By Temisan Amoye
Spanish La Liga
Athletic Bilbao 1- 1 Barcelona
Barca continued life without Lionel Messi in Matchday 2 of the 2021-22 season with a tricky trip to Athletic Bilbao.
Both teams were forced to share the spoils in a keenly contested affair. Defender Inigo Martinez opened the scoring in the 50th minute, heading in from a Munian corner. But new signing Memphis Depay stepped up to pull the Catalans level in the 75th minute.
The Dutch international rifled a left-footed shot into the top corner, beating keeper Agirrezabala at his near post.
Defender Eric Garcia who had a game to forget was sent off in the third minute of extra-time. 11th-place Bilbao will travel away to Celta Vigo, while 4th-place Barcelona host Getafe at the Nou Camp.
Levante 3-3 Real Madrid
Carlo Ancelotti’s second spell at Madrid suffered a stumble as Los Blancos had to fight from behind twice to rescue a 3-3 draw against Levante.
Gareth Bale who appears to have a new lease of life, opened the scoring in the 5th minute, slotting past Fernandez in the Levante goal from a Benzema pass. Levante came out guns blazing in the second half, scoring an immediate equalizer in the 46th minute to make the score 1-1.
Levante went ahead in the 57th-minute, courtesy of a Jose Campana wonder volley, with Courtois helpless in the Madrid goal. Campana ended up with a booking due to his “excessive celebration” (who can blame him). Brazilian Vinicius Jnr replaced Hazard in the 59th minute, and the super-sub didn’t take long to get his name on the scoresheet. The 21-year old forward raced through on goal, thanks to a Casemiro throughpass finishing beyond Fernandez to pull Madrid level.
Pier went on to restore Levante’s lead in the 79th minute, taking advantage of Madrid’s inability to deal with a second ball from a corner, scoring from very close range.
Levante could have put the game beyond Madrid, but a Cantero effort could only bounce off the post. Vinicius completed the comeback in the 85th minute, Benzema and the Brazilian combining again to draw Madrid level. With the Brazilian scoring from a tight angle to put the scoreline 3-3.
Atletico Madrid 1-0 Elche
La Liga Champions, Atletico Madrid made it two wins in two, after a narrow victory over Elche.
A first-half goal from Angel Correa was enough to seal an ugly win for Atleti. The victory sees Atletico return to the top of the La Liga, with key rivals Barcelona and Real Madrid dropping points over the weekend.
Atletico host Villarreal at the Wanda Metropolitano, while Elche will be hosting Sevilla on Matchday 3 of the 2021-22 La Liga season.
Italian Serie A
Inter Milan 4-0 Genoa
Italian champions Inter Milan put to bed any worries about mounting a strong title defence, with an impressive 4-0 win over Genoa on the opening day of the Serie A season
There have been concerns about the Italian giants, with the sale of last season’s key players Achraf Hakimi and Romelu Lukaku to PSG and Chelsea respectively. Inter showed no signs of being affected by the departures, defender Milan Skriniar gave the Nerazzurri the lead in the 6th minute. Summer Signing Hakan Calhanoglu who made the cross-city move from Milan doubled the lead in the 14th minute.
Genoa had no response to Milan’s domination and were three goals down in the 74th minute, Arturo Vidal scoring from close range, after receiving a sumptuous backheel from Nicola Barella.
Euro 2020 Dutch star, Denzel Dumfries was subbed on to rapturous applause from the Inter faithful, coming on to make his Inter debut after signing from PSV Eindhoven.
Vidal turned provider in the 87th minute, setting up Edin Dzeko to put Inter 4-0 up. With the Bosnian striker who signed from Roma this summer, scoring on his debut.
Udinese 2-2 Juventus
It was a disappointing opening fixture for Juventus, as the Old Lady let a two-goal lead slip, and having a last-gasp winner cancelled by VAR
Paolo Dybala gave Juventus an early lead in the 3rd minute, scoring from close range with a precise finish. Cuadrado doubled the lead to 2-0 in the 23rd minute.
The first half ended with Juventus dominating the scoreline and play on the pitch. Udinese had other ideas, however. Szczesny fumbled a save and in the process of recovering the ball fouled Arslan, with the ref awarding a penalty to Udinese. Former Juve midfielder stepped up and pulled one back for Udinese.
Szczesny was at it again, dilly-dallying on a back pass, while trying to escape from pressing Udinese forwards, unfortunately, his pass was blocked by Gerard Deulofeu, who latched the ball into an empty net to draw Udinese level with the Old Lady.
Substitute Ronaldo thought he had won it for Juventus in the 94th minute, but his joy was cut short, as VAR his effort offside. The Portuguese forward’s protest earned him a booking for dissent.
Roma 3-1 Fiorentina
Jose Mourinho made a winning return to the Serie A, 11 years after his departure when Roma opened Serie A with a 3-1 win against Fiorentina.
New signing Tammy Abraham had a memorable debut at the Stadio Olimpico, as he assisted two goals and hit the upright on the night.
The game was turned on its head in the 17th minute, with the sending off of Fiorentina goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski for a foul on Tammy Abraham outside the 18-yard box.
Roma took advantage of the sending off, Abraham released Mkhitaryan on goal with a through-ball, which the Armenian finished off in the bottom right corner. Fiorentina was restored to parity with the sending off of Roma midfielder, Nicollo Zaniolo for a second bookable offence. In-demand defender Nikola Milenkovic pulled La Viola level, scoring from a cross with a left-footed strike in the 59th minute.
French midfielder, Jordan Veretout’s goal in the 63rd minute gave the I Giallorossi the lead on the night, courtesy of another Abraham assist. Fiorentina failed to take advantage of their extra-man and they were punished in the 78th minute.
Eldor Shomurodov shrugged off a challenge and released Veretout clean on goal, who finished beautifully to put Roma 3-1 up. Despite Fiorentina’s late push for a goal, Roma held firm to record an opening day victory.
Bayern Munich 3-2 Koln
Bayern recovered from opening day blues to win a thrilling encounter with Koln in matchday 2 of the Bundesliga.
Following a goalless first-half, the game burst into life with a flurry of five second-half goals. German teen sensation Jamal Musiala, came off to set up Robert Lewandowski in the 50th minute. Musiala doubled his assist tally when he set up Gnabry to put the Bavarians two goals up.
But two quick goals for Koln brought Bayern back to reality, a goal from Anthony Modeste in the 6oth minute, was followed by a Mark Uth equalizer in the 62nd minute. But Gnabry wasn’t done, the German forward smashed in a 20-yard strike to give Bayern a valuable lead and winner for the night.
RB Leipzig vs Stuttgart
RB Leipzig recovered from an opening day defeat to Mainz, to inflict a heavy 4-0 defeat on Stuttgart.
Hungarian midfielder Dominik Szoboszlai opened the scoring in the 37th minute, with a fine strike to the bottom left corner. Swedish attacker Emil Forsberg doubled the lead in the 45th minute, at the start of the second half.
Szoboszlai scored his second of the night, a free-kick to put Leipzig 3-0 up. The technically-gifted Hungarian missed the Euro 2020 Championships, and his performance on the night gave a hint on what could have been for the Hungarians.
French Ligue 1
Brest 2-4 PSG
A Messi-less PSG continued their perfect start to the Ligue 1 season, winning all three games played.
Spanish midfielder, Ander Herrera gave the Parisians the lead in the 23rd minute, star forward Kylian Mbappe doubled the lead in the 36th minute, but Honorat pulled one for Brest in the 42nd minute, with both teams going into the break at 2-1.
Gana Gueye increased the lead in the 73rd minute, powering a strong shot into the top-left corner of the Brest goal to put PSG 3-1 up. Brest continued to press for a goal and were rewarded in the 85th minute when Benin forward Steve Mounie controlled a cross with his chest and rifled past, Keylor Navas, in the PSG goal to reduce the deficit.
A frantic end seemed inevitable, but Angel Di Maria was on hand to score the fourth and put the tie 4-2 beyond Brest. An ensuing counter-attack saw Hakimi float a pass to Di Maria who finished perfectly to put the game beyond the reach of Brest.
Nice vs Marseille (Abandoned)
It seemed like a normal match, with Nice leading 1-0 against Marseille, until a 75th-minute incident caused the game to be abandoned.
Marseille Maestro Dmitri Payet was struck by a bottle from the Nice fans while going for a corner kick, and he threw it back into the stands. The action enraged the home fans, with some invading the pitch and melee ensuing between players, fans, staff and stewards.
The game was abandoned after Marseille refused to return to the pitch.