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Friday, December 13, 2019

Weekend Roundup: Barcelona beat Atletico, Inter leap over Juventus, City slip

Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid in the weekend's big clash, Manchester City stumbled in their Premier League title defence and Inter Milan are now on top of Serie A.

By: Sports Desk | Updated: December 2, 2019 9:30:47 pm
Barcelona, Liverpool top the points table of La Liga, Premier League respectively

Manchester City stumbled again in their Premier League title defence this week with Liverpool charging ahead. Arsenal’s post-Emery era did not have the start the team would have liked, while Manchester United’s woes included a tough week with a league draw and Europa League loss. Meanwhile, Messi’s magic prevailed as Barcelona beat Atletico Madrid in big Spanish league clash.

Here’s the roundup:

Late Messi winner against Atletico Madrid

Lionel Messi scored an 86th-minute winner, giving Barcelona a major boost to their title hope as Ernesto Valverde’s side beat third-placed Atletico Madrid 1-0. It was Messi’s 30th goal in 39 competitive games against Atletico and inflicted a first home defeat on Diego Simeone’s side since they were beaten by Real Madrid at the Wanda Metropolitano in February.

Meanwhile, Real Madrid pulled off a hard-fought 2-1 victory against Alaves in the rain with goals from Sergio Ramos and Dani Carvajal in the second-half. Real Madrid and Barcelona, who top the table with 31 points each, have a game in hand with the October ‘Clasico’ postponed to December 18.

Liverpool running away with title as City watch

Manchester City further damaged their chances of defending the title after squandering the lead in a 2-2 draw at Newcastle as Liverpool opened up 11-point lead over Pep Guardiola’s side. Kevin De Bruyne’s brilliant strike gave City the lead in the 82nd minute but it proved to be in vain as Jonjo Shelvey, a former Liverpool player, equalised soon after.

The Reds’ dream of a league title in 30 years is one step closer to reality with Van Dijk powering home two headers from free kicks, helping Liverpool to a 2-1 win over Brighton at Anfield.

Meanwhile, Leicester climbed back to second in the Premier League as Kelechi Iheanacho’s stoppage-time strike handed them a 2-1 win over Everton on Sunday.

Different manager, same problems for Arsenal

Despite a brace by Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, Freddie Ljungberg’s tenure as interim Arsenal manager was off to a shaky start as the Gunners drew 2-2 at Norwich. Arsenal’s first game since Unai Emery was fired as coach didn’t improve its fortunes and its winless run extended to an eighth game in all competitions. Instead of a morale-boosting win over a team second from last in the Premier League, Arsenal had to come from behind twice just to draw even.

Arsenal are enduring their longest winless league run in a single season since 1994 and are seven points adrift of fourth-placed Chelsea in eighth spot. Ljungberg, however, believes the team can still make it to the top four. “100 percent. People drop points here and there and we drop points, it’s a crazy league at the moment. I hope and think Arsenal can finish in the top four,” he said.

In another lacklustre performance, Manchester United settled for another draw against Aston Villa. United has now won just two of its last nine EPL games, and are ninth on the table.

Mourinho’s dream start continues

Jose Mourinho’s dream start as Tottenham Hotspur manager continued as Dele Alli scored twice in a 3-2 victory at home against Bournemouth, a third successive win for the Portuguese manager since replacing Mauricio Pochettino.

However, it was the second week running that Tottenham conceded two late goals after going 3-0 up. It also took place in the 3-2 win at West Ham United, and the 4-2 win against Olympiakos in the Champions League. Mourinho, under whom Spurs are now in the fifth spot, said, “I could say we conceded four goals in two games at home but I prefer to say we scored seven goals at home.”

Inter Milan overtake Juventus

Inter Milan jumped over Juventus to the top of the Serie A table with a 2-1 win at home to SPAL, thanks to a Lautaro Martinez double. The Argentina international struck with a low finish into the corner and headed in his second goal before halftime to take his tally for the season to 13 in all competitions. Juventus, on the other hand, dropped points after drawing 2-2 against Sassuolo.

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