Gareth Bale dismissed the suggestion he has been frustrated during his second stint with Tottenham, insisting he has "been happy all season".

Bale marked just his third Premier League start of 2020-21 in style on Sunday, scoring twice and setting up another goal with a superb long pass as Spurs thrashed Burnley 4-0.

The 31-year-old, signed in loan from Real Madrid in September, opened the scoring after 68 seconds – the quickest goal conceded by Burnley in the Premier League – and Bale has now been directly involved in seven goals in his last four appearances for Tottenham in all competitions (four goals, three assists).

It has been far from plain sailing for the Wales star since his return to north London, however, with fitness struggles having made Jose Mourinho reluctant to hand Bale regular chances to impress in the league.

Mourinho also seemed frustrated when Bale asked to miss Spurs' trip to Everton in the FA Cup earlier this month, as he nursed a slight injury.

Bale, though, affirmed that he has thoroughly enjoyed his time back at the club where he became a global superstar.

"It's not just about scoring. It's about our all-round play and helping the team," Bale told BBC Sport.

"I'm delighted with the goals and the assist and whatever I can do for the team.

"I've been happy all season. In the dressing room I feel comfortable and I'm having fun. I'm happy and I'm sure it's showing on the pitch."

Having scored from two of his three attempts, while also brilliantly teeing up Harry Kane to put Spurs 2-0 ahead, Bale was taken off in the 70th minute.

"I wasn't upset to be substituted," he said. "There are a lot of games to come. It's important to keep building minutes each game."

A player who has clearly enjoyed combining with Bale is Son Heung-min, who created both of the Welshman's goals, becoming the third player to lay on two assists for him in the same Premier League match, after Rafael van der Vaart versus Blackburn Rovers in November 2010 and Aaron Lennon against QPR in October 2011.

Son created a game-high six chances, his joint-most in a single Premier League game, and the South Korea forward was quickto praise his team-mate.

"Bale is, no matter what, the best player in the world," Son told Goal Korea.

"He prepared a lot, and showed a good performance as a starter. He helped our team. I think it's important to go out to the pitch where you've become a player and make a figure that is helpful to the team. I think Bale showed it."

Jose Mourinho felt Gareth Bale turned in the best display of his Tottenham second coming against Burnley and insists every manager in the world would pick the Wales star, fitness permitting.

Bale was handed only his third Premier League start since re-joining Spurs on loan from Real Madrid last September and he responded with two goals and an assist for Harry Kane in a dominant 4-0 win over Burnley.

Persistent fitness struggles have made Mourinho reluctant to give Bale too much action outside of cup competitions but he was thoroughly impressed after the forward put Sean Dyche's woeful Clarets to the sword.

"It's the best Bale that we have had during this season, more confidence, better condition, no bad feelings with injuries," he told BBC Radio 5 Live.

"His left foot will always be his left foot but the change of speed and direction and winning duels is not something he was able to do three or four months ago. Now he's giving us that."

Bale won five of eight duels contested including two out of two in the air – the only Spurs player to have a 100 per cent record on this metric against Burnley.

The 31-year-old was also perfect in a more headline-grabbing fashion, scoring twice from two shots on target and setting up Kane's 15th-minute goal with his only key pass.

A hectic schedule continues at pace with back-to-back London derbies for Tottenham against Fulham and Crystal Palace this week.

Mourinho plans to continue carefully managing Bale's workload, despite having instincts to the contrary.

"Sometimes some of you like to imagine stories and you have to write stories. Sometimes you like to say things that are not really true," he said at a post-match news conference, referencing allusions to a strained relationship between himself and the Wales international.

"But there is not one manager in the world who does not play Gareth Bale if Gareth Bale is in good condition. There is not one.

"His knowledge of his body and his feelings are going to be fundamental.

"A player who gives me this kind of performance, I want to play him Thursday and I want to play him Sunday and I want to play hm next week against Dinamo Zagreb [in the Europa League].

"But I don't think I can. This is a process that we have to manage day bay day. The day after tomorrow we have to see how he feels.

"He is a very important part of this decision making because he has a lot of experience."

Gareth Bale marked his return to a Premier League starting line-up with a brace in Tottenham's 4-0 thumping of Burnley.

Bale had only been named from kick-off twice in the top flight since re-joining Spurs from Real Madrid last September, but a goal in each leg of the Europa League win over Wolfsberger AC persuaded Jose Mourinho to give the Wales international a chance.

Tottenham's recent run of five defeats in their past six Premier League matches became a fast fading memory as Bale notched after 68 seconds and set up Harry Kane's second.

It was 3-0 after the half hour thanks to Lucas Moura, who kept Dele Alli on the bench despite the England midfielder's similarly impressive European form, and Bale's eighth goal of his second Tottenham spell came in the 55th minute.

Bale wasted little time in making the most of his selection by stealing in behind a sleeping Burnley defence to convert Son Heung-min's cross – Nick Pope having charitably stayed on his line.

There was fleeting defiance from the visitors, with Davinson Sanchez forced to make a last-ditch challenge on Jay Rodriguez.

Pope denied Lucas at close quarters before Bale was given time and space to send a raking ball into Kane's path in the 15th minute.

The England captain advanced infield from the left and rifled home an emphatic finish.

Any lingering doubt over the result was put to bed when Sergio Reguilon's cross clipped off James Tarkowski and Lucas pounced.

Burnley's misery deepened nine minutes into the second half with Bale allowed room for a touch and a clinical finish after Son played the provider once more.

Lucas and Bale made way but Kane and Son remained a nuisance for the Clarets.

Pope pushed over a swerving drive from the England captain before getting down sharply to deny Son.

 

Marcus Rashford was tasked with leading Manchester United's attack at Stamford Bridge, while Timo Werner dropped to the Chelsea bench.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer declared on Friday that he was unsure if Cavani, who has had a positive impact this season since arriving on a free transfer from Paris Saint-Germain, would overcome a knock which has kept him out since mid-February.

Paul Pogba was a confirmed absentee, however, and neither player featured as Solskjaer made five changes to his United team.

Rashford, who has been involved in seven goals in all competitions against Chelsea (five goals, two assists) – more than against any other side in his career – was instead given the central role that Anthony Martial had started in against Real Sociedad on Thursday.

That was one of five changes made by Solskjaer, who also brought back Luke Shaw, Harry Maguire, Scott McTominay and David de Gea.

United are unbeaten in 19 Premier League away games (W13 D6), a run that began with a 2-0 win at Chelsea in February 2020. 

This is the Red Devils' longest unbeaten away run in their top-flight history, though their previous longest of 17 between December 1998-September 1999 ended with a 5-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge, and Thomas Tuchel's Chelsea team have been in strong form.

After a frustrating draw with Southampton last week, Chelsea beat Atletico Madrid in the Champions League thanks to Olivier Giroud's stunning winner.

Giroud is rewarded with a start up top, with Tuchel making three alterations.

One of the players to drop out is Werner, who ended his long goalscoring drought in Chelsea's last home game – a 2-0 victory over Newcastle United.

Hakim Ziyech is in to partner Mason Mount – who has scored two goals in his last three Premier League games, as many as in his previous 21 in the competition – behind Giroud, with N'Golo Kante replacing Jorginho in midfield and Ben Chilwell coming in at left wing-back.

Opposite Chilwell, Callum Hudson-Odoi retains his place, despite the youngster being subbed on and subbed off in the draw with Southampton.

The away team has won all four of the previous managerial matches between Tuchel and Solskjaer, with all of those games taking place between United and PSG in the Champions League.

Inter's Serie A title charge remains on course after goals from Romelu Lukaku, Matteo Darmian and Alexis Sanchez sealed a 3-0 win over Genoa at San Siro on Sunday. 

Belgium international Lukaku set them on their way to a fifth consecutive top-flight win with a goal inside the opening minute. 

Antonio Conte's side largely dominated proceedings thereafter, with Nicolo Barella striking the crossbar, and they wrapped up all three points in the second period through Darmian and Sanchez.

The result moved them seven points ahead of second-placed Milan, although Stefano Pioli's side can rein them back in with victory over Roma later on Sunday.

Inter started in blistering fashion, Lukaku firing into Mattia Perin's bottom-right corner from just outside the penalty area after 32 seconds – Inter's second-fastest Serie A goal since Opta started tracking such data in 2004-05.

Darmian clipped wide after 14 minutes, while Barella hit the bar with a long-range effort soon after.

Perin then kept out Lukaku's powerful strike shortly after the half-hour mark as Inter ultimately failed to double their advantage before the interval.

The hosts put the result beyond doubt in the 69th minute when Darmian lashed home his first Serie A goal for the club from 12 yards after being picked out by Lukaku. 

Substitute Sanchez then added gloss to the scoreline 13 minutes from full-time, heading in from close range after Lukaku's effort had been repelled by Perin. 

 

 

 

Mikel Arteta felt Arsenal performed with "courage" to end a damning six-year run by beating Leicester City on Sunday.

The Gunners responded to an early goal from Youri Tielemans to win 3-1 at the King Power Stadium, with David Luiz and Nicolas Pepe scoring either side of an Alexandre Lacazette penalty.

It was their first Premier League win over Leicester since October 2018 and ended a run of 14 away matches without a victory against teams starting the day in the top three of the table.

Before getting the better of the third-placed Foxes, Arsenal's most recent away win over such lofty opponents came in January 2015, when they won 2-0 at Manchester City.

 

Manager Arteta was proud of the display, especially given their battling Europa League win over Benfica was only three days earlier.

"For me, it's not only about that," said Arteta. "It's how we play against opponents of top quality and just impose ourselves: try to be all the time us, it doesn't matter who we play against, and have the courage to do it against top-quality players.

"I'm proud of the way we won, but more about the way we have done it. Coming here after a very short turnaround after Benfica and going down very early puts the game in a difficult position.

"But we played some really good moments in the game. We were really solid, we dominated the game and overall we deserved the win."

Willian had an assist for a goal in a decisive substitute appearance against Benfica and continued that form at Leicester, crossing for David Luiz's opener and posting game-high figures of six accurate crosses and a 94 per cent passing accuracy.

"He was really good today, but we have seen that in training in the last few weeks," Arteta said of the Brazilian. "I think he is revealing himself. He is not accepting the situation.

"I think he was the player who changed the game against Benfica in the last few moments when he came on and today, I think he was terrific and the same for the senior players.

"Laca, the way he played; Nico, I think he grew in the game and had a big impact as well. And Granit [Xhaka]. I think a player that has played that many minutes, to play with the heart and passion he showed in every action, I think it's a great example for the rest of the players."

The downside to Arsenal's win, which lifted them back into the top 10, was losing Emile Smith Rowe to injury in a game that also saw Leicester's Jonny Evans and Harvey Barnes forced off.

Arteta thinks such incidents will only become more common as the season enters a hectic final third.

"Well, I think it is absolutely normal that it is happening," Arteta said. "That is why as well we needed to change players [today] because if not we were going to expose our players to get injured.

"But sometimes you don't have a chance as a manager [to do that] because you don't have enough players or you have the necessity to win and play them again.

"But it is insane, the amount of minutes and the games that these players are playing without any pre-season, without any break.

"You are going to get injured. We talked about it, all the managers raised our voices at the start of the season and it's happening."

Arsenal ended a run of two consecutive away Premier League defeats with an impressive 3-1 victory over high-flying Leicester City on Sunday.

Mikel Arteta's men fought back from an early Youri Tielemans goal to score through David Luiz, Alexandre Lacazette and Nicolas Pepe, ending a three-game losing streak at the King Power Stadium in the top flight.

The result means Arsenal closed to within three points of sixth-place Liverpool, having played a game more, while Leicester stay third and 13 points behind leaders Manchester City.

Tielemans gave Leicester the lead with a precise finish after being allowed to run unchecked into the Arsenal box, with Kieran Tierney out of position and Pablo Mari distracted by Jamie Vardy.

It was the fourth time the Gunners had conceded in the opening six minutes of a league game in 2021, but it seemed to spark them into life, with Pepe winning a penalty only for VAR to determine he was fouled outside the box.

David Luiz deservedly equalised six minutes before the break, steering a fine header past Kasper Schmeichel from Willian's free-kick, and the visitors were ahead in injury time.

Pepe's shot was blocked by the raised arm of Wilfred Ndidi and this time VAR ruled in favour of a penalty, allowing Lacazette to smash home from the spot.

Injury problems struck each team either side of the break, with Emile Smith-Rowe limping off for the Gunners before Leicester's Harvey Barnes was taken off on a stretcher, his left leg in a brace.

Arsenal scored their third soon afterwards, Pepe leading a counter-attack and then tapping a loose ball into the net after good work from Martin Odegaard and Willian.

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang came off the bench and almost made it 4-1, skipping into space and firing just wide of the right-hand post.
 

 

What does it mean? Gunners into top 10 as concern builds for Leicester

Given their poor start to the game, Arsenal's performance was as assured as any they have produced in recent weeks and lifted them back into the league's top 10.

Leicester stay third but, after a surprise Europa League exit to Slavia Prague this week, this was not the way Brendan Rodgers will have wanted them to respond.

The Foxes will hope these defeats do not point to a repeat of 2019-20. They lost on February 28 last year, away to Norwich City, during a six-game winless run that prompted a poor end to their season and a failure to see out a top-four finish.

Pepe starting to peak

Pepe menaced full-back Luke Thomas in the first half to the extent the Leicester man was substituted at half-time on a yellow card.

Having won the free-kick for the equaliser and Lacazette's penalty, Pepe then started and finished the move that effectively killed the game. He has now scored four times in his most recent seven league starts, as many as in his previous 21 across all competitions.

Leicester lose identity

Leicester seemed out of sorts after going ahead and barely threatened Bernd Leno's goal from then on, with Jamie Vardy strangely isolated in attack.

The man who scored 11 goals in his first 12 league meetings with Arsenal had 21 touches and failed even to attempt a shot.

What's next?

Arsenal head to Burnley next Saturday, three days after Leicester face the same opposition at Turf Moor.

For four straight years, meetings between LeBron James and the Golden State Warriors decided the NBA title.

James' Cleveland Cavaliers faced the Warriors in the Finals in consecutive seasons between 2015 and 2018, winning only once as Golden State earned three championships.

James left Cleveland after the Warriors' most recent triumph, though, and his move to the Western Conference with the Los Angeles Lakers means he can no longer face his old rivals in the title decider.

But games between James and Golden State remain blockbuster affairs and they will go at it again on Sunday.

The Lakers swept a threadbare Warriors team in the 2019-20 regular season before James claimed his fourth ring, but Stephen Curry and Golden Stave have already gained revenge once already this year.

And momentum is with the travelling outfit heading into this clash.

 

TOP PERFORMERS

Dennis Schroder - Los Angeles Lakers

As the 23-11 Lakers lost four straight games prior to beating the Portland Trail Blazers on Friday, the continued absence of Anthony Davies appeared the most obvious factor in their poor form.

But that wretched run coincided with Schroder's lay-off due to the league's health and safety protocols. He returned against Portland and scored 22 points, improving his personal record to 23-7 on the year.

A Sixth Man of the Year contender last season with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Schroder has started all 30 of his appearances for the Lakers and provided James with some much-needed help on the offensive end.

Schroder, who weighed in with a season-high 25 points in January's defeat to the Warriors, leading LA in scoring, has averaged 14.5 points and 4.2 rebounds this term.

Stephen Curry - Golden State Warriors

Two-time MVP Curry is putting together another astonishing season, back fit and firing after playing just five games in 2019-20.

He has averaged 29.9 points per game this season, a mark that sits second in the NBA – behind Bradley Beal's 32.8 on a poor Washington Wizards team – and second in Curry's own career, narrowly trailing the 2015-16 campaign (30.1).

A remarkable level of consistency has made Golden State a force again in the west at 19-15 and yet Curry is actually improving as the season goes on.

He has averaged 33.4 points this month, with his lowest return 24 at Indiana, still enough to match the Pacers' top-scoring Malcolm Brogdon.

KEY BATTLE - LEBRON AND DRAYMOND TO RENEW ACQUAINTANCES?

The 2019-20 season was a forgettable one for the injury-hit Warriors, but Draymond Green is unlikely to have let the third and final game against the Lakers slip from his memory.

Green was ejected for two technical fouls in quick succession, departing after less than 10 minutes of action – his fewest minutes in any of the 12 NBA games he has been ejected from.

James, a direct opponent in many of those Finals battles, was not involved due to injury but was spotted laughing at his furious rival's misfortune.

Without the distraction of Davis, Green should have the opportunity to go up against James and perhaps serve a reminder of his talents as one of the league's outstanding defensive players of the past decade.
 

HEAD TO HEAD

Both teams have had runs as the league's dominant team, but the Lakers boast the superior head-to-head regular-season record, with 255 wins to Golden State's 169.

Since James moved to Los Angeles, they have met eight times, winning four apiece, although the Lakers' main man has only appeared in four of those games.

He has a 3-1 record against the Warriors as a Laker, with the sole defeat the 115-113 reverse earlier this season.

The Brooklyn Nets' eight-game winning streak ground to a halt at the hands of Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks, who triumphed 115-98 in the NBA.

Nets star Kyrie Irving (right shoulder recovery) joined former MVP Kevin Durant (hamstring) on the sidelines for Saturday's clash.

Their absence proved too much for James Harden to carry, with the MVP candidate finishing the game on the bench in his casuals as the Mavericks won comfortably.

Harden scored 29 points, with seven rebounds and six assists for Brooklyn, who were jumped by the Mavs in a 38-26 opening quarter.

Despite the Nets closing to within four points at half-time, the Mavericks were never headed, led by Doncic – the All-Star posting 27 points, six rebounds and seven assists.

Doncic won special praise from Harden post-game, who said: "He never lets anyone speed him up, and he gets what he wants. We all know he has a very, very bright future. The Mavs got a special one."

The result leaves the Nets 22-13 in the Eastern Conference, while the Mavericks remain in playoffs contention with a 16-16 record in the west.

 

Sixers suffer rare home defeat, no stopping Jazz

Joel Embiid erupted for 42 points and 13 rebounds, but the Eastern Conference-leading Philadelphia 76ers were upstaged by the Cleveland Cavaliers 112-109 in overtime. It was just Philadelphia's third home defeat of the season in 17 games.

NBA leaders the Utah Jazz returned to winning ways with a 124-109 victory against the Orlando Magic. Donovan Mitchell fuelled the Jazz (27-7) with 31 points, including 25 in the second half, while Rudy Gobert contributed a double-double of 12 points and 16 rebounds. Nikola Vucevic had a game-high 34 points for the Magic in Orlando.

It was a memorable outing for Bradley Beal and head coach Scott Brooks in the Washington Wizards' 128-112 success at home to the lowly Minnesota Timberwolves. Beal put up 34 points – his 20th performance of 30-plus points in 29 games played this season. Per NBA history, only Allen Iverson, Carmelo Anthony and Harden have managed that many 30-plus performances in the first 30 games of a season. Scott, meanwhile, celebrated his 500th win as a head coach. Wizards star Russell Westbrook (19 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists) finished with a triple-double.

Nikola Jokic (19 points, 11 rebounds and 13 assists) had his eighth triple-double of the season as the Denver Nuggets crushed the Oklahoma City Thunder 126-96.

 

Curry crumbles

It was a forgettable game for Philadelphia's Seth Curry, who finished with four points in 39 minutes. Curry was just one-of-13 from the field, making one of seven from beyond the arc.

 

Ben… from beyond the arc

It is not often Ben Simmons attempts a three-pointer, let alone make one. But the 76ers All-Star hit his fourth career three on Saturday. Simmons finished with 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting from the field, while he was 100 per cent from three-point range.

 

Saturday's results

Yussuf Poulsen said RB Leipzig are dreaming of winning the Bundesliga title after their dramatic come-from-behind 3-2 win over Borussia Monchengladbach.

Monchengladbach led 2-0 after 20 minutes on Saturday, but Leipzig fought back with three second-half goals – including a 93rd-minute winner from Alexander Sorloth.

For the first time in their Bundesliga history, Leipzig won a match after trailing by two goals.

The result keeps Leipzig two points behind leaders Bayern Munich after the defending champions routed Cologne 5-1 on Saturday.

Leipzig, who finished third in their past two Bundesliga campaigns and were runners-up in 2016-17, have now won five league games in a row to mount significant pressure on Bayern.

"Everybody dreams of the title, especially when you have been at the top of the Bundesliga in the last four seasons," said Poulsen, who has been at Leipzig since 2013.

"Of course everybody is thinking about it but we know there's still a third of the season left."

Leipzig's title challenge has gained momentum, with Bayern dropping points in consecutive games after returning from their triumphant Club World Cup campaign in Qatar.

However, Julian Nagelsmann's Leipzig were staring down the barrel of a defeat which would have significantly dented those title aspirations.

Poulsen was among the second-half goalscorers as Leipzig turned it around, with half-time substitute Sorloth making a major contribution.

"We delivered a top performance and deserved to win," Poulsen said.

"After a game like that, confidence is high and puts a spring in your step."

 

Borussia Dortmund interim head coach Edin Terzic lauded Jadon Sancho after he became the youngest Bundesliga player to reach 50 assists.

Sancho recorded his 50th assist in his 99th Bundesliga appearance as Dortmund defeated Arminia Bielefeld 3-0 on Saturday.

The 20-year-old England international, who continues to be linked with Premier League giants Manchester United, teed up Mahmoud Dahoud for the 48th-minute opener before converting a penalty 10 minutes later.

Reacting to the achievement, Sancho wrote via Twitter: "Solid win, goal and assist. Happy to be the youngest Bundesliga player to reach 50 assists."

After the match, Terzic told reporters: "I'm very happy how Jadon presents himself lately. He shows it as well with scorer-points.

"He scores again and gets assists in the recent weeks.  I talked about it a lot previously. It's not like he forgot how to play football. He's a young lad. We were very spoiled with how much he has done for the club in recent history.

"We tried to get him back into his form. There were two ways of doing that. First, via the way how we dealt with him personally, talking about a lot of things and having a lot of discussions in general. We also did individual analysis' of him. 

"Secondly we tried to help him as a team as well. We put him on the other side. He now comes a lot more from the left side instead. He does a lot of combinations here and there. Primarily today, with Giovanni Reyna, Jude Bellingham and Raphael Guerreiro.

"He has a lot of pace again. That's something that we missed in the past. Now he rewards himself again. We were able to create an atmosphere in training with him and everyone else where we can try and ask for a lot of aggression every day.

"He currently lives it and he rewards himself with his contributions and wins."

Dortmund, who have won back-to-back Bundesliga games, are fifth in the standings – three points adrift of the top four and 13 points behind leaders Bayern Munich.

Chelsea manager Thomas Tuchel revealed Paris Saint-Germain tried to sign Bruno Fernandes before he joined Manchester United with devastating impact last year.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea's Premier League clash with rivals United on Sunday, Tuchel explained that during his time as PSG head coach from 2018 to late 2020, the Ligue 1 champions tried to lure Fernandes to Paris.

The Portugal international was captain of Sporting CP at the time, but eventually signed for United in January 2020 and has since scored 34 goals in 60 appearances across all competitions.

"With my first sporting director in Paris, Antero Henrique, a Portuguese sporting director, and he knew [Fernandes] very well," Tuchel told reporters.

"We fought hard to have a connection to him and to bring him to our team. I got made aware of him more in detail, so we watched more and more games about him and followed him and tried to be in touch with him to make it happen.

"Obviously, he decided [to sign for Manchester United] and I was never personally in touch with him, but we tried and he went another way. [It is] bad for us that we have to play against him."

Fernandes looms as a key factor in Sunday's clash against fifth-placed Chelsea, with both sides fighting to make the top four and secure Champions League berths.

The 26-year-old currently sits second for assists in the 2020-21 Premier League campaign with 10, only one behind Manchester City star Kevin De Bruyne and Tottenham's Harry Kane.

Fernandes provided his 10th Premier League assist of the season against Newcastle United last time out, becoming only the fourth different United player to reach double figures for both goals (15) and assists in a single Premier League campaign, after Eric Cantona (three times), Dwight Yorke (1998-99) and Wayne Rooney (five times).

Tuchel has been extremely impressed by Fernandes' impact since joining United, leading the club to a top-four spot last season before helping them move up to second this campaign.

"The impact he has had since he arrived at Manchester United is indescribable and unbelievable," Tuchel said.

"To come from Portugal, from a competitive team, a big club but not from the strongest league and stepping in a year to one of the biggest clubs in the Premier League and the strongest league in Europe and to have this kind of impact, I have nothing but the biggest respect for this guy.

"It is outstanding. He is one of the best midfielders in the world, attacking midfielders, and he has a huge, huge impact and to have this as a single person in football, you must be absolutely top level because this is almost impossible.

"But he has such a big influence on their game, on their attacking game and that it is a big key to defend against him, to be around him and close to him and he is a key player of Man Utd in a way that is outstanding."

United are second in the Premier League, 13 points behind runaway leaders City but six clear of Chelsea.

Collin Morikawa's hot putting saw him soar into a two-stroke lead following the third round of the WGC-Workday Championship.

Morikawa went on a birdie blitz, recording seven across an eight-hole stretch and eight in total to surge to the top of the leaderboard at The Concession Golf Club on Saturday.

Despite birdieing his penultimate hole, American golfer Morikawa leads the field at 15 under through 54 holes in Florida, where the star-studded World Golf Championships are taking place.

A three-time PGA Tour champion and winner of last year's U.S. PGA Championship, Morikawa leads by two shots after three for the second time on Tour – the 2019 3M Open.

Brooks Koepka and Billy Horschel (69) are Morikawa's nearest challengers heading into Sunday's final round.

Koepka carried a one-stroke advantage into the penultimate round, but the four-time major champion saw his lead evaporate following a two-under-par 70.

The American star bogeyed his opening two holes before recovering with four birdies, including a flawless back nine.

Webb Simpson (69) is 12 under, while four-time major winner Rory McIlroy catapulted himself into contention thanks to a six-under-par 66.

McIlroy improved eight positions, moving into a tie for fifth – four shots behind Morikawa – courtesy of an eagle and seven birdies, which outweighed his bogey and double bogey.

Defending champion Patrick Reed is also 11 under alongside McIlroy after his third-round 69.

Hideki Matsuyama (68) – tied for seventh at 10 under – has not recorded a three-putt through 54 holes at the tournament and he extended his tour-leading streak without a three-putt to 221 consecutive holes.

World number one and two-time champion Dustin Johnson recorded back-to-back 69s to move into a tie for 42nd – 16 strokes off the lead.

Andrea Pirlo felt Juventus did not have enough leaders who could "understand the moment" as they threw away two points at Hellas Verona in Serie A action on Saturday.

Defending Serie A champions Juve were heading for a second victory of the week after Cristiano Ronaldo netted early for the visitors in the second half.

But Antonin Barak's header 13 minutes from time rescued a point for Verona, who might then have snatched victory during the closing stages as Wojciech Szczesny saved smartly from influential substitute Darko Lazovic.

Juve head coach Pirlo was disappointed with the way the Bianconeri slipped up from a position of strength, having been made to work hard for their lead against a side they have failed to beat in three attempts.

"We're sorry because we knew it was going to be a difficult, dirty game," Pirlo told DAZN.

"We had interpreted it well. We were also able to take the lead, which was the hardest thing, but then we couldn't keep the result.

"We lacked a bit of aggression, especially for the goal. It was necessary to prevent [Lazovic] from crossing easily.

"These are issues that, unfortunately, the young players still do not understand, because these make the difference and make you take home points."

When Aaron Ramsey was substituted 22 minutes from time, six of the remaining Juve players were aged 23 or younger. Alessandro Di Pardo, introduced in place of Federico Chiesa late on, was a seventh.

Meanwhile, only Alex Sandro (147), Rodrigo Bentancur (102), Federico Bernardeschi (98), goalkeeper Szczesny (92) and Ronaldo (84) had made more than 50 league appearances for Juve.

Amid the lack of experience, Pirlo turned to Alex Sandro and Ronaldo to lift their colleagues, failing to do so as the defender was outjumped for Barak's leveller while the scorer of the opener ended the game having hit the target with only two of his seven attempts.

"When you have the advantage in these games, you have to try to bring it home," Pirlo added.

"But there was a lack of experienced players, many young players, therefore few who made themselves heard and understood the moment of the game.

"In fact, I asked Cristiano and Alex to make themselves heard, to make people understand the moment, but unfortunately there were too few [leaders].

"It's a shame to have dropped two points, because the most difficult thing was to take the lead and we had to make better use of this opportunity."

Hansi Flick hailed Leon Goretzka's "excellent" three-assist display against Cologne but admitted he was not entirely pleased with Bayern Munich's overall performance in Saturday's 5-1 win.

Bayern put an end to their two-game winless streak in the Bundesliga with a routine victory against their relegation-battling opponents at Allianz Arena to retain a two-point lead on RB Leipzig at the summit.

Goretzka set up goals for Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting, Robert Lewandowski and Serge Gnabry, making it four assists in his last two outings after also teeing up Jamal Musiala's goal in the 4-1 Champions League win at Lazio in midweek. 

The Germany international was singled out for praise by Flick after the win against Cologne, but the Bayern boss acknowledged there is still room for improvement from his side after conceding for the fourth game in a row thanks to Ellyes Skhiri's strike.

"Leon did an excellent job in assisting the goals. That's why he was Man of the Match for me today," Flick said. "We will analyse the game and show it to the team. There were one or two things I didn't like. 

"But we'll go from game to game. That approach worked well last year. What comes out in the end is up to us. If we put in the performances and pick up wins, we can finish top of the league."

Gnabry marked his return from a thigh injury lay-off by scoring twice from his 14 touches of the ball as a second-half substitute, adding to Lewandowski's brace and Choupo-Moting's opener.

Thomas Muller also appeared for the first time since being struck down by coronavirus at the Club World Cup earlier this month and Flick is delighted to have both players fit and available.

"Serge and Thomas were very important to us as substitutes today," he said. "Thomas assisted Lewy [Lewandowski] with his first touch of the game and brought some certainty to our game, which we needed at that point. 

"Serge has scored two goals. Both will be valuable for us in the next games and I'm happy they're back. It's important to be satisfied with the 5-1 scoreline. We deserved the victory even by that margin."

Bayern let Cologne into the game early in the second half before pulling clear with three goals in the final 25 minutes in what was the 100th competitive meeting between the sides.

With his double on Saturday, Gnabry has now scored nine Bundesliga goals against Cologne - more than against any other side in his career - but the attacker agreed with Flick's assessment that Bayern are not quite at 100 per cent.

"When Thomas and I came on, it was a bit tricky for us," he said. "We hadn't been very sharp or dominant. We tried to lift the tempo and immediately made it 3-1. Then it became easier. 

"In the future, we have to make sure we don't have these shaky phases in the game and we come out of the blocks quicker. Of course, opponents will always have a chance, but we have to reduce these spells, then we'll be stronger again."

Page 4 of 227
© 2020 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.