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PIX: Real Madrid thrash Alaves to widen lead; PSG lose

February 20, 2022 10:49 IST
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IMAGE: Real Madrid's players celebrate after Karim Benzema scored the third goal against Deportivo Alaves at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu in Madrid on Saturday. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

Real Madrid dug deep in a 3-0 home win against lowly Alaves, scoring all three in the last 27 minutes of the game after the visitors gave them a few scares early on and threatened to pull off an upset at the Bernabeu stadium on Saturday.

 

Marco Asensio roused the Bernabeu in the 63rd minute with a brilliant curled shot into the top right corner from outside the box.

Vinicius Jr extended the lead in the 80th minute, and Karim Benzema added one more with a stoppage time penalty kick.

IMAGE: Marco Asensio celebrates after scoring the opening goal for Real Madrid in the 63rd minute. Photograph: Denis Doyle/Getty Images

The LaLiga leaders moved up to 57 points from 25 games, seven ahead of Sevilla and 14 clear of Real Betis - both of whom have a game in hand over Real. Champions Atletico Madrid are fourth with 42 points, three more than Barcelona.

"Our fans ask us to win always and we have to deliver it, we are used to the pressure, and in the second half they gave us the support we needed to win," Dani Carvajal told reporters.

"I understand the fans being upset, in Real Madrid the highest level is a must," Carvajal said, referring to booing from the stands after a goalless first half against the second-from-bottom side.

While the result may have looked comfortable, Real looked tired and sluggish from the start, managing only two shots on target in the first half.

Manager Carlo Ancelotti, who has often been criticised for the lack of rotation in his starting 11, made no changes until Asensio and Vinicius had worked their magic late on.

The win may give Real a bit of breathing room at the top of the table - but not enough to lower the pressure or expectations they face from their fans.

Rebic saves Milan, Mourinho sent off in Roma draw

IMAGE: AC Milan's Olivier Giroud clashes with Salernitana's Luca Ranieri as the referee Michael Fabbri intervenes during the Serie A match on Saturday. Photograph: Ciro De Luca/Reuters

Serie A leaders AC Milan averted a shock defeat to basement club Salernitana on Saturday, with Ante Rebic rescuing a 2-2 draw with a late strike from long range.

Milan, who are chasing a first title in 11 years, went ahead in the fifth minute with a strike from Brazilian attacking midfielder Junior Messias after he had been released by full back Theo Hernandez.

Salernitana pulled level in the 29th minute through an overhead kick from striker Federico Bonazzoli and then took a surprise lead in the 72nd with a diving header from Bosnian forward Milan Djuric.

The home side's euphoria did not last long, however, as Croatian midfielder Rebic let fly with a low shot from outside the box which skidded into the far bottom corner of the net.

The draw meant Milan failed to extend their lead at the top of the table and they sit on 56 points after 26 matches, two ahead of neighbours and champions Inter Milan, who have two games in hand and can regain top spot when they host Sassuolo on Sunday.

Salernitana stayed rooted to the foot of the table but moved on to 14 points.

"The fact we fought back for a draw is positive but we came here for a win. We are disappointed because we didn’t play our usual football," said Milan coach Stefano Pioli.

“We did not play well technically and made some bad choices with the ball. Our passing was sloppy and we were too hurried and paid a big price for the errors we made, which were naive."

Earlier on Saturday, Roma fought their way back from two goals down to salvage a 2-2 draw at home to Verona but coach Jose Mourinho was sent off in added time for gesturing towards the referee.

Roma, who had a depleted squad due to injuries and a COVID-19 outbreak, trailed early on to a tap-in from Antonin Barak in the fifth minute and an Adrien Tameze strike in the 20th.

The hosts pulled themselves back into contention thanks to two teenage substitutes, Cristian Volpato, 18, getting their first goal back in the 65th minute before 19-year-old Edoardo Bove levelled in the 84th.

The revival did not manage to satisfy Mourinho, however, and the Portuguese was sent off right before the final whistle for kicking a ball away in frustration after pointing at his head while staring at referee Luca Pairetto, appearing to make the sign of a telephone.

Mourinho declined to speak to the media after the game.

Nantes stun wasteful PSG

IMAGE: PSG's Lionel Messi disappointed after losing their match against Nantes. Photograph: Stephen Mahe/Reuters

Nantes stormed into a three-goal halftime lead and then rode their luck to win 3-1 at home on Saturday and hand runaway leaders Paris St Germain their second Ligue 1 loss of the season.

Nantes saw little of the possession, had a player sent off only to see the red card overturned on VAR review and then watched as Neymar squandered a penalty in a thrill-a-minute clash at the Stade de la Beaujoire.

But they came away with a full haul of points in a surprise reversal for the star-studded PSG line-up.

Randal Kolo Muani put Nantes ahead within four minutes after a storming run down the left wing by Moses Simon, and they were 2-0 up some 12 minutes later when teenager Quentin Merlin scored his first goal for his hometown club with a rasping left-footed shot.

Nantes defender Dennis Appiah was sent off two minutes before the break for tripping Kylian Mbappe as he headed goalwards. But the referee was asked to review his decision by the VAR and changed it to a yellow card when replays showed the clash was not as cynical as first presumed.

VAR then intervened again in stoppage time before the break when Georginio Wijnaldum handled the ball in his own penalty box, handing Nantes a spot kick which Ludovic Blas converted for a stunning halftime lead.

PSG, who started the game 13 points clear of second-placed Olympique de Marseille, pulled a goal back a minute into the second half as Lionel Messi set up Neymar for a clinical finish.

The Brazilian, back in the starting line-up for the first time since November, then had a chance to further reduce the deficit when Appiah again brought down Mbappe, but Neymar’s penalty was a weak effort straight at Alban Lafont.

Mbappe then produced an uncharacteristic miss from point-blank range in the final 20 minutes as PSG kept up the pressure but were unable to make use of their numerous chances.

The win saw Nantes leap from 10th to fifth in the Ligue 1 standings as they push for a spot in next season’s European club competition.

Earlier on Saturday, Olympique Lyonnais came from a goal down to hold hosts Racing Lens to a 1-1 draw as striker Tino Kadewere scored his first goal since March.

Lens took a 13th-minute lead through Jonathan Clauss and had the ball in the net again in the 37th minute, but Seko Fofana’s effort was ruled out after a VAR check. Kadewere’s equaliser came on the stroke of half-time.

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