x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

European football round-up: Cristiano Ronaldo claims brace as Real Madrid beat Celta Vigo

Benfica move back to the top of the Portuguese Liga with a 5-0 hammering of Gil Vicente, while Juventus extend their lead at the top of Serie A.

Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo scores against Celta Vigo.
Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo scores against Celta Vigo.

PORTUGAL

Benfica climbed back to the top of the Portuguese Liga after thrashing Gil Vicente 5-0 in Lisbon.

Porto briefly moved to the summit following their 2-0 defeat of Estoril on Friday but Benfica's bid to regain the leadership never looked in doubt from the moment Maxi Pereira put them in front after 12 minutes.

Salvio doubled their lead 10 minutes later and Lorenzo Melgarejo further enhanced their position before half time.

Lima made it 4-0 after 65 minutes with Nicolas Gaitan capping a fine Benfica performance in the final minute.

Pacos Ferreira failed to reclaim third spot after a 1-1 draw at home to Beira Mar.

Ruben Ribeiro gave the rock-bottom visitors a shock 13th-minute lead but Manuel Jose netted a last-gasp equaliser from the penalty spot.

Moreirense and Olhanense, two teams struggling to avoid the drop, drew 1-1.

Ricardo Pessoa put Moreirense ahead after 28 minutes but their hopes of leapfrogging their opponents, and moving out of the relegation zone, were dashed by Quintino de Souza's late equaliser.

Nacional hung on for a point against Rio Ave despite finishing with nine men.

Claudemir put the hosts in front after 20 minutes but they had Manuel da Costa sent off 14 minutes into the second half.

Ahmed Hassan equalised for Rio with Jota also seeing red for Nacional.

 

FRANCE

Paris Saint-Germain were the only winners as Lyon and Marseille played out a dull goalless draw at the Stade Gerland.

Carlo Ancelotti's table-topping side are now four points clear of Lyon and seven ahead of Marseille following their 2-1 win over Nancy on Saturday with just 10 rounds remaining in the Ligue 1 title race.

OM's Andre-Pierre Gignac came closest to a goal with a 10th-minute shot which lashed inches wide but there was little for either set of fans to get excited about.

Stephane Bahoken marked his first start in Ligue 1 with a first-half brace against Montpellier to lift Nice to fifth.

The young striker scored from close range in the 12th minute and again in the 24th as his side bounced back in style from last week's 4-0 defeat to St Etienne.

Montpellier pressed in the second half and hit the woodwork through Younes Belhanda, but the reigning champions could not find a way back into the game.

Cheick Diabate scored the only goal as Bordeaux ended a four-match losing run in Ligue 1 to put the pressure back on struggling Bastia.

It was one-way traffic at the Stade Chaban-Delmas and, after Ludovic Obraniak had struck the crossbar, Diabate grabbed the opener having come off the bench for the start of the second half.

The win lifts Bordeaux one place to ninth, while Bastia remain just three points above the drop zone.

 

SPAIN

Real Madrid closed the gap on Primera Division leaders Barcelona to 13 points after a 2-1 win over a Celta Vigo side who made them work all the way.

Cristiano Ronaldo scored a scrappy opener and a winner from the penalty spot, after Iago Aspas' equaliser, to take his tally to 188 goals in 186 appearances for the club.

Celta substitute Park Chu-young headed against the crossbar late on but Real held on for victory.

Pepe was one of those recalled to the line-up and he stressed that it is important for Real to continue winning in the league, even if the Champions League and Copa del Rey are now their primary targets.

"We missed quite a lot of chances in the first half, but the team knew how to get through the difficult moments, fought hard and in the end the victory was deserved," he said.

"As Real Madrid players we are very concentrated on what we have to do.

"It will be very difficult to fight for the league but any player that puts on the Madrid shirt always has to be motivated and honour the jersey."

Real moved to second in the standings above city rivals Atletico Madrid, who were beaten 1-0 at home by Real Sociedad.

Xabi Prieto scored the only goal after 53 minutes to inflict a sixth loss of the season on their opponents.

Iker Muniain scored his first goal of the season as Athletic Bilbao overcame Valencia 1-0 at San Mames to record a victory that eased their fears of being dragged into a relegation fight.

Levante missed the chance to move closer to the Europa League places as Getafe survived a one-sided goalless draw at the Ciutat de Valencia.

Visiting goalkeeper Miguel Moya deserved praise for keeping Robert Acquafresca and Pedro Rios at bay in the first half but in truth, ninth-placed Getafe were lucky to escape with a point.

 

ITALY

Juventus pulled nine points clear of Napoli as a late goal from substitute Emanuele Giaccherini settled a 1-0 victory over Catania which could determine the destiny of the Serie A title.

Early news that Juve's nearest rivals were losing 2-0 at Chievo was met with a muted response in Turin as the Bianconeri struggled to break down a resilient Catania side.

But Juve head coach Antonio Conte's decision to withdraw misfiring strikers Sebastian Giovinco and Mirko Vucinic proved to be inspired as the latter's replacement pounced at the death to give the leaders a huge advantage with only 10 games remaining.

Napoli, meanwhile, were forced to watch their winless run extend to a seventh game in all competitions as Chievo sprung a surprise in Verona.

Walter Mazzarri's men could not have anticipated being turned over by a side who have taken a solitary point from the previous 15 available to them.

But Chievo did seal victory in the first half thanks to goals from Boukary Drame and Cyril Thereau, while Edinson Cavani missed a penalty for Napoli.

A week to forget for Inter Milan drew to a close in miserable fashion this evening as Bologna condemned the Nerazzurri to a 1-0 defeat at the San Siro.

Coach Andrea Stramaccioni promised a spirited response to Thursday's 3-0 Europa League reverse at Tottenham, but a bumper crowd soon turned nasty as mid-table Bologna dominated from start to finish, with Alberto Gilardino's classy volley midway settling the tie.

Goals from Stevan Jovetic and Adam Ljajic, meanwhile, took Fiorentina above both Lazio and Inter and into fourth thanks to a 2-0 win at the Stadio Olimpico.

Both sides were in the hunt for third place but Fiorentina had fresher ideas than the Biancocelesti and moved a point above their hosts and to within three of AC Milan.

An Amauri hat-trick saw Parma come from behind to snap an eight-game winless streak with a 4-1 victory over Torino.

Mario Santana opened the scoring in the 56th minute but that only served to inspire the Gialloblu, with Amauri levelling before Nicola Sansone fired Parma ahead with 10 minutes remaining.

With the floodgates open, Amauri found time and space to claim the match-ball with a well-taken double at the death.

At the other end of the table, Palermo are staring relegation in the face after letting a one-goal lead slip away against relegation rivals Siena, who closed to within two points of safety with a 2-1 victory.

When Anselmo opened the scoring just before half-time it looked like Palermo would leave their opponents behind and close in on 17th-place Genoa.

But goals from Innocent Emeghara and Alessandro Rosina left them staring at a return to the second tier after nine years at the top table.

Cristian Bucchi made a losing start as Pescara coach as a 2-1 defeat at Atalanta left the club rooted to the bottom of the table and five points from safety.

Gaetano D'Agostino gave Pescara the lead but German Denis levelled from the penalty spot within 10 minutes, before Denis' second finished Pescara off and moved Atalanta up to mid-table.

Elsewhere, Cagliari striker Victor Ibarbo scored a hat-trick to sink Sampdoria 3-1 with Maxi Lopez scoring a late penalty by way of a consolation.

 

GERMANY

Artjoms Rudnevs scored the only goal of the game as Hamburg leapt into the top six of the Bundesliga with a 1-0 victory at Stuttgart.

The Latvian forward netted five minutes into the second half to settle a close contest and lift his side a point above Mainz in the final Europa League berth.

In the day's other fixture, Eintracht Frankfurt continued their scoring struggles with a goalless draw at Hannover.

Success for the visitors would have restored them to fourth spot but instead they stretched their goal drought to five consecutive league matches in a stalemate.

 

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