Friday, September 16, 2022

Premier League in Europe

Champions League

Liverpool got a much needed 2-1 win over Ajax Tuesday. Mohamed Salah opened scoring in the match, assisted by the now fit Diogo Jota. Salah’s score was his 15th Champions League goal for Liverpool, surpassing Steven Gerrard for the most by a Liverpool player. The match hung in the balance following an Ajax score until Liverpool’s Joel Matip headed the late winner in the 89th minute. Center back Matip’s return to the lineup following an injury absence was a major boost to a Liverpool defense which has struggled. Left back Kostas Tsimikas, playing for the injured Andy Robertson, also performed well and provided the corner for Matip’s goal. The defensive issues for the Reds are not fully solved, however, as Trent Alexander-Arnold was once again caught out of position for the Ajax goal.

Tottenham Hotspur was victimized by late game drama as Sporting Lisbon scored twice in stoppage time in a 2-0 win over the Premier League side. Sporting has now won its first two Champions League matches for the first time in its history. Spurs Manager Antonio Conte was angered by his team’s collapse and would later threaten that no member of his squad was “undroppable.”

The Graham Potter era began in disappointing fashion for Chelsea as the new manager watched his side concede an equalizing goal in the 75th minute of a 1-1 draw with FC Salzburg. Raheem Sterling provided the earlier Chelsea goal, but the Blues once again squandered numerous opportunities to increase their advantage. A defensive mistake by the usually reliable Thiago Silva led to the Salzburg score. Due to their postponed Premier League match this weekend and subsequent international break, Chelsea and Potter will not have another competitive match until the calendar turns to October.

Manchester City extended its unbeaten record at home in the Champions League to 21 matches with a 2-1 victory over Borussia Dortmund. Dortmund took the lead early in second half play on a goal by 19-year-old Englishman Jude Bellingham before Manchester City struck twice in the final ten minutes of regulation to secure the come from behind victory. John Stones knotted matters for the Citizens and then Erling Haaland decided the contest with an acrobatic 84th minute winner. Haaland’s goal was his 26th in just 21 Champions League matches. 

Europa League

Manchester United Manager Eric ten Hag made five changes to the starting lineup which lost to Real Sociedad in the Red Devils’ Europa League opener last week. A lineup more resembling that which has found recent Premier League success was victorious in a 2-0 win over FC Sheriff. Marcus Rashford was one notable absence from the lineup after his two-goal performance versus Arsenal. With Rashford sidelined by a muscle pull, Cristiano Ronaldo took advantage of a starting opportunity to score his first goal of the season. Ronaldo’s penalty kick followed an opening goal by Jadon Sancho for the Red Devils. Despite their improved play in recent weeks both Sancho and Rashford were omissions from the English national team announced this week for the upcoming Nations League matches. Arsenal’s Europa League match versus PSV is rescheduled for October 20. 

Europa Conference League

West Ham held on for a 3-2 win over Danish side Silkeborg as the Hammers now have six goals in their two Europa Conference League victories to date. After taking a 3-1 lead on Thursday, West Ham was forced to a nervy finish when Silkeborg closed the gap in the 75th minute. All in all, a good trip for West Ham traveling fans who were treated to free beer as they picked up their tickets for the match, courtesy of the host club. Aaron Creswell and Craig Dawson returned to the starting lineup for West Ham after recent injuries.

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