BARCELONA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 04: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona runs with the ball next to Aymeric Laporte of Athletic Club during the La Liga match between FC Barcelona and Athletic Club at Camp Nou  stadium on February 4, 2017 in Barcelona, Spain. (Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images)
Alex Caparros/Getty Images

La Liga & Serie A: Barca cruises past Bilbao, Napoli scores seven

Leave a comment

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

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

Barcelona 3-0 Athletic Bilbao

The Blaugrana have moved to within a point of Real Madrid at the summit of La Liga after a convincing performance on Saturday at the Camp Nou. First-half goals from Paco Alcacer and Lionel Messi helped give Barca a 2-0 advantage prior to halftime, while Aleix Vidal added a third on the other side of the break. Messi was up to his usual tricks in the 40th minute when he scored a tight-angled free kick to beat goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Leganes

Fernando Torres notched a brace to give Atleti some hope of staying in the title race against Leganes. The veteran Spanish striker scored on both sides of halftime, with the first coming after an Antoine Griezmann penalty kick was saved in the 15th minute. Torres got on the scoresheet for a second time six minutes into the second stanza when Angel Correa sent the former Chelsea striker in on goal.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Malaga 0-1 Espanyol
Valencia 0-4 Eibar

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Sevilla vs. Villareal — 6 a.m. ET
Sporting Gijon vs. Alaves — 10:15 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad vs. Osasuna — 12:30 p.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Real Madrid — 2:45 p.m. ET (expected to be postponed)


Bologna 1-7 Napoli

First-half red cards plagued both sides but goals were aplenty for the visitors as Napoli put six into the net on Saturday. Marek Hamsik recorded a hat-trick for the away side, with his first coming after just minutes. Lorenzo Insigne scored just two minutes later to give Napoli an early 2-0 advantage, however, after that is when the infractions began to take their toll on the match. Napoli’s Jose Callejon was sent off in the 26th minute after picking up a second yellow card, before Adam Masina’s red card leveled the game at 10 v 10 six minutes later.

Dries Mertens capped off the opening stanza with a pair of finishes 10 minutes apart before finishing off his hat-trick in the 90th minute. Bologna had its lone moment of brilliance come in the 36th minute when Vasileios Torosidis headed past goalkeeper Pepe Reina.

Napoli goes second with the victory, jumping over Roma, while Bologna remains in 13th place.

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

AC Milan vs. Sampdoria — 6:30 a.m. ET
Atalanta vs. Cagliari — 9 a.m. ET
Chievo vs. Udinese — 9 a.m. ET
Empoli vs. Torino — 9 a.m. ET
Genoa vs. Sassuolo — 9 a.m. ET
Pescara vs. Lazio — 9 a.m. ET
Palermo vs. Crotone — 12 p.m. ET
Juventus vs. Inter Milan — 2:45 p.m. ET

Almost 100 arrests after Hertha Berlin, Frankfurt fans clash

BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 24:  Members of Hertha BSC celebrate after winning the Hertha BSC v VfL Wolfsburg - Bundesliga match 1:0 at Olympiastadion on September 24, 2014 in Berlin, Germany.  (Photo by Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Deutsche Bahn)
Boris Streubel/Getty Images for Deutsche Bahn
Leave a comment

BERLIN (AP) Berlin police made almost 100 arrests on Saturday when Hertha Berlin and Eintracht Frankfurt supporters clashed violently before their Bundesliga game.

[ MORE: Lucky Man United, Mourinho begin trophy haul ]

Police say masked fans fought with batons, bottles, beer crates, chairs and flares on a busy street corner in the neighborhood of Moabit. The first officers on the scene faced “a group of around 60 rioters” who turned on the police.

Two police vehicles were damaged with stones and bottles before 96 arrests were made – with 73 of those arrested from the state of Hessen, which has Frankfurt as its largest city.

Six supporters were hospitalized. Police say only one fan is still in the hospital and in a “stable” condition.

Police say they are investigating whether the clash was pre-arranged.

PL Download – Tottenham Hotspur: To Dare Is To Do

Leave a comment

The latest Premier League side to get the PL Download treatment is Tottenham Hotspur, as Men In Blazers’ Roger Bennett details the club’s ethos in “To Dare Is To Do”.

[ MORE: Spurs 4-0 Stoke | Kane, Dele react ]

Bennett is joined by Hugo Lloris, Mauricio Pochettino and others to discuss Spurs, their new stadium project, and much more.

Lucky Man United, Mourinho begin trophy haul

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26:  Paul Pogba passes the trophy to Jose Mourinho manager of Manchester United in victory after during the EFL Cup Final between Manchester United and Southampton at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2017 in London, England. Manchester United beat Southampton 3-2.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

LONDON — Pure and simple, Manchester United got out of jail to win the League Cup on Sunday at Wembley.

Southampton deserved to win. United did not.

[ MORE: 3 things we learned ]

But they did, as Jose Mourinho found a way to win his first major trophy as a Red Devil and begin what could be another golden era in their history. With the trophy win they’ve know equaled Liverpool’s 41 major titles and the team Mourinho is building suggests there could be many more, maybe even this season, as they’re still alive in the FA Cup and UEFA Europa League.

United beat Southampton 3-2 thanks to Zlatan Ibrahimovic‘s late header, as they threw away an undeserved 2-0 lead as Saints fought back to make it 2-2 thanks to goals from Manolo Gabbiadini and then they hit the post through Oriol Romeu right on the hour mark as United were hanging on for dear life. Saints also had a perfectly good goal chalked off in the first half for offside with the score locked at 0-0.

[ MORE: Zlatan reacts to win ]

However it went in United’s favor and they got it done. There’s an invincibility returning with just one defeat in their last 27 games in all competitions. This win was far from convincing but they found a way.

Mourinho knew his team had got away with one, praising Claude Puel‘s Southampton who deserved more, but his incredible knack of winning trophies continues.

“Honestly, Ibrahimovic won the game for us because he was outstanding. I can see a couple of performances – Pogba similar level – but he was outstanding,” Mourinho told Sky Sports. “In a match where the opponent was better than us for long periods – they deserved to go to extra time – he made the difference and he gave us the cup.

“I’m a bit emotional yes. It’s not easy to win titles and so many times. It’s not easy to cope with the pressure I put myself under. It was a game I was feeling the difficulty. I want to pay homage to Southampton and what they deserve. We have the cup in our hands and probably should be in extra time. Winning is always special. The day I don’t get emotional when I win is the day to go home.”

Throughout the final Mourinho’s side were undone out wide with full backs Antonio Valencia and Marcos Rojo given a torrid time by Southampton’s wingers and especially full backs Cedric Soares and Ryan Bertrand. So many time crosses were whipped in or pulled back and a Southampton player couldn’t get on the end of it.

Mourinho’s United resembled a fighter on the ropes in the second half, clinging on for a points decision with the occasional flurry of hope. Apart from Jesse Lingard‘s volley at the back post and a low shot from Marcus Rashford, there was nothing for United in the second half. They looked like a team who had played four games in 11 days, while Saints had two weeks off.

Then Zlatan arrived.

“This is a team effort. This is what I came for – to win and I am winning. The more I win the more satisfied I get,” Ibrahimovic said. “You appreciate it more the older you get. Wherever I have gone I have won. I think this is trophy number 32 for me. This is what I predicted. To many I could not do it. My friend, I keep doing it. I’m enjoying it in England.”

Zlatan’s character, along with Mourinho’s guidance, explains why United could now go on and win the FA Cup and Europa League and also finish in the top four in the Premier League. Zlatan is a winner. It may not be pretty and sometimes, like Sunday, it may not be deserved, but class and experience counts for so much.

Mourinho’s trophy haul is why he is stil the most coveted manager in the world, despite the debacle at Chelsea last season and his antics. On Sunday he become just the third manager (after Sir Alex Ferguson and Brian Clough) to win four League Cups. At Chelsea he won the trophy three times in the past, gaining momentum from all three of those successes as he builds a ruthless machine. Mourinho will be given the money to buy the best players on the planet this summer and things will improve as his overhaul continues.

It’s not a well-oiled machine yet but it’s getting there. Winning trophies like this will help United get back to the top quicker. Mourinho said he side “had a bit of luck because the 3-2 came for us at a moment when it was difficult for them to react.”

He also reflected on how important this trophy win was for his team.

“I am very happy, as I was saying before it is important for the club, fans, players, I always try to put myself in a secondary position,” Mourinho said. “It is also important for me. I put a lot of pressure on myself. I wanted very much to win a major trophy with every club. By doing that with Manchester United it is quite a sense of relief. It was a big target for me to win a trophy at Manchester United. The reality is that we want more and more. My contract is long. I have two more years plus this win. Hopefully I can win something. This season, I know it is difficult, but the reality is that we have to try to fight for more.”

This may be the start of another special era for Mourinho and Manchester United.

Mourinho lauds Pogba, Zlatan after EFL Cup triumph

United manager Jose Mourinho applauds during the English League Cup final soccer match between Manchester United and Southampton FC at Wembley stadium in London, Sunday, Feb. 26, 2017. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
AP Photo/Tim Ireland
Leave a comment

Jose Mourinho knows his side is fortunate to come away with the EFL Cup, and he’s fairly confident who deserves the credit.

Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored to help Manchester United build a 2-0 lead over Southampton on Sunday at Wembley Stadium, then added the winner in the 87th minute of the Red Devils’ 3-2 win.

[ MORE: Recap | Zlatan reacts | 3 things ]

Mourinho said his “outstanding” legendary striker won the game for United, adding that big buy Paul Pogba was close to the same level.

And while the manager didn’t appear too impressed with the win, admitting that Southampton did not deserve its fate, Mourinho is happy to win. From Sky Sports:

“I’m a bit emotional. It’s not easy to win titles so many times, it’s not easy to cope with the pressure I put myself under all of my career, It was a game I felt was difficult, so credit goes to Southampton. We have the cup in our hands but we should be playing extra-time. Winning is always special. The day I don’t get emotional when I win is the day I go home.”

United is still alive in the FA Cup and the UEFA Europa League, while Mourinho’s men sit sixth in the Premier League table with 48 points. They’ve played one match less than leaders Chelsea, which has 63 points.