European football roundup: Man Utd hold Liverpool; Real Madrid thrash Villarreal; Inter go four points clear
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European football roundup: Man Utd hold Liverpool; Real Madrid thrash Villarreal; Inter go four points clear

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Manchester United ended Liverpool’s perfect record at Anfield on Sunday, holding the Premier League title chasers to a 0-0 draw after wins for Arsenal and Aston Villa.

Jurgen Klopp’s men came into the match widely expected to inflict yet more agony on their bitter rivals and boasting 11 wins from 11 games in all competitions at home this season.

Liverpool dominated, hogging nearly 70 percent of possession and had 34 shots to United’s six but they could not break down their stubborn opponents.

Klopp’s men finish the day second in the table, a point behind Arsenal’s tally of 39 after the Gunners earlier beat Brighton 2-0.

The result was a moral victory for beleaguered United manager Erik ten Hag, whose team last season suffered a 7-0 drubbing at Anfield and came into the match with 12 defeats in 24 games in the current campaign.

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United were missing suspended captain Bruno Fernandes while out-of-form Marcus Rashford was once again on the bench.

But they dug deep and stopped their slide after a heavy home defeat against Bournemouth last week and a tame Champions League exit in midweek.

United goalkeeper Andre Onana reacted sharply to keep out a close-range Virgil van Dijk header in the first half and the visitors could even have won the game, but Rasmus Hojlund’s shot was blocked at the near post by Liverpool goalkeeper Alisson Becker.

Van Dijk said Liverpool were frustrated by the result, believing they were “superior in all aspects”.

“If you see how we played the game, we had most of the ball and created some opportunities,” he told Sky Sports. “There was only one team trying to win the game.

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“We want to win every game of course and that is why it is frustrating. Sometimes we shot too easy and could have passed on the overlap. The right decision was sometimes lacking.”

Ten Hag said his team defended almost perfectly but added that they needed to show more consistency.

“We play in very high highs and also sometimes in very low lows,” he said. “If you want to achieve something in a season you can’t be below certain limits so we have to get the consistency.

“This was a very good performance. You saw Liverpool’s results at home and we got a clean sheet. In the second half we had some very good chances.”

There was a sour note as Liverpool issued a statement condemning attacks on United’s team bus before the match, vowing to punish those responsible.

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Mikel Arteta’s Arsenal, runners-up to Manchester City last season, dominated at the Emirates, wasting a succession of openings but they finally broke through in the 53rd minute.

Brighton defender Jan Paul van Hecke jumped to head a corner away but could only flick it into the path of Gabriel Jesus, who headed the ball into an empty net.

Kai Havertz doubled the lead for the Gunners in the closing minutes, slotting past goalkeeper Bart Verbruggen after being found by Eddie Nketiah.

“Incredible performance,” Arteta told the BBC. “A joy to watch from the start to the end. The way we did it against this very good team.”

Across London, Unai Emery’s Villa fell behind to a Keane Lewis-Potter goal on the stroke of half-time.

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However, Brentford’s Ben Mee was sent off in the 71st minute and six minutes later Villa were level when Alex Moreno got on the end of a Leon Bailey cross.

Ollie Watkins completed the turnaround against his former club when he headed in a Boubacar Kamara flick-on from a corner with five minutes to go to make it 2-1.

Kamara was sent off in the closing minutes for violent conduct.

Mohammed Kudus scored twice and Lucas Paqueta provided all three assists at the London Stadium as West Ham beat Wolves 3-0.

The weekend’s Premier League action was overshadowed by a shocking incident at Bournemouth, where Luton captain Tom Lockyer suffered a cardiac arrest, forcing Saturday’s game to be abandoned.

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Luton confirmed Lockyer was responsive before being taken to hospital and was in a “stable” condition. In an update on Sunday the club said he was undergoing tests and scans.

La Liga: Real Madrid thrash Villarreal to go top but David Alaba injured

Real Madrid cruised to a 4-1 win over Villarreal on Sunday to move top of La Liga but their night was tarnished when defender David Alaba suffered a serious knee injury.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are a point ahead of Catalan minnows Girona, who host Alaves on Monday and will be looking to reclaim pole position.

Spain’s top scorer Jude Bellingham broke the deadlock for Madrid with his 13th league goal of the season before Rodrygo Goes doubled their lead.

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Villarreal pulled one back through Jose Luis Morales, but Brahim Diaz scored a superb solo goal to restore Madrid’s advantage.

Luka Modric drove home the fourth as Madrid fans celebrated a sizeable victory in their final home match of the year.

Madrid’s joy was tempered by Alaba’s injury, confirmed by the club in a statement, saying the defender needs surgery.

The Austrian joins a long list of players out, including Thibaut Courtois, Eder Militao and Eduardo Camavinga, all with knee injuries, and winger Vinicius Junior among others.

Ancelotti said Alaba’s injury was “very sad” but praised his team’s performance.

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“We think we are doing very well, it was one of our best games,” said the coach.

The highlight of the night was Diaz’s fine individual strike.

“It’s the kind of move I usually try, today it went in, so I’m very happy,” Diaz told Real Madrid TV.

“(I’m happy) for the team’s work, we did a great job today and I’m happy for the goal and for the win.”

Former Manchester City midfielder Diaz is striking up a fruitful relationship with Bellingham and Rodrygo in attack.

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“We understand each other well, we all get along because it’s an incredible group, we are very united and you see that on the pitch,” he added.

Ancelotti put his faith in England international Bellingham to take an attacking role this season for Madrid and it is paying off in virtually every match.

The 20-year-old netted his 17th goal across all competitions in his 20th match this season to get the party started after Madrid saw rivals Barcelona, third, held at Valencia on Saturday.

Comfortable triumph

Madrid, playing at the renovated Santiago Bernabeu with the new roof closed for just the second time, made the early running against Villarreal.

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They got their reward midway through the first half when Bellingham leaped high to nod home Modric’s delicious clipped cross.

After Alaba’s injury, sustained while trying to challenge Gerard Moreno, Rodrygo doubled the lead from close range.

It was the Brazilian’s eighth goal in his last eight games for Real Madrid, continuing his own superb goalscoring form of late after a slow start to the campaign.

Early in the second half, Villarreal pulled one back, with Morales finishing past Andriy Lunin, selected over Kepa Arrizabalaga.

But Diaz whisked the visitors’ hope away when he turned brilliantly away from Aissa Mandi in midfield, drove forward, swerved Jorge Cuenca and finished with ease.

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After Modric added the fourth, Madrid fans brought out the ‘ole’ chants as their team passed the ball around an increasingly frustrated Villarreal.

Madrid now have 38 goals in La Liga, equalling Girona’s total as the top scorers to date.

Midfielder Aurelien Tchouameni made his return from injury as a substitute in the final stages for Los Blancos, who open up a seven-point lead on third-place Barcelona.

“It’s always good to build an advantage on Barca but there’s a long way to go in the league and we have to continue with this mentality,” said Rodrygo.

Marcelino’s Villarreal languish 14th, three points above the relegation zone.

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Earlier Real Sociedad and Real Betis shared the spoils in an intense 0-0 draw on Sunday in La Liga.

Both teams lost ground on Athletic Bilbao, fifth, who beat fourth-placed Atletico Madrid on Saturday.

La Real, sixth, trail their Basque rivals by two points, while Betis, seventh, are five points behind Athletic.

Serie A: Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram fire Inter Milan four points clear

Lautaro Martinez and Marcus Thuram shot Inter Milan four points clear at the top of Serie A with a goal each in Sunday’s 2-0 win at Lazio which continued their thrilling strike partnership.

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Inter’s dynamic attacking duo made sure their team took full advantage of closest rivals Juventus only drawing at Genoa on Friday to put daylight between Simone Inzaghi’s side and the rest of the chasing pack.

The pair have scored 22 of Inter’s 39 Serie A goals this term as they gun to beat local rivals AC Milan — nine points back in third after beating Monza 3-0 — to 20 league titles.

Argentina striker Martinez dedicated his goal to his hometown of Bahia Blanca, where a powerful storm caused the death of at least 13 people when the roof of a sports club collapsed.

“My city and family have been affected by the storm, I wanted to send a message,” said Martinez.

Inzaghi has never won the Scudetto as a coach but his team have been by far Italy’s best over the 16 matches played so far and continued their charge against a team where the coach spent most of his playing career.

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His attentions now turn to Monday’s draw for the Champions League last 16, where he predicted a rematch of last season’s final with Manchester City.

Martinez sent Inter on their way five minutes before the break by netting his 17th goal of a remarkable season to date, pouncing on a dreadful Adam Marusic backpass before skipping around Lazio goalkeeper Ivan Provedel and prodding home.

And France forward Thuram doubled the away side’s lead in the 66th minute when after being set up by Nicolo Barella he rolled home his eighth club goal of the season.

That strike ended Lazio’s resistance and left Maurizio Sarri’s side 11th following a first home defeat since August, with Manuel Lazzari’s late red card for dissent the icing on a bitter cake.

Reijnders delivers

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Milan strolled to victory at the San Siro in large part thanks to a stellar display from Tijjani Reijnders who opened the scoring with a brilliant third-minute strike.

The Netherlands midfielder collected Christian Pulisic’s pass just outside the area and then set off on a mazy dribble past five Monza defenders before poking his first home goal for Milan past Michele Di Gregorio.

“You always have to believe, we are not finished yet,” said Reijnders of Milan’s title hopes.

Also on target for Stefano Pioli’s team were teenage debutant Jan-Carlo Simic, who netted his first Milan goal shortly before the break, and Noah Okafor whose 76th-minute strike came following more fine play from Reijnders.

Simic, 18, doubled the hosts’ lead three minutes before half-time, ramming home Rafael Leao’s low cross before bathing in adulation from supporters as his parents wept with joy in the stands.

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“It’s a dream for any kid to make your debut for a club like AC Milan and scoring on your debut is incredible,” said Simic to Sky.

Bologna in top four

Bologna have been the revelation of the season so far and will finish the weekend fourth after an impressive 2-0 win against top-four rivals Roma.

Nikola Moro’s 37th-minute strike and a Rasmus Kristensen own goal shortly after the break were enough for Bologna to claim their third win in four games and jump a point above champions Napoli and Fiorentina, who beat Verona 1-0 earlier in the day.

Motta has done a sensational job at Bologna after replacing Sinisa Mihajlovic in September last year, just over three months before his Serbian predecessor succumbed to leukaemia.

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“I’m sure that Sinisa was watching over us, and giving us a hand,” said Motta.

Mourinho, whose team missed key attackers Paulo Dybala and Romelu Lukaku, drop down to seventh, three points from Bologna.

“Without Paulo, there’s no class, and without Romelu there’s no physical presence,” said Mourinho, who confirmed that he intends to stay at Roma next season.

Udinese are one point above the relegation zone after throwing away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 with Sassuolo.

Bundesliga: Harry Kane brace helps Bayern keep pace with leaders Leverkusen

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Harry Kane scored a goal in each half as Bayern Munich brushed off Stuttgart 3-0 on Sunday to stay four points behind Bayer Leverkusen, who beat Eintracht Frankfurt earlier by the same scoreline.

Leverkusen’s win meant the perennial German champions started seven points behind but Kane settled nerves by netting after two minutes, tapping home a pass from Leroy Sane.

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Bayern lost midfielders Leon Goretzka and Joshua Kimmich to flu just hours before the match and had only five outfield players on the bench but dominated a listless Stuttgart.

“It was pretty intense today,” Bayern coach Thomas Tuchel said of his side’s injury crisis, revealing “I tried to stay very calm and keep my distance on the sidelines to give the players a bit more trust.”

“Today was very good, but it’s not over, we’ve got another game.”

Bayern had two more goals struck off for offside in the opening half but Kane doubled up early in the second, heading in from close range from a free-kick.

Kim Min-jae was next to score, heading in from another set piece for his first goal in Bayern colours, sealing the game for the home side.

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Kane told DAZN that it was “probably our best performance of the season”, saying “everyone who came in did really well. We’ll need that throughout the season”.

Bayern sit four points behind Leverkusen and have a game in hand, against 15th-placed Union Berlin, in January.

Kane’s double took him to 20 league goals from 14 matches so far this season — four clear of Stuttgart’s Serhou Guirassy, who was kept quiet by Bayern’s miserly defence.

Brilliant Boniface

Earlier on Sunday, Nigeria striker Victor Boniface scored and laid on two assists as Leverkusen beat Frankfurt 3-0, continuing his side’s hopes of a maiden Bundesliga title.

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Before the match, the Leverkusen fans unveiled a huge Christmas wishlist, calling on the club to make their Bundesliga title dreams come true.

“We’ve won nothing yet. After half a year nobody wins anything, especially not a league title,” Leverkusen midfielder Granit Xhaka said to DAZN.

“We’ve got another game midweek and then we go on holiday, where we need to be careful what we do. Then we’ll come back and step on the gas ahead of the rest of the season.”

Xabi Alonso’s unbeaten Leverkusen have won 21 and drawn three of 24 matches in all competitions this season.

Boniface squeezed a low shot under Kevin Trapp to open the scoring 14 minutes in.

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The Nigerian then created Jeremie Frimpong’s goal early in the second half, his shot rebounding off Trapp and landing perfectly for the Dutch international to slam home.

The 22-year-old, who is almost certain to be selected for Nigeria’s Africa Cup of Nations bid in January, then helped seal the result, finding Florian Wirtz in space for Leverkusen’s third.

Wirtz, who was again superb while pulling the strings in midfield, hit the crossbar with 10 remaining.

Frankfurt have won just one of their past eight matches in all competitions — last Saturday’s surprising 5-1 home thrashing of Bayern.

Freiburg’s Michael Gregoritsch and Roland Sallai came off the bench to secure a 2-0 home win over 10-man Cologne.

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Dogged but outclassed, Cologne fought hard but were reduced to 10 men with just over half an hour remaining when Jeff Chabot swept Lucas Hoeler’s legs out from under him, picking up a second yellow.

Hoeler was replaced by Gregoritsch and the 1.93-metre tall Austrian had Freiburg ahead shortly after.

Gregoritsch was first to a loose ball in the Cologne box, slamming home to set his side on course for their seventh win of the season.

Gregoritsch has now scored in his past league three games, having broken a goal drought which dated back to April.

“I just keep scoring,” a thrilled Gregoritsch told DAZN.

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“I’ve been in the right place at the right time… of course my self-confidence is coming back a little.”

Sallai, who was also brought on with Gregoritsch, scored in the fifth minute of added time to seal the result.

Ligue 1: David rules out Kylian Mbappe penalty as Lille snatch late draw with PSG

Jonathan David grabbed a dramatic stoppage-time equaliser for Lille in a 1-1 draw with Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday, cancelling out Kylian Mbappe’s spot-kick.

PSG had appeared set to take all three points back to the capital and open up a seven-point lead at the top of the table, however the 2021 champions showed grit to earn a point and reclaim fourth place.

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“We played a very complete game for 80 minutes and in the last 10 minutes we lost control a little,” said PSG coach Luis Enrique.

In contrast, his opposite number, Paulo Fonseca, praised his side’s spirit: “We played an even match, and at the end we played a very brave 15 minutes.”

Mbappe had emphatically given PSG the lead midway through the second half, his 16th goal of the season, but four minutes into additional time David popped up to snatch a last-gasp leveller.

Both sides played out an intense opening half-hour, though neither was able to work the opposition goalkeeper, with Ousmane Dembele and Edon Zhegrova dragging shots wide in promising positions.

Lille’s Lucas Chevalier then had his fingertips stung by a rasping Vitinha drive on 35 minutes, following good play from the pacy Dembele down the right.

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The French attacker caused trouble again from the resulting short corner as his driven cross was well cleared by Leny Yoro in the six-yard box with the goal gaping before him.

The game kept its rhythm into the second half, but PSG were offered a golden opportunity to break the deadlock just after the hour mark when Bafode Diakite lunged into the back of Lucas Hernandez inside the Lille box.

Chevalier guessed right, but France captain Mbappe’s shot had too much pace and precision for the stopper to get a hand to it and prevent the Parisians taking the lead in the 66th minute.

A good chance fell Yusuf Yazici’s way but as he shot in plenty of space following Zhegrova’s cut-back, Marquinhos got quickly out to him and deflected a goal-bound effort out for a corner.

One minute from time, a free-kick near the area gave Lille a chance but Angel Gomes could only find the wall, before seeing his follow-up effort charged down.

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Hopes of a leveller then seemed all but dead until Adam Ounas’ shot was deflected on its way through to Arnau Tenas, who made a fine save with his legs, but was left helpless on the floor as David gleefully headed home in what was nearly the last action of the match.

Marseille continue fine form

Two goals in the first half from Amir Murillo and Amine Harit secured a 2-1 win for resurgent Marseille earlier on Sunday, as the south coast side continue to climb the table.

Gennaro Gattuso’s men seemed to have the points sewn up against bottom-side Clermont, until a Jim Allevinah goal halved the deficit but with over 40 minutes remaining they held out for their fourth successive league win.

“I’m very happy today. We played a great game in the first half, both tactically and technically,” said the Italian coach.

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“In the second half we suffered,” he added, explaining that his charges’ less-impressive performance after half-time was due to Thursday’s away defeat to Brighton in the Europa League.

“We went to bed at 5:30 am (after the tie)… when you lose that much energy, especially after a hard blow like the one we suffered at Brighton, things like that can happen.”

Four minutes before the half-hour mark, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang found Murillo in the box and the defender controlled and rifled home a fine right-footed half-volley.

The home side then doubled their lead in the 42nd minute, when Aubameyang set up Iliman Ndiaye and his shot was saved but fell to Harit who finished unerringly.

Allevinah nodded in from a corner to give Clermont a glimmer of hope on 58 minutes, however the goal proved only to be a consolation as the hosts saw out the match comfortably to jump to sixth.

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Earlier, Toulouse went a point above Lyon, who sit in the relegation play-off spot, with a goalless home draw against Rennes, while fifth-placed Brest won 2-0 at Nantes.

 


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