Leganes

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Sevilla in danger of missing top-four after home hammering

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SEVILLE, Spain (AP) Sevilla suffered its worst home loss of the season on Friday, falling 3-0 at home to Leganes in the Spanish league and stumbling again in the fight for a Champions League berth.

It was a second consecutive defeat and third in four games for Sevilla, which is vying with Getafe and Valencia to accompany champion Barcelona, Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid in the competition next season.

Sevilla remained in fifth, tied on points with fourth-place Getafe and three points ahead of Valencia. Getafe hosts Girona on Sunday before Valencia visits last-place Huesca.

Denmark forward Martin Braithwaite scored and had two assists for Leganes. He redirected a long pass with a subtle touch to set up Youssef En-Nesyri, who capped the counterattack with a curling shot in the eighth minute, then scored in the 20th when he used his chest to control the ball and open a firing angle around defender Jesus Navas.

Braithwaite assisted Oscar Rodriguez to round off the rout in the 82nd minute. Navas tried to clear Rodriguez’s goal-bound shot, but it went off his leg and into the net.

Leganes, a modest club from Madrid, is quietly having a solid campaign, moving into ninth place with the win.

Benzema rescues a 1-1 draw for Madrid at Leganes

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Real Madrid needed Karim Benzema to salvage a 1-1 draw at Spanish league minnow Leganes on Monday.

Benzema again proved a bright spot in a disappointing season for his club, scoring his fifth goal in four matches to cancel out an opener by right back Jonathan Silva.

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The France striker also snatched recent wins for Madrid with late goals against Huesca and Eibar.

Madrid remains third in the standings, 13 points adrift of Barcelona, which is on course to retain its title with six games left and a nine-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Coach Zinedine Zidane already said Madrid had little to play for this season, adding over the weekend that his squad was set to be culled at the end of the campaign.

Goalkeeper Keylor Navas, whose future has been in doubt since the arrival of Thibaut Courtois last year, said on Monday that the players had more to play for than just trophies.

“We have our pride and our love for this shirt, which is worth more than any title,” Navas said. “It has been a complicated season for everyone.

“We have gone out there to win games, but they have gotten away from us. It is difficult to explain. We are all sad for the situation.”

Other than a shot by Marco Asensio saved by goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar, Leganes had little trouble keeping in check Madrid’s attack in the first half.

The hosts went ahead just before halftime when Martin Braithwaite won the ball in a crowded area and passed to Silva, who curled a shot around Navas into the corner of the net from the edge of the penalty box.

A flash of skill from Luka Modric then set up the equalizer in the 51st minute.

The Ballon d’Or winner turned quickly before slipping a pass through the defense to Benzema. His first strike was blocked by Cuellar, but the France forward pounced on the rebound and fired it home.

It was Benzema’s team-leading 27th goal in all competitions this season.

His increasing status since the departure of Cristiano Ronaldo at the end of last season is in stark contrast to the fall from grace of Gareth Bale.

Bale played only the last 10 minutes against Leganes and, after falling out with the fans this season, he could be one of the stars the club will look to move on.

“I didn’t like our first half, but I think our second half was better,” Zidane said. “At the end we managed to draw, but we could have played much better. That is for sure. The sensation is not good.”

La Liga shockers: Barca loses, but Real fails to take advantage

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Maybe some foresaw Sevilla beating Real Madrid on Wednesday, but did anyone predict that decision would join a Leganes defeat of Barcelona hours earlier?

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Andre Silva scored twice and Wissam Ben Yedder continued his fine season with a goal past as Sevilla beat Real to stop Los Blancos from taking ahold of the La Liga lead.

Sevilla managed seven shots on target in the match, while Real only managed three. Thibaut Courtois was between the sticks for Real.

The loss stings more because Barcelona wasted a Philippe Coutinho 12th minute opener and lost 2-1 to last place Leganes at the Estadio Municipal de Butarque.

Nabil El Zhar and Oscar Rodriguez scored a minute apart early in the second half, and Leganes boosted its points total from one to four.

Alaves can join Barcelona and Real Madrid on a league-best 13 points with a win on Thursday, as no unbeaten teams remain in La Liga. Atletico Madrid has 11 points, while Sevilla and Espanyol each have 10.

Elsewhere
Athletic Bilbao 0-3 Villarreal
Valencia 1-1 Celta Vigo

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 6 4 1 1 17 7 10 2-1-0 2-0-1 13
 Real Madrid 6 4 1 1 12 6 6 3-0-0 1-1-1 13
 Atlético Madrid 6 3 2 1 8 4 4 2-1-0 1-1-1 11
 Sevilla 6 3 1 2 13 6 7 1-1-1 2-0-1 10
 Alavés 5 3 1 1 8 5 3 1-1-0 2-0-1 10
 Espanyol 6 3 1 2 6 4 2 3-0-0 0-1-2 10
 Celta Vigo 6 2 3 1 11 9 2 1-2-0 1-1-1 9
 Villarreal 6 2 2 2 5 3 2 0-1-2 2-1-0 8
 Real Sociedad 6 2 2 2 9 9 0 0-1-1 2-1-1 8
 Girona 5 2 2 1 7 8 -1 1-1-1 1-1-0 8
 Getafe 5 2 1 2 4 4 0 1-1-1 1-0-1 7
 Eibar 6 2 1 3 5 7 -2 2-0-1 0-1-2 7
 Athletic 5 1 3 1 7 9 -2 1-2-1 0-1-0 6
 Betis 5 1 3 1 3 5 -2 1-1-1 0-2-0 6
 València 6 0 5 1 4 6 -2 0-3-0 0-2-1 5
 Levante 5 1 1 3 8 11 -3 0-1-2 1-0-1 4
 Leganés 6 1 1 4 6 11 -5 1-1-1 0-0-3 4
 Rayo Vallecano 5 1 1 3 5 12 -7 0-0-2 1-1-1 4
 Huesca 6 1 1 4 6 16 -10 0-0-2 1-1-2 4
 Valladolid 5 0 3 2 3 5 -2 0-0-2 0-3-0 3

Madrid beats Leganes 3-1 in game postponed from December

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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid overcame the absence of Cristiano Ronaldo and other regular starters Wednesday, coming from behind to defeat Leganes 3-1 Wednesday in a Spanish league match postponed from last year.

The result allowed the defending champions to regain third place from Valencia, but it did little to put Zinedine Zidane’s team back in the title race as it still trails leader Barcelona by 14 points after 24 matches. Madrid is seven points behind second-place Atletico Madrid.

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Less than a month ago, Leganes jolted Madrid into a crisis by eliminating the Spanish powerhouse from the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

The hosts from southern Madrid went ahead less than 10 minutes into the match on Wednesday, but Madrid answered with first-half goals by Lucas Vazquez and Casemiro. Sergio Ramos sealed the victory by converting a 90th-minute penalty kick.

The league match was rescheduled from the 16th round because of Madrid’s participation in the Club World Cup in December, a competition it won.

Only in its second season in the first division, Leganes had a promising start to the campaign but has struggled recently. It hasn’t won in six matches and has lost four straight, dropping to 13th with 29 points.

Madrid has won four in a row, including 3-1 against Paris Saint-Germain in the last 16 of the Champions League last week.

Ronaldo, who scored twice against PSG and has 10 goals in his last six matches, was rested on Wednesday along with goalkeeper Keylor Navas. Marcelo, Toni Kroos and Luka Modric are trying to recover from injuries in time for next month’s return match against PSG in Paris.

Leganes opened the scoring with a goal by Unai Bustinza six minutes into the match at Butarque Stadium. The defender dived in front of the ball as Madrid left back Theo Hernandez tried to clear it from near the goal line. The ball ricocheted off Bustinza’s head and shoulder and went into the net.

Madrid equalized five minutes later with Vazquez’s low shot into the far corner from inside the area after a through ball by Casemiro, and 20 minutes later it was the Brazilian defensive midfielder who found the net from close range after a pass by Vazquez.

Ramos scored from the penalty spot after Mateo Kovacic was pushed inside the area in the closing minutes.

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

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

Leganes looks to extend fairy tale run in Copa del Rey

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MADRID (AP) It’s been historically hard to name the third best soccer team in Madrid.

No team has been able to achieve or sustain at least a smidgen of the success of Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid.

The other teams from the capital, or its nearby suburbs, have come and gone in the first division. A few have thrived in the Copa del Rey. But through the years there has never been a clear answer to which one can be considered the city’s third power.

The latest side to have a go is Leganes, based just south of the capital.

On Wednesday, Leganes has a chance to advance to the Copa del Rey final for the first time in its 89-year history. It plays at Sevilla in the second leg of the semifinals. The first leg finished 1-1.

Beating Sevilla won’t be easy, but not impossible either, considering Leganes reversed a 1-0 first-leg loss against Real Madrid in the quarterfinals. It drew 2-2 at Santiago Bernabeu Stadium to keep alive its impressive run. It eliminated Villarreal in the previous round.

“We don’t have the obligation to win anything, only to give our best whenever we play,” Leganes coach Asier Garitano says.

Leganes had never made it to the Copa quarterfinals until this year. It is playing in the first division of Spanish football only for the second season. It was in the third tier four seasons ago. It has been a rapid rise.

Leganes began gaining some notoriety only in the early 1990s, when it made it to the second division for the first time. It spent nearly a decade back in the third tier, from 2004-2014, before making the run that took the club to the first division in 2016.

Part of the team’s success is linked to real estate businesswoman Victoria Pavon Palomo, who took over as club president in 2009 after her husband, Felipe Moreno Romero, became its biggest shareholder. They gradually revamped the club, which has been run much like a family business since then, with focus on maintaining financial stability.

With one of the smallest budgets in La Liga, Leganes has thrived without making huge signings, relying on local talent and loans.

The current squad has no top names. Its captain is veteran defender Martin Mantovani, who played for Atletico’s youth squads but never made it to a top club. The midfield has Ruben Perez, who also started his career with Atletico, and Gabriel Pires, who used to play in Italian soccer. The attack has Moroccan Nordin Amrabat and Claudio Beauvue.

The team hosts matches in the 11,000-capacity Butarque Stadium in Leganes, a city of nearly 200,000 people about 15 kilometers (nine miles) from Madrid. The club says it has about 9,000 members.

Its fans are called the “pepineros,” or cucumber growers, because of the vegetable for which the region was known for in the past.

The club said six buses with pepineros will make the trip to Seville for the semifinal on Wednesday.

Getafe is the only other Madrid-area team in the first division this season, having played in the top tier since 2004. There were five Madrid teams in the top-flight two seasons ago, when Rayo Vallecano also participated.

Atletico is second to Barcelona in the Spanish league, with Real Madrid in fourth. Getafe is 11th and Leganes 12th, with a game in hand. Getafe and Leganes drew 0-0 last weekend in the southern Madrid derby.

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

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