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UEFA Super Cup: Real holds on to top Man Utd (video)

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  • Madrid wins fourth Super Cup
  • One shy of Milan, Barcelona
  • United now 1-3 in Super Cups

Casemiro and Isco helped Real Madrid to a two-goal lead, then watched as Romelu Lukaku and Manchester United nearly came back to force extra time in the UEFA Super Cup Final on Tuesday in Macedonia.

The 2-1 win gives Real its third Super Cup in four seasons, with Barcelona winning the outlier in 2015.

United will turn its attention to Sunday’s Premier League opener at West Ham, while Real will meet rivals Barca in the first leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Sunday. The second leg is Aug. 16 in Madrid.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]  

Those expecting a parked bus from Jose Mourinho don’t appreciate the confidence he has in his Manchester United charges, as evidenced by the start of the match.

United was on the front foot from moment one against Real, who started with Cristiano Ronaldo on the bench. The chances were minimal, though, and the biggest danger came in the 16th minute at the other end of the pitch when Casemiro headed a cross off the cross bar. At the other end, a decent United counter turned into a wasted rip from distance by Paul Pogba.

Real worked its way into the match, however, and United was pushed back into its own end when an ever-so-slightly offside Casemiro beat Victor Lindelof to Dani Carvajal’s diagonal ball and slotted home with his left foot.

David De Gea made a nice horizontal slap save of a Luka Modric shot as the match neared halftime, largely sleepy for the final 20 minutes.

Isco made it 2-0 in the 52nd minute, and it was clear United was second best. The 25-year-old Spaniard worked a 1-2 with Gareth Bale to easily pick apart Man Utd’s back line.

United should’ve equalizer when Keylor Navas spilled Paul Pogba’s header into the path of Romelu Lukaku, but the big Belgian blazed wide of the goal.

Momenst after Bale cranked a shot off the cross bar, Lukaku restored some hope to United when Navas’ saved Nemanja Matic‘s rip into the path of the big money striker. Lukaku wouldn’t miss twice from that area, and it was 2-1 with just under a half hour to play.

A facial injury to Marouane Fellaini caused a three-minute delay in the match with about 15 minutes to play, though the Belgian was repaired suitably and didn’t leave the pitch for more than a minute.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan played Marcus Rashford through for a would-be equalizer, but Navas tipped the shot wide for a corner that Real handled well.

Cristiano Ronaldo subbed into the match in the 83rd minute.

Fellaini was stymied by Navas in the first minute of stoppage, and De Gea denied Marco Asensio at the other end.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.

Premier League Preview: Southampton vs. Tottenham

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Southampton will host Tottenham Hotspur on Sunday (Watch live, 11 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with both sides hoping to pick up three points for very different reasons.

The Saints are currently in the midst of a fierce relegation battle through 23 matches, and sit in 18th place in the Premier League, while Spurs are hoping challenge for a top-four position.

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Mauricio Pellegrino‘s Southampton could get defender Maya Yoshida back in time for Sunday’s match, however, the side will be without Charlie Austin once more, who is currently nursing a hamstring injury.

Meanwhile, a number of key figures will miss the match for Tottenham, including goalkeeper Hugo Lloris and Harry Winks. Also, Danny Rose and Toby Alderweireld remain sidelined with injuries, although the latter is expected to be back soon.

What they’re saying

Mauricio Pellegrino on state of the Saints: “We are not happy with our position but in three or four weeks’ time everything can change. It’s part of our competition. I feel in our team the spirit is really good and everybody is conscious about what we need. I receive these messages from players every day, and we have to convert these feelings into stats.”

Mauricio Pochettino on potential January moves: “To be honest it will be difficult. At some point you always dream but not too much exciting [is happening]. If it happens, it happens. If not, then it doesn’t happen. We are happy with the squad.”

Prediction

Harry Kane is firing at an absurd rate recently, and Southampton’s current form is worrisome to say the least. With just four wins all season, it’s hard to imagine the Saints coming out in front in their clash. Southampton 0-3 Tottenham