Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was proud of the battling qualities displayed by Marcus Rashford as he played through the pain to help Manchester United beat Granada.

Troubled by a niggling ankle problem, Rashford opened the scoring at the Nuevo Los Carmenes on Thursday, latching onto Victor Lindelof's long pass before finishing with composure.

The goal took Rashford to 20 for the season in all competitions, making him the first United player to hit double figures in consecutive campaigns since Wayne Rooney 11 years ago.

The England forward, who was taken off 10 minutes after scoring in last weekend's 2-1 Premier League win over Brighton and Hove Albion, battled on against Granada before being substituted with a little over 25 minutes left.

Solskjaer, who hopes Rashford will be fit to face Tottenham on Sunday, was delighted with Rashford's impact against stubborn opposition.

"Marcus, fantastic goal," he said. "Great pass by Victor, great run and the skill to bring the ball down like this, we've seen it a few times before, and it's a top, top quality goal.

"It's the same thing as before, he's not recovered from it. Hopefully, it's not got any worse from this. He lasted 60 or 70 against Brighton, 65 now, so hopefully he's ready. I think he should be ready for Sunday."

When asked if he ever told former manager Alex Ferguson he was fully fit to play when struggling with injury, Solskjaer replied: "Yeah, I probably did! I did a few times. It's not like I couldn't perform, but I probably knew I wasn't at 100 per cent. But when are you at 100 per cent as a footballer? I think that's very rare.

"We know he's someone we have to protect, and he was ready, and he was vital for us today."

While comfortable in defence, United offered little threat of a second goal until Bruno Fernandes scored his 19th penalty for the club after being pushed in the face by Yan Eteki.

The Portugal star, who was struggling with his vision in one eye after the foul, squeezed a shot beneath goalkeeper Rui Silva in the 90th minute.

With Harry Maguire, Luke Shaw and Scott McTominay suspended for the second leg after receiving yellow cards, Solskjaer was relieved to be heading back to Old Trafford with a more commanding advantage.

"It was an important goal, the second one. A 1-0 lead, losing three players, is not a good position to be in," he said.

"I don't think we deserved those five yellow cards, but that's happened. I'm delighted with the result, of course.

"[The second goal] is so vital away from home and we've created a good starting point for ourselves next week.

"Scoring with one eye is a skill! He drives the team and drives himself. He's got such enthusiasm and hunger to win and to do well. I've played in teams with a lot stronger personalities than that, to be honest.

"That's the way for us to improve and reach the next level: always demand more, and more, and more."

Shaw was taken off at half-time, but Solskjaer added of the left-back: "I had to protect Luke, but I think and hope he should be okay for the weekend."

Marcus Rashford's 20th goal of the season helped Manchester United to a 2-0 win over Granada in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final tie.

The forward's finish from a fine Victor Lindelof pass in the first half and a late penalty from Bruno Fernandes secured a commanding first-leg advantage in Thursday's clash at the Nuevo Los Carmenes.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side were not particularly inspired in attack but rarely looked troubled by a team who have already eliminated Napoli in an impressive first European campaign.

Chelsea loanee Kenedy was a threat with shots from distance, but Diego Martinez's men were unable to create clear openings against a diligent Red Devils rearguard, particularly with only 33 per cent of the ball.

Rashford, who sustained an ankle problem in the win over Brighton and Hove Albion last Sunday, appeared to be struggling in the early exchanges as United made hard work of breaking down Granada.

The England forward looked fit and sharp 31 minutes in, though, latching onto Lindelof's long ball over the top before prodding a composed finish beyond goalkeeper Rui Silva.

The goal sparked a little life into Granada's attack, Kenedy's ambitious volley from the edge of the area giving the returning David de Gea something to do.

Kenedy twice tested De Gea again from outside the box after the restart but they were comfortable saves for the United keeper, who was otherwise mostly untroubled.

Fernandes had had a quiet game but he squeezed a mishit penalty under Silva's grasp to score a potentially decisive second away goal in the 90th minute after Yan Eteki was penalised for pushing a hand into the Portugal star's face.

What does it mean? Advantage United after timid encounter

It was not a thrill-a-minute contest but it puts United in a good position to progress to the semi-finals for the second season in a row, and there was little offered by Granada to worry them unduly.

However, Solskjaer will want a more committed and creative performance when they travel to Tottenham this weekend if they are to preserve their long unbeaten away run.

United must preserve Rashford for run-in

Rashford's goal made him the first United player to hit double figures in consecutive campaigns since Wayne Rooney 11 years ago.

He came off with a little under half an hour remaining, and Solskjaer will need to manage his ankle concern carefully: their league position, and their chances of winning this competition, could depend on it.

Greenwood goes missing

The matchwinner against Brighton last Sunday, Mason Greenwood offered little attacking threat in Spain and struggled to hold up the ball or link the play.

One such poor use of the ball gave Granada a rare chance to break at speed in the United half, although they could not make use of the opportunity.

What's next?

Before next Thursday's second leg, each side return to domestic action on Sunday. United face Tottenham away in the Premier League, with Granada travelling to Real Valladolid in LaLiga.

Son Heung-min urged Tottenham to summon the spirit of "warriors" in order to win the battle for a Champions League spot.

Spurs sit sixth, three points behind fourth-placed West Ham with eight games of the Premier League season remaining.

It has been a frustrating campaign for Jose Mourinho's side, who dropped points from a winning position once again as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Newcastle United last time out.

Spurs have now failed to win six Premier League games this season in which they have led at the interval – the most of any side – heading into Sunday's visit of Manchester United.

But Son, who has 18 goals in all competitions this term, is still upbeat about turning the campaign into a success, with the EFL Cup final against Manchester City to come later this month.

"I'm a really positive guy, we're three points behind the top four and, let's be honest, it would have been even better if we'd won the points against Newcastle, but we didn't and that's really sad," the South Korea star told Tottenham's official website.

"We've nine games left with the cup final and we have to be ready, we have to be warriors, that's very important for the rest of the season."

The London club did manage a strong finish to the interrupted 2019-20 season, winning five and drawing two of their final eight league games to finish sixth and secure a Europa League berth.

Asked if Spurs could take heart from that, Son said: "Yes, we are in a slightly better position than last season.

"We're three points off the top four, it's tight and we all want to play in the Champions League next season, that's our aim, that's the club's aim, the fans' aim as well. That's what we all want. We're all focused on that and we will try as hard as possible to get there."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's United represent the next foe for Spurs to vanquish, with Mourinho having overseen a 6-1 win at Old Trafford in October.

The Red Devils have won just once in their previous eight top-flight trips to Tottenham, who are aiming to become the first side to do a league double over a United side under Solskjaer's charge.

But not all the omens favour the hosts, with United on a 22-match unbeaten run away from home in the league.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer sounded an ominous warning to Europa League opponents Granada as he declared scoring goals was in Manchester United's DNA.

United are away to the Spanish side on Thursday for the first leg of their quarter-final tie in a competition that represents their last realistic hope of silverware this season.

Despite having scored only four times in their past five away games in all competitions, United boss Solskjaer insisted his team would go on the offensive.

"I think that's what we do best. It's always going to be in our DNA that we want to go and score goals," he told the club's official website.

"Of course you want a defensive foundation, but we know about away goals and also how good we are at Old Trafford as well.

"We've got a proud record at Old Trafford in Europe, so if we get a good result to build on, that's all we can ask."

United did smash four past Real Sociedad in Turin and also secured a pivotal 1-0 victory against Milan at San Siro, with Solskjaer taking confidence from those performances in the competition. 

"I think we've proved to ourselves and everyone that we are a good side home or away, but of course the neutral game against Sociedad was a very good one for us," he said. 

"We played against a very good team. Granada is a different team and a different set-up than Real Sociedad with different strengths and a different way of playing, so we've got to find a way to get the best possible performance."

Forward Anthony Elanga is in contention to make his United debut and Solskjaer has full faith in the 18-year-old.

The Swedish striker signed a new contract last month and Solskjaer insists he has not only been included in the squad for experience and is ready for action.

"I've got faith in the young lads of course and, in Anthony, we have a player with good skills, a great attitude and he scores goals from either the right or left, and he's got good pace," said the Norwegian.

"He's not just there for experience, he might actually play a part, who knows? He's got that X-factor and I like players with speed and acceleration and he's definitely got that."

What does the future hold for Lorenzo Insigne?

The Napoli captain is no certainty to remain at his boyhood club as his contract runs down.

A switch to Milan could be on the cards…

 

TOP STORY – MILAN TARGETING INSIGNE

Milan met with Lorenzo Insigne's agent as they eye a move for the Napoli captain, according to Gianluigi Di Marzio.

Insigne – previously linked with Liverpool – has one year remaining on his current contract and the Italy international is yet to re-sign with his boyhood club.

Serie A rivals Milan are monitoring the situation and ready to pounce.

 

ROUND-UP

- A move for Insigne depends on the future of Milan midfielder Hakan Calhanoglu. The 27-year-old is set to become a free agent and Arsenal and Chelsea are eyeing the Turkey international, reports Sky Italy. Manchester United have also been linked.

- The front page of Thursday's Gazzetta dello Sport says Inter and neighbours Milan are going head-to-head to sign Fiorentina defender Nikola Milenkovic. The Serbia international is also reportedly wanted by United, Juventus and Tottenham.

Chelsea, Barcelona and Manchester City are vying to sign Inter star Romelu Lukaku this off-season, claims Calciomercato. Lukaku has emerged as a target for all three clubs, who are also eyeing Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling HaalandReal Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain, United and Liverpool have also been linked with Haaland.

- According to Corriere dello Sport, Roma and Milan both want to sign Torino captain Andrea Belotti. With Torino struggling, the Italy forward could be ready to jump at the chance for European football.

Tottenham are stepping up their pursuit of Southampton defender Jannik Vestergaard, says the Express. Spurs have long been linked with Inter star Milan Skriniar, but Vestergaard appears to be an easier option.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised David de Gea and Dean Henderson for how they are handling the competition to be Manchester United number one.

Henderson had deputised for De Gea while he was absent from the squad for the birth of his child last month.

But the England international has retained his place in the squad since his fellow goalkeeper's return.

That included, for the first time since the switch was made, a match in the Premier League when United took on Brighton and Hove Albion last time out.

A key week sees United play two away matches. The Red Devils are against Granada in the first leg of their Europa League quarter-final on Thursday before taking on Tottenham in the league on Sunday.

Solskjaer was asked about the ongoing battle between his keepers ahead of the trip to Spain.

"Every time I try to explain to players why they aren't playing in this particular game and what they have to do - all those discussions remain private of course," said the United boss.

"David has been a top, top keeper and is still a top, top keeper. He is working to be ready when he plays.

"When it is David or Dean I'm very comfortable to play either of them and I'm pleased that either of them are happy to be a sub. 

"I cannot prioritise the league or Europa League. The next game is the most important one. 

"With the keepers I have two very, very good options and whoever plays will play well I'm sure."

Solskjaer compared the battle for the number one spot to his own playing career at Old Trafford, where he was often part of a squad rotation system and coming up against big-name signings.

He added: "When you are a part of Man United, there will always be players that come in and they are not just there to fill the squad. 

"Everyone has got the ambition to take your shirt. 

"I was there myself as a striker. We signed Ruud van Nistelrooy, Diego Forlan, Louis Saha, we signed loads of top strikers - Teddy Sheringham, Dwight Yorke. 

"The aim for me then was to prove to the manager I could be important. I'm going to give everything I can to play. It's the same whatever position you play. 

"David has had 10 fantastic years at Man United. He's had challengers who of course wanted to play. 

"Sergio Romero has probably played less games than he deserved. Dean comes in and also gives his all. It's a healthy competition, of course it is. 

"The goalkeeping departments are a very tight-knit group. They work together in prep, they have different gym sessions, they stay together more and naturally create a bond.

"The spirit in the goalkeeper department has been top. All of them want to play and that includes Lee Grant, Nathan Bishop and Sergio Romero. That is a competition I like."

United are hot favourites to progress against Granada, who sit ninth in LaLiga and are playing in Europe for the first time this season.

But Solskjaer is not taking them lightly after defeating Serie A heavyweights Milan in the previous round.

He added: "Complacency? No. When you beat Real Sociedad or AC Milan you just get more of a taste for it. You know you have jumped a couple of high hurdles. 

"Granada beating Napoli, getting through the group and then beating Molde last time is a sign of a team that has got quality. 

"It is going to be a difficult game. We have of course set our eyes on the final and improving on last season. We want to win this tournament.

"It is very big for us, of course. The next game is always the most important, we have to live by the principle. 

"If you get the chance to play in a quarter-final in Europe for Man United, every player knows this is a massive game and an important game for you. 

"We have beaten Milan away, we have beaten Real Sociedad, and have drawn against them both at home. This game can give us even more momentum."

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer is excited by the potential of forward Anthony Elanga, who is in contention to make his Manchester United debut against Granada in the Europa League.

United are away to the Spanish side on Thursday for the first leg of their quarter-final tie in a competition that represents their last hope of silverware this season.

Elanga, 18, has been added to the United squad for the competition and will travel to Spain with the first-team.

The Swedish striker signed a new contract last month and Solskjaer insists he has not only been included in the squad for experience and is ready for action.

Even if his debut does not come against Granada, it sounds like Elanga will be featuring for United soon.

"He'll be in the squad, he'll be on the bench," Solskjaer said about the inclusion of Elanga. "He has impressed when he has been in training with us.

"He was very unlucky when he got a bad injury about two or three months ago because he was about to move into the first-team squad then. He has worked really hard to come back.

"He has got some x-factor, some attributes, it's not like a gift, but the pace and acceleration and speed that he has got - that's a given for wingers.

"When he's got that speed, he's always got qualities I like. He is a confident goalscoring winger.

"He has an appetite and hunger to improve and when he has been training with us the last while he has been here - he has not been fazed by it. 

"He has a lot of quality, speed and he is a goalscorer. He likes to beat men and has a right foot and left foot. 

"He has an appetite to develop and to keep learning. It's not just for the experience. He's ready to play a part."

Forward Amad Diallo, who scored against Milan in the round of 16, is also pushing for a first United start.

"Of course he is [getting closer]," added Solskjaer of the €40million signing from Atalanta.

"He is getting more and more used to our expectations, our standards, our training, the level of intensity in the games over here. 

"He did well when he played 45 minutes against Milan, definitely a bright start, and we will see him gradually start games. 

"It might come now or it might come in a little while."

Defender Eric Bailly is still in the Ivory Coast as he needs a negative coronavirus result before being allowed to return.

Marcus Rashford, meanwhile, was forced to come off against Brighton and Hove Albion last time out, a match in which he scored.

He will travel to Spain after training on Wednesday but Solskjaer will not take any unnecessary risks with the England forward.

The United boss added: "I can't disclose my team now, we're not going to do that. 

"Marcus is travelling and we have got to make a decision if he starts or is on the bench. I don't think he'll be 90-minute man, but let's see where we're at on Thursday.

"I don't pick players when we know there is a risk. There's always a risk when you step out on to the pitch, but if the physio says it's too much of a risk I would never pick him. 

"Now, Marcus joined in training this morning and let's see how he reacts. His back has recovered and it's a tough one. 

"He wants to play and wants to give his all for Man United. We'll listen to what he says like we did on Saturday when he came off and said it was too sore."

Granada are playing in their first European campaign and are the first side since RB Leipzig in 2017-18 to reach the quarter-finals of a major continental competition while doing so.

The last side to reach the semi-finals in such a season was Villarreal in 2003-04 (UEFA Cup).

United, meanwhile, are in the quarter-final stages of a major European competition for the 27th time, progressing from 17 of the previous 26. 

They are winless in the first leg of each of their last three two-legged quarter-final matches in Europe (D2 L1).

Lionel Messi's future is a popular topic.

Messi wanted to leave Barcelona at the start of the season but opted to remain at Camp Nou.

With his contract expiring at the end of 2020-21, the Barca superstar is continuing to make headlines.

 

TOP STORY – MESSI WAITING ON BARCA

Barcelona have yet to make a move to re-sign superstar captain Lionel Messi, according to the front page of Wednesday's Marca.

Messi is out of contract at the end of the season and his future is far from certain, having been tipped to join either Paris Saint-Germain or Manchester City.

Led by new president Joan Laporta, Barca are determined to retain the six-time Ballon d'Or winner.

 

ROUND-UP

- Mundo Deportivo reports Ousmane Dembele wants to continue with Barca, but speculation is mounting that Paris Saint-Germain star Neymar could return to Camp Nou. Neymar – who left Barca for PSG in a world-record €222million deal in 2017 – has been negotiating a new contract in the French capital. Dembele has previously been linked with Manchester United.

Manchester City are eyeing a new striker but they are unwilling to spend "crazy" money, claims Fabrizio Romano. With Sergio Aguero – linked with Chelsea, Inter, PSG and Barcelona – leaving on a free transfer, Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland has emerged as City's prime target, while Tottenham star Harry Kane is another option.

- Goal says Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli and Juventus' Federico Bernardeschi could swap clubs. Both players have struggled this season and they could reportedly be involved in an exchange deal. Romagnoli has attracted interest from Barca and Chelsea.

- Eurosport reports United and Liverpool could go head-to-head in a battle to sign RB Leipzig defender Ibrahima Konate. The 21-year-old has been heavily linked with Liverpool, but United are also interested. Sevilla's Jules Kounde, Madrid captain Sergio Ramos and team-mate Raphael Varane, Villarreal's Pau Torres and Napoli star Kalidou Koulibaly are also reportedly being monitored at Old Trafford.

- Romano claims there are "huge chances" for Hector Bellerin to leave Arsenal. The Spaniard was previously linked with PSG and Barca.

Jesse Lingard continued his sensational run of form for West Ham with a fine solo goal in the 3-2 win over Wolves on Monday.

After collecting the ball in his own half at Molineux, Lingard carried the ball into the Wolves box, surging clear of Leander Dendoncker and Romain Saiss before beating Rui Patricio with a left-footed finish.

Lingard later assisted a goal for Jarrod Bowen, as West Ham won 3-2 to boost their chances of finishing in the Premier League top four, a position they hold with eight matches to go.

The attacking midfielder has nine goal involvements in eight matches (six goals, three assists) since making his West Ham debut on February 3.

Lingard earned an England recall for his impressive West Ham displays in a loan spell that was initially expected to precede a permanent move, either to the Hammers or elsewhere.

When he made a flying start at West Ham, reports initially focused around how his transfer price-tag had increased.

But the continuation of his impressive play means there are now questions over whether he can force his way back into Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's plans at Old Trafford.

It is a scenario that looked highly unlikely two months ago, but one former United captain Gary Neville now thinks has merit.

LINGARD AT UNITED

Lingard was often criticised but had his moments at United, where he came through the youth system.

He scored in their FA Cup final win over Crystal Palace in 2016 and won the Europa League a year later.

Lingard played 33 Premier League matches (20 starts) for United as recently as 2018-19, scoring eight times and adding five assists.

But his playing time continued to decrease from there until he was frozen out by Solskjaer in the first half of this season, not appearing in the Premier League and making only three domestic cup appearances.

Prior to his exit, Lingard did not score or assist a single Premier League goal for United in a period of 33 matches over 18 months.

WEST HAM RESURGENCE

Now, though, Lingard's nine goal involvements since debuting are tied for the best over that span in the Premier League with Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who himself is having a memorable campaign.

He sits above the likes of other in-form stars like Gabriel Jesus (7) and Bruno Fernandes, Kelechi Iheanacho and Ilkay Gundogan (all 6).

West Ham's win over Wolves saw the Hammers show off their counter-attacking ability.

Only Leeds United (6) have scored more goals from fast breaks than David Moyes' side this season (5), with two of those coming at Molineux.

United have been at their best under Solskjaer when they have soaked up pressure and thrived on the counter-attack.

So there is an argument Lingard could fit in with United and just needed a run of matches to get his rhythm and confidence back, boosting his hopes of playing for England at Euro 2020 in the process.

NEVILLE ON LINGARD DILEMMA

Neville believes there can be a role for Lingard at United, though it would come at the cost of not playing week in, week out.

"He does an incredible amount of running," Neville said to Sky Sports. "It's what he does. He's good out of possession and good in possession.

"At Manchester United because there is that expectation of what you need to be, to be a wide player there, he's always going to get a difficult press.

"But if he was playing in a world-class team, if he was, say, Park Ji-sung 10 years ago playing with Ronaldo and Rooney, doing that supplementary role, then people would be saying he's perfect for this squad.

"The problem is he was not playing in Manchester United teams as good as that, so he gets a bit of stick.

"He's a really good player. He's going to have a great career. 

"Manchester United have sent him out to West Ham to boost his career, maybe with the thought of boosting his price tag, but they might be thinking, 'Actually, we might want him back, he could be a real help to us'.

"If Jesse wants to play, and you can see he does want to play, then he needs to leave, because he's not going to play every single week for a United team that's competing for second or first place in the league.

"But if he's willing to go back there and compete and be the player that Dan James has been for the last few weeks, in and out, then there's no doubt he can play for Manchester United."

 

LINGARD COMPARED TO MAN UTD STARS

Given he did not play for the first half of the season, we are dealing with a smaller sample size with Lingard compared to the key attackers at United.

But Lingard comes out on top of all West Ham and United players with 0.74 goals per 90 minutes in the Premier League this season, above Fernandes (0.56), Edinson Cavani (0.54) and Michail Antonio (0.41).

Lingard (0.38) is on almost the same level as Fernandes (0.39) for assists per game, coming second among both squads in players to feature for at least 500 minutes.

Alex Telles (0.35) and Said Benrahma (0.33) are the others to fare well for assists P90.

At 3.95 dribbles attempted per game, only Marcus Rashford (5.65) takes on an opponent more often than Lingard in that category among United players.

There are three West Ham players who do so more often, led by Benrahma (5.26).

When it comes to created chances, it is one area where Lingard falls slightly short.

Fernandes (3.03) and Luke Shaw (2.26) are well clear of the pack, with Benrahma (1.5) and Aaron Creswell (1.43) coming out best for West Ham. 

Lingard (1.15) would rank fifth among United players, which is also where he sits at West Ham.

Overall, Lingard has made a huge impact at West Ham, spearheading an unlikely Champions League pursuit.

His performance levels compare favourably to most of United's forwards and attacking threats.

It is a move that has worked out superbly for him and David Moyes, but also for United.

They can either welcome back a revived squad player as part of their plans for 2021-22 or cash in at a much greater level than they could have done prior to Lingard's London switch.

David de Gea's future at Manchester United has been the topic of conversation for months.

The situation has become muddied in recent weeks during the Spaniard's period of paternity leave but De Gea is back in England and playing second fiddle to Dean Henderson.

De Gea has been at Old Trafford since 2011 but United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has started Henderson for seven games in a row.

 

TOP STORY – DE GEA TO EXIT UNITED

De Gea's representatives are already sounding out potential buyers and he is set to leave Manchester United this off-season, according to the Daily Mail.

The 30-year-old is contracted with the Red Devils although no transfer fee has been mentioned yet.

The report claims Real MadridParis Saint-Germain and Atletico Madrid are potentially interested clubs.

ROUND-UP

- ESPN reports Barcelona will continue to pursue Borussia Dortmund's Erling Haaland but a source has said a deal will be "very difficult".

- Tottenham defender Juan Foyth is on loan at Villarreal this season and the Spanish club want to sign him permanently for less than the €15.3million (£13m) option fee, according to Football Insider.

Jerome Boateng will leave Bayern Munich as a free agent at the end of this season with the club opting not to offer him a new contract, reports Kicker.

- Sky Sports are claiming that Zlatan Ibrahimovic is ready to ink a one-year extension with Milan.

With the Premier League back following the international break, in many ways it was essentially business as usual.

Manchester United were underwhelming but came from behind yet again, while Harry Kane provided his customary reminder that he's probably a bit too good for Tottenham – or this Tottenham, at the very least.

Liverpool showed signs of having their mojo back in a 3-0 win at Arsenal that was inspired by Diogo Jota, though Manchester City moved another step closer to taking the Reds' crown.

At the other end of the table, Sheffield United – who have long looked doomed – are closing in on a Premier League record… Not that it's one they'll want to brag about.

Using Opta data, we look at some of the more quirky facts from the weekend's top-flight action…

Diogo's Jota lot going for him

How much better off Liverpool would be now had Jota not missed a large chunk of the season is impossible to know, but it's a fair assumption they'd be in a stronger position than they are.

The Portugal international returned following a three-month absence in March, scoring the winner against former club Wolves before then netting thrice for his country during the international break.

He was held back at the Emirates Stadium on Saturday but yet again proved he doesn't need long to make an impact, his brace helping secure a 3-0 win over Arsenal – it was 0-0 when he entered the pitch around the hour mark.

Those goals took him to eight in the Premier League this season from 730 minutes, meaning he boasts comfortably the best minutes-per-goal record (91) among players to have scored at least once this term. The next best is Gareth Bale with five from 561 minutes (one every 112 mins).

His 4.7 xG overperformance suggests either his form is not sustainable or he's developing into an elite-level chance-taker – hopefully an injury-free 2021-22 will unveil the truth.

Kane eyes Cole feat

While 2020-21 has been rather hit-and-miss for Tottenham, the same cannot be said for Kane.

The England captain is enjoying another stellar season but, perhaps more pertinently, he seems to have added another string to his bow when it comes to setting up team-mates.

With that in mind, his brace at the weekend means he now tops both the Premier League goalscoring (19) and assist (13) charts. He probably won't match his personal best of 30 goals for a single season, but in terms of goal involvements he's only four adrift of the 36 he managed in 2016-17 (29 goals, seven assists).

Therefore he's in with a great shout of being only the second player in Premier League history to finish a season with the most goals and assists.

Andy Cole is the only player to lead both outright at the end of a season, accomplishing the feat in 1993-94 when he netted 34 times and set up another 13 – this was before the competition changed from a 42-game season to 38.

Mourinho and Spurs dreaming of Man United's comeback record

It was just another weekend of Manchester United coming from behind to snatch a win and Tottenham throwing away a lead.

United netted twice in the second half to cancel out Danny Welbeck's opener for Brighton and Hove Albion, clinching a 2-1 win at Old Trafford thanks to goals from Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood.

It means they have gained 25 points from losing positions in the Premier League this term, a figure only ever bettered three times – West Brom (27) in 2010-11, United themselves (29) in 2012-13 and Newcastle United (34) in 2001-02.

It's been a different story for Tottenham this season, however, as they've not been able to hold on to leads – Newcastle rescuing a 2-2 draw against them on Sunday being the latest example, with the Magpies' xG of four being their highest figure since 2016-17.

They've now dropped 11 points due to goals conceded in the final 10 minutes of games, the worst record in the Premier League this term, and failed to win the six league games in which they've led at half-time. That's also a league-wide high.

As for Jose Mourinho, the 15 points he's seen Spurs surrender from winning positions in 2020-21 is already a joint-worst for him in a Premier League season.

Sheffield United on course for worst ever Premier League season

Okay, admittedly this one does depend on how you quantify "worst".

After all, Derby County hold the record for the fewest points ever won in a single Premier League season when they amassed just 11 in 2007-08, and Sheffield United already have three more.

However, Derby's 29 defeats equated to 76.3 per cent of their 38 matches, which along with Sunderland two years earlier, is the biggest proportion of losses in a solitary campaign.

Following the Blades' 2-1 loss at Leeds United on Saturday, they have lost 80 per cent of their matches this term (25 in total).

Given their form until now, few would be surprised to see them set a new Premier League record of 30 defeats.

Romelu Lukaku has starred for Inter since arriving from Manchester United in 2019.

Lukaku is spearheading Inter's quest for a Serie A title, with Antonio Conte's side clear atop the table.

His exploits, however, have not gone unnoticed in Europe.

 

TOP STORY – LUKAKU HAPPY AT INTER

Inter star Romelu Lukaku is flattered by Barcelona's interest but is not looking to leave the Nerazzurri, according to Mundo Deportivo.

Lukaku has been linked with Barca, Real Madrid and former club Chelsea following his exploits for Inter, who are closing in on the Scudetto.

But Lukaku is happy at Inter, with the Belgium international only possibly leaving San Siro should the Italian powerhouse seek to raise funds.

 

ROUND-UP

- Tuttosport reports Cristiano Ronaldo wants to see out his Juventus contract, which runs until June 2022. Ronaldo has been tipped to leave Turin, where Juve are struggling under Andrea Pirlo this season. Former clubs Madrid and United have emerged as possible destinations, as well as Paris Saint-Germain. However, Ronaldo is keen to continue at the club, should they qualify for the Champions League.

- PSG star Kylian Mbappe remains a priority signing for Madrid, claims Diario AS. Mbappe has been a long-term target in the Spanish capital, though the economic fallout following the coronavirus pandemic appears to have derailed Madrid's pursuit. But Los Blancos – also linked with in-demand Borussia Dortmund sensation Erling Haaland – are still determined to prise Mbappe from Paris.

- Record reports United are ready to make a move for Sporting CP star Nuno Mendes, who has also been linked with Manchester City and Liverpool. United could reportedly use Alex Telles in a deal to sign the Portuguese full-back.

- Milan captain Alessio Romagnoli is eyeing a new deal amid interest from Barca and Chelsea, according to Calciomercato. Romagnoli is contracted to the Rossoneri until 2022. Barca's reported pursuit comes as they eye the likes of Bayern Munich star David Alaba, City duo Eric Garcia and Sergio Aguero, Lyon forward Memphis Depay and Liverpool midfielder Georginio Wijnaldum.

The Premier League made its comeback this weekend, and there was no shortage of drama on Sunday.

It was a tail of turnarounds throughout the four fixtures – three sides coming from behind to win while Newcastle United and Tottenham played out a topsy turvy 2-2 draw.

Manchester United needed a late goal to see off Brighton and Hove Albion, while Southampton and Aston Villa claimed victories.

United have now won 95 Premier League points after conceding first, seven more than any other team in the history of the competition and, using Opta data, we take a look at more of the best facts from across the day's matches.

Southampton 3-2 Burnley: Ings puts former club to the sword in thrilling fightback 

Southampton picked up their first Premier League home win since their opening game in 2021 as they came from two goals down to beat Burnley 3-2, ending a run of five league outings at St. Mary's without a victory (D1 L4).

The Saints had not won a league game that they had trailed in by two goals since March 2016, when they defeated Liverpool under Ronald Koeman, but Danny Ings inspired the turnaround against his former club.

Having teed up Stuart Armstrong's goal, Ings became just the fourth player in Premier League history to score in four successive appearances against sides he has previously played for in the competition, after Robbie Keane in 2004, Jermain Defoe in 2009 and Wilfried Bony in 2017.

It was Nathan Redmond who then dealt the decisive blow, volleying in from Theo Walcott's cross after Nick Pope had brilliantly denied Ings a second.

Redmond has been directly involved in five goals in his past two games for Southampton (three goals and two assists), as many direct goal involvements as he had registered in his previous 30 appearances in all competitions combined.

Chris Wood gave Burnley the lead from a VAR-awarded penalty – the 100th spot-kick taken in the top flight this season, and the 83rd to be converted. This is only the seventh Premier League campaign to see a century of penalties awarded.

Newcastle United 2-2 Tottenham: Kane double not enough as Spurs let another lead slip

Tottenham looked set to move into the top four as they led 2-1 at Newcastle – Harry Kane's double putting them ahead after Joelinton carried on his goalscoring form against Spurs; he has now netted a total of four Premier League goals in 62 appearances, with two of those coming in four matches versus the north London team.

Kane has been directly involved in 45 goals in all competitions this term, scoring 29 times and providing 16 assists, equalling his career-best tally from 2017-18 (41 goals and four assists).

He has also scored 84 goals in 120 away games in the Premier League for Spurs, the most goals any player has scored on the road for a single club in the competition, going past Wayne Rooney's 82 for Manchester United.

Yet his efforts were not enough – Joe Willock rescuing a point for relegation-battling Newcastle, who have drawn three consecutive Premier League games at St. James' Park for the first time since another three-game run spanning December 2017 and January 2018.

Tottenham have dropped four points from winning positions against Newcastle this season, their most in a campaign against a single side since also dropping four versus Arsenal and West Brom in 2015-16, while Spurs have now failed to win six Premier League games after leading at half-time, the most of any side in 2020-21.

Aston Villa 3-1 Fulham: History made at Villa Park before Cottagers collapse

Sunday's clash between Aston Villa and Fulham was the first game in Premier League history in which every player in the starting XI for both sides was born after the first ever Premier League game on August 15, 1992.

Despite Dean Smith saying he would be available, Jack Grealish was not in Villa's squad, and Fulham hit the front through Aleksandar Mitrovic, who – after 159 days and 23 games without a goal for club and country – has now scored six times in the past 12 days, five times for Serbia and once for the Cottagers.

Yet only Southampton (18) and Brighton (20) have dropped more points from winning positions in the Premier League this season than Fulham (16) after Scott Parker's third-bottom side suffered a collapse.

Trezeguet scored a rapid double – his two goals coming just 160 seconds apart. The Egypt international had previously attempted more shots without scoring than any other player in this season's Premier League (29).

Ollie Watkins helped himself to his first league goal in eight games, ending a run of 18 shots without a goal in the competition since netting versus Arsenal in February.

Manchester United 2-1 Brighton and Hove Albion: Matchwinner Greenwood in elite company

Only Wayne Rooney (15) and Marcus Rashford (13) have scored more Premier League goals as teenagers for United than Mason Greenwood (12), who struck late on to complete the turnaround at Old Trafford.

Former Red Devil Danny Welbeck opened the scoring in Sunday's final game – he became the first player to net as many as three Premier League goals against United after having appeared for the club in the competition.

The 2020-21 season is only the second to see two players who have previously appeared for Manchester United in the Premier League score against them (Wilfried Zaha and Welbeck), along with the 1997-98 campaign, when Dion Dublin and Mark Hughes did so.

But United have now won 25 points from losing positions this term, nine more than any other side, while Brighton remain winless at Old Trafford in 13 attempts in all competitions (D2 L11).

Rashford – who has only scored more league goals (five) against Leicester City than he has against the Seagulls – equalised after being teed up by Bruno Fernandes, who has been directly involved in five goals in three Premier League appearances against Brighton.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed "the fireworks had to be lit at half-time" after Manchester United roared back to beat Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 on Sunday.

Danny Welbeck's header against his former club put relegation-threatened Brighton in front at half-time, but United raised their game after the break.

Marcus Rashford equalised with a clinical finish and Mason Greenwood also marked his return from injury with a goal, heading home to secure the points seven minutes from time.

Victory for the Red Devils strengthened their grip on second place, 14 points adrift of champions elect Manchester City with a game in hand and 11 clear of fifth-placed Tottenham.

Solskjaer suggested he delivered a few harsh words at the break after his side failed to register a shot on target during the first half, although Greenwood hit the post early on.

The United boss, who revealed Eric Bailly was absent after testing positive for coronavirus. said: "It's a long way up [to City] but we want to consolidate second place. In the second half, we played some good stuff. The fireworks had to be lit at half-time."

Solskjaer was impressed with the character shown by his side as they produced a fightback to win after conceding first for the eighth time this season.

He said: "You don't really want to be in a position where you're 1-0 down. It was a sloppy mistake in midfield, we don't stop the cross and we don't defend the cross.

"We gave ourselves work to do and then I think we've done that so many times this season that the team doesn't panic.

"We know we have to build momentum, the ball has to move quickly, we have to be more in tandem with each other and the two goals we scored were two good goals to win the game."

Solskjaer preferred Dean Henderson to David de Gea but said the Spanish goalkeeper can force his way back into the team.

"With Dean and David's situation I know it's something that will create headlines, fish and chips wrapping paper in a little while," he added.

"I've got two great goalkeepers and it's about finding games that both will play. Both deserve to play more than what they do and it's just a decision I have to make every time."

Solskjaer stated ahead of the game that Anthony Martial looks set to miss the rest of the season with a knee injury and the United manager will be hoping a knock picked up by Rashford is not serious.

Mason Greenwood and Marcus Rashford were on target as Manchester United came from behind to beat relegation-threatened Brighton and Hove Albion 2-1 in the Premier League.

Danny Welbeck returned to haunt United with a deserved opening goal for the Seagulls in the first half at Old Trafford on Sunday.

Second-placed United raised their game after the break, though, and the fit-again Rashford marked his return with a well taken equaliser.

Greenwood, also passed fit after recovering from an injury, headed home the winner seven minutes from time to stun the Seagulls in the absence of Anthony Martial, who could be out for the season with a knee problem.

Victory for the Red Devils strengthened their grip on second place, 14 point behind leaders Manchester City with a game in hand, while Brighton are six points above the drop zone.

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