Football

Barcelona thwarted by howler while Real Madrid and Bayern return to top


Barcelona ended a turbulent week with a 1-1 draw at 10-man Alavés after a Neto howler left them with too much to do.

Four days after Josep Maria Bartomeu resigned his presidency following months of criticism of Barcelona’s ailing finances and struggles on the pitch, Antoine Griezmann cancelled out Luis Rioja’s opener on another disappointing night for Ronald Koeman’s side in La Liga.

Barça presidential candidate Víctor Font has revealed he wants to bring Pep Guardiola back to the Camp Nou, believing it to be the best way to keep Lionel Messi at Barcelona. Koeman’s mood after having his future plunged into a cloud of speculation will not have been improved by Alavés’ opener. Goalkeeper Neto failed to control a needless back pass after 31 minutes and Rioja dispossessed him before rolling the ball into the empty net.

Messi was denied either side of half-time by Alavés goalkeeper Fernando Pacheco and Ansu Fati fired wide. The hosts’ rearguard action suffered a blow after 62 minutes when the former Brentford and Birmingham midfielder Jota picked up a second yellow card. And the visitors levelled a minute later when Griezmann lifted the ball over Pacheco.

Pacheco denied Messi and Fati either side of Griezmann having an effort disallowed. And Barça were again denied a winner late on when Messi’s strike was chalked off for offside and Gerard Piqué fired wide in stoppage time.

Karim Benzema scored twice as Real Madrid moved back to the top of La Liga with a 4-1 victory over Huesca. Eden Hazard and Benzema netted just before the interval and Federico Valverde made it 3-0 before David Ferreiro’s reply with little more than 15 minutes to go. Benzema added his second late on as Zinedine Zidane’s side went two points clear of Real Sociedad, who face Celta Vigo on Sunday.

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Hazard fired the hosts ahead with a stunning strike from around 30 yards out in the 40th minute – only his second goal for the club and first in more than a year. Five minutes later, Benzema doubled the advantage, chesting down Lucas Vázquez’s cross and thumping the ball home. Victory looked all but secure when Valverde collected the ball from Benzema and struck past Álvaro Fernández in the 54th minute.

Eden Hazard fires in a long-awaited goal which may just kick-start his Real Madrid career.



Eden Hazard fires in a long-awaited goal which may just kick-start his Real Madrid career. Photograph: Óscar del Pozo/AFP/Getty Images

Ferreiro reduced the deficit with a close-range finish in the 74th minute, before Benzema headed home Madrid’s fourth in the 90th.

Elsewhere in Spain, João Félix was in the thick of the action as Atlético Madrid registered a third consecutive La Liga victory against Osasuna. The Portugal striker missed an open goal, scored a penalty, missed a penalty and scored a stunner in a 3-1 win that took his side up to third. Osasuna struck back with a header from Ante Budimir but Atlético made the points safe with a late strike from Lucas Torreira. A late strike from Oihan Sancet completed a comeback from Athletic Bilbao against Sevilla. Youssef En-Nesyri put the visitors ahead early on but Iker Muniain levelled deep into the second half before Sancet pounced two minutes from time to inflict a third consecutive league defeat on Julen Lopetegui’s side.

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In the Bundesliga Bayern Munich won 2-1 at Cologne, with goals from Thomas Müller and Serge Gnabry returning the champions to the top of the table as Hansi Flick rested his top scorer, Robert Lewandowski. Bayern, who are in action against Salzburg in the Champions League on Tuesday and also face Borussia Dortmund in the Bundesliga next week, are on 15 points, ahead of Dortmund on goal difference.

Gervinho (second right) celebrates after giving Parma the lead at Inter.



Gervinho (second right) celebrates after giving Parma the lead at Inter. Photograph: Vincenzo Pinto/AFP/Getty Images

Later on Saturday afternoon, the RB Leipzig loanee Hannes Wolf prevented his parent club from reclaiming top spot by scoring the only goal in their trip to his current side, Borussia Mönchengladbach. The striker’s well-paced finish took Mönchengladbach up to fourth, two points behind Julian Nagelsmann’s men.

Borussia Dortmund beat Arminia Bielefeld 2-0 after two second-half goals from the defender Mats Hummels. It was the first time since 2010 the 31-year-old centre-back had scored twice in a league game. A brace from André Hahn helped take Augsburg up to fifth with a 3-1 win against Mainz, and a second-half leveller from André Silva meant Eintracht Frankfurt and Werder Bremen shared the points in a 1-1 draw.

In Italy, Luis Muriel scored twice to give Atalanta a 2-1 win at Crotone that took his side to second, and a brace from Gervinho – the first a majestic volley – looked to have given Parma a surprise win away at Inter Milan until Ivan Perisic headed home in stoppage time to salvage a point for Antonio Conte’s side, who had taken the lead through Marcelo Brozovic.

Paris Saint-Germain cruised to a 3-0 win at Nantes to move three points clear on top of Ligue 1. With several players injured, including Brazil forward Neymar who suffered a thigh injury in a 2-0 Champions League win at Istanbul Basaksehir in midweek, Kylian Mbappé had to bear much of the attacking responsibility but the visitors fought hard in the first half. Thomas Tuchel brought on 18-year-old Kays Ruiz-Atil for Moise Kean at the break and he found Mbappé whose precise angled pass was slammed into the net by Ander Herrera. Mbappé was bundled over by Jean-Charles Castelletto for a penalty he tucked away himself. Nantes’ Kader Bamba then had a spot-kick saved by Keylor Navas and their evening was summed up when they gave the ball away in their own box to gift Pablo Sarabia a third goal late on.



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