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UEFA Champions League
UEFA Champions League

Last-16 games to be hosted by home teams in Champions League

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GENEVA (AP) The remaining four games of the Champions League’s round of 16 can be hosted by the home team, UEFA announced Thursday, instead of playing them in neutral Portugal.

The competition was halted in March because of the coronavirus and is set to conclude with a mini-tournament at an empty stadium in Lisbon next month, starting with the quarterfinals.

However, Barcelona, Bayern Munich, Juventus and Manchester City will be allowed to host the second leg of their last-16 matches at home.

[ MORE: New Premier League TV schedule ]

UEFA confirmed Thursday it had clearance from public authorities in Spain, Germany, Italy and England to let the teams play at home on Aug. 7 and 8. Few or no fans will be allowed in the stadiums.

UEFA also said no tickets will be sold to fans for mini-tournament in Lisbon.

“In light of the current situation, the UEFA executive committee felt it prudent to conclude that UEFA matches should take place behind closed doors until further notice,” the governing body said.

In the Europa League, six clubs including Manchester United can also host their outstanding second-leg games in the round of 16 ahead of a mini-tournament in Germany.

Starting on Aug. 12, the Champions League quarterfinals will be played on four straight nights in single-leg knockout games at the home stadiums of Benfica and Sporting Lisbon.

The semifinals are on Aug. 18 and 19, and Benfica’s Stadium of Light hosts the final on Aug. 23.

In the remaining round-of-16 games, Bayern is the clearest favorite to advance having won 3-0 at Chelsea in the first leg in February.

Man City leads 2-1 over Real Madrid, Juventus trails 1-0 against Lyon, and Barcelona resumes at 1-1 against Napoli.

Atalanta, Atlético Madrid, Leipzig and Paris Saint-Germain already advanced to the quarterfinals in March.

[ MORE: Solskjaer hopeful of new long-term Pogba deal ]

The quarterfinals and semifinals pairings will be drawn Friday at UEFA headquarters.

The final was postponed from May 30 at the Ataturk Olympic Stadium in Istanbul. It will host the 2021 final.

In the Europa League, six second-leg games will now be hosted on Aug. 5 and 6 by Man United, Bayer Leverkusen, Shakhtar Donetsk, Wolverhampton, Basel and Copenhagen.

The first-leg games were played in March with four in empty stadiums. Only İstanbul Başakşehir and Rangers had fans in the stands for games against Copenhagen and Bayer Leverkusen, respectively.

The two remaining pairings – Inter Milan-Getafe and Sevilla-Roma – could not be played in Italy or Spain in March as those countries were hit hard by the spreading coronavirus. Those pairings will be settled in single knockout games in neutral Germany, also on Aug. 5 and 6.

The quarterfinals are scheduled for Aug. 10-11 in Cologne, Duisburg, Düsseldorf and Gelsenkirchen. The semifinals are Aug. 16-17.

The final is Friday, Aug. 21 in Cologne, replacing the postponed May 27 final in Gdansk, Poland.

By GRAHAM DUNBAR
AP Sports Writer

Real Madrid closer to La Liga title after seventh straight win

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MADRID — Real Madrid beat Athletic Bilbao 1-0 on Sunday to move closer to its first Spanish league title in three years, as Sergio Ramos scored his fifth goal since the season resumed.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

Ramos converted a 73rd-minute penalty kick to give Real Madrid the win over Athletic Bilbao, for its seventh straight league victory and open a seven-point lead over second-place Barcelona, which visits fifth-place Villarreal later Sunday.

“These three points are very important, we knew this was going to be one of the difficult matches we had left,” Ramos said. “This was a key victory to try to put some pressure on Barcelona. We only depend on ourselves.”

Madrid has four matches left as it chases its first league title since 2017.

Ramos had already scored a late winner from the penalty spot in Madrid’s 1-0 win against Getafe on Thursday. He had scored in three other matches since the league resumed.

Ramos converted on Sunday after video review determined there was a foul when defender Dani García stepped on left back Marcelo’s right foot inside the area. Athletic wanted a penalty for a similar foul by Ramos away from the ball a few moments later, but the game was allowed to continue.

Madrid remained the only team with a perfect record after the coronavirus break. Its last three victories came with 1-0 results.

Eighth-place Athletic was coming off two straight victories and had won three of its last four matches, with the only setback a loss at Barcelona.

Madrid was without forward Eden Hazard and defender Raphael Varane because of minor injuries.

Two-time defending champion Barcelona had the lead when the league was suspended but has drawn three of its six matches since the return, including the last two. It will enter the match against Villarreal with coach Quique Setién under pressure because of the team’s poor run of results.

The Catalan club will face a Villarreal team that has won five of its six matches after the break.

Ramos helps Madrid edge Getafe, increase lead over Barcelona

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BARCELONA, Spain — Real Madrid beat Getafe, increasing its lead over Barcelona to four points with the Spanish league nearing its end as Sergio Ramos scored a late penalty to give them a valuable three points.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule

Ramos converted the 79th-minute spot kick after Getafe made its first mistake in an otherwise flawless defensive performance to stifle the more talented rivals.

Madrid right back Dani Carvajal raced into the area and cut back around defender Mathias Olivera, who tripped him and gave Ramos the chance to score the winner that boosts his team’s chances of dethroning Barcelona.

It was the ninth league goal of the season for the Madrid center back.

Madrid has won all six matches since the restart of the league following a three-month stoppage for the coronavirus pandemic. Barcelona, meanwhile, settled for a third draw in four games on Tuesday when it was held 2-2 by Atletico Madrid.

Real Madrid and Barcelona both have five matches left. Madrid holds the tiebreaker in case of they finish level on points.

La Liga standings

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Real Madrid 33 22 8 3 61 21 40 13-4-0 9-4-3 74
 Barcelona 33 21 7 5 74 35 39 15-2-0 6-5-5 70
 Atlético Madrid 33 15 14 4 43 25 18 10-5-1 5-9-3 59
 Sevilla 33 15 12 6 48 33 15 7-7-2 8-5-4 57
 Villarreal 33 16 6 11 53 40 13 8-5-3 8-1-8 54
 Getafe 33 14 10 9 42 31 11 8-6-3 6-4-6 52
 Real Sociedad 33 15 5 13 50 42 8 9-3-5 6-2-8 50
 Athletic Club 33 12 12 9 38 28 10 9-4-3 3-8-6 48
 Granada 33 13 7 13 40 38 2 9-2-5 4-5-8 46
 València 33 12 10 11 41 48 -7 9-7-1 3-3-10 46
 Osasuna 33 11 11 11 40 47 -7 6-5-5 5-6-6 44
 Levante 33 12 6 15 41 46 -5 8-4-4 4-2-11 42
 Betis 33 9 10 14 43 54 -11 8-4-5 1-6-9 37
 Valladolid 33 7 15 11 27 37 -10 3-10-3 4-5-8 36
 Alavés 33 9 8 16 32 50 -18 7-5-5 2-3-11 35
 Eibar 33 9 8 16 34 50 -16 7-2-8 2-6-8 35
 Celta Vigo 33 7 13 13 32 42 -10 5-6-5 2-7-8 34
 Mallorca 33 8 5 20 35 56 -21 7-3-7 1-2-13 29
 Leganés 33 5 10 18 24 49 -25 4-4-9 1-6-9 25
 Espanyol 33 5 9 19 27 53 -26 2-5-9 3-4-10 24

 

Barcelona draw at Sevilla gives title control to Real Madrid

What happens if Barcelona and Real Madrid tie
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What happens if Barcelona and Real Madrid tie atop La Liga’s table after 38 matches?

Real Madrid’s title hopes are under its complete control after Barcelona dropped points at Sevilla on Friday.

[ MORE: Spurs-Man Utd recap | JPW’s 3 Things ]

Lionel Messi’s Man of the Match performance couldn’t provide his 700th career goal in a scoreless draw against Julen Lopetegui’s third-place side

Messi, who has 629 goals for Barcelona and 70 for Argentina, had three shots on goal, recorded a key pass, and completed five dribbles, but could not beat Tomas Vacl.

Barca keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen made three saves including a key late stop.

The draw means Barca has 65 points. The Blaugranas could win out and not win La Liga if Real Madrid, currently on 62 points, also wins out. The first tiebreaker in La Liga is head-to-head, and Real took four of six points from Barca.

Who has the easier run-in? We’ll let you decide.

Barcelona remaining schedule

Tuesday v. Athletic Bilbao (10th)
June 27 at Celta Vigo (17th)
July 1 v. Atletico Madrid (4th)
July 5 at Villarreal (7th)
July 8 v. Espanyol (19th)
July 12 at Valladolid (15th)
July 15 v. Osasuna (13th)
July 19 at Alaves (12th)

Real Madrid remaining schedule

Sunday at Real Sociedad (6th)
Wednesday v. Mallorca (18th)
June 28 at Espanyol (19th)
July 1 v. Getafe (5th)
July 5 at Athletic Bilbao (10th)
July 8 v. Alaves (12th)
July 12 at Granada (9th)
July 15 v. Villarreal (7th)
July 19 v. Leganes (20th)

Elsewhere on Friday

Granada 0-1 Villarreal
Mallorca 1-1 Leganes

STANDINGS

Team GP W D L GF GA GD Home Away PTS
 Barcelona 30 20 5 5 69 31 38 14-1-0 6-4-5 65
 Real Madrid 29 18 8 3 55 20 35 11-4-0 7-4-3 62
 Sevilla 30 14 10 6 42 30 12 7-6-2 7-4-4 52
 Atlético Madrid 29 12 13 4 37 22 15 8-5-1 4-8-3 49
 Getafe 29 13 8 8 38 27 11 7-5-3 6-3-5 47
 Real Sociedad 29 14 5 10 46 36 10 8-3-3 6-2-7 47
 Villarreal 30 14 5 11 47 38 9 7-4-3 7-1-8 47
 València 29 11 10 8 39 43 -4 8-7-0 3-3-8 43
 Granada 30 12 6 12 37 36 1 9-2-4 3-4-8 42
 Athletic Club 29 9 12 8 32 26 6 7-4-3 2-8-5 39
 Levante 29 10 5 14 34 42 -8 7-4-3 3-1-11 35
 Alavés 29 9 8 12 31 39 -8 7-5-3 2-3-9 35
 Osasuna 29 8 11 10 35 44 -9 5-5-5 3-6-5 35
 Betis 29 8 10 11 40 47 -7 7-4-4 1-6-7 34
 Valladolid 29 7 12 10 25 34 -9 3-8-3 4-4-7 33
 Eibar 29 7 7 15 30 46 -16 6-2-7 1-5-8 28
 Celta Vigo 29 5 12 12 22 35 -13 4-5-5 1-7-7 27
 Mallorca 30 7 5 18 29 50 -21 6-3-7 1-2-11 26
 Espanyol 29 5 9 15 25 46 -21 2-5-7 3-4-8 24
 Leganés 30 5 9 16 23 44 -21 4-3-8 1-6-8 24

La Liga: Real Madrid win; Atletico held

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The restart to the 2019-20 La Liga season continues to be exciting as Real Madrid smashed Eibar but Atletico Madrid slipped up away at Athletic Bilbao.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

Following on from Barcelona’s hammering of Real Mallorca on Saturday, Real wrapped up all three points with minimum fuss at the Alfredo Di Stefano stadium as construction works at the Santiago Bernabeu means they are playing at their reserve stadium. Zinedine Zidane’s boys put on a show as they moved back to just two points behind La Liga leaders Barcelona.

Atletico and Diego Simeone lost ground in the top four hunt as they were held by a a stubborn Bilbao side, as they are in sixth place and are in a real battle with Real Sociedad, Getafe and Valencia for fourth.

Below we roundup the action from the first La Liga Sunday after the restart and remember: there are La Liga games every single day between now and mid-July as Spain’s top-flight has 11 matchweeks to complete in the 2019-20 season.


Athletic Bilbao 1-1 Atletico Madrid

A tight, tense clash at the San Mames ended level as the two draws specialists canceled one another out. Bilbao took the lead through Iker Muniain as he flicked home superbly in the first half.

That lead only lasted for a few minutes as Diego Costa pounced to slot home and then paid tribute to Atletico Madrid women’s midfielder Virginia Torrecilla. Costa, who had yet to score in 2020, held up a shirt paying tribute to Virginia who is recovering from surgery on a brain tumor. Bilbao aren’t out of the hunt for Europa League qualification but they had goalkeeper Unai Simon to thank for a draw as late on he denied Santiago Arias with a superb stop down low.


Real Madrid 3-1 Eibar

Real Madrid came flying out of the traps in their game at their reserve stadium, as German midfielder Toni Kroos made it 1-0 with a beauty.

After Karim Benzema worked his way into the box, the ball found Kroos who hit a stunning side-footed effort into the far top corner. VAR checked the goal but Benzema was deemed to not be offside as Real were ahead.

Real were in full flow early on as Eden Hazard, Benzema and Rodrygo caused havoc and that led to a superb second goal.

Sergio Ramos won the ball in his own half, and found Benzema before running 70 yards up the pitch. Benzema then found Hazard who set up an unmarked Ramos to slot home.

What a goal, as Ramos has now joined Ronald Koeman as the second-highest scoring defender in La Liga history with 67 goals.

Benzema and Hazard were at it again soon after.

The French striker wonderfully flicked the ball through to Hazard and his shot was well saved but Eibar failed to clear and the ball dropped to Marcelo.

A stunning strike from the Brazilian left back made it 3-0 as he celebrated by showing his support to the Black Lives Matter movement.

At the start of the second half Eibar came flying out of the traps as Thibaut Courtois made a handful of good stops, while they also clipped the crossbar as Sergi Enrich glanced a header just too high.

Relegation haunted Eibar deservedly made it 3-1 as a shot deflected off and squirmed past Courtois with the effort credited to Pedro Bigas.

Ramos and Hazard came off in the second half and iced injuries in the stands, as Real eased to victory as they aim to hunt Barcelona down in the final weeks of the season.