Benzema converts 2 of 3 penalties, Madrid wins at Celta 2-1

Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema scores his side’s opening goal during a Spanish La Liga match against Celta Vigo at the Balaidos stadium in Vigo, Spain, on Saturday. (AP)
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Updated 02 April 2022

Benzema converts 2 of 3 penalties, Madrid wins at Celta 2-1

  • Benzema, who also had another spot kick saved in Vigo, missed Madrid’s 4-0 defeat to Barcelona
  • Madrid opened a 12-point gap over Sevilla and a 15-point advantage over Barcelona and Atlético Madrid

BARCELONA, Spain: With Karim Benzema back from injury, Real Madrid got back on the road to winning the Spanish league after the France striker scored two penalties in a 2-1 win at Celta Vigo on Saturday.
Benzema, who also had another spot kick saved in Vigo, missed Madrid’s 4-0 defeat to Barcelona before the two-week international break as he recovered from a left-leg injury.
Celta took the game to the league leaders, only to be undone by some rash defending in their area and some borderline calls by the referee. The third penalty that set up Benzema’s 70th-minute winner came after a questionable foul when Ferland Mendy stumbled over the leg of Kevin Vázquez. Celta also had a goal waived off in the first half after a video review.
Madrid opened a 12-point gap over Sevilla and a 15-point advantage over Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.
Next up, Madrid visit London on Wednesday to start their Champions League quarterfinal with Chelsea.
Benzema’s brace took his tally to 34 across all competitions, his best scoring mark since he joined Madrid 13 seasons ago. His previous best was 32 back in 2012. His remarkable campaign includes a second-half hat trick to eliminate Paris Saint-Germain from Europe’s elite tournament last month.
Madrid coach Carlo Ancelotti missed the match after testing positive for COVID-19 this week. His son, Davide Ancelotti, took his place.
Benzema put Madrid ahead in the 19th from the spot after Madrid defender Éder Militão was fouled by Nolito while trying to cross the ball inside the area.
Despite falling behind early, Celta produced more scoring chances than the pacesetters.
Thibaut Courtois made an excellent one-handed save to parry a free kick by Iago Aspas in the 23rd. Thiago Galhardo thought he equalized in the 39th with a header from a pass by Nolito, but a video review revealed that Aspas in an offside position interfered with defender David Alaba’s clearance attempt.
Celta’s insistence paid off in the 52nd when Aspas played the ball wide to Javi Galán, who squared the ball back into the heart of the area for the unmarked Nolito to beat Courtois and make it 1-1.
Benzema had a chance to put Madrid back ahead after Jeison Murillo tripped substitute Rodgyro in the box. Dituro, who was wearing a baseball cap to help keep out the glare from the setting sun, dove to his left to block Benzema’s try in the 64th.
But a few minutes later, Dituro could do little to stop Benzema’s third spot kick that he sent just inside the left post as the goalie fell the other way.
Celta forward Santi Mina was used as a late substitute after he spent this week on trial for allegedly having raped a woman in 2017. He denies any wrongdoing. The verdict is expected in weeks.


Haaland scores double as City cruise past Copenhagen, Chelsea boost knockout phase hopes

Updated 06 October 2022

Haaland scores double as City cruise past Copenhagen, Chelsea boost knockout phase hopes

  • Lionel Messi scored but Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica in Lisbon

PARIS: Erling Haaland continued his remarkable goalscoring form by netting twice as Manchester City thrashed FC Copenhagen 5-0 in the Champions League on Wednesday, while Chelsea saw off AC Milan to revive their hopes of reaching the last 16.

Holders Real Madrid survived a spirited challenge from Ukrainians Shakhtar Donetsk at the Santiago Bernabeu to win 2-1 and extend their advantage in Group F.

Lionel Messi scored but Paris Saint-Germain were held to a 1-1 draw by Benfica in Lisbon. 

Paris Saint-Germain's Argentine forward Lionel Messi celebrates with teammate Kylian Mbappe after scoring the opening goal during the  Champions League  Group H match between SL Benfica and PSG. (AFP)

Haaland went into City’s game against Copenhagen at the Etihad Stadium having becoming the first player in Premier League history to score three successive home hat tricks in Sunday’s demolition of Manchester United.

The Norwegian slammed in the opening goal on seven minutes with his weaker right foot before prodding in a rebound for his second 25 minutes later.

The 22-year-old has now scored 28 times in his 22 Champions League appearances, already breaking Ruud van Nistelrooy’s record for most goals in a player’s first 30 games in the competition.

“I’ve never witnessed anything like it in my life,” City’s Jack Grealish told BT Sport.

“For the first and second goals I was just laughing. He is always there.

“The ‘keeper said something to me as I was walking back. He said ‘He’s not human!’ I said ‘You’re telling me?’ Hopefully he can carry on this form and take us to glory.”

Visiting center-back Davit Khocholava put through his own net, with Haaland waiting behind him, to make it three before half-time.

Haaland was denied a fourth City treble as he was replaced at the interval, but a Riyad Mahrez penalty and Julian Alvarez’s fourth goal for the club completed the rout.

Pep Guardiola’s men remain three points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund in Group G and will qualify for the knockout phase with a victory in the Danish capital next week.

Jude Bellingham scored for the third time in as many Champions League outings as Dortmund romped to a 4-1 victory at Sevilla.

The Spanish club responded to the defeat — and a desperately poor start to the season which has left them 17th in La Liga — by sacking coach Julen Lopetegui shortly after the final whistle.

Chelsea ended their wait for a win in Group E as goals from Wesley Fofana, Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang and Reece James sealed an impressive 3-0 triumph over Italian champions AC Milan at Stamford Bridge.

The Blues made it back-to-back victories under new boss Graham Potter to set up a crucial clash at the San Siro in six days’ time.

Chelsea are second in Group E, level on points with third-placed Milan, one point behind leaders Salzburg who edged out Dinamo Zagreb 1-0.

“It’s easier when you win games,” said Aubameyang. “The mood is very good at the moment. We’ll try to keep it up.”

Shakhtar put on a battling display in Madrid, with goalkeeper Anatoliy Trubin making 11 saves, but could not overcome a two-goal deficit against Real.

Goals in the first half-hour from Rodrygo and Vinicius Junior put Real in control and the 14-time champions made it three wins from three in Group F despite Oleksandr Zubkov’s effort for Shakhtar.

Madrid will be sure of a last-16 spot if they can beat second-placed Shakhtar next time out.

RB Leipzig are just a point behind Shakhtar after Joe Hart’s error helped the Germans down Celtic 3-1.

The former England goalkeeper’s poor pass led to Andre Silva restoring Leipzig’s lead in the second half before the Portugal striker netted again late on.

Benfica remain level on points with leaders PSG at the Group H summit after a hard-fought draw against one of the tournament favorites.

Messi produced a trademark left-footed finish into the top corner after a neat exchange of passes also involving Neymar and Kylian Mbappe to score his 127th Champions League goal in the 22nd minute.

Benfica leveled four minutes before the break as Danilo Pereira scored an own goal and both sides spurned chances to win in the second half.

Messi only scored 11 goals in 34 games in his first season for PSG last term, but already has eight in 13 this time around.

“It’s normal, it takes a little time,” PSG skipper Marquinhos told Canal Plus. “Now he feels a little more comfortable... I hope Leo Messi has a great season until the end to win this title.”

Juventus moved within four points of the top two as Adrien Rabiot’s brace and a Dusan Vlahovic goal gave the Italians a 3-1 victory over Maccabi Haifa for their first points.


Fan who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run offered $2 million for ball

Updated 06 October 2022

Fan who caught Aaron Judge’s 62nd home run offered $2 million for ball

  • Cory Youmans grabbed the historic souvenir on the fly as it sailed into the front row of section 31 in left field

NEW YORK: The owner of a sports memorabilia auction house says he has offered $2 million to the fan who caught Aaron Judge’s American League-record 62nd home run.

JP Cohen, president of Memory Lane Inc. in Tustin, California, told The Associated Press on Wednesday that he has texted and emailed Cory Youmans, the man who caught Judge’s milestone shot Tuesday night at Globe Life Field in Arlington, Texas. Cohen says Youmans has not yet replied.

“I feel the offer is way above fair, if he is inclined to sell it,” Cohen said in a telephone interview with the AP on Wednesday.

Youmans grabbed the historic souvenir on the fly as it sailed into the front row of section 31 in left field. The homer pushed Judge past Roger Maris for the AL season record — a mark many consider baseball’s “clean” standard because the only National League players who hit more have been tarnished by ties to steroids.

Youmans, who is from Dallas, works in the financial world. He was asked Tuesday what he planned to do with the prize while security personnel whisked him away to have it authenticated.

“Good question. I haven’t thought about it,” he said.

The record price for a home run ball is $3 million, paid for Mark McGwire’s record 70th from the 1998 season.

Cohen had previously pledged to offer $2 million for Judge’s 62nd homer. He said his company has a good relationship with the Yankees and it would be willing to loan the ball to the team for an exhibit. He added the team has frequently exhibited items owned by Memory Lane at Yankee Stadium.

“We did make an offer of $2 million and that offer is still valid,” Cohen said.

After the Yankees lost 3-2, Judge said he didn’t have possession of the home run ball.

“I don’t know where it’s at,” he said. “We’ll see what happens with that. It would be great to get it back, but that’s a souvenir for a fan. He made a great catch out there, and they’ve got every right to it.”

Youmans was among the crowd of 38,832, the largest to watch a baseball game at the 3-year-old ballpark.


Chastened Man United back in Europa League action

Updated 05 October 2022

Chastened Man United back in Europa League action

  • United flew to Cyprus on Wednesday after Ten Hag held a summit with his players
  • He encouraged them to speak openly about their failures against City

DUBAI: Erik ten Hag says Manchester United will learn lessons from Sunday’s humiliating 6-3 loss to Manchester City.
The healing process begins with a trip to Omonia Nicosia for the third round of matches in Europe’s second-tier competition.
United flew to Cyprus on Wednesday after Ten Hag held a summit with his players where he encouraged them to speak openly about their failures against City.
Ten Hag said he was grateful to City manager Pep Guardiola for bringing his team down to earth after four straight wins in the Premier League had seen spirits rise at United.
“It was a reality check, so we have to learn from it and carry on,” he said. “But we can get a lot of confidence about this theory, when you beat Arsenal, you beat Liverpool and now we get a reality check with Man City — so we know we have to step up.”
In other standout matches, Roma have the chance to move level on points with Group C leader Real Betis when they meet in Italy, while Arsenal can go top of Group A with a win at home to Norwegian team
EUROPA CONFERENCE LEAGUE
West Ham go for a third straight win in their group as the English team head to Anderlecht for a repeat of the 1976 final of the now-defunct Cup Winners’ Cup.
West Ham, which have beaten Romanian club FCSB and Danish club Silkeborg, are one of five teams on a maximum six points — along with FC Basel, AZ Alkmaar, Villarreal and Istanbul Basaksehir


Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League

Updated 05 October 2022

Leipzig beats Celtic 3-1 for 1st win in Champions League

  • The win came at a cost as influential goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi had to be carried off early with an apparent right knee injury
  • Nkunku showed his class in the 27th when he went past Hart and finished from a narrow angle

LEIPZIG, Germany: Leipzig earned their first win of the Champions League season by beating Celtic 3-1 on Wednesday thanks to two late goals from André Silva and a defensive error from visiting goalkeeper Joe Hart.
The outstanding Christopher Nkunku also scored as Leipzig finally got off the mark in Group F after losses to Shakhtar Donetsk and Real Madrid. But the win came at a cost as influential goalkeeper Péter Gulácsi had to be carried off early with an apparent right knee injury.
Janis Blaswich replaced him for his Champions League debut.
Nkunku had a goal ruled out through VAR for offside shortly afterward, but the French player showed his class in the 27th when he went past Hart and finished from a narrow angle.
Kyogo Furuhashi had just gone close for the visitors, who suffered a further blow when captain Callum McGregor had to go off injured in the 37th.
Portuguese winger Jota equalized in the 47th when Furuhashi sent him through for a one-on-one with Blaswich. Jota sidefooted a low shot inside the far post for his first Champions League goal.
Dominik Szoboszlai struck the post in response, then thought he scored with a shot from 20 meters (yards) inside the far post. But VAR again ruled it out as André Silva had blocked Hart’s view.
The Celtic goalkeeper then gifted Leipzig their second goal when he passed straight to Szoboszlai, who teed up Silva to put the host ahead in the 64th.
Then Nkunku shone again with a brilliant ball for Mohamed Simakan to tee up Silva to seal the result in the 77th.
Celtic dropped to the bottom of Group F with one point.


Leverkusen fires coach Gerardo Seoane, appoints Xabi Alonso

Updated 05 October 2022

Leverkusen fires coach Gerardo Seoane, appoints Xabi Alonso

  • Seoane’s last game in charge was a 2-0 loss at Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday

LEVERKUSEN, Germany: Bayer Leverkusen have fired coach Gerardo Seoane and replaced him with Xabi Alonso.
The Bundesliga club said Wednesday that they had “parted ways” with the Swiss coach and appointed the 40-year-old former Spain midfielder, who was to be given a contract through June 2024.
Seoane’s last game in charge was a 2-0 loss at Porto in the Champions League on Tuesday, days after his team were routed 4-0 at Bayern Munich in the Bundesliga.
Leverkusen are second from bottom in the German league with just five points from the opening eight rounds. Seoane’s team were also knocked out in the first round of the German Cup by third-division team SV Elversberg.
Seoane led Leverkusen to third place in the Bundesliga last season after joining from Swiss team Young Boys in 2021.
Leverkusen said they would present Alonso at a news conference on Thursday.