MLS

MLS Review: Union keep pace in east after heaping misery on DC, Krkic scores for Montreal

By Sports Desk August 25, 2019

Philadelphia Union moved level on points with Eastern Conference leaders and reigning MLS champions Atlanta United thanks to a 3-1 win over slumping DC United.

Kacper Przybylko starred as the Union heaped further misery on visiting DC, who suffered their third consecutive defeat on Saturday.

Przybylko opened the scoring in the fifth minute and assisted two other goals for Brenden Aaronson and Ilsinho in the first half at Talen Energy Stadium.

Luciano Acosta pulled a goal back 11 minutes into the second half as DC – who were playing in the absence of suspended captain Wayne Rooney – were left with just three wins in their last 17 MLS games.

Philadelphia and Atlanta are level on 48 points in the race for top spot in the Eastern Conference, though the latter are ahead on total wins. DC, meanwhile, are fifth and nine points off the pace.

Elsewhere, Former Barcelona forward Bojan Krkic scored in Montreal Impact's 2-1 loss to Toronto.

Krkic – who arrived after leaving Stoke City – broke the deadlock with a 25-yard stunner four minutes into the second half.

However, hosts Toronto emerged victorious thanks to Marco Delgado and Justin Morrow at BMO Field.

In other results, New York City defeated rivals New York Red Bulls 2-1, San Jose Earthquakes came from behind to beat Vancouver Whitecaps 3-1, Real Salt Lake scored two last-gasp goals to trump 10-man Colorado Rapids 2-0 and Chicago Fire lost 2-1 to New England Revolution.

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  • Donnarumma a picture of mature calm amid derby noise Donnarumma a picture of mature calm amid derby noise

    City derbies, with their heady blend of familiarity and ferocity, can make enemies of neighbours and friends at the best of times.

    In Saturday's Derby della Madonnina, Inter ultimately secured the bragging rights through an authoritative 2-0 win, but midway through the first-half their wing-back Danilo D'Ambrosio was likely ruing Gianluigi Donnarumma's pre-match words.

    "With D'Ambrosio, I have a beautiful relationship," the Italy and Milan goalkeeper told DAZN. "He is my compatriot and he also lives near me."

    Best mates with the opposition are we, Danilo? Probably best not to hit the post from three yards out with the goal gaping in that case.

    In truth, it was a slice of fortune Donnarumma earned on a day when longevity and goalkeeping greatness were a focus in Serie A.

    Gianluigi Buffon played his 902nd club match earlier on Saturday as Juventus battled to a 2-1 home win over Hellas Verona, matching the mark set by Milan great Paolo Maldini.

    Donnarumma entered senior football as a fully formed teen sensation, already dubbed Buffon's heir. He was also on the books at Milan from the age of 14, steeped in the history of a club defined by one-club men like Maldini. They were big gloves and boots to fill.

    Still only 20, he has travelled plenty of road since then. For a long time, none of it felt particularly smooth.

    Mino Raiola's typically bombastic attempts to engineer more money and a blockbusting transfer for his client drove a wedge between Donnarumma and the Milan faithful. Then there was the steady drip, drip, drip of errors that threatened to become a deluge.

    When Inter beat Milan 1-0 11 months ago, Mauro Icardi – another man well-versed in player-fan relations – scored the winner after a wretched misjudgement from the Rossoneri keeper. On this occasion, it often felt like Donnarumma and his 6ft 5in frame was the only realistic bridge between a yawning gulf in class.

    His first big save came in the 18th minute, thwarting Romelu Lukaku after Lautaro Martinez's cute pass played in his strike partner.

    Donnarumma's stop to deny the impressive Martinez was stunning three minutes later, with D'Ambrosio on the rebound seemingly one of those briefly distracted.

    There was no suggestion of a neighbourly favour when the Inter man propelled himself skywards for a thumping overhead kick. Again, Donnarumma saved and an offside verdict meant Martinez converted the rebound in vain.

    A cruel deflection from Marcelo Brozovic's speculative 49th-minute strike felt like the only way Donnarumma was likely to be beaten at that stage, although Inter's 100 per cent start to the Serie A season scarcely seemed under threat from that point.

    A bustling Lukaku is brimming with confidence and directed home a fine header to seal victory. Antonio Conte has always felt his best teams operated near their peak with a "point of reference" striker. Inter have that in Lukaku and he might just take them all the way to the Scudetto.

    Milan's aims under Marco Giampaolo must be more modest after they managed a solitary shot on target over the course of the 90 minutes – the exciting front two of Krzysztof Piatek and Rafael Leao too frequently isolated as playmaker Suso faded to the margins.

    But in Donnarumma they have a young man who has weathered a storm, partially of his own making, and is back on the road to superstardom. He and Milan might yet enjoy a beautiful relationship of their own.

  • Granada 2-0 Barcelona: Away woes continue for LaLiga champions Granada 2-0 Barcelona: Away woes continue for LaLiga champions

    Granada shocked Barcelona 2-0 in LaLiga to increase the pressure on Ernesto Valverde, who has overseen the Blaugrana's worst start to the season since 1994-95.

    Diego Martinez's side had won their past two league games and led in the second minute, Ramon Azeez heading in at the back post, and they made it 2-0 from the penalty spot.

    Arturo Vidal was penalised for handball after a VAR check and Alvaro Vadillo sent Marc-Andre ter Stegen the wrong way to leave Barca, who brought Lionel Messi and Ansu Fati on at half-time, with a mountain to climb.

    Barca are winless in seven away games in all competitions and struggling in seventh, while promoted Granada are the shock league leaders after their third straight clean sheet.

    Junior Firpo was making his first LaLiga start for Barcelona but he made two errors as Granada took the lead with 63 seconds on the clock.

    Antonio Puertas profited on Junior's twin mistakes to race clear and deliver a low cross that ballooned over Ter Stegen via a deflection off Gerard Pique for Azeez to nod home.

    Luis Suarez hit a free-kick into the wall as Barca tried to strike back, but they ended the first half without recording a shot on target.

    After Messi came on at half-time, Barca almost gifted Granada a second. Ter Stegen carelessly dropped a cross, the goalkeeper recovering in time to beat Roberto Soldado to the loose ball.

    Granada doubled their lead in the 66th minute, Arturo Vidal conceding a penalty shortly after replacing Ivan Rakitic, with Vadillo beating Ter Stegen from the spot.

    Despite Messi and Fati adding zest to their attack, Barca still could not find a way through, the captain forcing Rui Silva into his first save with eight minutes to play.

    What does it mean? Problems mount for Valverde

    Barca have taken a single point from three away league games this season, while they drew a blank at Borussia Dortmund in the Champions League in midweek. Messi's lack of fitness has exposed the weaknesses in Barca's squad and questions will continue to be asked of Valverde.

    Granada's remarkable start to the season means they top the league ahead of Sevilla – who have a game against Real Madrid in hand – on goal difference, but Barca are only three points off the summit despite their issues both at the back and in attack.

    Herrera sets tone for battling performance

    Granada inevitably had far less of the ball than Barca, but Yangel Herrera's energetic midfield display helped keep the champions at bay. He recorded four tackles, four interceptions and two blocks - as many as anyone on the pitch for all three defensive metrics before his 83rd-minute withdrawal.

    Perez out of his depth

    Were it not for injuries to Messi and Ousmane Dembele, Carles Perez would surely be nowhere near the Barca squad.

    Another limp performance from the 21-year-old indicated why Barca were so keen to bring Neymar back from Paris Saint-Germain this year as, Messi apart, the lack of stardust in attack is clear. Perez was withdrawn at half-time, with 16-year-old Fati, Barca's future, sent on in his place, although the similarly anonymous Antoine Griezmann could have also made way.

    What's next?

    Barca have a quick turnaround with Villarreal visiting Camp Nou on Tuesday. Granada go to Real Valladolid on the same day.

  • AC Milan 0-2 Inter: Romelu Lukaku header seals deserved derby triumph AC Milan 0-2 Inter: Romelu Lukaku header seals deserved derby triumph

    Marcelo Brozovic and Romelu Lukaku struck as Inter continued their 100 per cent start to the Serie A season and extended a strong recent record in derbies against city rivals AC Milan with a 2-0 victory.

    A deflected strike from Brozovic four minutes into the second half and a late clincher from Lukaku settled a contest that Antonio Conte's men always looked the more likely to win.

    Milan, the designated home team at the shared San Siro, only produced one shot on target and were comfortably kept at arm's length by Inter after the opening goal.

    The Rossoneri have now lost two of their first four games under coach Marco Giampaolo and failed to beat Inter in seven consecutive league derbies.

    The first big chance came when Lautaro Martinez slipped Lukaku through on goal, the Belgium striker's right-footed shot forcing a one-handed save from Gianluigi Donnarumma.

    A better opportunity arrived in the 21st minute, but Danilo D'Ambrosio could somehow only hit the post from four yards on the rebound after Donnarumma made a reaction save from Martinez, the opening created by Stefano Sensi's clever cut-back.

    Inter almost paid the price for those misses when Hakan Calhanoglu found the net, but the goal was disallowed because Kwadwo Asamoah's poor clearance was adjudged to have struck the arm of Franck Kessie on his 100th Milan appearance.

    D'Ambrosio thought he had made amends with a stunning overhead kick which was somehow saved by Donnarumma and tucked in by Martinez on the rebound, but an offside flag halted the move.

    Inter broke through after the break though, Brozovic's strike from the edge of the area taking a wicked deflection off Rafael Leao to beat Donnarumma after Sensi's lay-off.

    And the win was sealed 12 minutes from time with Lukaku guiding a well-judged header into the far corner from Nicolo Barella's left-wing cross.

    Matteo Politano's late curler struck the crossbar and Antonio Candreva's deflected shot bounced off the inside of the post as Inter threatened a third, with Milan left to reflect on a forgettable performance that also saw Theo Hernandez strike the woodwork in the closing minutes.

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