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Clinical Portugal tops Scotland in friendly

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Alex McLeish is in a world of hurt as manager of Scotland as they fell at home to Portugal 3-1 after a host of missed opportunities and defensive errors. The visitors were at less than full strength, without Cristiano Ronaldo and Bernardo Silva.

Scotland started the game in Hampden brightly and nearly had the opener as Beto was forced to make a save on his own man Sergio Oliveira. Portugal found its way into the game and missed a few chances before they bagged the first just before halftime as Wolverhampton winger Helder Costa beat Andrew Robertson to the far post where he cut inside and met Kévin Rodrigues’ cross for a sliding finish.

The hosts had chances, as Scott McKenna missed a header after the break. That would prove costly, as Portugal struck again with 19 minutes remaining through Eder. Stephen O’Donnell was the culprit as Eder beat him to the far post on a Renato Sanchez free-kick, earning an open header.

Finally, in the 84th minute, Portugal found a third as a giveaway in the midfield allowed the visitors to break. Bruma took the ball down the left flank and turned Graeme Shinnie completely around before unleashing a powerful shot into the top corner. Steven Naismith grabbed a consolation in stoppage time but the damage had been done.

The loss is the sixth in the last eight for McLeish, who admitted he was at fault for the recent struggles. “It’s never easy to lose and that was a tough weekend,” said McLeish after the match. “I have to stand up and be brave and take it forward. There’s other examples of managers being under the cosh – Michael O’Neil and the Russian camp and Stanislav Cherchesov persevered. I’ll always retain that determination.”

“It’s basic errors that we made and that is the disappointing aspect of it,” said McLeish of the mistakes at the back. “You expect the top teams to cut you open with majestic skills, but we were the perpetrators of our own mistakes. I thought there was a lot of good football. We had a good game plan, we were compact, we pressed when we had a chance to press. I know there was a few Portugal players rested but there was a still a hell of a lot of money out on that pitch.”

Three things learned: Liverpool v. Man City

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LIVERPOOL – It was billed as the best game of the season so far as the two title favorites locked horns at Anfield.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

A 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Manchester City ensued in a cagey encounter where both teams kept their unbeaten record intact for this season, while Riyad Mahrez smashed a penalty kick over the bar late on as City almost snatched all three points.

Here’s what we learned from Anfield.


CITY’S DEEP LINE SHOWED LIVERPOOL TOO MUCH RESPECT

Manchester City passed the ball between their goalkeeper Ederson and two center backs John Stones and Aymeric Laporte time and time again in the first half. They deliberately held a deep defensive line to stop any threat from Liverpool’s rapid forwards in-behind them. That frustrated Liverpool no end, but also diminished City’s presence as an attacking unit. It showed plenty of respect for Liverpool and after being beaten three times in their last four outings against Klopp’s side, you could hardly forgive Guardiola’s pragmatic approach.

City didn’t waver too far from their usual possession-based philosophy, but there was enough of a diversion from their norm to suggest that showed supreme caution as to what Liverpool could do to them. City had just 51 percent possession, which is their lowest amount in a PL game since Guardiola took charge. Even when Gabriel Jesus came on in the second half it wasn’t to give Aguero some much needed support. Yet Guardiola’s team controlled large spells of the second half and they ground Liverpool down with Mahrez twice coming close before he wasted a glorious opportunity by smashing a penalty kick high into the Anfield Road end. City will be happy with a point at Anfield given the fact that Guardiola had lost on both of his previous visits to Liverpool. But maybe, just maybe, Man City gave Liverpool too much respect.


PK CALLS GO LIVERPOOL’S WAY IN EDGY ENCOUNTER

Mahrez wasted City’s biggest chance from the penalty spot but City could have easily had three penalty kicks with Virgil Van Dijk handling in the box in the second half (although a foul on him was belatedly given) and Dejan Lovren clumsily bundled over Sergio Aguero in the first half. The breaks went Liverpool’s way in a tight, tense game. Aside from the penalty debates, there were enough late challenges, clever fouls and angry reactions on the sidelines to suggest this rivalry is growing into something special. Yes, this game wasn’t a classic compared to Liverpool’s 4-3 win last season at Anfield, but that is because these two teams are so evenly-matched and have so much respect for one another that they failed to take risks and didn’t divert from their gameplan during the game.

They each swapped a striker for a striker instead of going for it and Guardiola and Klopp will both be happy enough with a point from this encounter before the two-week international break. Liverpool’s unbeaten run at home is now stretched to 25 PL games, while they haven’t lost in their last 14 games against the so-called “top six” which dates back to January 2016. These two next do battle at the Etihad Stadium on Jan. 1 and we can expect a similar encounter with both teams atop the table. They now sit level on 20 points atop the table with Chelsea and those three are your favorites to win the Premier League. The title race is on.


SALAH’S RUST REMAINS

Mohamed Salah just can’t shake off the rust which has encased his 2018-19 season so far. He had a field day against Man City last season, missing several chances in his first-ever game against them and was then involved in five goals (three goals, two assists) in his next three encounters against City. In truth, he didn’t look dangerous all afternoon at Anfield. In the 63rd minute he cut inside on his left foot and like last season, he curled a shot in on goal. Unlike last season the ball didn’t fly into the top corner as he wheeled away in disgust as Ederson easily saved. We’ve seen that frustrated, almost tormented, look on Salah’s face far too often this season. We saw it again six minutes later as Andrew Robertson played a long ball up to Salah but his first touch was a little off and he skied his effort over the bar and into the Kop. That just about sums up Salah’s season so far as he’s scored three goals in 11 games in all competitions. It was always going to be impossible for him to replicate the season he had in 2017-18, yet the reasons for Salah’s are plentiful. Goalkeepers now know where he wants to finish and defenders understand his movements and runs better. Add in his shoulder injury at the end of last season and the fact that he rushed back to play for Egypt at the World Cup, and there could also be a general lack of sharpness rolled in there.

3 Things We Learned from Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool

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Chelsea nearly topped Liverpool at Stamford Bridge, handing the Reds their first loss of the season and first Premier League loss since…Chelsea beat them at Stamford Bridge on May 6 of last season. Then Daniel Sturridge happened.

[ RECAP: Chelsea 1-1 Liverpool ]

It wasn’t to be for the Blues, as the substitute’s stunning curler brought Liverpool level and saved a point for the Reds.

There was plenty to take from the game, with Mohamed Salah misfiring, Eden Hazard scoring, Kepa Arrizabalaga and Alisson both saving, and Daniel Sturridge celebrating. What were the biggest takeaways from the 90 minutes in London?

Mo Salah was last season’s star, but so far this campaign it’s Eden Hazard

Mohamed Salah is a fantastic player, and was spectacular last season, unbeatable at times. However, to this point in the season and in this match, he was out-dueled by his Belgian opponent Hazard. The Chelsea playmaker was impossible to guard, leaving defenders in his dust constantly.

His off-ball movement is top class, putting not only himself but his teammates in the best position to succeed. At the moment, there’s nobody better and in better form in the Premier League than Hazard.

Liverpool’s full-backs are promising young players that still have lots to learn

NBC commentator Lee Dixon, a former Arsenal full-back, was all over Trent Alexander-Arnold and Andrew Robertson in the first half for their defensive positioning, and he was spot-on. Dixon criticized Robertson first for allowing Willian to get by him for Chelsea’s first big chance that saw Alisson smother the shot, and subsequently faulted Alexander-Arnold on Liverpool’s right for slipping too high up the pitch before Eden Hazard broke.

There’s no doubting the fact that both players are top class and have bright futures ahead of them, but as Dixon said during the broadcast, they still need to be reminded that their attacking responsibilities are secondary to the defensive positioning. He mentioned that getting beat either over your head or to the inside is unacceptable, and that happened to both Liverpool full-backs.

Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool is always good for a sensational moment

No matter the game, no matter how much time left, no matter who the opponent, Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool was built for the special moment. His team is molded to perform for a full 90 minutes in a system that would exhaust most teams would by the hour mark. Somehow, some way, he wills his players to perform week in week out, and no moment is too big.

Daniel Sturridge coming off the bench and scoring that outstanding goal is a massive moment in the Premier League title race, and it certainly won’t be the last from Liverpool. They may win the title and they may not, but they will always be in the running. Never count out the Reds this season.

Premier League player Power Rankings

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Premier League player Power Rankings are back after Week 6 of the 2018-19 season.

[ MORE: Full Power Rankings archive ]

The cream usually rises to the top but this week we have quite a few surprise inclusions into the upper echelons of our rankings.

Remember: this is a list of the top 20 performing players right now in the Premier League and based on them actually playing in the previous Matchweek. If they didn’t play due to injury or suspension, they aren’t going to make this list. Simple.

Let us know in the comments section below if you agree with the selections.


  1. Ilkay Gundogan (Man City) – New entry
  2. Mohamed Salah (Liverpool) – New entry
  3. Aaron Lennon (Burnley) – New entry
  4. Jamie Vardy (Leicester City) – New entry
  5. Ruben Neves (Wolves) – Up 7
  6. Bernardo Silva (Man City) – New entry
  7. David De Gea (Man United ) – Up 11
  8. Jorginho (Chelsea) – Even
  9. Sadio Mane (Liverpool) – Down 3
  10. Harry Kane (Tottenham) – New entry
  11. N’Golo Kante (Chelsea) – New entry
  12. Eden Hazard (Chelsea) – Down 12
  13. Andrew Robertson (Liverpool) – New entry
  14. Joao Moutinho (Wolves) – New entry
  15. Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Arsenal) – New entry
  16. James Madisson (Leicester City) – New entry
  17. Lukasz Fabianski (West Ham) – New entry
  18. Raul Jimenez (Wolves) – Down 2
  19. Aleksandar Mitrovic (Fulham) – New entry
  20. Joe Hart (Burnley) – New entry

Liverpool edge past Leicester, stay perfect

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  • Mane, Firmino gave Liverpool 2-0 lead
  • Ghezzal pulled a goal back
  • Liverpool make it 4 wins from 4
  • Alisson‘s blunder costs Liverpool’s clean sheet

Liverpool beat Leicester City 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday but the visitors were second-best for most of the game.

[ VIDEO: Alisson’s blunder ]

First half goals from Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino had the Reds flying but Leicester created numerous chances and stopped Jurgen Klopp‘s Liverpool from playing their normal game. The Foxes were then handed a gift as Alisson made a huge mistake and Rachid Ghezzal pulled a goal back but Claude Puel‘s side couldn’t find an equalizer.

Still, it’s four wins from four for the Reds heading into the international break and Klopp will be more than satisfied with that return.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

Firmino had a shot which was well saved and Liverpool should have gone four minutes in but Salah inexplicably missed a golden chance.

After good work from Andrew Robertson, Mane made no mistake a few minutes later as he pokes home a left-footed shot into the net to make it 1-0.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ] 

Georginio Wijnaldum then had an effort blocked with Robertson’s follow-up cross cleared. Demarai Gray was then played in but Alisson saved his shot well down low as Leicester stared to get back into the game.

Before half time Salah turned his man and curled an effort towards the far corner which Kasper Schmeichel pushed away. Right on half time Liverpool made it 2-0 as Firmino powerfully headed home Milner’s corner.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

In the second half Leicester pushed hard to get back into the game with Madisson wriggling free of Virgil Van Dijk but Joe Gomez brilliantly blocked his shot.

Moments later Wes Morgan couldn’t react quick enough to a cross into the box as a glorious chance came and went for the Foxes.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Leicester deservedly got a goal back late in the game as Alisson was caught in possession by Kelechi Iheanacho and the Leicester forward squared for Ghezzal to tap home.

Liverpool continued to struggle with the pressing of Leicester but did have a chance from a free kick but Mane headed wide.