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La Liga & Serie A: Newly promoted Alaves shock Barca; Ronaldo returns, scores

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A roundup of Saturday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Real Madrid 5-2 Osasuna

Cristiano Ronaldo hadn’t played a minute of first-team football since injuring his knee in the final of EURO 2016. He needed just six of them — minutes, that is — to mark his return to the field with his first goal of the season (assisted by Gareth Bale) on Saturday. The Portuguese superstar wouldn’t find the net again, and he would only last 66 minutes on the day, but it was a successful return to action in every possible way.

Most notably, the 5-2 victory for Real Madrid. Danilo, Sergio Ramos, Pepe and Luka Modric each chipped in with a goal of their own, as Zinedine Zidane’s side became the only Spanish side still perfect three games into the 2016-17 season.

Barcelona 1-2 Alaves

Luis Enrique’s side dropped their first points of the season, at home against newly promoted Alaves. Lionel Messi was left out of the starting lineup (hamstring injury), but came off the bench on the hour mark, with the game tied at 1-1, and failed to make the kind of impact Barca needed.

Barca went behind through Deyverson’s opening goal in the 39th minute, but Jeremy Mathieu put them back on level terms less than 60 seconds after the halftime restart. Messi entered in the 60th minute, and Ibai Gomez scored Alaves’s winner, thanks to a fatal mistake by Mathieu, four minutes later.

Celta Vigo 0-4 Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann scored twice, and Koke and Angel Correa chipped in a goal apiece, as Atleti routed last year’s sixth-place finishers away from home. Saturday’s brace gives the 25-year-old Frenchman 46 league goals three seasons into his time at the Vicente Calderon Stadium (22 goals in each of the last two seasons).

Elsewhere in La Liga

Sevilla 2-1 Las Palmas
Malaga 0-2 Villarreal

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Sporting Gijon vs. Leganes (6 a.m. ET)
Valencia vs. Real Betis (10 a.m. ET)
Granada vs. Eibar (12:15 a.m. ET)
Deportivo La Coruña vs. Athletic Bilbao (2:30 p.m. ET)


Juventus 3-1 Sassuolo

Gonzalo Higuain scored twice to take his league goals tally to three on the season (through three games — after scoring 36 in 35 last season) before Miralem Pjanic made it 3-0 with only 27 minutes on the clock. Luca Antei pulled a goal back for Sassuolo, but that’s as close as they would get. Juve are a perfect 3-for-3 to start the season, already two points clear of Napoli. They will probably never relinquish that lead.

Palermo 0-3 Napoli

Napoli, and perhaps Roma, will do everything they can to prevent Juve extending their half-decade of dominance any further. In the end, it won’t be enough, but it’ll be enjoyable to watch them try for a while. Jose Callejon bagged a brace and Marek Hamsik scored the third as Maurizio Sarri’s side blew past Palermo on Saturday.

Sunday’s Serie A schedule

Bologna vs. Cagliari (6:30 a.m. ET)
Chievo vs. Lazio (9 a.m. ET)
Genoa vs. Fiorentina (9 a.m. ET)
AC Milan vs. Udinese (9 a.m. ET)
Atalanta vs. Torino (9 a.m. ET)
Roma vs. Sampdoria (9 a.m. ET)
Pescara vs. Inter Milan (2:45 p.m. ET)

Moore takes hold of West Brom’s promotion bid

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Darren Moore‘s spell as West Brom caretaker manager couldn’t quite pull off a miraculous run to Premier League safety, but the promise it contained has helped him to the first chance at earning promotion back to the top flight.

West Bromwich Albion announced Moore as its new manager on Monday, with the boss promising his Baggies would play attractive football while also being a side “that’s willing to fight and scrap for every ball.”

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Moore is also happy to carry a flame for minority coaches — called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) — in England.

“If it does inspire others, I would be extremely proud,” he said. “I don’t just speak on behalf of BAME coaches but the young, aspiring British coaches across the board.”

Moore, 44, only lost one of his six PL matches as WBA boss, winning three times and inspiring many to wonder what would’ve happened had the Baggies’ pulled the plug on Alan Pardew — and Tony Pulis before him — earlier.

A center back in his playing career, Moore spent 18 seasons between a number of clubs including West Brom, Derby County, and Doncaster Rovers. He won promotion as a player twice with West Brom, and again with Derby.

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

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BRUSSELS (AP) Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with Champions League semifinalist Roma.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has long had a difficult relationship with the stormy midfielder. But after being called up for a warm-up game in March against Saudi Arabia, expectations had been that he would be on the 28-man roster announced Monday.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

On top of the troubled relationship, Nainggolan was also the victim of the unparalleled wealth of talent the small nation has produced over the past few years.

Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were all named in the squad, which will be cut to 23 before the World Cup.

Nashville MLS expansion club snares ex-Liverpool CEO Ayre

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Former Liverpool CEO Ian Ayre is moving from Merseyside to the Music City.

The Tennesseean’s Joe Rexrode says Ayre is set to take the reins of Nashville SC as the first CEO in club history when it makes its debut in the 2020 MLS season.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Liverpool hired ex-EA Sports executive Peter Moore to replace Ayre in 2017 after the latter, 54, spent six years with the club as managing director and then CEO.

From the Tennessean:

“The MLS has huge ambitions to be one of the biggest and leading leagues in the world, and is on that trajectory,” Ayre said. “Both as a soccer fan and an executive in the industry, it’s something I’ve had my eye on because it’s important. … You talk about MLS and its growth, I think it’s becoming easier and will become easier to attract the right talent to something that’s exciting and developing. And if you have a reputation of being involved in a club like Liverpool, you hope that stands for something when you start to try and attract talent.”

The timing of Ayre’s addition hearkens back to that of former Tottenham executive Darren Eales at Atlanta United. If it has the same success, Nashville will be proud.

Report: Lampard interviews twice with Championship club

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Steven Gerrard‘s longtime England midfield mate Frank Lampard could soon be joining him in a management.

While Gerrard is tasked with rebuilding Rangers’ Scottish title push, Lampard’s reported new gig would entail leading Ipswich Town back to the Premier League for the first time since 2002.

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Sky Sports says Lampard has already interviewed twice with Ipswich Town ownership in a bid to earn his first senior management gig.

Lampard, 39, played for Chelsea, Man City, New York City FC, West Ham United, and Swansea in a sparkling 20-year playing career.

Town finished 12th in the Championship, 15 points back of a playoff spot and 19 clear of relegation.