The ropes were pulled and the curtains parted for the beginning of French and English soccer’s 2019/20 seasons at the weekend.
On Saturday, goals by Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria won the day in Shenzhen, after Adrien Hunou’s deft left foot finish (13’) had established the ascendancy for Rennais.
PSG boss Thomas included new signings, Pable Sarabia, Ander Herrera and Abdou Diallo in his starting line-up.
“It was a difficult win to get,” said Turchel, “But it’s a deserved one. We conceded the opener but managed to turn things round. We started the game too relaxed, and then got into it after ten minutes, pressing high up the pitch with a lot of intensity. We created a lot of chances. We continued like that after the break. I’m very happy with the performance, even if we relaxed a bit after our second goal. We produced 70 top-quality minutes.”
His counterpart Julien Stephan expressed disappointment at some chances that got away.
”We didn’t come here as victims. We wanted to give a good account of ourselves and get off to a great start, which we managed to do. But we didn’t get far. We played a brave, well organised game and at times we showed some promise going forward. We had opportunities to level it up, but unfortunately we didn’t put them away. We are disappointed because we came into this match with the desire to win the trophy.”
Like his coach, winning goalscorer Angel di Maria was also in good spirits, although his statement may perplex fans at his former club, Manchester United.
”I’m very happy! Very happy to win another trophy with this club. The team won and I scored... it’s a good evening. If I make the fans happy, I’m happy!”
I guess the Argentinian wasn’t happy all that often at Old Trafford.
In England’s equivalent, Manchester City and Liverpool exchanged a goal apiece at Wembley; Sterling for City, Matip for Liverpool, and went straight to penalties after 90 minutes. Giorginio Wijnaldum was the only player to miss from the spot, and City secured their fifth domestic trophy in-a-row, unprecedented in English football.
In more serious matters Marcelo Bielsa’s Leeds United lived up to their favourites tag to win the English Championship, winning a lively game over Bristol City, 3-1, at Ashton Gate.
Salford City, the club partially owned by Manchester United’s Class of 92, played in their first-ever Football League game, defeating Stevenage Borough 2-0 at their tiny little 5,000 capacity, Penninsula Stadium.
Neither Giggs, Beckham the Nevilles or Nicky Butt were there, but Paul Scholes sat watching the game in the north-west sunshine, generously applauding both goals from Emmanuel Dieseruvwe.
After four promotions in the last five years, Neville claims Salford reached League Two three years ahead of a schedule set in 2014, when they took over, targeting Championship soccer within 15 years. City now sit two tiers away from that ambition being realized.
And they have a big date coming up in August having been drawn against Championship favourites, Leeds United in the 1st round of the Carabao Cup. Sky TV cameras will be there, the satellite broadcaster opting to show the game live on SkySports.
In Scotland it’s as you were. Celtic got their league campaign underway with a bang, scoring 7 without reply at home to hapless St Johnstone. Scottish international Ryan Christie was the star-turn, with a hat-trick.
Clearly the Celts will again be the team to beat in Scotland this season, however if Steven Gerrard’s Rangers can attach themselves to their bitter rivals’ coat-tails for long enough, then you just never know. They almost slipped-up on Sunday however, needing an injury time winner from Connor Goldson to secure all three points at Rugby Park against Kilmarnock.
The Glasgow giants clash for the first time this season in Week 4 (1 September) at Ibrox.