Ar­se­nal in trou­ble from out­set in loss

The Washington Post Sunday - - COLLEGE BASKETBALL - AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Man­ager Arsene Wenger chose one of the tough­est pe­ri­ods of his Ar­se­nal ten­ure to make one of his most reck­less team se­lec­tions.

Drop­ping Alexis Sanchez, pos­si­bly the best player in the English Premier League, for an away game against Liver­pool, a di­rect ri­val for a Cham­pi­ons League qual­i­fi­ca­tion place, may come to be a defin­ing mo­ment of a sea­son that is start­ing to un­ravel.

Wenger re­al­ized his er­ror at half­time. He threw Sanchez on for the sec­ond half, but Liver­pool was ahead by then af­ter goals by Roberto Firmino and Sa­dio Mane and on its way to a 3-1 vic­tory that lifted Juer­gen Klopp’s team above Ar­se­nal and into third place.

“A de­ci­sion like that is not easy to make,” Wenger said, “but you have to stand up for it.”

That Ar­se­nal im­proved dras­ti­cally with Sanchez on the field — he set up Danny Wel­beck for a goal to make it 2-1 — was all the more galling to Ar­se­nal’s in­creas­ingly dis­grun­tled fan base.

Also Satur­day, Manch­ester United striker Zla­tan Ibrahi­movic had a penalty saved and was for­tu­nate to avoid a red card in an in­ci­dent-filled 1-1 draw against 10-man Bournemouth at Old Trafford.

Ibrahi­movic was in­volved in many of the flash points in a thrilling game, no­tably when he el­bowed Ty­rone Mings in the head mo­ments af­ter the de­fender ap­peared to stomp on the face of Ibrahi­movic late in the first half.

The ref­eree missed both in­ci­dents, though the play­ers could face ret­ro­spec­tive ac­tion by the English Foot­ball As­so­ci­a­tion.

SPAIN: Lionel Messi and Ney­mar scored three spec­tac­u­lar goals to keep Barcelona atop the Span­ish league by rout­ing vis­it­ing Celta Vigo, 5-0.

The flashes of bril­liance from Barcelona’s best may give pause to any­one who thinks Paris Sain­tGer­main’s 4-0 cush­ion is surely in­sur­mount­able come Wed­nes­day in the sec­ond leg of their Cham­pi­ons League round-of-16 match.

The in­tim­i­dat­ing dis­play also comes in the first match since Coach Luis En­rique an­nounced he would leave the club at the end of the sea­son.

ITALY: Napoli got back on track by beat­ing near­est ri­val Roma, 2-1, in Rome to leave Serie A leader Ju­ven­tus with a big smile. Napoli re­mained third but closed the gap to sec­ond-place Roma to two points.

Ju­ven­tus can stretch its ad­van­tage to 10 points with a win at strug­gling Udi­nese on Sun­day.

“We must be re­al­is­tic. The ti­tle race was very dif­fi­cult be­fore; now it’s al­most im­pos­si­ble,” Roma Coach Lu­ciano Spal­letti said.

MLS: Kel­lyn Acosta scored in the 69th minute, and FC Dal­las beat the Los An­ge­les Galaxy, 2-1, in the opener for both teams in Car­son, Calif. De­fend­ing MLS Sup­port­ers’ Shield cham­pion Dal­las spoiled the de­but of Galaxy Coach Curt Onalfo . . . . .

David Ac­cam turned a de­fender around be­fore scor­ing late in the sec­ond half to lift the Chicago Fire to a 1-1 draw with the host Colum­bus Crew . . . .

Former D.C. United goal­keeper Nick Ri­mando made three saves for Real Salt Lake, in­clud­ing two against Se­bas­tian Giovinco, to help Real Salt Lake tie de­fend­ing East­ern Con­fer­ence cham­pion Toronto FC, 0-0, in Sandy, Utah.

Giovinco was given a yel­low card for un­sport­ing be­hav­ior in the 82nd minute. He has 39 goals in two sea­sons and was the 2015 MLS Golden Boot win­ner . . . .

Dominique Badji scored in the 52nd minute to give the Colorado Rapids a 1-0 vic­tory over the New Eng­land Rev­o­lu­tion in Com­merce City, Colo . . . .

Romell Quioto scored a goal in his de­but to help the host Hous­ton Dynamo to a 2-1 win over the de­fend­ing MLS Cup cham­pion Seat­tle Sounders.

New pol­icy on an­thems

The U.S. Soc­cer Fed­er­a­tion adopted a pol­icy that said na­tional team play­ers “shall stand re­spect­fully” dur­ing na­tional an­thems.

The pol­icy was ap­proved last month but came to light be­fore the U.S. women’s na­tional team lost to Eng­land, 1-0, in a SheBelieves Cup match in Har­ri­son, N.J.

PE­TER BYRNE/AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Ge­orginio Wi­j­nal­dum and Liver­pool were happy that star Alexis Sanchez did not start for Ar­se­nal.

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