x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

European football round-up: Barcelona leave it late

Xavi's strike extends Barca's lead in Primera Liga, while Juventus maintain 100 per cent record in Serie A, and PSG ease to win in Ligue 1.

Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez celebrates his goal against Granada.
Barcelona's midfielder Xavi Hernandez celebrates his goal against Granada.

Primera Liga

A stunning 87th-minute goal from substitute Xavi set Barcelona on their way to a hard-fought 2-0 Primera Division victory over Granada at the Nou Camp yesterday evening.

The Catalan giants had looked to be on the verge of dropping their first points under new coach Tito Vilanova as the visitors defended resolutely - and themselves looked dangerous on the counter-attack.

But Xavi, a 53rd-minute replacement for Thiago Alcantara, finally broke the deadlock with a sublime goal three minutes from time, latching onto the ball on the edge of the box and bending a brilliant shot with the outside of his right foot into the top-left corner via the bar.

It was tough on Granada, whose goalkeeper Tono had been in inspired form throughout, and their dismay was complete in stoppage time when Borja Gomez put through his own net from Lionel Messi's cross.

The win saw Barca maintain their 100 per cent start in La Liga, extending their early-season advantage over champions Real Madrid - who visit Rayo Vallecano today - to 11 points.

Earlier yesterday in the Spanish top flight, Junior Paulao's goal was enough for Real Betis to climb to third with a 1-0 victory - their third win in four games - against lowly Espanyol, who had midfielder Wakaso Mubarak sent off for a second bookable offence midway through the second half.

On-loan Arsenal striker Park Chu-Young came off the bench to score the winner as Celta Vigo defeated Getafe 2-1 at Balaidos.

Augusto Fernandez fired home the opener 12 minutes after the interval only for Abdel Barrada to rattle in an equaliser two minutes later, but it was the South Korean who had the final say when he converted at the back post 22 minutes from time. The visitors ended the game with 10 men as Alexis was sent off for striking Hugo Mallo.

Real Zaragoza recorded their first win over bottom-of-the-table Osasuna in five years with an entertaining 3-1 victory at La Romareda.

Helder Postiga had given the hosts an early lead with a neat finish after four minutes, but Emiliano Armenteros brought Osasuna level 25 minutes later.

The game swung back in Zaragoza's favour, though, moments before the break when David Timor put through his own net and Apono secured all three points from the penalty spot 19 minutes from time.

Serie A

Fabio Quagliarella's brace earned Juventus a comfortable 2-0 win against Chievo last night to preserve their 100 per cent record in Serie A.

Fresh from scoring Juve's equaliser at Chelsea in the Champions League in midweek, Quagliarella guaranteed Massimo Carrera's men a fourth straight league victory with goals after 63 and 68 minutes.

The win sees Juve pull three points clear at the top of the table, although the teams below them have a game in hand.

In last night's other match, it was a tale of three penalties as 10-man Parma salvaged a last-gasp 1-1 draw against Fiorentina.

Viola defender Facundo Roncaglia scored his first goal with a stunning first-half strike before Jaime Valdes missed the chance to level from the penalty spot.

Aleandro Rosi then received his marching orders for the hosts two minutes from time, only for Stevan Jovetic to miss the resulting penalty.

Parma withstood a heavy onslaught, though, and were rewarded as Valdes redeemed himself deep into stoppage time following substitute Luca Toni's handball.

Ligue 1

Paris St Germain's resurgence continued apace as the big-spending capital club swept Bastia aside 4-0 in a one-sided encounter at Stade Armand Cesari.

After opening the Ligue 1 season with three straight draws, PSG have now won three on the spin to muscle their way into the top three.

A brace by Zlatan Ibrahimovic allied to efforts by Jeremy Menez and Blaise Matuidi secured all the points for Carlo Ancelotti's men, as promoted Bastia slipped to their fourth league defeat on the trot.

Toulouse rescued a point in extraordinary fashion as goalkeeper Ali Ahamada scored a 94th-minute equaliser in a 2-2 draw with Rennes.

The away side led twice through Jonathan Pitroipa (eight) and Mevlut Erding (64), with Wissam Ben Yedder having initially equalised on 22 minutes.

But just when an away win seemed certain, Ahamada went forward for a last-gasp free-kick and powered in a header to send the home fans into a frenzy.

Promoted Reims continued their solid start by inflicting a 2-0 defeat on Nancy.

Gaetan Courtet opened the scoring after seven minutes and Diego Rigonato put the game beyond Nancy by converting a penalty on the hour against the run of play to lift the top-flight newcomers to fifth spot.

Troyes' winless start continued as Sochaux condemned the promoted side to their fourth defeat in six outings following their return to the top flight.

Sebastien Roudet, Thierry Doubai and Cedric Bakambu were on target for Sochaux, who climb out of the relegation zone thanks to the 3-1 win.

Julien Faussurier struck Troyes' consolation in the first half, but the dismissal of Jean Christophe Bahrebeck for an ugly challenge on Sebastien Corchia in the 56th minute was a setback from which the rock-bottom visitors were unable to recover.

Elsewhere, Brest moved up to eighth after coming from behind to beat 10-man Valenciennes 2-1.

The away side took the lead through Mathieu Dossevi after 10 minutes and it took until the hour mark for Brest to get back on level terms through Jonathan Ayite.

Eden Ben Basat then put Brest in front from the spot after Brazilian defender Gil was sent off for conceding the penalty, while Valenciennes were denied a last-minute equaliser by the post in a thrilling finish.

Ten-man Lorient left it late to secure a 1-1 draw against Nice.

The visitors led for much of the match through Camel Meriem's first-half goal and the dismissal of Gregory Bourillon did little to ease Lorient's nerves.

But substitute Kevin Monnet-Paquet brought the home crowd to their feet in the final minute with his equaliser.

 

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