Australian Open: Thiem savours 'epic' win over Kyrgios amid Djokovic struggles

By Sports Desk February 12, 2021

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  • Liverpool 2-0 Rangers: Reds ease to victory after Alexander-Arnold's expert free-kick Liverpool 2-0 Rangers: Reds ease to victory after Alexander-Arnold's expert free-kick

    Liverpool made it back-to-back Champions League wins after a commanding 2-0 victory over Rangers, with Trent Alexander-Arnold scoring the pick of the goals.

    Jurgen Klopp's side have been somewhat off the pace this season but soon took the lead at Anfield after an excellent Alexander-Arnold free-kick past Allan McGregor.

    Mohamed Salah doubled the lead with a penalty after the interval, with the insipid Rangers thankful to McGregor for preventing Liverpool from inflicting further damage.

    Victory kept the Reds a point behind Group A leaders Napoli, who thrashed Ajax in Tuesday's other game, while Rangers remain bottom after yet another disappointing showing in Europe - the Scottish side conceding nine goals in three group stage matches thus far.

    McGregor denied a fizzing Darwin Nunez effort after just two minutes, but the Rangers goalkeeper had no chance five minutes later when Alexander-Arnold expertly curled a free-kick into the top-left corner.

    Salah saw his whipped attempt tipped away by McGregor, who then produced two smart saves in quick succession against Nunez as Liverpool dominated the first half.

    Salah coolly converted a 53rd-minute penalty down the middle after Leon King felled Luis Diaz, while McGregor continued his fine individual performance by parrying over Diogo Jota's ferocious shot minutes later.

    Joel Matip headed narrowly wide from a glorious opportunity before Konstantinos Tsimikas cleared off the line after Rabbi Matondo slotted past Alisson in the closing stages, as Liverpool returned to winning ways after a 3-3 draw with Brighton and Hove Albion at the weekend.

    What does it mean? Reds stay on the tails of Napoli

    Despite a 4-1 humbling at the in-form Napoli on matchday one, Liverpool remain within touching distance of Luciano Spalletti's side at the halfway point in the Champions League group stage.

    Ajax are just two points behind Jurgen Klopp's side, but the Reds will feel confident of another victory to bolster their knockout credentials when they return to Rangers next week.

    By contrast, Rangers are without a win or a goal in their first three games in Europe this season – a stark difference from their victorious run to the Europa League final last season.

    Awesome Alexander-Arnold

    Much has been made of Alexander-Arnold's defensive capabilities, but the right-back quietened his critics with his inch-perfect opener; his sixth free-kick goal since the start of the 2016-17 season in all competitions.

    No Liverpool player can match his tally in that period, while the strike made Alexander-Arnold the first Reds man to score from direct free-kick in the Champions League since Steven Gerrard against Basel in 2014.

    Goal-shy Rangers' problems continue

    Rangers have won just of eight European away games in England across all competitions, with that sole victory coming in a 2-1 triumph over Leeds United in 1992.

    The Scottish giants may have been beaten Europa League finalists last term, but they failed to score once again here, marking the first time Rangers have not found the net in their opening three Champions League group games.

    What's next?

    Liverpool return to domestic action away at Premier League leaders Arsenal on Sunday, while Rangers host St. Mirren in the Scottish Premiership a day prior.

  • Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Tottenham: Wasteful Spurs held in Germany Eintracht Frankfurt 0-0 Tottenham: Wasteful Spurs held in Germany

    Tottenham missed the chance to move top of Group D in the Champions League after being held to a goalless draw by Eintracht Frankfurt.

    It proved to be a wasteful day for Antonio Conte's side, who registered just two shots on target from 11 attempts in Germany.

    Harry Kane and Heung-min Son went closest for Spurs, but they have now failed to find the net in successive Champions League group games for the first time since the 2016-17 season.

    Both sides remain on four points after three matches, and two behind Group D leaders Sporting CP following the Portuguese giants' 4-1 thrashing by Marseille.

    Emerson Royal fired a volley over after six minutes, while Kane was whiskers away from applying the finishing touch to a wonderful move as he narrowly avoided connecting with Son's inviting cross.

    Kane whipped a fierce 20-yard strike narrowly wide in the 28th minute. The England captain then turned provider with a neat flick that released Son, whose curling shot was also off target, before Ivan Perisic's deflected effort spun inches wide.

    Frankfurt almost took the lead in spectacular fashion five minutes after the restart; Ansgar Knauff springing the offside trap before his acrobatic effort was blocked by Hugo Lloris.

    Evan Ndicka produced a magnificent last-ditch intervention to deny Kane at the other end, while Son whipped an 18-yard strike wide.

    Jesper Lindstrom fired a glorious opportunity to snatch the win over after Spurs were caught in possession on the edge of their penalty area, as the spoils were shared at Deutsche Bank Park.

  • 'Another step in the right direction' – Nagelsmann pleased with Bayern response 'Another step in the right direction' – Nagelsmann pleased with Bayern response

    Julian Nagelsmann feels Bayern Munich's resounding 5-0 win over Viktoria Plzen was "another step in the right direction" for his side ahead of facing Borussia Dortmund.

    Bayern followed up Friday's 4-0 Bundesliga thrashing of Bayer Leverkusen with an even more emphatic victory in Tuesday's Champions League tie with Czech champions Plzen.

    It marks the first time the Bavarians have won back-to-back matches in all competitions since August, having gone four league games without a win prior to the international break.

    Nagelsmann is pleased with what he saw from his side against Plzen, with Bayern returning to form at just the right time ahead of Saturday's Klassiker showdown with fierce rivals Dortmund.

    "The boys did well today," Nagelsmann told DAZN. "That's how you have to approach a game. We decided it quickly then controlled it. 

    "With a view to Saturday, that was important, serious and well deserved. It was another game that shows we are taking steps in the right direction."

    The hosts were three goals up inside 21 minutes, with Serge Gnabry and Sadio Mane netting after Leroy Sane had opened the scoring at the Allianz Arena.

    Sane doubled his tally early in the second half before substitute Eric Choupo-Moting rounded off the scoring for the leaders in a one-sided Group C contest.

    It is the 26th time Bayern have scored five or more goals in a Champions League match, which is five more than next-best Barcelona.

    Mane wasted some promising chances to add to the scoring, netting from just one of his six attempts, but the forward was happy with his side's performance.

    "The team played a great game, with a lot of chances created," he said. "We deserved to win. 

    "The past few weeks have been tough. It was important we reacted. We reacted well after the international break. Hopefully we can continue like this until the end of the season.

    "We have nine points from three Champions League games and a good goal difference. We are in a good place. 

    "We were disciplined today. We were well prepared for the opponent and that's where most of the goals came from."

    Bayern have now gone 31 games without defeat in the group stage of the Champions League, overtaking the record of 30 set by Real Madrid in 2017.

    "We rightly received criticism during the international break," said Leon Goretzka, who set up two of the goals against Plzen.

    "We used the time well and focused on our game again. Our aim is to perform on a regular basis. We're still extremely upset about the games before that."

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