x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 24 January 2018

European football round-up: Garcia salvages draw for Espanyol as PSG close in on French title

Sergio Garcia scored in the final minute of a dramatic encounter to dent Valencia's hopes of regaining fourth in La Liga.

Espanyol's Joan Verdu scores against Valencia.
Espanyol's Joan Verdu scores against Valencia.

SPAIN

A last-gasp strike from Sergio Garcia rescued a point for Espanyol in a thrilling 3-3 draw at home to Valencia.

Mubarak Wakaso opened the scoring for the hosts on the stroke of half-time, only for Sergio Canales to equalise shortly after the restart.

But the real drama was reserved for the closing stages of the match, with Joan Verdu putting Espanyol ahead again in the 82nd minute before his effort was cancelled out by Jonas fine minutes later.

Roberto Soldado gave Valencia the lead in injury time but there was still time for more drama as Garcia scored in the 94th minute to snatch the draw.

"It feels like a defeat," said Ernesto Valverde, the Valencia coach, afterwards.

"There is still a lot left to play for. It is more complicated when you think that if we had won, we could have been fourth and now we are not.

"But we have games against those around us to come and I believe the team will pick up a good number of points in these games."

The result means Espanyol overtake Levante in 11th place, while Valencia missed the chance to reclaim fourth spot from Real Sociedad, who play Rayo Vallecano later today.

Deportivo La Coruna took another big step towards survival after making it four wins on the trot with an impressive 4-0 victory at Levante.

The game was as good as over inside the opening half-hour as Depor struck three times through Juan Carlos Valeron, Luis Pizzi and Nelson Oliveira.

Bruno Gama put the icing on the cake with a fourth goal late on as the in-form side climbed out of the relegation zone for the first time since November.

Valladolid staged a second-half turnaround to overcome 10-man Getafe 2-1 for their first home win since January.

Paco Alcacer gave the visitors an undeserved lead moments before half-time but goals by Oscar Ramos and Javi Guerra in quick succession turned the match around before Alexis Ruano was sent off for Getafe.

In the late match, Malaga's week to forget ended on a high as Julio Baptista's injury-time goal secured a 1-0 win over Osasuna.

Manuel Pellegrini's side were dumped out of the Champions League at the quarter-final stage on Tuesday thanks to Borussia Dortmund's injury-time heroics, but returned to winning ways to climb to fifth place in the standings.

 

FRANCE

Paris St Germain too another step closer to the Ligue 1 title as they laboured to a 1-0 win over bottom of the table Troyes.

Coming off their away-goals Champions League exit to Barcelona, PSG seemed to find the Stade de l'Aube somewhat less inspiring than the Nou Camp and afforded Troyes the better chances in the first half.

However, Blaise Matuidi's 65th-minute strike eventually sank his former club to send PSG 10 points clear of Marseille, who travel to Lille on Sunday.

In the race for the European spots, seventh-placed Montpellier suffered a blow as they lost 4-2 at Bordeaux.

Les Girondins stormed into a 3-0 lead inside the opening half-hour through goals from Ludovic Sane, Cheick Diabate and Jaroslav Plasil and Henri Saivet added a fourth in the second half after Remy Cabella had pulled a goal back for Montpellier.

Benjamin Stambouli added a second for Montpellier late on but it was too little for the defending champions who remain four points behind fifth-placed Lille. Bordeaux are a further two points back following their win.

Lorient breathed life back into their fading European hopes with a deserved 4-1 victory over in-form Bastia, closing to within a point of Montpellier in the process.

Christian Gourcuff's Lorient had slipped to eighth after winning just once in six matches but they picked up a maximum haul thanks to goals from Yann Jouffre, Benjamin Corgnet and a late brace from Jeremie Aliadiere.

Mid-table Bastia, who had won four of their previous five matches and scored 12 goals in their last three, had pulled a goal back when 2-0 down through Anthony Modeste but that was all they had to show for their trip to the Stade du Moustoir.

At the other end of the table, Evian and Reims both boosted their hopes of avoiding the drop with victories.

Evian downed Rennes 4-2 at home with late goals from Milos Yinkovic and Yannick Sagbo moving them three points clear of the relegation places.

Earlier Evian had twice squandered the lead, with Jean Kana-Biyik's own goal and Kevin Berigaud's strike scrubbed out by Julien Feret and John Boye.

Reims, meanwhile, are three points better off than Evian after continuing their good recent form with a 2-0 win over Brest.

Nicolas Fauvergue and Diego netted the goals to consign second-bottom Brest to a fifth successive defeat.

Elsewhere relegation rivals Nancy and Ajaccio shared a 1-1 draw.

Third-bottom Nancy, who for so long looked doomed to relegation this season, have enjoyed a resurgence in recent weeks and came into Saturday's encounter seeking a sixth win in seven.

Patrick Gabriel's side began brightly with Paul Alo'o putting them in front inside five minutes, but they were swiftly pegged back by Mehdi Mostefa's leveller as the points were shared.

 

BELGIUM

Genk moved level on points with Jupiler Pro League leaders Anderlecht - at least overnight - after a 2-1 win over Lokeren.

Benjamin Mokulu gave the visitors a half-time lead but Glynor Plet and Anele Ngcongca struck after the interval to earn victory for Genk.

That leaves them on 35 points, alongside Anderlecht who play Club Brugge on Sunday, while Lokeren prop up the Championship Group on 27.

Gent also came from behind to leave themselves two points clear atop Europa League Play-off Group A.

Mohamed El-Gabbas gave Lierse an 18th-minute lead but Ilombe M'Boyo levelled with a penalty on the stroke of half-time and Herve Kage scored the winner.

Kortrijk remained in touch with Gent after beating Mons 3-0 with goals from Mario Carevic, Ernest Webnje Nfor and Gertjan de Mets.

In Group B, Mechelen won 3-0 away to Leuven to move firmly into contention for top spot.

Joachim van Damme and Nicklas Pedersen scored late in the first half and Boubacar Diabang added a late third to lift Mechelen to four points, one behind leaders Charleroi and level with Waasland-Beveren after the two sides shared a 1-1 draw.

Stijn de Smet fired Waasland-Beveren ahead but Onur Kaya's equaliser kept Charleroi out in front in the group.

Cercle Brugge's second successive win levelled their relegation play-off against Beerschot at six points all with two games to play.

Gregory Mertens' early goal was cancelled out before half-time by Mael Lepicier but Frederik Boi grabbed the winner eight minutes after half-time.

 

ITALY

Siena moved out of the Serie A relegation zone after a controversial 3-2 win at bottom club Pescara.

Innocent Emeghara struck in the 86th minute after Pescara had come back from 2-0 down to go 17th on 30 points, three ahead of Genoa and Palermo who have a game in hand and nine ahead of the basement side.

Siena, who started the season with a six-point deduction for match-fixing and illegal betting, thought they had bagged the three points in the first half with an Angelo header after 14 minutes and a comical Damiano Zanon own goal 19 minutes later.

However Pescara came roaring back in an exciting second half and levelled the scores thanks to a smart strike from substitute Mervan Celik after 52 minutes and a superb Romulo Togni free kick seven minutes later.

Both sides hit the post in a hugely entertaining second half but it was Siena who controversially won the game thanks to Emeghara.

The striker tapped home the close-range winner at the end of a blistering counter-attack after receiving a pass from Salvador Agra, who was clearly offside when put through, enraging Daniele Sebastiani, the Pescara president.

"When the game was set to be all square, there was an offside goal. Once again we find ourselves having to comment on a match that was decided by others," he said.

"There have been many refereeing decisions against us in the last eight rounds. If they had given us what we were due, we'd be on 30 points right now."

David Pizarro struck from the penalty spot in the 61st minute to help secure a 2-0 win for Fiorentina over Atalanta, after Guglielmo Stendardo was deemed to have deliberately handled the ball after a cute Adem Ljajic flick.

Marcelo Larrondo then doubled Fiorentina's advantage on the 72nd minute with a rocket from the left of the six yard area. The Argentinian was played through on goal by Juan Cuadrado and the force with which he struck the ball gave Consigli no chance.

Denis was sent off in the 90th minute for a late lunging tackle on Pizarro.

"Like we said before the match we need to keep looking forward, but also look over our shoulders," said Vincenzo Montella, the Fiorentina coach, afterwards.

"Today gave us another push in the right direction. Our number one objective is to qualify for Europe."

Fiorentina remain fourth but are now on 55 points, three behind Milan, who take on second-placed Napoli at the San Siro later today.

 

 

HOLLAND

Vitesse Arnhem lie second in the Eredivisie table after being held to a 3-3 draw at struggling Roda JC despite going three goals in front.

Mike Havenaar scored after 26 and 36 minutes and Wilfried Bony added a third after 56 to put Vitesse on course for a win which would have taken them joint top with leaders Ajax.

Sanharib Malki pulled a goal back from the penalty spot after 63 minutes and Frank Demouge gave Roda more hope when he scored their second with 20 minutes to go.

But it was left up to Mitchell Donald to score the equaliser in injury time which earned his side a point but still sees them in the relegation play-off spots.

Two late goals from substitute Dmitri Bulykin fired FC Twente to a 3-1 away win over ADO Den Haag to keep his side in contention for European qualification.

Douglas had given the visitors the lead after 24 minutes but Mike van Duinen drew the home side level four minutes before half-time.

Danny Holla was sent off for ADO on the hour and 14 minutes later Bulykin joined the action when he replaced Tim Breukers.

Bulykin put his side ahead after 81 minutes and sealed the victory when he scored again two minutes later.

A goal from David Texeira after 62 minutes and a penalty from Leandro Bacuna (76) saw FC Groningen win 2-0 away against Heracles Almelo, while late strikes from Anthony Lurling (82) and Elson Hooi (85) earned NAC Breda a 2-0 home win over NEC Nijmegen.

 

GERMANY

Newly-crowned Bundesliga champions Bayern Munich made it 19 league games unbeaten as they comfortably dismissed Nurnberg 4-0 at the Allianz Arena.

A much-changed Bayern were in jubilant mood as they returned to league action for the first time since clinching the league crown last weekend and following that up with a victory over Juventus that teed up a Champions League semi-final clash with Barcelona.

Jerome Boateng opened the scoring after five minutes and Mario Gomez doubled Bayern's advantage in the 17th minute before Rafinha (24) made it three.

The visitors were handed a chance to get back into the game at the start of the second half but Timmy Simons saw his penalty saved by Tom Starke, and Xherdan Shaqiri sealed the rout before the hour mark to comprehensively end Nurnberg's nine-game unbeaten run.

Borussia Dortmund, fresh from also reaching the last four of the Champions League where they will play Real Madrid, eased to an untroubled 6-1 win at bottom side Greuther Fürth.

Goals by Mario Gotze and Ilkay Gundogan put the visitors in charge inside 15 minutes, while a Jakub Blaszczykowski strike and further efforts by Gundogan and Gotze made it 5-0 at the break.

Edgar Prib hit a fine consolation for Fürth in the 71st minute before the league's top scorer Robert Lewandowski made it 6-1 late on.

Son Heung-min scored a brace as Hamburg won 2-1 at Mainz to stay alive in the race for a Europa League berth.

Son found the net in the 61st and 81st minutes to give Hamburg a 2-0 lead before Shawn Parker made it 2-1 in the dying minutes.

Hoffenheim missed a chance to gain three important points in the relegation fight as they gave up a late goal in a 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg.

Maximilian Arnold gave Wolfsburg the lead after 13 minutes, but Sejad Salihovic levelled with a penalty 10 minutes before half-time and Andreas Beck turned the game on its head in the 63rd minute.

However, Hoffenheim could not hang on and Naldo equalised with four minutes left.

Fortuna Düsseldorf and Werder Bremen also drew 2-2 as both sides failed to get the three points they wanted to ease their relegation jitters.

Stefan Reisinger twice put Düsseldorf in front, in the second and 48th minutes, but Zlatko Junuzovic's strike and Martin Latka own goal meant it ended all square.

The day's late game also ended in a 2-2 draw as Schalke were held at home by Bayer Leverkusen.

The hosts will nevertheless be happy with the result after recovering from two goals down to edge a point clear of Freiburg in fourth place and remain on course for Champions League place.

Simon Rolfes gave the visitors the lead five minutes before interval while Michal Kadlec made it 2-0 just shy of the hour mark.

The hosts refused to lie down, however, and Teemu Pukki brought them back into the game before Raffael's penalty, awarded following a red-card challenge by Omer Toprak, ensured it ended in a draw.

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