CL round-up: Barcelona knocked out of CL after Inter win

Barcelona were knocked out of the Champions League before kicking a ball on Wednesday as Inter Milan’s 4-0 win over Plzen left them with only a Europa League place.

Ex-Premier League players Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Edin Dzeko scored first-half goals to set Inter on their way at the San Siro, before former Man City man Dzeko struck again in the second half. Romelu Lukaku rounded off the victory late on, meaning Barcelona can only finish third in Group C.

It’s the second straight season Barcelona, who host Bayern at the Nou Camp also on Wednesday, have exited the Champions League at the group stage, having gone 17 straight seasons making the knockout stages.

A lively opening yielded early chances for Inter but they were thwarted by Plzen goalkeeper Jindrich Stanek who pulled off a superb double save in the 25th minute before Mkhitaryan put the hosts ahead 10 minutes later.

The former Roma midfielder turned in Alessandro Bastoni’s looping cross and veteran Dzeko then put Inter in total command when he tapped home after Federico Dimarco had latched on to Nicolo Barella’s excellent crossfield pass.

Plzen, winless in this year’s competition, offered little offensive threat and were sliced open again in the 66th minute as Dzeko added to his tally when he swept in Lautaro Martinez’s pass inside the area.

Lukaku marked his long-awaited return from injury with a goal as he completed the rout after slotting past Stanek following a perfectly weighted through ball from Joaquin Correa

Porto boost hopes with big win in Brugge

Elsewhere on Wednesday, Porto gave their hopes of progress in the Champions League a major boost with a convincing 4-0 victory away at Group B leaders Club Brugge and could still have their advance to the knockout stage confirmed on Wednesday.

Mehdi Taremi put Porto into a first-half lead before goalkeeper Diogo Costa saved two penalties to deny the Belgian hosts a way back into the game early in the second half.

Evanilson, Stephen Eustaquio and Taremi then added three more goals in quick succession to give Porto revenge after they lost 4-0 at home to Club Brugge in mid-September.

The result left Brugge, already guaranteed a top-two finish, on 10 points as Porto moved up to nine and they will have qualification for next February’s knockout stage assured if third-placed Atletico Madrid, on four points, do not beat Bayer Leverkusen at home later on Wednesday

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Euro round-up: Dembele guides Barcelona to win over Bilbao

Ousmane Dembele scored and provided assists for Sergi Roberto, Robert Lewandowski and Ferran Torres as Barcelona cruised past Athletic Bilbao 4-0 in La Liga on Sunday.

Barcelona remain second in the standings on 28 points, three behind leaders Real Madrid and five clear of third-placed Atletico Madrid.

The hosts scored three times in 10 minutes in the first half, starting with Dembele’s towering header from close range in the 12th minute.

The French forward then put Roberto through with some brilliant one-touch build-up play in the 18th minute, with the Spanish full-back’s strike bouncing in off a defender past a helpless Unai Simon.

Four minutes later, Dembele ran down the right channel before crossing to Lewandowski who swivelled and finished with a powerful shot.

Barca took their foot off the gas after the break but there was still time for Dembele to deliver another assist less than 20 minutes before the end, playing the ball in from the left touchline for Torres to score from close range.

Serie A: Napoli’s winning streak continues

Napoli's Victor Osimhen scores his side's opening goal
Napoli’s Victor Osimhen scores his side’s opening goal

Napoli’s seemingly unstoppable streak continued when Victor Osimhen’s late strike secured a 1-0 win at Roma in Serie A on Sunday, putting them at 11 victories in a row in all competitions.

In front of a raucous crowd at the Stadio Olimpico, both sides were evenly matched in a slow-paced and uneventful first half.

Napoli thought they had a penalty in the 38th minute when ‘keeper Rui Patricio seemingly made a late challenge on midfielder Tanguy Ndombele but the decision was revoked after a VAR check.

Napoli controlled the game by the hour mark and had several chances to score, with Roma struggling to get the ball out of their own half.

Osimhen secured the win for Napoli 10 minutes before full-time when he volleyed in the ball from an acute angle with one touch.

Napoli now have a three-point lead at the top with 29 after 11 games, three ahead of AC Milan in second place. Roma are fifth with 22 points.

Bundesliga: Bochum stun Bundesliga leaders Union Berlin

Union Berlin suffered a shock defeat to Bochum
Union Berlin suffered a shock defeat to Bochum

Relegation-threatened VfL Bochum scored once in either half to stun Union Berlin 2-1, leaving the Bundesliga leaders with only a slim gap at the top and bagging a second win of the season to move off the bottom of the table.

Union, with the league’s best back line before the game, suffered only their second loss of the season and conceded more than one goal for only the second match in this campaign.

Philipp Hofmann’s glancing header two minutes before the break put Bochum in front as Union struggled to string together a decent play with the hosts’ high pressing game proving a major problem for Urs Fischer’s team.

Union’s Milos Pantovic whipped a shot just wide on the hour mark but it was Bochum, who had also hit the woodwork early in the second half, who scored again.

This time they struck on the break with Gerrit Holtmann completing the lightning-quick passing move, tapping in from a Christopher Antwi-Adjei assist.

Pantovic had another chance to put Union back in the game but the former Bochum player’s 78th-minute penalty was parried by ‘keeper Manuel Riemann. The Serb did eventually score, deep in stoppage time, with a powerful shot.

Union remain in top spot on 23 points, one ahead of champions Bayern Munich. Freiburg are third on 21.

Bochum’s second win of the season lifted them off last place and into 17th on seven points.

Ligue 1: Lille edge Monaco in storming 4-3 home win

Lille players celebrates after defeating Monaco
Lille players celebrates after defeating Monaco

Lille midfielder Remy Cabella struck twice to help his side to a hard-fought 4-3 win at home against AS Monaco in an electrifying Ligue 1 clash on Sunday.

Lille defender Alexsandro opened the scoring for the hosts in the 22nd minute after Adam Ounas sent in a free-kick for the Brazilian to finish off with a close-range header.

Monaco levelled 12 minutes later after an error by Lille goalkeeper Lucas Chevalier, who fumbled a free-kick by defender Caio Henrique and was unable to keep it out of the net.

Lille were quick to seek revenge when striker Jonathan David hit the post but Cabella was in the right place to follow up with a fine first-time shot from close range.

Monaco came back from behind once more just before the break when striker Wissam Ben Yedder set up Axel Disasi with a neat close-range pass for the defender to score with a low shot into the middle of the goal.

Ben Yedder put the visitors ahead in the 53rd minute when he lobbed Chevalier but Monaco’s joy was short-lived as Cabella found the back of the net again in the 62nd after a Lille counter-attack.

Lille winger Jonathan Bamba sealed their win in the 71st minute, putting a powerful shot into the roof of the net.

Lille moved up one place to sixth on 22 points from 12 games, sending rivals Monaco – with one less point – down to seventh.

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‘It’s perfect’ – How Golden State took Barca’s tiki-taka as inspiration

Klay Thompson has revealed how the NBA champion Golden State Warriors have taken inspiration from Barcelona’s tiki-taka style of football in recent seasons.

The Warriors, who kicked off their title defence with a 123-109 win against the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday, have been a dominant force under head coach Steve Kerr, winning four championships in the last eight years.

One of the most notable aspects of Golden State’s play during Kerr’s time in charge has been their impressive ball movement, with the 57-year-old adapting ideas used by Pep Guardiola during his time in charge of Barca for the basketball court.

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The Golden State Warriors got their title defence up and running with a comprehensive win over the Los Angeles Lakers

Thompson said that having a player open and keeping the ball moving are aspects they picked up from Barcelona and is in no doubt the Warriors’ approach is allowing him and last season’s NBA Finals Most Valuable Player Steph Curry to flourish as well.

“I give credit to Steve, he came in and he had a vision, just to keep that thing hot,” Thompson said after the season-opening win over the Lakers.

“He gave us the perfect example of FC Barcelona, they call it tiki-taka.

“It’s just kick it to the open man and with us give it to the open man, keep it moving, and it just plays to me and Steph’s strengths so much…it’s perfect.”

Tiki-taka, popularised by Barca during now-Manchester City manager Guardiola’s four seasons at the helm, is characterised by short, accurate passing to keep the ball moving without losing possession.

The style of play delivered huge success for Barcelona as Guardiola guided them to three La Liga titles and two Champions League triumphs between 2008 and 2012.

Curry hailed Barca and Guardiola back in 2016, as well as saying that players like their then talisman Lionel Messi served as an inspiration.

“The things they do in every game, and their style of play is very similar to ours,” Curry said at the time.

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Neymar trial continues

Paris Saint-Germain forward Neymar has told a court he did not take part in negotiations over his move to Barcelona from Santos in 2013. What could happen we can only guess, just like on online sportsbook.

The former Barcelona star and eight others are facing fraud and corruption charges relating to the forward’s transfer from Brazilian side Santos back in 2013. Neymar spoke about the move in a court on Tuesday and said his father took care of the negotiations and he was not involved. All of the defendants deny any wrongdoing.

“I didn’t participate in the negotiations. My father always took care of it and always will. I sign everything he tells me to sign,” he told the court. “Playing for Barcelona was always my dream, a childhood dream.”

Investment firm DIS owned 40% of Neymar’s rights and says it lost out financially as the player’s transfer to Barcelona was undervalued. Neymar and his father could both face a jail term and a large fine if they are found guilty of the charges.

Euro round-up: Real beat Barca to go top after dominant El Clasico win

Karim Benzema, Federico Valverde and Rodrygo were all on target as a dominant Real Madrid beat old rivals Barcelona 3-1 at home in ‘El Clasico’ on Sunday to move top of La Liga.

The defeat was another blow to Barca and manager Xavi Hernandez after they were left on the verge of Champions League elimination following a draw with Inter Milan in midweek.

Real are now on top of the standings on 25 points, three ahead of Barca.

Real boss Carlo Ancelotti said on eve of the game that he was not going to reinvent the wheel as he sought to avoid a repeat of the result between the sides in March, when he put midfielder Luka Modric up front only to get hammered 4-0 by the Catalans.

Real Madrid's Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring
Real Madrid’s Karim Benzema celebrates after scoring at the Bernabeu

There were no surprises in his line-up as he left it to his Barca counterpart Xavi to get inventive.

He left midfielder Gavi on the bench and, aware of the danger that in-form Vinicius Jr presented from the left wing, decided to start Sergi Roberto as a full-back on the right and rush back defender Jules Kounde, who has recently been nursing a hamstring injury, to cover the Brazilian.

But Barca had no answer to Vinicius Jr’s relentless pace and Toni Kroos’ precise passes for Real and both were the architects of several chances, including the first two goals.

The pair combined with nice one-touch passes in the build-up to Benzema’s opener with the France striker finishing into the empty goal on the rebound, after goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen denied Vinicius from close range in the 12th minute.

Ten minutes before the break, Vinicius took advantage of a mistake by defender Eric Garcia to run towards the area and create space for Valverde who – unmarked on the edge of the box – slotted a bullet strike past the goalkeeper.

Other than two early strikes by Frenkie de Jong and Raphinha, Real were barely threatened by their opponents until the final minutes, when substitute Ferran Torres reduced the deficit with a close-range strike from Robert Lewandowski’s low cross.

Barcelona's Ferran Torres celebrates his goal
Barcelona’s Ferran Torres celebrates his goal in the latest El Clasico match-up

However, Rodrygo secured the points from the penalty spot in added time, after he was tripped inside the area by Garcia.

The referee did not give the foul at first, but was alerted by the VAR and, after checking the video, gave Real the penalty.

“We are delighted not only for the win but for the way we played, it was an amazing afternoon in a packed stadium with our fans creating a fantastic vibe,” Modric told DAZN.

“We knew that there was going to come a time in the match where we were going to have to suffer because they handle the ball well and that is where we have to defend strongly and suffer and we have done it.

“Then we were very strong up front, and we are very happy with the match. We have made a great game today.”

Union outclass Dortmund with Haberer double

A dejected Juse Bellingham at Union Berlin
A dejected Juse Bellingham at Union Berlin

Union Berlin‘s Janik Haberer scored twice in 13 minutes as the Bundesliga leaders cruised past Borussia Dortmund 2-0 on Sunday to open up a five-point gap at the top of the league table.

Haberer first pounced when Dortmund keeper Gregor Kobel miskicked the ball, to tap in from close range in the eighth minute and then drilled in another with a powerful shot from the edge the box in the 21st minute.

Dortmund’s backline was leaking like a sieve in the first half and the visitors were lucky to go into the break with just a two-goal deficit as Union’s Sheraldo Becker wreaked havoc down the wing.

They improved after the break and Kobel redeemed himself for his first-half error with a full-stretch save to stop a Timo Baumgartl header but they completely lacked ideas in attack to threaten the hosts.

The win put leaders Union, who have the league’s best defence, on 23 points, five ahead of Freiburg who have 18 and face Bayern Munich, on 16, later on Sunday.

Dortmund’s fourth league loss of the season saw them drop to eighth on 16.

Unstoppable Napoli back on top with win over Bologna

Napoli returned to the top of Serie A after beating Bologna 3-2 thanks to a late Victor Osimhen goal on Sunday to lead the table by two points although the visitors made them fight for the win.

Napoli now have 10 wins in a row in all competitions and are on top of the table with 26 points after 10 games just ahead of Atalanta, with Lazio and Udinese level on 21 points.

Bologna striker Joshua Zirkzee opened the scoring in the 41st minute when he received a pass from Andrea Cambiaso inside the box and fired into the bottom right-hand corner of the net.

But the lead did not last long as Juan Jesus equalised four minutes later at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium.

Both teams played an intense second half, with Hirving Lozano putting the hosts ahead in the 49th minute. Musa Barrow equalised two minutes after that with a shot from a distance that Napoli goalkeeper Alex Meret fumbled into the goal.

Substitute Osimhen got what proved to be the winner in the 69th minute when he collected a through ball from Khvicha Kvaratskhelia and elegantly lobbed keeper Lukasz Skorupski.

Goals by striker Lautaro Martinez and midfielder Nicolo Barella helped Inter Milan ease to a comfortable 2-0 home win over Salernitana.

Inter, last season’s runners-up, moved up one place to seventh in the standings on 18 points. They are one point behind AS Roma and two adrift of fifth-placed AC Milan who have a game in hand and play at Verona later on Sunday.

Inter opened the scoring in the 14th minute through Lautaro, who lashed a shot from outside the box and the ball bounced in front of Salernitana keeper Luigi Sepe before finding the bottom corner.

Inter Milan's Nicolo Barella celebrates with his teammate Lautaro Martinez
Inter Milan’s Nicolo Barella celebrates with his teammate Lautaro Martinez

Barella doubled the hosts’ advantage at the San Siro in the 58th minute, controlling the ball superbly in the box and placing a shot into the bottom right corner.

Lazio coach Maurizio Sarri said the bad condition of the pitch at the Stadio Olimpico played a significant role in the 0-0 draw against visiting Udinese.

Lazio had won their previous four league matches, scoring 14 goals with none conceded, but fired blanks against Udinese.

“The team did try, but we were up against the worst possible opponents today, a really physical and fresh side when we played three games in seven days. If you then play on this turf, that becomes a big problem, Sarri told DAZN.

“I am a coach who wants his teams to make 700 passes to feet in every game, I am not suited to this type of pitch, so if this remains the pitch, the club should think of someone else.”

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