Spain Roundup: Barca-oh-no! Madrid clubs seize breathing room

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Valladolid climbed out of the drop zone with a stunning home win over out-of-sorts Barcelona, leaving the Blaugrana to wonder whether they can chase down Real Madrid or Atletico Madrid in the race for La Liga’s title.

Fausto Rossi played hero in the 17th minute with a goal for Valladolid, which then bore Barca’s attack for the remainder of the match. There were chances for Lionel Messi and company, who took 13 shots, but even a trio of substitutions that introduced Alexis Sanchez, Cristian Tello and Sergi Roberto to the match couldn’t propel Barca to an equalizer.

It was Valladolid’s first win over Barcelona since October 2012, and “boosted” their record in the rivalry to 4W-5D-23L.

Meanwhile, both Madrid squads cruised to victories. Real Madrid took a 2-0 lead on Levante with goals from Cristiano Ronaldo and Marcelo. Then Levante helped out with a red card for David Navarro and an own goal from Nikos Karabelas to reach full time at 3-0.

David Villa did everything Atletico Madrid needed to seize a 2-0 win at Celta de Vigo, scoring goals in the 62nd and 64th minutes.

So Barca may have the best goal differential in La Liga, but it’s staring up at its rivals after Sunday. Atletico is one point ahead of Barca, while Real Madrid has a four-point lead in the standings.

Wow.

Elsewhere

  • Granada 2-0 Villarreal – Two goals by the 33rd minute had Granada on cruise control at home. Fran Rico and Youssef El Arabi with the goals.
  • Real Betis 2-0 Getafe – Break up Betis! Four points in two weeks for the bottom dwellers, who still sit eight points away from safety.
  • Valencia 1-1 Bilbao – Aritz Aduriz’s penalty in the 53rd minute equalized in a match fit to divide the spoils.
  • Almeria 1-3 Sevilla  – Kevin Gameiro struck again, this time an insurance goal, as Sevilla moved to within two points of sixth-place Sociedad and three points of Villarreal.
  • Espanyol 3-1 Elche – Three different goal scorers helped Espanyol keep its European dreams alive.
  • Real Sociedad vs. Rayo Vallecano – Monday
  • Osasuna vs. Malaga – Monday

Standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Real Madrid 27 21 4 2 76 26 50 12-0-1 9-4-1 67
Atlético Madrid 27 20 4 3 63 21 42 11-3-0 9-1-3 64
Barcelona 27 20 3 4 74 22 52 12-0-1 8-3-3 63
Athletic 26 15 5 6 49 30 19 10-3-1 5-2-5 50
Villarreal 27 13 5 9 47 33 14 7-4-3 6-1-6 44
Real Sociedad 26 12 7 7 46 36 10 8-3-1 4-4-6 43
Sevilla 27 11 8 8 47 42 5 6-3-4 5-5-4 41
Espanyol 27 10 6 11 32 33 -1 7-2-5 3-4-6 36
Levante 27 9 9 9 26 34 -8 5-5-3 4-4-6 36
Valencia 26 10 5 11 38 37 1 7-2-4 3-3-7 35
Celta Vigo 27 8 6 13 32 39 -7 3-6-5 5-0-8 30
Granada 27 9 3 15 24 36 -12 5-1-8 4-2-7 30
Osasuna 26 8 5 13 24 39 -15 5-2-5 3-3-8 29
Elche 27 7 8 12 24 40 -16 5-4-5 2-4-7 29
Getafe 27 7 6 14 23 42 -19 4-5-5 3-1-9 27
Málaga 26 6 8 12 24 35 -11 5-2-6 1-6-6 26
Valladolid 27 5 11 11 29 44 -15 4-6-3 1-5-8 26
Almería 27 7 5 15 26 49 -23 4-4-5 3-1-10 26
Rayo Vallecano 26 7 2 17 26 59 -33 4-0-9 3-2-8 23
Betis 27 4 6 17 23 56 -33 4-3-7 0-3-10 18

Colombia thrash poor Poland, set up must-win vs. Senegal

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Colombia thrashed Poland, to the tune of 3-0, in the two sides’ must-win game in Group H play at the 2018 World Cup on Sunday, getting goals from Yerry Mina, Radamel Falcao and Juan Cuadrado to leave their destiny in their own hands ahead of Thursday’s decisive group finale against Senegal.

Poland have been eliminated with one group game still to play.

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Colombia could have scored two or three goals in the first half, with Cuadrado and Juan Quintero causing constant problems for the left side of the Polish defense, but the necessary finishing touch was consistently lacking until Mina headed home a James Rodriguez cross in the 40th minute.

Poland offered very little, both before or after Mina’s opener, as Robert Lewandowski was effectively contained with the vast majority of his touches coming 30 yards from goal and further out. After disappointing in their tournament-opening loss to Senegal, manager Adam Nawalka made a handful of changes to his lineup — dropping the likes of Arkadiusz Milik, Jakub Blaszczykowski and Kamil Grosicki — to no avail.

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Despite the scoreline remaining 1-0 for the first 25 minutes of the first half, Poland never looked threatening and were put to the sword by Falcao’s first career World Cup goal (missed the 2014 tournament due to a knee injury), courtesy of Quintero’s seeing-eye through ball.

James played provider five minutes later, when he slotted what might just be the pass of the tournament across the field, across the Polish defense, and found a streaking Cuadrado with acres of space in front of him. From one end of the field to the other, in no time at all.

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When Colombia (3 points) meet Senegal (4 points) on Thursday, they’ll need a win to overtake them for second place, or for Poland (0 points) to beat Japan (4 points), who currently sit top of the group — but that seems highly unlikely at this point.

VIDEO: England players ask for U.S. support during World Cup

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With England making the last 16 of the 2018 World Cup on Sunday after hammering Panama 6-1, now may be a little too late to get on the Three Lions bandwagon.

Well, maybe not…

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Comedian James Corden spent some time with the England team and put together the video above to try and entice Americans to support the English national team this summer with the USMNT, obviously, not at the World Cup in Russia.

With Jamie Vardy acting like a cowboy, Kyle Walker refusing to say soccer and Eric Dier getting a football helmet stuck on his head, it’s safe to say they had fun.

Japan, Senegal deliver enthralling draw

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  • Senegal, Japan both have four points
  • Mane, Wague twice put Senegal ahead
  • Inui, Honda equalize twice for Japan

Japan and Senegal played to an entertaining 2-2 draw in Yekaterinburg to leave Group H finely balanced heading into the final round of games.

Sadio Mane and Moussa Wague twice put Senegal ahead but Japan fought back with goals from Takashi Inui and Keisuke Honda to grab a point.

Both teams now have four points heading into their final group games, with Japan facing Poland and Senegal playing against Colombia on Thursday.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Senegal started superbly and Mane was denied by a timely block when he got a shot away from close range early on. But the Liverpool man wasn’t to be denied his first World Cup goal.

Shortly after a cross from the right was only half cleared and Youssouf Sabaly’s shot was punched out by Eiji Kawashima but straight into Mane as the ball ricocheted off him and in. A slightly fortuitous goal from Mane but Senegal deserved the lead.

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Japan had a few opportunities from distance and grew into the game as an equalizer arrived before half time.

Nagatomo controlled the ball superbly and he played it inside to Inui who curled home a beauty into the far corner to make it 1-1.

Senegal then had a great chance on the break but Niang’s shot was saved by on the onrushing Kawashima.

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At the start of the second half Osaka’s header lacked power as N’Diaye saved, then at the other end Niang volleyed over in an end-to-end encounter.

Osako then squandered a wonderful chance after a fine move down the right saw Shibasaki cross to him six yards out but the Japanese forward somehow missed the ball entirely.

Japan went even closer soon after as Inui again curled a beautiful shot in on goal from the left side of the box but this time his effort pinged off the crossbar and went over.

Wague then put Senegal ahead as they worked the ball from the left to the far post and the 19-year-old right back arrived to smash home as the Lions of Teranga celebrated.

Osako had a shot superbly blocked by Salif Sane but then Senegal shot themselves in the foot as N’Diaye came for a cross and got it all wrong.

That led to Honda having a simple tap in to make it 2-2 and that is how an entertaining encounter finished.

Report: Salah may quit Egypt national team

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Mohamed Salah is said to be considering his future with the Egyptian national team.

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The Liverpool and Egypt star, who wasn’t fit enough to play in the Pharaohs opener against Uruguay but scored in their 3-1 defeat to hosts Russia earlier this week, is said to be fed up with being used as a political pawn as Egypt based themselves in Chechnya during the tournament.

A report from CNN claims that Salah isn’t happy with what’s been going on in Egypt’s World Cup base in Grozny, as the report states he feels he is being used as a political symbol for Chechnya.

The leader of the Chechen Republic, Ramzan Kadyrov, had the following to say via social media about the 26-year-old superstar.

“Mohamed Salah is an honorary citizen of the Chechen Republic! That’s right! I gave Mohamed Salah a copy of the order and a pin at a celebratory dinner that I gave in honour of the Egyptian team.”

Salah will likely play against Saudi Arabia in Egypt’s final Group A game on Monday, but his future with the Egyptian national team seems to be in doubt.