x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

European football round-up: Messi double inspires Barcelona comeback as Juventus slip up against Roma

Lionel Messi scored his 300th and 301st goals for Barcelona as the Primera Liga leaders came back from a goal down at Granada, while Rod Fanni's last minute strike kept Marseille's title challenge alive in Ligue 1.

Lionel Messi scissor kicks the ball during Barcelona's win at Granada.
Lionel Messi scissor kicks the ball during Barcelona's win at Granada.

SPAIN

Lionel Messi struck his 300th and 301st goals for Barcelona as the Primera Liga leaders overturned a half-time deficit to win 2-1 at plucky Granada.

Barca dominated possession for the first 25 minutes, but were stunned when Odion Ighalo put the hosts ahead at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes.

Messi tapped in a deserved equaliser five minutes into the second half, though, and then curled in a free kick 17 minutes from time to complete the turnaround and move Barca 15 points clear at the summit.

Jordi Roura, the Barcelona assistant manager, hailed Messi's inspirational performance

"What am I going to say? It is something extraordinary," he said after the match.

"To score 301 goals I think is incredible and, in this game, when we lacked cutting edge he helped us."

A first half goal by Javier Saviola earned Malaga a 1-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao to ensure they will remain fourth in the table by the end of the weekend.

Lucas Piazon, on loan from Chelsea until the end of the season, made his first start for Malaga and marked the occasion by providing the assist for the only goal of the game.

The 19-year-old used skill and strength to advance into the Athletic area and pulled a pass back from the by-line into the path of Saviola near the penalty spot and the striker shot high into the net after 18 minutes.

Celta Vigo remained in the relegation zone after suffering their third defeat in a row away with a 3-1 loss to Getafe.

All the goals came in a frantic first half. Adrian Colunga opened the scoring for the hosts after 10 minutes but Augusto Fernandez equalised just 10 minutes later, before Diego Castro and then Federico Fernandez added goals of their own before the break.

An early goal by Kike Sola saw Osasuna earn themselves some much-needed breathing space from the relegation zone with a 10 win over rivals Real Zaragoza.

 

ITALY

Francesco Totti's second-half strike earned Roma a 1-0 victory over Serie A leaders Juventus.

The former Italy playmaker unleashed an unstoppable winner in the 58th minute to lift his side within six points of fifth-placed Inter Milan.

"I was really hoping for this tonight. We don't really deserve to be in the situation we're in," he said afterwards.

"We always give our maximum for the club and the fans, but lately it's not been happening for us. Today I think we showed our true character in beating a great team."

The result meant Juve's five-point advantage at the summit could be cut when second-placed Napoli host Sampdoria on Sunday.

In the day's other game, Palermo moved off the foot of the table thanks to a 1-1 draw at Chievo in a game of two contrasting halves at the Stadio Marc'Antonio Bentegodi.

The Rosaneri took the lead in the fifth minute through Mauro Formica and it was a one-sided opening 45 minutes in which Palermo failed only to add a second goal.

Chievo responded well in the second half, though, and equalised through Cyril Thereau's penalty.

 

GERMANY

Borussia Dortmund bounced back from last week's home defeat against Hamburg by seeing off fourth-placed Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0, despite finishing with 10 men for the second straight weekend.

Marco Reus single-handedly dismantled the Eagles with a hat-trick as the Bundesliga champions moved back within 15 points of runaway leaders Bayern Munich, who won 2-0 at Wolfsburg on Friday.

The Germany international netted two goals in as many first-half minutes and added a third midway through the second half after Julian Schieber had been given his marching orders.

Bayer Leverkusen snapped a three-game winless streak with a 2-1 home victory over relegation-threatened Augsburg to remain in the running for second.

Stefan Kiessling opened the scoring for Leverkusen in the 26th minute and Lars Bender doubled their advantage 15 minutes from time.

Sascha Molders made things interesting by pulling a goal back for the visitors in the 89th minute, but they could not force an equaliser.

Rafael van der Vaart's brilliant first-half goal proved decisive as Hamburg boosted their hopes of European football with a 1-0 triumph over Borussia Monchengladbach.

The Holland midfielder despatched a fine effort into the top-left corner from outside the box in the 24th minute.

Michael Bastos scored a brace as Schalke twice came from behind to draw 2-2 at Mainz.

Mainz went ahead through Andreas Ivanschitz in the 27th minute, but Bastos levelled four minutes before the break. Zdenek Pospech restored the hosts' lead midway through the second half, but Bastos ensured the visitors a draw with eight minutes left.

Freiburg twice saw Werder Bremen equalise before finally taking the lead and finishing off a 3-2 victory, recording their first win over Bremen in 11 years.

Max Kruse gave Freiburg the lead after 36 minutes before Nils Petersen equalised moments later.

Daniel Caligiuri made it 2-1 to the visitors from the penalty spot in the 55th minute, and, although Petersen's second levelled it up again nine minutes later, Matthias Ginter's 70th-minute strike finally settled it.

Axel Bellinghausen's early goal was enough for Fortuna Düsseldorf to defeat 10-man Greuther Fürth 1-0 at home in a battle of promoted teams.

Dani Schahin missed an early penalty for the hosts before Bellinghausen grabbed the game's only goal in the 18th minute. Bottom-of-the-table Fürth had midfielder Jozsef Varga sent off in the 38th minute for a second bookable offence.

 

PORTUGAL

Diego Capel's second-half winner earned Sporting Lisbon a 3-2 triumph at Gil Vicente, lifting the struggling capital club to seventh in the Liga standings.

Sporting, who headed into the encounter just four points above the relegation zone and one better off than their opponents, started brightly and were two goals to the good within six minutes thanks to Bruma and Tiago Ilori.

The home team hit back through Hugo Vieira's brace, the first after 20 minutes and the second eight minutes into the second half, but Diego Capel had the final say just after the hour mark to ensure victory for Sporting.

 

HOLLAND

Ten-man PSV Eindhoven stretched their lead at the top of the Eredivisie table to six points with a comeback 2-1 win over FC Utrecht.

Jacob Mulenga fired in-form Utrecht into a 10th-minute lead but the leaders were on level terms again on the half-hour through Belgian forward Dries Mertens.

Georgino Wijnaldum sent PSV ahead on 65 minutes and despite Atiba Hutchinson's red card moments later, they held on.

Ajax can close the gap again when they travel to RKC Waalwijk on Sunday, but FC Twente lost further ground as their recent woes continued with a 1-1 home draw against bottom team Willem II.

Steve McClaren admitted that his team desperately needed to arrest a poor run that has seen them fail to record a league win since the turn of the year.

But Ricardo Ippel's stoppage-time strike prevented them from doing that after Douglas had headed the opener from close range on 43 minutes.

A stunning Willy Overtoom goal was not enough for AZ Alkmaar as they drew 2-2 at struggling Roda JC.

Roda raced ahead in the first minute through Sanharib Malki but, after Jozy Altidore (34) equalised, Overtoom (51) produced a brilliant 25-yard free kick to fire AZ ahead.

Their lead lasted just 13 minutes, though, as Frank Demouge ensured Roda inched two points clear of danger.

Finally, NAC Breda and Heracles Almelo shared a 1-1 draw after Rick Ten Voorde (56) cancelled out an 11th-minute opener from Everton.

 

FRANCE

Rod Fanni's 94th-minute goal kept Marseille's Ligue 1 title challenge alive with a hard-earned 1-0 victory over Valenciennes at the Stade Velodrome.

Starting the weekend eight points adrift of leaders Paris St Germain, Marseille knew they could not afford another slip after a disappointing run of form since the winter break.

But despite dominating the match from start to finish, Marseille could not find a breakthrough until deep into injury time when Fanni beat his man to fire a low shot into the goal and relieve the pressure.

The win sends Marseille into second place, at least until Lyon face a tricky trip to Bordeaux later today.

"We deserved it as we had more chances than Valenciennes," said Fani afterwards.

"We gave it a real go in the first half and I said in the dressing room at half-time we had to calm things down -we couldn't risk losing this chance to get back on track. We were able to go back out and get the result."

Nice moved up to fourth in the congested scramble for European places with a 1-0 win over Bastia.

Neal Maupay scored the only goal of the game just after the hour mark, condemning Bastia to a defeat that leaves the Corsicans just three points above the bottom three.

Lorient are seventh, three points behind Nice, after beating Evian 2-1.

Jeremie Aliadiere opened the scoring from the penalty spot three minutes before half-time after he was fouled by Ebert Betao.

Kevin Monnet-Paquet doubled the lead in the 77th minute with a powerful close-range finish, and although Betao soon got one back with an outstanding volley, Lorient hung on.

Toulouse scored twice in the final five minutes to deny Troyes a much-needed win in a barnstorming finish to their 2-2 draw.

Troyes had grabbed the lead with two late goals of their own as substitute Mohamed Yattara slotted home from close range in the 78th minute before Benjamin Nivet grabbed a second five minutes later.

But Eden Ben Basat got one back in the 86th minute, striking a post but then getting the ball back from Aymen Abdennour to make sure second time around, while Etienne Didot lobbed Yohann Thuram-Ulien to level in the 88th minute.

Troyes do at least move off the foot of the table, four points from safety, thanks to Nancy's 1-0 defeat at the hands of Montpellier.

Emanuel Herrera got the only goal in the 34th minute, heading home Anthony Mounier's cross to send Montpellier ninth, still only four points from fourth place.

Brest and Ajaccio shared the spoils in a 1-1 draw.

Florian Raspentino put Brest ahead after only 11 minutes, firing a strong shot beyond Guillermo Ochoa, but Dennis Oliech levelled in the 71st minute from close range.

 

SCOTLAND

Celtic showed no signs of a European hangover with an impressive 6-2 thrashing of Dundee United at Parkhead.

Neil Lennon's side responded well to losing a 10th-minute goal to Stuart Armstrong to surge ahead through defender Efe Ambrose, Kris Commons and Joe Ledley.

At 2-1, Fraser Forster made a great save from a Jon Daly penalty, and Commons grabbed his second from the spot 10 minutes into the second half before Anthony Stokes notched a double to complete the rout, with Johnny Russell scoring late on for the Taysiders.

Michael Higdon's wonderful volley took his personal tally against Inverness this season to six goals as Motherwell beat Inverness Caledonian Thistle 3-0 to move above their opponents and into second place in the standings.

Higdon's left-footed strike, his 18th goal of the campaign, put Motherwell three ahead before the hour mark and made it 12 goals and three wins in total for the Steelmen against their Highland visitors.

Leigh Griffiths scored the only goal of the game as fourth-placed Hibernian won 1-0 at St Mirren.

Paul Heffernan scored a hat-trick as Kilmarnock continued their march up the table with a 3-0 victory at Hearts.

The win moved Kenny Shiels' side up to fifth spot.

Ross County stretched their unbeaten run to seven games with a hard-fought 1-0 triumph over St Johnstone at the Global Energy Stadium. Ivan Sproule scored the decisive goal with a superb strike in the 11th minute.

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