A thrilling midweek of continental action across Europe and Asia as well as decisive title-race action in South America took us to the cusp of another men’s international break.
Here are five of the biggest results and stories from around the world:
🏆 UEFA Champions League: FC København 4-3 Manchester United
Manchester United simply cannot catch a break at the moment.
Their home win against FC København might have felt like a turning point a couple of weeks ago thanks to Harry Maguire’s winning goal and André Onana’s last-minute penalty save, but that did not prove to be the case.
They were subsequently dominated at home by local rivals Manchester City and Newcastle United, losing 3-0 on both occasions. They barely managed to scrape a one-goal win over Fulham ahead of the reverse fixture in the Champions League.
When Rasmus Højlund scored the opener against his former club in just the third minute of the match and went on to score a second before the half-hour mark, United fans might have thought that they were finally going to enjoy a comfortable victory. Of course, they were not going to get that.
Marcus Rashford received an unfortunate red card in the 42nd minute, and the hosts scored twice in quick succession to head into half-time with a level score.
United even retook the lead in the 69th minute after a resolute showing in the second half, but they were undone by two late goals from Lukas Lerager and teenage sensation Roony Bardghji to drop to last place in the group.
🏆 UEFA Europa League: Toulouse 3-2 Liverpool
United’s old rivals Liverpool did have the best of weeks in the Europa League either, as their rotated XI faltered in France and failed to seal progression to the knockouts.
Toulouse went into this match on a five-match winless streak having lost each of their last three, but their solid defensive performance was rewarded this time.
Aron Dønnum fired them in front before the half-time break and Thijs Dallinga added a second in the 58th minute to put the hosts in a commanding position.
Frank Magri quickly cancelled out Cristian Cásseres Jr’s own goal with around 15 minutes left on the clock, but substitute Diogo Jota set up a grandstand finish by making it 3-2 in the 89th minute.
There was quite a bit of drama at the very end of stoppage time when Jarell Quansah seemed to equalise with the last kick of the game, but a long VAR check found a handball in the build-up and ruled the goal out.
Toulouse came away with three huge points for their Europa League campaign, while Liverpool’s spot in the knockouts is not yet certain.
🏆 AFC Champions League: Ventforet Kofu 4-1 Zhejiang Professional
Japanese second-tier side Ventforet Kofu’s incredible AFC Champions League campaign continued with a huge win over Chinese outfit Zhejiang Professional.
39-year-old Nigerian striker Peter Utaka opened the scoring for the hosts, who never looked back thereafter.
They went into half-time with a two-goal advantage, and even though Zhejiang pulled one back quickly in the second half, Ventforet Kofu added two more to seal a comprehensive victory.
Thanks to the margin of this win and Melbourne City’s surprise loss to Buriram United, Kofu have shot up to the top of the group with two matches left! A spot in the knockout stage is very much up for grabs for the J2 promotion chasers.
🇧🇷 Brasileirão Série A: Botafogo 3-4 Grêmio
We highlighted the dramatic result in the Brasileirão title race last week that saw leaders Botafogo squander a three-goal advantage to lose against Palmeiras. Unbelievably, they’ve done a very similar thing this week as well!
This time, there were no red cards involved as Botafogo scored first and went on to take a 3-1 lead over newly-promoted Grêmio early on in the second half.
Luis Suárez then took over to score a 19-minute hat-trick and completely turn the game on its head, winning a huge three points for Renato Gaúcho’s side which places them level with the league leaders.
There are three teams level on 59 points, while Red Bull Bragantino (58) and Flamengo (56) are close behind. Botafogo have a game in hand relative to the two teams level with them, but their next fixture is against Bragantino.
An incredible end to the title race is guaranteed, but we cannot possibly predict much more than that.
🇵🇪 Liga 1: Alianza Lima 0-2 Universitario de Deportes (1-3 on aggregate)
Over in Peru, the 2023 league title was decided as Apertura winners and defending champions Alianza Lima hosted the second leg of their play-off tie against Clausura winners and local rivals Universitario.
It all came down to this fixture as the first leg had ended 1-1, so Universitario knew that they would have to beat their rivals on their turf to claim their first league title in a decade.
They did just that thanks to a very early opener in the 3rd minute and a late second in the 82nd to seal the result, after which they could finally think about celebrations.
Their immediate plans were ruined as Alianza turned off the lights in their stadium at the full-time whistle!
However, that moment did not take the shine off a memorable season and a much-awaited title victory.
Stats courtesy Transfermarkt and FotMob.
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