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Soccer PICS: Depay rescues Barca; Inter thrash Genoa

Last updated on: August 22, 2021 12:38 IST
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Images from the soccer matches played across Europe on Saturday.

FC Barcelona's Memphis Depay in action during their match against Athletic Bilbao in San Mames, Bilbao, Spain on Saturday

IMAGE: FC Barcelona's Memphis Depay in action during their match against Athletic Bilbao in San Mames, Bilbao, Spain on Saturday. Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters

Memphis Depay scored his first goal for Barcelona to salvage a 1-1 draw away to Athletic Bilbao on Saturday in LaLiga, while defender Eric Garcia was shown a straight red card in added time for a last-ditch foul.

Athletic defender Inigo Martinez had given the hosts a deserved lead in the 50th minute by heading home from a corner after his side had dominated the first half and seen a shot cleared off the line at the start of the second.

 

Barca struggled to cope with Athletic's intensity but cashed in when the Basques took their foot off the gas and seemed content to defend their lead rather than look for a second goal.

Frenkie de Jong hit the crossbar with a sumptuous chip and moments later Depay levelled in the 75th minute with a thunderous strike from a tight angle, his shot flying beyond the reach of helpless Athletic keeper Julen Agirrezabala.

The Netherlands forward then could have snatched all three points for Barca when he again got down the left hand side of Athletic's area, but this time he looked to place his shot and dragged it wide of the far post.

Barca defender Gerard Pique had limped off in the first half for Ronald Koeman's side, who were playing their second game of the season after thrashing Real Sociedad 4-2 at home last week, in their first league match since Lionel Messi left for Paris St Germain.

Garcia was shown a straight red card on his second outing for Barca when he hauled down Athletic forward Nico Williams on the edge of the area, but the hosts failed to capitalise from the resulting free kick.

"We did not play a good game, we moved the ball far slower than usual and we have to improve a lot," said Barca forward Antoine Griezmann.

"They pressed us very well and caused us a lot of damage while we made a lot of sloppy passes. We have to fix this because our opponents will start to notice and will be able to see how they can hurt us."

Barca should have taken an early lead when Depay got to the byline from the right and his low cross deflected into the path of Martin Braithwaite from close range but the Danish forward leant back and skied his shot, letting a glorious chance go to waste.

Athletic then began their period of dominance and came close to getting the opener when midfielder Oihan Sancet rattled the underside of the crossbar, while speedy forward Inaki Williams ran Barca ragged.

Williams caused the visitors more havoc in the opening minute of the second period when he got behind the defence and the ball bounced towards Alex Berenguer but Barca defender Ronald Araujo got back to clear his shot off the line.

Athletic's goal arrived soon enough though, Martinez freeing himself from his marker to glance in Iker Muniain's corner and the 10,000 fans allowed into the club's San Mames stadium erupted.

But they failed to capitalise and Depay, who joined Barca on a free transfer from Olympique Lyonnais after impressing coach Ronald Koeman from their time together with the Dutch national team, made them pay.

"We feel like we have unfinished business today, we let the three points escape," said Athletic goalscorer Martinez.

"And it was our mistake because we let them back in to the game. The players they have up front can make the difference but we deserved a little more."

Dzeko on target as champions Inter impress in win over Genoa

Inter's Edin Dzeko celebrates his goal during the Serie A match against Genoa CFC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan.

IMAGE: Inter's Edin Dzeko celebrates his goal during the Serie A match against Genoa CFC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza in Milan. Photograph: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Debutant striker Edin Dzeko was on target as Inter Milan got their Serie A title defence off to a flying start, thrashing Genoa 4-0 in their opening match of the season in front of fans in the San Siro on Saturday.

Hakan Calhanoglu, who crossed the divide to sign for Inter from city rivals AC Milan in the summer, took centre stage from the off, setting up Milan Skriniar for his side's sixth-minute opener, before drilling home a second eight minutes later.

The visitors had a great chance to get back in the contest just before the interval, but Yayah Kallon dragged his effort wide from a good position.

That miss proved costly as Inter added a third in the 74th minute through substitute Arturo Vidal to make sure of the three points.

Veteran forward Dzeko, who joined from AS Roma earlier this month, marked his 200th Serie A appearance by heading home a late fourth.

Elsewhere in Serie A, Giacomo Raspadori, Filip Djuricic and Hamed Traore were on target as Sassuolo edged a thriller 3-2 at Hellas Verona.

Inter won their first Scudetto in 11 years last season but having sold star striker Romelu Lukaku and full-back Achraf Hakimi during the close season, and with Christian Eriksen's future uncertain after he suffered a cardiac arrest on the pitch during Euro 2020, doubts emerged in the Italian media over whether the champions would be in good enough shape to defend their title.

But straight from the off, the man who stepped into Eriksen's shoes in midfield, Calhanoglu, showed there is life in the new-look Inter.

The Turkey international set up Skriniar for his new side's opener from a corner against a flat-footed Genoa.

Calhanoglu then arrowed a brilliant strike into the net to become the first player to both score and assist on his Serie A debut for Inter since Zlatan Ibrahimovic in 2006.

Other than Kallon's miss, Genoa were never really in the match, and it was a matter of how many more Inter would score in the second half.

After being thwarted on several occasions by Genoa goalkeeper Salvatore Sirigu, it was left to Vidal to step off the bench to sweep home the third, before Bosnian Dzeko headed home to get off the mark as an Inter player.

Substitute Piccoli earns Atalanta dramatic late opening day win at Torino

Young substitute Roberto Piccoli struck deep into stoppage time to earn Atalanta a last-gasp 2-1 victory at Torino on the opening day of the Serie A season on Saturday.

Luis Muriel, who was only outscored by Cristiano Ronaldo and Romelu Lukaku in Serie A last season, opened his 2021-22 account in style by firing the visitors in front with a powerful strike in the sixth minute.

Club captain and Torino talisman Andrea Belotti came off the bench to level things up in the 79th minute, his long-range strike deflected over Atalanta goalkeeper Juan Musso, as the hosts appeared on course for what would have been a deserved point.

But an injury-hit Atalanta dug deep late on, with 20-year-old Piccoli, who spent last season on loan at Spezia, pouncing in the six-yard box to score his first goal for the Bergamo club and snatch victory at the last.

Elsewhere, in the evening's other late kick off, Lazio also got off to a winning start, coming from behind to win 3-1 at Empoli thanks to goals from Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Manuel Lazzari and Ciro Immobile, all in the first half.

Freiburg pull off gritty 2-1 win over Dortmund as Wolfsburg go top

SC Freiburg's Baptiste Santamaria in action with Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham during their Bundesliga match at Schwarzwald-Stadion, Freiburg, Germany.

IMAGE: SC Freiburg's Baptiste Santamaria in action with Borussia Dortmund's Jude Bellingham during their Bundesliga match at Schwarzwald-Stadion, Freiburg, Germany. Photograph: Thomas Kienzle/Reuters

SC Freiburg rose to second in the Bundesliga table on Saturday thanks to a gritty 2-1 win over a Borussia Dortmund side who dominated possession but failed to convert their chances on the league's second weekend of play.

Vincenzo Grifo rocked the visitors early, putting Freiburg ahead with a stunning free kick in the sixth minute. That shocked the visitors into action, and midfielder Jude Bellingham came closest to an equaliser in the first half, hitting the post with a header from a corner.

Despite Dortmund keeping possession for long spells, they found themselves two down eight minutes into the second half when Roland Sallai slammed the ball home from close range.

Dortmund were thrown a lifeline when midfielder Yannik Keitel steered a low cross past his own keeper in the 59th minute. But the Freiburg rearguard stood firm to repel Erling Haaland and company as they hung on to win.

Elsewhere, Wolfsburg went top of the standings by coming back from a goal down to beat Hertha Berlin 2-1, with Lukas Nmecha getting the winner in the 88th minute.

Bochum forward Simon Zoller set up a goal in each half as his side beat Mainz 2-0, and Greuther Furth came back from a goal down to grab a point against 10-man Arminia Bielefeld, while Eintracht Frankfurt and Augsburg played out a scoreless draw.

In Saturday's late game, Bayer Leverkusen hammered Borussia Monchengladbach 4-0 to move into second place on goal difference following an opening-day draw against Union Berlin.

Monchengladbach's season had got off to a great start as they held Bayern Munich to a 1-1 draw at home, but they collapsed against Leverkusen, conceding an own goal after three minutes, with Patrik Schick adding a second five minutes later.

Leverkusen also missed a penalty in the 43rd minute before adding two second-half goals to complete the rout.

Hoffenheim play Union Berlin on Sunday, with Bayern Munich taking on FC Cologne in the later game.

Lille still winless as Lens sink Monaco

Ligue 1 champions Lille's winless start to the season stretched to three games after they conceded a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at St Etienne while opportunist goals by Ignatius Ganago and Simon Banza gave Lens a 2-0 win at Monaco on Saturday.

After the opening 3-3 draw at Metz and a 4-0 home drubbing by Nice, Lille seemed to have got their title defence on track after Burak Yilmaz gave them a 38th-minute lead with a crisp shot from the edge of the penalty.

But the champions missed several chances to double their advantage as home goalkeeper Etienne Green pulled off three good saves before Saidou Sow levelled with a towering 86th-minute header off the underside of the bar.

The result provisionally left Lille 13th on two points from three games while St Etienne are ninth on three points following a third successive draw.

In the day's afternoon fixture, Lens piled the pressure on Monaco manager Niko Kovac as the principality side continued their poor start after both teams finished with 10 men.

The result lifted Lens up to fourth on five points from three games after their first league win of the season while Monaco dropped to 18th with one point following a second successive defeat.

With one eye on Wednesday's Champions League playoff round return leg at Shakhtar Donetsk, where Monaco aim to overturn a 1-0 first-leg deficit, Kovac fielded a makeshift side as he left several regular starters on the bench.

Ganago fired Lens into a 51st-minute lead when he robbed Strahinja Pavlovic of the ball and powered his shot past Alexander Nuebel, as the home side's stand-in keeper got a hand to the ball but could not keep it out.

Lens had Cheick Oumar Doucoure red-carded on the hour for a studs-up challenge on Krepin Diatta before Monaco's Russian forward Aleksandr Golovin followed in his footsteps in the 85th minute for a rash tackle on Banza.

The late substitute sealed his team's victory after another calamitous defensive error by Monaco, with left back Caio Henrique giving the ball away to Przemyslaw Frankowski who squared the ball to Banza for a simple finish.

In Sunday's standout fixtures, Nice host coastal rivals Olympique Marseille, promoted Clermont Foot will bid for a third straight win at struggling Olympique Lyon and Angers also aim to continue their perfect start at Girondins Bordeaux.

ATK Mohun Bagan set to advance to AFC Cup knock-outs

ATK Mohun Bagan pumped in three second half goals in a brilliant comeback to beat Maziya Sports & Recreation of the Maldives 3-1 in their Group D match and move within a point of reaching the AFC Cup knockout stage in Male, Maldives.

The Kolkata-based Indian Super League team was trailing 0-1 at half time after Ibrahim Aisham had scored for the home side in the 25th minute.

But ATK Mohun Bagan struck in the 48th, 63rd and 77th minutes through Liston Colaco, Roy Krishna and Manvir Singh to emerge victorious on Saturday.

With two wins from two matches, Antonio Habas's side just need a draw in their last group match on Tuesday against Bangladesh’s Bashundhara Kings -- on four points -- for a place in the Inter-Zone Semi-final.

Maziya join India's another club Bengaluru FC in being eliminated from the competition. Bengaluru FC had played out a 0-0 draw against Bashundhara on Saturday after losing to ATK Mohun Bagan 0-2 in their campaign opener.

The home side opened their account for the campaign after 25 minutes when Cornelius Stewart led a quick counter-attack, embarking on a solo run down the right before crossing for Ibrahim Aisham who swept home Maziya's opener.

Five minutes later, the Maldives side were close to adding a second in a similar fashion with Stewart again providing the supply down the right, but this time he fed Hussain Nihan inside the box and the latter squared across the mouth of goal for Hamzath Mohamed who fluffed his lines.

Liston Colaco tested the goalkeeper with a well-struck free-kick from 25 yards out as ATK Mohun Bagan chased an equaliser, but Mirzokhid Mamatkhonov was up for the challenge and parried away the effort to keep Maziya in the lead at the break.

The Indian side got their second half off to a flying start as halftime substitute Ashutosh Mehta produced an instant impact, whipping a pinpoint cross from the right for Colaco who met it with a diving header into the back of the net to bring ATK Mohun Bagan level.

Four minutes after the hour-mark, substitute Hugo Boumous executed a fine through-pass, sending Colaco through on goal, but the latter's attempt was saved by the hosts' Uzbek goalkeeper, but only as far as the onrushing Roy Krishna who kept his composure to expertly strike on the rebound to give ATK Mohun Bagan the lead for the first time in the match.

France-born Boumous displayed his creative abilities once more with 14 minutes to go, feeding Manvir Singh with an exquisite pass, and the forward made no mistakes with only the goalkeeper to beat, drilling it into the bottom corner to make it 3-1.

Habas later said a change in formation saw his side up the tempo in the second half as three players found the back of the net.

"We had some difficulties with the opponent, because they scored first. After a change of system, we became consistent and I'm very proud of my players," Habas said after the match.

"We have six points, and no other team has that. (In this match) we had the possibility to draw, but we didn't have to think that way, only the possibility for us to try to win, and this will be our idea for the next match."

Roy Krishna's overall performance, besides the second goal for ATK Mohun Bagan, saw him being named the Player of the Match and the Fiji international said the team never doubted themselves despite Maziya taking the lead.

"We knew that we had the quality, with the best players in our team and we trusted in the way we played," said Krishna.

"We knew we would get more chances and we just had to be patient. We hurried a lot (in the first half) but we played the way we wanted in the second half and got the goals."

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