Liverpool snatch dramatic late win at Aston Villa

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Liverpool just won’t give up.

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Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain unbeaten in the Premier League, as they struck twice late on to win 2-1 at Aston Villa on Saturday.

Andrew Robertson headed home in the 88th minute to equalize after Trezeguet had given Villa the lead in the first half, then Sadio Mane scored in stoppage time to seal the dramatic comeback win.

Liverpool’s lead atop the table remains at six points ahead of their next Premier League game, which is against Man City next Sunday.


3 things we learned

1. Gritty Liverpool grind it out again: What a comeback. This Liverpool side have fought back in each of their last three games, with a draw at Man United, a win against Tottenham and now a late, late, late victory at Aston Villa thanks to another comeback. The way Klopp and his players celebrated when Mane scored told the entire story. This is a side which never gives up. They were relentless and bullied their way back into the game after another slow start. With their 27-game unbeaten run on the line, Liverpool stood tall. Like they keep doing each and every week, no matter what situation they find themselves in.

2. Villa fail to make most of another shock lead: Just like they did against Tottenham on the opening day of the season, Villa coughed up another shock lead. Dean Smith‘s side are a fine team to watch but they just don’t have that nasty edge to their game to grind out victories. That will come and hanging on against Liverpool isn’t easy, but they sat back and just couldn’t couldn’t control the game in midfield as the Reds won the ball back time and time again.

3. Title race set up perfectly: Both Liverpool and Man City rallied to secure late comeback wins on Saturday, and it set things up for their monster clash at Anfield next Sunday. There will be so many twists and turns in this title race, and next weekend’s encounter will be epic. Liverpool are doing everything they can to stay ahead of Man City because they know Pep Guardiola‘s side will improve. After 11 games of the season, the title race is set up perfectly.

Man of the Match: Sadio Mane – A constant pest for Villa’s defense, Mane set up Robertson to make it 1-1, then scored the winner himself in stoppage time. A superb display in a superb season for Mane, even if he was booked for simulation in the first half. Aside from that he was brilliant.


Wesley and Bjorn Engels almost got on the end of a loose ball in the box as Villa were pinned back early but

Villa did take the lead through Trezeguet, as a free kick to the back post found the Egyptian winger unmarked and he finished to make it 1-0.

Liverpool then thought they had equalized as Firmino put the ball in the back of the net after a cross from Mane, but the Brazilian was offside and VAR was used to rule it out. By the tightest of margins, Liverpool were denied a first half equalizer.

Mane was then caught by Frederic Guilbert as VAR was used and the Liverpool forward was booked for simulation.

Liverpool huffed and puffed as they tried to get back in the game, as Villa did their best to lock down the lively Mane.

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In the second half Georginio Wijnaldum tested Tom Heaton and then the English goalkeeper denied Mane’s header, while at the other end Wesley was almost set free on the break.

Mohamed Salah was found by Andrew Robertson at the back post but his header was off target as Liverpool pushed hard for an equalizer.

Substitute Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain made a big impact off the bench as Engels and Mings blocked his shots, then Mane slipped as he got an effort off on the edge of the box and Adam Lallana then missed a glorious chance.

At the other end Trezeguet set up Connor Hourihane and with Alisson racing off his line, Virgil Van Dijk arrived to clear the danger.

Trent Alexander-Arnold flashed a shot inches wide, and then Liverpool secured the win.

First, Robertson headed home at the back post to make it 1-1 after Mane’s great cross.

And then Alexander-Arnold’s free kick was tipped over in stoppage time, and from the resulting corner Mane brilliantly flicked home a header to make it 2-1.

Cue wild scenes in the away end at Villa Park.

Serie A roundup: Napoli falls to Parma in debut for Gattuso (video)

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Napoli’s last-minute loss to Parma in Gennaro Gattuso’s debut highlights Saturday’s Serie A action.

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Napoli 1-2 Parma

Napoli remains in a dark place as Gennaro Gattuso debut with Gli Azzurri ended in a last-minute 2-1 loss to Parma.

The defeat marks eight consecutive games without a win in Serie A play for Napoli, who dismissed Carlo Ancelotti earlier this week despite punching a ticket in the last 16 of the Champions League after a win over Genk.

After their fifth loss of the season, Napoli are currently eighth on the table with 21 points, seven behind sixth-placed Atalanta and 17 behind league leaders Inter Milan.

 

 

In the third minute of stoppage time, Gervinho – experienced as anyone else in tightly-contested situations – received a simple pass from Dejan Kulusevski, carefully striking it into the back of the net inside the six-yard box. The 32-year-old Ivorian has five goals in Serie A this season, and Saturday’s was his most important yet. 

For Gattuso (and hopeful Napoli supporters), Saturday was the antithesis of dreamy start, but with time and a change of mentality the situation may change.

“I don’t believe in bad luck. Right now we’re not good mentally,” the 41-year-old manager said following the match. “The team is paying for the fact that it has not won (in the league) for 50 or more days.”

“The first 10 minutes also prove it,” he added. “It’s tough as are the whistles of the fans. There’s a lot of work to do.”

The home side recorded 33 shots throughout the night, but Parma proved to be more clinical, scoring at death and opening the scoresheet just four minutes in. In the 64th minute, Napoli were able to get one go their way, as Dreis Merten’s lofting cross with force was headed home by Arkadiusz Milik. 

Gattuso and his men will be tested once as they travel to Sassuolo in a weeks time, while Parma look to trim their four-point gap with Atalanta when they host Brescia.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Brescia 3-0 Lecce

Genoa 0-1 Sampdoria

Hertha’s under-16s stop playing after alleged racist abuse

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BERLIN (AP) Hertha Berlin’s under-16 team stopped playing a game at regional rival Auerbach after its players were allegedly subjected to racist abuse from their opponents on Saturday.

The Bundesliga club says in a statement on its website that “several players from our team were racially abused by their opposing players.”

Hertha officials informed the referee of the alleged abuse and decided to stop playing in the 68th minute while leading 2-0 “because we as Hertha BSC condemn racism and discrimination in every form,” the club said.

Hertha executive board member Paul Keuter called it “the only correct decision, not to continue with the game.”

On Twitter, the club said: “There are times when football doesn’t come first. Racism has no place in our society.”

Hertha under-23 player Jessic Ngankam said he was targeted with monkey chants and called an “ape” by an opposing player during his side’s fourth division game against Lokomotive Leipzig on Dec. 6.

“Insults are unfortunately an everyday occurrence in football, and I can put up with them. But racist abuse is a no-go,” the 19-year-old Ngankam told broadcaster MDR.

Both Hertha and Lokomotive condemned the alleged abuse.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Ciaran Fahey on Twitter: https://twitter.com/cfaheyAP

La Liga roundup: Sociedad hold leaders Barcelona to draw (video)

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A stunning draw from top-of-the-table Barcelona highlight La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Real Sociedad 2-2 Barcelona

If Real Madrid manages to walk away from Mestalla with three points, they’ll dethrone nemesis Barcelona and become clear-cut leaders of La Liga.

Just days before El Clasico itself, a rare 2-2 draw from Barcelona against hosts Real Sociedad is the reason behind Los Blancos’ prime opportunity.

 

Former Borussia Dortmund starlet Alexander Isak tapped in his fourth goal of the season in the 62nd minute, leveling the score for Sociedad and sending the home fans into a frenzy.

In true Barcelona fashion, Real Sociedad, ironically hit the ground running first. 

After earning a foul inside the box from a corner kick set piece, Reala captain Mikel Oyarzabal converted from the spot, putting Sociedad, who have exceeded expectations this season under first-year manager Imanol Alguacil, up against the defending champions. 

It wouldn’t take long before the visitors responded, however.

A familiar face and experienced goalscorer at Anoeta, it was the ideal scenario for Antoine Griezmann to shake off some pressure that has been a key talking point surrounding the Frenchman lately. Darting inside the box with only Alex Remiro to beat, No. 17 – like in the old days – carefully chipped the ball over Remiro and into the back of the net the ball wandered. 

If the second half indicated anything early on it was that it was going to be difficult for Barcelona to drop points on Saturday. Unselfish as ever before, Lionel Messi laid off the ball to an unmarked Luis Suarez, who his team up 2-1 four minutes into the second half.

A lack of control of possession and, most notably, an unstable defensive line, would end up costing Barcelona two points.

Next for Barcelona is the game of the season: a league bout against Real Madrid on Wednesday, while Real Sociedad travel to Becerril in the second round of Copa del Rey. 

Elsewhere in La Liga

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Osasuna

Granada 1-2 Levante

Atheltic Bilbao 0-0 Eibar

South Florida officials seeking more international soccer

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MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. (AP) More than two dozen political leaders in South Florida have written letters to the U.S. Soccer Federation’s board of directors, urging them to allow top-tier international matches to take place in the Miami region.

Relevent Sports, the soccer-promoting group owned by Miami Dolphins owner Stephen Ross, filed suit against the USSF earlier this year saying that the sport’s governing body in this country was helping to prevent them from hosting certain matches.

The letters were released Friday to media outlets, including The Associated Press.

The USSF did not respond to a request for comment.

Ross’ group and top Spanish league La Liga have been working for some time to bring a regular-season match to Hard Rock Stadium, the facility Ross owns and is the Dolphins’ home.

The politicians – ranging from city mayors, county mayors, county commissioners and one state Senator – all essentially said the same thing, that bringing major international soccer to South Florida only will help the region’s tourist-dependent economy.

“Doing so will demonstrate a genuine commitment to our communities and the growth of the game, which you, as the United States Soccer Federation, are charged with promoting,” wrote Dean Trantalis, the mayor of Fort Lauderdale. That’s the city where David Beckham’s new MLS team, Inter Miami, will begin play next March.