Man Utd top Champions League own goals charts after Martial mistake

By Sports Desk October 20, 2020

Anthony Martial's own goal saw Manchester United set an unwanted Champions League record during Tuesday's clash with Paris Saint-Germain, though it did not ultimately prove costly.

Martial inadvertently headed Neymar's corner beyond David de Gea in the 55th minute of what proved to be a 2-1 win for United at Parc des Princes, cancelling out Bruno Fernandes' opener.

The France international's own goal was the ninth scored by a United player in the Champions League, the most of any club in the competition's history.

Laurent Blanc was the previous Frenchman to score a Champions League own goal for United, with Martial also becoming the second player from the country to put through his own net versus French opposition, after Jeremy Mathieu did so for Barcelona against PSG in April 2015.

United's opener came from the penalty spot, with Fernandes netting at the second attempt after Keylor Navas encroached off his line.

Since the start of last season, United have been awarded 27 penalties in all competitions, scoring 22 of them, both highs among sides in Europe's big five leagues in that time, while Fernandes has converted 11 spot-kicks since his debut for the club in February.

United retook the lead late on, with Marcus Rashford lashing a brilliant low strike in from the edge of the box to secure a winning start to their European campaign.

The England forward's most recent three Champions League goals have all come away from home, with the past two netted at Parc des Princes. 

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    Manchester City star Ilkay Gundogan has pleaded with UEFA to think more about player workloads after changes were made to the Champions League.

    On Sunday, City were one of 12 leading clubs to announce their intention to join the European Super League – a breakaway competition with a closed-shop element.

    By Tuesday evening, City were the first team to officially confirm their withdrawal from that league, with the other English teams swiftly following suit amid widespread criticism and pressure from fellow clubs, UEFA, politicians, the Premier League and the Football Association.

    Atletico Madrid, Inter and Milan have also withdrawn, with Real Madrid, Barcelona and Juventus the other teams who signed up to the project.

    Sunday's reports and subsequent announcement of the 12-team proposal came a day ahead of UEFA confirming changes to the format of the Champions League.

    From 2024, there will be 36 teams featured in the tournament, with each club guaranteed a minimum of 10 games.

    While the European Super League has taken much of the flack, the Champions League alterations would also seemingly guarantee more dominance to the bigger teams, while also congesting an already packed fixture schedule, something which Gundogan is not on board with.

    "With all the Super League stuff going on... can we please also speak about the new Champions League format?" the Germany international tweeted on Thursday.

    "More and more and more games, is no one thinking about us players? The new UCL format is just the lesser of the two evils in comparison to the Super League.

    "The UCL format right now works great and that is why it's the most popular club competition in the world – for us players and for the fans."

    City have progressed to the Champions League semi-finals this season, for only the second time in their history.

    One of the proposed sanctions against the 12 clubs by UEFA was the possibility of banning them from its competitions.

    It remains to be seen what punishment, if any, the teams will receive from UEFA or their domestic leagues after the attempted breakaway.

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    Correa struck twice in a 5-0 thrashing of Eibar on Sunday and he opened the scoring at the Wanda Metropolitano on Thursday with a deflected strike.

    Carrasco eased the nerves with a second goal - his third in as many matches - 10 minutes from time to put Atleti three points clear of Real Madrid with six games to go.

    Diego Simeone's Atletico side ought to have won by a more emphatic margin a day after they confirmed their withdrawal from the collapsed European Super League.

    Yet Dimitrios Siovas should have given Huesca a shock third-minute lead when he shot straight at Jan Oblak from close range after Atleti failed to deal with a free-kick from the left.

    Alvaro Fernandez produced a sharp double save at the other end to deny Carrasco and Saul Niguez, and then Correa opened the scoring six minutes before the break.

    The in-form forward turned sharply after taking a pass from Marcos Llorente and beat Pablo Insua before finding the back of the net with a deflected left-footed strike.

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    Sergio Gomez came agonisingly close to equalising when his free-kick flashed wide of the post before Fernandez beat away another effort from Niguez.

    Carrasco gave Atleti breathing space, tapping in after Llorente unselfishly squared the ball as Huesca appealed for offside. The goal was awarded following a VAR check.

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  • NFL Draft: Trevor Lawrence has all the tools to get the Jaguars up to speed NFL Draft: Trevor Lawrence has all the tools to get the Jaguars up to speed

    The NFL Draft offers a stage for sporting drama, yet there is seemingly no suspense surrounding the identity of the player whose name will be announced first by commissioner Roger Goodell.

    Trevor Lawrence was the presumptive number one pick long before he wrapped up his college career after a third and final season with Clemson. There was no need to return for a senior year – the time has come to head to the next level.

    The Jacksonville Jaguars are waiting to select what they hope will be their long-term answer at quarterback, someone who can help turn around the fortunes of a team who finished the 2020 campaign with a dismal 1-15 record.

    Whether they were 'Tanking for Trevor' or not, their reward for consistently losing is a shot at one of the most talked-about prospects at the position in the past decade. For a franchise with just one winning season in the previous 13 years, the presence of Lawrence offers a fresh start and immediately changes expectation levels.

    New head coach Urban Meyer has not even bothered to try to hide the fact either: Lawrence will become a Jaguar on April 29.

    This will be a new situation for him, though, having lost just twice with the Tigers. Those defeats came in the 2020 National Championship against an LSU offense led by Joe Burrow, last year's first overall selection by the Cincinnati Bengals, and the Sugar Bowl in January, when Justin Fields – another signal-caller expected to be selected early – led scoring drive after scoring drive for Ohio State.

    So, can a serial winner live up to the hype and help the Jags move forward? Stats Perform data helps provide a picture of what Jacksonville - and indeed the league as a whole - can expect.

    Law in order with Tigers

    Lawrence threw for 10,098 yards in his Clemson career. There were 90 touchdown passes and just 17 interceptions in an impressive three-year run, while the average yards per attempt improved - 8.26 to 9.00, then 9.44 – in each of his seasons in South Carolina.

    His completion rate also continued to rise the longer he played at the college level. After hovering just above 65 per cent during years one and two, he was successful on 69.2 per cent of his attempts in 2020.

    That number barely dropped when it came to throwing in the red zone (68.5 per cent), ranking him second for quarterbacks in the FBS across the period of 2018-2020, though he completed on 56.8 per cent of his attempts in third-down situations during that span - only good enough to sit 78th out of those to have at least 100 attempts.

    Still, on third downs with eight or more yards to go in 2020, Lawrence was on target with 27 of his 43 passes. Taking into consideration just third-and-long circumstances when needing 11 yards or more, he was good with 12 out of 19 throws.

    There will undoubtedly be a need to learn quickly on the job, but wide receiver Amari Rodgers - one of Lawrence's main targets when lining up together for the Tigers - has no doubts about his former team-mate delivering on his promise once in the NFL.

    "I think he knows what he's walking into," Rodgers, who had 77 catches for 1,020 yards and seven scores in 2020, told Stats Perform News ahead of the draft.

    "He knows that it might take a little time to change the program around, but just because he came from that winning culture at Clemson and even in high school, he barely lost any games in high school, he just has that winning mindset.

    "He's going to do whatever it takes to change that program around and make them a winning team. I have no doubt he's going to do that."

    The key, though, will be getting enough opportunities to make plays.

    Coping with the heat

    Pressure is coming in many different forms for Lawrence, who prepared for his impending football marriage with the Jaguars by tying the knot with his long-time girlfriend.

    The 21-year-old will have to cope with not just the expectations of a new team's fanbase but also the national spotlight. Going first overall comes with added pressure in itself, but with an opening round set to see a bevy of young quarterbacks selected in the early stages, there will inevitably be comparisons to his fellow rookies.

    Then there is also the added focus awaiting him from NFL defenses. Jacksonville gave up 44 sacks in the 2020 season, one more than Lawrence endured in his entire career at Clemson.

    However, teams will be aware of the risks that come with sending extra rushers at Lawrence, who completed 63.8 per cent of his pass attempts when blitzed. That number ranked him eighth in the FBS across his three-year stint, making the message clear to opponents: get home or be prepared to pay the consequences.

    While not widely regarded as a running quarterback, Lawrence is also mobile enough to make plays with his legs; he rushed for 18 touchdowns in 40 games for Clemson, including eight in his final campaign.

    If not able to make use of his arm to counter a blitz, the QB's footwork and speed off the mark is capable of seeing him sneak out of trouble and exploit the sudden spaces available.

    'The ultimate competitor'

    Lawrence's athleticism allows him to rush for yards when the situation requires, but it is undoubtedly his capabilities as a passer that makes him so appealing to the Jaguars.

    In a campaign where little went right after a Week 1 win over the Indianapolis Colts, James Robinson's emergence as a dual-threat running back provides Lawrence - who completed 64.6 per cent of passes in play-action situations – a potential safety blanket to hit when coming out of the backfield.

    Accuracy is a key trait, too, and the signal-caller has demonstrated how he can go deep when the option is open. On throws of 20 or more air yards, he completed 42.1 per cent. 

    "He's the ultimate competitor, every time he steps on the field he's trying to be the best out there," Rodgers said of his former QB.

    "He's trying to win every single day. Every single rep, he's trying to be perfect, and if it's not, if you miss a ball in practice, we're doing it like three or five times afterwards just so we can have it on mind, that muscle memory that it actually works.

    "He's one of those that prepares like a pro. Ever since he got on campus his freshman year, he prepared outstanding and it showed on the field. I have no doubts he's going to succeed at the next level."

    Lawrence has the talent, temperament and tenacity required to prosper. Now he just has to wait for the formalities of getting picked before joining a franchise desperately in need of a superstar.

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