Sports

Weekend roundup: End of Liverpool’s winning run, Barcelona claim top spot

The week after the international break saw some significant changes in terms of league standings for some of the biggest names. Off the field, the week saw Lionel Messi being presented with the Golden Shoe for the sixth time, extending his record. Meanwhile, La Liga has postponed El Clasico between Barcelona and Real Madrid to later this month due to the ongoing Catalan protests. Both clubs have proposed that the rescheduled fixture take place on December 18.

Here are the top five talking points from European football this weekend:

Liverpool winning run comes to an end

Liverpool’s unbeaten winning run in the Premier League came to an end thanks to Manchester United with a 1-1 draw at Old Trafford. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s side was, in fact, headed for a win before Adam Lallana scored his first goal in over two years just five minutes from full time, putting an end to the Red’s 17-game winning streak.

Although Liverpool dropped points for the first time this season, Jurgen Klopp’s side is still six points clear off Manchester City after nine games. Meanwhile, United, who can be given credit for avoiding a defeat against what many would say is the strongest side in the league thanks to a Marcus Rashford goal in the first half,  are only two points clear of the relegation zone.

VAR controversy returns

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Liverpool manager Juergen Klopp gesture. (Source: Reuters)

The top Premier League clash this weekend saw another video assistant referee (VAR) controversy after Liverpool were not awarded a free-kick for a foul on Divock Origi in the build-up to United’s first-half goal.

Jurgen Klopp did not shy away from criticising the new technology, saying it does not make ‘too much sense.’ “This is a problem we have to discuss. I was 100% sure VAR would overrule (United’s goal). The referee let the game run because he has VAR, but the VAR says then it was not clear. This makes not too much sense. It is a clear VAR issue in how we deal with it in the moment. I’m not angry or whatever. I am sure (referee) Martin Atkinson would have whistled if there was no VAR but he let it go.”

Even Watford coach Quique Sanchez Flores said he was losing faith in VAR after two decisive decisions went against his side in Saturday’s 1-1 draw at Tottenham Hotspur, leaving them without a win so far this season. To make things confusing, the screens at first said ‘No Goal,’ before correcting itself to show the goal had been awarded.

Barcelona go top, Madrid slip

Barcelona’s Luis Suarez celebrates scoring their third goal with Lionel Messi. (Source: Reuters)

Barcelona took the lead in the league with 19 points after a 3-0 win over Eibar as the defending champions’ star forwards Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez and Antoine Griezmann got on the scoresheet. This is the first time that the Ernesto Valverde’s side is leading the table after nine games this season.

Meanwhile, arch rivals Real Madrid slipped to second spot after a 1-0 loss at Real Mallorca, their first league defeat this season. Zinedine Zidane’s side were without several big names including Luka Modric, Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Eden Hazard, but the French manager said that wasn’t an excuse.

“These players are injured, and we have others who are good too. But they must show that every time they play, that they have the level to play for Madrid. Today we didn’t,” he said. “We must be more consistent if we are to do anything good this year, have more life in our play. Today we didn’t have that.”

Atletico was held by Valencia to a 1-1 draw at home.

Ronaldo Vieira racially abused

Is it possible to have a weekend of Serie A football without racist chants and abuse by fans? Seems unlikely presently. On Sunday, Sampdoria’s midfielder Ronaldo Vieira was subjected to racist abuse from Roma fans during a 0-0 draw in Serie A. Roma later issued an apology on behalf of their supporters.

So far, Romelu Lukaku, Franck Kessie, Dalbert Henrique and Miralem Pjanic have been targeted with racist chants in this season of Serie A.

Dortmund beat Bundesliga leaders Gladbach, Bayern held by Augsburg

Borussia Dortmund beat top-of-the-table Borussia Moenchengladbach 1-0 to jump to fourth in the Bundesliga, and levelled with Bayern Munich who dropped points in a 2-2 draw at Augsburg.

The top of the Bundesliga grew even more congested with the top nine teams separated by just two points. Of the eight who have played so far this weekend, only Eintracht Frankfurt and Dortmund have won. Gladbach remained top, ahead of Wolfsburg, who drew 1-1 at RB Leipzig, on goal difference. Both have 16 points from eight games.

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