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Rediff.com  » Sports » Soccer Briefs: PSG rally past Strasbourg; Bayern snatch late win

Soccer Briefs: PSG rally past Strasbourg; Bayern snatch late win

Last updated on: February 18, 2018 12:32 IST

Neymar in action

IMAGE: Paris Saint-Germain’s Neymar makes his way past Strasbourg’s Jonas Martin in Saturday's Ligue 1 match; Photograph: Benoit Tessier/Reuters

Paris St Germain continued their march towards the Ligue 1 title when they came from a goal down to beat Racing Strasbourg 5-2 at home and extend their lead at the top to 12 points on Saturday.

Strasbourg, one of only two teams to defeat PSG in the league this season, opened the scoring through Jean-Eudes Aholou.

The capital side levelled, however, through Julian Draxler before goals from Neymar and Angel Di Maria gave them a comfortable lead.

The visitors had briefly threatened a comeback when Stephane Bahoken reduced the arrears but PSG, who now have 68 points from 26 games, killed off the match with an Edinson Cavani double.

Second-placed Monaco are on 56 points after thrashing Dijon 4-0 at home on Friday.

Strasbourg went ahead on six minutes at the end of a sharp counter attack, after Neymar lost the ball in the visitors' half, only for Draxler to equalise four minutes later with a left-footed effort as PSG piled on the pressure.

Neymar dribbled through the defence in the 22nd minute before beating Alexandre Oukidja from close range.

PSG, who were beaten 3-1 at Real Madrid in their Champions League last-16 first leg on Wednesday, had it easier against Strasbourg and stretched their lead to 3-1 one minute later when Di Maria found the net from inside the box after dispossessing defender Pablo Martinez.

Bahoken pulled one back in the 67th minute with a fine shot from just outside the box but Cavani quickly dashed Strasbourg's hopes of a comeback.

The Uruguay striker chipped the ball past Oukidja to restore PSG's two-goal lead in the 73rd minute and added another six minutes later with a lob, his 23rd league goal of the season.

Bayern snatch win with late penalty

Robert Lewandowski

IMAGE: Robert Lewandowski scores Bayern Munich's second goal from the penalty spot. Photograph: Fabian Bimmer/Reuters

Robert Lewandowski converted a 90th-minute penalty as runaway Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich hit back to beat VfL Wolfsburg 2-1 on Saturday while bottom club Cologne were denied a rare win by a video replay.

Bayern clocked up a 10th successive Bundesliga win despite falling behind to an early Daniel Didavi goal and missing a penalty when Arjen Robben’s effort was saved by Koen Casteels after halftime.

Chasing a sixth successive title, Bayern moved 21 points clear of Bayer Leverkusen, whose 2-1 win at Hamburg SV pushed their opponents closer to a first-ever relegation, and RB Leipzig, who visit Eintracht Frankfurt on Monday.

With one eye on Tuesday’s Champions League tie at home to Besiktas, Bayern made eight changes to their side and were stunned when Didavi headed Wolfsburg in front after eight minutes.

Wolfsburg’s hardcore fans missed it, however, as they were outside protesting against the management of the club, founded in 1945, and had refused to enter the stadium until after 19 minutes and 45 seconds.

Bayern dominated possession and won a penalty early in the second half but Robben’s shot was brilliantly tipped on to the post by Casteels.

Robben made amends in the 67th minute when he crossed for Sandro Wagner to head in at the near post and then won the second penalty, helped by teenager Gian-Luca Itter’s naivety.

Robben burst into the area, but there seemed little danger until Itter grabbed the Dutchman’s arm and sent him tumbling over. This time, substitute Lewandowski took the penalty and converted, although Casteels again got a hand to it.

Wolfsburg were left in 13th with 24 points, only one point ahead of Mainz 05 who are in 16th, the relegation playoff spot.

Cologne thought they had snatched an injury-time win over Hannover 96 when 39-year-old Peruvian forward Claudio Pizarro netted, but the celebrations were rudely interrupted.

The referee consulted the video assistant (VAR) and disallowed the goal for offside against Marcel Risse, and the game ended 1-1, depriving the Billy Goats of what would have been only their fourth win of the season.

Yuya Osako had given Cologne the lead after half an hour but Niclas Fuellkrug equalised for Hannover seven minutes later.

The draw left Cologne with 14 points, three points behind Hamburg whose proud record as the Bundesliga’s only ever-present club is increasingly in danger after defeat to Leverkusen left them six points adrift of Mainz. 

Werder Bremen’s relegation troubles also deepened after a 1-0 defeat against Freiburg left them ahead of Mainz only on goal difference.

Nils Petersen converted a first-half penalty for the Black Forest team who were also awarded a second spot kick late in the game which Janik Haberer missed.

First-half goals from Thilo Kehrer and Breel Embolo, who scored into an empty net after he was gifted the ball by Kevin Vogt’s misplaced pass, set up Schalke 04 for a 2-1 win over Hoffenheim while Andrej Kramaric replied in the second half.

The win took Schalke up to fifth with 37 points, behind Borussia Dortmund on goal difference.

Barca back to winning ways

Jordi Alba

IMAGE: Jordi Alba celebrates scoring Barcelona’s second goal against Eibar. Photograph: Vincent West/Reuters

Barcelona got back to winning ways on Saturday after two consecutive draws, earning a 2-0 victory at Eibar thanks to goals from Luis Suarez and Jordi Alba to move 10 points clear at the top of the Liga standings.

Suarez latched on to a pass from Lionel Messi to dribble round the home side's goalkeeper and slot into an empty net in the 16th minute, while Messi hit the woodwork later in the game, as did Eibar's Fabian Orellana, who was sent off with 25 minutes remaining for a second booking.

Eibar coach Jose Luis Mendilibar was also dismissed later for angry protests against referee Alejandro Hernandez Hernandez.

Elsewhere in La Liga Valencia produced a quick-fire turnaround to win 2-1 at basement club Malaga and ensure they will end the weekend in third place, while Sevilla warmed up for their Champions League game with Manchester United next week by beating Las Palmas 2-1.

At Eibar, Messi's incisive ball to Suarez put him level with Real Madrid great Michel as the joint-top assist provider in the history of La Liga, with 147 goal-creating passes.

Messi was also involved when Barca finally made the most of their extra man in the 88th minute, running towards goal and into Eibar goalkeeper Marko Dmitrovic, allowing Alba to sidefoot the loose ball into the near corner with his weaker right foot.

Alba's goal, which he celebrated by sucking his thumb in dedication to his new-born son, sealed Barca's first win in three games after surprise successive draws against Espanyol and Getafe, which had cut their lead at the top of the league from 11 to seven points.

The hard-fought win takes Barca on to 62 points for the season, 10 above nearest challengers Atletico Madrid, who play Athletic Bilbao at home on Sunday. Champions Real visit Real Betis the same day.

Barca's victory also stretched their unbeaten run in the league to 31 games across two seasons, matching a club record set by Pep Guardiola's side in April 2011.

Valverde fielded a full-strength starting 11 despite the fact his side face a vital Champions League last-16 first-leg game at Chelsea on Tuesday, and he started veteran midfielder Andres Iniesta over record signing Philippe Coutinho, even though the Brazilian is cup-tied from European games.

Nigerian forward Brown Ideye gave struggling Malaga a surprise lead in the 27th minute against Marcelino's side and they looked on course for a first league win since Dec. 10 but Francis Coquelin equalised in the 80th minute and captain Dani Parejo netted the winner from the penalty spot in the 85th.

Sevilla warmed up for Wednesday's clash with Manchester United by winning 2-1 away to relegation-fighting Las Palmas to go fifth, provisionally, in the standings.

Vincenzo Montella's side marched into a two-goal lead through strikes from Wissam Ben Yedder and Pablo Sarabia either side of halftime.

The home team pulled a goal back through Jonathan Calleri's converted penalty and Sevilla enjoyed a huge slice of fortune when Alejandro Galvez scored for Las Palmas in injury time but his chipped goal was incorrectly ruled offside.

Deportivo La Coruna suffered a second straight defeat under Clarence Seedorf, the Dutch coach's side losing 1-0 at Alaves to a scorching strike from former Barcelona loanee Munir El Haddadi. Deportivo remain second-bottom of the standings on 17 points while Alaves move 10 clear of the relegation zone.

Bizarre own goal costs Inter dearly

One of the most bizarre own goals of the Serie A season set Inter Milan on their way to a 2-0 defeat at Genoa which cost them third place on Saturday.

Veteran Macedonia striker Goran Pandev scored the second against his old club as Inter slipped below AS Roma, who earlier won 2-0 at Udinese after Cengiz Under scored his fourth goal in three games.

Inter ended an eight-match winless run in the league by beating Bologna 2-1 at San Siro last Sunday but if they thought it signalled a change in fortune, they were mistaken.

On the stroke of halftime, Ervin Zukanovic swung in a cross, which Milan Skriniar hooked away. But his clearance ricocheted off Andrea Ranocchia and flew into the net, leaving goalkeeper Samir Handanovic stranded.

Handanovic had previously had a let-off when he misjudged Pandev's cross and the ball bounced over him, hit the crossbar and fell back into his arms.

Inter, who led the table in early December, fell further behind just before the hour as Diego Laxalt's shot from the edge of the penalty area was intercepted by Pandev, who controlled it superbly with one touch and placed his shot past Handanovic.

"It wasn't an especially bad performance, we did what we had to but then we conceded the own goal and that created problems because when you're in a bad patch, it becomes difficult to react," said Inter coach Luciano Spalletti.

"In the second half, we tried to take control of the match we couldn't move the ball around well enough. As soon as something goes against us, we lose our cool."

Roma, who travel to Ukraine to face Shakhtar Donetsk in the Champions League on Wednesday, scored twice in the last 20 minutes at Udinese to clock up their third successive win.

Under set them on the way, the Turk scoring with a 20-metre shot which swerved away from Albano Bizarri, and Diego Perotti sealed the win after capitalising on a mistake in the last minute.

Roma have 50 points from 25 games although there is a 12-point gap between themselves and second-placed Juventus, who visit Torino on Sunday. Leaders Napoli, a further point ahead, host lowly SPAL.

Chievo ended a 10-match winless run by beating Cagliari 2-1 to move away from the drop zone.

Former Juventus and Sunderland forward Emanuele Giaccherini, on loan from Napoli, curled in a free kick for the Flying Donkeys in the 74th minute and Roberto Inglese finished off a counter-attack for the second two minutes later.

Leonardo Pavoletti reduced the arrears for the Sardinians. Both teams have 25 points, eight clear of the relegation zone.

Juve edge past Torino for ninth win in a row

Titleholders Juventus overcame an early injury to striker Gonzalo Higuain as they edged past neighbours Torino 1-0 on Sunday to chalk up their ninth league win in a row.

With title rivals Napoli playing at home to SPAL later, Juve's win in the Derby della Mole meant that they will spend at least two hours on top of the table.

Higuain appeared to twist his ankle and soldiered on for another 10 minutes before being replaced by Federico Bernadeschi, who set up the goal when he pulled the ball back for Alex Sandro to tap in just after the half hour.

Torino, who missed an early chance when Andrea Belotti failed to control Joel Obi's pass with the goal at his mercy, lost confidence after falling behind and never looked like turning around the game.

Juventus, who have won seven and drawn one of their last eight meetings with Torino, have 65 points from 25 games while Napoli were on 63 ahead of their game.

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