Weekend Highlights: Xhaka's beauty, Karius' bitter comeback & referee vs camera

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Weekend Highlights: Xhaka's beauty, Karius' bitter comeback & referee vs camera

Loris Karius couldn't prevent Newcastle from losing
Loris Karius couldn't prevent Newcastle from losingAFP, Flashscore
The traditional Highlights of the Weekend section will focus on Germany and England today. We take a look at one long-awaited (but unsuccessful) comeback, Granit Xhaka's awesome strike, Chelsea's losing streak, but also take a peek at one unfortunate injury in Spain.

Goal of the weekend

Bayer Leverkusen, the Bundesliga leaders, keep on rolling and hold an eight-point lead over Bayern after their win over Mainz. Granit Xhaka's first goal in a Werkself jersey contributed to that - the Swiss midfielder opened the scoring with a beautifully curled shot. He then gave coach Xabi Alonso a bit of a scare by suggesting he had injured himself on the shot, but that turned out to be a joke and part of the celebration.

Granit Xhaka vs Mainz
Granit Xhaka vs MainzOpta by StatsPerform

Underdog of the weekend

Having a player withdraw early from a game due to injury happens (unfortunately) a lot. But for something like this to be brought to the referee's attention? Plus an assistant? That's almost unheard of. Yet it was witnessed by those who watched the Spanish La Liga match between Betis and Athletic Bilbao (3-1).

After Chimy Avila's goal, assistant Guadalupe Porras Ayus was returning to the middle of the pitch, but a TV camera stood in her way and she hit her head on it. It must have been quite a blow, as Ayus ended up with a gash, was treated on the pitch and subsequently taken to hospital. The match was taken over by fourth official Nestor Holgueras Castellanos.

The Spanish referee had to be treated.
The Spanish referee had to be treated.Profimedia

From social media

Fulham experienced great glory at the weekend when they defeated Manchester United with Alex Iwobi's goal in the seventh minute of stoppage time. It was a truly historic win, with the Cottagers robbing Old Trafford for the first time since 2003. They duly celebrated it too, resulting in the funniest social media post of the weekend. "So that's why it's called the Theatre of Dreams," quipped the admin of Fulham's social media profile X to United fans.

Weekend stats

While Fulham snapped one long winless streak, another London club is waiting in the wings. And even set an embarrassing record. That's because Chelsea are the first team in the history of English football to lose six domestic cup finals in a row. Since 2019, the Blues have reached the FA Cup final three times, and reached the Carabao Cup match three times. But each time they have come up empty-handed, as they did against Liverpool on Sunday.

The story of the weekend

Nick Pope is injured, Martin Dúbravka is out through illness, so Newcastle had to reach for a third choice in goal against Arsenal. It was the first time since 13 May 2018 that Loris Karius - a goalkeeper whose career took a steep fall after several fumbles in the Champions League final between Liverpool and Real Madrid - had caught the eye in the Premier League.

The 30-year-old German didn't exactly go into the game unstuck - apart from not having tasted the Premier League for almost six years, he last caught a league game in February 2021 for Union Berlin against Hoffenheim. He has only been in goal once in a competitive fixture for Newcastle, in the League Cup last February in a 0-2 loss to Manchester United.

He made a comeback but was bitterly disappointed. The Magpies defence let him down more than once. Karius eventually faced eight shots, four of which ended up in the net. He could hardly have prevented a clear 1:4 defeat. Still, it's positive that even after the overwhelming wave of ridicule and hatred he received after the fateful Champions League final, he is still able to stand between the sticks in a competitive match.

Loris Karius vs Arsenal
Loris Karius vs ArsenalOpta by StatsPerform

Photo of the weekend

Bayern Munich came back from two league defeats in a row at the weekend, outscoring Leipzig 2-1 thanks to a goal in stoppage time. But the mood at the Bavarian club is not good. The German giant is eight points behind Leverkusen, and the cabinet is divided in its opposition for coach Tuchel. He already knows in advance that he will pack his bags after the season. The photo of him sitting sadly and resignedly in front of the bench during a match in one of these "suitcases" is therefore telling.

Thomas Tuchel knows that his commitment to Bayern is coming to an end.
Thomas Tuchel knows that his commitment to Bayern is coming to an end.AFP

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