x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

European football round-up: Simeone hails Valencia as Atletico Madrid slip up in La Liga chase

Lyon's Ligue 1 title hopes suffered another blow as Sochaux claimed a late win, while 10-man Celtic were held at St Mirren.

Valencia's Roberto Costa races Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid to the ball.
Valencia's Roberto Costa races Radamel Falcao of Atletico Madrid to the ball.

SPAIN

Atletico Madrid manager Diego Simeone said he believes Valencia have the third best squad in Spain after his side could only manage a 1-1 draw.

The goals came inside the opening six minutes as Jonas' fifth-minute opener was cancelled out by Radamel Falcao almost from the restart.

The goal was Falcao's 23rd league strike this season and Atletico, who would have gone back ahead of city rivals Real with victory, thought they should have had a second-half penalty when Jonas appeared to handle in the area.

"They have one of the best squads in best, the third best behind Barcelona and Real Madrid," Atletico coach Diego Simeone said after the game.

"Therefore we are proud of our players at this moment. In the first-half Valencia played very well. They have a very talented and competitive squad and they played like that.

"We were lucky to have created danger in the few chances we did have and in the second-half we took they game to them and tried to win."

Last-placed Deportivo La Coruna boosted their survival bid with a 3-2 win at fellow strugglers Real Mallorca.

Second-half goals from Carlos Marchena and Riki gave Depor a 3-1 lead after Silvio cancelled out Victor Casadesus' opener.

Alfaro scored late to set up a tense finish but Depor held on to claim back-to-back league wins for the first time this season.

Osasuna's hopes of avoiding relegation were handed a huge boost after they came from behind to beat Valladolid 3-1.

An own goal by centre-back Ruben gave the hosts an early lead but two goals by Kike Sola within 10 minutes after half-time put Jose Mendilibar's side in the lead, before Miguel De Las Cuevas scored his first goal for the club to make sure of the points.

Real Sociedad's push for a top-four finish suffered a slight setback as they were held to a 2-2 draw at Espanyol.

While victory would have been a significant boost to their Champions League aspirations, they may have left the Cornella-El Prat thankful for a point as Javi Lopez's own-goal 14 minutes from time denied the hosts maximum points.

It was the second time Sociedad had come from behind in the match, David Zurutuza scoring either side of strikes from Sergio Garcia and Christian Stuani in a busy first half.

 

FRANCE

Sochaux's Cedric Bakambu delivered another major blow to Lyon's title hopes as his 89th-minute winner left them eight points behind Ligue 1 leaders Paris St Germain.

While Sochaux will celebrate Bakambu's strike for catapulting them out of the drop zone it further derailed Lyon's hopes of reclaiming the league crown following a run that has now seen them without a win in four games and slip into third behind Marseille.

On a frustrating night for the hosts, that saw them hit the woodwork on three occasions, they looked like they might salvage at least a point when Bafetimbi Gomis' 69th-minute penalty cancelled out Giovanno Sio's opener.

But an unmarked Bakambu left them with no time for a second comeback after Sio's clever build-up play.

Sochaux's win, their first in six games since upsetting PSG, moves them two points clear of danger.

Marseille leapfrogged Lyon by beating Nice 1-0 for a first away win of the year.

A solitary first-half Andre-Pierre Gignac header was enough to claim all three points for the visitors and their first win in three saw them move seven points behind leaders Paris St Germain.

Lille maintained their push for a Champions League spot after beating struggling Brest 2-1 at the Stade Francis-Le Ble.

Florian Raspentino put the home side ahead after 10 minutes, before Lille levelled eight minutes later through Salomon Kalou.

And with 11 minutes left Lille grabbed the winner through Nolan Roux to move them to within four points of third-placed Lyon.

 

GERMANY

Greuther Fürth remained rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga and staring relegation full in the face after a 3-2 home loss to Eintracht Frankfurt.

The evening started well for the Bavarians when Nikola Djurdjic headed them in front in the second minute, but goals from Takashi Inui, Stefan Aigner and Alexander Meier turned the game around.

Sercan Sararer brought Fürth back to within a goal, but they were unable to find an equaliser as they remain rooted to the foot of the Bundesliga, 14 points from safety with seven games left.

Frankfurt are now fifth, level on points with fourth-placed Schalke and still in the hunt for a place in the Champions League next season.

Wolfsburg coach Dieter Hecking saw his side relinquish a two-goal lead in a 2-2 draw against former club Nurnberg.

Diego and Ivica Olic had put the Wolves into a commanding position, but Nurnberg mounted a spirited comeback to take a share of the spoils thanks to second-half goals by Timmy Simons and Per Nilsson.

 

SCOTLAND

Paul McGowan's late penalty gave St Mirren a share of the spoils against 10-man Celtic in a controversial Scottish Premier League encounter in Paisley.

Kris Commons headed the Parkhead side into the lead in the sixth minute before he was carried off on a stretcher just before the break with what looked like an ankle injury after clashing with teammate Beram Kayal.

Hoops midfielder Victor Wanyama, back from suspension, was shown a straight red card 10 minutes into the second-half for a challenge on Paul McGowan, who levelled from the spot with 10 minutes remaining after Parkhead defender Emilio Izaguirre was adjudged to have fouled Esmael Goncalves inside the box.

 

HOLLAND

Ajax moved three points clear at the top of the Eredivisie table with a 4-1 win over NEC Nijmegen at the Amsterdam Arena.

Viktor Fischer scored in each half to pave the way for a win that increased the gap on PSV Eindhoven after they could only draw 2-2 at relegation-threatened Roda JC.

Fischer opened the scoring on 21 minutes before a Rens Van Eijden own goal gave Ajax full control. Fischer's second on 77 minutes was quickly nullified by a Nick Van der Velden goal but substitute Ryan Babel scored nine minutes from the end to ensure a wide-margin win.

Ajax's success was made even more important when PSV conceded an 87th-minute Sanharib Malki equaliser.

Roda led through Frank Demouge on 14 minutes but PSV fired ahead before half-time thanks to an Ola Toivonen double. But Roda, who remain inside the relegation play-off places, snatched a point through Malki.

PSV's slip allowed Vitesse Arnhem to draw level in second place as they extended their winning run to six games with a 2-1 win over PEC Zwolle.

Wilfried Bony and Mike Havenaar fired them 2-0 by the break with Zwolle's sole reply coming via Arsenio Valpoort with 12 minutes left.

RKC Waalwijk thumped ADO Den Haag 4-0 to edge away from the relegation places.

Mart Lieder got the ball rolling on 10 minutes before a Vito Wormgoor own goal and Robert Braber's goal just before half-time all but settled the match. Henrico Drost completed the rout on 88 minutes.

AZ Alkmaar grabbed a much-needed win 2-1 at Heracles Almelo despite playing with 10 men for almost an hour.

Markus Henriksen's 22nd-minute opener was followed by a Mike te Wierik own goal two minutes later to give AZ a 2-0 lead.

Thomas Lam saw red on the hour but Heracles were only able to pull a single goal back when Te Wierik made up for his earlier blunder with a 43rd-minute goal.

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