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La Liga: Atleti open new stadium with win, thanks to Griezmann

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid debuted its new stadium and beat Malaga 1-0 in the Spanish league on Saturday. Antoine Griezmann scored the first goal at the state-of-the-art Wanda Metropolitano.

The nearly 68,000 fans at the inaugural match in the stadium on the outskirts of the Spanish capital erupted when Griezmann converted a low cross by Angel Correa from the right an hour in.

“I’m proud to have written my name in the history of the stadium and in the history of the club,” Griezmann said. “Hopefully there will be many more goals like this in this stadium.”

The victory capped a day of festivities celebrating the stadium’s opening game, attended by King Felipe VI. Afterward, players went around the field greeting the fans in the stands. A show with fireworks and music ensued.

“I’ve never seen anything like this as a player or a coach,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “With all the flags flying at the same time, the fans were really into it, as if they wanted to be playing. It was moving.”

Atletico moved to within four points of Barcelona, which came from behind to defeat Getafe 2-1 and stay perfect after four matches.

Second-place Real Sociedad, the only other team which entered the weekend with a perfect record, hosts defending champion Real Madrid on Sunday. Madrid is in 11th place, seven points behind Barcelona.

Malaga, which has lost all of its matches, dropped to last in the 20-team standings.

Atletico played its first three games away so there was enough time to get everything ready for the inaugural match.

“It had the feeling of a final,” Atletico striker Fernando Torres said. “As we started hearing the fans chanting our songs, we started seeing the stadium as our own. Everything is better when you win. We started with the right foot.”

It moved into its new home after more than 50 years at Vicente Calderon Stadium, which was beloved by its fans and produced one of the greatest atmospheres in soccer.

The crowd was still loud at Wanda Metropolitano, which offered lot more comfort and luxury.

The stadium is named after the team’s old Estadio Metropolitano and the Chinese company which has a stake in the club. It is the club’s fifth stadium in its 114-year history. The $286-million venue is filled with references to the team’s rich history, including its past stadiums and great players.

Paulinho scored his first goal for Barcelona late in the second half to keep alive the side’s perfect record. He fought off a defender inside the area before firing into the far corner in the 84th minute.

“I’m very happy to have scored the winning goal, it was very special,” Paulinho said.

A former Tottenham player who was playing in China last season, Paulinho was one of the few players signed by Barcelona in the offseason. The club paid 40 million euros to attract the Brazil midfielder and was criticized by many for spending so much on him.

Getafe, which has won only one of its four games to start the season, led through Japanese midfielder Gaku Shibasaki just before halftime. Denis Suarez equalized in the second half.

“We had the game under control,” Getafe coach Jose Bordalas said. “The players are disappointed. We put in a great effort and the result was not what we expected. It doesn’t seem like it was a fair result. We were unlucky but we put on a challenge against a great team.”

Barcelona won the match but lost Ousmane Dembele, its biggest offseason signing, midway through the first half because of an apparent muscle injury.

The Valencia derby between Levante and Valencia ended 1-1. The result left both teams also even in the standings.

Midfielder Joaquin Sanchez scored in each half to give Real Betis a 2-1 victory over Deportivo La Coruna, keeping the rival winless. Deportivo has lost all of its matches except for a 2-2 draw at Levante in the second round.

Uruguay reaches Round of 16 courtesy of Suarez

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The first two nations have advanced to the knockout phase out of Group A.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Uruguay reached the Round of 16 on Wednesday with a 1-0 win over Saudi Arabia, who has been eliminated from the 2018 World Cup.

Hosts Russia will also reach the knockout rounds with the Uruguay win, thus eliminating Egypt as well.

The Barcelona striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute, after a poor read from Saudi goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais.

Suarez was given a wide-open finish at the far post off the corner kick for his first goal at the World Cup. The 31-year-old had scored a combined five goals during his last two World Cup appearances (2010 & 2014).

The Uruguyans dictated the tempo throughout much of the match, but Saudi Arabia’s back line held strong for the majority of the game.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

Uruguay will close out group play against Group A leaders and hosts Russia on June 25, while Saudi Arabia and Egypt will tango that same day.

Video: Goalkeeping error grants Suarez, Uruguay gift

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Luis Suarez was clearly upset with his lack of finishing in Uruguay’s opener last Friday, but the Barcelona man is finally on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup.

[MORE: Ronaldo’s early header gives Portugal win over Morocco ]

The veteran striker gave Uruguay the lead in the 23rd minute after a close-range finish off of a corner kick.

Saudi Arabia goalkeeper Mohammed Al-Owais came out to try and collect the cross, however, he was slow in his reaction, allowing the ball to slip through to Suarez for the easy finish.

The Uruguayans will reach the Round of 16 with one match remaining if they hold on to their 1-0 lead.

NZ women’s coach placed on leave after player complaints

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Wellington, New Zealand (AP) The coach of New Zealand’s women’s football team has been placed on leave pending an investigation of complaints about his conduct from members of the national team.

[ MORE: Senegal holds off late Poland charge for Group H win ]

The complaints centered around tactics Andreas Heraf used in a recent home international against Japan and his comments to media after that match. Players reportedly objected to the defensive nature of Heraf’s tactics in the 3-1 loss.

New Zealand Football chief executive Andy Martin said at a news conference on Wednesday that his organization had received a letter from the New Zealand Professional Footballers Association, containing letters of complaint from 13 national team members.

Defending his approach at a news conference after the match, Heraf said the New Zealand players would never have the “quality” to compete with a team of Japan’s ability and might have lost 8-0 if they had not adopted a defensive style.

Further reports have emerged of player concerns about Heraf’s behavior, including allegations of bullying.

Martin was repeatedly questioned at the news conference about when New Zealand Football first had notice of the players’ concerns about Heraf. He insisted he was not aware of any problems until the letter from the NZPFA containing the players’ complaints was released on Monday.

In a statement, New Zealand Football Chairman Deryck Shaw said player welfare was “of utmost importance.”

“We hold player welfare as a matter of utmost importance and that is why we are conducting a thorough, independent review. We want to ensure we better understand these issues in an objective review. There is no place for inappropriate behavior of any kind with New Zealand Football.”

Ronaldo’s early tally gives Portugal win over Morocco

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It was far from a convincing performance, but manager Fernando Santos and Co. came away with their first win at the World Cup and now sit in the drivers’ seat in Group B.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Portugal earned a narrow 1-0 win over Morocco on Wednesday, after Cristiano Ronaldo’s early header proved to be the difference.

Santos’ group now sits atop Group B with four points, while Morocco is eliminated after losing its first two matches.

It took just four minutes for Portugal to break the deadlock, with Ronaldo once again at the center of the Portuguese attack.

The Real Madrid man brilliantly latched onto a header at the near post off of a corner kick, giving Ronaldo his fourth goal at this World Cup (seventh goal overall).

Morocco did well to insert its presence in the match following the early goal, but various chances from Medhi Benatia and Hakim Ziyech weren’t enough to break past Portugal goalkeeper Rui Patricio.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The African side also had a legitimate appeal for a penalty kick in the first stanza, however, referee Mark Geiger opted to play on despite the Moroccan protest.

Morocco continued its pressure in the second half, and Patricio was forced to make an incredible save in the 57th minute when Younes Belhanda headed a cross towards the far corner.

Portugal will close out Group B play on June 25 against Iran, while Morocco takes on Spain