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After beating Newcastle 3-1, Solskjaer says Man U not giving up on EPL title



Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is not giving up hope that Manchester United can challenge Manchester City for the Premier League title, despite the scintillating form of the league leaders.

City have soared 10 points clear of their local rivals thanks to an 18-game winning streak in all competitions.

United’s own inconsistent form has helped open up the gap, but the Red Devils beat Newcastle 3-1 on Sunday to win for just the second time in six league games.

“We’ve got to be there just in case,” said Solskjaer. “Every time we get three points we’ve done our job and that’s what we’ve got to do and see what other teams do.”

Bruno Fernandes and Marcus Rashford were again on target on a night United needed their star men to paper over the cracks of another unconvincing performance.

Solskjaer made five changes to the side that impressively thrashed Real Sociedad 4-0 in the Europa League on Thursday and was lucky not to be punished for a disjointed start from the hosts.

“We had to find a way to win it in the second-half. The first-half wasn’t up to the standard that we wanted,” added Solskjaer.

“Maybe because of Newcastle, maybe because of what we did in the week. We asked them to go again after a high-intensity game and it took us to half time to get our legs and energy.”

A run of two wins in 14 games has left Newcastle just three points clear of the drop zone, but Steve Bruce remains confident his side will survive.

“Fulham have had a good week and won a couple of games, which at the bottom end of the table is big, but there are a few of us: Brighton, Burnley and maybe Crystal Palace looking over their shoulders,” said Bruce.

“My message to the supporters is that I’m convinced we’ll be ok.”

Poor goalkeeping cost Bruce’s men the opening goal on the half hour mark as Rashford wriggled free inside the area, but his shot should have been kept out by Karl Darlow.

United’s sloppy defending from set-pieces was punished six minutes later, though, when Saint-Maximin swept the ball into the top corner after Harry Maguire only half-cleared a cross into the box.

After a blistering start to his United career last season, Dan James has struggled for game time, but the Welshman has now scored in his last three appearances as he blasted past Darlow from close range just before the hour mark.

More good footwork from Rashford then drew Joe Willock into an ill-advised challenge inside the box and the on-loan Arsenal midfielder conceded a penalty.

Darlow had saved the only spot-kick Fernandes has missed as a United player when the sides met earlier in the season.

But he was wrong-footed this time as the Portuguese playmaker coolly converted to give United the two-goal cushion they craved.



Real Madrid set to offload Eden Hazard



Real Madrid is said to be desperate to offload Eden Hazard as the Belgian is on the market, as are several other members of Zinedine Zidane’s squad.

Hazard’s case is different, though, as he arrived in 2019 to be the club’s next superstar. Yet injuries and other circumstances have frustrated Real Madrid and pushed the forward towards the exit door. The club will listen to any offers for him.

His performances when he has been fit haven’t offered enough glimpses of the star that he was when he was signed from Chelsea for 100 million euros, when 50,000 fans went to the Estadio Santiago Bernabeu to watch his presentation.

There are four matches remaining in Real Madrid’s season for Hazard to try to be decisive in their fight for the LaLiga Santander title. Winning that wouldn’t change the situation, though.

The image of Hazard laughing with his former Chelsea teammates hasn’t influenced this decision either. It was already being discussed weeks ago.

In the actual match, Hazard wasn’t a leader.

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Arsenal: I can’t disclose reason for our decline, says Arteta



Arsenal coach Mikel Arteta has said reasons behind the current decline of the club he could not explain in public after crashing out of the Europa League.

Trailing 2-1 from the first leg, Arsenal drew 0-0 at Emirates Stadium as captain Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang hit the post with a late header, but the end result was a new low that continues a slide from being Champions League regulars under Arsene Wenger.

“I understand [fans’] concerns because when you are out of the Champions League for five years it is not just a casualty, it’s a trend,” he said.

“There are facts to support that trend. So, there are things to change, that’s for sure because you know no one is going to accept that at this football club. I am not going to accept that, and the fans are not going to accept that. So we all have to push together to achieve something very different.”

Asked why that trend was occurring, Arteta replied: “They are things to analyse more internally, I am sorry. We have done that.

“There are things that we cannot discuss here. I take full responsibility for my part, for sure, since I arrived here what I have tried to do, giving my life, my best ability, investing every drop of energy that I have emotionally to support everything that has been going around with my knowledge, with staff, with all the players that are trying to contribute with all the club to give our best.”

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Chelsea thrash Real Madrid 2-0, set up Champions League final against Man City



Chelsea on Wednesday night qualified for the Champions League final as they outclassed Real Madrid, beating them two goals to nothing at the Stamford Bridge, London.

Goals by Timo Werner and Mason Mount sent Chelsea into the final of the tournament and recorded a 3-1 aggregate victory over their opponent.

German striker Werner, who has endured a stuttering first season at Chelsea, put them in control when he nodded in one of the easiest goals of his career in the 28th minute after fellow German Kai Havertz had struck the bar.

Thirteen-time European champions Real, who had come through each of their last three Champions League semi-final ties, had been second best for much last week’s first leg which ended 1-1.

Even with talisman Sergio Ramos back after missing the home leg they were outplayed by Thomas Tuchel’s side again as the German coach continued his stunning impact in west London.

Chelsea should have killed the game as they created, and wasted, a load of chances in a dazzling second-half display.

But Mount’s close-range finish in the 86th minute meant the party could start in earnest.

The final in Istanbul will be the second all-English champions League final in three seasons.

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