The Copa Libertadores is a competition like no other, just look back at the 2018 final between bitter rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors.

The second leg of the all-Argentinean decider was sensationally played at Real Madrid's Santiago Bernabeu in the Spanish capital three years ago after Boca's team bus was attacked by River supporters en route to El Monumental for the initially scheduled return encounter.

River eventually prevailed 5-3 on aggregate.

Fast forward to this week – Flamengo and titleholders Palmeiras will do battle at Uruguay's iconic Centenario stadium in Montevideo. Saturday's final is only the fifth decider to feature two teams from the same country in the tournament's history. Four of those fixtures have been all-Brazilian showdowns after Palmeiras trumped rivals Santos last season.

As Palmeiras bid to become the first team to retain the Libertadores crown in 20 years – Boca were the last to do so in 2001, star goalkeeper Weverton provided an insight into the emotion-fuelled competition, which was founded in 1960.

"Really, our side here is much more passion than reason," Brazil international Weverton – who has called Palmeiras home since 2018 – told Stats Perform as he explained what it means to play in the Libertadores decider. "I say that in Europe, people go watch a show, go to have fun, they go with their family to watch a show. The Brazilian football the families go to the stadium to watch your team win. He wants his club to win, and it doesn't matter what it takes. He doesn't go to the stadium to watch a match, have fun, and take his son to wave to his favourite player. No. He goes to the match so he can see his team winning. This is the big difference from our football.

"We always want to win. We are very competitive. Sometimes we do a match here that is… Abel [Ferreira] always says that those who lose will give food to people in need. So, we have three teams and the worst one has to pay. We get very competitive on that. Nobody wants to lose. Even if it is not that much money. It is competitive. Brazilian football is all about that. We don't know how to lose; we don't accept losing. Sometimes people say that we need to accept the defeat, but it is in our Brazilian blood to compete.

"So, when you talk about Libertadores, how is the atmosphere in a Libertadores match? It looks like a war. I shouldn't associate football and war, but Libertadores brings up that competitive atmosphere, a tough match. I think that is the style of Libertadores.

"We see the Champions League as a show, but Libertadores is not like that. When you play Libertadores, you are going to the battle. I think that is the difference between South American football, the Brazilian football, from European football."

This year's Libertadores final is the first in history to feature the winners of the past two tournaments – Flamengo conquered South America in 2019 before Palmeiras got their hands on the trophy thanks to Breno Lopes' 99th-minute winner last year.

Montevideo brings back good memories for two-time champions Flamengo, who trumped Chile's Cobreloa in 1981 for their first Libertadores trophy 40 years ago.

"That is something that brings up good memories," star Flamengo defender David Luiz told Stats Perform. "Without a doubt, we must carry this and bring that to us in a totally positive way. That is a place where every 'flamenguista' was happy. Why not be happy again?"

David Luiz joined Flamengo in September following his exit from Arsenal at the end of last season.

The 34-year-old returned to his homeland 14 years after departing Vitoria for Europe, moving to the star-studded Rio de Janeiro-based outfit boasting Gabriel 'Gabigol' Barbosa, Filipe Luis, Everton Ribeiro, Diego and loanees Kenedy (Chelsea) and Andreas Pereira (Manchester United).

"I always said that since I came here that I am privileged in this group," David Luiz said. "I arrived at the best time of the competition. I could play the semi-finals, and now it is the best part of the cake. That is playing this great final. I am anxious, I want to play it.

"It was always a dream for me to be playing in my country. I could accomplish that after I left Brazil while I was with the national team. But now I am representing America's best team. And I can be in the final of the biggest South American competition. Without a doubt, that is very, very special."

Flamengo have established themselves as one of South America's finest, setting the bar after sweeping Libertadores, Campeonato Brasileiro and Recopa Sudamericana honours under Jorge Jesus before his return to Benfica.

After back-to-back league trophies in 2019 and 2020, Flamengo turned to Renato Gaucho after the tenures of former Pep Guardiola assistant Domenec Torrent and iconic ex-goalkeeper Rogerio Ceni did not go according to plan.

With Gaucho – the record holder for most victories in Libertadores history (50) – at the helm, Flamengo are on the cusp of a third crown.

Flamengo remain undefeated in the 2021 edition. They will be aiming to repeat the feat of rivals Corinthians, who are still the only team to win the title while going undefeated in the current format of the tournament, following their 2012 achievement.

The hero in the 2019 final with a brace, Gabigol will spearhead Flamengo's efforts on the pitch – the in-form Brazil international and former Inter forward tops the goalscoring charts in this season's Libertadores (10) as he seeks to become the first player in the competition's history to score 11 goals in the 21st century.

Gabigol has outperformed his expected goals tally (xG total of 8.5), while he has supplied four assists.

A Champions League winner with Premier League giants Chelsea, David Luiz was asked to compare the two tournaments, and whether Flamengo had the quality to compete in the European edition.

"I believe and understand that when you love something in your life, you will always feel that anger to live this," David Luiz said. "When you love something, you will have this in your heart, you have anxiety, you will want to be there, you will be counting the days, you will, without a doubt, be focused on that. The same way I counted, I lived, was anxious and wanted to play when I was young and was in the Champions League final. Today also, even after a lot of years, a lot of finals, that is still happening. I still love football. I still love what I do. And, of course, I will keep having that same anger to be in a final and living it the best way I can."

On Flamengo being able to match it with teams in the Champions League, David Luiz added: "I believe that is right. Today Flamengo are the first club to be organised to give us players the opportunity to represent and do best what we have to do that is to play football the best way we can. We have an amazing structure.

"High-calibre players, players who have played in numerous places and have a lot of quality. I believe, yes, we have the quality to play a Champions League without a doubt."

Standing in Flamengo's way is Weverton and reigning Libertadores champions Palmeiras, who are captained by tenacious former Juventus and Inter midfielder Felipe Melo.

Palmeiras continue to flourish under Portuguese head coach Abel Ferreira – the club have only lost two of the 19 Libertadores games with the 42-year-old in the dugout, while they are seven games unbeaten having eliminated Atletico Mineiro in the semis.

Abel is also looking to become the first European coach to win two Libertadores titles.

Weverton has kept seven clean sheets in this season's tournament as two-time winners Palmeiras eye their third piece of silverware in their sixth trip to the final.

In total, the 33-year-old has kept 31 clean sheets in 60 Libertadores appearances, with a 51.6 per cent effectiveness.

"I believe that you try to keep what you've achieved as if you were protecting something you conquered," Weverton said when asked about the fact it has been 20 years since a team last celebrated back-to-back titles. "We conquered that last year and now we have the chance to protect it, to bring it back, and that motivates us. But it doesn't give us an advantage. It just brings us motivation to protect something that you know that feels good to achieve.

"We saw how good it is to be champions of Libertadores, on how many good things this brings to you. Recognition, prestige, history, you have your name in the club’s history, brings you the fans respect. So, we saw that there are a lot of good things around it. We want to feel it again. We know we will have to battle for that again, we know that it is going to be a great game, a big war facing a great team. We know the path, but we have to pay the price for it. It does motivate us, but we need to prepare ourselves and know that it is going to be tough, but it is doable."

The NBA Rookie of the Year award won't be handed out for quite a while but if the first month of the season is any indication, voters are going to have plenty of options to choose from.

With teams having played roughly the first quarter of the season, this seems a good time to look at how some of the top draft picks are faring as they navigate their first campaign at the highest level of basketball.

 

Cade Cunningham, Detroit Pistons

After a dreadful start, including missing the first four games due to a sprained ankle, Cunningham has looked more like a player worthy of being a top overall draft pick. In his first three games, Cunningham averaged just 8.7 points on seven-of-39 shooting (17.9 per cent) while misfiring on 20 of 21 from three-point range. He's been far more effective the past six games, scoring 14.7 per contest on 36.3 percent from the field (33 of 91). It's highly unlikely that someone with Cunningham's ability will only shoot the 33.9 percent he's at now. This is, after all, a player who shot 40 percent on three-pointers in his one college season.

His shot selection will improve as he becomes more familiar with the pro game and learns defender's tendencies. Getting to the free throw line would also help improve his offensive efficiency since he's only averaging 1.9 free throws per game, though he is shooting 88 percent (22 of 25). There is inherent pressure with being the first player selected and Cunningham will have to carry that weight throughout his career. But because the former Oklahoma State star has a high basketball IQ and can rebound and distribute at a high level, he doesn't need to pile up points to affect a game's outcome.

The Pistons also are clearly in rebuild mode now, so wins are secondary, giving the well-rounded Cunningham plenty of minutes and opportunities to learn on the job.

Jalen Green, Houston Rockets

Much like Cunningham, Green has the advantage of playing for a 2-16 Rockets team that have absolutely no expectations and are in a full-on rebuild for the foreseeable future. Green ranks third in minutes (555) among rookies and leads all first-year players in field goal attempts (228) and three-point attempts (115), so he's clearly not lacking for opportunities or touches.

Like many rookie score-first guards, the super athletic Green has faced his share of struggles and mostly from an efficiency standpoint. He's only shooting 38.2 from the field and 27.8 from behind the arc while dishing out 2.3 assists per game. While his overall numbers aren't eye-popping, Green has shown flashes of what he can and likely will become. Chief among them is a 30-point, 11-for-18 performance – eight for 10 from three-point range – in a loss to the Celtics on October 24.

He also had 24 points on nine-for-15 shooting with five three-pointers, five rebounds and five assists in a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers on November 2. A case can be made that Green is right where he should be after his first 18 games when compared to other rookie guards who have gone onto All-Star status.

Zach LaVine, for example, averaged 8.1 points on 42.2 percent shooting in his first 18 games, while Bradley Beal averaged 11.9 points on 35.9 percent from the field during that same span. Green still has three quarters of the season left to improve and there's no reason to think someone with his skill and athleticism won't as he becomes accustomed to the pro game.

Evan Mobley, Cleveland Cavaliers

Off to the best one-month start of any 2021-22 rookie, Mobley suffered a sprained right elbow in a loss to the Boston Celtics on November 15 and is expected to miss multiple weeks. While his momentum was stalled, the seven-footer shouldn't have a problem picking up where he left off upon his return to Cleveland's line-up.

If the Rookie of the Year award was being handed out in November, Mobley might have the best chance to take home the hardware as he's been equally impressive at both ends of the court. His offense has been better than expected with 14.6 points on 49.4 percent shooting and 8.0 rebounds and has even made eight of 26 from three-point range. He was tied for fourth in the NBA with 32 dunks through November 16 and has shown rare positional versatility.

There were questions about his offensive ability coming out of college but those have been answered and there's little doubt that Mobley is on his way to becoming a scoring force for years to come. A stellar defensive player at USC, Mobley has continued that path in his NBA career, flashing outstanding timing and discipline in rim protection. He leads all rookies with 1.60 blocks per game and his 24 total blocks were the second most by any Cavaliers player through the first 15 games of a career (Hot Rod Williams, 30 in 1986).

Mobley's injury has clearly left a huge void and the Cavs have been unable to compensate. They rank 26th in the league since November 17 in scoring defence (112.5) and have lost all four games without him following a surprising 9-6 start to the season.

Scottie Barnes, Toronto Raptors

Mobley's biggest challenger for the coveted one-month rookie award would be Barnes, who leads this rookie class in scoring (14.8), rebounding (8.4) and minutes per game (35.1) while ranking second in field goal percentage (48.6).

The Raptors' small forward is something of a Swiss Army knife with a well-rounded game and a tantalising set of tools. Barnes adjusted to the NBA very quickly, becoming just the second player (Shaquille O'Neal) since 1985-86 to accumulate at least 170 points and 85 rebounds while shooting 50 percent or better in his first 10 career games. Barnes' 212 points through 13 games were the most by any player in Raptors history and that's a franchise that drafted Vince Carter, Damon Stoudamire and Chris Bosh.

Besides Barnes' ability to score, rebound and pass, he's also excelling on the defensive end, often tasked with guarding the best player on the opposing team regardless of size. He's already been matched up against seven-foot Mo Bamba, Jayson Tatum, Kevin Durant, James Harden and even some point guards. Barnes also has proven to be an adept ballhandler, which is a huge advantage when going up against other bigs.

Perhaps the only aspect of Barnes' game that is lacking is his three-point shooting, as he's only attempted 19 from long range and made five. The ability to stretch the court with deeper shots would make every other part of his offensive arsenal even more effective.

Josh Giddey, Oklahoma City Thunder

By most accounts, the best pure passer in this draft class was point guard Giddey. A little more than a month into his NBA career and nobody would debate that. Giddey seems like a good bet to lead all rookies in assists, as he's totalled 105 thus far with the Sacramento Kings' Davion Mitchell ranking second with 68. But it's the Australian's all-around game that has the rebuilding Thunder looking very smart for nabbing him with the sixth overall pick.

Besides scoring 10.8 points per game, the six-foot-seven playmaker is third among first-year players with 7.3 rebounds and leads all rookies with 101 defensive boards. Giddey's performance in the first month has him among some elite company. With 105 assists and 131 rebounds in his first 18 games, he joins LeBron James and LaMelo Ball as the only teenagers to reach 100 in both in their first 20 NBA games. Giddey, who turned 19 last month, seems likely to record a triple-double soon after coming close on several occasions already.

After averaging 9.0 points on 37.1 percent shooting in his first 13 games, Giddey has heated up with 15.4 per game on 47.8 percent from the field in his last five games. Scoring is a bonus when it comes to Giddey, who has run the offense with the calm of a veteran and helped the Thunder be far more competitive than most expected.

Leicester City midfielder James Maddison does not feel he had anything to prove after an impressive performance in his team's 3-1 win against Legia Warsaw in the Europa League on Thursday.

The 25-year-old scored and assisted during his hour on the pitch at the King Power Stadium in a victory that sent the Foxes to the top of Group C with one match remaining.

All four goals in the game came in the first half, with Patson Daka and Wilfred Ndidi also on the scoresheet for the hosts, while Filip Mladenovic followed up to score after Mahir Emreli's spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

Maddison was heavily involved in most of Leicester's dangerous attacking play, making two key passes, having three shots and putting in six crosses.

He also scored the second goal of the game, with his fierce left-foot effort after a one-two with Ademola Lookman giving Legia goalkeeper Cezary Miszta no chance.

Speaking to BT Sport after the win, Maddison was asked whether he felt he had something to prove after a stop-start season, with just eight of his 12 appearances in the Premier League coming from the start.

"I don't think I had a point to prove, no," Maddison said. "I'm hungry. I always want to do well for my team, for the fans, my family, the manager.

"I want to get back to my best and tonight I showed that."

It is the third time Maddison has both scored and assisted in a single game for Leicester in all competitions, having previously done so against Braga and Brentford.

We move to the summit of the group #LeiLgw pic.twitter.com/OhOu2jS7uu

— Leicester City (@LCFC) November 25, 2021

Meanwhile, Brendan Rodgers alleviated fears around Jonny Evans, who was injured in the warm-up and replaced by Daniel Amartey, with the Foxes boss confirming that the centre-back's withdrawal before the game was merely a precaution.

"He just felt something in his thigh, and the last thing we can do is have anyone else out, especially such an important player like Jonny. He should be fine for the weekend," he told BT Sport.

On the win, the former Liverpool and Celtic manager was particularly pleased to see his team return to their usual standards of pressing after four games without a win in all competitions.

"The atmosphere was amazing," he added. "The supporters played a huge part in it, and like I said before the game, just returning to our football with our pressing and really intense counter-pressing, that won us the game, especially in the first half."

The Chicago Bears scrapped to a 16-14 Thanksgiving win over the Detroit Lions, as the returning Jared Goff's wait for a first career win without Sean McVay went on.

Bears coach Matt Nagy had to answer questions about his future this week, but he was boosted by a trip to Detroit to play Goff and the winless Lions in Thursday's early game.

Goff – back after an oblique injury – is now 0-16-1 when not coached by McVay, having gone 42-20 in their four years together with the Los Angeles Rams, and this was another outing to forget.

Although a matchup between the teams ranked 29th and 30th for points per game heading into the week was never likely to be a classic, it started well for Goff when he connected with Josh Reynolds on a 39-yard touchdown.

D'Andre Swift soon went down with a shoulder problem to check Detroit's momentum, however, and Cairo Santos' field goal got the Bears on the board before two Andy Dalton passes broke the game open late in the half, as he threw 52 yards to Darnell Mooney and then 17 yards to Jimmy Graham up the middle for a TD.

That was quickly followed by a Goff fumble – his eighth of the year and the fifth he has lost – and the Lions continued to struggle to move the chains even after an Amani Oruwariye interception, instead allowing Santos to stretch Chicago's lead before half-time.

But Goff's work through the air was much improved and a patient third-quarter drive ended with a pass to T. J. Hockenson to edge the Lions in front.

The hosts came close to their first win of the season but were ultimately thwarted by the boot of Santos as Chicago's final drive led to a successful 28-yard field goal in the final seconds.

Leicester leapfrogged all three of their Europa League rivals to the top of Group C after a comfortable 3-1 win against Legia Warsaw at the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes started Thursday's game bottom of a tight group, but with Spartak Moscow beating Napoli 2-1 on Wednesday, Brendan Rodgers' side now sit top thanks to first-half goals from Patson Daka, James Maddison and Wilfried Ndidi.

The only negative for Rodgers on the night aside from Filip Mladenovic's consolation strike was losing Jonny Evans to a muscle injury in the warm-up, with Daniel Amartey replacing him in defence.

The Premier League outfit will travel to Napoli for the final game of the group stage knowing that a draw will be enough to see them qualify for the knockout stage.

Leicester put the pressure on the visitors from the first whistle and were ahead in the 11th minute when good work from Harvey Barnes forced a deflection that fell kindly for Daka, who calmly slid in his fifth Europa League goal of the campaign.

They doubled their lead in the 21st minute as Maddison worked the ball onto his left foot after a one-two with Ademola Lookman before firing into the top corner of the net.

The Polish side had a penalty just five minutes later after Caglar Soyuncu's clearance struck Wilfried Ndidi on the arm. Mahir Emreli's spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel but Mladenovic was quickest to follow up and slot in the rebound.

Ndidi made amends for his penalty concession in the 33rd minute, though, as the unmarked Nigerian headed in Leicester's third from a Maddison corner.

Both teams could have added to the scoring in the second half but the hosts were happy to see out the win, only their second in this year's Europa League group stage.

 

What does it mean? Foxes in the driving seat

Leicester avenged the 1-0 defeat they suffered in the reverse fixture on matchday two with relative ease and now sit top of Group C, one point ahead of both Spartak Moscow and Napoli.

Rodgers will be more than satisfied with that after picking up just one point from their first two games in the group, though it promises to be a tough final fixture in Naples in two weeks.

The Foxes have now only lost two of their 16 home matches in European football (W9 D5).

Maddison rises to the occasion

Maddison has had a quiet start to the season, but was at his influential best in the hour he got on the pitch against Legia, taking three shots, making two key passes and putting in six crosses.

The 25-year-old also scored and assisted in a single game for Leicester for the third time in all competitions, previously doing so against Sporting Braga (November 2020 in the Europa League) and Brentford (January 2021 in the FA Cup).

Legia Warsaw in crisis

Marek Golebiewski's side have now lost nine of their last ten games in all competitions and sit second from bottom in the Polish top flight.

This was Legia Warsaw’s first European match in England since November 1995, when they drew 0-0 with Blackburn Rovers in the Champions League group stages, and despite getting on the scoresheet, never looked like stopping the rot in Leicester.

What’s next?

Leicester host former boss Claudio Ranieri and his Watford team in the Premier League on Sunday, while Legia Warsaw are at home to Jagiellonia Bialystok on the same day in the Ekstraklasa.

Leicester leapfrogged all three of their Europa League rivals to the top of Group C after a comfortable 3-1 win against Legia Warsaw at the King Power Stadium.

The Foxes started Thursday's game bottom of a tight group, but with Spartak Moscow beating Napoli 2-1 on Wednesday, Brendan Rodgers' side now sit top thanks to first-half goals from Patson Daka, James Maddison and Wilfried Ndidi.

The only negative for Rodgers on the night aside from Filip Mladenovic's consolation strike was losing Jonny Evans to a muscle injury in the warm-up, with Daniel Amartey replacing him in defence.

The Premier League outfit will travel to Napoli for the final game of the group stage knowing that a draw will be enough to see them qualify for the knockout stage.

Leicester put the pressure on the visitors from the first whistle and were ahead in the 11th minute when good work from Harvey Barnes forced a deflection that fell kindly for Daka, who calmly slid in his fifth Europa League goal of the campaign.

They doubled their lead in the 21st minute as Maddison worked the ball onto his left foot after a one-two with Ademola Lookman before firing into the top corner of the net.

The Polish side had a penalty just five minutes later after Caglar Soyuncu's clearance struck Wilfried Ndidi on the arm. Mahir Emreli's spot-kick was saved by Kasper Schmeichel but Mladenovic was quickest to follow up and slot in the rebound.

Ndidi made amends for his penalty concession in the 33rd minute, though, as the unmarked Nigerian headed in Leicester's third from a Maddison corner.

Both teams could have added to the scoring in the second half but the hosts were happy to see out the win, only their second in this year's Europa League group stage.

 

What does it mean? Foxes in the driving seat

Leicester avenged the 1-0 defeat they suffered in the reverse fixture on matchday two with relative ease and now sit top of Group C, one point ahead of both Spartak Moscow and Napoli.

Rodgers will be more than satisfied with that after picking up just one point from their first two games in the group, though it promises to be a tough final fixture in Naples in two weeks.

The Foxes have now only lost two of their 16 home matches in European football (W9 D5).

Maddison rises to the occasion

Maddison has had a quiet start to the season, but was at his influential best in the hour he got on the pitch against Legia, taking three shots, making two key passes and putting in six crosses.

The 25-year-old also scored and assisted in a single game for Leicester for the third time in all competitions, previously doing so against Sporting Braga (November 2020 in the Europa League) and Brentford (January 2021 in the FA Cup).

Legia Warsaw in crisis

Marek Golebiewski's side have now lost nine of their last ten games in all competitions and sit second from bottom in the Polish top flight.

This was Legia Warsaw’s first European match in England since November 1995, when they drew 0-0 with Blackburn Rovers in the Champions League group stages, and despite getting on the scoresheet, never looked like stopping the rot in Leicester.

What’s next?

Leicester host former boss Claudio Ranieri and his Watford team in the Premier League on Sunday, while Legia Warsaw are at home to Jagiellonia Bialystok on the same day in the Ekstraklasa.

Alfredo Morelos scored both goals as Rangers booked their place in the Europa League knockout stages with victory over Sparta Prague.

The Colombia international opened his group-stage account with a strike inside the opening quarter of an hour of Thursday's Group A contest.

He doubled the lead by capitalising on a huge defensive error early in the second half to give Giovanni van Bronckhorst a winning start at Ibrox and guarantee continental football in the New Year.

The hosts subsequently went second in Group A – three points ahead of Sparta – and progress to the knockout rounds at their opponents' expense with a superior head-to-head record.

Rangers made a strong start in the first match of Van Bronckhorst's reign, with Joe Aribo rattling the crossbar after a positive run by Ryan Kent.

And they took the lead in the 15th minute – Ianis Hagi stretching to help James Tavernier's pass into the path of Morelos, who confidently swept the ball home.

Hagi was involved again eight minutes later, but Aribo was unable to keep the ball down from his delicious cross.

Allan McGregor was then called into action at the other end with smart reflexes to deny Martin Minchev from close range.

Moreles doubled his and Rangers' tally four minutes into the second half and it was an absolute gift.

Filip Panak ludicrously opted to play the ball across his own penalty area, with the Colombian intercepting the attempted pass and heading into an empty net. 

Sparta had won six of their seven previous European matches against Scottish opposition, and looked to keep their hopes alive.

Although forcing McGregor into a wonderful double save later on, they rarely troubled Rangers, who condemned them to a ninth defeat in 11 away Europa League games.

The Chicago Bears scrapped to a 16-14 Thanksgiving win over the Detroit Lions, as the returning Jared Goff's wait for a first career win without Sean McVay went on.

Bears coach Matt Nagy had to answer questions about his future this week, but he was boosted by a trip to Detroit to play Goff and the winless Lions in Thursday's early game.

Goff – back after an oblique injury – is now 0-16-1 when not coached by McVay, having gone 42-20 in their four years together with the Los Angeles Rams, and this was another outing to forget.

Although a matchup between the teams ranked 29th and 30th for points per game heading into the week was never likely to be a classic, it started well for Goff when he connected with Josh Reynolds on a 39-yard touchdown.

D'Andre Swift soon went down with a shoulder problem to check Detroit's momentum, however, and Cairo Santos' field goal got the Bears on the board before two Andy Dalton passes broke the game open late in the half, as he threw 52 yards to Darnell Mooney and then 17 yards to Jimmy Graham up the middle for a TD.

That was quickly followed by a Goff fumble – his eighth of the year and the fifth he has lost – and the Lions continued to struggle to move the chains even after an Amani Oruwariye interception, instead allowing Santos to stretch Chicago's lead before half-time.

But Goff's work through the air was much improved and a patient third-quarter drive ended with a pass to T. J. Hockenson to edge the Lions in front.

The hosts came close to their first win of the season but were ultimately thwarted by the boot of Santos as Chicago's final drive led to a successful 28-yard field goal in the final seconds.

Tottenham's Europa Conference League hopes hang in the balance after they suffered a humiliating 2-1 defeat against Mura.

Amadej Marosa scored a dramatic stoppage-time winner as 10-man Spurs were beaten for the first time under Antonio Conte.

Prior to Marosa's heroics, the Group G contest had appeared to be heading for a stalemate with Harry Kane cancelling out Tomi Horvat's first-half strike at Fazanerija.

The visitors, who were a man light for over an hour in Slovenia after Ryan Sessegnon was sent off for two bookable offences, now need to beat Rennes in two weeks' time to guarantee progress into the knockout stages.

Moussa Diaby capped a dramatic late fightback by snatching a 3-2 victory to put Bayer Leverkusen in the last 16 of the Europa League and knock Celtic out.

Leverkusen knew they would be guaranteed to win Group G by securing all three points at the BayArena on Thursday and Robert Andrich's header gave them an early lead.

The Hoops fought back brilliantly, Josip Juranovic equalising with a cheeky first-half Panenka penalty and Jota sending the travelling fans into raptures when he put them in front after the break.

Celtic were unable to hold on, though, as Andrich levelled and Diaby won it with a fine late volley after 87 minutes to send the Bundesliga side through and consign the Hoops to the UEFA Conference League.

West Ham continued their excellent Europa League campaign with a 2-0 win at Rapid Vienna to confirm their place at the top of Group H on Thursday.

David Moyes' men are fourth in the Premier League but have arguably been even more impressive in Europe, with this their fourth victory in five matches.

Goals from Andriy Yarmolenko and Mark Noble shortly before half-time teed up a straightforward triumph, albeit one that was played out without a crowd as a lockdown kept home fans away after West Ham's travelling supporters had already been banned.

The Rapid faithful would not have been particularly impressed by what they saw if they had been present, as the margin of West Ham's victory could have been wider.

Jarrod Bowen passed up a huge chance for an early opener when he toed Arthur Masuaku's superb sixth-minute cross agonisingly wide, but West Ham had the lead they merited six minutes from the end of the first half.

Yarmolenko nodded Nikola Vlasic's teasing centre back across Paul Gartler for his first Hammers goal since January, before the scorer earned a clip from Maximilian Hofmann for a stoppage-time spot-kick, which Noble dispatched.

West Ham kept pushing and Bowen was wasteful again when he shot straight at Gartler at the end of a wonderful run and then when he blasted against the legs of retreating defender Filip Stojkovic after the goalkeeper had parried Tomas Soucek's header following a smart initial save.

Rapid threatened only fleetingly at the other end, as West Ham's comfortable position meant they could disregard events elsewhere in the group and hand a debut to Sonny Perkins, who almost scored with his first touch on a productive night for the visitors.

What does it mean? Hammers in complete control

West Ham's stunning start to this campaign meant it would take a remarkable collapse not to advance to the knockout stage, but they took apart Rapid on matchday five just to make sure.

Although there were occasional lulls in the game, West Ham were always in control with 61.2 per cent of the possession, while their 12 shots had a collective value of 4.15 expected goals (xG).

Masuaku makes his mark

Knee surgery restricted Masuaku to 12 Premier League appearances last season, and Aaron Cresswell established himself as a surefire starter under Moyes in that time.

But the fit-again left-back took his opportunity to impress with an all-action display in Austria. Only Noble had more touches than Masuaku (92) at the time of his substitution, as he excelled at both ends, creating two chances while also making three interceptions, two tackles and two clearances.

Bowen off the boil

If West Ham have great depth at full-back, the same is not quite true up front. Michail Antonio was rested for this match, meaning Bowen played through the middle in the absence of an obvious natural alternative.

While it feels a little harsh to criticise Moyes' attack in a comprehensive win, Bowen alone could have stretched the scoreline significantly. The winger failed with three shots worth a combined 1.81 xG.

What's next?

Having taken care of business, West Ham can return their focus to the Premier League and a trip to Manchester City. Their next Europa League assignment is at home to Dinamo Zagreb on December 9, when Rapid go to Genk.

Stephen Curry hailed his "unbelievable" younger brother Seth as the sibling rivalry became a thrilling sideshow in the Golden State Warriors' win over the 76ers.

It appeared Seth was going to win the battle but lose the war when he led Stephen in scoring while Philadelphia trailed in the game, going into the closing minutes.

Yet a three-pointer with 1:27 to play from Stephen meant he reached 25 points as well as finishing on the winning team, while Seth ended the game on 24 points and on the beaten side.

On Thursday, both NBA stars were set to get together with their family for Thanksgiving, along with Golden State's Damion Lee, who is brother-in-law to the pair after marrying their sister, Sydel.

Philadelphia swept to a 34-23 lead after the first quarter as Seth Curry made a blazing start to Wednesday's game, but a dazzling second half from Stephen and the Warriors saw them dominate 64-35 to snatch a 116-96 win.

Seth missed all five of his three-point attempts, to put another downer on his night.

He said of facing Stephen: "It's not always fun to play against him. For 80 nights out of the year, I want him to have a good game and them to win, but tonight the switch is flipped and I gotta compete against him and try to stop him.

"It's good for our families to watch. I was a little upset in the end of the fourth: it was the first chance I had to outscore him and he gets a wide open three at the end of the game when it's said and done to eclipse me by one point, so I wasn't happy about that."

All the same, Seth was smiling about it all, so a family get-together looked sure to be an enjoyable affair.

He added: "Especially around the holidays it's good for everybody to see each other, and you don't take it for granted, me, Stephen and Damion playing against each other."

 

This was the second time this season the Warriors won a game by at least 20 points after trailing by at least 10. The rest of the NBA's teams only have three such games.

Stephen Curry made just one free throw (Seth was eight-from-eight from the line) but connected on six of 11 three-point attempts.

After the game, Stephen insisted he had been unaware Seth was close to pipping him for points until that late three-pointed.

"He reminded me right after the game. I didn't know the stakes were so high on that shot," Stephen said.

"That dude's playing unbelievable basketball. It's fun to watch and he continues to get better. It's impressive the way he's playing and the way he's stepped into his identity in this league. I'm a proud, proud brother."

Golden State have won nine straight home games, all by at least 13 points.

Stephen Curry felt the second-half contribution of Juan Toscano-Anderson was key to the comeback, with abundant energy complementing his 13 points, six rebounds and six assists.

"For sure. That is contagious. You feel a different spirit because of how much it means to him and how he knows he can influence and impact games," said Warriors star Curry.

"Anybody can skill their way into it and have that flashiness. He has that dog in him that comes out and it's contagious for sure and we feed off that."

Houston Rockets coach Stephen Silas hailed "difference maker" Danuel House after his side defeated the Chicago Bulls to snap their 15-game losing streak.

The Rockets (2-16) were down 10 midway through the third quarter and appeared to be heading towards their 16th consecutive loss before a 27-9 run turned the game around.

Silas, whose future came under scrutiny before Wednesday's clash, saw his team storm back to claim a 118-113 triumph, with House starring off the bench.

The 28-year-old managed 18 points in 17 minutes as a replacement, with all those coming in the second half as Houston made eight of their 11 three-point attempts in the decisive third quarter.

After the game, Silas praised the impact of House, who did not feature at all in the first half before the Bulls were outscored 35-18 by Houston in the penultimate quarter.

''He's been in and out of the rotation,'' Silas said. ''He played eight minutes the last game. 

"I wanted to get him out there just so he could continue to believe that his work would pay off, and tonight, he was the difference maker really.

"It feels good, and when you make 17 threes it looks a lot better. We were getting some of those shots previously and shooting 25 per cent instead of 47 per cent. We were in our spacing spots. It looked a lot better because we were making them."

Chicago coach Billy Donovan bemoaned his side's lack of aggressiveness after half-time at United Center, with Zach LaVine's 28-point return in vain.

"We just came out and kind of messed around with the game, and before you know it, we're down by 10 after being up by 10,'' Donovan said. 

''I have to help this group solve it and figure that part of it out. We're a very good team, but we are not so good that we cannot show up and play in a quarter in an NBA game and expect to win."

Wherever you stand on football's GOAT debate, you can't deny the legacy of Diego Maradona.

Some would place him behind Lionel Messi as Argentina's greatest ever footballer, and short of Pele in the sport's pantheon of the mighty; others would say Maradona eclipses them all. It's a debate that has raged for decades, and one that is not likely to be settled for some time.

But nobody can argue that Maradona – who died a year ago to the day at the age of 60 – produced a string of performances to rival anything the World Cup has ever witnessed in Mexico in 1986.

From the group stage to the final with West Germany, via the 'Goal of the Century' and a brazen moment of cheating, Maradona was so far above his contemporaries that the sheer idea of anyone else winning the Golden Ball was laughable.

Argentina beat South Korea, drew with Italy and defeated Bulgaria in their group, then saw off Uruguay, England and Belgium in the knockouts before a 3-2 final defeat of West Germany. 

As Opta data shows, Maradona was the beating heart of the Albiceleste's second World Cup triumph.

TAKE MY BREATH AWAY

Gary Lineker was the only player to score more goals (six) at the 1986 World Cup than Maradona (five). That's about the only category where he did not come out on top.

He added five assists to those five goals in his seven appearances, giving him the most goal involvements (10) of any player, ahead of the USSR's Igor Belanov (eight), and Lineker, Careca and Preben Elkjaer Larsen (six).

It stands to reason that Maradona also created more goalscoring chances (27) than any other player. Next on the list was France's Alain Giresse (24), then Klaus Allofs (23), Michel Platini (19) and Careca (17).

WHEN THE GOING GETS TOUGH

Everyone, most famously West Germany, tried to man-mark Maradona out of the equation. None succeeded.

He completed 53 dribbles across the tournament, a tally that puts the rest of the competition to shame. The next highest number was recorded by USSR's Ivan Yaremchuk, who managed 16.

Of course, that kind of dazzling play will always attract a more prosaic approach from the opposition. Maradona was fouled 53 times, more than double the number of anyone else (Enzo Francescoli was next on 27 fouls won).

EDGE OF HEAVEN

Maradona's all-round impact on proceedings could only come from a player given freedom to drop deeper and seize the ball from lesser men. It's incredible, then, that he managed 44 touches in the opposition box, eight more than the next-highest on the list, Brazil's Careca. Lineker, winner of the Golden Boot, had 31 such touches.

Lineker and England have, of course, never forgotten Maradona's impact on their 2-1 quarter-final defeat in Mexico City. It was the scene of his greatest goal – a mazy, miraculous waltz through the heart of the opposition that ended with the bamboozling of goalkeeper Peter Shilton – and his crowning moment of infamy, when 'The Hand of God' punched Argentina into the lead.

Perhaps that wasn't such a one-off, though. Since 1966, no player has committed as many handballs at the World Cup as Maradona (seven) – and they're just the ones the referees spotted.

Mikel Arteta has invited Arsene Wenger to make a sensational Arsenal return as he claimed the Gunners "would be delighted to have him much closer".

Wenger was appointed Arsenal manager in 1996, leading the Gunners to three Premier League titles and seven FA Cup triumphs before his departure in 2018.

The Frenchman currently works as FIFA's chief of global football development, acting as a figurehead for world football's governing body.

Arteta played under Wenger for five years before retiring in 2016 and taking a coaching role with Manchester City, prior to accepting his first managerial job at Arsenal in December 2019.

After meeting the 72-year-old at the recent premiere of his film 'Arsene Wenger: Invincible', Arteta indicated he would welcome his former manager Wenger back to the club immediately.

"There has been communication, I saw him and talked to him when we went to see his film. It was incredibly pleasant to see him, to chat to him, and hopefully we can bring him close," Arteta told a news conference when asked about Wenger on Thursday.

"I think he would have a great time seeing the environment he could create around him.

"It is great when he comes around this place because of the respect and admiration everyone at the club has what for he has done and what he represents as a person for us."

Pressed for clarity on a potential role for Wenger, Arteta said: "I cannot tell you now, but what I can say is I would like him to be much closer, personally to me because he would be a great help for me and the club.

"But things take time, and he has to dictate those timings. What I can say, on behalf of everybody, is we would be delighted to have him much closer."

Arsenal are preparing to face strugglers Newcastle United on Saturday, having won 16 of their last 17 Premier League meetings with Eddie Howe's new side.

The Gunners have also never lost a game against the side starting the day bottom of the top-flight table, but Arteta has warned that Newcastle pose a different threat under Howe.

A 4-0 defeat to Liverpool last weekend has set back the progress that Arsenal appeared to be making.

"We must play as good as we can, we will learn [from the Liverpool loss] and compete throughout the game," Arteta said.

"Let's keep going, it's a new game. There are some changes [at Newcastle]. You can see the momentum is building; it's different even in the last game they played.

"New manager, the new coaching staff – we need to be prepared. I admire Eddie and his style of play, Newcastle are not as poor as the table suggests.

"Their last few games could have all gone entirely different ways. With the attacking threats they have got in the final third, we are going to have to be really cautious and play as well as we can."

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