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Wednesday , November 21 2018

Coutinho stunner gives Reds win, Chelsea on fire – Bonucci enjoys winning debut, Milan rout Bayern

BEIJING, July 22, (AFP): Chelsea crushed Arsenal 3-0 in a preseason game in Beijing on Saturday but the friendly turned ugly as Pedro left the field with a bloodied face after a big collision with David Ospina.

The injury scare was followed by a two-goal performance by Chelsea’s Belgian forward Michy Batshuayi before a crowd of 55,618 people at the Bird’s Nest in the Chinese capital.

Pedro lay on the ground within half an hour with blood in his nose, lips and right ear after colliding with Colombian keeper Ospina, who slammed into the Spaniard as he leapt to clear a long ball with both fists.

After a few minutes of medical attention on the ground, the Spanish international walked off the pitch and did not return to the game.

The victory gave the Blues some measure of revenge after Arsenal stunned Chelsea 2-1 in the FA Cup final in May to deny the Premier League champions a double trophy season.

Batshuayi shined as Chelsea prepare to be joined by Spanish striker Alvaro Morata, who could make his debut against Bayern Munich in Singapore on Tuesday following his reported 80-million-euro ($92.2 million) transfer from Real Madrid.

Batshuayi scored his second goal within five minutes of the second half, deftly one-timing a low pass from Marco Alonso from just outside the area to fire a curving shot past Ospina.

Arsenal’s own star signing, former Lyon striker Alexandre Lacazette, had a low-key first half and did not return for the second period.

French international Olivier Giroud entered the game in the second half and provided some spark but his early shots were saved or wide.

Willian opened the score sheet from just inside the area in the 40th minute, taking a low shot with an Arsenal defender in front of him to beat a diving Ospina.

Just two minutes later, Premier League Player of the Year N’Golo Kante took the ball inside Arsenal’s half and fed it to Batshuayi, who beat Ospina with a left-footed shot from the edge of the box.

Milan 4, Bayern 0

AC Milan’s big summer signing Leonardo Bonucci enjoyed a winning debut for his new club as the Italians crushed Bayern Munich 4-0 in a preseason game in China.

The centre-back moved from Juventus for a fee of 40 million euro ($45 million) last week and came on as second-half substitute in front of nearly 40,000 fans in steamy Shenzhen.

AC Milan looked the more dangerous early on and opened the scoring in the 13th minute when a Ricardo Rodriguez cutback found its way to Franck Kessie, who drilled the ball home from the edge of the box.

Milan doubled their lead in the 24th minute with Rodriguez — a 17 million euro signing from Wolfsburg last month — again the architect.

The Swiss left-back curled a free kick into the box which Patrick Cutrone headed firmly past Bayern’s 17-year-old keeper Christian Fruchtl into the net.

M’Baye Niang, the most eye-catching player of the first half, caused all manner of problems down the Bayern flanks.

The Frenchman created AC Milan’s third goal when his defence-splitting pass put Giacomo Bonaventura clear. The defender then played a simple ball for Cutrone to slot home for his second of the match.

After the break, Bayern came closest to scoring when Thomas Muller’s drive from 20 metres out was well saved by Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The Italians completed a comprehensive victory five minutes from time when forward Hakan Calhanoglu cut inside from the left flank to unleash a powerful shot which flew low into the Bayern net.

“The result surprised me a bit,” admitted Bayern coach Carlo Ancelotti.

“The balance was missing in our game, but we are still in pre-season and need time. We have to continue working to be ready for the start of the season.”

Bayern defender Mats Hummels, whose poor pass led to the third goal, felt the scoreline flattered the Italians.

“The result is a bit too high,” he said. “We didn’t take our chances and Milan’s goals were too easy but we can learn a lot from the game.”

Liverpool 2, Leicester 1

A moment of Philippe Coutinho magic lifted Liverpool to a 2-1 victory over Leicester City in the final of the preseason Premier League Asia Trophy on Saturday.

With Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp rejecting a big-money offer from Spanish giants Barcelona for Coutinho earlier this week, the mercurial Brazilian underlined his important to the Reds with a flash of individual brilliance in Hong Kong.

The 25-year-old picked the ball up on the left of the area on the stroke of halftime, jinked his way inside and let fly with a superb right-foot strike that proved to be the game-winner.

Coutinho had earlier played the role of provider for new signing Mohamed Salah, dinking the ball on to the Egyptian’s head to cancel out Islam Slimani’s 12th-minute nodded opener.

Salah had already demonstrated during the preseason that the club record $45 million Klopp paid Roma for his services looks money well spent.

His pace adding another dimension to Liverpool’s attack, the former Chelsea winger gave Leicester’s Christian Fuchs a torrid time until he was substituted on 65 minutes.

Klopp, whose side beat Crystal Palace 2-0 in midweek to reach the final, is still hoping to bring in Leipzig midfielder Nabi Keita, with Liverpool set to return with a final offer of around $97 million for the Guinea international.

Palace won the third-place playoff earlier on Saturday, seeing off West Brom 2-0 in a testy affair that saw a heated exchange between players as they entered the tunnel at halftime.

The match was settled by Luka Milivojevic’s sweetly struck free kick on 11 minutes and a deflected Bakary Sako shot that found the net with three minutes left in the first half.

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