Luuk De Jong

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La Liga: VAR saves Barcelona, Atletico defense breached again

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Lionel Messi has saved Barcelona’s bacon on plenty of occasions throughout his illustrious career, and while officially today he’s once again led the club to three points with his 81st minute penalty to earn a 1-0 victory over Real Sociedad, VAR was the true hidden hero.

Replay caught Robin Le Normand miss with a headed clearance in the box, instead the ball just catching him in the shoulder, and the referee in the booth called for a penalty. Messi dispatched the spot-kick to earn the win and doom La Real to a harsh result. Still, Barcelona completely dominated the match ripping of 13 shots with six on target to Real Sociedad’s just one shot on frame.

Real Madrid loanee Martin Odegaard was kept relatively in check by Barcelona’s midfield while Sergio Busquets and Frenkie de Jong were calming forces throughout for the home side. The three points sends Barcelona top of the La Liga table, with Real Madrid a chance to reclaim the lead tomorrow at Real Betis.

Meanwhile, Atletico Madrid was held to a third draw in its last four league games with a 2-2 home result against Sevilla, with the defense breached for the fourth straight match. Luuk De Jong put Sevilla up at the Wanda Metripolitano 19 minutes in after a miserable challenge from Stefan Savic saw the Dutchman’s first touch put him through. A penalty from Alvaro Morata brought Atletico back level past the half-hour mark, and they went in front just four minutes later through Joao Felix after Koke stole the ball in midfield and did all the hard work on the break.

Still, it wasn’t enough as Lucas Ocampos struck from the penalty spot just before halftime and the second half was goalless to see Atletico fall a full 13 points back of the La Liga leaders, potentially 14 back if Real Madrid wins tomorrow. Currently, that’s just good enough for fifth as Atletico Madrid sits outside the Champions League places. Sevilla, meanwhile, sits in third on 47 points, 11 back of the leader.

Elsewhere, Real Madrid youngster Takefusa Kubo gave Mallorca a 2-1 win over Eibar. The 18-year-old’s 78th minute goal proved the winner as he beat two defenders at the top of the box and delivered a low effort off the inside of the left post. The win was enormous for Mallorca who rose to 18th, still in a relegation position but only based on goal differential. Eibar sits in 16th just two points ahead of the drop.

Getafe and Celta Vigo played to a scoreless draw at Coliseum Alfonso Perez as the hosts ripped off 16 shots to Celta Vigo’s three but could not find the back of the net. Jamie Mata missed the biggest chance for Getafe just past the half-hour mark as he fired over from a central spot just outside the six-yard box. Getafe midfielder Mauro Arambarri was sent off for a second yellow card with eight minutes to go as the hosts looked for a winner, making the late push even more difficult. The draw is a disappointing result for fourth-placed Getafe who could have used the opportunity to pull away from Atletico Madrid after their draw against Sevilla. For Celta Vigo, the point is enormous amidst a relegation battle, sitting in 17th now two points above the drop.

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

Report: Chicharito to meet with Galaxy officials to seal $10M deal

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Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez is on the brink of completing a move to MLS.

The 31-year-old Mexican striker and Los Angeles Galaxy officials are set to meet on Monday to negotiate a contract, according to Marca.

It is reported that Galaxy will pay Sevilla $10 million for El Tri’s all-time leading goalscorer, who moved to Spain on a three-year deal in September from West Ham for $11 million.

Chicharito has reportedly given Los Angeles a “yes” on a proposed offer, and is now only a signature away from joining compatriots Carlos Vela and Jonathan dos Santos in the City of Angels. The forward has been linked to MLS for several years, but is now closer to league than ever before.

Sevilla recently notified Hernandez that he’s not Julen Lopetegui’s first choice at striker, a position that former PSV star Luuk De Jong and Munir El Haddadi are currently battling for. With the desire to be a regular starter at this stage of his career, Galaxy’s offer for Hernandez to be the face of the club entertains the Mexico international.

In late 2019, Chicharito admitted that he’d be open to a move to MLS. “Yes. Definitely,” Hernandez said. “Look, I am always thinking about my future. I want to be as open as I can to any opportunity. MLS is a league that is improving. It is an opportunity. Every league is an opportunity.”

Hernandez, who had successful spells at Manchester United and Bayer Leverkusen, has made nine league appearances for Sevilla this season, scoring once.

Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez registers assist in Wolves loss, praised by Liverpool’s Klopp

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In an underwhelming slow weekend for Mexicans abroad, only Raul Jimenez (and Omar Govea) managed to make the headlines, but not necessarily for his assist to Adama Traore in Wolverhampton Wanderers’ 2-1 loss to Tottenham on Sunday.

The 28-year-old forward, who has been on a serious scoring run this season with Wolves, was praised by Liverpool manager, Jurgen Klopp, who was asked about Mexican soccer ahead of the Reds’ match against Monterrey in the semifinal of the FIFA World Cup of Clubs.

“There are several players from Mexico,” he says “but Raul Jimenez is an impressive Mexican soccer ambassador, really good. I’m sure they (Mexico) have a strong league, but it’s not easy to see it here, so I don’t know much.”

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers —  Despite Tottenham snapping Wolves’ 12-game unbeaten streak in league play, Jimenez continued his fine run of generating goals. In the 67th minute, the forward assisted Traore for the home side’s first and only goal of the night.

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito came on for Luuk De Jong in the 59th minute in Sevilla’s 2-1 loss to Villarreal on Sunday. The forward completed all of his passes (four) and had a shot blocked.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Herrera played the final 27 minutes of Atletico’s 2-0 win over Osasuna on Saturday.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Due to a suspension, Guardado was not called up to feature in Betis’ 18.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old took the field in the 52nd minute in Betis’ 2-2 draw against Espanyol.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and played every minute in Celta’s 2-2 with Mallorca. The defender recorded three clearances, one blocked shot and three interceptions. Celta remain as possible relegation candidates.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli —  Lozano’s time at Napoli under Gennaro Gattuso didn’t have the firework start many were hoping for. Instead, the frenetic winger started on the bench and played only 11 minutes in Napoli’s last-minute 2-1 loss to Parma on Saturday.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez started and played all 90 minutes in PSV’s 3-1 loss to Feyenoord on Sunday. The midfielder completed 89 percent of his passes, recorded one key pass and one shot on target.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax —  It’s been an up-and-down experience for Alvarez at Ajax thus far. Completing 93 percent of his passes and winning 80 percent of his ground duels, his performance on Sunday was a high for the midfielder, despite his team’s 1-0 loss to AZ.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito and Porto host Tondela on Monday.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea shined on Sunday in Belgium, bagging a brace in Zulte’s 5-1 thumping of Sint Truidense VV.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Pedro Arce, Panionios – Arce played 70 minutes in Panionios’ 2-1 loss to Volos on Sunday.

Gerardo Ramirez Alonso, Roda JC – Ramirez Alonso dressed but didn’t take the field in Roda’s draw on Friday.

Mexicans Abroad: Jimenez earns Wolves point; Lozano assists in Napoli loss

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The clock was inching closer towards the 90-minute mark at the Emirates and Wolverhampton Wanderers needed a goal.

They had tried more than a dozen times, but the ball wouldn’t cross the white line.

Then, as its happened in the past, Raul Jimenez delivered the goods. The Mexican’s header inside the box flew towards the back of the net, earning Wolves a much-deserved 1-1 draw against Arsenal.

Over in Italy, Hirving “Chucky” Lozano came close to having a hero-like moment of his own; unfortunately, Napoli were playing two goals down to hosts AS Roma by the time he took the field.

Here is a list of several other Mexico national team affiliates making a name for themselves (or not) outside of Mexico this weekend.


La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito came on for Luuk De Jong in Sevilla’s 1-1 draw against Atletico Madrid on Saturday. He recorded four touches, two passes, but didn’t register a shot.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — Shortly after Chicharito stepped on the field, Herrera did so himself. The midfielder played 12 minutes in Los Colchoneros’ draw in Seville.

Andres Guardado, Real Betis —  Betis’ captain started and all played all 90 minutes for Betis, who held Real Madrid to a 0-0 draw at the Santiago Bernabeu. Guardado completed 85 percent of his passes, but picked up a yellow card in the 85th minute.

Diego Lainez, Real Betis — The 19-year-old didn’t dress for Saturday’s match.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — Araujo started and every minute in Celta’s 1-0 loss to Getafe. The defender recorded three clearances, two blocked shots and one interception. Celta have lost four consecutive matches and are currently in the relegation zone.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli — Lozano came on in the 58th minute for Carlo Ancelotti’s side. In the 72nd minute, Arkadiusz Milk capitalized on his valiant, right-wing run and subsequent cross into the box, tapping in the ball into the back of net. Despite the goal, Napoli lost 2-1 to AS Roma.

Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers — Jimenez was instrumental for Wolves yet again. The 28-year-old went all 90 minutes and scored the leveler against Arsenal on Saturday, which is his fourth goal of the Premier League campaign.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez came off at halftime due to an undisclosed injury in PSV’s 2-2 draw against Sparta Rotterdam on Saturday.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — Alvarez, too, was the victim of an injury in the Eredivisie this weekend. The 22-year-old took the field in the 23rd minute for an injured Lisandro Martinez, only to be taken off at the 63rd minute, after taking a gruesome elbow to the face. Ajax defeated PEC Zwolle 4-2.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — After starting the season as one of the team’s starting fullbacks, it seems that Tecatito is back in a midfield role for now. The 26-year-old played all 90 minutes in Porto’s 1-0 victory over CD Aves.

Jupiler Pro League

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — Govea started and played 76 minutes in Zulte’s 2-0 loss to Club Brugge.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Hector Moreno, Al Gharafa   On Saturday, Moreno started and played 90 minutes in Al Gharafa’s 3-1 win over Al Khor.

Pedro Arce, Panionios – Arce’s goal in the 66th minute opened the scoring in Panionios’ 1-1 draw against Aris Thessaloniki on Saturday.

Gerardo Ramirez Alonso, Roda JC – Ramirez Alonso and Roda take on Jong PSV Eindhoven on Monday.