Nov 24 2013
Atletico's success this season has been built on solidity but they tore apart a sorry Getafe in the late game through their attacking play, despite leaving a less-than-fully fit leading scorer Diego Costa on the bench.
Kiko and Arda Turan tormented the fullbacks as Getafe were pushed back and Raul Garcia headed the opening goal from a corner midway through the first half.
Luck was also against the visitors as Albert Lopo diverted a Koke effort past his keeper and then shortly before the break, Juan Valera was dismissed for a second yellow card.
In the second half, the traffic remained flowing in one direction with two headed goals from Villa and Raul Garcia.
Costa was introduced for the last half hour and he scored a spectacular overhead kick before Villa and Adrian Lopez wrapped up a night full of goal action.
Elsewhere, a late goal from Antonio Cassano snatched a surprise 1-0 win for Parma at Napoli.
Parma moved up to 10th after Cassano's classy low strike from outside the area won a precious three points for his side. Napoli stayed third on 28 points, four behind unbeaten league leaders AS Roma who take on Cagliari on Monday.
Milan dropped to 11th on 14 points after Alberto Gilardino equalised from the spot for the visitors when Urby Emanuelson clumsily brought down Sime Vrsaljko, four minutes after Kaka's elegant fourth-minute opener.
Mario Balotelli compounded Milan's misery by missing a 36th-minute penalty, only the second time in his career he missed from the spot.
Not even Thomas Manfredini being sent off after fouling Balotelli for the penalty could help toothless Milan who have not won in five league games and saw their misfiring strikers waste a series of chances.
Chievo Verona stayed bottom despite a stoppage-time Dejan Lazarevic strike earning a dramatic 1-0 derby victory against Hellas Verona.
Nov 24 2013
Mario Goetze returned to haunt his former club Borussia Dortmund as Bayern Munich won 3-0 at the Westfalenstadion.
Goetze broke the deadlock in a tense game with 24 minutes left to go, while Arjen Robern and Thomas Mueller found the net late on with two to turn a victory into a drubbing.
Dortmund had the best chances in the first half. Robert Lewandowski wastefully fired over a volley, unmarked in the penalty area, on the 4th minute. On the half hour, Marco Reus took advantage of a slip in the Bayern defence, but could only smash the ball straight at Manuel Neuer.
Bayern dominated possession in the early stages, but faded as the half progressed, and Mario Mandzukic’s weak overhead kick was easily saved by Roman Weidenfeller.
On 66 minutes, Goetze opened the scoring as Philipp Lahm spread the ball to Muller on the right, who fired the ball into the ex-Dortmund man, who took one touch and used the outside of his right boot to fire into the far corner.
As the game became more open, Dortmund had chances to equalise. Henrikh Mkhitaryan failed to bring down a Grosskreutz cross quickly and fired over, while moments later Reus’ shot from just outside the area was saved brilliantly by Neuer.
On the 85th minute, Robben burst through the centre, and sealed the win with a wonderful chip over the keeper. Two minutes later, Muller slotted home Lahm’s pullback to make victory complete.
Pre-match: Manuel Friedrich, signed on a free transfer, has not played since last season for Bayer Leverkusen, starts the match. Mario Goetze is dropped to the bench.
4’ - LEWANDOWSKI MISS - The Polish striker volleys wide when unmarked in the penalty area.
29’ - NEUER ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Nov 24 2013
Gareth Bale insists he is settling in at Real Madrid after early injury problems hampered his first few weeks at the club.
Bale, who moved to the La Liga giants in a world-record transfer of £85 million from Tottenham in the summer, suffered two thigh strains in his first month in Spain. However, the Welshman says those issues are now behind him.
"I felt very comfortable straightaway. Obviously after an injury and a bit of a slow start I am enjoying everything on the pitch now and I am just looking forward to the rest of the season," Bale told reporters.
"It's been great since I have been here, everyone has made me feel very welcome," he added.
The 24-year-old and his Real team-mates take on Almeria this weekend before clashing with Roberto Mancini's Galatasaray in the Champions League next week.
Bale is confident Los Blancos can claim at least a point in Europe to secure progression to the knockout stages of the competition, which could lift the side in their quest to topple Barcelona in La Liga.
"I think it is important first and foremost that we qualify mathematically and we make sure we get through that, but even with the Champions League, we're 100% focused on the league as well," he said.
"No matter what competition it is, we'll be going out to win every single game."
Nov 24 2013
Sergio Aguero has shrugged off speculation linking him with a return to Spain as the striker declared he is happy to stay at Manchester City.
The 25-year-old has been linked with Real Madrid throughout his City career, despite joining the 2012 Premier League champions from Atletico Madrid.
But Aguero, who has scored 12 times in his last 10 games for City, said he is enjoying life in Manchester and benefiting from playing in the Premier League.
"The truth is that I'm happy," he is quoted as saying in the Mirror. "The club treats me very well. It's very calm - it's different to being in Spain or Argentina.
"I've always said that in every match, watching or training, you learn things. It's like in any job, you know what to do or not to do.
"The same happens on the pitch. You think where you have to attack, where you feel comfortable inside the area. It's like you read where you can make the centre-backs feel uncomfortable.
"You're always improving. English football, for example, being so fast, it allows you to develop your concentration and refine your technique. So every day you're learning and I feel that I still have plenty to learn.
"The only thing I do is enjoy football, rest, be at home and then go out or walk around or eat in peace."
Nov 24 2013
Manuel Pellegrini admitted he faces a selection dilemma whether to recall Joe Hart against Tottenham on Sunday but said he was encouraged by the goalkeeper's fine performance for England against Germany.
The Manchester City manager has omitted the 26-year-old from his team for the last four matches, preferring Costel Pantilimon instead, after Hart made mistakes that cost his side goals against Cardiff, Aston Villa, Bayern Munich and Chelsea.
But Pellegrini believes it helped Hart that he returned to form in his country's colours, when he made several fine saves.
"I think he did very well," the Chilean said. "It was very important for him. It was most useful to play the game."
Pellegrini is set to select his side the day before the game and, asked if Hart would be starting, replied: "I don't know. We will see tomorrow [Saturday] the starting 11."
The former Malaga manager praised Hart for his positive approach during his time on the bench and said the Englishman has proved an ally to Pantilimon during the Romanian's time in goal.
He added: "Joe didn't change when he was playing or on the bench. His attitude was really professional and very good for the team. He was the same player when he played and when he didn't play.
"He was always supporting Pantilimon and talking in the dressing room so he was doing very well."
Matija Nastasic and Fernandinho, who both missed City's 1-0 defeat to Sunderland with minor knocks, are fit to return.
Pellegrini added: "Nastasic played with his international squad. Also Fernandinho worked the whole week without any problem."
Nov 24 2013
Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge came off the bench to snatch a 3-3 draw in a pulsating Merseyside derby not without its share of controversy.
Sturridge was not deemed fit enough to start after playing 90 minutes against Germany in midweek with a dead leg but came on to salvage a point for the Reds. Prior to his 89th-minute intervention it appeared Everton's Kevin Mirallas would be the man to remember as the home side twice came from behind.
Mirallas may have been outdone by compatriot Romelu Lukaku, who scored twice in the second half, but he had a hand in all three goals. However, the debate will rage as to whether he should have been on the pitch for the last two assists for a knee-high challenge on Luis Suarez which could - and probably should - have seen red.
Philippe Coutinho and Suarez had put the visitors ahead scoring either side of Mirallas' equaliser and although Lukaku appeared to have turned the result on its head Sturridge had the final say.
For all the preamble about this being a derby for the purists and a fiesta of passing football from two like-minded managers, it was slightly ironic five goals came from set-pieces.
Roberto Martinez encourages his Everton squad to play with freedom but he would not have been happy they afforded that luxury to Coutinho from Steven Gerrard's fifth-minute corner. The Liverpool captain swung over his cross from the left, Suarez could not get the significant touch to direct it goalwards but it was enough to send it to the little unmarked Coutinho who prodded home a shot at the far post that James McCarthy on the line could not stop.
A raucous Goodison Park was silenced briefly but within three minutes they ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
An horrendous mistake from Southampton goalkeeper Artur Boruc help set Arsenal on their way to a 2-0 win at the Emirates Stadium which sent Arsene Wenger's men four points clear at the top of the Premier League.
Boruc made a complete mess of his footwork when caught in possession by Olivier Giroud in the six-yard box on 22 minutes, with the striker sweeping home into an empty net. Arsenal never looked in danger of relinquishing their advantage and settled the game with a late penalty from Giroud to take full advantage of Liverpool's draw in the Merseyside derby at Everton.
Kick-off was delayed by 15 minutes following problems on the Piccadilly underground line.
Southampton were thumped 6-1 here last season, a result which hastened the end of Nigel Adkins and the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino. However, the visitors - unbeaten in eight league games, with just one defeat - were certainly not looking for a repeat result this time around, with attention very much fixed on looking up the table.
Arsenal, though, fashioned the first opening after 11 minutes. England midfielder Jack Wilshere, showing no signs of his involvement at Wembley over the international break, charged into the right side of the penalty area and looped the ball over Boruc. However, it dropped onto the inside of the far post before bouncing back into the arms of the grateful Saints keeper.
The hosts continued their patient build-up and unlocked Southampton's defence again on 17 minutes, only to be denied by the same woodwork. Mesut Ozil's cross was flicked goalwards by Aaron Ramsey, but, with the keeper beaten, the ball shaved the outside of the right post.
There was, though, no saving Boruc when he gifted Arsenal the lead on 22 minutes. Boruc - beaten ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Nov 24 2013
Frank Lampard scored twice against his former club as Chelsea claimed a comfortable 3-0 win in the London derby at West Ham.
Lampard converted a penalty after Jussi Jaaskelainen upended Oscar when trying to meet Guy Demel's dreadful back-pass, with the Finland goalkeeper fortunate to stay on the field.
Oscar added a second before the break for Jose Mourinho's men and Lampard scored his second late on with a trademark effort from the edge of the area to extend West Ham's winless home run to five matches.
The strikes were Lampard's first Premier League goals since the opening day of the season, ending a 10-match scoreless run, as he took his tally to five goals in his last five league appearances against the club he left in the summer of 2001.
West Ham claimed a 3-1 win in the same fixture at Upton Park last season and started brightly, but it was Chelsea's attacking quartet of Samuel Eto'o, Eden Hazard, Oscar and Ramires - deployed further forward with John Obi Mikel drafted into defensive midfield - who always looked dangerous.
Ravel Morrison was prominent early on before Chelsea went in front through a terrible Hammers error. Demel failed to deal with a harmless-looking lofted ball into the area, playing the ball weakly with his thigh back in the vague direction of Jaaskelainen.
Oscar nipped in and the goalkeeper dived at the feet of Brazilian, only to fell the Chelsea forward and concede a penalty.
Referee Chris Foy opted not to dole out further punishment when Jaaskelainen might have been dismissed for denying a goalscoring opportunity and Lampard stepped up to blast the spot-kick into the net.
The 35-year-old headed a yard wide from Hazard's cross as Chelsea threatened again before doubling their ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)
Nov 22 2013
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Kobe Bryant did not practice Thursday, missing the Los Angeles Lakers' first team session since returning to basketball activities last weekend after seven months off following Achilles surgery.
Coach Mike D'Antoni would not call Bryant's decision to use Thursday for treatment a "setback," characterizing it more as a reminder of the process the 35-year-old still must go through before making the leap from practices to suiting up for a game.
"He had a hard two days and just took the day off, and he'll either ramp it up [Friday] or the next day," D'Antoni said.
Bryant was experiencing "a little bit of soreness" in his left foot, according to a team spokesman, and D'Antoni stressed that rest is necessary for the 18-year veteran along the comeback trail.
"I think it's just precautionary," D'Antoni said. "I know everybody is eager, but it's going to be a little bit of a process and [we will] make sure he is healthy when he comes back."
D'Antoni said that Bryant is unlikely to play Friday against the Golden State Warriors. Sunday's game against the Sacramento Kings is also a "doubtful" debut date for Bryant, according to a league source.
Bryant regressed some in his on-court performance Wednesday after playing for the second straight day, according to D'Antoni.
"It's just like training camp," D'Antoni said. "By the third day, it's tough. And that's what he's kind of going through right now."
Pau Gasol also shrugged off Bryant's decision to sit out.
"Not concerned at all," Gasol said. "I don't know when he's going to play, but if he's not going to play the next couple games, I think it's good for him to get a couple good practices in, take a step ..... (article cut to save bandwidth)