BERLIN: A Christopher Nkunku-inspired RB Leipzig won their second straight German Cup title on Saturday, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in Berlin.
A year after scoring a second-half goal which sent the 2022 final to penalties, Nkunku broke the deadlock after 71 minutes, his low shot taking a deflection and into the goal against the run of play.
A shellshocked Frankfurt, who had the better of the second half looked to equalize but Leipzig scored again, Dominik Szoboszlai sweeping in an Nkunku pass on the counter.
After featuring in four of the past five German Cup finals, Leipzig’s second title in two years firmly establishes themselves alongside Borussia Dortmund as challengers to Bayern Munich’s throne.
“When you win something like this, then you just have to celebrate — and that’s what we’ll do,” Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer told Germany’s ZDF network.
Frankfurt captain Sebastian Rode said Nkunku’s goal was the turning point, telling ZDF “we just didn’t have the power in behind” after the strike.
The victory spoiled Frankfurt manager Oliver Glasner’s farewell, with the Austrian leaving the club at the end of the season, one year after taking them to the Europa League title.
Despite the victory, the immediate future is uncertain for Leipzig, who could lose several stars including Nkunku, Szoboszlai and Laimer in the summer.
Sporting director Max Eberl confirmed a possible exit for Nkunku, telling German TV “it could be” the France striker’s last match for Leipzig.
Pre-game, the match had been billed as a clash of conflicting ideologies in German football.
In one corner, nouveau riche Leipzig, playing in just their 14th season, against the tradition of Frankfurt, one of only four clubs remaining from the first Bundesliga season in 1963-64 guaranteed to play in next year’s top division.
The Frankfurt stadium announcer played into the conflict just before kickoff, saying “tradition can’t be bought,” a direct jab at the Red Bull-owned Leipzig.
Unbeaten in their last 11 cup games, Leipzig burst out of the blocks, Werner latching onto a Dominik Szoboszlai pass just four minutes in before blasting straight at the ‘keeper.
Leipzig dominated possession but Frankfurt caused problems on the counter, France striker Kolo Muani probing a defense missing the commanding presence of the suspended Josko Gvardiol.
The best chance of the first half fell to Nkunku in the shadows of halftime, the France striker cannoning the ball into the side netting past the outstretched fingers of Frankfurt goalie Kevin Trapp.
Fresh from extending his deal in Frankfurt by one year until 2026 on Friday, 2014 World Cup winner Goetze grabbed control of the game early in the second stanza.
The veteran of four German Cup final wins, two with Dortmund and two with Bayern, put Kolo Muani through on goal with a perfect threaded path before forcing a desperate close range save from Janis Blaswich.
With a Frankfurt opener looking likely, Leipzig scored against the run of play, Nkunku’s shot from the edge of the box taking a sharp deflection of defender Evan Ndicka and into the net.
Frankfurt made multiple changes pushing for an equalizer but Leipzig scored again, Szoboszlai hammering in after a sweeping counterattack with five minutes remaining to seal the win.
Nkunku helps Leipzig defend German Cup title
Nkunku helps Leipzig defend German Cup title
- A year after scoring a second-half goal which sent the 2022 final to penalties, Nkunku broke the deadlock after 71 minutes
- "When you win something like this, then you just have to celebrate -- and that's what we'll do," Leipzig midfielder Konrad Laimer told Germany's ZDF network
BERLIN: A Christopher Nkunku-inspired RB Leipzig won their second straight German Cup title on Saturday, beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 in Berlin.
Messi named Time magazine’s ‘Athlete of the Year’
- Time: Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible, when he signed with Inter Miami: Turning the US into a soccer country
- Messi was quoted by Time as saying that his first preference after PSG had been a fairytale return to Barcelona, but that move stalled over the club’s finances
LOS ANGELES: Lionel Messi has been named Time magazine’s “Athlete of the Year” for 2023 after a trailblazing season marked by an eighth Ballon d’Or award and his ground-breaking move to Major League Soccer’s Inter Miami.
Time said the Argentine superstar had already had a transformative impact on the American sporting landscape, which has been historically slow to embrace football.
“Lionel Messi this year managed to do what once seemed impossible, when he signed with Inter Miami: Turning the US into a soccer country,” Time commented.
The 36-year-old Messi made his debut for Miami in July following an acrimonious departure from Paris Saint-Germain.
The eight-time Ballon d’Or winner made an instant impact on Miami’s fortunes, playing a pivotal role in helping the team win the expanded Leagues Cup, a cross-border competition for teams from MLS and Mexico’s top flight.
Messi finished the campaign with 11 goals in 14 appearances across all competitions, but an injury toward the end of the season meant he was unable to help Miami force their way into the playoffs.
Messi was quoted by Time as saying that his first preference after PSG had been a fairytale return to Barcelona, but that move stalled over the club’s finances.
“I tried to return, and it did not happen,” Messi said, adding that he was also “thinking a lot” about joining the wave of overseas players who have headed to the Saudi Pro League.
“It was Saudi Arabia or MLS, and both options seemed very interesting to me,” Messi told the magazine.
Time said Messi’s arrival had driven a surge in attendances, ticket prices, merchandise sales and viewership, revealing that on the day of his debut, subscriptions to Apple TV — which retains exclusive rights to MLS —had jumped by 110,000, a 1,700 percent increase over the previous day.
Arsenal moves 5 points clear in Premier League after last-gasp win but Raya’s form remains a concern
As soon as the ball hit the back of the net, Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya sprinted the length of the field to celebrate the last-gasp winner with his jubilant teammates.
No player will have been more relieved than Raya to see Declan Rice’s glancing header creep into the corner and seal a chaotic 4-3 victory over Luton in the Premier League on Tuesday.
While Rice is proving value for money after his club-record signing in July, Raya — another offseason recruit — remains an issue for Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta as the team bids to win the league title after last season’s near miss.
Arsenal moved five points clear with its fourth straight victory in the league, overcoming errors from Raya that led to two goals for Luton by netting in the seventh minute of stoppage time through Rice at Kenilworth Road.
“The spirit of the team — how we fought, showed our quality in the right moments and never gave up,” Arteta said. “We went for it and got our rewards.”
Arteta chose not to talk about the mistakes by Raya, which looked like they’d be costly for Arsenal.
The team was leading 2-1 in the 49th minute when the Spanish goalkeeper was beaten in the air at a corner by Elijah Adebayo, who powered in a header for an equalizer.
Eight minutes later, Raya allowed a shot by Ross Barkley to go under his body as he dived to his left.
Luton, a promoted team likely to be battling relegation this season, was suddenly 3-2 ahead and Raya didn’t know where to look.
Kai Havertz scored an equalizer almost immediately, though, and incessant pressure in the final minutes ended with Martin Odegaard whipping in a cross and Rice rising to flick a header into the bottom corner, sparking wild celebrations in the away end and jeers from Luton fans. The goal came after the six allotted minutes of stoppage time had expired.
Arsenal has won nine points from goals in the last five minutes of games this season, a good sign for a club looking to win the league for the first time since 2004.
Arteta now has to decide what to do with Raya, who has taken the place of Aaron Ramsdale since arriving from Brentford. He is better with his feet than Ramsdale but has produced errors in other parts of his game, like being caught completely out of position to let in a cross from Mykhailo Mudryk in a match at Chelsea in October.
Gabriel Martinelli and Gabriel Jesus scored first-half goals for Arsenal, either side of Gabriel Osho’s equalizer for Luton.
Second-place Liverpool can move back to two points behind by beating last-place Sheffield United on Wednesday. Manchester City, a further point back in third, visits Aston Villa.
FREE-SCORING SOUTH KOREANS
South Korea boasts two of the leading scorers in the Premier League this season.
While Tottenham’s Son Heung-min isn’t too much of a surprise, Wolverhampton’s Hwang Hee-chan certainly is.
Hwang made it eight goals in 15 games in this campaign with the first-half winner in Wolves’ 1-0 victory over Burnley at Molineux. That’s as many league goals as he managed in his first two full seasons for Wolves after joining from Leipzig in August 2021, initially on loan.
Hwang is one goal behind Son, with only Mohamed Salah (10) and Erling Haaland (14) ahead of them.
Tottenham snatch point at Manchester City in classic after Liverpool drama
- Champions City looked set to move to within one point of leaders Arsenal when they led Spurs 3-2 in the dying minutes
- Liverpool turned the tables in dramatic fashion against Fulham
LONDON: Dejan Kulusevski headed a dramatic late goal as Tottenham held Manchester City in a six-goal thriller on Sunday after Liverpool staged a sensational comeback on a breathless afternoon in the Premier League.
High-flying Aston Villa scored in the 90th minute to draw 2-2 at Bournemouth while 10-man Chelsea shrugged off a red card for captain Conor Gallagher to edge Brighton 3-2 on a day when 24 goals were scored in five matches.
Champions City looked set to move to within one point of leaders Arsenal when they led Spurs 3-2 in the dying minutes at the Etihad.
But Kulusevski headed home from Brennan Johnson’s cross in the 90th minute to leave City ruing dropped points for the third match running.
Son Heung-min put the away side ahead in the sixth minute but three minutes later the South Korean forward turned villain, putting the ball into his own net.
Phil Foden put City in front just after the half hour following a sweeping move but Giovani Lo Celso levelled about 20 minutes from time.
Jack Grealish restored the home side’s lead once more, only for Kulusevski to stun the Etihad late on.
“Of course that’s why we love football,” Tottenham captain Son told Sky Sports. “That’s what I told the lads.
“Obviously Man City are a huge, huge team and one of the best teams in the world but that’s why we love football, it happens sometimes. We kept believing until 90 minutes so I’m very very proud of the team.”
Earlier, Liverpool appeared set for their first home defeat in the Premier League since October 2022 when they went 3-2 down to Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s goal in the 80th minute.
But they turned the tables in dramatic fashion through Wataru Endo and Trent Alexander-Arnold, who struck in the 87th and 88th minutes for a 4-3 win.
It was the latest Liverpool have ever fallen behind in a Premier League match that they went on to win.
“We played an incredible game until we didn’t anymore,” Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp told the BBC.
“All credit to Fulham, they did really well. Today we scored four worldies and were lucky in the end to win the game, and that tells you everything.”
Alexander-Arnold set Liverpool on their way in the 20th minute when his brilliant free-kick clipped the underside of the crossbar and went in off Fulham keeper Bernd Leno for an own goal.
Harry Wilson levelled before Alexis Mac Allister produced a moment of magic to restore the home side’s lead, unleashing a rising drive that found the top corner for his first Liverpool goal.
But Fulham equalized through Kenny Tete before half time and the London side looked set for a sensational victory when substitute De Cordova-Reid nodded home their third with 10 minutes of normal time to go.
However, Liverpool were not finished. Mohamed Salah set up Endo, who found the net from the edge of the box and Alexander-Arnold drove the ball home a minute later, sparking wild scenes at Anfield.
Chelsea recorded just their second Premier League home win of the season against Brighton, despite being reduced to 10 men before half-time.
Mauricio Pochettino’s men were cruising midway through the first half after goals from Enzo Fernandez and Levi Colwill.
Facundo Buonanotte halved the deficit for the visitors shortly before half-time and there was still time for Gallagher to pick up a second yellow card before the break, changing the complexion of the match.
Fernandez restored Chelsea’s two-goal cushion from the penalty spot, but Joao Pedro struck in stoppage time to heap the pressure on the home side but they held on.
Aston Villa striker Ollie Watkins headed home a cross from Moussa Diaby in the 90th minute to rescue a point Unai Emery’s team, which kept them in fourth place.
At the London Stadium, Mohammed Kudus put West Ham ahead in the first half, before Odsonne Edouard equalized in the second period to earn a point for Crystal Palace.
Anthony Gordon sparkles in Newcastle win over Manchester United giving Gareth Southgate a Marcus Rashford headache
NEWCASTLE: In Paris, many were keen to compare Newcastle United’s Anthony Gordon with Kylian Mbappe. And while the young Scouser was overshadowed by his more storied opponent that night, he showed many, four days later, including Gareth Southgate, that there are few more electric forwards in English football right now.
While Marcus Rashford still edges ahead of Gordon in England squads, the time is nearing where questions must be asked about the validity of that call. On Saturday night’s evidence, Gordon is head and shoulders the man who should own England’s left.
On the day when England’s European Championship opponents were announced — they face Serbia, Slovakia and Denmark in Germany in the summer of 2024 — Gordon sparkled, providing the only goal in a dominant 1-0 victory over Manchester United.
Rashford, like many others in red, wilted in St. James’ Park’s unforgiving atmosphere.
“I couldn’t be happier with the players,” said Howe. “The performances we put in against three top teams (Chelsea, Paris Saint-Germain and Man United) were brilliant, so that will give us confidence. Then, when we get some players back, we can push on even further.
“(An) Incredible physical and mental effort. The level of technical performance, I don’t think should be underestimated, I thought we dominated the first half and attacked really well down both sides.
“The left side of Tino, Anthony and Joelinton was really productive for us. And on the right side, I thought that was Lewy Miley’s best game for us out of the three, which is saying something given how well he played in the other two but I thought he was, especially in the first-half, excellent. He, Miggy (Almiron) and Kieran (Trippier) worked really well down that righthand side so a good balance to the team today.”
Gordon was judged by many last summer to be a player who looked an ill-fit for Newcastle’s high-intensity, high-pressing style. He’s now the main man in the Magpies’ front three after netting his sixth strike of the season. Gordon has now scored seven in his last 21 games for the Magpies, matching his goalscoring tally for the rest of his career combined.
Howe said: “From day one, when he arrived at the club, you could see the passion he had and his desire to achieve and be successful. He puts the work in every day and sometimes we have to go and get him off the training pitch.
“He was very good again up against a very good defender in (Aaron) Wan-Bissaka. Physically he was so good today, it was a really good battle between the two of them.
“I am delighted he is scoring the goals now and getting the recognition he deserves.
“I thought he played really well at the start of the season but every attacker needs to score to get that feeling and the confidence that brings. Not just the goals but he’s getting assists as well, he’s involved in match-winning moments. I thought he played really well again today. It was a brilliant cross from Kieran. A good move and good finish.”
Gordon was overlooked by Southgate for the recent England internationals, in which only Kieran Trippier was called up from the Newcastle squad. Howe thinks it’s only a matter of time before all of that changes.
“I’d agree he’s playing at a very high level and he has done for this season,” said the head coach when asked about a possible call-up.
“When you come here to watch Anthony, that’s been his level. He’s getting the goals and you need the headlines really if you’re going to force your way into the England squad and the competition he has in those positions.
“There’s a long way to go, I just think he’s got to keep very level and focused on playing well for us then the rest will take of itself.”
Another who may well force his way into Southgate’s thinking, in a very stacked and competitive department, is full-back Tino Livramento. A star in Paris in the Champions League, the youngster’s tireless running down the left was a real feature of the Magpies’ win.
Howe said: “Very good in maybe a slightly different way to Paris to when he was having to deal with (Ousmane) Dembele. He was having to play against various opponents but good opponents in Antony and Rashford but he gave them a problem going back the other way, which was great to see. His athleticism, pace, speed and positioning, although he’s playing on a side maybe not natural to him, was of the highest level.”
The only real negative to take from the encounter was yet another injury to another key player, as Nick Pope was taken off with a shoulder problem.
“It will be a massive blow for us if he is ruled out for any length of time,” said Howe. “It looked really innocuous, but that is usually the way and they are normally the more serious ones. You could see he was in distress and it looked like he dislocated his shoulder just diving.
“Martin Dubravka came on in a tricky situation with 10 minutes to go with a narrow lead, which is not nice for any goalkeeper, so I have to compliment him for doing so well.”
Nantes hand Nice first loss, Lens beat Lyon in French league after Arsenal nightmare
- Nice were unbeaten in 13 league matches before kickoff and had won eight of their last 10 matches
- Nantes goalkeeper Alban Lafont made three decisive saves in the first half to help his side weather intense pressure from the visitors
PARIS: Hiring new coach Jocelyn Gourvennec brought an immediate reward to Nantes.
The eight-time champions snapped a four-game winless run on Saturday to hand Nice their first loss in the French league just three days after Gourvennec was appointed.
Nice were unbeaten in 13 league matches before kickoff and had won eight of their last 10 matches.
The Riviera side remained in second place, one point behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain, who travel to Le Havre on Sunday. Nantes stood in eighth place, 12 points off the pace.
Nantes goalkeeper Alban Lafont made three decisive saves in the first half to help his side weather intense pressure from the visitors.
Florent Mollet broke the deadlock with a left-footed shot from close range in the 24th minute.
Douglas Augusto came close to doubling his team’s lead after an hour when his powerful half-volley hit the crossbar. Lafont was decisive again in the 63rd to deny Terem Moffi’s acrobatic kick.
Coach Pierre Aristouy, who helped Nantes avoid relegation last season, was fired on Wednesday and replaced by Jocelyn Gourvennec.
Gourvennec played 109 matches and scored 32 goals for Nantes from 1995-98. He started his coaching career in 2008 and also managed Guingamp and Bordeaux.
LENS BACK TO WINNING WAYS
Just days after getting hammered by Arsenal in the Champions League, Lens inflicted more misery on last-placed Lyon in a 3-2 victory.
Under the helm of interim coach Pierre Sage — who replaced Fabio Grosso this week — Lyon delivered a gritty display that will give the struggling seven-time champions some comfort in their fight against relegation.
Lyon made a strong start and led in the 14th minute from a goal by Jake O’Brien, who later completed a brace.
Wesley Said brought Lens level then Przemyslaw Frankowski gave the “Sang et Or” the lead from the penalty spot.
After O’Brien gave the visitors a glimmer of hope they could bring back a point from their trip to northern France, Frankowski connected with a cross from Ruben Aguilar and scored again with a left-footed shot to lift Lens within one point of fifth-placed Reims.
Unbeaten in their past nine league matches, Lens were thrashed at Arsenal 6-0 midweek for the biggest ever Champions League defeat by a French club.
Grosso were fired on Thursday after less than three months in charge at Lyon, a storied club known for its record run of seven straight league titles from 2002-08. The last time Lyon played in the second division was in 1989.