Diogo Jota capped an excellent week in front of goal with a double as Wolves boosted their Champions League aspirations with a 3-0 win over bottom club Norwich City.

Jota was on target with a hat-trick in Wolves' 4-0 victory over Espanyol in the Europa League on Thursday.

The forward opened the scoring after 19 minutes at Molineux on Sunday, firing in a low finish on the turn after being teed up by Matt Doherty.

His second came 11 minutes later as he tapped in from Romain Saiss' low cross.

Tim Krul produced heroics to turn Ruben Neves' free-kick onto the bar before the interval but he could do nothing to prevent Raul Jimenez from making it 3-0 on the rebound after Jota had struck the post.

Wolves are eighth, two points behind Manchester United, who occupy fifth, which would be good enough for the Champions League following Manchester City's two-season ban from European competition.

Nuno Espirito Santo's men gained ground on Tottenham and Sheffield United after both dropped points on Saturday, meaning they trail that pair by just a point. Norwich, meanwhile, are still seven points adrift of safety.

After dominating European football for over a decade, could Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo shelve their rivalry and come together as team-mates?

David Beckham might be the man to make it happen.

The former Manchester United and Real Madrid midfielder appears to have ambitious plans for his new MLS franchise.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI, RONALDO WANTED AT INTER MIAMI

Barcelona captain Messi, 32, and Juventus talisman Ronaldo, 35, will end their careers on the same side if Inter Miami co-owner Beckham gets his wish, according to the Mirror.

The newspaper claims the new MLS outfit are "already thinking big" and could look to lure football's two biggest superstars to the United States.

LA Galaxy have also been linked with a move for Messi but Minnesota United head coach Adrian Heath believes Beckham's pulling power has the potential to create a dream attacking duo.

“For Ronaldo and Messi, the two obvious destinations if they came to the MLS would be Los Angeles and Miami," Heath told the Mirror.

"And, with his links to both players and the plan Beckham and his backers have in place, I can really only see them going to Miami."

ROUND-UP

- Manchester United are set to launch a £50million bid for Wolves forward Diogo Jota, scorer of a Europa League hat-trick on Thursday, reports the Express.

- United have also been linked with Birmingham City teenager Jude Bellingham but the Red Devils are set to face competition from Liverpool, according to the Daily Star.

- Serie A leaders Juventus are at the front of the queue for Paul Pogba but Paris Saint-Germain also hope to land the French star, reports Le10 Sport.

- PSG, meanwhile, are planning for life after Thomas Tuchel, who is said to be in talks with Bundesliga giants Bayern Munich. L'Equipe claims the Ligue 1 champions could look to replace him with either Massimiliano Allegri or Lazio boss Simone Inzaghi.

- Premier League clubs Sheffield United, Wolves and Burnley are showing interest in Leeds United midfielder Kalvin Phillips, suggests the Sun.

Diogo Jota scored a second successive Europa League hat-trick as Wolves took complete control of their last-32 tie against Espanyol with a 4-0 first-leg win.

Wolves had failed to score in back-to-back Premier League matches but had no trouble in overcoming LaLiga's bottom-placed side at Molineux on Thursday.

Jota netted a treble when Wolves won by the same scoreline against Besiktas in December, and he opened the scoring here with a close-range finish inside 15 minutes before doubling his tally in the second half after Ruben Neves' sublime 25-yard volley put the hosts two ahead.

The Portugal international completed his latest hat-trick with nine minutes remaining to leave Espanyol, who were fortunate not to have Ander Iturraspe dismissed, with a mountain to climb in next week's return leg.

Willy Boly had a first-half goal disallowed by VAR as Wolves drew 0-0 with 10-man Leicester City at Molineux.

The hosts thought they had gone ahead on the stroke of half-time when Boly headed in following a short-corner routine, but the Foxes earned a reprieve when replays appeared to show Pedro Neto was marginally offside before he whipped the ball across.

Wolves had a numerical advantage for the final 14 minutes when Choudhury collected a second yellow card for bringing down Leander Dendoncker after he had slipped.

However, the hosts could not make their numerical advantage count, Raul Jimenez heading wide when unmarked eight yards out in stoppage time, with Wolves moving up to seventh and Leicester staying third.

Nuno Espirito Santo has yet to enter new contract talks with Wolves but says he remains as committed as ever to the Premier League high-flyers.

The former Porto boss has worked wonders since taking over at Molineux in 2017, guiding the club into the top flight as Championship winners in his first season in charge.

Wolves secured a Europa League spot in the 2018-19 campaign and breezed through to the round of 32 this season, while they sat six points behind fourth-placed Chelsea ahead of a clash with Leicester City on Friday.

Nuno is in the final 18 months of his contract, but the Portuguese head coach - who was linked with Arsenal before Mikel Arteta was appointed - is relaxed about his future.

"I have had no proposal. I have one year more, I don't think about that," Nuno said.

"We will see, but I'm only focused on [the Leicester game]. We have one more year left on the contract. We signed it and are committed to it."

Nuno added: "They [Wolves fans] can be assured every day this is my obsession. Wolves is my obsession, it's my life. I don't think about anything else. I'm talking to you [the media] but I'm thinking about the game.

"I changed my life when we started this three seasons ago - not only me but a lot of people moved and changed their lives to come to Wolverhampton.

"The players have been with us since day one so this is why I say it's my life. I'm 100 per cent here and I give everything I have to help my players and help improve the club. I give everything I can."

Leicester City boss Brendan Rodgers has thrown his support behind James Maddison and defended the midfielder's lifestyle choices.

Maddison was pictured partying in Dubai during the Premier League mid-season break, the period which has been devised to allow players a breather from a demanding campaign.

Yet manager Rodgers stressed there are no questions about Maddison's professionalism and claimed he had become a popular target for critics.

The Foxes star is in his second season with Leicester and has scored six goals in 24 Premier League games this term, leading to suggestions he could earn a Euro 2020 call with England.

According to Rodgers, the 23-year-old has been portrayed in an unjust light, but he might just have to get used to such treatment.

"It's unfortunate. We're supposedly in this great world now where everyone cares, this wonderful atmosphere where everyone wants to look after you," Rodgers said.

"It's rubbish because the first thing people do is try and stitch you up.

"It's contradictory, it's unbelievable. So there's something framed around him which, okay, he'll have to live with, but that's someone else's narrative.

"This is a 23-year-old boy who is single, he's been given a week free. We try to educate them in many ways, but this is something I'm not too bothered about."

Clubs have typically given players free rein during the break, trusting their judgement, and Rodgers has only positive things to say of Maddison's contributions for Leicester this season.

He has been such an impressive performer that Maddison has been linked with several rival clubs, including Manchester United.

"I can only judge him on my time here, nearly a year now," said Rodgers. "He's been absolutely brilliant for me. And outside of the pitch, he's been an absolute joy."

Leicester, who sit third in the Premier League, return to action when they face Wolves on Friday.

Rodgers will expect Maddison to show no negative effects from his time out of the country, outlining what he requires from his players, even when away from the club.

The former Celtic and Liverpool boss said: "There's two different mindsets, a social mindset and a professional mindset.

"The top ones, professionally, have the mentality to do it every single day and look after themselves and then produce."

Gary Neville saw signs of Juan Sebastian Veron in Bruno Fernandes' debut for Manchester United, but was ultimately encouraged by the midfielder's display.

Fernandes played the full 90 minutes at Old Trafford on Saturday as United were held to a 0-0 Premier League draw by Wolves.

The Portugal international, signed in a move that could eventually be worth £67million from Sporting CP, had five shots, three of which were on target, and attempted a game-high 88 passes, though he did not directly create a chance for any of his team-mates.

Neville saw enough to take the positives from Fernandes' composed start, but felt a positional switch paid dividends after initially comparing his efforts in the number 10 role to those of Veron, who struggled to fit in with United between 2001 and 2003.

"It's early days but I like what he did," former United defender Neville said of Fernandes on Sky Sports. "I thought he did okay, it was a difficult game for him. 

"We've heard a lot about his assists and his goals and how he can affect games at the front of the pitch, but when he was moved into more of a holding midfield role alongside Fred in the second half I actually thought he did quite well. 

"He showed a lot of experience and discipline to not expose himself too much.

"In the first half he was in a number 10 role and he reminded me a bit of what Juan Sebastien Veron used to do when he first came to Manchester United. 

"He charged around everywhere and moved everywhere. He was busy and was looking for spaces but didn't really play in a position.

"I preferred him in the second half when he was a little more controlled and I thought it was a decent debut from him. 

"Fred has emerged in recent weeks and those two could control games - there is some promise there." 

However, Neville was less complimentary about United's last-gasp signing of striker Odion Ighalo on loan from Shanghai Shenhua, describing it as a desperate move.

While ex-Watford striker Ighalo could succeed, the eight-time Premier League winner is baffled how Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men were scrambling around on deadline day so long after Romelu Lukaku, now with Inter, expressed his desire to leave.

Neville said: "They just needed a body in that area, Marcus Rashford's going to be out for another couple of months. I can't let the club off the hook though, unfortunately.

"Romelu Lukaku told us a couple of weeks ago that he had said he was going to leave last February or March. That's nine months to be able to manoeuvre and get into a position to sign a striker for the club for the long-term. 

"And yet they have ended up desperately doing one on deadline day.

"The boy may do very well. He might come in and settle in, he might score goals and do a job for the club.

"But the fact that the club were in that position, knowing that Alexis Sanchez and Lukaku were leaving for many, many months, tells us that Manchester United, at this moment in time, are struggling to navigate through the transfer market smartly."

Bruno Fernandes will be a "top, top addition" to a Manchester United side in desperate need of their upcoming two-week break, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said after the new signing's debut ended in a 0-0 draw with Wolves.

Fernandes, who signed from Sporting CP in a deal that could reach £67.6million (€80m) in value on Thursday, played the full 90 minutes as United were frustrated by Nuno Espirito Santo's side at Old Trafford.

The Portugal midfielder had more shots (five), more shots on target (three) and attempted more passes (88) than any other United player in an energetic debut.

However, he could not inspire United to a win that would have moved them within four points of fourth-placed Chelsea in the Premier League, with Solskjaer's men again stumbling in the race for the Champions League places.

Solskjaer, though, was satisfied with what he saw from Fernandes and expects the time off to be beneficial for his players.

He told Sky Sports: "We dominated the game, we had loads of possession. They were giving us problems on the counter-attack and set-plays.

"We played so many games over the last two months - the players are down to the bare bones really, their energy levels are down and they need a break.

"You can see he [Fernandes] is a top player, it’s his first game.

"Bruno is one of those players, when he gets ball into feet, he wants players moving in front of him, which we didn't have, so we moved him further back to get on the ball more.

"He'll be a top, top addition."

Nuno, who revealed winger Adama Traore suffered a dislocated shoulder in the first half but continued, was similarly pleased with a result that keeps them level on points with United.

"I think it was a good game, an intense game. I think the first half was good," he said to Sky Sports. 

"There was a second-half spell United dominated and created a lot of problems. We had our moments. I am happy. The boys worked very hard and it was tough.

"I think in the first half our idea was clear to control the middle of the pitch and we had a lot of counter-attacks. It was good but it was a balanced game."

After days of dithering, Manchester United wasted no time at all in showcasing their latest toy at Old Trafford.

"He's already made an impact with his demeanour, his big smile," Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said of Bruno Fernandes on Saturday, the midfielder no doubt grinning from ear to ear at the prospect of a home debut against a Wolves side containing five compatriots.

United fans, with thoughts of a mass walkout in protest against the ownership apparently forgotten, gave their new £46.5million man a huge ovation as his name was announced, along with the customary cheer when he first touched the ball.

It proved to be an encouraging if ineffective debut, as United failed to make the most of second-half territorial dominance against Wolves, the 0-0 draw marking the third time in a row they have been held at home in the league by Nuno Espirito Santo's side.

Fernandes was certainly not guilty of not trying. He had more shots (five), more shots on target (three) and attempted more passes (88) than any of his team-mates. He nearly found his range from the dead ball, too.

Let's examine the highlights - and disappointments - of Fernandes' first Premier League game...

33': Wolves were perhaps the better side in the first half, United's attack giving Rui Patricio's goal little trouble. Fernandes was the first to give him something to worry about, his swerving strike from outside the box bending a yard or so past the right-hand post.

40': Fernandes had found some rhythm by this stage and he nearly capped a good half with a debut goal, his powerful strike from the edge of the area from Luke Shaw's cut-back ultimately giving Patricio a routine save as it went down the middle.

46': Solskjaer talked up Fernandes' leadership qualities when the deal finally got over the line, and they were on show when he emerged from the tunnel for the second half giving pointed instructions to Aaron Wan-Bissaka.

55': Fernandes built a reputation in Portugal for refusing to shirk a challenge, and he was in the book for a cynical tug on Raul Jimenez, who was trying to launch a counter-attack.

58': Despite being a good 35 yards from goal, Fernandes tried his luck with a free-kick. He struck it superbly but, given the distance, Patricio made a relatively comfortable save high to his right.

67': With United now dominant but unable to pick their way through the Wolves rearguard, Fernandes tried a speculative effort that did at least force a corner after a Patricio fumble. He then took it short, but his eventual cross was poor.

78': Fernandes, who started as a number 10, was a little deeper in the second half but pressed high to draw an error from Matt Doherty that almost forced the opening goal, Mason Greenwood's shot taking a double deflection before ending up in Patricio's grateful grasp.

80': After another short United corner, Fernandes tried a tricky pass to Juan Mata that allowed Wolves to counter and win a corner of their own. By this stage, he looked to be tiring.

90+3': Wolves threatened a dramatic winner after a rare second-half foray forward, but Fernandes was on hand to make a timely clearance from inside his own penalty area.

Manchester United failed to capitalise on Chelsea dropping points in the race for the Premier League top four as they were held to a 0-0 draw by Wolves in Bruno Fernandes' debut.

United completed the long-awaited capture of Portugal midfielder Fernandes on Wednesday in a deal that could end up being worth €80million.

Fernandes played the full 90 minutes as United sought to close the gap to Chelsea to four points, but the big-money signing could not help them break down Wolves in a contest light on incident.

The result will do little to boost spirits around Old Trafford, with United sixth in the table, level on points with Wolves in seventh and six behind Chelsea, who drew 2-2 at Leicester City earlier on Saturday.

David de Gea made his 300th appearance for United and 20 minutes into it he was called on to claw away a looping Matt Doherty header.

Chances were few and far between thereafter, though Adama Traore spurned a promising opening when he lashed wide at the near post with options either side of him.

Fernandes, having earlier sent a swerving long-range effort wide, then stung the palms of Rui Patricio from the edge of the area as both teams laboured going forward.

Diogo Jota weaved his way past Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire but lost his footing at the vital moment and sent a tame shot straight at De Gea.

De Gea, after Juan Mata had fired narrowly wide on the turn at the other end, needed to produce a better save to turn over Raul Jimenez's near-post effort, the Mexican having been played through by Traore's intelligent pass.

Mason Greenwood almost scored the winner in fortuitous fashion, Patricio reacting well after the substitute's effort deflected off Willy Boly and Conor Coady.

Romain Saiss should have done better with a close-range header when presented with the chance to seal the points for Wolves and, after Maguire fluffed his lines with a late chance, Diogo Dalot headed agonisingly wide with the last meaningful touch of the game, providing an encapsulation of another frustrating affair for United.

Liverpool opened up a whopping 22-point lead over Manchester City at the top of the Premier League as four second-half goals saw them cruise past Southampton 4-0 at Anfield on Saturday.

The Reds were lucky to not be behind at the break after a chaotic first half, but normal service was resumed after the interval as they racked up a 16th consecutive top-flight triumph.

Merseyside rivals Everton, meanwhile, came from two goals down to edge past Watford 3-2 in a thrilling game at Vicarage Road.

Antonio Rudiger scored twice as Chelsea and Leicester City played out an entertaining 2-2 draw at the King Power Stadium, while there were wins for Sheffield United and Bournemouth over Crystal Palace and Aston Villa respectively.

Brighton and Hove Albion came from two goals down to draw 3-3 at West Ham, while bottom side Norwich City held Newcastle United to a goalless draw at St James' Park.

SALAH AT THE DOUBLE FOR RELENTLESS REDS

Mohamed Salah scored twice as runaway leaders Liverpool produced a second-half surge to seal a comprehensive victory over Southampton.

Jurgen Klopp's world champions secured a 24th win from 25 top-flight games this season, with Salah striking twice in the last 18 minutes.

Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain opened the scoring in the 47th minute against his former club, unleashing a low drive past Alex McCarthy, before Jordan Henderson doubled their lead on the hour mark.

RUDIGER HEADS BRACE IN LANDMARK MATCH

Rudiger marked his 100th appearance for Chelsea with an unlikely brace but Frank Lampard's side were unable to secure maximum points.

Chelsea went ahead a minute into the second half at the King Power Stadium when Rudiger nodded in Mason Mount's corner.

Their lead lasted less than 10 minutes, Harvey Barnes drawing Leicester level with the aid of a deflection off Reece James to give Willy Caballero - picked ahead of Kepa Arrizabalaga - no chance.

Ben Chilwell put the hosts ahead with a cool finish in the 64th minute, but the Blues claimed a share of the spoils to stay eight points behind third-placed Leicester when Rudiger headed home his second 19 minutes from time.

TOFFEES STING HORNETS WITH LATE STRIKE

Everton's Theo Walcott scored in the 90th minute to complete a remarkable turnaround against Watford.

Adam Masina and Roberto Pereyra had put the Hornets 2-0 up, but defender Yerry Mina scored twice in first-half stoppage time to haul Carlo Ancelotti's side level.

Everton's hopes of sealing all three points looked to be over when Fabian Delph was dismissed 13 minutes from time for two yellow cards, but Walcott steered home after a quick break to send the travelling faithful into raptures.  

Bruno Fernandes was named in the Manchester United starting XI for his debut against Wolves on Saturday.

Portugal international Fernandes arrived at Old Trafford from Sporting CP in an initial £46.5million (€55m) deal earlier this week, concluding a long-running transfer saga.

And the midfielder was immediately handed a starting berth by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, lining up alongside Juan Mata and Daniel James in support of Anthony Martial.

Fernandes was one of two major United signings in the January transfer window, but the loan deal for Odion Ighalo was only completed shortly before Friday's deadline, ruling him out of the Wolves game.

Wolves have announced the signing of teenage full-back Luke Matheson from Rochdale.

The 17-year-old completed a medical with Nuno Espirito Santo's side on Friday and has returned to the League One club on loan for the remainder of the season.

Wolves have reportedly paid £1million to sign the Rochdale academy product.

Matheson made the headlines when he scored at Old Trafford in September as Rochdale held Manchester United to a 1-1 draw in the EFL Cup third round before losing on penalties.

He also impressed in the FA Cup third round this month, setting up Aaron Wilbraham to secure a 1-1 draw with Newcastle United at home, with the Magpies winning the replay 4-1.

Wolves sporting director Kevin Thelwell told the club's website: "Our recruitment team have watched Luke since he made his debut at 15.

"The system we play, it's set up for him. He plays at right-back for Rochdale at the moment, but he's a right-wing-back in our eyes because of his energy and ability to continually sprint and recover.

"At 17, for a boy to have so much experience, be English and have such a strong mentality is fantastic, and we think he's everything we're about.

"It's great for all of us to get him in the building, we're really excited and we think he's going to be a top talent."

Bruno Fernandes is going to be a leader at Manchester United and will be in the squad to face Wolves on Saturday, manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

United officially signed Fernandes on a five-and-a-half-year deal from Sporting CP on Thursday, paying an initial £46.5million (€55m) and up to £21.1m (€25m) in add-ons.

Solskjaer does not expect any more incomings at Old Trafford before Friday's transfer deadline but believes Fernandes' leadership qualities in midfield will be an extremely valuable addition to his squad.

Asked why it had taken so long to sign Fernandes, a long-term target for United, Solskjaer replied: "It's about timings, priorities and also valuation, money. You have a club that owns him. You can see how much he means to them, they wanted to keep him.

"For us we're just happy to finally get it over the line, we've followed him for years. He's grown gradually in that period, more and more mature, more and more assured performances.

"He's a great leader of his team. Even with all the speculation that's been around him, probably every club in Europe has been linked with him and he's stayed focused and played some fantastic football.

"It says everything about how pro he is. When you get to meet him he's a fantastic human."

He added of Fernandes' fight: "That's one of the boxes that we had to tick, because we want players this means a lot to and are winners.

"He hates losing, I've seen him myself. But he uses that anger to play better and help his team-mates and he was a fantastic captain for Sporting.

"He's come in here and is going to be a leader as well, I've spoken to him about that."

Fernandes is set to make his debut in the Premier League at home to Wolves this weekend, but Solskjaer is unsure how much of a role he will play.

"He's fit enough to play and he'll be involved definitely, he'll be in the squad, let's get training out of the way today," he said.

"He's had a few hectic days and even his little daughter's third birthday yesterday. I don't know how much he'll be involved, but he's in the squad."

Wolves have completed the signing of Olympiacos winger Daniel Podence for a reported fee of £17million.

The 24-year-old, who can operate on either flank, has put pen to paper on a four-and-a-half-year deal with the Premier League club.

Podence will be reunited with former Portugal Under-21 team-mates Ruben Neves and Diogo Jota at Molineux.

With five goals and as many assists in 27 Champions League appearances, Podence is determined to feature for Wolves in Europe's premier club competition.

"I'm very excited. It was always a childhood dream of mine to play in the Premier League and I look at this achievement as a dream come true," he told the club's official website.

"Wolves are a team with a big project, with ambitious goals to look forward to, where I'll get to meet former team-mates with whom I had the pleasure to play with in the past and I hope to be very successful here."

Podence added: "My individual goals are to play as much as possible, help the team with goals and assists and collectively, I'd like to qualify for the Champions League.

"That is a goal that's within our reach, and I hope we can have a better season than last year."

Podence came through the academy at Sporting CP and made his debut for the Portuguese giants in 2014 before making the switch to Greece 18 months ago.

 

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