Daily Archives: February 20, 2017

La Liga: Bale scores on return as Messi penalty saves Barca

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Real Madrid continued their surge ahead in La Liga as Barcelona needed a late penalty converted by Lionel Messi to spare them from a consecutive embarrassing results.

Real won against a determined Espanyol by 2-0 at Santiago Bernabeu thanks to goals from Alvaro Morata and Gareth Bale. Spanish international Morata grabbed the lead for Los Blancos with a polished header from Isco’s cross.

Later in the second half, Gareth Bale secured a two-goal cushion as the Welshman came on for Morata.

Bale had been missing in action for months with an ankle injury, but scored just 13 minutes after coming on as he ran onto Isco’s pass and into the penalty area, controlled the ball with one touch before hitting a low, left-footed shot into the far corner beyond Espanyol keeper Diego Lopez.

Meanwhile, Barca look as if they are prepared to endure another poor result as they claimed an underwhelming 2-1 result against strugglers Leganes.

The Catalan club looked prepared to bounce back from their damning 4-0 defeat by Paris Saint-Germain as Lionel Messi tapped in a Luis Suarez cross right on the fourth minute, only for Leganes to equalize with a strong shot by Unai Lopez.

It was on the last minute of normal time that Barca finally got a lifeline as Neymar won a penalty — which Messi converted to steal a win.

The result meant that Barcelona is second in the table on 51 points, one behind Real, who have two games in hand on the Catalan club and third placed Sevilla, who have 49 points after a 2-0 win over Eibar.

Arsene Wenger voices concerns on Sutton’s artificial pitch

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Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has voiced his concern about playing on Sutton United’s artificial 3G pitch.

His team will take on the Non-League side as both sides meet in the fifth-round of the FA Cup.

The match also comes after two Premier League sides’ elimination from the tournament by lower-tier teams, but Wenger insisted that his immediate concern is on the pitch.

“Firstly, the pitch,” said Wenger when asked what are the biggest dangers facing his team. “Secondly, their enthusiasm. Thirdly if we are not ready for a big fight. Subconsciously if we think ‘no matter, it’s a non-league team, we will pass’, that will not happen.”

“Ideally we would like to play on a normal pitch. But it has been accepted so … competition is also about dealing with what you face. We face an artificial pitch and we have to deal with it.”

Wenger believes that Sutton could put up a challenge even though Arsenal’s players have practised on a 3G pitch at their London Colney training ground this week.

“It’s not the same because it’s a dry pitch and I’ve heard that Sutton have a wet pitch, they water it before the game so it’ll be much quicker,” he added.

“It means the weight on the joints is stronger, you cannot glide, you have to block every time so it makes football a bit different because the ball comes to you and somebody accelerates and doesn’t slow down like in a normal game so you have to get used to the difference in speed.”

Nevertheless, a defeat could prove to be a nail in the coffin to Wenger’s position at Arsenal as he came under immense scrutiny following a 5-1 rout by Bayern Munich in the Champions League. The Frenchman hinted that he intends to follow Sir Alex Ferguson in managing into his 70s despite heavy speculation that he could finally be ready to leave the post he has held for more than 20 years after the defeat by Bayern.

FA Cup: Millwall ousts Leicester; Lincoln into quarter-final

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The FA Cup continues to unveil surprises as Premier League clubs continue to fall against lower-tier clubs.

Premier League champions Leicester City proved to be one of the latest casualties after Millwall secured a last-minute winner to secure a 1-0 result and arrive at the quarter-finals.

The club had already ousted Premier League sides Bournemouth and Watford in the last two rounds, but this win is even more momentous one as the League One side had defender Jake Cooper sent off in the 52nd minute for two bookable offences.

However, right on the 90th minute, Shaun Cummings grabbed the dramatic match-winning goal when he collected Lee Gregory’s pass, cut in from the right side, dribbled past a Leicester defender in the box and finished low past Ron-Robert Zieler.

Another Premier League club to suffer the same hock was Burnley, who was eliminated by Non-League team Lincoln City with an identical result.

The fifth-tier club became the first non-league team in 103 years to reach the last eight of the FA Cup, after a late header from Sean Raggett single-handedly sent his team past Burnley and into the next round.

They merely proceeded to defend through the five minutes of stoppage time, with Andre Gray’s shot saved by Paul Farman, before Lincoln’s defense cleared away back-to-back corners.

Lincoln’s 3,210 travelling support then erupted in fervent celebrations as their club reached the quarter-finals for the first time in their 133-year history.