European soccer news: Manchester United win on emotional day

The international break is over and with that, another Saturday of European football has come and gone. If you had checked the box scores, you’d think there were few surprises as the weekend’s action got underway, but those full-time figures tell only half the story.

We saw Manchester United defeat Sheffield United 2-1 on an emotional day following the passing of club legend Sir Bobby Charlton, while Manchester City achieved an important 2-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion to stay firm in the race for the Premier League title. In Germany, Serhou Guirassy continues to break all the records at Stuttgart, and Bayern Munich charged to retain their Bundesliga title following their 3-1 win over Mainz.

In France, Kylian Mbappé scored again as PSG remain in the Ligue 1 race. In Spain, Real Madrid dropped points in a 1-1 draw against Sevilla to leave the LaLiga title race wide open. And finally, we saw some Women’s Super League action as Manchester City earned an important 1-0 win at Leicester City.

Here is your look back at all the fun from Saturday’s action.

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SATURDAY REVIEW

The Saturday lead: Man United win on emotional day following Sir Bobby Charlton’s death

For the first time in his short Manchester United career, André Onana has won back-to-back Premier League games and he played his part in the victory over Sheffield United on Saturday. It’s been a difficult start to life at Old Trafford for the Cameroon goalkeeper but this was the type of performance that should give him confidence he’ll be able to get through this sticky spell.

United were poor in the first 25 minutes at Bramall Lane and Onana was needed to make low saves from Oli McBurnie and Cameron Archer. It didn’t require anything spectacular but Erik ten Hag will settle for Onana doing the simple things well after a number of costly mistakes since his summer move from Inter Milan.

United are still struggling to score goals and all four of their Premier League wins so far this season have come with a one-goal margin but if Ten Hag can get his team to defend better, then they will start climbing the table. It begins with the goalkeeper and Ten Hag will have enjoyed a post-match news conference during which he wasn’t forced to defend Onana. He still has work to do to win over some United fans but a quiet night and a win at Sheffield United is a good place to start. — Rob Dawson


Saturday talking points around the leagues

Manchester City bounce back from back-to-back defeats

Manchester City don’t need any luck or help to win matches and they got it anyway as they avoided losing three Premier League games in a row for the first time since 2016.

Under Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton are set up to win this type of game but they never gave themselves a chance to put City under pressure and were behind at the Etihad Stadium after just seven minutes when Julián Álvarez scuffed a shot which looped in over Jason Steele. If that was their slice of luck, the help came from Brighton’s Carlos Baleba. Not long after Alvarez’s opener, the Brighton midfielder played a blind pass which Erling Haaland and, four touches later, the ball was in the net. It was the Norwegian’s first City goal for nearly a month but it wasn’t the finish — rifled into the corner from outside the penalty area — of a man out of form.

Rodri back from suspension, John Stones fit enough to make his first start of the season and Haaland back scoring goals; it was a good afternoon for Pep Guardiola, only spoiled slightly by a late red card for Manuel Akanji. It was, however, a day to forget for James Milner. The 37-year-old was picked at right-back and tasked with stopping 21-year-old Jérémy Doku but only lasted 45 minutes which consisted of watching Doku set up Alvarez and then twice ploughing into the Belgium winger.

After back-to-back defeats to Wolves and Arsenal, Brighton at home felt like a dangerous game — particularly because they’ve beaten Newcastle and Manchester United and drawn with Liverpool already this season — but it was navigated by City with minimal fuss and despite their small blip, they’re only two points worse off than they were at this stage last year. — Rob Dawson

Ramos stars but can’t score dream winner against Madrid

In the 94th minute, with Sevilla and Real Madrid level at 1-1, Sergio Ramos‘ moment arrived. Sevilla had a free kick on the edge of the Real Madrid box. There was only ever going to be one target. Suso floated the ball in, Ramos rose to meet it … and headed over the bar.

Ramos was always going to make headlines when Sevilla hosted Madrid at the Sanchez Pizjuan; it was just a question of how. Would he score against his former club? How about an own goal? Or a characteristic red card? Instead, it was more straightforward than that: Ramos was excellent, arguably the best player on the pitch. With all the noise around Ramos, it’s easy to forget the obvious: this is an exceptional defender, even at 37.

The highlight of his performance against Madrid came in the 34th minute, blocking what looked like a certain goal with an instinctive, outstretched leg. He went close to scoring in the 80th minute too, with a header well saved by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.

Otherwise, Ramos was efficient and effortless. He had 78 touches, as many as any Sevilla player. He completed 61 of 65 passes, with seven recoveries and five clearances. There were moments of controversy too: a first-half face-off with Antonio Rüdiger in which he appeared to pinch the German’s cheeks, and an 86th-minute bust-up involving multiple players, Ramos at the centre of it.

The 1-1 scoreline wasn’t too much of a disappointment for LaLiga leaders Real Madrid — although they lamented referee icardo de Burgos Bengoetxea’s decision to rule out two early goals — and it was a positive start for Ramos and Sevilla, under new coach Diego Alonso. — Alex Kirkland

Kane shines as Bayern earn crucial win over Mainz

After Leverkusen, Stuttgart and Dortmund had won their respective games, Bayern Munich had to follow suit as the record champions took on Mainz in the Bundesliga’s Saturday evening game. The Moroccan right-back Noussair Mazraoui, who had attracted attention by posting anti-Israel sentiments on social media recently, was left out of the squad because of a muscle injury.

Meanwhile, Israeli goalkeeper Daniel Peretz was once again the backup for Sven Ulreich, who might have made his last start in the Bundesliga for the time being, with Manuel Neuer being expected to return to action next weekend.

As for the game at Mainz’s Mewa Arena itself, the home team neutralised Bayern’s build-up with their three-man high press in the early stages. Unluckily for the hosts, they did not take advantage of forced turnovers near Bayern’s penalty area, and it seemed that the goals scored by Kingsley Coman and Harry Kane during the opening 15 minutes may take the air out of the stadium.

But Mainz continued to fight and play admirably, as they managed to visit Bayern’s penalty area frequently. Shortly before the halftime break, Leroy Sané lost the ball in midfield, which allowed Brajan Gruda to move it forward before Anthony Caci scored Mainz’s first goal with a beautiful strike.For a while, an upset was in the air, but Caci went from hero to zero when he tried to dribble close to the hosts’ box, losing the ball and thus inviting Leon Goretzka to score the deciding third goal for Bayern.

The German champions are currently dealing with defensive issues which cannot solely be attributed to injury woes. There are systematic shortcomings that manager Thomas Tuchel needs to fix in the upcoming weeks.

Otherwise, Bayern’s attacking firepower might not be enough in some games. Perhaps the return of Neuer could stabilise the defence to an extent since the 37-year-old is not just an experienced shot-stopper but also someone who can guide a back line from behind. — Constantin Eckner

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Harry Kane scores header vs. Mainz

Harry Kane scores header vs. Mainz

Mbappe stellar in PSG’s win over Strasbourg

After four games without scoring for PSG and some unusually underwhelming performances, Mbappé was back to his best on Saturday at the Parc des Princes against Strasbourg. A goal and an assist set his team on the road to a 3-0 victory in a game totally controlled by the Parisians.

The last time PSG came back from the international break with a home league match was in September when they were beaten by Nice (3-2). This time, there were no bad surprises.

Despite a big turnover from Luis Enrique, Paris were dominant and convincing. The Spanish manager rested many key players (Ousmane Dembele, Manuel Ugarte, Warren Zaïre-Emery, Randal Kolo Muani, Achraf Hakimi) and their subs took that opportunity to show what they could do. Carlos Soler and Fabián Ruiz scored and Ruiz is proving that he could be a decent alternative in midfield. Lee Kang-In also started after being out of the picture for a month while winning the Asian Cup with South Korea and can bring creativity and a different profile.

Four days before the huge Champions League clash with AC Milan in the French capital, Saturday was just what the doctor ordered for PSG. — Julien Laurens

Man City earn crucial win over Leicester to go top of the WSL

The last time Manchester City travelled to the King Power Stadium, in February, they were chasing down the top of the pack, desperately making a bid for a Champions League finish. Their opposition were making their own desperate charge, hoping to stave off relegation, the team in a far better place now under new manager Willie Kirk.

That match ended 2-0 to City with the visitors outshooting Leicester 32 shots to four as they boasted 74 per cent of the possession over the 90-minute match. This season, things could not be more different and heading into the fourth matchday of the WSL season, the narrative was set at a top-of-the-table clash.

Indeed, the stats from the game are the best marker for the rapid development and growth the Foxes have shown this season, the two teams splitting the possession, Leicester with six shots on target to City’s eight. The crucial moment came ten minutes in when Jill Roord slipped the ball between Julie Thibaud‘s ankles to feed Chloe Kelly with the England international’s tame shot managing to squirm under Janina Leitzig.

There was no dropping of heads from the hosts, however, and it wasn’t long until they were pressuring the City backline although the hosts could not get the better of Khiara Keating in the away goal. The match was a fair contest until the final whistle, with both sides well-matched, something that wouldn’t have even been conceivable eight months ago.

From both a Leicester and Man City point of view, the game has further hammered home how well each team has started the season, as well as the gaps across the league that are finally being closed. As it is, City are top of the table and at this early stage of the season, looking like the team to beat. — Sophie Lawson


Americans Abroad

Following the international break that saw the United States lose to Germany and defeat Ghana, numerous players were back in action this weekend in their respective leagues.

Borussia Dortmund‘s Gio Reyna played 28 minutes in Friday’s 1-0 win over Werder Bremen to see them firmly in the Bundesliga title race while Ricardo Pepi played 11 minutes in PSV Eindhoven‘s 3-1 win over Fortuna Sittard as they stay top of the Eredivisie table with 27 points after nine matches.

It was a poor day in the office for goalkeeper Matt Turner though as Nottingham Forest gave up a 2-0 lead against newly promoted side Luton Town. Chris Wood scored a brace to put Forest up, but Luton had the last laugh as they scored twice in the last seven minutes to snatch an important point at the City Ground.


News of the day

  • Manchester United and England legend Sir Bobby Charlton has passed away on Saturday at the age of 86, following a statement announced by the club. Charlton was part of the 1966 England squad that won their first and only FIFA World Cup on home soil and played a important part that helped Manchester United win their first ever European Cup at Wembley in 1968. A club statement read “Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world.”

  • Everton manager Sean Dyche slammed the “bizarre” refereeing decisions in his team’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Saturday. “It’s a bizarre nature of the modern game,” Dyche said post-match. “There’s no point. I’m going to get myself in trouble. I don’t know how I got yellow carded. All my staff got yellow carded. It’s impossible that we could get yellow carded with that performance but anyways, we did.”


And finally, on Saturday …

The Serhou Guirassy show continues as the Guinean striker netted yet again in Stuttgart’s 3-0 win over Union Berlin, putting his name into the history books with his 14th goal in eight Bundesliga matches.

Not only does that put him atop the goalscorer race by a huge margin (Bayern Munich‘s Harry Kane is in second with nine goals), but Guirassy also set a new record by becoming the first-ever player to score that amount of goals after eight matchdays of a Bundesliga season.

To show how impressive that stat is, Guirassy only needs two more goals to equal the amount of last season’s top scorer in the Bundesliga, when Niclas Füllkrug and Christopher Nkunku both scored 16 goals.

This also means that Stuttgart, now in second place, continue their charge in the Bundesliga title race with 21 points, having now won six Bundesliga games in a row. Who knows if Guirassy will continue his hot streak but it’s been a remarkable start for Die Roten. — Roberto Rojas