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La Liga & Serie A: Newly promoted Alaves shock Barca; Ronaldo returns, scores

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Madrid 5-2 Osasuna

Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t played a minute of first-team football since injuring his knee in the final of EURO 2016. He needed just six of them — minutes, that is — to mark his return to the field with his first goal of the season (assisted by Gareth Bale) on Saturday. The Portuguese superstar wouldn’t find the net again, and he would only last 66 minutes on the day, but it was a successful return to action in every possible way.

Most notably, the 5-2 victory for Real Madrid. Danilo, Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Luka Modric each chipped in with a goal of their own, as Zinedine Zidane’s side became the only Spanish side still perfect three games into the 2016-17 season.

Barcelona 1-2 Alaves

Luis Enrique’s side dropped their first points of the season, at home against newly promoted Alaves. Lionel Messi was left out of the starting lineup (hamstring injury), but came off the bench on the hour mark, with the game tied at 1-1, and failed to make the kind of impact Barca needed.

Barca went behind through Deyverson’s opening goal in the 39th minute, but Jeremy Mathieu put them back on level terms less than 60 seconds after the halftime restart. Messi entered in the 60th minute, and Ibai Gomez scored Alaves’s winner, thanks to a fatal mistake by Mathieu, four minutes later.

Celta Vigo 0-4 Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann scored twice, and Koke and Angel Correa chipped in a goal apiece, as Atleti routed last year’s sixth-place finishers away from home. Saturday’s brace gives the 25-year-old Frenchman 46 league goals three seasons into his time at the Vicente Calderon Stadium (22 goals in each of the last two seasons).

Elsewhere in La Liga

Sevilla 2-1 Las Palmas
Malaga 0-2 Villarreal

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Sporting Gijon vs. Leganes (6 a.m. ET)
Valencia vs. Real Betis (10 a.m. ET)
Granada vs. Eibar (12:15 a.m. ET)
Deportivo La Coruña vs. Athletic Bilbao (2:30 p.m. ET)


Juventus 3-1 Sassuolo

Gonzalo Higuain scored twice to take his league goals tally to three on the season (through three games — after scoring 36 in 35 last season) before Miralem Pjanic made it 3-0 with only 27 minutes on the clock. Luca Antei pulled a goal back for Sassuolo, but that’s as close as they would get. Juve are a perfect 3-for-3 to start the season, already two points clear of Napoli. They will probably never relinquish that lead.

Palermo 0-3 Napoli

Napoli, and perhaps Roma, will do everything they can to prevent Juve extending their half-decade of dominance any further. In the end, it won’t be enough, but it’ll be enjoyable to watch them try for a while. Jose Callejon bagged a brace and Marek Hamsik scored the third as Maurizio Sarri’s side blew past Palermo on Saturday.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Bologna vs. Cagliari (6:30 a.m. ET)
Chievo vs. Lazio (9 a.m. ET)
Genoa vs. Fiorentina (9 a.m. ET)
AC Milan vs. Udinese (9 a.m. ET)
Atalanta vs. Torino (9 a.m. ET)
Roma vs. Sampdoria (9 a.m. ET)
Pescara vs. Inter Milan (2:45 p.m. ET)

U.S. Open Cup roundup: Poku lifts Miami; Red Bulls, Cincy win on PKs

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While MLS represents the majority of the remaining clubs in this year’s U.S. Open Cup, one side continues to defy the odds.

[ MORE: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson ]

Miami FC reached their first quarterfinal in club history after knocking off Atlanta United late on Wednesday, behind a goal and an assist from Kwadwo Poku. The victory for Miami sets up a date with FC Cincinnati — who pulled off an unbelievable shootout win against the Chicago Fire.

Meanwhile, the New York Red Bulls and New England Revolution both advanced on the night with wins over the Philadelphia Union and D.C. United, respectively. The Red Bulls and Revs will meet in the final eight as well.

Sporting KC kept its hope of hoisting a fourth U.S. Open Cup title alive on Wednesday with a 2-0 win over the Houston Dynamo. The 2015 winners will take on FC Dallas — who defeated the Colorado Rapids on Tuesday night.

Here are all the results from tonight’s Open Cup action.

Houston Dynamo 0-2 Sporting KC
New England Revolution 2-1 D.C. United
Miami FC 3-2 Atlanta United
New York Red Bulls 1-1 (5-3 on PKs) Philadelphia Union
FC Cincinnati 0-0 (3-1 on PKs) Chicago Fire
San Jose Earthquakes 2-1 Seattle Sounders
LA Galaxy 2-0 Sacramento Republic

Report: City Football Group set to expand outreach with Girona deal

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City Football Group appears on the verge of adding to its global outreach, and it’s next destination looks to be in Spain.

[ MORE: Are Southampton’s days of selling behind the club? ]

The group of investors, which are known for controlling Premier League side Manchester City, are reportedly nearing a deal to purchase a partial stake in Spanish club Girona — which is set to make its La Liga debut in 2017/18.

CFG is said to be gaining a near “50 percent” stake in the club, with the rest of the club owned by Media Base, a company owned by Pep Guardiola‘s brother, Pere.

Over recent years, CFG has vastly expanded its ownership outreach and currently has a stake in five clubs around the world, with Girona set to be the sixth.

MLS side New York City FC, Australian A-League side Melbourne City FC, Japan’s Yokohama F. Marinos and Club Atletico Torque in Uruguay are all part of the CFG enterprise, alongside Man City.

New York Red Bulls ink goalkeeper Luis Robles to new deal

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The “Iron Man” will keep up his amazing journey with the New York Red Bulls, after signing a new deal with the club on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder on verge of joining Los Angeles FC ]

Goalkeeper Luis Robles has extended his contract with the reigning Eastern Conference champions, as the American continues to raise his consecutive starts streak, which stands at 157.

The terms of the deal were not disclosed in the club’s release.

Robles joined the Red Bulls back in 2012 after playing in Germany, and the shot-stopper hasn’t missed a start ever since.

Report: Minnesota United adds Hearts midfielder Sam Nicholson

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Minnesota United has had its shares of ups and down in its debut MLS season, but the Loons are on the verge making an exciting young signing.

[ MORE: Wesley Sneijder closing in on Los Angeles FC move ]

ESPN FC is reporting that Minnesota will sign Hearts winger Sam Nicholson from the Scottish Premier League on a deal that makes him a Loon until 2019.

The young attacker is expected to join the MLS side when the summer transfer window opens on July 10.

Nicholson, 22, has played with the Edinburgh side since his youth days, and made his senior debut with the club in 2013. During his time at Hearts, Nicholson scored 16 goals in all competitions for the team.

Last season, Nicholson missed 16 matches due to a significant knee injury.

According to the report, Scottish sides Rangers and Aberdeen were also among those interested in acquiring Nicholson, while English Championship clubs Bristol City and Barnsley also reached out about the attacker.