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CHAMPIONS LEAGUE

FOOTBALL

Manchester misery for German clubs in CL

German clubs suffered in the Champion League on Wednesday, as VfL Wolfsburg and Borussia Mönchengladbach both lost to the money-laden clubs of Manchester.

Manchester misery for German clubs in CL
Photo: DPA

Wolfsburg fell to a 2-1 defeat away to Manchester United in the Champions League on Wednesday to mean the English club caught them in the league table.

The group is on a knife edge, as after two games all four sides lie on three points.

Beaten 2-1 at PSV Eindhoven in their opening game, Manchester United fell behind to a fourth-minute Daniel Caligiuri goal at Old Trafford before Mata rode to the home team's rescue.

The Spain midfielder won and scored a 34th-minute penalty and then set up Chris Smalling with a stunning improvised flick eight minutes into the second half to give improving United a fourth consecutive victory.

Wolfsburg's defeat to United, coupled with PSV's 3-2 loss at CSKA Moscow, left them in a four-way tie for first place in Group B ahead of PSV's visit on October 21.

Wolfsburg finished the game strongly but could not prevent a fourth successive defeat in England, which left last season's German Cup winners and Bundesliga runners-up without a win in three matches.

“We lacked a bit of luck at the end,” said Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking. “But I'm confident we can build on tonight's strong performance.”

Aguero penalty piles misery on Gladbach

Sergio Aguero's 90th-minute penalty sealed Manchester City's 2-1 comeback win at Mönchengladbach on Wednesday in the Champions League to continue the Germans' spot-kick misery in Europe.

Having opened their debut Champions League campaign with a 3-0 defeat at Sevilla, which included two penalties, Gladbach remain bottom of Group D as they search to replace ex-coach Lucien Favre.

The result is a set back for Gladbach after their first defeat under caretaker coach Andre Schubert following two Bundesliga wins since Favre quit on September 20 after five German league defeats.

This was Borussia's first European match at this level for 37 years and their first defeat to English opposition at home on the continent in six matches.

“The bottom line first of all is how disappointed we are to have not taken anything from this game,” said Schubert.
“We kept in the game, defended well, but we still lost.”

City are now third only on goal-difference after leaders Juventus enjoyed a 2-0 win at home to Sevilla on Wednesday as Manuel Pellegrini's Citizens bounced back from their opening 2-1 defeat at home to the Italians.

After striker Lars Stindl had put Gladbach ahead at Borussia Park, City came from behind as Andreas Christensen's own goal put the English team level before Aguero's late spot-kick.

The win breathes life back into City's European aspirations as they bounced back from their 4-1 mauling at Tottenham Hotspur in the Premier League on Saturday.

England goalkeeper Joe Hart played a role in City's victory by keeping out Raffael's first-half penalty attempt, then saving first-half shots from the Brazilian and Germany winger Patrick Herrmmann.

 

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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