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Bundesliga takes notice of US teen Sargent’s scoring debut

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BERLIN (AP) Still only 18 but with one Bundesliga goal from one Bundesliga match, United States forward Josh Sargent is already being touted as a possible heir to Claudio Pizarro.

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Sargent scored for Werder Bremen with his first touch two minutes after coming on as a substitute in his league debut against Fortuna Duesseldorf on Friday. Pizarro, who has scored more goals (194) than any other foreign player in the Bundesliga, is 40 with his one-year deal over at the end of the season.

“It’s a realistic goal,” Bremen coach Florian Kohfeldt said of Sargent. “We want to develop our own top forwards. If, next summer, Josh is the one (to replace Pizarro), then we’ll have done a lot of things right.”

In the 3-1 win over Fortuna Duesseldorf, Sargent was in the right place at the right time to head home the rebound from close range after opposing goalkeeper Michael Rensing saved Martin Harnik’s initial effort.

It was the fastest goal scored by a Bremen debutant and it ensured Sargent, who turned 18 on Feb. 20, is the second-youngest player to have scored for the German club after Aaron Hunt.

“Beginner’s luck,” Sargent tweeted.

The teenager also got a goal in his national team debut on May 28, scoring in a friendly against Bolivia. The U.S. Soccer Federation said he is the first American since at least 1990 to score in both his national and professional team debuts. Sargent also scored against Peru in October.

Sargent, who is from O’Fallon, Missouri, and joined Bremen last year, was finally given his chance in the Bundesliga after impressing with seven goals in 12 games for the club’s under-23 team in Germany’s fourth tier. He had to wait until his 18th birthday before he could play.

“He’s a good guy,” said Kohfeldt, who is trying to protect the player from burgeoning expectations.

“There’s so much in the guy. I don’t want to expect too much from him,” Kohfeldt said. “He scored one goal. After that there were some actions that didn’t quite work out.”

Kohfeldt said Sargent could expect more Bundesliga appearances but there is no rush to give the teenager playing time. Bremen next plays at league leader Dortmund on Saturday.

“We need to be careful with what we expect from him,” Kohfeldt said. “If he makes five or six appearances by the summer, it’ll have been a good year.”

Sargent can also learn a lot from Pizarro. The veteran Peru striker, who is in his fourth stint at Bremen, helped the club win the German Cup in 2009 and helped Bayern Munich to six Bundesliga titles during his time in Bavaria.

Kohfeldt, who said Sargent had been working on his physique, also praised the player’s mental strength, saying he doesn’t care whether he plays at Bremen’s Weserstadion, the under-23’s Platz 11 or “in front of 80,000 in Dortmund.”

“He can block that out, a quality Pizarro also has,” Kohfeldt said. “That can make the difference between a good and an outstanding player.”

More AP Bundesliga coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/Bundesliga and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

La Liga: Real Madrid shocked again; Sevilla in freefall

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

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Real Madrid 1-2 GironaMORE

Madrid’s five-game winning streak is no more after Santiago Solari’s side suffered yet another embarrassing defeat on the season, this time at home to 15th-place Girona.

Sergio Ramos added yet another red card to his record tally — he now has 20 in La Liga play — with his side already 2-1 down after throwing away an early lead. Casemiro put Los Blancos ahead after 25 minutes, and win no. 6 appeared a foregone conclusion until it all fell apart in the second half. Cristhian Stuani converted from the penalty spot in the 65th minute — made possible by Ramos’ first yellow card — and Portu completed the comeback in the 75th.

The defeat sees Madrid slip below Atletico Madrid in the race for second place, now nine points back of leaders Barcelona. El Clasico is two weeks away, at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, March 2.

Villarreal 3-0 Sevilla

Once upon a time, Sevilla were the closest challengers to Barca’s crown. Now, following a third straight defeat — and having won just once in their last eight league games — Pablo Machin’s side is in an uncontrollable freefall.

18th-place Villarreal piled on the misery on Sunday, thrashing Sevilla to the tune of 3-0 and never letting the once-title hopefuls have a sniff of the game. Alvaro Gonzalez put the home side ahead after 20 minutes; Karl Toko Ekambi doubled the lead in the first minute following the halftime restart; Alfonso Pedraza completed the rout in the 86th.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Valencia 0-0 Espanyol
Real Betis 1-1 Alaves

Ligue 1: Mbappe keeps PSG rolling with superb winner (video)

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PARIS (AP) — Kylian Mbappe displayed his match-winning abilities once again Sunday, scoring off balance with a superb volley as Paris Saint-Germain beat Saint-Etienne 1-0 to move 12 points clear at the top of the French league.

[ FA CUP: Crystal Palace, Swansea reach quarterfinals (video) ]

Latching onto a clever lobbed pass from veteran Dani Alves over the defense, Mbappe was at full stretch yet still hooked a powerful shot into the top left corner while sliding forward to meet the ball in the 73rd minute.

He then sprinted to the bench to celebrate his league-leading 19th goal and 24th overall this season with coach Thomas Tuchel.

It was also Mbappe’s second important strike in the matter of days, where he has led the attack impressively in the absence of Neymar and Edinson Cavani .

The 20-year-old France forward netted Tuesday in PSG’s impressive 2-0 win at Manchester United in the last 16 of the Champions League.

After his clinical strike settled a tense match, Mbappe could even afford himself a moment of light relief.

[ MORE: Emotional funeral for Sala held in his Argentine hometown ]

Television cameras captured him laughing in the fifth minute of injury time after the referee showed him a yellow card for not standing back enough for a Saint-Etienne free kick.

Saint-Etienne boasts the second-best home record in the league — behind PSG — but offered little in attack as it dropped to fifth place behind an improving Marseille side boosted by striker Mario Balotelli’s arrival.

Instead, it was down to Saint-Etienne goalkeeper Stephane Ruffier to keep PSG at bay with saves from Mbappe and Angel Di Maria before Mbappe scored the only goal.

Serie A: Napoli let Juve’s lead get to 13; Inter win without Icardi

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ FA CUP: Crystal Palace, Swansea reach quarterfinals (video) ]

Napoli 0-0 Torino

It’s not as if Juventus need the rest of Serie A to make it any easier for them to collect their eighth straight scudetto, but that’s exactly what the last remaining challengers did on Sunday, as second-place Napoli slumped to a 0-0 home draw with ninth-place Torino. What was an 11-point lead for Massimiliano Allegri’s side when the weekend began, is now a 13-point advantage which would require inarguably the greatest collapse in sports history to throw away with just 14 games left to play.

Inter Milan 2-1 Sampdoria

Mauro Icardi remains out of the Inter Milan squad, but the side won its first game since the Argentine was stripped of his captaincy and his future at the club came under serious question.

Danilo D’Ambrosio and Radja Nainggolan bagged Inter’s goals just five minutes apart, either side of Manolo Gabbiadini‘s equalizer in the 75th. The victory kept Inter four points clear of AC Milan in the race for third.

“I really appreciated that Icardi came to the stadium but I would have appreciated it even more if he had come into the dressing room afterward to celebrate with his teammates,” Inter coach Luciano Spalletti said after the game.

“To get back to normal there are more steps to be made, more efforts. Icardi has to experience with the team the happiness of being part of this group.”

Elsewhere in Serie A

Genoa 2-1 Lazio
SPAL 1-4 Fiorentina
Udinese 1-0 Chievo
Empoli 3-0 Sassuolo

Monday’s Serie A schedule

Roma v. Bologna — 2:30 p.m. ET

Weah’s fiery passion on display in late Celtic celebrations (video)

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Timothy Weah’s time at Celtic will likely be brief, but the U.S. national team youngster is doing plenty to leave a lasting impression in Glasgow.

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Having already scored three times in seven appearances (just two starts – all competitions) for the Scottish giants, Weah first made an impact on the field before making his way into the hearts of Celtic supporters with a fiery display of celebration and trash-talk following Scott Brown’s stoppage-time winner against Kilmarnock.

For 90-plus minutes, the seven-time defending champions — and runaway leaders once again — were stymied and appeared headed for a scoreless draw away from home. Dropping points would have allowed second-place Rangers to remain within six points, letting them off the hook for their scoreless stalemate with St. Johnstone on Saturday.

[ MORE: Emotional funeral for Sala held in his Argentine hometown ]

Then came the winner, complete with Brown’s second yellow card of the game for an over-the-top celebration with a group of Celtic fans who staged a mini-field invasion. Tensions were high elsewhere on the field, as Weah, who came on as a substitute 15 minutes earlier, went out of his way to celebrate in the faces of Kilmarnock players Greg Taylor and Jordan Jones, with the referee standing in front of him.

While he’s expected to return to Paris Saint-Germain as soon as his six-month loan ends, Weah will long be welcomed back at Celtic Park anytime.