Inter Milan.
The Belgian has already scored four times in four appearances, including a perfectly-timed header to break Zenit Saint Petersburg’s stubborn resistence in the Champions League in midweek.
After the debilitating struggles of Chelsea’s misfiring forwards last season, Blues boss Thomas Tuchel admits Lukaku has been a breath of fresh air.
“He was the type of player and profile we were missing,” Tuchel said.
“He’s also super humble. He is always open to everybody and that creates a certain energy and atmosphere that we are proud of.”
While Lukaku is living out his dreams at his boyhood club, Kane is having to make do with another season at Tottenham after the England captain’s failed attempt to engineer a move to Manchester City.
Kane, frustrated by Tottenham’s 13-year trophy drought, was desperate to join City, but Tottenham chairman Daniel Levy refused to grant his wish.
With Tottenham looking to recover from last weekend’s chastening 3-0 loss at Crystal Palace, Kane’s first Premier League goal of the season would be timely for both the striker and his team.
Arteta ‘Sees The Light’
Besieged by calls for his head after Arsenal opened the season with three successive defeats and not a single goal, Arteta earned a modicum of breathing space when the Gunners narrowly beat Norwich last weekend.
But the Spaniard knows that 1-0 win will quickly be forgotten if Arsenal lose to a Burnley side still looking for their first win this term.
Arteta was given more money to spend than any other Premier League manager in the transfer window and is adamant there are better days ahead for his young squad.
“I can really see the light,” he said. “I’m telling you I’m very positive most of the time.
“There can be bumps in the road within that light, but I can see a lot of light.”
Fixtures (1400 GMT unless stated)
Newcastle v Leeds (1900)
Wolves v Brentford (1230), Aston Villa v Everton, Burnley v Arsenal, Liverpool v Crystal Palace, Manchester City v Southampton, Norwich v Watford
Brighton v Leicester (1300), West Ham v Manchester United (1300), Tottenham v Chelsea (1530).
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed Cristiano Ronaldo will make his first Manchester United appearance since his blockbuster move from Juventus when Newcastle visit Old Trafford on Saturday.
Portugal superstar Ronaldo returned to United in a shock transfer just before the transfer deadline.
The 36-year-old striker, who left United to join Real Madrid in 2009, has been training with his new team-mates for the past few days.
United manager Solskjaer confirmed on Friday that Ronaldo would play at least some part in the Premier League clash with Newcastle but it remains to be seen whether the five-time Ballon d’Or winner will start or come off the bench.
“He’s been having a good pre-season with Juventus, he’s played for the national team, he’s had a good week with us here,” Solskjaer said.
“He will definitely be on the pitch at some point, that’s for sure.”
Ronaldo won three Premier League titles and the Champions League during six trophy-laden years with United, before going on to shine with Real and Juventus.
His status as one of the world’s all-time greats is unquestioned, but initially it seemed United would miss out on a reunion with their former star when Manchester City moved to sign him.
Ronaldo said his relationship with former United manager Alex Ferguson played a key role in convincing him to return to Old Trafford.
Solskjaer, who played with Ronaldo during his first spell at the club, said: “Of course we’ve followed his career from afar since he left here and I think everyone’s very happy to have him back.
“He can speak for himself but he seems like he’s happy to be back as well.
“The mood’s been very good, he’s worked well and we’re looking forward to Saturday, of course.”
Cristiano Ronaldo signalled his intention to keep playing for Portugal for “years to come” after breaking the all-time international goalscoring record of 109 previously held by Iran’s Ali Daei.
The Manchester United forward scored twice in the dying minutes to move to 111 international goals as Portugal came from behind to beat the Republic of Ireland 2-1 in World Cup qualifying on Wednesday.
Ronaldo, who is the all-time top goalscorer in the Champions League and the leading marksman in Real Madrid’s history, led his country to their only major tournament win at Euro 2016.
The 36-year-old spoke of his pride after his latest milestone.
“From all the records that I have broken during my career — and fortunately there have been a few — this one is very special for me and it’s certainly on the shelf of the achievements that make me truly proud,” Ronaldo said in a post on Instagram.
“Scoring 111 goals for Portugal means 111 moments like the ones we experienced today in Algarve, moments of worldwide union and happiness for millions and millions of Portuguese citizens all around the globe. For them, every sacrifice is worth it.”
Ronaldo will not add to his tally during the current international break, though, after leaving the Portugal squad on Thursday.
He is suspended for next week’s qualifier against Azerbaijan after being booked for removing his top while celebrating the winning goal against Ireland.
The Portuguese football federation said he had been “exempted” from playing in this weekend’s friendly with World Cup hosts Qatar.
Ronaldo became the first player to feature in five European Championships at this year’s Euro 2020, winning the Golden Boot.
And he could equal the record of playing at five World Cups should Portugal make it to Qatar next year.
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner, who secured a return to United from Juventus this week, hinted he has no intention of retiring from international football in the near future.
“Thank you Portugal. Thanks to all my teammates and opponents for making this journey so unforgettable,” he added. “Let’s keep meeting inside the pitch in the years to come! I’m not closing the count just yet.”
Portugal face Qatar in a friendly on Saturday before travelling to Azerbaijan on September 7.
Thanks to Ronaldo’s rescue act in the Algarve, Fernando Santos’s men top Group A of European qualifying, three points clear of Serbia, who have a game in hand.
Cristiano Ronaldo revealed his relationship with former Manchester United manager Alex Ferguson played the key role in convincing the Portuguese to return to Old Trafford.
Ferguson retired as boss of the Red Devils in 2013, four years after Ronaldo departed for Real Madrid in a then world record £80 million move.
However, he remains a club ambassador and confidant of current United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who also played under Ferguson for many years.
Ronaldo looked set for a return to England with Premier League champions Manchester City last week until Ferguson and a host of his former United teammates intervened to reportedly inform him that such a move risked his legacy at the club where he became a world star.
“For me, Sir Alex Ferguson is like a father in football for me,” Ronaldo told the United website.
“He helped me a lot, he taught me many things, and in my opinion of course he had a big role because the relationship that we had, we keep in touch all the time, and he’s an unbelievable person.
“I really like him a lot and he was the main key for me to be in the position that I am, that I signed for Manchester United.”
The five-time Ballon d’Or winner’s future had been in doubt after a difficult campaign during which Juventus lost their Serie A crown after nine years, exited the Champions League in the last 16 and only sealed fourth place and elite European football on the final day.
Juventus open the new season at Udinese with Allegri, who signed Ronaldo in 2018, back at the helm two years after his shock departure despite winning five consecutive league titles with the Turin club.
Former Real Madrid and Manchester United star Ronaldo has scored 101 goals in total for the club in 133 games.
Spanish online daily El Confidencial on Wednesday followed up a batch of audio recordings of Real Madrid chairman Florentino Perez disparaging two former club legends with similar outbursts on former star Cristiano Ronaldo and former coach Jose Mourinho.
The latest quotes follow publication by El Confidencial on Tuesday of older recordings dating from 2006 in which Perez called club legends Raul and Iker Casillas “the two biggest Real Madrid frauds.”
In the second set of quotes Perez attacks Ronaldo, who won a huge haul of trophies with Real between 2009 and 2018, including four Champions Leagues.
“He is mad. This guy is an imbecile, sick. You think this guy is normal — he’s not or else he wouldn’t do all the things he does,” Perez said in the latest comments to an unidentified person, the latest of which dates from 2012.
Perez also hits out at Portuguese agent Jorge Mendes who represents both Ronaldo and Mourinho, who sat in the Real dugout from 2010 to 2013.
“Mendes has no control over him (Ronaldo) and it’s the same with Mourinho — none at all,” said Perez.
“Even for interviews, they don’t listen to him. These are two guys with terrible egos, spoilt the pair of them, who don’t see the reality because they could both earn a lot more money if they did things were different.
“They are both abnormal because we are talking about a lot of money in image rights.
“Also, it is because of the image they have, their provocative side, the fact that any people don’t like them … It’s the opposite of good publicity,” said Perez, who prides himself on his focus on Real Madrid’s business side and was a prime mover in the attempted Super league.
Many of the quotes appeared in a book by the journalist Jose Antonio Abellan “Assault on Real Madrid” published in 2015.
Perez complained on Tuesday that Abellan had made the recordings secretly and said the timing was related to his role as an organiser of the Super League.
“The quotes are from conversations clandestinely recorded by Jose Antonio Abellan, who has been trying to sell them for years without success,” said Perez, whose second stint as chairman runs to 2025.
“They are loose phrases from conversations taken out of the broad context in which they occur. That they are being reproduced now, after so many years have passed, I understand that it is due to my participation as one of the promoters of the Super League.”
He warned Tuesday that his lawyers “are studying possible actions to be taken.”
Portuguese football star Cristiano Ronaldo today became the winner of the Gold Trophy of the Alipay Top Scorer Awards at UEFA EURO 2020.
Regarded as one of the greatest footballers of all time, Ronaldo netted five goals and made one assist at the competition.
Patrik Schick from the Czech Republic was awarded the Silver Trophy, scoring five goals, while France’s Karim Benzema was the recipient of the Bronze Trophy, netting four goals.
The Alipay Top Scorer trophies are the first major international football Top-Scorer trophies to embed blockchain in their design, incorporating a hash code at the base through which scoring records of the tournament’s top three scorers can be uploaded and permanently stored on a blockchain powered by AntChain.
Using the hash code provided, Alipay will upload the trophy data to the blockchain, ensuring a permanent, immutable record of the top scorers’ achievements.
“Our warmest congratulations to Cristiano Ronaldo for his phenomenal performances at UEFA EURO 2020, and for winning the Alipay Top Scorer Gold Award,” said Eric Jing, Chairman and CEO of Ant Group, who presented the top scorer trophies via video from Hangzhou immediately after the final game of UEFA EURO 2020.
Portugal have crashed out of Euro 2020 following a 1-0 defeat to Belgium on Sunday evening, ending the defending champions’ hopes of another continental triumph.
Thorgan Hazard’s first-half goal gave Belgium a tense win over the holders to set up a quarter-final tie against Italy at Euro 2020.
Belgium held on despite losing skipper Kevin De Bruyne to injury in the second half and will face the Italians in Munich in the last eight on July 2.
Cristiano Ronaldo tested Thibaut Courtois with a dipping free-kick in the first half but the 36-year-old neither broke the international goals record nor added to his five for the tournament.
Raphael Guerreiro went closest to a late equaliser when his shot came back off the post but Belgium were the braver, more fluid team and deservedly edged through.
They will now face Italy in Munich on Friday and possibly without Kevin De Bruyne, who hobbled off injured in the second half but returned to the pitch to join the celebrations at the end.
For all the superstar names on the pitch, it was Eden Hazard’s less heralded brother Thorgan who proved decisive, the Borussia Dortmund winger who Eden once said had even more talent than him.
Portugal, meanwhile, stuck to the defensive approach that served them so well in France five years ago but has perhaps been outgrown by a side that now boasts some of the most creative technicians in the world.
Eden Hazard started in Belgium’s front three again after playing 90 minutes against Finland on Monday. Portugal’s Diogo Dalot came in at right-back for the injured Nelson Semedo.
Eden Hazard skied an early shot over after a neat exchange with Romelu Lukaku while Diogo Jota skewed wide, slipped in down the left by the impressive Renato Sanches.
Ronaldo cut an isolated figure up front, his every touch booed early on by the Belgian fans, who then cheered when he was robbed of the ball before being bumped to the ground by Thomas Meunier.
The closest Ronaldo came to an all-time record 110th international goal was a dipping free-kick from 30 yards which Courtois parried away while at the other end, Lukaku was a more dynamic force.
One scintillating break saw Lukaku tear through Portugal’s midfield and with his shirt being pulled behind him, he was just lacking the final pass to Hazard.
An untidy game found its moment of clarity in the 42nd minute. It started with Courtois coolly evading Ronaldo’s press before more excellent work from Lukaku allowed De Bruyne to switch left to Thorgan Hazard.
Hazard cut in and ripped a swerving shot that rocketed towards the centre of the goal before swerving right and past Rui Patricio, who was too slow to adjust.
Belgium played with more verve after half-time and looked set to take charge.
But De Bruyne’s injury checked their rhythm and Portugal came again, Jota firing over and Joao Felix, on as a substitute, heading into the hands of Courtois.
Tempers flared as a crescendo of collisions incensed the crowd and left Pepe lucky only to be booked after he led into his challenge with his arm.
Portugal finally had to push and in a wild last 10 minutes, Guerreiro went closest to an equaliser, his shot hammering against the post. Belgium did just enough.
Spain and reigning champions Portugal are at risk of a shock early exit from Euro 2020 on the last day of group matches on Wednesday, while UEFA’s refusal to allow Munich to light the Allianz Arena in rainbow colours has overshadowed a crucial game between Germany and Hungary.
Germany need a draw to reach the last 16 but defeat would see Hungary go through and possibly condemn Joachim Loew’s side to another group-stage exit, just like at the 2018 World Cup.
That is unthinkable for the Germans, who beat Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal 4-2 at the weekend to kickstart their campaign but could be without Thomas Mueller due to a knee injury.
The build-up has been overshadowed by the fall-out from UEFA’s decision to block plans by Munich authorities to light the stadium in rainbow colours. The German city wanted to protest at a law passed by Hungary’s right-wing government banning the “promotion” of homosexuality to minors.
UEFA refused “given the political context of the request”, but Munich Mayor Dieter Reiter called the decision “shameful” and announced plans to decorate other city landmarks in rainbow colours instead.
On the field in the same Group F, World Cup holders France take on Portugal in Budapest, where the reigning European champions are in danger.
Portugal will be eliminated if they lose and Hungary win but a draw will definitely take the 2016 champions through to the last 16.
The Portuguese face a France side who have already qualified but will want to win to secure top spot, meaning a theoretically easier tie in the next round.
“We’re guaranteed to qualify and that gives us a bit of peace of mind. From experience I’m not getting caught up in the maths, you have to respect the game,” France coach Didier Deschamps said.
Ronaldo needs just two more goals to match the all-time international scoring record of Ali Daei, who scored 109 times for Iran.
Portugal’s neighbours Spain are in a similarly tricky position heading into their final Group E game against Slovakia in Seville.
The 2008 and 2012 European champions have drawn both matches so far against Sweden and Poland.
They need to win this time to be sure of reaching the knockout phase, although a draw would be enough to qualify as a best third-placed team, provided Poland fail to beat Sweden in Saint Petersburg.
“I have a feeling that we are like a bottle of cava that is about to be uncorked,” said coach Luis Enrique.
“As soon as we put in one complete performance and get a big victory, the confidence will come and you will start to see the best of us.”
Slovakia need a point to be certain of progressing, while Robert Lewandowski’s Poland have to beat already-qualified Sweden to advance.
Modric inspires Croatia
On Tuesday Luka Modric inspired Croatia to a 3-1 win over Scotland in Glasgow as the 2018 World Cup runners-up secured their last-16 berth and ended the hopes of Steve Clarke’s men.
Nikola Vlasic put Croatia ahead only for Callum McGregor to equalise, but a brilliant Modric finish with the outside of his right boot made it 2-1 and he then set up Ivan Perisic to secure the victory.
“That’s what you’re up against at this level,” McGregor said of 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Modric.
Croatia advance as runners-up in Group D and will play a last-16 tie in Copenhagen next Monday, while England secured top spot with a 1-0 win over the Czech Republic.
Raheem Sterling’s goal won it for Gareth Southgate’s side, who were already through. They will stay at Wembley in the last 16 but could face France, Germany or Portugal.
“We are not fluent but we have moments where we look a good side,” Southgate said.
The Czech Republic are also through as a best third-placed side.
The British government said more than 60,000 spectators will be allowed to attend the semi-finals and final at Wembley with attendance increased to 75 percent of capacity.
The matches will see the largest crowds assembled at a sporting event in Britain for over 15 months, with numbers previously strictly limited due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“The last 18 months have taught us, both on and off the pitch, how integral fans are to the fabric of the game,” said UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin.
“This tournament has been a beacon of hope to reassure people that we are returning to a more normal way of life and this is a further step along that road.”