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PIX: Barcelona, Juventus win; PSG lose at home

December 14, 2020 10:15 IST
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Lionel Messi dragged a nervous Barcelona to a 1-0 win at home to Levante in La Liga, while Cristiano Ronaldo converted two late penalties on his 100th appearance for Juventus in all competitions as the Serie A titleholders ground out a 3-1 win away to a dogged Genoa side.

Images from the football matches played on Sunday.

Messi fires anxious Barca to victory

IMAGE: Barcelona's players celebrate after Lionel Messi scored a goal against Levante, at Camp Nou, in Barcelona, on Sunday. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images

Lionel Messi dragged a nervous Barcelona to a 1-0 win at home to Levante in La Liga on Sunday to cool tensions after a chaotic week at the Catalan club.

 

Barca had dominated the game but failed to keep their composure in front of goal until Messi latched on to a through ball from Frenkie de Jong and thumped it in off the far post in the 76th minute.

The Argentine punched the air more in relief than celebration, having fired blanks in Barca's recent painful defeats by Cadiz and Juventus.

Barca were still made to sweat to gain all three points, surviving a late VAR review for a possible handball against Samuel Umtiti plus a last-gasp volley from Levante player Son which landed in the hands of keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen.

The win lifted Barca up to eighth in the standings on 17 points after 11 games, closing the gap with leaders Real Sociedad and second-placed Atletico Madrid to nine points.

"We always find it hard against Levante as they work so hard, they have a deep squad but we played well, we were better defensively than in recent weeks and we created many chances," said Barca left back Jordi Alba.

"Luckily we were able to take one of them and got the three points. You have to give credit to the team as every player stood tall today."

Levante often prove a handful to Barca when playing at home in Valencia but they have never taken a point off the Catalans at the Camp Nou.

They came mightily close to doing so, however, as Barca struggled to cope with their opponents' defensive tactics, repeatedly interrupting the home side's play with their compact banks of four defenders and midfielders.

When Barca did manage to come up against Levante keeper Aitor Fernandez they tended to shoot straight at him or miss the target, such as when Clement Lenglet somehow squandered an open goal in the first half.

Messi also looked to be lacking sharpness, slicing a shot hopelessly wide in the opening period and needing 12 shots to find the net once and win the match.

Juventus grind out win at Genoa with Ronaldo penalties

Cristiano Ronaldo

IMAGE: Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates after scoring the second goal for Juventus against Genoa. Photograph: Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

Cristiano Ronaldo converted two late penalties on his 100th appearance for Juventus in all competitions as the Serie A titleholders ground out a 3-1 win away to a dogged Genoa side on Sunday.

Ronaldo, who also converted two penalties in the 3-0 win at Barcelona on Tuesday, struck in the 78th and 89th minutes, taking his tally to 10 in the league this season -- as many as the entire Genoa team -- and 14 all competitions.

Juve, chasing a 10th successive Serie A title, are fourth with 23 points from 11 games and are still unbeaten, although they have drawn five times. Genoa, who narrowly escaped the drop last season, are one off the bottom with six points.

Juve had 71% of possession but, not for the first time, Andrea Pirlo's team struggled to open up stubborn opponents from the wrong end of the table.

"We had to put the Barcelona game out of our minds," said Juventus coach Andrea Pirlo. "We knew we were up against a team that wanted to close ranks, so we had to be patient.

"The most important thing was our attitude -- we couldn't wait for them to play but we had to attack them."

Cristiano Ronaldo

IMAGE: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the second goal for Juventus from the penalty spot. Photograph: Paolo Rattini/Getty Images

It took them 57 minutes to break through when Weston McKennie flicked the ball to Paulo Dybala and the Argentine beat Mattia Perin with a shot inside the near post for his first league goal of the season.

Genoa replied out of the blue four minutes later, Stefano Sturaro sidefooting past Wojciech Szczesny from Luca Pellegrini's cross to score against his old club.

Dybala had a goal disallowed for offside and Ronaldo sent a free header straight at Perin before Juventus eventually wore Genoa down.

With 12 minutes left, Juan Cuadrado was sent sprawling by a clumsy Nicolo Rovella tackle and Ronaldo fired his spot kick into the middle of the goal.

Perin then upended Alvaro Morata after Genoa gave the ball away in defence and Ronaldo duly blasted the ball into the roof of the net.

"It was annoying to concede a goal at literally the first shot on target, especially a few minutes after we broke the deadlock, but we recovered from it," said Pirlo.

"Dybala needed the goal to unblock himself mentally and physically. We've been waiting for this and now we expect even more from him."

PSG lose at home to Lyon, surrender top spot to Lille

Neymar

IMAGE: Paris St Germain's Neymar reacts after sustaining an injury. Photograph: Charles Platiau/Reuters

A lacklustre Paris St Germain dropped down to third in Ligue 1 after Tino Kadewere earned visitors Olympique Lyonnais a 1-0 victory at the Parc des Princes on Sunday.

The French champions, whose forward Neymar sustained a possible ankle injury in stoppage time, were never in the mix as they surrendered top spot to Lille, who claimed a no-nonsense 2-1 win at home against Girondins de Bordeaux earlier.

Lille have 29 points from 14 games, leading second-placed Lyon on goal difference with PSG on 28 points after their fourth defeat of the season.

Olympique de Marseille are fourth on 27 points with two games in hand, in a tight top five separated by three points.

Following their 5-1 win in the Champions League against Istanbul Basaksehir, PSG struggled early on and had only two chances through Alessandro Florenzi.

Kadewere put the visitors in front 10 minutes before the interval with a low, angled shot after being set up by Karl Toko-Ekambi.

The Zimbabwean is now the third Lyon player with five goals or more in Ligue 1 along with Memphis Depay and Toko-Ekambi.

PSG failed to react, prompting Thomas Tuchel to ring the changes in the 65th minute. Ander Herrera came on for Leandro Paredes, Idrissa Gueye replaced Marco Verratti and Kylian Mbappe came on for the hugely disappointing Angel Di Maria.

It had little effect, however, as Lyon continued to threaten and PSG keeper Keylor Navas was forced to stretch to parry away a powerful half-volley from Lucas Paqueta.

PSG stepped up a gear in the finale but Lyon were well organised and held on for a deserved win, their fifth in a row.

Neymar was carried off the pitch on a stretcher seven minutes into stoppage time with a possible ankle injury following a poor tackle from Thiago Mendes, who was sent off.

Earlier, Jonathan Bamba and Jose Fonte both found the back of the net before the break for Lille, who offered few chances to their opponents in yet another solid performance.

Toma Basic scored for Bordeaux, who had picked up seven points from their previous three outings and dropped down to 11th on 19 points.

Bamba put the hosts ahead after 16 minutes with a delightful curled shot that went in off the far post.

Basic, however, levelled on the half-hour mark by latching on to Hatem Ben Arfa's corner.

Benoit Costil kept Bordeaux afloat with a fine save to deny Jonathan David but he could not deny Fonte, who restored Lille's advantage, on the stroke of halftime.

Christophe Galtier's side kept pushing after the break, but Burak Yilmaz and David both missed clear chances.

Lille, however, stayed solid at the back and cantered to a routine victory.

AC Milan fight back to draw 2-2 at home to Parma

IMAGE: Theo Hernandez, right, of AC Milan celebrates after scoring their team's second goal with teammate Franck Kessie against Parma. Photograph: Marco Luzzani/Getty Images

Serie A leaders AC Milan maintained their unbeaten league record in dramatic fashion on Sunday when Theo Hernandez scored twice, including an injury-time equaliser, as they fought back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at home to Parma.

Milan, again missing talismanic forward Zlatan Ibrahimovic through injury, hit the woodwork four times and also saw a first-half goal disallowed while Parma scored from two of their three shots on target.

Milan, who have gone 23 Serie A games unbeaten since losing to Genoa in March, stayed top with 27 points from 11 matches, but saw their lead cut after the five teams behind them all won.

Inter Milan are second with 24, followed by Napoli and Juventus (23), Sassuolo (22) and AS Roma (21).

"We didn't approach the game well, we were too relaxed, and then the game became difficult against opponents who were playing well," said Milan coach Stefano Pioli.

"We had a lot of chances to equalise early on, but we're a team with heart and character and we got it back in the end. A point won? We always play to win, I think there were chances to bring home the three points."

Parma, who have 11 points, stunned the hosts by taking the lead after 13 minutes, with Hernani scoring after Gervinho burst down the left and pulled the ball back.

Samu Castillejo thought he had equalised in the 24th minute but VAR showed that he was offside and Milan's frustration grew before halftime.

Brahim Diaz and Hakan Calhanoglu both saw shots bounce off the crossbar in successive attacks and Calhanoglu also struck the post from a free kick before the break.

Incredibly, Calhanoglu saw another effort smash the bar after halftime and Parma doubled their lead in the 56th minute when Hernani found an unmarked Jasmin Kurtic, who steered the ball home.

Hernandez almost immediately pulled one back for Milan, heading in from a corner to set up a dramatic last half hour.

The French left back completed the fightback in the 91st minute, firing the ball into the net from a rebound after keeper Luigi Sepe blocked Ante Rebic's shot.

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