With a late goal from Wu Lei, Espanyol pulled off a stunning 2-2 derby draw against league leaders and rival Barcelona, who failed to regain their two-point lead at the top of La Liga on Saturday at RCDE Stadium.
Luis Suarez leveled the score with a right-footed, leaping volley in the 50th minute and assisted Arturo Vidal only nine minutes later with a superlative outside-of-the-boot cross well within the box. The Uruguayan ace has either scored or assisted in Barcelona’s last 10 league goals.
Espanyol, playing under newly-appointed manager Abelardo for the first time ever, made it difficult to believe that it was a derby between the best team in the Spanish league against the worst. Los Periquitos came out confident and poised, drawing first blood 23 minutes after David Lopez’s zoomed passed Neto.
The hosts went into halftime up a goal, and even though Barcelona benefited from Arturo Vidal’s inclusion, Espanyol fought back.
Chinese star Lei sent the home fans over the moon after striking the back of the net against a Frenkie de Jong-less, 10-man Barcelona with a minute to play in regular time.
With only a goal differential advantage on Real Madrid, Barcelona host Atletico Madrid on Thursday in the Supercopa semifinal. Espanyol, on the other hand, look to carry their positive momentum to their second round Copa del Rey bout in a weeks time.
Instead, Smalling’s numbers are close to that of record-signing Harry Maguire in a Serie A league with slightly more scoring. Smalling ranks in Italy’s top ten for interceptions (2.2), clearances (4.5) and blocks (1.2).
Roma boss Paulo Fonseca wants the player to stay, as i Lupi are fifth in Serie A and Smalling when has played nearly every minute when healthy. Smalling told our friends Sky Sports that he has “an interesting decision to make.”
“Some of the other players said if you really hit the ground running, the love that you can have in this city is unbelievable. That’s really what I’ve felt and so have my family. Long may it continue.”
His age makes it tricky, but the advanced stats show that Smalling has been a very effective Premier League center back for four of his last six seasons.
Smalling may want to leave if Solskjaer isn’t prepared to hand him regular football, which would be a given in Rome. Now what’s the price tag?
Liverpool v West Ham takes center stage at Anfield on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Reds aim to reclaim their 22-point lead at the top of the Premier League table.
Jurgen Klopp‘s side remain unbeaten this season and with five more wins needed to guarantee the Premier League title, the finishing line is in sight. They are aiming for an 18th consecutive Premier League win which would equal Man City’s record for the most victories on the trot in top-flight history.
As for David Moyes and the Hammers, they are scrapping for their lives at the other end of the table and their daunting run of fixtures makes them one of the favorites for relegation.
Last season the Hammers did draw at home against Liverpool in the PL which was a key factor in the Reds not winning the title last time out but West Ham look extremely far from the team they were last season.
Liverpool v West Ham is first against 18th and all signs point to a big win for the home side as their unbeaten season continues with 25 victories from 26 games so far.
LONDON (AP) Children up to the age of 12 will be banned from heading a soccer ball in practice sessions in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland as authorities look to address the potential long-term impact on health of head injuries.
The governing bodies of the three regions announced the new heading guidelines on Monday, months after a Scottish study found former professional players there were less likely to die of common causes such as heart disease and cancer compared with the general population but more likely to die with dementia.
The guidelines say there will be a “graduated approach” to heading in practice for kids from 12-15, while the heading will be restricted to one practice session per week for kids 16 and 17.
There will be no change in terms of heading in matches, taking into consideration the extremely limited number of headers which actually occur in youth matches.
The Scottish study did not state that heading a ball was the cause of the increased prevalence of neurodegenerative conditions among soccer players, but the decision to update the guidelines was taken to “mitigate against any potential risks”, the English Football Association said in a statement.
“This guidance is a responsible development to our grassroots coaching,” FA chief executive Mark Bullingham said, “without impacting the enjoyment that children of all ages take from playing the game.”
The associations said the guidance had been produced in parallel with the UEFA medical committee, which is seeking to produce Europe-wide guidance later this year.
Man City and Chelsea face Real Madrid and Bayern Munich respectively and both know they face tough tasks to advance to the Champions League quarterfinals as they do battle with two European heavyweights.
The Premier League sides are up against it but both teams are extremely capable of scoring goals for fun but it is at the other end of the pitch where they struggle as both Real Madrid and Bayern Munich will be hoping their star attackers shine on the big stage once again.