Bundesliga: Bayern wins with help from VAR, Leipzig loses opener

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Bayern Munich began their title defense with a 3-1 win over Bayer Leverkusen after being awarded a penalty thanks to the video assistant referee (VAR) system.

Bayern, who were missed a host of key players, were still able to lead 2-0 by half-time thanks to goals from debutants Niklas Sule and Corentin Tolisso, but were placed under pressure by Leverkusen early in the second half.

However, their star striker Lewandowski appealed for a penalty against the run play, a request that was fulfilled after referee Tobias Stieler consulted the VAR system which has been recently introduced to the German top flight.

Initially unsure, Stieler awarded a spot-kick after consulting the video referees who were based in Cologne, which the Polish striker converted to make it 3-0.

Leverkusen then got a consolation goal through Admir Mehmedi, who lashed in a 20-yard drive, but it was not enough to stop Bayern, who have now won 18 and drawn five in their home stadium at the Allianz Arena since losing to Mainz in March 2016.

Elsewhere, last season’s Bundesliga runners-up RB Leipzig began their campaign with a 2-0 defeat to Schalke 04.

Nabil Bentaleb started Schalke’s win by converting a penalty just before the break, while Yevhen Konoplyanka did the rest, curling home in style to seal the victory.

Marcos Alonso strikes twice for Chelsea victory over Tottenham

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Chelsea defender Marcos Alonso struck twice to help the Blues rebound from their opening-day defeat to Burnley with a 2-1 derby victory over Tottenham.

Despite missing key players in Eden Hazard, Gary Cahill and Cesc Fabregas through either injuries or suspension, the defending Premier League Champions nonetheless grabbed the lead through a perfectly driven free-kick by Alonso in the first half.

However, Spurs responded and, despite missed chances looked to have at least earn a point when Blues substitute Michy Batshuayi headed Christian Eriksen’s free-kick into his own net with eight minutes left.

When it looked as if Tottenham would be able to finish the game with a point, Alonso struck once more with a powerfully struck shot inside the near post that slid underneath Hugo Lloris to earn Chelsea the full three points.

Chelsea manager Antonio Conte, who had to endure a week of scrutiny after their opening day defeat to Burnley and a difficult summer transfer window thanked and praised his depleted team’s response in the face of incredible adversity.

“I want to thank every one of my players,” Conte said. “They showed me great desire, great spirit, great will, great heart, great will to fight.

“I saw fighters in a moment that’s not easy for us with the suspensions and the injuries. We suffered during the game, but we were always dangerous in every moment.”

““I must be satisfied because my players gave me everything today,” Conte added. “They did the same last season. There will be more great difficulties in this season, but the only way we can get through these difficulties is to work.”

Defeat for Tottenham also meant that their 19-game home Premier League unbeaten run — a streak maintained since Southampton in May 2016 — ended, and their Wembley curse continues in that the London club have lost their past four games against Chelsea at Wembley.

Tottenham closing in on first signing of the transfer window

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Tottenham are currently on the verge of completing their first deal of this summer transfer window, with Ajax centre-half Davinson Sanchez set to join the London Club for a club record fee of up to £42m.

Spurs, who saw the departure of Federico Fazio to Roma and Kyle Walker to Premier League rivals Manchester City, had remarkably lacked any links or made no approach to sign new players into their fold — a fact lamented by club coach Mauricio Pochettino.

However, Pochettino has made known his interest in signing 21-year old Sanchez, after an impressive debut season in European football alongside Ajax where the Dutch side reached the Europa League final.

Tottenham officials had already travelled to Amsterdam earlier in the week in an attempt to negotiate a deal, with the Dutch side initially adamant that they would not sell for less than €50m.

It was reported that their first bid, worth an initial £25m, was rejected but a new offer that will see Spurs pay £28m up front with up to £14m in performance-related bonuses has been agreed in principle.

Tottenham will also have a boost in that Sanchez has already indicated his desire to move to north London despite interest from Chelsea, making it expected that he will sign a five-year contract with Pochettino’s side.

Meanwhile, Tottenham and Pochettino retain their interest in the Celta Vigo midfielder Pape Cheikh but have yet to negotiate a fee for the Spain youth international, as well as in the Everton midfielder Ross Barkley, although Spurs are unwilling to pay his £30m asking price.

FC Barcelona’s Gerard Pique feels inferior to Real Madrid

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Barcelona defender Gerard Pique admitted that he felt inferior to Real Madrid for the first time in his nine years as a Barcelona defender, after they were beaten 5-1 on aggregate in the Spanish Super Cup.

“This is a long process and there is room for improvement but in the nine years that I have been here, it is the first time that I feel inferior to Madrid,” Pique said. “We are not in the best moment, either as a team or as a club. We must stay as close as possible and keep moving forwards.”

Pique’s comments came after a 2-0 defeat at the Bernabeu on Wednesday night which saw Barcelona humiliated by their rivals, with Sergio Ramos winding up Lionel Messi by throwing the ball over the Argentinian when he readied his hands to collect, which turn got Messi riled enough for unsavory remarks.

Hosts Real Madrid started the game with an initial 3-1 win at Camp Nou. They are without Cristiano Ronaldo, who is serving a five-match suspension after being sent off in the first leg, and coach Zinedine Zidane even opted to leave stars such as Gareth Bale and Isco on the bench.

Real’s latest trophy was also Zidane’s seventh in charge of Real after goals from Marco Asensio and Karim Benzema sealed the latest triumph, as Barcelona appeared to struggle again.

It also does not help for Zidane’s Barca counterpart Ernesto Valverde after the Uruguayan Football Association confirmed that Luis Suarez will miss around a month with the right knee injury he sustained in Wednesday’s defeat.