Erling Haaland’s stunning hat-trick on Borussia Dortmund debut, Conor McGregor’s heartwarming gesture, Roy Hodgson on Pep Guardiola and other things we loved

Liverpool made it 13 Premier League wins in a row as they extended their lead to 16 points at the top of the table, Manchester City were denied at the death by Crystal Palace, and Chelsea were dealt a late sickening blow at Newcastle.

But there was a lot more that happened at the weekend and this is what caught talkSPORT.com’s eye.


Haaland takes centre stage

Borussia Dortmund’s £17million man Erling Haaland stole the headlines on his debut with a stunning 23-minute hat-trick.

The 19-year-old started on the bench for his new side, but was introduced on 56 minutes with Lucien Favre’s men trailing Augsburg 3-1 on the road.

The Norwegian took just three minutes to open his account, slotting the ball home superbly after a sumptuous through ball by Jadon Sancho.

England international Sancho then pulled Dortmund level just two minutes later, before Haaland completed the turnaround when he capitalised on good work by Thorgan Hazard to double his tally with a simple finish.

And Haaland ensured he would be bringing home the match ball on a memorable day for him and his family with 11 minutes remaining, when he tucked home a left-footed strike after receiving the ball from Marco Reus.


Teamwork

Real Madrid had an unlikely hero in defensive midfielder Casemiro as they edged past Sevilla in a 2-1 victory on Saturday night.

The defensive midfielder notched a second-half brace for Zinedine Zidane’s men at the Bernabeu, but it was the assist for his first goal which grabbed all the headlines in the Spanish capital.

A sumptuous backheel from team-mate Luka Jovic landed right at the feet of Casemiro, who slotted the ball past the oncoming Tomas Vaclik inside the penalty area.

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Casemiro asks the Real Madrid crowd to recognise the efforts of Luka Jovic after his stunning assist in the 2-1 win over Sevilla
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The Brazilian then turned to the home crowd and asked them to applaud Jovic for his stunning piece of skill in the LaLiga encounter.

The young striker had struggled to get into the game in the first half with the Sevilla defence marking him tightly and giving him little room to manoeuvre.

He was rewarded for his perseverance after the break, playing a vital role in Real coming from behind to salvage a priceless victory in their bid to claim a 34th league title.

Speaking after the game, Casemiro had this to say about the 22-year-old below:


Response

Crystal Palace boss Roy Hodgson was irked to say the least when he was asked what he could learn from Pep Guardiola ahead of his side’s trip to Manchester City on Saturday.

Guardiola has been a revolutionary force in English football, winning successive Premier League titles with City, as well as leading them to an unprecedented domestic treble last term.

However, Hodgson is also a manager with masses of experience under his belt – 45 years to be precise – and during that time he has enjoyed plenty of success.

He is also one of few managers who have got the better of the Spaniard, Saturday’s 2-2 draw followed a shock 3-2 win last season while the Eagles were also the side responsible for stopping the consecutive winning run in the Centurions campaign.

And in the build-up to the game plenty of the pre-match talk was of the respective ages of both coaches, with Guardiola asked if he could see himself in the dugout at the age of 72 – which Hodgson is now.

“I think when you are still training at 72, it must be boring at home,” Guardiola said.

Having answered on Friday that he had nothing to learn, the Palace manager took the opportunity to issue his preferred response after an encouraging result on the road.

“I’m annoyed with myself from yesterday because I’m always a bit annoyed when you’re 72 with 45 years in coaching and you’re asked what can you learn from other coaches and managers – not that I disrespect them and not that I don’t think they’re doing a wonderful job,” he stated.

“Overnight I came up with the perfect answer; I should have said ‘to lose’.”


Classy

Conor McGregor delivered a devastating 40-second knockout over Donald Cerrone as the Irishman made a triumphant return to the Octagon early on Sunday morning.

The Notorious’, fighting for the first time in 15 months at UFC 246, bloodied Cerrone’s nose in the opening few seconds of their welterweight bout with a couple of unorthodox shoulder strikes.

And after getting the business done in Las Vegas, he took time out to console the veteran’s grandmother in a heartwarming gesture.

The 31-year-old now has eyes on staying at welterweight division to fight Jorge Masvidal and the current division champion Kamaru Usman.

In his post-UFC 246 press conference, McGregor said: “I’m more than ready. I enjoy this division.

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It was an emotional night for McGregor on his return, which was over in just 40 seconds
Getty Images

“I don’t think they’re happy. Alright, they are a bit bigger but I think Donald [Cerrone] is bigger than Jorge [Masvidal], he has a win over Donald.

“I don’t know what Dana [White] was saying. I’d like to see them on the scales tonight and see where they’re at.

“At the end of the day, we’ve got to weigh 170 and I feel good at 170. Usman is small enough – he’s what? 5ft 8in.

“I’m more than ready for that division. I’m here at this division. I hold a couple of nice wins in this division now. We will see what happens.”


What a mullet

Tim Elliott met Askar Askarov on the preliminary card at UFC in the flyweight division and it turned out to be one of the more fascinating contests of the night.

Askarov won with a majority decision, but Elliott – and his mullet – was the star of the show.

The American repeatedly walked on to Askarov’s punches inviting the Russian to open up on him and in the opening round, he took a heavy shot for his troubles.

It appeared to knock Elliott out – briefly – but the Kansas-born flyweight managed to snap himself out of it and carry on fighting.

Quite a sight to see, isn’t it? His legs buckle and his head dips like he is out, but then he regains his composure in a split second.

Despite his loss, nobody can doubt the man’s toughness on the night.


Big welcome

Who you gonna call?… Alan Pardew apparently.
ADO Den Haag fans unveiled a superb Ghostbusters banner to mark Pardew’s first game in charge of the Eredivisie side.

The former Newcastle, West Ham and Charlton boss was recently appointed as the Dutch club’s new manager until the end of the season.

Pardew, 58, who has Chris Powell as his assistant, has been tasked with keeping the club in the Dutch top flight.

The pair were given a spectacular, albeit slightly bizarre, welcome from fans for their match against RKC Waalwijk.

And it proved to be a day to remember for Pardew and co as Den Haag recorded their first league win in eight matches, triumphing 2-0 over RKC Waalwijk – a result which moves them five points above their relegation rivals.


That’s got to hurt

It was a moment that sent St James Park into a state of utter delirium as Isaac Hayden headed home a 94th-minute winner deep into stoppage time against Chelsea on Saturday evening.

As Hayden sprinted towards the Milburn Stand it was the type of scenario every fan dreams of soaking up.

But the ecstasy soon turned to sheer agony for unlucky one fan as Matt Ritchie pulled off his trademark corner flag celebration.

Ritchie probably knew nothing about it at the time, but the corner flag spun on its way towards an unsuspecting supporter and struck him right where it hurts. Ouch…


Bizarre

Newcastle defender Florian Lejeune bizarrely explained how he’d dispose of a dead body, yes you heard right, in the club’s matchday programme for the aforementioned fixture.

The Magpies’ ‘tombola’ section of their programme throws up random questions on a range of weird and wonderful topics for their squad to answer.

One posed the question to Lejeune of how he’d get rid of a dead body – if he just had one hour to get rid of it.

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The bizarre question which appeared in the programme
Newcastle United Football Club

He answered: “I’m watching a series at the minute called “You”, and it is about that! ‘I would put it in the boot of my car, drive out to sea, put it on a boat and throw it into the sea with weights on it.”

A bit weird to say the least…


It’s been brewing up

Liverpool youngster Rhian Brewster underlined exactly why he’s so highly rated by many in the game as he notched his first professional goal for Swansea against Wigan on Saturday.

The striker, who is on loan at the Liberty Stadium until the end of the season, first hit the headlines back in 2017 when he picked up the Golden Boot award as England won the Under-17 World Cup.

Chelsea loanee Conor Gallagher picked out Brewster in the box eighteen minutes into the clash, with the 19-year-old showing great composure to fire the ball into the bottom corner with a first-time finish.


Banter

Former Manchester United defender Patrice Evra is quite the character – and that’s putting it mildly.

The 38-year-old, who hung up his boots in July 2019, was on Sky Sports punditry duty alongside Graeme Souness and Roy Keane for Liverpool’s televised clash against the Red Devils on Sunday.

Liverpool had a goal ruled out during the first half at Anfield after Virgil van Dijk was adjudged to have fouled David de Gea in the build-up to the goal with Roberto Firmino firing home.

And during the half-time break the former Liverpool player and manager launched into a rant about VAR, underlining his disbelief over why the goal had been disallowed.

“If your starting position is that a goalkeeper cannot be touched, then that is a foul,” the Liverpool legend explained.

 

“But that is not the rule, he has gone for it as fairly as he could. Under no circumstances is that a foul, under no circumstances.

“They talk about VAR as some sort of magnificent computer that’s perfect in every way, it’s human error and they don’t know what they’re doing.

“That’s the bottom line, they don’t know what they’re doing, ask a football person, it’s laughable.”

Evra responded by bursting into laughter at the end of Souness’ rant, checking the Scot’s glasses to see what is exactly was in it.

Never change for anyone, Patrice…

 

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