Daily Archives: December 19, 2016

Higuain strike sends Juventus seven points clear in Serie A

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Gonzalo Higuain’s first-half strike ensured a victory for Juventus against Roma that extends their lead at the top of Serie A up to six points.

Higuain, 29, saw an early shot saved by Wojciech Szczesny before putting Juventus ahead in style.

The Argentinian striker received a pass some 30 metres from goal, won a tussle with Daniele De Rossi, slipped past Kostas Manolos before hitting a left-foot shot in off the post from 18 yards.

It was his 10th league goal of the season, and third in two games.

Roma managed to compose themselves after that early setback and their best chances fell to Manolos from corners. The Greek defender had a close-range shot blocked during a goalmouth scramble in the first half and headed wide at the far post in the second half. They won eight corners to five for Juventus but resorted to long crosses too often and, for all their pressure, had only three shots on target.

Szczesny also played brilliantly despite conceding; the Polish keeper made a brilliant save to deny Stefano Sturaro after Mario Mandzukic’s back heel gave him a free shot on goal.

In the end, Higuain’s goal was enough to secure Juve’s 25th-straight home league win – matching a record they set between August 2013 and November 2014.

Juve now lead Roma by seven points after 17 games, and is on course for a sixth-straight Serie A title – the Scudetto.

Also on Saturday, third-placed AC Milan were held to a goalless draw at home to Atalanta. With one match to go before the Christmas break, Juventus have 42 points from 17 games, followed by Roma on 35 and Milan on 33 after they were held 0-0 at home by Atalanta.

Ronaldo’s hat-trick in extra time wins FIFA Club World Cup

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Cristiano Ronaldo became the first player to score a Club World Cup final hat-trick in Real Madrid’s 4-2 extra-time victory over Kashima Antlers on Sunday.

Real, who won the tournament for the second time in three years, appeared set for an easy victory when Karim Benzema gave them a ninth-minute lead. The French forward scored easily by tapping-in a rebound from Luka Modric’s volley, which had been parried by Hitoshi Sogahata.

But as Los Blancos appeared to settle themsevles with the early lead, Gaku Shibasaki changed the story by levelling one minute before half-time. Shoma Doi’s cross found Shibasaki, whose first touch was poor – he was gifted a second attempt when Raphael Varane failed to clear, and without further errors he smashed the ball into the net.

Real was further dazed as Kashima, the first Asian team to reach the tournament final, took a shock lead in the second half.

It was Shibasaki who struck again for the Japanese champions six minutes after the break when he collected a poor Real clearance, got away from three opponents and fired a low shot past Keylor Navas from 25 yards.

Madrid looked like they could be heading for a shock defeat until Ronaldo drilled home from the penalty spot to make it 2-2 on the hour, forcing extra time.

Kashima continued to give as good as they got and had three good chances in the final minutes of normal time. Fabricio’s goalbound drive was tipped over by Navas and the Costa Rica goalkeeper came to the rescue again one minute later by blocking Mu Kanazaki’s shot after he got free of the Real defence.

Yasushi Endo could have won it with the last kick but fired wide at the far post while Real captain Sergio Ramos was lucky to escape a second yellow card for a push.

Ronaldo then ended Kashima’s dream when he collected Benzema’s sliderule pass and fired past Sogahata seven minutes into extra-time, then settled the match six minutes later with an emphatic finish into the roof of the net for his hat-trick.

Man City moves up to second place with victory over Gunners

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Manchester City moved up to second in the Premier League table as Arsenal squandered a lead to lose 2-1 for the second successive game.

Theo Walcott’s cool fifth-minute finish from Alexis Sanchez’s pass put the Gunners in control just five mintues after the match began.

But as they had been at Everton on Tuesday, they were overpowered again in the second half. As Leroy Sane equalized with a run on to David Silva’s pass to beat Petr Cech not two minutes after the break, Arsenal was left appealing in vain for offside.

The Gunners could only lament their fate as City’s winner came 19 minutes from time, as Raheem Sterling took hold of Kevin de Bruyne’s brilliant over-the-shoulder pass to arrow a low finish past Cech at his near post.

The victory could finally bolster City’s title ambitions once more following a poor run of results. Although they are still seven points behind league leaders Chelsea, they completed a damaging double for Arsenal as the Gunners now lies nine points behind Antonio Conte’s side.

Against Tony Pulis’s West Bromwich Albion, Chelsea needed just a single strike by Diego Costa in the second half to maintain the Blues’ winning run. It was Costa’s 13th goal this season – one ahead of his finally tally in the last – and also the 11th win in succession for Chelsea – a club record.

On the other hand, third-placed Liverpool could also leapfrog City should they win the Merseyside derby against Everton at Goodison Park tonight.