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La Liga: Sociedad beats Deportivo to stay perfect, joint-top

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MADRID (AP) Real Sociedad has become the early surprise in the Spanish league, starting with a perfect record to join Barcelona at the top of the standings.

Sociedad scored twice early and twice late to defeat Deportivo La Coruna 4-2 on Sunday, becoming the only team other than Barcelona with three victories.

Sevilla and Athletic Bilbao are two points off the lead, while defending champion Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid dropped four points back after being held to disappointing draws on Saturday.

“It’s very important to start with these three victories, especially these two away from home in very difficult stadiums to play in,” Sociedad coach Eusebio Sacristan said. “We are very happy but we know there is still a long way to go. We know every game will be difficult.”

Sociedad took an early lead in La Coruna with two goals in the first four minutes at the Riazor Stadium, and secured the victory with two more in the last 10 minutes after the hosts had equalized early in the second half.

“The match got complicated for us,” Sacristan said. “They started playing better but we were able to turn things around again. We regained control of the match and went for the victory. We were not content with only a draw after having the lead that we had.”

Juanmi Jimenez opened the scoring for Sociedad in the third minute and Asier Illarramendi added to the lead in the fourth. Deportivo evened the match with goals by Adrian Lopez in the 27th and Florin Andone in the 50th, but Sociedad secured the victory with a goal by Diego Llorente in the 83rd and another by Illarramendi in the 86th.

Sociedad, back-to-back Spanish champion in 1981-82, had opened the season with victories at Celta Vigo and against Villarreal.

It will face one of its toughest tests yet in the next round when it hosts titleholders Madrid at Anoeta Stadium.

Deportivo, which fought to avoid relegation last season, lost to Madrid in its opener before drawing at Levante in the second round.

On Saturday, Barcelona routed Espanyol 5-0 in the Catalan derby with a hat trick by Lionel Messi at the Camp Nou Stadium.

Madrid could not manage more than a 1-1 draw against Levante, being held to its second consecutive draw at the Santiago Bernabeu Stadium. It had tied Valencia 2-2 last weekend.

Earlier Saturday, Atletico drew 0-0 with Valencia at Mestalla Stadium. Diego Simeone’s team has played three straight away games before being able to inaugurate its Wanda Metropolitano Stadium on Saturday against Malaga.

Leganes, in its second season in the first division, also had a chance to win three in a row this weekend, but it lost 2-1 to Getafe at home in Saturday’s southern Madrid derby.

Athletic Bilbao’s defense remained perfect and forwards Iker Muniain and Aritz Aduriz scored a goal in each half to give the hosts a 2-0 win over promoted Girona.

It was the second consecutive win for Athletic, which is yet to concede a goal this season.

Barcelona is the only other team not to have conceded after three rounds.

Celta Vigo defeated Alaves 1-0 to halt its two-game losing streak.

Maxi Gomez scored a first-half winner in Vigo. It was the third straight defeat for Alaves, which is yet to score a goal after three rounds.

Villarreal conceded early but recovered to defeat Real Betis 3-1 and earn its first victory.

Villarreal had lost its first two games and was yet to score a goal, while Real Betis has now lost two of its first three matches.

Croatian media: Forward Kalinic refused WCup medal

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ZAGREB, Croatia (AP) Croatian media say that forward Nikola Kalinic has not accepted the silver medal his team won at the World Cup in Russia because he was sent home early in the competition.

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Kalinic has reportedly said “thank you but I did not play in Russia.”

Coach Zlatko Dalic sent Kalinic home following the team’s 2-0 victory over Nigeria in their opening match.

Dalic said he wanted to use Kalinic as a substitute in the second half but the AC Milan forward, who was already warming up, told him he was not able to play because of a back problem.

Dalic said Kalinic did the same in a World Cup warmup against Brazil and during training.

Croatia lost 4-2 to France in the final.

Marseille signs Caleta-Car, Fonte joins Lille

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MARSEILLE, France (AP) Croatia defender Duje Caleta-Car has joined Marseille from Red Bull Salzburg, becoming the first offseason signing for the nine-time French champion.

Caleta-Car played a group game at the World Cup with Croatia, which lost 4-2 against France in the final last week.

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He won four Austrian league titles and three national cups with Salzburg.

Terms of the deals were not disclosed but L’Equipe newspaper reported that Marseille agreed to a fee of 19 million euros for the 21-year-old player, who was also targeted by Spanish club Sevilla.

“He is a very good central defender, for now and for the future,” Marseille sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta said. “He is a clever player, who understands football. His very physical skills make him very good in the air and has good passing abilities.”

Marseille finished fourth in the French league last season and lost 3-0 against Atletico Madrid in the Europa League final, missing out on a Champions League berth.

FONTE JOINS LILLE

Portugal defender Jose Fonte is set to continue his much-traveled career in the north of France after agreeing to a two-year deal with Lille.

The 34-year-old Fonte started all four games at the World Cup in Russia as Portugal was eliminated by Uruguay in the round of 16.

Two years ago, he was a member of the squad which won the European championship in France.

Lille said in a statement Fonte will sign “in the coming days” following medical tests.

The former Crystal Palace, Southampton and West Ham center back played only a few matches with Chinese club Dalian Yifang this year before terminating his contract.

He is the second international to join Lille this summer after former France forward Loic Remy.

“I’m very proud to join Lille, which is a great French club,” Fonte said. “It’s a new challenge for me, hopefully it will be successful.”

Naby Keita emulated Gerrard growing up, and will now take on his role

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Naby Keita represents another new face in the next generation Liverpool regime, and he’s taking a page out of Anfield’s past in his approach at the Premier League club.

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When the 23-year-old finally completed his long-awaited move to the Reds in 2018, comparisons to N'Golo Kante quickly arose, a strong compliment for many.

However, for everything that Kante does well, it may actually be unfair to compare Keita to the now-World Cup winner with France.

Keita’s tireless ability to track up and down the pitch, complimented by his incredible skill on the ball and pace make him the ideal box-to-box midfielder, something his new club has been lacking for several years.

“My first mind-set is to defend well and not concede,” Keita told the Telegraph. “As a midfielder, when you have sealed things up at the back, my job is to provide the ammunition for the strikers and forwards, to create opportunities. Also, if I get a chance that comes my way, I want to take it and score. But I am a team player. I think about the team and the group always.”

That player is one Steven Gerrard.

And for Keita, the player that he once emulated as a child has now influenced him into the young star that drove manager Jurgen Klopp towards bringing him in to Anfield.

“When I came here that day I didn’t know Steven would be at Melwood,” says Keita. “It was a surprise to me. It was exciting. He said, ‘Everyone will be here for you, we’re all going to help you develop’.

“I had watched Steven Gerrard growing up as a kid and admired him so that was a special day.

“We used to play in the streets wearing a Liverpool shirt. My dad had a love of Liverpool back then when I was 11 or 12 years old.

“I wanted to be like him. It couldn’t be anyone else. He was always the boss of the team.”

Las Vegas Lights keen on bringing Usain Bolt to USL

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It wouldn’t be the first time a star athlete has made the move to the United Soccer League — the second tier in the U.S. Soccer professional pyramid — however, the magnitude of the deal would transcend soccer.

[ MORE: Spurs sign Son to contract extension ]

Although reported interest from Australia, Turkey and Hungary could derail a move, former Jamaican track star Usain Bolt is being courted by USL side Las Vegas Lights FC, who are currently in their first season in the league.

“Of course we have an interest in Usain Bolt. Why wouldn’t we?” said Las Vegas owner and CEO Brett Lashbrook.

“He’s the world’s fastest guy and he’s trained at some of the best clubs in the world. To come play Division 2 soccer in the U.S. actually makes all the sense in the world. This guy is an absolute specimen of an athlete and we think he could absolutely succeed at the USL level.”

While the possibility of having Bolt play alongside Freddy Adu next to the Vegas Strip is an enticing one, the Jamaican’s salary demands are likely far too much for a USL side to take on.

Lights FC currently sit 13th in the USL Western Conference, eight point outside of a playoff spot.

Bolt is an eight-time Olympic gold medalist, having competed at the 2008, 2012 and 2016 Olympic Games.