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Liverpool outclass Arsenal 3-1

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Liverpool came from behind to maintain a perfect start to their Premier League title defence as goals from Sadio Mane, Andy Robertson and Diogo Jota saw off a resilient Arsenal 3-1 at Anfield.

The Gunners had also won their opening two league games of the season and hit the champions on the counter-attack to take the lead through Alexandre Lacazette.

But while Manchester City, Chelsea, Manchester United, Tottenham and now Arsenal have all lost in the opening three weeks of the new campaign, Liverpool have taken maximum points to lay down an early marker that they remain the team to beat in the Premier League this season.

The outcome of the match could have been very different had Mane not escaped with just a yellow card for an elbow on Kieran Tierney after just three minutes.
Arsenal followed the game plan that had brought them two victories over Liverpool in recent months as they dropped deep then looked to play around the Reds’ press when in possession.

However, unlike when they met at the back end of last season’s Premier League when Jurgen Klopp’s men had already won the league or the Community Shield in August, Liverpool were far sharper in pulling the Gunners out of position.

Mane was first to threaten with a clean strike from Trent Alexander-Arnold’s cross that was too close to Bernd Leno before Alexander-Arnold’s deflected effort came back off the crossbar.

The only time Arsenal did manage to pierce the Liverpool press before half-time, they opened the scoring completely against the run of play.

Robertson was at fault as he spooned Ainsley Maitland-Niles’s cross into the path of Lacazette, who also failed to make a proper connection but the ball bounced into the ground and looped over the helpless Alisson Becker.

Liverpool responded immediately to level within three minutes as Salah outmuscled Tierney and when his shot was parried across goal by Leno, Mane turned into an empty net.

Robertson them made amends for his previous error as Liverpool’s flying full-backs combined as Alexander-Arnold’s cross was this time converted by the Scotland captain.

However, where Arsenal sides of recent years might have collapsed, as they did in losing 4-0 and 5-1 at Anfield in 2018 and 2019, Mikel Arteta has instilled a new-found belief in the FA Cup winners.

The visitors were more expansive after the break and created a huge chance to level when Dani Ceballos put Lacazette through on goal, but Alisson stood up well to block the French striker’s shot.

Klopp introduced Jota for his league debut 10 minutes from time and the Portuguese international should have sealed the win when he fired into the side-netting from Salah’s excellent through ball.

The Egyptian was less generous moments later when he stole the ball of Jota’s toes and failed to beat Leno.

But Jota did not have to wait long for his first Liverpool goal as a sweetly-struck volley found the bottom corner to show why the Reds spent £41 million ($52 million) to sign him from Wolves.

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Ronaldo Misses Portugal Training Ahead Of South Korea Clash

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Cristiano Ronaldo

Cristiano Ronaldo did not train with his Portugal teammates on Wednesday ahead of their final World Cup group game against South Korea.

The Portuguese striker, 37, was doing “specific recovery work” according to a source from the Portuguese football federation.

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Ronaldo, without a club since leaving Manchester United during the tournament, scored a penalty in his country’s opening win over Ghana.

Portugal beat Uruguay 2-0 in their second match to qualify for the last 16, with Ronaldo appearing to claim a goal but he did not touch the ball and it was awarded to teammate Bruno Fernandes.

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Mexico exit World Cup despite beating Saudi Arabia

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Mexico suffered an agonising exit from the World Cup on goal difference on Wednesday despite beating Saudi Arabia 2-1 in a dramatic finale to Group C.

Second-half goals from Henry Martin and Luis Chavez secured victory for Mexico but they finished third behind Poland after Salem Al-Dawsari’s late strike.

Mexico desperately pushed for a third goal in an effort to improve their goal difference as they faced elimination on FIFA fair play rules.

Saudi Arabia’s win over Argentina in their opening match was one of the World Cup’s great upsets, but they crashed back down to earth with a 2-0 loss to Poland in their second game.

Coach Herve Renard urged his players to show that was no flash in the pan and write themselves into Saudi football history by reaching knockout rounds for the first time since 1994.

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Having failed to win either of their first two group games for the first time in 44 years, Mexico knew victory was essential if they were to stand a chance of reaching the last 16 at an eighth successive World Cup.

Mexico boss Gerardo Martino ditched the back five he used in the 2-0 loss to Argentina and brought in Martin to lead the attack.

It almost reaped immediate rewards but Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais raced out to block Alexis Vega after he was slipped in behind the defence by Hirving Lozano.

Al-Owais, one of the heroes of the 2-1 win over Argentina, tentatively palmed away a bouncing cross ahead of a lunging Martin and held weak attempts by Chavez and Orbelin Pineda.

Mohamed Kanno whipped a free-kick just over for Saudi Arabia, who saw defender Ali Al-Bulayhi forced off with injury — adding to their mounting casualty list.

Mexico continued to attack without success and Ali Al-Hassan nearly sent the bulk of the largely Saudi crowd wild late in the first half with a diving header that flashed wide of the far post.

Chavez tested Al-Owais right after the interval and Martin soon broke the deadlock as he turned in from close range following Cesar Montes’ clever flick-on at a corner.

Mexico’s second goal arrived just five minutes later when Chavez sensationally curled a free-kick into the top corner from 30 metres.

Keeping an eye on the score between Argentina and Poland, Mexico pushed relentlessly for a third goal, with Lozano’s effort ruled out for a tight offside.

Martin blazed over when he had a glorious chance and Chavez had another free-kick turned away by Al-Owais, who also sprawled to his right to claw out a drive from Lozano.

Uriel Antuna then had another goal disallowed for offside before Al-Dawsari’s late strike put an end to the drama.

AFP

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Argentina beat Poland 2-0, advance to last 16

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Lionel Messi had a penalty saved but Argentina still advanced to the last 16 of the World Cup as Group C winners after a 2-0 victory over Poland on Wednesday.

Poland also went through as runners-up although a 2-1 win for Mexico over Saudi Arabia in the group’s other game meant Czeslaw Michniewicz’s side advanced only on goal difference.

Alexis Mac Allister’s 46th-minute goal settled Argentina’s nerves after a tense first half, before Julian Alvarez doubled their lead just over 20 minutes later.

Argentina had been unable to find a way past Wojciech Szczesny in an opening 45 minutes in which the Poland goalkeeper saved his second penalty of the tournament.

Szczesny was adjudged to have fouled Messi while stretching to reach a cross, but he dived to his left to beat away the resulting spot-kick.

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It was the 31st penalty Messi had failed to convert in his career.

Poland offered little attacking threat, with star striker Robert Lewandowski virtually anonymous throughout.

Instead it was left to Szczesny to take centre stage for the Poles, denying Messi with two crucial early stops.

First Messi wriggled clear of a pack of defenders before producing a shot that flew straight at the keeper.

Then he found space to charge into the Polish box down the left, forcing Szczesny to make a save at his near post.

Argentina continued to create the better chances in the first half and Marcos Acuna flashed a shot wide after Alvarez had also gone close to breaking the deadlock.

Szczesny had to scramble to stop Angel di Maria scoring direct from a corner, before the goalkeeper was again called into action to deny Alvarez.

– Penalty save –
Szczesny outdid himself when he dived to his left to stop Messi’s penalty in the 39th minute.

He still had more to do before the half-time whistle, punching away a shot from Alvarez before saving the follow-up from Rodrigo de Paul.

There was nothing he could do when Mac Allister broke the deadlock less than a minute after the interval.

Nahuel Molina charged down the right, then cut the ball back for Mac Allister to drill just beyond Szczesny’s reach.

The goal forced Poland to show some belated attacking ambition and Kamil Glik headed just wide from a free-kick almost immediately after the restart.

Argentina continued to go in search of more goals and Alvarez scored their second after combining well with Enzo Fernandez.

Fernandez, making his first start for Argentina, picked out his team-mate, who held off a defender before lashing the ball past Szczesny.

Poland were still walking a tightrope with yellow cards potentially crucial to their chances of reaching the last 16.

Grzegorz Krychowiak went into the book in the 83rd minute but a late goal for Saudi Arabia against Mexico saw the Poles safely through on goal difference.

AFP

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