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UEFA Nations League: Belgium tops Switzerland on Lukaku brace

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

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Belgium 2-1 Switzerland

Romelu Lukaku scored the 44th and 45th goals of his Belgium career (he’s already the all-time leading scorer in his country’s history, at the age of 25, 15 goals ahead of second place) on Friday, which were all the Red Devils needed to top Switzerland in League A Group 2 play.

Manchester United’s star striker opened the scoring in the 58th minute before Mario Gavranovic drew the visitors level in the 76th. The 1-1 scoreline was short-lived, though, as Lukaku bagged the eventual winner in the 84th minute. The victory makes Belgium a perfect two-for-two in group play and sends them three points clear of the second-place Swiss.

Croatia 0-0 England

A rematch of the 2018 World Cup semifinals, this should have been a worthwhile clash in League A Group 4. Instead, it saw the two sides combine for just 14 shots (5 on target) and failed to produce a memorable moment in a game played behind closed doors. Spain sit top of the group, five points clear of both England and Croatia.

Austria 1-0 Northern Ireland

Marko Arnautovic broke a scoreless deadlock in the 71st minute to hand Austria its first victory and points in League B Group 3 play. With Bosnia & Herzegovina perfect after two games and sitting on six points, a draw would have done neither side much good on Friday.

Elsewhere in UEFA Nations League action

League C Group 2

Greece 1-0 Hungary
Estonia 0-1 Finland

League D Group 2

Moldova 2-0 San Marino
Belarus 1-0 Luxembourg

Saturday’s UEFA Nations League schedule (all games start at 2:45 p.m. ET, unless noted)

League A Group 1

Netherlands vs. Germany

League B Group 1

Slovakia vs. Czech Republic — 9 p.m. ET

League B Group 4

Ireland vs. Denmark

League C Group 3

Norway vs. Slovakia — 12 p.m. ET
Bulgaria vs. Cyprus

League D Group 1

Latvia vs. Kazakhstan — 12 p.m. ET
Georgia vs. Andorra — 12 p.m. ET

League D Group 4

Armenia vs. Gibraltar — 12 p.m. ET
Macedonia vs. Lichtenstein

Everyone’s praising West Ham, even Jose Mourinho

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Marko Arnautovic is feeling very good right now, full fitness or not.

West Ham’s Austrian striker was a menace in the Irons’ 3-1 win over Manchester United on Saturday, and doesn’t need to hear about tactics or Jose Mourinho.

[ RECAP: West Ham 3-1 Man Utd ]

“It doesn’t matter how they set up, our game was to try to win,” Arnautovic said. “We have to do our job and we did it excellently, and that is why we deserved to win.”

Mark Noble, who set-up two goals in one of his finer performances of the past few seasons, felt a similar way, and credited Manuel Pellegrini. From the BBC:

“To be honest the way it’s going at the minute, Man United could have lined up a number of ways with all their talent. … Days like the Chelsea game where we could’ve had a couple of goals, today, the 8-0 win over Macclesfield in midweek. We’ll lose games and play bad at times, but the way manager has us playing, you see the confidence.”

Noble also had praise for Arnautovic after the 29-year-old returned from injury to post his fourth goal in six Premier League matches.

“He hasn’t trained much, only one or two days, so to run like that shows he is working hard for the team. The performance was great especially for the fans who have come here seen some bad ones.”

West Ham looks very good right now. Their 0-4 start appears to half-unlucky and half a victim of bringing many new pieces together.

As for those new pieces, Mourinho was impressed.

“Congratulations to the scout that found these 21-year-old kids,” Mourinho said. “Issa Diop is a monster.”

Manchester United rocked at West Ham United

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  • Joint-worst start in Man Utd history
  • WATCH: Anderson puts Irons ahead
  • Wicked deflection makes it 2-0
  • Rashford pulls one back

Felipe Anderson and Marko Arnautovic scored as West Ham United piled misery on Manchester United with a 3-1 win on Saturday at the London Stadium.

Andriy Yarmolenko authored a Victor Lindelof own goal before halftime, and both Mark Noble and Lukasz Fabianski were very good for the victors.

Marcus Rashford scored for Manchester United, who is off to its joint-worst start to a Premier League season. Jose Mourinho joins David Moyes with that bit of Red Devils infamy.

Once 0-4, West Ham is now 12th with seven points. Man United slips eighth with 10.

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West Ham won a corner in the first minute, though Fabian Balbuena couldn’t get purchase on Felipe Anderson‘s well-executed service.

Anderson gave United the lead when Pablo Zabaleta raced past Luke Shaw to meet a Mark Noble through ball, sending a cross into the box. Neither Ashley Young nor Ander Herrera could stay with Anderson, and it was 1-0 behind David De Gea.

United settled into the game by the quarter hour mark, and Romelu Lukaku headed a cross off the post in the 22nd minute.

The Irons, however, doubled their advantage with a deflected Yarmolenko strike in the 43rd minute, his left-footed hit taking a hard turn off Victor Lindelof (who was keeping pace with a Marko Arnautovic run).

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United threatened more in the second half, with its best moment coming when Marouane Fellaini nodded an Ashley Young cross toward the near post. West Ham keeper Lukasz Fabianski was on the scene to make a fine diving stop.

Jose Mourinho took out Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial in the 71st minute, and United scored on the next chance when Rashford turned a Luke Shaw corner kick on goal.

But Arnautovic restored the two-goal cushion on another Noble through ball, holding a Carlos Sanchez jersey aloft as Mourinho walked through a sea of bubbles.

Ankle surgery to sideline Jack Wilshere for six weeks

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West Ham midfielder Jack Wilshere will miss significant time after picking up an ankle injury in training that requires surgery, according to reports in England, first from The Guardian.

Wilshere signed for West Ham over the summer after the expiry of his contract at Arsenal, and played the first four games of the season – all losses – before suffering the injury just prior to the Everton match this weekend. 19-year-old Declan Rice came in for Wilshere and the Hammers won 3-1 at Goodison Park.

The Guardian reports that West Ham handed the 26-year-old a three-year contract on the urging of manager Manuel Pellegrini, even though the front office reportedly only wished to offer him a one-year deal due to his injury history. Since appearing in 35 games for Arsenal in the 2010/11 campaign – his first full season with a starting role – he has only topped 20 appearances four times and only reached the 25 appearance mark once since 2012/13.

Pellegrini reportedly developed a personal training program for Wilshere that was meant to minimize the risk of injury. “A lot of you will remember Juventus around four or five years ago, they played with one holding midfielder,” Pellegrini said of Wilshere in late August. “It was Pirlo. And Pirlo is the same as Jack. He has the same characteristics as Jack.”

The Hammers are also sweating on a knee injury that forced Marko Arnautovic out of the Everton match in the 64th minute, replaced by Michail Antonio. West Ham next faces Chelsea on Sunday at London Stadium.

West Ham stops the rot at Everton

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  • West Ham nabs first win
  • Yarmolenko with brace
  • Two assists for Arnautovic
  • Obiang shines

Andriy Yarmolenko‘s first half brace was enough as West Ham earned Manuel Pellegrini the first PL win of his tenure with a 3-1 defeat of previously unbeaten Everton at Goodison Park.

The three wins boost the Irons out of the Bottom Three, sending Huddersfield Town to join Newcastle United and Burnley.

Everton is 10th, with six points.

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Everton controlled the early stages, but the start of the second stanza belonged to West Ham on the counter. Pedro Obiang and Marko Arnautovic provided pretty interplay before the Austrian laid off for Yarmolenko to finish.

The Toffees nearly found an answer via a classy connection in the 25th minute, with Lucas Digne dancing down the left to cross for Cenk Tosun. The Turkish striker’s header was stopped by Lukasz Fabianski.

Arthur Masuaku‘s leaping challenge saw his cleat on top of Tosun’s head, but it was somehow just a yellow to the West Ham man.

A lively first half was capped by Sigurdsson’s picturesque header in stoppage time, as Everton came within one.

The next goal came from West Ham, and it was a deserved one for the industrious Arnautovic. Obiang was again provider, and the goal flew in the face of near relentless, urgent attack from the hosts.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]