10-man Leicester battle for point at Brighton

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  • Brighton’s Glenn Murray has scored six goals in his six home PL games this season
  • Jamie Vardy scores late penalty kick
  • Leicester 4 PL games unbeaten

10-man Leicester City fought back to draw 1-1 with Brighton and Hove Albion at the Amex Stadium on Saturday.

Glenn Murray gave Brighton the lead with a flicked header, but Jamie Vardy’s late penalty kick secured a point for Leicester.

The Foxes now have 18 points for the season and sit in 10th, while Brighton are in 12th on 15.

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Leicester had a penalty shout early on as Shinji Okazaki went down in the box but nothing was given.

Brighton almost took the lead after nicking the ball back in a dangerous area, then Beram Kayal‘s shot was tipped wide by Kasper Schmeichel.

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Soon after the Seagulls were ahead as veteran striker Murray flicked home a near post header from a corner into the net to continue his fine start to the season.

It got worse for Leicester before half time as James Maddison was shown a red card after two yellows in quick succession. First he was booked for fouling Anthony Knockaert, then he went down in the box and was shown a second yellow for simulation.

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In the second half Leicester battled their way back into the game and they were handed a perfect opportunity to grab a point.

Kayal lunged into a tackle in the box on Kelechi Iheanacho and Vardy stepped up to slam the spot kick home.

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That equalizer led to wild celebrations in the away end, as Leicester’s players battled until the final whistle for a point.

Balotelli scores again for new club Marseille

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Mario Balotelli sure does love joining a new club.

Balotelli scored in just his second professional match with Inter in 2008. He scored a winner in his first Manchester City appearance in 2010 in Europa League play and bagged a brace in his second Premier League start. He scored seven goals in his first six league matches with AC Milan in 2013. He scored five goals in his first three Ligue 1 appearances for Nice. And now, after signing for Olympique Marseille in the winter transfer window, he is on a tear again.

Despite failing to find the back of the net the entire first half of the season as his Nice career came to a close, in four appearances for Marseille since joining in late January, Balotelli has scored three goals, his latest coming on Saturday as Marseille topped Amiens 2-0 to move above St. Etienne into fourth in the Ligue 1 table.

The 30-year-old Italian is clearly loving life at the Stade Velodrome, as he poked fun at his own teammate with his goal celebration. Florian Thauvin had scored the opener 19 minutes in, but pulled up lame after striking his shot, muting the celebration somewhat. He managed to stay in the game, and when Balotelli scored just six minutes later, he began to mock Thauvin’s injury by pretending his own hamstring was hurt. Thauvin was loving the joke, even joining in to poke fun at himself.

While it’s been an up and down season for Marseille as they fight for their Champions League lives, the club has won three in a row ahead of absolutely critical matches against Stade Rennais and St. Etienne on the horizon. The club then hosts Nice, Balotelli’s old club, where he enjoyed a fabulous start to his time there which served as a sort of revival for the Italian after struggles at Liverpool and AC Milan.

It remains to be seen if Balotelli can enjoy an extended stay at Marseille and prolong his success or if it is just a flash in the pan, but he’s obviously become an important figure in the moment, and Balotelli has always been about the moment.

Sanchez speaks about Man United struggles

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Alexis Sanchez has been a bit-part player this season at Manchester United under two different managers, and it’s beginning to take its toll.

The 30-year-old Chilean admitted in an interview with BBC’s Guillem Balague that the lack of playing time at Old Trafford is sapping his enjoyment of the game, and his inconsistent time on the pitch is feeding his poor form.

“I’m a player that, if I’m not in contact with the ball, I lose that spark,” Sanchez said, “and sometimes I want to play in every game. You’re in, you’re out, and I’m used to playing.

“It’s not an excuse because if I go on for 10, 20 minutes, I have to perform because that’s what I’m here for, to make a difference. I would like to have brought more joy to the club. Yes, it worries me because I believe in my abilities as a player, I want to show it.”

Sanchez has made 14 Premier League appearances for Manchester United this season, with just six of those coming from the opening whistle. A hamstring injury at the start of December is a major culprit of his lack of playing time this season, but so has been a lack of the creativity that he showed at times during his time at Arsenal. Sanchez has just one goal and three assists in 615 Premier League minutes this season, far below what the team likely expected he would provide.

“Within the group there was that feeling that you were in the team, then out,” Sanchez said of the squad’s waning confidence in Jose Mourinho before he was fired. “Sometimes I didn’t play, then I did, then I didn’t and as a player you lose confidence. I’ve played football since I was five and if I have the ball taken away from me, it’s as if I lose my joy.”

With 12 matches remaining in the Premier League and a tight battle for the Champions League places under way, Sanchez will have plenty of opportunities to make his mark, but he will need to prove he deserves a spot in the lineup moving forward.

Bundesliga: Wolfsburg, Leipzig, Hoffenheim all bag 3 goals in wins

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RB Leipzig and Wolfsburg both took necessary steps in the fight for European places as they each pulled out Saturday victories in Bundesliga play.

Leipzig, with Tyler Adams in the starting lineup, earned a 3-1 victory on the road at Stuttgart behind a brace from Yussuf Poulsen, while Marcel Sabitzer scored the decisive goal.

Notably for USMNT fans, Adams secured his first Bundesliga assist, feeding Poulsen for his second goal in the 74th minute to give Leipzig the two-goal advantage. Adams lept over right-back Andreas Beck on the flank and charged forward, eventually delivering a delicious ball for Poulsen on the break who, instead of feeding a wide-open Timo Werner right on the doorstep, took it himself under pressure and managed to slot the ball in past a charging Ron-Robert Zieler.

The win kept Leipzig to fourth in the Bundesliga table and drew them to within a point of third-place Borussia Monchengladbach. The victory was also critical given Wolfsburg, right behind them in fifth, also found a win with a 3-0 stomping of Mainz.

Wolfsburg midfielder Max Arnold scored his first goal of the season just four minutes in to put the hosts in front as young Florian Muller was very late to react in goal. They never looked back as Wout Weghorst bagged a penalty in the 69th minute and Robin Knoche finished things off 14 minutes from the final whistle. The win gave the hosts more life in the race for the final Champions League spot, keeping them five points back of Leipzig.

Hoffenheim also rode an early goal to a 3-0 win, topping Hannover at home to remain in the race for a European position. Brazilian youngster Joelinton was the man to put the hosts in front early on, scoring just four minutes in on a breakaway with a shot through the legs of a charging Michael Esser. Ishak Belfodil doubled the lead in the 14th minute, and Kerem Demirbay left no doubt with a late cherry on top. The win put Hoffenheim in seventh, level on 33 points with Eintracht Frankfurt above them and Bayer Leverkusen below them.

Hertha Berlin slumped to a 1-1 draw with Werder Bremen thanks to a 96th minute Claudio Pizarro goal to make him the Bundesliga’s oldest-ever goalscorer. Schalke and Freiburg both fell to 10 men as the two played to a 0-0 draw.

La Liga: Barcelona restores 7-point lead, Atletico moves second

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Barcelona restored its seven-point lead at the top of the La Liga table with a casual 1-0 victory over Real Valladolid. They held the visitors to zero shots on target at the Camp Nou and Lionel Messi did the job on the other end.

Goalless through the majority of the first half, Messi opened the scoring in the 40th minute by slotting home a controversial penalty given after Gerard Pique was awarded a foul inside the area under pressure from Valladolid defender Michel who stepped in the back of Pique’s legs, but still the Barcelona defender crumpled into a heap quite easily. The referee pointed to the spot, and Messi buried his low effort into the bottom-right past a diving Jordi Masip who guessed correctly but could not reach the shot.

Atletico Madrid also found itself on the right end of a 1-0 victory over Rayo Vallecano as Antoine Griezmann put the visitors through in the 74th minute, scoring a deflected strike served up by Alvaro Morata. The game also marked the return of an injured Diego Costa from two months on the sidelines, coming on for the final half-hour. The win pushed Atletico up to second, above Real Madrid by two with Los Blancos set to play tomorrow.

Real Sociedad moved into seventh with a convincing 3-0 win over Leganes behind a brace from Mikel Oyarzabal. The game was scoreless at halftime but the 21-year-old put the hosts up for good in the 50th minute, with Adnan Januzaj delivering a cross that Oyarzabal headed in. He doubled the lead nine minutes later for his eighth league goal of the season, and Willian Jose added the cherry on top 15 minutes from full-time.

Levante hammered 10-man Celta Vigo 4-1, already 2-0 up when the hosts lost Ryad Boudebouz to a straight red card for a truly absurd tackle, massively late and with his studs showing all the way up near the groin of Borja Mayoral. With Celta Vigo reduced to 10, Jose Luis Morales scored his second of the game just after the hour mark, and Mayoral grabbed one late to finish the scoreline. The result is disappointing for Celta Vigo who have slipped into the relegation battle with seven losses and just one win in their last nine matches.