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Spurs draw in Barcelona, advance in Champions League

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Lucas Moura‘s late goal off the bench gave Tottenham Hotspur a 1-1 away draw at Barcelona in UEFA Champions League play on Tuesday at the Camp Nou.

The draw, coupled with Inter Milan drawing PSV Eindhoven, is enough to send Spurs into the knockout rounds.

Ousmane Dembele scored for Barcelona, who had already won the group.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Dembele cooked Kyle Walker-Peters and then waited out a sliding challenge of Harry Winks before slotting past Hugo Lloris for a cool opener.

Spurs’ fight back was lively with a pair of attempts each for Heung-Min Son and Harry Kane that were thwarted by goalkeeper Jesper Cillessen or shot-blocking defenders.

Kane made a fine run past Clement Llenglet but hit his shot well over the bar as Tottenham’s second half began with chances.

Walker-Peters made a fine sliding block on Philippe Coutinho in the 55th minute, and Barcelona would sub Lionel Messi into the game a few minutes later.

Lucas Moura entered the game for Spurs, and forced a save out of Cillessen before missing wide from an odd angle.

Coutinho hit the post again, a minute before Spurs got their huge equalizer. Lamela slipped Kane into the left side of the box, and Moura popped Kane’s square cross past Cillessen.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

UCL preview: Liverpool, Spurs need final-day results

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Four of the eight UEFA Champions League groups are set to wrap up on Tuesday, and a pair of Premier League sides have plenty of work still ahead of them if they are to progress to the knockout rounds.

[ MORE: Chelsea ban four supporters after allegations of racist abuse ]

Liverpool (6 points) enter the final day of Group C play in third place, trailing both Napoli (9), their opponents on Tuesday, and Paris Saint-Germain (8). PSG will visit fourth-place Red Star Belgrade. Anything and everything — from finishing first, to fourth place and bottom of the group — remains in play for the Reds. A victory would see Liverpool into at least second place, with an outside shot of leapfrogging the Parisians for the top spot.

Last year’s finalists will welcome the current leaders to what will surely be a thunderous night at Anfield, where they’ve managed to collect all six of their group points to date (losses in all three away games, by a combined four goals). Liverpool were beaten by Lorenzo Insigne’s last-minute winner in Naples back in October.

As for Tottenham Hotspur, the requirements — a victory, which sounds straightforward enough — are the same as Liverpool, though the details might just prove far more difficult. Currently positioned in second place (7 points), well behind Tuesday’s opposition, Barcelona (13), and just ahead of Inter Milan (7) on goals scored.

[ MORE: Zlatan Ibrahimovic won’t be rejoining AC Milan in January ]

A must-win trip to the Camp Nou is what Mauricio Pochettino‘s side faces after picking up just one point from their first three games in Group B, including a 4-2 hammering from Barca at Wembley Stadium in October. There is one potential silver lining for Tottenham, though, and that is the fact that Barca have already clinched top spot in the group and have nothing to gain from Tuesday’s finale.

The likes of Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez could perhaps be rested by Ernesto Valverde, which seems like a real cause for optimism until you realize that means that the likes of Philippe Coutinho and Ousmane Dembele — pretty good players in their own right — would then be called upon to shoulder the load.

Groups A and D — where Atletico Madrid and Borussia Dortmund, and Porto and Schalke, respectively, have already secured their places in the round of 16 — offer far less intrigue, though Dortmund could still usurp Atleti to finish top.

Wednesday’s full UCL schedule

Galatasaray vs. Porto — 12:55 p.m. ET
Schalke vs. Lokomotiv Moscow — 12:55 p.m. ET
Liverpool vs. Napoli — 3 p.m. ET
Barcelona vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 3 p.m. ET
Red Star Belgrade vs. Paris Saint-Germain — 3 p.m. ET
Monaco vs. Borussia Dortmund — 3 p.m. ET
Club Brugge vs. Atletico Madrid — 3 p.m. ET
Inter Milan vs. PSV Eindhoven — 3 p.m. ET

Barcelona pulls out of league game in US; La Liga scraps plan

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MADRID (AP) La Liga has given up on its plan to play a regular-season match in the United States next month because Barcelona backed down from its commitment.

The Catalan club said on Monday it did not intend to play the game against Girona near Miami because there was no consensus among all stakeholders.

The club’s board of directors said Barcelona remained behind the idea of the game aboard, but the “project will not prosper until there is an agreement between all parties.”

“From the beginning we have said that participation in the game abroad is voluntary,” the league said in a statement. “If FC Barcelona wishes not to attend, the game scheduled in Miami can’t be staged on the agreed date.”

The Spanish league last month took legal action against the country’s soccer federation in an effort to get approval for the Jan. 26 match at Hard Rock Stadium. A court decision was expected as early as Thursday.

“La Liga will continue the planned action so an official league game can be played outside of Spain,” the league said. “La Liga is convinced that (the federation) is not acting in accordance with the law.”

The league needs approval from the federation to be able to play abroad. The federation was yet to approve or deny the league’s request, having raised concerns that the overseas game would not comply with Spanish and international regulations and TV broadcast contracts. It also said the overseas match could harm the other 18 league clubs.

Barcelona said in its statement it “accepted that income from the game would be shared” among all first-division and second-division clubs following the criteria for television rights money distribution.

The league offered several compensation plans for fans of Girona, which would be relinquishing a home match.

Other stakeholders, including UEFA and CONCACAF, also needed to approve the match. The FIFA council recently opposed the idea, although its permission for the match was not mandatory.

Staging the game in the United States is seen as an important step for the Spanish league to continue expanding internationally and to close the gap on the powerful English Premier League. The Spanish league has a 15-year deal with sports and entertainment group Relevent to promote soccer and take games to the United States.

“We regret to disappoint our fans in the U.S. and will work to, in the shortest possible time, stage an official La Liga game in the U.S., just like the major American leagues (NBA, NFL, MLB, NHL) stage games outside their borders.”

The league last month launched a campaign to showcase the public support from American fans, asking them to sign an online petition in favor of the game.

La Liga: Barcelona, Atleti win big; Messi’s free-kick magic

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Chelsea hand Man City a first loss | Liverpool win to go top of PL ]

Espanyol 0-4 Barcelona

Barcelona’s lead in the title race grew from one point to three after Lionel Messi and Co., thrashed local rivals Espanyol in the Catalan derby on Saturday — with partial thanks to second-place Sevilla’s 1-1 draw with Valencia.

Messi scored the first and fourth goals — each a stunning free kick brilliantly stroked into corners opposite one another in either half of the game. The latter wasn’t to be scoffed at, but the former was dropped so perfectly — down to the millimeter — it warrants re-watch after re-watch.

Surprisingly enough, it was the first time Messi has scored two free-kick goals in the same league game. Ousmane Dembele (assisted by Messi) and Luis Suarez chipped in with a goal each during the first half.

Atletico Madrid 3-0 Alaves

Atleti were the other key beneficiaries of Sevilla’s slip-up, as Diego Simeone’s side took their opportunity to move level on points for second place.

Nikola Kalinic opened the scoring in the 25th minute, bundling home the ball from Santiago Aris’ cross, followed by Antoine Griezmann (82nd) and Rodrigo (87th) who put the game to bed not long before full-time.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Valencia 1-1 Sevilla
Villarreal 2-3 Celta Vigo

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Eibar vs. Levante — 6 a.m. ET
Huesca vs. Real Madrid — 10:15 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad vs. Real Valladolid — 12:30 p.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Rayo Vallecano — 2:45 p.m. ET

Atletico, Barcelona, Sevilla power through in Copa

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MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid was so poor in the first half against fourth-division visitor Sant Andreu that a shock Copa del Rey elimination wasn’t a far-fetched possibility on Wednesday.

But three goals in the opening 10 minutes of the second period guided Atletico’s second-string team to a 4-0 victory at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

Barcelona and Sevilla also beat lower division clubs, while Villarreal recorded an 8-0 rout of second tier Almeria with four goals by Cameroon striker Karl Toko-Ekambi.

Thomas Lemar scored for Atletico in the 48th minute, Nikola Kalinic in the 53rd, Angel Correa in the 55th and Victor “Vitolo” Machin in the 81st to secure Diego Simeone’s team a place in the last 16 following a 5-0 aggregate victory.

“We struggled in the first half. We weren’t able to play with quick transitions,” said Simeone after his 400th Atletico match. “Everything changed in the second half. After the first goal the team played more freely.”

Atletico was without Diego Costa because of injury, while Antoine Griezmann and several other regular starters were rested by Simeone, who was banned from the bench as he served the second of a three-game suspension following a rant in a Copa match against Sevilla last season.

Substitute Lemar went on at halftime and was key for Atletico, opening the scoring with a right-footed shot from outside the area. Kalinic added a header and Correa produced a fine finish with the outside of his right foot. Vitolo’s goal from close range came after a pass by Saul Niguez.

BARCELONA BOOST

Barcelona advanced 5-1 on aggregate after its reserves cruised past third division Cultural Leonesa 4-1 at Camp Nou Stadium.

Denis Suarez scored a goal in each half while Munir El Haddadi and Malcom were on target before halftime. Josep Sene netted in the second period for Cultural, the club owned by the Qatari state.

Barcelona midfielder Ricard “Riqui” Puig, 19, set up one of Suarez’s goals on his debut.

“It was a dream come true,” Puig said. “I used to come to this stadium when I was three.”

Malcom went off in the final minutes with an apparent knee injury.

TOKO-EKAMBI’S NIGHT

Toko-Ekambi became the first Villarreal player to score four goals in a match this century, leading the club to an 11-3 aggregate win. He netted three times in the first half and once in the second.

Carlos Bacca scored twice, while Gerard Moreno and Dani Raba added a goal each.

TOP-TIER CLASHES

In all first-division ties, Girona came from behind to defeat Alaves 2-1 and advance 4-3 on aggregate, while Real Sociedad beat Celta Vigo 2-0 to go through 3-1 overall.

Alaves struck first at Montilivi Stadium in Catalonia with an own-goal by Pedro Alcala in the 62nd minute, but the hosts rallied through Alex Granell in the 74th and Cristian “Portu” Portugues in the 79th to reach the last 16 for the first time.

Sociedad sunk Celta with two superb goals by Mikel Oyarzabal and Adnan Januzaj.

Oyarzabal netted in the 10th with a booming long-range shot into the top corner, and Januzaj scored in the 27th with a curling strike.

OTHER RESULTS

Sevilla edged third division Villanovense 1-0 to advance following a 0-0 first-leg draw. Andre Silva scored the winner early in the second half, converting the rebound after missing a penalty.

Valladolid came from behind to defeat second tier Mallorca 2-1 and progress 4-2 on aggregate.

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

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