Martial Denies Rangnick Claim Over Refusal To Be In United Squad

File photo: Manchester United’s French striker Anthony Martial (L) and Everton’s English midfielder Tom Davies vie to header the ball during the English Premier League football match between Everton and Manchester United at Goodison Park in Manchester United, north west England on March 1, 2020. Paul ELLIS / AFP


Anthony Martial contradicted Manchester United interim manager Ralf Rangnick’s claim he refused to be in the squad for Saturday’s match with Aston Villa saying he would “never disrespect the club and the fans.”

Rangnick was forced to leave one place on the substitutes bench unfilled for the 2-2 draw after he said Martial opted not to make the trip to Birmingham.

“Yes, he (Martial) didn’t want to be in the squad,” Rangnick told reporters after the match.

The 26-year-old France international striker is keen to leave the club his agent said last week and has been linked to a loan move to La Liga side Sevilla.

However, Martial insisted Rangnick was wrong to say he declined to travel to the match as part of the squad.

READ ALSO: Super-Sub Coutinho Caps Villa Revival To Frustrate Man Utd

“I will never refuse to play a match for Man Utd,” he posted on his Instagram account.

“I’ve been here for seven years and I never disrespected and will never disrespect the club and the fans.”

Martial has not played for United since the 3-2 win over Arsenal on December 2 — the final game before Rangnick officially took charge at Old Trafford.

He has started only two Premier League games this season and has scored just once.

Martial joined United in 2015 from Monaco but has struggled to hold down a regular first-team place in recent seasons.

He has fallen down the pecking order at United, who have an array of attacking talent to choose from, including Cristiano Ronaldo, Edinson Cavani, Marcus Rashford, Jadon Sancho, and Mason Greenwood.

He is under contract at United until 2024, with the club holding the option of an additional year.


Haaland Double Fires Dortmund Into Champions League Quarter-Finals


Erling Braut Haaland scored twice as Borussia Dortmund held off a late Sevilla fightback to reach the Champions League quarter-finals with a ‘crazy, amazing’ 5-4 aggregate win after a frantic 2-2 second-leg draw on Tuesday.

Haaland, who also netted a double in Dortmund’s 3-2 last 16 first-leg victory, tapped in a first-half opener and scored a retaken penalty after the break behind closed doors at Signal Iduna Park.

“It was a hard game –- I’m tired now, but to be in the next round feels very good,” Haaland told Sky.

“It was a crazy game and a crazy, amazing win.”

Sevilla forward Youssef En-Nesyri scored a 69th-minute spot-kick and a last-gasp equaliser but Dortmund clung on.

“We’re not happy with the result. Truth is, we didn’t have any luck –- they had one chance and they scored,” En-Nesyri told Movistar.

“We fought until the last minute.”

Haaland, the man of the match, is the competition’s top-scorer this season with 10 goals in six games.

The 20-year-old is the youngest player to reach 20 Champions League goals, in just 14 appearances, breaking the previous mark set by Kylian Mbappe.

“We have been punished by a player (Haaland) who will make his mark on this era,” predicted Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui.

Although they had lost three of their four previous games, Sevilla dominated the opening exchanges and Dortmund had to withstand intense early pressure before taking the lead against the run of play.

When the Spaniards lost possession in their own half, Dortmund midfielder Mahmoud Dahoud slipped a pass to Marco Reus, who sprinted to reach the ball at the byline and Haaland diverted in his cut-back.

‘Turbulent’ finish

He had the ball in the net again just after the interval, but the goal was disallowed after the referee decided Haaland had fouled Sevilla defender Fernando before firing home from a tight angle after consulting the pitchside monitor.

However, the referee also awarded a penalty after spotting a foul on Haaland earlier in the build-up.

Reus, Dortmund’s usual penalty taker, stepped aside to allow Haaland to take the spot-kick.

Although his first effort was tipped onto the post by Yassine Bounou, the Sevilla goalkeeper moved before the kick was taken and Haaland made no mistake with his second attempt.

Both Haaland and Sevilla midfielder Joan Jordan were booked for some pushing and shoving, with the La Liga side angered by Haaland’s celebrations.

“I missed the first penalty, but if he’d stood on the line I’d have scored, but he cheated,” added Haaland.

“I was a little bit nervous on the second penalty, but I knew it would be nice to score a second goal.”

Dortmund defender Emre Can also earned a yellow card and gave away a penalty for a blatant push on Sevilla forward Luuk de Jong, which Morocco striker En-Nesyri blasted home.

With five minutes left, Bounou produced a stunning reflex save from Dahoud’s shot in the area.

However, Sevilla were not finished and En-Nesyri netted again with a powerful header just before the final whistle as Dortmund weathered a late storm.

“It was a turbulent game,” said Dortmund caretaker coach Edin Terzic.

“It’s not a given for us to get this far, so now to be among the best eight in Europe makes us very happy. Erling Haaland was just outstanding.”


Barcelona Defeat Sevilla To Reignite La Liga Hopes

Barcelona's Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) celebtates with teammates after scoring during the Spanish league football match between Sevilla FC and FC Barcelona at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on February 27, 2021. CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP
Barcelona’s Argentinian forward Lionel Messi (L) celebtates with teammates after scoring during the Spanish league football match between Sevilla FC and FC Barcelona at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on February 27, 2021. CRISTINA QUICLER / AFP


Barcelona reignited their title hopes after Lionel Messi and Ousmane Dembele scored in a 2-0 victory over Sevilla on Saturday to put them two points behind Atletico Madrid. 

Atletico still have two games in hand, the first of those coming against sixth-placed Villarreal on Sunday, but a dip in form from La Liga’s leaders has given their chasing rivals hope.

Barca looked dead and buried a few weeks ago but this was their ninth win out of 10 in La Liga, a surge that has put them back in contention, with Atletico playing against Real Madrid next weekend.

“We’ve taken some big hits and we have got up again,” said Barca’s Gerard Pique.

“Of course the title race is on, there is confidence and a lot of hope in this team.”

Sevilla started the day as arguably the form team at the top, having won all of their last six league games, the last five of those without conceding a goal.

But they were second best at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, a dominant performance from Barcelona exposing them still as slightly short of Spain’s top three.

It also creates an intriguing back-drop to Wednesday’s Copa del Rey semi-final second leg when these two teams meet again, with Barca hoping to overturn a 2-0 deficit at Camp Nou.

Although Pedri and Ronald Araujo could be doubts after both were substituted in the second half with injury problems.

“We believe we can come back but Wednesday is a different game,” said coach Ronald Koeman. “We have to play a perfect match, only then do we have a chance.”

Koeman could well stick with his new 3-5-2 system, which saw Jordi Alba and Sergino Dest playing as wing-backs ahead of a back three and Dembele deployed up front alongside Messi.

Without Antoine Griezmann, who dropped to the bench, Koeman sacrificed some creativity in the final third for control through the middle, not to mention the threat of Dembele in behind.

Certainly for the best part of an hour Sevilla struggled to escape Barcelona’s press or establish any sustained pressure, even after Julen Lopetegui introduced three substitutes at half-time and switched formation to match their opponents.

Marc-Andre ter Stegen was passed fit to play by the team doctor despite hurting his right thumb in the warm-up and in truth it was hardly tested in the first half.

Barca controlled the game and while Alba and Dest never really advanced as much as Koeman might have liked, Frenkie de Jong and Pedri were a constant threat through the middle, with the speedy Dembele just in front.

Chances, though, were few and far between and it took a counter-attack for Barcelona to take the lead.

Fernando gave the ball away cheaply up front and two passes were enough, Messi curling the decisive one through for Dembele to race clear and finish.

Lopegtegui reacted with three changes at half-time and two more after the hour but even by matching Barcelona’s system, Sevilla struggled to gain a foothold.

Alba came up just short of De Jong’s cross, Dest slammed against the post and Messi blazed over after another surge from Dembele.

One of Lopetegui’s substitutes Youssef En-Nesyri had Sevilla’s best chance but headed over.

Yet without a second goal, a nervy finale was always likely and En-Nesyri found the corner on the turn but had the goal ruled out for a handball, his tussle with Araujo seeing Barca’s defender go off and he booted some chairs over in frustration.

But Sevilla’s push was brief, ended by Messi with six minutes left.

He traded passes with Ilaix Moriba, nipped inside Diego Carlos and tried to finish with a chip. Bono saved but the ball came to Messi, one yard out.



Martinez’s Extra Time Goal Hands Bayern Narrow Super Cup Win Over Sevilla

Bayern Munich’s German goalkeeper Manuel Neuer and his teammates celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Super Cup football match between FC Bayern Munich and Sevilla FC at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary on September 24, 2020. BERNADETT SZABO / POOL / AFP


Bayern Munich have won the 2020 UEFA Super Cup after beating Sevilla 2-1 courtesy of a Javi Martinez extra-time winner. 

Having equalised with a crucial 120th-minute goal seven years ago when Bayern won the 2013 Super Cup on penalties against Chelsea, Martinez struck on 104 minutes at the Puskas Arena to hand the Champions League winners’ a fourth title in 2020.

After Lucas Ocampos converted an early penalty for Sevilla, Leon Goretzka equalised for Bayern, who had two second-half goals disallowed before substitute Martinez, 32, struck.

Having replaced Goretzka on 99 minutes, it was Martinez – linked to a return to Spain after losing a first-team place under Hansi Flick – whose header extends Bayern’s winning streak to 23 games dating back to February.

Bayern had beaten PSG in the final of the UEFA Champions League to book a date with Sevilla. Photo: [email protected] Bayern Munchen.


Bayern can win a fifth title this year next Wednesday when they host Borussia Dortmund in Munich for the German Super Cup.

There were a smattering of travelling Bayern and Sevilla fans among the 15,500 crowd in Budapest as both clubs played for the first time in front of spectators since the Covid-19 pandemic first hit Europe in March.

Champions League winners Bayern fell behind for the first time this season on 14 minutes when the VAR judged David Alaba had fouled Ivan Rakitic in the area and Ocampos converted Sevilla’s penalty.


Bayern Munich players celebrate with the trophy after the UEFA Super Cup football match between FC Bayern Munich and Sevilla FC at the Puskas Arena in Budapest, Hungary on September 24, 2020. Laszlo Szirtesi / POOL / AFP


Alaba was booked for the challenge, but replays showed Rakitic seemed to run into the Austrian defender.

There were nervous glances in the Germans’ ranks, especially when defender Benjamin Pavard and Thomas Mueller both missed chances.

Goretzka got Bayern back on level terms when Mueller and Robert Lewandowski combined in the area for the midfielder to smash home the equaliser with 34 minutes gone.

It stayed 1-1 at the break, but Bayern turned up the heat on the Europa League holders.

Just six minutes after the break, Lewandowski had the ball in the net after being set up by Thomas Mueller, but the VAR spotted the Poland striker was just the length a of a boot offside.

Then with an hour gone, Bayern winger Leroy Sane was left frustrated after his shot powered past Sevilla’s Moroccan goalkeeper Bono, but the VAR spotted Lewandowski had the lightest of touches on a Sevilla defender in the build up.

Bayern maintained the pressre, but with the 90 minutes almost up Manuel Neuer underlined his status as one of the world’s best goalkeepers with a finger-tip save to deny Youssef En-Nesyri after Sevilla attacked from the edge of their own penalty area.

Sevilla made a great start to extra-time with Bayern in all sorts of trouble, as Ocampos had a shot blocked while En-Nesyri’s shot clipped the post after crashing off Neuer’s leg.

However, the scene was set for Martinez, a veteran of the side which won the 2013 Champions League final in London, to add to his chapter in Bayern’s folklore.


Sevilla Beat Inter To Win Sixth Europa League Trophy

Sevilla’s players celebrate with the trophy after winning the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Lars Baron / POOL / AFP


Sevilla won the Europa League for a sixth time as Diego Carlos’s overhead kick deflected in off Romelu Lukaku 16 minutes from time to beat Inter Milan 3-2 in a thrilling final in Cologne.

Carlos and Lukaku’s evening had got off to a very different start as the defender hauled the Belgian striker down and he converted the resulting penalty to put Inter in front after just five minutes.

Two Luuk De Jong headers turned the game around for Sevilla, but Diego Godin quickly levelled in a four-goal first half.

However, Italy’s wait for a first European trophy in a decade, and Inter’s nine-year trophy drought, goes on after Lukaku could not stop Carlos’s spectacular strike on another famous Europa League night for Sevilla.

Antonio Conte’s men will have a case that the Sevilla defender should have been sent off after just three minutes as Lukaku accelerated past him with ease on the counter-attack and was hauled to the ground by the Brazilian, who conceded an early penalty for the third consecutive game.

Carlos was only shown a yellow card, but Lukaku ensured Inter were rewarded as he confidently slotted home his 34th goal of the season to equal his idol Ronaldo’s record in his first season at Inter, which ended in Inter’s last UEFA Cup win 1997/98.

Sevilla players throw Spanish coach Julen Lopetegui in the air to celebrate after the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP


De Jong has been far from that prolific in his first season in Spain, but the Dutch international suddenly hit form at the right time as he was handed a start by Julen Lopetegui after coming off the bench to score the winner in the semi-final against Manchester United.

Inter did not learn from that goal against the English giants.

Jesus Navas was again the provider and when De Jong got across Godin, his diving header had too much power for Samir Handanovic.

Tempers were also flaring in a pulsating first half with frequent confrontations between the benches as they tried to influence Dutch referee Danny Makkelie.


– Inter Chances –

Conte was booked as Inter appealed for a second penalty when Nicolo Barella chipped ball into the arm of Carlos.

Sevilla upset the odds when they came from behind to beat Liverpool for the fifth Europa League title four years ago and did the same to another European giant when De Jong rose highest to loop a brilliant header over Handanovic from Ever Banega’s free-kick.

However, the lead only lasted three minutes as Godin made amends with a bullet header of his own as the Uruguayan became the first defender to score in a Champions League and Europa League final.

Both sides had conceded just once in three games since arriving in Germany and after four goals inside 36 minutes, Conte and Lopetegui restored some semblance of order to their defences at the break.

Brazilian defender Diego Carlos (C) celebrates after Sevilla scored the 3-2 goal during the UEFA Europa League final football match against Inter Milan on August 21, 2020, in Cologne, western Germany. Martin Meissner / POOL / AFP


Inter were made to rue wasting the better opportunities in the second half as Navas and Carlos converged to block Roberto Galiardini’s effort.

Lukaku then had the chance to cap his excellent first season in Italy as he raced through on goal 25 minutes from time, but just as in the semi-final victory over United, Sevilla goalkeeper Bono produced a vital save when needed.

And like so many of their previous five Europa League final victories, Sevilla conjured up a moment of magic allied with a slice of fortune they needed to again take the trophy they call their own back to southern Spain.

Inter failed to clear another Banega free-kick into the box and Carlos more than made amends for some of his heavy-handed defending with an overhead kick that deflected in off the unfortunate Lukaku.

Conte threw on the former Premier League trio of Christian Eriksen, Alexis Sanchez and Victor Moses in response and it was Sanchez who had the chance to make himself a hero by taking the game to extra time.

But the Chilean failed to get enough purchase on his shot among a goalmouth scramble and Jules Kounde cleared off the line.


Sevilla, Shakhtar Reach Europa League Semi-Finals

The wolves wall jumps for a free kick during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Ina Fassbender / POOL / AFP
The wolves wall jumps for a free kick during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Ina Fassbender / POOL / AFP


Sevilla and Shakhtar Donetsk qualified for the semi-finals of the Europa League on Tuesday after respective wins over Wolverhampton Wanderers and Basel.

Five-time competition winners Sevilla face Manchester United on Sunday after snatching a last gasp 1-0 win over Wolves, while Shakhtar take on Inter Milan on Monday after easily seeing off Basel 4-1.

The La Liga side made it through to their last four clash with United thanks to Lucas Ocampos’ brilliant headed winner with less than two minutes left on the clock, which ended Wolves’ dreams of European glory.

Shakhtar Donetsk's Portuguese coach Luis Castro (L) congratulates his players during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Basel at the Arena Aufschalke on August 11, 2020 in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP
Shakhtar Donetsk’s Portuguese coach Luis Castro (L) congratulates his players during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Shakhtar Donetsk v FC Basel at the Arena Aufschalke on August 11, 2020 in Gelsenkirchen, western Germany. WOLFGANG RATTAY / POOL / AFP


The Premier League outfit thought they were set to make the perfect start in the 11th minute when Adam Traore set off on a sensational surge towards goal from his own half and was chopped down in the area by Diego Carlos.

However Raul Jimenez, who had scored all of his previous eight penalties for Wolves, sent a weak spot-kick towards Yassine Bounou, who could hardly believe his luck as he batted the Mexican’s tame shot aside.

That was to be Wolves’ last shot on target of the match as chances became hard to come by, although Sevilla began to take a stranglehold on the play and force Wolves back into their own half.

Wolves, who were missing wing-back Jonny after the Spaniard damaged his cruciate knee ligament in the 1-0 win over Olympiakos that booked them a place in the last eight, struggled to get hold of the ball and keep it when they did.

However Sevilla couldn’t carve out many clear-cut opportunities, with Wolves’ defence managing to snuff out their opponents when they did manage to break free.

Ocampos snatches victory

The first good chance of the second half came when Jules Kounde met Suso’s beautifully flighted cross in the 66th minute, but the Frenchman had to stretch for the ball and sent it looping over the bar.

Eleven minutes later Rui Patrico did well to tip over Ever Banega’s dipping free-kick as Wolves began to rock, but the goalkeeper could do nothing to stop Sevilla’s winner with two minutes left.

Banega was again at the heart of the action, whipping in a fizzing cross that Lucas Ocampos did brilliantly to guide into the bottom corner and send his team into the semis.

In Gelsenkirchen Shakhtar booked their spot in the last four with a commanding win over Basel that will give Inter Milan something to think about ahead of their semi-final clash on Monday.

Sevilla's Argentinian midfielder Lucas Ocampos celebrates scoring his team's first goal during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP
Sevilla’s Argentinian midfielder Lucas Ocampos celebrates scoring his team’s first goal during the UEFA Europa League quarter-final football match Wolverhampton Wanderers v Sevilla at the MSV Arena on August 11, 2020 in Duisburg, western Germany. Friedemann Vogel / POOL / AFP


The Ukrainian side got off to a flyer thanks to Junior Moraes, who headed home Marlos’ corner with less than two minutes on the clock, and they never looked back from that point on.

Taison put Shakhtar two ahead 20 minutes later when his deflected shot flashed past Basel’s bamboozled goalkeeper Dorde Nikolic.

The match was over as a contest when Taison was brought down in the box, allowing Alan Patrick to make it three from the spot with 14 minutes left.

Shakhtar rounded off a fine display in the 88th minute when right-back Dodo combined with Tete before smashing home a superb finish.

Ricky van Wolfswinkel’s close-range strike for Basel a minute into stoppage time made no difference to a thumping defeat for the Swiss.



Real Sociedad’s Top-Four Hopes Take Another Blow After Celta Loss

Celta Vigo's Spanish forward Santi Mina(L) vies with Real Sociedad's Spanish defender Aihen Munoz during the Spanish league football match Real Sociedad against RC Celta de Vigo at the Reale Arena-Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian Stadium, on June 24, 2020. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)
Celta Vigo’s Spanish forward Santi Mina(L) vies with Real Sociedad’s Spanish defender Aihen Munoz during the Spanish league football match Real Sociedad against RC Celta de Vigo at the Reale Arena-Anoeta stadium in San Sebastian Stadium, on June 24, 2020. (Photo by ANDER GILLENEA / AFP)



Real Sociedad’s surprise challenge for Champions League qualification appears to be over after they suffered a third consecutive defeat at home to Celta Vigo on Wednesday. 

La Real have taken just a point from their four games since La Liga restarted on June 11 and now sit seventh, six points adrift of Sevilla in fourth.

Iago Aspas’ penalty on the stroke of half-time was enough to seal a 1-0 victory for Celta Vigo, who move seven points clear of the relegation zone, albeit having played a game more than Real Mallorca in 18th.

Unlike their opponents, Celta have found a different gear since coming back from the three-month suspension.

They have now taken seven points from their last nine, scoring seven goals in that time and conceding none.

Real Sociedad’s Diego Llorente conceded a penalty in the loss to Real Madrid on Sunday and he was at fault again, tugging down Aspas, who made the most of the defender’s mistake.

Aspas slid home the penalty for his 11th goal of the season as Celta took a big step towards survival at Anoeta.

Osasuna are all but safe after they won 1-0 away at Alaves to put 12 points between them and the bottom three.

Toni Lato found the corner with an excellent finish shortly after the hour to give Osasuna their first win in four matches. Alaves drop to 13th.




La Liga Restarts With Seville Derby Behind Closed Doors

A file photo of the La Liga logo.



Sevilla and Real Betis is the game in Spain most defined by its fans and on Thursday it will be a first glimpse of La Liga without them as the season resumes behind closed doors after three months away due to the coronavirus.

Fireworks, banners, plumes of smoke and crowds, delirious at the sight of a team bus, let alone a goal, the Seville derby is a fixture renowned for its intensity and cherished by its supporters.

There will be 110 games held in 39 days, with clubs playing every three days for five and a half weeks, but none for the rest of the season will be as much of a stark reminder of what is missing.

“We can’t wait to return to competing,” said Sevilla coach Julen Lopetegui on Wednesday.

“In circumstances that three months ago were unimaginable but today it is the reality and we have to adapt.

“The derby is going to be played and we all know what it means. We have to respond.”

At the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan, where Sevilla had only lost two league games this season in front of their fans, the stands will be empty, except for officials and substitutes, who will be stretched out across rows to maintain social distancing.

For those watching on television at home, the stands can be full, with virtual faces planted in place of vacant seats and fake crowd noise, taken from the computer game FIFA, ebbing and flowing according to the action.

La Liga’s hope is to pitch the restart as a celebration.

“Volver es Ganar”, has been the league’s slogan, “To Return is to Win”, and there is excitement around football’s return, to go with the relief in recent weeks as the number of deaths and infections have fallen.

– ‘Respect the rules’-

Spain has recorded more than 27,000 deaths overall and remains one of the worst-hit countries in the world by coronavirus.

But there were 48 new infections on Monday, the lowest since lockdown was declared by the government and down from as many as 10,000 towards the end of March.

Sport resuming adds to the sense that the crisis is now under control but the differences in Seville could also be a sobering demonstration of Spain’s “new normal”.

All players will arrive wearing masks and gloves and have their temperatures checked before entering the stadium.

In total, only around 270 people will be allowed inside while outside, 600 police and security personnel will remain in operation until hours after the final whistle.

Their remit will be to ensure fans do not gather together in large groups, fill up small areas or congregate on the same streets.

A perimeter fence will be in place to keep them at a distance from the stadium.

“It is very important that they pay attention to what is asked of them,” said Betis coach Rubi. “It will be the only time in their life that this will happen. They have to live it 100 per cent but while respecting the rules.”

The football will be the same, albeit with five substitutes allowed instead of three and two drinks breaks permitted to take into account the possibility of extreme heat this summer.

Sevilla cannot afford a slow restart either given they sit at the front of a tight queue of clubs aiming to overtake them and finish in the top four.

One point behind are both Real Sociedad and Getafe. Atletico Madrid are two points back in sixth.

Betis have not entirely given up on European qualification themselves although it will take a formidable run to close a nine-point gap on seventh-placed Valencia, who host Levante on Friday.

“We are not going to make any excuses about the unusual circumstances, the lack of fans, or the small amount that we have trained,” said Rubi. “This is the situation. We have to face it.”

Madrid Go Top Of La Liga After Sevilla Win

Real Madrid's Brazilian midfielder Casemiro (C) vies with Sevilla's French defender Jules Kounde (L) during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on January 18, 2020. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP
Real Madrid’s Brazilian midfielder Casemiro (C) vies with Sevilla’s French defender Jules Kounde (L) during the Spanish league football match between Real Madrid CF and Sevilla FC at the Santiago Bernabeu stadium in Madrid on January 18, 2020. GABRIEL BOUYS / AFP


Real Madrid climbed above Barcelona to top La Liga on Saturday as Casemiro scored twice in a gritty 2-1 win over Sevilla. 

Casemiro’s double proved the difference amid a three-goal flurry early in the second half, with Luuk de Jong briefly drawing Sevilla level.

Madrid were underwhelming at the Santiago Bernabeu, at times reverting back to the stodgy days of last season when the team struggled for goals under Julen Lopetegui, who is now in charge of Sevilla.

Yet with Eden Hazard, Gareth Bale, Karim Benzema and Sergio Ramos all missing from their starting line-up, this might be the kind of victory that could prove crucial to their hopes of winning the title in May.

Sevilla stay fourth, eight points off the top.

Barca can reclaim first place on Sunday when they face Granada at Camp Nou, where Quique Setien will be overseeing his first game since being appointed early last week.

Setien has said he will not be happy if his team win while playing badly but Zinedine Zidane is likely to be less choosy.

His Madrid side are now 17 games unbeaten, a streak that has included them winning the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia last weekend. Ramos, who is still recovering from an ankle injury, paraded the club’s latest trophy on the pitch before kick-off.

Benzema came on in the second half after shaking off a dead leg but Bale’s absence was more mysterious. The Welshman missed the trip to Jeddah through illness but had returned to training on Tuesday.

Lopetegui was back at the Santiago Bernabeu for the first time since he was sacked by Madrid last season, 138 days after they appointed him, and his Sevilla side arguably deserved more.

Converting impetus into goals has been their problem all season, and so it proved again.

After an even start, they gradually took charge and as the home crowd grew frustrated, Sevilla grew in confidence too.

De Jong thought he had scored when he was given a suspicious amount of space in the area to head in from a corner and VAR showed his marker Eder Militao had been blocked albeit only by a small, but seemingly deliberate, step from Nemanja Gudelj.

Marcelo was lucky not to concede a penalty for a shirt-pull.

Sevilla were controlling the midfield and denying their opponents routes through to the front three. Yet 12 minutes into the second half, some creative brilliance saw Madrid take the lead.

Sergio Reguilon, bought by Sevilla from Madrid last summer, scuffed his clearance and after Casemiro muscled through on the edge of the area, Jovic found him again with a deft backheel. Casemiro chipped the ball in and pointed at Jovic in celebration.

Sevilla could have wilted but instead they equalised, only to concede again five minutes later.

First, Raphael Varane, Casemiro and Marcelo all missed tackles and after Munir El Haddadi stumbled, De Jong took over, banging the ball into the far, bottom corner.

Yet parity was short-lived as Casemiro nodded in Lucas Vazquez’s cross from a standing start after being given too much space by Jules Kounde.

Toni Kroos might have added a third for Madrid late on after a racing run by Vinicius Junior but Vazquez almost gifted Sevilla an equaliser after a dreadful backpass. Youssef En-Nesyri, signed from Leganes on Friday, flashed wide.



Jordan Fires Sevilla To Top Of La Liga

Sevilla’s Spanish midfielder Joan Jordan (C) celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the Spanish league football match Deportivo Alaves against Sevilla FC at the Mendizorrotza stadium in Vitoria on September 15, 2019. ANDER GILLENEA / AFP


Sevilla moved to the top of the early La Liga table on Sunday as Joan Jordan’s brilliant free-kick helped them seal a 1-0 win at Alaves.

Julen Lopetegui’s side continued their excellent start to the campaign, remaining unbeaten and moving a point clear of Atletico Madrid, who lost 2-0 at Real Sociedad on Saturday, at the summit.

It was a first defeat of the season for Alaves, who slipped to 11th in the standings.

Lopetegui, who joined Sevilla for his first job since being sacked in quick succession by both Spain and Real Madrid, saw one of his close-season signings produce the game’s defining moment.

Midfielder Jordan, who arrived at Sevilla from Eibar for a reported 14 million euros ($15.62 million), curled home a wonderful free-kick in the 37th minute which flew into the top corner to give him his second goal of the season.

The visitors comfortably saw out the match to claim their third league win this term, as Alaves failed to muster a shot on target.

Sevilla host Real Madrid next Sunday in a meeting of two sides yet to taste defeat.

Real claimed a 3-2 win over Levante at the Santiago Bernabeu on Saturday, when reigning champions Barcelona eased to a 5-2 victory against Valencia, with 16-year-old Ansu Fati scoring inside two minutes.

Sevilla Sign Defender Kounde From Bordeaux

Girondins de Bordeaux’s French defender Jules Kounde leaves the Girondins de Bordeaux training center in Le Haillan, southwestern France, on July 2, 2019 as he is likely to be transferred. NICOLAS TUCAT / AFP


Sevilla announced the club-record signing of French defender Jules Kounde from Bordeaux on Wednesday. 

Kounde has agreed to a five-year contract with Sevilla, who will pay 25 million euros ($28.2 million), according to reports in Spain.

An official club statement read: “The defender, who arrived yesterday night in Seville, passed a medical in the morning before signing a contract with his new team until 2024.”

The 20-year-old, who can also play at full-back, played 55 Ligue 1 matches for Bordeaux after making his first-team debut in January last year and has represented France at under-20 level.

His arrival also continues a busy summer for Sevilla, who have now signed five players since the return of Monchi as sporting director and ahead of Julen Lopetegui’s first season as coach.

The club, who finished sixth in Liga last season, had already bought Luuk de Jong as well as Munas Dabbur, Diego Carlos and Joan Jordan.


Sevilla Coach Caparros Vows To Continue Job Despite Leukaemia Diagnosis

Sevilla’s Spanish coach Joaquin Caparros looks on before the Spanish league football match between Sevilla FC and Deportivo Alaves at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan stadium in Seville on April 4, 2019. JORGE GUERRERO / AFP


Sevilla coach Joaquin Caparros announced on Sunday that he has chronic leukaemia but says the condition is under control and will not prevent him continuing in his job. 

The 63-year-old, who took over last month after Pablo Machin was sacked, was speaking after Sevilla’s 2-0 victory over Real Valladolid in La Liga.

“I have chronic leukaemia,” Caparros said in the post-match press conference. “I have caught it early and can live a normal life.

“I want to enjoy my job and for everyone to stay calm. I’ve had no treatment and am grateful for the club giving me the opportunity [to continue coaching].”

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Previously Sevilla’s sporting director, Caparros is now acting as coach until the end of the season, with the team winning four of his six games in charge so far.

Another former Sevilla coach, Eduardo Berizzo, announced in November 2017 that he was suffering from prostate cancer. He was sacked a month later following a string of bad results.

The victory over Valladolid moved Sevilla up to fifth in the table after two goals in the final six minutes from Roque Mesa Quevedo and Munir El Haddadi.

They are now only a point behind Getafe, who they play later this month after a crunch derby at home to Real Betis next weekend.

“My goal is the Champions League, that’s very clear,” Caparros said. “That is our objective and we are going to do everything we can to achieve it.”

Getafe kept their own remarkable bid for Champions League qualification on track by edging past Athletic Bilbao 1-0, Angel Rodriguez Diaz on target to seal his side’s first win in four games.

Alaves were held to a 1-1 draw at home to Leganes while Huesca scored two of three goals in six second-half minutes away to Levante, but it was only enough for a 2-2 draw.

Despite signs of a revival in recent weeks, Huesca remain six points adrift of safety while Levante sit three clear of 18th-placed Villarreal, who play away to Real Betis later on Sunday.