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The international break is over and club football came roaring back this weekend. If you had checked the box scores, you’d think there were few surprises as the weekend’s action got underway, but those full-time figures tell only half the story.
We saw Manchester United defeat Sheffield United 2-1 on an emotional day following the passing of club legend Sir Bobby Charlton, while Manchester City achieved an important 2-1 win against Brighton & Hove Albion to stay firm in the race for the Premier League title. In Germany, Serhou Guirassy continues to break all the records at Stuttgart, and Bayern Munich charged to retain their Bundesliga title following their 3-1 win over Mainz.
In France, Kylian Mbappé scored again as PSG remain in the Ligue 1 race. In Spain, Real Madrid dropped points in a 1-1 draw against Sevilla to leave the LaLiga title race wide open. And finally, we saw some Women’s Super League action as Manchester City earned an important 1-0 win at Leicester City.
Sunday added some more big twists and turns, including a teenage academy product saving Barcelona (again), a match-up between AC Milan and Juventus with four American starters and more.
Here is your look back at all the fun from this weekend.
– Stream on ESPN+: LaLiga, Bundesliga, more (U.S.)
The Sunday lead: 17-year-old Guiu saves Barca in his debut
Struggling to break down your opponent? Missing your star striker and a handful of other regular starters through injury? No problem, just turn to the academy again.
That’s exactly what Barcelona did Sunday against Athletic Bilbao, throwing 17-year-old forward Marc Guiu on for his debut in the second half. Within about 30 seconds, he had scored the winning goal, beating goalkeeper Unai Simón after being fed by João Félix to give Barça a 1-0 victory.
The win moved the Blaugrana within one point of joint leaders Real Madrid and Girona. It sets up next weekend’s Clásico quite nicely. (Stream it live: Barcelona vs. Real Madrid, Oct. 28, 10 a.m. ET on ESPN+.)
With starters Robert Lewandowski, Frenkie de Jong, Pedri, Jules Koundé and Raphinha all watching from the stands with knocks, Barça had struggled to break down an impressive Athletic side managed by their former coach Ernesto Valverde. Felix had come close, hitting the bar, and Simon also produced a good save from Fermín López, another youngster who has emerged from nowhere this season for Barça.
Athletic were more than their match at the Olympic Stadium, though. Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-André ter Stegen was in inspired form to twice keep out Iñaki Williams, whose brother, Nico, was also causing problems on the left flank.
And so, with just over 10 minutes to play and having already brought on 16-year-old Lamine Yamal to play alongside fellow academy graduates 20-year-old López, 20-year-old Alejandro Balde and 19-year-old Gavi, manager Xavi Hernandez’s final role of the dice was Spain U-17 international Guiu. It could not have gone any better. Within seconds, he latched onto Felix’s pass to score a goal he will never forget. Barça can always rely on La Masia.
It leaves the top of LaLiga looking very tasty after 10 matches. Madrid and Girona — who beat Almeria 5-2 earlier Sunday — have 25 points, Barça 24 and then come Atletico Madrid with 22 and a game in hand. — Sam Marsden
Sunday talking points around the leagues
Man United hand Toffees humiliation in WSL
With little time to dwell on their midweek loss to PSG that knocked them out of the Champions League before the group stages, Manchester United showed some of their better football to claim a hearty 5-0 win against a struggling Everton team.
The visitors being the team with more bite going forward, Melvine Malard’s header was the highlight of the first half for United but it wasn’t until Nikita Parris doubled the advantage just before the hour that the game fully titled towards the Red Devils. It took just 16 minutes for United to score their last three with Rachel Williams’ brace the body blows to beat the Toffees into submission before Parris added the last in stoppage time.
For United, who were without enigmatic attacking duo Geyse and Leah Galton, the added depth told as new and different combinations worked on the pitch to cut through the hosts. Williams scoring off of the bench is all but part of the script for United but from Irene Guerrero marking her debut with an assist to Malard’s habit of finding the back of the net, United are offering more virtuosity this season.
For Everton, whose defence took a sizable hit over the summer with the departures of Rikke Sevecke and Gabby George, there was a growing capitulation at the back as the goals started to rain in. The team in blue reverting to getting pushed around on the pitch, unable to dictate the tempo or come close to building on their derby win over Liverpool last time out. — Sophie Lawson
Americans Abroad: Pulisic gets the hook as Milan fall to Juventus
If Saturday wasn’t anything to write home about for U.S. men’s national team players in Europe, Sunday was only a bit better. Four Americans started as AC Milan hosted Juventus, making it a high-profile fixture for USMNT fans, but it was a slog.
After a red card to AC Milan’s Malick Thiaw at San Siro, a visibly frustrated Christian Pulisic was sacrificed, subbed off in the 42nd minute so centerback Pierre Kalulu could come on and try to keep the score at 0-0. For Pulisic, it was certainly not the match he was hoping to have. Fellow forwards Rafael Leão on the opposite wing and Olivier Giroud up top had just been far more dangerous on the day, so it’s easy to see why manager Stefano Pioli opted to remove the American from the attacking line.
On the other side of that fixture, Weston McKennie and Timothy Weah didn’t have standpoint performances either, despite Juventus having the man advantage for most of the match, eventually winning 1-0. Weah was technically awarded the assist for passing the ball to Manuel Locatelli before his goal, but the effort came down to Locatelli’s long-range strike that took a wicked deflection. McKennie and Weah did combine for a nice one-two in the 67th minute, but McKennie put his shot wildly off-target.
Weah came off in the 84th minute after walking away gingerly from a collision. In the first half, USMNT teammate and Milan midfielder Yunus Musah delivered a crunching tackle to Weah that sent him into the advertising boards.
With the win, Juventus closed the gap to second-place AC Milan to one point and inched within two points of first-place Inter Milan.
Elsewhere in Europe on Sunday, striker Folarin Balogun played 89 minutes for AS Monaco and mustered up just one shot in a 2-1 win over Metz. — Caitlin Murray
News of the day
The saga around who will own Manchester United continues, and a star from the world of golf wants a piece of the action. Four-time major-winning golfer Rory McIlroy, fresh off his recent investment in the Alpine Formula One team, has expressed interest in a bit of Man United.
And finally, on Sunday …
Jose Mourinho continues to become the gift that keeps on giving. The Roma manager was sent off towards the end of his team’s 1-0 win against Monza on Sunday for making a crying gesture.
“I don’t know why I got the red card, I only made a gesture to the bench, not a single word,” Mourinho said post-match. “The Monza bench put a lot of pressure on the referee; they shouldn’t have behaved like that.”
With this red card, it means he will not be on the touchline for their important clash against Serie A leaders Inter next Sunday. Never change, Jose. — Roberto Rojas
Jose Mourinho did this to the opposition bench shortly after Roma scored a stoppage time goal to take the lead against Monza.
He received a red card and will miss Roma’s next Serie A match against Inter Milan.
Never change, Jose 😆 pic.twitter.com/wEYsKP7zUU
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 22, 2023
Missed the action on Saturday? Keep reading for all the talking points.
The Saturday lead: Onana, Dalot deliver a much-needed Man United win on emotional day following Sir Bobby Charlton’s death
For the first time in his short Manchester United career, André Onana has won back-to-back Premier League games and he played his part in the victory over Sheffield United on Saturday. It’s been a difficult start to life at Old Trafford for the Cameroon goalkeeper but this was the type of performance that should give him confidence he’ll be able to get through this sticky spell.
United were poor in the first 25 minutes at Bramall Lane and Onana was needed to make low saves from Oli McBurnie and Cameron Archer. It didn’t require anything spectacular but Erik ten Hag will settle for Onana doing the simple things well after a number of costly mistakes since his summer move from Inter Milan.
United are still struggling to score goals and all four of their Premier League wins so far this season have come with a one-goal margin but if Ten Hag can get his team to defend better, then they will start climbing the table. It begins with the goalkeeper and Ten Hag will have enjoyed a post-match news conference during which he wasn’t forced to defend Onana. He still has work to do to win over some United fans but a quiet night and a win at Sheffield United is a good place to start. — Rob Dawson
Saturday talking points around the leagues
Manchester City bounce back from back-to-back defeats
Manchester City don’t need any luck or help to win matches and they got it anyway as they avoided losing three Premier League games in a row for the first time since 2016. Under Roberto De Zerbi, Brighton are set up to win this type of game but they never gave themselves a chance to put City under pressure and were behind at the Etihad Stadium after just seven minutes when Julián Álvarez scuffed a shot which looped in over Jason Steele.
If that was their slice of luck, the help came from Brighton’s Carlos Baleba. Not long after Alvarez’s opener, the Brighton midfielder played a blind pass which Erling Haaland and, four touches later, the ball was in the net. It was the Norwegian’s first City goal for nearly a month but it wasn’t the finish — rifled into the corner from outside the penalty area — of a man out of form.
Rodri back from suspension, John Stones fit enough to make his first start of the season and Haaland back scoring goals; it was a good afternoon for Pep Guardiola, only spoiled slightly by a late red card for Manuel Akanji. It was, however, a day to forget for James Milner. The 37-year-old was picked at right-back and tasked with stopping 21-year-old Jérémy Doku but only lasted 45 minutes which consisted of watching Doku set up Alvarez and then twice ploughing into the Belgium winger.
After back-to-back defeats to Wolves and Arsenal, Brighton at home felt like a dangerous game — particularly because they’ve beaten Newcastle and Manchester United and drawn with Liverpool already this season — but it was navigated by City with minimal fuss and despite their small blip, they’re only two points worse off than they were at this stage last year. — Dawson
Ramos stars but can’t score dream winner against Madrid
In the 94th minute, with Sevilla and Real Madrid level at 1-1, Sergio Ramos’ moment arrived. Sevilla had a free kick on the edge of the Real Madrid box. There was only ever going to be one target. Suso floated the ball in, Ramos rose to meet it … and headed over the bar.
Ramos was always going to make headlines when Sevilla hosted Madrid at the Sanchez Pizjuan; it was just a question of how. Would he score against his former club? How about an own goal? Or a characteristic red card? Instead, it was more straightforward than that: Ramos was excellent, arguably the best player on the pitch. With all the noise around Ramos, it’s easy to forget the obvious: this is an exceptional defender, even at 37.
The highlight of his performance against Madrid came in the 34th minute, blocking what looked like a certain goal with an instinctive, outstretched leg. He went close to scoring in the 80th minute too, with a header well saved by goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga.
Otherwise, Ramos was efficient and effortless. He had 78 touches, as many as any Sevilla player. He completed 61 of 65 passes, with seven recoveries and five clearances. There were moments of controversy too: a first-half face-off with Antonio Rüdiger in which he appeared to pinch the German’s cheeks, and an 86th-minute bust-up involving multiple players, Ramos at the centre of it.
The 1-1 scoreline wasn’t too much of a disappointment for LaLiga leaders Real Madrid — although they lamented referee icardo de Burgos Bengoetxea’s decision to rule out two early goals — and it was a positive start for Ramos and Sevilla, under new coach Diego Alonso. — Alex Kirkland
Kane shines as Bayern earn crucial win over Mainz
After Leverkusen, Stuttgart and Dortmund had won their respective games, Bayern Munich had to follow suit as the record champions took on Mainz in the Bundesliga’s Saturday evening game. The Moroccan right-back Noussair Mazraoui, who had attracted attention by posting anti-Israel sentiments on social media recently, was left out of the squad because of a muscle injury.
Meanwhile, Israeli goalkeeper Daniel Peretz was once again the backup for Sven Ulreich, who might have made his last start in the Bundesliga for the time being, with Manuel Neuer being expected to return to action next weekend.
As for the game at Mainz’s Mewa Arena itself, the home team neutralised Bayern’s build-up with their three-man high press in the early stages. Unluckily for the hosts, they did not take advantage of forced turnovers near Bayern’s penalty area, and it seemed that the goals scored by Kingsley Coman and Harry Kane during the opening 15 minutes may take the air out of the stadium.
But Mainz continued to fight and play admirably, as they managed to visit Bayern’s penalty area frequently. Shortly before the halftime break, Leroy Sané lost the ball in midfield, which allowed Brajan Gruda to move it forward before Anthony Caci scored Mainz’s first goal with a beautiful strike.For a while, an upset was in the air, but Caci went from hero to zero when he tried to dribble close to the hosts’ box, losing the ball and thus inviting Leon Goretzka to score the deciding third goal for Bayern.
The German champions are currently dealing with defensive issues which cannot solely be attributed to injury woes. There are systematic shortcomings that manager Thomas Tuchel needs to fix in the upcoming weeks.
Otherwise, Bayern’s attacking firepower might not be enough in some games. Perhaps the return of Neuer could stabilise the defence to an extent since the 37-year-old is not just an experienced shot-stopper but also someone who can guide a back line from behind. — Constantin Eckner
Remembering Sir Bobby Charlton
Alexis Nunes and Mark Ogden reflect on Sir Bobby Charlton’s impact on Manchester United, England and football in general after his death at the age of 86.
Mbappe stellar in PSG’s win over Strasbourg
After four games without scoring for PSG and some unusually underwhelming performances, Mbappé was back to his best on Saturday at the Parc des Princes against Strasbourg. A goal and an assist set his team on the road to a 3-0 victory in a game totally controlled by the Parisians.
The last time PSG came back from the international break with a home league match was in September when they were beaten by Nice (3-2). This time, there were no bad surprises.
Despite a big turnover from Luis Enrique, Paris were dominant and convincing. The Spanish manager rested many key players (Ousmane Dembele, Manuel Ugarte, Warren Zaïre-Emery, Randal Kolo Muani, Achraf Hakimi) and their subs took that opportunity to show what they could do. Carlos Soler and Fabián Ruiz scored and Ruiz is proving that he could be a decent alternative in midfield. Lee Kang-In also started after being out of the picture for a month while winning the Asian Cup with South Korea and can bring creativity and a different profile.
Four days before the huge Champions League clash with AC Milan in the French capital, Saturday was just what the doctor ordered for PSG. — Julien Laurens
Man City earn crucial win over Leicester to go top of the WSL
The last time Manchester City travelled to the King Power Stadium, in February, they were chasing down the top of the pack, desperately making a bid for a Champions League finish. Their opposition were making their own desperate charge, hoping to stave off relegation, the team in a far better place now under new manager Willie Kirk.
That match ended 2-0 to City with the visitors outshooting Leicester 32 shots to four as they boasted 74 per cent of the possession over the 90-minute match. This season, things could not be more different and heading into the fourth matchday of the WSL season, the narrative was set at a top-of-the-table clash.
Indeed, the stats from the game are the best marker for the rapid development and growth the Foxes have shown this season, the two teams splitting the possession, Leicester with six shots on target to City’s eight. The crucial moment came ten minutes in when Jill Roord slipped the ball between Julie Thibaud’s ankles to feed Chloe Kelly with the England international’s tame shot managing to squirm under Janina Leitzig.
There was no dropping of heads from the hosts, however, and it wasn’t long until they were pressuring the City backline although the hosts could not get the better of Khiara Keating in the away goal. The match was a fair contest until the final whistle, with both sides well-matched, something that wouldn’t have even been conceivable eight months ago.
From both a Leicester and Man City point of view, the game has further hammered home how well each team has started the season, as well as the gaps across the league that are finally being closed. As it is, City are top of the table and at this early stage of the season, looking like the team to beat. — Lawson
Americans Abroad: A rough one for USMNT stars
Following the international break that saw the United States lose to Germany and defeat Ghana, numerous players were back in action this weekend in their respective leagues.
Borussia Dortmund’s Gio Reyna played 28 minutes in Friday’s 1-0 win over Werder Bremen to see them firmly in the Bundesliga title race while Ricardo Pepi played 11 minutes in PSV Eindhoven’s 3-1 win over Fortuna Sittard as they stay top of the Eredivisie table with 27 points after nine matches.
These guys 😆 pic.twitter.com/H9nALbFrZH
— Borussia Dortmund (@BlackYellow) October 20, 2023
It was a poor day between the sticks for goalkeeper Matt Turner though as Nottingham Forest gave up a 2-0 lead against newly promoted side Luton Town. Chris Wood scored a brace to put Forest up, but Luton had the last laugh as they scored twice in the last seven minutes to snatch an important point at the City Ground. — Rojas
News of the day
Manchester United and England legend Sir Bobby Charlton has passed away on Saturday at the age of 86, following a statement announced by the club. Charlton was part of the 1966 England squad that won their first and only FIFA World Cup on home soil and played a important part that helped Manchester United win their first ever European Cup at Wembley in 1968. A club statement read “Sir Bobby was a hero to millions, not just in Manchester, or the United Kingdom, but wherever football is played around the world.”
Everton manager Sean Dyche slammed the “bizarre” refereeing decisions in his team’s 2-0 loss to Liverpool in the Merseyside derby at Anfield on Saturday. “It’s a bizarre nature of the modern game,” Dyche said post-match. “There’s no point. I’m going to get myself in trouble. I don’t know how I got yellow carded. All my staff got yellow carded. It’s impossible that we could get yellow carded with that performance but anyways, we did.”
And finally, on Saturday …
The Serhou Guirassy show continues as the Guinean striker netted yet again in Stuttgart’s 3-0 win over Union Berlin, putting his name into the history books with his 14th goal in eight Bundesliga matches.
Not only does that put him atop the goalscorer race by a huge margin (Bayern Munich’s Harry Kane is in second with nine goals), but Guirassy also set a new record by becoming the first-ever player to score that amount of goals after eight matchdays of a Bundesliga season.
Serhou Guirassy is the first player to score 14 goals on the first eight matchdays of a Bundesliga season 😮💨📈
— ESPN FC (@ESPNFC) October 21, 2023
To show how impressive that stat is, Guirassy only needs two more goals to equal the amount of last season’s top scorer in the Bundesliga, when Niclas Füllkrug and Christopher Nkunku both scored 16 goals.
This also means that Stuttgart, now in second place, continue their charge in the Bundesliga title race with 21 points, having now won six Bundesliga games in a row. Who knows if Guirassy will continue his hot streak but it’s been a remarkable start for Die Roten. — Rojas