La Liga & Serie A roundup: Celta Vigo go top; Juve sit 14th

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A roundup of all the weekend’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights:

Villarreal 1-2 Celta Vigo

Before last week, Villarreal hadn’t lost a league game all season and looked poised to run away with the La Liga title race (not really). Then they lost away to Levante — OK, fair enough. This week, it’s a home loss to new league leaders Celta Vigo(!!!) that sees El Submarino Amarillo tumble from the top spot, all the way down to fourth. Goals scored by Fabian Orellana and Denis Suarez had the two sides headed toward a 1-1, but Nolito scored the winner in the 90th minute to push Os Celticos level on points with Real Madrid and Barcelona, ahead on tiebreakers.

Real Sociedad 0-2 Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann, who dominated La Liga in his first season for Atleti (22 goals) last year, is off to another fine start, as the Frenchman bagged his fourth goal of the still-young season to give Los Rojiblancos a 9th-minute lead. Yannick Ferreira-Carrasco provided the insurance goal very late on (91st minute) to seal all three points and keep Atleti (16 points) fifth in the league, two points off the three co-leaders at the top.

Elsewhere in La Liga action

Barcelona 5-2 Rayo Vallecano — MORE
Real Madrid 3-0 Levante — MORE
Eibar 1-1 Sevilla
Valencia 3-0 Malaga
Real Betis 1-3 Espanyol
Getafe 4-0 Las Palmas
Deportivo La Coruna 2-2 Athletic Bilbao


Napoli 2-1 Fiorentina

Lorenzo Insigne and Gonzalo Higuain scored for Napoli either side of Nikola Kalinic’s 73rd-minute equalizer to drop the Viola, current leaders in Serie A, three points closer to the chasing pack. The victory boosts Napoli (15 points) all the way up to fifth, three points off Fiorentina.

Roma 3-1 Empoli

Roma hammered Empoli to capitalize on Fiorentina’s defeat and move to within a single point of the league lead. Miralem Pjanic, Daniele De Rossi and Mohamed Salah provided the goals for Rudi Garcia’s side (17 points) to make it three wins in three league games. No side in Serie A has scored more goals than Roma’s 20 through eight games.

Inter Milan 0-0 Juventus

Juve currently sit 14th in the league, with nine points from eight games, nine points off the pace of Fiorentina.

Elsewhere in Serie A action

Torino 1-1 AC Milan
Bologna 0-1 Palermo
Atalanta 3-0 Capri
Frosinone 2-0 Sampdoria
Genoa 3-2 Chievo
Hellas Verona 1-1 Udinese
Sassuolo 2-1 Lazio

Man City into League Cup final (video)

Nick Potts/PA via AP
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  • City outshoots Bristol 28-5
  • Sane, Aguero put MCFC up 2-0
  • Pack, Kent pulls two back for Bristol
  • De Bruyne answers in stoppage
  • City wins 5-3 on aggregate

A pair of late goals put a scare into Man City, but the Premier League leaders scored just before and right after halftime to insure its first leg lead en route to a 3-2 win over Bristol City at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

City wins 5-3 on aggregate in the League Cup semifinal, with Sergio Aguero, Leroy Sane, and Kevin De Bruyne scoring in the second leg.

Pep Guardiola moves to within 90 minutes of his first significant title as Man City boss, and will face either Chelsea or Arsenal on Feb. 25 at Wembley Stadium.

Marlon Pack and Aden Flint scored for Bristol City.

[ MORE: Full stats, box score ]

Sane scored in the 43rd minute and Sergio Aguero struck less than four minutes after the teams returned from the halftime break.

An errant John Stones clearance helped Bristol to the scoreboard in the 64th minute, with Pack scoring the goal.

Flint then nodded home in stoppage time to give the Robins hope for a miracle win, but new contract hero De Bruyne scored within a minute to burn those hopes to the ground.

Bristol would be in the Football League Championship playoffs if the season ended now, sitting in fifth place.

Midfielder Lassana Diarra joins PSG on short-term deal

Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images
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PARIS (AP) Paris Saint-Germain has made its first signing of the winter transfer window by hiring midfielder Lassana Diarra on a short-term deal until June 2019.

The 32-year-old holding midfielder will once again try to revive his career in the French league after a successful stint at PSG’s bitter rival, Marseille, that ended last year.

The much-traveled Diarra, who was born in Paris, then played for a few months with United Arab Emirates club Al Jazira.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Diarra, a former Chelsea, Arsenal and Real Madrid player, won English and Spanish league titles in 2006 and 2012. He has 34 caps for France and featured at the European Championship in 2008.

His strong performances with Marseille earned him a recall from France, but he eventually pulled out of Didier Deschamps’ squad for Euro 2016 because of a left knee injury.

“I am very happy to have signed for my hometown club,” Diarra said. “Paris Saint-Germain represents a lot to me and, with the international dimension the club has taken in recent seasons, it is every player’s dream to play here. I am lucky enough to make this dream come true.”

Diarra joined on a free transfer and his signing won’t affect PSG’s bank accounts, which are under UEFA’s scrutiny.

PSG is under pressure to sell players to balance the books after splashing out 402 million euros ($473 million) on forwards Neymar and Kylian Mbappe last year. That led to Qatari-owned PSG being placed under investigation by UEFA for potential breaches of Financial Fair Play rules.

Palace adds again with towering Polish center back

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Crystal Palace is delivering on Roy Hodgson‘s depth demands at injury-hit Selhurst Park.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

A day after signing Erdal Rakip on loan from Benfica, the South London set has added big Polish center back Jaroslaw Jach on a permanent deal.

Jach, 23, comes from Zagłębie Lubin and has played 17 matches, scoring a goal for the fifth place side in Poland’s Ekstraklasa. Like Palace, he’s risen through the lower leagues to reach Poland’s top flight and now the Premier League.

Jach was capped twice by Poland in November, going 180 minutes in a 1-0 loss to Mexico and a scoreless draw with Uruguay

Here’s Jach, from CPFC.co.uk:

“I know it is the club from south London and has an outstanding manager, Roy Hodgson, who led team England in the past,” he added. “Every game is a sell-out which is one of the greatest things, and I have also heard that even though there are many clubs in London, the biggest derby games for fans are those with Brighton, which makes it one of the biggest games in the season. I hope one day I will be able to win such a game.”

LIVE, League Cup semi: Bristol City host Man City

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Bristol City host Manchester City in the second leg of their League Cup semifinal on Tuesday, with the Robins 2-1 down from the first leg at the Etihad Stadium.

The winner will play either Arsenal or Chelsea in the final at Wembley, with the London rivals locked at 0-0 as they play their second leg at the Emirates Stadium on Wednesday.

[ LIVE: Follow Bristol City-Man City ]

Lee Johnson’s Bristol City are the heavy underdogs, once again, but their fairytale run in the League Cup has seen them oust four Premier League opponents previously in Watford, Stoke City, Crystal Palace and Manchester United. Surely the runaway Premier League leaders won’t be Bristol City’s next scalp…

Pep Guardiola has named a strong starting lineup as he aims to reach his first domestic cup final as Man City boss, with Claudio Bravo replacing Ederson in goal the only major change.

Bristol City, who sit in fifth place in England’s second-tier, five points off the automatic promotion spots, have two absentees with goalkeeper Frank Fielding missing out, while defender Nathan Baker is only on the bench after late fitness tests.

We are all just waiting (and hoping) for Bristol City to score so they can put up an awesome goal GIF…

Click on the link above to follow the action live, while below are the starting lineups for both teams. We will have analysis and reaction on the semifinal second leg right here on Pro Soccer Talk.

LINEUPS

Bristol City: Steele, Wright, Flint, Magnusson, Brownhill, Pack, Smith, Walsh, Bryan, Paterson, Reid. Subs: Wollacott, Baker, Eliasson, Kent, Engvall, Taylor, Diedhiou

Manchester City: Bravo; Walker, Stones, Otamendi, Zinchenko; Fernandinho; Bernardo, Silva, De Bruyne, Sane; Aguero. Subs: Ederson, Danilo, Kompany, Sterling, Gundogan, Mangala, Yaya Toure