Spain roundup: Big Three win, Getafe & Valladolid climb to safety

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Real Madrid may be in real trouble despite the thumping they unleashed on Rayo Vallecano this weekend, as Barcelona and Atletico Madrid show no signs of weakening ahead of a run-in to the end of a thrilling La Liga season.

Meanwhile, the weekend saw a shakeup in the relegation zone, as Getafe has at least temporarily escaped the terrors of the Bottom Three thanks to a surprising road win at Valencia.

After Barca’s heart-pounding win over Real Madrid last weekend officially made La Liga a three-horse race, Real lost its second straight with a Tuesday loss at Seville, while wins from Barca and Atletico propelled them into better paths to the title.

So this weekend provided a big question for Real supporters, and their club responded with a resounding, “Yes, we’re still here,” pounding away at Vallecano to the tune of 5-0. It took just 15 minutes for the Bernabeu to see a goal, as Cristiano Ronaldo scored before Daniel Carvajal and Alvaro Morata contribued a goal and Gareth Bale picked up a brace.

But a 77th minute penalty conversion from Lionel Messi sealed three points for Barca in its derby date at Espanyol, and Atletico overcame a sixth minute tally from Iker Muniain to see a 2-1 win at Bilbao behind goals from Diego Costa and Koke (above).

And so Real has to resort to hope, as it could win the rest of its matches and still be monitoring matches outside their participation right up until the final week’s Atletico/Barca power fixture.

Before you think we only care for the big name squads, how about a hand for Getafe and Valladolid? The other Madrid club fell behind 1-0 early before Lafita, Ciprian Marica and Pedro Leon scored to lift Getafe out of the relegation zone. They are now one point free of a three-way tie for the final two drop zone tickets.

And Valladolid is now surviving via goal differential in that three-way tie after a sixth minute Manucho goal paced them by Almeria in a massive relegation battle. The home team pushed Almeria down into the drop, as Valladolid picked up eight of its 30 points in March including the March 8 upset of Barca.

Elsewhere

  • Celta Vigo 1-0 Sevilla FC — The hosts waited until the 87th minute to break through on a Nolito penalty.
  • Villarreal 1-1 Elche — Jonathan canceled out a penalty from Damian Suarez, but Villarreal failed to take advantage of stumbles from Sociedad and Sevilla.
  • Osasuna 1-1 Real Sociedad— A disappointing draw leaves Sociedad muddled with two clubs in a race for fifth, while Osasuna is now the third team in a three-team tie for two relegation spots. Not the good kind of third.
  • Granada vs. Levante — Monday
  • Real Betis vs. Malaga– Monday

 

Standings

 

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Atlético Madrid 31 24 4 3 69 22 47 13-3-0 11-1-3 76
Barcelona 31 24 3 4 89 25 64 14-0-1 10-3-3 75
Real Madrid 31 23 4 4 86 32 54 13-0-2 10-4-2 73
Athletic 31 16 8 7 53 34 19 11-3-2 5-5-5 56
Sevilla 31 14 8 9 55 46 9 8-3-4 6-5-5 50
Real Sociedad 31 14 8 9 54 44 10 10-3-2 4-5-7 50
Villarreal 31 14 7 10 51 37 14 7-6-3 7-1-7 49
Espanyol 31 11 7 13 34 36 -2 7-3-6 4-4-7 40
Valencia 31 11 7 13 44 45 -1 8-3-5 3-4-8 40
Levante 30 9 10 11 27 38 -11 5-5-5 4-5-6 37
Celta Vigo 31 10 6 15 34 44 -10 4-6-6 6-0-9 36
Granada 30 10 4 16 28 40 -12 6-1-8 4-3-8 34
Rayo Vallecano 31 10 3 18 34 68 -34 6-0-9 4-3-9 33
Málaga 30 8 8 14 29 38 -9 5-2-8 3-6-6 32
Elche 31 7 11 13 25 42 -17 5-6-5 2-5-8 32
Getafe 31 8 7 16 29 48 -19 4-6-6 4-1-10 31
Valladolid 31 6 12 13 32 50 -18 5-7-3 1-5-10 30
Almería 31 8 6 17 33 58 -25 5-5-5 3-1-12 30
Osasuna 31 8 6 17 26 52 -26 5-3-7 3-3-10 30
Betis 30 5 7 18 26 59 -33 4-3-8 1-4-10 22

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET