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More jeers for Real Madrid after home loss to Villarreal

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Another poor result, another round of jeers for Real Madrid. Madrid's struggles in the Spanish league continued when it lost to Villarreal 1-0 on Saturday, infuriating fans at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium and increasing pressure on coach Zinedine Zidane. Pablo Fornals netted Villarreal's winner in the 87th minute, prompting loud boos by the home crowd which three days ago saw their team draw with second-division club Numancia 2-2 in the Copa del Rey. "There is no explanation for this," Zidane said. "We did everything we could, we had plenty of chances, but the ball just didn't go in. It's a difficult moment for us. It's tough for the players, they gave their best. We didn't deserve this result." Madrid also drew at Celta Vigo 2-2 a week ago, and lost to Barcelona 3-0 at the Bernabeu in its last match last year. It has gone four matches without a win. "We have endured negative results recently, but we know that we can change this situation by winning again," Zidane said. "We have to start winning, and winning convincingly, then things will change." The defending champion was 16 points behind league leader Barcelona at the competition's halfway point. The Catalan club can increase the gap when it plays at Real Sociedad on Sunday. Madrid, which has a game in hand, is only fourth in the standings, behind Valencia and Atletico Madrid. Villarreal moved to fifth place with the victory, its first ever at the Bernabeu. "We knew we could make history," Villarreal coach Javier Calleja said. "We played a very smart match." The host had most of the chances under steady rain, but Villarreal also threatened a few times before Fornals found the net. Cristiano Ronaldo, who was also jeered, hit the crossbar from a free kick in the first half after the ball deflected off the wall. Ronaldo nearly scored from close range just before halftime, but his shot was brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Sergio Asenjo. Gareth Bale had a goal disallowed for offside early in the first half. Fornals' goal came after a great save by Madrid goalkeeper Keylor Navas following a counterattack. Fornals picked up the loose ball just outside the area and chipped it over the goalkeeper for the stunning winner. It was Madrid's third home loss this season. It has won only half of its games at the Bernabeu. ATLETICO STAYS CLOSE Second-place Atletico Madrid overcame Diego Costa's absence to beat Eibar 1-0 and move within six points of leader Barcelona. Kevin Gameiro, Costa's substitute, scored in the first half and Jan Oblak played solidly in goal for the rest of the match to secure Atletico its fourth straight win in all competitions. "We played the type of match we needed," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Costa was suspended because of a red card for celebrating too close to the fans in the previous game. GIRONA ROUT Kenyan forward Michael Olunga scored a hat trick to lead promoted Girona to a 6-0 trouncing of last-place Las Palmas. Las Palmas could have left the bottom of the standings with a draw but it never challenged the Catalan host at Montilivi Stadium, seeing its winless streak reach seven matches in all competitions. Las Palmas has only 11 points from 19 matches. Christian Stuani opened the scoring for Girona from a penalty kick midway through the first half, and the other five came in a 22-minute span in the second period. Girona reached ninth place in the 20-team standings......»»

Category: sportsSource: abscbn abscbnJan 13th, 2018

Atletico finishes strong after poor start to season

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It all turned out just fine for Atletico Madrid. After enduring a poor start to the season, Atletico ended it on a very high note. Diego Simeone's team is celebrating the Europa League title and still has a chance to finish second in the Spanish league, a feat it hasn't achieved since 2014. "We're very happy. We've been doing well year after year," Simeone said. "We've always said the best way to start winning again was to always keep trying." It was the sixth title for Simeone since he arrived in 2012 to revamp Atletico and make it into perennial title contender. He is now tied with Luis Aragones for the most titles with the club. "It's about more than a trophy," Simeone said. "It represents the value of hard work, a steady hand and consistency, values to be successful in life." Life poured onto the streets of the Spanish capital late Wednesday to celebrate Atletico winning a third Europa League trophy after beating Marseille 3-0 in the final in Lyon. It was a good way to end a season which began with very high expectations for Atletico but mostly disappointed until the last few weeks. The main goal was to make it back to the Champions League final after coming very close to winning the title in recent seasons, But it couldn't even get past the group stage. Atletico easily made it to the knockout stages in the last four seasons, losing the final to Real Madrid in 2014 and 2016, and being a semifinalist last season and a quarterfinalist in 2015. "We came very close in two Champions League finals, and in the semifinals last season," Simeone said. "We lost one (final) with two minutes left, and another on penalties. But we got ourselves back up." Atletico lost to Sevilla in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey to see another title opportunity slip by, and in the Spanish league it stayed near the top throughout the season but was never really able to mount a title challenge against Barcelona. Not helpful was a FIFA transfer ban which wasn't lifted until January, when Atletico could finally sign striker Diego Costa. Atletico needs a draw at home against Eibar on Sunday to hold on to second place ahead of Real Madrid and secure its best finish since it won the league in 2014. Atletico finished third behind either Barcelona or Madrid in all the other years since 2012-13, which was the team's first full season under Simeone. A draw or a loss by Real Madrid at Villarreal on Saturday will also be enough for Atletico, which is three points ahead of the city rival with one match to play. The teams are even in the head-to-head tiebreaker — they drew 0-0 and 1-1 — but Atletico trails on overall goal difference. Sunday's Liga game will also mark the end of Fernando Torres' career with Atletico. The former Spain striker earlier announced he will leave the club at the end of the season......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 18th, 2018

Real Madrid s struggles continue after first home loss to Villarreal

MADRID, Spain - Struggling Real┬áMadrid┬árisk falling further behind in La Liga after a cheeky late chip from Pablo Fornals saw Villarreal escape with a 1-0 win on Saturday, January 13 (Sunday Manila time), their first ever victory at the Santiago Bernabeu. Fornals struck ........»»

Category: newsSource:  rapplerRelated NewsJan 13th, 2018

Huesca leads Barcelona 1-0 after 3 minutes before losing 8-2

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Newly promoted Huesca enjoyed short-lived celebrations on Sunday after stunning Barcelona with a goal just three minutes into their Spanish league game. But Lionel Messi provided a harsh reality check with two goals as the defending champions went on to demolish Huesca 8-2 at Camp Nou. Messi canceled out Juan "Cucho" Hernandez's opener — after a long buildup by Huesca — with an exquisite solo effort. Facing four defenders honed in on him at the edge of the area, the Argentine lured them toward the center of the field before a sudden change of foot and acceleration left one man on the turf and the rest out of position. Messi then fired a right-footed shot in off the far post for the 16th-minute equalizer. Jordi Alba provoked an own-goal from Jorge Pulido and set up Luis Suarez to make it 3-1 with the first of two goals for the Uruguay striker. Another slip in concentration let Alex Gallar score again for Huesca to make it 3-2 to Barcelona at halftime. In a lopsided second half, Barcelona's Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic scored before Messi got his second goal and then assisted Alba. Suarez rounded off the easy win by earning and taking a penalty in stoppage time. "It burns to concede a goal on the first attack since it makes you think that you started the match far too relaxed," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "Huesca gave it its all, but we found our short-passing game and ended up doing a lot of damage." Messi's brace left him level with Karim Benzema as the league's top scorers this season with four goals each. Barcelona and Real Madrid are the only two teams to have won their three opening league games. HERO JOAQUIN Veteran forward Joaquin Sanchez went on as a late substitute and headed Real Betis to its first home win over crosstown rival Sevilla since 2006. The 37-year-old Sanchez scored in the 80th minute to secure the 1-0 victory at Benito Villamarin Stadium. Sanchez had missed the first two games of the season due to injury after having an excellent campaign in 2017-18. "This is a dream debut for the season," Sanchez said. It was Betis' first goal of the campaign. VALENCIA WINLESS Valencia started this season with the two objectives of doing well on its long-awaited return to the Champions League and maintaining a top-four finish in Spain. But three matches into the season and Marcelino Garcia's team has yet to win. Valencia twice had to come from behind to salvage a 2-2 draw at 10-man Levante, its crosstown rival, on Sunday. Roger Marti scored both goals for Levante, with Denis Cheryshev making it 1-1 before Dani Parejo split the points by converting a penalty early in the second half. Levante's Coke Andujar picked up a second booking in the 76th. "We have conceded five goals in three games," Marcelino said. "I don't like my team when it doesn't have the ball." VAR GIVETH, VAR TAKETH The video assistant referee awarded a penalty in favor of Espanyol and annulled a goal by the Barcelona-based side in a 2-1 loss at Alaves. Leo Baptistao converted the penalty, only for Alaves to fight back with goals by Borja Baston and Ruben Sobrino......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 2nd, 2018

Ronaldo relies on teammates for winning league start at Juve

By Daniella Matar, Associated Press VERONA, Italy (AP) — A smile, a wink and a thumbs-up: Cristiano Ronaldo didn't seem too perturbed at not scoring on his Juventus debut. The 33-year-old forward appeared relaxed after Saturday's 3-2 victory against Chievo Verona and, although Ronaldo did not stop to speak to reporters, he responded with those gestures when asked how he felt his debut had gone. His coach wasn't too troubled either. "Cristiano Ronaldo had a good game. He had several shots on goal. Today he didn't score because clearly it was written somewhere that he wouldn't score," said Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri with a smile. For the thousands of fans who descended on the medieval city of Verona, this was one of the rare occasions when the five-time world player of the year couldn't score. Ronaldo had scored in both pre-season friendlies he played for Juventus since his surprise 112 million euro (then $131.5 million) move from Real Madrid but could not find the back of the net on his competitive debut. And it was up to Federico Bernardeschi to rescue Juventus, with a stoppage-time winner as the Bianconeri fought back from a goal down to beat Chievo and get their pursuit of an eighth straight league title off to a winning start. Ronaldo should make his home debut next week against Lazio and there were encouraging signs for Juventus from this game. He linked up well with Douglas Costa, notably in the 18th minute when Ronaldo's effort went just the wrong side of the left post. Ronaldo also fired narrowly over from a tight angle on the half-hour, while he drew several smart saves from Chievo goalkeeper Stefano Sorrentino, who is still going strong at the age of 39. The Portugal international almost scored the winner at 2-2, but Sorrentino got down quickly to beat away his angled free kick. "(Ronaldo) moved well at times but he wasn't picked out by his teammates," Allegri said. "He's a different footballer, you can see that. He's integrated into the team with ease." BALL TRICKS The excitement had been building in Verona since the fixtures were announced. The match at the Stadio Bentegodi was sold out and long queues to get in formed more than three hours before kickoff. The team bus carrying Ronaldo and his Juventus teammates was greeted by huge cheers, with fans crowding onto the balconies of the stadium. Ronaldo warmed up with crowd-pleasing ball tricks and Juventus fans cheered his every touch. BONUCCI BACK Juventus took the lead after just 162 seconds as Chievo failed to properly clear a free kick and Sami Khedira fired Juventus in front. The Bianconeri wasted chances to double their lead, with Ronaldo going close on several occasions. Mariusz Stepinski headed Chievo level shortly before halftime and Emanuele Giaccherini converted a penalty after being brought down by Juventus debutant Joao Cancelo. But Leonardo Bonucci marked his return to Juventus with a role in the equalizer after the Italy defender spent just one season at AC Milan. Bonucci headed in a corner in the 75th. The goal, which went down later as an own-goal from Chievo defender Mattia Bani, was met with a mix of cheers and jeers by the visiting fans. Mario Mandzukic's goal was ruled out by the video assistant referee shortly before full time following a foul on Sorrentino which led to an anxious few minutes as the goalkeeper received medical treatment on the pitch. ___ LOOK WHO'S BACK Carlo Ancelotti had a winning start to his return to Italian football as his Napoli team fought back to beat Lazio 2-1. Ciro Immobile scored a stunning opener for host Lazio but Arkadiusz Milik leveled in first-half stoppage time and Lorenzo Insigne netted the winner in the 59th. The 59-year-old Ancelotti took over from Maurizio Sarri at Napoli, who finished second last season, four points behind Juventus. Ancelotti has not worked in Italy since leaving AC Milan in 2009 after leading the Rossoneri to a number of trophies, including two Champions League titles......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2018

Messi scores Barcelona s 6,000th league goal

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Barcelona scored its 6,000th goal in the Spanish league after another ingenious strike by Lionel Messi got its title defense off to a winning start. Messi cleverly sent his free kick underneath Alaves' wall to open the scoring in the 64th minute of Barcelona's 3-0 win at Camp Nou Stadium on Saturday. He also closed the scoring in injury time after substitute Philippe Coutinho had added to the lead in the 83rd. Messi's low free kick fooled Alaves' players, who jumped to intercept an expected high shot. Goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco couldn't get to the ball in time after it suddenly appeared underneath the barrier. "Messi never fails to surprise you," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. Messi, the league's top scorer last season, had struck the crossbar with a free kick — this time over the wall — in the first half. He also hit the post from inside the area a few minutes after his opening goal. Messi also scored Barcelona's 5,000th league goal back in 2009, and the Argentine provided 338 of the goals taking the total from 5,000 to 6,000. Barcelona's first-ever league goal was scored by Manuel Parera against Racing Santander on Feb. 12, 1929. Barcelona opened its league campaign with a win for the 10th straight season. Messi's second goal came in the second minute of injury time, an easy shot from close range after a breakaway. Barcelona had missed chance after chance in its league debut at Camp Nou, which was far from packed with around 52,000 fans for the 10:15 p.m. start local time. Ousmane Dembele, who started up front with Messi and Luis Suarez, squandered a series of chances, including a one-on-one with goalkeeper Pacheco in the first half. Valverde brought Coutinho off the bench in the second half and the Brazil playmaker added the team's second goal after a nice play that culminated with an easy strike from inside the area. Alaves had stunned Barcelona at Camp Nou in 2016, winning 2-1. FRUSTRATING START Villarreal entered the new season with high hopes after a solid fifth-place finish in 2017-18, but its disappointing home opener dampened fans' expectations. Villarreal couldn't hold on to an early lead at its Ceramica Stadium, losing 2-1 to Real Sociedad. Gerard Moreno, Villarreal's biggest offseason signing, put the hosts ahead in the 16th before Sociedad came back with goals by Willian Jose in the 40th and Juanmi in the 71st. Villarreal just missed a Champions League berth last season, finishing behind Valencia, Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid and Barcelona. DISAPPOINTING DEBUTS Celta Vigo and Espanyol gave their new coaches a frustrating start in the Spanish league with a 1-1 draw. Celta began its campaign in Vigo with Argentine coach Antonio Mohamed, and Espanyol kicked off its season with newcomer Joan Francesc Ferrer "Rubi." The clubs hired new managers after disappointing campaigns last season, when Espanyol finished 11th and Celta was only 13th, far from qualification for the European competitions. Mario Hermoso put Espanyol ahead at Balaidos Stadium with a shot from inside the area after a corner just before halftime. Celta equalized early in the second half with an own-goal by David Lopez, who tried to intercept a cross and ended up redirecting the ball into his own net. SUNDAY'S GAMES Real Madrid hosts Getafe in a Madrid derby on Sunday, when it's also Eibar vs. Huesca and Rayo Vallecano against Sevilla. Atletico Madrid — last season's runner-up — visits Valencia on Monday......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsAug 19th, 2018

Young and united, England looks good as a title contender

By Graham Dunbar, Associated Press MOSCOW (AP) — A famous song lyric neatly describes the upbeat feeling around England's rejuvenated national soccer team. It's not "football's coming home." Instead, try the old punk rock line: "If the kids are united, they will never be defeated." The positive emotions of England's young players are evident toward coach Gareth Southgate despite the 2-1 loss to Croatia in extra time in the World Cup semifinals. "You've brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation," 20-year-old forward Marcus Rashford wrote on his Twitter account Thursday. You’ve brought belief and the love of football back. Thank you boss from the whole nation ❤️⚽️ pic.twitter.com/2meUAFlIN5 — Marcus Rashford (@MarcusRashford) July 12, 2018 Over-achieving in a first major international test for Southgate and many of the squad has banished the anxiety that harmed too many England teams in recent years. Rashford, a sharp and fast second-half substitute in Moscow on Wednesday, is not even the youngest of Southgate's players in Russia. At 19, Trent Alexander-Arnold impressed in the Champions League final for Liverpool in May, and weeks later started his first World Cup game, against Belgium. "It has been an honor to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger," Alexander-Arnold wrote on Twitter early Thursday. Absolutely devastated that our journey is over! We enjoyed every moment as a nation, I’d like to thank all the staff and fans for being behind us. It has been an honour to be a part of this special team. We will be back stronger 💔🏴󠁧󠁢󠁥󠁮󠁧󠁿 pic.twitter.com/LErwj4QqZm — Trent Arnold (@trentaa98) July 11, 2018 Alexander-Arnold, a quick, right-sided defender, will need to force his way into the team past Kieran Trippier, perhaps the standout success of England's tournament. Trippier delivered world-class corners, crosses and free kicks, including the fifth-minute goal against Croatia that raised hope of a first World Cup final berth since 1966. The Tottenham player gave an emotional endorsement of Southgate, who seems likely to guide England's team to the 2022 World Cup in Qatar. "It all comes from the manager, unbelievable manager for me personally, the way he handles the team," Trippier said at the Luzhniki Stadium. "He sets the tone, he brought this team together." A relatively late bloomer at 27, Trippier is a rare England player who will turn 30 before kickoff in Qatar on Nov. 21, 2022. The four attackers who started Wednesday, including 24-year-old captain Harry Kane, are between 22 and 25. The heart of the defense — John Stones, Harry Maguire, plus goalkeeper Jordan Pickford — are in the same age bracket. It's a talent pool setting up England as a serious title contender in the coming years. There is still room for envy if England can bear watching the World Cup final on Sunday. In the midfield duels, France fields the elegance and power of Paul Pogba and N'Golo Kante against Croatia's precise pair of Luka Modric and Ivan Rakitic. There isn't likely to be a Modric-type player in England's team ahead of the 2020 European Championship to help retain the ball, pace the play, and manage the toughest games. Those are the kinds of qualities England needed after halftime against Croatia. "If we're in the position again, we'll be better off because of the experience of what we've just had," said 28-year-old Jordan Henderson, who was Liverpool's captain in that Champions League final loss to Modric and Real Madrid. The incentives are huge. Euro 2020 is being hosted across 12 countries, but England could qualify and be placed in a group based at Wembley Stadium, travel for two knockout rounds, then come home for the semifinals and final at Wembley. "The aim if we're at the Euros in two years' time is to go again," said Kane, who should be Southgate's chosen captain for years to come. Before qualifying starts next March, England is in a fascinating group for the inaugural UEFA Nations League, which starts in September. Spain, under new coach Luis Enrique, visits Wembley on Sept. 8. England then travels to face Croatia on Oct. 12. The return games will be completed by November......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsJul 13th, 2018

Liverpool into Champions League, Man City reaches 100 points

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press LIVERPOOL, England (AP) — Liverpool qualified for the Champions League at the expense of Chelsea, Swansea was relegated, and champion Manchester City made it to 100 points as the loose ends were tied up on a typically high-scoring final day of the Premier League season on Sunday. It was also the end of an era in England's top flight, with Arsene Wenger taking charge of his final game as Arsenal manager after 22 seasons. He went out with a 1-0 win at Huddersfield. Liverpool only needed to draw with Brighton to secure another season in the Champions League, but manager Juergen Klopp fielded an attacking team and was rewarded with a 4-0 victory at Anfield. Mohamed Salah scored one of the goals, taking the Egyptian to a league-high 32 goals for the campaign — the most in a 38-game Premier League season. That meant Chelsea will not be playing in Europe's elite competition for the second season in three years. The London club finished fifth after a 3-0 loss at Newcastle, in what could prove to be Antonio Conte's last league game as manager. The final-day "miracle" that Swansea manager Carlos Carvalhal required didn't happen, with the Welsh club losing 2-1 to Stoke to end its seven-year stay in the league and ensure Southampton stayed up. Swansea had needed to win and Southampton to lose to Man City, with a 10-goal swing in goal difference. So it didn't matter that Southampton conceded late to lose 1-0 to City, although that did mean Pep Guardiola's side became the first team to post 100 points in a Premier League season. It is the latest milestone reached by City, which has also claimed the most total wins (32), goals (106), victories in a row (18) and away wins (16) in this record-breaking season. The 19-point margin to second place Manchester United is also a record, as is the goal difference of plus 79. Tottenham beat Leicester 5-4 in the highest-scoring game of the day to secure third place above Liverpool. United was already assured of second place before its 1-0 win over Watford, in Michael Carrick's final game for the club. ANOTHER TROPHY FOR SALAH Fittingly, it was Salah who guided Liverpool back into the Champions League and he ended a sun-kissed afternoon at Anfield lifting the Golden Boot for being the Premier League's top scorer this season. His 32-goal haul was two more than Harry Kane, the winner for the past two seasons. There were wonderful scenes soon after as Liverpool's fans cheered Salah's daughter, Makka, as she kicked about a ball on the field. Dejan Lovren added a second before Dominic Solanke and Andrew Robertson scored their first goals for Liverpool to complete a routine victory in its last match before playing the Champions League final against Real Madrid on May 26. Liverpool ended up in fourth place for the second straight season. Chelsea ended the season without even a whimper, and in the Europa League. Four days after drawing 1-1 at home, the deposed champions looked bedraggled in losing to Newcastle thanks to goals by Dwight Gayle and Ayoze Perez, who scored twice in the second half. SWANSEA DOWN Swansea fans channeled their anger toward chairman Huw Jenkins and the club's American majority shareholders, Steve Kaplan and Jason Levien, after the team's relegation was confirmed with a loss to a team that started the day in last place. Jenkins was conspicuous by his absence from his customary seat in the directors' box but that did not prevent Swansea supporters urging Jenkins to "get out of our club" from the first minute. Andy King's goal gave Swansea hope of an unlikely final-day comeback, but Badou Ndiaye and Peter Crouch scored to ensure already relegated Stoke would not end the season bottom. That position went to West Bromwich Albion, which lost 2-0 at Crystal Palace. WENGER'S FAREWELL In the 22nd minute, Huddersfield fans joined Arsenal supporters in rising to their feet inside the John Smith's Stadium to applaud Wenger in his 1,235th game in charge of the Gunners. A plane flew over the stadium, carrying the message "Merci Arsene, we will miss you too" in response to Wenger's goodbye speech last week at the Emirates Stadium. "I should have announced every week my goodbye," Wenger said, "because people have been so nice with me." Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang was the final scorer of the Wenger era, sliding in to convert Aaron Ramsey's cross in the 38th minute for the only goal. Arsenal finished sixth in the Premier League — the lowest under Wenger, who will stay working. "Whether that is managing or not... I am addicted and I don't think that can be cured," Wenger said. CITY'S CENTURY City left it to virtually the last kick of its last match to reach the magical 100-point barrier. Gabriel Jesus, on as a substitute, found space to lift the ball over goalkeeper Alex McCarthy in the fourth minute of additional time, prompting wild celebrations among City's players. Pep Guardiola reacted to the team's 106th league goal of the season by leaping out of his seat in the dugout and punching the air. Jesus removed his shirt and twirled it in celebration in front of City's supporters. The players were still on the field 20 minutes after the final whistle. City will celebrate on the streets of Manchester on Monday with an open-top bus parade......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMay 13th, 2018

Madrid wins with Ronaldo rested for Champions League semis

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Real Madrid rested Cristiano Ronaldo and other regulars for the Champions League and still got the win it needed to stay in contention for second place in the Spanish league. Gareth Bale and Borja Mayoral scored first-half goals as Madrid defeated Leganes 2-1 on Saturday to move within a point of second-place Atletico Madrid, which plays at Alaves on Sunday. Ronaldo and captain Sergio Ramos weren't included for the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, while Marcelo, Luka Modric and Lucas Vazquez stayed on the bench. Madrid defeated Bayern Munich 2-1 in Germany last week to take the edge going into Tuesday's second leg of the Champions League semifinals at the Bernabeu. Madrid is trying to return to the European final for the fourth time in five seasons. Bale and Karim Benzema, who didn't start in the first leg against Bayern, were in the lineup against Leganes. Casemiro was the only player to start in both matches. "I'm happy with the attitude of my players, it was exemplary," Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "The first half was phenomenal." Darko Brasanac scored midway through the second half for Leganes, which earlier this season eliminated Madrid in the Copa del Rey quarterfinals. The southern Madrid club dropped to 16th in the 20-team standings and is not fully clear of relegation with three matches left. Leganes midfielder Gabriel Pires was sent off in injury time. Barcelona needs a draw at relegation-threatened Deportivo La Coruna on Sunday to win its third La Liga in four seasons. "We can't be happy with how things unfolded in La Liga," Zidane said. "We lost too many points in the beginning." Madrid has a game in hand, at Sevilla. Sevilla coach Vincenzo Montella was fired on Saturday because of poor results, and replaced by Joaquin Caparros, who coached the team in the early 2000s. VILLARREAL WINS Villarreal strengthened its grip on sixth place and a Europa League spot by defeating Celta Vigo 4-1 at home thanks to a first-half hat trick by Carlos Bacca. The win gave Villarreal a six-point gap to seventh-place Sevilla, which holds the final Europa berth. Villarreal is two points behind fifth-place Real Betis, which hosts last-place Malaga on Monday. Villarreal has a game in hand, at Barcelona. BASQUE DERBY Real Sociedad defeated Basque Country rival Athletic Bilbao 3-1 to keep alive its chances of earning a Europa League spot. The host took advantage of two own-goals by Athletic defender Mikel San Jose. Mikel Oyarzabal also scored for Sociedad, while Raul Garcia put Athletic on the board by converting a second-half penalty kick when his team already trailed by three goals. Sociedad midfielder Ruben Pardo was sent off near the end only a few minutes after being substituted in. Sociedad moved to 10th place, two points from Sevilla in the Europa League qualification zone. ESPANYOL DRAWS Espanyol was unable to secure its salvation after being held at home by already relegated Las Palmas 1-1. A victory would have been enough for Espanyol to stay in the first division, but it needs to hope Deportivo La Coruna loses points against leader Barcelona at home on Sunday to be able to guarantee its salvation this weekend. Espanyol is 12 points in front of Clarence Seedorf's Deportivo, the first team inside the relegation zone. There will be three rounds left after this weekend. Espanyol is winless in seven games and had lost four in a row entering the weekend......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 29th, 2018

Iniesta leaving Barcelona after 16 trophy-filled seasons

By Joseph Wilson, Associated Press BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Andres Iniesta took two deep breaths, and then said the words that announced his story-book career at Barcelona was coming to an end. In an emotional news conference Friday attended by most of his teammates, his family and club executives, the midfielder who has embodied Barcelona's creative attacking style said that he was leaving after 16 trophy-packed seasons. "I have spent all my life here at this club and it is not easy to leave," Iniesta said after fighting back tears and regaining his composure. "My time here ends this season. I understand that the club that took me in at 12 deserves the best of me in return, and I have given it that until now, but in the near future I won't be able to both physically and mentally. "The club has placed its confidence," he said. "And I have always said that if I am not able to give my all to my club that has given me everything then I wouldn't be happy." Iniesta, who turns 34 on May 11, said that he intends to continue playing but did not reveal what his next club will be. "I have always said that I would never compete against my club, so all the options outside Europe are open," Iniesta said. "When the season is over we will know my choice." Local media reported that the Spain midfielder will be signing a lucrative contract with a club in the Chinese league. Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez were his only teammates not present to receive Iniesta's thanks. The club said that they had personal commitments they could not break. Iniesta left his village in southern Spain to join Barcelona's youth academy when he was 12. He went on to become one of the best players in its history, helping the team win 31 titles — a club record he shares with Messi. Iniesta has helped Barcelona win four Champions League titles, eight Spanish leagues, six Copa del Reys, three Club World Cups, seven Spanish Super Cups and three European Super Cups. And Iniesta is expected to get one more trophy for the club with Barcelona on the cusp of clinching the league title. The team leads Atletico Madrid by 11 points with five games left. Iniesta has been a fan favorite at Camp Nou since he helped it start its current winning era by claiming the Spanish league title in 2005 under Frank Rijkaard. He went on to form a dominant midfield pairing with Xavi Hernandez under the orders of Pep Guardiola, and has become team captain. "It would not have been possible without him so I just say 'thank you' because he helped me," Guardiola said. "People believe the managers help the players, but in a few cases, and I think Andres is one of them, he helped me to understand the game better." Last year, Iniesta signed the first lifelong contract ever given by Barcelona. And even though he is opting out of that deal, club president Josep Bartomeu said that there were no hard feelings. Bartomeu said Messi was the best player in Barcelona history for his goals and unmatched talent, but he has plenty of praise for Iniesta, too. "Iniesta is the most important player of this winning era that started in 2004," Bartomeu told Cadena SER radio on Thursday. "He has been a key part of all the teams under all our coaches, from Rijkaard, Guardiola, Tito Vilanova, (Gerardo) "Tata" Martino, Luis Enrique and now Ernesto (Valverde). He deserves our respect." Iniesta has shown this season that he is still able to perform at a top level. He has been a first-choice player for Valverde and was still its most decisive attacking midfielder. The loss of Iniesta is a blow to the entire Spanish league. He is widely admired and loved by fans across the country for his winning goal for Spain in the 2010 World Cup and his role in Spain winning the 2008 and 2012 European Championships. He is often applauded by opposing fans when substituted on the road. "He is charming, very reserved, and I like people who do their talking on the pitch," Real Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane said. "I only have good things to say about him, admiration for his football and I wish him the best." This year, Iniesta will play for Spain at the World Cup in Russia. That will likely be his last chance to add to his glorious career with the national side. But first, Iniesta has five more matches with Barcelona, starting on Sunday at Deportivo La Coruna. He will bid his final farewell at home on May 20 against Real Sociedad. "To Barcelona's fans, who have seen me grow up and followed every step I have taken, and been with me through the good times and the bad," Iniesta said, "I will take your love with me in my heart.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 28th, 2018

Late Ronaldo penalty keeps Madrid alive in Champions League

MADRID --- Just when it looked like Juventus would pull off another stunning Champions League comeback, Cristiano Ronaldo stepped up once again. Ronaldo converted a penalty kick deep into injury time to send Real Madrid through to the semifinals for the eighth straight season despite a 3-1 home loss to Juventus on Wednesday. The goal was enough to give the two-time defending champion a 4-3 aggregate win and avoid nerve-racking extra time after the Italian side had erased a seemingly insurmountable deficit from the first leg. "It was a match in which we suffered," Ronaldo said. "It shows that nothing is a given in football, you have to fight until the end. We didn't play well,...Keep on reading: Late Ronaldo penalty keeps Madrid alive in Champions League.....»»

Category: newsSource:  inquirerRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

Barcelona unable to find its stride in Champions League

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Suddenly, the Champions League has become a tough challenge for Barcelona. The Spanish club thrived in nearly every competition it played over the last few years but has failed to succeed recently in the top European club competition. Lionel Messi and his teammates lost to Roma 3-0 on Tuesday in Italy, relinquishing a 4-1 first-leg win and getting eliminated in the quarterfinals for the third straight season. "All we can do is apologize to our fans for the way we lost," Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. "This is the toughest loss since I've been with Barcelona, because of the way it happened. I'd be lying if I said that this could help us in some way in the future, because last year we lost in a similar manner." Barcelona was eliminated by eventual runner-up Juventus last season, losing 3-0 in Turin and being held to a scoreless draw at home in the second leg. In 2016, Barcelona fell to Spanish rival Atletico Madrid 3-1 on aggregate, winning 2-1 at home and losing 2-0 in Madrid. "We want to be contending for the Champions League title year after year," Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said. "We were hopeful of advancing to the semifinals after having played a great first leg. Now we have to carefully analyze what happened and try to move on." Since 2015, when it won its last Champions League title, Barcelona was dominant in other competitions, winning two Spanish leagues, three Copa del Reys, one Club World Cup, one UEFA Super Cup and one Spanish Super Cup. Messi was a crucial component in nearly all of those triumphs for Barcelona, but the playmaker performed below expectations in the team's recent Champions League failures. He didn't score in the six quarterfinal games that led to Barcelona's recent eliminations. The team's other players couldn't do enough help Barcelona advance then, and this time Messi had even less support. Neymar left in the offseason, and the players who joined the club after his departure were not able to play up to the same level. Ousmane Dembele, touted as the main replacement for the Brazil forward, was marred by injuries and wasn't able to establish himself as a reliable attacking partner for Messi and Luis Suarez. Dembele was on the bench Tuesday, entering the match in the final minutes as a substitute. Philippe Coutinho also arrived to help fill Neymar's absence, but he was ineligible to play in the Champions League because he had already played for Liverpool earlier in the tournament. Right back Nelson Semedo, another offseason signing for Barcelona, was the player unsuccessfully trying to stop Roma defender Kostas Manolas when he scored the 82nd-minute decisive goal for the hosts on Tuesday. This was Barcelona's first Champions League loss under coach Ernesto Valverde, who replaced Luis Enrique at the end of last season. "We have a very competitive team and it will recover from this," Bartomeu said. "We still have other tournaments to play and we have to focus on them." Although the loss in Rome ended Barcelona's chances of winning the treble, the team remains in good position to win the Spanish league and the Copa del Rey. Barcelona has an 11-point lead over Atletico Madrid with seven matches left, and it will face Sevilla in the Copa del Rey final on April 21 trying to win its fourth straight Copa title. "It will be very difficult to recover," said veteran Barcelona midfielder Andres Iniesta, who most likely played in his last Champions League match. "But we don't have any other option. On Saturday we have another match to play and we have to give our best to try to win the titles that are still achievable." Barcelona hosts third-place Valencia on Saturday looking to achieve a Spanish league record of 39 consecutive games unbeaten. It shares the record that Real Sociedad set in 1979-80......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 12th, 2018

Madrid has depleted defense for 2nd leg against Juventus

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Scoring hasn't been a problem for Real Madrid recently, especially with Cristiano Ronaldo in top form. But the European champions could have issues in defense when they host Juventus in the second leg of the Champions League quarterfinals on Wednesday. Madrid will try to protect its three-goal advantage from the first leg with coach Zinedine Zidane unable to use his best players in central defense. Madrid captain Sergio Ramos is suspended and his immediate substitute, Nacho Fernandez, is out injured. Raphael Varane just returned from injury, and the other central defender in the squad, 21-year-old Jesus Vallejo, hasn't been fully fit and it remains unclear if he will be able to make it to the match at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. Madrid won the first leg 3-0 in Turin, with Ronaldo scoring with a spectacular bicycle kick for his second goal of the match. Madrid can reach the semifinals for the eighth straight year even if it loses Wednesday's game by two goals. Zidane probably would have liked not to force Varane's return in the Spanish league derby against Atletico Madrid this weekend, but he couldn't rest him because Vallejo was bothered by muscle discomfort in practice last week. Exams showed no major injury to Vallejo, but he trained separately from the squad on Monday before joining the rest of the team on Tuesday. "Jesus had a good practice session, he didn't feel anything," Zidane said. "Tomorrow (Wednesday) we will see who gets to play. We shouldn't have any problems. If we do, we will adapt." Vallejo is Zidane's last option to play in central defense, and the youngster didn't impress in the few times he got to play this season. He has made only eight appearances, mostly when Zidane chose to rest his regular starters. His last match was against Las Palmas following the international break last month. Vallejo's last Spanish league match before that was against Sevilla in December. "Jesus is a good player," Varane said. "He doesn't have experience in this competition (Champions League) but he has a lot of quality. From what we've seen in practice, he is fine. If he plays, all of us will be confident that he can get the job done." Madrid didn't concede against Las Palmas, but before that it conceded at least once in five straight matches, including three times against Girona in a league game at home. In the attack, Madrid has scored in seven straight matches, with Ronaldo continuing to impress. He has found the net 20 times in his last 10 games, including in the 1-1 derby against Atletico on Sunday. The match against Juventus will be Ronaldo's 150th in the Champions League. If Vallejo can't play, Zidane will have to improvise in central defense, likely using midfielder Casemiro to play alongside Varane. Mateo Kovacic would likely enter the lineup to replace Casemiro in the midfield, or Zidane could choose a more aggressive setup with an extra attacking midfielder such as Marco Asensio or Francisco "Isco" Alarcon. "Casemiro is used to playing in the midfield but he has practiced in the back many times," Varane said. "We know how he defends, how he plays." Madrid has won three Champions League titles in the last four seasons, including the last two in a row. The team defeated Juventus 4-1 in last year's final. No team has ever overturned a 3-0 home loss in the Champions League. "We'll need to play a complete game against a complete team if we are to get a positive result," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. "Nobody expected us to concede after two minutes in Turin, so why can't we do the same tomorrow (Wednesday)." If Juventus can't come back, it could be the final Champions League match for veteran goalkeeper Gianluigi Buffon. "Trying to achieve the impossible will help us achieve the possible," the 40-year-old Buffon said. "This is what we need to do. We need to play with this kind of spirit against an amazing side.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 11th, 2018

Guardiola struggles to explain collapses at City, Bayern

By Steve Douglas, Associated Press MANCHESTER, England (AP) — It has become an alarming trait for Pep Guardiola in his post-Barcelona coaching career. His teams keep on imploding on the big occasion. And the Manchester City manager knows it. "I drop a lot of Champions League games in (the space of) 10 to 15 minutes, and I think about that many times," he said, candidly. "It happened many times. Maybe it's my fault." Guardiola was speaking soon after his City side conceded three goals in 16 minutes on Saturday to lose the Manchester derby 3-2 against United. It denied City the chance to wrap up the Premier League title in record time. Three days earlier, City conceded three goals in 19 minutes to lose 3-0 at Liverpool in the first leg of their Champions League quarterfinal matchup. Guardiola, it seems, is struggling to get that collapse at Anfield out of his head. He constantly referred to it in news conferences before and after the United loss. It might be because he has previous experience at Bayern Munich, the team he left after three seasons to join City and where he failed to win the Champions League in three attempts. In the 2014 semifinals, Bayern conceded three goals in 18 minutes on the way to losing 4-0 at home to Real Madrid in the second leg and 5-0 on aggregate. A year later, the German team was drawing 0-0 after 77 minutes at Barcelona in the first leg of the semifinals. Then Lionel Messi scored twice and Neymar added an injury-time third as Barcelona won 3-0. Even in his first season at City last year, Monaco scored twice in the opening 30 minutes on its way to a 3-1 win in the second leg and a victory via the away-goals rule. "When you play against Liverpool in Europe or against United, when you have momentum, you have to close the door," Guardiola said. "We didn't close it. When it's time to defend, you have to defend." Still, Guardiola doesn't think he needs to change his attacking, possession-based approach that has brought him plenty of trophies — and admirers — throughout his career, even if his two Champions League titles were at a Messi-inspired Barcelona in 2009 and '11. City is set to clinch a Premier League-League Cup double this season, playing some of the best football the English game has ever seen. "I have to think about it, but I feel when you dominate and you create chances, you are closer to winning the games," he said. "I think this season showed that. The numbers we have shown in terms of goals ... not just the goals but when the team is stable, the chances we concede, I think we are the best with these type of players.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 9th, 2018

Dominant at home, Europe where Bayern & City measure success

By Rob Harris, Associated Press Three of the teams in the Champions League quarterfinals are in a luxurious position, and running away with their domestic competitions allows them to concentrate on European glory. Manchester City and Bayern Munich could even secure trophies between the first and second legs in Europe over the next week or so. City, which travels to Liverpool in an all-northwest England quarterfinal on Wednesday, has a 16-point lead in the Premier League. Bayern, which is a point better off at the Bundesliga summit, visits on Tuesday a Sevilla side that is in the European Cup quarterfinals for the first time in 60 years. Barcelona has a nine-point lead at home as it prepares to host Roma on Wednesday, with defending champion Real Madrid trailing by 13 points in third place. Madrid, though, is a European force. Champions League winners in three of the last four seasons, Zinedine Zidane's side visits Serie A leader Juventus on Tuesday. A closer look at the quarterfinal match-ups: ___ JUVENTUS-REAL MADRID Has Gareth Bale done enough to retain his place in Madrid's starting lineup? Either side of the recent international break, Bale scored three goals in two matches. But he wasn't entrusted with a starting place in the round of 16 against Paris Saint-Germain — reflecting the uncertainty surrounding the Wales forward's status in the squad. "I'm pleased with his performance," Madrid coach Zidane said after Bale scored twice in a 3-0 win at relegation-threatened Las Palmas on Saturday. "You'll have to wait and see if he plays on Tuesday." Lucas Vazquez could drop out if Zidane restores the "BBC" front-line of Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Bale. Bale, though, could miss out again if Madrid decide to add an extra midfielder for the first leg in Turin by including Marco Asensio or Francisco "Isco" Alarcon. Madrid and Juventus are meeting for the first time since last season's final when the Spanish capital club swept to a 12th European title. The only Champions League final Madrid has failed to reach in the last four seasons was in 2014-15 — when it lost to Juventus in the semifinals. Juventus must raise its game after struggling in Serie A recently. After a 0-0 draw at lowly Spal, the team was outplayed by AC Milan for much of Saturday's match before Juan Cuadrado came off the bench to turn things around. On his first appearance after more than three months out with a groin injury, Cuadrado grabbed the crucial second goal in a 3-1 win. "He's come back well and has astounded me," Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said, "because often in the past he hasn't done well coming off the bench." Juventus is once again in the hunt for a treble, leading Serie A by four points and through to the Italian Cup final. ___ BARCELONA-ROMA Barcelona can count on Lionel Messi again but how fit is he? After missing recent Argentina games with a muscular problem, he made a scoring return from the bench on Saturday against Sevilla to preserve Barcelona's unbeaten La Liga record this season. Coach Ernesto Valverde, however, said Messi is still bothered by pain heading into the game against Roma. The Italian capital club is awaiting a prognosis on Radja Nainggolan's thigh injury. The Belgium international, who has started all of Roma's Champions League matches, limped off 16 minutes into Saturday's 1-1 draw at Bologna. Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco is doubtful Nainggolan will recover in time "He is the 'Ninja,'" Di Francesco said. "He told me to wait and tried to run it off, but if he had to give up and leave the pitch that means there's really something wrong and the problem is serious." With Roma prioritizing the game against Barcelona, the lack of depth was evident on Saturday when Edin Dzeko had to come off the bench to salvage a draw. __ LIVERPOOL-MAN CITY City makes a return trip to the only stadium where it has lost during an otherwise unbeaten Premier League campaign. With Mohamed Salah, Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane boasting 75 goals between them this season, Liverpool has an impressive attacking armory to take on Pep Guardiola's side. "They are almost unstoppable," Guardiola said. "The way Liverpool play is so complicated for us. We know that. They are so quick, they are so good." The 4-3 loss at Anfield in January was a blip in City's progression to the Premier League title that can be sealed with a win against Manchester United on Saturday. With the European first leg on Wednesday and the return at the Etihad Stadium next Tuesday, Guardiola's predicament will be whether to rest players for the Manchester derby and potentially miss out on winning the Premier League in perhaps the sweetest way. Guardiola is hoping to welcome Sergio Aguero back from a knee injury that has kept the striker out of action for a month. While Liverpool is England's most successful side with five European Cups, City has never won the competition. Guardiola, though, led Barcelona to two Champions League titles. ___ SEVILLA-BAYERN MUNICH Bayern's players must be dreading the sight of Sevilla: Spanish teams have eliminated them in the past four seasons. Before then, Bayern lifted the European Cup in the all-German 2013 final against Borussia Dortmund when Jupp Heynckes completed a treble before stepping down. The 72-year-old coach was brought out of retirement to return in October when Carlo Ancelotti was fired after losing to PSG. Heynckes has overseen a remarkable turnaround, with Bayern on course to repeat the 2013 treble. Sevilla, though, keeps on upsetting more illustrious sides. Not only was Jose Mourinho's Manchester United stunned in the round of 16 but Barcelona was held to a draw on Saturday. Sevilla, which won the Europa League in 2014, 2015 and 2016, is contesting its first European Cup quarterfinal since 1958. ___ Tales Azzoni in Madrid, Daniella Matar in Milan and Ciaran Fahey in Berlin contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsApr 3rd, 2018

UEFA orders Paris Saint-Germain to close part of its stadium

NYON, Switzerland (AP) — Paris Saint-Germain must close part of its stadium at the next Champions League game it hosts as punishment for fans lighting flares and fireworks. UEFA says its disciplinary panel ordered the north end of Parc des Princes closed because of incidents at PSG's 2-1 loss to Real Madrid this month, a result that eliminated the French club from the last 16. The runaway French league leader has already qualified for the next Champions League and its next home game is likely to be in September in the group stage. UEFA said PSG must also pay a 43,000 euros ($53,000) fine. PSG remains under a separate UEFA investigation for possible violations of financial fair play rules. A decision in that case should come before June. UEFA acted against a second French club for crowd disturbances and using fireworks at a Europa League game in Spain. Marseille fans attacked security guards at Athletic Bilbao's stadium during a 2-1 win last week that sent the visitors into the quarterfinals. UEFA banned Marseille from selling tickets to its fans for the first leg in Germany against Leipzig in two weeks. Marseille was put on probation for two years, and a repeat of crowd trouble will see an away-fan ban at a second Champions League or Europa League game. UEFA said Marseille was also fined 30,000 euros ($37,000)......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 23rd, 2018

Chelsea looks for another good showing at Camp Nou

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Few teams have caused as much trouble for Barcelona as Chelsea since Lionel Messi started playing with the Spanish club almost 15 years ago. Barcelona has been dominant with Messi against nearly every opponent it has faced in Europe. But not against Chelsea. The English club is even used to doing well against Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium, where the teams will meet Wednesday in the second leg of their last-16 series in the Champions League. Chelsea is unbeaten against Barcelona in eight matches, with four straight draws at Camp Nou. Barcelona earned a 1-1 draw in the first match in England thanks to a late away goal by Messi, who had never scored against the Premier League club. "It will be a hard match just like in the away leg," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "They have a strong team that defends well in a block and has a great counterattack. We will struggle." Barcelona has been thriving again this season. Its only loss came against Real Madrid in its first match of the season in the Spanish Super Cup final. It has won 18 of its last 20 home matches since then, with two draws — 2-2 against Celta Vigo and 0-0 against Getafe in the Spanish league. "We have to show great resilience," Chelsea coach Antonio Conte said. "We are playing against one of the best teams in the world. We must pay great attention and have the same focus and concentration of the first leg." This is the first time Chelsea and Barcelona are facing each other in the Champions League since the semifinals in 2012, when the English club advanced 3-2 on aggregate after securing an astonishing 2-2 draw in the second leg at Camp Nou, after trailing 2-0 with 10 men for most of the match. Chelsea also drew at Camp Nou in the Champions League semifinals in 2009, as well as in the group stage of the 2006-07 season and the round of 16 a year earlier. Chelsea is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time since 2014, when eliminated by Atletico Madrid in the semis. Barcelona is looking to reach the last eight for a record 11th straight time. The Spanish league leaders are coming off a 2-0 win at last-place Malaga on Saturday, when Messi didn't play because of the birth of his third son, Ciro. It remains unclear if Valverde will be able to count on midfielder Andres Iniesta on Wednesday because of a hamstring injury. Here's a look at the other matches this week: ___ MAN UNITED-SEVILLA Jose Mourinho may be faced with a dilemma when Manchester United hosts Sevilla on Tuesday. With Paul Pogba ruled out of United's Premier League victory over Liverpool on Saturday, Mourinho's side finally managed to find the balance it has been lacking in recent weeks. If the France midfielder is available, Mourinho would have to drop Juan Mata or 21-year-old Scott McTominay to make room for him. United, which drew the first leg 0-0 in Seville, is trying to reach the quarterfinals for the first time since 2013-14. "The next game is very important for us, maybe the most important game of the season," United midfielder Nemanja Matic said. Sevilla is trying to make the quarterfinals for the first time. ___ ROMA-SHAKHTAR Roma will be hoping it has turned its poor home form around when it hosts Shakhtar Donetsk needing to overturn a 2-1 defeat. Roma beat Torino 3-0 on Friday for what was only its second win at Stadio Olimpico since mid-December. "Mentally, the lads felt a bit of pressure because we hadn't won at the Olimpico for a while — and I could see that," Roma coach Eusebio Di Francesco said. "Today's win shows that we've cleared the hurdle now." ___ BESIKTAS-BAYERN Besiktas is dreaming of becoming the first team to overturn a five-goal deficit in the UEFA competition when it hosts Bayern Munich on Wednesday, although restoring its pride will likely be enough after a chastening 5-0 first-leg defeat in Munich. The Turkish champion, playing in the knockout rounds of the Champions League for the first time, is hoping to extend its 12-game unbeaten run at home in European competitions. Bayern has made it to the Champions League quarterfinals six years in a row, but hasn't won the title since coach Jupp Heynckes' previous stint in 2013, when he led the side to a treble. It warmed up for its trip to Istanbul with a 6-0 rout of Hamburger SV on Saturday. "You can never hide in football, you can never take it easy," said Heynckes, who has 25 wins and just one defeat in 27 games across all competitions since returning to Bayern. ___ Associated Press writers Ciaran Fahey, Daniella Matar and Sam Johnston contributed to this report......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsMar 12th, 2018

Barcelona cruises to 5-0 victory over Murcia in Copa del Rey

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — Barcelona reached the last 16 of the Copa del Rey with a comfortable 5-0 win over Murcia on Wednesday, but Basque Country teams Real Sociedad and Athletic Bilbao were eliminated by third-division clubs. Atletico Madrid advanced after a 3-0 win against Elche to overcome a first-leg draw. Barcelona striker Paco Alcacer scored in the first half and Gerard Pique, Aleix Vidal, Denis Suarez and Jose Arnaiz each added goals after halftime to give the hosts an 8-0 aggregate win against the third-tier club. "We played with great attitude," Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. "You don't want to go through any scares in these games, and the best way to do that is to play with good rhythm and dynamism." Barcelona played without most of its regular starters, including Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez. Valverde had also rested the team's top players in the 3-0 first-leg win last month. Pique, who missed the Spanish league game against Valencia at the weekend, started the match at Camp Nou but was substituted right after scoring his 56th-minute goal. Barcelona is trying to become the first team to win four straight Copa del Rey titles since Athletic Bilbao in 1930-33. ___ SOCIEDAD STUNNED Teenager Bojan Radulovic scored an 87th-minute goal that allowed third-division club Lleida to eliminate top-flight club Real Sociedad on away goals. Lleida won 3-2 after trailing by two goals at halftime at Anoeta Stadium. It had lost the first leg 1-0 at home. "This hurts," Sociedad coach Eusebio Sacristan said. "We have to ask for the fans' forgiveness. We are very disappointed." Sociedad, seventh in the Spanish league, went ahead with goals by Diego Llorente and Juanmi, but the Catalan outsiders rallied with goals by Aitor Nunez and Manu Molina early in the second half. The 18-year-old Radulovic stunned Sociedad with a header near the end. "I'm speechless," Radulovic said. "It's my first goal with the first team, in a stadium like this, against a first-division club." ___ ATHLETIC OUSTED Athletic Bilbao was eliminated by Formentera after conceding a goal in the sixth minute of stoppage time at its San Mames Stadium, losing the two-leg series 2-1. "We know that this is a huge loss and that the fans are disappointed," Athletic coach Jose Angel Ziganda said. "This is probably the worst moment I've had to go through as a coach." Substitute Alvaro Muniz netted the winner with a header off a corner kick cross to stun the home crowd in Bilbao. "Tomorrow it will sink in what it means to beat Athletic in its stadium," Formentera coach Jose Angel Garcia Sanjuan said. ___ ATLETICO STAYS ALIVE Fernando Torres scored a goal in each half as Atletico easily defeated third-division club Elche at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium, advancing 4-1 on aggregate. The goals ended Torres' scoring drought after 13 matches this season. Jose Gimenez also scored for Atletico, which has won three straight in all competitions. ___ SEVILLA ADVANCES Wissam Ben Yedder scored twice in the first six minutes to lead Sevilla to a 4-0 win over third-division club Cartagena, securing a spot in the last 16 with a 7-0 win on aggregate. Paulo Henrique Ganso added to the lead just before halftime and Joaquin sealed the victory in the second half. It was Sevilla's first match without coach Eduardo "Toto" Berizzo, who underwent surgery to treat prostate cancer on Tuesday. Assistant coach Ernesto Marcucci is in charge until Berizzo returns. ___ LAS PALMAS GOES THROUGH Las Palmas advanced 6-4 on aggregate after a 3-2 home loss to Deportivo La Coruna, but it lost striker Vitolo just before halftime because of a left leg injury......»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 30th, 2017

Pair of losses enough to leave Real Madrid reeling

By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press MADRID (AP) — It's only been two losses, but when it comes to Real Madrid, that's enough to put the team on the brink of turmoil. Consecutive defeats to newcomer Girona in the Spanish league and to Tottenham in the Champions League have left the team reeling. Madrid struggled in both matches despite playing with its top players, prompting a wave of criticism. Although Cristiano Ronaldo dismissed talk of a crisis and coach Zinedine Zidane said he is not worried, they both admitted that there's some work to do to get Madrid back on track. "We are not going to play well every time," Ronaldo said after Tuesday's 3-1 loss in England. "We have to change things and admit that we are not where we wanted to be right now." Zidane said it will take some time to restore the team's morale after the consecutive losses. "It's two defeats in a row and we can't be happy about it," Zidane said. "It's a difficult moment but you have to accept it. We have to keep our heads cool because this is soccer and we have a lot of games to play and there's still a lot of time to turn things around, and that's what we will do." Madrid remains in good position to advance from Group H in the Champions League, and it can do it with a victory at APOEL later this month. But the team is already eight points behind leader Barcelona in the Spanish league, a deficit it has never been able to overcome. Madrid had won four in a row in the league before last weekend's loss at Girona, but it got off to a slow start in which it failed to win its first three home games. Madrid is defending both the Spanish league and the Champions League titles this season. "We have to say calm," Ronaldo said. "Things are not as bad as they look. The team is not playing that badly, so we must remain confident. We have to think positively because it's the end of the season that counts, not the beginning." Zidane blamed the team's letdown on its numerous missed opportunities in front of goal. "There are moments in a season when you score goals from very few chances, and others when you struggle to do that," the former France midfielder said. "We have been creating opportunities but we are not being able to capitalize on them." Zidane said he has a group of experienced players who will be able to quickly steer the team back in the right direction. Ronaldo would have liked to see even more experience in the team at a moment like this. He said some of the players that the club let go in the offseason could have been making a difference right now, including Pepe, Alvaro Morata and James Rodriquez. "The new players who came to the squad have a lot of potential and they are the future of Madrid," said Ronaldo, who scored the team's goal on Tuesday at Wembley. "But if you ask me, every great player is always needed by a club, and Pepe was a great player, and Morata, James ... All players who have left used to make us a stronger team, obviously." Madrid defender Sergio Ramos said it's natural for fans to be upset with the team's recent struggles, but warned that nobody should count them out just yet. "When Madrid loses a couple of games there's always talk about a crisis," Ramos said. "But we have to remain calm and united. We are convinced that Madrid will overcome this very soon. Madrid always fights back, and if people think that we are done, time will show them wrong.".....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsNov 3rd, 2017

Ronaldo and Portugal head to World Cup looking for more

em>By Tales Azzoni, Associated Press /em> Cristiano Ronaldo is headed to the World Cup with Portugal, and some of his teammates are already expecting another title. Ronaldo, as usual, was the country's key player as it won nine straight qualifiers to reach the tournament in Russia. And that came after the Real Madrid forward led the way to winning last year's European Championship, Portugal's first major trophy. 'Portugal always plays to win, and just like we did at Euro 2016, we are going to try to win the World Cup as well,' Portugal midfielder Bernardo Silva said after the 2-0 win over Switzerland at the Stadium of Light. Here's a look at some of the reasons why Portugal will be among the favorites at next year's World Cup: ___ strong>DECISIVE RONALDO /strong> Portugal again relied on the talent of Ronaldo, who thrived from the start of qualifying and finished with 15 goals in nine matches. He was one goal short of the qualifying record set by Poland striker Robert Lewandowski this year. Ronaldo scored in every qualifier he played but two — the win over the Swiss on Tuesday and the 1-0 win at Hungary in September, when he earned an assist with a perfect cross for Andre Silva's winning header. He didn't start in the 2-0 win at Andorra last week because he wasn't fully fit, but he came off the bench in the second half and scored the team's first goal and set up Andre Silva's second. Ronaldo didn't play in the team's opening loss at Switzerland because he was still recovering from a knee injury sustained in the Euro 2016 final. ___ strong>BALANCED SQUAD /strong> Portugal cruised after the opening setback at Switzerland, outscoring opponents 32-4 and finishing with the fourth-best qualifying campaign among all teams, behind Germany, Belgium and Spain. Only those three teams scored more goals than Portugal, and Spain and England were the only two nations which conceded fewer, three each. 'Portugal showed that it has a quality squad that can face any team out there,' Portugal coach Fernando Santos said. Among the team's victories were consecutive 6-0 routs of Andorra and the Faeroe Islands. It also defeated third-place Hungary 3-0 at home and 1-0 in Budapest. 'Even after the loss to Switzerland, we never doubted that we were going to finish first in the group,' Portugal midfielder Joao Mario said. 'We just had to do our job.' ___ strong>TIGHT GROUP /strong> Santos said he feels he has a unique group of players in his hands. 'I have a special relationship with the players,' he said. 'I have a lot of faith in my players and they know that. It's not easy to have 25 players with this mentality, generating such a fantastic atmosphere.' Bernardo Silva said they feed off the coach's confidence, and Mario said that all the players are behind him no matter what. ___ strong>KICK-STARTING PREPARATIONS /strong> Portugal is expected to begin its World Cup preparations with a friendly at neighboring Spain in November. The match is expected to be officially confirmed in the coming days. 'We are looking forward to having a good run in the World Cup,' Portugal midfielder William Carvalho said. 'But right now it's time to enjoy what we just did.' .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsOct 12th, 2017

Atletico puts new stadium to the test in Champions League

A look at what's happening around the Champions League this week: ___ strong>ATLETICO'S HOME SUCCESS /strong> Atletico Madrid will try to extend its successful home streak when it makes its Champions League debut at the new Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Wednesday against Chelsea. It will be Atletico's third match at the venue which replaced the Vicente Calderon Stadium, where Atletico was unbeaten in its last 11 games in the European competition. Atletico has won both of its matches at the Wanda Metropolitano — 1-0 against Malaga and 2-0 against Sevilla, both in the Spanish league 'The Metropolitano has the feel of a Roman circus,' Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. Barcelona travels to Portugal to face Sporting Lisbon on Wednesday, riding a seven-game winning streak that includes the emphatic 3-0 win over Juventus in its Champions League opener. Sporting, off to a great start in the Portuguese league, can make it two wins in a row to start its Group D campaign. On Tuesday, Sevilla will host Maribor, which is coming off its first loss of the season against Atletico Madrid. ___ strong>MOSCOW CHALLENGE /strong> The Champions League provides Russian authorities with a key test of their World Cup readiness this week, and a glimpse at the welcome fans can expect next year. Two of England's fiercest rivals, Liverpool and Manchester United, play on consecutive nights in Moscow. Liverpool is first up against Spartak Moscow on Tuesday, and CSKA Moscow plays United the following night. There isn't typically disorder when the teams — separated by about 30 miles (48 kilometers) in northwest England — meet on home soil. But since England fans were attacked by Russians at the 2016 European Championship in Marseille, concerns have heightened about hooliganism in the 2018 World Cup host nation. United and Liverpool fans have been advised by the British government not to wear club colors on the streets of Moscow and to avoid walking alone. On the pitch, United and CSKA both won their opening games in Group A. Liverpool and Spartak are chasing their first wins after starting Group E with draws. ___ strong>DORTMUND THRIVING BUT FLAWED /strong> Real Madrid heads to Germany to face on Tuesday a Borussia Dortmund side enjoying its best start to the Bundesliga. Dortmund hadn't even conceded a goal in five domestic games until Lars Stindl netted Borussia Moenchengladbach's consolation in a 6-1 rout on Saturday. While Dortmund has scored 19 goals in six league games, there is no perfection in the high pressing game. The team remains prone to lapses at the back and opponents can suddenly find themselves with wide spaces to run into behind the Dortmund defense. That happened three times alone in the first half against 'Gladbach but it didn't prove as costly as when Dortmund visited London earlier this month and lost its Group H opener against Tottenham 3-1. ___ strong>NEEDING NEYMAR /strong> A bust-up between Edinson Cavani and Neymar combined with a goalless draw at Montpellier have generated a sense of trouble at Paris Saint-Germain ahead of Bayern Munich's visit on Wednesday. Cavani and Neymar have reportedly made peace after arguing on the pitch, but PSG dropped its first points this season following a dismal performance at Montpellier that raised concerns about the side's dependence on its Brazilian star. Neymar sat out Saturday's game because of a toe injury and his absence was obvious. Facing a very defensive side which closed spaces efficiently, PSG did not find a way to break the deadlock in a 4-3-3 system that lacked rhythm and creativity. 'We need to push more in order to score goals,' PSG coach Unai Emery said. 'This match leaves us with a lot of things to analyze in order to continue our progression.' Neymar is expected to return for the Bayern game in Group B. ___ strong>ROMA'S NEGATIVE STREAK /strong> Roma will be hopeful of ending a woeful away record in the Champions League when it travels to Azerbaijan for the first time, to play Qarabag on Wednesday. Including qualifying, Roma has won only one of its past 13 matches on its travels in Europe's elite competition, with that sole victory coming against Basel in 2009. But coach Eusebio Di Francesco will be hopeful of success against Qarabag, which lost 6-0 at Chelsea in the last round. He will again look to an in-form Edin Dzeko, who netted his fifth goal in three matches in Saturday's 3-1 win over Udinese. Stephan El Shaarawy scored twice in that match and Di Francesco has described him as 'the ideal attacker' for his preferred 4-3-3 formation, which he hopes will boost Roma in Europe as well as domestically. .....»»

Category: sportsSource:  abscbnRelated NewsSep 25th, 2017