European soccer news: Barca continue winless streak, Tottenham shock Arsenal

There are only a couple of weeks until we ring in the new year but, before that, there is some football action to be decided all across Europe to finish off 2023 on a high. As always, this weekend saw some shocking results, drama, and excitement that is ever so present in the continent.

On Saturday, Tottenham achieved a historic 1-0 win over their north London rivals Arsenal in the Women’s Super League, Barcelona were unable to snatch all three points in a 1-1 draw against Valencia, Borussia Dortmund continued to lose ground in the Bundesliga race following a 1-1 draw to Augsburg, and Lyon earned an important 1-0 win over Monaco that helps them in the fight to escape the relegation zone in Ligue 1.

Here is your look back at all the fun from the weekend.

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The Saturday lead: Tottenham earn historic north London win

The North London Derby has a special place in the English football calendar, although on the women’s side, it’s been a rather one-sided affair with Spurs playing catch up having only been promoted to the top tier in 2019. Aside from a draw, grabbed in stoppage time back in 2021, Arsenal had reigned supreme in the derby, outscoring Spurs by 24 goals to three, notching five wins along the way.

Having played each other in a midweek cup game that ended 3-3, Spurs made just one change for the tie as Arsenal recalled nine players back into the starting XI, showing their strength in depth. Indeed, the team that just bested Chelsea 4-1 to inject some spice into the title race, had the lion’s share of the ball and chances against a Spurs team struggling with injuries.

With the visitors having missed countless chances, the hosts streaked forward just before the hour, with Celin Bizet‘s work to beat the defence and feed the ball through vital for Martha Thomas to send home and break the deadlock.

From there, Spurs only got deeper. Manager Robert Vilahamn’s substitutes were used to reinforce the overworked defence who hadn’t tasted a win in the league since October. Defending for their lives was not quite the new philosophy Vilahamn has endeavoured to preach since taking charge over the summer.

Yet, the impact of the coach has been felt from top to bottom as his team has taken sizable steps in the league, their ability to hold on through more than 12 minutes of stoppage time testament to their evolution.

Although there will be questions around why Arsenal couldn’t do more with their 31 shots, all that mattered for the fans chanting “Glory, glory Tottenham Hotspur” at full-time was the first win Spurs had managed over Arsenal in the WSL. — Sophie Lawson

Saturday talking points around the leagues

Barcelona continue lackluster winless run

Barcelona’s lack of a clinical edge once again cost them as they extended their winless run to three games with a 1-1 draw at Valencia in LaLiga on Saturday. João Félix gave Barça a 55th-minute lead at Mestalla, but Hugo Guillamón’s brilliant strike earned them a point and further dented the visitors’ title hopes. Barça began the weekend seven points adrift of leaders Girona and five behind second-placed Real Madrid. Those gaps will grow further if Madrid and Girona win their respective games against Villarreal and Alaves over the next two days.

After back-to-back defeats against Girona and Antwerp, Barça coach Xavi Hernández had called the trip to Valencia a “final” with the pressure increasing on both him and his team following a run of four defeats in nine games. An even first half ended goalless, with both teams squandering chances, but Barça improved after the break. João Félix tapped in the opener after a brilliant pass from Frenkie de Jong played in Raphinha, but some passive defending, taking nothing away from Guillamón’s fine finish from the edge of the box, let Valencia back into the game.

Still, Barça created enough in the final 20 minutes to win the game. Substitute Ferran Torres wasted a great chance from another supreme De Jong pass. Raphinha was denied by goalkeeper Giorgi Mamardashvili when freed by Robert Lewandowski and then saw the rebound blocked by Yarek Gasiorowski. Barça ended the game with 16 shots and an xG of 3.06 to Valencia’s 0.48. Raphinha (xG 0.81) and Lewandowski (xG 0.63) were the most wasteful. Xavi has blamed his side’s failure to take their chances for recent results and, despite a better performance here, that will again be his excuse for more dropped points.

Next up for Barça before the brief Christmas break in the league is Almeria at the Olympic Stadium on Wednesday. There will be no excuses if they cannot return to winning ways against the league’s only winless side. — Samuel Marsden

Dortmund continue to slide away from Bundesliga title race

Only the most optimistic fan would say that Borussia Dortmund are still a credible contender, but Saturday’s 1-1 draw put paid to any such notion. Despite taking 13 points from a possible 15 in their last five meetings with Augsburg, this weekend saw them enjoy 64% possession, 24 shots, and a 2.78 xG on their way to a frustrating result that means they’re 10 points behind league-leading Bayer Leverkusen, who host Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday.

Winless in their last five games (all competitions) and currently fifth in the Bundesliga, a tough second half of the season looms if they remain unable to convert scoring chances. The summer exit of Jude Bellingham clearly subtracted plenty of thrust and class in the attacking third, but there’s a lot more to Dortmund’s issues than that. Marco Reus was uninspired in attacking midfield and Niclas Füllkrug was wasteful with four strong looks at goal inside the box.

After a gentle opening period, Augsburg opened the scoring after Ermedin Demirovic comfortably shrugged off Nico Schlotterbeck‘s defensive effort to convert beyond Gregor Kobel. BVB would soon level with Donyell Malen, whose interplay with Fullkrug was capped by his precision finish, sneaking it inside Finn Dahmen‘s far post.

The second half saw Fullkrug squander two gilt-edge opportunities in the final 10 minutes, firing agonizingly wide for the first and then eliciting a stunning save from Dahmen, who tipped a volley onto the post after a superb cross by Thomas Meunier with time running down.

The result might suit Augsburg just fine given their modest ambitions for this season, but Dortmund and their fans always expect more. Their aim is always higher than their talent levels, and a run of one win in seven Bundesliga games could mean a grim winterpause for Edin Terzic & Co. — James Tyler

Lyon earn long-awaited win in Ligue 1

Let’s be honest, John Textor hasn’t had many great days since becoming the owner of Lyon. It has been a long nightmare for him and the club. However, Friday evening would bring the American businessman a rare moment of joy. Away at Monaco, l’OL was looking for back-to-back league wins for the first time in this disappointing season. It was not going to be easy considering how good their hosts have been this season and the game turned out to be tough indeed.

Monaco were the better team from start to finish. Lyon interim coach Pierre Sage, who is on a professional team touchline for the first time in his career, could only watch his side being battered and his goalkeeper Anthony Lopes keeping his teammates in the game with save after save. Folarin Balogun could have had a hat trick, Krépin Diatta a brace, and Monaco were putting more and more pressure in the second half.

And just when it looked like the only outcome would be another defeat for Lyon, who had only won twice in 15 games before their trip to the principality, Sage made three changes that would change everything. In the 83rd minute, Brazilian winger Jeffinho came on and, on his first touch two minutes later, scored the only goal of the game off a cross from Ainsley Maitland-Niles, who came on in the 72nd minute, following a one-two with Tino Kadewere, who entered the game at the same time than Jeffinho.

It was a real smash-and-grab for Lyon. They had five shots, two on target, and that was enough. Monaco had almost twice more xG and 19 shots but it was just not their day. It was one to celebrate for Textor though. — Julien Laurens

Americans Abroad: Sabbi stands out for Le Havre

Emmanuel Sabbi stole all the headlines for the Americans Abroad on Saturday as he was instrumental in helping Le Havre upset title-challenging Nice thanks to his two goals in a 3-1 win. The result moves the recently promoted Ligue 1 side up to ninth place for the time being, with Sabbi racking up his first two goals for the club since joining from OB from Denmark in the summer.

In England, Chris Richards played the entire match for Crystal Palace as they were able to snatch a point in a 2-2 comeback draw against Manchester City thanks to Michael Olise‘s stoppage-time penalty.

In Germany, a couple of Americans were able to snatch unbeaten results in the Bundesliga as Gio Reyna played 32 minutes in Borussia Dortmund’s 1-1 draw against Augsburg and Kevin Paredes played the last three minutes in Wolfsburg’s 1-0 win over Darmstadt. It wasn’t a positive result for BVB however as they continue to slip in the title race currently fifth in the table, whereas Wolfsburg goes to ninth place.

And finally in Spain, Celta Vigo got a crucial 1-0 win over Granada that saw Luca de la Torre play 18 minutes and help his side escape the LaLiga relegation zone to get only their second win of the season, their first since September when they beat Almeria 3-2. — Roberto Rojas

News of the day

  • Luton Town defender and club captain Tom Lockyer is in a “stable” condition in a hospital after going into cardiac arrest on the pitch during his team’s Premier League match against Bournemouth. The match was abandoned Saturday after Lockyer collapsed on the pitch after 59 minutes. “Our medical staff have confirmed that the Hatters captain suffered cardiac arrest on the pitch, but was responsive by the time he was taken off on the stretcher,” the club said in a statement. “He received further treatment inside the stadium, for which we once again thank the medical teams from both sides. Tom was transferred to hospital, where we can reassure supporters that he is stable and currently undergoing further tests with his family at his bedside.”

  • Sevilla officially sacked manager Diego Alonso after his team’s winless streak in LaLiga continued with a 3-0 home loss to Getafe on Saturday. “We would like to communicate that Diego Alonso has been relieved of his duties as first-team head coach. We thank him for his efforts and wish him the best for the future,” the club said in a statement.

And finally, on Saturday …

Our surprise of the day takes us to Manchester as Crystal Palace snatched a point in a 2-2 comeback draw thanks to Michael Olise’s stoppage-time penalty against Manchester City.

Despite being without Erling Haaland in the starting lineup due to injury, Pep Guardiola’s side was able to start on the right foot, with a 24th-minute goal from Jack Grealish and nine minutes into the second half, Rico Lewis doubling their lead that allowed the defending English and European champions cruising to a win, or so they thought.

That all changed in the second half as Jean-Philippe Mateta snatched one back 14 minutes from time. Then, late in stoppage time, Palace got a penalty following Phil Foden‘s foul in the box on Mateta, which allowed Olise to step up and score from the spot and allowed Roy Hodgson’s team to earn a priceless away point.

With this result, Manchester City failed to make up significant ground in the Premier League race over Aston Villa, Arsenal, and the team they’re now three points behind: league leaders Liverpool. Guardiola’s side sit in fourth place in the table and now travel to Saudi Arabia to compete and try to win their first-ever FIFA Club World Cup whereas Palace are in 15th place, eight points above the relegation zone. — Rojas

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