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Sunday, December 15, 2019

Weekend Roundup: Gomes’ horrific injury, Mario Balotelli stops play to shame racist fans

Football this weekend had an element of everything - upsets, drama, injuries, emotions - all packed in a box with a ribbon of racism on it.

Written by Natasha Singh | Updated: November 4, 2019 4:03:57 pm
Football talking points: Gomes’ shock injury to Balotelli shutting racist fans

If this weekend’s football highlights are made into a movie, it would be difficult to decide which genre it fits in. There was a sacking, a horrific injury, upstes and racist chants, again from the Italian premier league.

Here are the top highlights from this weekend in Europe:

Gomes’ spine-chilling injury

Social media is filled with disturbing pictures of horrific injury suffered by Everton midfielder Andre Gomes after a tackle by Tottenham Hotspur’s Son Heung-min. Gomes suffered a fracture-dislocation to his right ankle in their Premier League match that ended in 1-1 draw.

Son, who seemed inconsolable and in shock at the seriousness of injury, was initially showed a yellow card, before the referee changed it to red and the Spurs forward left the field in tears. The hosts pushed for the equaliser after Son’s sending off.

Everton released a statement confirming Gomes would need surgery but did not set out a timeline for his return.

Balotelli kicks ball at racist fans

Visibly upset at the continuous monkey chants, something that seems to have become an integral part of Italian football, Mario Balotelli stopped play and responded. The racist chants were directed at him by Hellas Verona fans as he fought for the ball near the corner flag of the opposition.

Not only did he kick the ball in frustration at the crowd, Balotelli also threatened to leave the field in the middle of the play with Verona leading 1-0 at the Bentegodi stadium. Players from both the sides went over to embrace Balotelli, convincing him to stay. Balotelli ended the match with a superb winning strike with five minutes to go.

“Thanks to all the colleagues on and off the field for the solidarity expressed toward me and all of the messages received from you fans,” Balotelli wrote later in Italian on Instagram, accompanied by a video from the match. “A heartfelt thanks. You’ve shown yourself to be real men, not like those who deny the evidence.”

It was the second time this weekend that a Serie A game was suspended for offensive chants, after Roma supporters aimed anti-territorial chants at Napoli on Saturday.

Bayern sack coach after embarrassing defeat

Bayern Munich have fired coach Niko Kovac. (Source: AP)

After suffering their worst Bundesliga defeat in a decade, Bayern Munich on Sunday sacked coach Niko Kovac. This came a day after the German champions suffered a historic 5-1 loss against Eintracht Frankfurt. A 10-man Bayern was shredded by Eintracht after defender Jerome Boateng was sent off in the ninth minute.

Apart from the 7-2 demolition of Tottenham Hotspur, Bayern’s play has not improved this season with few goals, a shaky defence and a few mediocre wins. The German giants are fourth in the league, their worst standing in 10 years, and have conceded more goals than in any of the past decades at this stage.

Bayern president Karl-Heinz Rummenigge said: “The performance of our team in recent weeks and the results have shown us that there was need for action. I had an open and serious conversation with Niko on this basis on Sunday with the consensual result that Niko is no longer coach of Bayern.”

Rivals fail to make most of Barcelona’s defeat

Barcelona’s Lionel Messi reacts. (Source: Reuters)

The top of the La Liga table is a crowded place right now as Real Sociedad delivered a 2-1 win at Granada to pull level on points with Barcelona and Real Madrid, who wasted the opportunity to move ahead of the champions after Lionel Messi’s side lost at Levante 3-1.

Barca paid the price for not seeking a second goal when Levante scored three goals in eight minutes. Looking in control after Messi converted a spot kick in the 38th minute, Barcelona suffered losing Luis Suarez to a leg injury before halftime.

Atletico Madrid and Sevilla are now one point behind. Granada fell to sixth place after missing a chance to retake the league lead with a win. Madrid and Barcelona still have a game to play against one another on December 18.

Manchester United woes continue

Bournemouth’s Joshua King scores their first goal. (Source: Reuters)

A few years back if someone said that Manchester United wouldn’t win against Bournemouth, it would have been deemed ridiculous. As it stands, Manchester United are in the 10th position in the Premier League table, after suffering 1-0 loss to Bournemouth on Saturday. The defeat increased the pressure on United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United, who have not won back-to-back league games since Solskjaer’s appointment in March, seemed to be enjoying better fortunes with wins in three successive away games in all competitions. However, some lax defending allowed Joshua King plenty of time to control Adam Smith’s cross and then knock it through David De Gea’s legs.

Meanwhile, league toppers Manchester City and Liverpool staged late comebacks to win 2-1 against Southampton and Aston Villa respectively. Liverpool still lead Manchester City by six points.

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