Liverpool took charge of their Champions League last-16 tie with RB Leipzig as they claimed a 2-0 win in the first leg in Budapest.

Julian Nagelsmann's side, who pipped Manchester United to a place in the knockouts, looked far from comfortable in the unfamiliar surroundings of the Puskas Arena, where Tuesday's game was held to due to coronavirus travel restrictions.

Mohamed Salah's 24th goal of the season put Liverpool ahead after a mistake by Kevin Kampl, and Sadio Mane doubled the advantage when Nordi Mukiele gifted him an opportunity.

The Reds are now unbeaten in six away games against Bundesliga opposition stretching back to 2002, and Jurgen Klopp's men will be firm favourites to progress to the quarter-finals.

Liverpool nearly fell behind after just five minutes, Dani Olmo's diving header hitting the inside of the post from Angelino's cross.

The away side looked the most threatening as they began to take control, and Peter Gulacsi was alert to block a Salah effort from close range before Roberto Firmino fired a shot into the side-netting.

Mane then headed over from six yards from a Firmino cross, and the Senegalese thought he had set up his strike partner to nod in the opener after errors from Dayot Upamecano, but the ball had gone out of play.

Christopher Nkunku had barely been involved in the first half but he could have given Leipzig the lead early in the second, Alisson saving well after the striker ran onto Olmo's throughball.

It was Salah who broke the deadlock 53 minutes in, drilling past Gulacsi after a dreadful backpass from Kampl, and it soon got worse for Leipzig.

Mukiele made a complete mess of a simple clearance forward by Curtis Jones, and Mane had time to stride into the box and slot home.

Angelino had a chance to pull a goal back but sliced his attempt badly, summing up a poor game for last season's semi-finalists.

What does it mean? Fragile Liverpool give season huge boost

Injuries and recent form - they had won three of their previous 12 games in all competitions - will have had Liverpool fans feeling a little anxious before meeting the side second in the Bundesliga.

However, a display of supreme authority, helped by an erratic approach from Leipzig, put Klopp's men in total charge of this tie and could well have provided a timely boost in confidence.

Leipzig will hope for better in the second leg, but their previous visit to England ended in a 5-0 defeat to Manchester United.

Salah at menacing best

Salah should perhaps have scored sooner but he made no mistake with his clearest chance of the game.

He spent the rest of the game harassing a deeply unsettled Leipzig defence in a hugely impressive, committed performance.

Nagelsmann's men in a muddle

Leipzig were on a six-game unbeaten run at home in this competition and it was unfortunate for them that this game had to be relocated to a neutral venue.

Still, that does not explain the horribly haphazard nature of their performance. Two defensive errors led directly to the goals, Mukiele could have been sent off before his mistake, while Bayern Munich-bound Upamecano misplaced 20 passes from centre-back.

What's next?

With the return leg not until March 10, Liverpool's more pressing concern is a derby with Everton on Saturday. Leipzig head to Hertha Berlin in the Bundesliga a day later.

Mason Greenwood has signed a new contract at Manchester United that ties him to the Premier League giants until June 2025.

United said the deal includes the option for a further year, emphasising their belief that academy product Greenwood, 19, is poised to play a big part in their future.

The teenage forward has emerged among Europe's leading players in his age group, having made his debut as a 17-year-old and been a regular within the first-team squad ever since.

Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said Greenwood, who joined United's youth system as a seven-year-old, is primed to be a big part of the team in years to come.

"Mason is a fantastic talent and yet another fine example of the type of player that our academy produces," Solskjaer said. 

"He has made great progress this season, showing real maturity and adaptability to his game, which has seen him develop into one of the best young players in the country."

Solskjaer believes Greenwood, who has scored just once in 18 Premier League appearances this season, has boundless scope for improvement in his game.

The United boss told the club's website: "Whilst it is easy for people outside of the club to forget that Mason is just 19, it is our job as coaches to ensure he reaches his phenomenal potential and every step we take is to help him along that path.

"Mason is naturally gifted and has a brilliant attitude; we know how important he is going to be for Manchester United over the coming seasons."

Greenwood's previous deal, signed in October 2019, would have taken him through to the end of the 2022-23 season.

Now, along with the likes of Marcus Rashford, he looks like being a long-term piece of United's first-team dressing room.

Greenwood, who has one England cap, said: "I've worked so hard to reach this level and the last two years have been amazing. 

"There is so much that I want to achieve in the game and I know that this is the perfect environment to play my football.

"With the support from the manager, his coaching staff and so many great players to learn from; I know that I am developing every single day. 

"There is a lot more to come from myself and this team and I am so committed to working hard week in, week out to help the group achieve success.

"I want to repay the club for the support that everyone has given me over the years and show everyone just what I am capable of."

Pep Guardiola expressed disappointment with Jurgen Klopp's attempt at pre-match mind games after the Liverpool manager falsely claimed Manchester City had "a two-week break for COVID reasons".

Champions Liverpool host Premier League leaders City on Sunday, where Guardiola's men have the chance to go 10 points clear of Klopp's side with a game in hand if they can claim a first win at Anfield since 2003.

Both men addressed the media on Friday, with Klopp speaking first and suggesting a coronavirus outbreak within the City squad between Christmas and new year actually helped their title bid.

Asked about Guardiola's recently repeated mantra that his team - currently on a 20-match unbeaten run across all competitions - are playing better because they have managed to "run less" in possession, Klopp focused his attention upon the spike in infections that saw City's scheduled December 28 trip to Everton postponed.

"The more you keep the ball, the less you have to run, probably. We didn't have a break," he said.

"I think City had a two-week break for COVID reasons. It's really tough. It's a tough year, season; for some teams, it looks like lesser but, for us, for the reasons you know, it's tough."

In reality, City had a seven-day break between their 2-0 win over Newcastle United on Boxing Day and a January 3 trip to Chelsea, where a squad heavily depleted by a raft of players being forced to self-isolate secured an impressive 3-1 win.

Having started his own briefing later than scheduled, Guardiola opted to respond initially with heavy sarcasm.

"He made a mistake, it was two months off or three months off. Four months we had off. That is why we are in top form right now," he said.

"Jurgen has to see the calendar again. We had COVID, we had one week and we played with 14 players at Stamford Bridge, Maybe I'm wrong, maybe it was three or four weeks.

"Tomorrow when I see Jurgen I'll say to him, 'How many weeks or days were we off?'"

Guardiola famously endured a tempestuous back and fourth with Jose Mourinho when the pair were in charge of Barcelona and Real Madrid a decade ago - an affair he was perhaps referencing when stating he held Klopp, whom he also competed against in the Bundesliga, to higher standards.

"I'm surprised," he said. "I thought Jurgen was not that type of manager like other ones [for whom] it is usual to do it. I didn't expect that comment. From him, I didn't expect it.

"He knows it’s not true, come on! Nobody in the Premier League has had two weeks off, everyone knows. In some situation you do it [mind games] for a purpose, but I did not expect he will do it."

Liverpool have lost their past two home games 1-0 to Burnley and Brighton and Hove Albion.

Nevertheless, Anfield remains something of a final frontier for Guardiola as City boss, having lost four and drawn one of his five visits to the red side of Stanley Park.

"They are always an incredibly tough team and remain a tough squad," he said.

"They know the process, the skills, the routines and methodology they do offensively. No change.

"They are aggressive and will be more aggressive than ever, I'm pretty sure. They'll rest really well after the game against Brighton and they'll recover in these two weeks off and they will be ready."

City remain without Kevin De Bruyne (hamstring), Nathan Ake (muscular) and Sergio Aguero, who has endured a prolonged absence after testing positive for coronavirus. He is expected to return in a few weeks.

Jose Mourinho has little interest in external scrutiny after three consecutive Tottenham defeats, insisting he places enough pressure on himself.

Spurs host struggling West Brom on Sunday but head into the weekend eighth in the Premier League, 14 points off top, after losing to Liverpool, Brighton and Hove Albion and Chelsea consecutively.

That miserable run has made Mourinho the first Tottenham boss since Andre Villas-Boas in November 2012 to suffer three defeats in a row in the league.

Indeed, the reverses against Liverpool and Chelsea represented the first time in 327 home league matches in Mourinho's managerial career he has lost back-to-back games.

Speaking ahead of the West Brom game, where Spurs will aim to bounce back at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, Mourinho offered a spiky response when asked about increasing pressure, referring to the club's wait for a league title that stretches back to 1961 and a total trophy drought of more than 12 years.

"I put pressure on myself every day," he said. "I don't need others to put pressure on me, I put pressure on myself every day.

"Since 2012 without three defeats in a row, correct? How long since a title? Maybe I can give one."

Mourinho added his focus remains on the short term and again getting the better of Sam Allardyce, the West Brom boss against whom he has never lost in 12 Premier League meetings.

Even with West Brom 10 points shy of safety after losing to bottom side Sheffield United, Mourinho is aware of the threat they pose.

The Baggies have held Manchester City and Liverpool away from home this term and beat Mourinho's Manchester United at Old Trafford during their previous relegation campaign in 2017-18.

"The most important thing now is West Brom," Mourinho said. "I don't even want to think about [subsequent fixtures against] Everton or City.

"After City, we go to Austria in the Europa League, which is a big competition for us that we have good expectations in.

"But I don't even want to think about that, I want to think about West Brom. That's a big game. Sometimes big games are just against the top six or the London derbies or whatever it is, other times big games are games like this.

"It's a big game for West Brom because they need a victory, they need points to survive, to get out of where they are.

"It's a big game for us because we need to leave the position where we are, which is not a dramatic position like theirs but is a very bad position for us, so we need to leave it.

"We need to break the dynamic of three defeats like you saw, so it's a very important match for us.

"But the reality is until the end of the month we have great motivations in front of us. The Europa League is something that since the beginning we put a lot on.

"I cannot forget that we had to play many games to qualify for the group stage, games with two days in between, travelling around Europe to play.

"The team wants and the team is waiting for that, maybe the squad needs that, but let's focus on West Brom because it is the next match and, after three defeats, we have to win against West Brom; we cannot even think a different thing."

Manchester United's forwards have their "mojo" back after leading Tuesday's remarkable 9-0 demolition of nine-man Southampton at Old Trafford.

It was only the third instance of a team winning a Premier League match by nine goals and the first time United have won by that margin since March 1995, when they beat Ipswich Town by the same score.

While Andy Cole was the five-goal inspiration in that 1995 win, this time United shared the goals around – seven players netted on Tuesday, making it only the second occasion so many different individuals have netted for the same team in a single Premier League match.

Among them were Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Edinson Cavani, providing the perfect response to Solskjaer's pre-match comments maligning the loss of his forwards' "mojo".

"Yeah, of course they have," Solskjaer said with a laugh to BT Sport when asked if they had recovered that "mojo".

"You get lots of confidence from a performance like this and the result, scoring goals is always good for forwards and the team."

He added: "We have been waiting for them to show their magic and tonight was a night they could go and enjoy.

"We haven't had too many of those where you can sit down in the second half and enjoy the football, so they enjoyed it. There were some good performances."

Alexandre Jankewitz's red card for a shocking second-minute tackle on Scott McTominay – who was also among the scorers – left Saints with an uphill battle, and Jan Bednarek followed him down the tunnel in the second half in rather more controversial circumstances.

But the focus will be on United's scoring prowess in the contest, as they put Saints to the sword.

Rashford's goal saw him move on to 83 for the club, overtaking Eric Cantona, and Solskjaer took the moment to praise the England international as he has occasionally had to contend with critics urging him to concentrate on his football amid his charitable efforts during the coronavirus pandemic.

"That's not bad," Solskjaer said of Rashford surpassing Cantona. "Eric was a fantastic player to play with and Marcus has a great career ahead of him.

"What he's done this season, this year, it just shows he can still focus on his football as well."

Mikel Arteta questioned the decision to send off David Luiz after the defender was one of two Arsenal players to be dismissed in a 2-1 defeat at Wolves.

Arsenal appeared set to go in at half-time deservedly ahead following Nicolas Pepe's opener, only for David Luiz to concede a penalty following a challenge on Willian Jose.

The Brazilian centre-back was shown a red card by referee Craig Pawson following a VAR check, though Arteta insisted he could not see any contact after studying replays of the incident.

Ruben Neves converted from the spot before Joao Moutinho's long-range strike put the hosts ahead shortly after the break, with any hopes of a fightback disappearing for Arsenal when goalkeeper Bernd Leno was given his marching orders for handling the ball outside the area.

For Arteta, though, it was the David Luiz call that left him frustrated, particularly after his side had played so well up until that crucial moment in the contest.

"First of all, I have to say that I'm proud of my team, the way we played and the way we dominated the first half," Arteta told the media.

"We should have been 3-0 or 4-0 up. We didn't do that, though, and we put ourselves in a really difficult position by conceding the goal and going a man down. 

"I have seen the replay 10 times from five different angles and I cannot see any contact. I would like to see if VAR has a different angle. I'm expecting to see something and I'm not seeing anything. 

"We were really animated at half-time because we really wanted to win the game. The boys were so convinced to go out there and have a real go. 

"We didn't concede any chances but Moutinho scores a worldie and it's 2-1. Then, when Bernd comes out and hits the ball with his hand, we're down to nine men and almost impossible to win the game."

Since making his league debut for Arsenal in August 2019, David Luiz has picked up three red cards and conceded six penalties, more than any other player in the competition in both categories.

Arteta - who has seen his team shown nine Premier League red cards since taking charge, six more than any other top-flight team - admitted the result was tough to take.

"The way we lost the game really hurts. It's painful," he said. 

"I have to take the positives as well, which is the way we played against this team that is very difficult to attack, the amount of chances we created. But we leave the ground and have zero points and have lost two important players. 

"It's hard enough to win football games in this league. There's nothing we can change. It was a big decision, if they got it right and can justify they got it right, I'll put my hand up and apologise. 

"The only thing I'm saying is that I’m sitting here and I cannot see any contact. That's really, really frustrating, because it's a big, big moment in the game."

Asked if Arsenal may issue an appeal against the red card for David Luiz, Arteta replied: "Where I’m standing now, I'd say yes – let's go straight away. But I don't know, we will have to speak to the legal team at the club and decide if it is the best thing."

Runar Alex Runarsson came on to take over from Leno in goal, with recent recruit Mat Ryan ruled out with a muscle issue. Arteta revealed he is hopeful the Australia international can be fit in time for Saturday's trip to Aston Villa.

Virgil van Dijk will not play again for Liverpool this season barring "a miracle", according to manager Jurgen Klopp.

It had been reported that Van Dijk could return in April from an anterior cruciate ligament injury suffered in the Merseyside derby last October.

The 29-year-old has been undertaking his rehabilitation in Dubai and was said to be closing in on a return to the pitch, but Klopp does not consider that to be a realistic possibility.

"Whatever happens I think we have space for Virgil on the Champions League list, I think he was on the Premier League list – nobody told me I have to change something with that. If we have space in the Champions League list, Virgil will be on the list," he told a news conference.

"No doctor told me there's a chance for Virgil to play again this season. I don't want to say it's impossible, but it's not likely.

"If we have space we will put them all on even when the medical people tell them there's no chance because we believe in miracles from time to time.

"But if there's no place then we have to consider these things and say the chance is not too big so we have to make a decision. But if they're on the list then it's only because we hope for nearly a miracle and that's it."

With Joe Gomez, Joel Matip and makeshift centre-back Fabinho also out injured, Liverpool brought in Ben Davies from Preston North End and Ozan Kabak from Schalke on deadline day.

Klopp was pleased to have bolstered his defensive options and intends to let Rhys Williams return to the Under-23 squad in order to get more game time.

Liverpool take on Brighton and Hove Albion on Wednesday and Klopp is hopeful he will not have to throw Davies and Kabak straight into action against Graham Potter's men at Anfield.

"The good thing is it is football and they play football in Germany and the Championship, so that's not the problem," said Klopp.

"[There have been] 12 or 13 different centre-half pairings and then that makes it more difficult for example Neco [Williams] and Kostas [Tsimikas] too.

"You search for stability in the team when you change that often, but we don't live in an idle world and that means we have to be smart and quick and try different things.

"We play differently to Preston and Schalke so they'll need time but we don't have a lot, so we'll use the time we have in our hands and try our best.

"If they had to start Wednesday together I think that would be not too cool, but we will give them a few more days."

Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman remains hopeful Lionel Messi will opt to stay at Camp Nou, but is "not confident" about that outcome.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and has been heavily linked with Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain.

The 33-year-old wanted to leave last season after the club finished without a trophy and he fell out with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

Messi agreed to stay for the last year of his contract when Barca refused his request and has impressed under Koeman, scoring nine goals in his last 10 games.

But Koeman is not convinced a happier Messi this season will result in him remaining with the club for the long term.

"I'm not confident about that," Koeman said to The Athletic.

"I'm hopeful, yes, about this because he's still a great player and he's still winning matches for us, for the team. 

"I'm enjoying being his coach, if you look at his qualities every day in the training sessions, it's incredible. 

"Of course, he came as a young kid to Barcelona. And I still don't see Leo Messi in another shirt other than the Barca shirt."

Messi reached 650 Barca goals in Sunday's 2-1 home win over Athletic Bilbao.

After the match, Koeman said Barcelona "can't aspire to much" without Messi as he reflected on a leak by El Mundo which claimed the deal his captain signed in 2017 is worth more than €555million.

Koeman was thrilled to get the Barcelona job ahead of 2020-21 but reflected on how tough it had been to immediately handle the Messi saga, which was already under way and has raged on since.

"It was a difficult time because he's still the best player, but he was angry about some situations in the club," added Koeman. 

"And he was not happy that he was in a team who lost 8-2 against Bayern Munich in the quarter-final of the Champions League. 

"Of course, he was angry, he had to leave, he wanted to leave the team.

"First of all, what I said to the club was, 'OK, it's not my problem. It's a problem between the club and Leo Messi. And you have to resolve that'. 

"Finally, the club said, 'We don’t make a transfer for him. He needs to stay'. It was a difficult time for Leo but he finally accepted it."

Koeman has not had any issues with Messi's attitude.

The former Netherlands head coach added: "I spoke to him in his house before we started the season and I made plans with him and he was really enthusiastic.

"I knew that he had some problems with the club and I was out of that.

"I said to Leo, 'I'm really happy if you stay. If you don't stay, it's your decision and it's what you have to handle with the club. If you stay, you will be part of the team and this will be your position to get all the best out of yourself'. 

"Little by little, he accepted that situation. And look how he is playing in the last few weeks, he is really involved in the club, in the team. 

"But nobody knows what will happen in the future."

Jurgen Klopp insisted Liverpool would only sign "the right player" despite their defensive problems increasing with the loss of Joel Matip to an ankle injury.

Matip missed the 3-2 FA Cup loss at Manchester United last Saturday but returned for Thursday's Premier League win at Tottenham, partnering Jordan Henderson in defence in the absence of Fabinho.

However, the Cameroon international had to be substituted at half-time of the 3-1 victory over Spurs with what Klopp later confirmed as ankle ligament damage.

With Virgil van Dijk and Joe Gomez long-term absentees and Fabinho struggling with another muscle problem, the Reds finished the match at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium with Henderson alongside the inexperienced Nat Phillips.

Klopp, though, is not prepared to sanction a new signing before the transfer window closes simply to add extra numbers to his squad.

"You can imagine that we think about everything, of course," he said. "We thought the whole time, we think the whole time, it's about doing the right thing.

"I'm not picky or whatever… but we need to find the right player. We have players still. Not a lot, to be honest, in the defence line it is incredible what's happening there, it's really incredible. But that's it."

Liverpool's convincing win over Jose Mourinho's men, delivered through goals from Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane, was just their second in eight games in all competitions.

Firmino's first-half opener ended a wait of 482 minutes for a Premier League goal, in which time the champions had attempted 93 shots without finding the net. 

"I am completely happy about the performance and, yes, it's about the boys," Klopp said. "They put a proper shift in. It was a brave performance in a game against a counter-attacking monster, which they are and that makes it even more special. For tonight, it was really good."

The win moved Liverpool back into fourth place in the table, four points behind leaders Manchester City, who have a game in hand.

Jose Mourinho fears Harry Kane could be out for "a few weeks" after the Tottenham captain injured both ankles in a 3-1 Premier League defeat to Liverpool on Thursday.

England striker Kane did not return for the second half at Tottenham Hotspur Stadium after requiring treatment twice in the opening 45 minutes.

Kane has been struck with ankle problems in the past and although Mourinho was unsure over the extent of the damage his talisman sustained, the Spurs boss is braced for having to cope without him in the short term at least.

Asked about Kane's injuries, the Portuguese told Match of the Day: "Two ankles, the first was a bad tackle, it was Thiago [Alcantara]. The second one I didn't know well.

"But two injuries in both ankles, the second one worst than the first one – a few weeks [out], I don't know.

"There are some players you can't replace. When it happens it happens but I believe we have to fight against it, we cannot do anything else."

Spurs face Brighton and Hove Albion on Sunday before taking on Chelsea in a London derby, then face clashes with Everton and Manchester City before coming up against Wolfsberger over two legs in the Europa League next month.

Their eight-match unbeaten run in all competitions was brought to a juddering halt by champions Liverpool, who rediscovered their goalscoring touch with strikes from Roberto Firmino, Trent Alexander-Arnold and Sadio Mane.

Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg had made it 2-1 with a stunning first goal for Spurs after Alexander-Arnold capitalised on a mistake from Hugo Lloris early in the second half.

Son Heung-min had an early goal disallowed for offside after Mane missed a glorious early chance to open the scoring and Mourinho felt Tottenham only had themselves to blame for a defeat that leaves them eight points behind leaders City in sixth place.

"My analysis is that we started very well, but before we scored the offside goal we showed immediately what the game was going to be for us – a big occasion for Mane, a big defensive mistake," he said.

"That was the game for us, the team in the first half was very well organised, the goal is another mistake in the same position.

"The second half we had to make changes, we lose Harry, had to change the structure of the team. First minute, same mistake, second goal. Good reaction, another mistake and goal.

"It was a team fighting against its own mistakes. Some individual mistakes that you saw, you can replay and I cannot say much more than that."

Arsenal have completed the signing of Real Madrid midfielder Martin Odegaard on loan for the rest of the season.

Odegaard, who joined Madrid aged only 16, excelled on loan at Real Sociedad last season, scoring seven times in all competitions.

The 22-year-old topped La Real's squad for chances created in LaLiga, crafting 62 opportunities in total and provided six assists from 31 appearances, while also boasting an impressive passing accuracy of 84.74 per cent.

Madrid cut short Odegaard's two-season loan in the Basque country, but the playmaker has struggled to force his way into the first-team picture under Zinedine Zidane, making just seven appearances and starting only three matches.

Odegaard will now get an opportunity to show what he is capable of with the Gunners, who lured the Norway international to London after Mesut Ozil’s departure to Fenerbahce.

The switch represents Odegaard's fourth loan move away from Madrid, with the youngster having also spent time at Heerenveen and Vitesse in the Eredivisie prior to his spell at La Real.

"It's great that we've secured Martin to come to us until the end of the season," said Arteta.

"Martin is of course a player that we all know very well and although still young, he has been playing at the top level for a while. Martin will provide us with quality offensive options and we're all excited to be integrating him into our plans between now and May."

Arsenal technical director Edu added: "I would like to thank everyone at Real Madrid and Martin's representatives for their collaboration in making this loan move happen.

"Martin is an exceptional talent and we are strengthening our squad by introducing an exciting offensive player to the club for the remaining months of this season."

 

WHAT WILL ODEGAARD BRING TO ARSENAL?

Odegaard's creativity was key in an impressive 2019-20 season which saw La Real reach the Copa del Rey final, which they have not yet played.

No Arsenal player came close to replicating Odegaard's influence last term, with Nicolas Pepe (40) creating the most chances in the Premier League for the Gunners – 22 fewer than Odegaard from the same amount of games played.

Odegaard made 504 successful passes into the final third, dwarfing the leader in that category for Arsenal (Granit Xhaka, 378).

He also played 239 passes into the opposition area, 99 more than Pepe, who attempted the most for Arsenal.

With Mikel Arteta currently employing a 4-2-3-1 system, Odegaard is likely to be battling it out with the impressive Emile Smith Rowe for a place in the side.

From six league appearances this season, Smith Rowe has created 10 opportunities and one big chance, registering three assists, though he is yet to get off the mark in the top flight.

It was something only Kobe Bryant could have done.

At the end of an illustrious 20-year career that included five NBA championship wins, 18 All-Star selections and All-NBA First Team honours on 11 occasions, Bryant said farewell to the Los Angeles Lakers with a Hollywood ending.

He produced one of the most memorable final appearances the league has seen against the Utah Jazz on April 13, 2016.

On the anniversary of his death alongside 13-year-old daughter Gianna and seven others in a helicopter crash, we look back at one of the finest moments of his career.

POINTING THE WAY

After Red Hot Chili Peppers bassist Flea's bizarre rendition of the United States' national anthem, the 18,997 fans inside Staples Center were treated to something far more familiar.

Bryant racked up 60 points against the Jazz, which was the most scored by a player in a single game in the NBA that season. However, it was the first time he had gone past 50 since 2009, when he poured in 61 against the New York Knicks at Madison Square Garden.

Bryant was 6-of-21 from three-point range and had plenty of joy in the paint, where he accumulated 22 points. He scored a total of 16 unassisted points, with his final seven baskets coming via his own work.

SHOOT YOUR SHOT

If you don't shoot you don't score, and Bryant did his utmost to get points on the board. His 50 field goal attempts eclipsed the record of 49 set by the great Michael Jordan against the Orlando Magic in 1993. The 2008 MVP took 15 more shots than the rest of his team-mates combined.

Bryant nailed 18 of 40 shots with a defender within 3.5 feet against the Jazz and despite his record-breaking number of attempts he still took care of the ball, committing just two turnovers.

SLOW START, STRONG FINISH

It was not immediately clear the game was going to go so well for Bryant. He missed his first five shots and did not have a make until after the first six minutes of the game.

However, he eventually found his rhythm and was flying by the time the fourth quarter came around, scoring 13 unanswered points after the Jazz moved 96-86 ahead with two minutes and 35 seconds remaining.

His final act was a length-of-the-floor pass to Jordan Clarkson – his fourth assist of the game – for a dunk to seal an iconic 101-96 victory that underlined his legacy as an all-time great.

Jose Mourinho feels Chelsea's decision to sack Frank Lampard highlights the "brutality" of football.

The Blues ended Lampard's reign after just 18 months on Monday, with former Paris Saint-Germain boss Thomas Tuchel poised to replace him.

Mourinho has had two spells as Chelsea manager, both of which ended mid-season, and is well aware of the pressures at Stamford Bridge.

The Tottenham boss regrets any managerial sackings but felt particularly sad for his former player Lampard.

"I don't think Frank wants to speak to me or with anyone apart from his close circle of family and friends," Mourinho, who turned 58 on Tuesday, told reporters.

"But I am always sad when a colleague loses his job.

"And Frank is not just a colleague - he is an important person in my career - so I feel sorry he did [get sacked].

"But it is the brutality of football, especially modern football so when you become a manager you know that sooner or later it is going to happen to you."

Mourinho was speaking after a late surge gave Tottenham a 4-1 away win over Wycombe Wanderers in the FA Cup.

Spurs are fifth in the Premier League, four points and four places ahead of rivals Chelsea, who have only won eight of their first 19 top-flight games this season.

In a statement after his sacking, Lampard said he was disappointed at being prevented from taking Chelsea to the next level.

But the former Derby County boss expressed pride at the emergence of several academy players during his tenure.

LeBron James had a homecoming to remember and his inspirations in a 46-point showing against the Cleveland Cavaliers were Tom Brady, his mom's cooking and an over-excited executive.

Superstar James guided the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers to a 115-108 win on the road on what was his first return to Cleveland in two years.

James really turned it on in the fourth quarter, making nine of 10 shots including an outstanding 34-foot three-point effort that put the Lakers five points in front.

His last-quarter heroics followed James taking exception to an unidentified member of the Cavs' front office reacting a little too heartily to a missed shot towards the end of the third.

"It's someone I know for sure, I felt like he was just a little too excited about seeing me miss. That's what happened," James said. 

"I know who he is, he's part of the front office group. He was really excited about me missing that shot, a little bit more extra than I would have liked. He's gotta root for his team obviously, he showcased that. I knew I had another quarter and the fourth quarter is my favourite.

"The good thing for him is I only come here once. It's all good. He didn't say a word, he was just a little too excited about me missing a shot. There's a million cameras in these arenas, y'all just gotta find a shot of how excited he was. I didn't take it well."

But James, who was 73.1 per cent from the field and 63.6 per cent from the three-point range, also drew inspiration from seeing veteran quarterback Tom Brady lead the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl, while enjoying some home comforts courtesy of his mother.

"Home cooking, the opportunity to see my mom and get a home-cooked meal," he replied when asked what inspired him against the Cavs.

"I saw my uncle too, it just felt good to be back in my haven, my rest haven, just being home.

"Also, you can be inspired watching the greatest play, watching Brady, that team, that inspired me too. It felt good from beginning."

Anthony Davis chalked up 17 points and 10 rebounds but was happy to just enjoy the LeBron show.

"When he's playing like that it's fun to watch, amazing to see the shots he makes and shots he takes. He's a hell of a player," Davis said.

"It was one of those nights for him, getting to the basket, hitting the three. He wasn't missing. From the first quarter I knew it was going to be a good night for him."

Head coach Frank Vogel described James' performance as "one of those nights for the ages for him" and added: "It was pretty awesome, just to see he can still turn it up like that.

"Obviously he wanted to win against his former team here, he came out the gates really strong."

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang being absent for a prolonged period would be a problem for Arsenal but Mikel Arteta is expecting big things from Gabriel Martinelli.

Arsenal were without Aubameyang for their 1-0 FA Cup defeat to Southampton on Saturday after the Gabon international left the squad to attend to a personal matter.

Arteta was unsure how long the striker would be unavailable for, making him a doubt for the second straight game at St Mary's Stadium – this time a Premier League meeting on Tuesday.

Aubameyang has struggled for form this season, scoring eight goals – three of which have come in his past three appearances – and supplying one assist in 20 outings in all competitions

"Of course, it would be a problem [if he was out long term] because he's our top striker and the one who has scored the most goals," Arteta told a news conference.

"He's our captain and an important player in the team. We have to respect the time. Let's see. I don't have enough information right now to see how things are evolving and hopefully things will go in the right direction."

Martinelli made his first start in three and a half weeks against Saints after overcoming an ankle injury and was replaced just before the hour mark.

Arteta confirmed Martinelli had not suffered a setback and he expected the 19-year-old to really start producing for the team.

"He was fine, it was a tactical decision. He's missed a few training sessions from the last injury, but I expect big things from Gabi," said Arteta.

"He's been really helpful since he joined again after such a long period, so I'm really positive about him."

Arteta was impressed by Southampton's pressing in their FA Cup meeting and expects a similar challenge in their next meeting.

Ralph Hasenhuttl's team have the third-lowest opposition passes allowed per defensive action (PPDA) value in the Premier League this season at 10.9, indicating that only Liverpool (10.1) and Leeds United (8.9) press higher than them.

Furthermore, the average distance from their own goal that Saints' open play sequences start is 42.9 metres, with only Liverpool (44.4m) and Manchester City (45.4m) commencing sequences further up the pitch.

Arsenal, meanwhile, rank joint-11th in PPDA (13.8) and joint-sixth in average start distance (41.8m).

"We know they are one of the most effective teams in that [pressing] like we are," said Arteta.

"It was an intense game and we were expecting that for sure, and we are expecting that on Tuesday because they don't really change.

"They are a really great team, really good manager, they know exactly what they're doing and they've been doing it for years now, and they are good at it so we expect a similar game on Tuesday."

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