Three things we learned from Manchester United’s win vs. Southampton

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MANCHESTER — Two Zlatan Ibrahimovic goals gave Manchester United a 2-0 win at home against Southampton on Friday under the lights at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Mourinho a happy man ]

It was a fairly routine win for Jose Mourinho on his home debut in the Premier League as world-record signing Paul Pogba made his debut and shone with touches of class.

[ MORE: Stars shine under “Friday Night Lights” ]

Here’s what we learned from Old Trafford.


Not bad for a free transfer…

Wheeling away after his fourth goal in his first three games for Manchester United, it all looked too easy for Ibrahimovic on Friday night.

He towered about Jose Fonte to head home the opener in the first half and then six minutes into the second half he slotted home a penalty kick to make it 2-0 and effectively end the game.

Zlatan, 34, is showing no signs that the Premier League is too much for him. Only on a one-year contract at United, the Swedish striker has already made a huge impact in his short time at the club. He scored the winner against Leicester City late on in the FA Community Shield at Wembley, grabbed a fine strike at Bournemouth and scored both goals against Saints.

It couldn’t have been a better start for Zlatan in England and to silence any doubters he head. Sure, not everything was perfect as he dropped deep and on at least two occasions gave the ball away cheaply. Even Zlatan held his hand up to apologize on one particularly bad giveaway.

He is human, after all. Another thing which was hugely recognizable at Old Trafford was the fact that many of United’s fans had Zlatan’s name on the back of his shirt. United are already making plenty of the hefty wages they pay Zlatan.


His first touch back in a Manchester United shirt was a miskick which allowed Southampton to launch a counter attack. Things got better from there on out.

Pogba, 23, seemed to tower over Southampton’s midfielders and he often held a defender off with one arm as he dictated play with the ball at his feet. Pogba started on the left of a central midfield three and we got a glimpse of how he and Ibrahimovic could link up in the first half as Pogba clipped in a delicious ball which was flicked on by Juan Mata and then acrobatically scissor kicked over by Zlatan.

Pogba headed over from eight-yards out in the second half as he had a great chance to open his account on debut and he hammered the ground with frustration. Pogba then started to turn on the flair late on as he drove forward relentlessly from midfield, turned his men with clever tricks and sprayed the ball out wide with pin-point passes. By the final 10 minutes he had run out of steam but Mourinho didn’t bring him off as he played the full 90 on a debut which showed plenty of promise.

The French international midfielder may well not be worth the $117 million United paid for him but he already looks a classy acquisition. And, like Zlatan, his shirt seems to be flying off the shelf at United’s mega store which will help pay back some of that transfer fee.


Dressed in a black suit and tie with a white shirt, Claude Puel looked like he belonged in reservoir dogs. Like the ending for Mr. White in Quentin Tarantino’s cult film, it has not been a happy start to life in the Premier League for Puel.

After dropping two points at home on the opening day against Watford, Saints were undone by two silly defensive mistakes at United. For spells they controlled possession and moved the ball well but they snatched at chances in the final third. Shane Long hit the side-netting with a snapshot. Long sent a header inches wide, while Jordy Clasie twice snatched at shots, Dusan Tadic hammered another wide and Nathan Redmond squandered chances and possession in promising areas. Southampton didn’t look outclassed and they were coming up against a fired up United on Mourinho’s home debut in the PL, yet Puel will be concerned that Saints’ regression following the sale of Graziano Pelle, Sadio Mane and Victor Wanyama has hit them harder than they thought over the summer.

It could be a long hard season for Saints with the latest rebuild perhaps proving it was one too many.

Euro 2020 qualifying: France settles for draw with Turkey

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Euro 2020 qualifying continued on Monday and included a top-of-the-group clash in Group H.

[READ: England rout Bulgaria in game marred by racist chants]

France 1-1 Turkey

France spoiled a chance at home to put one foot in Euro 2020 after conceding late in the match and settling for a draw with Turkey.

Despite playing without a lot of starters – Kylian Mbappe, Paul Pogba, N’Golo Kante, and Hugo Lloris are all out injured – France still was strong in the first half and peppered Turkey with 12 shots. Goalkeeper Mert Gunok made an outstanding double-save in the first half and Leicester City’s Çağlar Söyüncü did his best to keep Antoine Griezmann in front of him.

In the 72nd minute, Olivier Giroud came on the field as a substitute and four minutes later, he put France in front to the delight of the home crowd at the Stade de France. What else, but a header off a corner. However, the lead didn’t last long. Off a free kick in the 82nd minute, Hakan Calhanoglu’s delivery was nodded home by Kaan Ayhan. The 1-1 draw leaves both France and Turkey tied with 19 points from eight qualifying matches. It also means that Turkey hasn’t lost to France over two games in this qualifying cycle.

Here’s a look at the rest of Monday’s scores:

Monday’s Euro 2020 qualifying scores

Group A

Bulgaria 0-6 England

Kosovo 2-0 Montenegro

Group B

Lithuania 1-2 Serbia

Ukraine 2-1 Portugal

Group H

Iceland 2-0 Andorra

Moldova 0-4 Albania

Ronaldo scores 700th goal for club and country

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Cristiano Ronaldo achieved yet another personal milestone in his star-studded career on Monday evening with a simple penalty kick goal.

With his 72nd minute strike, Ronaldo tallied his 700th goal for club and country in his career. It’s an incredible achievement, and one indicative of his incredible goal-scoring exploits and his long career.

Ronaldo was already leading all active players globally in terms of goals scored, so his 700th is only adding to the list. His former club nemesis, Lionel Messi, still sits a reported 28 goals behind him, according to Soccerway. After them, LA Galaxy striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic is the closest, and he has “only” 542 goals.

The Portuguese icon becomes the sixth male player to score 700 goals in his career. The others include Pele, Romaro, Josef Bican, Ferenc Puskás, and Gerd Muller.

Ronaldo made his debut for Sporting Lisbon in the 2002-2003 season as a 17-year-old and quickly was snapped up by Man United and Sir Alex Ferguson, where he transitioned from a tricky winger to a clinical striker who couldn’t stop scoring.

The 34-year-old has scored 40-or-more goals on three occasions in his career and he scored 25-or-more goals in all nine years he was at Real Madrid. For Portugal, he’s now scored an incredible 95 goals in all competitions. He had 15 goals in World Cup qualifying alone for the 2018 campaign.

Watch the video of Ronaldo’s breaking goal below. Unfortunately for him, Portugal fell, 2-1 to Ukraine.

Southgate, England players sound off on racist abuse

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England took care of business in Monday’s 6-0 thrashing of Bulgaria, but the Three Lions had to endure some horrendous racist abuse from the crowd during the game.

The match was paused on two occasions I’m the first half by the match officials after racist chanting could be heard from a section of supporters, and a large group of Bulgarian fans were ejected towards the end of the half. However, racist abuse continued during the match from small pockets of fans in the stadium.

[READ: England v. Bulgaria delayed after racist abuse from stands]

“I have to say that the officials were on to everything very quickly,” England manager Gareth Southgate told ITV after the match. “We reported everything immediately when we heard things, we had constant communication with the fourth official and the referee. I was in contact with the players, all the way through the first half in particular, and then again at halftime.

”We know it’s an unacceptable situation, and I think we’ve managed to make two statements. By winning the game, but also we’re raised the awareness of everybody to the situation. The game was stopped twice, I know for some people that won’t be enough, but we as a group were on board with that process.”

Raheem Sterling, who scored a brace in the win, also sounded off on social media, as did former England and Arsenal star Ian Wright.

Ultimately, UEFA and the match officials followed the protocol, but the sad part about this is that England and the officials had a plan for racist abuse, and it was predictable that it would happen.

In a statement after the game, the FA confirmed they would be asking UEFA to investigate what happened. However, any punishment is too little, too late for the players who endured the abuse.

Kane, Sterling star as England rout Bulgaria

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On a night where racist abuse from the stands in Bulgaria marred the overall spectacle, England’s players produced an incredible result and spectacle for the visiting fans, with all things considered.

Harry Kane scored once and assisted on three others as England rolled over Bulgaria, winning 6-0 on Monday evening in the Vasil Levski Stadium in Sofia, Bulgaria. Raheem Sterling and Ross Barkley both scored a brace for the Three Lions and Marcus Rashford’s thunderbolt from a tight angle gave England the opening goal it needed.

[READ: USMNT looks to build from win v. Canada]

The blowout result was the perfect response after England had suffered its first loss in qualifying for a decade, losing on Friday, 2-1 at the Czech Republic. The six goals England put past Bulgaria was also the fourth time out of six games that England had scored at least five goals in a match. The only other time, aside from the defeat, was a 4-0 win last month at Wembley Stadium over Bulgaria.

It took just seven minutes for England to get on the board. Barkley found Rashford down the left wing, and after turning a defender with a cross-fake, Rashford cut back from goal and whipped a strike that flashed past Bulgarian goalkeeper Plaman Iliev and in for a goal.

Kane, who has earned some criticism for not scoring as much recently as in the past, showed he was more than a goal-scoring No. 9. Combining with Raheem Sterling like he did so well at the 2018 World Cup, Kane in the 20th minute played a great pass into Sterling’s feet in the box. The Manchester City winger did the rest, crossing to a wide-open Barkley at the back post for a tap-in.

Kane again played provider in the 32nd minute, floating to the right and delivering an-inch perfect cross right to the penalty spot with his left foot. Barkley was there to meet it with a glancing header to score and put the game to rest.

Despite dealing with horrendous racist abuse from the crowd and two pauses in the game, England continued to attack and were rewarded when Kane set up Sterling for another tap-in moments before the halftime break.

Kane and Sterling connected again for another goal before in the 85th minute, Kane finally got his finish to send Bulgaria packing.

Considering the events in the stadium, it’s a triumphant win for England. However, they still must win at least one more game before automatic qualification to Euro 2020 is assured, as Kosovo beat Montenegro, 2-0 on Monday as well to stay within touching distance of England and the Czech Republic.