Union Berlin finally lose at home after 24 Bundesliga games as Leipzig triumph 3-0

Union Berlin finally lose at home after 24 Bundesliga games as Leipzig triumph 3-0
Leipzig's Slovenian forward #30 Benjamin Sesko (R) scores the 2-0 goal past Union Berlin's Danish goalkeeper #01 Frederik Ronnow (5R) during the Bundesliga football match between 1 FC Union Berlin and RB Leipzig in Berlin on Sunday. (AFP)
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Updated 04 September 2023
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Union Berlin finally lose at home after 24 Bundesliga games as Leipzig triumph 3-0

Union Berlin finally lose at home after 24 Bundesliga games as Leipzig triumph 3-0
  • Sesko’s second goal in the 87th was his second in three minutes and it confirmed Union’s first league loss at Stadion an der Alten Försterei
  • French defender Niels Nkounkou scored on his debut after going on as a substitute to rescue a 1-1 draw for Eintracht Frankfurt against Cologne

BERLIN: Union Berlin fans rose to their feet to applaud their team despite Leipzig substitute Benjamin Sesko scoring twice to end Union’s long unbeaten run at home in the Bundesliga with a 3-0 defeat on Sunday.

Sesko’s second goal in the 87th was his second in three minutes and it confirmed Union’s first league loss at Stadion an der Alten Försterei after 24 games — a club record.

“It’s a strange feeling,” Union midfielder Robin Knoche said. “I don’t really like it, I have to admit. But that’s football, we have to accept it.”

Xavi Simons let fly from the edge of the penalty area to open the scoring in the 51st minute.

Former Germany forward Kevin Volland made his first start for Union and was sent off in the 64th for a foul on Mohamed Simakan, when he clipped the back of his ankle. The Leipzig defender was substituted shortly afterward.

“We didn’t manage to get forward and attack enough, to put Leipzig under pressure in the final third,” Union left back Robin Gosens said. “The red card was the fatal blow.”

It’s Leipzig’s first win over rival Union in the Bundesliga at the fifth attempt. Union won their previous four meetings, all by scores of 2-1.

Dutch defender Danilho Doekhi captained Union despite breaking his cheekbone in the previous game, while new signing Leonardo Bonucci remained on the substitutes’ bench after his transfer from Juventus.

The home fans stood immediately after Sesko’s second goal and for six minutes of injury time, clapping as they sang: “FC Union, our love, our team, our pride, our club.” They had earlier stayed largely silent for the first 15 minutes in a protest aimed at its rival, which they see as a marketing tool for the energy drinks manufacturer Red Bull.

The fans broke their silence when Volland had a good header saved by Janis Blaswich in the 13th.

Simons had another effort saved by Frederik Rönnow at the other end shortly afterward. They were the best chances either team had in the first half as an intensive battle developed in midfield with both defenses on top.

But Simons broke the deadlock with a sweeping shot after Union’s defense failed to stop either Kevin Kampl or Benjamin Henrichs, who set the Dutch youngster up, and Volland’s sending off was another blow.

Rönnow made two good saves to keep the home team’s hopes alive until Sesko grabbed his first two Bundesliga goals.

DREAM DEBUT

French defender Niels Nkounkou scored on his debut after going on as a substitute to rescue a 1-1 draw for Eintracht Frankfurt against Cologne.

Florian Kainz’s penalty was enough for the visitors to lead at the break, but Frankfurt’s pressure finally paid off in the 87th when American midfielder Paxten Aaronson found Nkounkou free on the left. The 24-year-old Kainz unleashed a powerful shot inside the far post.

It was Frankfurt’s first game since losing star forward Randal Kolo Muani to Paris Saint-Germain in a club-record 95 million euro-sale ($102.5 million).

Defending champion Bayern Munich beat Borussia Mönchengladbach 2-1 on Saturday. Bayer Leverkusen is the only other team to have won its first three games. The two meet in the fourth round on Sept. 15.


Ronaldo targets first AFC Champions League goals for Al-Nassr against Istiklol

Ronaldo targets first AFC Champions League goals for Al-Nassr against Istiklol
Updated 02 October 2023
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Ronaldo targets first AFC Champions League goals for Al-Nassr against Istiklol

Ronaldo targets first AFC Champions League goals for Al-Nassr against Istiklol
  • The Portuguese legend is the record goalscorer of the UEFA Champions League with 140

Al-Nassr captain Cristiano Ronaldo will look to get his AFC Champions League goalscoring account up and running on Monday night when the Riyadh giants welcome Istiklol of Tajikistan to Al-Awwal Park in the second round of matches in Group E.

The Portuguese legend is the all-time record goalscorer in the UEFA Champions League with 140, in a career that saw him win the competition once with Manchester United and four times with Real Madrid.

The match will be Ronaldo’s third in Asia’s premier club competition, having taken part in a successful qualifier against Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai, and on Group E Matchday 1 against Persepolis of Iran, which Al-Nassr won 2-0.

Ronaldo is currently the top scorer in the Roshn Saudi League with 10 goals, four ahead of his nearest challengers, after eight rounds of matches.


Atletico rally from two goals down to score 3rd straight win against Cadiz in Spanish league

Atletico rally from two goals down to score 3rd straight win against Cadiz in Spanish league
Updated 02 October 2023
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Atletico rally from two goals down to score 3rd straight win against Cadiz in Spanish league

Atletico rally from two goals down to score 3rd straight win against Cadiz in Spanish league
  • The victory moved Diego Simeone’s team to fourth place behind Girona, Barcelona and leaders Real Madrid
  • Cadiz, winless in three matches and sitting in 12th place, got off to a fast start with Lucas Pires scoring in the 12th and Roger Martí in the 27th

MADRID: Atletico Madrid rallied from a two-goal deficit to win their third straight game and move into the Champions League spots in the Spanish league.

With a brace from Angel Correa and a goal by Nahuel Molina, Atletico went from 2-1 down at halftime to beating Cadiz 3-2 on Sunday at the Metropolitano Stadium.

The victory moved Diego Simeone’s team to fourth place behind Girona, Barcelona and leaders Real Madrid. Atletico have a game in hand and were coming off wins at Osasuna and against Madrid in the first city derby of the season.

“The team had the tranquility to find the way to victory,” Simeone said. “The guys have been showing great effort, and today’s comeback makes me happy because it wasn’t easy after conceding those two goals.”

Cadiz, winless in three matches and sitting in 12th place, got off to a fast start with Lucas Pires scoring in the 12th and Roger Martí in the 27th. Atletico pulled closer with Correa’s goal in the 32nd, and Nahuel Molina equalized for the hosts early in the second half before Correa got the winner from inside the area in the 66th.

Atletico have won 12 straight home matches at home in the league going back to last season, and the have not lost in 16 consecutive home matches against Cadiz, with 15 wins and a draw.

Cadiz remain winless in their last nine away league matches, since a 2-0 win at Real Betis in April.

HAT TRICK IN 5 MINUTES

Last-place Almeria couldn’t hold on to a three-goal lead at halftime after a hat trick by Luis Suarez in five minutes, drawing 3-3 with second-to-last Granada at home.

Suarez scored Almeria’s goals in the 41st, 44th and in the first minute of first-half stoppage time but the Colombian forward had to leave the game late in the second half with a leg fracture. He was taken to a hospital in an ambulance after being substituted.

Granada rallied with goals from Bryan Zaragoza in the 66th, Ricard Sanchez in the 70th and Myrto Uzuni in the 86th.

Almeria, which was led by interim coach Alberto Lasarte after Vicente Moreno was fired this week, remains the only team without a win in the league this season. It has three points from three draws. Granada has five points from a win and two draws.

BETIS BEAT VALENCIA

Real Betis ended their four-game winless streak in all competitions with a 3-0 win over Valencia.

Assane Diao scored in the first half, and Marc Roca and Ez Abde added second-half goals for the hosts.

The win moved Betis to seventh place, with midtable Valencia winless in three matches.

The game at Benito Villamarin Stadium was moved to a night slot because of high temperatures in the southern Spanish city of Seville.

OSASUNA WIN

Osasuna ended a five-game winless streak in all competitions with a 2-0 victory at promoted Alaves, with José Arnaiz and Ante Budimir scoring a goal in each half.

Osasuna’s last win had come at Valencia in August. They next visit league leader Real Madrid.

Alaves, winless in four matches, played a man down from the 49th because of a red card for midfielder Antonio Blanco.


Juventus and Atalanta draw 0-0; Lukaku helps crisis-hit Roma beat Frosinone 2-0

Juventus and Atalanta draw 0-0; Lukaku helps crisis-hit Roma beat Frosinone 2-0
Updated 02 October 2023
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Juventus and Atalanta draw 0-0; Lukaku helps crisis-hit Roma beat Frosinone 2-0

Juventus and Atalanta draw 0-0; Lukaku helps crisis-hit Roma beat Frosinone 2-0
  • Both teams had chances and Atalanta hit the woodwork but neither could find the breakthrough in Bergamo
  • Riccardo Orsolini scored a hat trick to fire Bologna to a 3-0 win over hapless Empoli

MILAN: Juventus and Atalanta fell further behind the Serie A leaders as they played out a 0-0 draw on Sunday.

Both teams had chances and Atalanta hit the woodwork but neither could find the breakthrough in Bergamo.

Juventus remained fourth, four points behind second-place AC Milan and Inter Milan at the top after seven rounds. Atalanta are a point behind Juventus.

Troubled Roma beat Frosinone 2-0 for only their second league win of the season.

Both Atalanta and Juventus were in form heading into Sunday’s match. Atalanta had won their last three matches in all competitions without conceding a goal, while Juventus had three victories in its past four matches.

There were few chances in a tight first half. Davide Zappacosta should have given Atalanta the lead in the 14th minute but his first attempt was blocked by Juventus defender Danilo and he fired the rebound wide of the right post from close range.

Juve’s best chance came early in the second half when Federico Chiesa’s fierce attempt was palmed away by Atalanta goalkeeper Juan Musso.

His counterpart, Wojciech Szczęsny, did even better 15 minutes from time as he managed to fingertip a stunning free kick from Luis Muriel onto the crossbar. The ball then bounced down and hit the goalkeeper on the back before going out.

LUKAKU AGAIN

Romelu Lukaku was again on target to set Roma on their way to a vital victory.

Jose Mourinho’s team was in crisis after just one win in its six league matches and had lost 4-1 at promoted Genoa midweek.

Roma were playing another promoted side in Frosinone, who have been enjoying an impressive start back in the Italian top flight.

Lukaku, who spent last season on loan at Inter, had netted three times in five matches for Roma since joining from Chelsea and he scored again in the 21st minute following an assist from Paulo Dybala.

Dybala also set up Roma's second with a free kick for Lorenzo Pellegrini to volley home with seven minutes remaining.

HAT TRICK HERO

Riccardo Orsolini scored a hat trick to fire Bologna to a 3-0 win over hapless Empoli.

That ended a run of three goalless draws for Bologna. Empoli, who recorded their first points and first goal midweek, has lost six of its seven matches.

Albert Guðmundsson almost scored a first-half hat trick but Genoa was held to a 2-2 draw at Udinese after a stoppage-time own-goal.

Guðmundsson had the ball in the back of the net three times but one of his strikes was ruled out for offside.

Udinese forward Lorenzo Lucca scored his team’s first equalizer with his first Serie A goal and the home side snatched a point when Genoa defender Alan Matturro headed the ball into his own net.

Udinese midfielder Sandi Lovrić was shown a straight red card moments later for a foul on Junior Messias.


UAE Pro League review: Al-Ain and champions Shabab Al-Ahli maintain perfect starts

UAE Pro League review: Al-Ain and champions Shabab Al-Ahli maintain perfect starts
Updated 01 October 2023
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UAE Pro League review: Al-Ain and champions Shabab Al-Ahli maintain perfect starts

UAE Pro League review: Al-Ain and champions Shabab Al-Ahli maintain perfect starts
  • Al-Wasl draw against Khor Fakkan sees them fall two points behind the top two

Holders Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Club and Al-Ain maintained 100-percent starts to the season after heavyweight clashes, while Al-Wasl blew up theirs in unfathomable fashion against nine men, throughout ADNOC Pro League’s engrossing Matchweek 4.

Thursday’s sell-out crowd witnessed Al-Ain’s 10 men secure an epic 3-2 victory at shell-shocked Sharjah, courtesy of substitute Jonatas’ fierce clincher. Shabab Al-Ahli, meanwhile, breezed past Al-Wahda 3-1 on Friday, with emergent UAE force Yahya Al-Ghassani impressing former employers.

Saturday’s utterly chaotic second half at Khor Fakkan saw Wasl shockingly drop two points off leading pace. Switzerland striker Haris Seferovic’s first-half brace had sparked a 3-0 lead for the visitors by 14 minutes, but their collapse to 3-3 was completed by resurgent hosts in the 91st minute despite red cards for Uzbekistan midfielder Abdulla Abdullayev and Masoud Sulaiman.

Italy striker Manolo Gabbiadini’s brace earned a 3-0 victory for relieved Al-Nasr at rock-bottom Hatta; Morocco hit man Walid Azaro’s hat-trick proved in vain during Ajman’s 5-3 loss to grateful Ittihad Kalba; and Spanish playmaker Alejandro Pozuelo had a hand in all three goals when Al-Bataeh were downed 3-1 by Frank de Boer’s momentum-building Al-Jazira.

Spain icon Andres Iniesta went close when Emirates Club played out a goalless stalemate at Baniyas.

Here are Arab News’ top picks and a talking point from the latest action.

Player of the week: Al-Ghassani (Shabab Al-Ahli Dubai Club)

There was a poignancy to this breathtaking display from one of the Middle East’s finest.

Al-Ghassani’s first steps in senior professional football were taken with Wahda, after exiting the academy of the then-named Al-Ahli. But despite an undeniable talent, it never truly happened for the winger at Al-Nahyan Stadium from 2018 until January 2021’s move back home.

Only 12 top-flight starts, four goals and five assists were recorded.

Fast forward to the present and Al-Ghassani was a standout performer in last season’s title victory, plus scorer of a brace during August’s agonizing AFC Champions League play-off exit to Cristiano Ronaldo’s Al-Nasr.

A pair in coach Paulo Bento’s impressive UAE debut — a 4-1 thumping of Costa Rica with Paris Saint-Germain’s Keylor Navas between the sticks — augurs much for World Cup 2026 qualifying’s impending kick-off and winter’s Asian Cup.

Al-Ghassani’s punishing pace and flawless technique were showcased for Mu’nas Dabbur’s seventh-minute opener, a clipped assist shredding the visiting defense. A noteworthy maturity, too, for an entertainer approaching his prime at 25 years old.

In tandem with fellow outstanding UAE prospect Harib Abdalla on the opposite flank, Shabab Al-Ahli’s counter-punching approach — they ceded 59-percent possession — made perfect sense.

Wahda’s loss is, emphatically, Shabab Al-Ahli’s gain. It makes the former strong contenders to claim another result in Saturday’s glamour clash at Jazira.

Goal of the week: Gabbiadini (Al-Nasr)

A long-awaited breakout for a beleaguered club and a star addition.

Gabbiadini had suffered alongside his new teammates in a tortured start to this season, which featured three successive league losses. In that time, the summer addition from relegated Sampdoria accrued only one assist, amid opening defeat to Jazira.

The narrative shifted in the Hajar Mountains.

Gabbiadini’s sharp mind and acute skills were present before half-time, breaking the deadlock in this clash of great import.

Nasr’s quick free-kick caused a goal-mouth scramble. The ball eventually made its way toward the 13-times-capped attacker, who met it with a forceful back heel that flew through Hatta goalkeeper Salam Khairi from close range.

Such refinement attracted the Blue Wave to Gabbiadini, following the briefest of summer attachments with Cedric Bakambu prior to joining Galatasaray.

It could yet prove adroit business for a 12th-placed sleeping giant who must awaken from perpetual slumber. Sleepwalk back into bad habits and harsh punishment should await versus Al-Ain on Sunday, before another international break.

Coach of the week: Gerard Zaragoza (Khor Fakkan)

Zaragoza experienced the startling highs and lows of club management, in this unforgettable Khor Fakkan debut.

A promotion from assistant coach was bequeathed by Abdulaziz Al-Anbari’s mid-September exit. That occurred after fitful ADNOC Pro League form, plus landslide ADIB Cup elimination by Kalba.

This change at the helm — whatever its permanence — looked misguided when on-song Wasl raced into an early three-goal lead. A comeback appeared impossible against visitors, surely, posed to extend a perfect start to the season.

But the ex-Shabab Al-Ahli tactician had a different idea. Lourency and Mohammed Al-Junaibi — one of two 24th-minute substitutes as Zaragoza attempted to catalyze a comeback — exchanged goal contributions before the hour mark, moving Khor Fakkan within striking distance.

This wind was taken out of their sails by twin dismissals. Yet, Khor Fakkan and Zaragoza were not done.

Another replacement, Juninho, took advantage of uncharacteristic dallying from Morocco center-back Soufiane Bouftini in injury time to poke home the unlikeliest of levelers.

Cosmin conundrum continues at Sharjah

We’ve been here before.

Last season featured an unprecedented haul of four different cup trophies for Sharjah under Cosmin Olaroiu, but an underwhelming seventh-placed finish for a side that contained Miralem Pjanic, Kostas Manolas and Paco Alcacer.

This season has featured a gritty 3-1 AFC Champions League play-off victory in front of 80,898 partisan Tractor S.C. supporters and a creditable goalless group-stage opener at Qatar’s Al-Sadd. Yet in the topflight, they already sit six points off the pace in fifth after defeat at home to an Al-Ain team reduced to 10 men by Kouame Autonne’s 37th-minute dismissal.

This represents an intractable problem for Sharjah’s board.

Olaroiu’s reputation as a serial trophy hoarder is unmatched across Asia, but paltry league form is a growing concern.


Klopp slams ‘crazy decisions’ after nine-man Liverpool’s Spurs loss

Klopp slams ‘crazy decisions’ after nine-man Liverpool’s Spurs loss
Updated 30 September 2023
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Klopp slams ‘crazy decisions’ after nine-man Liverpool’s Spurs loss

Klopp slams ‘crazy decisions’ after nine-man Liverpool’s Spurs loss
  • Refereeing body PGMOL issued a statement less than an hour after the final whistle conceding Diaz’s first-half goal should have stood
  • Klopp was incensed by the decisions, with Jones dismissed after his crunching challenge into Yves Bissouma’s ankle

LONDON: Jurgen Klopp blasted the “crazy decisions” that led to nine-man Liverpool’s 2-1 defeat against Tottenham as referees’ chiefs admitted the Reds were denied a legitimate goal in Saturday’s dramatic clash.
Klopp’s side had Curtis Jones and Diogo Jota sent off in north London, while Liverpool forward Luis Diaz had a goal wrongly disallowed by VAR.
Refereeing body PGMOL issued a statement less than an hour after the final whistle conceding Diaz’s first-half goal should have stood.
“PGMOL acknowledge a significant human error occurred during the first half of Tottenham Hotspur v Liverpool,” the statement read.
“The goal by Luis Diaz was disallowed for offside by the on-field team of match officials. This was a clear and obvious factual error and should have resulted in the goal being awarded through VAR intervention, however, the VAR failed to intervene.
“PGMOL will conduct a full review into the circumstances which led to the error.”
Liverpool paid the price for the controversial calls as Joel Matip’s last-gasp own-goal condemned them to a first Premier League loss this term.
Klopp was incensed by the decisions, with Jones dismissed after his crunching challenge into Yves Bissouma’s ankle.
It was initially ruled a booking by referee Simon Hooper, only for the official to upgrade it to a red card when he reviewed the foul on the pitchside monitor.
Liverpool thought they had taken the lead despite that blow when Diaz fired home from Mohamed Salah’s pass, but VAR ruled it out after a surprisingly quick check.
Son Heung-min put Tottenham ahead before Cody Gakpo’s equalizer for the visitors, then Jota was sent off for two fouls in quick succession on Destiny Udogie after the break.
“I was never more proud of the team than today. I never saw a game like this with the most unfair circumstances, crazy decisions,” Klopp said.
“The first red card, Curtis steps on the ball and goes over. Not a bad tackle.
“It looks different in slow motion. He steps full throttle on the ball and goes over the ball. That is unlucky.
“For Jota, first yellow was not a yellow. Then he gets a second and to defend with eight outfield players is tricky.”
On Diaz’s disallowed goal, Klopp raged at VAR, saying: “The offside goal. That is not offside when you see it, they drew their lines wrong.
“The ball is between Mo’s legs, they drew the line wrong and didn’t judge the moment when Mo passed the ball right. It is so tough to deal with it.”
Liverpool missed the chance to go top of the table after their defeat, but Klopp saluted the way his nine men kept in-form Tottenham at bay until the last moments of stoppage time.
“You want to build something you need players with mentality and I saw them today, they fought. Pretty special tonight,” he said.
“We scored an own goal, that is really tough to take but I am really proud.”