x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 29 July 2017

European football round-up: Bayern's Guardiola happy despite off-key win

Manager blames international friendlies for European champions' below-par performance in win at Eintracht Frankfurt. Plus news from other European leagues.

Pep Guardiola, left, was heartened by Bayern Munich's ability to win despite not playing their best football.
Pep Guardiola, left, was heartened by Bayern Munich's ability to win despite not playing their best football.

BERLIN // Pep Guardiola, the Bayern Munich manager, blamed last week's international friendlies for the European champions' below-par performance in Saturday's laboured 1-0 win at Eintracht Frankfurt.

A superb volley from Mario Mandzukic, the Croatia striker, was the highlight of an otherwise off-key performance as Bayern failed to dominate Frankfurt despite enjoying 70 per cent possession.

Guardiola pointed to the fact that he had 15 of his 26-man squad away on international duty last Wednesday with their respective nations, allowing him only limited time to prepare for the trip to Eintracht.

The former Barcelona manager also said he was pleased to see the defending champions control the game better than they had done in their 3-1 home win over Borussia Moenchengladbach on the opening weekend of the season.

"We had much more control over the game compared to last week," said Guardiola, with his side level at the top of the table with Bayer Leverkusen after the first two matches.

"We allowed Gladbach far too many chances on the break, but it was much better today.

"It's never easy after an international break, because we only had three days together.

"We still created plenty of chances, so I'm happy and 100 per cent satisfied."

Guardiola made just one change to the team which beat Gladbach with Swiss winger Xherdan Shaqiri in for Arjen Robben, while Mario Goetze, the new-signing, was included in the match day squad for the first time, but spent the game on the bench.

The result means Bayern have the maximum return of six points from their opening matches as they equalled the club record of 27 Bundesliga matches without defeat.

Alexander Meier, the But Eintracht captain, had a penalty appeal turned down in the 90th minute and Manuel Neuer, the Bayern goalkeeper, admitted the Bavarians rode their luck.

Maier had also had a goal ruled offside early in the second half, which left Neuer admitting he had been "hoping" to hear the whistle at Frankfurt's 51,500 capacity crowd at the Commerzbank Arena.

"It was tight at the end, but we have only ourselves to blame," said the Germany goalkeeper.

"That second goal was missing from our game."

Celtic hope for Champions League boost

Neil Lennon, the Celtic manager, says his side can do better as they warmed up for their crucial Uefa Champions League play-off match with a 2-0 win away against Aberdeen.

A Kris Commons penalty, after Aberdeen goalkeeper Jamie Langfield had been sent off for bringing down Georgios Samaras, put Celtic in front just before the break, and substitute James Forrest then wrapped up the points at the death with a deflected goal.

The win maintains Celtic's unbeaten start to the season and sets them up perfectly for their long trip to Kazakhstan to face Shakhter Karagandy in the Champions League play-off, first leg, on Tuesday.

It was far from a vintage performance from the Hoops but with several first team stars missing and only a day to prepare following the international break Lennon was pleased to grind out a victory.

"I'm satisfied with the win but we can do a lot better," the Celtic manager said.

Win puts Marseille at top

Marseille and Saint-Etienne joined Lyon at the top of Ligue 1 with respective victories over Evian and Guingamp in France on Saturday.

Lyon, who defeated Sochaux 3-1 on Friday, lead on goal difference with the trio of teams locked on maximum points after two outings.

At the Velodrome, French international Andre-Pierre Gignac inspired Marseille to a 2-0 defeat of Evian with a brilliant opener on 16 minutes before the home side then made the points safe with 23 minutes left when Dimitri Payet pounced on a rebound for his third goal of the young season.

"The numbers speak for themselves," said Elie Baup, the delighted Marseille coach. "We've got six points, scored five and conceded one so we've got our season off to a very good start."

Real Sociedad start with win

Real Sociedad warmed up for their Champions League qualifier with Lyon on Tuesday in fine fashion as goals from Carlos Vela and Haris Seferovic handed them a 2-0 opening day victory over Getafe.

The Basques put the departures of Philippe Montanier, their manager, and Asier Illarramendi, their star midfielder, to Rennes and Real Madrid respectively behind them with a display full of invention that was too much for a disappointing Getafe side.

Vela opened the scoring three minutes before half-time with a neatly chipped finish from Chori Castro's pass and the Mexican then turned provider for the second as Seferovic sealed the victory 20 minutes from time.

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