Nelson Semedo

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Barcelona, Real Madrid roll in La Liga action

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Barcelona extended its lead at the top of the La Liga table to eight points, while Real Madrid climbed into third as both Spanish giants won in convincing fashion on Sunday.

Lionel Messi found the scoresheet as Barcelona topped Girona 2-0 at Estadi Montilivi. Nelson Semedo grabbed his first goal in a Barcelona shirt just nine minutes in as a sloppy goalmouth scramble saw the ball fall right to the 25-year-old’s feet and he ripped it home low inside the right post.

Girona managed to match Barcelona on the shot count and had numerous chances to score, including one by Pedro Alcala soon after Semedo’s goal, and another from Pere Pons just before halftime that required a goal-line clearance from Gerard Pique. In the 51st minute, Girona fell a man down when Bernardo Espinosa picked up a second yellow card for hacking down Luis Suarez, and that made it tough for the hosts to find a way back in.

Barcelona grabbed its second goal when Lionel Messi produced a spectacular chip over Bono in the 68th minute and that was all she wrote for Barcelona. Still, despite the win, under-fire attacker Philippe Coutinho continued his poor form, creating just one chance and not influencing the game as the fans expect him to in Ousmane Dembele’s absence.

Karim Benzema was the star for Real Madrid, scoring a pair as they won 4-2 over Espanyol on the road. Benzema struck first just four minutes in, collecting a rebound from a saved Luka Modric shot and redirecting it back into the net past a sprawled-out Diego Lopez. Sergio Ramos picked up Real Madrid’s second in the 15th minute with a powerful header, and Benzema restored the 2-goal lead in the 67th minute with a right-footed effort across the face of goal and into the bottom-right corner.

Gareth Bale gave Real Madrid a 4-1 lead, and Espanyol wouldn’t find its second consolation goal until late after Madrid had fallen a man down on a straight red card to Raphael Varane for a controversial last-man foul that may be rescinded later, as replays showed Varane never touched substitute Pablo Piatti who spilled to the turf after tripping himself just outside the box on a breakaway.

Madrid had troubles with referee Jesus Gil all day, with Ramos pushing his luck after a 26th minute yellow card, right in the referee’s face to argue his case. Overall, seven yellow cards and the one red were handed out in the match, with Madrid picking up five of those eight.

Neymar storms off after training dustup with teammate

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Neymar just won’t stay out of the headlines.

As his long-rumored “will he, won’t he go” transfer saga between Paris Saint-Germain and Barcelona continues, Neymar stormed out of training on Thursday after getting into a tussle with teammate Nelson Semedo.

A video from the Daily Mail shows Neymar pushing Semedo before walking off and removing his training bib.

Neymar has reportedly agreed to personal terms with PSG over a move to France, but PSG have yet to come up with the nearly $260 million it would cost to trigger Neymar’s release clause. The news of Neymar possibly leaving Barcelona came as a shock, as he’s been content since joining the club to play slightly in the shadow of teammates Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

If this fight is any indication, Neymar’s head could be turned and should PSG trigger the release clause, Neymar could be heading to Paris once Barcelona returns this weekend from its American sojourn.

In spite of all the transfer speculation, Neymar has dazzled for Barcelona on its tour of the U.S., scoring three goals in two games and delighting the thousands in attendance.

Barcelona nabs influential Benfica fullback Nelsinho

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Barcelona’s summer has been relatively quiet on the transfer front, though inking Lionel Messi to a contract extension carries a lot of weight.

Thursday changed that, in part, as Barca added one for now and the future in Portuguese full back Nelson Semedo (pending a medical).

“Nelsinho” was the ninth-top performer in Portugal’s top flight with Benfica last season.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

The 23-year-old has six caps for Portugal, and played in the Confederations Cup though he was not on the nation’s EURO winning side.

Semedo has 65 senior appearances for Benfica with three goals and 12 assists. He was linked to Premier League side Newcastle United earlier this summer.

Portugal wins third-place at Confederations Cup (video)

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Pepe’s stoppage time equalizer and Adrien Silva’s extra time penalty kick helped Portugal to a third-place finish in the Confederations Cup as Mexico self-destructed against the EURO 2016 champs in Russia on Sunday.

A Luis Neto own goal and missed Portugal PK had Mexico up 1-0 until the late stages, but Portugal’s deserved win came after the teams played level through 90 minutes for a second time in two weeks.

Nelson Semedo was shown red in the 106th minute, but Raul Jimenez was shown his second yellow six minutes left in the match. Mexico should have been awarded a penalty near the end of stoppage time, but Pepe’s clever foul went uncalled and Juan Carlos Osorio was sent from the stadium after barking into the fourth official’s ear and bumping him.

Portugal will finish third in its first Confederations Cup, while Mexico finishes fourth for the second time.

[ MORE: 2017 Confederations Cup news ]

Rafa Marquez chopped down Andre Silva in the 18, and Video Assistant Referee made sure the Mexican defender gave away a penalty kick.

Marquez was given yellow for the takedown, as he kicked Silva’s knee. The new AC Milan attacker took the pen with Cristiano Ronaldo away from the team, but Guillermo Ochoa dove low and right to slap the ball wide of the frame (VIDEO).

Portugal then headed the ensuing corner over the frame, and the match remained scoreless in the 18th minute.

Chances at either end went wanting as Pizzi’s far post shot took a slight uncalled deflection that dragged wide for a goal kick, and Marquez nearly bundled a crossed free kick past Rui Patricio.

The Portuguese keeper made a point-blank stop on Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez in the 31st minute, drawing “Mex-i-co” chants from the Spartak Stadium crowd.

Portugal was on the front foot in the second half, with Joao Moutinho blazing an effort over the bar and Gelson Martins shooting a clever chipped pass from Silva outside the near post.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s USMNT coverage ]

Yet Mexico went ahead through Chicharito’s cross banging off Luis Neto and into the Portugal goal in the 54th minute.

Pizzi missed wide with a bid for an equalizer just before the hour mark. Ochoa then made a terrific one-handed stop on a Martins header. Captain Nani then headed the ensuing corner wide of the far post.

Pepe then knotted things up in stoppage time, leaping for a martial arts-style finish of substitute Ricardo Quaresma’s cross to make it 1-1.

Jimenez saw a shot deflected out for a corner early in the first period of extra time, and the ensuing corner led to Patricio’s stellar save at the back post.

After what could’ve been red cards to both sides in the Portugal end, Martins won the decisive penalty kick when his cheeky juggle around Miguel Layun clipped the former Watford man’s raised arm.

Mexico nearly found a rescue of its own following the pair of red cards, but Patricio dove to save from Hector Herrera’s bullet. Then Pepe was allowed a push of Hector Moreno as the latter missed a close-range header deep into the second period of extra time. Mexico could have easily been given a penalty, but was not.