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La Liga: Barcelona’s reserves lose; Atleti fail to clinch 2nd place

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MADRID (AP) — Spanish champion Barcelona sacrificed its unbeaten streak on Saturday to prepare to reach the Champions League final at Liverpool’s expense.

With most regular starters rested, Barcelona’s 23-match unbeaten run ended in a 2-0 loss at Celta Vigo on Saturday in the Spanish league.

It was Barcelona’s first setback since January and a loss at Sevilla in the Copa del Rey, and its first defeat in the league since November.

The result meant little to the Catalan club, though, as it’s fully focused on Liverpool in the second leg of their Champions League semifinal next week, when it will travel to England defending a 3-0 win from the Camp Nou.

Of more immediate concern was a leg injury to Ousmane Dembele, who had to be replaced five minutes into the match.

“Apparently he has a muscle problem,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “We will have to wait until the tests tomorrow to see how serious it is.”

Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Gerard Pique, Jordi Alba, Ivan Rakitic, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Sergio Busquets were among the players who didn’t travel to Vigo.

Celta loved the result, which moved it to 14th place and five points clear of the relegation zone.

Barcelona clinched its 26th league title last weekend.


Atletico Madrid earlier missed a chance to secure second place after losing at Espanyol 3-0.

A draw would have been enough for Atletico but it struggled from at mid-table Espanyol.

Atletico can still clinch a runner-up finish on Sunday if third-placed Real Madrid loses or draws against Villarreal.

Real Madrid is nine points behind Atletico with three games left, but it holds the head-to-head tiebreaker between the city rivals.

“We still need a point, but it’s still up to us to earn this point and finish second,” Atletico coach Diego Simeone said. “We have to appreciate the value of a second-place finish in this league.”

Atletico is seeking consecutive top-two finishes in the Spanish league for the first time since 1973-74. That was also the last time Real Madrid finished out of the top two in consecutive years.

Espanyol, unbeaten in seven matches, moved to ninth with the victory, staying in contention for a Europa League spot.

The hosts opened the scoring with an own-goal by Atletico defender Diego Godin just before halftime, then striker Borja Iglesias sealed the victory with goals in the 52nd and 89th minutes.

Simeone’s team hadn’t conceded three goals in a match since March, in a 3-0 loss at Juventus in the Champions League.

“We played a good first half but we weren’t ourselves after conceding the own-goal,” Atletico midfielder Koke said. “That was not the Atletico we are used to seeing.”

Report: Everton could land Juventus’ Kean after all

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Everton could end up with one of the hottest prospects in world soccer.

Moise Kean may wind up leaving Juventus due to the club’s failure to offload fellow strikers Mario Mandzukic and Gonzalo Higuain.

And Kean, 19, was poised for a breakthrough to the first team, to the extent that Juve reportedly turned down a $33 million bid from Everton.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The Toffees, however, may have new life due to the Higuain/Mandzukic problem, and Sky Sports Italia reports that Kean may indeed be an option for Marco Silva‘s club.

It wouldn’t be surprising if Kean elected to leave Italy given the racial abuse he’s suffered in Serie A (Though racism is everywhere, of course).

The same report says Kean turned down a Barcelona offer because he would’ve headed on loan, while Arsenal is also said to be in the mix.

Kean scored six Serie A goals with an assist in just 13 matches for Juventus last season after scoring four times for Hellas Verona on loan.

Premier League weekend friendlies: Man Utd-Inter, PL Asia Trophy

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This weekend in Premier League preseason friendlies sees Liverpool taking on a pair of top European foes, while four PL foes trade blows in Shanghai.

Man City and Wolves move on from significant defeats of Newcastle and West Ham, who in turn will face each other on Saturday.

You can watch Saturday’s Premier League Asia Trophy matches between Wolves and Man City, and Newcastle versus West Ham here on NBC Sports Live.

Meanwhile, Manchester United will tangle with Romelu Lukaku-chasing Inter Milan on Saturday (and, no, the Belgian striker won’t be in uniform).

There’s also a sneaky good match-up of Watford and Bayer Leverkusen in Austria on Saturday, while Sunday’s light docket has Spurs facing Matthijs de Ligt and Juventus in Singapore.

Friday
Borussia Dortmund v. Liverpool (Notre Dame, Indiana)

Saturday
Girona v. Bournemouth
Arsenal
v. Fiorentina (Charlotte)
Fulham v. Brighton and Hove Albion
Cheltenham Town v. Leicester City
Crewe Alexandra v. Burnley
Port Vale v. Burnley
Bromley v. Crystal Palace
Man City 
v. Wolves (Shanghai)
Inter Milan v. Manchester United (Singapore)
Newcastle United v. West Ham (Shanghai)
Northampton Town v. Sheffield United
Preston North End v. Southampton
Watford 
v. Bayer Leverkusen (Austria)

Sunday
Shrewsbury Town v. Aston Villa
Liverpool 
v. Sevilla (Boston)
Juventus v. Spurs (Singapore)

PL friendly wrap: Pukki leads Norwich past Schalke

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London sides went 0-2, while three other Premier League sides won ahead of Friday night’s friendly between Liverpool and Borussia Dortmund in Indiana.

[ MORE: Algeria wins AFCON ]

The wins included defeats of Schalke and Monaco, while Brighton and Hove Albion topped lower league Crawley Town.

Schalke 1-2 Norwich City

Teemu Pukki had a goal and an assist, giving hope that the Championship goal collector can bring his game to the Premier League.

Pukki’s 13th minute goal was assisted by Man City loanee Patrick Roberts, and the Finn later assisted Moritz Leitner‘s winner.

Rabbi Matondo scored Schalke’s only goal, and American midfielder Weston McKennie was neither with the starters nor the bench.

Everton 1-0 Monaco

Seamus Coleman scored and Maarten Stekelenburg stopped a penalty as the Toffees handled their Ligue 1 opposition in Switzerland.

Kawasaki Frontale 1-0 ChelseaRECAP

Leandro Damaio scored the lone goal as Chelsea had plenty of chances to win in Christian Pulisic‘s debut. The American came off the bench for the final 25 minutes in Japan.

Nottingham Forest 1-0 Crystal Palace

Albert Adomah scored the lone goal in a win for the Championship side.

Brighton and Hove Albion 1-0 Crawley Town

New signing Taylor Richards‘ late penalty kick was enough for the Seagulls to get a result at home. The Man City midfielder arrived on Thursday.

Liverpool v. Borussia Dortmund (Notre Dame, Indiana) — 8 p.m. ET

Algeria wins Africa Cup of Nations

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In the words of a Missouri-born rapper, you only get one shot. In Algeria’s case in the 2019 Africa Cup of Nations, that was true and it was all the Desert Foxes needed to claim their first AFCON title since 1990 with a 1-0 defeat of Senegal on Friday at Cairo International Stadium in Cairo.

Baghdad Bounedjah’s wildly-deflected second minute shot was enough to give Algeria its second AFCON crown.

Senegal out shot Algeria 11-1 on the day, but Sadio Mane and Co. couldn’t find their way over the goal line.

One-time Man City and Southampton player Djamel Belmadi has now managed an AFCON winner and a Gulf Cup of Nations champion (Qatar, 2014).

[ MORE: Ballon d’Or w/o Messi, Ronaldo? ]

Bounedjah’s wild rip after a cut-in from the left bounded into the air and looped into the far corner. Senegal goalkeeper Amigo Gomis made it look more odd with his befuddlement (Scramble, my guy!).

Referee Neant Alioum’s ruling of a penalty to Senegal after Ismaila Sarr’s rip hit the arm of Adlene Guedioura was overturned when review showed the Algeria midfielder’s arm was at his side.

We mean, was this going to be the goal that won Africa’s most important tournament? Yep.