Rennes 2-2 Tottenham: Spurs lose Lucas and Bergwijn to injury in Europa Conference League opener

By Sports Desk September 16, 2021

Tottenham lost Lucas Moura and Steven Bergwijn to injury as they played out a 2-2 draw with Ligue 1 side Rennes in Thursday's opening Europa Conference League match.

Lucas played a big part in Tottenham's opener, which was credited as a Loic Bade own goal, before having to make way following a poor challenge from Flavien Tait.

It was Tait who had earlier equalised for Rennes with a curled finish at an atmospheric Roazhon Park, shortly before Bergwijn was withdrawn with an apparent ankle issue.

Gaetan Laborde completed the turnaround 19 minutes from time, only for substitute Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg to quickly hit back and earn Spurs a point in the Group G clash.

Tanguy Ndombele was brought into the Tottenham side for his first appearance under Nuno Espirito Santo and played a huge part in the opening goal with 11 minutes played.

The Frenchman kept the ball in play with a fancy backheeled pass in a swift move that culminated in Lucas' attempted cross hitting Bade's boot and wrong-footing Romain Salin.

Serhou Guirassy then had a shot saved by Pierluigi Gollini but exchanged passes with Tait soon after for his team-mate to curl one into the bottom-right corner for the equaliser.

That ended Rennes' 212-minute wait for a goal and the hosts spurned a big chance to edge in front before half-time when Kamaldeen Sulemana headed wide from close range.

The second half had a disrupted feel to it following a number of fouls, one of which led to Lucas' injury, with the Spurs attacker unable to run off the damage.

That all changed when Laborde converted a rebound after Gollini pushed Sulemana's shot into his path, but it took Nuno's side just five minutes to respond through Hojbjerg's poked finish from close range to ensure the points were shared.

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  • Solskjaer reflects on 'darkest day' as he shoulders responsibility for Man Utd's 5-0 defeat Solskjaer reflects on 'darkest day' as he shoulders responsibility for Man Utd's 5-0 defeat

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer labelled Manchester United's 5-0 defeat at the hands of Liverpool as his "darkest day" as manager of the club.

    United's poor start to the season hit a potential nadir on Sunday as Liverpool ran riot at Old Trafford.

    Mohamed Salah became the first Premier League player to score an away hat-trick against United, with Naby Keita and Diogo Jota having put Jurgen Klopp's team in control inside the opening 15 minutes.

    Paul Pogba came on from the bench for a calamitous 15-minute cameo in which he conceded possession for Salah's hat-trick goal before seeing red for a lunge on Keita, though United at least managed to keep the Reds out while down to 10.

    Having seen their team go into half-time 4-0 down for the first time in a Premier League game, United's fans let their feelings known as the players and Solskjaer walked off, and the atmosphere hardly improved after the final whistle.

    Solskjaer appears to be under mounting pressure, with United relying on last-minute winners to see off Villarreal and Atalanta in the Champions League in recent weeks, while they have lost three of their last four top-flight matches, conceding 11 times and scoring just three in return.

    "It is not easy to say something apart from it is the darkest day I have had leading these players," a dejected Solskjaer told Sky Sports.

    "We were not good enough individually and as a team, can't give a team like Liverpool those chances but unfortunately we did.

    "The whole performance was not good enough. We created openings, they had chances and they have been clinical. The third goal decided the game."

    Asked who had to take responsibility, Solskjaer replied: "It is mine, that is it. The coaching staff are very, very good, brilliant.

    "I choose the way we approach the game, we were not clinical enough and gave too much space and when you give good players space they score."

    United decided to try and press Liverpool from the off, a tactic that swiftly proved naive, though Solskjaer did not regret his approach. 

    "We are at home, playing against Liverpool, we have gone here over the last two and half years and had a similar approach to high press but today they scored on their chances I think as United we should always try to stamp our authority on the game," he said.

    "That fourth goal is when you go into half time with having to score one every 15 minutes. I know these boys are capable of it. The fourth, that was probably game over.

    "You can look at last season we lose to Spurs 6-1 this is worse, miles worse. This is miles worse for me as a Manchester lad. I've just got to say we have to get over this as quickly as we can."

    Solskjaer knows questions over his future will only increase, but he insisted he is in no mood to give in.

    He added: "I have come too far, we have come too far as a group. We are too close to give up now.

    "It is going to be a difficult one. The players will be low but there's loads of characters there. We know we are rock bottom, we can't feel any worse than this. Let's see where we take it."

  • Klopp closes in on 200th win and Salah sets more records as Man Utd suffer historic Liverpool defeat Klopp closes in on 200th win and Salah sets more records as Man Utd suffer historic Liverpool defeat

    Jurgen Klopp closed in on a milestone win in sensational style as Mohamed Salah's hat-trick inspired Liverpool to a 5-0 rout of Manchester United.

    Matters look bleak for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, with the pressure mounting on the United manager, who saw his team torn to shreds on Sunday.

    Salah scored the Reds' final three goals, having teed up Naby Keita's opener, while Diogo Jota grabbed Liverpool's second. Paul Pogba's red card merely compounded United's misery.

    It was a momentous day for Liverpool and a dismal one for United. Stats Perform looks at the records that tumbled in an historic result.

     

    Klopp closes in on double century

    Taking charge of his 229th match as Liverpool manager in the Premier League, Klopp claimed his 198th victory as Reds boss in all competitions. 

    If including shoot-out victories, which Opta do not, Klopp has in fact already hit that mark.

    He has also overtaken Rafael Benitez and Gerard Houllier (including matches as co-manager with Roy Evans) as the manager to have taken charge of the most games for the club in the top flight.

    Klopp's team look well set for a title tilt. They have scored 19 goals in their first five away matches in the Premier League this season.

    In English top-flight history only two sides have scored more after five away games – Manchester City in 2011-12 (20) and United in 1907-08 (20).

    Salah in dreamland

    It has been some season so far for Salah, as he moved onto 10 Premier League goals with a gift-wrapped hat-trick.

    He is the first away player to net a hat-trick at Old Trafford since Ronaldo Nazario did so for Real Madrid in April 2003, while he is only the second player to do so for Liverpool, after Fred Howe in 1936.

    Salah's goal tally in the Premier League now stands at 107, three clear of Didier Drogba as the highest-scoring African player in the competition's history.

    The 29-year-old has scored in 10 consecutive appearances for the Reds in all competitions. Since he joined the club prior to the 2017-18 campaign, he is the only Premier League player to score in 10 successive matches.

     

    Solemn times for Solskjaer

    United were 2-0 down inside 15 minutes for the first time, and 4-0 down at half-time for the first time in any Premier League game.

    The Red Devils have only lost by a larger margin in this fixture in October 1895 when Liverpool beat them 7-1 at Anfield. It is their largest margin of defeat in this fixture when playing at home.

    Liverpool are only the second team in English top-flight history to win consecutive away games by a margin of five or more goals without conceding themselves, after United in February-March 1960.

    It is the first time United have lost by a margin of at least five goals at Old Trafford without scoring since they slumped to a 5-0 defeat to Man City in 1955.

    Pogba's calamitous cameo 

    Pogba had a 15-minute cameo to forget. He replaced Mason Greenwood at half-time, but was trudging down the tunnel on the hour mark after lunging in on Keita, who had to be taken off on a stretcher.

    He had 20 touches, made 16 passes and was robbed of possession in the build-up to Salah's hat-trick goal. It was one of five occasions he gave the ball away.

    The France midfielder's red card was the 17th in Premier League matches between Manchester United and Liverpool – the only fixture with more red cards in the competition is Everton vs Liverpool (22).

    Cristiano Ronaldo also struggled to have an impact, despite a disallowed goal. The 36-year-old previously featured in a 5-0 defeat during his time at Real Madrid, to Barcelona in November 2010.

  • Why still him? Liverpool obliteration leaves Solskjaer with nowhere left to hide Why still him? Liverpool obliteration leaves Solskjaer with nowhere left to hide

    Manchester City's 6-1 demolition of Manchester United at Old Trafford, 10 years and one day ago, was probably the worst defeat ever endured by Alex Ferguson.

    In the club's modern history, even in the post-Fergie wilderness, there had never quite been an occasion to match it, even accounting for Tottenham's victory by the same scoreline last year.

    There has now.

    Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, the hero of Barcelona 1999, knew a thing or two about creating spectacles as a player. As a manager, he still has the knack.

    Manchester United 0, Liverpool 5. Has there ever been a more abject, visceral demolition of the 20-time English champions in the Premier League era? Has it ever looked this bad?

    A goal down after five minutes and a missed Bruno Fernandes sitter. A hat-trick for Mohamed Salah, the first in the league away to United since QPR's Dennis Bailey in 1992. A disallowed goal for Cristiano Ronaldo. A 15-minute cameo for Paul Pogba that ended in a red card. A total of 35 home goals conceded in 2021, their worst such return for 60 years. The biggest win for Liverpool over their rivals since 1925. And hardly a whiff of surprise about the whole sordid thing.

    As former midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger tweeted at full-time: "A devastating day for all Man Utd supporters and the club but it didn't come out of nowhere. It was not a surprise."

    City's 6-1 win in October 2011 was a watershed moment; a giant step on the way to their first Premier League title. But it was still an aberration: after all, United finished level on points that season and responded by winning the trophy back a year later.

    This was more in keeping with Liverpool and City's 3-0 wins over David Moyes' United. Those games, too, were barely contests, barely surprising given United's problems, and barely left the manager anywhere to hide.

    The Glazers have stood by Solskjaer, resolutely, perhaps misguidedly. Watching United lose 3-1 at Anfield was enough for them to sack Jose Mourinho three years ago. If they tuned in to Sunday's match, if they saw homecoming hero Ronaldo eclipsed by Salah and 'legacy fans' leaving in droves at half-time, can they afford not to act?

    United have played nine games since the fanfare of Ronaldo's goalscoring return against Newcastle United. They have won three of those, drawn one and lost five.

    That's bad enough, but consider the circumstances. Only a last-second penalty save from David de Gea ensured the 2-1 win at West Ham; only Ronaldo's injury-time intervention salvaged an undeserved victory over Villarreal; only Tom Davies' strange decision to pass to the offside Yerry Mina, rather than shoot, meant Everton left Old Trafford with only a 1-1 draw.

    Fine margins have been the difference between United's form being considered merely unacceptable, and the alarms this embarrassment will sound. Nobody who has watched them across those nine matches could seriously claim what happened against Liverpool could not have been foreseen.

    The rain-soaked turf was a glistening canvas depiction of everything wrong about Solskjaer's team – if we needed reminding.

    There are the collective tactical concerns, as seen for Naby Keita's opening goal, when Mason Greenwood and Aaron Wan-Bissaka gave up their positions to press Liverpool with all the ferocity and endeavour of an apathetic tortoise.

    There are the individual mistakes, some of which would be incomprehensible for amateurs, never mind those playing for the world's most supported football club. Keita and Salah each scored with the United back five blocking not their route to de Gea's goal, but back to the halfway line. Before Diogo Jota's tap-in, Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw, defenders who cost a combined £110million, shied away from a loose ball as though under duress to keep dirt off the sponsor logos on their shirts.

    United have committed eight errors leading to shots this season, the joint-most in the Premier League along with Wolves. But where Bruno Lage's men counter that through tackling – only eight sides have won more – United have won a league-low 61. When it comes to making amends for these mistakes, the Red Devils right now are either not interested or not capable.

    Salah completed his hat-trick early in the second half, Ronaldo had a fine goal of his own disallowed by VAR, but many United fans were no longer in the stadium to watch. The loyalty to Solskjaer's legacy as a player has kept him immune to the kind of vitriol seen in the final days of Moyes, or Louis van Gaal, or Mourinho, but little served up by any of Fergie's successors was quite as horrifying as this.

    United's daunting run of games since the October international break has yielded one win, two defeats, five goals scored and 11 conceded. With Tottenham, Atalanta and City to come next, you'd expect them to lose all three.

    This is Manchester United's new normal: a total, shameful mess.

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