Premier League: Manchester United's Ole at the wheel, indeed

A 6-2 hammering of Leeds United caps off a fine period for Manchester United that also saw it hold Manchester City to a draw and beat Sheffield United, lifting the Red Devils to third spot in the Premier League table.

Scott McTominay scored two goals in the opening three minutes in Manchester United’s 6-2 mauling of Leeds United.   -  Getty Images

Ole Gunnar Solskjær is very much at the wheel and the Manchester United bus has travelled a fair bit now and is parked in third spot in the Premier League table following the side’s 6-2 hammering of Leeds United.

Leeds, which is notorious for its high-press and relentless attacks, was given a taste of its own medicine at Old Trafford. Solskjær cleverly altered his team’s tactics to match Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds’ work rate, and the move worked wonders as Scott McTominay scored two goals in the opening three minutes. Leeds struggled to settle in or find any sort of rhythm as United stormed to a 4-0 lead inside the opening 40 minutes. Bielsa’s side managed to get two goals in, but they were of little use as United claimed a remarkable victory that extended its unbeaten run in the Premier League to seven matches.

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The result caps off a fine period for the Red Devils that saw them hold Manchester City to a draw and beat Sheffield United and Leeds. The chants of “Ole out” seem to have lost steam as Pep Guardiola and Bielsa, two master tacticians of the game, both left Old Trafford without a win in the last 10 days.

United, with a game in hand, trails Leicester City by a point and table-topper Liverpool by five points. Jürgen Klopp’s side was also in the thick of goals as it slammed seven past a hapless Crystal Palace. The defending champion had not won an away game in the league since September and broke that unwanted streak in style by securing its biggest-ever top-flight victory on the road.

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Manchester City earned a 1-0 win at Southampton, while Arsenal’s woes deepened as it lost to Everton. Mikel Arteta’s side, now 15th in the table, is only four points away from the relegation zone and is winless in its last seven league games. This is also Arsenal’s worst start to a season in 46 years. Tottenham Hotspur, which led the table until recently, suffered back-to-back losses against Liverpool and Leicester City.

The year of Lewandowski

Robert Lewandowski capped off a brilliant year by scoring a match-winning brace in Bayern Munich’s 2-1 comeback triumph over Bayer Leverkusen. The Polish superstar scored the winner in the 93rd minute to take his year’s tally to a phenomenal 32 goals. His feat came just two days after he became the first Bundesliga player to be crowned the world’s best player at the FIFA Best Awards.

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Bayern now has a two-point lead over Leverkusen, while RB Leipzig remained third after playing out a goalless draw with FC Köln. Wolfsburg slotted into fourth after beating Stuttgart as Borussia Dortmund endured its third defeat in five games when it lost to Union Berlin.

Dortmund’s 16-year-old striker Youssoufa Moukoko became the youngest player to score in the Bundesliga, but his 60th-minute equaliser wasn’t enough as his side conceded again 18 minutes later to lose its fifth game of the season.

Rafael Leão scored the fastest goal in the history of the Serie A, in just six seconds, to power AC Milan to a win over Sassuolo.   -  AP

 

Atletico marches on, Barca shows signs of life

Atlético Madrid slipped to its first loss of the season against Real Madrid but bounced back in fine fashion by beating Elche 3-1. Diego Simeone’s side retained its top spot and has two games in hand compared to second-placed Real Madrid, which is also on 29 points.

Third-placed Real Sociedad’s title chances suffered an early dent as the side suffered two back-to-back losses and remains without a win in five games. Elsewhere, Barcelona showed some signs of life as it claimed two successive wins and a draw to move up to fifth spot.

In Barcelona’s 2-2 draw with Valencia, Lionel Messi reached another personal scoring milestone, scoring his 643rd goal for the club, matching Pelé’s tally for Santos from 1957-74. Messi is Barcelona’s and the Spanish league’s all-time leading scorer.

Fastest goal in Serie A history takes Milan top

Rafael Leão scored the fastest goal in the history of the Serie A, in just six seconds, to power AC Milan to a win over Sassuolo. The victory, Milan’s ninth of the season, sees it remain one point clear of second-placed Inter Milan, which beat Spezia 2-1.

Juventus recovered from a midweek draw with Atalanta as it rode on Serie A top-scorer Cristiano Ronaldo’s brace to cruise to a 4-0 win over Parma. Atalanta also bounced back from the draw by beating fourth-placed AS Roma 4-1 to move to seventh. Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta, which scored a whopping 98 goals last term, is three points away from fourth spot and has a game in hand.