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Barca go 12 clear in Spain, Betis and Real Sociedad bounce back with wins




MADRID, March 19 (Xinhua) — FC Barcelona go into the international break with a 12-point lead over Real Madrid at the top of La Liga after a dramatic 2-1 win over their eternal rivals in the Camp Nou Stadium.

Franck Kessie’s 92nd-minute goal gave Barca the win at the end of a thrilling game which either team could have won.

Thibaut Courtois had already made good saves from Robert Lewandowski and Raphinha in the first five minutes, but it was Real Madrid who opened the scoring in the ninth minute.

Vinicius Jr found space on the left and his cross deflected off Ronald Araujo just enough to wrong-foot Marc-Andre ter Stegen and cross the goal-line.

Real Madrid looked relatively comfortable defending deep, but Sergi Roberto leveled with the last kick of the first half, following an attack in which Raphinha kicked clean air and Lewandowski saw a shot blocked, with the ball falling kindly for the midfielder.

Barca looked to kill the game off in the second half, but as the game progressed, Real Madrid created more chances on the break, with Rodrygo and Karim Benzema going close, before Marco Asensio had a goal ruled out 10 minutes from time for a tight offside.

With the game wide open, Kessie won it for Barca as he side-footed home to finish a move that also involved Lewandowski and Alejandro Balde.

Atletico Madrid made it 23 points from 27 with a 3-0 win at home struggling Valencia, and are only four points behind Real Madrid.

Antoine Griezmann’s first-half effort and second-half goals from Yannick Carasco and Thomas Lemar sealed a comfortable win, although Samuel Lino hit the post for Valencia late on.

A first-half goal from Borja Iglesias helped Real Betis forget their midweek UEFA Europa League exit as they beat Mallorca 1-0. Mallorca defended well but created little in attack and rarely looked like getting back on level terms.

Second-half goals from Takefusa Kubo and Ander Barrenetxea gave Real Sociedad a 2-0 win at home to bottom side Elche.

Although Elche held on in the first half, Kubo’s finish after a David Silva pass put Real Sociedad ahead two minutes after the break, and Barrenetxea ensured three points in the last minute after a counter-attack.

Villarreal won 3-0 away to Osasuna, who also look to be losing steam. Samuel Chukwueze put Villarreal ahead after 14 minutes, and two late goals from Jose Luis Morales gave an added sheen to the scoreline.

Munir El Haddadi and Enes Unal scored second-half goals that saw Getafe beat Sevilla 2-0 in a key battle to avoid relegation. The result lifts Getafe to 13th and leaves Sevilla two points above the drop, and also sees Valencia fall into the bottom three.

Rayo Vallecano and Girona shared four goals in an entertaining match on Saturday, which will be remembered for the way Isi and Oscar Trejo combined to miss a penalty, when Trejo tried to pass to his companion, rather than for the excellent goals they had scored earlier in the game.

Viktor Tsyhankov netted twice for Girona after Isi and Trejo had each scored excellent individual efforts.

Celta Vigo won 3-1 away to Espanyol, with Gabri Veiga, Iago Aspas and Carles Perez all scoring before Jose Gragera’s late consolation goal for Espanyol, who are again deep in trouble.

Gonzalo Melero scored a 96th-minute penalty to save a point for Almeria in their relegation battle with Cadiz, who looked to be set for a win after Roger Marti’s close-range opener in the 49th minute.

Athletic Bilbao won comfortably 3-1 away to Valladolid on Friday night thanks to goals from Inigo Martinez, Gorka Guruzeta and Mikel Vesga’s penalty.

Source(s): Xinhua

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La Liga: Barca beat Atletico, Real Madrid and Girona both win





MADRID, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — FC Barcelona moved back to third place in La Liga on Sunday night after a 1-0 win at home to Atletico Madrid.

Joao Felix, playing on loan at Barca from Atletico, scored the game’s only goal, as Barca produced their best first half performance in several weeks.

Atletico had the better of the second 45, but despite playing most of the game in Barca’s half, the only difficult save Barca keeper Inaki Pena had to make was from a Memphis Depay free kick.

On Saturday, Real Madrid stayed top of La Liga after an easy 2-0 win at home to struggling Granada, with Brahim Diaz in the right place to poke home after Jude Bellingham’s shot was saved in the first half and Rodrygo netting the second.

Granada weren’t helped by an early injury to goalkeeper Raul Fernandez, but failed to get a shot on target in Alexander Medina’s debut as coach.

Girona produced another late comeback to win 2-1 at home to Valencia, after Hugo Duro put Valencia ahead in the 57th minute.

Substitutes Cristhian Stuani and Yan Couto combined twice for the striker to latch onto crosses from Couto from the right in the 82nd and 88th minutes to turn the game around.

Rayo Vallecano had only conceded three goals away from home before Saturday, but were stunned by an excellent display from Athletic Bilbao who ran out 4-0 winners.

Gorka Guruzeta opened the scoring in the 23rd minute, and the home side doubled their lead in the 47th minute when Inaki Williams’ cross was deflected in by Rayo defender Alfonso Espino.

Inaki scored Athletic’s third after an excellent team move, and his brother Nico celebrated his new contract by adding a spectacular fourth as Athletic ran riot.

Mallorca and Alaves drew a close game of few chances 0-0, with a result that will probably please the visitors more than the home side, who had the better of the game but have now failed to win any of their last 10 league games.

Bottom outfit Almeria gave one of their best performances of the season, but still failed to beat a Real Betis side reduced to 10 men after Hector Bellerin’s 27th-minute red card.

Almeria are still looking for their first win despite trying 20 shots, as Betis keeper Rui Silva kept out everything the home side could produce.

Sevilla coach Diego Alonso is on the brink of losing his job after his side were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Villarreal to leave them without a league win since he took charge.

Kike Salas put Sevilla ahead in the 76th minute with a powerful header, but Jose Luis Morales kept up his scoring run with his sixth goal in two weeks to make it 1-1 just a minute later.

It could have been worse for Sevilla after VAR ruled out Ben Brereton Diaz’s header that would have given Villarreal all three points.

Osasuna and Real Sociedad shared the points in their derby, with Moi Gomez opening the scoring for the home side in the second minute, before Umar Sadiq leveled with a thundering drive into the top corner three minutes before halftime.

Las Palmas began the weekend with a 2-0 win at home to Getafe on Friday night.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Premier League: Man City drop to third, Arsenal and Liverpool win





LONDON, Dec. 3 (Xinhua) — Manchester City dropped to third place in the Premier League behind Arsenal and Liverpool after being held to a 3-3 draw at home to Tottenham on Sunday afternoon.

Tottenham overcame a long injury list to come back twice from behind to claim a point in a game with plenty of alternatives.

Son Heung-min finished off a counter-attack to put Spurs ahead in the sixth minute, but he then had the misfortune to put the ball into his own net after Erling Haaland flicked on a cross.

Phil Foden put City ahead in the 31st minute, but Giovani Lo Celso equalized with a curling shot in the 69th minute. Jack Grealish again gave City the advantage when he slid in Haaland’s ball nine minutes from time, but Dejan Kulusevski looped over an equalizing header in the last minute of normal time.

Liverpool scored two late goals to claim a thrilling 4-3 win at home to Fulham, with Trent Alexander-Arnold scoring an 88th minute winner to give his side all three points.

Alexander-Arnold had helped open the scoring when his free kick bounced in off Bernd Leno, but former Liverpool player Harry Wilson leveled for Fulham just four minutes later

Alexis Mac Allister volleyed Liverpool back in front, but again Fulham quickly equalized thanks to Kenny Tete.

It looked like Bobby De Cordova-Reid’s 80th-minute goal would give Fulham a shock win, but Wataru Endo equalized in the 87th minute and a minute later Alexander-Arnold secured Liverpool’s nerve-shredding win.

Chelsea held on with 10 men to win 3-2 at home to Brighton after Conor Gallagher was sent off in the 45th minute.

Enzo Fernandez scored on 17 and 65 minutes and Levi Colwill struck on 23 minutes for Chelsea, while Facundo Buonanotte and Joao Pedro netted for Brighton, who were always chasing the game.

West Ham and Crystal Palace took a point each in a 1-1 draw with Mohammed Kudus opening the scoring for West Ham after 13 minutes, and Odsonne Edouard scoring for the visitors eight minutes into the second half.

Ollie Watkins’ 90th minute goal ensured a 2-2 draw between Bournemouth and Aston Villa that helped confirm Bournemouth are finding their feet under Andoni Iraola.

Antoine Semenyo fired Bournemouth ahead after an error from Diego Carlos after 10 minutes, but Villa were level when Leon Bailey cut in and equalized.

Dominic Solanke put Bournemouth back in front in the 52nd minute, but Watkins’ late header save a point for the visitors.

Two goals in the first 13 minutes gave Arsenal a 2-1 win at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, which extends their lead at the top of the Premier League after Manchester City’s draw.

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring in the sixth minute and the impressive Martin Odegaard doubled the lead seven minutes later as Arsenal looked to be cruising, although they failed to kill Wolves off and Mathias Cunha’s 86th minute effort meant some nervous moments in the Emirates Stadium.

Anthony Gordon’s 55th minute finish from Keiran Trippier’s cross gave Newcastle United a deserved 1-0 win at home to Manchester United that confirms Newcastle’s good form, despite injuries, and highlights that their rivals are still in crisis.

Dwight McNeil’s 67th minute goal gave Everton a 1-0 win away to Nottingham Forest to give his side a boost after their 10-point deduction for breaching financial fair-play rules.

Burnley thrashed 10-man Sheffield United 5-0, taking advantage of Oliver McBurnie’s 42nd red card to claim their first home win of the season with goals from Jay Rodriguez and Jacob Bruun Larsen before halftime, before Zeki Amdouni, Luca Koleosho and Josh Brownhill scored further goals in the last 17 minutes.

Second-half goals from Neal Maupay, Ben Mee and Shandon Baptiste gave Brentford a 3-1 win at home to Luton Town.

Source(s): Xinhua

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Arsenal stay top, Newcastle stun Man Utd in Premier League





LONDON, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) — Two goals in the first 13 minutes gave Arsenal a 2-1 win at home to Wolverhampton Wanderers on Saturday, which keeps them top of the Premier League.

Bukayo Saka opened the scoring in the sixth minute and the impressive Martin Odegaard doubled the lead seven minutes later as Arsenal looked to be cruising.

However, Wolves showed they are well organized under coach Gary O’Neil and Matheus Cunha’s 86th minute effort from the middle of the penalty area ensured some nervous closing minutes in the Emirates Stadium.

Anthony Gordon’s 55th minute goal from Kieran Trippier’s cross gave Newcastle United a deserved 1-0 home win over Manchester United.

Newcastle went into the game with a long injury list, but were still able to dominate a rival struggling for confidence and form.

Dwight McNeil’s 67th minute goal gave Everton a 1-0 win away to Nottingham Forest to lift his side off the bottom of the table after their 10-point deduction for breaching financial fair-play rules.

Forest were angry after being denied what looked like a good penalty appeal when Abdoulaye Doucoure got away with pulling Ryan Yates’ shirt in the Everton penalty area.

Burnley took their first home win of the season with a 5-0 thrashing of Sheffield United. Jay Rodriguez and Jacob Bruun Larsen made it 2-0 after 29 minutes and things got worse for Sheffield when Oliver McBurnie was sent off to leave them with 10 men. Zeki Amdouni, Luca Koleosho and Josh Brownhill scored further goals in the last 17 minutes.

Brentford beat Luton Town 3-1 with goals from Neal Maupay, Ben Mee and Shandon Baptiste. Maupay and Mee scored in the 49th and 56th minutes and although Jacob Brown gave Luton hope 15 minutes from time, Baptiste’s goal five minutes later sealed Brentford’s win.

Source(s): Xinhua

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