Paco Alcacer

Paco Alcacer
AP Photo/Martin Meissner

Villarreal signs Alcácer from Dortmund in record deal

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VILLARREAL, Spain — Villarreal signed Spanish striker Paco Alcacer from Borussia Dortmund on Thursday in a deal reportedly worth 23 million euros ($25.5 million), making him the most expensive player ever bought by the club.

The fee would surpass the 20 million euros ($22 million) the Spanish team paid for striker Gerard Moreno in 2018.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 

The 26-year-old Alcacer signed a contract until June 2025.

He is returning to the Spanish league after spending a season and a half with Dortmund, where he scored 26 goals in 47 matches.

Alcacer joined the German club on a transfer from Barcelona in the summer of 2018.

Alcacer previously played for Valencia and Getafe in the Spanish league. He has 12 goals in 19 appearances with Spain’s national team.

Villarreal earlier this month reached a deal with Lyon to send forward Karl Toko Ekambi to the French club on a loan until the end of the season.

Villarreal is eighth in the Spanish league standings.

LIVE, UCL: Liverpool 1-1 Napoli after Chelsea draws Valencia

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Both Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur secured a berth in the Champions League knockout stage yesterday, and now the Premier League looks to Chelsea and Liverpool to do the same.

[ LIVE: Champions League scores ]

Chelsea has an early 12:55 p.m. ET kick as they head to Spain, an absolutely vital match as Chelsea sits level on seven points with both today’s opponent Valencia and group leaders Ajax. While they cannot officially secure advancement today, victory at Mestalla Stadium would be a massive step towards doing so, leaving them at the brink of qualification.

Christian Pulisic starts again for the Blues with N’Golo Kante and Tammy Abraham also in the lineup as Frank Lampard looks to secure a significant advantage over a clogged Group H crowd.

Liverpool is home against Napoli where victory would indeed clinch a spot in the knockout stage. A draw would also do the trick should Jesse Marsch’s Red Bull Salzburg fail to win on the road in Belgium. The Reds suffered a 2-0 loss in Italy back in mid-September and will look for revenge against a Carlo Ancelotti side in slight turmoil, having failed to win any of its last six matches across all competition.

Elsewhere, Barcelona can also clinch a knockout round spot with victory at the Nou Camp against Borussia Dortmund. Marco Reus is back from injury for Dortmund, but Paco Alcacer is not with the squad to face his former club after suffering a gash to his knee. These two teams played to a 0-0 draw back in mid-September but the German side will know that a draw here could leave them vulnerable in Group F with Inter hot on their trail with a visit to Slavia Prague.

Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League schedule

Group E
Liverpool v. Napoli
Racing Genk v. Red Bull Salzburg

Group F
Barcelona v. Borussia Dortmund
Slavia Prague v. Inter Milan

Group G
Zenit St. Petersburg v. Olympique Lyonnais (12:55 p.m. ET)
RB Leipzig v. Benfica

Group H
Valencia v. Chelsea (12:55 p.m. ET)
Lille v. Ajax

EURO 2020 qualifying: Spain rout Faroe Islands, Italy hold off Finland

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The paths of Spain and France to victory were contrasting, however, both teams continued their winning ways in Sunday’s EURO 2020 qualifying.

[ MORE: EURO qualifying wrap ]


Spain 4-0 Faroe Islands

Who knows if it was planned, but Spain put on a lively celebration for Sergio Ramos, who equalled Iker Casillas’ international caps on Sunday night in Gijon, in their 4-0 drubbing of Faroe Islands.

Even then, the scoreline isn’t a clear reflection of Spain’s dominance over a vastly inferior visiting side, who registered less than 30 percent possession and took two shots throughout 90 minutes.

La Roja, comfortable as ever, had time to experiment and put together well-orchestrated attacks.

Rodrigo started the scoring frenzy in the 13th minute with a tap-in, before adding a second in the second half after his left-footed strike wad deflected into the back of the net.

Substituted in the 61st minute for Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, Paco Alcacer added his own brace over the span of three minutes to seal the night for Spain, who stay unbeaten after six qualifying matches and atop of Group F.

Finland 1-2 Italy

Italy’s victory in Finland was controversial, to the say very the least.

Norwhich City’s man of the hour, Teemu Pukki, scored a penalty in the 72nd minute, only to be nulled by Chelsea’s Jorginho, who converted one of his own, which turned out to be the Italian’s match-winning goal.

The call that led to the penalty, however, was worthy of video review.

Finland’s Sauli Väisänen, with his arm attached to his torso as he turned away, made contact with Nicolò Barella’s shot. The official, who was on the opposite of the box, instantly deemed it a penalty and showed a yellow to the defender, despite the heavy petitioning from the Finish players.

With the victory, Italy, who like Spain have yet to lose, remains ahead of second-place Finland in Group H by six points.

VAR is not used in the qualifying process, but will be implemented in the 2020 European Championship, according to UEFA.

Elsewhere

Switzerland 4-0 Gibraltar
Georgia 0-0 Denmark
Sweden 1-1 Norway
Greece 1-1 Liechtenstein

Bundesliga wrap: Davies scores in Bayern rout; BVB upset in Berlin

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Bayern Munich put up a six-star performance to climb above faltering Borussia Dortmund, and both are looking up at RB Leipzig following three matches each in the young Bundesliga season.

[ MORE: Pulisic assists in Chelsea draw ]


Union Berlin 3-1 Borussia Dortmund

Not as planned.

That’s an understatement for Borussia Dortmund after newly-promoted Union Berlin used a pair of Marius Bulter goals to pick up a massive home win.

Bulter’s first goal was quickly answered by Paco Alcacer, but he added a second after halftime and Union put it to bed in the 75th minute. Dortmund drops from first to fifth.

Schalke 3-0 Hertha Berlin

Everton loanee Jonjoe Kenny scored his first Bundesliga goal after Hertha conceded a pair of own goals on either side of halftime.

USMNT midfielder Weston McKennie again went 90 minutes for Schalke, again covering the most ground of any player on his squad (12.32 km).

Bayern Munich 6-1 Mainz

Niko Kovac’s men have now posted a pair of resounding wins following an Opening Day draw, and Saturday was an onslaught.

Highlighted by a late goal for Canadian teenager Alphonso Davies, Bayern waxed Mainz behind goals from Benjamin Pavard, David Alaba, Ivan Perisic, Kingsley Coman, and Robert Lewandowski in addition to the ex-Vancouver scorer.

Both of Davies’ Bundesliga goals have come against Mainz.

Elsewhere

Borussia Monchengladbach 1-3 RB Leipzig — Friday
Freiburg 1-2 Koln
Bayer Leverkusen 0-0 Hoffenheim
Wolfsburg 1-1 Paderborn
Werder Bremen v. Augsburg — 
9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Fortuna Dusseldorf — Noon ET Sunday

Bundesliga wrap: USMNT’s Steffen shines on debut; BVB stomps Augsburg

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A day after Bayern needed Robert Lewandowski heroics to rescue an Opening Day draw, more thrills were on the menu Saturday.

Werder Bremen 1-3 Fortuna Dusseldorf

Zack Steffen was under siege but only beaten once in his Bundesliga debut, as the Man City loanee from these United States helped the visitors to a massive three points on Saturday.

Steffen saw 25 attempts from the hosts, including two from American substitute Josh Sargent, as Fortuna Dusseldorf got into the win column. From Bundesliga.com/En:

“It’s a lot of new challenges for me, and I want to perform and execute my job,” said the former Columbus Crew backstop. “I’ve got a good group of guys around me, a good coaching staff to lift me up and give me confidence, and make me feel at home.”

Borussia Dortmund 5-1 Augsburg

Augsburg’s first minute goal from Florian Niederlechner had some thinking that BVB could join Bayern Munich in an opening weekend stumble, but that was simply a mirage.

Paco Alcacer scored twice, new boy Julian Brandt also scored, and Marco Reus and Jadon Sancho found the score sheet as BVB scorched the visitors at the Westfalenstadion.

Bayer Leverkusen 3-2 Paderborn

It was expected to be a cakewalk for the Champions League outfit, but Bayer had to twice overcome pesky Paderborn equalizers.

Leon Bailey and Kai Havertz had their 10th and 19th minute goals answered before Kevin Volland put it to bed in the 69th.

Elsewhere

Bayern Munich 2-2 Hertha Berlin — Friday
Freiburg 3-0 Mainz
Borussia Monchengladbach 0-0 Schalke
Wolfsburg 2-1 Koln
Eintracht Frankfurt v. Hoffenheim
— 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Union Berlin v. RB Leipzig
— Noon ET Sunday

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Borussia Dortmund 1 1 0 0 5 1 4 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 SC Freiburg 1 1 0 0 3 0 3 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Fortuna Düsseldorf 1 1 0 0 3 1 2 0-0-0 1-0-0 3
 Bayer Leverkusen 1 1 0 0 3 2 1 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 VfL Wolfsburg 1 1 0 0 2 1 1 1-0-0 0-0-0 3
 Hertha BSC Berlin 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Bayern Munich 1 0 1 0 2 2 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 FC Schalke 04 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-1-0 1
 Mönchengladbach 1 0 1 0 0 0 0 0-1-0 0-0-0 1
 1. FC Union Berlin 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 1899 Hoffenheim 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 Eintracht Frankfurt 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 RB Leipzig 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0-0-0 0-0-0 0
 SC Paderborn 1 0 0 1 2 3 -1 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 1. FC Köln 1 0 0 1 1 2 -1 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 Werder Bremen 1 0 0 1 1 3 -2 0-0-1 0-0-0 0
 FSV Mainz 05 1 0 0 1 0 3 -3 0-0-0 0-0-1 0
 FC Augsburg 1 0 0 1 1 5 -4 0-0-0 0-0-1 0