NFL

Crosby the hero as Packers snatch overtime victory over Bengals

By Sports Desk October 10, 2021

The Green Bay Packers went 4-1 for the 2021 season after Mason Crosby's overtime field goal secured a dramatic 25-22 victory over the Cincinnati Bengals.

Crosby missed two field goals in the final quarter as Cincinnati pegged back the visitors at 22-22, with the Packers #2 then squandering another chance early in overtime.

His third miss came sandwiched in between Bengals rookie Evan McPherson twice hitting the post with field goal attempts of his own.

Yet a brilliant pass from the superb Aaron Rodgers – who threw for two touchdowns to take him into outright fifth place in the all-time list for quarterbacks with 422 – to Randall Cobb teed up the game-winning moment.

Bengals QB Joe Burrow also threw for two touchdowns, having got Cincinnati started when he picked out Samaje Perine from close range in the first quarter. 

Burrow collected his second TD pass of the game in style, throwing 70 yards (the longest pass of his NFL career) for Ja'Marr Chase to cross.

Chase's score came after Rodgers had propelled the Packers ahead with passes to Davante Adams and AJ Dillon, and although Joe Mixon forced OT, Crosby held his nerve at the fourth time of asking.

Brady downs Dolphins

A week on from breaking Drew Brees' NFL passing record, Brady was at his imperious best again for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, throwing for five touchdowns and 411 yards in a 45-17 win over the Miami Dolphins.

His 72 touchdown passes against the Dolphins mean he is the joint-leader, alongside Dan Marino (72 v. the New York Jets) for TD passes against a single opponent in the Super Bowl era, while his 62-yard pass for Antonio Brown on Sunday was the longest he has thrown while at the Buccaneers. 

Pitts stars in London

The NFL returned to London on Sunday, with the Atlanta Falcons overcoming the New York Jets 27-20. Rookie receiver Kyle Pitts was the star of the show at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, taking nine catches for 119 yards and a touchdown, the first of his NFL career.

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  • Cadiz 1-4 Atletico Madrid: Second-half rout keeps the pressure on Los Blancos Cadiz 1-4 Atletico Madrid: Second-half rout keeps the pressure on Los Blancos

    Atletico Madrid kept the pressure on Real Madrid at the top of LaLiga with a routine 4-1 rout of struggling Cadiz.

    Diego Simeone's team lost to Milan in midweek but made it seven games unbeaten in LaLiga thanks to second-half goals from Thomas Lemar, Antoine Griezmann, Angel Correa and Matheus Cunha.

    Atleti's goals were rare moments of quality in a match previously lacking much invention, with Lemar heading home from close range in the 56th minute before Griezmann drilled in from Marcos Llorente's cross.

    A slick team move saw Lemar's replacement Correa net a third, with Cunha doubling his tally of league goals for the season after Jan Oblak's own goal gave Cadiz a consolation.

    Heading into Sunday's encounter aiming to end a 12-match winless streak against Atleti in LaLiga, Cadiz very nearly had the lead inside the opening minute, but Llorente denied Ruben Sobrino a tap-in.

    Atleti lost Jose Gimenez to injury and Alfonso Espino dragged wide prior to the break, with Cadiz starting the second half brightly.

    But it was Atleti who struck first – Lemar getting above his marker to nod in from Yannick Carrasco's inviting left-wing cross, his first headed goal in Europe's top-five leagues.

    Carrasco and Lemar combined again six minutes later, only for the latter's heavy touch giving Ledesma chance to smother the shot.

    Where Lemar's first touch let him down, Griezmann showed no such lack of quality, sweeping in from Llorente's cut-back after neat interplay down the right flank.

    Atleti's first league away win in four attempts was sealed in the 76th minute, Correa combining with fellow substitute Cunha to fire in.

    Anthony Lozano's deflected cross bizarrely looped in over the bemused Oblak, though Cunha raced through to restore the three-goal cushion straight from kick-off.

  • Man Utd no lost cause but Rangnick has work cut out as he inherits mishmash of philosophies Man Utd no lost cause but Rangnick has work cut out as he inherits mishmash of philosophies

    When Manchester United sacked Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and announced a caretaker manager would then be followed by an interim manager to be replaced by a third coach at the end of the season, confusion would have been written over the faces of many supporters.

    It seemed an unnecessarily convoluted process to just appointing someone better than Solskjaer, but perceptions are already starting to change.

    Michael Carrick had a pretty daunting introduction to life at the helm, with a crucial Champions League match followed by a trip to imperious Premier League leaders Chelsea.

    Yet, after what was presumably his second and final game in charge, he's seen United take an entirely respectable four points – Ralf Rangnick waits in the wings, and there were even hallmarks of the German on display as Carrick presided over Sunday's 1-1 draw at Stamford Bridge.

    There could be no mistaking what was going through Carrick's mind before the game. While he shrugged off Cristiano Ronaldo's benching as just simple squad selection, one of the main focuses on the Portugal star this season has been a lack of work rate off the ball.

    Given Rangnick's reputation and renown as the so-called 'Godfather of Gegenpressing', it can't have been a coincidence that Carrick opted to start a front three who would ordinarily be expected to get through a little more work when not in possession.

    Getting in Chelsea faces appeared to be the objective, and to United's credit, there certainly seemed to be a greater desire to press with intensity during the early stages of the match.

    While that may have been a sign of things to expect in future for United, it would also be fair to say they have much work to do as well – their urgency out of possession may have looked better, but it didn't seem to upset Chelsea massively.

    The Blues still created a raft of opportunities, two of which were crafted inside the first three minutes and 10 seconds, with Aaron Wan-Bissaka and Victor Lindelof unconvincing on both occasions.

    Those accounted for two of the four saves David de Gea was forced into before the break, the Spaniard also tipping a long-range Antonio Rudiger strike onto the crossbar.

    Chelsea reached half-time with no goals from 0.86 expected goals (xG), showing United (0.02 xG) were benefiting from a mixture of wasteful finishing and De Gea's excellence – so while Carrick's set-up technically worked to a certain extent, keeping the hosts out in the first half, the Red Devils offered nothing in attack themselves.

    Jadon Sancho and Marcus Rashford were sloppy, Bruno Fernandes – deployed as a 'false 9' – seemed to be playing by his own rules, going rogue as he often popped up in the full-back areas. Nobody was leading the line and therefore United had no out-ball.

    As a result, they managed just two touches in the Chelsea box and 21 passes in the final third – Thomas Tuchel's men had 16 and 81, respectively. United's mid-game tweet of "leading from the front" accompanied by a photo of Fernandes almost seemed sarcastic when Sancho was their only player whose average position was in the attacking half during the first 45.

    But early in the second half, the game changed in an instant. Fernandes leathered a bouncing ball up the pitch with the kind of kick that would be followed by a shout of "have it!" in your average Sunday League game.

    Jorginho's first touch was similarly Sunday League, the ball squirming off his foot and right to Sancho, who charged forward with only Rashford for company. A little swivel of the hips, suggesting he'd square the ball, deceived Edouard Mendy and the forward slotted home his first Premier League goal.

    Of course, it was hardly a goal indicative of some new-found philosophy – it was a Jorginho error. Yet, had United not been pressing in anticipation of a mistake, they wouldn't have scored.

    United suddenly started to look a threat on the counter-attack with Sancho and Rashford, who was far livelier than he had been in the first half – though Carrick might have wanted to see his team use their countering as a weapon a little more often.

    As it was, they soon fell back into their set-up from the first half for the most part, sitting back in their own area and inviting pressure. It brought their downfall, as Wan-Bissaka's rash penalty concession allowed Jorginho to atone for his error at the other end.

    United were fortunate, with Rudiger's late volley going high and wide when he looked destined to score, though they at least showed the kind of urgency and spirit that was lacking in recent embarrassments at the hands of Liverpool and Manchester City.

    Rangnick's main concerns will likely lie in the tactical mishmash he stands to inherit, and in some ways this game showcased it perfectly. One minute their priority was pressing, the next it wasn't. They began to set up for counter-attacking, then they weren't.

    Let's not forget, this is a squad assembled by several different coaches all with hugely varying ideas – from Louis van Gaal's possession-based approach and Jose Mourinho's pragmatism, to Solskjaer's counter-attacking (not that he stuck with that throughout his time in charge) and now Rangnick's 'Gegenpressing'.

    The draw at Chelsea certainly shows Rangnick will have a lot to work with. The off-the-ball performances of Fred and Scott McTominay would have been particularly encouraging. But it also highlighted he has a lot of work to do.

  • Haaland must leave Dortmund to reach next level – former Bayern Munich defender Andersson Haaland must leave Dortmund to reach next level – former Bayern Munich defender Andersson

    Erling Haaland must move on from Borussia Dortmund to take his game to the next level, according to former Bayern Munich defender Patrik Andersson.

    Haaland joined Dortmund from Red Bull Salzburg after the Bundesliga side met his €20 million release clause in December 2019.

    Since then, the 21-year-old has registered 50 goals in as many games in the German top flight, netting 1.12 times on average per 90 minutes.

    Indeed, since the Norway international's Dortmund debut on January 18, 2020, only Robert Lewandowski (98) has scored more than Haaland (71) among players from Europe's top five leagues across all competitions.

    But Andersson, who racked up over 200 Bundesliga appearances across spells with Bayern and Borussia Monchengladbach, believes Haaland must move on to further his game.

    Asked to compare Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Haaland, two-time Bundesliga winner Andersson told Stats Perform: "First of all, it was a question about Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Erling Halaand and talking about taking the next step to reach the next level. 

    "You should never compare such good players because both of them are unique in their own way. Haaland is just at the beginning of a great career and Zlatan is at the other end. 

    "But I think, what is football about? It's about winning, winning titles and he's had a really good development at Dortmund but personally, I think he needs to move to reach the next level. 

    "When you play, for instance, for Sweden or Norway, you're not in the position to maybe win the World Cup or a European Championship, so for him winning big titles and maybe by moving to another league he could reach this little level."

    Haaland has already reached a level above most of those at his age, given no other player has reached the 50-goal Bundesliga milestone in as few appearances or at such a young age (21 years, four months and six days).

    Andersson appreciates the quality of the former Molde striker but believes he must find a team and coach befitting of his own personality to kick-on and reach the summit of world football.

    "I think from his quality he is technically there, he's really strong, he's fast, he scores goals, he sets up players, but it's more about finding a really good team [and] surroundings," he continued.

    "For him as a young player also, [it is important] to have a coach who really relies on him, to give him confidence, pushing him, so not so much talking about leagues."

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