Man United 4-1 Leicester: Red Devils rampant without Rooney

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  • Rooney dropped to bench
  • Pogba scores first United goal
  • United 4-0 up at HT
  • Leicester’s Gray scores stunner

Manchester United and Jose Mourinho responded to their critics in emphatic fashion on Saturday at Old Trafford as the Red Devils blew past Leicester City 4-1 after a sensational first half display.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

Goals from Chris Smalling, Juan Mata, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba (his first-ever goal for United) rocked the Foxes and despite Demarai Gray‘s stunner giving them hope in the second half, United always looked fairly comfortable.

United’s captain and talisman Wayne Rooney was left out of the starting lineup and after at least the first half display he may find it tough to get back into Mourinho’s plans.

With the win United now have 12 points with four wins from their first six games. Leicester remain on seven points and have now lost three PL games in 2016-17, the same number of defeats they had throughout their title-winning campaign last season.

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United started well with Daley Blind and Zlatan Ibrahimovic lashing shots wide but Leicester grew into the game as the first half wore on. After 22 minutes Smalling headed United in front from Blind’s outswinging corner from the left. 1-0 to the Red Devils.

Rashford then had a glorious chance to make it 2-0 after a sumptuous ball from Ibrahimovic played him in, but he lashed his effort way wide. United continued to pour forward with Pogba dinking a sublime ball over the top and after chesting it on the turn Zlatan sent his volley over. United’s fans were fired up and applauded their teams attacking intent.

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Pogba then sent in a dipping, swerving effort which went towards the top corner but Zieler palmed it away and soon United were 2-0 up. Pogba dinked a lovely ball to Jesse Lingard and his lay off found Mata who expertly drilled home. 2-0.

Before half time it was 3-0 as Blind played a short corner to Mata in the box and his cross was slotted home by Rashford. Then it got worse for Leicester as they switched off from another corner as Pogba rose highest and powered a header home for his first-ever goal for United. 4-0. United cruising at the interval after a rampant attacking display.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]  

At half time Ranieri made two changes as Jamie Vardy and Riyad Mahrez were hooked off with Gray and Andy King coming on.

Leicester pulled one back through Gray as the youngster cut in from the left and smashed an unstoppable shot into the top corner. Stunning goal. 4-1.

Buoyed by that goal Leicester pushed for another but United looked dangerous on the break with Lingard setting up Ibrahimovic but his low shot was saved well by Ron-Robert Zieler.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Gray almost bent in another stunner but David De Gea clawed the ball away and although Rooney came off the bench late on, the points were wrapped up for United as Mourinho’s boy got back on track.

La Liga: Real Madrid disappoint in home draw with Valladolid

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Real Madrid 1-1 Real Valladolid

With Barcelona losing on the season’s opening day, and now Real Madrid dropping points on Saturday to the side that finished 16th last season, the 2019 La Liga title race appears to be wide open.

Karim Benzema put Real Madrid 1-0 up after 82 minutes, and Los Blancos appeared to have avoided a disappointing start to their home campaign. However, Sergi Guardiola (no relation to Pep) had other ideas when he bagged an unlikely equalizer in the 88th minute.

Eden Hazard remained out with a thigh injury and the $113-million Belgian isn’t expected to make his Madrid debut until after the season’s international break which takes place the first full weekend of September. James Rodriguez made his return to Real Madrid after two seasons on loan to Bayern Munich, but the Colombian was subbed off after 57 minutes to be replaced by Vinicius Junior.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Celta Vigo 1-0 Valencia
Getafe 1-1 Athletic Bilbao
Osasuna 0-0 Eibar

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Mallorca v. Real Sociedad — 11 a.m. ET
Alaves v. Espanyol — 11 a.m. ET
Leganes v. Atletico Madrid — 1 p.m. ET
Barcelona v. Real Betis — 3 p.m. ET

Serie A: Juventus edge past Parma; Napoli-Fiorentina thriller (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Parma 0-1 Juventus

Juventus’ quest to win a ninth straight Serie A title began with a win away to Parma on Saturday, but only just barely. Giorgio Chiellini scored the game’s only goal in the 21st minute, redirecting Alex Sandro’s half-volley past the goalkeeper after a corner kick wasn’t fully cleared. The victory sets Maurizio Sarri‘s side (Sarri wasn’t in charge of the team on Saturday as he continues to recover from pneumonia) on its way in a season that figures to feature multiple challengers to the throne, with Napoli and Inter Milan each strengthening their squads considerably in the summer. Sarri will also miss out on next weekend’s heavyweight clash between Juve and last season’s runners-up Napoli at Allianz Stadium.

Cristiano Ronaldo had a goal taken off the board after the video-assistant referee picked up on the narrowest of offside calls.

$85-million center back Matthijs de Ligt was named to the bench, where he remained for the entirety of 90 minutes, with veterans Chiellini and Leonardo Bonucci preferred to the 20-year-old. Goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon joined De Ligt on the bench in his return to Juve after spending last season at Paris Saint-Germain.

Fiorentina 3-4 Napoli

Napoli’s 4-3 victory over Fiorentina was a truly wild ride. There is no other way to describe it.

Napoli went from a goal down inside the first 10 minutes, to 2-1 up just before halftime, level at 2-2 in the 52nd minute, 3-2 ahead just four minutes later, level at 3-3 in the 65th, and finally 4-3 ahead just two minutes later.

Dries Mertens (38th), Lorenzo Insigne (43rd and 67th) and Jose Callejon (56th) got the goals for Carlo Ancelotti’s side.

Hirving Lozano, who joined Napoli for $44 million on Friday, wasn’t yet available to make his debut but will only add another level of quality to what has proven to be an already impressive attacking unit.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Udinese v. AC Milan — 12 p.m. ET
Roma v. Genoa — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sampdoria v. Lazio — 2:45 p.m. ET
Cagliari v. Brescia — 2:45 p.m. ET
Verona v. Bologna — 2:45 p.m. ET
SPAL v. Atalanta — 2:45 p.m. ET
Torino v. Sassuolo — 2:45 p.m. ET

Messi to miss Barcelona’s next game; Suarez, Dembele also out

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Lionel Messi has been left out of Barcelona’s squad to face Real Betis in the Spanish league on Sunday.

[ MORE: Liverpool bests wobbly Arsenal at Anfield | Player ratings ]

Messi returned to training this week after recovering from a right calf injury picked up in preseason, but the Argentina star was not included in the list of players available for the team’s home opener at Camp Nou Stadium.

He missed the team’s 1-0 loss to Athletic Bilbao in the league opener last weekend.

Coach Ernesto Valverde is also without forwards Luiz Suarez and Ousmane Dembele because of injuries.

Klopp preens after Liverpool win: ‘Our identity is intensity’

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Liverpool and Arsenal entertained on Saturday, with the Reds earning a deserved 3-1 win and keeping the Gunners off-kilter for most of the day.

Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds pushed the tempo for much of the match and overcame some wobbly moments at the back to cruise to the win.

[ MORE: Liverpool-Arsenal recap | 3 things ]

They were tough, fiery, and deserved every bit of the win. And Klopp knows it, and knows that you know it. From the BBC:

“Our identity is intensity, and we showed that today. … We were a bit surprised by their system. We couldn’t know that they would play a diamond, but we switched things around and coped very well.

“The last 10 minutes I saw the possession – 53 to 47 or something like that – but over 80 minutes it must have been completely different. For 80 minutes we were completely in charge of the game. We are not Disneyland, we do not need to excite everyone in every second.”

This guy is an absolute beauty. Even those who despise him have to admit that we are lucky to have him.

Klopp’s men lapsed late and allowed a Lucas Torreira goal. The defense has been wobbly over the first three weeks of the season, and preseason was just as rough. Klopp would’ve loved a clean sheet for the first time since the first week of preseason, but he’s happy with the performance.

“I would have loved to have it, but things can happen. They’re a quality side, Arsenal. I didn’t see that many chances, but we were really in charge today and completely deserved the win.”

Liverpool is off to Burnley next, and then will enjoy the international break.