Liverpool
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Atletico Madrid takes first leg versus Liverpool

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Saul Niguez scored in the fourth minute and Atletico Madrid blanked and frustrated Liverpool in their UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg on Tuesday in Spain.

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Liverpool had 73 percent of the ball but failed to put any of its eight shots on target, including a cherry chance for Mohamed Salah to head home an equalizer.

The sides meet again at 4 p.m. ET March 11 at Anfield.


Three things we learned

1. Mane, Salah struggle: This was a not a banner day for two of the best wingers in the world. Mohamed Salah missed one solid and one excellent chance to score an away goal, and won just 2 of 8 duels. Mane was nearly as poor, taking a silly yellow card before being removed at halftime with a 2 of 9 record in duels.

2. Lodi locks down the left: Atleti’s 21-year-old left back may’ve signed from Brazilian club Athletico Paranaense this summer, but he looks like he’s been in Diego Simeone’s system since he was an academy kid. Lodi recorded six tackles, two clearances, two interceptions, 10-of-12 duels won and a key pass.

3. The bounce goes against Liverpool: So many times this season, the Reds have seemingly willed a decisive bounce in their direction. It’s hard to fault Fabinho for a ball bounding off him and onto the path of Saul, but that’s why this match is 1-0. Just luck.

Man of the Match: Saul and Thomas Partey were terrific in the heart of Atleti’s midfield, and Saul gets our nod given his goal. He was 5-for-5 in dribbles, passed at 85 percent, won 10-of-12 duels, and had three clearances, two interceptions, and two tackles.


Atletico were all over the visitors, and an early corner got them on the board when Saul cleaned up a mess at the near post.

It was the first goal conceded by Liverpool in 379 minutes, according to the broadcast.

The Reds had almost all of the ball but had trouble with Atleti’s disciplined shape, and a Renan Lodi cross was almost enough for Alvaro Morata to make it 2-0.

Virgil Van Dijk‘s failed clearance led to an Alvaro Moarata acute-angled shot, but Alisson Becker dealt with it.

Jan Oblak gave the ball away at the other end and the ball ended up in his net, but Mohamed Salah was offside when Fabinho hit him with a quick pass.

Liverpool had another chance in the 29th minute, but Andy Robertson spun his shot wide of the frame.

Trent Alexander-Arnold served up a couple of unsuccessful corners soon after Salah screwed a quality opportunity well over the goal.

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Atleti was attacking again early in the second half, and a rare Andy Robertson error was bailed out by poor control in the final third.

Salah headed wide when Joe Gomez charged forward to send in a perfect back post cross.

Lodi then set up Morata for a glorious chance near the penalty spot. The ex-Chelsea man flubbed it in spectacular fashion.

Jordan Henderson missed another prime chance to get an away goal, as the Reds’ luck just wasn’t in Madrid.

Wolves throttle sorry Everton

Wolves - Everton recap
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Wolves overran sleepy Everton to snap a two-game losing skid with a 3-0 win at the Molineux on Sunday.

Raul Jimenez, Diogo Jota, and Leander Dendoncker scored for Wolves, who are back within four points of the top four before Manchester United and Leicester City stage their 35th matches.

 [ MORE: Premier League schedule ]

Wolves face Burnley, Palace, and Chelsea, and will be considering a berth in the top four with a little help on the out-of-town scoreboard.

Everton remains 11th with 45 points and will finish the season with Villa, Sheffield United, and Bournemouth.

WATCH WOLVES – EVERTON FULL MATCH REPLAY


Three things we learned

1. Everton awakened from European dreams: Carlo Ancelotti’s 2020-21 plans officially start now. The Toffees are five points back of the Europa League with three matches left and could be seven or eight behind should there be a winner of the North London Derby later Sunday. It just hasn’t come together for the Toffees starting with the myriad injury troubles for Jean-Philippe Gbamin — out until 2021 — in his bid to take over for influential Idrissa Gana Gueye. There were other long-term injuries like Andre Gomes as well as the continued decline of Jordan Pickford, but there are too many bright spots for this side to be bottom-half. A mentality shift must be coming to Goodison, but you would’ve expected that to be cemented over the coronavirus pause.

2. Podence deputizes: January buy Daniel Podence has found it hard to find a place in Nuno Espirito Santo’s Starting XI but he’s taking his chances well. Podence forced a good save out of Jordan Pickford early, then won a penalty. He converted four of his five dribble attempts and claimed 67% of his ground duels (SofaScore).

3. Carlo needs a keeper: Carlo Ancelotti has gone out of his way to defend Jordan Pickford in the past and it’s certainly nice to have an England keeper as your No. 1 if you’re a Premier League boss, but the Toffees aren’t firing on to Europe any time soon with shot-stopping of his quality. Pickford nearly fumbled a ball over the with the score line 2-0. He’s still capable of the show-stopping saves but he’s not producing them as often and he’s not as consistent with the average to above average stuff he consistently displayed while making his name at Sunderland.

Man of the Match

Ruben Neves — He is a special, special talent. Neves’ assist on Jota’s goal was just marvelous and capped off a day of both tidy and ambitious passing. He’s been one of their best players since the restart, a physical force with technical gifts.

LOOK. AT. THIS. PASS.


Wolves – Everton recap

A slow-enough start was highlighted by Lucas Digne’s sliding intervention on Raul Jimenez in the 18.

Everton keeper Jordan Pickford then had to make a low save at the near post on Daniel Podence following a slick 1v1 move.

Yerry Mina didn’t last the first half thanks to a thigh injury, replaced a half-dozen minutes before halftime by Seamus Coleman.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Podence drew a penalty off Digne in stoppage time, sending Raul Jimenez to the spot. The Mexican center forward did not miss.

Everton took off Leighton Baines and handed a PL debut to 18-year-old January signing Jarrad Branthwaite.

Wolves made it 2-0 within moments and at the expense of the debutant, Dendoncker staying in front of Branthwaite to nod Pedro Neto’s free kick on goal.

Pickford nearly fumbled a low shot into his own goal but Goal Decision System proved he rescued the ball when it was half over the line.

Aston Villa – Crystal Palace stream: How to watch, team news, start time

Aston Villa - Crystal Palace stream
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Aston Villa – Crystal Palace preview: Dean Smith’s Villans need a win over Crystal Palace to keep hope of remaining in the Premier League alive (Watch live at 9:15am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Villa has just left a brutal run of fixtures and finds itself seven points back of safety with four matches to play. If that figure remains seven with three to play, well, the math is grim even with West Ham as the last name on that fixture list.

WATCH ASTON VILLA – CRYSTAL PALACE STREAM LIVE ONLINE

Palace’s European hopes have settled into a valley, eight points away from the 42 points and 14th place.

Team news

Both Jack Grealish and Tyrone Mings start for Villa along with John McGinn in the middle and Pepe Reina at the back.

It’ll be the usual suspects for Palace, with possible subs including James McCarthy, Andros Townsend, and Max Meyer.

 

How to watch Aston Villa – Crystal Palace

Kickoff: 9:15 am ET Sunday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com

Add this season mark to the list of crazy Lionel Messi records

Lionel Messi records
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Barcelona is a long shot to claim a third-straight La Liga title but that isn’t stopping Lionel Messi from setting new standards.

Messi slipped Arturo Vidal through for the lone goal of Barcelona’s win at Real Valladolid on Sunday, collecting his 20th assist of the league season in the process.

The helper makes Messi the second player this century to record 20 goals and 20 assists in a top five European league season after his former teammate Thierry Henry did it with Arsenal (24+20). Messi has 22 goals this season.

He’s also the first player to do it in La Liga, and the first to record 20 assists in a La Liga season since another former teammate, Xavi Hernandez.

Messi is one of eight players in Europe’s top five leagues to score 20-plus goals and one of only two with 20 assists (Thomas Muller). Only five others have double-digit goals and assists: Kevin De Bruyne, Serge Gnabry, Jadon Sancho, Alassane Plea, and Mikel Oyarzabal.

Barcelona hosts Osasuna and visits Alaves on the final two match days of the season. Can he match or even beat Henry’s goal output? He has 30 goals in 28 career appearances against the aforementioned opponents.

Real Madrid will edge closer to wrapping up the league with a win at Granada on Monday. Zinedine Zidane’s men are on an incredible and near-imperious run, having won eight-straight games and riding a 457-minute league shutout streak.

Real currently leads Barca by a point with a match-in-hand, then finish with Villarreal and Leganes.

Wolves – Everton stream: How to watch, start time, odds, prediction

Wolves - Everton stream
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Wolves – Everton preview: Slipping European hopefuls meet at the Molineux when Wolves host Everton on Sunday (Watch live at 7am ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Carlo Ancelotti’s Toffees hit the road with 45 points, five points behind the Europa League places after picking up just one point in two outings.

As for Wolves, a pair of losses has them six points off fifth place and seven points back of the top four as UCL footing is looking more like it will require a UEL title.

STREAM WOLVES – EVERTON LIVE ONLINE

That, of course, could all change with a win on Sunday

Team news

Joao Moutinho, Diogo Jota, and Adama Traore all miss out for Wolves.

Leighton Baines gets a start for Everton and will captain the side.

How to watch Wolves – Everton

Kickoff: 7 am ET Sunday
TV Channel: NBCSN
Online: Stream via NBCSports.com