x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 21 January 2018

European football round-up: Falcao free kick steals win for Atletico Madrid

Atletico kept pace with with Barcelona at the top of the Spanish Primera Liga, while Inter Milan continued their pursuit of Serie A leaders Juventus with a 2-0 win over Catania.

Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring against Real Sociedad
Atletico Madrid's Radamel Falcao celebrates after scoring against Real Sociedad

SPAIN

Radamel Falcao showed again why he in such high demand after curling in a brilliant late free kick to give high-flying Atletico Madrid a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad.

The match looked set to finish in a draw until Falcao stepped up in the 90th minute to strike home a 25-yard free kick that left Sociedad goalkeeper Enaut Zubikarai grasping at thin air.

That was Falcao's 12th goal of the season in all competitions for Atletico as the side moved back level on 22 points with Primera Liga leaders Barcelona.

Christian Stuani's first goal for Espanyol deep into stoppage time handed the Catalans their first win of the season as they came from behind to beat Rayo Vallecano 3-2.

Leo Baptistao headed Rayo into an early lead, but two goals from Joan Verdu either side of half-time put Espanyol 2-1 in front before Leo slotted home his second of the game just after the hour mark.

However, after both sides had been reduced to 10-men as Diego Colotto and Mikel Labaka both saw red, it was substitute Stuani who was the hero as he powered home Sergio Garcia's cross to bring relief to the Cornella El Prat.

Michel's stunning 35-yard strike three minutes from time handed Levante all three points faith a 1-0 win over Getafe at the Alfonso Perez Coliseum.

Real Zaragoza survived a late scare to beat 10-man Granada 2-1 at Nuevos Los Carmenes.

Helder Postiga headed the visitors in front from Victor Rodriguez's free kick after just three minutes and the latter then added a second 25 minutes later with a simple finish from Abraham's cross.

Granada seemed dead and buried when Iriney was shown a straight red card for bringing down Apono midway through the second period, but they did manage to get a goal back with just over 10 minutes remaining when Youssef El-Arabi headed home from Fabian Orellana's corner.

Osasuna could not mark midfielder Patxi Punal's record-breaking appearance with victory as they were held in a stalemate with Real Betis.

The 37-year-old Punal lined up in midfield to break the club's record of 463 appearances, but the match itself proved a largely frustrating experience as Betis stood firm, and the visitors would have won the match but for an assistant's flag denying Ruben Castro a first-half goal.

 

FRANCE

Marseille missed the chance to go clear of Paris St Germain at the top of Ligue 1 as they lost 1-0 at struggling Troyes.

Benjamin Nivet's 88th-minute goal earned Troyes their first victory in the league this season.

And there was more bad news for Marseille, who remained level on points with PSG, with striker Andre-Pierre Gignac going off injured and scans later confirming a broken bone in his foot.

Lyon beat Brest 1-0 thanks to Bafetimbi Gomis' 57th-minute goal to move up to third, one point behind PSG and Marseille.

Ajaccio and Bastia both had a man sent off as a bad-tempered Corsican derby ended 1-1.

Johan Cavalli was shown a straight red card in the 82nd minute and Gael Angoula got his marching orders a minute later.

 

ITALY

Inter Milan kept pace with Serie A leaders Juventus after seeing off Catania 2-0 at the San Siro.

Antonio Cassano converted from close range to put the hosts in front in the 28th minute and Rodrigo Palacio made the points safe five minutes from time.

Fiorentina were held to a 1-1 draw at struggling Chievo in an end-to-end game in which both sides wasted chances to win.

Cyril Thereau gave Chievo the lead in the 17th minute, but Gonzalo Rodriguez equalised less than a minute later.

Luca Toni hit the post for Fiorentina just before half-time, but could not find a winner.

Maicosuel scored the winner early in the second half as 10-man Udinese claimed a 1-0 win at home to Pescara.

The hosts looked to be up against it when they had Danilo sent off for a second yellow card after half an hour, but they dug in and won it when Maicosuel punished a mistake from Pescara midfielder Manuele Blasi.

Parma got a much-needed 2-1 victory over the 10 men of Sampdoria to move away from the relegation zone.

An incident late in the first half handed Parma the initiative as goalkeeper Sergio Romero was sent off for a foul on Jonathan Biabiany inside the area and Amauri dispatched the penalty.

Amauri doubled the lead early in the second half and, although Samp were handed a route back into the match with an Eder penalty nine minutes from time, Parma hung on.

Atalanta came from behind to beat fellow strugglers Siena 2-1 at the Stadio Atleti Azzurri d'Italia, leaving their opponents six points behind them at the bottom of the standings.

Giacomo Bonaventura's goal eight minutes from time settled the match after Luca Cigarini had immediately cancelled out Reginaldo's opener on the hour mark.

Siena also had Carlos Carmona sent off from the bench for complaining about a penalty which was not given.

Cagliari were 1-0 winners over Bologna thanks to Radja Nainggolan's placed finish on the hour, while Palermo and Torino drew 0-0.

Pablo Osvaldo scored twice as Roma came from 2-0 down to win 4-2 at Genoa.

The hosts were two up after 15 minutes thanks to goals from Juraj Kucka and Bosko Jankovic.

But Francesco Totti pulled one back in the 27th minute and Osvaldo equalised a minute before the break.

The Italy striker put Roma in front in the 56th minute and Erik Lamela sealed the victory seven minutes from time.

 

GERMANY

Vedad Ibisevic scored the only goal as Stuttgart climbed out of the relegation zone with a 1-0 win at Hamburg.

Bruno Labbadia's men had dropped into the bottom three after Augsburg had shared a goalless draw with Nurnberg in the earlier game.

Ibisevic ensured his side were there for only a couple of hours, though, as he struck on the half-hour to grab just Stuttgart's second win in eight league games to start the season.

 

SCOTLAND

Danny Grainger's long-range strike earned Hearts a 1-0 win over Motherwell and their first Scottish Premier League success at Tynecastle since the opening day of the season.

The left-back powered the ball into the top corner amid some early pressure and the home side repelled Motherwell's comeback attempts to end the SPL's only unbeaten away record.

Motherwell had some good possession and midfielder Nicky Law had a header cleared off the line, but Hearts were never under the cosh and substitute John Sutton squandered a chance to make the game safe.

 

HOLLAND

Feyenoord had to come from two goals down for a 3-2 away win over VVV Venlo that kept them in touch with the Eredivisie leaders.

VVV stunned the visitors as a curling free kick from Oguzhan Turk and a deflected Guus Joppen shot in the space of four minutes gave them a 2-0 lead by the 21st minute.

But Feyenoord got a goal back on the stroke of half-time through Lex Immers' penalty, and a goal two minutes into the second half from Wesley Verhoek brought them level.

Graziano Pelle headed in the winner in the 64th minute to move Feyenoord to within four points of leaders FC Twente, although they are down in fifth place.

Two points and two places further back are FC Utrecht, who also came from behind to pick up a win on the road, beating ADO Den Haag 2-1.

ADO led through Danny Holla's 16th-minute penalty, but six minutes later Alexander Gerndt levelled and Jacob Mulenga scored the winner five minutes before half-time.

There was no such drama for Heerenveen as they cruised to a 3-0 win over FC Groningen thanks to a second-half onslaught.

The deadlock held until the 61st minute when it was broken by Rajiv Van La Parra and four minutes later Alfred Finnbogason added a second from the penalty spot.

Van La Parra capped the win with a third six minutes from time.

PEC Zwolle moved clear of the bottom three with their second win of the season and the second on the road as they won 2-1 at RKC Waalwijk.

Fred Benson put PEC in front after just five minutes and Ronnie Reniers added a second shortly after the hour mark.

Teddy Chevalier's 88th-minute goal for RKC came too late to make a difference.

 

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE