Francesco Bagnaia was "on another level" as he sealed victory at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday, so says MotoGP championship leader Fabio Quartararo.

Bagnaia held off Quartararo in a pulsating late battle to secure back-to-back victories, following on from his maiden MotoGP win in Aragon last time out.

Yamaha's Quartararo still holds a healthy 48-point lead over Bagnaia in the world championship standings, after the Frenchman made a late charge to secure second place ahead of rookie Enea Bastianini.

Quartararo was delighted with his ride, but was full of admiration for Bagnaia's performance at Misano.

"It was so difficult because they were attacking me from all sides and I lost quite a bit of time in the beginning," Quartararo said.

"But I gave it all and sometimes was really close to the ground. I wanted to try for the win but Francesco was on another level today, I don't know how he's doing that.

"At the end we did the job, points in the championship is really important, we still have an advantage so let's stay calm and give congratulations to Francesco because he did an amazing race."

A first MotoGP win had been a long time coming for Ducati's Bagnaia, who was delighted to so swiftly add a second, and he acknowledged a strong start was crucial to his victory.

"With soft tyres, maybe I was struggling a bit, but I tried to push in the first two or three laps to make the gap," he said.

"It was very difficult, but I tried to push. The pace was quite close.

"We worked it so perfectly, two big wins in a row is incredible for me. I was targeting to win my first race but always I was missing something and now already two, so I'm very happy."

Bastianini, meanwhile, revelled in a maiden podium appearance.

"It's possible to do this with these bikes, I know the potential," Bastianini said. 

"I battled a lot during the race, it was really difficult to close the gap. It was impossible for me to attack these two riders [Bagnaia and Quartararo] today, but it's really nice to have the first podium at Misano, it's amazing for me."

Francesco Bagnaia held off Fabio Quartararo in a pulsating late battle to secure back-to-back victories at the San Marino Grand Prix on Sunday.

Bagnaia led from start to finish but came under huge pressure from Quartararo in the final few laps at Ducati's local track of Misano, where the rain that was forecast never arrived.

The Italian held his nerve to secure another victory from pole a week after claiming his maiden MotoGP win in Aragon.

Bagnaia's triumph left him 48 points behind Yamaha's championship leader Quartararo, who had to settle for second spot following a late charge after starting in third.

Rookie Enea Bastianini produced a sensational ride to get himself on the podium for the first time, having been way back in 11th on the grid, while Marc Marquez took fourth ahead of Jack Miller and Joan Mir.

Bagnaia got off to a flyer and his team-mate Miller retained second spot off the grid, while Jorge Martin spun off early on at Turn 14 but picked himself up to continue.

Marquez gained a couple of early places and Quartararo flashed past Miller to move into second spot, with Bagnaia extending his advantage out in front.

Bastianini stormed past Marquez into fourth and Martin retired with 16 laps to go before Alex Rins crashed out.

Bagnaia looked comfortable but Quartararo started to close significantly with the laps running out, with the Frenchman scenting a dramatic victory.

The ice-cool Bagnaia was not to be denied, though, and his compatriot secured a magnificent third place after overtaking Miller with nine laps remaining.

Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman has no regrets over his decision to take charge at Camp Nou.

Koeman left his role in charge of the Netherlands to return to Barca – where he established himself as a club great as a player – as coach in 2020, following Quique Setien's dismissal

The Dutchman's time at the helm has not gone smoothly, with Barca's financial difficulties making the job even more complicated.

President Joan Laporta was said to be uncertain on keeping Koeman when he took over earlier in 2021, while Barca's squad has been significantly dented by the departure of Lionel Messi in August, while Antoine Griezmann also left late in the window.

Koeman does have Memphis Depay at his disposal, with the duo having previously worked together with the Netherlands, and the former Lyon forward has made a strong start to life in LaLiga.

With Barca labouring to a third-place finish last term, Laporta subsequently started a search for a replacement for Koeman, only to stick with the 58-year-old.

Koeman, who said to NOS some of his president's previous comments were "not wise" and claimed he was "the future of Barcelona", stated prior to Tuesday's Champions League defeat to Bayern Munich that there were no issues between himself and Laporta.

Ahead of Monday's meeting with Granada, Koeman reiterated that, despite the difficulties he faces, he does not regret taking up the job and has no concerns over his future.

"I do not regret coming. It is a complicated situation for me, the club and the fans," Koeman told a news conference.

 

"We lack things. We all want the best for the club. I knew it and wanted to come. But I did not expect this situation, with the economic problems, but I fight and I want to be here and I want to win.

"I don't know anything [about my future]. I only think about the game and the team. The rest is not in my hands.

"I am calm and confident of winning games. We have to recover to have more players available, but I know that we have to win, it is only the results that count.

"I am not afraid for my future. The club decides."

Asked if he feels there is a campaign against him, Koeman said: "I don't feel that way, but everyone has the right to have a say and be for or against me. This cannot be helped."

Barca sit ninth on seven points, but remain unbeaten in their three LaLiga games so far this term. Should they win or draw Monday's game, they will have their highest point total from their first four matches of a league campaign since 2018-19.

History is also on Barca's side. At home, they have won 24 of their 25 matches against Granada in LaLiga, with the only exception coming in their loss in their last meeting at Camp Nou in the competition in April.

Arizona Cardinals general manager Steve Keim insists his team are "not in the business of getting rid of good players", amid speculation over the future of Chandler Jones.

Former New England Patriots pass-rusher Jones sat out OTAs and minicamp as well as reportedly requesting a trade as he entered this season, the last of his current contract.

Last season, three-time Pro Bowler Jones suffered a torn bicep in Week 5 ending his campaign early.

But the 31-year-old started 2021 with a bang, recording an astonishing five sacks as the Cardinals opened with a big 38-13 win at the Tennessee Titans.

Ahead of the Cardinals playing the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday, Keim was asked whether the team would be able to tie Jones down to a new deal.

"We are not in the business of moving on and getting rid of good football players," Keim said to Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.

"You always want to get good players under contract, but there are always a million different moving parts. 

"I have to continue to look at the roster moving forward, generally from a three-year standpoint."

Per Stats Perform data, Jones' five-sack showing was just the eighth time this century a player has recorded that number in a single game. 

The last player to achieve the feat was in fact Haason Reddick, also for the Cardinals, in Week 14 of last season against the New York Giants.

Reddick has since moved on to the Carolina Panthers, but having Jones back with a point to prove should be of huge benefit.

While Jones is focused on what takes place on the field, he acknowledges the contract situation is hard to ignore entirely.

"I'm just playing football, honestly," Jones said. "I just let my agent take care of that – the contract situation – but it is the last year of my contract and I just let that take care of itself.

"Is it something that, I mean, [I think about] off the field? Yeah, I mean, of course. I don't know where I'm gonna live next year. 

"But in the same situation, I think, when the season starts, I tell my agent let's put all that to a side, you take care of that.

"If you want to talk about it, you talk about it. As far as for me, I'm going to play, and I'm going to play my best football, and we'll see what happens then.

"When it comes to the season, I think doing your job is essential, putting the team first, ignore the noise and just managing expectations.

"I think I play best when I don't go in thinking about the deal or the contract."

The Cardinals' Week 1 win was their second largest victory since Kliff Kingsbury became head coach in 2019. 

They play a Vikings team who suffered a disappointing overtime defeat to the Cincinnati Bengals to begin the season.

Phil Jones has revealed how injury hell left him feeling "the lowest I've ever been" and that his career was "finished" as the Manchester United defender at last closes on a first-team return.

The 29-year-old has not played for the Red Devils since January 2020 due to a debilitating knee problem that has dogged him throughout his career.

First identified during his academy years at Blackburn Rovers, Jones had an operation after Euro 2012 to remove the meniscus in his right knee. He was forced to manage the problem for years, playing at "60 per cent" because he would "do anything for United", even though, by 2016, "any resistance against the knee was just agony".

Jones then recovered fitness during the coronavirus-enforced shutdown last year but, when he had to stop running in training, he sought further treatment that culminated in surgery last August. The centre-back has been battling to recover again in the 14 months since and has now played two matches for United's Under-23s, most recently against Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.

Retelling the story of his progress and setbacks to the Times, Jones said the moment his knee gave up again last May left him considering whether the fight was worth it.

He said: "I'd lost my mind completely. I'm thinking, 'I'm finished, can't be bothered with all this anymore'. I went straight to the doc and said, 'Enough's enough. I've had too many anti-inflammatories, too many injections, too many close shaves. I need this sorted.'

"It was the lowest I've ever been as a human being. I used to come back [from the training ground] and be in bits. My head was an absolute mess. I'd be in tears. I'd say to [wife] Kaya, 'I don't know what to do'. I remember us both crying.

"She has kept the ship together while I got my s*** together. I feel guilty because she didn't deserve having to deal with me every day and then look after the kids."

Jones, who has just under two years on his contract, was prompted to speak out when former United team-mate Rio Ferdinand described him as a "waste of time" who was blocking a youth player's passage to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's senior side. Solskjaer himself was angered by Ferdinand's comments.

"Listen, the respect I've got is enormous," Jones said of Ferdinand. "I've shared a dressing room with Rio – great professional. Loved playing with him. Great lad, good humour. Learnt so much off him. But what he said was poor. Really poor. 

"I've done my absolute utmost. From tablets, to my diet, to setting up my house so that every time I get back from training I'm sitting in recovery boots and have my ice machine ready. Nobody can say, 'You didn't do enough'.

"I'll fight for United until someone tells me, 'Go somewhere else'."

Jones, who was also heckled in the street while walking with his infant daughters, added: "In this society we're living in at the minute, all the racism and stuff that affects mental health – I'd just say be careful. You don’t know how it's going to affect players: physically, mentally, emotionally. 

"Listen, my problems are not bigger than the problems someone has to deal with in an office, I know that. But they are problems. Footballers have problems like anybody else, and maybe me talking can help players.

"Every footballer has a tag and unfortunately mine is, 'Let's have a laugh at him'. But – and I say this in the nicest possible way – I know who'll have the last laugh. I'm proud of my career and when it finishes and I'm enjoying my life – and by the way I'm super fortunate that I'll be able to do that, because footballers are fortunate – [the keyboard warriors] will still be in their mum's spare bedroom, sipping Diet Pepsi that's flat, eating a Pot Noodle, sitting in their boxers, tweeting."

Jones, who has only played eight times since the start of 2019-20, won the Premier League title during Alex Ferguson's final season at the club and it was a meeting with his old boss that helped to boost him on his journey back to playing.

"He was just unbelievable for me," Jones added. "I went to the premiere of his film with a few players and he came over, we shook hands and then out of the blue he said, 'Hey, you were f****** terrific against Real Madrid away [in 2013]. F****** marking [Cristiano] Ronaldo.'

"It just gave me so much confidence. To be honest, I didn't even watch his premiere, I was just sitting there thinking about his comment, thinking, 'He remembers it... someone of his magnitude remembers that'."

Manchester United boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has backed Jadon Sancho to come good after a slow start with the club.

The 21-year-old has made five appearances for Untied since signing from Borussia Dortmund for around £73million after a high-profile transfer pursuit that lasted over a year.

England international Sancho arrived to huge fanfare, though he is yet to register a goal or assist going into Sunday's Premier League trip to West Ham.

A frustrating start for Sancho continued when he was sacrificed in the first half of Tuesday's Champions League loss to Young Boys, the winger taken off as part of a reshuffle when Aaron Wan-Bissaka was sent off.

Solskjaer, though, insists nothing has changed in his evaluation of Sancho, who he feels can be a "top forward" for United over more than a decade.

"He is learning all the time," Solskjaer told reporters before the West Ham clash.

"As I said in training as well, he is learning our methods, he is learning the Premier League and of course, he knows the Champions League already from being at Dortmund.

"He is a young boy, he is only 21 and he will improve. 

"We signed him as we see a top forward for 10, 12, 15 years and I have not changed my mind on that.

"He is so clean on the ball and is enthusiastic to learn and that is such a big thing when you come to Manchester United.

"You are always going to get a chance and you play with some of the best players in the world, you are getting some fantastic coaching with the coaches I have got too."

United will do battle with their former manager David Moyes when they take on West Ham, with Sancho not a certainty to start given Paul Pogba, Bruno Fernandes, Mason Greenwood and Cristiano Ronaldo are among the options in attacking positions.

Since his sacking in 2014, Moyes has failed to win any of his seven games against United in all competitions, losing five of those.

However, in-form Ronaldo has a mixed record against West Ham.

The Portugal star was involved in six goals in his last four league appearances against them in his first spell in England (five goals, one assist), though he also suffered three top-flight defeats to the Hammers.

Only against Chelsea (four) has Ronaldo suffered more Premier League losses than he has against West Ham.

Arsenal continued to recover after a dreadful start to the season with a successful trip to Burnley, but Manchester City dropped points at home to Southampton. 

City's failure to find the net was a welcome boost for Liverpool, who cruised past Crystal Palace thanks in part to Sadio Mane making Premier League history with his 100th goal for the Reds. 

Brentford became the 14th promoted side to accrue eight or more points after five games, and the first since Wolves, as they recorded a 2-0 win at Molineux in the early kick-off, while Norwich City remain stuck without a point to their name after going down 3-1 at home to Watford. 

Using Opta data, Stats Perform takes a look at the key statistics from Saturday's most notable fixtures.

Liverpool 3-0 Crystal Palace: Mane registers century as Reds gain early ground in title race

Liverpool headed into the weekend on an eight-match winning run against Palace in the Premier League and they extended that further with yet another success over the Eagles - only against Bolton have they had a longer winning streak (10 between 2007-2011.). 

Unsurprisingly, Mane and Mohamed Salah were both on the scoresheet, with the former becoming the 18th player to score 100 goals in all competitions for the Reds. His first-half finish also means the Senegal forward is the first individual in the Premier League era to score in nine consecutive matches against the same opponent. 

Mane had Salah to thank for his opener and the Egypt forward brought up his 134th goal involvement - which is 24 more than any other player since his debut under Jurgen Klopp - with his second-half strike. 

Naby Keita added the other goal, Liverpool's 16th from a corner in the league – the most by any top-flight side since the start of last season (including all three against Palace). 

Manchester City 0-0 Southampton: Champions held to unlikely draw

It took until the 90th minute for City's one and only attempt on target through Phil Foden, making it their lowest tally in a top-flight game since March 8, 2017 against Stoke City. 

This was City's first Premier League draw in 31 games, dating back to December 2020 as Raheem Sterling became the ninth player – and second Englishman after Joe Hart – to bring up 200 appearances for Pep Guardiola's side in the competition. 

In James Ward-Prowse's 100th consecutive appearance in the division, Southampton will have been delighted to collect just a second point from their past 11 visits to the Etihad Stadium, with this a first clean sheet there since 2003. 

However, the Saints are now winless in seven league games, including drawing four in a row for the first time since March 2002. 

Burnley 0-1 Arsenal: Clarets continue torrid run against resurgent Gunners

'1-0 to the Arsenal' used to ring around Highbury and Mikel Arteta's current crop are following that lead, with this result making it consecutive 1-0 league wins for the first time since December 2014. 

Martin Odegaard's direct free-kick, the 40th scored by 17 different Arsenal players in the Premier League, proved the difference as Sean Dyche's side failed to beat Saturday's opponents for a 10th consecutive league meeting. 

The Clarets attempted shots through 11 different players – only against Wolves in 2010 have they had more (12) - but still failed to avoid reaching 13 league games without a win at Turf Moor. 

Aaron Ramsdale maintained his run of clean sheets with a third in a row in his first three appearances for the Gunners, making him the first Arsenal goalkeeper to do so since Wojciech Szczesny in 2009-10.

Aston Villa 3-0 Everton: Substitute Bailey shines as Begovic struggles

Leon Bailey appeared as a second-half substitute, scored and was then brought off 21 minutes after his introduction as Aston Villa downed Everton, in the process extending their Villa Park unbeaten run in the league to five games – their longest such run since January 2015. 

Matthew Cash was also on target for a first goal in his 33rd Premier League appearance, while Lucas Digne netted his third own goal, the most of any player since his arrival at Everton ahead of the 2018-19 campaign. 

All three goals games came after half-time as Villa recorded their biggest win over the Toffees in all competitions since 2005. 

Asmir Begovic was granted his first Premier League appearance in 896 days but the goalkeeper has now conceded 22 goals in seven appearances since his last clean sheet. 

The Milwaukee Brewers may have clinched their postseason spot for the fourth season in a row but they are not celebrating yet.

The Brewers defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-4 to seal their playoffs spot on Saturday, with Corbin Burnes dominating on the hill with 11 strikeouts.

The win improved Milwaukee's record to a 91-57 in the National League Central division, well ahead of the St Louis Cardinals (78-69) and the Cincinnati Reds (77-72).

"We’ve put the ability to win the division in our control, so that's our goal and we're sticking to that goal," Brewers manager Craig Counsell said.

"We know that we're in the playoffs and everybody is thrilled with that, but we feel like we've earned the right to wait until we win this division."

Counsell has been Brewers manager since 2015, leading the modest franchise throughout a productive period.

Burnes added: "There are still a lot of games left that we have to keep our focus toward.

"I think there will be a little bit of celebrating tonight, but the main celebration is going to be when we clinch the division."

The Brewers have never been world champions, making the postseason seven times previously. Milwaukee were American League pennant winners in 1982.

Max Scherzer continued his dominance in Cincinnati, tossing down seven strikeouts as the Los Angeles Dodgers won 5-1 over the Reds in MLB on Saturday.

Scherzer allowed only two hits and had two walks across seven innings in the win which slows the Reds' National League (NL) Wild Card pursuit.

The Dodgers right-hander has a 0.33 ERA in his four starts in Cincinnati and he maintained that form as he continues to be a leading contender for the NL Cy Young Award.

"I just had a good feel for it today," Scherzer said after the game. "Every pitch plays off each other. Every pitch makes every other pitch better."

The win, which boosts the Dodgers' hopes for finishing top in the NL West division ahead of the San Francisco Giants, was set up after Gavin Lux's fifth-inning two-run triple.

 

Brewers lock in postseason berth

The Milwaukee Brewers secured their place in the postseason for the fourth consecutive season with a 6-4 win over the Chicago Cubs.

Josh Hader finished the job with two Ks in the ninth inning after Corbin Burnes had 11 strikeouts across six innings. Manny Pina homered twice, including the go-ahead blast in the eighth inning.

Milwaukee joins the Giants and the Dodgers in already qualifying for the playoffs.

Giancarlo Stanton hit his 30th home run of the season but it was only consolation as the New York Yankees were beaten 11-3 by the Cleveland Indians.

Xander Bogaerts crushed a three-run homer to left-center field as the Boston Red Sox defeated the Baltimore Orioles 9-3.

A three-run first inning helped the Oakland Athletics boost their Wild Card aspirations with a 3-1 win over the Los Angeles Angels whose only run came from Shohei Ohtani.

 

Padres on the slide

Manny Machado and Fernando Tatis were involved a dugout flare-up as the San Diego Padres lost 3-2 to the St Louis Cardinals further denting their postseason hopes. The Padres insisted it was not infighting, but instead leadership from Machado trying to get Tatis to move on from being called out on strikes. Either way, the Padres have now lost seven of their past nine games and are sliding out of playoffs contention.

 

Semien reaches 40 HR mark

Marcus Semien brought up his 40th home run of the season, crushing a fourth inning fastball into left field. The homer helped the Toronto Blue Jays turn a 2-0 deficit into a 6-2 win over the Minnesota Twins. Semien joins Vladimir Guerrero, Salvador Perez and Shohei Ohtani in reaching the 40-mark, while he is within three home runs of equaling the record for a second baseman in one season.

 

Saturday's results 

Cleveland Indians 11-3 New York Yankees
Boston Red Sox 9-3 Baltimore Orioles
Los Angeles Dodgers 5-1 Cincinnati Reds
Toronto Blue Jays 6-2 Minnesota Twins
Colorado Rockies 6-0 Washington Nationals
Detroit Tigers 4-3 Tampa Bay Rays
Pittsburgh Pirates 6-3 Miami Marlins
Texas Rangers 2-1 Chicago White Sox
Arizona Diamondbacks 6-4 Houston Astros
Kansas City Royals 8-1 Seattle Mariners
Milwaukee Brewers 6-4 Chicago Cubs
St Louis Cardinals 3-2 San Diego Padres
Philadelphia Phillies 5-3 New York Mets 
San Francisco Giants 2-0 Atlanta Braves
Oakland Athletics 3-1 Los Angeles Angels

 

Padres at Cardinals

The Cardinals (78-69) and the Padres (76-72) will meet again with both pressing their respective cases for the second NL Wild Card spot.

Maverick McNealy stumbled but held on for a share of the lead alongside Jim Knous after the third day at the Fortinet Championship at Silverado Resort in California on Saturday.

Knous, playing on his second-to-last start of a medical extension, stormed into the joint lead with a seven-under 65 highlighted by five consecutive birdies on his front nine. It is the first time Knous has held a lead in his PGA Tour career.

The 31-year-old American was 30 at the turn, before birdieing two of the final three holes, including sinking a 17-foot putt. He hit 11 of 18 greens in regulation.

Knous joined McNealy at the top of the leaderboard at 14 under, after the 25-year-old Californian had held a two-stroke lead at the halfway point.

McNealy endured a dramatic day, bogeying four holes on the front nine, but steadied with four birdies on the final six holes to finish two-under 70 and retain a share of the lead.

The pair are two shots ahead of Max Homa, Scott Stallings, Mito Pereira, Troy Merritt and Beau Hossler.

Homa also shot a seven-under 65 to move up the leaderboard, with nine birdies and two bogeys for the day, carding 30 on the back nine.

Talor Gooch is alone at 11 under, ahead of 2021 PGA Championship winner Phil Mickelson who is one of 10 players with 10 under after three rounds.

After a bogey on the 12th hole, 51-year-old Mickelson rallied by birdieing five straight holes to stay in the hunt. The veteran finished the day with seven birdies for a five-under 67.

Bayern Munich midfielder Leon Goretzka says the side "just love playing football" after hammering Bochum 7-0 in the German Bundesliga on Saturday.

The German champions turned on the style with a stunning display, with Joshua Kimmich netting a double, while four others scored along with a Vasilios Lampropoulos own goal.

Bayern raced to a 4-0 half-time lead with first-half strikes from Leroy Sane, Kimmich and Serge Gnabry before the Lampropoulos own goal.

Robert Lewandowski added a fifth on the hour, before Kimmich and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting rounded out a comprehensive performance as Bayern dominated with 24-5 shots including 15 on target to Bochum's none.

"We just love playing football," said Goretzka who got the assist for Kimmich's second goal.

"We want to develop more, from game to game, and absorb our new coach's philosophy more and more.

"Today was a lot of fun for us, but not so much for Bochum. Of course, I'm always a bit sorry about that from a personal standpoint.

"We didn't give Bochum any breathing space. The first 10 minutes were a bit hectic. That's when they got into playing the game they wanted to play - long balls, a lot of fighting for the second ball.

"But then we gradually found our structure and defended very well. That's just how we dominated."

Bayern have enjoyed an excellent start to life under new head coach Julian Nagelsmann, who replaced Hansi Flick in the off-season.

The Bavarians are top of the Bundesliga with 13 points from five games, while they have won their past seven games in all competitions.

Nagelsmann said he was happy with the way his side played and offered praise to Sane, who opened the scoring with a fine free-kick.

"I see [Sane] developing very positively," Nagelsmann said. "He was highly committed but he was also a full throttle in the games before the international break.

"He is fully committed in situations which don’t have anything to do with talent. He rewards himself by getting in these situations.

"I remember a situation in which he kept on defending for 30 metres and won the ball before his own box. He showed the same with the national team and scored today. Offensively he is always in a good position.

"Everyone tries to limit him to the wing but he has now played for the fourth time as a bit of an attacking midfielder. He finds spaces where he can use his qualities."

Former Manchester City attacker Sane has scored two goals and provided two assists from five Bundesliga games this term.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Rio Ferdinand got it all wrong after the former Manchester United captain questioned why Cristiano Ronaldo was allowed to vent from the touchline.

Ferdinand is a former United team-mate of the current Red Devils boss and said he would have told Ronaldo, with whom he also played, to stay in his seat rather than race to pitchside to complain about a tackle.

Ronaldo, newly back at the club after 12 years away, was on his feet alongside Bruno Fernandes as they expressed anger about a foul by Young Boys midfielder Christopher Martins on Nemanja Matic in Tuesday's Champions League clash.

Both Ronaldo and Fernandes had been substituted by that stage of a game that United lost 2-1 after a stoppage-time winner by their Swiss hosts.

In his role as a pundit for BT Sport, Ferdinand had said: "If I'm the manager, I've got to be honest, I'm telling him to sit down."

But, quoted in several Sunday newspapers, Solskjaer explained that he had no complaints about the United pair showing their frustrations.

"Rio, again you know, sometimes he comments on things he doesn't really know," said Solskjaer.

"It's not like he was coaching players. No. Both Bruno and Cristiano, as competitive as they are, suddenly I had them on my shoulder.

"They were there for a brief spell and shouted at the referee. That was the aggravation of getting a few bad decisions against us. But then Cristiano sat down and Bruno sat down."

Ferdinand suggested it would be difficult to prevent a player of Ronaldo's standing in the game to hold his tongue.

"He's just a passionate guy. He wants to win, he's desperate to win, and he can't hold it in," Ferdinand said. "If that means he has to go up there and stand next to the manager, shouting instructions, so be it."

Raphael Varane believes he is fulfilling his destiny after moving to Manchester United from Real Madrid.

The centre-back won three LaLiga titles and four Champions League crowns in Spain's capital, while triumphing at the 2018 World Cup with France.

Varane, who joined Madrid in 2011 from Lens, completed a move to United in a deal worth a reported £42.7million (€50m) in August.

However, in an interview with Sky Sports, the France international revealed he almost arrived at Old Trafford 10 years prior as former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson travelled to his Lille home to tout the then 18-year-old's services.

"It was a special moment for me and my family," Varane said. "It's amazing to meet a person like him [Alex Ferguson] at 18.

"You know, after that, it's your destiny. Ten years in Madrid and now I'm here.

"This is a new challenge for me. A different competition, a different mentality, a different atmosphere. It's all new for me but I've enjoyed every day so far.

"It's a big challenge to get Manchester United back to the top but I feel people want to win, people want to do great things with this club, and that's a big motivation for me."

 

In the absence of Sergio Ramos last term, Varane shone for Los Blancos, who he ranked second among defenders for both duels won (110) and interceptions (36) in LaLiga.

United's defensive acquisition dominated aerially as well, winning 73 aerial duels – more than double the tallies of his defensive colleagues.

But despite his success at Madrid, he remained on the undercard as he was surrounded by big names such as Cristiano Ronaldo, who he has reunited with in Manchester.

"I don't play football for this focus [the headlines]," Varane continued. "I just want to help the team and do my best.

"I want to improve and be who I am on the pitch. That's my objective and my mentality.

"Playing with this type of player [Cristiano Ronaldo], you improve every day. If he is still playing to such a high level at his age, it's because his work is amazing. I'm very happy to play with him.

"I think he is the best example in the world in terms of work ethic and winning mentality."

French football authorities will demand answers from Lens after home fans invaded the pitch and confronted rival supporters at half-time in their Ligue 1 derby against Lille. 

Lens general manager Arnaud Pouille is certain the Ligue de Football Professionnel (LFP) will begin disciplinary proceedings against his club, following the ugly scenes at their Stade Bollaert-Delelis home. 

Lille may also be summoned as league chiefs unpick the unsavoury scenes that saw fans from each club contribute to a volatile atmosphere. 

Tension spilled over at the interval as scores of Lens supporters raced across the pitch towards those who had travelled to support Lille. 

Pouille said the north-east derby trouble was bad news for the clubs because it would be "the image of the region that is affected". 

"I have a clear idea of what happened," he said, according to L'Equipe. "But I don't want to influence anyone by speaking out. It is not under our authority. 

"There were a few actions that ignited the powder and a reaction that is damaging. But in these cases, speaking out is complicated because whatever you say, you make it feel like you want to influence. 

"We condemn any act of violence. There are proceedings that are ongoing. At the level of the LFP, at the level of justice, there will be complaints filed by the club, and by the opposing club also from what I understood." 

Lille announced on Twitter at half-time that the game was under threat, stating: "Following a pitch invasion from the home end of the stadium, an emergency meeting is taking place to decide whether the match will be continued or abandoned." 

Pouille said he had spoken to Lille president Olivier Letang at half-time, as the trouble occurred. 

The recent abandonment of the match between Nice and Marseille due to supporter violence was followed by Nice receiving a two-point penalty, one of which was suspended. 

According to Pouille, the trouble at Saturday's match could not be compared to the mayhem in that fixture. 

"It is not at all the same circumstances," Pouille said. "No players in the [Lens-Lille] game were affected, the main events took place at half-time. 

"Yes, there will certainly be a summons from the disciplinary committee, we will discuss with them at that time." 

Lens went on to win 1-0 against last season's champions, who have made a rocky start to their title defence. 

Lille head coach Jocelyn Gourvennec said he had been unaware of the precise circumstances behind the trouble. The game was held up, with 40 minutes between the end of the first half and the beginning of the second. 

"Half-time incidents? We had already returned to the locker room. I don't really know what happened," Gourvennec said. "We were informed by the delegates and Mr Millot [referee Benoit Millot] who spoke to the coaches and captains. 

"It was just a bit long, it lengthened the half-time, we had to do a warm-up again, it was not ideal. I do not know more. I hope there were no injuries."

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