EPL

Rasmus Hojlund ends goal drought as Man Utd produce fine comeback to beat Villa

By Sports Desk December 26, 2023

Rasmus Hojlund broke his Premier League duck as Manchester United celebrated Sir Jim Ratcliffe’s investment in the club by battling back from two goals down to beat Aston Villa 3-2.

Villa were on course to move level on points with Liverpool at the top of the Premier League table following first-half goals from John McGinn and Leander Dendoncker at Old Trafford.

But the hosts levelled thanks to Alejandro Garnacho’s double before 20-year-old Hojlund, who cost an initial £64million from Atalanta in the summer, stole the headlines with an 82nd-minute winner on his 15th top-flight appearance.

The rousing comeback victory came two days after Ratcliffe agreed to buy a 25 per cent stake in United and ended a four-match winless run without scoring to ease mounting pressure on manager Erik ten Hag.

Ten Hag’s side rise to sixth, while Villa remain third after blowing a major opportunity.

Earlier on Boxing Day, Liverpool climbed to the summit after Darwin Nunez ended his goal drought in a 2-0 success at second-bottom Burnley.

Nunez fired Jurgen Klopp’s men into a sixth-minute lead at Turf Moor with his first strike in 13 matches in all competitions before substitute Diogo Jota sealed victory late on with his 50th goal for the club.

Mohamed Salah hit the crossbar and Harvey Elliott saw his second-half strike ruled out for offside with the score still 1-0, while Jacob Bruun Larsen almost snatched an equaliser for the Clarets.

Victory for the Reds lifted them two points above Arsenal, who host West Ham on Thursday, while lowly Burnley are five points from safety following a 14th defeat of the season.

Chris Wood retuned to haunt Newcastle with a stunning hat-trick as Nottingham Forest handed new boss Nuno Espirito Santo the first Premier League victory of his reign.

Wood, who joined Forest from the Magpies in January, produced two fine second-half finishes to secure a 3-1 comeback success at St James’ Park.

Newcastle went ahead through Alexander Isak’s 23rd-minute penalty but slipped to a sixth defeat in seven games in all competitions after Wood tapped home Anthony Elanga’s cross just before the break and went on to complete his treble in style.

Forest remain two points above the relegation zone after 18th-placed Luton pulled off a 3-2 success at bottom club Sheffield United thanks to two late own goals.

Blades pair Jack Robinson and Anis Ben Slimane each turned the ball into their own goal during the final 14 minutes of a chaotic clash at Bramall Lane.

Chris Wilder’s hosts had looked set for a vital three points after second-half strikes from Oli McBurnie and Anel Ahmedhodzic overturned Alfie Doughty’s 17th-minute opener.

In-form Bournemouth continued their remarkable resurgence by moving into the top half of the table thanks to a thumping 3-0 victory over Fulham.

Justin Kluivert put the Cherries ahead just before half-time at Vitality Stadium before Dominic Solanke’s eighth goal in seven games – a penalty after Joao Palhinha brought down Antoine Semenyo – doubled the lead.

Substitute Luis Sinisterra sealed an emphatic success late on as Andoni Iraola’s hosts made it 19 points from the last 21 available.

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    The forward required urgent medical attention after colliding with Scotland goalkeeper Angus Gunn in the 68th minute of the crucial Group A encounter in Munich on Sunday.

    There was a lengthy stoppage in play, with Varga's team-mates forming a protective wall around him for privacy during treatment.

    The 29-year-old left the field on a stretcher and was taken to hospital, but was in a stable condition before his surgery.

    A statement from the Hungarian Football Federation read: "According to the information of the institution's doctors specialising in facial injuries, the intervention was uncomplicated, so the attacker can leave the hospital on Wednesday."

    Varga's wife Laura Skrapits also shared a picture on Instagram, accompanied by the message: "Thank you for the kind, supportive messages. Barni is over the surgery. A little rest awaits him, but everything will be fine."

    Kevin Csoboth's 100th-minute strike secured third place for Hungary in Group A, boosting their chances of progressing to the knockout stages.

    The team dedicated their victory to Varga, holding aloft his number 19 jersey as they saluted their supporters.

  • Euro 2024 social round-up: Football, eh? Italy snatch a last-16 place and England debate rolls on Euro 2024 social round-up: Football, eh? Italy snatch a last-16 place and England debate rolls on

    Gary Lineker has been at the centre of something of a storm when it comes to England at Euro 2024, and that story was plastered over social media on Monday.

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    Football, eh?

    Football... It's crazy! 

    With a minute to go, Italy - the holders - were on the brink of a possible exit, with Croatia leading 1-0 in Leipzig.

    Yet within 30 seconds, Mattia Zaccagni's maiden Azzurri goal had sent Italy through into the last 16, and it's Croatia who are on the verge of an early departure.

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    There was a lot left to be desired following England's performance in their 1-1 draw with Denmark, but it is the post-match criticism that has since drawn the most attention.

    In particular, Lineker's comments were brought to the attention of Harry Kane in a recent press conference, with the England captain urging the pundits to support the squad.

    With the ball back in Lineker's court, he - along with fellow pundit Alan Shearer - had his say on the ongoing debate.

    Ferdinand chips into pundit debate

    Rio Ferdinand has done his fair share of punditry, and the former England defender had his say on the Lineker debate.

    Ferdinand said the England players shouldn't expect pundits to act as "cheerleaders" when the team aren't performing.

    Strike a pose

    With qualification for the knockout stages already complete, Portugal do not have to worry about any pressure going into their final match against Georgia.

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    Sitting down at Belgium's 'The Basecamp', the veteran defender was given a glimpse of what he will look like if he chooses to forgo retirement and keep playing with the help of AI.

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    Luka Modric's history-making goal for Croatia proved fruitless as Mattia Zaccagni's last-gasp screamer sent Italy through into the last 16 of Euro 2024 after a 1-1 draw.

    Modric became the oldest player to score at the Euros when he slammed in from close range in the 55th minute - just 33 seconds after missing a penalty - and Croatia seemed all set to progress in second place from Group B, but Italy substitute Zaccagni had other ideas.

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    Yet, the pace swiftly picked up in a frantic couple of minutes after the break, when Italy substitute Davide Frattesi was penalised for handball following a VAR review.

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    Bastoni should have restored parity just after the hour, only for the defender to head over after meeting a corner unmarked.

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    Donnarumma pulls through

    Donnarumma was the star of the show for Italy at Wembley three years ago, with his saves in the shootout win over England.

    The three seasons that have followed have not been the best for the former Milan goalkeeper, who has made some high-profile errors for Paris Saint-Germain.

    Yet, he was on excellent form in Leipzig, making that exceptional penalty save and then an even more impressive stop to thwart Budimir, only to see Modric pick up the pieces when no defender reacted.

    Having become the youngest goalkeeper to play 10 matches at the Euros in the history of the competition (aged 25 years and 120 days), Donnarumma did not deserve to be on the losing side, and Zaccagni's moment of brilliance ensured that was not to be the case.

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