La Liga and Serie A roundup: Chicharito scores twice in Real Madrid victory, Napoli downs Sampdoria

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The season’s end of club soccer in Europe is drawing to a close with many sides still inging for better standing in their league tables.

In Spain and Italy, several matches occurred on Sunday in each country’s top-flight, and some had implications in the quest for late-year excellence.

Real Madrid 4-2 Celta Vigo: Cristiano Ronaldo was on the pitch for Real Madrid and was never substituted off, but he wasn’t necessarily the focal point of Los Blancos‘ third consecutive win. It was Javier ‘Chicharito’ Hernandez who started the game and scored half of Real’s total to give him a four goals in the past four games. Hernandez’s first arrived as the consequence of some crafty interplay with young Colombian star James Rodriguez (also a scorer in this one), and the next one was a fine finish from Sergio Ramos’ assist. Toni Kroos’ long-range effort in the 16th minute leveled the score following Nolito’s game-opener. To make the score 2-2, Santi Mina netted an equalizer from his strike that rebounded off the post in the 28th minute.

[RELATED: Saturday’s roundup]

Sevilla 2-0 Rayo: Sevilla is doing their best to qualify for the Champions League next season, and this win over 11th place Rayo has ushered them closer to that goal. Defensive midfielder Vicente Iborra buried the first goal of the contest in the 16th minute when Diogo Figueiras set him up, and two minutes prior to the half, Daniel Carrico headed Denis Suarez’s cross into the net’s corner for the 2-0 advantage. Rayo pushed hard to generate some threatening offensive possession in the second half, and Gael Kakuta and Alejandro Pozuelo had endeavors that could’ve changed the game. Still, it was clear that Sevilla, now one point ahead of fifth-place Valencia and six points behind third-place Atletico Madrid, had more to fight for.

Other La Liga results from today

Malaga 1-1 Deportivo

Almeria 2-0 Eibar

 

Results from Saturday

Espanyol 0-2 Barcelona

Getafe CF 0-1 Levante

Real Sociedad 0-0 Villarreal

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Elche


 

Napoli 4-2 Sampdoria: An own-goal from Napoli center back Raúl Albiol gave Sampdoria the early 12th-minute lead and stunned the home supporters at the Stadio San Paolo. But the Little Donkeys, who are vying for the best finish possible with several other squads in Serie A’s top five, turned the tide rapidly. In the 31st minute, Il Doria goalkeeper Manolo Gabbiadini regretfully let in Napoli’s opener from Manolo Gabbiadini, and three minutes later, Gabbiadini fed Gonzalo Higuaín for the 2-1 lead. Lorenzo Insigne’s goal, a late effort from Sampdoria’s Luis Muriel and a penalty-kick conversion from Higuaín wrapped up the scoring, as Napoli is currently three points away from Lazio in second place.

Parma 1-0 Palermo: Parma had braved a season of financial doubt, amid reports that the club, having transportation issues and a short supply of hot water, declared bankruptcy in March. Situated deep in the table at last place, holding 16 total points on the season, little has been expected of the Crusaders. Nonetheless, based on a 1-0 victory over mid-table Palermo, it appears the Italian bottom dwellers are not calling it quits quite yet. When Antonio Nocerino buried the penalty kick after Massimo Gobbi was hauled down in the box, Parma had grabbed the key advantage needed to walk away with a confidence boosting victory, but the outfit is fifteen points away from escaping demotion with just six games left.

Other Serie A results from today

Atalanta 2-2 Empoli

Torino 2-1 Juventus (first derby win in 20 years)

Fiorentina 1-3 Cagliari

Lazio 1-1 Chievo

Verona 3-2 Sassuolo

Genoa 3-1 Cesena

 

Results from Saturday

Udinese 2-1 Milan

Inter Milan 2-1 Roma

Premier League Preview: Chelsea vs. Manchester United

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Manchester United look to leave a poor three-match streak behind as they travel to Stamford Bridge to take on Chelsea  (Watch live at 3:00 p.m. ET on NBC and online via NBCSports.com).

The last time both teams faced off was during the season’s opening matchweek, which saw the Red Devils steamroll Chelsea 4-0 at Old Trafford.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

Since, United’s quality hasn’t been the same, slipping to ninth in the league, while the Blues have maintained themselves in the European competition conversation throughout the majority of the season.

A win for either side at this point of season will provide a huge morale boost, as both teams go into Monday’s match without a win in three bouts.


Injuries/suspensions

Chelsea: OUT —  Pulisic (groin), Van Ginkel (knee) QUESTIONABLE — Abraham (knock), Giroud (knock), Loftus-Cheek (calf)

Manchester United: OUT — McTominay (knee), Tuanzebe (thigh), Pogba (ankle, 5 Mar), Rashford (back), Fosu-Mensah (match fitness), Grant (surgery) QUESTIONABLE — Ighalo (match fitness)


Probable lineups

Chelsea: Arrizabalaga; Azpilicueta, Rudiger, Tomori, James; Kante, Jorginho; Hudson-Odoi, Mount, William; Abraham.

Manchester United: De Gea; Williams, Maguire, Lindelof, Wan-Bissaka; Fred, Matic; Greenwood, Fernandes, James; Martial


What they’re saying

Chelsea’s Frank Lampard on dropping Kepa Arrizabalaga last weekend: “It wasn’t about giving him a jolt. It was just a selection on that day. I want everyone’s reaction spot on. I know how it will feel for him. I had it in my career, it is part and parcel. I am pleased with the reaction.”

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer on Odion Ighalo: “As a striker you get thrown on out there and it might be he’ll have to come off the bench, give us a goal and he does whatever he does.”


Prediction

Chelsea will be in front of their supporters on a Monday night with Manchester United in town. That scenario tends to go well for the Blues more often than not. Chelsea, 2-1.

Mexicans Abroad: Rodolfo Pizarro’s goalscoring start headlines handful of debuts

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A handful of Mexicans abroad debuted with their respective clubs over the weekend, but none were at par with Rodolfo Pizarro’s.

The 26-year-old attacking midfielder scored on his fourth touch as an Inter Miami player, two minutes after coming off the bench. Pizarro’s right-footed strike proved to be historic, as it became the first official goal in club history.

Also on Saturday, in different regions of the United States, Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez and Alan Pulido, respectively, made their debuts. Chicharito played 78 minutes in Los Angeles Galaxy’s 2-1 preseason loss to Toronto FC, while Pulido logged 61 minutes in Sporting Kansas City’s scoreless bout.

Qatar’s new marquee star, Marco Fabian, debuted in Al-Sadd’s hard-earned cup win.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers —  Jimenez started and played all 90 minutes in Wolves’ 0-0 draw against Leicester City. The forward registered four shots off target and one blocked.

La Liga

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid —  Herrera was not called up by Diego Simeone for Atletico Madrid’s draw against Valencia on Friday.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Guardado dressed but didn’t take the field on Sunday.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old was is out after undergoing appendicitis surgery.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo played a vital part in La Liga’s most surprising outcome of the matchweek – Celta’s 2-2 draw with Real Madrid. The defender recorded eight clearances, one interceptions and two tackles throughout the 90 minutes.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  Lozano, Napoli’s most expensive player in team history, was not called up by Gennaro Gattuso on Sunday. The 24-year-old and the Italian manager seem to be on different pages, and the situation doesn’t appear to be getting better with time. It might be time to panic for Lozano’s development in Italy.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito started and played 84 minutes in Porto’s 2-1 victory over Vitoria, which was marred by racist abuse towards Moussa Marega by Vitoria supporters.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven —  Gutierrez played the final five minutes of PSV’s 3-0 thumping of AOD Den Haag.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — After several weeks of little activity, Alvarez seems to be making his way back into Ajax’s starting lineup. On Sunday, the Mexican defender played his second set of 90 minutes in four days.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea played 76 minutes in Zulte’s 2-1 loss on Sunday.

Major League Soccer

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, LA Galaxy – In front of a semi-full Dignity Sports Park, Chicharito made his Los Angeles Galaxy debut. The storied forward, however, failed to score despite seeing a decent amount of chances. Galaxy open the MLS season against Houston Dynamo on February 29.

Rodolfo Pizarro, Inter Miami – It took two minutes for an Rodolfo Pizarro to score on his unofficial Inter Miami debut. Ironically, the brand-new MLS franchise has yet to announce the signing of the 26-year-old from Monterrey.

Alan Pulido, Sporting Kansas City – Pulido played 61 minutes in SKC’s scoreless, preseason draw against Real Salt Lake.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Ulises Davila, Wellington Phoenix – Davila played all 90 minutes in Phoenix’s 1-0 victory over Melbourne City. The attacker also managed to pick up a yellow card throughout the match.

Marco Fabian, Al-Sadd – Fabian debuted for Xavi’s Al-Sadd on Saturday, playing all 120 minutes in his team’s win via penalties.

Hector Moreno, Al-Gharafa – Moreno and Al-Gharafa were inactive this weekend.

La Liga roundup: Celta spoil Hazard’s return in Real Madrid draw

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Real Madrid’s draw against relegation-battling Celta Vigo highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Madrid 2-2 Celta Vigo 

Celta’s Santi Mina scored in 85th minute to give a depleted Celta Vigo a precious point at the Santiago Bernabeu, spoiling Eden Hazard‘s return to Real Madrid’s lineup after a notable absence.

Madrid’s eighth draw of the season moves champions Barcelona just one point behind Zinedine Zidane’s side.

Returning from ankle injury that kept his out of action for three months, Hazard returned to the pitch in fine style, leading all players on the field in chances created with three and earning a penalty that Sergio Ramos converted to put Real Madrid ahead.

Hazard – and all of his flair – left the field in the 70th minute, granting Vinicius Junior the final 20 minutes of the match.

Ramos’ sixth goal of the season builded on Toni Kroos’ left-footed strike early in the latter half of the match. Real Madrid, more or less, were cruising against Celta, who had a goal to their name following Fyodor Smolov’s early opener.

Celta, who had arrived in Madrid in 18th place and had lost their last seven at the host’s home, were destined to do the unthinkable. Denis Suarez and Mina – both utilized as substitutes – paired up for the equalizer with five minutes to go, spoiling Hazard’s return.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Sevilla 2-2 Espanyol

Leganes 0-0 Real Betis 

Athletic Bilbao 0-1 Osasuna

Teammates appear to stop Marega leaving after racist slurs

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LIBSON, Portugal — FC Porto striker Moussa Marega, who tried to walk off the field after being the target of racist slurs from fans, faced apparent attempts Sunday by his own teammates and opposition players to prevent him from leaving.

Marega, who is black and from Mali, was visibly angered by monkey noises targeting him after he scored Porto’s second goal in a 2-1 win at Guimarães in the Portuguese football league.

But when Marega started to walk off the field, several players from both Porto and Guimarães appeared to argue with him. Porto coach Sérgio Conceição also went on the field and spoke with Marega.

It took Marega several minutes to leave the field when he was substituted.

Marega held his thumbs down at the crowd as he went into the tunnel to the changing rooms. The crowd responded with loud jeers.

The attitude of the other players has drawn criticism on social media.

“We are indignant with what has happened. Moussa was insulted from warmups (before kickoff),” Conceição said after the match.

“We are a family. One’s nationality, color, or height does not matter. We are human beings. We deserve respect and what happened was despicable.”

Marega received a yellow card following his goal in the 61st minute when he appeared to respond to the slurs by pointing at his skin and by picking up a seat that had been thrown on the pitch.