Cristhian Stuani

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Girona posts upset for the ages, downs Real Madrid

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Zinedine Zidane has led back-to-back UEFA Champions League title runs and also broke a four-year La Liga title duck for Real last season.

[ MORE: Pep’s Man City makes history ]

That no doubt should earn plenty of good will, but he boasts another kind of history on his resume now after a seismic upset loss to new boys Girona.

Real has slipped eight points behind Barcelona and four behind Valencia after a 2-1 decision at Girona on Sunday (Perhaps just as remarkable, Girona pulls into 11th with the win).

Consider that Girona had never played in the top flight before this season and the incredibly tense political atmosphere between the Spanish capital in Madrid and independence-craving Catalonia. Yep, this is a big, big deal.

Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola will take special glee in the decision, as the ex-Barcelona manager and big time Catalonia supporter supplied several players to Girona on loan. The status of Sunday’s match was once in question due to Catalan’s desire for a referendum on independence

Guardiola recently supported jailed Catalan separatists in Spain, while Real has long been associated with the Spanish crown since earning its royal moniker in the early 20th century.

Of the Man City bunch, Pablo Maffeo and Aleix Garcia started while Douglas Luiz and Larry Kayode are on the bench.

Isco deposited a first half rebound of a Cristiano Ronaldo shot to make it 1-0, but Girona struck twice in five second half minutes through ex-Middlesbrough attacker Cristhian Stuani and Cristian Portu, the latter assisted by Maffeo.

Real also had a late Lucas Vazquez goal ruled out.

At almost any other club, you’d shrug your shoulders at the bad luck and the hands of time.

At Real Madrid, however, you have to wonder whether mercurial leader Florentino Perez is itching to make a change.

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La Liga & Serie A: Video replay used in Juve win, Atleti draws

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

[ MORE: PL roundup — United rolls past Swansea, Arsenal falls to Stoke ]

Girona 2-2 Atletico Madrid

Everything that could go wrong did on Saturday for Atletico Madrid, but it was Girona’s gain as the promotion side began its La Liga journey with a draw. A first-half brace from Cristhian Stuani gave the hosts a 2-0 lead inside the opening 25 minutes, and from there, matters were made worse for Atleti when Antoine Griezmann was sent off in the 67th minute after picking up a second yellow card. Angel Correa pulled a goal back with 12 minutes remaining for Diego Simeone’s side, while Jose Gimenez tied the match in the 85th minute.

Celta Vigo 2-3 Real Sociedad

Future LA FC forward Carlos Vela played a key role for Real Sociedad in their comeback win over Celta Vigo. The Mexican international drew a penalty kick with two minutes to play in regulation, before Willian Jose buried the ensuing spot kick to give Sociedad the victory. Celta Vigo led at home twice on Saturday, but the visitors showed their resiliency, scoring twice in the final 10 minutes of play.

Sevilla 1-1 Espanyol

Clement Lenglet and Léo Baptistão scored on the afternoon in the draw, and despite Sevilla’s overwhelming possession the hosts couldn’t muster up enough to secure three points in the opener. The home side was reduced to 10 men with under 10 minutes remaining as well when second-half substitute Ever Banega was sent off.

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Athletic Bilbao vs. Getafe — 12:15 p.m. ET
Barcelona vs. Real Betis — 2:15 p.m. ET
Deportivo La Coruna vs. Real Madrid — 4:15 p.m. ET


Juventus 3-0 Cagliari

Everything was status quo for Juventus as they kicked off another season in Serie A as the reigning Italian champions. The Bianconeri controlled the flow of play throughout the match, limiting Cagliari to just two chances on target. Mario Mandzukic and Paulo Dybala struck in the first half to put Juve up 2-0 at the break, while Gonzalo Higuain tacked on a third finish in the second stanza.

Cagliari’s best chance came when Duje Cop was taken down in the box, prompting referee Fabio Maresca to utilize VAR for the first time in a Serie A match. After mulling the decision for a moment, Maresca pointed to the penalty spot, but Diego Farias’ attempt was saved by Gianluigi Buffon.

Hellas Verona 1-3 Napoli

Napoli boasted one of the top attacks in Europe last season, and the club didn’t waste any time in picking up where they left off. An own goal kicked things off for Napoli in the first half, before Arkadiusz Milik and Faouzi Ghoulam put the finishing touches on the match. Meanwhile, a late red card from Elseid Hysaj allowed Hellas to score their lone goal of the afternoon through Giampaolo Pazzini’s penalty finish.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Atalanta vs. Roma — 12 p.m. ET
Bologna vs. Torino — 2:45 p.m. ET
Crotone vs. AC Milan — 2:45 p.m. ET
Inter Milan vs. Fiorentina — 2:45 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. SPAL — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sampdoria vs. Benevento — 2:45 p.m. ET
Sassuolo vs. Genoa — 2:45 p.m. ET
Udinese vs. Chievo Verona — 2:45 p.m. ET

Crystal Palace 1-0 Middlesbrough: Relief for the Eagles

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  • Van Aanholt’s scores first Palace goal
  • Boro have scored 3 goals in 9 games
  • Palace out of bottom three
  • Allardyce has 2nd PL win in 9 games at Palace

Crystal Palace beat Middlesbrough 1-0 at Selhurst Park on Saturday as Sam Allardyce‘s side pulled off a big win to move them out of the bottom three.

The lone goal of the game came in the first half as Patrick Van Aanholt sent a low shot into the far corner and despite having plenty of possession Boro never truly threatened.

With the win Palace move on to 22 points and out of the relegation zone, while Boro remain on 22 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Palace took the game to Boro early on and Wilfried Zaha went down in the box but no penalty kick was awarded despite contact.

Boro barely threatened going forward and Benteke sent a header straight at Victor Valdes after climbing well in the box.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Benteke was then denied by Valdes again as he turned and sent a shot towards the far corner but the Spaniard pushed it away.

Then at the other end a great cross from Gaston Ramirez found Alvaro Negredo and his header down found Cristhian Stuani but as he turned the ball got away from him under pressure from Mamadou Sakho.

Before half time Palace took the lead as a looping ball from Yohan Cabaye‘s deflected shot caused havoc and left back van Aanholt swept home with his right foot into the far corner with a bobbling effort. 1-0 to the Eagles.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Wayne Hennessey saved Ramirez’s free kick with ease, then Zaha smashed a shot just over on the break for Palace.

Boro pushed hard for an equalizer as Stewart Downing‘s cross found Stuani but his powerful volley was straight at Hennessey.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Stuani appealed for a penalty kick as his shot hit James Tomkins on the arm but Bobby Madley denied the calls.

Boro kept the ball well but failed to really create any clear-cut chances as Palace felt they had a clear PK shout waved away by Madley as James McArthur went down in the box.

FA Cup roundup: Man City toothless vs. Huddersfield; Boro win wild one

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in the fifth round of the FA Cup (thus far)…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Middlesbrough 3-2 Oxford United

Aitor Karanka‘s side went from 2-0 up (Grant Leadbitter and Rudy Gestede), to level with League One side Oxford United at 2-2, in the space of 90 second-half seconds. The last thing Middlesbrough would have wanted was a fifth-round replay shoehorned into their upcoming fixtures list which already features a tough relegation battle (they currently sit 16th in the Premier League, just two points clear of 18th-place Hull City). Cristhian Stuani rescued them from that reality with his late winner, in the 86th minute, to send Boro through to their first FA Cup quarterfinals appearance since 2009.

MIDDLESBROUGH, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Toni Martinez of Oxford United celebrates scoring his sides second goal with his Oxford United team mates during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Middlesbrough and Oxford United at Riverside Stadium on February 18, 2017 in Middlesbrough, England. (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
(Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)

[ MORE: Fifth-division Lincoln City shock PL side Burnley in FA Cup ]

Huddersfield 0-0 Manchester City

The lineup was first-choice, but the result far worse than second-rate for Manchester City, as Pep Guardiola‘s side proved the definition of toothless and uninspiring in their 0-0 draw away to Championship side Huddersfield Town. 63 percent of possession was converted into fewer than a handful of clear-cut scoring chances, and the absolute last thing Man City needed — a replay smack dab in the middle of a suddenly congested fixtures list (they begin their UEFA Champions League round of 16 tie against Monaco on Tuesday) — has come to pass.

HUDDERSFIELD, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City (C) and Mark Hudson of Huddersfield Town (R) both stretch to reach the balll during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Huddersfield Town and Manchester City at John Smith's Stadium on February 18, 2017 in Huddersfield, England. (Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)
(Photo by Gareth Copley/Getty Images)

[ MORE: Wenger says he’ll manage next season, at Arsenal or not ]

Millwall 1-0 Leicester City

A miserable, relegation-threatened season got (somehow) worse for Leicester City on Saturday, as they bowed out of the FA Cup following a 1-0 defeat at the hands of 10-man (for nearly 40 minutes) League One side Millwall. Shaun Cummings scored the game’s only goal, in the 90th minute, and the best possible thing that could have propped up the Foxes’ 2016-17 season has gone.

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 18: Shaun Cummings of Millwall (C) celebrates scoring his sides first goal with his Millwall team mates during The Emirates FA Cup Fifth Round match between Millwall and Leicester City at The Den on February 18, 2017 in London, England. (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
(Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)

Elsewhere in the FA Cup

Burnley 0-1 Lincoln City — RECAP | REACTION

Saturday’s FA Cup schedule

Wolverhampton Wanderers vs. Chelsea — 12:30 p.m. ET — FOLLOW LIVE

Sunday’s FA Cup schedule

Fulham vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 9 a.m. ET
Blackburn Rovers vs. Manchester United — 11:15 a.m. ET

Monday’s FA Cup schedule

Sutton United vs. Arsenal — 2:55 p.m. ET

Karanka hopeful to convince Jese to ditch PSG for Boro loan

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This would be quite a pull for Aitor Karanka.

The ex-Real Madrid assistant and current Middlesbrough boss could be close to bringing Jese Rodriguez to the Riverside Stadium on loan for the club’s safety push.

Rodriguez, 23, has two goals in 14 matches for PSG since arriving from Real Madrid this summer. He averaged six goals over the past three seasons in a part-time role for Real, but left for playing time.

[ MORE: Wenger accepts charge ]

He’d find it at Boro, and now it’s Karanka’s job to make the reunion go from theory to practice.

“Jese” can play anywhere in a front three, though he is often deployed on the left wing. Karanka has used a lot of 4-2-3-1 and 4-1-4-1 though he used a 4-3-3 against West Ham, with Cristhian Stuani on the left.

Only Alvaro Negredo (5) has scored more goals than Stuani’s four for goal-hungry Boro. Jese could slot into the middle of the three in a 4-2-3-1.