Real keep pressure on Atleti with win

Real Madrid continued to cling to the coat-tails of city rivals Atletico in the La Liga title race after winning 2-0 at home against Valencia.

First-half goals from Karim Benzema and Toni Kroos won the game as Zinedine Zidane’s team moved above Barcelona and into second place in the table, five points behind leaders Atletico, who have two games in hand.

Zidane switched from a 3-4-3 formation to a 4-3-3 as he made two changes following a 2-0 win over Getafe, with Marcelo and Marvin Park making way for Dani Carvajal and Kroos.

Valencia made just one change to the side that drew with Athletic Bilbao as Ferro replaced Hugo Guillamon in defence.

There was a nervous early moment from Jaume Domenech when the Valencia goalkeeper misjudged Casemiro’s long-range shot, diving past the ball before having to desperately flick out a leg to divert it over the crossbar.

Domenech was beaten two minutes later when Madrid took the lead. Benzema drifted beyond Thierry Correia before whipping a low shot into the bottom corner of the net from just outside the box.

Benzema would have had a second goal after half an hour had it not been for a brilliant saving block by Gabriel.

Toni Kroos was on the scoresheet for Real Madrid
Toni Kroos was on the scoresheet for Real Madrid

Domenech beat away a 25-yard effort by Luka Modric as the hosts searched for a second goal, which arrived three minutes before half-time when Kroos stylishly steered Lucas Vazquez’s cutback into the net from the edge of the penalty area.

Valencia offered very little but almost halved the deficit early in the second half when Maxi Gomez’s fierce strike forced Thibaut Courtois into an acrobatic save to tip it away.

The margin of victory would have been greater for Madrid had Domenech not made a fine save to block another Benzema effort, while Ferland Mendy had a goal chalked off by VAR.

Elsewhere, Alexander Isak scored a 30th-minute winner as Real Sociedad won 1-0 at Getafe to move past Villarreal into fifth place. Osasuna were also 1-0 winners at Levante.

Serie A – Roma into third

Jordan Veretout scored twice for Roma
Jordan Veretout scored twice for Roma

Jordan Veretout scored twice to help Roma beat Udinese 3-0 and move into third in the standings.

Udinese came into the match on the back of three successive clean sheets but it took Roma just five minutes to end that streak when Veretout headed home Gianluca Mancini’s cross from the right.

Veretout doubled his tally 20 minutes later from the penalty spot after Udinese goalkeeper Juan Musso brought down Henrikh Mkhitaryan.

Veretout thought he had also added an assist shortly after when he set up Lorenzo Pellegrini, but the goal was disallowed for a Mkhitaryan foul in the build-up.

Udinese had several chances to reduce the deficit in the second half, notably when home goalkeeper Pau Lopez did brilliantly to fingertip the ball away from Gerard Deulofeu, who had been sent clear on goal following a horrendous mistake by Roma midfielder Bryan Cristante.

Pedro added Roma's third as they went above Juventus in the Serie A table
Pedro added Roma’s third as they went above Juventus in the Serie A table

Pedro added a third for Roma in stoppage time with a delightful strike into the top right corner after he was set up by fellow substitute Edin Dzeko.

Luis Muriel again came off the bench to score a last-gasp winner for Atalanta in a 1-0 victory at relegation-threatened Cagliari.

Muriel collected a long, cross-field pass, wriggled between two Cagliari players and slammed home a powerful shot.

Cagliari thought they had been given a stoppage-time chance to equalise when they were awarded a penalty after Marten de Roon appeared to trip Daniele Rugani, but it was rescinded after the referee reviewed the incident on the pitchside monitor.

Elsewhere, Sampdoria beat Fiorentina 2-1 while Sassuolo were also 2-1 winners at Crotone.

Ligue 1 – Lille back top, but only by a point

Lille were held in Ligue 1, but returned to the top of the table
Lille were held in Ligue 1, but returned to the top of the table

Lille reclaimed top spot in Ligue 1 but their lead shrunk to a single point as they were held to a goalless home draw by Stade Brestois.

The northerners, who had a goal disallowed by the VAR, have 55 points from 25 games as their six-match winning streak in the league came to an end.

After a lacklustre opening half, Lille increased the pressure but the visitors stayed compact at the back.

Jonathan David found the back of the net from close range but the goal was disallowed following a VAR review for a handball by Jose Fonte. Lille ended the game with not a single shot on target.

Monaco avoided a first defeat in 2021 as Wissam Ben Yedder, who scored twice, netted three minutes into stoppage time to salvage a point in a 2-2 home draw against Lorient.

Elsewhere, Antoine Kombouare won his first game in charge as Nantes beat Angers 3-1 away to snap a 15-match winless streak.

Nimes were 2-0 winners at Dijon, Strasbourg won 2-1 away to Metz while St Etienne also won on the road, beating Rennes 2-0.

Bundesliga – Frankfurt boost CL hopes

Evan Ndicka was on target for Eintracht Frankfurt
Evan Ndicka was on target for Eintracht Frankfurt

In-form Eintracht Frankfurt bolstered their bid for a place in the Champions League next season with a 2-0 win over Cologne.

Goals from Andre Silva and Evan Ndicka in the second half gave Frankfurt their seventh win from eight games in 2021 and stretched their unbeaten run in the league to 10 games.

Adi Hutter’s team missed a number of chances to score in the first half and Silva had a goal ruled out through VAR. The ball had gone out of play in the build-up early in the second, before the Portuguese finally broke the deadlock in the 57th minute.

Erik Durm tried his luck from distance but the shot was deflected into Silva’s path by teammate Daichi Kamada and the forward wasted no time in dinking it over the outrushing goalkeeper Timo Horn. Filip Kostic sent in a corner for defender Ndicka to head Frankfurt’s second in the 79th minute.

Elsewhere, Wolfsburg were held to a 0-0 draw by Borussia Moenchengladbach as their four-match winning run in the Bundesliga came to an end.

Yannick Gerhardt and Xaver Schlager almost snatched a dramatic victory at the death for the hosts but they were left frustrated.


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