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La Liga: Dembele rescues Barcelona again; Real Madrid drop points

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

[ MORE: What did we learn today in the Premier League? ]

Real Sociedad 1-2 Barcelona

Ousmane Dembele has a lot to live up to ($120 million, to be more specific), but the 21-year-old Frenchman is beginning to repay Barcelona for the massive transfer fee they paid to acquire his services last summer. Three times this season already, including Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Sociedad, Dembele has scored the game-winning goal to snatch victory from the jaws of a draw. First, he did it in the Spanish Super Cup against Sevilla, before scoring the only goal in Barca’s victory over Real Valladolid last month.

Barca fell behind after Aritz Elustondo’s opener in the 12th minute, an advantage they maintained until after the hour mark. Luis struck in the 63rd, though, and Dembele completed the comeback three minutes later (his fourth goal of the season – all competitions). The victory makes Barca a perfect four-for-four to start the season, and they now lead the rest of the league by at least two points, thanks to results elsewhere on Saturday.

Atletico Bilbao 1-1 Real Madrid

Speaking of results affecting the top of the table, Real Madrid dropped points for the first time this season as they, too, had to overcome a halftime deficit. Iker Muniain put Bilbao ahead in the 32nd minute, but the lead would last only 32 minutes more. Isco got on the end of Gareth Bale‘s cross to the top of the six-yard box and headed home from close range (his first goal of the season).

Elsewhere in La Liga

Atletico Madrid 1-1 Eibar
Valencia 0-0 Real Betis

Sunday’s La Liga schedule

Leganes vs. Villarreal — 6 a.m. ET
Espanyol vs. Levante — 10:15 a.m. ET
Real Valladolid vs. Alaves — 12:30 p.m. ET
Sevilla vs. Getafe — 2:45 p.m. ET

Suarez brace to beat Mexico includes handsome free kick

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If you were disappointed by the Christian Pulisic-less USMNT falling 2-0 to Brazil on Saturday, take solace that you’re not a Mexican fan.

Mexico fell 4-1 to Uruguay in their first match of the post-Juan Carlos Osorio era, a 1-1 draw degrading into a blowout via a pair of Luis Suarez goals.

[ MORE: Man Utd scouting El Tri mid ]

He’s known for power — and there’s a fair bit of that — but this one was art. The eventual game-winner was a swooping free kick around the wall that ducked inside the near post.

You can see Mexican goalkeeper Guillermo Ochoa wanting to trust his wall but knowing where Suarez was headed with his effort. That and three dollars will get you a few lottery tickets.

Barcelona trailed tiny Huesca after 3 minutes, then won 8-2

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For 15 minutes on Sunday, Barcelona were faced the prospect of suffering the biggest upset in La Liga history, trailing 1-0 to newly-promoted minnow Huesca.

[ MORE: Real Madrid win big; Atletico Madrid lose to Celta Vigo ]

The next 75 minutes saw the Blaugrana score eight times en route to an 8-2 victory at the Camp Nou. Five different Barca players scored — Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez each netted twice — plus an own goal.

Messi made it 1-1 in the 16th minute — weaving his way past, around and through four defenders before firing a pinpoint strike past the goalkeeper — followed by the own goal (Jorge Pulido) in the 24th. Suarez got the final goal, which proved to be the winner, six minutes before halftime. Alex Gallar scored three minutes later to make it a one-goal game once again.

[ MORE: Lukaku says Mourinho “totally different behind the scenes” ]

Ousmane Dembele and Ivan Rakitic made it 4-2 and 5-2 inside the first seven minutes of the second half, at which point the floodgates were wide open. Messi poured in Barca’s sixth in the 61st minute, and Jordi Alba made it seven in the 81st. Suarez got his brace, from the penalty spot, in stoppage time.

The victory keeps Barca perfect on the league season — three wins in three games — and boosts Ernesto Valverde’s side’s goal differential to a league-leading +10 in the process, two better than second-place Real Madrid, who also have nine points from their first three games.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 2-2 Valencia
Alaves 2-1 Espanyol
Real Betis 1-0 Sevilla

Suarez rejects Griezmann’s love of Uruguay

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Luis Suarez wasn’t in the mood to celebrate Antoine Griezmann’s self-control following France’s defeat of Suarez’s Uruguay in Friday’s World Cup quarterfinal.

France held a 1-0 lead, with Griezmann assisting on the opener, when his knuckling shot was fumbled into the Uruguay goal by keeper Fernando Muslera.

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The nature of the goal, plus a healthy love for Uruguay, played a role on Griezmann’s muted celebration. For a player known for celebrating his opponents’ “taking an L,” it was notable.

“When I started, someone from Uruguay taught me the good and bad of football,” he said. “I love Uruguayan culture and Uruguayans. I have respect for Uruguay and it was normal not to celebrate my goals.”

But Suarez didn’t have it in his mind to give Griezmann much credit, even though the French attacker’s close relationship with club teammates Diego Godin and Jose Gimenez is well documented (Godin is the Godfather of Griezmann’s child).

And Griezmann also credits former Real Sociedad teammate Carlos Bueno, a Uruguayan, with helping his career in a big way.

Suarez doesn’t really care about all that.

“He’s not Uruguayan, he’s French and he scored a goal. He doesn’t know what we have to do to succeed in football. He will have his customs and his Uruguayan way of speaking, but we feel differently.”

Easy, Luis. We realize you just lost to the man and have a healthy club rivalry between you club Barcelona and Griezmann’s Atletico Madrid, but people live unique lives.

After the hand and the bite, Suarez gets his head right

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NIZHNY NOVGOROD, Russia (AP) First, it was his hand. Then, his teeth. Luis Suarez’s feet and football ability are yet to take center stage for Uruguay at a World Cup.

[ MORE: World Cup quarterfinals predictions ]

Maybe this time, now that his head is right.

Like Barcelona teammate and close friend Lionel Messi, Suarez could be playing for his World Cup legacy in Russia. At best he has three games left, starting with Friday’s quarterfinal against France.

Messi’s failures at the World Cup have been well documented. Suarez’s experiences have been far rawer.

At both his previous tournaments, the Uruguay striker hasn’t just left disappointed, he’s left in disgrace, labeled a cheat in one and the world’s dirtiest player in the other.

“You mature, you learn things and you live in the present,” Suarez said at Uruguay’s team base in Russia in the buildup to the France game.

In South Africa in 2010, Suarez’s defining act was to block a goal-bound header from Ghana with his hand in the dying seconds of extra time in their quarterfinal. Suarez was sent off for the intentional handball but Ghana missed the resulting penalty.

Suarez’s clear cheating and wild celebrations on the side of the field incensed a continent as it helped Uruguay reach the semifinals at the expense of Africa’s last hope.

Four years ago in Brazil, there was an even more shocking exit: Suarez bit Italy defender Giorgio Chiellini in a group game – leaving visible teeth marks in Chiellini’s left shoulder – and FIFA banned him for nine matches and four months, ending his tournament. It was the third time Suarez had been banned for biting an opponent.

Suarez, now 31, is back for another go at the World Cup, maybe his last.

At Uruguay’s base he appeared unaffected by his ignominious history at the tournament, answering questions from journalists about previous disciplinary breakdowns with no outward signs of discomfort. There seemed to be no attempts to hide anything, either.

Suarez has taken steps to address his on-field behavior for Uruguay, he said, with the help of Oscar Tabarez, the coach and former teacher who has been in charge for Suarez’s entire international career.

“Tabarez helps a lot. He’s one of the best coaches in the world because of his personality, the way he helps players,” Suarez said. “Personally, he has helped me a lot. Before games, he always talks to me about what goes on in my head. That’s important to me. That talk I have with him is important.”

For over a decade, Tabarez has worked to develop a specific team mantra in the Uruguay squad, putting emphasis on humility, work ethic and respect for others.

That has manifested itself at the team’s World Cup base in Russia, a sports center on the outskirts of Nizhny Novgorod where the players’ accommodation is more like school dormitories than five-star luxury.

[ MORE: Ranking the World Cup quarterfinalists ]

From the camp, stories emerge of Uruguay’s best players and biggest stars being asked to clear away their own plates and cutlery after meals, wash their own boots, carry training equipment to and from the field, and, in a nod to plain good manners, start press conferences by greeting journalists with a “good morning” or “good afternoon.”

Suarez also spoke about the “serenity” Tabarez brought to the squad and referred to himself, once the troublemaker, as now a veteran and a role model.

“Now I’m one of the oldest, an example … the younger ones look up to us,” Suarez said. “You get nervous (in games), but at the same time you are one of the ones who has to remain calm. You have to set a good example to the younger ones. You have learned how to handle these situations.”

More AP World Cup coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/WorldCup