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La Liga & Serie A: Pazzini spoils Real’s day, Inter drop points

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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 ]

Levante 2-2 Real Madrid

Second-half substitute Giampaolo Pazzini played hero on Saturday at the Ciudad de Valencia as Levante picked up a vital point against Real Madrid and climbed out of the relegation zone. A Sergio Ramos header gave the Madridistas a lead inside the opening 11 minutes, before the hosts equalized before halftime through Emmanuel Boateng.

However, Isco restored the lead for Los Blancos with nine minutes remaining in regulation. It was all for not though as Real dropped points once again, when Pazzini finished off a through ball from Jason.

Unfortunately for goalkeeper Keylor Navas, he wasn’t getting much help from his backline, despite making several brilliant stops on the day.

Eibar 5-1 Sevilla

Don’t look now, but Eibar is up to seventh place in La Liga. The club’s fate against Sevilla was sealed early on when Kike scored less than a minute into the match. The hosts took a 3-1 lead into halftime, before goals from Fabián Orellana and Anaitz Arbilla extended the advantage in the second stanza.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 2-1 Villareal
Alaves 2-1 Celta Vigo

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Getafe vs. Leganes — 6 a.m. ET
Espanyol vs. Barcelona — 10:15 a.m. ET
Girona vs. Athletic Bilbao — 12:30 p.m. ET
Atletico Madrid vs. Valencia — 2:45 p.m. ET


Inter Milan 1-1 Crotone

Inter lost further ground on Italy’s top three after dropping points against 17th place Crotone. Eder‘s first-half strike gave the hosts a lead going into halftime, before Andrea Barberis equalized at the hour mark. Inter now sits fourth in Serie A on 45 points, 12 behind league leaders Napoli.

Sampdoria 1-1 Torino

The two top-half clubs lost ground on the top four today, as Sampdoria and Torino settled for a draw at Comunale Luigi Ferraris. Lucas Torreira gave Sampdoria a lead in the 11th minute, before Afriyie Acquah leveled the match at 1-1 over 13 minutes later. Acquah’s showing took a negative turn in the second half though when he was sent off for picking up a second yellow card.

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Hellas Verona vs. Roma — 6:30 a.m. ET
Atalanta vs. Chievo Verona — 9 a.m. ET
Bologna vs. Fiorentina — 9 a.m. ET
Cagliari vs. SPAL — 9 a.m. ET
Juventus vs. Sassuolo — 9 a.m. ET
Udinese vs. AC Milan — 9 a.m. ET
Benevento vs. Napoli — 2:45 p.m. ET

FOLLOW LIVE: West leaders SKC host East’s 2nd-best Crew SC

Photo by Scott Winters/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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KANSAS CITY, KAN. — Western Conference leaders Sporting Kansas City host Columbus Crew SC, the Eastern Conference’s second-place side, at Children’s Mercy Park on Sunday with both sides capable of overtaking Atlanta United for top spot in the Supporters’ Shield race.

[ FOLLOW: SKC vs. Crew SC in top-of-the-table clash ]

Sporting KC, who are unbeaten in three straight and have lost just once since opening day (11 games), lead expansion side Los Angeles FC in the West. Meanwhile, Crew SC enter Sunday’s top-of-the-table clash unbeaten in their last six games (four wins) and trail the league leaders from Atlanta by a single point.

Hit the link above to follow along throughout the afternoon, and check back with PST for coverage after the final whistle.

Ronaldo staying at Real Madrid: ‘See you next year’

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MADRID (AP) — For a third straight year, Real Madrid are celebrating a European title with their fans.

Madrid brought the Champions League trophy home on Sunday and paraded it through the streets of the Spanish capital as thousands of fans saluted the newly crowned champions.

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

Madrid was back in Spain after winning its 13th European title with a 3-1 win over Liverpool in Kiev on Saturday.

Players and team members participated in a ceremony at a local cathedral. After this they met with the city mayor and community president before addressing fans from a terrace at the Puerta del Sol square, one of Madrid’s main locations.

“It has become a routine to be here,” captain Sergio Ramos said. “Hopefully it will continue for many years.”

Cristiano Ronaldo, who after the final hinted he could be leaving Madrid, heard fans asking him to stay at the club.

“Thank you for all of your support,” Ronaldo told the crowd. “We made history, it’s time to be happy.”

The team then got on an open bus and paraded with the trophy until reaching the club’s traditional celebration spot, the Plaza de Cibeles, where fans had been waiting for the champions for hours.

[ UCL FINAL: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

The players chanted “Campeones, Campeones” and “We Are Kings of Europe” along with the fans. Ramos and Marcelo carried the trophy across the walkway set up over the plaza’s fountain and draped the statue of the goddess Cibele with a Spain flag that carried Madrid’s name on it. Ramos also put a team scarf around the goddess’ head to huge cheers from the crowd as the song “We Are The Champions” was played.

The next stop was due to be the team’s Santiago Bernabeu Stadium, where nearly 80,000 fans were expected to attend a ceremony honoring the European champions.

The stadium was packed on Saturday with fans watching the match on eight big screens set up at midfield. Confetti blasted from a stage behind the screens when the players lifted the trophy in Ukraine.

Thousands had already made it to the Plaza de Cibeles right after the game in celebrations that lasted into the early hours of Sunday.

Madrid has won the Champions League in four of the last five years. It had beaten Juventus last season, and city rival Atletico Madrid in finals in 2014 and 2016.

Preview: USMNT hosts Bolivia in shadows of World Cup hype

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With the rest of the world’s premier soccer nations gearing up for next month’s World Cup in Russia, the U.S. men’s national team is set to host fellow non-qualifiers Bolivia in a futile friendly at Talen Energy Stadium in Chester, Penn., on Monday (6:30 p.m. ET), the Yanks’ fourth time out since that infamous night in Trinidad.

[ MORE: Ben Olsen confirms D.C. United’s interest in Wayne Rooney ]

Five days later (Saturday, June 2), they’ll face Ireland at the Aviva Stadium in Dublin, followed by a trip to Lyon, France, to face World Cup-bound Les Bleus (June 9).

Youth movement continues

Once again, the likes of Michael Bradley, Clint Dempsey and Tim Howard — senior figures for the last decade-plus — are nowhere to be found as Dave Sarachan completes his sentence tenure as interim head coach following Bruce Arena’s resignation in November. Back for the first time is 19-year-old Christian Pulisic, native of nearby Hershey, Penn., who with 20 caps is the joint-most veteran member (Joe Corona) of the squad.

Average age of the 22-man roster: 22.8 years old.

“As I’ve talked about throughout this process, the theme is to offer opportunity to this younger generation of talented players that have potential down the road with the program,” Sarachan said this week. “We’ve had first-time call-ups in every camp since November, and this is another extension of that. We’re going into the Bolivia game with newer faces along with a few familiar players as well.”

[ MORE: Ronaldo hints at Real Madrid exit | Bale does the same ]

Youngsters forging careers in Europe

The just-completed 2017-18 season was a promising, encouraging one for a number of American youngsters — some not named Pulisic, even — plying their trade for a number of sides around Europe.

22-year-old defender Matt Miazga completed his second season on loan to Vitesse, made 36 appearances between August and May (43 in all competitions), and played a pivotal part in the Eredivisie side qualifying for next season’s Europa League. Come this August, he’ll be hoping to impress Antonio Conte(‘s successor) and win his place in the Chelsea squad.

19-year-old midfielder Weston McKennie made 22 Bundesliga appearances (13 starts), plus another three in the DFB Pokal cup competition, for second-place Schalke. After undergoing surgery for a knee injury in January, McKennie returned in March to reclaim a full-time spot in the gameday squad and a semi-regular place in the starting lineup.

21-year-old forward Andrija Novakovich, another Yank out on loan (from Reading) this season, bagged 21 goals in 37 league appearances for second-division Dutch side Telstar en route to an appearance in the promotion playoffs. Novakovich made his USMNT debut against Paraguay in March.

20-year-old defender Cameron Carter-Vickers (Tottenham Hotspur) saw first-team action this season while on loan to Championship side Sheffield Wednesday; 21-year-old defender Erik Palmer-Brown signed for Premier League champions Manchester City in January and spent the final four months of the season on loan to Belgian side Kortrijk; 18-year-old forward Tim Weah made his first-team debut for Paris Saint-Germain in March and made his first Ligue 1 start earlier this month.

[ UCL FINAL: Player ratings | Three things we learned ]

Potential lineup

—– Hamid —–

—- Lichaj —- Miazaga —- Zimmerman —- Villafaña —-

—- Gooch —- McKennie —- 

—- Rubin —- Pulisic —- Weah —- 

—- Novakovich —-

Neymar appears in good shape after Brazil training week

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TERESOPOLIS, Brazil (AP) Neymar has finished his first full week of training with Brazil in apparent good shape ahead of the upcoming World Cup after foot surgery.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Real vs. Liverpool ]

The striker continued his recovery Saturday in Brazil’s last training session on home soil before setting camp in London on Monday.

Brazilian football confederation footage shows Neymar passing and dribbling at high speed in training that was closed to the media.

The Brazilian has been recovering from right foot surgery in March.

Brazil players will be off duty until Sunday morning. They travel to London hours later.