Liverpool extend perfect start, Aubameyang fires Arsenal


London (AFP) – Liverpool extended their perfect start to the Premier League title race as Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino sealed a 2-1 win at Southampton, while Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang fired Arsenal to a 2-1 victory over Burnley on Saturday.

Jurgen Klopp’s side matched a club record of 11 successive Premier League wins to build on last week’s 4-1 thrashing of Norwich in their season opener.

The Reds’ confident start to the season puts pressure on champions Manchester City to respond with a second win of their own when they host Tottenham later on Saturday.

Liverpool took the lead in first half stoppage-time when Senegal winger Mane, who scored twice against Chelsea in the European Super Cup victory in midweek, returned to haunt his former club with an agile turn and curling strike into the far corner.

Firmino made it two with his 49th league goal for Liverpool, the Brazil forward taking Mane’s pass, dribbling and then firing home in the 71st minute.

Liverpool goalkeeper Adrian started despite suffering an ankle injury when a fan slid into him during the celebrations against Chelsea in Istanbul.

But Adrian, deputising for the injured Alisson Becker, was guilty of a mistake in the 83rd minute when he hit a panicked clearance against Danny Ings, the ball bouncing off Southampton’s former Liverpool striker into the empty net.

At the Emirates Stadium, Gabon forward Aubameyang was Arsenal’s match-winner again.

Aubameyang had netted the only goal in last weekend’s victory at Newcastle and he emulated that crucial contribution with another decisive strike.

Alexandre Lacazette’s first goal of the season had given Arsenal the lead before Ashley Barnes equalised for Burnley just before half-time.

Failing to finish in the top four and losing the Europa League final against Chelsea robbed Arsenal of a Champions League place and led to a summer of recriminations as fans vented their frustrations.

With two successive wins to start the season for the first time in 10 years, the early signs are promising for Unai Emery’s team ahead of sterner tests against Liverpool and Tottenham in their next two games.

– Silva service –

Everton boss Marco Silva enjoyed a 1-0 win against his former club Watford at Goodison Park.

Silva’s team got their first goal of the season when Brazilian winger Bernard took Lucas Digne’s pass and fired past Ben Foster in the 10th minute at Goodison Park.

Brighton drew 1-1 with West Ham at the Amex Stadium, with Javier Hernandez’s 61st minute opener for the visitors cancelled out by Belgian winger Leandro Trossard four minutes later.

Sancho scores as Dortmund run riot against Augsburg


Berlin (AFP) – Jadon Sancho helped Borussia Dortmund to a 5-1 win over Augsburg in their first game of the new Bundesliga season on Saturday, scoring in the second half to pick up his second goal of the new campaign.

England international Sancho, who claimed his first of the term in Dortmund’s Supercup victory over Bayern Munich two weeks ago, found the net just after half-time as Dortmund ran riot to go top of the table. 

Having thrown away a nine-point lead and narrowly missed out on the title last season, Dortmund had promised another attack on Bayern’s hegemony in 2019/20.

They were given an early boost when the champions dropped two points against Hertha Berlin in Friday’s season opener, before romping to victory in front of their own fans on Saturday.  

Florian Niederlechner’s first-minute opener for Augsburg left Dortmund stunned, but it took the hosts all of two minutes to draw level, as Paco Alcacer gratefully pounced on a mistake from Augsburg keeper Tomas Koubek.

Koubek was at fault once again when Sancho put Dortmund ahead after the break, flapping at a low cross before the Englishman smashed the ball in at the far post. 

The Czech keeper then crowned a miserable Bundesliga debut as he dropped the ball at the feet of Marco Reus to gift Dortmund a third goal. 

A curling long-range strike from Alcacer and a debut goal for new signing Julian Brandt completed the rout for Dortmund. 

– Leverkusen win late-on –

Elsewhere, Former Dortmund boss Peter Bosz watched his Bayer Leverkusen side stumble their way to a 3-2 victory over promoted minnows Paderborn.

Leon Bailey deflected in Kevin Volland’s long-range shot to give Leverkusen the lead on 10 minutes, but underdogs Paderborn responded almost immediately through Sven Michel. 

A nonchalant chip from Kai Havertz quickly restored the lead, but Streli Mamba prodded Paderborn level from a goalmouth scramble just a few minutes later. 

Kevin Volland slotted home the winner 20 minutes from time to give Leverkusen a hard-earned winning start. 

Werder Bremen, widely tipped as dark horses in this year’s race for Europe, got their season off to the worst possible start with a 3-1 home defeat to Fortuna Duesseldorf. 

Bremen’s Johannes Eggestein cancelled out Rouwen Hennings’ first-half opener just after the break, but goals from Kenan Karaman and Kaan Ayhan ensured a perfect afternoon for Duesseldorf.

A sweetly timed volley from Maximilian Arnold and a simple finish for Wout Weghorst saw Wolfsburg edge a 2-1 win over promoted side Cologne, while late goals from Lucas Hoeler, Jonathan Schmid and Luca Waldschmidt snatched a 3-0 win for Freiburg over Mainz. 

Sancho scores as Dortmund run riot against Augsburg


Berlin (AFP) – Jadon Sancho helped Borussia Dortmund to a 5-1 win over Augsburg in their first game of the new Bundesliga season on Saturday, scoring in the second half to pick up his second goal of the new campaign.

England international Sancho, who claimed his first of the term in Dortmund’s Supercup victory over Bayern Munich two weeks ago, found the net just after half-time as Dortmund ran riot to go top of the table. 

Having thrown away a nine-point lead and narrowly missed out on the title last season, Dortmund had promised another attack on Bayern’s hegemony in 2019/20.

They were given an early boost when the champions dropped two points against Hertha Berlin in Friday’s season opener, before romping to victory in front of their own fans on Saturday.  

Florian Niederlechner’s first-minute opener for Augsburg left Dortmund stunned, but it took the hosts all of two minutes to draw level, as Paco Alcacer gratefully pounced on a mistake from Augsburg keeper Tomas Koubek.

Koubek was at fault once again when Sancho put Dortmund ahead after the break, flapping at a low cross before the Englishman smashed the ball in at the far post. 

The Czech keeper then crowned a miserable Bundesliga debut as he dropped the ball at the feet of Marco Reus to gift Dortmund a third goal. 

A curling long-range strike from Alcacer and a debut goal for new signing Julian Brandt completed the rout for Dortmund. 

– Leverkusen win late-on –

Elsewhere, Former Dortmund boss Peter Bosz watched his Bayer Leverkusen side stumble their way to a 3-2 victory over promoted minnows Paderborn.

Leon Bailey deflected in Kevin Volland’s long-range shot to give Leverkusen the lead on 10 minutes, but underdogs Paderborn responded almost immediately through Sven Michel. 

A nonchalant chip from Kai Havertz quickly restored the lead, but Streli Mamba prodded Paderborn level from a goalmouth scramble just a few minutes later. 

Kevin Volland slotted home the winner 20 minutes from time to give Leverkusen a hard-earned winning start. 

Werder Bremen, widely tipped as dark horses in this year’s race for Europe, got their season off to the worst possible start with a 3-1 home defeat to Fortuna Duesseldorf. 

Bremen’s Johannes Eggestein cancelled out Rouwen Hennings’ first-half opener just after the break, but goals from Kenan Karaman and Kaan Ayhan ensured a perfect afternoon for Duesseldorf.

A sweetly timed volley from Maximilian Arnold and a simple finish for Wout Weghorst saw Wolfsburg edge a 2-1 win over promoted side Cologne, while late goals from Lucas Hoeler, Jonathan Schmid and Luca Waldschmidt snatched a 3-0 win for Freiburg over Mainz. 

Bale starts Madrid opener against Celta


Vigo (Spain) (AFP) – Gareth Bale’s unexpected reintegration at Real Madrid continued on Saturday when he was a surprise inclusion in the starting line-up to play Celta Vigo.

Zinedine Zidane had been keen to sell Bale this summer but admitted on Friday that “things change” and he was now counting on the Welshman this season.

Bale was left out of the squad completely for three pre-season games but returned for the final friendly against Roma, coming off the bench in the second half.

An injury to Eden Hazard has opened a spot up front alongside Karim Benzema, and Zidane has chosen Bale ahead of the likes of Luka Jovic, Lucas Vazquez and Isco.

Bale was close to leaving in July but Madrid cancelled a deal with Chinese club Jiangsu Suning while the winger’s salary of around 18 million euros a year has proven too high for other interested clubs. 

Bale reportedly prefers to stay at Madrid, where he has a contract until 2022, and is not interested in moving to Paris Saint-Germain, despite suggestions he could be included in a bid for Neymar. 

“It looked like he was leaving and now he’s here with us, that’s it,” Zidane said. 

“The dynamic changes and things change and now I’m going to count on him like everyone else. I said it a short time ago, I’m going to count on all the players that are here.” 

Zidane had promised wholesale changes but none of the club’s five summer signings started against Celta.

Hazard and Ferland Mendy are both out injured while Jovic and Eder Militao were on the bench. Youngster Rodrygo is still gaining experience with the reserve team.

Aubameyang sinks Burnley to maintain Arsenal’s winning start


London (AFP) – Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was Arsenal’s match-winner again as the Gabon forward sealed a 2-1 victory against Burnley to extend his side’s perfect start to the Premier League season on Saturday.

Aubameyang had netted the only goal in last weekend’s win at Newcastle and he emulated that crucial contribution with another decisive strike at the Emirates Stadium.

Alexandre Lacazette’s first goal of the season had given Arsenal the lead before Ashley Barnes equalised for Burnley just before half-time.

It was a encouraging afternoon for Arsenal manager Unai Emery as his widely written-off team continued to bounce back from their dismal end to last season.

Failing to finish in the top four and losing the Europa League final against Chelsea robbed Arsenal of a Champions League place and led to a summer of recriminations as fans vented their frustrations.

But Emery has quietly assembled a more vibrant squad than he had in his troubled first campaign.

With two successive wins to start the season for the first time in 10 years, the early signs are promising for Arsenal ahead of sterner tests against Liverpool and Tottenham in their next two games.

As well as goals for Arsenal’s two main strikers, there was a virtuoso performance from on-loan Real Madrid midfielder Dani Ceballos, who had two assists in his first start.

Club record signing Nicolas Pepe impressed after coming off the bench as half-time and although former Chelsea defender David Luiz was hardly rock solid on his debut, Emery’s back four did enough to keep Burnley at bay.

Mesut Ozil was again absent from the Gunners squad after the German midfielder was ill earlier this week.

Ozil missed the Newcastle match because of “further security fears” after being involved in a carjacking incident with team-mate Sead Kolasinac in July.

But Ozil’s absence wasn’t a hinderance against a Burnley team who suffered their eighth successive loss at the Emirates.

Lacazette, back from an ankle injury that meant he was only a substitute at Newcastle, came close to putting Arsenal in front when he met a Sokratis flick with a close-range header that Nick Pope tipped over.

– Deft touch –

It was only a temporary reprieve for Burnley as Emery’s side took the lead from the resulting corner in the 13th minute.

Ceballos’s corner reached Lacazette at the near post and he showed impressive strength to hold off Erik Pieters as he turned away from a gaggle of Burnley defenders, his determined effort sending him slipping to the turf but not before he guided his shot through Pope’s legs.