Rotimi Akindele’s Euro Leagues Wrap-Up

It was a fascinating footballing weekend across the continent as great results were recorded. The cynosure of all eyes rested on four (4) key games in England, particularly the Manchester Derby; in France, it was the “El-CASHico”, and Italy produced an exciting double header – the Eternal City (Rome) Derby, and Napoli breaking a 27-year jinx at the San Siro.

 

ENGLAND:

“Manchester Derby” – Manchester City 4-1 Manchester United.

Manchester City v Manchester United,  Aguero
(photo credit: SkySports.com)
Am I surprised with the scoreline? NO! Expectedly, I knew it would be difficult for the current United side under David Moyes to win a “big fixture” at this time. It’ll still take a long while, not that the team doesn’t have the personnel, but when your team defends well, playing defensively is fine. Else, a team with a handful of resources as City will pull you apart, and that was what was exhibited at the Etihad.

Following United’s loss of grip, Aguero’s first goal in the 16th minute via an exciting reflex finish got the “demolition team” going with Kolarov providing the assist. Man of the match Yaya Toure grabbed another goal from a corner on the stroke of half-time. The second half resumed the way the first had ended, as Aguero completed his brace and ensured that he’s scored five (5) derby goals in 6 matches when he got on the end of an Alvaro Negredo cross, before French international Samir Nasri volleyed home at the far post to make it four (4) goals minutes later. Stand-out United player Wayne Rooney got a consolation with a well taken free-kick from around 30 yards to become the highest scoring player in the history of the “Manchester Derby”.

City Boss, Manuel Pellegrini got his tactics spot on as we saw a typical Pellegrini side going by his antecedence, right selection and substitutions, and he can already claim folk hero status in Manchester’s blue half as his side recorded their biggest home victory in a Manchester derby since 2004. For Moyes, his misery continues this season: two (2) derbies, two (2) losses. His selections haven’t been convincing, he probably still has a long way to go before he can confidently define the current United squad as “his own”.

So much for the derby. In other games:

Mikel Scores, Chelsea, Premier LeagueNigerian international, John Obi Mikel scored his first Premier League goal as Jose Mourinho saw his Chelsea side bounce back to winning ways with a 2-0 victory over Fulham in the West London derby at Stamford Bridge. Oscar’s early second half strike and Mikel’s goal ended a four-match winless streak and extended Mourinho’s unbeaten Premier League home record to 63 matches against their rivals, who are still seeking for a win in over 34 years at Stamford Bridge.

Meanwhile, North London teams assume power on the Premier League standings: Paulinho netted his first Premier league goal as Spurs left it late against new boys Cardiff City to record a hard-earned 1-0 win. The victory ensured that AVB’s side are second on the log, level on points with leaders Arsenal, who got a 3-1 win over Mark Hughe’s Stoke City at the Emirates. New playmaker Mesut Ozil had a hand in all of the goals. Aaron Ramsey smashed in his seventh goal of an impressive season so far and Geoff Cameron swept in a deserved equaliser for the visitors. Ozil’s class, though, proved the difference once more, as his corner was flicked home by compatriot Per Mertesacker to give Arsenal the lead again before half-time, and another pin-point dead-ball delivery made sure of all three points when Bacary Sagna looped in a header on the 72nd minute.

Elsewhere, goals from Michu and Nathan Dyer ensured maximum points for Swansea, as they bagged an impressive 2-0 win over Crystal Palace.

West Bromwich Albion won the early basement battle against Sunderland as they ran out 3-0 winners, with the results leading to Paolo Di Canio’s sack with just five games into the season. Stephane Sessegnon scored against his former club, Liam Ridgewell doubled the lead in the 76th minute, and having created two goals, Amalfitano got on the score-sheet himself in added time as he was played in on the right of the area, from where he lashed a low shot across Westwood.

Newcastle missed out on the chance to go second, and subsequently

dropped into the bottom half of the table, after losing 2-3 at home to Hull City with Nigerian international Sonnie Aluko’s excellent first-time volley ensuring a win for the Tigers.

Aston Villa manager Paul Lambert enjoyed a happy return to

Norwich City with a 1-0 win, with Libor Kozak’s first goal for Aston Villa securing victory.

Early pacesetters Liverpool suffered their first defeat of the season after Dejan Lovren’s second-half header earned Southampton a 1-0 win at Anfield to leave Everton as the only unbeaten team in the division after a dramatic win at West Ham United, Romelu Lukaku marking his Everton debut with the winner after Leighton Baines’ brace of magical free-kicks twice drew his team level in the 3-2 success at 10-man West Ham.

 

ITALY:

The two big games in Italy over the weekend produced a total of five goals, two shot of the biggest scoreline also recorded by a rejuvenated Inter Milan side under Walter Mazarri.

Roma struck twice in the second half to beat Lazio 2-0 in Sunday’s Eternal City derby, retaining their 100 per cent record in Serie A. Though the Giallorossi had failed to beat their city rivals in their previous five meetings, Federico Balzaretti gave Roma a 63rd-minute lead. The visitors had a man sent-off with nine minutes remaining. Substitute Adam Ljajic then put the game beyond Lazio’s reach when he earned and converted a penalty. The result lifted Roma to the top of the standings.

Napoli travelled to San Siro on Sunday night hoping to end the 27-year hoodoo that has seen them not win a game there since 1986, and that they were able to achieve at the end of hostilities. Miguel Britos put Napoli ahead in the sixth minute, with Gonzalo Higuain adding the second after the break. Mario Balotelli failed to score a penalty for the first time in his professional career as Pepe Reina denied him, and although the Italian did get a goal in spectacular style later on, Rafael Benitez’s side held on to the win.

The defeat was compounded for Milan after the final whistle when Balotelli was shown a red card, with his dismissal appearing to be for dissent.

Balotelli red card
(source: Getty)

Inter’s resurgence following a torrid campaign last year continued against Sassuolo as they ran riot against the promoted side to win 7-0 away from home. Rodrigo Palacio broke the deadlock early on with his third goal of the season, before Algerian midfielder Saphir Taider’s effort and a Raffaele Pucino own goal ensured a 3-0 lead at the break. Ricky Alvarez added a fourth before his Argentinian compatriots Esteban Cambiasso and Diego Milito completed the rout, with the latter scoring twice on his return from injury. A successful outing at the Stadio Citta del Tricolore takes Inter to 10 points from their opening four league matches to give head coach Walter Mazzarri reason for cheer after arriving from Napoli this summer.

Fernando Llorente scored the winner on his full debut as Juventus came from behind to beat promoted Hellas Verona 2-1 in Turin. The Gialloblu team surprisingly took the lead with an opportunistic goal from Fabrizio Cacciatore. Carlos Tevez responded emphatically with a fiercely-struck equaliser, and Llorente – making his bow at the Juventus Stadium – completed the turnaround with a header deep into first-half stoppage time.

Fiorentina remained in the top three thanks to a 2-0 win at Atalanta, the hosts’ third defeat of the season. A fourth goal in as many Serie A games from Giuseppe Rossi ensured the maximum points for Vincenzo Montella’s men.

Meanwhile, Torino made a significant move up the table thanks to a 2-1 triumph at Bologna, while Parma and Catania remain in the bottom three after their 0-0 draw at the Angelo Massimino Stadium.

 

SPAIN:

Real Madrid extended their unbeaten start to the La Liga season with a comfortable 4-1 win over Getafe on Sunday. World-record signing Gareth Bale suffered an injury in the warm-up, and his replacement Isco starred after Angel Lafita had given Getafe a surprise lead. Pepe equalised 19 minutes after. Cristiano Ronaldo converted a penalty to give Real a 2-1 half-time advantage. Isco added a third with a cool finish just before the hour mark, and Ronaldo rounded off the win in style as he buried Sami Khedira’s low cross with a brilliant backheel. The win sees Ancelotti’s men move up to third, two points behind leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid.

For Barcelona, Pedro scored a hat-trick, and Victor Valdes saved another penalty in their 4-0 win at Rayo Vallecano on Saturday, keeping the defending La Liga champions with a 100 per cent record after five matches. Pedro scored from a pass by Lionel Messi in the 33rd minute, and added two more goals in the 47th and 72nd minutes to complete his treble. Cesc Fabregas capped the rout in the 80th minute.

Atletico Madrid remain second behind Barcelona on goal difference after they kept their 100% record intact with a 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid. Atletico remain undefeated in all competitions this season. The visitors took the lead through Raul Garcia in the 56th minute before Diego Costa scored the second in the 72nd minute, with young midfielder Koke providing both assists.

Elsewhere, under-fire Valencia boss Miroslav Djukic eased the pressure on himself with a 3-1 win over troubled Sevilla. Meanwhile, Sevilla’s city rivals Real Betis welcomed Granada to Estadio Benito Villamarin, and neither side were able to break the deadlock in a 0-0 stalemate. Celta Vigo and Villarreal also played out a 0-0 draw in Sunday’s early fixture. Villarreal remained undefeated through five games on their return to Spain’s top flight after drawing 0-0 at Celta Vigo.

 

FRANCE

“EL- CASHico” – PSG 1-1 MONACO

Monaco remain top of Ligue 1 after coming from behind to earn a 1-1 draw with defending champions Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday. PSG opened the scoring early at the Parc des Princes through Zlatan Ibrahimovic, only for Radamel Falcao to level for the leaders later in the first half. Laurent Blanc’s side were dealt a blow when captain Thiago Silva limped off with a hamstring injury. Chances were at a premium in the second half as both sides pushed for the win, with PSG coming closest to taking all three points through an audacious Ibrahimovic backheel.

However, Blanc and his Monaco counterpart Claudio Ranieri were forced to settle for a draw that maintains both teams’ unbeaten starts to the season.

Elsewhere, Lyon ended a run of four games without a win with a 3-1 victory over Nantes at the Stade Gerland, but they had to come from behind to take the points.

Nice continued their strong start to the season with a convincing 4-0 win over second-bottom Valenciennes.

In Sunday’s other fixture, Lorient had to come from behind on two occasions to take a point against Bordeaux as the sides shared six goals at the Stade Yves Allainmat.

 

GERMANY:

Bayern Munich joined Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga thanks to a 4-0 win at Schalke on Saturday evening. Two quick goals from Bastian Schweinsteiger and Mario Mandzukic effectively ended Schalke’s hopes midway through the first half, before Franck Ribery and Claudio Pizarro finished the Royal Blues off. Meanwhile, Bayern goalkeeper Manuel Neuer maintained his record of never having conceded against his former club.

Borussia Dortmund’s perfect start to the season was ended by Nurnberg, who did Bavarian rivals Bayern Munich a favour with a 1-1 draw at the Frankenstadion. Marcel Schmelzer gave Dortmund the lead in the 37th minute with an unstoppable free-kick, but Per Nilsson levelled six minutes into the second half. A draw between these two sides early last season contributed to Dortmund falling too far behind Bayern Munich to challenge for the title.

Elsewhere, Vedad Ibisevic missed a late penalty as Stuttgart were held to a 1-1 draw by Eintracht Frankfurt in the Bundesliga on Sunday. Frankfurt had taken a 14th-minute lead through Marco Russ but saw their advantage wiped out almost immediately as 17-year-old Timo Werner equalised for the hosts. Werner’s strike made him the youngest-ever goalscorer for Stuttgart, and the third youngest in Bundesliga history.

Meanwhile, Freiburg’s search for their first win of the campaign goes on after they were held to a 1-1 home draw by Hertha Berlin.

– Written by Rotimi Akindele.

 

Adeyemi Adesanya
Sports Business Consultant and Football Intermediary; Risk Management & Due Diligence Consultant; Freelance Football writer & Pundit on Radio & TV and Man.Utd Fan
http://www.halftimeng.com

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