Euro round-up: Real progress stalls at struggling Elche

Real Madrid were held to a disappointing 1-1 draw at struggling Elche on Wednesday, losing ground in the La Liga title race to leaders Atletico Madrid.

A header from Luka Modric gave the champions the lead in the 20th minute but Elche found a way back into the game when Fidel Chaves levelled from the penalty spot early in the second half.

Both sides had chances to take all three points, with Elche forward Lucas Boye striking the post, while Real defenders Dani Carvajal and Sergio Ramos were thwarted by fine saves from the home side’s ‘keeper Edgar Badia.

Elche had a last-gasp chance to win the game when they earned a free-kick in added time, but defender Gonzalo Verdu’s shot was tipped away by Real ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois.

Sergio Ramos is perplexed as a decision goes against Real Madrid
Sergio Ramos is perplexed as a decision goes against Real Madrid

The draw halted a six-match winning streak in all competitions for Real and left them second in the standings on 33 points, two behind city rivals Atletico who also have two games in hand. Elche are 15th on 16 points.

“We started well but our opponents had studied us well, they put everyone behind the ball and tried to hit us on the break and it’s not a huge surprise we couldn’t win,” said Real midfielder Casemiro.

Real had pulled themselves back into the title race with a run of five league wins in a row before the Christmas break and looked likely to notch another after an excellent first half.

Toni Kroos missed the target with a free header and Marcelo clanged the crossbar shortly before Modric put his side in front, following up a thumping strike from Marco Asensio which also hit the bar.

Luka Modric celebrates his goal against Elche as Real were held to a 1-1 draw
Luka Modric celebrates his goal against Elche as Real were held to a 1-1 draw

Zidane’s side had a penalty incorrectly awarded for a block by an Elche player which the referee thought had struck his arm, but the official corrected the decision after reviewing it on the pitchside monitor.

Elche only troubled Courtois once in the first half but earned a golden chance to level when Carvajal was penalised for grappling with Antonio Barragan.

Courtois guessed the right way but Fidel’s penalty had too much power.

They had their impressive Badia to thank for keeping it that way, the ‘keeper denying Ramos from point-blank range, moments after flying across his goal to push away a shot from Carvajal.

Luis Suarez celebrates scoring for Atletico Madrid against Getafe
Luis Suarez celebrates scoring for Atletico Madrid against Getafe

Real’s record signing Eden Hazard returned after over a month out injured but could not help his side get the winner they craved.

Meanwhile, Luis Surez led Atletico Madrid to a 1-0 victory over Getafe in the 500th game for coach Diego Simeone, extending their lead at the summit.

The Uruguay striker’s powerful header from Yannick Carrasco’s free-kick after 20 minutes was enough to ensure victory. It was Suarez’s eighth goal in the league this season since leaving Barcelona.

Serie B: Balotelli scores four minutes into Monza debut

Mario Balotelli celebrates after his goal just four minutes into his debut
Mario Balotelli celebrates after his goal just four minutes into his debut

Mario Balotelli scored four minutes into his debut for Serie B side Monza on Wednesday, setting them on the way to a 3-0 win over leaders Salernitana in his first senior match since March.

The 30-year-old former Italy international, starting out at the ninth club of his turbulent career, was left unmarked at the far post to side-foot the ball in from close range following a low cross.

The win left promotion-chasing Monza, who have never played in Serie A, two points behind their opponents.

Balotelli joined Monza this month and was warned by Adriano Galliani, the club’s chief executive, that it was “absolutely the last chance” to resurrect his career.


Euro round-up: Real move level with Atletico

Real Madrid drew level with Atletico Madrid at the top of La Liga with a 2-0 win over Granada.

Casemiro headed in a Marco Asensio cross to give his side the lead before Karim Benzema sealed Real’s sixth successive victory with a low drive.

Elsewhere in Spain, Getafe drew 1-1 with Celta Vigo, Alaves secured a 2-1 victory over Eibar and Cadiz lost 1-0 at Real Betis.

Serie A: AC Milan stay top

Theo Hernandez with team-mates Hakan Calhanoglu and Pierre Kalulu after heading AC Milan's winner
Theo Hernandez with team-mates Hakan Calhanoglu and Pierre Kalulu after heading AC Milan’s winner

Theo Hernandez’s winner gave AC Milan a last-gasp 3-2 victory over Lazio to keep them top of Serie A.

Ante Rebic headed in the opener and Hakan Calhanoglu converted from the penalty spot to double his side’s lead.

However, Lazio struck back with Luis Alberto finding the net from a rebound before Ciro Immobile made it 2-2 after missing an earlier penalty.

Hernandez’s late header left AC Milan one point ahead of city rivals Inter, who won 2-1 away at Verona.

Lautaro Martinez’s opener was cancelled out by Ivan Ilic, before Milan Skriniar’s header secured all three points for the visitors.

Also in Italy, Bologna were held to a 2-2 draw with Atalanta while Torino also shared the points with a 1-1 scoreline against Napoli.

Roma edged a narrow 3-2 win over Cagliari, with Sassuolo recording the same scoreline away at Sampdoria.

Genoa won 2-1 at Spezia while Udinese fell to a 2-0 home defeat to Benevento.

Ligue 1: PSG thrash Strasbourg; Lyon ease to Nantes win

Moise Kean (2L) celebrates with team-mates after scoring
Moise Kean (2L) celebrates with team-mates after scoring

In Ligue 1, Paris St Germain stormed to a 4-0 win over Strasbourg to stay one point off leaders Lyon.

Timothee Pembele secured the lead for the home side in the 18th minute, before late goals from Kylian Mbappe and substitutes Idrissa Gueye and Moise Kean.

Lyon secured a comfortable 3-0 victory over Nantes, while Lille had a battle to remain level on points with the leaders in a hard-fought 3-2 away win over Montpellier.

Also in France, Bordeaux fell to a 3-1 home defeat to Reims while Lens beat Brest 2-1 and Nice drew 2-2 with Lorient.

Dijon took all three points in a 3-1 win at Nimes, Metz lost 1-0 away at Rennes, Marseille were beaten 2-1 at Angers while Monaco and St Etienne played out an exciting 2-2 draw.


‘Salah left door open for Barcelona, Real Madrid’

Mohamed Salah has left the door open for a future move to Barcelona or Real Madrid after describing the La Liga giants as “two top clubs”, according to Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero.

The Liverpool forward, whose current contract runs until 2023, expressed his admiration for both Spanish clubs in a recent interview – fuelling speculation around his long-term future.

“I think Madrid and Barcelona are two top clubs,” Salah told Spanish newspaper AS.

“Who knows what will happen in the future, but right now I am focused on winning the Premier League and the Champions League with Liverpool again.”

When pressed, Salah added: “That’s a tough question, but right now I can say that everything is in the hands of the club.

Sunday 27th December 4:15pm

Kick off 4:30pm

Sky Sports Main Event HDSky Sports Main Event HD

preview image


Vinny O’Connor reports on claims that Liverpool forward Mohamed Salah may be unhappy at Anfield

“Of course I want to break records here and, I repeat, all the club records, but everything is in the hands of the club.”

Montero believes Salah is open to the possibility of leaving Liverpool but says it is “almost impossible” for Real Madrid to afford the Egypt international in the current financial climate.

“Here in Spain we see this as a way of Salah not closing the door for Barcelona and even Real Madrid,” Montero told Sky Sports News.

preview image


FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from Liverpool’s win over Crystal Palace in the Premier League

“It is very well known that [Barcelona manager] Ronald Koeman needs some players. For example, he has asked for [Manchester City defender] Eric Garcia and Memphis Depay from Lyon.

“In the case of Real Madrid, it is a difficult situation right now economically because, although Mo Salah is an extremely good player and of course Real Madrid will need his goals with Karim Benzema, it is almost impossible.

“For instance, yesterday Real Madrid held their annual assembly. They’ve recognised that they’ve lost 107m euros because of the coronavirus crisis and after taxes, they finished the year with only 313,000 euros, which is of course a little amount of money when you count that Real Madrid’s budget every single year is over 800-850m euros.”

‘Real Madrid thinking about Mbappe, Haaland’

Montero says Real Madrid president Florentino Perez remains keen to sign Paris Saint-Germain forward Kylian Mbappe, with the club also interested in Borussia Dortmund’s Erling Haaland.

Mbappe has been repeatedly linked with a move to the Bernabeu, with Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane once claiming to be “in love” with the France international.

Kylian Mbappe
Spanish football expert Alvaro Montero says Real Madrid remain keen to sign PSG forward Kylian Mbappe

Montero believes Real Madrid could attempt to sign the World Cup winner, once the club has recovered the financial impact of the coronavirus pandemic.

“I would say that it is almost impossible for Real Madrid to try to buy a player in the next market,” Montero added.

“Let’s see what happens next summer. Real Madrid are thinking about Erling Haaland and, especially Florentino Perez, Kylian Mbappe.”


Real move joint-top with win at Eibar

Real Madrid forward Karim Benzema kept up his impressive run of form by scoring and providing two assists in a 3-1 win away to Eibar on Sunday, taking the champions level on points with La Liga leaders Atletico Madrid.

Benzema and Luka Modric struck early on as Real Madrid once again moved level on points with La Liga table-toppers Atletico Madrid following a hard-fought 3-1 victory at Eibar.

Real looked to be cruising after moving into a two-goal lead inside the opening quarter of an hour thanks to two of their veteran players finding the target, but Kike Garcia’s sumptuous 28th-minute strike halved the deficit.

Japanese midfielder Takashi Inui struck wide for the hosts after a mistake from Sergio Ramos on the edge of Real’s box, but Lucas Vazquez’s goal on the counter in added-on time ensured the visitors collected all three points.

It was a fifth win in a row in all competitions for Real as they moved back up to second, separated from Atletico only by an inferior goal difference although crucially their city rivals have two games in hand.

This was not a vintage display from Real as Eibar spurned several opportunities to level, having stumbled out of the blocks, but Zinedine Zidane’s side did enough to claim the spoils.

They took the lead following their first real opening, Benzema’s fifth-minute finish owing to an inch-perfect chip over the top from Rodrygo after the Brazilian had cut in from the left.

Benzema expertly controlled the ball with his right foot then found a way through the onrushing Eibar goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic with his left to put Real ahead.

They doubled their lead with only 13 minutes gone when Kevin Rodrigues was pickpocketed on the left byline. Benzema turned provider, pulling the ball back to the edge of the area before Modric rifled into the roof of the net.

Zinedine Zidane Eibar
Zinedine Zidane has managed to ease the pressure on his job in recent weeks

Benzema headed wide while an offside Rodrygo was denied by an acrobatic save from Dmitrovic as Real continued to turn the screw but Eibar then got a foothold into the game following a superb goal from Kike.

There looked to be little danger when Kike collected the ball 25 yards from goal but he turned and then produced an effort which curled into the top corner, out of reach of Thibaut Courtois’ outstretched hand.

Benzema was denied his second of the night by the video assistant referee, which ruled the Frenchman had strayed offside before finding the back of the net.

The reigning champions ended the first half on top but they were almost caught out just before the hour, Ramos inadvertently teeing up Inui after a sloppy pass. But Inui was unable to take advantage as he directed his effort wide of the goal.

Real forward Marco Asensio clattered the frame of the goal with his free-kick as he almost made an instant impression after coming off the bench.

As the game entered into the closing stages, there were some signs of nerves but Real were able to breathe a sigh of relief when Vazquez restored their two-goal advantage in the second minute of injury time.

Real turned defence into attack with lightning efficiency and Benzema was on hand to provide the assist for Vazquez, who made no mistake after being put through.????


Benzema boosts Real, Dortmund bounce back

Real Madrid were made to toil by the 10 men of Athletic Bilbao but eventually won 3-1 on Tuesday thanks to two strikes from Karim Benzema.

Athletic forward Raul Garcia was sent off in the 13th minute for a second booking, but Real only managed to take the lead right at the end of the first half thanks to a low drive from Toni Kroos.

The Basque side continued to cope well with their numerical disadvantage into the second half and grabbed an equaliser through Ander Capa in the 52nd minute.

But Benzema headed the champions back in front in the 74th minute.

Athletic substitute Mikel Vesga had a glorious chance to equalise in added time but was thwarted by an outstanding save from Thibaut Courtois and Benzema killed the game off by finishing on the counter-attack in the second minute of injury-time.

Bundesliga: Winning Dortmund start for Terzic

Borussia Dortmund celebrate their opening goal against Werder Bremen
Borussia Dortmund celebrate their opening goal against Werder Bremen

Edin Terzic enjoyed a winning debut as his new Borussia Dortmund side narrowly won 2-1 at Werder Bremen to earn their first win in four league games.

Terzic, a former Dortmund assistant coach, succeeded Lucien Favre on an interim basis after last weekend’s 5-1 demolition by Stuttgart.

Raphael Guerreiro’s 12th-minute volley gave the visitors a perfect start but the euphoria quickly fizzled out and Werder’s Kevin Moehwald levelled with a powerful shot in the 28th.

Werder goalkeeper Jiri Pavlenka was kept busy throughout and also denied 16-year-old Youssoufa Moukoko, making his first start in the absence of injured striker Erling Haaland.

But Pavlenka clumsily crashed into Manuel Akanji in the 78th minute to concede a penalty and though he saved Marco Reus’s initial spot-kick, he was beaten by the Dortmund captain on the rebound.

A first win since mid-November moves Dortmund up to fourth.

Lars Stindl scored a hat-trick – including two last-gasp goals – as Borussia Monchengladbach came from 3-1 down to rescue a 3-3 draw at Eintracht Frankfurt.

Andre Silva had scored twice for Frankfurt in the first half to cancel out Stindl’s 14th-minute opener, before Aymen Barkok’s fine solo goal made it 3-1.

After the 82nd-minute dismissal of Frankfurt’s David Abraham, Stindl scored what seemed a 90th-minute consolation from the spot but the Gladbach man then headed a stoppage-time equaliser to complete the dramatic finale.

Elsewhere, Stuttgart substitute Sasa Kalajdzic scored two late goals in a 2-2 draw with Union Berlin, while Hertha Berlin drew with visiting Mainz 0-0.

Serie A: Lazio stumble again in brothers’ battle

Simeone Inzaghi’s Lazio dropped more points as his brother Filippo’s Benevento frustrated their visitors in a 1-1 draw in Serie A.

Lazio raced into a first-half lead through a familiar source in Ciro Immobile and the Lazio forward will not score many better goals than his 25th-minute volley.

However, Pasquale Schiattarella’s strike on the stroke of halftime, another well-taken volley, levelled the scores.

The hosts, who had Schiattarella sent off in stoppage time, had the better of the chances to win it but had to settle for a draw.

After just one win in their last six games in all competitions, Lazio are languishing eighth in Serie A,

In the night’s other game, Udinese and Crotone played out a goalless draw.