Weekend Roundup: Lionel Messi back with a goal, Manchester in distress, Juventus on tophttps://indianexpress.com/article/sports/football/weekend-roundup-lionel-messi-manchester-city-united-juventus-6057197/

Weekend Roundup: Lionel Messi back with a goal, Manchester in distress, Juventus on top

As Lionel Messi hit a trademark freekick, the city of Manchester endured a painful Sunday, Juventus overtook Inter for the top spot, and Borussia Monchengladbach took a surprise lead in Germany.

Lionel Messi scored his first goal of the season against Sevilla. (Source: AP Photo)

With Lionel Messi scoring his first goal of the season to help Barcelona keep up with Real Madrid, Manchester City fell behind Liverpool by eight points, Juventus struck the first blow in the title race against Inter, the weekend was one packed with action in Europe.

THE RETURN OF THE KING

Barcelona thumped Julen Lopetegui’s revamped Sevilla to win 4-0 on Sunday, thanks to another vintage Lionel Messi performance. As a cherry on the top, the Argentine scored his first goal of the season with a trademark left-footed curling free-kick over a hapless wall in the 78th minute.

After Luis Suarez powered the home side to an early lead with a bicycle kick, Ousmane Dembele and Arturo Vidal gave Barcelona a three-goal advantage. Then came the dipping effort from the maestro, who celebrated with a finger in the air and then pumped his fist in relief after breaking a goal drought that had lasted four matches.

His 37th goal in 38 career meetings with Sevilla broke the record of most club goals (420) in Europe’s top-five leagues by outscoring Cristiano Ronaldo (419) in 70 fewer matches. His dipping effort to beat Tomáš Vaclík was his 49th career free-kick goal, also his 15th since the start of 2016/17 season, which is at least nine more than any other player in the division.

Real Madrid maintained their position at the top of the table with a 4-2 win over Granada, where Eden Hazard scored his first goal in a white shirt. Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid slipped to third, one point behind Barcelona, after being held 0-0 at Valladolid, its third scoreless draw in four rounds.

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MANCHESTER UNITED IN LOSS

If Liverpool bagging a 94th-minute winner against Leicester City on Saturday, taking them to eight wins in as many matches, wasn’t agonising enough for the city of Manchester, Sunday just made things worse. Manchester City fell to another shock defeat at Etihad Stadium at the hands of an inspired Wolverhampton Wanderers, who defeated the reigning champions 2-0, thanks to two late Adama Traore hits.

On the other hand, Manchester United’s worst start to a season in around 30 years continued, with David de Gea being beaten by Newcastle United debutant Matthew Longstaff’s powered daisycutter from outside of the box. With the loss, the Red Devils remained in the bottom half of the table with just nine points from eight games and failing to register a single win in their last 11 away matches under manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

Nuno Espirito Santo’s Wolverhampton Wanderers became the first team to beat Manchester City at the Etihad with the home team scoring no goals since Pep Guardiola took over. City currently have 16 points from eight matches. 

Chelsea maintained their goalscoring streak, winning 4-1 against Southampton, and Arsenal eked out a 1-0 win against Bournemouth. However, Mauricio Pochettino’s flailing Tottenham Hotspur lost 3-0 to Brighton Hove and Albion on Saturday, further worsening their start to the season.

OLD LADY OVERTAKE NERAZZURRI

After losing to Barcelona in the UEFA Champions League, Antonio Conte’s Inter Milan had a tough test back home — the eight-time consecutive Italian champions, Juventus. And in a gritty encounter, Maurizio Sarri’s Juventus defeated Inter Milan to ruin their perfect start to the season on Sunday. With the 2-1 win, the Old Lady moved to the top of the table for the first time this season.

In an all Argentine show, Paulo Dybala scored a fourth-minute opener for Juventus, then Lautaro Martinez equalised for Inter from the spot, but it was substitute Gonzalo Higuain who ensured a result. The Derby d’Italia victory sent Conte’s former-club Juventus top, a point above Inter, and three above Atalanta.

Gian Piero Gasperini’s Atalanta marked its first match in its newly renovated stadium, Gewiss Stadium, with a dominant 3-1 victory over Lecce, thanks to goals from Duvan Zapata, Alejandro Gomez, and Robin Gosens. Both Napoli and Roma were held to draws, but AC Milan managed a 2-1 win over Genoa.

GOLIATHS FALTER, DAVID TRIUMPHS

The Bundesliga’s reigning champions Bayern Munich have always had a sense of consistency, but not on Saturday, as they were defeated 2-1 by Hoffenheim at Allianz Arena. Taking advantage of Bayern’s home defeat, and Borussia Dortmund’s third consecutive 2-2 in the league, Marco Rose’s Borussia Monchengladbach took a surprise lead in German league.

Borussia Monchengladbach have flown under the radar this season, but their 5-1 win over Augsburg made headlines, especially forward Alassane Plea’s remarkable start to the season with four goals and four assists so far.

Monchengladbach thumped Augsburg, with a brace from Patrick Hermann and goals from Denis Zakaria, Alassane Plea and Breel Embolo, to gain some much needed momentum before their clash with Dortmund in the league. With 16 points from seven games, they have a slender one-point lead over Wolfsburg, who are followed by five teams on 14 points, namely Bayern Munich, Freiburg, RB Leipzig, Schalke and Bayer Leverkusen.

While, Hoffenheim’s Sargis Adamyan earned their first-ever win in Munich by scoring on either side of another Robert Lewandowski strike, the turmoil for Lucien Favre’s men in black and yellow continued, as they squandered their lead twice to drop two more points, thanks to a Manuel Akanji own-goal. Meanwhile, Julian Nagelsmann’s youthful title challengers, Leipzig were held to a 1-1 draw by Leverkusen.