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La Liga: Ronaldo’s late winner saves Real Madrid; Atleti cruise 5-0

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Cristiano Ronaldo rescued Real Madrid from another stumble at home when he scored after his penalty kick was saved to secure a 3-2 win over Malaga in the Spanish league on Saturday.

Ronaldo got the 75th-minute winner by knocking in the ball following Malaga goalkeeper Roberto Jimenez’s save. Jimenez denied him on two clear chances in the first half before Ronaldo finally got his second league goal in 13 rounds.

The win put Madrid seven points behind leader Barcelona, which faces an important trip to second-place Valencia on Sunday.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane blamed his team’s passing mistakes on why the defending Liga champions twice lost the lead to a team in the relegation zone, before finally taking control.

“We knew that possession of the ball is a weapon that we have, and we lost the ball several times,” Zidane said. “In the end … we have to focus on the result since we know that we did some things well and that there were some other things that didn’t go as we would have liked.”

Karim Benzema also netted just his second league goal to put Madrid ahead in the ninth when he nodded in a rebound of Ronaldo’s header that came off the crossbar.

Malaga hadn’t scored a goal in all six of its previous league games away from home, but it leveled through Diego Rolan in the 18th by capitalizing on an error by Madrid’s Toni Kroos. The Germany midfielder blundered with a back pass near his own area, and Sergio “Keko” Gontan pounced to send in a cross for unmarked Rolan to control with his chest and fire home.

Casemiro headed Madrid ahead again and Malaga forward Gonzalo “Chory” Castro made it 2-2 with a long-range strike.

Madrid was heading to another costly slip at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium – where it failed to win the first three league matches – until substitute Luka Modric was tripped by Luis Hernandez in the area. That allowed Ronaldo to step up and take what turned out to be the winner.

Malaga lost defender Juan Carlos Perez to a left knee injury early.

“I believe we deserved much more (from the match),” said Malaga coach Michel Gonzalez, a former Madrid player.

“We are all worried about Juan Carlos’ knee because he is in a lot of pain, and that hurts us more than the loss.”

Kevin Gameiro scored twice and played a direct part in three more goals to lead Atletico Madrid’s 5-0 rout at Levante.

Atletico’s biggest win of the season allowed it to move ahead of Real Madrid and into third place on goal difference.

Antoine Griezmann also scored twice.

Real Betis salvaged a 2-2 draw at home with Girona after a wild finish that included goals from both teams in the dying moments.

Girona appeared set to get the win after Cristian “Portu” Portugues netted his second goal four minutes into stoppage time.

But just after the restart, Betis substitute Cristian Tello controlled a long ball with his chest, dribbled past a defender and slotted in a strike on the last kick of the match.

Ten-man Eibar dealt Alaves its 11th loss of the season after winning 2-1 on the road in a derby of small Basque Country clubs.

Charles scored Eibar’s second goal then received a direct red card for shoving the head of an Alaves player in the 83rd.

MLS All-Stars to face Juventus in 2018

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For the first time, Juventus will be taking on Major League Soccer’s best in the MLS All-Star Game.

MLS announced on Thursday that the six-time defending Italian champions will take on the MLS All-Stars in Atlanta United’s Mercedez-Benz Stadium on August 1, 2018. Juventus will be the second Italian club to play in the MLS All-Star Game, following AS Roma’s appearance in 2013.

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Since MLS adapted its all-stars vs. foreign club format in 2002 (with a brief return to the old East vs. West format in 2004), MLS has gone 9-6. Last year the MLS All-Stars lost 4-2 on penalty kicks to Real Madrid in Chicago’s Soldier Field.

Klinsmann: “I’m sure I’ll come back” to coaching

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Jurgen Klinsmann hinted that he could return to full-time coaching after the 2018 World Cup.

Klinsmann appears to be enjoying life as a full-time soccer dad after his dismissal from U.S. Soccer in November 2016, having taken home a portion of a $6.2 million buyout from U.S. Soccer for he and his staff. Speaking to Socrates Magazine in Germany, Klinsmann gave his thoughts on the Bundesliga, the German National Team, and whether he’d be back in the hot seat one day.

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“I’m sure I’ll come back,” Klinsmann said. “Right now I’m having a nice break, I enjoy it. I do not know when I’ll take on a coaching job again. I’m looking forward to the World Cup in Russia and then I’ll be back in action.”

Klinsmann has been linked with a number of jobs over the past few years, even before he was fired as U.S. Men’s National Team coach, including with Everton, Sunderland, and Club Tijuana in Liga MX. But instead, Klinsmann has remained in the stands, cheering on his son Jonathan at the 2017 Under-20 World Cup along with the rest of the U.S. parents in their section.

Following the disastrous start of World Cup qualifying and the fact that Klinsmann never took the U.S. to the level he promised, it is hard to see where he will go next, unless it’s a lower level, with lower expectations. Based on his work with the USMNT and Bayern Munich, he has shown that he struggles tactically and is mainly a man-motivator, which is just one part of the coaching package.

The 53-year-old former German coach and player also had a bit of a warning to the Bundesliga, after a particularly tough season in Europe. Three Bundesliga teams (Bayern Munich, Borussia Dortmund and RB Leipzig) made the UEFA Champions League, but both Dortmund and Leipzig finished third in their groups, dropping down to the Europa League. FC Koln, Hoffenheim and Hertha Berlin all failed to advance to the knockout stages in the Europa League as well.

“The recent development at the European level is not a good sign, it is important that everyone is aware that success is lacking,” Klinsmann said. “Recently, you have lost too much ground.

“It’s a very critical moment. There is a certain amount of satisfaction after winning the World Cup in Brazil and the Bundesliga clubs having done very well in the Champions League.”

Report: Ibrahimovic to sign with MLS next week, LA Galaxy likely landing spot

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It appears Zlatan Ibrahimovic will finally be taking his talents to the United States.

According to a report from ESPN FC, Ibrahimovic has played his last game for Manchester United, with the club ready to let the Swede out of his contract in order for him to sign in Major League Soccer. While it’s not 100 percent clear where Ibrahimovic will end up, the report states the Galaxy are the leading contenders for his services.

[READ: International preview, what to look forward to this week]

Ibrahimovic certainly comes to the U.S. with a rich pedigree, with a trophy room full of league titles and UEFA Champions League titles.

But there are questions hanging over Ibrahimovic. The 36-year-old is coming off a torn ACL and whether he’s healed now, 12 months since the injury, he’s made just five appearances for Man United this season, with four of them coming off the bench.

With many MLS clubs moving towards signing younger, up and coming talents, especially from South America, can Ibrahimovic keep up in a physical league, coming off a major injury and at his age? It’s likely he can make an impact, but considering the kind of money he’s likely to be on, it will be tough for him to be worth it without bringing an MLS Cup.

If he does sign with the LA Galaxy, it would be a massive statement back to their new noisy neighbor in LAFC, after the expansion club made waves signing Carlos Vela as a Designated Player and Bob Bradley as head coach. Ibrahimovic will have to quickly gel with Sigi Schmid’s squad, including with Giovani and Jonathan Dos Santos in midfield.

Wilshere could have left Arsenal last August

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It’s hard to imagine an Arsenal team without Jack Wilshere on the books, but it nearly came to be during last summer’s transfer window.

Speaking openly in England’s training camp this week, Wilshere detailed how Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger approached him one day in August and told him the England international wasn’t in Wenger’s plans.

“It was an honest conversation,” Wilshere told The Guardian. “It had been boiling up for a while. Everybody knew I had a year left on my deal and had been out on loan, got injured and wasn’t really in his plans. He just said: ‘At the moment we are not going to be offering you a contract so, if you can get one somewhere else, you can go.’”

Wilshere said that he looked around but ultimately wanted to win his place back in the Arsenal first team, and he did so by November, after mainly playing in the Carabao Cup and UEFA Europa League through the first three months of the season.

This week, Wilshere earned a recall to the England National Team for the first time since the Three Lions’ disastrous defeat in Euro 2016 to Iceland and he’s played 31 appearances this season in all competitions, the most since the 2013-2014 season, showcasing a new-found fitness level.

That being said, Wilshere hasn’t found the form for Arsenal that earned him plaudits in the past from Xavi Hernandez. Wilshere looked off the pace in Arsenal defeats to Tottenham, Ostersunds and Manchester City in February, failing to make an impact in his central midfield role.

Wilshere has three months left on his contract, and while he said it wouldn’t be a distraction, the longer his future is unresolved, surely it will be in the back of his mind.

We had a sneak-peak in 2016-2017 with Wilshere playing on-loan at Bournemouth. Perhaps next season we’ll see Wilshere playing away from the Arsenal colors again. This time, on a permanent basis, unless Wenger changes his mind.