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Europa League: Man United through, Arsenal shockingly out

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Wolves advanced in Europa League play earlier Thursday comfortably, and while Manchester United also moved on with ease, Arsenal crashed out in painful fashion.

Bruno Fernandes was a menace as Manchester United rolled over 10-man Club Brugge 5-0 at Old Trafford. He struck the post just minutes in before forcing a bigtime save from Simon Mignolet. Fernandes eventually put Manchester United up from the penalty spot just before the half-hour mark, giving the Red Devils the opener after Simon Deli was sent off for clearly handling the ball in the box.

With the man advantage, Manchester United ran ragged, with Odion Ighalo scoring his debut Red Devils goal and Scott McTominay also finding the back of the net in his full return to the squad from injury. The second half was a breeze, with Manchester United hold Club Brugge without a shot on target, while the Red Devils popped off 18 shots with eight of them on frame. Fred tacked on a pair in the final 10 minutes to complete the scoreline.

[ MORE: Early games see Wolves, Bayer advance among others ]

Arsenal appeared to be stumbling towards penalties at the Emirates as they took on Olympiakos. Then they were rescued by a moment of Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang magic. Then they were out.

After the Gunners won 1-0 in Greece, the return leg at the Emirates was a slog, with Arsenal falling in regulation 1-0 on a 58th minute Pape Abou Cisse header. That sent the match to extra time where it seemed penalties were imminent after Olympiakos substitute Georgios Masouras hit the crossbar. With just seven minutes to go, Aubameyang produced a bicycle kick to put the Gunners in front.

But just minutes later, Olympiakos leveled the aggregate scoreline with a Youssef El Arabi header in the 119th minute. Aubameyang had another chance to win it for the Gunners, but he couldn’t finish right on the doorstep at the buzzer and Arsenal crashed out of the competition.

In an empty stadium, Inter started sluggish but came back to advance past Ludogorets Razgrad 4-1 on aggregate thanks to a 2-1 victory at the San Siro. Brazilian winger Cauly opened the scoring for Ludogorets to get Inter close on aggregate, but an own goal brought Inter back level and Romelu Lukaku put the Italians in front before halftime to put them out of reach. Lukaku’s strike was a wild header that he worked while laying prone in front of Ludogorets goalkeeper Plamen Iliev.

Ajax’s disappointment continued as last year’s Champions League semifinalists dumped out of Europe via a 3-1 aggregate defeat to Getafe. After a 2-0 first-leg loss, Jamie Mata piled on the Dutch side’s woes with a fifth-minute opener. Danilo got Ajax on the board to level things up minutes later and Carel Etling doubled Ajax’s total to put them 2-1 up and within one on aggregate, but it wasn’t enough. Ajax had 71% possession but could only manage three shots on target, while the two teams racked up nine yellow cards.

Celtic failed to hold serve at home as it crashed out of European competition on a roller coaster 3-1 loss to FC Copenhagen. The visitors scored the opener on a hilarious defensive fail by Celtic five minutes after halftime.

Celtic seemed to have rescued the match as Odsonne Edouard struck in the 83rd minute, but Copenhagen bounced straight back as Pep Biel and Dame N'Doye stunned the Dublin crowd to send Celtic crashing out of Europe.

Shakhtar Donetsk advanced past Benfica in a wild 3-3 draw that saw the Ukranians move on via a 5-4 aggregate victory. Both teams held leads at various stages, but with Shakhtar trailing 2-1 shortly after halftime, Taras Stepanenko and Alan Patrick found the back of the net to put Shakhtar up for good. Benfica’s elimination seals the fate for all three Portuguese sides in the competition after both Sporting CP and Porto were bounced in the early kicks.

Sevilla labored to a 0-0 draw with Romanian side CFR Cluj, with the Spaniard advancing on away goals after a 1-1 aggregate draw. The two teams ripped off a combined 34 shots but neither found the back of the net. Sevilla racked up 2.17 xG, so elimination was not harsh on the Romanians.

The Round of 16 draw will be held at 7:00 a.m. ET tomorrow morning.

Europa League results (bolded team advances)

Arsenal 2-2 Olympiacos (AET)
Manchester United 5-0 Club Brugge
Inter Milan 2-1 Ludogorets
Benfica 3-3 Shakhtar Donetsk
Ajax 2-1 Getafe
Celtic 0-1 FC Copenhagen
Sevilla 0-0 CFR Cluj

Woodward ‘pleased with the progress being made’ in Man Utd project

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Manchester United executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward released a lengthy statement lauding the club’s transfer process, including manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in the long-term plan.

While the United manager has struggled after a hot start in charge of the Red Devils, his chairman seems to see him as part of the solution.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Woodward points to the acquisitions and financial outlay that brought Aaron Wan-Bissaka, Harry Maguire, and Bruno Fernandes to Old Trafford, and says it’s only going to get better.

He says that Solskjaer and his staff are in lockstep with the club’s transfer staff. From ManUtd.com:

“Significant work has already been done – and investments made – to strengthen the Academy and we’re pleased with the progress being made behind-the-scenes to ensure we have the right players, the right infrastructure, and the right culture to sustain long-term success.

“Similarly, there has been extensive work on our recruitment process, with considerable investment in scouting, data and analytics. The Recruitment Department is working to a clear plan and philosophy, along with Ole and his coaching staff. Our focus is on bringing in a combination of experience and the best young players with potential to develop further, fusing graduates from our Academy with high-quality acquisitions.”

It hasn’t been a great time for Woodward, whose house was shockingly attacked while he was not home (his family was in the building).

Speaking frankly, United’s current plight is down to long-term mistakes, and Woodward’s been at the wheel. Maguire’s price tag was hilarious, but all three of the aforementioned transfers make them better.

According to The Manchester Evening News, “United have promised ‘unequivocal’ backing for manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, despite an unconvincing 11 months as permanent manager.”

That’s saying something. United should have a ton of money to spend this summer, assuming a sale of Paul Pogba amongst others. Marcus Rashford getting fit and Mason Greenwood maturing could give them a terrific attack in front of Fernandes.

Whether Solskjaer is the right man to execute that, who knows? One would have to think that Sir Alex Ferguson is on board with the way things are going now, as he still seems to loom over proceedings.

But come next season, when United is looking at something like $400 million in transfer outlay under Solskjaer, you better believe the fuse will be lit if the Red Devils aren’t firmly in the top four.

PL AT HALF: Goals, goals everywhere as Arsenal leads, Man City trails

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The Premier League’s six 10 a.m. ET kickoffs provided loads of late goals and a red card that’s a hilarious look for everyone but Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game live here ] 


West Ham 1-1 Everton – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

The Irons went ahead through an Issa Diop header of a Robert Snodgrass header, as the Scottish playmaker is having a day at the London Stadium, but Calvert-Lewin nodded home a Lucas Digne corner before halftime.

Southampton 2-0 Wolves – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Saints’ rocket up the Premier League table continues at St. Mary’s, where Jan Bednarek and Shane Long have a two-goal lead on Nuno Espirito Santo‘s struggling men.

Brighton 1-0 Aston Villa – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Leandro Trossard smashed a shot home to give the Seagulls an advantage at the break.

Arsenal 1-0 Sheffield United – NBCSN [STREAM]

Gabriel Martinelli missed the first best chance of the match, cued up by exceptional passes from Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe. The youngster didn’t miss his second, punching home a 45th minute deflected cross from Bukayo Saka.

Man City 0-1 Crystal Palace – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

We told you Cenk Tosun‘s numbers were better than you thought, and the Everton loanee has nodded a Gary Cahill flick past Ederson at the Etihad.

Norwich 1-0 Bournemouth – NBC Sports Gold [STREAM]

Bad, bad times for the Cherries; Steve Cook handled a ball in the box and was sent off, Teemu Pukki dispatching the penalty moments later.

Cook, wyd?

 

Unhappy in Madrid, Bale ‘more excited’ to play for Wales

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Thanks to the ongoing FIFA-mandated international break, life is currently pretty good for Gareth Bale, who says he “definitely have a bit more excitement playing for Wales” compared to when he’s playing — or not playing — for his club, Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Sterling backs Gomez after boos were heard at Wembley ]

Bale confirmed on Friday what the entire world has known for a couple of years now: that he’s thoroughly unhappy at not being allowed to leave Madrid this summer; that he never truly adapted to his home since the summer of 2013; and that his on-field performance has suffered for those reasons, as well as his extensive injury history — quotes from the BBC:

“With Wales, I’m speaking my own language and feeling more comfortable. I definitely have a bit more excitement playing for Wales.

“I’ve been with most of the players, especially the older ones, since we were in the Under-17s. It’s like playing with your mates down the park on a Sunday.

“But it still doesn’t change what I give on the pitch. I always give 100 percent wherever I am, and that’s what I always strive to do.”

As for how Bale has been painted by the Spanish media, he says he only pays attention to the negative coverage when his friends since him “funny pictures or whatever they write,” but it’s clear he feels like an outsider and that’s a key reason he was so keen to leave the club and country when a(n even more) mega-money offer came from China this summer.

“I’ve heard some stories but I don’t really take notice. My friends tend to send me some funny pictures or whatever they write.

“I find it hilarious to be honest, especially some of the pictures and stuff my friends send me. On one, it said ‘triple bogey’ and I’ve never had a triple bogey. At least give me an albatross! It’s funny.”

Unfortunately for Bale, he’ll have to continue playing nice with manager Zinedine Zidane, until January at least.

Americans Abroad: Pulisic benched again, Sargent and Holmes assist

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Christian Pulisic‘s struggles at Chelsea continue, but he’s far from the only American to take the field this weekend. It was an up-and-down few days for Americans overseas, as defenders struggled in England.

Still, a few had success as players like Duane Holmes and Josh Sargent contributed to significant results, while Weston McKennie helped Schalke earn a massive road win over the former Bundesliga leaders.

A few Americans are working their way back from injuries, as DeAndre Yedlin made his season debut while Timothy Weah and Matt Miazga remain sidelined. Sergino Dest continues to prove his worth to Ajax, coming off the bench into a scoreless game to help the Dutch giants eventually earn a win.

Premier League

Christian Pulisic, Chelsea – Pulisic once again was left on the bench as the Blues beat Brighton 2-0, his third game in a row without seeing the field. He told our JPW after the game he was “frustrated” with the lack of playing time. We took a look at his direct competition at Stamford Bridge and what he needs to do to break through.

DeAndre Yedlin, Newcastle – The full-back finally made his return to the field, playing 16 minutes off the bench against Leicester City as the Magpies were obliterated 5-0. The Foxes only scored one of their five goals with Yedlin on the field.

EFL Championship

Antonee Robinson, Wigan – Played the full 90 minutes as Wigan fell 2-0 to Fulham. He has logged a full 90 minutes in every match but one so far this season. Wigan is in trouble, sitting just outside the relegation zone.

Tim Ream, Fulham – The veteran defender helped Fulham to a 2-0 win over Wigan, with goals from Tom Cairney and Joe Bryan. After missing the season opener due to an injury picked up on international duty, Ream has played every minute of Fulham’s campaign, with this win marking the club’s third clean sheet. The Whites have lost just once with Ream on the field, and sit 10th with a four-point deficit off the top.

Matt Miazga, Reading (loan from Chelsea) — Miazga missed his fourth straight game due to a hamstring injury as Reading drew 1-1 with Swansea. It is the only point Reading has picked up in the absence of Miazga, while they had earned seven points in five matches prior.

Eric Lichaj, Hull City — A full 90 minutes at right-back saw Hull City draw with Cardiff City 2-2. The result is a microcosm of Hull’s decidedly mediocre campaign, leaving them in 16th with 10 points through nine matches, having both scored and conceded 13 goals.

Geoff Cameron, QPR — Cameron started as part of a back three and saw his CB mate Yoann Barbet sent off, resigning QPR to a 2-0 defeat at home to West Brom. Cameron himself picked up an early yellow card before the half-hour mark, his third caution in six league appearances this season.

Cameron Carter-Vickers, Stoke City (loan Tottenham Hotspur) — Stoke had a Friday league match and was beaten soundly by Nottingham Forest 3-2, leaving them bottom of the Championship table. This Potters side has conceded 20 goals through nine matches this season, most in the league. It’s a surprising and confounding situation at Stoke, given the decent talent in the squad. Carter-Vickers starts next to Bruno Martins Indi and in front of goalkeeper Jack Butland, so it’s baffling how that defensive unit could be so porous, but here we are. The woes continue for the young Spurs product.

Duane Holmes, Derby County — Holmes returned to winning ways with a 3-2 victory over Birmingham, picking up his first three points since returning to the Derby County lineup in late August. He performed quite well, picking up an assist of Chris Martin‘s second-minute opener, a truly hilarious goal that saw Holmes blister past a defender on the flank, deliver a ball to Martin in the middle who collected clumsily – allowing the defense to recover – before producing a classic slow-roller that had the goalkeeper all twisted up, rolling into the back of the net.

EFL League One

Lynden Gooch, Sunderland – The 23-year-old started and played a full 90 minutes as Sunderland topped MK Dons 2-1. They scored both goals before the half-hour mark and held on from there, with Gooch making way for a substitute in stoppage time. Sunderland sits fifth in League One, with just one loss on the season.

Bundesliga

Weston McKennie, Schalke —  Schalke picked up a big 3-1 road win over RB Leipzig that (of course) allowed Bayern Munich to slide back into the lead. McKennie started and played the full 90 minutes, but it wasn’t as pretty as you’d expect for a midfielder who played a big part of a signature win. He was initially deployed on the wing before being moved centrally.

Zack Steffen and Alfredo Morales, Fortuna Dusseldorf — A Sunday match saw Fortuna Dusseldorf fall at home to Freiburg 2-1 as the visitors mounted a comeback victory. Steffan was in net and recorded just one save, while Morales did not make the squad for the third straight match, out with a hamstring problem.

Josh Sargent, Werder Bremen  The youngster was in the starting lineup for the second straight game, and bagged an assist as Werder Bremen secured a solid 2-2 draw against Borussia Dortmund. He played 88 minutes and was on hand to help out in Marco Freidl’s 56th minute equalizer off a corner, flicking the ball with his head at the near post to Friedl waiting at the opposite end to score the goal that ultimately shared the points.

Tyler Adams, RB Leipzig — Despite returning to training last weekend, Adams has yet to see action with RB Leipzig, again missing out in the loss to Schalke.

Fabian Johnson, Borussia Monchengladbach — Johnson missed his third straight match with back problems as Monchengladbach won 3-0 at Hoffenheim.

Timmy Chandler, Eintracht Frankfurt — Chandler came off the bench again, logging 13 minutes in Frankfurt’s 2-1 win over Union Berlin. Coming in for Erik Durm, Chandler saw Frankfurt cough up the clean sheet while he was on the field as Anthony Ujah got a consolation goal for the hosts in the 83rd minute.

2.Bundesliga

Julian Green, Greuther Furth – Green again played the full 90 minutes as Greuther Furth fell to Holstein Kiel 3-0. After a wonderful start to the second division campaign, Greuther has been held scoreless for two straight matches now. Green played alright, logging 81% pass completion and connecting on six of his eight long balls, but that was about it for the Tampa product.

Eredivisie

Sergino Dest, Ajax — Dest made a rare bench appearance, sat in favor of Noussair Mazraoui. He came on for the Moroccan and played the final 23 minutes of a 2-0 win over FC Groningen, with both Ajax goals coming after Dest had come on the field.

Haji Wright, VVV-Venlo — VVV-Venlo fell to Heerenveen 3-0 for the club’s fifth defeat in eight league matches this season, and Wright was on the field for all 90 minutes, earning his fourth start of the year. The striker has not scored a goal yet this season in 401 minutes of Eredivisie action.

Desevio Payne, FC Emmen — Payne was left out of the squad for the third straight week as Emmen beat ADO Den Haag 3-0.

Ligue 1

Timothy Weah, Lille — Weah’s hamstring tear is going to keep him out for a good bit longer. Don’t expect him back for another few weeks at least.

Theoson Jordan-Siebatcheu, Rennes — It seems Siebatcheu has lost his place in the Stade Rennes lineup, playing nine minutes off the bench in the midweek loss to Nantes before missing out on a spot in the squad altogether on Sunday’s game against Marseille, a 1-1 draw. The 23-year-old striker has yet to score a goal this league season.

Honorable Mentions:

Tyler Boyd, Besiktas – The 24-year-old started but was hauled off at halftime as Beskitas lost to Trabzonspor 4-1, deepening the club’s early season woes. The Turkish side was down 2-0 at the break, and it only got worse as the hosts made it 3-0 past the hour mark before the teams traded late goals. The club has just one win in six matches on the young season, and Boyd has been yanked at halftime in both of his last two starts, while finding himself on the bench in the other two most recent games.

Chris Richards, Bayern Munich II – The 19-year-old played another 90 minutes for Bayern’s reserve squad, winning 4-1 over Preussen Munster.

Andrija Novakovich, Frosinone – 30 minutes off the bench for Novakovich couldn’t save Frosinone as they drew 1-1 with Cosenza.  He is in direct competition for a starting striker spot with former Fulham product Marcello Trotta. Neither has scored a league goal yet this season.

Giovanni Reyna, Borussia Dortmund U-19 – Claudio Reyna’s son is in good form, following up his goal last weekend with an assist across 90 minutes in a 3-2 win. He won a 41st minute penalty which eventually put Dortmund U-19 up 2-1.

Luca De La Torre, Fulham Reserves – He was not part of the squad as Fulham’s reserve side fell to Middlesbrough 4-2.