European soccer news: Liverpool in control but Man City won’t sweat it yet

European club soccer is back after an exciting international break!

Sunday saw Liverpool move into first place in the Premier League with a comeback win over Brighton. Liverpool’s time alone at the top could’ve been short-lived, but a 0-0 draw between Manchester City and Arsenal later on Sunday meant neither side caught up. Arsenal were clearly happy with the draw, but it may not be time for Man City to worry, either.

Also on Sunday, Chelsea faltered to Arsenal in the Continental Cup, meaning manager Emma Hayes won’t be finishing her run at the Blues with a quadruple. Meanwhile, in LaLiga, Real Madrid cruised past Athletic Bilbao with a Rodrygo brace.

On Saturday, Manchester City thumped Liverpool in the Women’s Super League to extend their lead at the top of the table. In the Bundesliga, Bayer Leverkusen’s late comeback win and Bayern Munich’s loss to Borussia Dortmund has the title race all but sealed.

Meanwhile, Tyler Adams made a much-anticipated return to the Premier League with Bournemouth, and in LaLiga, Barcelona clinched a win over 10-man Las Palmas.

– Stream on ESPN+: FA Cup, NWSL, LaLiga, Bundesliga and more (U.S. only)


The lead: Liverpool are now in control of the Premier League’s three-way title race

Mohamed Salah kept Liverpool on course for the Premier League title by sealing a nervy 2-1 win against Brighton at Anfield.

Jurgen Klopp’s team went into the game knowing they had to beat the Seagulls to have any hope of ending the day as league leaders due to Manchester City and Arsenal meeting at the Etihad Stadium an hour after the end of Liverpool’s Anfield clash.

But with former Arsenal forward Danny Welbeck giving Brighton a lead inside two minutes with a shot from the edge of the penalty area, Liverpool had to overcome both a stubborn opponent and their own anxieties to emerge with all three points.

Brighton, whose manager Roberto De Zerbi is leading candidate to succeed Klopp when he stands down at the end of the season, surprised Liverpool with their high-energy start and winger Simon Adingra was a constant threat down the left-hand side.

Pascal Gross, Carlos Baleba and Joël Veltman also made life difficult for Liverpool in midfield, but the home side drew level on 27 minutes when the outstanding Luis Díaz scored from close range after Veltman inadvertently played the ball into the winger’s path in the Brighton penalty area. Diaz’s goal gave Liverpool the platform on which to build their pursuit of the win, but Brighton continued to make Klopp’s side work for every opportunity. But after dominating the early stages of the second-half, Salah made it 2-1 on 65 minutes after finishing off a defence-splitting pass from midfielder Alexis Mac Allister.

With bottom club Sheffield United due at Anfield on Thursday before Liverpool visit Manchester United next Sunday, this win means Klopp’s side go into a busy week having overcome a major obstacle by beating Brighton. — Mark Ogden

Sunday talking points around the leagues

Man City stymied by Arsenal, but still have little reason to worry

Pep Guardiola only ever sets up his team to win games, but the Manchester City manager won’t be too disappointed that his side wasn’t able to beat Arsenal.

Victory at the Etihad Stadium on Sunday would have put City in pole position in the Premier League title race and instead the 0-0 draw meant Liverpool were the big winners of the weekend but, after five titles in six years, Guardiola will still back his team to go on and win it again from here. Time and time again, City have challenged rivals to match their consistency and seen them fall away and, with nine games to go, the gauntlet has been laid down again.



Why are Man City struggling against the top teams this season?

Mark Donaldson, Janusz Michallik and Stewart Robson examine the reasons behind Man City’s poor form against the top teams after an uninspiring 0-0 draw with Arsenal at the Etihad.

City’s performance against Arsenal — with the majority of possession but only one shot on target — looked like one designed to make sure they came away with at least a point and they did. Aside from a trip to Tottenham — yet to be scheduled — there is very little to worry Guardiola in the run-in and come the end of the season, this might look like a valuable draw. City controlled most of the game despite being without Éderson, Kyle Walker and John Stones and a lot of that was down to two youngsters.

Rico Lewis, 19, was excellent in the hybrid right-back/midfield role after coming on as an early substitute and Josko Gvardiol, 22, did such a good job on Bukayo Saka that the England winger was replaced by Arsenal manager Mikel Arteta midway through the second half. — Rob Dawson

Conti Cup loss means Chelsea’s quadruple dreams dashed in Hayes’ final season

Going into Sunday’s Continental Cup final against Arsenal, the talk around Chelsea was about the potential quadruple, which has only been achieved once before when Arsenal scooped every piece of domestic silverware, as well as the UEFA Women’s Cup in the 2006-07 season.

It was viewed as a potentially fitting farewell to Emma Hayes in her last season with the Blues before she takes over the U.S. women’s national team. But the seasoned manager had warned her players already that, although there was a potential for a quadruple, there was also a chance her team could finish the season without any silverware to add to their sizable collection.

Indeed, when the ball got rolling in Wolverhampton, it was Arsenal who had the better of it, winning the Continental Cup, 1-0 after having to go into extra time. The margins were fine all the way through the game, with Arsenal’s tendency to over-play keeping the game finely poised.



How Arsenal took the Conti Cup title after ‘stalemate’ vs. Chelsea

Sophie Lawson reacts to Arsenal’s 1-0 victory over Chelsea to take the Conti Cup crown for the second year running.

Just as the pair had been deadlocked through the 90 minutes, so too they were across extra time and with the Blues already readying Ann-Katrin Berger to come on for the shootout, the Gunners finally broke Chelsea’s resolve as Stina Blackstenius forced the ball out of her feet and into the back of Hannah Hampton’s net. With no time for a response, the match, cup and indeed, all talk of the quad fell away for the Blues.

Now the talk for this Hayes-led Chelsea side will switch to a treble of league, FA Cup and Champions League, although as Hayes pointed out, they could still finish the season with nothing. For Arsenal, who’ve been inconsistent this season, there is, once again, a fresh piece of silverware in their trophy cabinet to add gloss to the campaign. — Sophie Lawson

Rodrygo brace gives Real Madrid momentum before Man City clash

Sunday brought two goals for Rodrygo Goes, just in time for the return of his favourite competition, the Champions League. Rodrygo‘s brace in Real Madrid’s 2-0 LaLiga win over Athletic Club on Sunday showcased the best of a player who’s had a hot-and-cold season, but could still have a part to play in Madrid’s next game, their quarterfinal first leg against Manchester City on April 9.

Both goals were top quality. For the first, with just eight minutes played, Rodrygo stepped inside, curling past Athletic goalkeeper Julen Agirrezabala from outside the box. For the second, midway through the second half, he ended the contest, collecting a pass from Jude Bellingham and dancing past a defender before wrongfooting Agirrezabala, finishing inside the near post. The goals take Rodrygo into double figures in LaLiga this season, and bring a seven-game dry run of five starts and two substitute appearances without scoring to an end. His previous goal had come in Madrid’s 4-0 win over Girona on February 10, the only other time he’s found the net in 2024.

Rodrygo’s contributions this season have been fitful, often coming in the absence of Vinícius Júnior, suspended here. No Vinicius means Rodrygo can step into his compatriot’s favoured position, on the left-hand side of Madrid’s forward line. It’s an area of the pitch which will only get more congested if Kylian Mbappé arrives at the Bernabeu this summer. This season’s goals have come in streaks — there were five in three games between November and December — and this display bodes well for the City tie, which is Madrid’s next outing, with LaLiga taking a break next weekend for the Copa del Rey final.

Rodrygo’s defining moment in a Madrid shirt remains his indelible performance against City in May 2022, scoring twice in two added minutes to put Madrid into the Champions League final. A repeat of that might be unrealistic, but his goal threat in Europe has been consistently high, scoring five times in each of the last two full Champions League campaigns, with three this season. An in-form Rodrygo, alongside Jude Bellingham and Vinicius, would only boost Madrid’s chances. — Alex Kirkland

Americans Abroad: USWNT stars face-off in Conti Cup

Sunday was a relatively quiet day for Americans in Europe as most of the leading U.S. men’s national team players had games on Saturday, and the few that had games on Sunday didn’t play. But Sunday did have some a couple of notable appearances, primarily courtesy of the U.S. women’s national team.

Catarina Macario, still not in starting shape as she has recently returned from a 20-month layoff for an ACL tear, came on in the 96th minute for Chelsea in their 1-0 loss to Arsenal in the Continental Cup. Emily Fox started and played all 120 minutes plus stoppage time.

Lily Yohannes, the 16-year-old who recently got her first call-up to the USWNT, started in Ajax’s 2-1 loss to Heerenveen but came off at halftime. Meanwhile, Eva Gaetino — another player who just made her first USWNT roster — started in PSG’s 3-0 win over Dijon, coming off at halftime.

On the USMNT side, Cameron Carter-Vickers started and played every minute of Celtic’s 3-0 win over Livingston. Emmanuel Sabbi played 65 minutes in Le Havre AC’s 2-0 loss to Montpellier before being subbed off. — Caitlin Murray

News of the day

  • Arsenal midfielder Frida Maanum is “conscious” and in a “stable condition,” the club said, after she collapsed to the ground in the 95th minute of the Conti Cup final against Chelsea on Sunday.

  • Manchester City goalkeeper Ellie Roebuck revealed over the weekend that she suffered a stroke is “on the road to recovery.” She last appeared for City in May 2023 and wrote in a social media message that, “I feel like now is the right time to share what’s been happening lately.”

And finally, on Sunday …

If you were a bit bummed that Manchester City vs. Arsenal ended 0-0, it’s understandable. Aside from it being one of the biggest Premier League match-ups this season, it was also a match-up that should’ve resulted in a goal or two.

Coming into Sunday, Man City was on a 57-game streak of scoring at least one goal in every home game across all competitions. What’s more, the last time a match between Man City and Arsenal ended scoreless was 13 years ago in January 2011.

Streaks are made to be broken, and games aren’t played on paper. Still, a goal would’ve been nice. Them’s the breaks. — Murray


The lead: Bayern Munich come up short as Dortmund end their Klassiker losing streak

One day after Xabi Alonso announced that he would stay at Bayer Leverkusen and a few hours after his team edged out another comeback win, Bayern Munich were tasked with beating Borussia Dortmund in Bundesliga’s Der Klassiker order to keep their slim championship chances alive. Dortmund had suffered nine consecutive defeats away against Bayern before Saturday’s game, but the Edin Terzic-led side were able to buck the trend by showing an almost flawless performance at Munich’s Allianz Arena, beating Bayern 2-0.

What helped the rather defensively-minded guests tremendously was Karim Adeyemi‘s early go-ahead goal. In the lead-up, Thomas Müller lost the ball and thus enabled Dortmund to set up a counterattack, with Julian Brandt eventually finding Adeyemi on the left side who then escaped Matthijs de Ligt before putting the ball past goalkeeper Sven Ulreich, who replaced an injured Manuel Neuer.



Moreno blasts ’embarrassing’ Bayern after 2-0 defeat to Dortmund

Ale Moreno says not one Bayern Munich player can look back on their defeat to Borussia Dortmund and be pleased with their performance.

In the aftermath of Dortmund’s first goal, Bayern looked occasionally desperate to find a way through the guest’s defense. The defending champions missed Aleksandar Pavlovic‘s presence in central midfield. Even though the 19-year-old has only made 13 appearances thus far, he has become the creative driver for Bayern’s build-up. As Pavlovic was out due to an illness, Leon Goretzka and Konrad Laimer, the two midfielders in Bayern’s 4-2-3-1, were mostly unable to break down Dortmund’s defensive structure.

And if Bayern managed to get into Dortmund’s penalty area, Mats Hummels was ready to clean house. The 35-year-old showed incredible composure and positional awareness in a high-profile game once again, which may lead to more clamoring for him to be picked by Germany national coach Julian Nagelsmann for the Euro 2024.

Thomas Tuchel, Nagelsmann’s successor at Bayern, has to digest yet another setback this season, as the home loss leaves his team 13 points behind Bundesliga table leaders Leverkusen with seven games remaining. Meanwhile, Dortmund have tightened their hold on fourth place, with Terzic’s sight being set on qualifying for next season’s Champions League competition. — Constantin Eckner

Saturday talking points around the leagues

Barca keep the pressure on Real Madrid

Barcelona’s revival since coach Xavi Hernández announced he will step down in the summer continued with a 1-0 win over 10-man Las Palmas at the Olympic Stadium on Saturday as they closed the gap on LaLiga leaders Real Madrid to five points. Raphinha scored the only goal as Barça made it 11 games without defeat since Xavi made his decision public.

The victory over Las Palmas was never really in doubt once visiting goalkeeper Álvaro Valles was sent off for a foul on Raphinha in the 24th minute, but Barça still had to work hard to secure the three points. Raphinha had a goal ruled out for offside prior to Valles’ dismissal, with the Brazilian then firing wide and Robert Lewandowski hitting the bar from good chances after the keeper was given his marching orders.

The opener eventually arrived on the hour mark, João Félix cutting in from the left before delivering a perfect cross for Raphinha to expertly nod into the top corner. Felix then went from hero to villain, smashing the bar from two yards with the goal gaping after good work from Jules Koundé. The Portuguese forward was not made to pay for his miss, though, despite some late Las Palmas pressure, with Alberto Moleiro the side netting away from an equalizer.

Given their recent upturn in form — and the bigger tasks ahead, such as Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League quarterfinal next and a trip to Madrid later this month — Xavi will perhaps tolerate his team’s prolificacy in attack here, especially as it came paired with a fifth consecutive clean sheet in the league.

Barça now have 10 days to wait until that first leg in Paris, with LaLiga pausing for the Copa del Rey final next weekend, although thoughts seemed to turn to that game already in the second half with Lewandowski and João Cancelo picking up cheap bookings that will rule them out of the next league game. That is a trip to Cadiz, sandwiched in between those two massive PSG fixtures, meaning Lewandowski and Cancelo can now give Luis Enrique’s team their full attention. — Sam Marsden

Cityzens go marching on vs. Liverpool

In less than 10 minutes at Prenton Park, Manchester City turned a midfielder stalemate into a 3-0 advantage that Liverpool couldn’t come back from, eventually losing 4-1.

It was Saturday lunchtime’s clash of philosophies: City with a firm starting XI, and a coach who had preached the need to perfect “Plan A” rather than having Plans B, C and D lined up. And Liverpool under Matt Beard, adapting all the way through the season in attempt to stifle their changing opposition and work on the balance to allow them to play in a way that suits those available in red. The plan for Beard worked over the first 15 minutes, City were largely nullified and Rachael Laws was a spectator in the home goal but unable to clear City’s first effort of the game, when the hosts were instantly pegged back as the ball dropped kindly for Lauren Hemp to tuck home.

One fast became two when Jessica Park wriggled around in the final third before firing home by way of the far post. Bunny Shaw’s first of the afternoon was an audacious strike from outside the box that had the hosts wondering how the game had gotten away from them. Although each goal carried its own personality, it was testament to the way City have perfected that Plan A, and how easily their attackers and midfielders intermingle on the pitch, routinely able to find space to occupy as they progress the ball into dangerous areas.

A plumb Shaw header started the second half as City looked to better their goal difference, chasing down Chelsea’s spot at the top of the WSL table, but Liverpool’s adjustments helped to contain their visitors. Taylor Hinds’ late, late strike from range gave the hosts something to cheer about and reduce City’s goal advantage over Chelsea back down to one. The Blues still have a game in hand, and the title fight goes down to the wire. — Lawson

Americans Abroad: Balogun nets brace, Adams makes winning return

Tyler Adams made his first start in the Premier League for Bournemouth since Mar. 2023, and what a return it was. The 25-year-old midfielder played 90 minutes, and put in an excellent defensive shift, helping the Cherries to a 2-1 victory over Everton.

Folarin Balogun netted twice for AS Monaco against Metz after coming on as substitute in the 66th minute. The USMNT striker will hope this brace opens the floodgates, as his goalscoring form (eight goals this season) has not been at the standard of last season’s, when he scored 22 goals for Reims. Monaco currently sit in second place in the league table, 10 points behind leaders Paris Saint-Germain.

Brenden Aaronson was subbed off in the 65th minute in Union Berlin’s goalless draw against Eintracht Frankfurt. On loan from Leeds United, Aaronson managed two shots during the game but was unable to make the difference. He has two goals for Union this season, who sit in 12th place.

Timothy Weah and Weston McKennie both came on as substitutes in Juventus’ 1-0 defeat to Lazio. Weah has only scored one goal for the club this season, while McKennie has contributed seven assists so far. With Saturday’s loss, Juventus fall into third place in the table behind AC Milan and Internazionale. — SherShah Atif

News of the day

  • Paris Saint-Germain coach Luis Enrique has said he still holds hope that Kylian Mbappé could “change his mind” and remain with the club despite being strongly linked with a move to Real Madrid in the summer. Sources confirmed to ESPN in February that Mbappé had decided to join Madrid in the summer after his contract with PSG runs out. Asked if the fact that it will be Mbappé’s final chance to play in Le Classique would influence his starting lineup, Luis Enrique said: “Why will it be his final derby? Me, I’ve always remained hopeful that Kylian could change his mind — he hasn’t said anything for now. He could change his mind.”

  • Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino accused his players of lacking the hunger needed to compete in the Premier League after his side were held to a 2-2 draw at home by 10-man Burnley on Saturday. Despite Cole Palmer’s brace, struggling Burnley came from behind twice and Dara O’Shea equalised late at Stamford Bridge. “Today we didn’t show the capacity, the energy, the hunger that is the minimum to compete in the Premier League,” Pochettino said in his post-match news conference. “In the defensive phase we conceded too much. That is why I am so upset and disappointed.”

  • Bayern Munich manager Thomas Tuchel said the Bundesliga title race was “obviously” over after his side’s loss to Borussia Dortmund on Saturday left them 13 points behind leaders Bayer Leverkusen with seven games remaining. “After today’s game there is no more need to count points. How many is it now? Congratulations to Leverkusen.”

And finally, on Saturday …

Xabi Alonso’s Bayer Leverkusen left it late once again to clinch a stoppage-time winner against Hoffenheim. After trailing 1-0 for most of the game, Leverkusen’s Robert Andrich (88th minute) and Patrik Schick (91st minute) came to the rescue and led their side to a dramatic victory.

To further illustrate how amazing the Bundesliga leaders have been this season, they’ve scored seven times in stoppage time in 2024, meanwhile Schick scored his 5th goal in his last five games. The Leverkusen train is showing no signs of slowing down as they march towards a maiden league title in extraordinary fashion. — Atif

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