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WATCH: Leroy Sane’s vicious, bending, world class free kick

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Distance, pace, and curl: Leroy Sane’s terrific free kick equalizer had it all.

[ MORE: Real rocked at home ]

Manchester City went into halftime level with Hoffenheim at 1 thanks to a German player scoring his first UCL goal of the season, and doing it against German opposition.

Trailing via a Andrej Kramaric penalty conceded by John Stones, City hit the woodwork through Gabriel Jesus and has several other chances to equalize at the Etihad Stadium.

But it was Sane who came through in stoppage time with this stunning effort which begs for more angles.

Bundesliga wrap: Gnabry drives Bayern; American makes 1st Bundesliga start

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Borussia Dortmund continued its winning ways, while Niko Kovac and Bayern Munich may finally be pulling it all together for a worthwhile chase for the Bundesliga title.

[ RECAP: Saints 2-2 Man Utd ]


Hoffenheim 1-1 Schalke

Saturday will go down as an unforgettable one for California native Haji Wright, as the 20-year-old American center forward made his first Bundesliga start (a week after coming off the bench for his first senior appearance).

Wright played 70 minutes, leaving the match one minute after countryman Weston McKennie entered as a sub. Wright’s was industrious on the day but only managed 18 touches and 4-for-4 passing to go with his mileage up top.

As for Schalke, it answered in-form Andrej Kramaric‘s 59th minute goal with Nabil Bentaleb‘s 73rd minute marker to earn a point and move 11th.

Borussia Dortmund 2-0 Freiburg

Speaking of Americans, the league-leading hosts’ Christian Pulisic missed this one with a calf injury. No problem, really, as Marco Reus and Paco Alcacer scored to move the table lead to seven points before second-place Gladbach plays Sunday.

Bayern Munich 2-1 Werder Bremen
The serial champions are third for the time-being following a Serge Gnabry double at the Allianz Arena.

Elsewhere
Fortuna Dusseldorf 0-1 Mainz — Friday
Stuttgart 1-0 Augsburg
Hannover 96 0-2 Hertha Berlin
RB Leipzig vs. Borussia Monchengladbach — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Eintracht Frankfurt vs. Wolfsburg — Noon ET Sunday
Nurnberg vs. Bayer Leverkusen — 2:30 p.m. ET Monday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 13 10 3 0 37 13 24 6-1-0 4-2-0 33
 Mönchengladbach 12 8 2 2 30 14 16 6-0-0 2-2-2 26
 Bayern Munich 13 7 3 3 25 18 7 2-3-1 5-0-2 24
 Eintracht Frankfurt 12 7 2 3 29 14 15 3-1-1 4-1-2 23
 RB Leipzig 12 6 4 2 22 10 12 4-2-0 2-2-2 22
 1899 Hoffenheim 13 6 3 4 28 19 9 3-2-2 3-1-2 21
 Hertha BSC Berlin 13 5 5 3 21 20 1 3-2-1 2-3-2 20
 Werder Bremen 13 5 3 5 21 22 -1 2-2-3 3-1-2 18
 FSV Mainz 05 13 5 3 5 12 14 -2 3-2-2 2-1-3 18
 VfL Wolfsburg 12 4 3 5 16 17 -1 2-2-3 2-1-2 15
 FC Schalke 04 13 4 2 7 14 18 -4 3-0-3 1-2-4 14
 Bayer Leverkusen 12 4 2 6 18 24 -6 2-1-3 2-1-3 14
 SC Freiburg 13 3 5 5 16 22 -6 2-3-2 1-2-3 14
 FC Augsburg 13 3 4 6 20 22 -2 1-3-2 2-1-4 13
 VfB Stuttgart 13 3 2 8 9 26 -17 2-1-3 1-1-5 11
 1. FC Nürnberg 12 2 4 6 13 29 -16 2-2-2 0-2-4 10
 Hannover 96 13 2 3 8 15 28 -13 2-1-3 0-2-5 9
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 13 2 3 8 13 29 -16 2-0-5 0-3-3 9

Champions League wrap: Onward for 7 dreamers

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Seven of eight potential knockout round berths were sewn up Tuesday on Matchday 5 of the UEFA Champions League group stage.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]


Bayern Munich 5-1 Benfica

The old guard was roaring for Bayern, as the first of Robert Lewandowski’s two goals was his 50th Champions League goal for Bayern. He joined Arjen Robben in recording a double, and Franck Ribery also scored in the win.

Benfica will head to the Europa League.

AEK Athens 0-2 Ajax

Ajax is back in the knockout rounds after a Dusan Tadic double gave them an away win and second place in the group after of a Dec. 12 visit from leaders Bayern.

Group E
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Bayern Munich 5 4 1 0 12 2 10 2-1-0 2-0-0 13
Ajax 5 3 2 0 8 2 6 2-0-0 1-2-0 11
Benfica 5 1 1 3 5 11 -6 0-1-1 1-0-2 4
AEK Athens 5 0 0 5 2 12 -10 0-0-3 0-0-2 0

Lyon 2-2 Manchester CityRECAP

End-to-end action in France, where Pep Guardiola‘s men twice trailed to Maxwel Cornet goals (the first one a stunner). But Aymeric Laporte and Sergio Aguero headed home equalizers off set pieces as Man City avoided a series sweep and advanced to the knockout rounds along with their hosts.

Hoffenheim 2-3 Shakhtar Donetsk

Taison’s second goal of the match marched Shakhtar Donetsk into third place in the group as Hoffenheim’s rally from a 2-0 deficit wasn’t enough in the end. Ismaily and Taison scored a minute apart in the first half, but Andrej Kramaric had it 2-1 two minutes later and Steven Zuber leveled the score before halftime.

Group F
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Manchester City 5 3 1 1 14 5 9 1-0-1 2-1-0 10
Lyon 5 1 4 0 11 10 1 0-3-0 1-1-0 7
Shakhtar Donetsk 5 1 2 2 7 15 -8 0-1-1 1-1-1 5
1899 Hoffenheim 5 0 3 2 10 12 -2 0-1-2 0-2-0 3

CSKA Moscow 1-2 Viktoria Plzen

Nikola Vlasic‘s 10th minute penalty was all the hosts could muster, as Roman Prochazka and Lukas Hejda scored second half goals to keep Viktoria’s Europa League hopes alive.

Roma 0-2 Real Madrid

CSKA’s loss was Roma’s and Real’s gain, as both clubs knew they had qualified for the knockout rounds before they kicked off in Italy. Gareth Bale scored just after halftime then helped Lucas Vazquez put the match to bed in the 59th minute.

Group G
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
Real Madrid 5 4 0 1 12 2 10 2-0-0 2-0-1 12
Roma 5 3 0 2 10 6 4 2-0-1 1-0-1 9
Viktoria Plzen 5 1 1 3 5 15 -10 0-1-1 1-0-2 4
CSKA Moscow 5 1 1 3 5 9 -4 1-0-2 0-1-1 4

Juventus 1-0 Valencia

Mario Mandzukic’s 59th minute goal made sure Valencia dropped the points necessary to open the door for Manchester United.

Manchester United 1-0 Young BoysRECAP

David De Gea made a spectacular reaction save minutes before Marouane Fellaini saved United blushes and clinched a spot in the next round for the Red Devils.

Group H
Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away  

PTS

Juventus 5 4 0 1 8 2 6 2-0-1 2-0-0 12
Manchester United 5 3 1 1 6 2 4 1-1-1 2-0-0 10
València 5 1 2 2 4 5 -1 1-0-1 0-2-1 5
Young Boys 5 0 1 4 2 11 -9 0-1-1 0-0-3 1

UEFA Nations League: England reach finals; Belgium capitulate

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in the UEFA Nations League…

[ MORE: USMNT injuries ahead of Italy friendly | Injuries for Italy, too ]

England 2-1 Croatia

The best rivalries in sports are the ones born out of contentious, high-stakes meetings on the field of play and the inevitable spill-over of words thereafter. Along those very lines, something of a rivalry is brewing between England and Croatia, and it’s all happened within a six-month period in 2018.

There was, of course, the two nations’ 2018 World Cup semifinal meeting in July, followed by the first of two rematches in the Nations League last month, and finally Sunday’s League A Group 4 finale. In between all of those on-field meetings, though, came the stoking of fires in the form of a verbal jab here and there.

Sunday’s clash at Wembley Stadium, which saw the Croats go ahead not long before the hour mark and appear destined for victory and the top spot in the group, only to watch their lead slip away in a late collapse, will only have added to the budding disdain between the two squads.

Andrej Kramaric put the visitors ahead int he 57th minute, but Jesse Lingard (78th) and Harry Kane (85th) brought the Three Lions back for a dramatic victory and pushed Gareth Southgate‘s to a first-place finish in the group. As such, England (7 points) joined Portugal in the final-four knockout stage.

Nearly as sweet for England, the result sends Croatia (4 points) bottom of the group, and they’ll be relegated to League B next time around.

Switzerland 5-2 Belgium

From 2-0 up, to an embarrassing 5-2 defeat, Sunday was certainly a day to forget — and an opportunity missed — for Belgium. A draw over victory against Switzerland would have seen the Red Devils finish top of League A Group 2, and they were in poll position for precisely that result after just 17 minutes, when they led 2-0 courtesy of Thorgan Hazard‘s early brace.

From that point forward, not a single thing went right for Roberto Martinez’s side as the home side score five unanswered goals from that point forward. It was 2-2 fewer than 15 minutes later — Ricardo Rodriguez and Haris Seferovic (penalty kick made it so — and Seferovic made it 3-2 just before halftime. There would be no galvanizing of the troops after the intermission, as Nico Elvedi scored his first international goal to make it 4-2 in the 62nd minute. Seferovic completed his hat trick, and the 5-2 scoreline, in the 84th.

In the end, it’s the Swiss who’ll join England and Portugal in the League A finals, by virtue of the second tiebreaker — goal differential in head-to-head matchups.

Elsewhere in UEFA Nations League

League B Group 3

Northern Ireland 1-2 Austria

League C Group 2

Hungary 2-0 Finland
Greece 0-1 Estonia

League D Group 2

San Marino 0-2 Belarus
Moldova 1-1 Luxembourg

Monday’s UEFA Nations League schedule

League A Group 1

Germany vs. Netherlands — 2:45 p.m. ET

League B Group 1

Czech Republic vs. Slovakia — 2:45 p.m. ET

League B Group 4

Denmark vs. Ireland — 2:45 p.m. ET

League C Group 3

Cyprus vs. Norway — 2:45 p.m. ET
Bulgaria vs. Slovakia — 2:45 p.m. ET

League D Group 1

Georgia vs. Kazakhstan — 12 p.m. ET
Andorra vs. Latvia — 12 p.m. ET

League D Group 4

Macedonia vs. Gibraltar — 2:45 p.m. ET
Liechtenstein vs. Armenia — 2:45 p.m. ET

Lingard: Making it to the UEFA Nations League finals is ‘what we want’

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For the second time in five months, the England National Team is in the final four of an international competition.

England enacted some measure of revenge against Croatia on Sunday, completing an impressive 2-1 comeback victory over the World Cup finalists which beat England in the semifinals of the 2018 World Cup in Russia. Substitute Jesse Lingard scored the game-tying goal before Harry Kane finished the winner in the 85th minute. It’s the latest success for an England National Team program that saw its teams win the FIFA Under-17 and Under-20 World Cups in 2017.

“It’s good, this is what we want, to play against the best teams in the world, to compete against the best and show our ability,” Lingard said following the game. “For us its another test, another semifinal. We’ve learned from Russia and we know what the job at hand is.”

It was a rollercoaster of emotions as England overcame a second half deficit to advance to the finals of the UEFA Nations League. For the first 56 minutes of the match, a scoreless draw was enough for England to stave off relegation while Spain would have advanced to the finals. However, Andrej Kramaric‘s looping goal in the 57th minute took the air out of Wembley Stadium, with England then needing two goals to survive relegation themselves.

Lingard, who came on 73rd minute, made an instant difference, along with winger Jadon Sancho, and Lingard came up with the game-tying goal four minutes after coming on.

“(Southgate) was just saying, as a sub you’ve gotta change the game,” Lingard said, “and the position I play in, I’ve got to get in the box as much as possible, get forward, make forward runs and try and change the game.”

Lingard was in the area in the 85th minute as Ben Chilwell delivered a terrific left-footed free kick into the box, one that was finished by Kane, leading to wild celebrations, ones that Lingard avoided earlier due to the situation of England needing two goals. Lingard, who some have nicknamed “Worldie” due to his propensity to score terrific goals, finished with a tap-in, but he’ll take it every day of the week.

“We were speaking about it the other day, me and Marcus (Rashford), (and he said) ‘you never score tap ins’, “Lingard said, “but I’ll take them all day long.”