x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

European football round-up: Lionel Messi on target again as Barcelona ease to win over Deportivo

Zlatan Ibrahimovic hit a double to snatch victory for Paris Saint-Germain, while Ross County sprung a shock on runaway Scottish leaders Celtic.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores his side's second goal against Deportivo La Coruna.
Barcelona's Lionel Messi scores his side's second goal against Deportivo La Coruna.

SPAIN

Lionel Messi kept up his scoring run in the Primera Liga as Barcelona strolled to a 2-0 win over Deportivo La Coruna.

Alexis Sanchez put hosts Barcelona ahead with a free header from Dani Alves' cross towards the end of the first half, sending rock-bottom Deportivo towards a seventh defeat in eight games.

And Messi, on as a substitute shortly after the hour, added a delicious second after 87 minutes to put the result beyond doubt, exchanging passes with Alves before chipping the ball delicately over goalkeeper Daniel Aranzubia to score for the 17th league game in succession.

It was ending an unwanted streak that Jordi Roura, the Barcelona assistant coach, was most pleased with though, as Barca kept a clean sheet for the first time in 14 matches.

"Every competition is different and Tuesday will be a different story, but I have always said that the best way to prepare for a game is to win the previous one," he said afterwards.

"We were very intense and Depor hardly had a chance at goal. We managed to keep a clean sheet which was very important and we are very happy because we have picked up three more points and maintained our advantage at the top."

Malaga failed to take the maximum points off Valladolid at the Jose Zorrilla stadium, and the 1-1 draw could see them slip out of the Champions League places by the end of the weekend.

Manuel Pellegrini fielded an understrength side, presumably with the club's Champions League last-16 second-leg match with Porto on Wednesday in mind, resting Isco and Joaquin.

His team got off to a great start when Martin Demichelis headed them into the lead after eight minutes, but Manucho equalised for the hosts shortly before half-time.

Rayo Vallecano moved to within two points of the Champions League places after a convincing 2-0 win at home to Espanyol.

An early goal by Chori Dominguez gave the Madrid-based side the perfect start and Piti wrapped up the points by netting after 77 minutes.

Alejandro Alfaro gave Real Mallorca's survival hopes another boost as his two goals helped see off Sevilla 2-1.

A week after he scored his first league goal of the season as Mallorca came from behind to win at Granada, the forward netted in each half to move his side up to third bottom, just one point from safety.

Alvaro Negredo briefly levelled for Sevilla just after the hour mark, but, with the lively Giovani Dos Santos causing plenty of problems, the hosts fully deserved their win.

They finished the match with 10 men after the sending off of Javi Marquez for a second yellow card in the third minute of stoppage time, but by then the work was done.

 

PORTUGAL

Braga climbed to third in the Portuguese Liga thanks to a 2-0 home win over sixth-placed Maritimo.

Hugo Viana opened the scoring four minutes before half-time and Alan clinched the points on the stroke of full-time to lift Braga two points ahead of Pacos Ferreira.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel's 78th-minute equaliser earned Sporting Lisbon a 1-1 draw at Academica, cancelling out Wilson Eduardo's 26th-minute penalty.

The result kept 10th-spotted Sporting three positions and two points better off than their hosts.

 

HOLLAND

Eredivisie leaders PSV Eindhoven were on the end of a surprise defeat at Heerenveen, opening the door for champions Ajax to replace them at the summit later today.

A 2-1 reverse at the Abe Lenstra Stadion left PSV two points ahead of Ajax, who face PEC Zwolle at the Amsterdam ArenA and could end the weekend as table-toppers.

Marten de Roon and Yassine El Ghanassy were both on target for Heerenveen in the first half, with Kevin Strootman mustering PSV's only response 16 minutes from time.

At the other end of the table, basement boys Willem II managed just their third win of the season at home to second-bottom VVV-Venlo.

Danny Gujit was the match winner when he scored the only goal in the 89th minute.

Ten-man Heracles Almelo also won by a 1-0 score line, Everton netting in the 58th minute to sink NEC Nijmegen. The hosts held on for the final 23 minutes a man down following Thomas Bruns' red card.

Finally, Viktor Elm's 25th-minute equaliser earned struggling AZ Alkmaar a 1-1 home draw against ADO Den Haag, who had taken a 10th-minute lead through Mike van Duinen.

 

FRANCE

Zlatan Ibrahimovic was on the top of his game as he scored twice to help Paris Saint-Germain overturn a one-goal deficit and beat lowly Nancy 2-1 at the Parc des Princes.

David Beckham had to make do with a cameo substitute appearance as his Swedish clubmate stole the attention with two second-half goals in the space of three minutes, following Benjamin Moukandjo's first-half opener for the visitors.

Victory for PSG lifted them five points clear at the summit of Ligue 1, ahead of Sunday's clash between second-placed Lyon and third-placed Marseille, while a fourth league defeat in five for their opponents left them six points adrift of safety.

Lille came from behind to beat Valenciennes 3-1 at the Stade du Hainaut and extend their Ligue 1 winning streak to five matches.

Maor Melikson had given mid-table Valenciennes a first-half lead, but Rudi Garcia's men slipped into another gear after the break, with goals from Ronny Rodelin, Tulio de Melo and Benoît Pedretti earning the three points.

The latter pair stepped off Lille's bench to make the difference, with Valenciennes unable to summon a response as the visitors - now fifth - closed in on the top three.

Lower down the ladder, Evian responded to coach Pascal Dupraz's pre-match pleas with an emphatic 5-1 win over fellow strugglers Sochaux to move out of the relegation zone.

Dupraz had claimed that psychologically the game was "worth a thousand points", with Evian lying three points behind their opponents who occupied the last position above the drop zone.

By the time Cedric Barbosa and Saber Khelifa had scored twice apiece, Kevin Berigaud adding another to render Cedric Bakambu's 53rd-minute equaliser irrelevant, Evian had jumped two places to 16th and it was their shell-shocked opponents who were left residing in the bottom three.

Brest remained looking over their shoulder at the relegation places after losing 1-0 at home to Toulouse.

Landry Chauvin's side headed into the game five points above the drop zone and looking to build on last weekend's 1-1 draw with title-chasing Lyon.

But Adrien Rabiot's goal on the stroke of half-time at the Stade Francis-Le Ble - coupled with Evian's win - saw Brest's margin over the bottom three shrink to just two points. Toulouse, meanwhile, climbed to 11th.

It was a dramatic night in the lower reaches and a woeful display from Reims goalkeeper Kossi Agassa helped Troyes lift themselves off the foot of the table and drag the away side ever closer to the drop zone after a 4-2 win.

Goals from Corentin Jean and Julien Faussurier put the home two in front with an hour gone before a late scoring spree, including Jean's second and a late effort from Mohamed Yattare added to the excitement.

Nicolas de Preville and Odair Fortes were on target for the visitors, making it 2-1 and then 3-2.

Finally, Ajaccio moved clear of the danger zone as Ronald Zubar's second-half goal earned them a 1-0 victory over Lorient.

 

GERMANY

Bayern Munich were made to fight before finally seeing off Fortuna Düsseldorf 3-2 in their Bundesliga clash at the Allianz Arena.

The runaway leaders twice trailed before Jerome Boateng's first goal for the club four minutes from time earned them a narrow win.

Mathis Bolly put the visitors in front in the 16th minute, but Thomas Muller replied on the stroke of half-time.

Andreas Lambertz gave the visitors the lead for the second time in the 71st minute, but Franck Ribery equalised three minutes later to set up the late victory.

The win extended Bayern's lead at the top to 20 points as Borussia Dortmund lost 2-1 at derby rivals Schalke.

Julian Draxler got the home team on their way to victory in the 11th minute with Klaas Jan Huntelaar doubling their advantage 10 minutes before the break.

The defending champions tried to respond in the second half, but only had a Robert Lewandowski consolation goal to show for their efforts.

The win sent Schalke up to fourth, seven points behind their opponents and six below Bayer Leverkusen, who missed the chance to go second by losing 1-0 at Mainz.

Andreas Ivanschitz netted the game's only goal from the penalty spot in the 61st minute to lift the hosts to sixth.

Wolfsburg eased their relegation worries with a thumping 5-2 win at Freiburg.

Max Kruse put Freiburg ahead in the second minute, but an own goal from Cedric Makiadi and fine strikes from Vieirinha and Ivica Olic turned the game on its head within 20 minutes.

Olic's second gave Dieter Hecking's side an even more comfortable lead after the break before Johannes Flum scored a second for the home team.

Diego added a fifth Wolfsburg goal with the last kick of the game as they opened a nine-point cushion over the relegation zone.

Hoffenheim picked up a crucial victory in the fight against the drop with a 3-0 success at bottom club Greuther Fürth.

Roberto Firmino gave Hoffenheim the lead in the 10th minute, Joselu made it 2-0 after 16 minutes and Weis wrapped up the win five minutes into the second half.

The win moved second-bottom Hoffenheim two points off Augsburg in the relegation play-off spot, and five ahead of Fürth.

In the late kick-off Borussia Monchengladbach and Werder Bremen drew 1-1.

Peniel Mlapa gave Monchengladbach the lead in the 72nd minute, but Aleksandar Ignjovski equalised for the visitors five minutes later.

 

ITALY

Neither Udinese nor Roma were able to take a decisive step toward the European places as they shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Friuli.

Erik Lamela put Roma in front after 20 minutes and the Giallorossi held the upper hand until the 62nd minute when Luis Muriel brought Udinese back on terms.

A red card for Thomas Heurtaux reduced the home team to 10 men for the last 20 minutes of the game, but they still held on for a point which leaves them six points adrift of the top five, while Roma move to within three points of their city rivals Lazio.

 

SCOTLAND

Ross County came from two goals down to stun Celtic with a 3-2 win and go third in the Scottish Premier League table.

The defending champions had looked to be cruising to victory when Charlie Mulgrew scored direct from a corner and Gary Hooper added a second to give them a handy lead after 21 minutes.

But Grant Munro and Sam Morrow quickly replied for County before Steffen Wohlfarth headed in a stoppage-time winner.

Inverness Caledonian Thistle needed a late equaliser from Billy McKay to earn a 1-1 draw at bottom side Dundee, John Baird having given the hosts the lead in the 13th minute.

Second-placed Motherwell were held to a goalless draw at Aberdeen, while the meeting between St Mirren and Dundee United also ended scoreless, with United having John Rankin sent off late on.

Murray Davidson and Gregory Tade got the goals at McDiarmid Park as St Johnstone beat Kilmarnock 2-0.

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