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La Liga: Barca win to maintain lead, but Valencia won’t go away

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) — Barcelona regained a four-point cushion atop the Spanish league with a ho-hum 2-0 win over visiting Malaga and surging Valencia dismissed Sevilla 4-0 at home on Saturday.

Barcelona faced last-placed Malaga in the closing match of the day, with added pressure from second-placed Valencia, which has won five in a row.

Barcelona is unbeaten after starting with seven straight wins and drawing with Atletico Madrid last week.

Seldom-used Gerard Deulofeu opened the scoring for Barcelona after just two minutes, and Andres Iniesta celebrated his first of the season in the second half thanks to a brilliant assist by Lionel Messi.

Defending champion Real Madrid hosts Eibar on Sunday.

Barcelona benefited from a flagrant referee misjudgment to get its go-ahead goal against Malaga. Left back Lucas Digne was allowed to center the ball after it clearly crossed the byline, and Deulofeu acrobatically back-footed it inside the net.

Despite the blow, the visitors got back up and managed to neutralize Barcelona for most of the first half, but lost striker Diego Rolan just before the second period. The Uruguayan import was forced off by injury.

Without Rolan, Malaga lacked bite in its pressure of the home backline, and Barcelona was able to polish ball circulation and find Messi with more frequency.

Messi received a clean pass from defender Javier Mascherano, drew the defense, and dropped a perfect pass for Iniesta, whose shot was deflected by defender Roberto Rosales on its way to the upper left corner.

Malaga surrendered and Barcelona dominated the rest of the way.


Gonzalo Guedes opened the scoring for Valencia near halftime with a majestic strike from outside the box after deftly outmaneuvering two defenders on the chase.

Simone Zaza added his eighth league goal after the break with a spin and low cross shot. Santi Mina came off the bench and scored the third with just five minutes to go, finishing off a speedy counterattack for the hosts.

But the show was all Guedes, and the Portuguese midfielder rounded off his great game with the closer, subtly poking the ball over goalkeeper Sergio Rico in added time.

Sevilla has lost three in a row in all competitions. Managed by Eduardo Berizzo, the team started off red-hot in La Liga but has floundered lately, ranking fifth.

 

U-17 World Cup wrap: England advances to meet USA

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The United States now knows it’ll have to take down England’s best to get to the semifinals of the U-17 World Cup in India.

[ MORE: Champions League wrap ]

England, don’t laugh, won in penalty kicks after a scoreless match with Japan, advancing to meet the Baby Yanks.


England 0-0 (5-3, PKs) Japan

There wasn’t a single miss amongst the England shooters, as Rhian Brewster (Liverpool), Callum Hudson-Odoi (Chelsea), Phil Foden (Man City), Nya Kirby (Crystal Palace), and Curtis Anderson (Man City) converted from the spot to set up a date against the U.S.

Mali 5-1 Iraq

Lassana Ndiaye scored twice to join France’s Amine Gouiri atop the goal scoring list for the tournament as Mali advances to face the winner of Ghana vs. Niger.

France 1-2 Spain

Barcelona prospects Juan Miranda and Abel Ruiz get the better of France to set up a date with high-flying Iran.

 

Iran 2-1 Mexico

Iran conceded for just the second time in the tournament, but not before Mohammad Sharifi and Allahyar Sayyad (both of Iranian club Saifa) made it 2-0 by the 11th minute.

La Liga: Barcelona hit Atleti late, but lose perfect record

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MADRID (AP) Barcelona lost its perfect Spanish league record and salvaged a 1-1 draw at Atletico Madrid with a late equalizer by Luis Suarez on Saturday.

Suarez scored with a header from close range in the 82nd minute to leave Barcelona five points ahead of Real Madrid, which defeated Getafe 2-1 with a late winner by Cristiano Ronaldo.

Atletico contained Lionel Messi and was in control of the game until Suarez found the net after being ineffective for most of the match.

Saul Niguez gave the hosts the lead at their Wanda Metropolitano Stadium with a well-placed shot from outside the area in the first half.

The draw left Atletico in third place, six points behind Barcelona, which won its first seven league matches.

Sevilla dropped to fourth place, also six points off the lead, after losing at Athletic Bilbao 1-0.

Atletico was looking to win the first high-profile game of the league and establish itself as a contender beside Barcelona and Madrid.

Barcelona, which had outscored opponents 23-2, controlled possession but it was Atletico which was able to create the most significant opportunities. Antoine Griezmann had two clear chances denied by Barcelona goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen early.

Atletico did a good job stopping Messi, after his starring role to put Argentina in the World Cup. He has 14 goals in 11 matches with Barcelona but was shut out at the Metropolitano. A second-half free kick hit the post.

Suarez, who was also coming off a long trip with Uruguay, struggled until jumping between Atletico defenders to head in a cross by substitute Sergi Roberto.

Two weeks after playing behind closed doors to protest the Spanish government’s moves to halt Catalonia’s independence referendum, Barcelona was met with Spanish flags, and outspoken defender Gerard Pique was loudly jeered by the local fans.

Ronaldo had been mostly subdued for Madrid until scoring the 85th-minute winner at Alfonso Perez Coliseum in southern Madrid.

After a perfect long pass by Isco, Ronaldo let the ball bounce and fired in for his first league goal of the season.

“We know that when we need Cristiano, he is always there for us,” Madrid left back Marcelo said.

Karim Benzema opened the scoring for Madrid with a great run into the area, getting past a defender with a quick touch before sending a low shot into the far corner. It was also his first league goal. The French striker was returning from injury.

Striker Jorge Molina equalized for the hosts early in the second half. Replays showed Molina was offside.

Getafe, which had a few chances to equalize in the final minutes, also conceded late goals in home losses to Sevilla and Barcelona. It dropped to 14th in the 20-team standings.

“We can’t allow this to keep happening,” Molina said of the late goals. “Maybe we shouldn’t have stayed only on defense, maybe we could have pressed a little bit more.”

Madrid got the win even though coach Zinedine Zidane couldn’t count on several regulars following the international break.

U-17 World Cup wrap: Iran keeps rolling, Brazil claims group (video)

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Only two more groups remain active in the U-17 World Cup, with Iran and Brazil clinching Groups C and D, respectively, on Friday.

[ MORE: Gulati meets the press ]


Guinea 1-3 Germany

Three different players, including Hamburg striker Jann-Fiete Arp, scored as Germany rebounded from a big loss to Iran.

Costa Rica 0-3 Iran

A pair of penalties four minutes apart helped Iran to a perfect 3-0 record and the top spot in the group.

Spain 2-0 North Korea

A pair of Real Madrid prospects, Mohamed Moukhliss and Cesar Gelabert, scored in the fourth and 71st minutes to end North Korea’s tournament.

Niger 0-2 Brazil

Sixteen-year-old Lincoln and strike partner Brenner scored, one off a bounding free kick, as Brazil moves on. So does Niger, by virtue of its win over North Korea.

Barcelona forecasting revenue over $1 billion this year

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says it expects to generate more than $1 billion for the first time this season and become club soccer’s biggest moneymaker.

[ MORE: Growing sense of entitlement amongst U.S. soccer culture must stop ]

The Catalan club released the forecast on Wednesday as part of the financial results for the 2016-17 financial year.

Revenue rose 4 percent to a record $839 million last year, while making a pre-tax profit of $36.7 million. The club’s debt fell by $29 million to $292.6 million.