Tuchel unimpressed by Mbappe reaction: I decide who comes off

Thomas Tuchel was unimpressed by Kylian Mbappe’s reaction to being substituted in Paris Saint-Germain’s 5-0 win over Montpellier on Saturday.

Mbappe scored PSG’s fourth goal at Parc des Princes, having earlier hit the post as well as playing a part in the sending off for Montpellier goalkeeper Dimitry Bertaud.

With PSG five goals up with 68 minutes gone, Tuchel opted to withdraw the 21-year-old, with Mauro Icardi coming on to replace him.

But Mbappe was visibly annoyed with the decision, vocally questioning head coach Tuchel, who continued his attempts to respond to the forward before he sat down in a heated exchange.

The France international did take his place on the bench but continued to look disgruntled.

“I’m the coach, someone has to decide who goes off and who comes on – it’s me,” Tuchel said during his post-match news conference.

“He is very intelligent, he knows what he is doing. He doesn’t like going off, nobody likes going off.

“These are not good images, but we are not the only club that has to deal with this sort of thing. It’s not good, because it opens up subjects that go against the team’s state of mind. Too bad. 

“I am not angry, but I am sad because it is not necessary. I explained to him why we did this, and it will stay that way. I will always decide the technical aspects. We don’t play tennis, we play soccer and we have to respect everyone.”

Tuchel was asked what the next steps would be and refused to rule out punishing Mbappe.

The former Borussia Dortmund boss added: “I don’t know, I have to think, I have to sleep. 

“I will make a decision. We have training at 11am, we will talk about the match with the group. I’ll see if I talk about this or if I do it individually. It will depend on my night’s sleep too!”

PSG enjoyed a comfortable afternoon in a match that was all but over after 17 minutes, Pablo Sarabia scoring before Bertaud, who handled outside the area while attempting to stop an Mbappe shot, saw red.

Angel Di Maria’s strike and a Daniel Congre own goal had PSG three up at the break, with Mbappe and Lavyin Kurzawa on target after the break.

Montpellier ultimately finished with nine men after Joris Chotard received a second booking two minutes from time.

Fernandes will be ´top, top addition´ to tired United side – Solskjaer

Bruno Fernandes will be a “top, top addition” to a Manchester United side in desperate need of their upcoming two-week break, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the new signing’s debut ended in a 0-0 draw with Wolves.

Fernandes, who signed from Sporting CP in a deal that could reach £67.6million (€80m) in value on Thursday, played the full 90 minutes as United were frustrated by Nuno Espirito Santo’s side at Old Trafford.

The Portugal midfielder had more shots (five), more shots on target (three) and attempted more passes (88) than any other United player in an energetic debut.

However, he could not inspire United to a win that would have moved them within four points of fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League, with Solskjaer’s men again stumbling in the race for the Champions League places.

Solskjaer, though, was satisfied with what he saw from Fernandes and expects the time off to be beneficial for his players.

He told Sky Sports: “We dominated the game, we had loads of possession. They were giving us problems on the counter-attack and set-plays.

“We played so many games over the last two months – the players are down to the bare bones really, their energy levels are down and they need a break.

“You can see he [Fernandes] is a top player, it’s his first game.

“Bruno is one of those players, when he gets ball into feet, he wants players moving in front of him, which we didn’t have, so we moved him further back to get on the ball more.

“He’ll be a top, top addition.”

Nuno, who revealed winger Adama Traore suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first half but continued, was similarly pleased with a result that keeps them level on points with United.

“I think it was a good game, an intense game. I think the first half was good,” he said to Sky Sports. 

“There was a second-half spell United dominated and created a lot of problems. We had our moments. I am happy. The boys worked very hard and it was tough.

“I think in the first half our idea was clear to control the middle of the pitch and we had a lot of counter-attacks. It was good but it was a balanced game.”

Flick delighted with start at Mainz but brands final hour ´not Bayern-like´

Hansi Flick was disappointed Bayern Munich took their foot off the pedal after 30 minutes of a 3-1 win at Mainz, although he was “thrilled” with a dominant initial spell.

Bayern all but sealed victory inside 26 minutes of Saturday’s Bundesliga clash, scoring through in-form trio Robert Lewandowski, Thomas Muller and Thiago Alcantara.

But Mainz hit back through Jeremiah St. Juste on the stroke of half-time, and the defending champions, who moved top with victory, failed to rediscover their impressive early rhythm.

Head coach Flick was left a little disappointed by what he saw from his side in the final hour.

“I am happy that we won a sixth game in a row,” he said. “I was thrilled with the first 30 minutes. After that, we showed too little, we slowed down.

“At the corner [from which St Juste scored] just before the break, I would have liked the team to be a little different. Then after the break, we slowed it down.

“You have to say that these 60 minutes were not ‘Bayern-like’.

“But Mainz have their qualities in attack, which they have shown a few times today. We defended against them well and are going home with three points.”

Sporting director Hasan Salihamidzic had little issue with the way Bayern saw the game out, however.

“This Mainz team is very dangerous with fast players up front,” he said. “That’s why we always had to be careful.

“So, we are satisfied, we won. We played through to the end and did our job.”

In the league, Bayern next face title rivals RB Leipzig, who rescued a late point at home to Borussia Monchengladbach on Saturday but still dropped to second.

Atletico Madrid are limp and lifeless – it´s time for Simeone to go

After eight years, seven trophies, two Champions League finals and one shiny new stadium, the time has come for change at Atletico Madrid.

Saturday’s 1-0 derby defeat to Real Madrid was only their fourth loss in LaLiga this season, but it leaves them 13 points behind the leaders and with no sign of that gap closing between now and May.

Madrid needed 56 minutes to break the deadlock through Karim Benzema, which is nothing new for Atleti – they remain redoubtable in defence, with only Los Blancos conceding fewer league goals this season – but their listlessness in attack is reaching crisis point.

Atleti have scored 22 goals in LaLiga, as many as fourth-bottom Real Mallorca. They have failed to score in four of their past five matches in all competitions, the exception being Angel Correa’s goal in a truly disheartening Copa del Rey defeat to Cultural Leonesa. Most worrying of all is the fact they have won six times since October 29.

The typical ferocity with which they have played under Simeone since December 2011 is now seemingly exclusive to the head coach himself, who was booked in the first half at the Santiago Bernabeu after one too many furious marches from his technical area.

In short, Atleti are bereft of confidence, insipid going forward and with little obvious idea how to arrest their poor form. They are fifth in LaLiga, out of the Copa, beaten on penalties in the Supercopa de Espana final by their city rivals and with the daunting task of Liverpool to come in the Champions League. They are falling alarmingly short of expectations, especially given a pre-season investment of nearly €244million.

Simeone has not been helped by injuries. Joao Felix, the €126m man who devastated Madrid in the 7-3 International Champions Cup win in August, sat out Saturday’s defeat due to a muscle injury, although his recent form means he would have been fortunate to start anyway. Diego Costa, who scored four against Madrid in that resounding pre-season success, has not started a league match in three months. Alvaro Morata, their one fit centre-forward, went off at half-time with an apparent muscular problem.

But excuses are running out for Simeone. The man who has worked miracles at times in turning Atleti from second-class citizens in Spain’s capital to persistent LaLiga and Champions League contenders looks like his magic has worn off. The feel around the Wanda Metropolitano, the sparkling Atletico venue designed to reflect their modern prowess on the pitch, is much the same as the atmosphere at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium in Mauricio Pochettino’s final months in charge: how will anything change unless there’s a new man in the dugout?

Atleti did at least start positively against Madrid and created the better chances in the first half. Angel Correa clipped the outside of the post and Vitolo brought a smart save from Thibaut Courtois from inside the box. That, though, was their only shot on target.

At half-time, Zinedine Zidane abandoned his plan to midfielder Atletico to death, bringing on Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior. One timely pass from the Brazilian allowed Ferland Mendy to set up Benzema for the winner 56 minutes in.

Atleti’s best attempt at a comeback was a solitary wayward shot from Thomas Partey with 20 minutes left – irrefutable evidence of the team’s stagnation under Simeone. “Stay, Cholo!” came the ironic taunt from the home fans. How much longer will the Atleti faithful sing the same thing and mean it?

His legacy at the club is secure, but his future, and that of Atleti, is weakened with every passing miserable 90 minutes. A parting of the ways, now or before next season at least, might be best for all concerned.

Both teams to score at AC Milan vs Hellas Verona 10/11 for Sunday’s Serie A showdown

Competition: Serie A

Market: Both teams to score

Odds: 10/11 @ Bet 365

In what could be a lively encounter on Sunday morning, two of the Serie A’s in-form sides will face off when AC Milan welcome Verona to the San Siro this weekend.

Starting with the hosts, putting in yet another rampant display and picking up a thumping 4-2 win over Torino last time out, the mood in AC Milan’s camp couldn’t be any higher. Remarkably enjoying a five-match winning run, Head Coach Stefano Pioli has suddenly turned I Rossoneri into a European contender. Still boosted by the return of Zlatan Ibrahimović who once again found the net against Torino in midweek, the Italian giants have bagged 11 goals in just their last four appearances. Knowing that three points this weekend could see them break into the top-six, Milan have also continued to show some scintillating performances on home soil. Sunday’s hosts have won their last three straight matches at the San Siro and are unbeaten since the start of November.

As for the visitors, also putting in what was an eye-catching performance and picking up a thumping 3-0 win over Leece last weekend, Verona have cemented their spot as the Serie A’s surprise package this season. In their midst of a five-match unbeaten run that stems back to the start of December, Gialloblu have also won three of their last four Serie A appearances. Also still flirting with the European spots and the mood in their camp at a season-high, Ivan Jurić’s men also have a growing reputation for their performances in the final third. including putting three past Torino last month, they were also extremely unlucky to only come away with a 3-2 defeat away at Champions League outfit Atalanta on the road.

Bet: Both teams to score at AC Milan vs Hellas Verona 10/11 for Sunday’s Serie A showdown @ Bet 365

Real Madrid 1-0 Atletico Madrid: Karim Benzema Lifts Merengues To Victory In Madrid Derby

Recent matches between Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid were known for being low-scoring affairs, and that tendency didn’t change Saturday when these two Liga giants met Saturday afternoon at Santiago Bernabeu. In a tightly contested affair, Los Merengues secured a 1-0 win that extended their lead at the top of the Liga standings.

Karim Benzema scored the match’s lone goal with a close-range finish early in the second half.

Despite Madrid’s win, they were not the dominant side once the match kicked off. Both teams spent the first few minutes looking for areas to exploit, and Los Colchoneros arguably looked more dangerous in the first 45 minutes. Angel Correa and Vitolo were the team’s biggest threats in the final meters, and both came close to defeat Thibaut Courtois. In fact, Correa was inches away from netting the first goal of the match when his 24th minute effort blasted the post.

Benzema turns things around for Madridin the second half

Los Merengues couldn’t create many chances in the first half and as a result, manager Zinedine Zidane sent Lucas Vazquez and Vinicius Junior to replace Toni Kroos and Isco at the break. The uptick in intensity was clear, and Madrid’s approach to this game changed considerably. Madrid only needed 11 minutes to break the deadlock thanks to Benzema.

The former France international lifted Real Madrid towards the lead early in the second half, and it was a typical Madrid goal. Or should we say, a typical Benzema goal for Los Blancos? The Frenchman took advantage of a cross from left wing and placed the ball past Jan Oblak with a first-time finish.

As it has been a trend over the last few weeks, Atletico Madrid crumbled once they found themselves down in the score. Things were even tougher considering Alvaro Morata had to leave the pitch due to injury. Los Colchoneros now have Morata, Joao Felix and Diego Costa sidelined due to physical problems.

Simeone sent both Yannick Carrasco and Sergio Camello onto the pitch, but neither could delivered the expected results. Atletico couldn’t muster a single chance after Madrid scored the opener, and that highlighted the attacking struggles that have plagued them all season long.

Los Merengues closed the game out effectively and secured three more points, as they are more comfortable than ever at the top of the standings. On the other hand, Atletico Madrid remain outside the Top 4. They could fall even further in the standings if other results go against them during the rest of the weekend.

Match Report

Real Madrid: Courtois (7); Dani Carvajal (6), Varane (6), Sergio Ramos (7), Mendy (7); Casemiro (6), Kroos (5) (Vinicius Júnior (6), 46’); Valverde (6), Modric (6), Isco (5) (Lucas Vazquez (5), 46’); Benzema (7)

Bench: Areola (GK), Marcelo, Eder Militao, James, Jovic

Atletico Madrid: Oblak (6); Vrsaljko (5), Savic (5), Felipe (6), Renan Lodi (7); Correa (6), Marcos Llorente (6), Thomas (5) (Camello (-), 74’), Saul (6); Morata (5) (Lemar (6), 50’), Vitolo (6) (Carrasco (5), 71’)

Bench: Adan (GK), Mario Hermoso, Toni Moya, Saponjic

Goals: Benzema (1-0, 56’)

Referee: Javier Estrada Fernandez

Yellow Cards: Mendy, Casemiro (MAD); Felipe, Vrsaljko (ATL)

Red Cards: None

Attendance: 77,223

Real Madrid 1-0 Atletico Madrid: Benzema settles derby to send Los Blancos six points clear

Real Madrid moved six points clear of Barcelona at the top of LaLiga as Karim Benzema’s goal proved enough to claim a 1-0 victory over Atletico Madrid.

Both previous derbies between the sides this season – one in LaLiga and one in the Supercopa de Espana final – had finished 0-0 but Saturday’s encounter finally bucked the trend.

Having held out somewhat in the first half, Madrid, who were buoyed by a double change from Zinedine Zidane at half-time, broke the deadlock through Benzema’s first home goal against Atleti.

Substitute Vinicius Junior went close to capping a fine performance with a goal late on, but Madrid’s failure to add another did not prove costly as they ended Atleti’s six-match unbeaten run at the Santiago Bernabeu.

Sergio Ramos scored the winning penalty in Los Blancos’ shootout victory in the Supercopa final last month and Madrid’s captain twice went close to opening the scoring in the first 10 minutes, but sliced over on both occasions.

Ramos had some defending to do in the 18th minute, reacting sharply to clear Madrid’s lines after Thibaut Courtois had kept out Vitolo’s strike.

Courtois was beaten soon after, yet Angel Correa’s effort clipped the upright, before Casemiro was fortunate his desperate lunge on Alvaro Morata did not lead to a penalty.

Zidane rolled the dice at the break, introducing Vinicius and Lucas Vazquez in place of Toni Kroos and Isco, moving Federico Valverde inside and the decision almost paid immediate dividends as the midfielder forced Jan Oblak into a fine save with a superb long-range effort.

However, Zidane’s changes did prove decisive in the 56th minute – Vinicius drawing three Atleti defenders in before releasing Ferland Mendy, whose cross was side-footed home by Benzema.

Oblak then denied Vinicius to keep Atleti in the game, though the visitors could not make it count as their dismal start to 2020 continued.

 

What does it mean? Madrid put the pressure on Barca

Quique Setien’s Barca are in action against Levante at Camp Nou on Sunday and know they must respond to prevent Madrid – who are unbeaten in 13 LaLiga matches – from ending the weekend with an increased lead at the summit.

Atleti, meanwhile, have lost three of their four matches across all competitions since the Supercopa final.

Vinicius sparks Madrid

Zidane’s experiment of playing Valverde in a wide role in the first half was a failure, but the Frenchman spotted his mistake. Vinicius came on, adding width, pace and skill to Madrid’s attack and, ultimately, played a pivotal role in Benzema’s winner.

Simeone’s time at Atleti winding down?

Atleti’s defeat leaves them 13 points behind Los Blancos and their main aim now will be securing Champions League qualification. Despite plenty of money having been pumped into the squad, it seems Diego Simeone’s impact finally seems to be wearing off and perhaps a change may be needed ahead of next season.

What’s next?

Real Sociedad await Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarter-finals on Thursday, while Atleti face Granada in their next LaLiga outing two days later.

 

Liverpool 4-0 Southampton: Salah gets two for runaway leaders

Mohamed Salah scored twice as runaway leaders Liverpool produced a second-half surge to seal a comprehensive 4-0 victory over Southampton at Anfield on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s world champions racked up a 16th consecutive Premier League triumph – and 24th from 25 top-flight games this season – with Salah striking twice in the last 18 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the 47th minute against his former club, unleashing a low drive past Alex McCarthy, before Jordan Henderson doubled their lead on the hour mark.

Salah produced a sweet finish for his first in the 72nd minute and showed his composure again at the death to send the Reds 22 points clear of second-place Manchester City, who travel to Tottenham on Sunday.

It took 20 minutes for Liverpool to carve out the game’s first opportunity, Salah’s effort deflecting narrowly wide off the outstretched leg of Jan Bednarek.

Alisson was alert to paw away Moussa Djenepo’s fierce strike shortly before the half-hour mark, while at the other end McCarthy made a double stop to deny Virgil van Dijk’s backheel and Roberto Firmino’s follow-up.

Danny Ings, Shane Long and Nathan Redmond all had presentable opportunities towards the end of the first half, but they failed to take advantage of uncharacteristic uncertainty in the Liverpool defence.

Ings’ penalty appeal after the restart was waved away by referee Kevin Friend, allowing Liverpool to storm up the other end and forge ahead through Oxlade-Chamberlain’s low 18-yard drive in the 47th minute.

Salah saw a goal ruled out for offside after 54 minutes, but the Reds pulled further clear when Henderson coolly lifted the ball past McCarthy from 12 yards after being picked out by Firmino’s clever cutback.

Salah eventually got on the scoresheet, latching onto Henderson’s fine pass and clipping over McCarthy.

He bundled in a fourth from close range in the 90th minute – Firmino supplying his third assist – to add further gloss to yet another win for Klopp’s relentless side.

 

What does it mean? Unstoppable Reds march on after first-half scare

Klopp’s side were far from their fluid best during a chaotic first half and were lucky not to be at least a goal down at the interval. Normal service was resumed in the second period, though, and a scarcely believable 16th consecutive Premier League win was essentially wrapped up comfortably.

With such a commanding lead over Pep Guardiola’s side, it is surely only a matter of time before they seal a first league title in 30 years.

Henderson at the heart of Liverpool’s greatness

England international Henderson has been instrumental in Liverpool’s stunning season and he was once again excellent against Southampton. He scored his side’s second with a cool finish and created Salah’s first goal with an inch-perfect pass.

McCarthy makes it easy for Oxlade-Chamberlain

While the Saints goalkeeper could do little about Liverpool’s second and third goals, he was rooted to the spot for Oxlade-Chamberlain’s opening strike and might feel he should have done better.

What’s next?

Both sides have FA Cup fourth-round replays in midweek, with Liverpool hosting Shrewsbury Town on Tuesday and Southampton travelling to Tottenham a day later.

Leicester City 2-2 Chelsea: Rudiger at the double but Foxes make their point

Antonio Rudiger marked his 100th appearance for Chelsea with an unlikely brace but Frank Lampard’s side are still looking for a first Premier League away win in 2020 after a 2-2 draw at Leicester City.

The battle between third and fourth in the Premier League table sparked into life after the interval, Chelsea going ahead at the King Power Stadium when Rudiger nodded in Mason Mount’s corner.

However, Chelsea’s lead lasted less than 10 minutes, Harvey Barnes drawing the hosts level with the aid of a deflection off Reece James to leave Willy Caballero – picked ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga – no chance.

The Argentine goalkeeper, making his first league start since May 2019, had little chance of keeping out Leicester’s second goal, Ben Chilwell popping up at the back post to convert Youri Tielemans’ low cross by sweeping the ball in with his right foot.

Yet, just like their opponents, the Foxes failed to hold on to their advantage. 

Having converted at one end, Chilwell was beaten to Mount’s delivery from out wide by Rudiger, who sent a looping header over Kasper Schmeichel and into the net in the 71st minute.

The hosts had the better opportunities to score late in proceedings, Jonny Evans heading wide before Barnes also failed to hit the target when clean through, while there was the late drama of a VAR check when the ball struck Rudiger’s hand in the area deep into stoppage time.

Still, the result means Leicester remain eight points clear of the team directly below them, with Chelsea left nervously looking over their shoulder as they occupy the final Champions League berth.

 

 

A-League Review: Halloran double downs Melbourne City

Ben Halloran scored twice as Adelaide United swept aside second-place Melbourne City 3-1 in the A-League on Saturday.

Halloran opened the scoring in the 12th minute, lashing home from 10 yards after Craig Noone had made a mess of an attempted clearance.

Noone made amends four minutes later, however, powering a left-foot effort from 12 yards past Paul Izzo to draw the visitors level.

Halloran restored the hosts’ advantage four minutes before the interval, heading home at the back post from a corner, while George Blackwood made it three in first-half stoppage time with a thunderous header from six yards.

City’s misery was compounded 14 minutes from time when Harrison Delbridge received a third red card of the campaign for an ugly challenge on Nikola Mileusnic.

The result moves Adelaide up to fifth, while City remain 13 points behind leaders Sydney FC, who have a game in hand.

Perth Glory are a point behind City after a last-gasp 2-2 draw with Melbourne Victory at HBF Park.

The visitors forged ahead in the 22nd minute when Ola Toivonen whipped into the top corner from the edge of the penalty area.

Bruno Fornaroli pulled the hosts level in first-half injury time with a low free-kick from 20 yards, but Andrew Nabbout restored Victory’s lead shortly before the hour mark courtesy of a cool finish from a quick break.

Nicholas D’Agostino ensured a share of the spoils, though, hammering home a header from six yards in the 90th minute.

The result leaves Victory in in eighth place on 16 points, six ahead of rock-bottom Newcastle Jets, who drew 0-0 with Western United in the day’s other game.