European soccer news: Man United dent Liverpool, Feyenoord thrash Ajax

Hislop can't believe Wan-Bissaka's foul for Liverpool penalty (1:26)

Shaka Hislop says there is 'absolutely no excuse' for Aaron Wan-Bissaka to go to ground and give away a penalty in Man United's 2-2 draw with Liverpool. (1:26)

Sunday's action around Europe's top leagues delivered plenty to talk about and rounded out the weekend in style. Manchester United seized on some sloppy Liverpool play to grab a 2-2 draw and put a dent in Jurgen Klopp's title aspirations, while Feyenoord also made history against their biggest rivals, Ajax.

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We also got some Americans in action, more mediocrity for Chelsea and an Old Firm clash between Rangers and Celtic that delivered six goals and extended the title race in Scotland. So keep reading for the storylines from Sunday, and keep scrolling for what you missed Saturday.


The lead: Mainoo's "Macheda moment" makes a difference for Man United

There's a saying in boxing that it's the shots you don't see coming that hurt the most. On Sunday at Old Trafford, that explained Manchester United's sudden uplift against Liverpool, after two acts of brilliance and gave fans something to cheer for.

Erik ten Hag's side were being hammered by fans in the stands after a dreadful first-half. No shots -- and 0.00 XG -- compared to Liverpool's 15 attempts. No control or influence over their archrivals. No hope.

And then, like a lighting bolt, a Liverpool mistake and a moment of magic. Jarell Quansah played a clumsy square pass just inside his own half, which rolled straight to Bruno Fernandes, who delivered a pinpoint long-ranged strike over the head of Caoimhín Kelleher and levelled the scores. It was United's first shot on goal.

"A pretty exceptional finish," Klopp said. "In this mood lift in the stadium, the atmosphere lifts and they score the second."

A little over 15 minutes later, United worked the ball forward, culminating in 18-year-old star Kobbie Mainoo receiving the ball at the left edge of the Liverpool box, working onto his right foot and curling a strike into the far bottom right corner. "It was a goal from the game plan," Ten Hag said.

It was also a goal reminiscent -- arguably even a carbon copy -- of Federico Macheda's infamous late winner as a 17-year-old starlet against Aston Villa in 2009 that sent the Stretford End into raptures. Mainoo's had much the same impact.

Though it didn't end in victory, it was enough to stun Liverpool and damage their title push. For United fans, that's still something worth cheering. -- Connor O'Halloran

Sunday talking points around the leagues

Old Firm delivers drama and keeps title race in the balance

It's been roughly 10 years since the Scottish title has been much of a contest -- there are a litany of reasons why -- but this season is giving us a genuine race and a return to form for one of the sport's storied rivalries. Sunday's wild 3-3 draw between Rangers and Celtic delivered the chaos and drama we want from such grudge matches, while Rangers' pair comebacks from 2-0 and 3-2 down could end up delivering them a first top-flight title since the 2020-21 season.

Rangers opened the campaign with three defeats in seven games to spell the end for manager Michael Beale, with new man Philippe Clement restoring order and a winning mentality to the tune of 19 league victories in 24 games. Yet they came out slowly, ceding the edge to their rivals. Celtic took the lead in the first minute as Daizen Maida raced onto a hopeful long ball and deflected James Tavernier's casual clearance beyond Jack Butland to silence the home crowd.

Celtic were superior throughout the first half, with 11 chances to Rangers' four, and they doubled their lead from the penalty spot around the half-hour mark, with Matthew O'Riley chipping it "Panenka style" beyond Butland after Connor Goldson's handball. But rivalry games often ignore things like form and momentum as more mysterious forces swirl, as the second half proved.

Just five minutes into the second half and Rangers had one back: Tavernier scored a penalty of his own after a Fábio Silva dive was reviewed by VAR and overturned, with Alistair Johnston instead judged to have stepped on the former Wolves forward's foot. The hosts thought they'd made it 2-2 barely a minute later, only for VAR to overrule Cyriel Dessers' finish due to a foul during the build-up, and it set up a chaotic ending with three goals coming after the 86th minute.

Abdallah Sima's deflected effort leveled for Rangers, but the visitors regained the lead barely a minute later as sub Adam Idah kept his cool -- and the ball -- under pressure to slip a shot beneath Butland. With eight minutes of injury time signaled by referee John Beaton, Rabbi Matondo seized on John Lundstram's pass to curl in a brilliant third for Rangers and ensure the latest meeting in their 136-year battle ended all square.

The result leaves Celtic still in first place, though Rangers do have a game in hand that must be completed before the "championship" phase of the season begins. (After 33 games, the league table splits into two mini-leagues of six teams each, with every team playing each other ones to determine titles, European qualification and relegation.) Not bad for 90 minutes' work, eh? -- James Tyler

Chelsea slide back to mediocrity with draw at Sheffield United

This time, there was no miracle for Chelsea: no late flurry, no belated drama going their way. In fact, it was actually the opposite. Three days after beating Manchester United 4-3 at Stamford Bridge with two very late goals deep in added time, Sunday saw them conceding a late equaliser, in the 93rd minute, in a 2-2 draw at Bramall Lane on Sunday in a game that summed up their season.

It's been a season defined by inconsistency and all-round mediocrity from the Blues and Mauricio Pochettino; it's been a story of one step forward, two steps back. Only twice this season have they won two league games in a row, back in October (Fulham and Burnley) and in December (Crystal Palace and Luton). That's it.

At full time, Thiago Silva's face said it all. The Brazilian veteran was back in the starting XI after being dropped for the last five games, and here he scored the opener after just 11 minutes. His body language before heading back to the dressing room -- crouched, looking stunned -- seemed to suggest he couldn't believe his side had dropped points.

The Blades had lost three of their last four league games at home -- 5-0 against Aston Villa, 5-0 against Brighton and 6-0 against Arsenal -- before a 3-3 draw against Fulham, yet Chelsea hardly created anything against them. Their performance with the ball was so bad, so slow and so pedestrian. They had 68% of possession for a mere 0.37 expected goals -- one of their worst showings this season -- and three shots on target (6 for Sheffield for 1.36 xG).

Once again, Pochettino's choices and tactics were hard to understand. He played Conor Gallagher as a left winger, which made no sense, and once more, the lack of structure, patterns of play and identity in this team was baffling. This is on Pochettino more than anything for not having this squad performing all season, but his players were off it on Sunday. The way they conceded the second equaliser (the first one was bad enough with a Petrovic mistake) was pathetic. All of them were ball watching, from Petrovic again to Mudryk, Badiashile or Chalobah.

In the end, the reality is that Chelsea were seconds away from a victory that could have hauled them into the conversation for European places next season; instead, they still sit in 9th, five points behind Manchester United in sixth with a game in hand.

If there are no positives for Chelsea to take from this game, there is hope to be gleaned for Sheffield United. They are still bottom of the table, nine points behind Nottingham Forest, but they played with a lot of heart, desire, energy and a clear plan against Chelsea. They had everything their opponents didn't. -- Julien Laurens

Americans Abroad

Sunday was a mixed bag for U.S. players in Europe, though several did feature in good results. Midfielder Weston McKennie played a steady 90 minutes as Juventus beat Fiorentina 1-0 to keep their grip on third place with seven games to go in Serie A, and forward Folarin Balogun was a late sub in Monaco's 1-0 home win over Rennes.

Elsewhere, defender Cameron Carter-Vickers went the distance for Celtic in their eclectic 3-3 draw at Rangers, while midfielder Paxten Aaronson played the full 90 in Vitesse's 3-0 home defeat to NEC Nijmegen. The other notable result was in the Bundesliga, where defender John Brooks was a second-half substitute in Hoffenheim's 3-1 win over Augsburg. -- Tyler

News of the day

And finally, on Sunday...

We had another notable derby in Europe on Sunday as Feyenoord hosted Ajax in the Dutch Eredivisie. The game, known as De Klassieker ("The Classic") dates back to 1921 on the pitch but the two cities, Rotterdam (Feyenoord) and Amsterdam (Ajax) have long had animosity thanks to the contrast in cultures: one such maxim summing it up says "while Amsterdam dreams, Rotterdam works" in reference to the artist vs. dockworker divide.

PSV Eindhoven's anti-climactic charge to the title means this game only really had pride up for grabs and, well, Feyenoord picked a fine day to make history, thrashing their rivals 6-0 to mark Ajax's worst-ever De Klassieker result. It was a whole-team effort, too, with Igor Paixão and Yakuba Minteh scoring two goals each, Mexico international Santi Gimenez contributing an assist and goalkeeper Timon Wellenreuther only needing to make one save across 90 minutes.

If you can't win trophies with results like this, at least you can pick up some more bragging rights. -- Tyler


The end of the European soccer season is getting closer, with title races reaching their last stages and cup finals being decided.

Saturday delivered some sensational action, with Marquinhos making history at Paris Saint-Germain, Christian Pulisic adding yet another goal to his tally, and Bayern Munich once again coming undone, this time at Heidenheim.

The undoubted highlight, however, was the tense Copa del Rey final between Athletic Club and Mallorca. Which club triumphed on penalties? ESPN's Weekend Review has you covered with all the details below.

The lead: Athletic Club end 40 years of hurt to lift the Copa del Rey

It took a while. Until 12:48 a.m. local time in Seville, in fact, when after 90 minutes, half an hour of extra time and a penalty shootout, Athletic Club's 40-year wait for a major trophy came to an end.

Almost three hours of tension ended in an explosion of emotion from the Basque half of La Cartuja stadium as Álex Berenguer's spot kick found the net, giving Athletic a 4-2 shootout win over Real Mallorca -- after the game had finished 1-1 -- to see them lift the Copa del Rey for the first time since 1984. Generations of Athletic fans had never seen their team win the cup. They had lost five Copa del Rey finals in the last 15 years. Not this time.

It wasn't always the prettiest final, but it was riveting, with nail-biting drama and moments of real quality from both teams. One of them was Dani Rodríguez's opening goal for Mallorca in the 21st minute, curling into the corner after two shots from teammates had been kept at bay. Another was Oihan Sancet's equaliser, early in the second half, from Nico Williams' clever pass.

Williams was the game's outstanding player, and the winger was named MVP. While his older brother Iñaki looked nervous, often miscontrolling or making bad decisions, Nico was a persistent threat. He could have scored a hat trick, with a first-half goal disallowed for offside, followed by an effort put into the side netting, and later a shot deflected inches wide in extra time. Mallorca right-back Gio Gonzalez ended up hanging onto Nico's shirt in desperation.

Whatever the result in Seville, history would have been made. Yes, Athletic had gone four decades without a major trophy, but Mallorca had only won one in their entire history, the 2003 Copa. An estimated 90,000 Athletic fans had travelled down from Bilbao to Seville for the game -- many of them without tickets -- and filled the city centre for hours before kick-off. Mallorca fans were here in numbers too, but they were the underdogs chasing a dream; Athletic were under pressure to deliver.

Athletic were the better side, with more possession -- 69% to Mallorca's 31% -- and more shots -- 30 to 13 -- creating an xG, or expected goals scored, of 2.47 to Mallorca's 0.58. But Mallorca had their moments too and stayed in the game right until the very end. Canada international Cyle Larin had a great chance to make it 2-0 before Sancet levelled. In extra time, Vedat Muriqi had a header well saved by keeper Julen Agirrezabala. And then to penalties, with two goalkeepers who are second choice for these clubs in LaLiga but had been given the chance to impress in the Copa: Agirrezabala and Mallorca's Dominik Greif. Agirrezabala saved from Manu Morlanes to give Athletic the advantage, before Mallorca's Nemanja Radonjic shot over the bar. Berenguer buried the decisive penalty, and Athletic's long-awaited party could finally begin. -- Alex Kirkland

Saturday talking points around the leagues

Bayern's season going from bad to worse

Bayern Munich's away game at Heidenheim was supposed to be a tune-up for their Champions League quarterfinal clash with Arsenal on Tuesday. But it turned into a nightmare in the second half when Bayern frittered away a 2-0 lead in front of a 15,000 sell-out crowd to lose 3-2. Just to put things into perspective, Heidenheim's entire wage bill is less than Harry Kane earns at Bayern per annum.

Promoted Heidenheim are located halfway between Munich and Stuttgart in the sleepy region of Ostwürttemberg, where green fields and mid-sized industrial companies dominate the scenery, and have earned a reputation as a difficult team to play against. Still, after Bayern had dominated the first portion of the game and led by two goals, it seemed so far-fetched that the home side, coached by Heidenheim native Frank Schmidt since 2007, could stage a comeback.

However, FCH managed to do so, with striker Tim Kleindienst once again taking the spotlight. He scored the equalizer after another beautifully timed cross from Jan-Niklas Beste. The winger was recently called up by Germany national team coach Julian Nagelsmann, but had to pull out due to an adductor strain. Kleindienst later finished off a quick transition attack during which Bayern's defense seemed completely lost.

Fascinatingly, Bayern manager Thomas Tuchel picked Dayot Upamecano and Kim Min-Jae as his pairing in central defense. Truthfully, the duo, at times, did not look like they once cost €42 million and €50 million in transfer fees, respectively. Perhaps it was just Tuchel's way of experimentation, as he recently preferred Matthijs de Ligt and Eric Dier as his first-choice pairing. Expect the Dutchman and the Englishman to start against Arsenal on Tuesday - it could get messy at the Emirates.

As for the German championship, Bayer Leverkusen are 16 points ahead of Bayern following another commanding win, this time over Union Berlin. Leverkusen could seal the title next weekend if they beat Werder Bremen. - Constantin Eckner

Athletic Club win Copa del Rey for first time in 40 years

Athletic Club defeat Mallorca on penalties to claim its first Copa del Rey title in 40 years.

Marquinhos makes history as PSG are held by lowly Clermont

Marquinhos made his 435th appearance for Paris Saint-Germain in their 1-1 draw against Clermont at the Parc des Princes to equal the club's record set by Jean-Marc Pilorget more than 30 years ago. The Brazilian centre-back, who made his debut back in September 2013, came on after 67 minutes when PSG were behind 1-0 after a shock opening goal by Clermont, the team bottom of the Ligue 1 table and destined for relegation.

Luis Enrique left all his superstars and usual starters on the bench for this game, four days before their Champions League quarterfinal clash against Barcelona. The Paris manager fielded very much a C side with 17-year-old PSG academy prodigy Senny Mayulu, making his first-ever first-team start.

The league leaders dominated heavily and finished the game with 23 shots, seven on target for an expected goals of 2.84 and hit the woodwork twice as well. But the Parisians had to wait the 86th minute to see Gonçalo Ramos equalise after a lovely one-two with Kylian Mbappé, who came on at the same time as Marquinhos.

For the home side, the most important was to continue their unbeaten run which goes back to Nov. 7, and 27 games in a row now in all competitions. They are still 13 points clear of Brest in second place, who face Metz on Sunday. For Clermont, still bottom of the table, five points away of the relegation playoff spot, it is a good point which unfortunately might not be enough to stay up. -- Julien Laurens

Americans Abroad: Pulisic hits another stunner

Saturday was a banner day for Americans playing for clubs in Europe.

For starters, Pulisic scored his 10th goal of the Serie A season in AC Milan's 3-0 win over Lecce. With that, Pulisic surpassed his previous single-season scoring record when he scored nine with Chelsea in the 2019-20 season of the Premier League. The goal itself was also a beauty, too. In the sixth minute with the score at 0-0, Pulisic received the ball from just outside the box, cut over to his left foot and fired.

Not to be outdone, the United States national team contingent in the Netherlands contributed three goals on Saturday. PSV Eindhoven -- which might as well be spelled U-S-A these days -- beat AZ Alkmaar 5-1, with two goals assisted by Malik Tillman and one by Sergiño Dest.

With these three additional goal contributions, the American trio at PSV of Tillman, Dest and Ricardo Pepi are now responsible for 37 goals in all competitions this season. -- Caitlin Murray

News of the day

  • Wrexham forward Paul Mullin scored his 100th goal for the club with his header against Colchester United on Saturday. Mullin has been instrumental to Wrexham's rise in recent years, which audiences will know well from the TV series Welcome to Wrexham, scoring 47 goals in all competitions last season as they won the National League title and earned promotion to League Two for the first time in 15 years.

And finally, on Saturday...

Back to the Copa del Rey for today's And Finally...

Check out the ridiculous atmosphere at San Mames in Bilbao:

The catch here? The final was being played at the Estadio La Cartuja in Seville, over eight hours' drive away. Athletic's fans that had missed out on tickets to the final sold out their home stadium and watched all the drama unfold from there. What a way to celebrate a historic win. -- Mike Wise