European football midweek review: Liverpool, Real witness shocks; Messi bags four for Barcelona

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There was midweek action in European football, as Europe’s top five leagues, except the French Ligue 1 witnessed another round of enthralling fixtures.

In England it was a case of no league action, with the domestic cup taking place, as clubs sought passage to the fourth round. One team that didn’t make progress was Liverpool, as they were stunned at Leicester on Tuesday. Despite dominating possession, the Reds were let down by their lack of impetus in the final third; then, in the second half, when their defence routinely failed to deal with a routine aerial ball, Leicester’s Shinji Okazaki pounced to give the Foxes the lead. The hosts sealed the win, 10 minutes from time, as Liverpool gave the ball away from a throw-in, an error which was eventually punished by Islam Slimani’s sublime finish from outside the box. That defeat means Jurgen Klopp’s men have now gone four games without a win.

In Spain, it was La Liga action, as week five served up a massive shock at the Bernabeu, in the form of Real Betis. Real Madrid welcomed Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo back in the side after they’d served their respective 5-game and one match suspensions. But the hosts would cut a frustrated figure in the first half, failing to fashion out any clear-cut chances, and even had their goalkeeper Keylor Navas to thank at the other end for not going behind. The second period wouldn’t go much better, as while Real started making inroads, they found the visiting goalie, Antonio Adan, once of Real Madrid, in top form, and two brilliant saves from him late on preserved his clean sheet. It looked all set for a draw at the Bernabeu, until Betis substitute Tony Sanabria popped up with a stoppage time winning goal for the Andalusians. That result ends Real Madrid’s remarkable 73-match run of scoring in every game.

It also puts them seven points behind Barcelona, as the Catalans hit Eibar for six. Paulinho was on the scoresheet again- two in two for him- but the star of the show was undoubtedly Lionel Messi, who scored four times, and recorded his 39th hatrick for the club, as well as 300 goals at the Nou Camp.

Elsewhere, Chelsea and Manchester United both recorded big wins in the League Cup, where Manchester City and Arsenal had to sweat it and Everton ended their 443-minute goal drought, thanks to a double from Dominic Calvert-Lewin.

In the Serie A, Inter’s 100% start to the season came to an end with a draw at Bologna, while Mario Mandzukic popped with the only goal in Juventus’ win over Fiorentina, and Napoli saw off Lazio 4-1 to record five wins in their first five league games for the first time in almost 20 years.

In La Liga, Atletico Madrid secured a 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao, thanks to in no small part to a Jan Oblak penalty save, while Simone Zaza scored a hatrick for Valencia in their win against Malaga, and Jesus Navas scored his first goal since his return to Sevilla, as they fought off Las Palmas.

In the Bundesliga, Borussia Dortmund returned to the top, after a 3-0 win at Hamburg, which also saw them become the third team to reach 300 top flight goals. James Rodriguez bagged a goal and created another in his first start for Bayern Munich, in their 3-0 victory away to Schalke, while Koln’s miserable start to the season continues, their home loss to Frankfurt means they still have zero points to their name.

Results:

English League Cup: Leicester 2-0 Liverpool; Manchester United 4-1 Burton; Tottenham 1-0 Barnsley; Chelsea 5-1 Nottingham Forest; West Ham 3-0 Bolton; Bristol City 2-0 Stoke; Bournemouth 1-0 Brighton; Aston Villa 0-2 Middlesbrough; Brentford 1-3 Norwich; Arsenal 1-0 Doncaster; Reading 0-2 Swansea; Everton 3-0 Sunderland; Wolves 1-0 Bristol Rovers; Crystal Palace 1-0 Huddersfield; West Brom 1-2 Man City; Leeds 2-2 Burnley (Leeds win 5-3 on penalties)

La Liga: Real Madrid 0-1 Real Betis; Barcelona 6-1 Eibar; Athletic Bilbao 1-2 Atletico Madrid; Valencia 5-0 Malaga; Sevilla 1-0 Las Palmas; Leganes 0-0 Girona; Deportivo 1-0 Alaves

Serie A: Benevento 0-4 Roma; Atalanta 5-1 Crotone; Bologna 1-1 Inter; Milan 2-0 SPAL; Juventus 1-0 Fiorentina; Lazio 1-4 Napoli; Udinese 2-3 Torino; Cagliari 0-0 Sassuolo; Hellas Verona 0-0 Sampdoria; Genoa 1-1 Chievo Verona

Bundesliga: Koln 0-1 Frankfurt; Hamburg 0-3 Dortmund; Schalke 0-3 Bayern Munich; Wolfsburg 1-1 Werder Bremen; Mainz 2-3 Hoffenheim; Hertha BSC 2-1 Leverkusen; Freiburg 1-1 Hannover; Borussia Monchengladbach 2-0 Stuttgart; Augsburg 1-0 RB Leipzig

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About Olakunle Ajao 180 Articles
Olakunle Ajao is a Mass Communication student at the University of Lagos. Commonly known as 'The Major' by friends and fiends alike, he has quite the obsession with football, watching, reading, writing and playing- although he's not very good at that last part.

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