European soccer news: Tottenham impress over Everton, Salah makes history

SATURDAY REVIEW

‘Tis the season to all as we head into the final weekend before Christmas but not before we get some of the drama and action all across Europe. On Saturday, Tottenham was able to hang on to snatch all three points in a 2-1 win over Everton, Arsenal and Liverpool fought in a top-of-the-table clash but ultimately both left Anfield with a point following a 1-1 draw and Manchester United‘s woes continue after a 2-0 loss to West Ham.

In Spain, a 10-man Atletico Madrid was able to head into Christmas in third place after a 1-0 win over Sevilla, and in Italy, Roma got a little early Christmas gift following a 2-0 win over Napoli.

Here’s a look back at everything that happened on Saturday.

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The Saturday lead: Tottenham earn hard-fought win over Everton

Spurs fans deserve a little extra turkey and/or champagne over the holidays, such has been the whiplash-inducing swings in fortune since manager Ange Postecoglou took over. A 10-game unbeaten run to open the Premier League season had supporters dreaming of a title race, only for a five-game winless skid — and some significant injuries to the likes of James Maddison — to dash those hopes. But a three-game win streak, including Saturday’s stressful 2-1 win over Everton, has Postecoglou & Co. pointing in a much better direction.

Saturday’s game saw the hosts surge out to a 2-0 win inside 18 minutes, with Richarlison coolly tapping in from Brennan Johnson‘s cross to open the scoring and Son Heung-Min converting a rebound after Jordan Pickford could only parry a rasping Dejan Kulusevski shot into his path. Yet Everton fought back gamely, never giving Spurs a moment’s peace in possession. They thought they’d pulled one back when André Gomes stole the ball from Emerson Royal and played Dominic Calvert-Lewin in for a smart finish, only for VAR to judge Gomes had fouled Royal to begin the play.

Everton were unbowed, eventually brute-forcing a goal when Gomes thumped a loose ball through the crowd and came close several times in the final 10 minutes. Spurs held on for the victory and are continuing to confound those who expect the wheels to come off any day now. With Postecoglou in charge, this team just doesn’t quit. — James Tyler


Saturday talking points around the leagues

Liverpool’s Salah makes history in draw against Arsenal

Mohamed Salah moved into the top 10 of the Premier League’s all-time goalscoring charts — and dislodged former Liverpool striker Michael Owen — by scoring his 151st goal in the competition with the equaliser in Saturday’s 1-1 draw against Arsenal at Anfield.

Salah, who will link up with Egypt‘s squad at the Africa Cup of Nations after the league clash with Newcastle on New Year’s Day, took his tally for this season to 12 goals in 18 games with his first-half strike following Gabriel‘s fourth-minute opener for the Gunners.

The former Chelsea striker has become a Liverpool legend since arriving at the club from Roma in 2017, winning every major honour except for the Europa League with Jurgen Klopp’s team.

And his goal against Arsenal means he is now within range of overhauling Robbie Fowler (163 goals) to become Liverpool’s most prolific goalscorer during the Premier League era.

With Liverpool rejecting a £150 million offer from Saudi Arabian club Al Ittihad for Salah during the summer, the prospect of the 31-year-old leaving for the Saudi Pro League at the end of this season, when he enters the final 12 months of his contract, remains a real possibility.

So time may be against Salah to climb into the top five on the goalscorers’ list and replace former Manchester City striker Sergio Agüero (184) as the highest-scoring non-English forward on the list.

But with Fowler now just 12 goals ahead of Salah, the Egyptian could move ahead of the player nicknamed “God” by the Liverpool fans before the end of this season. — Mark Ogden

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Ogden: Man City the winners of Liverpool’s draw with Arsenal

Mark Ogden says Manchester City will be delighted with their title rivals tripping each other up at Anfield.

Manchester United continue their disappointing season with loss to West Ham

It was the inevitability of this latest Manchester United defeat that is so damning for manager Erik ten Hag. After all, did anyone expect anything else from a team that haven’t scored for four games in a row across all competitions? (It’s the first time this has happened since November 1992.)

For 72 minutes against West Ham, United had almost two-thirds of the possession and their best five attacking players had been on the field. But they created embarrassingly little. United hung on for a 0-0 draw at Liverpool last weekend, but could not do so again at the London Stadium.

Jarrod Bowen converted the opener from Lucas Paquetá‘s superbly floated pass, before Mohammed Kudus‘ low drive secured a 2-0 win that sends West Ham above United and, temporarily at least, up to sixth in the Premier League table.

Read more from James Olley here.

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Burley brands Man United ‘absolutely freaking abysmal’

Craig Burley doesn’t hold back in his assessment of Man United after their 2-0 defeat to West Ham in the Premier League.

Mourinho and Roma spoil Napoli’s Christmas

It was an absolute nightmare of a December 23 for Napoli and manager Walter Mazzarri. As well as losing away in the capital, the reigning Scudetto champions saw Roma overtake them in the table in sixth place, three points behind Bologna in fourth place. Napoli themselves are now in seventh place and it reflects on their bad first half of the season.

They finished the game with eight men after the sending-offs of Matteo Politano (for kicking Nicola Zalewski) after an hour and Victor Osimhen (for dissent) in the 86th minute, also including the injury of Natan but even at 11 vs 11 they were second-best.

They already have six defeats in 17 games so far this season and changing managers and getting rid of Rudi Garcia to replace him with Mazzarri was probably the wrong call from owner Aurelio De Laurentiis.

Since he took over, old-school Mazzarri has only three wins (against Atalanta, Cagliari and Braga) in eight games in all competitions and he will have a miserable Christmas thanks to José Mourinho and his Roma side.

Even without a still-injured Paulo Dybala, it was a good performance from this Roma side and Mou’s coaching was perfect. Lorenzo Pellegrini scored the first goal with a beautiful volley, only a few minutes after coming on before Romelu Lukaku finished the job deep in added time. 2023 has been a very eventful year for Mourinho and Roma but at least Christmas will happy and joyful for them! — Julien Laurens

Atleti do enough to earn win over Sevilla

Nothing seems to come easily for Diego Simeone and Atletico these days. With two defeats and a draw in their last five games, consistency has been hard to come by and any kind of title aspirations have been sensibly recalibrated to “Champions League or bust.” But Saturday’s rescheduled clash with Sevilla — the last game in LaLiga before Christmas — saw them sucker-punch their way into the lead and then hang on for all three points.

Substitute Marcos Llorente was the hero on Saturday, arguably showing why he should have started the game by scoring within a minute of the second-half kickoff and then coming close to doubling the lead not long after. The very definition of “impact sub,” Llorente latched onto a beautiful angled ball over the defense and fired a low cross into the box for Álvaro Morata, only for the defender to ping it back into Llorente’s path for a laughably easy finish.

Atleti were made to panic for the final 20 minutes after VAR decided Caglar Söyüncü‘s rather brusque foul on Lucas Ocampos was worth a red card, barely five minutes after the former Leicester City defender had taken the field. Yet the hard-earned three points with 10 men puts them above Barcelona on goal difference, and possession of third place at Christmas. Simeone won’t let his side get too merry though; up next are high-flying Girona and a much sterner challenge. — Tyler

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Marcos Llorente slots in the goal for Atletico Madrid

Marcos Llorente’s pass is deflected but comes back to him and he finishes with a goal to put Atletico Madrid in front.


Saturday’s Americans Abroad: McKennie sets up Juventus win

While the goal was scored by Dusan Vlahovic, Juve’s game-winner on Saturday in a 2-1 victory at Frosinone was very much made in America.

With less than 10 minutes remaining in a frustrating game, USMNT star Tim Weah dribbled infield from the right wing and backheeled for teammate Weston McKennie, who had drifted wide into the space left behind. Nobody came out to meet the midfielder, giving McKennie plenty of time to curl a cross into the box where Vlahovic was on hand to forcefully head home.

Neat interplay, inch-perfect cross, excellent finish, and now, Juve head into Christmas Day with a seven-point lead over third-place Milan and just four points shy of league-leading Inter after 17 games. It’s just what Juventus and USMNT fans wanted for Christmas. — Tyler


News of the day

  • Erik ten Hag has insisted Manchester United “cannot feel sorry for ourselves” after slumping to a 2-0 defeat at West Ham on Saturday. Second-half goals from Jarrod Bowen and Mohammed Kudus consigned United to their worst start to a season since 1930, losing 13 matches across all competitions at this stage of a campaign for only the second time in their history.

  • Napoli’s star forward Victor Osimhen signed a contract extension on Saturday, extending his deal with the Serie A champions until 2026. Club president Aurelio De Laurentiis posted pictures of him and Osimhen smiling and signing paperwork and shaking hands, along with the word “done.

  • Liverpool manager Jürgen Klopp has criticised VAR official David Coote after his side’s 1-1 draw against Arsenal at Anfield saying that even a “guy in an office” should have awarded a penalty following a Martin Odegaard handball during the first-half.

And finally, on Saturday …

Luton Town hosted high-powered Newcastle United on Saturday and walked away deserved 1-0 winners, with Andros Townsend popping up at the right time to nod home a set piece after Ross Barkley‘s near-post flick reached the former Spurs and Crystal Palace forward at the far post. But the goal wasn’t the story, as it often is: instead, Townsend’s celebration is the headline as he brought club captain Tom Lockyer‘s shirt out to lift it aloft for the delirious home crowd.

Lockyer collapsed during Luton’s game with Bournemouth on Dec. 17, suffering atrial fibrillation and requiring treatment at hospital. The game was abandoned and Lockyer eventually received a medical all-clear, but his future remains unclear as it’s his second such incident in 2023.

Neat to see Townsend and the Luton faithful choosing to focus on their injured captain. — Tyler


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