Zlatan Ibrahimovic scores twice, David Beckham starts as PSG bounce Marseille

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David Beckham made his first start fo Paris Saint-Germain on Wednesday, but as is usually the case when PSG plays, the day belongs to Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With both goals against Marseille, ‘Ibra’ led the Parisians to victory in the latest Classique, seeing rival Olympique Marseille out of the French Cup.

Ibrahimovic is now up to 26 goals in his 32 all-competition matches since moving to PSG this summer. He’s also added nine assists, with the Parisians still alive in all four of their competitions.

But as much as Ibra stole the day, Beckham’s first starting assignment will likely get receive much of the critical focus, with the former Manchester United, Real Madrid and LA Galaxy star assuming the regista’s role in midfield beside Blaise Matuidi. WIth the ranging French international doing much of the leg work, Beckham was left to do what he does best, distribute. In that role, he performed admirably. With a player like Matuidi beside him, there’s no reason Beckham can’t continue to have this kind of effect on big matches.

And today’s match was a relatively big one. PSG changed much of their team from this weekend’s Ligue 1 Classique, but Marseille still represents a high level of opposition. Against them, Beckham led the game in Opta’s “key passes.” Among the non-goalkeepers, only Marseille’s Joey Barton completed more long passes.

PSG head coach cast him in the role normally given to 20-year-old Italian Marco Verratti, and after seeing Beckham play 100 minutes in the role (between PSG’s last two games), it’s not exactly clear Verratti’s the better option. In fairness, it’s too early to tell, but the fact that Beckham can even be in this conversation at 37-year-old is beguiling.

Will you please start aging as fast as the rest of us?

Here are highlights of today’s game. You won’t get much Beckham, but particularly on the first goal, you’ll get enough Zlatan.


VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.