Euros: Haaland shines as Dortmund top Bundesliga

Borussia Dortmund top striker Erling Haaland scored twice on his return from injury with a second-half penalty to help his team beat Mainz 3-1 on Saturday to go top of the Bundesliga table.

The Norwegian forward, who had been out since late September with a muscle injury, looked to be back at his very best and continued his sensational scoring run in the Bundesliga, having now netted 49 times in 49 league matches.

The 21-year-old opened his account on Saturday with a spot-kick in the 54th minute following a lengthy VAR review over a handball and then struck again deep in second-half stoppage time.

Dortmund go top on 18 points, two ahead of champions Bayern Munich and Bayer Leverkusen, who face each other on Sunday. Freiburg are also on 16 points following their 1-1 against RB Leipzig.

Dortmund's win over Mainz takes them top
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Dortmund’s win over Mainz takes them top

“It is clear he had been missing in our team,” Dortmund captain Marco Reus, who scored their opener, said of Haaland. “It is important that he plays because he constantly keeps two or three players occupied.”

“To score two goals on his comeback is top. That is why we signed him.”

The hosts, who travel to Ajax Amsterdam for the Champions League next week, had shot out of the blocks and earned a dream start with Reus thumping in a deflected cutback in the third minute for a dream start.

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Three balls, three shots, three top-bin strikes – Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland shows he does not miss.

It was Reus’ 14th goal in 20 games against Mainz, the most he has scored against any Bundesliga club.

In a tense first half, Dortmund had three-quarters of possession but had to wait almost the entire half for another chance in stoppage time, when a Jude Bellingham effort was cleared off the line.

Haaland’s penalty gave Dortmund a measure of comfort in the second half and Mats Hummels hit the post with a glancing header but the visitors were not yet done.

Mainz struck with Jonathan Burkardt in the 87th from a mistake by Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel to set up a nervous finale, before Haaland settled it in extra time to make it 70 goals in 68 matches in all competitions for his club, securing them their ninth consecutive home league win.

Serie A: Lazio beat Inter, AC Milan fight back to go top

Lautaro Martinez was involved in a confrontation
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Lautaro Martinez was involved in a confrontation

Felipe Anderson and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored late to complete a 3-1 comeback win for Lazio against Serie A champions Inter Milan in Rome on Saturday, as Simone Inzaghi fell to his first league defeat as Inter coach against his former club.

Ivan Perisic’s penalty put Inter in front at the break, but Ciro Immobile levelled in the second half with a spot-kick of his own.

Anderson then fired Lazio ahead after 81 minutes, leaving Inter players furious that the hosts continued playing while the Nerazzurri had a man down, but Milinkovic-Savic made sure of victory with a close-range header in stoppage time.

Inter’s first defeat of the season leaves them third in the standings on 17 points, with Lazio moving up to fifth place, three points behind them.

AC Milan produced a superb second half fightback from two goals down to beat Hellas Verona 3-2 at San Siro on Saturday evening and go top of the Serie A table.

A Gianluca Caprari strike and Antonin Barak penalty gave the visitors a comfortable halftime lead, but Olivier Giroud halved the deficit with a 59th-minute header.

The Rossoneri then turned the game on its head in the space of two minutes, as Franck Kessie equalised from the penalty spot and Koray Gunter steered an attempted clearance into his own net.

There was further good news for the hosts when Zlatan Ibrahimovic, their top scorer last season, made his return from injury from the bench for the final 13 minutes after more than a month out.

Milan go top of the table on 22 points, one point ahead of Napoli ahead of their game against Torino on Sunday, while Verona are 13th with eight points.

Ligue 1: Lille suffer fourth defeat against Clermont

French champions Lille suffered their fourth defeat of the season when they were beaten 1-0 at promoted Clermont on Saturday ahead of a key Champions League clash against Sevilla.

Vital N’Simba scored his first goal in the league to give Clermont their third win of the season and lift them up to 11th on 13 points.

Lille, who take on Sevilla on Wednesday looking to bounce back from a poor start in the Champions League Group G, are eighth on 14 points, 13 behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Olympique Lyonnais take on Monaco later on Saturday.

Lille were without the suspended Burak Yilmaz and the Turkey international’s absence weighed on the northerners, who lacked aggressiveness throughout.

Clermont were the first in action and they were rewarded for their domination in the 32nd minute when N’Simba found the back of the net with a low half volley after Benjamin Andre’s clearance fell in his path.

Lille had a penalty claim denied early in the second half after N’Simba appeared to handle the ball in the Clermont area.

Their best chance of levelling, however, came eight minutes from time but Arthur Desmas blocked Jose Fonte’s low shot.

‘Detained by the Sheriff!’ – Moldovans stun Real Madrid

Sheriff Tiraspol pulled off an enormous shock as they won 2-1 at Real Madrid to make it two wins out of two in Champions League Group D with a late strike from Sebastien Thill.

Jasur Jakhshibaev headed the Moldovan side into the lead in the 25th minute, but Los Blancos were level through a second-half penalty from Karim Benzema, given following a VAR review.

The visitors, though, snatched all three points with just a minute left when Thill drove the ball into the top corner from 20 yards to leave the Bernabeu in stunned silence.

Real had 31 shots on goal and 11 on target while keeping 76 per cent of possession and winning 13 corners; the Moldovan side had only four attempts, scoring two of their three shots on target and failing to win a single corner.

GRAPHIC

“Everything went well for them while everything we did turned out badly,” Real manager Carlo Ancelotti told reporters after his side’s first defeat of the season.

“More than worried, we are sad. We played with intensity and commitment but lost due to the finest details. The team played well, we could have been sharper in the area but it’s difficult to explain what happened.

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Real Madrid head coach Carlos Ancelotti says he is ‘more than worried’ following his side’s shock Champions League defeat to Sheriff Tiraspol

“The small details cost us the game and we should learn from that in the future. But this was a defeat we did not deserve.”

Earlier, newly-crowned heavyweight world champion Oleksandr Usyk was watching in the stands as Shakhtar Donetsk and Inter Milan played out a goalless draw at the Olympic Stadium in Kiev.

‘This is so emotional’

Real Madrid crashed to a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol
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Real Madrid crashed to a shock 2-1 defeat at home to Moldovan champions Sheriff Tiraspol

Sheriff, who were founded in 1997 from the unrecognised breakaway state of Transnistria, are top of Group D with six points, after beating Shakhtar Donetsk 2-0 in their opening game.

Before kick-off the club had a mere 6,000 followers on Twitter, contrasting with Real’s army of over 38 million on the social media platform.

“This is so emotional. I’m very appreciative of my boys for this great job,” Sheriff boss Yuriy Vernydub said. “We are a real team.

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Sheriff Tiraspol head coach Yuriy Vernydub says his side’s shock Champions League victory over Real Madrid proved that they deserve their place in the tournament.

“Some big players said before there’s no place in the Champions League for teams like Sheriff, but it’s our place and we proved it.

Sheriff defender Gustavo Dulanto added: “I dreamed of winning in the Bernabeu, I have always followed Madrid they are the most successful team in the Champions League so to beat them at home is a huge achievement.

“There’s still a long way to go and we can’t relax because there’s no logic in football, as today’s result shows. We came here with the knife between our teeth but we can only look forward to the next game.”

Who are Sheriff Tiraspol?

  • Sheriff are based in Tiraspol, the capital of Transnistria, a breakaway state located on the Moldovan-Ukrainian border
  • They were founded in 1997 and promoted to the Moldovan top flight (the Divizia Nationale) a year later
  • The Sheriff Stadium complex, where they play their home games, was completed in 2002, costing approximately $200m
  • Sheriff have won 20 of the 22 Moldovan league titles they have contested
  • The Real Madrid match was Sheriff’s 10th Champions League fixture of the season as they came through four rounds of qualifying
  • They are just the second club to win on their first Champions League trip to the Bernabeu, replicating Arsenal’s achievement in 2005/06
  • Not since Leicester City in 2016/17 have a side won their opening two games on their debut in the competition
  • Sheriff head coach Yuriy Vernydub guided Ukrainian side Zorya Luhansk to the Europa League group stage in 2016/17, where he faced Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United

Captain Frank Castaneda revealed his side had fancied their chances before kickoff.

“We knew we could win here and before the game we had it in our heads that we could and as captain I tried to motivate the team and tell them we could do it because this is football,” he said.

“Real Madrid is an historic team but on the pitch it’s 11 players versus 11 and we came here to get the victory and got it.”

This was just the third ever away victory by a Moldovan team in a major European competition, following Zimbru Chisinau in the UEFA Cup in 1995 (v RAF Jelgava) and Sheriff themselves in the Europa League in 2017 (v Lokomotiv Moscow).

Group C: Ajax, Dortmund stay perfect

Ajax maintained their 100 per cent start to Group C with a 2-0 win over Besiktas at the Johan Cruyff ArenA.

Steven Berghuis set Ajax on their way before Sebastien Haller continued his sensational scoring streak with his fifth Champions League goal of the season before half-time.

Elsewhere in Group C, Borussia Dortmund beat Sporting Lisbon 1-0 at Signal Iduna Park thanks to Donyell Malen’s first-half strike, set up by Jude Bellingham.

Group A: Messi stars as PSG beat Man City

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Lionel Messi’s stunning first PSG goal sealed a 2-0 Champions League victory over Manchester City at the Parc des Princes

Lionel Messi scored his first goal for Paris Saint-Germain to help secure a 2-0 win over Manchester City in their Champions League clash at the Parc des Princes.

PSG took an early lead in the seventh minute when City failed to clear a cross into the box and Idrissa Gueye smashed the ball into the top corner.

City responded as Raheem Sterling headed against the crossbar, before Bernardo Silva fired the loose ball back up onto the bar when it looked certain he would score.

Messi, back following a knee problem, capped a fine all-round display when he played a one-two with Kylian Mbappe on the edge of the penalty area and clipped a wonderful finish into the top corner.

PSG move top of Group A, with City down to third after Club Brugge won 2-1 at RB Leipzig.

Christopher Nkunku put the Bundesliga side ahead in the fifth minute from close range, with the goal given following a lengthy VAR review.

In the 22nd minute, Brugge captain Hans Vanaken saw an equaliser ruled out for offside after the hosts had been caught trying to play out from the back – only for VAR to swiftly overturn the decision.

The Belgians turned things around when they took the lead five minutes before half-time when Mats Rits knocked a loose ball in from six yards.

Group B: Liverpool run riot in Porto again

Curtis Jones celebrates with Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson
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Curtis Jones celebrates a Liverpool goal with Mo Salah and Jordan Henderson

Liverpool took control of Group B as they ran out 5-1 winners at Porto.

Mohamed Salah put the Premier League side ahead in the 18th minute when he bundled the ball in after Curtis Jones’ angled drive from the left had been pushed out by the ‘keeper.

Sadio Mane tapped home a second just ahead of half-time after James Milner’s cross from the right went right through the six-yard box. Salah added a second just after the hour after being set up by Curtis Jones.

Mehdi Taremi pulled one back for the hosts, only for Roberto Firmino to roll in a fourth on the break after goalkeeper Diogo Costa was caught upfield and could only race back to scoop the ball out from behind the line. The Brazilian added a fifth when tucking in a rebound.

At the San Siro, Luis Suarez netted a stoppage-time penalty as Atletico Madrid came from behind to win 2-1 against AC Milan, who had Franck Kessie sent off in the first half.

The Serie A side were rewarded for a positive start when Rafael Leao drilled in a low shot from the edge of the penalty area in the 20th minute.

Milan, though, were reduced to 10 men just nine minutes later when midfielder Kessie was dismissed for a second caution.

Antoine Griezmann finally levelled things up with six minutes left with a well-taken volley and Suarez had the last word when his scuffed spot-kick squirmed past Mike Maignan.

Euro: Atleti in shock loss, Inter unbeaten, Maldini scores

Atletico Madrid’s La Liga title defence was dealt a blow as they suffered a shock 1-0 defeat at Alaves.

Centre-back Victor Laguardia’s fourth-minute header from a Ruben Duarte corner was enough for the hosts to secure their first win of the season as they moved off the foot of the table.

Atleti huffed and puffed as they attempted to find a way back into the match after such an early blow, but were kept out by admirable defending from the hosts.

Marcos Llorente, Luis Suarez and substitute Angel Correa all went close for the visitors and Laguardia headed Kieran Tripper’s shot off the line.

Tomas Pina missed a glorious chance to double Alaves’s lead nine minutes from time, but fired over when unmarked on the penalty spot – but his side hung on to claim a first victory over Atleti since 2003.

The result left Diego Simeone’s side second on 14 points, two behind leaders Real Madrid, who are in action later on Saturday when they host Villarreal.

Valencia rallied late with 10 men to draw 1-1 with Athletic Bilbao, ending a two-game losing streak.

Bilbao took the lead with a goal from Inigo Martinez in the 69th minute but Marcos Andre equalised five minutes into stoppage time at Mestalla Stadium. The hosts had lost Maxi Gomez with a red card in the 82nd minute.

Serie A – Inter remain unbeaten, Maldini scores on first start

Lautaro Martinez helped Inter Milan to victory
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Lautaro Martinez helped Inter Milan to victory

Inter Milan maintained their unbeaten record in Serie A with an entertaining 2-2 draw against Atalanta on Saturday that featured late drama, as the champions missed a penalty and the visitors had a match-winning goal ruled out.

A sublime Lautaro Martinez volley put Inter in front after five minutes, but Atalanta turned the game on its head before the break with goals from Ruslan Malinovskyi and Rafael Toloi.

Edin Dzeko pulled the hosts level after 71 minutes, before Federico Dimarco’s penalty came off the bar with four minutes remaining and Roberto Piccoli’s last-minute strike was disallowed because the ball went out of play in the build-up.

Daniel Maldini scored for AC Milan on his first start
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Daniel Maldini scored for AC Milan on his first start

The result leaves Inter in third place on 14 points, three ahead of Atalanta in fifth but two behind league leaders AC Milan, who beat Spezia 2-1 earlier on Saturday.

Daniel Maldini scored for Milan on his first league start for the club. The 19-year-old followed in the footsteps of his father Paolo and grandfather Cesare, two Milan greats, by scoring in Italy’s top flight with a 48th-minute header, which sent the Rossoneri top of the table.

Daniele Verdes’ heavily deflected strike drew the home side level at the Stadio Alberto Picco, but a late goal from substitute Brahim Diaz scored the winner for Milan four minutes after coming on.

Bundesliga – Gladbach beat Dortmund

Denis Zakaria celebrates after scoring for Borussia Monchengladbach
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Denis Zakaria celebrates after scoring for Borussia Monchengladbach

Hosts Borussia Monchengladbach stunned 10-man Borussia Dortmund 1-0 with a goal from Denis Zakaria.

Dortmund, playing without injured captain Marco Reus and top striker Erling Haaland, suffered their second loss of the season, dropping to fourth place on 12 points, four off leaders Bayern Munich as Gladbach notched their second victory in six games.

Zakaria struck in the 37th minute after charging in the box, getting a lucky deflection to keep possession and then slotting in for the lead.

Things got worse for Dortmund, who host Sporting in the Champions League next week, three minutes later when Mo Dahoud got his marching orders following a second booking, putting his team firmly on the backfoot.

The hosts had a string of good chances in the second half on a frustrating return to Gladbach for Dortmund coach Marco Rose, who had coached the Foals for two years, but left this season to join the Ruhr valley club.

Rose’s team did not manage a single effort on goal over 90 minutes, dropping to fourth, one off third-placed VfL Wolfsburg, who lost 3-1 at Hoffenheim, and Bayer Leverkusen. Gladbach move up to 11th on seven points.

RB Leipzig thrashed Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga
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RB Leipzig thrashed Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga

RB Leipzig thrashed Hertha Berlin 6-0 to finally ease the pressure that had been building on manager Jesse Marsch.

Christopher Nkunku chipped the ball over the Hertha goalkeeper in the 16th minute, then set up Yussuf Poulsen for Leipzig’s second. Lukas Klostermann had a goal ruled out as Leipzig racked up nine efforts to the visitors one in the first half, before Nordi Mukiele made it 3-0 in injury time.

There was no let-up for Hertha as Emil Forsberg converted a penalty on the hour mark, and Nkunku, who had been fouled for the penalty, scored from a free kick in the 70th minute. Amadou Haidara completed the rout seven minutes later.

Florian Wirtz’s second-half strike was enough for Bayer Leverkusen to beat Mainz 1-0.

Cologne drew at Eintracht Frankfurt 1-1, Hoffenheim came from behind to defeat Wolfsburg 3-1 and Kevin Behrens scored in the 88th to give Union Berlin a late 1-0 win over Arminia Bielefeld.

Ligue 1 – Nice see off St Etienne

Nice bounced back from their first defeat of the season with a comprehensive 3-0 victory at St Etienne that lifted them up to third in the Ligue 1 standings.

Amine Gouiri, Calvin Stengs and Andy Delort scored to put the side, who slumped to a 1-0 defeat at Lorient on Wednesday, on 13 points from seven games.

Nice, who had conceded goals in two consecutive games after starting the season with four clean sheets, were rock solid in defence and the talent of their attacking players made the difference at Geoffroy Guichard.

Gouiri found the back of the net after 15 minutes with a 30-metre strike that took a deflection off Mahdi Camara.

Stengs doubled the advantage nine minutes into the second half after being played through nicely by Kephren Thuram before Delort wrapped it up seven minutes from time from close range.

Euro round-up: Suarez the hero for Atletico, Inter move top

Luis Suarez hit two late goals as Atletico Madrid hit back from behind to sink struggling Getafe 2-1 and climb back to the top of La Liga.

Still without a point this season, the hosts grabbed a shock lead when Atletico keeper Jan Oblak fumbled the ball over his own line on the stroke of half-time.

Getafe were reduced to 10 men in the 74th minute when Carlos Alena was sent off for a second bookable offence, and Suarez pounced to level four minutes later.

And the Uruguayan star struck in injury time when he headed home from a Sime Vrsaljko cross to seal the points.

Fellow veteran Radamel Falcao also struck late as Rayo Vallecano ended Atletico Bilbao’s bright start to the season with a 2-1 win at San Mames.

Alvaro Garcia’s opener for the visitors was cancelled out by a Pathe Ciss own goal, but substitute Falcao struck deep into injury time when he powered home a header from a Bebe free-kick.

Iago Aspas and Brais Mendez grabbed the goals as Celta Vigo claimed their first win of the season with a 2-0 success at Levante.

Serie A

Edin Dzeko celebrates his goal for Inter at Fiorentina
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Edin Dzeko celebrates his goal for Inter at Fiorentina

Inter Milan moved back to the top of Serie A as they came from behind to win 3-1 at Fiorentina.

Riccardo Sottil put the hosts in front midway through the first half, but Matteo Darmian and Edin Dzeko struck in the space of four second-half minutes.

Serie A news | Fixtures | Table

Fiorentina had Nico Gonzalez sent off for dissent and Ivan Perisic grabbed his side’s third to seal the points 12 minutes from time.

Robin Gosens and Davide Zappacosta scored early as Atalanta maintained their solid start with a 2-1 win over Sassuolo, who replied through Domenico Berardi, while Genoa twice came back from behind to draw 2-2 at Bologna.

Nerazzurri Fans Shouldn’t Be Disheartened by Real Madrid Defeat

First thoughts after the Champions League loss to Real Madrid weren’t great. Los Blancos are a transitioning team, which makes them vulnerable. Plus, the Galacticos they do have aren’t firing on all cylinders if you exclude Karim Benzema.

A home win for Inter would set out the Nerazzurri’s stall and make a statement – Romelu Lukaku may have been sold, but don’t underestimate this side. A late winner for Madrid negated that and led most supporters to believe that a long, hard Champions League campaign lays ahead. However, it’s wrong to jump to conclusions based on a single fixture.

The Group of Delight

There are easier groups. Real Madrid may not be the team of old, but they are still dangerous. The bookies quote them as 18/1 to win the tournament outright. Inter, by comparison, are a substantial 50/1 with the Champions League betting odds in the same market. Of course, most fans don’t expect to be European champions in 2022.

They do expect exciting football and a deep run into the competition, which Group D provides. Firstly, Simone Inzaghi’s men understand the risks of underestimating opponents after finishing bottom of as group last term that included two similar clubs. Secondly, the introduction of the Moldovan team, Sheriff Tiraspol makes the task less daunting. And, finally, Shakhtar Donetsk appear weaker than usual after they were soundly beaten 2-0 in their opening tie.

Even if Madrid are too good for Inter, the door is wide open for the black-and-blues to make it out of Group D and qualify for the knockout rounds. Once that happens, anything is possible.

Strength in Depth

Lukaku has gone and there’s nothing the club can do about it other than start the rebuilding process. The good news is, there is a lot of money to spend on a squad that is already pretty healthy. Sure, it can be better and, hopefully, it will be, yet it’s arguably strong enough to compete in Serie A and Europe.

The attacking options at Inzaghi’s disposal showcase this to a tee. Lukaku was part of a wonderful partnership that included Lautaro Martínez, who hasn’t gone anywhere. Edin Dzeko, a striker with a proven pedigree, has arrived from Roma and Joaquin Correa has an eye for goal. He scored two on his debut against Verona.

Frankly, and the Serie A top goalscorer betting market agrees because all of them are among the top 12 favourites, there is enough firepower to go toe-to-toe with most sides in Europe. That’s without Alexis Sanchez who can change a game from the bench.

More Belief

Last season’s Champion League campaign was a disaster. Without Lukaku, it’s tempting to assume that Inter’s opportunities will be reduced. But it isn’t necessarily the case. For one thing, finally clinching the Serie A title in May will have given the team a tremendous lift.

Not only that, but the management has only sold a couple of integral players other than Lukaku, such as Achraf Hakimi and Ashley Young. The majority of the squad is the same, with a few experienced winners thrown in for good measure.

This is important because the mentality of the team will be different. The players go into games knowing that they belong at the top level. This belief may be the difference between a largely successful season in Europe and the club’s previous dismal attempt.

It’s not the start anyone hoped for, but there’s no need to be negative right away. This Inter squad has a lot going for it, like potentially going deep in the 2021-22 Champions League.