Jude Bellingham double maintains Real Madrid’s winning start to LaLiga campaign

By Sports Desk August 19, 2023

Jude Bellingham was on target twice as Real Madrid came from behind to beat Almeria 3-1 and maintain their winning start to the new season of LaLiga.

Sergio Arribas had the hosts in front in the third minute of Saturday evening’s contest but England midfielder Bellingham – who netted in the opening day win at Athletic Bilbao – levelled the scores 16 minutes later.

After Tony Kroos had seen an effort ruled out for VAR at the end of the first half, former Birmingham midfielder Bellingham put Real ahead on the hour and Vinicius Junior made it 3-1 with 17 minutes remaining.

Athletic Bilbao were 2-0 winners at Osasuna, with goals inside the first 20 minutes from Inaki Williams and Gorkua Guruzeta doing the damage. The hosts had substitute Chimy Avila dismissed late on.

Real Sociedad and Celta Vigo drew 1-1, with Oscar Mingueza earning the visitors a point in the last minute after Ander Barrenetxea had opened the scoring for Sociedad midway through the first half.

In Italy, champions Napoli opened with a 3-1 win at Frosinone, with Viktor Osimhen on target twice.

Abdou Harroui’s seventh-minute penalty had newly-promoted Frosinone ahead but Matteo Politano and Osimhen turned things around by half-time, before the latter sealed the points with 11 minutes remaining.

Lautaro Martinez netted in each half as Inter Milan beat Monza 2-0 at San Siro, while substitute Federico Bonazzoli got the only goal 15 minutes from time as Verona – who survived last season with victory over Spezia in the relegation play-off – won at Empoli.

Fiorentina were 4-1 victors at newly-promoted Genoa, with Cristiano Biraghi, Giacomo Bonaventura, Nicolas Gonzalez and Rolando Mandragora making the points safe before Davide Biraschi replied for the hosts.

A late penalty from Zakaria Aboukhlal earned Toulouse a 1-1 draw with Ligue 1 champions Paris St Germain.

Kylian Mbappe, absent from the squad for the opening-weekend goalless draw with Lorient after a dispute over his future left him training separately from the first team, came off the bench to score a penalty just past the hour mark.

However, Aboukhlal’s spot-kick meant a second successive draw for the capital club.

Lyon are propping up the table after a 4-1 home loss to Montpellier. Mousa Al-Taamari (2), Arnaud Nordin and Akor Adams were on target for the visitors, with Alexandre Lacazette getting a red card for Laurent Blanc’s struggling hosts having netted their only goal of the game when they trailed 3-0.

In the opening round of Bundesliga action, Donyell Malen’s 88th-minute goal gave Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 win over Cologne.

Augsburg and Borussia Monchengladbach shared eight goals in a 4-4 draw, while there were also wins for Bayer Leverkusen, Freiburg, Wolfsburg and Stuttgart.

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    Pereira scored both goals in Fulham’s 2-0 victory at West Ham last weekend, which was a first win in four matches.

    The former Manchester United attacking midfielder had not found the net since August, but is top of Fulham’s assists with eight so far.

    The consistency of Pereira, who was born in Belgium, has seen him recalled into the Brazil national team, featuring in both March friendlies against England at Wembley and then Spain.

    Silva feels the 28-year-old, who had a successful loan spell at Flamengo before signing for Fulham in the summer of 2022, still has plenty more to offer.

    “Andreas, last season made a huge impact. Before he joined us, he played more as a second midfielder and not so offensive,” the Fulham boss said.

    “This season, he is going to have one of the best assist records for us – and we will demand more.

    “Last week, he showed the desire to arrive in the right areas.”

    Fulham host Liverpool on Sunday looking to further dent the Reds’ ambitions.

    Jurgen Klopp’s side were knocked out of the Europa League by Atalanta and also slumped to what could prove a costly home defeat against Crystal Palace to lose ground in the Premier League title race.

    Fulham have pushed Liverpool in each of their three meetings this season, being narrowly edged out 4-3 after a dramatic finish at Anfield in their league match at the start of December followed by what was a tight Carabao Cup semi-final over two legs.

    “Probably some of them (have been) too open for a manager to enjoy, but yes, at Anfield and at the Cottage as well, they have been really – in some moments – emotional games, in other moments entertaining,” Silva said at a press conference.

    “Tight games always, in some of them dramatic ends of the match. But even last season, it was really tough for them to come to play at Craven Cottage (in the) Carabao Cup this season, too.”

    Silva added: “We want to make life really difficult for Liverpool, to give them a match.

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    Fulham could yet challenge for a top-10 finish.

    “I think we are in the best moment of the season,” Silva said. “We haven’t had big injuries in the last month and a half, or two months.

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    Defeat to Crystal Palace last weekend saw Klopp’s side drop to third as Manchester City moved into a two-point lead at the top of the table.

    But with results faltering, the performance by Alexander-Arnold in the Europa League win over Atalanta, particularly in the first half, has offered renewed hope.

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    “Without them we wouldn’t have a chance. With them we have a chance, with them in a really good football moment the chance gets bigger and bigger.”

    Klopp remains positive about their chances despite recent failures and feels six wins could see them snatch the title from the grasp of their rivals.

    Although a Europa League exit on aggregate was disappointing there were positives to take from the game.

    Alexander-Arnold’s display, drifting infield to dictate play and even popping up in the centre-forward’s position on occasions in Bergamo, was one and a first clean sheet in 10 matches was another.

    With struggles up front continuing – Liverpool have scored only two goals in the opening 15 minutes in a league game this season – a more solid backline offers a better platform and that is why Klopp is optimistic.

    “I don’t have a lot of qualities but I am always completely honest. If I don’t feel great the players feel it pretty quickly,” he said.

    “I cannot really deny or just keep it under the carpet so that means after the game against Palace people ask ‘What do you tell the team now?’.

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    A Women’s FA Cup final dress rehearsal will also take place on Sunday when Manchester United host Tottenham.

    Grace Clinton will be a notable absentee due to the terms of her loan at Spurs from United and she will also be unavailable at Wembley on May 12.

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    Sunday’s other fixture will see third-placed Arsenal host Leicester with the Gunners eager to close the gap on Chelsea, which stands at six points with four fixtures left to play.

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