Las Palmas

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Nigerian midfielder signs for Stoke City ahead of World Cup

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Stoke City’s fight to make their Premier League hiatus just one year under Gary Rowett will include at least one new player from a World Cup roster.

Nigeria center midfielder Oghenekaro Etebo, 22, is headed to the bet365 Stadium from Feirense for about $8.5 million.

Etebo played 14 times on loan for Las Palmas last season and was one of the La Liga side’s top performers.

[ MORE: Nigeria’s World Cup preview ]

Stoke CEO Tony Scholes was humbled by Etebo’s choice, via StokeCityFC.com:

“I’m particularly pleased that he took the time to look beyond our current league status and understand who we are as a club before choosing us ahead of current Premier League and Bundesliga clubs.”

Etebo is the second Nigerian international to make a move to England this season, with defender Leon Balogun moving from Mainz to Brighton and Hove Albion.

Report: MLS team placed late bid for Las Palmas striker Araujo

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The Major League Soccer Primary Transfer Window came and went with a bang, but a late move that didn’t come to fruition has many wondering what could have been.

It’s not a sexy name like Zlatan Ibrahimovic, but a sizable bid for Argentine forward Sergio Araujo was been reported by MLSSoccer.com on Thursday, as well as other outlets.

[ MORE: Rashford, Martial ready to prove themselves with Lukaku out ]

The Las Palmas goalscorer — currently on loan at AEK Athens in Greece — is believed to have commanded a $4 million bid from an unknown MLS side, per the report, however the Spanish side rejected the offer.

It was originally suggested that the LA Galaxy were the team that placed a bid for the player, however, with the Western Conference side having three Designated Players on the books it would be very difficult to find a way to acquire such a player.

Araujo came up through the Boca Juniors academy before signing professionally with the Argentine giants in 2009.

Since that time, the 26-year-old has spent time in Spain with Barcelona B and Las Palmas, as well as in Argentina with Tigre.

This season, Araujo has scored 13 goals and added five assists for AEK, who has qualified for the UEFA Champions League ahead of the 2018/19 season.

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Barcelona held by Las Palmas ahead of crucial Atletico match

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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.

[ WATCH: Messi’s arrowed free kick ]

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.

BETIS DRAWS

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.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

VIDEO: Lionel Messi’s violent free kick puts Barcelona ahead

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You feel for goalkeepers in this situation, especially one like Lionel Messi’s countryman Leandro Chichizola.

The 27-year-old Argentine goalkeeper, in his La Liga season, stared down a pair of Barcelona giants who stood just a couple of yards beyond his 18.

[ MORE: Neymar out 3 months ]

The wall was set-up, but what if Lionel Messi or Luis Suarez put it over the wall and under the bar?

Lemme just cheat oooonnnne ssstteeeepppp…  Whoops.

Messi hammered a left-footed free kick into the upper 90.

The best part of the video might be the audible, “That’s-the-other-team-but-that’s-wonderful” from the Estadio Gran Canaria crowd.

La Liga: Las Palmas stuns nine-man Valencia, Atleti settles for draw

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

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

Las Palmas 2-1 Valencia

It’s never ideal when you finish a match with nine men, and that was the case on the day for third-place Valencia. Things were going according to plan for the visitors early on at the Gran Canaria when Santi Mina scored five minutes into the match.

However, goals from Jonathan Viera (22nd minute) and Jonathan Calleri (53rd minute) brought Las Palmas in front, and they wouldn’t relinquish the advantage.

Gabriel Paulista‘s second yellow card, which set up Las Palmas’ penalty kick in the second half was the first sending off for Valencia, while Ruben Vezo joined his teammate in the locker room with three minutes remaining in regulation.

The victory moves Las Palmas into 19th place in La Liga.

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Girona

Barcelona’s lead at the top of La Liga will likely grow courtesy of Atletico’s inability to apply pressure on the Blaugrana. Antoine Griezmann’s first-half strike wasn’t enough to cushion the Atleti lead, and in turn, Girona equalized with 17 minutes left in regulation when Portu scored off of a great take out of the air.

Espanyol 0-3 Sevilla

Franco Vasquez got things started for the visiting side after just 15 minutes, and before halftime Sevilla managed to double their lead through Pablo Sarabia. For good measure, the sixth-place side added a third goal in the 90th minute as Luis Muriel finished off a pass from Sarabia.


Elsewhere in La Liga

Villareal 2-1 Levante


Sunday’s La Liga matches

Alaves vs. Leganes — 6 a.m. ET
Real Madrid vs. Deportivo La Coruna — 10:15 a.m. ET
Real Sociedad vs. Celta Vigo — 12:30 p.m. ET
Real Betis vs. Barcelona — 2:45 p.m. ET

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