Some really great saves this weekend in the Premier League as plenty of shutouts stole the show. Among the best was a superb reflex stop (see for yourself below) from Cardiff City ‘keeper David Marshall. He sprung to his left to thwart Everton once again as the Bluebirds held on for a 0-0 draw at home against the Toffees. It was hard to pick the top five saves but here they are, including a top save from USMNT star Tim Howard.
BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo scored two goals to lead Real Madrid to a 4-2 win over Athletic Bilbao on Saturday, provisionally lifting it into second place in the Spanish league.
Ronaldo opened the scoring in the third minute before Javier Eraso quickly leveled for the Basques in a back-and-forth first half at the Santiago Bernabeu that finished with James Rodriguez and Toni Kroos giving Madrid a 3-1 lead at halftime.
Madrid defender Raphael Varane, whose error led to Eraso’s goal, was sent off in the 83rd after earning identical bookings for twice thrusting his forearm into Aritz Aduriz’s head while contesting a high ball.
Despite being a man down, Ronaldo found the net again in the 87th to move past Barcelona’s Luis Suarez as the competition’s leading scorer with 21 goals this season.
Gorka Elustondo headed in Bilbao’s second goal in the 90th.
Madrid’s fourth win in as many home matches under coach Zinedine Zidane – by a combined score of 20-3 – lifted it two points ahead of Atletico Madrid before it visits Getafe on Sunday.
Leader Barcelona is one point ahead of Madrid with two matches to play: against Celta on Sunday and at Sporting Gijon on Wednesday.
Zidane will make his European coaching debut on Wednesday when Madrid visits Roma in the Champions League’s round of 16.
Ronaldo’s goals were his 31st and 32nd in 30 games across all competitions this campaign, a season in which he has been criticized by some for failing to score against important rivals.
“About Cristiano, what can I say?” Zidane said before employing an expletive in Spanish to describe how good he considers the forward’s form.
“We are ready for the match against Roma. We are in shape, playing well, and very pleased with how we played today against a very good rival. We are prepared for Wednesday.”
Also Saturday, Villarreal strengthened its hold on fourth place and the last Champions League spot with a 1-0 win at home over Malaga thanks to striker Roberto Soldado‘s 18th-minute goal.
Ronaldo gave Madrid a brilliant start when he received a pass from Karim Benzema, used a deft dribble to wrong-foot Xabier Etxeita and fired a right-footed strike just under the crossbar.
But Bilbao was undaunted and quickly leveled in the 10th when Eraso pounced on Varane’s poor backpass that goalkeeper Keylor Navas did well to stop from becoming an own goal but left for Eraso to finish off.
Aduriz went close twice to putting the visitors ahead with a header saved by Navas before the striker hit the bar.
Rodriguez turned the flow back in Madrid’s favor with an excellent strike with his left foot from outside the area that curled around outstretched goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz in the 37th.
Kroos put Madrid in full control heading into the break when he took a pass from Ronaldo in the area and sent a shot that deflected off a defender past Iraizoz in first-half injury time.
“We leave with the feeling that we had a good first half. Maybe we missed a great opportunity today,” said Bilbao manager Ernesto Valverde, impressed by Madrid’s “extraordinary firepower.”
Ronaldo hit the upright before finally getting his second goal from a pass by substitute Lucas Vazquez.
Valencia hosts Espanyol later, while Real Betis visits Deportivo La Coruna.
(AP) — Substitute Simone Zaza scored two minutes from time and Juventus beat visiting Napoli 1-0 on Saturday to take the Serie A lead from the southern club.
Seeking its fifth consecutive title, Juventus moved one point ahead of Napoli with 13 rounds remaining in the Italian league.
Near the end of a match in Turin that had been characterized by few chances for either side, Zaza’s goal came with a long, curving shot that deflected slightly off defender Raul Albiol.
It was Juventus’ 15th straight win, moving the Bianconeri within two victories of the Serie A record established by Inter Milan in 2006-07.
Earlier, Daniel Ciofani scored twice as promoted Frosinone beat Empoli 2-1 for its first away win in the top division. Also, Chievo Verona and Sassuolo drew 1-1.
A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Germany’s top flight…
[ FOLLOW: PST’s Bundesliga coverage ]
Borussia Dortmund 1-0 Hannover
Bayern Munich’s lead has been cut to five points (for the time being – they play on Sunday) after Borussia Dortmund (48 points) returned to winning ways via Henrikh Mkhitaryan’s game-winning goal in the 57th minute (below video).
Darmstadt 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen
No Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, no problem for Bayer Leverkusen, who went third in the Bundesliga with a 2-1 away victory over 12th-place Darmstadt. After going down a goal in the 28th minute, the game swung on a pair of goals 15 minutes apart just after the hour mark. Aytac Sulu put the ball into his own net for Leverkusen’s equalizer on 62 minutes, and Julian Brandt scored the winner in the 77th minute. Now on 35 points with a +9 goal differential, Leverkusen have leapfrogged Hertha Berlin for the third and final automatic qualification spot into the UEFA Champions League.
Stuttgart 2-0 Hertha Berlin
Hertha are now four league games without a win (three draws) after falling 2-0 away to Stuttgart. Serey Die and Filip Kostic were the goalscorers on Saturday, as U.S. national team defender John Brooks completed his 12th straight 90-minute shift (all competitions). With 35 points and a +6 goal differential, Hertha now sit just two points ahead of Schalke and Mainz in the race for the Bundesliga’s fourth and final Champions League place.
Elsewhere in the Bundesliga
Wolfsburg 2-0 Ingolstadt
Werder Bremen 1-1 Hoffenheim
Koln 3-1 Eintracht Frankfurt
Sunday’s Bundesliga schedule
Hamburg vs. Borussia Monchengladbach (9:30 a.m. ET)
Augsburg vs. Bayern Munich (11:30 a.m. ET)
|Hertha BSC Berlin||21||10||5||6||29||23||6||6-3-1||4-2-5||35|
|FC Schalke 04||21||10||3||8||30||28||2||6-2-3||4-1-5||33|
|FSV Mainz 05||21||10||3||8||27||25||2||6-1-4||4-2-4||33|
|1. FC Köln||21||7||8||6||24||27||-3||4-4-3||3-4-3||29|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||21||7||5||9||14||23||-9||4-2-4||3-3-5||26|
The U.S. women’s national team is one step closer to qualifying for the 2016 Olympics in after the Lady Yanks, on the back of Carli Lloyd’s 79th minute, knocked off their North American rivals, Mexico, in a narrow, physical affair at Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Tex., on Saturday.
[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USWNT coverage ]
With only bottom-of-the-group Puerto Rico (0 points, -15 goal differential through two games) still to face, the USWNT are through to the semifinal round, at which point they’ll be one more win away from qualifying for this summer’s Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.
The first half of Saturday’s clash was much different from what either side saw in their opening game — USWNT beat Costa Rica, 5-0, while Mexico routed Puerto Rick, 6-0 — as both sides engaged in a rough-and-tumble affair, racked up plenty of fouls and failed to create much of anything in terms of quality scoring chances.
The USWNT’s best chance early in the second half came in the 53rd minute, when Christen Press rifled a right-footed effort toward the far post from 15 yards out, but found nothing but woodwork before the ball caromed back into the field of play.
Alex Morgan very nearly opened the scoring in the 67th minute. Becky Sauerbrunn’s long throw was flicked on by Lindsey Horan’s header inside the penalty area, and eventually made its way to Morgan near the top of the six-yard box, from where her volleyed effort was sent inches over the crossbar.
With 77 minutes on the clock, Horan followed suit with a shot of her own off the post. From 20 yards out, her right-footed effort had beaten the goalkeeper, only to hit the same far post and bounce across the face of goal, where not a single American player was waiting to tap home the rebound.
All of Mexico’s dogged defensive work was undone in the 79th minute, though, as the USWNT was awarded a controversial penalty for handball. Lloyd’s initial effort from the penalty spot was saved, but the reigning World Player of the Year was first to the rebound and slotted the ball into an empty net (below video).