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Football

Real Madrid go top of La Liga, Inter win and Atalanta bring joy to Bergamo


Real Madrid took control of the Spanish title race by beating Real Sociedad 2-1 away to move top of La Liga above Barcelona after a second-half filled with controversy.

Madrid captain, Sergio Ramos, broke the deadlock in the 50th minute by converting a penalty after Vinícius Júnior went to ground in the area following contact from Sociedad’s Diego Llorente.

Sociedad thought they had equalised with a strike from Adnan Januzaj from outside the box but the goal was ruled out after a VAR review showed Mikel Merino obstructing the view of keeper Thibaut Courtois without touching the ball. Their sense of injustice deepened a minute later when Karim Benzema doubled Madrid’s lead in the 71st minute after controlling the ball with the top of his arm although Merino ensured an exciting finish by lashing in off the crossbar in the 83rd minute.

Zinedine Zidane’s side clung on for the win to move level with Barcelona on 65 points after 30 games but climbed above Barça, who were held 0-0 at Sevilla on Friday, owing to a superior head-to-head record.

Madrid’s trip to San Sebastián was full of intrigue after Barça failed to beat Sevilla and the Catalan side’s defender Gerard Piqué said the title was now Madrid’s for the taking. He appeared to suggest decisions had gone Madrid’s way in their 3-0 win over Valencia last Thursday. Zidane’s team had benefitted from a Valencia goal that was not given for an offside against a player who had not touched the ball and there was a sense of deja-vu when Januzaj’s equaliser was ruled out due to Merino’s position.

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“We’re angry with everything but mainly with the way we lost, because the little details and the big moments went against us,” said Merino. “I was at least five metres from Courtois when I was flagged offside. I don’t know if the same thing would have happened had it been in the other area but the flag went up and we feel that we have been wronged.”

Valencia beat Osasuna 2-0 with goals from Gonçalo Guedes and Rodrigo. Guedes put the home side in front and the Portugal international provided an assist for Rodrigo to double the lead in the 35th. Valencia remain eighth but the win breathed life into their hopes of a top-four finish and Champions League qualification. Celta Vigo earned their first win since the shutdown with a 6-0 rout of 10-man Alavés. Rafinha scored twice and newly signed striker Nolito added another on his return to Celta. Jeison Murillo, Iago Aspas and Santi Mina completed the scoring to lift Celta four points clear of the relegation zone.

In Serie A third-placed Internazionale restarted their campaign with a 2-1 home win over struggling Sampdoria to close the gap on the leading pair, although they lived dangerously in the second half. Romelu Lukaku and Lautaro Martínez put Inter 2-0 ahead in just over half an hour but Sampdoria, outclassed in the first period, pulled one back through Morten Thorsby early in the second and finished the match threatening an equaliser. Lukaku celebrated his goal by taking a knee in support of the Black Lives Matter movement. Inter, with 57 points from 26 games, are five behind Lazio and six adrift of leaders Juventus while Claudio Ranieri’s Sampdoria are one point clear of the drop zone.

Inter’s Lautaro Martínez celebrates his goal with a Father’s s Day message for his dad.
Inter’s Lautaro Martínez celebrates his goal with a Father’s s Day message for his dad. Photograph: Daniele Mascolo/Reuters
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Free-scoring Atalanta continued where they left off before the coronavirus stoppage by thumping Sassuolo 4-1 on Sunday as football returned to Bergamo, one of the Italian cities worst hit by the pandemic. Duván Zapata netted twice as the Serie A top scorers took their tally to 74 goals in 26 games while Sassuolo’s Mehdi Bourabia scored at both ends with a bizarre own goal and a late consolation from a free-kick. Atalanta stayed fourth with 51 points having had their coach Gian Piero Gasperini sent off for dissent in the second half.



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