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La Liga: Barcelona still unbeaten after Alcacer brace (video)

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ PREMIER LEAGUE: Saturday roundup | Sunday preview ]

Barcelona 2-1 Sevilla

It took a Paco Alcacer brace — not to mention, a bit of patience and resolve — but Barcelona outlasted Sevilla and picked up a 2-1 victory at the Camp Nou, thus continuing their unbeaten start (one draw) to the 2017-18 La Liga season. Alcacer scored the opener in the 23rd minute, after Sergio Escudero’s calamitous error left him one-on-one with David Soria. The 24-year-old Spaniard touched the ball around the goalkeeper for 1-0.

1-0 was the score until just before the hour mark, when Guido Pizarro rose above Gerard Pique to head home Ever Banega’s corner kick in the 59th minute.

Six minutes later, Alcacer struck again, poking home Ivan Rakitic’s menacing cross to the near post. In just is fourth league appearance this season, Saturday’s goals were the first and second of the campaign for Alcacer, who was expected to be heavily relied upon after Neymar’s departure in the summer.

Valencia 3-0 Leganes

As for the title race, Valencia have shown no signs of going quietly into the night, as Marcelino Garcia Toral’s side picked up its seventh straight win and maintaining its own unbeaten start by beating eighth-place Leganes handily.

Daniel Parejo opened the scoring after only 14 minutes. Los Che held onto that 1-0 scoreline for the next 57 minutes, until Rodrigo’s Moreno’s seventh goal of the season made it 2-0 and all but put the game to bed. Santi Mina converted from the penalty spot in the 82nd minute, and Villarreal were within a point of Barca for eight hours.

Deportivo La Coruña 0-1 Atletico Madrid

For 90-plus minutes, Atletico Madrid couldn’t find a way through Deportivo La Coruña’s disciplined defense. Diego Simeone’s side looked headed for another disappointing result — it would have been their fourth draw in five games — until Thomas Partey smashed a scripted restart sequence around the wall and into the top corner. The victory keeps Atleti perfectly paced alongside their capital rivals, Real Madrid, with the defending champions set to take on Las Palmas on Sunday.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Alaves 1-0 Espanyol

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Levante vs. Girona — 6 a.m. ET
Celta Vigo vs. Athletic Bilbao — 10:15 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad vs. Eibar — 12:30 p.m. ET
Villarreal vs. Malaga — 12:30 p.m. ET
Real Madrid vs. Las Palmas — 2:45 p.m. ET

Portugal announces squad for USMNT visit

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Portugal’s squad to face the United States men’s national team on Nov. 14 at Estádio Dr. Magalhães Pessoa in Leiria includes Man City’s Bernardo Silva and Besiktas’ Pepe but leaves Cristiano Ronaldo at home.

Barcelona’s Nelson Semedo, AC Milan’s Andre Silva, and promising Valencia forward Goncalo Guedes are a part of Fernando Santos’ side.

[ MORE: Lukaku responds to criticism ]

Other notable names missing for the match against a youth-heavy USMNT are Rui Patricio, Jose Fonte, Cedric Soares, William Carvalho, Andre Gomes, Ricardo Quaresma, and Renato Sanches.

The match is the first for the United States since its elimination from World Cup qualifying, and will be the first for caretaker manager Dave Sarachan. It will be the second for Portugal following a friendly with Saudi Arabia.

The USMNT roster likely waits to see which MLS teams are eliminated from the playoffs at the conclusion of Sunday’s MLS Cup Playoffs conference semifinals.

Goalkeepers: Beto, Anthony Lopes, Jose Sa

Defenders: Antunes, Kevin Rodrigues, Pepe, Luis Neto, Ricardo Ferreira, Edgar Ie, Nelson Semedo, Ricardo Pereira, Joao Cancelo.

Midfielders: Danilo Pereira, Ruben Neves, Joao Mario, Manuel Fernandes, Bruno Fernandes, Bernardo Silva, Ronny Lopes, Gelson Martins, Bruma.

Forwards: Goncalo Guedes, Andre Silva, Eder.

La Liga: Messi maintains Barca’s unbeaten start, 4-point lead

BILBAO, SPAIN - OCTOBER 28: Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring goal during the La Liga match between Athletic Club Bilbao and FC Barcelona at San Mames Stadium on October 28, 2017 in Bilbao, Spain. (Photo by Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images)
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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ PL ROUNDUP: Man City’s historic start; Man United, Arsenal win ]

Athletic Bilbao 0-2 Barcelona

Barcelona’s quest for an unbeaten La Liga season continued in earnest on Saturday, as Lionel Messi scored his league-leading 12th goal of the still-young season to help secure all three points from a difficult test away to Athletic Bilbao. The victory keeps Barca four points clear of second-place Valencia and eight points ahead of third-place Real Madrid, who play on Sunday.

Saturday’s hosts had ample opportunity of their own to open the scoring, but missed a pair of key chances before Messi swept home a Jordi Alba cross in the 36th minute.

Paulinho put the game out of reach in the 91st minute, slotting home an empty-net rebound for his third league goal of the season.

Alaves 1-2 Valencia

Valencia maintained their best-ever start to a league season with a 2-1 win away to 19th-place Alaves. Simone Zaza bagged his ninth goal of the season (second-most behind Messi) in the 34th minute, before Alaves pulled level through Alexis Ruano in the 49th minute. Rodrigo Moreno converted from the penalty spot not long after the hour mark for Valencia’s seventh victory (to go with three draws) of the season.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Villarreal

Atletico Madrid’s title bid is, for all intents and purposes, finished. After dropping two points to Villarreal, Diego Simeone’s side now trails Barca by eight. Angel Correa put Los Rojiblancos ahead on the hour mark, but Carlos Bacca grabbed the equalizer in the 81st minute as Villarreal moved to within three points of Atleti for the fourth and final UEFA Champions League place.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Sevilla 2-1 Leganes

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Getafe vs. Real Sociedad — 7 a.m. ET
Girona vs. Real Madrid — 11:15 a.m. ET
Eibar vs. Levante — 1:30 p.m. ET
Malaga vs. Celta Vigo — 3:45 p.m. ET

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.


Valencia coach Marcelino pulls muscle celebrating winner

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MADRID (AP) It was a bittersweet celebration for Valencia coach Marcelino after his team’s winning goal against Real Sociedad in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Marcelino pulled a thigh muscle in his left leg while celebrating Simone Zaza‘s 85th-minute winner at Anoeta Stadium.

Marcelino put his hand on the back of his leg and immediately started limping, visibly in pain.

Television images later showed him wincing in pain on the bench, and he limped every time he went out to the coach’s area to give instructions to his players.

“I’m older, I need to control myself in certain situations,” the 52-year-old Marcelino said, with a smile. “When it’s the coach getting injured, it’s not a problem.”

Valencia won 3-2 to stay unbeaten and move to fourth place in the standings.