Sevilla is still second in the La Liga table, but they’re beginning to run out of room for error. Sevilla fell four points back of Barcelona after a 0-0 draw at Real Sociedad on Sunday.
The visitors were completely locked down at Anoeta Stadium, with just a single shot on target out of eight total efforts. Juanmi had the game’s only real big opportunity, but couldn’t cash in just six minutes after the opening whistle, and the two teams finished scoreless. Altogether, there were just two total shots on target between the two teams.
There is now a three-way tie behind Barcelona at the top of the La Liga table, with Sevilla, Atletico Madrid, and Alaves all on 20 points. The latter also fell to a disappointing result, as Alaves squandered an early 1-0 lead in a 2-1 derby loss to Eibar.
Manu Garcia scored just four minutes into the game, but after both teams had players see red, former Espanyol midfielder Joan Jordan equalized in the 69th minute before Pape Diop bagged the winner in the first minute of added time. It’s Diop’s first goal since 2016, serving as a bit-part player last season before earning a full-time role for this campaign.
The loss is just the third of the season for Alaves and their first in four league games. It left Alaves back in that three-way tie on 20 points, but back in fourth thanks to an inferior goal differential.
Real Betis and Celta Vigo finished even 3-3 after a crazy match that featured both teams clawing back from deficits. Betis went ahead 2-0 by the hour mark on goals from Lorenzo Moron and Junior Firpo, but Celta Vigo charged back to take a 3-2 lead thanks to a brace by 22-year-old Argentinian Maxi Gomez plus an additional from 21-year-old Brais Mendez. With the visitors taking the lead in the 84th minute, Betis would bring it back level once again just three minutes later as Sergio Canales delivered a fabulous free-kick that found the top-right corner. Aspas nearly won it moments later but put his shot off the post at the death. Both those teams still remain a point apart in the middle third of the table.
Villareal and Levante played to an entertaining 1-1 draw. The first half was scoreless, but each side had plenty of chances with each team combining for 36 shots. The home side treated the fans at Estadio de la Ceramica to a second half flurry, pushing for a winner, but they made it more difficult than need be. Argentinian defender Ramiro Funes Mori put the ball into his own net which put Villareal behind, and it wasn’t until the 93rd minute that Alfonso Pedraza burst down the left on the ball, charged into the box, and roofed the ball from a tight angle to salvage a point.
The 40-man (boy) shortlist for the prestigious Golden Boy award has been announced and two U.S. national team players have made it.
Kylian Mbappe (who was named Golden Boy in 2017 and would become the first-ever player to win it twice) is the favorite to win the award dished out by Italian newspaper Tuttosport since 2003, as they crown the best player under the age of 21 in European soccer.
USMNT star Christian Pulisic once again makes the list and after his fine start to the season for Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga, the 20-year-old from Pennsylvania will be up there with the top contenders.
Pulisic’s teammate with the USMNT, Tim Weah, has also made the list as the 18-year-old has scored once in five appearances for the Stars and Stripes and has also become a regular squad member for PSG, scoring twice in three appearances for the French champions this season.
Having two U.S. players on this list after breaking through at two of Europe’s biggest clubs is certainly something to get excited about.
MADRID (AP) Under pressure from its closest challenger, Barcelona stumbled again.
Barcelona couldn’t manage more than 1-1 against relegation-wary Las Palmas on Thursday, allowing Atletico Madrid to move within five points of the Spanish league lead ahead of their match this weekend.
Barcelona, which has drawn three of its last five league matches, will host Atletico on Sunday needing to halt an eight-match winning streak by Diego Simeone’s team.
Barcelona was 11 points in front of Atletico just five rounds ago, but could end the weekend only two points in front of the Madrid club.
“It would be an important match no matter what, with the first-place team playing against the second-place team,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said. “Maybe now it’s a bit more important with the lead at five points.”
Atletico was boosted by a 4-0 win over Leganes on Wednesday, when Antoine Griezmann scored all four goals.
Lionel Messi put Barcelona ahead on Thursday with a powerful free kick shot into the top corner in the 20th minute, but the hosts equalized through a penalty kick converted by Jonathan Calleri early in the second half after a controversial handball by Barcelona defender Lucas Digne.
At first it wasn’t clear why the penalty was called. A corner kick ricocheted off a post and the ball brushed Digne’s arm. Some Barcelona players initially thought the referee called a foul by Sergio Roberto on Matias Aguirregaray when the ball first arrived into the area.
Valverde said he and his players still didn’t know what the call was.
“They equalized after an invisible penalty,” he said.
Barcelona also complained about a non-call of handball by Las Palmas goalkeeper Leandro Chichizola outside the area just before halftime.
It was the fifth free-kick goal by Messi, who is the league leading scorer with 23, three more than teammate Luis Suarez. The Argentine playmaker has four goals in his last three matches. The Gran Canaria Stadium was one of the few venues where Messi was yet to score in La Liga.
Las Palmas stayed 18th in the 20-team standings, inside the relegation zone. The team from the Canary Islands has won only one of its last six matches.
Real Betis missed a chance to get near the Europa League qualification spots after being held by Real Sociedad to 0-0 at home.
The result dropped Betis to ninth place, four points behind Eibar, the first team securing a spot in Europe’s second-tier competition.
Sociedad stayed in 14th place.
Real Betis had won three of its last four matches.
ALAVES WINS LATE
Victor Laguardia scored a 90th-minute winner as Alaves handed 10-man Levante its fourth straight loss.
Levante, sitting just outside the relegation zone, played a man down from the 29th. Defender Chema was sent off for a foul that gave the hosts a penalty kick which was missed by midfielder Manu Garcia.
Alaves forward Munir El Haddadi was red-carded for a second booking in the 77th.
Alaves, in 14th place, has won four of its last five matches.
Levante hasn’t won its last 10 matches in all competitions.
There was a minute of silence before matches to honor former Barcelona and Sporting Gijon striker Enrique Castro “Quini,” who died of a heart attack on Tuesday. He was 68.
Out: Oscar (Shanghai SIPG), John Mikel Obi (Tianjin TEDA), Patrick Bamford (Middlesbrough), Dion Conroy (Swindon Town), Marco Van Ginkel (PSV Eindhoven, loan), Jay Dasilva (Charlton, loan), Isaiah Brown (Huddersfield Town, loan), Fankaty Dabo (Swindon Town, loan), Charlie Colkett (Swindon Town, loan), Fikayo Tomori (Brighton & Hove Albion, loan), Mukhtar Ali (Vitesse Arnhem, loan)
Out: Tom Carroll (Swansea City), Anton Walkes (Atlanta United, loan), Ryan Loft (Stevenage, loan), Shayon Harrison (Yeovil Town, loan), Connor Ogilvie (Stevenage, loan), Luke Amos (Southend United, loan).
The FA Cup fifth round on Sunday saw two of the Premier League’s top four teams plunge out of the competition to fellow league foes as Tottenham and Manchester City both came up short.
Chelsea trudged on in its most likely source of silverware, topping Man City 5-1. Guus Hiddink named a strong Blues squad that looked as if he is gunning for the Cup, while Manuel Pellegrini handed five players their full debuts in a squad that seemed to suggest he has no interest in extra fixtures.
Diego Costa, Willian, Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard, and Bertrand Traore all scored for Chelsea to send them on their way. On the other end, only two players – Pablo Zabaleta and Fernando – featured in the starting lineup for Manchester City who also started against Tottenham on the weekend. Oluwatosin Adariboyo, Bersant Celina, Manu Garcia, Aleix Garcia Serrano, and David Faupala all made their debuts for the club. The latter scored before halftime to even things up, but the Blues trudged on with a strong second half. The loss for City is their third straight across all competitions, having lost two in league play coming into Sunday.
Tottenham, meanwhile, came into its meeting at White Hart Lane as one of the more in-form clubs in England, but they were stymied by Crystal Palace and a goal in first-half added time by Martin Kelly saw them out of the competition. Mauricio Pochettino named a strong squad that included Harry Kane and Dele Alli, with Christian Eriksen coming off the bench, and while Spurs held much of the possession, the Palace defense absorbed all the pressure and saw just four of Spurs’ 19 shots find the frame.
In the early fixture, West Ham went down early to Blackburn but came back strong for a 5-1 win as Dimitri Payet showed off with a pair of goals – a scrumptious free kick plus a late solo goal that wowed the crowd. Emmanuel Emineke also scored a pair as West Ham moved on to the quarterfinals.
Tomorrow is the last remaining fixture, as Shrewsbury hosts Manchester United. There will be a replay yet to be scheduled, with Hull City and Arsenal meeting again after a 0-0 draw on Saturday.