Solskjaer admits Man Utd ´got away with one´ after last-gasp victory

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer conceded Manchester United “got away with one” after stealing a last-gasp 3-2 win over Brighton and Hove Albion in an instant Premier League classic.

Bruno Fernandes’ stoppage-time penalty, awarded after the final whistle had initially been blown, was the last twist in an astonishing match at the Amex Stadium, where the hosts struck the woodwork five times.

Brighton had levelled with an injury-time goal of their own from Solly March to seemingly earn a richly deserved share of the spoils, but Neal Maupay – who had earlier netted a Panenka spot-kick – was penalised for a handball in the box and Fernandes sealed the points in dramatic fashion.

“We got away with one to be fair,” United boss Solskjaer told BT Sport after a game in which Lewis Dunk scored an own goal and Marcus Rashford netted a superb solo strike.

“When they equalised you thought that’s two points lost, or maybe one point was what we deserved.

“I don’t think we deserved more, but the character they showed deserved more. The reaction to the first goal, we started playing, the reaction to the second goal as well, we went straight up the other end and created a corner. 

“That’s a big thing for us compared to last season. We had too many draws; we were the team that had the least defeats, apart from Liverpool, but we had too many draws, so that’s a big plus for us.”

Solskjaer gave credit to Graham Potter’s side, who will wonder how they emerged empty-handed from a contest in which they were the better side.

“They created too much for my liking, but they are a difficult team to play against,” he said.

“We tried to press but they’ve got really good ball players at the back who played really well.

“We don’t have the legs and sharpness still, but we will get there.”

Fernandes unmoved by Brighton misfortune: ´The point is to score, not hit the bar´

Bruno Fernandes has risked the wrath of Brighton and Hove Albion fans as he dismissed their misfortune in Saturday’s 3-2 defeat to Manchester United, during which Graham Potter’s men hit the frame of the goal five times.

In a remarkable contest at the Amex Stadium, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men somehow came away with three points despite seemingly being second-best for the majority of the game.

Brighton had 18 shots in total, to United’s seven, while the home side were incredibly denied by the post or crossbar on five separate occasions, with Leandro Trossard accounting for three of them.

Despite those issues, Brighton appeared to seal a deserved point when Solly March turned home in the fifth minute of stoppage time, but with the last kick of the game, Fernandes slotted in a penalty after Neal Maupay had handled in the area.

And Fernandes seemingly had little sympathy.

“Brighton did very well but maybe because we are not as aggressive as we want to be,” Fernandes told BT Sport.

“We need to recover more balls, press better, lose less possession. They had a lot of chances too, maybe Brighton deserved more, I don’t know – but the point is score goals not hit the bar or post. Sometimes it happens to us – you see the game against Sevilla in the Europa League. We shoot I think 40 times at the goal and score once with the penalty only.

“Sometimes you have to have some luck, some defenders defending well and also the goalkeeper, because David did very well today, and also all the defence.

“Okay, in the goals we can do better, we can all agree, but we will work on that.”

Victory sees United kick-start their season after beginning it with a 3-1 home defeat by Crystal Palace last time out, but once again Solskjaer’s shaky defence has given the Norwegian plenty to think about.

Just like Ronaldo! Trossard matches Cristiano woodwork woe for luckless Brighton against Man Utd

Brighton and Hove Albion must wonder what they had done to upset the footballing gods after repeatedly hitting the post and crossbar in their 3-2 defeat to Manchester United.

The Premier League setback for Graham Potter’s side was a harsh reflection on their performance, with Brighton’s luck emphatically out at the Amex Stadium.

They hit the woodwork three times before netting the opening goal in the 40th minute when Neal Maupay converted a penalty.

Across the entire match, Brighton hit the frame of the goal five times – more than any team in a Premier League game since Opta began collecting such data in 2003.

Leandro Trossard was the unluckiest of all Brighton’s players, with the Belgian winger hitting the post twice in the first half and then rattling the crossbar after the break.

That made Trossard the first player to hit the woodwork three times in a Premier League game since Cristiano Ronaldo did so for Manchester United against Newcastle United in October 2006.

“Unbelievable, the feeling I can’t describe, we were the better team today,” Trossard told BBC Sport.

“We deserved at least a point, it’s a shame. There were five minutes added on and we played at least seven. Sometimes it’s just not your day.

“We had a lot of chances and to lose like that is the worst feeling you can get in a game. We played really good.

“It was one of those days, the ball didn’t want to go in. We need to take the positives out of the game.”

The player who scored the goals when the Red Devils beat Newcastle 2-0 was on Saturday witnessing his team benefit from Brighton’s misfortune.

It was Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s double that saw off the Magpies, and 14 years later he could count the United team he now manages particularly lucky to take all three points at Brighton.

An own goal from Lewis Dunk cancelled out Maupay’s penalty, while Solly March equalised in the 95th minute after Marcus Rashford’s fine solo strike.

However, there was a bitter blow for the Seagulls, as Bruno Fernandes buried a penalty 10 minutes into stoppage time to snatch the victory.

Neymar back from suspension to boost PSG

Neymar will be back in action for Paris Saint-Germain at Reims on Sunday, much to the delight of coach Thomas Tuchel.

The Brazil forward returns after a two-game suspension following his dismissal in a controversial clash with Marseille earlier this month, when five players saw red.

PSG have won both Ligue 1 games in his absence, with fellow forward Kylian Mbappe having made a goalscoring comeback in the 3-0 win over Nice last Sunday after completing his period of isolation following a positive test for coronavirus.

Tuchel said having the duo available would transform the way his side can play.

“Yes, when Kylian and Neymar play it changes everything for us,” he said.

“If both play for us, it’s harder [for the opposition] to defend and easier for us to attack.

“We found solutions without both. We started the last Champions League, the group stage, with matches without them.

“It [missing Mbappe and Neymar] is not the best thing. They are there to make the difference. They will start together, that’s for sure.”

Leandro Paredes, sent off in the same game as Neymar, is also back in the frame along with Abdou Diallo, who got his marching orders in the win over Metz.

But one player still missing is Angel Di Maria, who is serving a four-match ban for spitting at Alvaro Gonzalez in that contentious Classique contest.

While Tuchel accepts Di Maria’s sanction was deserved, he vented his frustration at the fact PSG have seemingly suffered significantly greater suspensions than Marseille in the aftermath of that game.

“I can understand the sanction of Di Maria,” Tuchel said. “He had a reaction that we don’t like.

“[But] we have suspensions that equate to 14 matches, the other team [Marseille] has four matches. There is a big difference in the number of suspensions.

“I do not accept it but I have to and I do not understand. We have the impression that we are the only ones responsible for this situation.”

Brighton and Hove Albion 2-3 Manchester United: Fernandes penalty settles astonishing contest

Bruno Fernandes scored a penalty with the last kick of an astonishing game as Manchester United stole a 3-2 win over a Brighton and Hove Albion side who struck the woodwork five times.

The Portuguese kept his cool in the 100th minute to settle matters at the end of a dramatic encounter at the Amex Stadium in which United rode their luck to the extreme.

Brighton, showing no signs of fatigue despite facing a fifth game in 13 days, hit both posts and the crossbar in the first half before breaking the deadlock via Neal Maupay’s nerveless Panenka penalty after Fernandes fouled Tariq Lamptey.

United – needing a response to their limp opening-game loss to Crystal Palace – levelled within 187 seconds, though, Lewis Dunk unfortunate to divert past Mat Ryan from close range after Fernandes’ set-piece caused problems.

Referee Chris Kavanagh chalked off a penalty he had awarded early in the second half after reviewing the incident himself, allowing Paul Pogba to breathe a sigh of relief after Aaron Connolly took a tumble.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s men made full use of the reprieve as Marcus Rashford, having just seen a goal disallowed, brilliantly danced his way into the box and fired home via a deflection off Dunk.

Graham Potter was cursing his luck when Solly March and Leandro Trossard hit the post and bar respectively, before jumping for joy when the former headed in a stoppage-time equaliser.

But the drama was not over and Maupay handled Harry Maguire’s header, which was cleared off the line by March. The final whistle had gone but a VAR check resulted in a spot-kick from which Fernandes wrapped up the points in a game that will live long in the memory.

What does it mean? United paper over the cracks

This performance will persuade nobody that United are going to be a genuine threat this season – the visitors were clearly second best.

Brighton hit the woodwork five times, which is a record in a Premier League match since Opta began collecting such data in 2003.

On another day, this could so easily have been another chastening loss for United.

Trossard emulates Ronaldo…

Following in the footsteps of Cristiano Ronaldo is generally considered a good thing, but for Trossard it will be a source of huge frustration.

He became the first player since Ronaldo to hit the woodwork three times in a Premier League match, the Portugal star having done so for United against Newcastle United in 2006.

Adam Webster also saw a header tipped onto the bar by David de Gea on a frustrating day for the Seagulls.

Fernandes a cut above

Along with Rashford, Fernandes is one of the few United players who will emerge from this game with credit.

As well as getting the winner, he provided an assist and has now had 17 goals involvements in 16 Premier League appearances.

Key Opta Facts

– United have given away a penalty in consecutive Premier League games for the first time since March 2009; it’s the first time the Red Devils have conceded one in both of their first two games in a Premier League campaign.
– De Gea has saved just two of the 29 penalties he has faced in the Premier League. Of goalkeepers to face at least 25 spot-kicks in the competition, only Paul Robinson has saved a lower proportion (6.1 per cent to De Gea’s 6.9 per cent).
– United have won each of the last four Premier League meetings with Brighton, their joint-longest winning streak against a current top-flight side (also 4 versus Leicester City).
– Since the start of last season, United’s Premier League games have produced 20 penalties, the most of any team in that time (15 for, five against).

What’s next?

It will be a case of deja vu for these two sides, who meet again in the EFL Cup on Wednesday.

Leicester in talks with Burnley over Tarkowski

Leicester City are currently in talks with Burnley over a proposed move for James Tarkowski, according to Sky Sports. The deal being discussed could be worth over £30 million.

Leicester boss Brendan Rodgers is looking to add a reliable centre-back to his ranks, and he’s a big admirer of the 27-year-old. The talks between the Foxes and the Clarets have apparently been ongoing ever since Leicester first started looking at the market following the departure of Harry Maguire to Manchester United last summer.

However, the two clubs remain far apart in their respective valuations of Tarkowski, with Leicester determined not to pay too much for a player whose market value is set to decrease rapidly over the next few years due to his age. On the other hand, Burnley have reportedly already rejected two bids from West Ham.

Leicester have also considered the possibility of signing 19-year-old Wesley Fofana from Saint-Etienne, but West Ham are involved in that race too and they’ve apparently jumped to the head of the queue. If both Tarkowski and Fofana prove unobtainable, the Foxes will move for Jonathan Tah of Bayer Leverkusen.

Rumour Has It: Depay in pole position for Barcelona move, Man Utd want two signings

Memphis Depay remains Barcelona’s preferred transfer option, while Manchester United want Jadon Sancho and Alex Telles in this window.

LaLiga giants Barca have been linked with numerous attackers as they rebuild under Ronald Koeman.

Depay has seemingly been the favourite to join, and it appears nothing has changed.

 

TOP STORY – DEPAY THE FAVOURITE TO JOIN BARCELONA

Depay is in pole position to join Barcelona from Lyon, according to Mundo Deportivo.

The report says Depay, 26, fits the profile and salary expectations at Barca.

Depay and Koeman worked together while the latter was in charge of the Netherlands between 2018 and 2020.

ROUND-UP

United are still hoping for two signings this transfer window. The Sun says the Red Devils are looking to land Borussia Dortmund star Sancho and Porto left-back Telles .

Arsenal could be close to strengthening by signing Houssem Aouar . Telefoot says the attacker has agreed to join the club, with Lyon and Arsenal set for talks over a fee.

– As they continue their search for a defender, Manchester City may be close to making a decision. Goal reports the Premier League club are in talks with Benfica over Ruben Dias , in a deal that could see Nicolas Otamendi  go the other way. Meanwhile, ESPN says Sevilla are expecting an improved bid from City for Jules Kounde after an initial £50.2million (€55m) offer was rejected.

Chelsea may not be done spending just yet. The Mirror reports they want to make another move for West Ham midfielder Declan Rice , and it could lead to Jorginho joining Arsenal .

Sergino Dest is expected to join Barcelona and Guillem Balague claims the Ajax right-back should officially join them next week. Barcelona sold Nelson Semedo to Wolves this week.

– Could there be late movement in the transfer window for Tottenham ? The Sun reports Spurs are in talks to sign Inter defender Milan Skriniar and are prepared to pay between £25m (€27.4m) and £30m (€32.9m), which is well below Inter’s valuation.

Messi´s Last Dance: The records the Barcelona star can break – and what could hold him back

He might not have buried the hatchet, but Lionel Messi has promised Barcelona he will give his all in the coming season.

His attempt to leave the club, played out in public long before he spoke openly about his plans, ended with him accepting he will spend at least one more year at Camp Nou.

Messi is still angry with president Josep Maria Bartomeu, still upset with the way the team has declined since 2015’s treble, but he was smiling again when he played in the 3-1 friendly win over Gimnastic, a grin that gladdened the hearts of Barca fans across the world.

So, with exit talks on ice, the focus is once more on how Messi can carry this team to domestic and European success while the impact of that 8-2 battering by Bayern Munich last month still lingers.

He managed 31 goals and 25 assists last season, the latter number his highest such tally in five years, the former the lowest. He completed more dribbles per game than ever (5.91) but recorded his lowest shots-per-game tally in at least five years (4.57).

The freescoring sensation of his earlier years is past; he is now creator-in-chief, a deeper-lying attacking menace, on whom the pressure is arguably greater than ever after years of mismanagement of the playing squad from those above.

So, what can we expect from 2020-21, the season that may come to be known as Lionel Messi’s “Last Dance”?

 

THE RECORDS HE HOLDS

This is just a handful, of course.

Messi is the all-time leading goalscorer in LaLiga with 444. In Europe’s top-five leagues, only long-time adversary Cristiano Ronaldo has more (447).

In all competitions for Barca, Messi has scored 634 goals and provided 254 assists in 731 appearances. That puts him on 888 goal involvements for the club – a tally nobody even comes close to matching.

Messi has scored at least 30 goals in each of the last 12 seasons and is the only player to score at least 10 in 14 consecutive LaLiga campaigns. He holds the record for the most in a single season, too: he scored 50 in 2011-12.

And, of course, he is the only man to win the Ballon d’Or six times.

 

THE RECORDS THAT BECKON

If Messi features in 31 of Barca’s 38 LaLiga matches, he will eclipse Xavi’s record of 505 appearances for the club in Spain’s top flight. He will also surpass Xavi for games in all competitions for the Catalans (767) if he plays 37 times overall.

Messi will close on the LaLiga record held by Manolo Sanchis for the most appearances at a single club in the division, but he will need more than one season for that – Messi is on 485, while ex-Real Madrid man Sanchis played 523 times.

Of course, Messi will be desperate for trophies this season after a barren 2019-20, and winning two will see him draw level with Ryan Giggs when it comes to titles won with the same club. Giggs won 36 with Manchester United.

But how about this for a feat: if Messi gets 10 goals this season – and let’s face it, there’s a good chance – he will set a new record for goals scored for the same club in official competitions. The current best is 643, set by a former Santos forward known as Pele.

 

THE PROBLEMS HE FACES

After the friendly win over Gimnastic, Koeman made it clear he plans to deviate from Barca’s traditional 4-3-3 to a 4-2-3-1 that will, hopefully, get the best out of their midfielders. Such a system would presumably see Messi stationed as the number 10, behind a central striker.

Perhaps that’s no bad thing: Messi, as a false nine under Pep Guardiola, played the most games (219) and scored the most goals (211) of his career in all competitions. His role under successor Tito Vilanova was similar and yielded 60 goals in 50 games, giving him a career-best average of 1.2 goals per game.

His most prolific season – 2011-12, the last under Guardiola – saw Messi record an astonishing 73 goals and 29 assists, leading to his calendar-year record of 79 goals in 2012. Again, that was from a central position in the attack, albeit one in a team filled with exceptional players. A shift back to the middle could suit him.

The trouble is that Messi is increasingly having to do all this himself. The supporting cast has dwindled in quality since 2015 and his most productive relationships are behind him.

Luis Suarez (47) has the most assists for Messi at Barca and completed his switch to Atletico Madrid this week. To continue a recent theme, his great friend expressed displeasure with the board over the matter. The top five Messi assisters after Suarez have all long left the club: Dani Alves (42), Andres Iniesta (37), Xavi (31), Pedro (25) and Neymar (22). The next on the list is Jordi Alba (21), whose own spot in Koeman’s team is not entirely certain.

He has never looked entirely compatible with Antoine Griezmann, Ansu Fati is still a raw talent in many respects, and the squad will take time to adjust to any new formation, not to mention new arrivals in Miralem Pjanic and, perhaps, Memphis Depay. What’s more, the embarrassment of last season’s final few weeks will be fresh in the players’ minds and the unrest from the boardroom downwards will never be far from the headlines.

When it comes to carrying this team, Messi has rarely looked so alone.

Barcelona still have a squad capable of challenging – Zidane

Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane believes Barcelona have a squad that is capable of “fighting for everything”.

After a trophy-less 2019-20 season, Ronald Koeman is rebuilding the Blaugrana, who have seen the likes of Luis Suarez, Arturo Vidal, Ivan Rakitic, Arthur and Nelson Semedo leave.

Philippe Coutinho has returned from his loan spell at Bayern Munich and Miralem Pjanic joined from Juventus, while Lionel Messi ended up staying after requesting a move.

Zidane, whose Madrid visit Real Betis on Saturday, said Barca were strong enough to again be challenging for titles.

“I will be respectful. Besides, I don’t know what’s going on inside, that’s why I don’t want to get involved,” the Madrid coach told a news conference.

“I think each club has their own issues and difficulties. I think Barcelona, in terms of the team and the squad, is a club who will be fighting for everything.

“I don’t have any doubt.”

Madrid have also seen some changes to their squad, most notably the departures of Gareth Bale (on loan to Tottenham) and James Rodriguez (Everton).

Bale’s relationship with Zidane reportedly deteriorated in recent months, although the Welshman told Sky Sports on Friday he had “no regrets”.

Asked if he had anything to say about Bale, Zidane said: “I’m not going to speak about what Gareth said.

“Against, what I will say is that we wish him the best for the future and we are focused on ourselves now. That’s all.”

Conte praises Perisic attitude amid Man Utd, PSG links

Ivan Perisic has returned to Inter with desire and enthusiasm, coach Antonio Conte said amid transfer talk about the attacker.

Perisic is back with the Serie A giants after spending 2019-20 on loan at Bayern Munich, where he won the Champions League, Bundesliga and DFB-Pokal.

The Croatia international, who arrived at Inter from Wolfsburg in 2015, has again been linked with a move amid reported interest from Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain.

But, ahead of Inter’s Serie A opener against Fiorentina on Saturday, Conte said Perisic had returned with a renewed determination.

“I am happy for Ivan, because in the end he had an incredible experience with Bayern Munich, a winning one, in which he won three trophies,” he told a news conference.

“Now he’s back, with great determination to play for Inter and help us out, to put himself at the service of the team, and I am happy that he’s got this desire.

“Also, because when you’ve got this kind of determination, this enthusiasm, this desire, in the end everything gets easier for the coach.”

Inter finished second in Serie A last season, but have added the likes of Achraf Hakimi, Arturo Vidal and Aleksandar Kolarov to their squad.

The arrival of Vidal from Barcelona was confirmed this week as the midfielder reunites with Conte after the pair worked together at Juventus.

“Arturo Vidal is in good shape, he arrived in good physical condition,” Conte said.

“Tactically, he is a player that has already played with me, but at the same time we’re doing new stuff now compared to the past, when he was one of my players.

“Therefore, he is integrating well, he’s a smart player, tactically, physically, he’s got a great mindset.

“In our midfield, he can do everything. He can be one of the two central midfielders, he can play as an offensive one, he can play together with a low playmaker should we decide to do that. He can play in any role and we are happy to have him with us.”