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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.”

UEFA Nations League: Portugal win again without Ronaldo

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A roundup of all of Thursday’s action in the 2018-19 UEFA Nations League…

[ MORE: Eden Hazard says he won’t leave Chelsea in January ]

Poland 2-3 Portugal

A Cristiano Ronaldo-less Portugal side fell behind Poland after 18 minutes — when Krzysztof Piatek, Serie A’s leading scorer (Genoa) after eight games, netted the opening goal and the first of his international career — but the reigning European champions proceeded to score the next three — courtesy of Andre Silva, Kamil Gilk (own goal) and Bernardo Silva — in a span of 21 minutes. Jakub Blaszczykowski pulled one back in the 77th minute, but 3-2 is as close as Poland would get.

Ronaldo hasn’t played for Portugal since the summer, prior to his $123-million transfer from Real Madrid to Juventus. Blaszczykowski became Poland’s all-time caps leader (103), while Robert Lewandowski made his 100th appearance for his country and assisted his former Borussia Dortmund teammate on the late consolation goal.

Portugal sits atop League A Group 3 with six points from two games, while Poland and Italy sit second and third with a single point.

Russia 0-0 Sweden

In League B Group 2, Russia and Sweden played to a scoreless draw. Russia sit top of the group with four points from two games, with Turkey and Sweden in second and third, on three and one points, respectively.

Israel 2-1 Scotland

Scotland sit atop League C Group 1 after two games played, but only barely. With three teams — the Scots, Israel and Albania — all on three points, there’s very little to separate one side from the next.

Scotland took a first-half lead on Thursday, thanks to Charlie Mulgrew’s penalty kick in the 25th minute, but a second-half collapse — completed by a Kieran Tierney own goal in the 74th — gave Israel their first victory and points of the competition. Having out-shot the visitors 25-7 (9-2 on target), the result was deserved.

Elsewhere in UEFA Nations League action

League C Group 4

Montenegro 0-2 Serbia
Lithuania 1-2 Romania

League D Group 3

Faroe Islands 0-3 Azerbaijan
Kosovo 3-1 Malta

Friday’s UEFA Nations League schedule (all games start at 2:45 p.m. ET)

League A Group 2

Belgium vs. Switzerland

League A Group 4

Croatia vs. England

League B Group 3

Austria vs. Northern Ireland

League C Group 2

Greece vs. Hungary
Estonia vs. Finland

League D Group 2

Moldova vs. San Marino
Belarus vs. Luxembourg

Report: Henry set to take Monaco job as Jardim shown door

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One of the most gifted talents in world soccer history could be taking the reins of a club known for developing such players.

Thierry Henry is about to get the keys to AS Monaco, the club that raised him, as the floundering French club is set to fire Leonardo Jardim according to ESPN.

[ PL ROUNDTABLE: The story so far ]

Monaco has just one win in nine matches to start the Ligue 1 season, and sits in 18th place. It’s also lost its first two Champions League matches of the group stage ahead of two must-win contests with Club Brugge.

Henry, 41, saw his star rise this summer as an assistant to Roberto Martinez in Belgium’s impressive World Cup run.

Monaco has sold an almost overwhelming amount of talent in the past few seasons, sending Kylian Mbappe, Thomas Lemar, Fabinho, Terence Kongolo, Joao Moutinho, Benjamin Mendy, Tiemoue Bakayoko, Bernardo Silva, and oh my goodness I’m still typing.

Henry was reportedly offered the Bordeaux job earlier this season, but patience has paid off for the former Arsenal, Barcelona, and New York Red Bulls star.

Going the Zinedine Zidane route is intriguing for Monaco and Henry, who will not be expected to push the squad from a relegation fight to the title, and will have plenty of patience and the opportunity to either rescue the Champions League campaign or run the club into a Europa League experience.

With new pieces Aleksandr Golovin and Nacer Chadli joining Danijel Subasic, Kamil Glik, Youri Tielemans, and Radamel Falcao, the club will be fine in Ligue 1. And if Henry can develop youngsters like Moussa Sylla, Willem Geubbels, and Pietro Pellegri (when healthy), he’ll only grow his star in Europe. If he fails, so what? The club won’t be relegated and a native son will likely be viewed as a man in a bare cupboard situation.

Tactical stalemate as Klopp, Guardiola show respect

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LIVERPOOL — They were the top two teams in the Premier League heading into this clash and the feeling of respect was palpable during the entire 90 minutes on Sunday at Anfield. They now sit level at the top of table, with Chelsea, on 20 points after eight games of the season.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

A 0-0 draw between Liverpool and Manchester City showed how closely matched these two teams are, with both Jurgen Klopp and Pep Guardiola setting their teams up to defend first and attack second.

That’s not how they usually do things, at all, but such are the fine margins this season, it proves how much respect they have for one another. After their pulsating clashes in the UEFA Champions League and the 4-3 thriller in the Premier League in 2018, this affair was more pragmatic with possession almost equal and big chances also shared evenly.

City probably asked more questions than Liverpool and such was their quality on the ball, they always looked in control and had Riyad Mahrez not missed his 86th minute penalty kick you couldn’t argue with the reigning champs edging this one.

Guardiola admitted after the game that his team were deeper than usual as they controlled Liverpool’s rapid forward line expertly.

“If you play so quick they are much better than us. We want to create but when you make a mistake. We like to make the process, to build up, to make the spaces, it is not easy. But if it is an open game at Anfield, or any open game against Liverpool, you don’t even have one percent of a chance. They are so good. They play for that,” Guardiola said. “We control it through Riyad, Bernardo, the guys to give the extra pass. It is important to give that pace, that up and down. They are maybe, no, they are the best team in the world in these transitions, offensive, defensive, there is no team better in the world than that. It is built for that. That is what Jurgen feels and the players build, and in that situation they are much better.”

Just ahead of his three-year anniversary at Liverpool, Klopp returned the compliment.

Liverpool’s boss was happy with the way his team played after a gruelling run of games which saw them play PSG, Chelsea twice, Napoli and Man City in the space of just over two weeks.

“It is an unbelievable challenge to face Man City and as the last game it makes the challenge even bigger,” Klopp said. “I am really happy with what the boys did. If you want to win against Man City you have to use a few of these half chances. You need to finish. You cannot defend over 95 minutes, 100 percent but I thought how we defended was brilliant. The penalty and one or two situations that need a really good save, that is true, but we played City now that often and they are just outstanding. In no game, we played so far, the game that kind of level like it was today. Even when we won 3-0 at home and 4-3 at home, it was not like that. Maybe when we won 2-1 at City, they pushed us in our own 18-yard box and we didn’t know exactly how to come out. It is for both teams it was really intense and both showed respect for the other team. Don’t lose the ball in the wrong moment, otherwise you have a big problem. The teams did well and we were a bit lucky with the penalty, of course, that is clear.”

Klopp echoed Guardiola’s sentiments that Liverpool had more than one eye on City ahead of the game, and suggested his team were more reluctant to jump into challenges and press the reigning champs high.

“You cannot ignore City in the preparation for a City game,” Klopp said. “For a higher rhythm you need space and both teams didn’t give any space away. Against City, if you don’t defend half spaces they are constantly between your midfield and your last line, you have to constantly jump from your last line, which you don’t want to do that often. One situation and they are alone in front of your goalie, or alone in the box and they shoot and score an easy goal. That is how they score goals. It is so difficult to defend so I am really happy how we did it. We had a little setback on Wednesday. I watched the game on the flight back. That was really important to see it agains, to adjust a few things. It was so much better today. If would have defended today like we did against Napoli, it is 7-0. No doubt about that. We were back on track even after we had to change Milly [James Milner] which you never want to do, especially in the first half. It was an unbelievably intense period of fixtures, crazy. It makes no sense to moan about it when you are in it but now it is over so I can moan about it. It was unbelievable, playing these teams, it is really difficult. I am happy with the results we got.”

Yet there was a sense of what could have been for Guardiola, as City had two clear penalty kick shouts in each half (other than the one Mahrez skied).

The Spanish coach finished the love-in between himself and Klopp.

“The referee decided it was a foul by Fernandinho. Maybe we need two penalties to score one goal. I would not like to speak about the referees, about the decisions,” Guardiola said when asked by Pro Soccer Talk. “We had a clear chance in the last action so we controlled quite well. We know this club how complicated it is playing in this stadium and how dangerous they are. They are incredibly quick and we controlled them outstandingly, but we didn’t create too much. That is normal because they are so strong. It is a point. We were close, more than ever to winning here but it is better than last season and we compete really really good. We had our chance.”

Sigurdsson’s stunner wins it for Everton at Leicester

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  • Richarlison scores 4th PL goal
  • Leicester skipper Morgan sent off
  • Ricardo grabs first Leicester goal
  • Sigurdsson scores 50th PL goal

Everton beat 10-man Leicester City 2-1 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday, with the Toffees securing back-to-back wins in the Premier League for the first time this season.

Richarlison gave Everton the lead but Ricardo Pereira‘s superb goal made it 1-1 before the break. Wes Morgan was then sent off after picking up a second yellow card and Everton won it thanks to a stunner from distance from Gylfi Sigurdsson.

With the win Everton move up to 10th on 12 points, while Leicester sit in ninth with 12 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ] 

After a bright start from Leicester, it was Everton who took the lead after a moment of magic from Bernard.

The Brazilian playmaker, making his first PL start, cut in from the left and dinked the ball to the back post for Richarlison to finish.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Everton kept pouring forward and Richarlison crossed for Sigurdsson who looked to be bundled over as he was about to tap in but no penalty kick was given. The game continued in an end-to-end fashion as Jamie Vardy nodded wide and Theo Walcott had a shot tipped over.

Walcott then went down easily under pressure from Harry Maguire and at the other end Vardy raced free after a long ball over the top but got his finish all wrong. Leicester then equalized on the break, as they cleared a corner from Everton and Ricardo popped up on the left flank before cutting inside and sending a finish past Jordan Pickford at the near post. 1-1.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the second half Everton looked dangerous on the break as Walcott forced Kasper Schmeichel into a stop down low.

Leicester were reduced to 10 men as Morgan received his second yellow card for taking down Richarlison for a third time during the game.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Sigurdsson slammed a shot towards the bottom corner which Schmeichel tipped wide as Everton pushed hard for a winner.

Moments later Sigurdsson won it for Everton as he turned superbly in the middle of the pitch and belted home a wonderful effort into the top corner from over 30 yards out.

A goal worthy of winning any game, even though Daniel Amarety should have equalized for Leicester but he got his finish all wrong.