EPL

Mohamed Salah at the double as Liverpool brush aside Brentford

By Sports Desk November 12, 2023

Mohamed Salah continued his remarkable Anfield scoring record with two goals in Liverpool’s 3-0 victory over Brentford to bring up his 200th in English football.

Only Manchester City’s Erling Haaland has scored more in the Premier League this season than the Egypt international, who took his tally to 10 by scoring for the sixth successive home game to write another entry in club’s history books.

Intriguingly, the pair will meet in a mouthwatering first-versus-second encounter at the Etihad Stadium immediately after the international break in what will be a true test of Liverpool’s title credentials.

After a complete midfield rebuild over the summer following a fifth-place finish, the primary aim was to regain their Champions League status, but after eight wins in their opening 12 matches – and a 100 percent record at home in every competition – a different complexion has developed as they have emerged as City’s chief chasers again.

After taking 39 minutes to break down a stubborn Brentford, Salah’s double either side of half-time was added to by Diogo Jota’s late strike to put a quick end to questions over a mini-stumble after the draw at Luton and Europa League defeat in Toulouse.

In becoming the first Liverpool player to score in each of their first six home matches, Salah joined Alan Shearer and Thierry Henry in having scored or assisted in 15 consecutive Premier League home games.

And, while he claimed the plaudits once again, in many ways the architect of the victory was Darwin Nunez, whose rapid development this season continues to impress.

The Uruguay international, criticised for his wayward shooting last weekend, had two goals disallowed for offside – one only very marginally by VAR – and provided yet another assist for Salah.

His total of nine assists in his Liverpool career have all been for the Egypt international and in the Premier League it is only the third time two players have combined for an individual’s first seven in a campaign – Kevin Campbell for Ian Wright (first 10) and Troy Deeney for Odion Ighalo (seven) the others.

His all-round play has improved immeasurably from last season’s erratic performances and, while still prone to the odd aberration, he is gradually morphing into the all-action number nine the team needs.

After an early deflected cross was saved at the near post by goalkeeper Mark Flekken, Nunez poked home in the 22nd minute after Dominik Szoboszlai’s shot was deflected into his path.

It was not the first time he would have a goal ruled out for offside, although it was the most marginal.

When he buried an overhead kick after Flekken had parried Virgil van Dijk’s header it was apparent he had returned from an offside position.

Brentford had been limited to counter-attacks but almost snatched a goal when Bryan Mbeumo outpaced Trent Alexander-Arnold, but Alisson Becker got a crucial touch on the shot and Liverpool’s right-back got back to collect.

The defender was equally effective at the other end in the 39th minute when he picked out Nunez on the edge of the area and he laid off for Salah to tuck a left-footed shot inside the far post for a goal of brilliant simplicity.

A Nunez piledriver, a Salah volley over from Alexander-Arnold’s delicious chipped diagonal pass over the Brentford defence and a perfectly-judged Nathan Collins’ recovery tackle to deny the Uruguay striker a one-on-one with the keeper saw the half end on a high for the hosts.

Eighteen minutes into the second half Liverpool benefited from VAR as it ruled Kostas Tsimikas’ cross to the far post had remained in play as there was real doubt cast by Salah’s muted celebrations after heading in.

Jota capped a dominant performance with the third in the 74th minute, cutting in from the left to fire home from the edge of the area.

Late on Alexander-Arnold hooked away Collins’ goalbound header and Alisson tipped over Ethan Pinnock’s effort from the resulting corner to keep Liverpool ahead of Arsenal on goal difference and add yet more significance to the trip to the Etihad.

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  • Euro 2024 data dive: Records for Guler, Ronaldo and Pepe as Group F begins with a bang Euro 2024 data dive: Records for Guler, Ronaldo and Pepe as Group F begins with a bang

    The first matchdays of each group at Euro 2024 are now over, after the final pool got started in style on Tuesday.

    First, Turkiye and Georgia served up an unlikely classic in Dortmund, before Portugal beat Czechia 2-1 in Leipzig.

    Records were broken in each of those matches, with Arda Guler and Cristiano Ronaldo making history.

    But what other stats standout from Group F's two opening games?

    Turkiye 3-1 Georgia: Guler breaks Ronaldo record

    In Kenan Yildiz (19y 45d) and Guler (19y 114d), Turkiye became just the second nation at the European Championship to start two different teenagers in a game, after Hungary against Denmark in 1964 (Zoltan Varga and Ferenc Bene).

    And Guler, who was on the fringes at Real Madrid in 2023-24, showcased his immense potential with a superb all-round performance, capped off with a stunning, record-breaking strike.

    He is the youngest player in the tournament's history to score on their first appearance, and just the third teenager to do so, after Ronaldo for Portugal against Greece in 2004 and Ferenc Bene for Hungary against Spain in 1964.

    Indeed, Ronaldo was the previous holder of the record, having netted on his debut at Euro 2004. 

    As well as scoring, Guler also became just the third teenager on record to create as many as five chances in a single game at the European Championship finals (since 1980), along with Wayne Rooney against Croatia in 2004 (18y 241d) and Pedri against Switzerland in 2021 (18y 219d).

    Guler's screamer followed on from Mert Muldur's excellent volley, which was just his second international goal, and paved the way for substitute Kerem Akturkoglu to round out a 3-1 victory, but only after Georgia had hit the woodwork twice and seen an effort cleared off the line in what was a thrilling contest.

    Georges Mikautadze made history with his first-half equaliser, bringing up Georgia's first goal at a major tournament, in their first such appearance.

    Turkiye won a Euros opener for the first time, having lost each of their previous five such games, while they have won four of their six encounters with Georgia in all competitions (D1 L1), with this their first win in a competitive game against them since a 5-2 victory in a World Cup qualifier in March 2005.

    Portugal 2-1 Czechia: Records up for Ronaldo and Pepe

    Pepe (41y 113d) and Ronaldo (39y 134d) both started for Portugal, and in the process became the two oldest outfield players to ever appear at the Euros.

    Age truly is just a number for the gnarly Pepe, though. The defender won possession more times than any other player across matchday one (11).

    Ronaldo also became the first player to feature in as many as six different editions of the European Championship finals (2004, 2008, 2012, 2016, 2020 and 2024).

    He could not get on the scoresheet to mark the occasion, though he did see a header rebound off the post before being tucked in by Diogo Jota. However, Ronaldo had strayed offside in the build-up and the would-be winner was ruled out.

     

    Portugal went behind to Lukas Provod's blistering opener, which was the 11th goal scored from outside the box at Euro 2024. That is now just one fewer than in the whole of the group stage at Euro 2020.

    That goal came after Portugal had dominated proceedings. In fact, Roberto Martinez's completed 368 passes in the first half of this match, their most in a single half of football at the European Championship finals on record (since 1980).

    However, this was the first match of Euro 2024 so far to be goalless at half-time, and that dominance counted for nothing until Nuno Mendes' header forced an own goal from 
    Robin Hranac.

    The impressive Vitinha supplied the cross that was met by Mendes. Vitinha made 20 line-breaking passes against Czechia, with only Germany’s Toni Kroos (30 v Scotland) making more across the first round of group stage games.

    Francisco Conceicao proved to be Portugal's hero. He scored just 111 seconds after coming off the bench, becoming the first Portugal player to score as a substitute at the Euros  since Eder in the 2016 final against France.

  • Sagnol proud of Georgia display as Guler gifts Montella 'perfect' birthday present Sagnol proud of Georgia display as Guler gifts Montella 'perfect' birthday present

    Georgia head coach Willy Sagnol believes his players will learn from their defeat to Turkiye, but was proud of his side's performance in Dortmund.

    The 75th-ranked side in the world captured the hearts of many neutrals in their first game at Euro 2024, coming agonisingly close to snatching a memorable point late on.

    Georges Mikautadze made history by scoring Georgia's first-ever goal at a major tournament following Mert Muldur's opener, but the minnows were undone by a piece of individual brilliance by Arda Guler before Kerem Akturkoglu sealed a 3-1 win late on. 

    "I don't want to say we are happy losers today but I think we can be proud of our performance," Sagnol told reporters.

    "We have given such a nice image of the Georgian footballer but of course, we had a lot of opportunities to score, probably as much as Turkey did. But that's football.

    "I'm sure in the future, in the next months and years, Georgia won't lose this kind of game. We are in a learning process, but we want to learn in a good way."

    For Turkiye, however, they won their opening game of a European Championship finals for the first time, having lost each of their previous five. 

    And a big contributor to that was Real Madrid's Guler, whose stunning strike showcased his mercurial talent, and was something he revealed he had practised in the lead-up to the game.

    "I am just thrilled, no words to describe how I feel. I was dreaming of this goal constantly," Guler said.

    "I've been practising this particular shot recently at the end of training sessions. I'm so happy to have scored this way."

    Turkiye head coach Vincenzo Montella celebrated the triumph on his 50th birthday, and Guler was able to deliver the boss his only wish.

    "My coach had wanted a goal as a birthday present," Guler told reporters. "I hope I can continue these goals."

    Montella was equally pleased with the way his birthday had panned out, labelling the result as the perfect day as preparations turn to their game against Portugal on Saturday, who beat Czechia late on in the other Group F contest. 

    "We are just thrilled," Montella said. "It was a lot of coincidences coming together today, my 50th birthday, Eid at home, the Euro opener."

    He told reporters: "It really was the perfect day, in terms of the spirit and in terms of the best present I could get."

  • Euro 2024 social round-up: Ronaldo's rally cry as Portuguese laud it up in Leipzig and France offer Mbappe update Euro 2024 social round-up: Ronaldo's rally cry as Portuguese laud it up in Leipzig and France offer Mbappe update

    Cristiano Ronaldo and Portugal claimed a late win over Czechia to get their Euro 2024 campaign up and running.

    Before that, there was a sensational Group F opener between Turkiye and Georgia.

    But the football was not the only thing to look out for.

    Here, we round up the best of Tuesday's social posts from around Euro 2024.

     

    Ronaldo's rallying cry

    Ahead of becoming the first player to feature at six European Championships, Ronaldo posted a motivational message on social media.

    "Portuguese, today begins another chapter in our history," Ronaldo wrote in a caption that came with a video of some of his best moments in a Portugal shirt.

    "I fondly remember my first day with the national team, a journey full of challenges and victories. Now, I have the honor of being alongside a team of champions, full of talent and determination. With everyone’s strength and support, we turn dreams into reality. Let's, together, fight for another triumph. United, we are unstoppable. Go Portugal!"

    The rallying cry just about worked - Ronaldo didn't score, but Portugal beat Czechia 2-1 thanks to Francisco Conceicao's last-gasp winner.

    Portuguese party in Leipzig

    There were plenty of travelling Portuguese fans who made themselves right at home in Leipzig.

    It looked like a fair old party pre kick-off!

    Nose job

    Mbappe will require surgery, France coach Didier Deschamps confirmed, to fix his broken nose.

    However, when the superstar forward will go under the knife remains to be seen.

    Deschamps revealed this in a video interview posted to the official France team X account. Could Mbappe's Euro 2024 be over, or will he make it back in time to feature?

    Kante's warm welcome

    It was not all doom and gloom for France.

    N'Golo Kante was spectacular in his first competitive game for Les Bleus in two years, and the 33-year-old midfielder received a rapturous reception when he returned to the dressing room after the match, with the moment captured on video.

    Baller

    Turkiye and Georgia served up a thrilling encounter, and Arda Guler was one of the stars of the show.

    The Real Madrid midfielder became the youngest player to score on his Euros debut, breaking a record set by Ronaldo way back in 2004.

    He did so in stunning fashion, curling home from outside the area, and it's worth watching again and again.

    Quaresma watches on

    Ex-Portugal star Quaresma was no stranger to scoring great goals on the big stage, and he watched on from the stands to support his nation.

    Cool as you like

    Looking dapper is part and parcel of a team's travelling routine to and from match locations, especially for major tournaments.

    And the German team made sure to dress with the style befitting of hosts as they left their training base and headed for Stuttgart, where they take on Hungary on Wednesday.

    Derek's Cologne tour

    The Tartan Army have taken over Cologne ahead of Scotland's clash with Switzerland on Wednesday.

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    Rice grabs the lens

    France's Benjamin Pavard took over camera duties for an ad hoc Olivier Giroud photo shoot earlier in the competition, and now England's Declan Rice has got in on the act.

    After training on Tuesday, Rice grabbed hold of the camera to get some snaps of his team-mates. And the results were pretty good!

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