AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Bundesliga wrap: USMNT’s Wood scores again; Dortmund stunned by RB Leipzig

Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) In a duel between one of Germany’s most popular sides and arguably its most hated, Naby Keita struck late as Leipzig stunned Borussia Dortmund 1-0 to win its first Bundesliga game on Saturday.

Midfielder Oliver Burke set up fellow substitute Keita to grab the winner with one minute remaining, sparking wild celebrations among the home fans.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Derby delight for Man City; Spurs, Liverpool win ]

Leipzig, unpopular among rival supporters who see it as a marketing tool for energy-drink manufacturer Red Bull, matched last season’s runner-up for intensity, and suggested it is in the Bundesliga to stay. That’s the club’s stated objective for its first season of top-flight football, consolidation before Champions League qualification becomes the target.

While Leipzig has enthusiastically embraced the concept — the city is the first in former East Germany to have a top-flight club since Energie Cottbus was relegated in 2009 — opponents resent its commercial side and rapid progress. The club was founded in 2009 when Red Bull rebranded fifth-tier side SSV Markranstaedt and financed its speedy promotion as a new entity through the lower leagues.

Mario Goetze looked lively in his second debut for Dortmund after returning from Bayern Munich, but Leipzig mostly frustrated Dortmund’s speedy forwards and threatened before the break through Marcel Sabitzer and captain Dominik Kaiser, who first played for the side in the fourth tier.

Leipzig’s Andre Schuerrle struck the crossbar, and Keita ultimately claimed the winner on his Bundesliga debut.

[ MORE: La Liga wrap — Barca lose to promoted side; Ronaldo returns, scores ]

“We know where we come from. We’ve a lot to learn but we’re on the right path,” Leipzig coach Ralph Hasenhuettl said.

Bobby Wood scored again in Hamburger SV’s 1,800th Bundesliga game but Joel Pohjanpalo proved the hero with a late hat trick in Bayer Leverkusen’s win.

Wood, who scored against Ingolstadt on the opening weekend, struck on a counterattack in the 58th minute, only for Pohjanpalo to equalize with just over 10 minutes remaining and complete his hat trick in injury time.

Leverkusen’s hopes of bouncing back from an opening-weekend defeat improved with the return of striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, who broke his right hand in a fall.

Neither side created much going forward, however, until Wood snatched the opening goal after being played through by Michael Gregoritsch. Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno, who’d just extended his contract to 2020, rushed out of goal and Wood stayed cool to round him and score for the second consecutive game.

But Hamburg, again, let a lead slip.

[ MORE: Serie A wrap — Juventus, Napoli win big ]

Julian Brandt was at the heart of the home side’s dangerous play and the Germany midfielder set up Pohjanpalo to head in the equalizer in the 79th. The Finn struck Leverkusen ahead in the first minute of injury time, and there was still time for Chicharito to set him up to complete the scoring in the fourth.

Germany forward Mario Gomez endured a frustrating debut for Wolfsburg. Much was expected of Gomez on his return to the Bundesliga. However, Cologne allowed few chances, and no Wolfsburg player touched the ball less than Gomez.

Elsewhere, little-known striker Maximilian Philipp struck twice as promoted Freiburg upset Borussia Moenchengladbach 3-1 at home, Hertha Berlin midfielder Genki Haraguchi set up both goals to beat Ingolstadt 2-0, and Sandro Sirigu’s last-minute goal gave Darmstadt a dramatic 1-0 win over Eintracht Frankfurt in the Hessen derby.

Champions League predictions: Week 3

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The third round of games in the 2018-19 UEFA Champions League group stage take place on Tuesday and Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Manchester United host Juventus, Liverpool head to Red Star Belgrade, Man City travel to Shakhtar Donetsk and Tottenham play at PSV Eindhoven as the four Premier League clubs enter the pivotal double-header matchweeks.

[ MORE: United v Juve headlines UCL Tuesday ]

Below are the score predictions for the UCL games on Tuesday and Wednesday.


Tuesday

Group E
Ajax 2-1 Benfica
AEK Athens 1-3 Bayern Munich

Group F
Shakhtar Donetsk 0-2 Manchester City
Hoffenheim 2-1 Lyon

Group G
Real Madrid 4-1 Viktoria Plzen
Roma 3-0 CSKA Moscow

Group H
Young Boys 1-3 Valencia
Manchester United 2-2 Juventus

Wednesday

Group A
Club Brugge 1-3 Monaco
Borussia Dortmund 1-1 Atletico Madrid

Group B
PSV Eindhoven 1-2 Tottenham Hotspur
Barcelona 1-2 Inter Milan

Group C
Paris Saint-Germain 2-2 Napoli
Red Star Belgrade 1-3 Liverpool

Group D
Lokomotiv Moscow 1-2 FC Porto
Galatasaray 1-0 Schalke

Mesut Ozil lauds Arsenal’s “sexy football”

Leave a comment

Mesut Ozil and Arsenal put on a “sexy” second half display to beat Leicester City 3-1 on Monday, as the Gunners extended their winning streak to 10 games in all competitions and seven in the Premier League.

Ozil, 30, captained Arsenal and put in a silky display as he scored an equalizer right on half time, then orchestrated a thorough dismantling of Leicester’s defense in the second half.

First, his perfect through ball found Hector Bellerin who crossed for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang to make it 2-1, then moments later Ozil’s clever flick sparked a flowing move into life as he then dummied a ball into the box before using the outside of his left foot to audaciously flick it into the path of Aubameyang to wrap up the win.

Arsenal’s playmaker took to social media after the game and gave a pretty accurate assessment of what went on.

“I think we played some sexy football tonight. Proud captain of this team and this club!” Ozil said.

Unai Emery handing Ozil the captains armband seems to be a bit of a masterstroke, with the German star having a tough time off the pitch over the past few months due to his ongoing dispute with the German FA after retiring from the international game following their 2018 World Cup failure.

Ozil had a slow start to the season at Arsenal and was subbed off by Emery regularly but it appears he is know the heartbeat of the Gunners attack once again and he looks hungry to lead the team who are currently on the crest of a wave. Ozil has now scored four times in his last six games for the Gunners and after signing his new contract in the summer the former Real Madrid star looks settled under Emery.

It is still too early in the season to see whether or not Ozil and Arsenal are set to mount a serious title or top four challenge but the early signs under Emery are encouraging.

Yes, defensively they are coughing up plenty of big chances and Leicester could feel aggrieved to not be handed a penalty kick but going forward Arsenal are in fine form and Ozil is the main man behind the “sexy football” which looks sharper, quicker and more dynamic under Emery.

Bolt unlikely to agree to terms with Australian club

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Usain Bolt’s search for a professional contract may go on a bit longer.

According to the Central Coast Mariners, the Australian club he’s been training with, they have extended Bolt a contract, but conceded a deal is “unlikely” “without the financial contribution of an external third-party,”

Reports across Europe state that Bolt is looking for a $3 million contract from any team he signs with, and the Mariners appear unable to meet those demands. “We are looking at ways to do this as the club does not have the luxury to be able to do this in the Hyundai A-League,” the club said in a statement. According to a report by the Guardian, the Australian football governing body has contributed $100,000 from its marketing fund for the contract, but would add no more than that.

Bolt scored twice in a friendly last week, and he’s been training with the club for the past few weeks, but the club announced that while talks are ongoing, Bolt will not travel with the team or attend training “to ensure that there is no distraction to the Hyundai A-League squad in preparing for this weekend’s match versus Melbourne City.”

The A-League side said in the statement that while Bolt is improving, the former sprinter requires further training to become a viable professional player. “Usain has made great progression during his time on the Central Coast and we feel that he will improve further with more individual intensive training and competitive game time.”

However, the club’s head coach wasn’t so complimentary. “Do you think he’ll get in our front three? We’ve got a very good front third,” Mike Mulvey said. Central Coast sports former Leeds United, Fulham, and Aston Villa striker Ross McCormack up front, alongside 26-year-old Australian international Tommy Oar and 24-year-old Connor Pain who has one cap for the international side.

Bolt doesn’t exactly have a ton of time to improve his game, already at 32 years of age and with a full Olympic-medal-winning professional sprinting career on his legs.

Man United hosts Juventus to headline Champions League Tuesday

Getty Images
Leave a comment

The stars align at Old Trafford on Tuesday as Manchester United hosts Juventus at the forefront of the Champions League slate.

Cristiano Ronaldo returns to face his old club and his old manager, while Paul Pogba also takes on his former team as the top spot in Group H is on the line. Ronaldo is back in Champions League action since September 19 when he was controversially sent off, earning a one-match suspension he served in a 3-0 win over Young Boys.

Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho told the players after throwing away a late lead against Chelsea to “use the anger to motivate ourselves to play a big match.” They’ll take on a Juventus team that’s slightly banged up, missing Mario Mandzukic, Emre Can and Sami Khedira all out injured. Manchester United also has its own issues, with Alexis Sanchez unavailable with Mourinho confirming he’s “not fit” although no other injury information was given.

Elsewhere on Tuesday, Manchester City travels east to take on Ukranian club Shakhtar Donetsk. Group F is crowded through two matches, with City in second a point behind Olympique Lyon at the top. Kevin De Bruyne is in the squad after returning from injury over the weekend, coming off the bench for 32 minutes of Premier League play against Burnley. They’ll look to attack a Shakhtar defense that choked away a 2-0 lead against Lyon last time out. City has Kyle Walker available as well, announced as part of the matchday squad.

Bayern Munich visits AEK Athens having returned to winning ways over the weekend with a 3-1 victory over Wolfsburg. It’s a welcome sight for Niko Kovac, who was under fire for a terrible stretch of games, but now the Bavarians have a positive result to take with them on the road. Robert Lewandowski and James Rodriguez were both on the scoresheet, with the Polish international grabbing a brace.

Ajax takes on Benfica in Amsterdam as the Dutch side looks to extend its lead at the top of Group E. They’re tied with Bayern on points, but hold a slightly superior goal differential. Since falling to PSV Eindhoven in Eredivisie play, they have blown out Fortuna Sittard, AZ Alkmaar, and Heerenveen 11-0 over their last three games. Klaas-Jan Huntelaar already has 10 goals this season across all competitions, and former Southampton attacker Dusan Tadic is right behind him with 9.

Real Madrid has its best chance to turn around the poor run of play as they host Czech club Viktoria Plzen. Madrid has not won since September 22, a run of five matches that consists of four defeats. The club broke a scoreless streak of over 450 minutes last time out in a 2-1 loss to Levante, but the pressure has only increased on head coach Julen Lopetegui.

Other matches

Young Boys vs Valencia
AS Roma vs CSKA Moscow
Hoffenheim vs Lyon