European club football is back, providing another weekend of more last-minute winners, upsets and lots of goals. The Premier League, LaLiga, the Bundesliga and Serie A all had matchups worth diving into.
We start with Friday, when Borussia Dortmund squandered a 2-0 lead, while Romelu Lukaku’s Roma debut was spoiled in a 2-1 loss to AC Milan. On Saturday, Jude Bellingham stole the show once again for Real Madrid, and in England, a new-look Manchester City cruised past Fulham. Sunday kept up the excitement with a statement win from Arsenal over Man United and Declan Rice’s debut goal, a Liverpool romp over Aston Villa, and more.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
So let’s get into it. With a full menu of games, here are your talking points, highlights and all the news from a wonderful weekend in the big European leagues.
Sunday lead: Declan Rice and Arsenal add to Man United misery
LONDON — Declan Rice scored his first Arsenal goal six minutes into stoppage time to tee up a dramatic 3-1 win against Manchester United in a game dominated by VAR at the Emirates. Rice, who made a £105m move from West Ham to the Gunners during the summer, beat United goalkeeper André Onana with a shot that deflected off the foot of substitute Jonny Evans.
It was harsh on United, who thought they had won the game themselves moments earlier when Alejandro Garnacho broke through to score in the 90th minute, only for the goal to be ruled out by VAR due to a tight offside call.
United had earlier been saved by VAR when referee Anthony Taylor was called to the monitor to review a penalty award after he had pointed to the spot following an apparent foul on Kai Havertz. TV replays showed no contact, prompting Taylor to overturn his initial decision.
VAR got both calls right, but there was no absence of drama at the end when Rice, and then Gabriel Jesus two minutes later, scored late to complete a 3-1 win. Neither team had been particularly convincing until the closing stages when they both pushed for the victory. The late goals helped move Arsenal into fifth position and saw United drop to mid-table after two defeats in their opening four games.
Having already lost 2-0 at Tottenham this season, United’s away-day misery against their top six competitors continued. — Mark Ogden
Sunday talking points around the leagues
Liverpool make light work of Aston Villa
Jurgen Klopp’s side is still figuring out how they want to play and how their midfield will function, but Sunday’s 3-0 romp over Aston Villa showed they might not be that far from the finished product. After an early strike from Dominik Szoboszlai following a failed clearance from Villa on a corner, there was only ever one winner as a Matty Cash own goal and Mohamed Salah finish paced the Reds to a comfortable afternoon.
Without the suspended Virgil van Dijk, Joe Gómez and Joël Matip formed a sturdy centre-back pair, Trent Alexander-Arnold served as a deep lying playmaker drifting infield from right-back and the midfield trio of Alexis Mac Allister, Curtis Jones and Szoboszlai had the right balance of intensity and artistry. It may have concerned some Reds fans that Darwin Núñez reverted to his profligate past form, but that’s a pedantic note to serve after a comprehensive victory.
With Ryan Gravenberch watching on after failing to get his work permit in time for Sunday’s game, there is promise yet that Liverpool can again be the main challenger to Man City’s dominance.
As for Villa, manager Unai Emery has a real challenge on his hands to make his team robust again. An early Diego Carlos injury didn’t help matters, but Villa’s press was patchy and too often did Liverpool play through with little resistance. Variance is a concern: in six official games this season (all competitions), Villa have had a 5-0 win, a 4-0 win, a 3-0 win… and a 5-1 defeat along with Sunday’s 3-0 drubbing. Emery will want his side to show a bit more control. — James Tyler
Leipzig pass a big test in Berlin
RB Leipzig lost a lot of talent this summer — Szoboszlai and Christopher Nkunku could prove to be generational talents by the time their careers are through — but Sunday’s 3-0 romp over Union Berlin showed that there’s still a heck of a lot of razzle-dazzle in Marco Rose’s side.
After a tense first half, Xavi Simons (remember the name) stroked home the opener five minutes into the second half with a lovely curled finish that Frederik Ronnow could merely admire as it flew by. A late double by Ben Sesko — both inspired by the brilliant Dani Olmo — confirmed them in the ascendancy. Leipzig looked well on their way to victory even before Kevin Volland’s 64th-minute red card put Union Berlin down to 10 men.
Road wins are always worth their weight in gold, but Leipzig’s season will come down to this kind of decisiveness against stubborn opponents and they firmly passed the test on Sunday. — Tyler
Kevin Volland sees red against RB Leipzig
Kevin Volland sees red against RB Leipzig
Barcelona again look unconvincing in win
An 85th-minute penalty from Robert Lewandowski kept Barcelona within touching distance of LaLiga leaders Real Madrid as they beat Osasuna 2-1 at El Sadar, but it has been a far from convincing start to the campaign from Xavi Hernandez’s side despite their points haul.
They took the lead through a first-half header from Jules Koundé, but were pushed back in the second half against an Osasuna side that made a handful of changes after being knocked out of the Europa Conference League on Thursday. The home team, roared on by a vocal support in Pamplona, eventually equalised through a stunning strike from Chimy Ávila in the 84th minute which bounced in off the inside of the post.
Chimy Avila’s sensational strike pulls Osasuna level
Chimy Avila scores from outside the box as Osasuna evens the score vs. Barcelona.
That prompted Xavi to introduce new signing João Félix from the bench, having already brought João Cancelo on for his debut, but it was an established face at the club who salvaged the three points via Lewandowski just a minute later. Played through, the Polish striker’s shirt was grabbed by Alejandro Catena and the referee deemed it enough for a penalty and, after reviewing the pitch side monitor, handed Catena a red card. Lewandowski scored from the spot to camouflage another below-par personal performance until that point.
Osasuna tried to come again in 10 minutes of stoppage time, but their legs deserted them and, up against 10 players, Barça saw the game out. They have not played their best football this season, but they have still won three of their four games, drawing the other, to remain within two points of Madrid, who have won all four matches.
Xavi will look for the positives. Felix, Cancelo and Iñigo Martínez all made debuts and, at some point after the international break, Ronald Araújo and Pedri will return from injury. Winning without playing well is usually a good sign, too. — Sam Marsden
PSG drag down Lyon even deeper
It was always going to be a tough task for Lyon with PSG in town. Lyon had not won a single league game yet (two losses and a draw) and the only way to come out of this big early crisis was to do well against the reigning Ligue 1 champions. Alas for OL fans, their team was 1-0 down after three minutes, 2-0 down after 20 minutes and well beaten 4-1 in the end.
To be fair, manager Laurent Blanc’s players actually played some decent football: PSG goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma had to make seven saves, including three superb ones), and Lyon had 19 shots (eight on target) for an xG or expected goals of 2.30.
Yet, nothing went Lyon’s way while the Parisians were dominant, relentless and clinical. PSG themselves should have scored more too with 22 shots, seven big chances, 772 passes made (93% accuracy) and 4.58 xG but there is a real feeling that manager Luis Enrique is doing something very interesting with this team. Something is brewing at PSG while in Lyon, the club is about to implode. The war between the new owner John Textor and the old one, Jean-Michel Aulas, combined with a bad transfer window, poor results and a position of bottom in the table, has made the situation untenable.
The international break arrives at a good time for Blanc. However, there is more and more pressure on the future of the manager and sources already are briefing that he could be sacked in the next two weeks. Is that the answer? The issues are, unfortunately for them, much deeper. — Julien Laurens
News of the Day
Jadon Sancho hit back at claims by Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag that he was dropped for the team’s Premier League defeat at Arsenal on Sunday for poor training performances, saying he has been “made a scapegoat.” When asked about Sancho’s absence from the squad after Sunday’s match, Ten Hag told reporters: “On his performance on training we didn’t select him. You have to reach the level every day at Manchester United.” But Sancho quickly took to social media to offer his own version of events and reject Ten Hag’s claims.
Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta said Thomas Partey will be sidelined for several weeks with a groin injury. The 30-year-old missed Sunday’s dramatic 3-1 win over Manchester United at Emirates Stadium after sustaining the problem in training on Thursday and will undergo further tests. “It doesn’t look good — I believe he’ll be out for weeks” Arteta said.
The LaLiga match between Atletico Madrid and Sevilla was postponed on Sunday due to the “exceptional” heavy rain forecast in the Spanish capital, with local authorities advising residents to stay at home. A red alert — which is classified as meaning “extreme danger” — was issued for the Madrid region by Spain’s State Weather Agency, warning that 120 litres of water per square metre could fall over a 12-hour period.
Kyle Walker admits he was “close” to leaving Manchester City for Bayern Munich this summer, but he has revealed he’s now set to sign a new contract at the Etihad Stadium. Walker was wanted by the Bundesliga champions, but says he chose to stay at City after they returned with their own offer of a new deal.
The Saturday lead: Man City’s new look, same results
With four summer signings in the squad — Mateo Kovacic and Jérémy Doku starting and Josko Gvardiol and Matheus Nunes on the bench — this is a new-look Manchester City, but some things remain the same. For the 15th time in a row, City beat Fulham and with it earned a club-record 18th consecutive victory at the Etihad Stadium. To continue the theme of inevitability, Erling Haaland scored another Etihad hat trick in a comfortable 5-1 win to reach six goals for the season.
It’s now four wins from four for City in the Premier League, their best start since Pep Guardiola’s first season in charge in 2016-17. They didn’t even need Guardiola for this one, with the 52-year-old still recuperating from back surgery at home in Barcelona. He will be back after the international break.
It should be a worry for the rest of the league that City were without Kevin De Bruyne and Jack Grealish against Fulham but were still able to overpower Marco Silva’s side. Fulham got a creditable draw at Arsenal last week, but even when they equalised here to make it 1-1, you always felt City would just kick it up a gear. And they did.
Phil Foden’s touch and movement were too good, while Julián Álvarez contributed a goal and an assist before winning the penalty from which Haaland scored his second. The question ahead of the new season was whether anyone is capable of stopping City and it’s still not been answered. Haaland keeps scoring and the winning machine rolls on. — Rob Dawson
Saturday talking points around the leagues
Dortmund blow it again
It’s hard to be a Dortmund fan these days. Having come within 90 minutes of beating Bayern Munich to the Bundesliga title last season, they look about 90 million miles behind trophy pace already this season, and we’ve not yet entered our first international break of 2023-24.
Having raced to a 2-0 lead inside 15 minutes against lowly Heidenheim — Emre Can teed up Julian Brandt for the opener before converting a penalty — Dortmund created a raft of chances but conceded a brilliant goal with half an hour left, prompting an existential crisis. Their effervescent play gave way to panic and fear of throwing points away; instead of playing on the front foot, they sat deep and tried to protect what they had. And, sure enough, flimsy and clumsy defending led to Dortmund’s demise as an 82nd-minute penalty saw Heidenheim snatch a 2-2 draw.
Heidenheim draws level with Dortmund through controversial penalty
Heidenheim gets back on level terms at 2-2 with Dortmund from the penalty spot after a series of referee VAR decisions.
This is a major issue; we knew they would struggle once Bellingham left, but that was also an open secret. Despite having ample time to plan, they ushered in the bare minimum reinforcements and are playing a similar style. There’s also a sense that last season’s dramatic collapse is still lingering in the minds of the Black and Yellow; here’s hoping manager Edin Terzic can use the break to work things out both on the pitch and in the locker room. — Tyler
Bellingham scores, but Kroos changes the game for Madrid
Real Madrid’s 2-1 comeback win over Getafe was the first game played under the Santiago Bernabeu’s new roof. The structure got a useful stress test when it was rocked by the ecstatic reaction to Jude Bellingham’s 95th-minute winner. Bellingham stole the spotlight for the fourth matchday in a row. It’s now five goals in four games, helping Madrid take maximum points in LaLiga. The Bernabeu rebuild has taken four years and €900 million — it’s due to be finished in December — and on the evidence so far, Bellingham will be the stadium’s main attraction.
????✨ Santiago Bernabéu ???? pic.twitter.com/9iNYr0W9dW
— Real Madrid C.F. ???????????????? (@realmadriden) September 2, 2023
Madrid dug deep after Borja Mayoral put Getafe ahead in the 11th minute. They came up against an inspired David Soria — the Getafe keeper made 10 saves facing 26 Madrid shots, 12 of them on target — and raised their game after an uninspiring opening 45 minutes. The second half saw them score early through Joselu and hit the woodwork three times. Bellingham’s goal, an easy finish after Soria spilled Lucas Vázquez’s shot, secured the win.
This was a reminder that while Madrid’s midfield evolves around Bellingham, Aurélien Tchouaméni and Eduardo Camavinga, there’s still room for the old guard. Toni Kroos and Luka Modric have had to be patient this season, starting one game each. Kroos came on at halftime here and changed the game with an injection of quality, driven by the desire to show coach Carlo Ancelotti he still has a part to play. Bellingham was the match winner, but Kroos built the platform for that added-time drama. — Alex Kirkland
Bellingham scores last-gasp winner for Real Madrid
Jude Bellingham’s 95th-minute winner keeps Real Madrid perfect so far this season in LaLiga.
Defending champs Napoli down one already
Lazio are starting to be a bit of a bogey team for Napoli! For the first time since 1937, it’s back-to-back league wins now for the Romans in Naples. After Matías Vecino’s goal last March for a famous 1-0 victory at the Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, they did it again on Saturday and the heroes this time are Luis Alberto and Daichi Kamada for a 2-1 away win. Under manager Maurizio Sarri, everything worked great: his compact 4-5-1 out of possession caused Napoli a lot of problems, and with the ball, the counterattacks from the Laziale were lethal and brought the two goals.
It was a disappointing performance from Rudi Garcia’s Napoli side, who took a long time to bring on Giovanni Simeone in support of Victor Osimhen. Juan Jesus was poor in defense, while the stars of the last season’s title-winning campaign, Osimhen and Khvicha Kvaratskhelia, couldn’t rescue their team. Inevitably, comparisons with last season will be made, when the Italian champions were undefeated until early January under former coach Luciano Spalletti. Meanwhile, Garcia’s unbeaten run lasted only two matches (against Frosinone and Sassuolo) and as soon as the level of the opposition improved, he had no answers. — Laurens
Bayern rally for a rare win at Gladbach
Bayern Munich under manager Thomas Tuchel remain a work in progress, but Saturday saw them grab a most unlikely 2-1, come-from-behind win at Borussia Monchengladbach for the first time in six attempts to remain perfect in the Bundesliga so far this season.
Gladbach have consistently been the only team to upset the Bavarians, with 10 victories and five draws in 24 meetings over the past decade, and they seized the lead after half an hour when Ko Itakura headed Max Wober’s flick-on beyond Sven Ulreich to send the home crowd into hysterics. Yet to their credit, Tuchel’s side refused to let history repeat.
Leroy Sané and Alphonso Davies forced saves from Moritz Nicolas before half-time, and Leon Goretzka and Thomas Müller both came close in the second half before Sane finally tallied on the hour mark, timing his run precisely to meet Joshua Kimmich’s through-ball and convert. There was only one winner at 1-1 and after a pair of glaring Gnabry misses, substitute Mathys Tel headed home Kimmich’s corner just six minutes after coming on to give the Bavarians all three points.
It might not seem like much in the grand scheme of things — we’re only three games into a 34-game campaign — but Bayern worked hard to shrug off history and a 1-0 deficit to remain joint-top of the table. It’s a resiliency that their rivals have so far failed to show, and if they end up winning a remarkable 12th straight league title, road wins like this will be the difference. — Tyler
Mathys Tel heads home late winner for Bayern
Mathys Tel rises highest to make it 2-1 to Bayern Munich in the 87th minute.
News of the day
Ahead of Inter Miami’s MLS match against LAFC, Lionel Messi and co had to change their hotel where workers recently went on strike. Miami were scheduled to check into the Fairmont Miramar Hotel & Bungalows on Friday, but after union Unite Here Local 11 asked them to stay away, the team heeded their call. Employees from the establishment recently joined thousands of hotel workers across the region to go on strike and demand higher pay to meet rising housing costs. “Thank you to the great Lionel Messi and his teammates for agreeing to move from the hotel and stand in solidarity with striking workers!” the union said in a statement.
After a busy transfer window, Premier League clubs spent a record £2.36 billion ($2.97bn) on new players, according to analysis from Deloitte. Compare that to last year, when English topflight teams spent £1.92bn (a record at the time). “A second successive summer of record spending by Premier League clubs suggests that year-on-year revenue growth could return following the pandemic,” Tim Bridge, lead partner in Deloitte’s Sports Business Group, said in a statement. Out of all the spending across Europe’s top five leagues, the Premier League was responsible for 48% of that expenditure.
A U.S. judge has thrown out convictions of a former Fox executive and an Argentine sports marketing company for trying to bribe soccer officials in exchange for broadcasting contracts. The convictions of Hernan Lopez and Full Play Group were dropped because the federal law governing honest services wire fraud did not cover foreign commercial bribery. Prosecutors said Lopez, the former chief executive of Fox International Channels, schemed to bribe officials at South American soccer federation CONMEBOL to win rights for that continent’s most popular club tournament, Copa Libertadores. Meanwhile, Full Play was accused of scheming to bribe officials at CONMEBOL and the North American federation, Concacaf, to win media and marketing rights to Copa Libertadores and World Cup qualifying matches.
And finally …
The last time three hat tricks were scored on the same day in the Premier League was Sept. 23, 1995, when Robbie Fowler (Liverpool), Alan Shearer (Blackburn) and Anthony Yeboah (Leeds United) all had one. Viewers were treated to a trio of hat tricks from Saturday’s action.
Son, Haaland and Ferguson all scored hat tricks today ????
What a day of Premier League football! pic.twitter.com/1TpzjAjjDq
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) September 2, 2023
Son Heung-Min, the new captain for Tottenham Hotspur, bagged his three goals (and fourth career Premier League hat trick) against Burnley in their 5-2 win, giving fans more to be excited about under new manager Ange Postecoglou.
Meanwhile, Haaland, unsurprisingly, scored his fifth topflight hat trick against Fulham, becoming the fastest player (39 appearances) to reach 50 goal involvements in the Premier League.
And finally, at 18 years and 318 days old, Brighton’s Evan Ferguson became the fourth-youngest player to score a hat trick in the league.