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Segunda Division game is suspended following chants aimed at Roman Zozulya

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Spain’s Segunda Division match between Albacete and Real Vallecano was suspended at halftime due to chanting aimed at Albacete and Ukranian striker Roman Zozulya on Sunday.

Rayo Vallecano fans shouted “F*@king Nazi” at the forward throughout the first half of the game in Madrid. After a long delay head referee, Jose Antonio Lopez Toca, made the executive decision to suspend the game.

Shortly after the game ended, the league released a statement on the situation, expressing their support over the decision made by Lopez Toca.

“LaLiga expresses its agreement with the decision taken by Jose Antonio Lopez Toca, the referee of the match between Rayo Vallecano and Albacete, to suspend the match after serious insults and threats during the first half against Roman Zozulya, player of the visiting club, and at the request of the two teams in the Vallecas stadium,” the statement read.

“From LaLiga, we continue working to eradicate violence, racism and xenophobia in the stages of Spanish professional football.”

In 2017, Zozulya joined Rayo on loan from Real Betis but was immediately cut from the team after its well-known left-wing, fervid supporters protested the arrival of the now 30-year-old due to his far-right ties, which the player has denied in the past.

“As I stated at my presentation with Real Betis, I’m not linked to any paramilitary or neo-Nazi group,” Zozulya said following his failed move to Rayo in 2017.

Zozulya’s club, Albacete, also released a statement following the game’s suspension.

“With the support of Rayo Vallecano, Albacete and La Liga, the referee has suspended the game in Vallecas,” Albacete said in a short statement.  “This decision was taken with one objective, which is to safeguard the values of our competition and the sport which we all love.”

Zozulya’s last played with the Ukrainian national team on November 2016. In 33 caps for the Main Team, the forward has scored four goals.

La Liga roundup: Granada tops table Real Sociedad stays close (video)

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Granada’s rise to the top of the table highlights La Liga’s Sunday action.

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Granada 1-0 Real Betis

Perhaps the biggest storyline in what is still a young La Liga season is recently-promoted side Granda’s impressive season.

With only two losses and a historic 2-0 win over Barcelona this season, Diego MartĂ­nez’s side are separating themselves from the notion that they’re running on luck, and instead are gravitating towards becoming a legitimate force within the league.

On Sunday, for a second time this season, the Andalusian side reached the La Liga summit – albeit El Clasico was postponed due to Catalonia’s political crisis.

The game boosted only a goal – a gentle strike inside the six-yard box from Alvaro Vadillo – but saw a handful of chances be wasted by both sides. Real Betis, who are in the relegation zone as a result of the outcome, controlled the possession of the ball and accumulated a total of 12, although none were on target.

Betis manager, Rubi, who joined the recent Europa League competitors this summer, is expected to be back on the dugout midweek, although his job hangs on a thread.

That said, a lot will be on the line when Betis receives Celta Vigo midweek, while Granada, on the other side of the spectrum, look to keep defying the odds as they travel to Getafe.

Celta Vigo 0-1 Real Sociedad 

Over the summer, Real Sociedad bet on two Scandinavian youngsters Alexander Isak and Martin Ă–degaard, signing the former to a permanent deal and bringing in the latter on a loan from Real Madrid.

Long story short, they’ve payed dividends thus far for La Reala, who climbed up to third in the table following their 1-0 victory against Celta Vigo.

The youthful duo had everything to do with the visitor’s win in Balaidos.

In the 82nd minute, after taking the field seven minutes earlier, Isak’s unbalanced left-footed strike struck the inner-portion of the net. Ă–degaard, as vigilant as ever before, picked out the Swedish attacker and assisted what would be his game-winning goal.

Real Sociedad now aim to continue their positive run going as they host Levante, while struggling Celta hope they can edge Real Betis, who are also experiencing a sour moment themselves.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 0-1 Espanyol 

Sevilla 2-0 Getafe 

Osasuna 3-1 Valencia

Villarreal routs Real Betis, moves near the top in Spain

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MADRID (AP) Villarreal routed Real Betis 5-1 on Friday for its third win in four matches, moving it near the top of the Spanish league.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Karl Toko Ekambi scored twice and Santi Cazorla, Gerard Moreno and Samuel Chukwueze added a goal each to give Villarreal the comfortable victory at home. Emerson scored for Real Betis at the Ceramica Stadium.

The victory moved Villarreal to fifth place with 11 points. It is three points behind leader Real Madrid, which on Saturday visits crosstown rival Atletico Madrid.

Villarreal’s only setback in the last four rounds was a 2-1 loss to two-time defending champion Barcelona at Camp Nou Stadium on Tuesday.

Real Betis, which was unbeaten in its last four matches, stayed ninth in the 20-team table, with eight points.

Barcelona, without the injured Lionel Messi, visits Getafe on Saturday.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Golden Boy Award shortlist includes Lainez, Davies, drops Weah

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Canadian winger Alphonso Davies of Bayern Munich and Mexican winger Diego Lainez of Real Betis join a host of Premier League youngsters on the shortlist for the 2019 Golden Boy Award, honoring the best European-based footballer under the age of 21.

American playmakers Christian Pulisic and Timothy Weah were finalist last year, but Chelsea’s Pulisic has aged out of the competition. Lille’s Weah is no longer on the list despite being on the summer’s 100-man watch list.

[ MORE: Spurs shocked at Colchester Utd ]

That doesn’t mean there isn’t a Chelsea player here, as Mason Mount makes the cut.

So does ex-Man City Academy man Tom Dele-Bashiru, now of Watford, and current City midfielder Phil Foden.

Arsenal places Reiss Nelson and Matteo Guendouzi on the list, while Everton’s Moise Kean slides into the shortlist after his move from Juventus.

That said, the competition already feels winnowed to Matthijs de Ligt of Juventus versus Jadon Sancho of Borussia Dortmund the field, with De Ligt a heavy favorite.

Atletico Madrid’s Joao Felix will also like his chances of spinning a surprise outcome.

Previous winners include De Ligt, Kylian Mbappe, Renato Sanchez, Anthony Martial, Raheem Sterling, Paul Pogba, Isco, Mario Gotze, Mario Balotelli, Alexandre Pato, Anderson, Sergio Aguero, Cesc Fabregas, Lionel Messi, Wayne Rooney, and Rafael van der Vaart.

Golden Boy Award shortlist

Benoit Badiashile (Monaco)
Samuel Chukwueze (Villarreal)
Michael Cuisance (Bayern Munich)
Tom Dele-Bashiru (Watford)
Matthijs De Ligt (Juventus)
Krépin Diatta (Club Brugge)
Giuanluigi Donnarumma (AC Milan)
Denis Dragus (Standard Liege)
Eljif Elmas (Napoli)
Florentino LuĂ­s (Benfica)
Phil Foden (Manchester City)
Mattéo Guendouzi (Arsenal)
Erling Braut Haaland (RB Salzburg)
Kai Havertz (Bayer Leverkusen)
Alexander Isak (Real Sociedad)
Joao Félix (Atlético Madrid)
Dejan Joveljic (Eintracht Frankfurt)
Boubacar Kamara (Marseille)
Alphonso Davies (Bayern Munich)
Moise Kean (Everton)
Justin Kluivert (Roma)
Ibrahima Konaté (RB Leipzig)
Rodrygo Goes (Real Madrid)
Alban Lafont (Nantes)
Diego Lainez (Real Betis)
KangIn Lee (Valencia)
Andriy Lunin (Real Valladolid, on loan)
Donyell Malen (PSV)
Mason Mount (Chelsea)
Nehuén Pérez (Famalicao)
Reiss Nelson (Arsenal)
Abdulkadir Omur (Trabzonspor)
Strahinja Pavlovic (Partizan Belgrade)
Rafael Leao (AC Milan)
Vinicius Junior (Real Madrid)
Jadon Sancho (Borussia Dortmund)
Luis Sinisterra (Feyenoord)
Jean-Clair Todibo (Barcelona)
Ferran Torres (Valencia)
Nicolo Zaniolo (Roma)

La Liga roundup: Messi-less Barcelona halted by Osasuna

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Barcelona’s draw and Real Betis’ win highlight Saturday’s La Liga action.

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Osasuna 2-2 Barcelona

With Antoine Griezmann’s magic nowhere to be spotted, Barcelona felt every bit of Lionel Messi’s absence for a second time this season.

Messi has yet to feature for the defending champions this season. Without him, Barcelona are off to a their worst start since Pep Guardiola‘s treble-winning side 11 years ago, earning only four points throughout three matches.

Barcelona’s latest hiccup? A 2-2 draw against a persistent Osasuna.

Osasuna’s game-defining goal came in the late stages, following a penalty call on Gerard Pique. Roberto Morales’ brace concluded a triumphant draw for the home side, that despite being severely outpossessed, managed to create more chances than Ernesto Valverde’s side.

Although the numbers aren’t in their favor, there is a glaring break in the clouds for Barcelona: 16-year-old Ansu Fati, who became the club’s youngest player to score in La Liga. The highly-touted left winger was brought on in the second half, and proved to be pivotal in the Catalonian’s punctured frontline.

With or without Messi, Barcelona host Valencia next, while Osasuna hope to continue their positive run against Real Valladolid.

Real Betis 2-1 Leganes 

For the first time this season, Real Betis have won a game.

With back-to-back losses to start the new campaign, Los Verdiblancos were far from meeting the high expectations that had them bouncing back from a wobbly 2018/2019 season. The team’s transition following a plethora of departures didn’t help the cause.

That continues to be the case for Real Betis, but with players such as summer signing Nabil Fekir, who continues to become more influential with each passing day, things can be different for Rubi’s side this time around.

The 26-year-old Frenchman, who missed out on move to Liverpool last summer, scored the game-winner against Leganes. With Giovani Lo Celso in London with Tottenham, Fekir is seamlessly becoming the ideal replacement: scoring two goals in the first three games La Liga.

The Sevilla based side can benefit from it again with Getafe up next, while Leganes, who are dead last, can learn something from Betis’ perseverance ahead of their bout against Villareal.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Levante 2-0 Real Valladolid

Getafe 1-1 Alaves