x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

European football round-up: Higuain claims brace as Madrid score 5-2 comeback win against Real Mallorca

Celtic came back from two goals down to snatch a last-minute 4-3 win in Scotland, while Juventus extended their Serie A lead with victory over Bologna.

Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain guides the ball past the Real Mallorca defence.
Real Madrid's Gonzalo Higuain guides the ball past the Real Mallorca defence.

SPAIN

Real Madrid trimmed Barcelona's lead at the top of the Primera Division to 10 points as Gonzalo Higuain scored twice in a 5-2 home win over Real Mallorca.

Jose Mourinho's team hardly had it all their own way though and they trailed at half-time, but they were able to turn the match around to keep alive their slim title hopes.

Emilio Nsue gave the visitors a sixth-minute lead but striker Higuain levelled on the quarter-hour mark.

Alejandro Alfaro put Gregorio Manzano's side in front again after 21 minutes, but Mallorca lost their grip on the match in the second half as Cristiano Ronaldo, Luka Modric, Higuain and Karim Benzema scored to give a dominant Madrid the three points.

Barcelona, fresh from their Champions League mauling of AC Milan, take on Rayo Vallecano at the Nou Camp tonight.

Real Sociedad climbed up to fourth place with a 4-1 win over Real Valladolid.

Two first-half goals by Antoine Griezmann and one from Imanol Agirretxe set the Basques on their way to victory, and Xabi Prieto rounded off the win when he netted shortly after the restart.

Javi Guerra scored a late consolation goal for the visitors.

Valencia nudged their way up to fifth spot, bypassing Real Betis in the process after beating the team from Seville 3-0.

Betis had defender Antonio Amaya sent off for bringing down Roberto Soldado in the penalty area, and the Valencia striker took the penalty himself to give the home side a 17th-minute lead.

They did not double their lead until the 85th minute, with Junior Paulao netting an own goal, and Jonas added the third in the dying moments.

Borja Fernandez claimed the only goal of the game as Getafe kept their Europa League hopes alive with victory over Athletic Bilbao.

The decisive moment came in the seventh minute when the midfielder lashed the ball home following Pedro Leon's corner.

 

HOLLAND

PSV Eindhoven and Vitesse Arnhem ramped up the pressure on Ajax in the Eredivisie title race as both advanced their own cases to be champions.

PSV were 2-0 winners at home against RKC Waalwijk to go two points clear at the top, while Vitesse thrashed ADO Den Haag 4-0 to join Ajax in a share of second on 54 points.

Ajax were facing a tricky Sunday trip to face an AZ Alkmaar side who last month knocked them out of the KNVB Beker with a stunning 3-0 win in Amsterdam.

An early goal settled PSV against RKC, with Dries Mertens converting a sixth-minute penalty, and Georgino Wijnaldum added the second goal in the 69th minute, a sweet chip from 15 yards.

Vitesse were impressive winners away from home, with Wilfried Bony netting after eight and 39 minutes to leave ADO with it all to do in the second half.

Marco van Ginkel added the third goal after 55 minutes and Mike Havenaar compounded the pain for the hosts with a fourth in the 84th minute.

Struggling VVV Venlo remain firmly embedded in the relegation picture after a 2-0 home defeat against Heracles. Everton scored the first after 61 minutes and Mike te Wierik followed it up six minutes later.

In-form Heerenveen came from behind to snag a 3-1 win at fellow mid-table outfit NEC Nijmegen.

Ruud Boymans set them on the back foot with a 62nd-minute opener, but Alfred Finnbogason levelled eight minutes later and it took only a further three minutes for Filip Djuricic to nudge Heerenveen in front.

Djuricic added his second in the 90th minute.

 

ITALY

Juventus opened up a 12-point lead at the top of Serie A thanks to a 2-0 win over Bologna at the Stadio Dall'Ara.

Second-half goals from Mirko Vucinic and Claudio Marchisio earned the Bianconeri all three points to extend their advantage at the top of the table over Napoli and AC Milan, who play Atalanta and Pescara respectively later today.

Bologna had their moments in the first half but were unable to build on their impressive win over Inter Milan last weekend.

Catania won the battle of two clubs looking to gatecrash the European places, downing Udinese 3-1 at the Stadio Massimino.

All four goals arrived in the second half with Alejandro Gomez on target twice and Francesco Lodi scoring for the home side.

Luis Muriel netted a consolation for the visitors.

The win lifts the Rosaneri to within two points of the top five heading into the last nine games of the season, giving the Sicilians a realistic hope of taking a place in the Europa League next season.

 

FRANCE

Florian Thauvin bagged a brace for Bastia as Lyon's Ligue 1 title hopes took a hammer blow in a 4-1 defeat at the Stade Armand Cesari.

Thauvin, who is remaining with Bastia for the rest of the season having signed for Lille in January, put the hosts in front just before half-time although Lisandro Lopez levelled in the 53rd minute.

That was as good as it got for the visitors, who fell behind almost immediately afterwards through Anthony Modeste's strike while Thauvin's second on the hour left them with a mountain to climb.

Wahbi Khazri ensured there was no way back as Lyon, who could trail Paris St Germain by seven points if the league leaders beat St Etienne today, suffered their heaviest defeat of the season.

Evian's smash-and-grab 2-1 win at Lille dragged them away from danger and ended the hosts' fine run of form to dent their European hopes.

Lille struck a post and missed a penalty as Evian came from behind for an unlikely win against a team who had won five in a row.

Salomon Kalou put Lille ahead after just seven minutes, but after Dimitri Payet hit the upright, Saber Khelifa levelled on the half-hour mark and Kalou then scored an own goal in the 67th minute before missing a spot-kick.

Lorient answered coach Christian Gourcuff's complaints about conceding late goals by scoring two early to set up a 4-0 win over Brest.

Lorient have seen their hopes of European football fade thanks to late defeats, but made sure there would be no such problems with goals from Julien Quercia and Yann Jouffre in the opening seven minutes before further strikes from Wesley Lautoa and Gilles Sunu.

The victory puts them back within five points of fourth place, although St Etienne and fifth-placed Nice both play on Sunday.

Lille are sixth after their defeat, still head of Montpellier who were held to a 1-1 draw at home to struggling Troyes.

The hosts were looking to get their European push back on track after last week's defeat to Nice and things looked to be going their way when Gaetan Charbonnier struck early on.

However, Troyes, second from bottom in the table, responded with an equaliser from Corentin Jean after the restart.

Sochaux missed the chance to climb back out of the relegation zone after conceding a late equaliser in a 1-1 draw at home to Valenciennes.

Eric Hely's men, who dropped into the bottom three following successive defeats to last-placed Nancy and Evian, looked set to claim a morale-boosting triumph thanks to Ryad Boudebouz's eighth-minute opener.

However, mid-table Valenciennes had other ideas and teenage substitute Opa Nguette scored a brilliant equaliser eight minutes from time as the points were shared.

Mali defender Mohamed Fofana struck in the 32nd minute as Reims edged out Rennes 1-0 to ease their own relegation worries, moving up to 16th and two points clear of trouble.

 

PORTUGAL

Pacos Ferreira closed to within a point of the top three in the Portuguese Liga by securing a 2-1 victory at Olhanense.

Manuel Jose's sixth-minute opener for the visitors was wiped out by Pepe six minutes before the interval.

But Manuel Jose struck again on the half-time whistle to lift Pacos on to the coattails of Braga in the battle for Champions League football.

Sporting Lisbon were also 2-1 winners over Vitoria Setúbal to stretch their unbeaten run to three matches.

Jesualdo Ferreira's side have struggled for consistency this season but were the beneficiaries of a 17th-minute own goal from Euripedes Amoreirinha before adding to their lead from the penalty spot through Zakaria Labyad.

Ariza Makukula replied for Vitoria after 33 minutes but that was as good as it got for the visitors.

 

GERMANY

Phillipp Wollscheid's own goal ensured Bayern Munich gained a measure of revenge for a loss to Bayer Leverkusen earlier in the season as they edged to a 2-1 win.

Leverkusen are the only club to beat the Bundesliga leaders this season after winning 2-1 in Munich in October, but they fell behind this evening when Mario Gomez poked home in the 37th minute.

Simon Rolfes headed in at the far post from a corner in the 75th minute to give Leverkusen hope of coming away with a point but Wollscheid unwittingly diverted Bastian Schweinsteiger's free kick into his own goal three minutes from time.

It was perhaps a touch cruel on the hosts as Bayern maintained their 20-point gap at the top of the standings over reigning champions Borussia Dortmund, who thumped Freiburg 5-1.

The mid-table side took the lead in the 28th minute through Jonathan Schmid although two goals from Robert Lewandowski either side of Nuri Sahin's strike put the Westphalians 3-1 ahead before the interval.

Turkey international Sahin got his second of the game in the 72nd minute before substitute Leonardo Bittencourt completed the rout in the 78th minute - just a minute after being introduced.

Nurnberg piled more misery on Schalke with a convincing 3-0 win at the Frankenstadion.

After being eliminated from the Champions League by Galatasaray in midweek, Schalke saw their bid for a top-four Bundesliga finish suffer a setback.

Markus Feulner put Nurnberg ahead before half-time with further goals from Alexander Esswein and Mike Frantz earning Michael Wiesinger's side all three points, moving them 10 points clear of the drop zone.

Augsburg boosted their survival hopes with a 1-0 victory in Hamburg which reduced the gap to 15th-placed Stuttgart to just five points and dented the home team's hopes of playing in Europe next season.

Jan-Ingwer Callsen-Bracker scored the only goal of the game in the eighth minute, while Hamburg's woes were compounded by a red card shown to Maximilian Beister late on.

Werder Bremen's troubled season continued as they were held to a 2-2 draw at home by bottom club Greuther Fürth whose new coach Frank Kramer had an encouraging first game in charge.

Aaron Hunt scored two penalties for Bremen in-between strikes from Stephan Furstner and Thanos Petsos for Fürth, who were playing under new coach Frank Kramer for the first time.

Hoffenheim are nine points adrift of safety after a goalless draw at home to Mainz.

 

SCOTLAND

Premier League leaders Celtic pulled off an incredible comeback against a spirited Aberdeen after Georgios Samaras' last-gasp winner secured a 4-3 victory for the reigning champions.

Kris Commons had put Celtic ahead in the opening minute, but the sides went in level after Scott Vernon tapped home on the verge of half time after a Kelvin Wilson blunder.

Josh Magennis made it two seven minutes after the restart, after getting on the end of a pass from Vernon, before making it 3-1 on the hour mark with the final touch from a long-range shot by Gavin Rae.

Charlie Mulgrew scored against his old side after a wicked deflection past Jamie Langfield reduced the deficit for Celtic, then Gary Hooper scrambled to finish a blocked Efe Ambrose header to equalise with three minutes of regulation time remaining.

Samaras snatched all three points for the hosts on the 94th minute with an overhead kick.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle won the Highland derby against Ross County to end the SPL new boys' 11-match unbeaten run and move up to third in the table.

Andrew Shinnie scored inside the opening five minutes to give Caley the advantage, but a curling shot from Paul Lawson levelled the scores after 35 minutes.

But Billy McKay converted from the spot to hand Terry Butcher's side all three points after Charlie Taylor was brought down inside the box.

sports@thenational.ae

twitter Follow us @SprtNationalUAE