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Antoine Griezmann scored all four goals as Atletico Madrid swatted aside Leganes 4-0 in La Liga on Wednesday to cut the gap on leaders Barcelona to four points. Barcelona visit Las Palmas on Thursday before hosting Atletico on Sunday. French forward Griezmann bagged two goals in each half in astunning display to become the first Atletico player this century to score hat-tricks in successive league games.
He also became the first Atletico player to net four in a match since Radamel Falcao in 2012 and brought up his 100th goal for the club he joined in 2014.
“It’s a great feeling, the team are on an upward curve,” coach Diego told a news conference. “We’re in good form, we need to focus on carrying on improving as a side. We’ve tried to be tighter than we were last time out.
“Leganes has a couple of chances, but we improved and were able to seal the win.”
Leganes had started strongly and were unfortunate not to open the scoring. Atletico goalkeeper Jan Oblak tipped Gerard Gumbau's thunderous effort on to the bar before Filipe Luis blocked Gabriel’s follow-up on the line in a frantic openingquarter in which Griezmann struck the woodwork.
The Frenchman made no mistake, however, as he ran on to Koke’s sumptuous through ball to finish after 25 minutes and soon doubled his tally with a stunning free kick. The hat-trick was completed with a towering header before Griezmann volleyed in a fourth to complete an eighth successive victory for Simeone’s team in all competitions.
“We now need to go and play the best we can against an opponent who has not lost in the league yet this season,” Simeone added ahead of the trip to Barcelona.
“We’re doing well, but we need to be humble at
Barca given we’re going to play the best side in the land.”
Blatter appeals for World Cup without VAR
Banned former FIFA president Sepp Blatter said that the World Cup should not be used as an occasion to experiment with video replay technology.
Blatter's comment on Twitter followed a series of confusing incidents involving the Video Assistant Referee (VAR) system which is being trialled in Italy's Serie A, the English FA Cup, Germany's Bundesliga, the Portuguese league and other competitions around the world.
The sport's law-making body IFAB is due to decide on Saturday whether to approve VAR on a permanent basis and FIFA has already said it intends to use the system at the World Cup in Russia in June and July.
"A personal appeal to IFAB the Guardians of the Laws of the Game: FIFA WC cannot be used as experiment for such a fundamental change: VAR," said Blatter.
The latest confusion involving VAR was at Wednesday's English FA Cup match between Tottenham Hotspur and Rochdale, where the London side had an early goal disallowed and a penalty later awarded by the VAR.
Afterwards, Tottenham manager Mauricio Pochettino said VAR risked killing emotion in the sport, echoing a sentiment which has already been expressed by some Serie A coaches.
It was not clear if Blatter was appealing for IFAB to reject VAR outright or give it more time.
Blatter quit after 17 years as FIFA president in June 2015 after the global soccer body was engulfed in a corruption scandal. The 81-year-old was later banned from the sport for six years for ethics violations.
Blatter, who has always denied wrongdoing, told Reuters last month he was considering legal action to clear his name. Last week, he tweeted his support for Morocco's bid to host the 2026 World Cup.
AC Milan reach cup final on penalties after goalless 210 minutes
AC Milan will face holders Juventus in the Coppa Italia final after beating Lazio 5-4 in a tense penalty shootout on Wednesday which followed three and a half hours of goalless football between the two sides.
Earlier, Juventus scored from a disputed penalty to beat Atalanta 1-0 and reach the final for the fourth season in a row, winning their two-leg semi-final 2-0 on aggregate.
Having played to a 0-0 draw in their first leg at the San Siro one month ago, Lazio and AC Milan produced a repeat performance in Wednesday's return at a freezing Stadio Olimpico despite creating plenty of chances.
Nikola Kalinic should have won it for Milan two minutes from the end of extra-time but fired over the crossbar from 12 metres.
Ciro Immobile scored the opening penalty for Lazio but the next four spot kicks were all saved by the respective goalkeepers, Thomas Strakosha for the hosts and Gianluigi Donnarumma for Milan.
That was followed by a sequence of converted penalties which took the shootout to sudden death until Luiz Felipe fired over the crossbar from Lazio's seventh attempt and Alessio Romagnoli converted for Milan.
Atalanta, trailing 1-0 from the first leg, put up a brave fight in Turin but were finally undone in the 75th minute.
The ball was chipped into the Atalanta area where Juve midfielder Blaise Matuidi went tumbling to the ground as he and Atalanta defender Gianluca Mancini leapt for the ball, although contact looked to be either minimal or non-existent.
Miralem Pjanic ignored the Atalanta protests to score.
Juventus enjoyed a let-off minutes earlier when Atalanta captain Alejandro Gomez was sent clear of their defence, tried to chip the ball past Gianluigi Buffon as the goalkeeper rushed out of his area and saw his effort hit the post from 40 metres.
It was Atalanta's second cup exit in less than one week after they were knocked out of the Europa League by Borussia Dortmund the previous Thursday.
"We're convinced it wasn't a penalty. It's a shame, but Juventus deserved to win," said Atalanta coach Gian Piero Gasperini.