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Euro: Real Madrid fight back for Elche draw

La Liga leaders Real Madrid fought back from two goals down at home to rescue a 2-2 draw against lowly Elche on Sunday thanks to a last-gasp Eder Militao goal in stoppage time.

Real Madrid, who missed a first-half penalty, wasted a golden opportunity to widen the gap at the top of the table after second-placed Sevilla stumbled at home with a draw against Celta Vigo on Saturday.

Elche opened a two-goal lead with their only two shots on target as Lucas Boye netted in the first half and Pere Milla scored after the break.

Luka Modric reduced the deficit with a penalty after 82 minutes and Vinicius Junior found Militao inside the six-yard box in the 92nd minute and he headed in the equaliser.

The goal denied Elche a first win at the Bernabeu stadium in 25 visits.

Real dominated from the beginning and were denied on three occasions by Elche ‘keeper Edgar Badia, who made fine saves to keep out shots from Karim Benzema, Toni Kroos and Vinicius in the first half.

Benzema missed a penalty with his effort going a few inches over the crossbar after Vinicius was fouled inside the area. It was Benzema’s first penalty miss in almost 13 years as a Real player, after converting all 16 of his previous efforts for the club.

Elche stunned Real with Boye heading home a cross from Fidel Chaves after a lightning-quick counter-attack just before the break.

Milla doubled their lead in the 76th minute after Boye fed a perfect pass to the Spanish forward, scoring with a curled shot from inside the box.

The visitors kept Real Madrid out for 80 minutes until VAR spotted a handball from Milla inside the area and Modric stroked the ball home from the spot.

After Benzema went off injured in the second half, Real looked to Vinicius to provide them with their creative spark and he set up the leveller for Miltao to rescue a point for the hosts.

Osasuna beat Granada 2-0 in the early game.

Serie A – Napoli close gap on Inter

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Napoli were emphatic winners in Serie A

Napoli kept pace with Serie A leaders Inter Milan after thrashing lowly local rivals Salernitana 4-1, recording their third league victory in a row.

The hosts started brightly and raced into a 17th-minute lead through Juan Jesus, the defender’s goal given after a VAR intervention, with the on-field referee having originally ruled it out for handball.

Against the run of play, with their only shot at goal in the match, Salernitana levelled through Federico Bonazzoli in the 33rd minute.

That was only a brief reprieve for the visitors from across the Gulf of Naples, however, as Dries Mertens put Napoli back in front from the penalty spot in first-half stoppage time before Amir Rahmani tapped home four minutes after the break to make it 3-1.

Salernitana’s afternoon went from bad to worse moments later as Frederic Veseli was sent off for picking up a second yellow card when penalised for handball in the penalty area.

Substitute Lorenzo Insigne scored from the spot to seal a comfortable victory for Napoli who climbed to second on 49 points, one clear of AC Milan, who play Juventus later on Sunday, and four adrift of leaders Inter.

Roma secured a 4-2 victory at Empoli thanks to four goals in 13 first-half minutes, including a double from England striker Tammy Abraham.

The hosts started brightly and created several early openings, but they fell apart after Abraham’s swift turn and shot broke the deadlock in the 24th minute.

Abraham squeezed the ball home in the 33rd minute from close range to double his side’s lead, before January signing Sergio Oliveira scored his second goal since joining on loan from Porto two minutes later to put Roma in command.

Jose Mourinho’s team were not done there, as they added another in the 37th minute, with Nicolo Zaniolo converting at the end of a swift counter-attack from the visitors.

In cruise control, Roma were given a fright in the second half as goals from Andrea Pinamonti and Nedim Bajrami put Empoli in with a chance of an improbable comeback, but Mourinho’s side held on for the three points.

Fiorentina drew 1-1 with Cagliari while Torino and Sassuolo also played out a 1-1 draw. Spezia were 1-0 winners against Sampdoria.

Bundesliga – Bayern restore lead at the top

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Highlights of the Bundesliga match between Hertha Berlin and Bayern Munich

Bayern Munich cruised to 4-1 victory at Hertha Berlin, scoring twice in each half, to stay firmly in control of the title race and restore their six-point lead at the top.

Corentin Tolisso, who had seen a superb volley ruled as offside in the second minute, did everything right in the 25th, connecting with a Kingsley Coman cross to head the champions into the lead.

Thomas Muller doubled it on the stroke of half-time, stretching to flick in a Joshua Kimmich free-kick as Bayern cruised towards their seventh league win from their last eight matches.

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Leroy Sane scored for Bayern Munich in their Bundesliga win

A mistake by Hertha ‘keeper Alexander Schwolow allowed Leroy Sane to slip in and score Bayern’s third goal of the afternoon in the 75th minute and Serge Gnabry made it 4-0 four minutes later, cutting in from the right to slip the ball through the ‘keeper’s legs.

The hosts, who have won just one of their last five league matches and remained in 13th place, got a consolation goal through Jurgen Ekkelenkamp 10 minutes from the end.

Bayern, who have now scored at least once in a record 67 consecutive Bundesliga matches, are on 49 points, six ahead of second-placed Borussia Dortmund, who beat Hoffenheim 3-2 on Saturday.

RB Leipzig’s recovery in the Bundesliga continued with a 2-0 win over Wolfsburg, marking their third victory in a row.

Ligue 1 – Nice return to top of Ligue 1

Nice reclaimed second spot in Ligue 1 with a 2-0 win over Metz, with second-half goals from Khephren Thuram and Amine Gouiri.

Strasbourg were beaten 4-3 in a thrilling game with Bordeaux, while Nantes beat Lorient 4-2. Angers were 2-1 winners against Troyes as Clermont beat Rennes by the same scoreline.

Serie A: Mourinho frustrated as Roma slip to defeat at Milan

Jose Mourinho was left gesticulating in apparent disapproval after two errors from his Roma players handed AC Milan a 3-1 win in Serie A on Thursday.

First, striker Tammy Abraham stuck out his arm to block a shot that resulted in a penalty for Milan, then defender Roger Ibaez made an errant back pass that was intercepted by Olivier Giroud, which led to the hosts’ second goal just 17 minutes in.

Giroud converted the penalty and Junior Messias scored Milan’s second on a rebound after Giroud’s effort hit the post.

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AC Milan players celebrate Olivier Giroud’s goal against Roma

Abraham then pulled one back for Roma via a deflection but Milan goalkeeper Mike Maignan maintained the Rossoneri’s advantage with a series of fine saves.

Milan also hit the woodwork twice, while Roma finished with nine men when Rick Karsdorp and Gianluca Mancini each picked up their second yellow cards, which will mean they’ll be suspended for Sunday’s game against Juventus.

With Roma down to 10 men, Rafael Leo restored Milan’s two-goal advantage after being set up with a chested pass from fellow substitute Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who had a penalty attempt saved by Rui Patricio.

The win moved Milan within one point of Serie A leaders Inter Milan, whose game at Bologna was postponed after the hosts were ordered into quarantine.

Four games postponed

AC Milan’s match against Roma at the San Siro was one of only six of 10 matches played following a two-week break, with four games, including Inter’s trip to Bologna, scrapped because of rising coronavirus cases.

The other games affected were Atalanta vs Torino, Salernitana vs Venezia and Fiorentina vs Udinese.

Napoli battle to Juve draw

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Dries Mertens (R) opened the scoring for Napoli at Juventus

Virus-depleted Napoli drew 1-1 at Juventus, despite missing five players plus coach Luciano Spalletti, who also tested positive for Covid.

Dries Mertens opened the scoring for Napoli before Federico Chiesa equalised for the hosts.

The draw sees third-place Napoli drop five points behind Milan while Juventus, who had captain Giorgio Chiellini sidelined because of a positive coronavirus test, remain fifth.

Elsewhere…

Hellas Verona won 2-1 at relegation-threatened Spezia, despite missing eight players who had tested positive for Covid.

Gianluca Caprari scored twice for Verona before Martin Erlic pulled one back for Spezia.

Also, Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored twice, including a stoppage-time equalizer for Lazio in a 3-3 draw with Empoli.

Ciro Immobile opened the scoring for Lazio with his 14th of the season but also had a late penalty kick saved.

Sassuolo earned a 1-1 draw with Genoa as Domenico Berardi responded to Mattia Destros opener.

Finally, Cagliari earned their second win of the season by beating Sampdoria 2-1 with goals from Alessandro Deiola and Leonardo Pavoletti.

Man Utd’s Tuanzebe set for Napoli loan with Villa spell to be cut short

Axel Tuanzebe, the Manchester United defender, is close to finalising a loan move to Napoli.

Talks between United and Napoli are ongoing, but Tuanzebe is expected to cut short his loan spell at Aston Villa and move to the Italian club.

The deal is likely to be a loan until the end of the season, with Napoli not having the option to make the move permanent.

Tuanzebe has started only six Premier League games for Villa this season and was left out of their squad for Sunday’s game at Brentford.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Manchester United’s win against Burnley in the Premier League on Thursday

Steven Gerrard, the Villa manager, said: “The Axel situation – there is a lot of noise in the media whether he will be moving forward. We will know that in the next couple of days.”

Tuanzebe – who has 18 months remaining on his United contract – joined Villa in August and was expected to remain at the club until the end of the 2021/22 campaign.

However, since Gerrard replaced Dean Smith in November, Tuanzebe has played just eight minutes of football for Villa, with Ezri Konsa and Tyrone Mings being the manager’s preferred centre-back partnership.


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But despite Tuanzebe’s lack of game time, Gerrard said earlier this week that he wanted to keep the 24-year-old at Villa Park.

“It’s very much in Ax’s hands and Manchester United’s hands,” the former Liverpool captain said. “We want him here. We would be delighted to keep him.

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Speaking earlier this week, Aston Villa manager Steven Gerrard said he wanted to keep on-loan United defender Tuanzebe until at least the end of the season

“We don’t just see it as a loan until the end of the season. It’s something we want to explore further than that. We just hope we’ve got that opportunity.

“He’s a player we like very much and we’d like him to stay until the end of the season at least. Axel is his own man and will want to make his own decision.

“He is obviously owned by Manchester United which we all need to respect. I hope he wants to be part of this.

“In terms of what he has given on a daily basis, his leadership and training levels have been really strong and he is pushing to play.”

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Euro round-up: Atletico stunned by Granada, Napoli shocked

Atletico Madrid boss Diego Simeone faced increased pressure after the La Liga champions slumped to a shock 2-1 defeat by Granada on Wednesday.

With Atletico having lost four successive league matches for the first time since Simeone took charge in 2011, the Argentinian’s role has come under scrutiny from club supporters and Spanish media.

It took less than two minutes for Joao Felix to fire Atletico ahead with a perfect low shot from the edge of the box, with the goal demonstrating why the fans had been urging Simeone to play the Portuguese striker from the start more often.

But Granada equalised 15 minutes later with a stupendous long shot from Darwin Machis.

Felix desperately tried to score a second goal but he was frustrated by an equally determined Granada, who found the winner midway through the second half thanks to Jorge Molina.

Granada survived a frenzied final 20 minutes during which Atletico desperately tried to score an equaliser without success. It was Granada’s first win against Atletico since 1973, ending a 25-game winless streak.

Simeone’s judgment is being questioned as Atletico’s usually rock-solid defence has now leaked in 22 goals in 18 games this season, with the champions keeping only five clean sheets in La Liga during that time. In contrast, they had conceded only eight goals at the same stage last season.

Atletico sit fifth in the standings with 29 points after 18 games, 17 points behind Real Madrid.

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Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring his side’s opening goal Athletic Bilbao

Karim Benzema scored two goals in the opening seven minutes to send leaders Real Madrid eight points clear at the top of La Liga with a 2-1 win at Athletic Bilbao.

Real, who were missing eight players due to a Covid-19 outbreak in the club, stretched their unbeaten run to 15 matches in all competitions.

Benzema broke the 400-goal mark in his professional career with a stunning strike from just outside the box in the fourth minute before adding another just three minutes later when an Athletic defender missed a clearance.

Oihan Sancet stopped Real’s momentum with a sensational goal in the 10th minute. The hosts put up a fight but Real held on to secure all three points.

Serie A – Napoli stunned by Spezia

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Spezia celebrate after Juan Jesus’ own goal saw them ahead against Napoli

Third-place Napoli dropped seven points behind Serie A leaders Inter after losing 1-0 at home to relegation-threatened Spezia, who benefited from an own-goal from Napoli defender Juan Jesus.

Napoli were missing captain Lorenzo Insigne, who tested positive for Covid-19, while Spezia did not produce a single shot on goal.

Inter Milan concluded the year with a 1-0 win over Torino to remain top of the league heading into the winter break

Denzel Dumfries scored from the edge of the area, finishing a counter-attack after taking a backheel pass from Edin Dzeko during the first half at the San Siro. It was the third goal in four matches for the Netherlands right-back.

AC Milan midfielder Franck Kessie played a starring role by scoring twice in a 4-2 win over Empoli, leaving the Rossoneri second in Serie A at the midway stage of the season.

The Ivory Coast international was deployed in a more advanced attacking midfield position, and excelled in the role by striking twice before half-time, either side of Nedim Bajrami’s goal for Empoli.

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Franck Kessie was the star for AC Milan as they beat Empoli

An Alessandro Florenzi free-kick and a Theo Hernandez goal extended the visitors’ lead, before Andrea Pinamonti pulled one back for the hosts from the penalty spot.

Manolo Gabbiadini scored 10 minutes from time to secure a 1-1 draw for Sampdoria at Roma.

Eldor Shomurodov had put Roma ahead eight minutes earlier. Gabbiadini then scored from close range following a corner.

Roma are level on points with seventh-place Fiorentina, who drew 1-1 at Hellas Verona. Gaetano Castrovilli equalised for the Viola with a diving header following an opener from Kevin Lasagna.

Lazio won 3-1 at Venezia despite missing striker Ciro Immobile, who has coronavirus. Pedro, Francesco Acerbi and Luis Alberto scored for the Roman club.

Also, Bologna won 3-0 at Sassuolo with goals from Riccardo Orsolini, Aaron Hickey and Federico Santander. It was the fourth goal this season for Scottish midfielder Hickey.

Ligue 1 – Ramos sent off as PSG salvage draw

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Sergio Ramos was sent off for PSG

Mauro Icardi’s stoppage-time strike helped 10-man Paris Saint-Germain salvage a fortunate 1-1 draw at lowly Lorient in a dismal performance.

Mauricio Pochettino’s side, who had Sergio Ramos sent off, have 46 points from 19 games with Nice in second place 13 points behind after a 2-1 comeback win at home against RC Lens.

Third-placed Marseille, who have a game in hand, trail Nice on goal difference after being caught cold at the Velodrome in a 1-1 draw against Reims, Dimitri Payet salvaging a point with a penalty eight minutes into injury-time.

Rennes are fourth on 31 points after a 2-1 defeat at Monaco.

Elsewhere, Montpellier consolidated their fifth place with a convincing 4-1 home victory against mid-table Angers and champions Lille moved up to eighth when Jonathan David’s late goal gave them a 3-2 victory at Bordeaux.

The game between Clermont and Racing Strasbourg was postponed because of foggy conditions.

Euro: Real held to shock draw by Cadiz

Real Madrid were held to a shock goalless draw by struggling Cadiz on Sunday in La Liga. 

Carlo Ancelotti’s side dropped their first points since October after Sunday’s stalemate at the Bernabeu.

They extended their lead at the top of La Liga to six points but second-placed Sevilla now have a game in hand. Second-bottom Cadiz grabbed a valuable point in their fight against the drop.

It was a gutsy performance by the southern club at the league leaders as they survived a second half in which Real bombarded Jeremias Ledesma’s goal without finding the net.

Third-placed Real Betis slipped to a 3-2 defeat at Athletic Bilbao thanks to Oscar De Marcos’ late winner.

Inaki Williams opened the scoring after just two minutes before Juanmi quickly levelled. Nabil Fekir put Betis ahead only for Williams to make it 2-2 and De Marcos’ goal snatched the points in the 89th minute.

Getafe breathed life into their survival chances after Dario Poveda’s stoppage-time winner against Osasuna.

They climbed out of the relegation zone thanks to Poveda’s late header in the 1-0 win which lifted them above the bottom three on goal difference.

Grenada beat Mallorca 4-1 to move closer to their visitors in mid-table. Jorge Molina’s hat-trick and Antonio Puertas’ goal eased them to victory.

Serie A: Milan beaten by Napoli

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Elif Elmas scored Napoli’s winner against AC Milan

In Italy, AC Milan missed the chance to close the gap to Inter Milan at the top of Serie A after losing 1-0 to Napoli.

The visitors leapfrogged Milan into second with both teams four points behind Inter thanks to Elif Elmas’ winner in the San Siro. The hosts had a stoppage-time leveller from Franck Kessie ruled out for offside.

Fiorentina came from 2-0 down to draw 2-2 with Sassuolo and move sixth. Dusan Vlahovic and Lucas Torreira rescued a point after Gianluca Scamacca and Davide Frattesi put the visitors in control. Cristiano Biraghi was sent off for Fiorentina but they held on.

Sampdoria drew 1-1 with Venezia after Thomas Henry’s late leveller cancelled out Manolo Gabbiadini’s first-minute strike.

Torino beat Verona 1-0 thanks to Tommaso Pobega’s goal after Verona had Giangiacomo Magnani dismissed.

Spezia drew 1-1 with Empoli to earn a point in their battle against the drop but extended their winless run to eight and sit three points above the drop zone.

Bundesliga: Freiburg beat Leverkusen

Substitute Kevin Schade scored late as Freiburg beat Bayer Leverkusen 2-1 to leapfrog the visitors and move into third place ahead of the Bundesliga’s winter break.

Freiburg profited from some lax defending in the 84th minute as Ermedin Demirovic was able to cross without pressure and Schade nipped ahead of his marker to beat Leverkusen goalkeeper Luk Hrdeck at the near post.

Freiburg’s Vincenzo Grifo opened the scoring with a penalty before Charles Aranguiz equalised in first-half injury time for Leverkusen.

Freiburg have a one-point lead over fourth-placed Leverkusen and Hoffenheim.

Anthony Modeste scored a late goal to give Cologne a 1-0 win over Stuttgart in the last Bundesliga game before the winter break.

Kingsley Schindler crossed for the French striker to head the winner in the 88th minute and set off a Christmas party among home fans. Their patience had been tried by two disallowed goals early on, the first for an unintended handball, the second through VAR for a marginal offside call.

The win lifted Cologne to eighth place at the halfway stage.