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La Liga & Serie A: Messi salvages point for Barca; Juventus cruises

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

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

Villareal 1-1 Barcelona

The Blaugrana were on the verge of disaster until Lionel Messi rescued Barcelona with a 90th minute free kick on Sunday afternoon. The Argentine forward struck in the dying moments with a superb dead ball opportunity to give Barcelona a share of the points against Villareal. The Yellow Submarine took the lead four minutes into the second half after Nicola Sansone finished off an Alexandre Pato pass on a counterattack. Barcelona currently trails league leaders Real Madrid by five points, while Villareal sits fifth on 30 points.

Real Betis 2-0 Leganes

Ruben Castro and Cristiano Piccini each scored after halftime on Sunday as Real Betis moved nine points above the relegation zone in La Liga. Meanwhile, the loss puts Leganes within four points of the bottom three as the season approaches its halfway stage.

Celta Vigo 3-1 Malaga

The two sides are now level on points following their clash at the Balaídos. Iago Aspas gave Celta the lead on seven minutes before Daniel Wass and Fontas put the match to bed in the second stanza. Wass briefly gave Malaga a glimmer of hope in the 86th minute when he put the ball into his own net, however, the chance was gone for the Boquerones to mount a comeback.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Athletic Bilbao 0-0 Alaves

Juventus 3-0 Bologna

The Bianconeri jumped out to a two-goal lead before halftime, and from there the league leaders left their opponent no chance. First-half goals from Gonzalo Higuain and Paulo Dybala gave Juventus their first win since the holiday break. Higuain scored once more after halftime to hand Juventus a third and the side three points on the day.

AC Milan 1-0 Cagliari

Carlos Bacca played hero for the Milan side as the Colombian scored inside of five minutes remaining to give the Rossoneri the win. The hosts and goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma weren’t challenged much on the day, however, Milan struggled to break down the Cagliari backline for a large part of the afternoon. Cagliari was dealt its final blow in stoppage time when Bruno Alves was sent off for a rash tackle on Bacca in the 94th minute.

Atalanta 4-1 Chievo Verona

Surprises Atalanta moved into sixth in Italy’s top flight on Sunday after a comfortable victory over 11th place Chievo. The hosts took the lead after four minutes when Alejandro Gomez notched his first of two finishes. Andrea Conti made it 3-0 prior to halftime before Atalanta grabbed a fourth on the side of the break.

Elsewhere in Serie A

Udinese 1-2 Inter Milan
Roma 1-0 Genoa
Sassuolo 0-0 Torino
Lazio 1-0 Crotone
Pescara-Fiorentina (Postponed)

Day 9: USMNT tops Group F and more from the U20 World Cup

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Five teams booked their place in the knockout phase at the FIFA Under-20 World Cup on Sunday, including Tab Ramos and the U.S. after the Americans picked up a valuable point to finish atop Group F.

[ MORE: Allardyce steps down at Palace ]

USMNT U-20s 1-1 Saudi Arabia

An unbeaten record in group play has Ramos and Co. moving on to the Round of 16, where the U.S. will meet New Zealand. Brooks Lennon inked his name on the scoresheet for the first time at this month’s World Cup just prior to halftime, before Abdulelah Alamri equalized with almost a quarter hour left to play.

Senegal 0-0 Ecuador

A draw was all Senegal needed to ensure it would continue its run at the World Cup, while Ecuador fell short of a final 16 bid after only managing two draws during Group F play.

New Zealand 0-2 France

With nine goals for and none conceded during Group E play, France remains one of the heavy hitters at the conclusion of the group phase. Les Bleus received a strong contribution from Bastia winger Allan Saint-Maximin, who netted twice in the first half.

Honduras 2-0 Vietnam

Honduras scored twice in the final 14 minutes-plus added time but neither nation reaches the Round of 16 with Sunday’s result.

Daly collapses during match, treated for heat illness

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HOUSTON (AP) Houston Dash forward Rachel Daly collapsed during the final minute of a National Women’s Soccer League match against the Seattle Reign as temperatures climbed into the 90s.

The 25-year-old Daly was stretchered off the field and taken to the hospital, where the team said she was being treated for heat illness.

The temperature at BBVA Compass Stadium was 92 degrees at the 3 p.m. kickoff. The Reign won 2-0.

[ MORE: Perisic talking with Man Utd? ]

The NWSL issued a statement that said the league had worked with the Dash before the season to schedule any afternoon games early in the year to help avoid heat issues. The teams took a hydration break late in the match.

“We will immediately review these measures to prevent this situation from occurring in the future,” the statement said.

Reign coach Laura Harvey posted to Twitter: “Proud of the team today. Some of the hottest conditions I’ve seen. Road games are tough but that was crazy.”

MLS roundup: Outrageous dive, posts doom ‘Caps; Ramirez stays red hot

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Six matches are in the books on a busy Saturday in Major League Soccer, and five of them finished 1-0.

How they got there? Much different stories. With the Cali Clasico still to play, let’s dig into the five that followed Seattle 1-0 Portland.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]

Vancouver Whitecaps 0-1 DC United

It’s especially difficult to win on the road in Major League Soccer, unless the hosts fritter away four good chances off the woodwork — including a Cristian Techera PK — and give away a spot kick of their own. Lamar Neagle converted the 61st offering after a sinister dive from Jose Guillermo Ortiz. He was taken off soon after, and is probably going to miss sometime when the DisCo is done with him. Outrageous.

New York Red Bulls 2-1 New England Revolution

Not one, not two, nor three, but four New England players saw a low cross slide by them for Daniel Royer to finish as New York came from behind to take all three points at Red Bull Arena. Cody Cropper committed a gaffe that allowed Bradley Wright-Phillips to equalize after a Lee Nguyen PK had put the Revs ahead early.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 Sporting KC

Homegrown defender and University of Denver product Kortne Ford has his first MLS goal, as the Rapids surprised the Western Conference leaders on Saturday. SKC outshot Colorado by nearly 20 attempts (Shoulder shrug emoji).

Minnesota United 1-0 Orlando City

There were questions as to whether NASL superstar Christian Ramirez could translate his game to Major League Soccer.

Yes. The answer is yes.

Ramirez has eight goals in 13 MLS matches, and should be hearing his name from a certain Bruce Arena around Gold Cup time. Those USMNT dreams of last season should come true.

Bobby Shuttleworth made six saves for his third shutout of the season. All have come at home.

Real Salt Lake 1-0 Philadelphia Union

Joao Plata keeps shooting, and the tiny Ecuadorian menace keeps scoring, too. His 36th minute goal was enough for the hosts at Rio Tinto.

Raiola: Zlatan to “100 percent” stay in Europe for two seasons

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic may be 35 and coming off major knee surgery, but that isn’t stopping suitors from lining up across Europe.

[ MORE: Perisic to Man Utd? ]

Ibrahimovic’s agent, Mino Raiola, says that MLS is not an option for the Swede over the next two seasons. From Sky Sports:

“Many clubs have asked for Zlatan. He can play two more years and will stay in Europe, 100 per cent.”

It would make sense for Ibrahimovic to stay around Manchester United, where he is admired by Jose Mourinho and coming off a season that showed he’s still capable of contributing at a high level.

But he remains beloved in Italy, and would be effective for most clubs in the Top 5 leagues should he return at even 75 percent of the Zlatan we’ve seen regularly.