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Mexicans Abroad: Vela equals MLS record, Lozano left on Napoli bench

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Carlos Vela equalled the MLS single-season goalscoring mark of 31 and can break the record next time out in the season’s final match. Otherwise, it was mostly a struggle for Mexican players overseas, many of whom were left to the substitutes’ bench.

While Lozano rode the bench, Raul Jimenez was starting but failed to find the back of the net for the third straight match, while Chicharito, Hector Herrera, Andres Guardado, and Diego Lainez were all also left among the substitutes, and only Lainez of the bunch even saw the field.

Serie A

Hirving “Chucky” Lozano, Napoli — For the first time since making his Napoli debut, Chucky Lozano was left on the bench as Napoli topped Brescia 2-1. Dries Mertens scored a goal and Fernando Llorente started up front as Carlo Ancelotti went with a flat 4-4-2 with Piotr Zilinski starting on the left flank.

Premier League

Raul Jimenez, Wolverhampton Wanderers — Jimenez’s stunning summer form seems to be waning. He played 80 minutes and did not score as Wolves topped struggling Watford 2-0 on Saturday. He was withdrawn in favor of Patrick Cutrone for the final 10 minutes and has not played a full 90 minutes since he last scored against Everton on September 1. He was rested for the League Cup match midweek which Wolves won on penalties over Reading. Wolves returns to Europa League group stage action with a big match against Besiktas on the road.

La Liga

Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez, Sevilla — Chicharito was left on the bench for the second straight match as Sevilla topped in-form Real Sociedad 3-2. Luuk De Jong was favored over the Mexican as the lone striker this time, although he did not score in the game. Nolito and Lucas Ocampos provided the early goals while Franco Vazquez came off the bench to score the eventual winner. Fellow striker Munir El Haddidi was once again not in the squad, so Chicharito can at least say he’s ahead of the 24-year-old in the pecking order.

Hector Herrera, Atletico Madrid — The defender was left on the bench as an unused substitute for the fifth time in six league matches this season, with Jose Gimenez and Stefan Savic preferred in central defense as the Madrid derby ended 0-0.

Andres Guardado and Diego Lainez, Real Betis —  Guardado was also left on the bench as an unused substitute, and Real Betis fell to a heavy 5-1 defeat at Villareal. Betis instead started William Carvalho and Sergio Canales in midfield, leaving Guardado left out of action for the third time this season. Betis has seven points in four matches with Guardado on the field, and does not have a win in three without him. Lainez was also left on the bench, but came on for the final 10 minutes for his third appearance of the season, all as a substitute.

Nestor Araujo, Celta Vigo — The central defender has started every league match for Celta Vigo thus far, and he again completed the full 90 minutes as his side fell 2-0 at Eibar. He has partnered with Joseph Aidoo for most games this season and while the club has just one win, the defense hasn’t really been the issue, conceding just six goals in six games, while the attack has scored just three goals in that span.

Eredivisie

Erick Gutierrez, PSV Eindhoven — Gutierrez made his first appearance since September 1, coming off the bench for the final 11 minutes of a 4-0 win over PEC Zwolle. He picked up a goal during his short stint on the field, scoring the final goal of the match. It is a promising return for Gutierrez who had been in the starting lineup for the first four games of the year before falling out of the side. PSV remains unbeaten in league play this season.

Edson Alvarez, Ajax — The 21-year-old was left as an unused substitute as Ajax beat FC Groningen 2-0. Donny van de Beek partnered with 21-year-old Argentine Lisandro Martinez in midfield, leaving Alvarez and Razvan Marin as the odd men out.

Primeira Liga

Jesus “Tecatito” Corona, FC Porto — Tecatito continued as Porto’s starting right-back, making it 60 minutes in the 1-0 win over Rio Ave. Moussa Marega headed Porto in front 12 minutes in and that was all they needed. Corona was yanked after an hour in favor of Wilson Manafa, marking the third time this season in seven starts that Corona did not complete the 90 minutes.

MLS

Carlos Vela, LAFC – Vela bagged the all important 31st goal of the season on the road against Minnesota United, and while the hosts equalized five minutes later to earn a 1-1 draw, it didn’t matter with LAFC already locked in to the #1 seed in the Western Conference. The goal tied Vela for the MLS single-season lead, and can break the record in the season’s final match against the Colorado Rapids next weekend.

Carlos Fierro, San Jose Earthquakes – Fierro came off the bench for the final 10 minutes, but was not able to turn San Jose’s Fortune as the Quakes were stunned by a Jordan Morris winner deep in stoppage time to keep them from moving into a playoff position ahead of Deadline Day. Fierro has started just twice since joining the Earthquakes, otherwise planted on the bench for late substitute appearances. The club has lost six matches in a row.

Jonathan Dos Santos and Uriel Antuna, LA Galaxy – JDS completed his third full 90 minute performance in a row and Antuna started on the wing, but the Galaxy were beaten in a wild match 4-3 by the Vancouver Whitecaps. Dos Santos picked up an assist in the game, feeding Antuna who scored the club’s second goal. The teams traded goals the whole way through, with Vancouver having the last laugh with a 93rd minute winner.

Elsewhere around the globe:

Omar Govea, Zulte Waregem — The 23-year-old completed 59 minutes as Zulte Waregem drew 2-2 with Mouscron to remain eighth in the Belgian league. He played at the bottom of a diamond midfield, withdrawn just before the hour mark for young Abdoulaye Sissako with the club down 2-0, and they completed the comeback without his presence on the field.

Hector Moreno, Al Gharafa   Moreno continues to start for the Qatari side in central defense, but they were downed by visiting Al Sailiya 3-1. After scoring just six minutes in to go in front, Al Gharafa capitulated to the tune of three goals, including two after halftime with the score level at the break. They sit fourth in the Qatar Stars League table.

Juan Gerardo Ramirez Alosno, Roda JC — Alonso was left as an unused substitute for the fifth match in a row as Roda drew with De Graafschap 2-2. It seems Alonso is second fiddle to 28-year-old Timothy Durwael in the left-back position despite having started the first three games of the Dutch second tier season.

La Liga roundup: Atletico Madrid win first opener in four years

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Spain’s top flight is two days into a new season, and here’s a roundup of all of Sunday’s action.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Atletico Madrid 1-0 Getafe

It wasn’t done in aesthetically pleasing fashion, but Atletico Madrid won their first opening season game in four years.

In fact, the first half was rough with both Atletico and Getafe loosing players to straight red cards. Getafe’s Jorge Molina saw red for a studs-up challenge in the 38th minute, while Renan Lodi was asked to leave the field in his debut for Los Colchoneros. 

Summer signing Alvaro Morata proved to be the difference for Atletico, however. Assisted by former Tottenham fullback Kieran Trippier, the team’s academy product scored early on in the 23rd minute – the goal made Atletico one of eight clubs to start the season with three points.

$140 million signing Joao Felix also made his La Liga debut, and impressed the home crowd with a dazzling run in the second half that ended drawing a penalty for Atletico. Morata missed.

Not the smoothest of games for Diego Simeone’s side, but like Real Madrid, they already have an edge on Barcelona.

Espanyol 0-2 Sevilla 

Julen Lopetegui can finally breathe (and coach) in peace.

Following a series of unfortunate events with the Spanish national team and Real Madrid, Lopetegui and Sevilla started their new era in a winning way.

Sergio Reguilon got things started for the visiting side with a tap in inside the six-yard box. And in the final minutes, no stranger to stepping up for Sevilla, Nolito slotted one past Diego Lopez.

With only two shots on frame to speak for them, Espanyol was one, two steps behind Los Hispalenses, who look for another top-six finish in Spain’s top-flight league.

Sevilla’s young quest for that continues as they travel to Granada. Meanwhile, Espanyol have no time to waist with a Europa League play-off bout against Ukrainian side Zorya lined up midweek.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Betis 1-2 Real Valladolid

Alaves 1-0 Levante

Sevilla score late winner to beat Liverpool in Fenway friendly

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BOSTON (AP) Alejandro Pozo scored in the 90th minute on an assist from Munir El Haddadi to give hard-fighting Sevilla a victory over crowd favorite Liverpool at Fenway Park on Sunday in a game that was friendly in name only.

The Spanish side finished with 10 players after Gnagnon Joris violently kicked the legs out from under Liverpool midfielder Yasser Larouci in the 76th minute; he crashed to the turf, remained down for several minutes and was taken off on a stretcher.

Despite temperatures in the mid-90s, nearly the entire 37,000-seat ballpark was full for the friendly, with most of them dressed in red to support Liverpool. The Champions League winners and the Boston Red Sox, who make their home at Fenway, are both owned by groups led by financier John Henry.

The field was laid out from the third-base side to right field, with the home team bullpen removed to make room. The teams had their benches in front of the iconic Green Monster, the 37-foot wall in left field. Much of the baseball diamond itself was covered with sod; the pitcher’s mound was sawed apart and shoveled off after the Red Sox finished their homestand on Sunday.

After the U.S. national anthem, the fans serenaded the Reds with the traditional “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”

To deal with the heat, the game was stopped once each half to give the players a chance to hydrate; the Fenway grounds crew also came out with hoses to wet down the infield, and sprinklers took care of the outfield.

The fans didn’t get to see many of their favorites, with Mohamed Salah, Sadio Mane and Roberto Firmino all resting from international tournaments, along with goalkeeper Alisson. With Liverpool’s top four goalkeepers unavailable, Andy Longergan, who spent the last season at Middlesbrough, got the start in goal.

Liverpool dominated early, but it was Sevilla that scored first when a ball deflected in the penalty area to Nolito, who made it 1-0 in the 37th minute. Divock Origi tied it in the 44th minute when a header deflected to him at the post and he buried it.

The players on the field – at least those in Sevilla’s white kits – didn’t seem to be persuaded that the game was only an exhibition. A tough tackle in the 12th minute resulted in a foul on Ever Banega, and it was upgraded to a yellow card when he slammed the ball into the ground in protest.

Liverpool midfielder Harry Wilson left just before the half after apparently getting poked in the eye. But that was nothing compared to the straight red card given to Joris. He seemed to be the only person in the stadium who disagreed with the call, arguing with the referee while Larouci was attended to.

The teams substituted liberally at halftime, with every Liverpool player except Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain replaced by a substitute. Four Sevilla players stayed in to start the second half.

Without Messi, Barcelona loses to Levante in Copa del Rey

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MADRID (AP) Barcelona could not overcome the absence of Lionel Messi and other regular starters on Thursday, losing 2-1 at Levante in the first leg of the Copa del Rey’s round of 16.

Barcelona’s second-stringers struggled from the start in Valencia, escaping an even greater defeat only because Levante’s forwards squandered some clear scoring chances.

[ MORE: Willian-Malcom swap? ]

The return game is next Thursday at Camp Nou Stadium in Barcelona, when the four-time defending champion is expected to have some of its starters back in action after they were rested this week.

Levante took the lead early with a close-range header by Uruguayan defender Erick Cabaco in the third minute, and striker Borja Mayoral scored the second goal with a low cross shot in the 18th.

The hosts kept threatening throughout the match, taking advantage of a Barcelona defense that was without Gerard Pique and Jordi Alba. Newly signed Colombian player Jeison Murillo was making his club debut in central defense.

“We got off to a great start,” Mayoral said. “We pressed early because we knew they were not used to playing together.”

Without Messi and Luis Suarez in attack, the Catalan club had difficulties creating scoring opportunities. The trio of Philippe Coutinho, Ousmane Dembele and Malcom was largely ineffective, and the team’s lone goal came late with a penalty kick converted by Coutinho in the 85th after substitute Denis Suarez got past a defender and was fouled inside the area.

“In the second leg hopefully we will take advantage of Coutinho’s goal,” Murillo said.

Barcelona routed Levante 5-0 in Valencia in a league match in December.

SEVILLA THRIVES

Sevilla, a Copa finalist in two of the last three seasons, cruised to a 3-1 away win over Athletic Bilbao with goals by Manuel “Nolito” Agudo, Andre Silva and Wissam Ben Yedder.

Mikel San Jose scored for Athletic, which is fighting against relegation in the Spanish league.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines ]

The teams face each other again in the league on Sunday. Their second-leg match in the Copa is next week in Seville.

Also Thursday, Real Betis was held by visiting Real Sociedad to a 0-0 draw.

On Wednesday, Real Madrid defeated Leganes 3-0 at home, while Atletico Madrid drew 1-1 at Girona.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

La Liga & Serie A: Griezmann hat-trick paces Atleti, Milan tops Roma

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A roundup of Sunday’s action in Spain and Italy’s top flights…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s La Liga coverage ]

Sevilla 2-5 Atletico Madrid

Antoine Griezmann’s hat-trick helped pace Atletico on Sunday as Diego Simeone and Co. continue to apply pressure to Barcelona at the top of La Liga. Atleti remains seven points behind the Blaugrana in Spain’s top flight, after picking up its 17th victory of the season. The visitors scored twice in the first half with finishes from Diego Costa and Griezmann, before Koke and two more goals from the Frenchman extended the lead to 5-0.

Meanwhile, Sevilla did manage to pull back two late goals through Pablo Sarabia and Nolito, however, it was too late to complete a comeback.

Valencia 2-1 Real Sociedad

A brace from Santi Mina pulled Valencia to within two points of Real Madrid for third place in La Liga. The defeat for Sociedad keeps the bottom half side in 14th place, however, the side has a 10-point cushion above the relegation zone.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Athletic Bilbao 2-1 Malaga
Villareal 1-0 Getafe

 


Roma 0-2 AC Milan

A big victory for the Milan side has Gennaro Gatusso’s men back in contention for a top five place in Italy. Second-half strikes from Patrick Cutrone and Davide Calabria helped pace the visitors, as Roma suffered a big blow in the title race. Roma now sits 16 points behind league leaders Napoli, while already having lost earlier in the week to Shakhtar Donetsk in the UEFA Champions League.

 

Elsewhere in Serie A

Crotone 2-3 SPAL
Fiorentina 1-0 Chievo
Hellas 2-1 Torino
Sampdoria 2-1 Udinese
Sassuolo 0-3 Lazio
Juventus vs. Atalanta (POSTPONED)