April 19, 2024

The calendars have officially turned to autumn this weekend in Europe, and we’re starting to get a better sense of how clubs are looking this season in the Premier League, LaLiga, Bundesliga, Ligue 1 and Serie A.

Manchester City looked like a team in need of a challenge as they cruised past Nottingham Forest despite being down to 10 men. Bayern Munich looked more like their old selves with a big 7-0 win over Bochum. Meanwhile, Barcelona just barely scraped past Celta Vigo in a comeback thriller.

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U.S. men’s national team players in Europe haven’t had the best weekend either. Folarin Balogun had two penalties saved against Nice. Meanwhile, Juventus suffered a harsh loss to Sassuolo as Weston McKennie played just 60 minutes (replaced by USMNT teammate Timothy Weah). At least AC Milan won as Christian Pulisic started and played 80 minutes.

Sunday has even more fun in store — fancy a Madrid derby, anyone? (You can watch that live on ESPN+ at 2 p.m. ET if you’re in the U.S.) But until then, here’s a look back at an eventful Saturday in European football.

SATURDAY REVIEW

Lead: Man City go down to 10-men and beat Forest without breaking a sweat

If you didn’t know any better, you might think manager Pep Guardiola told Manchester City to go down to 10 men against Nottingham Forest in order to give his team a challenge. Man City won 2-0 anyway.

City were in complete control at halftime, having scored two wonderfully worked goals but then less than a minute into the second half, Rodri decided it was a good idea to put both hands round the neck of Morgan Gibbs-White.

Gibbs-White made the most of it, falling dramatically to the ground, but a red card was still the right decision and City were left to battle it out for more than 40 minutes. Guardiola managed the game well with 10 men, immediately bringing on Kalvin Phillips and Nathan Aké and switching to a back five, and it helped City defend well enough that goalkeeper Éderson didn’t have to make a save until the 95th minute.

It was a day when City showed their superiority, even when they were a man down. They’ve started their title defence with six wins out of six and it looks ominous for the rest of the league.

Everything is coming so easily and even in a tough moment against Forest, they were still relatively comfortable. It will take far more than what Forest could muster with a man up to stop Man City this season. — Rob Dawson


Saturday talking points around the leagues

Man United’s winless streak finally halted in Evans return

Jonny Evans produced a match-winning performance for Manchester United in his first start for the club since 2015 as a goal from Bruno Fernandes sealed a 1-0 win against Burnley at Turf Moor.

Evans, who left Man United for West Bromwich Albion eight years ago, returned to Old Trafford this summer as a free agent after being released by relegated Leicester City at the end of last season.

The signing of the 35-year-old has been seen as a sign of the dysfunctional nature of United’s recent player recruitment, but with Erik ten Hag’s team hit by a defensive injury crisis due to Harry Maguire, Lisandro Martínez, Luke Shaw and Aaron Wan-Bissaka all ruled out, Northern Ireland international Evans was selected to shore up the back four.

But despite doubts over his ability to still perform at a top level, Evans was outstanding for United, with his experience adding crucial calm and knowledge to a defence that had conceded 10 goals in three defeats against Arsenal, Brighton and Bayern Munich.

And Evans also made a vital contribution at the other end of the pitch by setting up Fernandes to score with a 40-yard pass that was volleyed into the net by the United captain.

With Evans marshalling the defence in the second half, United were able to hold out and seal a much-needed win that ends the club’s worst start to a league season since 1989-90. — Mark Ogden

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Hutchison: Man United got a must 3 points vs. Burnley

Don Hutchison breaks down Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Burnley.


Balogun’s pain is Nice’s gain

The Mediterranean Derby between Nice and hosts Monaco this weekend didn’t disappoint. There was plenty of drama at the Stade Louis II with Nice’s 1-0 win serving as the first big upset of the weekend. The Eaglets moved to second in the Ligue 1 table and perhaps more importantly, Nice have now beaten beaten PSG in Paris (3-2) and Monaco (1-0) in the Principality in the space of a week.

It was a Marcin Bulka masterclass that won them the game as the Polish goalkeeper saved two Folarin Balogun penalties, one in each half. It was a remarkable feat, which kept Nice in the game before they found a winner in the 90th minute thanks to Jeremie Boga.

Balogun, for his part, took to social media on Saturday to express his regret about his failed spot kicks, writing: “It is difficult to turn the page on last night’s defeat. I know how much this game meant to the fans and us a team. I take responsibility but failed on this occasion.” Balogun joined Monaco last month on a five-year deal.

For Monaco and manager Adi Hutter, it’s another late goal conceded and more points dropped, like last weekend at Lorient. The Austrian manager made a big call by starting Balogun ahead of the captain Wissam Ben Yedder. The young American was devastated when he came off for Ben Yedder just after the hour mark. It’s not his fault if Monaco lost the derby but his misses certainly didn’t help.

Meanwhile, Nice produced another superb team performance and are growing under 34-year-old Italian manager Francesco Farioli. — Julien Laurens


Barcelona stay unbeaten after thrilling comeback win

Barcelona produced a stunning late comeback from two goals down to beat Celta Vigo 3-2 in a remarkable game at the Olympic Stadium. Striker Robert Lewandowski scored twice in the final 10 minutes to draw Barça level, setting the stage for João Cancelo to score an 89th-minute winner as Xavi Hernandez’s side temporarily returned to the top of the table, level on points with Girona, ahead of Real Madrid‘s game on Sunday.

Jörgen Strand Larsen and Anastasios Douvikas had scored in each half for a Celta side that deserved a two-goal lead. Celta Vigo manager Rafael Benitez’s game plan had been executed perfectly, with Barça unable to break down a stubborn backline and Celta breaking impressively with pace and bodies. A first defeat of the season loomed for Barça, who had come into the fixture with a buzz after back-to-back 5-0 wins.

Those victories, against Real Betis and Royal Antwerp, had led Xavi, who signed a new contract Friday, to say his team are playing their best football since he took over. That was certainly not the case for large parts of the game in Montjuic on Saturday, but he will be just as pleased with the resolve and battling spirit shown by his ever-improving side.

The Barça coach emptied his bench in an attempt to get back into the game. With the ball, at times, Barça were almost playing a 3-3-4 formation, with Raphinha, Lamine Yamal and João Félix off Lewandowski, who dragged his side back into the game. The Polish striker produced a brilliant lobbed finish after a good pass from Felix in the 81st minutes and then added his second four minutes later after good work from Raphinha and Cancelo.

Then came the grand finale, Gavi‘s cross finding Cancelo, nominally a right-back, who delivered a finish fitting of a No. 9. If the wins over Betis and Antwerp showed Barça can win when everything goes their way, this one showed that they are up for a fight, too. — Sam Marsden

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Joao Cancelo’s strike completes stunning Barcelona comeback

Barcelona scores three goals in nine minutes to pull off a remarkable comeback over Celta Vigo.


Bundesliga put on notice with Kane’s first hat trick for Bayern Munich

Is the Bundesliga broken? While we do still have a title race given the amount of points still up for grabs this season, other teams should be concerned at how Bayern Munich are shifting through the gears domestically after a turgid start.

Saturday saw 11-time defending champs score early and often on their way to a 7-0 thrashing of Bochum at the Allianz Arena, giving their Bundesliga rivals plenty to feel anxious about.

Harry Kane snagged his first hat-trick since arriving in Munich — that’s now seven in five games for the England striker — and a pair of assists as Bayern peppered Manuel Rieman’s goal to the tune of 26 shots over the 90 minutes. There were goals too for Leroy Sané, Matthijs de Ligt and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, assists for Kingsley Coman, Joshua Kimmich and Noussaire Mazraoui as Bayern took sole possession at the top of the Bundesliga, with Bayer Leverkusen set to play Heidenheim on Sunday.

Kane’s acclimatisation period in Munich appears complete, with the No. 9 meshing well with his teammates in a frenetic, from-all-angles attack. After Coman squared for Choupo-Moting in the fourth minute to open the scoring, Kane seized control, smashing home his first from close range before teeing up Sane for Bayern’s fourth of the afternoon, with a sumptuous angled through-ball, seven minutes before halftime.

After the break, Kane calmly slotted his second from the penalty spot after Ivan Ordets handled inside the box, laid it off for Mathys Tel to add Bayern’s sixth, and then slipped in at the near post to flick home Mazraoui’s low cross from close range.

If Kane and Bayern maintain this kind of form, it’s hard to see much stopping them in the league. That said, next weekend’s clash with RB Leipzig will be a genuine test of their progress. — James Tyler

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Harry Kane scores first hat trick with Bayern

Harry Kane continues his hot start to life as Bayern Munich player with a hat trick in a 7-0 win over VfL Bochum.


Girona’s high-flying start in LaLiga continues

Girona‘s incredible start to the season continued with an enthralling 5-3 win over Mallorca at Montilivi, which took them joint top of LaLiga with Barcelona for at least 24 hours.

Vedat Muriqi opened the scoring in the fourth minute for visitors Mallorca, but Girona flipped the game on its head in a scintillating 20-minute spell before the break that yielded four goals. David López, Artem Dovbyk, Iván Martín and Yangel Herrera were all on target. Sávio added the fifth in the second half — the young Brazilian, on loan from Troyes, has been one of the revelations of the season in Spain so far.

Mallorca grabbed two late consolation goals through Abdón Prats but a comeback was never on the cards. Girona held on to the three points to make it five wins in a row after an opening day draw away at Real Sociedad. In their six games, they have scored 16 goals, matched only by Barça, and now have 16 points, level with Barça. Real Madrid are one point back ahead of their game in hand at Atletico Madrid on Sunday. — Marsden

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Girona see off Mallorca in 8-goal thriller

Yangel Herrera scores twice as Girona beat Mallorca 5-3 in LaLiga.


News of the day

  • Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola has said Rodri apologised to his teammates following his red card against Nottingham Forest and the coach admitted he was “angry” with the midfielder. “Yes,” Guardiola said when asked if he was angry. “I don’t like to play with 10 for our faults. I said at halftime, be careful guys. The game has been in a position where we are comfortable. Relax, control your emotions. Unfortunately Rodri didn’t do it.”

  • Juventus’ unbeaten start to the season ended with a 4-2 loss at Sassuolo after Wojciech Szczesny’s goalkeeping errors contributed to their defeat in Serie A on Saturday. The defeat leaves Juventus in fourth place on 10 points from five games, two points behind leaders Inter Milan, who visit Empoli on Sunday, and second-placed AC Milan, who beat Hellas Verona 1-0. Sassuolo are 11th on six points.

  • AC Milan returned to winning ways when Rafael Leao scored in a 1-0 home win over Hellas Verona in Saturday’s Serie A game that was delayed by 25 minutes due to a hailstorm. Milan forward Christian Pulisic got away from his marker in the 72nd minute but his curling shot was pushed away by Verona goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipo.

  • In their first match since falling to Spain in the Women’s World Cup final, the Lionesses opened their 2024 Olympics qualifying campaign with a 2-1 win over Scotland. England manager Sarina Wiegman isn’t in much of a position to experiment during their inaugural UEFA Nation’s League campaign, but first-half goals from Lucy Bronze and Lauren Hemp at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light made the difference.


And finally …

Wrexham’s League Two campaign could be going better.

For the third time this season since their promotion to EFL League Two, Wrexham conceded five goals in a single game — this time against Stockport County on Saturday in a 5-0 loss.

“It’s as bad a first-half as I can remember,” Wrexham manager Phil Parkinson said afterward about his team conceding three times in the first half alone. “We gave the ball away so cheaply in the back third and middle third, which put us under pressure.”

Despite the leaky defense, Wrexham sit seventh on the League Two table out of 24 teams. Losing a few games by wide margins certainly beats losing more games by smaller gaps.


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