Ole, Ole, Ole, Ole
Man U wins sixth straight with Solskjaer in charge
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.
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.
Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane (right) gets a shot away during English Premier League action against Manchester United yesterday. Man United won 1-0.