Pepe, Bamba outshine Alioui as Lille edge Nimes in five-goal thriller

Rachid Alioui’s effort was not enough as Nicolas Pepe and Jonathan Bamba led Lille to a 3-2 victory over Nimes on Sunday.

The visitors started well with Rafael Leao’s opener in the fourth minute but were reduced to 10 men after Jose Fonte’s expulsion in the 16th minute.

Despite the setback, Bamba doubled his side’s lead just four minutes before half-time.

The Ivorian increased his tally to eight goals for the Great Danes as he continues his impressive form this season.

After the restart, Bamba set Pepe up for Lille’s third goal in the 66th minute.

The effort put him levelled as joint top scorer in the Ligue 1 alongside Kylian Mbappe and Emiliano Sala with 12 goals in 18 games.

Two minutes later, Morocco’s Alioui, introduced as a 47th-minute substitute, pulled a goal back for Nimes before Clement Depres reduced the deficit for the hosts with a late effort.

The win moved Lille to the second spot in the French top-flight with 34 points from 18 games.

Next up for them is a home game against Toulouse on Saturday while Nimes take on Rennes on the same day after Wednesday’s Coupe de la Ligue encounter against Le Havre.

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Neymar needs more goals and fewer dives to become the greatest, says Pele

Brazilian football legend Pele has warned Neymar that his on and off-field antics, including his propensity to go down, are hurting his bid to reach greatness in world football. 

Neymar has long been compared to his compatriot; the pair both grew up in the famed youth system of Santos, where each achieved fantastic success. 

Pele lifted the Brazilian title six times and also triumphed in the Copa Libertadores on two occasions in 1962 and 1963, Santos’ last win in the competition until a Neymar-inspired team prevailed over Penarol in 2011. 

The three-time World Cup winner has long tipped Neymar to become the world’s best player, but he believes he must focus on his game and cut out some of the theatrics.

“I always said that Neymar will become a great player,” the veteran explained in an interview with France’s Canal+.

“But what has happened in recent years? He began to want to appear in another way, not by scoring goals but by making gestures, simulating fouls, complicating the referees’ lives. That’s why his image became negative.

“We have talked about it several times together, despite everything he remains one of the best players in the world.

“A father does not criticise, a father educates his son. When I say to you that he is our child, it’s because he is considered a child of Santos.

“People think that I ‘twist his ear’ too often but I do it for his own good, I wish the best for him, for Brazil, I will do everything to help him.”

While Neymar has taken Paris Saint-Germain by storm since moving in a world-record deal from Barcelona in the summer of 2017, he has had to share star billing at Parc des Princes.

Kylian Mbappe Red Star PSG Champions League 11122018

Kylian Mbappe has become the new darling of French football, and at 19 has already won Pele’s seal of approval – while the great man also has high hopes for PSG’s European chances.

“I already complimented Mbappé last year, saying he was a great player. He won the World Cup at 19, I was only 17 years old when I won it,” the Brazilian added.

“I said to him that he could equal me, I think he can become the new Pele. A lot of people think I said that as a joke, but no, it’s not a joke!

“PSG are a great team, I hope they will play great football and they will go to the Champions League final. Then, only God knows if they’ll win it or not.”

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Mourinho insists he has backing of Man Utd’s players: ‘I believe they are honest’

Joes Mourinho insisted he has the full backing of Manchester United’s players after their 3-1 defeat to Liverpool, saying they are not dishonest in their efforts to win games.

Two goals from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri condemned United to defeat on Sunday, and Mourinho’s side now sit 19 points adrift of Premier League leaders Liverpool.

Mourinho left several star players, including Anthony Martial and Paul Pogba, on the bench, with the latter not brought on despite United attempting to haul themselves back into the contest late on.

However, when asked whether he had the full support of the United players, a frustrated Mourinho claimed the question suggested that his squad were dishonest.

“Are you calling the players dishonest?” Mourinho told Sky Sports .

“I believe they are honest, and you believe they are dishonest.

“A football player has to give their all every day, their maximum every day, it doesn’t matter who the manager is. 

“The club that pays him, the fans that are for 24 hours every day in love with the club, they need to respect that.

“If the players don’t do the maximum, then you call them dishonest. I do not call the players dishonest.”

Liverpool went ahead courtesy of Sadio Mane’s 24th-minute opener, but a mistake from goalkeeper Alisson enabled Jesse Lingard to restore parity against the run of play shortly after.

Shaqiri’s 70th-minute introduction from the bench quickly paid dividends for Jurgen Klopp, but Mourinho laughed off the suggestion that United had been fortunate to be in the game up until that point.

“If you want to speak about fortunate, talk about Liverpool’s second and third goals,” Mourinho said.

“Our goal was [Romelu] Lukaku getting behind and playing a good cross and then Lingard arriving in a good position.

“The goalkeeper made what I used to call half of a mistake. To speak about deflected goals, we have to speak about the second and the third [for Liverpool].

“They are a strong team, they showed they have the strongest team, but it’s hard to concede the two goals we did in this moment, even harder the way the goals happened.

“Our difficulty in the game was the first 20 minutes, we couldn’t cope with their fantastic speed, intensity and pressing. After that we were quite comfortable in the game, it was controlled.”

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Man Utd concede more goals in 17 Premier League games than entire 2017-18 season

Manchester United have now conceded 29 goals in the Premier League this season, equalling their defensive record for the entirety of the 2017-18 campaign.

It has taken the Red Devils just 17 games to equal the tally, two games before the halfway mark, and it is the most they have conceded at this stage of a season since 1962-63

Jose Mourinho’s side built a reputation for robust defending and being hard to break down on their way to a second-place finish last term, losing out only to Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City.

Liverpool, who finished fourth last season, have now taken up United’s position as the main challengers to champions City and moved back to the top of the league as they put three goals past the Red Devils on Sunday afternoon.

Sadio Mane gave Liverpool the lead at  Anfield, although the visitors came back with a Jesse Lingard strike to make it 1-1 going into the break.

Two second-half goals from substitute Xherdan Shaqiri gave Jurgen Klopp’s side a commanding lead, however, as Liverpool racked up an incredible 36 shots on goal as they cruised to victory.

The defeat means United are now 11 points off of the Champions League qualification places after fourth-placed Chelsea beat Brighton 2-1.

United’s defence did suffer a blow before kick-off when Chris Smalling, who signed a new contract on Saturday, suffered an injury in the warm-up and had to be replaced by Eric Bailly.

Bailly started in a back five for the Red Devils although Mourinho opted to switch to a back four in the second half, bringing on Marouane Fellaini for Diogo Dalot at the interval.

The manager was critical of his club’s failure to sign a centre-back last summer as they saw efforts to secure the services of defenders like Harry Maguire and Jerome Boateng turned down.

Mourinho has reportedly made Napoli defender Kalidou Koulibaly his top target in January as he aims to shore up the Red Devils’ problems at the back.

United have three games left before the window opens, as they travel to promoted Cardiff City next weekend before home games against Huddersfield and Bournemouth over the festive period. 

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Arthur Masuaku hails West Ham United’s win over Fulham

Arthur Masuaku has showered encomium on West Ham United after their 2-0 victory over Fulham in Saturday’s Premier League game.

Goals from Robert Snodgrass and Michail Antonio helped Manuel Pellegrini’s men extend their winning run to four games and moved to the ninth spot in the log with 24 points from 17 games.

The defender made his 13th league appearance in the encounter and impressed to ensure that the Hammers kept a clean sheet.

Following their outstanding showing, the Congo DR international took to the social media to salute his side for the performance.

“Another great win, well done everyone, West Ham United,” Masuaku tweeted.

West Ham will hope to continue the outstanding form when they clash with Watford on December 22 and the defender will be expected to play a part in the tie.

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