‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

Despite Bale starting, it was on-loan Carlos Vinicius who made an impressive debut in the Group J opener. (Reuters)
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Updated 23 October 2020

‘Loved and appreciated’ Bale starts as Spurs win, Celtic undone by Milan

PARIS: Gareth Bale said it felt good to be “loved and appreciated” after helping Tottenham to a 3-0 win over LASK of Austria in the Europa League on Thursday.
The Welsh international started his first match since his return from Real Madrid and played for an hour before Jose Mourinho gave him a break.
Bale had come on as a substitute last Sunday with Tottenham 3-0 up against West Ham before his team collapsed to give up a 3-3 draw.
“It is amazing to be back,” Bale told BT Sport on Thursday.
“It is a big reason why I play well and why I came back. You want to be loved and appreciated. I will give everything for this shirt.”
However, he admitted it will take time to find his feet.
“I am a bit stiff. It is like a mini pre-season for me and I am trying to get minutes into the legs,” he said.
Despite Bale starting, it was on-loan Carlos Vinicius who made an impressive debut in the Group J opener.
Vinicius started in place of the resting Harry Kane and he made goals in either half for Lucas Moura and Son Heung-min, while he would have also netted himself had Andres Andrade not scored an own goal.
Bale made that goal where Andrade put through his own net.
Leicester made the perfect start in Group G with a comfortable 3-0 win over Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine.
James Maddison, Harvey Barnes and Kelechi Iheanacho were on the scoresheet.
In Glasgow, Celtic struggled against Serie A leaders AC Milan who were 2-0 up at half-time thanks to goals from Rade Krunic and Brahim Diaz.
Mohamed Elyounoussi reduced the arrears after the break, but Jens Petter Hauge broke clear to secure Milan’s Group H 3-1 win in stoppage time.
Milan were so comfortable that they could afford to take off Zlatan Ibrahimovic just after the hour.
Earlier Thursday, Arsenal came from behind to down Rapid Vienna 2-1 and Rangers beat Standard Liege 2-0.
After a goalless first half Arsenal went behind when keeper Bernd Leno fluffed a clearance on a night he will want to forget.
Taxiarchis Fountas capitalized on Leno’s clanger, much to the joy of the 3,000 home fans allowed in to watch under coronavirus safety protocol, but the Gunners then turned the game around in four second half minutes.
David Luiz put them level with a deft glancing header off Nicolas Pepe’s free-kick, with Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang then tapping home to bag the three Group B points.
It was an eventful night for Mikel Arteta’s side.
Alongside eight yellow cards, there was an eye-catching display from Thomas Partey on his first start since his transfer deadline day move from Atletico Madrid.
A frustrated follower of the game from his London sofa was Mesut Ozil, who has been left out of both Arsenal’s Europa League and Premier League squad.
“When I can’t support on the pitch tonight, I will support in front of the TV in London.” tweeted Ozil.
The other Group B game was being played out in Dublin where Dundalk, only Ireland’s third ever representative in the group stage, were beaten 2-1 by Norwegians Molde.
In Belgium, Steven Gerrard’s Rangers took on Standard Liege fresh from their Old Firm derby win over Celtic which moved them four points clear in the Scottish Premiership last weekend.
James Tavernier scored from the spot after Noe Dussenne handled in the area to put them into a 19th minute lead.
Then three minutes into stoppage time Kemar Roofe produced a wonder goal from the halfway line, the ball flying over the head of bewildered keeper Arnaud Bodart.
Benfica had claimed the first goal of the night and they went on to beat Lech Poznan in Poland 4-2 in the other Group D game.
Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen ran riot 6-2 against French side Nice and Spanish side Granada, in their first ever European campaign, beat PSV Eindhoven 2-1.


Lampard stresses ‘respect’ for Mourinho ahead of key match

Updated 28 November 2020

Lampard stresses ‘respect’ for Mourinho ahead of key match

LONDON: Chelsea boss Frank Lampard believes Jose Mourinho is as good a manager as he has ever been, insisting he respects his former boss despite recent spats.

Mourinho’s Tottenham are top of the Premier League ahead of this weekend’s fixtures, just two points clear of Chelsea.

The Portuguese has enjoyed huge success throughout his career but struggled toward the end of his spell at Manchester United and took time to find his feet at Spurs.

The two managers clashed on the touchline in their League Cup meeting in September and last year Mourinho suggested Lampard had used former Chelsea boss Antonio Conte’s tactics to beat Spurs in the league.

But Lampard, who won two Premier League titles under Mourinho at Stamford Bridge, played down the incidents and said the Portuguese was still a top manager.

“You don’t get a record as decorated as Jose Mourinho has as a manager without being a very talented coach,” he said.

“For all of us the game is so reactionary at the moment, particularly in the modern era, with social media reactions, that form will always be judged very harshly for any manager.”

Lampard, who is in his second season in charge at Chelsea, said he was not surprised by anything management threw at him.

“I’ve got respect for Jose as a manager and I think that’s just how it is,” he said. “I didn’t take any offense to the talk of Antonio Conte’s system or whatever.”

“Jose can have his opinions and it’s not a problem,” he added. “I’ve got respect for him and it’s nothing contentious for me.”

Sunday’s match will be the 1,000th game since Roman Abramovich became owner of Chelsea, transforming the club from also-rans to serial trophy contenders.

Since Abramovich’s takeover in 2003, the Blues have won five Premier League titles, the club’s only Champions League, two Europa Leagues, five FA Cups and three League Cups.

“As manager and as a player who was involved in a lot of those games I can give him a huge thank you because nothing that we have achieved in the Roman Abramovich era could have happened without him and his support,” said Lampard.

“Whether you’re talking about firstly the financial input but also the development of the training ground, the love and time put into the academy and the trophies we’ve been able to win have all been made possible because of him.”