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La Liga roundup: Casemiro’s brace earns injury-riddled Real Madrid win (video)

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Casemiro’s heroic performance against Sevilla highlights La Liga’s Saturday action.

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Real Madrid 2-1 Sevilla

Real Madrid’s goalscoring hero on Saturday wasn’t Karim Benzema, Gareth Bale, Eden Hazard, or even Sergio Ramos.

With two crucial goals in the second half, Casemiro single-handedly earned three points at the Santiago Bernabeu, days removed from cathartic Spanish Super Cup win against arch rivals Atletico Madrid.

With Bale, Hazard, Ramos injured, Benzema on the bench far from match-fit, and Federico Valverde suspended, Los Blancos were in dire need of someone to lead the way, and place pressure on struggling co-leaders Barcelona, who are now under Quique Setien’s tutelage.

By the time the first 45 minutes came to a close, the overall impression was that it would take a miracle for the home side to earn much-needed three points.

That all quickly changed in the second half as the Brazilian midfielder chipped Tomas Vaclik after a picture-perfect backheel from Luka Jovic. Madrid were edging Julen Lopetegui’s side, and Casemiro foreshadowed what was to come.

With the score level, the Brazilian leaped inside the box and headed home a lofting ball from the right flank, catching Sevilla’s defense completely off guard.

Casemiro’s brace came just five minutes after Luuk De Jong‘s left-footed goal in the 64th minute.

League leaders with 43 points, Madrid prepares for their Copa del Rey bout against third-division side Unionistas midweek. Sevilla, on the other hand, host Levante in the same tournament.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Eibar 2-0 Atletico Madrid

Osasuna 0-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-1 Alaves

Neymar’s two goals not enough as PSG draws 3-3 with Monaco

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PARIS — Neymar’s two goals were not enough as Monaco punished sloppy defending to draw 3-3 at French league leader Paris Saint-Germain on Sunday.

PSG moved five points ahead of second-place Marseille, with PSG playing its game in hand at Monaco on Wednesday.

Robert Moreno’s first league game in charge of Monaco, after replacing the fired Leonardo Jardim, was an impressive one as his side twice came from behind and nearly won late on at Parc des Princes.

Neymar put PSG ahead in the third minute with an excellent finish, controlling a clever lofted pass over the defense from Italy midfielder Marco Verratti on his chest and nonchalantly guiding the ball inside the near post.

But Monaco midfielder Cesc Fabregas picked out Wissam Ben Yedder with a flicked pass from the edge of the area and, after Ben Yedder was bundled over by goalkeeper Keylor Navas, midfielder Gelson Martins poked in the loose ball after seven minutes.

Monaco’s second goal in the 12th looked alarmingly easy.

A team move started from the edge of Monaco’s penalty area ended with Ben Yedder collecting a pass inside PSG’s area, shuffling past a defender, and expertly beating Navas with a curling shot for his league-leading 14th goal of the season.

Eighth-place Monaco should have been 3-1 up but, with time to pick his spot, forward Keita Balde placed his shot too close to Navas.

PSG punished that immediately, with Neymar collecting a pass from Angel Di Maria and curling a shot which deflected off defender Fode Ballo-Toure for an own-goal in the 24th, making it 2-2.

After Monaco center half Kamil Glik hit the post with a header from a corner, PSG went ahead in the 42nd. Martins fouled Kylian Mbappe for a penalty, and Neymar sent goalkeeper Benjamin Lecomte the wrong way with ease for his 10th league goal.

Still, Monaco pressed forward and Russia midfielder Aleksandr Golovin curled wide with the goal at his mercy seconds before the break.

Lecomte reacted well to keep out Neymar’s shot early on in an even second half.

Substitute Islam Slimani punished more slack PSG defending to equalize in the 70th, turning home a loose ball after Martins bamboozled the PSG defense and his shot was deflected by Marquinhos into the alert Slimani’s path.

The referee disallowed the goal for offside, but then awarded it after a video review because Marquinhos’ intervention effectively played Slimani back onside.

Navas made a sharp one-handed save to keep out Slimani’s close-range header from a corner in the 88th. PSG was lucky to avoid a penalty since center half Thiago Silva deflected Slimani’s header with his raised hand.

CLINICAL NANTES

Mehdi Abeid and Ludovic Blas provided the goals as Nantes won 2-0 at struggling Saint-Etienne to move up to fourth place.

Abeid put Nantes ahead in the 23rd minute with a powerful strike from outside the penalty area after Saint-Etienne’s defense failed to clear the ball properly.

Blas netted three minutes after the break from Nigeria forward Moses Simon’s pass.

Saint-Etienne’s form has dropped in recent games and a ninth defeat of the season pushed coach Claude Puel‘s side down to 15th spot.

HOME COMFORT

Dijon extended its unbeaten home run to eight league games with a 1-0 win against Lille, despite having a player sent off early on.

Defender Hamza Mendyl received a red card in the 21st minute for kicking Luiz Araujo in the ribs.

After Lille missed several chances, Dijon scored in the 47th when Julio Tavares latched onto midfielder Mama Balde’s chested pass and shot confidently past goalkeeper Mike Maignan for his fourth league goal this season.

Both teams finished with 10 men after Lille midfielder Boubakary Soumare was sent off in the 67th.

Lille dropped to fifth place behind Nantes while Dijon, which beat PSG at home this season, rose to 16th place.

Serie A roundup: Belotti scores brace, Torino upsets Roma (video)

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Sunday’s Serie A action was marred by alleged racist abuse towards Brescia’s Mario Balotelli by traveling Lazio fans.

 [ MORE: Serie A scores, schedule ]

AS Roma 0-2 Torino

Torino captain Andrea Belotti played hero for the visiting side as his two goals at the end of each half gave his mid-table side a crucial victory over fourth-placed AS Roma in Rome on Sunday.

The 26-year-old belted the ball into the roof of the net in first-half stoppage time and fired the ball past Pau Lopez from the spot, awarded after a lengthy VAR review for handball from Chris Smalling, in the 86th minute. 

With seven saves to his name, Salvatore Sirigu played a key role in Torino’s unexpected win.

Sirigu made a near-impossible, point-blank save save from Lorenzo Pellegrini in the second half. In the first half, Torino’s ‘keeper denied Aleksandar Kolarov in spectacular fashion, blocking the defender’s well-placed free-kick with his outstretched arms.

In addition to his two goals, Belotti squandered a pair of other chances to widen his goal count. Early on, the forward hit a routine, diagonal inside the box, only to be denied by the post.

Roma, who despite creating chances, played a lackluster game, hosts top-of-the-table Juventus, while Torino hosts Genoa in the Round of 16 of Coppa Italia on Thursday.

Elsewhere

Brescia 1-2 Lazio

SPAL 0-2 Verona

Genoa 2-1 Sassuolo

West Ham smashes Bournemouth as Moyes begins 2nd term

Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images
Photo by DANIEL LEAL-OLIVAS/AFP via Getty Images
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The David Moyes era is off to a flying start thanks to West Ham United’s 4-0 demolition of woeful Bournemouth at the London Stadium on Wednesday.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Mark Noble scored twice, once from the spot, to join Felipe Anderson and Sebastien Haller on the score sheet.

Bournemouth sinks into 18th with 20 points, two points and places behind the hosts.


Three things we learned

1. Key pieces give David Moyes a dream (re)debut: Manuel Pellegrini will be shaking his fists at the sky after West Ham’s biggest names delivered on Wednesday (Actually, he seems like a classy guy and he’s probably happy for them). Anderson and Haller both scored, and their awakening is paramount to the Irons success. The opponents won’t always be visitors and Bournemouth, but this was a professional home win and cannot be discounted given the misery around the London side.

2. Cherries table spot fits their season: Bournemouth dipped into the Bottom Three thanks to Aston Villa joining West Ham as teams to collect three points on Wednesday. It could’ve been so much worse than 4-0, as Aaron Ramsdale made a few decent saves and the Irons also missed some gilt-edged chances. Don’t take too much away from West Ham’s response to a new manager and their attacking talent, but Bournemouth looked so, so bad in being out shot 14-3.

3. Cresswell sending off overturned: Aaron Cresswell drew a straight red card in the 75th minute with a studs-up tackle. Ugly stuff on a beautiful day for the Irons, but their fortunate day continued when VAR took it from a red to a yellow.

Man of the Match: Noble. Moyes said he was gonna lean on his captain, and “Mr. West Ham” was didn’t mind the extra weight.


Bournemouth’s been as bad as West Ham, and the hosts punished their poor defending twice in the first 26 minutes.

First, Felipe Anderson and Robert Snodgrass conducted some in-box interplay before the latter set up Noble for his opener.

Then Haller used a scissor kick after Snodgrass cued up a Ryan Fredericks cross to the Frenchman.

[ MORE: Premier League stats ] 

Liverpool loanee Harry Wilson then put Noble to the turf for a 34th minute penalty. The captain rolled it in.

Anderson missed a chance to make it 4-0 in the 66th minute and was due to be subbed off when he cashed in a second chance.

The ex-Lazio attacker took a terrific first touch of a fantastic Declan Rice diagonal ball and dribbled into the 18 to roll past Aaron Ramsdale.

That’s when Aaron Cresswell lost his mind, tackling Ryan Fraser to see straight red in the 75th. Fortunately for him, VAR saw a clear and obvious error. Very fortunate.

La Liga roundup: Real Madrid held to back-to-back draw (video)

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Real Madrid’s second consecutive league draw highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Madrid 0-0 Athletic Bilbao

Barcelona head into La Liga’s mid-season break with a two point cushion as Real Madrid were held to a draw by Athletic Bilbao at the Santiago Bernabeu.

It’s Zinedine Zidane and company second consecutive draw as Los Blancos are just days removed from Wednesday’s stalemate at Camp Nou in El Clasico.

Despite controlling possession completely, Real Madrid were unable to break the deadlock. Nacho and Luka Modric each hit the crossbar, while subsitute Luka Jovic struck the post in the dying minutes of Sunday’s bout.

“I’m very disappointed for my players,”Zidane said in his post-match press conference. “They put in a lot of effort and had a good match, but we lacked a goal again. In football, it’s true that you have to score them. We had three or four in the first half where if you score then the match could be different.”

“It’s only a couple of matches without scoring, so we have to remain calm because the performance was good,” he added. “I think we’ve gotten better and we’re strong defensively. Today, we just lacked a goal, but the important thing is to create chances. After the match I spoke to the players and told them that the most important thing was that they gave their all. Today, the ball just didn’t want to go in. We hit the post three times.”

When the home side managed to put shots on target, Bilbao’s Unai Simon was there to prevent a goal. The Basque goalkeeper registered eight saves throughout the 90 minutes.

With the draw, defending champions Barcelona go two points clear of Los Blancos, who return to action January 4 when they visit Getafe, while Bilbao – now seventh on the table – go against Sevilla to start the new year.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Leganes 2-0 Espanyol 

Osasuna 3-4 Real Sociedad

Real Betis 1-2 Atletico Madrid

Levante 3-1 Celta Vigo