Messi, Jorginho, Kante lead 30-man Ballon d’Or shortlist

Lionel Messi, Jorginho and N’Golo Kante have been named on the 30-man shortlist for the men’s 2021 Ballon d’Or award.

The trio are among the leading contenders for the prize handed out by France Football, along with Robert Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo.

Six-time Ballon d’Or winner Messi ended his wait for a major international trophy when winning the Copa America with Argentina in the summer, while Kante and Jorginho both helped Chelsea win the Champions League.

Kante was UEFA’s Player of the Match in both semi-final legs against Real Madrid, as well as the final against Manchester City, while Jorginho was also integral to Italy’s Euro 2020 triumph.

There are five Chelsea players on the list of nominees, including captain Cesar Azpilicueta, along with five from Premier League champions Manchester City.

Harry Kane is among the 13 Premier League players nominated with England team-mates Phil Foden, Mason Mount and Raheem Sterling also included.

Manchester United duo Bruno Fernandes and Cristiano Ronaldo and Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah are also shortlisted.

Bayern Munich striker Lewandowski missed out on the 2020 award, with the 33-year-old widely expected to claim the individual award before it was cancelled by organisers.

Nominees

  • Cesar Azpilicueta (Chelsea)
  • Nicolo Barella (Inter Milan)
  • Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)
  • Leonardo Bonucci (Juventus)
  • Kevin de Bruyne (Manchester City)
  • Giorgio Chiellini (Juventus)
  • Cristiano Ronaldo (Manchester United)
  • Ruben Dias (Manchester City)
  • Gianluigi Donnarumma (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Bruno Fernandes (Manchester United)
  • Phil Foden (Manchester City)
  • Erling Haaland (Borussia Dortmund)
  • Jorginho (Chelsea)
  • Harry Kane (Tottenham)
  • N’Golo Kante (Chelsea)
  • Simon Kjaer (AC Milan)
  • Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)
  • Romelu Lukaku (Chelsea)
  • Riyad Mahrez (Manchester City)
  • Lautaro Martinez (Inter Milan)
  • Kylian Mbappe (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Lionel Messi (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Luka Modric (Real Madrid)
  • Gerard Moreno (Villarreal)
  • Mason Mount (Chelsea)
  • Neymar (Paris Saint-Germain)
  • Pedri (Barcelona)
  • Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)
  • Raheem Sterling (Manchester City)
  • Luis Suarez (Atletico Madrid)

Euro: Messi’s PSG beaten by Rennes | Espanyol stun Real

Paris Saint-Germain suffered their first defeat of the season when they were beaten 2-0 at Rennes on Sunday.

Rennes won thanks to goals by Gaetan Laborde and Flavian Tait either side of the interval to end PSG’s eight-game winning run in the league and inflict their first away defeat in the competition for eight months.

PSG, beaten in the pre-season Trophy of Champions by Lille, stayed top of the standings with 24 points, six ahead of second-placed RC Lens who beat Stade de Reims 2-0 on Friday.

“We played 25-30 minutes of very good quality. We were in control of the game. We conceded the goal in a strong moment for them. When we started the second half, we were down 2-0 right away, it was a different game after that,” PSG coach Mauricio Pochettino said.

“I’m a little bit angry. Without underestimating what Rennes did, we are frustrated and disappointed that we did not convert our chances and to concede these goals. These situations leave us bitter and disappointed.”

Messi cuts a dejected figure on Sunday
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Messi cuts a dejected figure on Sunday

Five days after an impressive win over Manchester City in the Champions League, PSG got off to a lively start but lacked sharpness as Neymar skied a close-range attempt over the bar in the 22nd minute.

Lionel Messi’s 25-yard free-kick crashed against the crossbar and although he combined well with Neymar and Kylian Mbappe, the visitors struggled to break the deadlock.

Rennes, who had less than 72 hours to recuperate after beating Vitesse Arnhem in the Europa League on Thursday, went ahead on the stroke of halftime in clinical fashion.

Laborde netted his sixth goal of the season by volleying home from Kamaldeen Sulemana’s cross.

Having failed to manage a single shot on target in the first half, PSG were caught cold straight after the interval as Tait fired home from Laborde’s cross.

The hugely disappointing Neymar was substituted by Mauro Icardi in the 76th minute but the Argentine failed to inspire PSG who also failed to muster a shot on target in the second half. Rennes moved up to seventh on 12 points.

Meanwhile, Lille handed Marseille their second consecutive Ligue 1 defeat when Jonathan David’s double gave them a 2-0 home win on Sunday as the visitors finished with 10 men.

David struck after 28 minutes and again deep into stoppage time to lift the French champions to eighth in the standings on 14 points from nine games as they continue to recover from a bad start to the season.

The result left Marseille, who suffered their first loss in the league last weekend against RC Lens, in fifth place also on 14 points, although the Provence side have a game in hand.

La Liga: Real stunned by Espanyol as woes continue

Raul de Tomas celebrates his finish for Espanyol
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Raul de Tomas celebrates his finish for Espanyol

Real Madrid’s stuttering form continued on Sunday when they were stunned 2-1 away at Espanyol in LaLiga.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side are now without a win in three games in all competitions but remain top of the table on 17 points, ahead of city rivals Atletico Madrid on goal difference.

A goal in either half from Raul De Tomas and Aleix Vidal was enough for Espanyol to secure the three points against Real. The Catalans moved up to 12th with nine points.

Karim Benzema’s curled effort halved the deficit 19 minutes from time but Real were unable to find an equaliser, with Eden Hazard’s late effort ruled out for offside.

“We weren’t comfy. We conceded early and that makes the game tougher for you,” Real defender Nacho said.

“They got in behind us a lot, and we need to work on our defensive play and that will come with games.

“We’ve got a number of players missing but we still have a good squad and we should be doing better than in our last three games. We need to improve at the back and respond.”

Bundesliga: Frankfurt win at Bayern

Robert Lewandowski failed to inspire Bayern Munich
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Robert Lewandowski failed to inspire Bayern Munich

Frankfurt’s Filip Kostic drilled home an 83rd-minute goal to stun Bayern Munich and snatch a 2-1 Bundesliga win on Sunday, earning a first league victory at Bayern in 21 years and ending the hosts’ nine-game winning run in all competitions.

Kostic picked up the ball on the edge of the box, charged forward and beat keeper Manuel Neuer with a powerful low drive in the 83rd minute to seal Eintracht’s first win of the season.

The Bavarians remain top of the table with 16 points from seven games despite their first defeat, one point ahead of Borussia Dortmund and Freiburg in second and third respectively.

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Highlights of the Bundesliga match between Bayern Munich and Eintracht Frankfurt.

The home side took the lead when Leon Goretzka benefited from a Martin Hinteregger mistake to score in the 29th minute.

The Austrian defender quickly made amends by powering a header into the net for the equaliser three minutes later.

Both teams each had a chance to take the lead before the break with Eintracht’s Almamy Toure forcing a superb save from Neuer in the 43rd minute and Bayern’s Serge Gnabry hitting the post from close range a minute later.

Frankfurt revel in their fine away victory
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Frankfurt revel in their fine away victory

Eintracht ‘keeper Kevin Trapp was kept busy in the second half, repeatedly denying Gnabry, Leroy Sane and Robert Lewandowski as the hosts pushed forward in search of the winner.

Yet it was Eintracht who scored what proved to be the winner against the run of play through Kostic before Trapp made another key save in stoppage time to palm a Goretzka shot wide.

Serie A: Napoli recover to maintain perfect start

Napoli's Victor Osimhen celebrates his side's 2-1 win
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Napoli’s Victor Osimhen celebrates his side’s 2-1 win

Napoli came from behind to earn a 2-1 victory at Fiorentina in Serie A on Sunday, ensuring they remain the only side in Europe’s top five leagues with a 100 per cent record this season.

The league leaders started sluggishly and were punished in the 28th minute as Lucas Martinez Quarta took advantage of some slack marking to fire Fiorentina into a deserved lead.

The opener acted as a wake-up call for Napoli with Hirving Lozano firing them level 10 minutes later, following up after goalkeeper Bartlomiej Dragowski had brilliantly saved Lorenzo Insigne’s penalty.

Victor Osimhen then almost edged Napoli in front before halftime with a spectacular overhead kick. However, the visitors did not have to wait much longer to complete the turnaround, with Amir Rrahmani giving them a 2-1 lead in the 50th minute.

Napoli had further chances to make the win more comfortable, but saw the game out to secure a seventh straight success and stay top, four points clear of second-placed Inter Milan.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan strikes to extend Roma's lead
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Henrikh Mkhitaryan strikes to extend Roma’s lead

Fiorentina remain fifth after their third defeat of the season.

Elsewhere, Lorenzo Pellegrini celebrated signing a new contract and his recall to the Italian national team squad by setting Roma on their way to a comfortable 2-0 victory over Empoli.

The 25-year-old midfielder penned a new deal to stay in the Italian capital until 2026 before the match and arrowed Roma in front three minutes before the break, days after being named in the Azzurri squad for this week’s Nations League finals.

Jose Mourinho watches on during the Empoli game
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Jose Mourinho watches on during the Empoli game

Henrikh Mkhitaryan had Roma two goals in front three minutes later, reacting first after Tammy Abraham’s powerful strike had come back off the crossbar, with the hosts able to take their foot off the gas after that and see out the victory with ease.

The result kept Jose Mourinho’s side fourth in the standings, six points behind leaders Napoli, while Empoli stayed 10th.

Fernando Forestieri’s late equaliser earned Udinese a point in a pulsating 3-3 draw at Sampdoria, while Hellas Verona thrashed Spezia 4-0 in Veneto.

‘Nightmare!’ – Koeman pressure builds after new Barca ‘calamity’

Pressure has piled up on Barcelona boss Ronald Koeman after the club made their worst-ever start to a Champions League campaign with a 3-0 defeat at Benfica.

Barcelona were behind after just three minutes in Portugal, when Darwin Nunez scored at the near post.

He then added a penalty with 11 minutes to play, after Rafa Silva’s second-half strike, to match the scoreline by which Barca lost to Bayern Munich in their opening Group E fixture.

To compound Barcelona’s night to forget, Eric Garcia was sent off late on.

The Catalans are already five points behind La Liga leaders Real Madrid domestically and now face an uphill struggle. If they do not qualify for the knockout stages of the Champions League, it will be for the first time since 2003/04.

Koeman: No point comparing us with past Barca teams

ROnaldo Koeman
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Ronald Koeman’s Barcelona have lost their first two Champions League games this season

Speaking after the match, Koeman said the players were still behind him but added that he did not know if the board felt the same after the Benfica game.

“As I’ve said just the other day, regarding my future I can’t say anything,” Koeman said. “Because I don’t know what the club is thinking in this respect, and I don’t want to answer any more questions on this because it is not in my hands. We’ll see.

“In the end the culprits [in defeat] are the coaches. But I think in many phases during the game we implemented our plan very well because we were superior to them. From 2-0 we had problems.

“But we had opportunities to score two goals in the game. We were not inferior except in effectiveness in the game.”

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Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman admits his future at the Nou Camp is out of his hands following a 3-0 defeat to Benfica in the Champions League.

Koeman added there was “no point” comparing his Barcelona team to those from the past, and says he has the confidence of the dressing room.

“There’s no point in comparing this with Barcelona teams of years gone by. That’s as clear as water. I can only give you my opinion of my work at the club – I feel backed by my players and their attitude.

“Where you have to win is with the players that we have, by playing our way. To have the ball and create opportunities and this we did. But if you don’t score, you don’t win the game.

Mundo Deportivo: 'Against the ropes' | Marca call it a 'total calamity'
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Mundo Deportivo: ‘Against the ropes’ | Marca call it a ‘total calamity’
AS said Barca were 'sunk', while Sport led with the headline 'This is a nightmare'
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AS said Barca were ‘sunk’, while Sport led with the headline ‘This is a nightmare’

“I understand that you see the final result and I accept it. When you win a game everything is calm and now we have lost a game so the future of the coach in this world [is in doubt] – you have to accept that and if you don’t then it’s better to leave.”

Barcelona president Joan Laporta backed Koeman last week but said the board would not shirk tough decisions if they needed to be made.

Barca’s sorry stats

  • Barcelona have lost their first two matches in a UEFA European campaign for the first time since the 1972-73 UEFA Cup, when they lost both legs to FC Porto and were eliminated.
  • Despite only taking charge of eight Champions League group stage matches as Barcelona manager, only Louis van Gaal (5 in 32 games) has lost more such matches with Barca than Ronald Koeman (3 in 8 games).
  • Barcelona have lost four of their last five Champions League matches (D1), as many as they lost in their previous 39 matches (W25 D10 L4).
  • Only one team has ever reached the Champions League knockout stages after losing their first two group stage matches with a goal difference of -6 or worse, as Barcelona have this season – Lyon in 2007-08, who reached the last 16.

Bayern thrash Dynamo Kiev

Robert Lewandowski scored twice in Bayern's big win over Dynamo Kiev
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Robert Lewandowski scored twice in Bayern’s big win over Dynamo Kiev

Meanwhile, Group E leaders Bayern Munich were a class apart as they hammered Dynamo Kiev 5-0 at the Allianz Arena, with Robert Lewandowski adding two more to his tally for the season. The Poland striker now has already scored 13 goals in nine games this term.

Serge Gnabry, Leroy Sane, and Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting also got on the scoresheet as Bayern cruised to a victory which moves them two points clear at the top of the pool and underlines their status as a major contender for the crown.

English sides playing catch-up

Atalanta moved top of Group F with a 1-0 win over Young Boys, with Matteo Pessina hitting the net for the hosts, who had limited their Swiss visitors to just three shots at goal during the game.

Young Boys are now level with Manchester United, one point behind the Italian side, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s last-gasp heroics grabbed them victory over Villarreal.

Champions League Group F
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Champions League Group F

Chelsea also have ground to make up after their defeat to Group H leaders Juventus.

Also in that group, Zenit St Petersburg – who are now level on three points with Chelsea – racked up a club-record win in the Champions League by smashing four past Malmo, whose cause wasn’t helped by Anel Ahmedhodzic’s 58th-minute red card.

Champions League Group H
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Champions League Group H

In Group G, Salzburg’s Karim Adeyemi became the youngest player to score two penalties in a single Champions League match, as the 19-year-old helped his club to a 2-1 win at home to Lille, who responded via Burak Yilmaz.

And Ivan Rakitic penalty grabbed Sevilla a late equaliser as they drew 1-1 at Wolfsburg in the group’s other game. The Croatian coolly converted after Wolfsburg’s Josuha Guilavogui was sent off with five minutes remaining.

Bayern open up three-point lead at Bundesliga summit

Bayern Munich eased past hosts Greuther Furth 3-1 on Friday, despite playing almost the entire second half with 10 men, to open up a three point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

But Bayern top scorer Robert Lewandowski saw his scoring streak come to an end as he failed to equal Gerd Mueller’s all-time record of scoring in 16 consecutive league games.

It was always going to be a one-sided encounter against the promoted club, bottom in the Bundesliga and without a win this season, and Bayern took a quick lead after 10 minutes with Thomas Muller slotting in from an Alphonso Davies cutback.

Joshua Kimmich doubled Bayern's advantage
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Joshua Kimmich doubled Bayern’s advantage

Joshua Kimmich was devastatingly accurate with a low drive on the half hour to score his third league goal, after netting twice last week, and Lewandowski hit the woodwork just before the break.

A reckless challenge by Benjamin Pavard three minutes after the restart left the champions with 10 men but it hardly changed the dynamic of the game.

Bayern eased to victory on Friday night
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Bayern eased to victory on Friday night

A 68th minute own goal by Sebastian Griesbeck, under pressure from Lewandowski, killed off any slim hopes of a comeback that Furth may have been harbouring.

The home fans did get a moment to savour when Cedric Itten headed in a cross in the 87th minute to cut the deficit.

Bayern, who take on Dynamo Kyiv in the Champions League next week, move up to 16 points from six matches, with VfL Wolfsburg, on 13 in second place, travelling to Hoffenheim on Saturday.

Third-placed Borussia Dortmund, on 12, take on Borussia Monchengladbach.

Lewandowski collects European Golden Shoe

Bayern Munich’s Robert Lewandowski was presented with the 2021 European Golden Shoe on Tuesday, marking his achievement as the continent’s top goalscorer for the 2020/21 season.

With 41 goals in 29 Bundesliga appearances, Lewandowski comfortably outscored second-placed Lionel Messi (30) and Cristiano Ronaldo (29).

The reigning UEFA and FIFA Best Player averaged 1.50 goals per 90 minutes as Bayern picked up their ninth successive Bundesliga title.

Lewandowski failed to find the back of the net in just four of those 29 games.

“I have to honestly say that I am immensely proud,” the Poland striker said. “I’m very satisfied.

“In the season when I scored that historic number of goals – 41 goals – there was a moment when for the first time I didn’t think I could do it – because of the time when I was injured.

“But then I just thought about it for a moment, that I am so near to that record! However many matches I have I got when I get back, I have to be positively and believe that I can score 41 goals, and in that way match Gerd Mueller, who is someone I admire very much. That is a great history.”

Lewandowski salutes his third strike
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Lewandowski has scored 11 goals in seven games for Bayern this season

Bayern Munich president Herbert Hainer said: “This is a great accolade for Robert Lewandowski. Not just for his many, many goals but for the exemplary professionalism with which he gives everything for success every day.

“He’s deserved to become the second FC Bayern player after the unforgettable Gerd Muller to be honoured with the Golden Shoe.”

Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp, who managed Lewandowski while at Borussia Dortmund, said: “I’m delighted [for your achievement]. And I hope your score lots more goals. That’s okay, as long as I’m not in charge of the team you score against.

“And I’ve said it before – and I’ll say it again – I’m a bit proud of you.”