La Liga and Serie A roundup: Valencia, Napoli falter in Champions League bids; Milan derby a stalemate

1 Comment

Catch up on all of Sunday’s action from Spain and Italy’s top flights, La Liga and Serie A.

Levante 2-1 Valencia

Valencia‘s bid to break into La Liga’s top three took a hit on Sunday when Los Che fell to bottom-half side Levante. The visitors looked poised to rescue a point after Daniel Parejo pulled Valenica level after 73 minutes, but it took just one minute for Levante’s Morales to hit back and put Levante back in front for good. On-loan Manchester City forward Alvaro Negredo provided the assist on Parejo’s goal.

Villarreal 2-1 Getafe

A pair of first-half goals — provided by Mario and Gerard Moreno — was enough to push Villarreal four points clear of the bottom half of the table and set Marcelino Garcia Toral’s men’s sights on a top-third spot.

Elsewhere in La Liga:

Rayo Vallecano 1-0 Celta Vigo
Elche 2-2 Cordoba



source: Getty ImagesAC Milan 1-1 Inter Milan

Roberto Mancini made his Internazionale re-debut in Sunday’s hotly contested Milan derby. Mancini’s men went a goal after 23 minutes, thanks to Jeremy Menez’s extremely clever first-time finish from 12 yards out.

Menez’s brilliant opener went for naught, though, when Joel Obi pulled the Nerazzurri back to level terms with 30 minutes to play. Stephan El Shaarawy had a golden opportunity to put the Rossoneri back in front in the 75th minute, but his powerful 1-on-1 effort instead found Samir Handanovic‘s crossbar and shot straight into the sky.

With the draw, Inter (9th) remain a point behind their Milan neighbors (7th) in Serie A.

Napoli 3-3 Cagliari

Napoli found themselves in dreamland after 30 minutes, up 2-0 and seemingly set to coast to their sixth league victory in nine games. Gonzalo Higuain netted the game’s first in the 11th minute and Gokhan Inler doubled the lead on the half-hour mark.

Then came a 10-minute span that saw the 3rd-placed side ship a pair of goals Cagliari’s way, tying the game up just two minutes into the second half. Jonathan de Guzman put the Azzurri back on top in the 62nd minute, but the lead was short-lived as Diego Farias netted his second of the game just five minutes later. An opportunity to pull within four points of second-place Roma missed. Meanwhile, the away point was enough to move Cagliari two points clear of the final relegation place.

Elsewhere in Serie A:

Torino 0-1 Sassuolo
Udinese 1-1 Chievo
Parma 2-0 Empoli
Cesena 1-1 Sampdoria
Verona 1-2 Fiorentina

Brazilian player Taison banned in Ukraine for response to racism

Photo by Igor Kralj/Pixsell/MB Media/Getty Images

KYIV, Ukraine (AP) Brazilian player Taison has been banned for one game for his reaction to racist abuse in a Ukrainian league game.

The Shakhtar Donetsk midfielder showed his middle finger to Dynamo Kyiv fans who had abused him with monkey chants and kicked the ball into the stands during a game Nov. 10. Taison was shown a red card.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

The Ukrainian Football Association ordered Taison to serve a one-game ban plus a suspended two-game ban.

Dynamo has been fined 500,000 hryvnyas ($20,000) and ordered to play one game behind closed doors. Another one-game sanction is suspended.

World players’ union FIFPro says “sanctioning a victim of racial abuse is beyond comprehension and it plays into the hands of those who promote this kind of disgraceful behavior.”

More AP soccer: and

Top Premier League storylines: Week 13

Leave a comment

Yes, Jose Mourinho is back in the Premier League and, sure, both Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Manuel Pellegrini are in managerial hot seats, but is there any match more intriguing than Man City and Chelsea squaring off with the knowledge that a bad outcome could see them double digits out of first?

[ STREAM: Every PL match live ] 

Below we take a look at the key storylines to keep an eye on across the PL this weekend.

The Jose Mourinho Era begins against a familiar foe

  • West Ham v. Tottenham Hotspur — Saturday, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho have matched wits many times, which could help the former in his bid to get ready for a rankled Spurs side to kickstart the Premier League weekend.

Mourinho has only matched up with six managers more than Pellegrini in his career, and boasts a 7W-3D-4L record. Can he quickly get Spurs put together for a visit to a desperate Irons side.

Chelsea, Man City put slim title hopes on the line

  • Manchester City v. Chelsea — Saturday, 12:30 p.m. ET, on NBC

Both Pep Guardiola‘s City and Frank Lampard‘s Chelsea have lost to Liverpool, meaning their chances to directly affect the Reds’ title hopes are limited. Matches like this one are the ones that get the Reds salivating, in fact, knowing that only one team can snare three points.

City enters the day nine points back of first and a point behind Chelsea and Leicester City. The Top Four race sure looks clear cut right now — the chasing pack is eight points behind fourth — but failure to win on Saturday will likely leave either side double-digit points back of first.

Knock off the Red Devils? Wilder things have happened

  • Sheffield United v. Manchester United — Sunday, 11:30 p.m. ET, on NBCSN

Sheffield United boss Chris Wilder has the newly-promoted side in fifth place on the table, one point better than his celebrated visitors. The Blades will sit no worse than five points back of the Top Four if they can beat Ole Gunnar Solksjaer’s Red Devils, adding another big name to a season of results which already includes a defeat of Arsenal and draws against Chelsea and Spurs. United is still without Paul Pogba and now will also miss Scott McTominay. Another upset brewing?

Reds hope to get back to business as usual in title fight

  • Crystal Palace v. Liverpool — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBC Sports Gold

A week removed from a glitzy show against Man City, Jurgen Klopp‘s Reds now visit a Palace side who is probably getting sick of facing the Premier League’s best. Roy Hodgson‘s table rise has been stunted by a four-match winless run that includes 2-0 losses to Man City, Leicester City, and Chelsea to go with a 2-2 draw against Arsenal.

A Liverpool win will boost it clearer of Man City and/or Chelsea, as the Reds seek a double-digit lead on the field (Second-place Leicester City is away to Brighton and Hove Albion).

Arsenal looks to right wobbly league ship versus slumping Saints

  • Arsenal v. Southampton — Saturday, 10 a.m. ET, on NBCSN

Unai Emery‘s Gunners may be doing fine in the Europa League, but they’ve taken just two points from 12 since an Oct. 6 defeat of Bourrnemouth at the Emirates Stadium. Saints only win since mid-September in any competition is a 4-0 demolition of rivals Portsmouth. If Arsenal cannot get right here, well…

The 2 Robbies break down Tottenham’s big switch from Poch to Mou

Photo by Nick Potts/PA Images via Getty Images
Leave a comment

Maybe you saw the firing of Mauricio Pochettino coming, and maybe you even though Jose Mourinho could be in the running to take his place, but the whole thing happening in rapid fire fashion calls for something different.

Call it an emergency podcast for The 2 Robbies.

[ MORE: Ederson back in training ]

Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle respond to the shocking and divisive news coming from North London earlier this week.

Tottenham Hotspur sacked Pochettino and quickly replaced him with The Special One. This episode also includes some of Jose’s first words as the new Spurs Head Coach.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Pochettino leaves emotional whiteboard message to Spurs

Photo by Catherine Ivill - AMA/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Mauricio Pochettino and his backroom staff have left Tottenham Hotspur, but not without fond words for the North London set.

Pochettino’s backroom staff was also dismissed, with assistant Jesus Perez and coaches Miguel D’Agostino and Antoni Jimenez leaving to make room for Jose Mourinho’s crew.

[ MORE: Mou says Spurs can win the PL next season ]

And Perez wanted to make sure that the world knew the final words Pochettino left for his players, something that has Tottenham supporters even more emotional.

It also surely plays as a political piece which will increase the villain status of Spurs chairman Daniel Levy, who’s been under fire for not helping Pochettino by selling players who did not want to be in North London.

Even Mourinho heaped praise on his predecessor.

“Mauricio, for the work he did, this club will be always his home,” Mourinho said. “He can come when he wants. When he misses the players, when he misses the people he work with. The door is always open for him. He will find happiness again. He will find a great club again. He will have a great future.”

Get your tissues, Spurs fans.