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Football PIX: Real Madrid end campaign with 12th league defeat

Last updated on: May 19, 2019 20:09 IST

IMAGE: Real Madrid's Nacho and Marcelo wear a dejected look as Jese celebrates scoring Real Betis's second goal with teammates. Photograph: Juan Medina/Reuters

Real Madrid's harrowing season came to a fittingly miserable end on Sunday as they slumped to a staggering 12th La Liga defeat, losing 2-0 at home to Real Betis as many fans left the stadium early and those who stayed booed the players off the pitch.

With Gareth Bale, Toni Kroos and Thibaut Courtois all sitting on the bench, Betis forward Loren Moron put the visitors in front in the 61st minute, completing a sweeping counter-attack by slamming the ball into the roof of the net from close range.

 

Former Madrid forward Jese Rodriguez sealed the victory for Betis, who finished the season 10th in the standings but have earned away victories at the Nou Camp and the Santiago Bernabeu, by tapping into the net unmarked in the 75th.

Madrid ended the campaign third in the standings on 68 points, their lowest total since the 2001/02 season, while they lost 12 league games for the first time since the 1998/99 campaign.

They finished eight points behind runners up Atletico Madrid and are 18 behind champions Barcelona, who visit Eibar later on Sunday.

"We started the season badly and we've finished it badly," said Madrid defender Marcelo.

"We didn't want the season to be like this at any stage, we wanted to be in finals competing for trophies, it's been a tough season, one of the hardest on a personal level, we tried to sort things out but now we're just looking to next season."

Madrid's only good opening in another dismal display fell to top scorer Karim Benzema, who struck the post from inside the box in the first half.

Betis dominated the play and would have scored earlier had it not been for some impressive saves from Keylor Navas, who was given a rousing reception from supporters in what was believed to be his last game for the club.

Spanish media reports also say that Bale will not be at the club next season, but the Wales forward, who was left out of the squad for last week's defeat at Real Sociedad, was given no opportunity for a final run out at the Bernabeu.

Madrid's record signing and a scorer in two Champions League final triumphs, Bale was seen grimacing as he sat on the bench when his side were 2-0 down and when the fulltime whistle came he walked straight down the tunnel without acknowledging fans.

Madrid coach Zinedine Zidane would not be drawn on whether Navas or Bale would leave the club, but said players' futures could not dictate whether or not he picked them.

"I don't know if it's the last game for them or not, I don't know what's going to happen. Keylor played well but we'll see what happens next season," he said.

Asked about whether Bale deserved a chance to play one last game, he said: "I'm sorry he didn't get to play, but no-one knows what will happen.

"If I think a player doesn't fit in the team I have to do what I think works best. No-one can change what Bale has done for the team, but as a coach I have to live in the present."

Lyon demolish Barca to win Women's Champions League

Lyon

IMAGE: Olympique Lyonnais' Dzsenifer Marozsan and team mates celebrate winning the Women's Champions League final with the trophy. Photograph: Bernadett Szabo/Reuters

Norwegian Ada Hegerberg fired Olympique Lyon to an unprecedented fourth straight Women’s Champions League title with a first-half hat-trick in a 4-1 win over Barcelona in Saturday’s final at Budapest’s Groupama Arena.

The French side, packed with some of the finest international talent in the women’s game, proved far too strong for a Barcelona team playing in their first Champions League final.

Hegerberg struck her three goals in a blistering 16-minute spell midway through the first half as Lyon swept aside the Spaniards.

“It was almost a perfect match and that is rare in a final as a lot of things come into play, such as emotions. We managed to put that to one side,” said Lyon coach Reyneld Pedros, who said his team were “writing history”.

“It’s a lot of work but a lot of fun, too. If you look at this match, you can only be happy about what we’ve achieved,” he said.

Stronger, faster, smarter and more clinical, Lyon with 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Hegerberg in deadly form, showed exactly why they have reached eight finals in the past 10 seasons and are the undisputed powerhouse of European women’s football.

Starting as underdogs, Barcelona knew they would have to deliver the performance of their lives to have a chance against Reynald Pedros’s expensively-assembled team and they had an early opportunity but their Liverpool-born forward Toni Duggan dragged her shot wide of Sarah Bouhaddi’s right-hand post.

Lyon responded to that early warning in swift and decisive fashion, taking a fifth-minute lead when Dutch winger Shanice van de Senden’s low cross was confidently converted by Budapest-born German international Dzsenifer Marozsan, to the delight of Hungarian fans in a 19,487 crowd.

Nine minutes later Hegerberg made no mistake from another low cross from Van de Senden after England’s Lucy Bronze had set up the counter-attack with a strong breakout from the back.

Barca were struggling to get any kind of foothold in the game and it was 3-0 in the 19th minute when Amel Majri’s ball from the left was driven home first time by 2018 Ballon d’Or winner Hegerberg.

Barca were unable to deal with Lyon’s high press and physical presence in the centre of midfield while, at the back, the low balls in from Lyon continued to prove fruitful.

The 23-year-old Hegerberg completed her hat-trick on the half-hour after the overlapping Bronze whipped in a ball from the right and Hegerberg took full advantage of the opportunity to beat Sandra Panos again.

It was little more than a damage-limitation exercise for the Spaniards after the break and when they did get a sniff of a chance, Lieke Martens and Vicky Losada were unable to find the target.

They gained some consolation however when substitute Asisat Oshoala pulled a goal back in the 89th minute after a clever through ball from Lieke Martens.

“The main message I want to convey to the team is that they should be proud of their achievement,” said Barcelona coach Lluis Cortes.

“We should work to make sure next year we are closer. We don’t have the final experience of Lyon. It was the first for all of us and that counted against us in the early minutes.”

Boys from Seixal help Benfica to another Portuguese title

Benfica

IMAGE: Benfica's Joao Felix celebrates scoring their first goal. Photograph: Pedro Nunes/Reuters

A group of young and ambitious players who came through Benfica's famous youth academy in Seixal, south of Lisbon, helped the team secure Portugal's Primeira Liga title on Saturday, a victory celebrated by fans across the country.

Benfica coach Bruno Lage took a leap of faith in January this year by giving a chance to Seixal-based youngsters, elevating them to the club's first-team squad.

"It was crucial to have younger players in the first team," Lage told reporters after their 4-1 victory over Santa Clara.

"It's important for others young players from Seixal to believe that it's possible to reach the main team in the future.

"It was a huge achievement for us and especially for the fans who have supported this group of young people immensely."

The key to Lage's success was uncovering the potential of 19-year-old Joao Felix, who trained at the youth academy, giving him a role in the team that helped him to find space between the lines and behind main striker, Haris Seferovic. Together they scored 38 goals and contributed 12 assists.

Benfica also moulded 21-year-old centre back and Portugal international Ruben Dias, who has developed into a key player for the Lisbon club, making 60 appearances this season

Players including Manchester City's Bernardo Silva and Ederson, Juventus' Cancelo and Bayern Munich's box-to-box midfielder Renato Sanches are just some to have come through Benfica's youth academy in Seixal, which was founded in 2006.

Lage, 43, took other important youth players from Seixal, including 19-year-old Florentino Luis, a defensive midfielder who has been linked with a move to Manchester City and 20-year-old Jota, a creative winger who previously had a trial at Manchester United.

Benfica had a disappointing start to the season under former coach Rui Vitoria, suffering three defeats in 15 games, leading to his departure in January.

Lage shook things up, making Benfica the highest scoring team in the Primeira Liga, with a remarkable 72 goals in 19 games without losing since he took charge, winning times and drawing once.

Turning an inflexible 4-3-3 formation into a dynamic 4-4-2, Lage brought right-footed Portuguese winger Rafa to life by moving him to the left side, which allowed midfielder Pizzi to attack more freely on the right.

Benfica regained first place in the table after beating former champions Porto away in March, a pivotal result in their journey to winning a 37th Primeira Liga title, with 87 points.

In terms of goals scored, the season was one of their best in decades, boosted by a 10-0 win against Nacional.

Despite their domestic success, Benfica failed in European competition.

After being beaten by Bayern Munich and Ajax Amsterdam in the Champions League group stage, Benfica dropped into the Europa League.

They reached the quarter-finals where a 4-2 home win against Eintracht Frankfurt in the first leg of their last-eight clash was not enough to put them through after losing 2-0 away.

Scolari's Palmeiras easily beat Sampaoli's Santos

In a duel between two world-renowned coaches in Brazil's Serie A on Saturday, Luiz Felipe Scolari's Palmeiras overran Jorge Sampaoli's Santos 4-0 at the Pacaembu stadium.

Gustavo Gomez put Palmeiras 1-0 up after just five minutes and Deyverson doubled their lead 13 minutes later.

A deflected goal from Raphael Vega six minutes into the second half made it 3-0 and Hyoran completed the scoring on the counter attack three minutes from the final whistle.

The result means Palmeiras retain their position at the top of the Serie A.

The current champions have 13 points from five games, three points ahead of Santos, who drop from third into fourth place.

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