La Liga weekend thus far: Real Madrid, Barcelona cruise to victories

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With much focus directed toward Saturday’s action in the Premier League, let’s take a look at some of the latest La Liga fixtures from the weekend so far.

The biggest news heard around the soccer world is Messi’s record-breaking hat-trick that put his career La Liga goal tally at 253, two scores above Telmo Zarra’s sum, making the Argentine striker the top goal scorer in league history.

[RELATED: La Liga standings]

Cristiano Ronaldo, the other superstar in Spain and front-runner for the Ballon d’Or, netted a brace in a 4-0 outcome over Eibar before being substituted out for Alvaro Arbeloa in the 84th minute.

RESULTS (Friday and Saturday)

Athletic Bilbao 3-1 Espanyol: Aritz Aduriz was the man that greatly aided Bilbao’s attack to victory in this one, totaling both a goal and an assist for the Basques. The Spaniard then led Borja Viguera forward for the second goal of the match, with Ander Iturraspe’s curling screamer from long range building the score up to 3-0. Victor Sanchez’s strike in the 83rd minute, though, ended the possibility of a shutout. Bilbao have won three of its last four matches, while Espanyol remains slightly lower in the league table at 12th place.

Atletico Madrid 3-1 Malaga: The Anchovies had enjoyed a five-game winning streak prior to this match, and Atletico, turning around their lackluster play from last week’s 2-1 loss to Real Sociedad, abruptly halted this momentum. Tiago’s header arrived in the 12th minute to grab the initial lead, and Antoine Griezmann, scoring yet again for Diego Simeone, sat in perfect position at the back post to bury the second goal. Roque Santa Cruz’s conversion made the score 2-1, but Godin’s header in the 83rd minute essentially ended any Malaga hopes of getting at least a point.

Eibar 0-4 Real Madrid: World Cup star James Rodriquez opened up the scoring in the 23rd minute with a great headed finish from a Ronaldo cross, and then the world-class Portugal international ripped a top-shelved strike to put Real two goals ahead twenty minutes later. Karim Benzema applied a nice touch in the 69th minute to make the scoreline 3-0; then, it was Ronaldo on the PK to end it in the 83rd minute.

Barcelona 5-1 Sevilla: The story of this game was a brilliant Messi, accounting for sixty percent of Barcelona’s scoring, that started with his first goal, a stunning free kick bent around Sevilla’s wall in the 21st minute. From then on, Messi found the net on a quick shot on the doorstep and a well-placed strike from the outskirts of the penalty area. Neymar and Ivan Rakitic also scored, while it was clear Jordi Alba’s 47th minute own goal wouldn’t really help the Red and Whites in the long run.

Deportivo 0-0 Real Sociedad: This competition was the true start of David Moyes’ time in Spain managing Real Sociedad. Even though the match’s conclusion was a scoreless draw and Real had their defensive backs against the wall toward the end, Carlos Vela showed bright spots in the attack, and overall, the state of the Turks appeared much improved from previous matches. The end result marked Sociedad’s first clean sheet since April.

Sessegnon beats Neuer to score first Spurs, Champions League goal

Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)Photo by Peter Kneffel/picture alliance via Getty Images)
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Ryan Sessegnon has his first Spurs goal, which also happens to be his first UEFA Champions League goal, and he’ll love telling the tale of it.

The 19-year-old Englishman ripped a rocket past Manuel Neuer of all people, collecting a deflection to equalize early in Tottenham’s match against Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Sessegnon entered the day with an assist in 30 minutes spread across three appearances for Spurs, and needed just 20 more minutes to find a goal.

He made a big money move from Fulham this summer, having made a remarkable 120 senior appearances. Almost all of those came before he turned 19, and he’s scored 25 times with 18 assists.

Kingsley Coman has Bayern’s goal as the teams remain locked at 1 after Bayern hung 7 on Spurs in England earlier in the group stage.


Jesus hat-trick downs Dinamo Zagreb, Atalanta qualifies for knockouts

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Manchester City looked sluggish again, but Gabriel Jesus made sure it didn’t matter.

The Brazilian cropped up at a critical juncture for Pep Guardiola, sending Manchester City through into the knockout stage on a winning note as his hat-trick sealed a 4-1 come-from-behind victory that knocked Dinamo Zagreb from European competition altogether.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

The first half was especially lackluster for the English visitors to Stadion Maksimir in Zagreb, with lots of possession but little to show for it. The hosts went in front early on, punishing Man City on the counter on a fabulous volleyed finish from former Barcelona youth product Dani Olmo.

That was the best goal of the day, but Man City picked itself up and pulled back level before the break, with Jesus grabbing his first via a header as Dinamo Zagreb shut off, screaming for Man City to put the ball out with a Zagreb player down. The visitors rightly did not, and Dinamo was punished by the equalizer.

After halftime, Man City was much better, hammering the left flank to take a commanding lead. The second came on excellent work by Jesus in the box to shake a defender and finish with his right, while the third flew in minutes later on a pinpoint Benjamin Mendy cross that Jesus met with a flying karate kick. Pep Guardiola had one eye on the festive fixtures, withdrawing Jesus soon after the hour mark, replaced by Oleksandr Zinchenko who curiously took Jesus’s place at the striker position.

Phil Foden was the best Manchester City player throughout, and finished off the scoreline with seven minutes to go. An excellent buildup down the right saw Bernardo Silva sprung through, and he cut back to Foden at the top of the six-yard box who slid to meet the ball with pace and poke home the cherry on top.

Elsewhere, Atalanta topped Shakhtar Donetsk 3-0 in the Ukraine on goals by Timothy Castagne, Mario Pasalic, and Robin Gosens, meaning the Italians secured the second spot in Group A, qualifying for the knockout stage. The Ukranians were left dead in the water after right-back Dodo was sent off 13 minutes from time, leading to the second goal to seal things up. Atalanta’s advancement marks a stunning comeback given the Italian side failed to secure points in any of their first three group stage matches.

That left Shakhtar in third, dropping to the Europa League, while Dinamo Zagreb was left at the bottom of the group, on the outside looking in.

Charlotte MLS club files trademarks for eight potential names

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It is being heavily reported that Charlotte is the next city to earn a club in the rapidly expanding Major League Soccer landscape, and Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper has taken the next step towards that possibility.

The new club needs a name, and they appear to be nearing a selection. Tepper filed for eight different name trademarks, according to multiple reports, including The Athletic’s Jourdan Rodrigue who confirmed the filings were made under Tepper’s Panthers address.

Here is the list of names he filed copyright requests for:

“Charlotte FC” would be a bare-bones and generic name that follows in the footsteps of recent MLS expansion clubs such as Orlando City SC, NYCFC or LAFC. Others are a little more colorful, including “Carolina Gliders FC” or “Charlotte Monarchs FC,” while a few others like “Charlotte Town FC” or “Charlotte Athletic FC” clearly call forth thoughts of smaller English clubs.

Rodrigue speculated that the relative lack of “Carolina” encompassing names is potentially due to the possibility of an expansion bid from Raleigh down the road, and a Carolina team would potentially provide an unnecessary roadblock to that future prospect. There is a clear lack of region-encompassing names in Major League Soccer, with “New England Revolution” the only example, and there’s no real reason to break that mold with another potential bid city down the road.

Which name is your favorite? What would you have gone with if you could name the club?

LIVE, UCL: Two knockout spots remain; Man City, Tottenham in play

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Two more spots in the knockout round remain unclaimed as the final day of group stage play begins on Wednesday.

Groups C and D both require a second team to progress through to the Round of 16, with five teams still in the mix.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Manchester City has already won Group D, but the remaining three teams Shakhtar Donetsk, Dinamo Zagreb, and Atalanta all remain in contention for the second spot. Shakhtar currently sits second and has a home match with Atalanta, while Dinamo Zagreb host Man City in Croatia. Both those games feature in the early 12:55 p.m. ET kickoffs.

Group D, meanwhile, has a pair of sides vying for the last spot. Atletico Madrid has a point advantage, currently sitting in second with a home match against already eliminated Russian side Lokomotiv Moscow. Bayer Leverkusen, meanwhile, hosts group winners Juventus in Germany.

Elsewhere, Tottenham Hotspur has already locked up a spot in the knockout stage, locked into the second spot in Group A, and they finish out the group stage with a visit to confirmed group winners Bayern Munich. Jose Mourinho told the press he forbid his players from watching any footage of the 7-2 defeat to Bayern to begin group stage play, and is resting “a few players” ahead of the festive Premier League fixtures.

Finally, Group A has already been decided with Real Madrid confirmed to finish second behind winners Paris Saint-Germain, but the two still have to complete the fixture list. Madrid heads to Belgium to take on Club Brugge, while PSG hosts Galatasaray. The Spanish side is most likely to rest players, with a weekend visit to Valencia coming up on Sunday followed by a midweek El Clasico that was rescheduled from earlier in the season.

Below is the full schedule for the last UCL games on Wednesday, with all games kicking off at 3 p.m. ET unless otherwise noted, and you can follow the action live by clicking on the link above.

Wednesday Champions League action

Group A

Club Brugge v. Real Madrid
Paris Saint-Germain v. Galatasaray

Group B

Bayern Munich v. Tottenham Hotspur
Olympiakos v. Red Star Belgrade

Group C

Dinamo Zagreb v. Manchester City (12:55 p.m. ET)
Shakhtar Donetsk v. Atalanta (12:55 p.m. ET)

Group D

Atletico Madrid v. Lokomotiv Moscow
Bayer Leverkusen v. Juventus