x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

European football round-up: Balotelli scores brace on Milan debut as Barton sees red in France

Joey Barton hit out at 'cheats' in French football after receiving his first red card since joining Marseille last summer during their shock defeat to struggling Nancy.

Marseille midfielder Joey Barton is sent off by referee Wielfried Bien against Nancy.
Marseille midfielder Joey Barton is sent off by referee Wielfried Bien against Nancy.

FRANCE

Joey Barton said he had been the victim of "cheats" after being sent off for the first time since joining Olympique Marseille during a defeat to struggling Nancy.

The 30-year-old picked up two bookings in four minutes for rough tackles on Nancy players just before the hour mark.

Barton, who had received just two yellow cards in his 10 previous French league games, apologised to his teammates after the game, then took to Twitter to accuse his opponents of exaggerating the contact to have him dismissed.

"Two very harsh yellows. First one wasn't even a foul," Barton tweeted. "Players who roll around when nobody touches them should be subsequently banned. I hate cheats. Authorities should address it."

Elie Baup, the Marseille manager, was equally critical of the referee's decision.

"The first card wasn't deserved, it wasn't a foul. On the second there is contact. But frankly he didn't deserve to be dismissed."

An own goal from Andre Ayew capped off a miserable evening for the title hopefuls, who remain six points behind Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain.

It marked only the third win of the season for Nancy, lifting them off the foot of the standings and within four points of safety.

Adrian Mutu scored twice as Ajaccio inflicted a blow to Lyon's title hopes with a shock 3-1 win.

Lyon's loss meant PSG retain their three-point lead at the head of the standings.

When Lyon edged ahead early in the second half through Alexandre Lacazette it was all going to plan for Remi Garde's men.

But Ajaccio were soon level thanks to Chahir Belghazouani, before Mutu headed them ahead and added a late penalty, which also led to the dismissal of Lyon's Dejan Lovren.

Lyon earlier missed the chance to equalise from the spot when trailing 2-1, Bafetimbi Gomis seeing his effort saved by Guillermo Ochoa.

Reims remain in the relegation zone after squandering a first-half lead in a 3-1 defeat at Montpellier.

Gaetan Courtet put the visitors in front on 33 minutes, but Montpellier equalised just three minutes into the second half through Souleymane Camara and went on to claim all three points thanks to goals from Marco Estrada and Younes Belhanda.

 

SPAIN

Atletico Madrid pulled back some ground on Barcelona's healthy advantage at the top of La Liga following a 1-0 home win over Real Betis.

Diego Costa's second-half header was enough to grab the points and take advantage after Barca were earlier held to a 1-1 draw at Valencia.

Ever Banega opened the scoring with the first shot of the match after 33 minutes, but Valencia's lead lasted just five minutes as Lionel Messi fired home from the penalty spot.

The Argentinian has now scored in 12 consecutive La Liga games, but instead of his goal heralding the start of a Barca comeback, the Catalans were instead indebted to a couple of world-class late saves from Victor Valdes.

Barca still retain a nine-point gap over Atletico, with Real Madrid a further seven points back following their shock 1-0 reverse at relegation-threatened Granada last night.

Malaga's Champions League push suffered a blow as they were held to a 1-1 home draw by lowly Real Zaragoza.

The hosts fell behind to an early Helder Postiga strike and although Alarcón Isco levelled from the penalty spot 10 minutes later, Malaga were far from their best.

Zaragoza's day was soured slightly by the last-minute dismissal of Jose Mari for a second yellow card.

Mallorca's bid to revive their flagging fortunes after the January transfer window were immediately undermined by a 3-0 loss at Real Sociedad.

The Islanders called new names Fernando Tissone and Alan Hutton into their starting XI, while Antonio Lopez returned on the bench, but they failed to provide any inspiration as Mallorca instead lost ground in their survival fight.

Javi Marquez's dismissal on the half-hour, following two cautions in the space of four minutes, paved the way for Sociedad to surge to victory after half-time with goals from Gonzalo Castro, Carlos Vela and Diego Irfan.

Mallorca have now won just once in 17 league games and are four points adrift of safety.

Sevilla's resurgence under Unai Emery continued as they won for their fourth consecutive home game, 2-1 over Rayo Vallecano.

Ivan Rakitic and Alvaro Negredo got the goals either side of Alejandro Dominguez's 52nd-minute penalty.

 

PORTUGAL

Benfica kept up the pressure on Porto with a comfortable 3-0 win at home to struggling Vitoria Setúbal.

It took just five minutes for Enzo Perez to open the scoring before Rodrigo Lima (48) and Moreno Rodrigo (55) put the match to bed.

The win takes unbeaten Benfica level on points with the leaders, while Vitoria slipped to second from bottom because of Beira Mar's 3-3 draw with third-placed Braga.

The home side went two goals in front through Pinto Yazalde (12) and Rui Sampaio (33) but Braga pulled level with strikes from Antonio Eder (41) and Alan (45).

Beira Mar regained the lead with Ruben Ribeiro's 58th-minute effort but the points were shared when Joao Pedro struck 13 minutes from time.

Moreirense remain at the bottom but are now just three points adrift after picking up their second win of the season, 2-1 at Nacional.

Goals either side of the interval from Nabil Ghilas and Renato Junior set up the win, with Mario Rondon replying for the home side.

Gil Vicente were 4-2 winners over Maritimo in an action-packed match.

Joao Vilela's early penalty was joined by a Luis Carlos goal as Gil took a 2-0 lead at the interval.

David Simao pulled one back from the spot for Maritimo but a Hugo Vieira double sent the home side into a 4-1 lead before goalscorer Vilela was sent off.

However, Rafael Miranda's last-minute goal was little more than a consolation for the visitors with the damage already done.

The match between Olhanense and 10-man Academica finished goalless, with Edinho the man sent off.

 

ITALY

Mario Balotelli signed off his AC Milan debut by scoring the winner with the last kick of the match as Udinese were defeated 2-1 amid controversial scenes at the San Siro.

All eyes were on the mercurial Italy striker following his £19 million arrival from Manchester City and he duly delivered a clinical brace, his first goal arriving in the 24th minute.

Gianpiero Pinzi pulled Udinese level in the second half and as Milan drifted towards a draw, Balotelli's head appeared to drop.

But he snatched up the ball with glee when Stephan El Shaarawy won a suspicious penalty from Thomas Heurtaux in the final minute of injury time.

Despite Udinese's angry protestations - Heurtaux appeared to make a clean tackle - Balotelli kept his head from the spot to fire his new employers into fourth place in Serie A.

It's a great feeling to score, but I have to keep on going," Balotelli said after the match.

"I'm very happy despite the fact I'm just getting over what has been a difficult period. I didn't play a lot (at City) and I could feel it in my legs. But tonight I was relaxed and I was ready."

Juventus went three points clear at the top of the standings thanks to a 2-1 victory at Chievo.

An early strike by Alessandro Matri was followed by a second just before the break from Stephan Lichtsteiner, before Cyril Thereau reduced the arrears in the second half.

New signing Nicolas Anelka was an unused substitute for Juventus.

Siena climbed off the bottom of the table with a shock 3-1 home victory over Inter Milan, who have now failed to win on the road since November.

Debutant Innocent Emeghara, recently signed from Lorient, stunned the Nerazzurri with his first Siena goal, only for Antonio Cassano to equalise inside 60 seconds.

An Alessio Sestu goal ensured Giuseppe Iachini's hosts led at the break.

The second half might have been a different story for Inter had Cristian Chivu not seen red for a professional foul, with Alessandro Rosina converting the resulting penalty.

A last-gasp goal from debutant Marco Rigoni secured a 3-2 victory over Lazio that lifted Genoa out of the relegation zone.

It was a well-deserved first win for Davide Ballardini, the new Genoa coach, whose side built a two-goal lead inside 21 minutes through Marco Borriello and Andrea Bertolacci.

Sergio Floccari and Stefano Mauri dragged Lazio back into the game, only for deadline-day signing Rigoni to fire in a bullet header for Genoa at the death.

Fiorentina got back to winning ways with a comfortable 2-0 victory over Parma.

Vincenzo Montella's men were chasing a first win in five games to restore their bid for a Champions League place and Luca Toni put them on track with the opener.

The visitors, who are sliding down the league table, were condemned to a second straight defeat when Stevan Jovetic scored five minutes into the second half.

Pescara dropped into the relegation zone after losing 3-2 at home to Bologna in an eventful contest featuring three penalties in the space of 16 first-half minutes.

The home side twice took the lead from the spot through Vladimir Weiss and Gaetano D'Agostino, with Alessandro Diamanti initially equalising with a penalty for the visitors.

Diamanti then set up a second equaliser for Alberto Gilardino before Panagiotis Kone scored the winner for Bologna midway through the second half.

Palermo's rash of January signings were unable to change their fortunes at the foot of the table as they lost 2-1 at home to fellow strugglers Atalanta.

Palermo signed a total of 10 players in January, with Diego Fabbrini and Alejandro Faurlin the last to arrive on deadline day.

They both made their debuts but ended in a losing cause as second-half goals from Carlos Carmona and German Denis put Atalanta in control before Nelson's late consolation.

 

GERMANY

Borussia Dortmund let slip a two-goal lead but hit back to win 3-2 at Bayer Leverkusen and climb up to second place in the Bundesliga.

Marco Reus gave Dortmund the lead after three minutes and Jakub Blaszczykowski doubled the advantage in the ninth minute from the penalty spot. Stefan Reinartz scored a brace in the 58th and 62nd minutes to equalise only to see Robert Lewandowski make it 3-2 seconds later.

Blaszczykowski saw his second penalty attempt saved in the 70th minute but Dortmund held on for the victory, their fourth in a row as they continue to trail Bayern Munich by 12 points.

Nurnberg claimed their first victory under new coach Michael Wiesinger at the expense of Borussia Monchengladbach to move further clear of the relegation zone.

Timmy Simons gave the hosts the lead after four minutes from a penalty and Tomas Pekhart made it 2-0 in the 30th minute.

Patrick Herrmann replied for Gladbach after 58 minutes.

 

HOLLAND

FC Twente's Eredivisie title hopes suffered a blow after they were beaten 4-2 at home by fifth-placed FC Utrecht.

Jens Toornstra's 32nd minute strike put Utrecht ahead before Twente defender Rasmus Bengtsson saw red a minute before the break.

Jacob Mulenga scored from the spot on the stroke of half-time and although Dusan Tadic reduced the arrears after 56 minutes, Dave Bulthuis soon restored the visitor's two-goal lead.

Tadic scored from the spot with 16 minutes left, but Mike van der Hoorn found the target for Utrecht to leave Steve McClaren's side four points off leaders PSV, who thrashed ADO Den Haag 7-0 last night.

Second-placed Ajax are three points off top spot following a comfortable 3-0 win at VVV Venlo.

Striker Siem De Jong set the ball rolling in the 34th minute, before second-half strikes from Viktor Fischer and substitute Derk Boerrigter sealed the win.

Feyenoord in fourth are five points off top spot after they won 3-1 at Willem II.

Graziano Pelle gave the visitors a 10th minute lead before Virgil Misidjan equalised from the penalty spot seven minutes before the break. Tony Vilhena scored a second half brace for Feyenoord to ensure victory.

Elsewhere, NEC Nijmegen beat Vitesse Arnhem 2-1 thanks to goals from Remy Amieux in the 38th minute and Ruud Boymans in the 67th, with Mike Havenaar on target for Vitesse.

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