Fallen Giants

Barcelona’s poor start continues with surprise defeat to Granada in La Liga

Madrid, September 22

Barcelona threw on their stars of the present and the future but neither Lionel Messi nor Ansu Fati could save them from a dismal 2-0 defeat away at Granada.

Messi was still not deemed fit enough to start at Los Carmenes while Fati, the 16-year-old who has lit up La Liga in recent weeks, also began the game on the bench on Saturday. Both came on at half-time in a bid to bring Barca back to level terms after Granada’s Ramon Azeez drew first blood, but it was the hosts that scored again, Alvaro Vadillo converting a penalty after Arturo Vidal was found guilty of a handball.

Barcelona have now won only two of their opening five league games and none away from Camp Nou, this their second loss already, just one fewer than the three they suffered during the entirety of last season. With seven points on the board, this is their worst start to a season since 1994. Granada go top of the table after capitalising on Atletico Madrid’s goalless draw at home to Celta Vigo a few hours before.

Inter top with derby win

Milan: Romelu Lukaku fired Inter Milan back to the top of Serie A with the second goal of a 2-0 derby win that extended their perfect start to the season at the expense of city rivals AC Milan.

Belgium striker Lukaku and Marcelo Brozovic’s second half strikes gave Inter their fourth win in as many games, putting them two points ahead of Juventus after the champions came back from a goal down beat Verona 2-1 thanks to Aaron Ramsey’s first Serie A goal and a Cristiano Ronaldo penalty. Belgian striker Lukaku headed in his third goal in four games with 12 minutes remaining after Brozovic’s 49th-minute opener.

Perfect Reds, gutsy gunners 

London: Leaders Liverpool maintained their perfect start to the Premier League season as first-half goals from Trent Alexander-Arnold and Roberto Firmino secured a 2-1 win at Chelsea today that left them five points clear at the summit. 

It was a sixth straight league win from the start of the campaign for Juergen Klopp’s side and extended their club-record streak to 15 in total. Chelsea, who put up a spirited fightback in the second half, pulled a goal back with a superb effort from N’Golo Kante but a second defeat of the season left them 10 points adrift in 11th. 

Ten-man Arsenal twice battled back from a goal down to beat Aston Villa 3-2  in a thriller at the Emirates. 

John McGinn gave Villa a 20th-minute lead and Arsenal’s task became even harder when Ainsley Maitland-Niles was shown a second yellow card 20 minutes later. However, the hosts equalised through Nicolas Pepe’s penalty only for Villa to lead again through Wesley before Calum Chambers got the Gunners level once more in the 81st minute. 

Aubameyang completed an unlikely win three minutes later and extended his hot streak to 16 goals in his last 16 appearances across all competitions. 

Blues continue for United 

West Ham inflicted more away-day pain on a poor Manchester United side today, lifting themselves to fourth with a comfortable 2-0 win. Andriy Yarmolenko’s goal shortly before half-time and a wonderful late Aaron Cresswell free-kick extended United’s barren run on the road. United have lost twice already in their opening six league games. — Agencies

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