Julen Lopetegui

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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

La Liga Roundup: Sevilla squeeze past Valladolid, go third (video)

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Sevilla’s thin victory at Jose Zorilla Stadium highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Real Valladolid 0-1 Sevilla

If it wasn’t for video assistant referee (VAR), there’s a good chance that Julen Lopetegui and company would have walked away from Valladolid with a point, not three. 

 

Following a heavy challenge from Valladolid captain Javi Moyano on Nolito, VAR’s intervention concluded that the visitor’s were to be awarded a penalty. Ever Banega’s strike from the spot was stopped by Jordi Masip, only for VAR to overturn the sequence due to encroachment from Masip.

A second time around, Banega rifled the ball into the top right corner of the goal, scoring the first and lone goal of the match.

With the win, Sevilla moved ahead of Atletico Madrid and remain one point away from leaders Barcelona and Real Madrid.

“There is a long way to go and I think my team has a big margin for improvement,” Sevilla manager Lopetegui said following the game. “We are competing well and are happy we got the three points.”

After receiving his second yellow card of the night, Lucas Ocampos was sent off in stoppage time for the visitor’s. The Argentine has accumulated five goals in 12 appearances this season, leading the team.

Sevilla’s win brings and end to Valladolid’s – owned by Brazilian legend Ronaldo – unbeaten streak at home this season.

Unbeaten in eight straight games across all competitions, Sevilla travel back to Seville to host Qarabag in Europa League competition, while Real Valladolid –  now in the 14th spot – travel to Celta to try and overturn their two-game losing streak.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Espanyol 1-1 Getafe

Osasuna 1-2 Athletic Bilbao

Eibar 0-2 Alaves

Villarreal 1-3 Celta Vigo

La Liga roundup: Sevilla edges Alaves, takes lead of league

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Sevilla becoming league leaders headlines Sunday’s La Liga action.

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Alaves 0-1 Sevilla

As far as the standings go, there is no better team in Spain’s top-flight than Sevilla. 

With a free-kick goal from Joan Jordan in the 37th minute, Julen Lopetegui’s side earned a 1-0 victory against Alaves, climbing to the summit of La Liga with 10 points, one ahead of Atletico Madrid. 

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MEQKToBezNE&w=560&h=315]

The visiting side controlled the majority of the match, dominating control of the ball and putting seven shots on frame. In the late stages of the game, off of a counter-attack, Lucas Ocampos’ rifling shot struck the post.

Alaves, who lost their first match of the season, only recording no shots on target on seven total shots. But nearly shocked everyone in attendance when Manu Garcia’s diving header went inches wide of Tomáš Vaclík goal.

Mexico international Javier “Chicharito” Hernandezmade his Sevilla debut, coming on in the 70th minute for Luuk De Jong.

The league leaders host Real Madrid next, while Alaves look to bounce back against red-hot Athletic Bilbao.

Celta Vigo 0-2 Granada

The reflectors aren’t not on them, but Granda are off to a formidable start.

To be exact, following a 2-0 win against an in-theory superior Celta Vigo, the recently-promoted side sits seventh in the table, tied with Barcelona with seven points.

[youtube=https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=JCeIEUCPumc&w=560&h=315]

The visiting side did get a big boost: a numerical advantage on the field. By the 29th minute, Celta were playing with nine players, following the direct red cards to midfielder Fran Beltran and defender Jorge Saenz. It was a one-sided game from there on out.

Right before heading into the dressing room, German Sanchez headed one home for Granada. In the 54th minute, former NYCFC midfielder Yangel Herrera’s a rocket of a shot was impossible for Ruben Blanco to save.

Granada host Barcelona next. Elsewhere, Celta Vigo hope to not look half as bad as they travel to nation’s capital to take on Atletico Madrid.

Eibar 1-2 Espanyol

Valladolid 1-1 Osasuna

Real Betis 1-1 Getafe

Sevilla go top of La Liga with 1-0 win at Alaves

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) A masterfully taken free kick by Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan earned a 1-0 victory at Alaves and lifted his team to the top of the standings in the Spanish league on Sunday.

Jordan struck a dipping free kick over the defensive wall that goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco could only watch land in his net in the 38th minute.

[ MORE: Everton wasting opportunity ]

Jordan, who joined Sevilla from Eibar before the season, also scored in a 1-0 win at Granada in round two.

Sevilla didn’t threaten Alaves again, but both sides’ defenses and the heavy rain made the rest of the match a pedestrian slugfest.

The match ended with a small scuffle that earned bookings for a pair of players on each team.

Coach Julen Lopetegui, who was fired by both Spain’s national team and Real Madrid during a turbulent 2018, has made an impressive start in Seville. Sevilla is undefeated in four rounds after also winning at Espanyol and drawing with Celta Vigo.

Next weekend Lopetegui’s Sevilla will host Madrid.

The win at Alaves pushed Sevilla into first place. Atletico Madrid is one point behind, followed by Real Madrid and Athletic Bilbao two points back. Defending champion Barcelona and Real Sociedad are three points off the pace.

FIRST GOALS

Espanyol scored its first goals of the season and got its first win after fighting back for a 2-1 victory at Eibar.

Facundo Ferreyra and Esteban Granero scored in the final 15 minutes to pull off the comeback.

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

Sevilla confirms appointment of Julen Lopetegui as manager

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Sevilla confirmed the appointment of former Spain and Real Madrid manager Julen Lopetegui on Tuesday, marking the 52-year-old’s return to management for the first time since his disastrous Los Blancos spell that lasted just 10 league matches.

The Sevilla position is open after a sixth-placed finish in La Liga, failing to pip Getafe on head-to-head results after finishing level on points. Pablo Machin was dismissed in mid-March after suffering through a five-match league winless run and Europa League elimination, with Joaquin Caparros installed as caretaker manager through the end of the season.

Lopetegui’s managerial resume is quite the mixed bag. After earning his first job at then-second division Rayo Vallecano – the club where he spent most of his playing career – in 2003, Lopetegui was fired after just 10 matches in a season that ultimately ended in relegation to the Spanish third tier. He then rose through the Spanish youth team ranks, and by 2014 earned another top tier job with Porto where he reached the Champions League quarterfinals but failed to win any silverware in his two years in charge.

The Spaniard then found himself hired by the Spanish national team to replace the legendary Vicente del Bosque in 2016, and he proceeded to win 14 of his 20 games in charge and not losing once, confirming qualification to the 2018 World Cup as one of the favorites alongside Germany. Just days before the start of the tournament, Lopetegui was dismissed in infamous fashion after Real Madrid announced he would take over after the World Cup, a move which the Spanish national team setup felt as betrayal.

Without the opportunity to lead Spain at a major international tournament, Lopetegui completed the awkward transition to Los Blancos where things turned sour quickly amid a five-match winless run culminating in a 5-1 El Clasico defeat that proved his undoing.

The appointment at Sevilla seems like a make-or-break position for Lopetegui, given his managerial tenure appears less than convincing. Should he fail to challenge for a Champions League place or take them deep in the Europa League, it would be hard to imaging Lopetegui receiving interest for another job after yet another club failure.