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Aston Villa vs Man Utd

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Manchester United and Aston Villa sit second and third respectively in the WSL table after two rounds of fixtures so far in 2022/23. But their first meeting of the season comes with the start of the Continental Cup group stage.

Marc Skinner’s United have crushed Reading and exorcised some demons against West Ham, while Carla Ward’s Villa pulled off a big shock against Manchester City and followed it up against Leicester.

They begin the competition in Group A alongside Everton, Durham and Sheffield United. Villa, arguably the WSL’s most improved team since 2021/22, didn’t make it out of the group stage last season, while United reached the semi-finals.

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No club other than Chelsea, Arsenal or Manchester City have ever lifted the Conti Cup, with each of the last four shared by Chelsea and City alone.

Both clubs will be chasing a positive result here to further nurture their early season momentum and go into the October international break on a high.

When is kick off? Saturday 1 October, 12:30 (BST)
Where is the match being played? Bescot Stadium
TV channel/live stream? MUTV (joins game from 12:45)
Referee? Melissa Burgin

Summer signing Tash Harding isn’t ready to feature but is making progress. The game is also too soon for Chantelle Boye-Hlorkah, while Villa remain without long-term trio of absentees Simone Magill, Remi Allen and Ruesha Littlejohn.

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There are no rules preventing loan players from turning out against their parent club, meaning Kirsty Hanson could feature. Carla Ward has vowed to take the Conti Cup more seriously this season than she has in the past, but also hasn’t ruled out rotation to give others player chances.

Marc Skinner plans to rotate his starting XI for this one after picking the same team for the WSL wins over Reading and West Ham. That could mean first starts for the likes of Adriana Leon and Nikita Parris, and a United debut for yet to feature France centre-back Aissatou Tounkara.

Teenage midfielder Grace Clinton is available after missing out last weekend through illness. Rachel Williams is still out but will return to full training next week, with long-term absentee Aoife Mannion still on course to be back playing in January.

Aston Villa (4-3-3): Leat; Mayling, Patten, Turner, Pacheco; Dali, Corsie, Gregory; Lehman, Daly, Hanson

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Man Utd (4-3-3): Baggaley; Batlle, Tounkara, Turner, Blundell; Zelem, Moore, Boe Risa; Parris, Thomas, Leon

The games between these two clubs last season were very different, with United winning handsomely at home but Villa digging in and holding on for a 0-0 draw in the reverse fixture. But given how both teams have started the season this could be a very entertaining watch, even if there is an element of rotation due to it being a cup contest.

United will go in as favourites, but it is unlikely to be a one-sided game.

Prediction: Aston Villa 1-2 Man Utd

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For more from Jamie Spencer, follow him on Twitter and Facebook!





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Kylian Mbappe matches Lionel Messi World Cup goalscoring record

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France’s 3-1 win over Poland in the 2022 FIFA World Cup knockout rounds was a historic one for Les Bleus.

Olivier Giroud became the nation’s all-time male top goalscorer with his first half strike, Hugo Lloris became the joint highest appearance maker in France’s history, Antoine Griezmann broke the record for most consecutive appearances for Les Bleus, and the young Kylian Mbappe wrote some history of his own.

The 23-year-old broke Pele’s record for most goals at World Cups before the age of 24 with his stunning second half brace, bested Diego Maradona and Cristiano Ronaldo’s eight goals at World Cups, and went joint level with Lionel Messi with nine.

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The most astonishing thing about these nine goals is that they’ve been scored in just 11 tournament appearances.

It took Lionel Messi 23 games in five World Cups to reach that figure, while the only four players to have scored nine World Cup goals in less games are Eusebio (6), Ademir (6), Christian Vieri (9) and Vava (10).

Mbappe’s current goals per game record at the tournament is in fact even better than the legendary R9 Ronaldo’s – with Ronaldo having averaged 0.79 goals per game while Mbappe is averaging 0.82.

At just 23 years old, the PSG star has already won the World Cup, becoming the second ever teenager to score in the final – after Pele – and his form in Qatar has made the holders one of the favourites to win the trophy once again.

Harry Symeou hosts Andy Headspeath, Toby Cudworth & La Liga TV presenter Semra Hunter to look back on the 2010 World Cup finals in South Africa – join us!

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If you can’t see the podcast embed, click to download or listen to the episode in full!





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Twitter reacts as Giroud breaks record in comfortable France win

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France saw off a spirited display from Poland to advance to the World Cup quarter-finals, as goals from Olivier Giroud and Kylian Mbappe saw them cruise to a 3-1 win.

Things are really hotting up now out in Qatar, with teams no longer able to afford a single slip-up as the competition heads towards its conclusion. As a result, Twitter was buzzing with activity throughout the game, with everyone looking to get involved with the action on the pitch.

Before the game, there was time for fans to appreciate the luxury of being treated to two absolutely banging national anthems.

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One of the most powerful narratives going into this clash was the match-up between Kylian Mbappe and Poland right-back Matty Cash, who was playing in the Championship just three years ago.

As always, 23-year-old Mbappe was the centre of attention and the internet loved seeing these kids’ reaction to the PSG forward appearing in the tunnel.

Poland have been criticised for their conservative football so far at this World Cup – so seeing them actually attempt to attack the French goal in the early stages of the match was too much for some people.

Meanwhile, France defender Jules Kounde did his best to insert himself into the narrative by playing while still wearing his chain.

Sure enough, once the match officials noticed Kounde’s bling they forced the Barcelona defender to remove it. It only took them 41 minutes to realise.

The best chance of the first half hour fell to Olivier Giroud, who went into this match gunning for the all-time French male scoring record. Unfortunately, the former Arsenal and Chelsea striker fired wide from Ousmane Dembele’s cutback, much to the display of French supporters everywhere.

Giroud didn’t have to wait long to make amends, however, popping up just before half-time to write his name into the history books.

Giroud almost went one better in the second half, finding the net again with an audacious overhead kick – only for it to be ruled out for a foul in the build-up.

Alongside Mbappe and Giroud in attack was Antoine Griezmann, who looked so calm and composed on the ball you’d almost think he’d done this at a World Cup before.

In the end, though, it was Mbappe who put the finishing touches on a resounding French victory with two sumptuous goals.

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Lewandowski pulled one back for Poland late on with a penalty – but had blushes spared after an embarrassing miss when Hugo Lloris was found to have stepped off his line.





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Player ratings as Mbappe scores twice & Giroud makes history

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Olivier Giroud became France’s all-time men’s record international goalscorer and Kylian Mbappe scored twice as their strikes saw off Poland to earn the reigning champions a place in the 2022 World Cup quarter finals.

Former Arsenal and Chelsea striker Giroud collected Mbappe’s pass to fire beyond Wojciech Szczesny. Mbappe smashed in the second on the counter attack before a stoppage-time third – another wonderful Mbappe effort – wrapped up the victory.

Poland showed a little more intent than they did in their tough-to-watch group stage games but only got a consolation from the penalty spot as Robert Lewandowski rolled one in late on.

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The early exchanges saw Raphael Varane head an Antoine Griezmann corner wide before Aurelien Tchouameni brought a save from Szczesny with a strike from distance.

Elder statesman Grzegorz Krychowiak carelessly lost possession to allow Ousmane Dembele to drive at goal. The Barcelona winger cut in onto his left foot but his shot failed to trouble Szczesny.

Les Bleus’ attacking intent continued as a floated ball forward from Tchouameni found Griezmann, whose clever backheel forced Szczesny into action before Kamil Glik cleared the danger.

Poland did attempt to press high in the early exchanges but only got a first clear sight of the 21st minute, though Lewandowski’s ambitious shot from distance never looked like troubling Hugo Lloris.

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Giroud sliced a fizzed Dembele cross wide of the post from close range – Dembele was flagged offside – before France escaped a goal-mouth scramble in front of their own net shortly before half time.

Lloris was needed to bat away Piotr Zielinski’s drive before the Napoli midfielder’s rebound effort was blocked by Theo Hernandez. Varane then diverted Jakub Kaminski’s strike away from goal as France eventually cleared their lines.

France ramped up the pressure before half time and got the breakthrough as Giroud made history. Mbappe slipped in the AC Milan striker and he finished superbly across Szczesny for his 52nd senior international goal, surpassing the great Thierry Henry at the top of France’s scoring charts.

The reigning world champions came close to extending their lead at the start of the second half as Mbappe cut inside and saw his shot deflect off Krychowiak, bouncing inches wide of the post.

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Poland pressed without creating chances through the second half and the result was wrapped up with more than 15 minutes to play as Mbappe struck on the counter.

Les Bleus exploited Poland on the counter as Giroud released Dembele. He found the free Mbappe, who took his time to pick his spot, giving Szczesny no chance by hammering into the top corner.

Poland were given a parting gift on their way out of the World Cup by Mbappe in second-half stoppage time. Substitute Marcus Thuram gave him the ball and the 23-year-old picked out the top corner to make it 3-0.

The two strikes took Mbappe clear at the top of the 2022 World Cup scoring charts with five goals. Lewandowski did net a penalty after Dayot Upamecano was penalised for handball – needing a second bite after Lloris came off his line – but it meant little as France surged on in their title defence.

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Olivier Giroud

Giroud made history on Sunday / Alex Grimm/GettyImages

GH: Hugo Lloris – 4/10 – A vital stop from Zielinski was overshadowed by some increasingly sketchy handling and kicking. Almost got a penalty save but was off his line and beaten by the retake.

RB: Jules Kounde – 6/10 – Somehow made it onto the field with a golden chain around his neck. Kept things tight on his side without offering too much in attack.

CB: Raphael Varane – 7/10 – Vital clearance off the line prevented Poland from taking the lead. Rarely gave the ball away.

CB: Dayot Upamecano – 7/10 – On hand to scramble away a couple of dangerous Poland opportunities.

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LB: Theo Hernandez – 7/10 – Blocked a shot in the heat of Poland’s goal-mouth opportunities. A few shots in attack.

CM: Aurelien Tchouameni – 7/10 – Harshly booked in the first half. Early strike from distance was on target but not threatening. A couple of inventive passes forward.

CM: Adrien Rabiot – 6/10 – Didn’t join attacks as much as he would have liked but was workmanlike in midfield.

AM: Antoine Griezmann – 7/10 – Lost the ball a little frequently but was never too far away whenever any scraps for possession.

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RW: Ousmane Dembele – 7/10 – Shot straight at Szczesny when well placed. Made the difference with a precise ball for Mbappe to score the second.

LW: Kylian Mbappe – 9/10 – Played in Giroud who finished clinically. Got more and more opportunities to stretch his legs as Poland chased an equaliser. Everything fell into place when he grabbed France’s second on the counter with a brilliant finish into the top corner. Was just taking the mickey with his brilliant second.

ST: Olivier Giroud – 7/10 – Kept his cool to slot in the opener and cement his place as France’s record men’s goalscorer. Involved in the second goal.

Substitutes

SUB: Youssouf Fofana (66′ for Tchouameni) – 6/10

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SUB: Marcus Thuram (76′ for Giroud) – 7/10

SUB: Kingsley Coman (76′ for Dembele) – 6/10

SUB: Axel Disasi (90′ for Kounde) – N/A

Manager

Didier Deschamps – 7/10 – Went back to his favoured XI after the loss to Tunisia and got a functional display out of it. May be worried at how much France’s attacking displays depend on Mbappe, but it’s another World Cup quarter final.

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Wojciech Szczesny

Szczesny made a lot of saves / Justin Setterfield/GettyImages

GK: Wojciech Szczesny – 7/10 – Was required frequently in the first half to prevent France from surging into the lead.

RB: Matty Cash – 5/10 – Given the unenviable task of playing opposite Mbappe. Made two expert recoveries challenges on the PSG forward but was a tough outing for the most part.

CB: Kamil Glik – 7/10 – Made a couple of vital last-ditch interventions to stop France getting in on goal.

CB: Jakub Kiwior – 5/10 – Was beaten by Giroud who got his shot away to score.

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LB: Bartosz Bereszynski – 6/10 – Unlucky to get a booking when he seemed to win the ball off Dembele.

DM: Grzegorz Krychowiak – 5/10 – Looked quite sluggish in the face of some quicker and sharper midfielders. Few sloppy giveaways in possession.

RM: Jakub Kaminski – 5/10 – Had one or two threatening moments in attack but had to do a lot of backtracking in defence.

CM: Piotr Zielinski – 6/10 – Had two glaring opportunities within seconds but was denied by Lloris and Varane.

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CM: Sebastian Szymanski – 6/10 – Lung-busting run back saw him deny Mbappe a shot on goal at the last second.

LM: Przemyslaw Frankowski – 6/10 – Got clear down the left to set up Zielinski’s two chances. Final ball just evaded him.

ST: Robert Lewandowski – 6/10 – Scuppered a few excellent chances when Poland got brief opportunities in transition. A late consolation from the spot earned Poland something.

Substitutes

SUB: Arkadiusz Milik (64′ for Szymanski) – 5/10

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SUB: Nicola Zalewski (71′ for Kaminski) – 5/10

SUB: Krystian Bielik (71′ for Krychowiak) – 5/10

SUB: Jan Bednarek (87′ for Kiwior) – N/A

SUB: Kamil Grosicki (87′ for Frankowski) – N/A

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Manager

Czeslaw Michniewicz – 5/10 – Poland opened up slightly more than their group stage matches. However, their main aim was only to hang on in there and pray for a Lewandowski chance.

Player of the Match – Kylian Mbappe



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