Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole

Man U wins sixth straight with Sol­sk­jaer in charge

Ottawa Sun - - SPORTS - — The As­so­ci­ated Press

LON­DON — Manch­ester United’s league po­si­tion hasn’t changed. Ev­ery­thing else has un­der Ole Gun­nar Sol­sk­jaer.

Sur­pass­ing the great Matt Busby in 1946, Sol­sk­jaer has now opened his United reign with a club-record six con­sec­u­tive vic­to­ries after beat­ing Tot­ten­ham 1-0 in the Premier League on Sun­day.

The feat was se­cured by Mar­cus Rash­ford’s first-half goal and 11 sec­ond-half saves by goal­keeper David de Gea.

“I am just do­ing my job ev­ery sin­gle day here un­til the con­tract runs out at the end of June, I think,” Sol­sk­jaer said. “I’ll have a hol­i­day in there, so I’m not think­ing about that what­so­ever.”

United re­mains sixth in the stand­ings, just as it was when Jose Mour­inho was fired last month. But thanks to Arse­nal’s strug­gles, United is now be­hind the Lon­don club on goal dif­fer­ence. Chelsea, in the fourth and fi­nal Cham­pi­ons League place, is only six points in front of United and Arse­nal.

United is used to far loftier tar­gets — win­ning the league a record 20 times — but it has failed to do so in the chaotic years since Alex Fer­gu­son re­tired in 2013.

When Mour­inho was fired last month, Tot­ten­ham man­ager Mauri­cio Po­chet­tino emerged as favourite as the long-term suc­ces­sor. But Sol­sk­jaer is stak­ing a strong claim to make his loan move from Molde per­ma­nent after win­ning this un­of­fi­cial au­di­tion against Po­chet­tino.

“It’s not eth­i­cal to talk about what he is do­ing or what I (am) do­ing,” Po­chet­tino said. “It was a game and a bat­tle be­tween Tot­ten­ham and Manch­ester United, be­cause if not, we would need to play him against me, one vs. one on the pitch.”

Po­chet­tino’s tar­get is se­cur­ing a fourth con­sec­u­tive top-four fin­ish to qual­ify for the Cham­pi­ons League in a sea­son of dis­rup­tion with the de­lay to move back from Wem­b­ley into the club’s new sta­dium at White Hart Lane.

But Tot­ten­ham has now lost back-to-back league home games for the first time since 2015 at the end of Po­chet­tino’s first sea­son. The team re­mains third in the stand­ings, a point ahead of Chelsea, two points be­hind de­fend­ing cham­pion Manch­ester City and nine adrift of leader Liver­pool.

City isn’t in ac­tion un­til Mon­day night against Wolver­hamp­ton Wan­der­ers. There was one other Premier League game on Sun­day, with Ever­ton beat­ing Bournemouth 2-0. Goals from Kurt Zouma and Do­minic Calvert-Lewin gave the Mersey­side club only its sec­ond win in nine Premier League matches.

SPAN­ISH LA LIGA

That’s 400 and count­ing. Lionel Messi took his all­time Span­ish league scor­ing record to 400 goals on Sun­day after con­tribut­ing to a 3-0 win over Eibar to keep de­fend­ing cham­pion Barcelona com­fort­ably at the top.

Messi scored Barcelona’s sec­ond goal shortly after half­time to reach a mile­stone in the com­pe­ti­tion after 435 league matches. For­mer Real Madrid ri­val Cris­tiano Ron­aldo is sec­ond all-time in La Liga with 311 goals.

In all com­pe­ti­tions, Barcelona says the 31-year-old Messi has scored an as­ton­ish­ing 575 goals in 658 ap­pear­ances.

“He is from an­other galaxy,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

It was also Messi’s league-lead­ing 17th league goal and his 23rd goal over­all this sea­son.

Barcelona stayed five points ahead of sec­ond-placed Atletico Madrid, which edged Le­vante 1-0 thanks to a penalty from An­toine Griez­mann, as the league reached its mid­way point.

Real Madrid lost Karim Ben­zema to a right-hand in­jury in a 2-1 win at Real Betis to stay 10 points back in fourth place.

Sevilla lost 2-0 at Ath­letic Bil­bao, end­ing its un­beaten run in nine rounds.

Sevilla re­mained in third place, level on points with Madrid.

ITAL­IAN CUP

In­ter Mi­lan eased into the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Ital­ian Cup, al­though none of its fans were present at San Siro to see the Ner­az­zurri crush sec­ond-divi­sion Ben­evento 6-2.

In­ter was forced to play the match be­hind closed doors as part of its pun­ish­ment for racist chant­ing in the Dec. 26 league match against Napoli.

Lu­ciano Spal­letti’s team will face Lazio in the next round.

In­jury-hit Napoli beat Sas­suolo 2-0 to book a quar­ter­fi­nal match against AC Mi­lan.

Napoli was with­out Dries Mertens, Marek Ham­sik and Raul Al­biol, who were all in­jured, as well as the sus­pended Si­mone Verdi.

Fed­erico Chiesa scored two late goals to send Fiorentina through to the quar­ter­fi­nals of the Ital­ian Cup.

Fiorentina won 2-0 at Torino to book a spot in the next round, where it will face ei­ther Roma or third-divi­sion Vir­tus En­tella.

MATT DUN­HAM/THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur’s Harry Kane (right) gets a shot away dur­ing English Premier League ac­tion against Manch­ester United yes­ter­day. Man United won 1-0.

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