MLS Review: Martinez ties record in Atlanta win, D.C. United stays hot

Atlanta United defeated the Columbus Crew 3-1 on Sunday, with Josef Martinez netting a record goal in the process.

The home side took the lead in the 31st minute, and it was a record-tying effort. 

Martinez tied the MLS single-season scoring record with his 27th goal, taking advantage of a Columbus turnover near midfield before cutting onto his left foot and firing home. 

Columbus struck back five minutes into the second half, however, as Gyasi Zardes collected a pass near the top of the box and buried a low shot into the far corner. 

With 15 minutes to go, Atlanta grabbed the winner through Hector Villalba, who collected a long clearance and dribbled unmolested until reaching the box, where he drove past a defender and cut a low finish into the corner. 

The home side put the game beyond doubt six minutes later when Martinez laid a pass off to Miguel Almiron, who placed a sidefooted effort past Zack Steffen in the Crew goal. 

Meanwhile, D.C. United won their fourth game in five as they defeated the New England Revolution 2-0 at Audi Field. 

Luciano Acosta fired the home side in front after 12 minutes after getting on the end of a low cross from Paul Arriola. 

United killed the game off just minutes from time, as Zoltan Stieber finished a breakaway after Revs midfielder Scott Caldwell had been sent off for his second yellow. 

Elsewhere, Lee Nguyen and Diego Rossi scored to give Los Angeles FC a 2-0 win at home over the Colorado Rapids. 

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You can’t leave a house three-quarters built – Neville urges United to back Mourinho

Gary Neville has called on Manchester United to support manager Jose Mourinho in the transfer market, insisting you “cannot leave a house three-quarters built” after Sunday’s shock loss at Brighton.

Mourinho was left frustrated by a lack of transfer activity before the Premier League deadline after only Fred and Diogo Dalot arrived, and his concerns were laid bare as United crashed to a 3-2 defeat.

A new centre-back was Mourinho’s top priority amid links with Tottenham star Toby Alderweireld and Leicester City’s Harry Maguire but neither were signed, and United’s partnership of Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof were exposed at The Amex as defensive errors contributied to the Red Devils’ first loss of the season.

Dissecting United’s result on the road, former captain Neville said Ed Woodward and the club’s hierarchy must back Mourinho financially if they are to make up for the mistakes of the past following Alex Ferguson’s departure in 2013.

“He is in his third season and I think he will feel extremely disappointed that he wasn’t supported in the transfer market,” Neville said on Sky Sports. “You can’t leave a house three-quarters built. You have to finish it and complete the build. Then you can think about selling it or renting it because nobody is going to pick it up off you half-built.

“Manchester United have had a problem since Sir Alex Ferguson retired in the transfer market with David Moyes and then Louis van Gaal.

“You could argue £350 million to £400m of the £700m that has been spent has not been wasted, but it’s not value for money.

“He needs further investment. It’s obvious that he does and the club should support him in that because you can’t withdraw part way through a process. They have to go for it.

“It will get better and Manchester United will get stronger and won’t be easy to play against. I do think they will finish in the top four, but the top four historically has never been the benchmark of what Manchester United are. They have always judged themselves by Premier League titles.

“At this moment in time, that looks unlikely. Obviously it is still early in the season, but it does look unlikely that Manchester United are anywhere near good enough, as we sit here today.

“Forget everything else, that back four is not good enough to win a Premier League title. Let’s start and finish with that.

“The goalkeeper is the best in the world, the midfield is strong with Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic and Fred and up front there is Romelu Lukaku, Anthony Martial, Alexis Sanchez, Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard, Juan Mata and a lot of good players. But that back four looks like it will always cause problems and always concede goals. It doesn’t have authority and that is a problem.”

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Morata: I never considered Chelsea exit

Alvaro Morata wants to establish himself as Chelsea’s main man after insisting he never considered leaving Stamford Bridge.

Morata only scored one top-flight goal after the turn of the year as speculation over his Chelsea future intensified amid links with Serie A and La Liga.

But the 25-year-old Spain international, who was left out of the country’s World Cup squad, was on target in Chelsea’s 3-2 win over London rivals Arsenal in Premier League action on Saturday.

Former Real Madrid and Juventus forward Morata is determined to change things at Chelsea following Maurizio Sarri’s arrival.

“There was never a thought for me to leave. For me, it’s easy. I could have gone back to Spain or Italy, all the people believe in me there but I want to change all the things here,” Morata said.

“I want to, not for all the haters, but for me and for Chelsea.”

“I am looking forward to buying a house and I can’t wait for the babies to grow up to put them into school,” Morata added.

“I am very happy and it’s just the beginning of the new season. Why would I not be happy? I want to change all the thinking from the people who say I’m not.

“It’s the only reason I stay here, otherwise if Chelsea said, ‘You are not in our plans’, I move.”

He continued: “The most important thing is the way we play. Last season it was direct balls and for me to protect the ball in the air is not my best quality. Now I can attack the space, I can play one touch and go in the area for the crosses. It’s better for me.”

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Lopetegui pleased with Bale and Real Madrid after La Liga opener

Julen Lopetegui praised goalscorer Gareth Bale and European champions Real Madrid as the former Spain boss celebrated his first La Liga victory.

Taking charge of his maiden league match as Madrid head coach after replacing Zinedine Zidane, Lopetegui oversaw Madrid’s 2-0 win over Getafe at the Santiago Bernabeu on Sunday.

Madrid suffered a 4-2 extra-time defeat to rivals Atletico Madrid in the UEFA Super Cup last time out but Lopetegui’s men bounced back thanks to Bale and Dani Carvajal.

After Carvajal opened the scoring in the 20th minute, Bale – headlining Madrid’s forward line following Cristiano Ronaldo’s move to Juventus – doubled the lead six minutes into the second half.

Discussing Bale’s performance afterwards, Lopetegui told reporters: “I liked the team’s performance in general and Bale had a very good match.

“He offers lots of different things, like the other players. We must continue working, the team always comes before individual talent and that goes for Bale too.”

Lopetegui added: “We’re satisfied with the win and happy because the team did a lot right. There’s still room for improvement at this stage of the season, as with all teams. We played with intensity, played as a team and scored two goals against a side who had the third best defensive record last season and who came here and made things difficult.”

There was no debut for Thibaut Courtois in the Spanish capital as Keylor Navas retained his place against Getafe. 

A high-profile arrival from Chelsea, Belgium international Courtois sat out the Super Cup clash and he had to settle for a place on the bench for Sunday’s league opener.

“We’ll be running with three goalkeepers in the squad. We’re delighted with the competition for the goalkeeper’s jersey. It’s marvellous and I don’t see it as a problem, but rather see it as us having several options,” Lopetegui said.

“We’ll make decisions as the season progresses. We’re really happy with the performance levels of our goalkeepers.”

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Sorrentino thanks ‘legend’ Ronaldo for message of support after injury

Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino labelled Cristiano Ronaldo a “legend” as he thanked the Juventus superstar for his well wishes after being left with a broken nose, whiplash and a bruised shoulder.

Sorrentino, 39, was involved in a collision with Ronaldo during Saturday’s last-gasp 3-2 loss to Serie A champions Juventus – the former forced from the field on a stretcher.

Chievo veteran Sorrentino’s head connected with Ronaldo’s thigh as he came out to meet a cross in the closing minutes of the league opener at Stadio Marc’Antonio Bentegodi.

Sorrentino’s partner Sara Ruggeri was less than impressed with former Real Madrid forward Ronaldo, saying she “cannot admire this champion” following the clash.

However, Sorrentino wrote via Twitter: “I received a message of closeness and prompt recovery from Cristiano Ronaldo. Thank you legend!”

Sorrentino is in his second spell with Chievo, having left for Palermo in 2013 before returning two years ago.

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