Coutinho in awe of 'legend' Lewandowski after brilliant Bayern hat-trick

By Sports Desk August 25, 2019

Philippe Coutinho heaped praise on the "amazing" Robert Lewandowski following the Bayern Munich striker's sparkling Bundesliga hat-trick against Schalke.

The star centre-forward converted a first-half penalty and added two more after the interval - including a sublime free-kick - to secure a convincing 3-0 victory, the first of his team's title defence.

Lewandowski's treble ensured loan signing Coutinho enjoyed a winning debut.

The Brazil international appeared as a substitute and was left extremely impressed with his prolific team-mate, who boasts six goals in all competitions this season.

"He's a legend," Coutinho told FOX Soccer.

"He's a great, great player. I saw him on the TV before and now I work with him for two, three days in training and in the game.

"What can I say? He's an amazing player and an amazing person."

Coutinho tallied 36 touches in just over half an hour on the pitch at the Veltins-Arena, where Ivan Perisic also made his Bayern debut.

The former only moved from Barcelona on Monday and Niko Kovac expects his contribution to grow as he builds fitness.

"I think you've seen his skills with the ball, how he moves into space, how he calls for the ball and how he puts his team-mates in the limelight," the Bayern head coach said.

"If he reaches the fitness level of the other players in the coming weeks, I'm convinced that he can help us a lot.

"But I am extremely satisfied with his performance."

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    UEFA president Aleksander Ceferin has acknowledged the 2019-20 season across Europe would likely be lost if football is unable to restart by the end of June.

    The 2019-20 season has been suspended indefinitely across most of Europe due to the coronavirus pandemic, with Euro 2020 also pushed back to 2021.

    While leagues are hoping to restart between the end of April and the beginning of June, there is as yet no definite return date and Ceferin has conceded it may be impossible to finish the season at all.

    In that case, UEFA's president has suggested the campaign would have to be considered as null and void.

    "If we don't succeed in restarting, the season will probably be lost," Ceferin told Italian publication La Repubblica.

    "There is a plan A, B and C. The three options are to start again in mid-May, in June or at the end of June.

    "There is also the possibility of starting again at the beginning of the next [season], starting the following one later. We will see the best solution for leagues and clubs."

    Some matches on the continent, including Paris Saint-Germain's Champions League clash with Borussia Dortmund, were played behind closed doors earlier this month, and Ceferin stated playing games without fans in attendance may be the only solution in order to complete the season.

    "It's hard for me to imagine all the matches behind closed doors, but we still don't know whether we'll resume, with or without spectators," he said.

    "If there was no alternative, it would be better to finish the championships."

  • Rashford edging closer to full fitness: I feel 10 times better now Rashford edging closer to full fitness: I feel 10 times better now

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    Rashford has been out since mid-January due to a back injury, with United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer saying earlier this month the club would not rush his comeback.

    The England international is making good progress, though, and suggests he will be ready to resume training once the squad are cleared to go back to work after the coronavirus pandemic.

    "I feel much better," Rashford told Sky Sports News. "I have a scan in another couple of days and that should solidify it, but I feel much better compared to two or three weeks ago.

    "I feel 10 times better now. For me, now it's just about getting ready to build back up to training and then playing games for the team.

    "I'm in a much better place. I'm much happier than I was about a month ago, so things are looking positive."

    Rashford says his recent rehabilitation has been carried out at home due to the restrictions put in place to control the impact of COVID-19.

    "Everyone is just dealing with the circumstances as well as they can," he added.

    "I've just been in my house doing my gym work and recovery, reading books, watching Netflix and just doing what I can do to make the time pass further.

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    It is easy to lose track of time in these strange days of lockdowns and isolations caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

    Right now it seems an eternity ago, yet it was only a year to the day – March 28, 2019 – that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was appointed as Manchester United's full-time manager.

    The Red Devils had won 14 of their 19 games in all competitions during Solskjaer's temporary stint, including a famous Champions League last-16 second-leg comeback at Paris Saint-Germain.

    Rio Ferdinand had demanded United hand his fellow club icon a blank contract to sign and the good times were, it seemed, on their way back to Old Trafford.

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    ONLY HALF AS GOOD AS SIZZLING REDS

    If Manchester United knocked Liverpool off their (insert naughty word here) perch, then Jurgen Klopp's Reds have conquered all in front of them in their bid to return to it.

    Liverpool's wait for a Premier League title may have been frustratingly held up but over the past year they have accumulated an astonishing 103 points from 36 top-flight matches.

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    Chelsea have managed 63 and are fourth behind Leicester City (64), but United have amassed more points than both Tottenham (51) and Arsenal (50).

     

    LAGGING BEHIND IN WINS AND GOALS

    A slight concern for United fans is the fact they have won just 14 of the 37 league games played during Solskjaer's permanent stewardship thus far.

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    The January signing of Bruno Fernandes has gone some way to helping United's creativity void in midfield, though their return of 51 goals is significantly lower than Liverpool (85) and City (84).

    Only the Gunners (50) have managed fewer, with Chelsea (64) and Spurs (57) both ahead of Solskjaer's side in this bracket.

    It comes as little surprise that United also struggle in terms of shot conversion (9 per cent). Chelsea (10 per cent), Spurs, City, Arsenal (all 12 per cent) and Liverpool (15 per cent) all perform better.

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    FEWER CLEAN SHEETS THAN A HOTEL LAUNDRY ROOM

    Defensively, United stand up reasonably well against their five major rivals. They have conceded fewer goals (44) than each of Arsenal (48), Spurs (47) and Chelsea (45). Liverpool (25) and City (33), unsurprisingly, lead in that department too.

    But United have not been able to keep too many clean sheets. Indeed, they have denied opposition sides from scoring on just eight occasions. Only Tottenham - with seven - have a worse record.

    United have faced 142 shots on target, which is less than Spurs (180) and Arsenal (185).

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