Americans Abroad Review: Bedoya and Williams net during busy weekend

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It was an eventful weekend for Yanks overseas and south of the border, and there’s plenty of in-depth reading around if you’ve missed any of these stories.

WATCH: Aron Johannsson scores, reaches second base with Roda defender
– Julian Green undergoes medical exam on injured left shoulder

So, yeah, things were going on. Let’s get to it.

Geoff Cameron left Stoke City’s 3-0 loss to Chelsea at halftime with an apparent lower-body injury, one that ends the right back’s streak of 24-straight matches going the distance for the Potters. He was not to blame on either of the Blues’ first-half tallies.

Over at Aston Villa, Brad Guzan can’t be thrilled with the defending in front of him. He surrendered multiple goals for the third-straight week and the Villans fell to relegation struggling Fulham 2-1 at home.

Elsewhere in the Premier League:
– Jozy Altidore not in Sunderland’s 18-man squad, with U-21s
– Tim Howard, Everton blank Arsenal to keep pressure on Gunners
– Rich get richer? Toronto GM would be “100%” interested in Brek Shea

Down in the Championship, an American scored a match-winner to give Reading some breathing room in its race for the final playoff spot. Their sixth-place standing is fairly secure after Danny Williams scored in the 73rd minute. There’s some great field-level video here, plus the news that Reading have signed US U-18 player Andrija Novakovich to join their academy this summer.

Jonathan Spector will be sitting out Birmingham City’s next match after picking up his fifth yellow card in Brum’s 3-1 win at Doncaster. Will Packwood did not play in the match, and Spector was strong by many accounts.

Staying with Championship backs, Tim Ream manned the left side for Bolton as they beat Huddersfield Town by a 1-0 scoreline. The Wanderers are all but safe, sitting 12 points above the drop. Duane Holmes played 10 minutes in the Terriers loss.

Oguchi Onyewu was injured, but it wasn’t the Sheffield Wednesday defender’s back this time around. Onyewu left at halftime of the club’s loss to Leicester City with a rib injury.

Germany saw Fabian Johnson‘s Hoffenheim side square off with John Anthony Brooks and Hertha Berlin. Johnson played the duration of the 1-1 draw, while Brooks left the match after 61 minutes and a yellow card.

In Turkey, Jermaine Jones picked up a yellow card in Besiktas’ 2-1 win over Kayserispor. On-loan to the club, Jones sees his team level on points with No. 2 Galatasaray but losing out by five goals in differential. Sacha Kljestan played the final 15 minutes of Anderlecht’s 3-0 win over Club Brugge.

Mix Diskerud did not play for Rosenborg in its 1-1 draw at Aalesund, but two other Americans in Norway did quite well. Coach Bob Bradley led Stabaek to a 2-1 win at Brann, with former L.A. Galaxy man Michael Stephens playing 72 minutes.

France was the spot for Ale Bedoya‘s return to the scoresheet, albeit in Nantes’ 3-1 loss to AS Monaco. His headed goal was a late highlight for the Canaries. See it here:

The Netherlands was the spot where FC Utrecht sunk to 10-men before calling on Juan Agudelo, who did not score in 45 minutes of work.

MLSSoccer.com has some solid reporting on the Yanks at work in Mexico’s Liga MX, and was hailing Joe Corona and Edgar Castillo for the jobs they did for Tijuana this weekend. Puebla played to a scoreless draw with Atlas, and DaMarcus Beasley went 90 minutes though Michael Orozco Fiscal was injured early on to complicate his already disappointing week after the Mexican club denied both players a trip to join the USMNT in Arizona. Jose Torres saw red in Tigres 2-0 win over Atlante, apparently tossing a punch in the later stages of the match.

La Liga roundup: Barcelona, Real Madrid remain level on points after wins (video)

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Routine wins from league favorites Barcelona and Real Madrid, highlight La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Barcelona 5-2 RCD Mallorca

It was a special night at Barcelona’s Camp Nou.

Fresh from winning the Ballon d’Or for a record sixth time, Lionel Messi was greeted by his three children on the field, who handed him a shinny, golden ball – given yearly to the best player in the world – prior to the first whistle.

From that point on, it was evident that it would be all smiles for everyone tied to the defending champions at the stadium (and for those watching remotely) on Saturday.

 

That was the case.

Antoine Griezmann – a topic of conversation due to lack of productivity at Barcelona this season – kicked off the game with a solo run and subsequent goal in the seventh minute, opening the floodgates.

As a celebration of his latest, individual accomplishment, Messi showcased the power and precision of his left foot at the tune of a hat-trick. The Argentine ace scored twice in the first half and another in consolation time, putting his season total mark at a league-best 12 goals.

The moment and goal of the night (possibly of the season) didn’t directly involve Messi, however. With a daring, emphatic and genius back-heel strike, not only did Luis Suarez put the home side up 4-1, but cemented himself in the ballot for best goal of the season.

With 34 and a better goal differential than Real Madrid, Barcelona remain atop of La Liga ahead of their clash with Inter Milan on Tuesday, while Mallorca hope Ante Budimir can score another brace; this time against a struggling Celta Vigo next weekend.

Real Madrid 2-0 Espanyol

With goals from Karim Benzema and Raphael Varane, Real Madrid comfortably cruised past a struggling Espanyol.

With the majority of Real Madrid in Espanyol’s final third following a recovered free-kick attempt, Benzema charged his way into the box before laying off a ball to Varane, who not a proven goalscorer whatsoever, placed the ball into the back of the net with ease.

It was the 37th minute, and the home side were up 1-0 against a poor Espanyol.

With a notable superior style at hand, Los Blancos continued to surge forward. Opportunities at goal were generated but the ball wouldn’t go past ex-Real Madrid ‘keeper Diego Lopez.

Then, in the 79th minute, Benzema registered his 11th goal of the season, finishing an off-balance pass from Federico Valverde inside the box.

Winners in their last La Liga bouts, Real Madrid now prepare for their Champions League Group Stage finale against Club Brugge midweek. Espanyol, despite being in the drop zone, host CSKA Moscow in their Europa League Group Stage finale. The Catalonian club lead Group H with 11 points after five matches.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Granada 3-0 Alaves

Levante 2-4 Valencia

Ancelotti’s future uncertain after Napoli draws at Udinese

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ROME (AP) Carlo Ancelotti’s future as Napoli coach is uncertain after his team failed to beat Udinese on Saturday in Serie A.

The 1-1 draw extended Napoli’s winless run to nine matches in all competitions. Piotr Zelinski saved Napoli with a late goal that salvaged a point for the visitors.

Amid reports that Ancelotti could soon be fired, Napoli, which had won its last six league matches against Udinese, went a goal down after a counterattack which was finished by Kevin Lasagna in the 32nd minute.

Napoli improved after Fernando Llorente replaced an uninspired Lorenzo Insigne in the second half. It equalized after a good combination between Dries Mertens and Zielinski, who wrongfooted the Udinese ‘keeper with a shot into the bottom corner.

Also, Atalanta twice came from behind after Samuel Di Carmine’s two goals to beat Hellas Verona 3-2 with a late winner from Berat Djimsiti, who volleyed home from close range.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Kyle Walker: City catching up to Liverpool ‘difficult’ after derby loss to United

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After a crushing 2-1 loss to archrival Manchester United at home, 14 is the new magic number for Pep Guardiola and company.

14 is the number of points that Manchester City trail league leaders Liverpool by, an uphill battle that is influencing many people on the outside looking in to think that City’s chances of lifting the league’s silverware for a third straight season are officially done and dusted.

That’s not the narrative that is occupying Kyle Walker‘s train of thought, however. Speaking on behalf of his City teammates and himself, the defender is keen on fighting until they’re mathematically out of contention for the title, regardless if the standings show that Liverpool have yet to suffer a defeat this season after 16 matches.

“Can’t fault the manager,” Walker told Sky Sports following City’s second Premier League loss in five games. “He has won numerous trophies. I can’t put my finger on it. It is going to be difficult, Liverpool are on fire. They [Liverpool] are getting wins and we are not. It is a big gap but we will fight until the end.”

A consolation goal from Nicolas Otamendi in the 85th minutes wasn’t enough for the Cityzens, who endured a fourth league loss this season, matching last season’s number of losses throughout 38 games.

After the dispiriting derby day performance from City, the defending champions stand at 32 points after 16 bouts, the lowest point haul for Guardiola in his 11-year top-flight management career.

No team in league history has overcome a 14-point deficit. Since late October, City are yet to record a clean sheet, an apparent issue that Walker believes he and the rest of the team’s defenders need to address in order to return to old ways.

“Us as defenders need to hold our hands up,” he said. “We need to keep clean sheets and strikers maybe need to put more away. They had a game plan and it worked. They have quick players in quick areas and they are going to hurt you on the counter. Credit where credit is due, they stepped up today. Fair play.”

WATCH: Luis Suarez delivers one-of-a-kind back-heel goal

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At 32 years of age and with a 15-year career behind him, Luis Suarez has scored some emphatic goals.

On Saturday, however, he painted a fine piece of art, a goal that became an instant classic the moment the ball came off of his backheel. With Barcelona already up 3-1 against RCD Mallorca, Ernesto Valverde’s men continued to push forward, comfortably and strategically ping-ponging the ball around the defensive-oriented visitors.

And then Frenkie de Jong found the ball at the top of the box.

The Dutch international smoothly placed a through ball, finding Suarez, who with precision and expertise that only he has, belted the ball into the bottom-right corner of Manolo Reina’s goal.

It’s only December, but the Uruguayan’s goal is an automatic La Liga goal of the season contender: