Aubameyang hits Barca hat-trick | Inter stunned by Sassuolo

Barcelona’s last-gasp swoop for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks to be paying dividends after the striker scored a hat-trick in a resounding 4-1 away win at Valencia.

Aubameyang led the Catalans to victory at the Mestella with his first Barcelona goals on his full La Liga debut, after coming off the bench in the second half in previous league encounters against Atletico Madrid and Espanyol.

The former Arsenal striker, who last found the net in October in the Gunners’ 3-1 win over Aston Villa, now has 10 goals overall this season.

Aubameyang’s first goal came when he calmly hit the upper corner in a one-on-one situation in the 23rd minute, and his second came from close range in the 38th minute to make it 3-0 after Frenkie de Jong netted Barcelona’s second.

Initially, Barca’s fourth goal was attributed to Pedri, but when the referee issued his match report after the game, he switched it to Aubameyang as Pedri’s strike was deflected off the striker’s back on its way in.

Carlos Soler scored a consolation goal for the locals, with many of the nearly 40,000 Valencia fans at Mestalla Stadium again protesting against Singaporean owner Peter Lim.

The win lifted Barcelona into fourth place on 42 points from 24 games, tied with Atletico who are fifth on goal difference. Real Madrid top the table with 57 points.

“We are beginning to find that efficiency that we were lacking earlier in the season,” captain Sergio Busquets told reporters.

“I hope Aubameyang is that one piece that we were missing up front. He is a great player that arrived hungry because he was not getting many opportunities at his last club. It is a luxury having him in our team.”

Second-place Sevilla stumbled in their pursuit of Real Madrid after being held 1-1 at Espanyol, leaving them six points behind the league leaders.

Jules Kounde
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Jules Kounde was sent off as Sevilla were held to a draw at Espanyol

Rafa Mir opened the scoring for the visitors in the 36th after an assist by Papu Gomez, who had come on 10 minutes earlier to replace the injured Anthony Martial.

Espanyol equalised early in the second half with a close-range header by Sergi Darder, before Sevilla defender Jules Kounde was sent off, given a straight red card after complaining to the referee.

Serie A: Sorry Inter stunned by Sassuolo

Inter Milan missed the chance to climb back to the top of Serie A as they suffered a shock 2-0 home defeat by Sassuolo on Sunday.

The hosts fell behind after eight minutes with Giacomo Raspadori drilling a shot through goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, before Gianluca Scamacca headed into the net when unmarked to double Sassuolo’s lead.

Inter were all at sea, and could have gone into the break 3-0 down when Domenico Berardi’s effort hit the crossbar.

 Gianluca Scamacca of US Sassuolo celebrates with team mate Hamed Junior Traore after scoring to give the side a 2-0 lead during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and US Sassuolo at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 20, 2022 in Milan, Italy.
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Gianluca Scamacca sealed an unlikely win for Sassuolo at San Siro

After the break, the hosts piled on the pressure, with goalkeeper Andrea Consigli making several fine saves to keep the visitors in a commanding position.

Sassuolo should have put the game to bed with late chances, but two goals were enough as Inter remained second on 54 points, two behind leaders AC Milan. Sassuolo climbed to 11th.

“I am very angry with how we played,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi told DAZN.

“We had three days since Wednesday’s game (against Liverpool) and we talked about the fact Sassuolo beat Juventus and Milan away – we had to be wary.

“We tried to do everything in the second half, created so many chances and were unlucky, but the fact remains we should’ve had a different approach.

“We will analyse the situation. We know there are 13 games to go, we are all up there and want to keep going forward. The fact is, a team that wants to win the Scudetto cannot get the approach as wrong as we did today.”

Earlier, Fiorentina beat Atalanta 1-0 to stay in the race for a place in European competitions, while Venezia and Genoa played out a 1-1 draw.

Bundesliga: Lewandowski leads Bayern to victory

Robert Lewandowski scored yet another hat-trick
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Robert Lewandowski has now got 28 goals for the season

Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Bayern Munich came from behind to beat last-place Greuther Furth 4-1 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

The Poland star took his league-leading tally to 28 goals in 23 games and helped Bayern stay six points ahead of Borussia Dortmund, who thrashed Borussia Monchengladbach 6-0.

Furth captain Branimir Hrgota fired the competitive underdogs ahead in the 42nd minute when his free-kick took a decisive deflection off Bayern’s Marcel Sabitzer.

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann’s half-time talk had quick results.

Lewandowski equalised only a minute into the second half and Bayern kept pushing, forcing an own goal from Sebastian Griesbeck just past the hour-mark. Griesbeck also scored an own goal in the previous meeting between the two, which Bayern won 3-1.

Bundesliga news | Fixtures | Table

Max Christiansen struck the post as Furth pushed for an equaliser, but Lewandowski sealed Bayern’s win with an 82nd-minute header

Serge Gnabry set up half-time substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for the fourth goal in injury time.

Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus played a part in five goals as his side hammered his former club Borussia Monchengladbach 6-0.

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Highlights of the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Reus, who switched from Gladbach to Dortmund just over a decade ago, scored two and provided three assists, but he opted not to take a penalty his side were awarded in added time, with Emre Can stepping up and converting to complete the drubbing.

Reus opened the scoring in the 26th minute by pouncing on the rebound after Switzerland keeper Yann Sommer had parried a shot from Donyell Malen.

Reus returned the favour six minutes later, playing a one-two with Dutchman Malen, who powered a shot through the grasp of Sommer to double Dortmund’s advantage.

Dortmund put the result beyond doubt when Reus teed up Marius Wolf to score in the 70th-minute, two minutes after he had come off the bench.

The captain added his third assist of the game four minutes later as Youssoufa-Moukoko, another substitute, netted Dortmund’s fourth.

Reus then got back among the goals by smashing the ball in after a long punt from defender Mats Hummels, before Can completed Gladbach’s humiliation from the spot after Wolf was felled in the box.

Napoli miss chance to go top of Serie A

Napoli missed the chance to go top of Serie A after Victor Osimhen’s 87th-minute header salvaged them a 1-1 draw at relegation-threatened Cagliari.

Gaston Pereiro put Cagliari ahead near the hour mark with a long, bouncing shot, after which the Sardinian club had numerous chances to add to their lead, but Osimhen came off the bench to level the scores with three minutes to go on Monday night.

They failed to capitalise on Inter Milan’s shock 2-0 home defeat to Sassuolo on Sunday, and instead remain behind last season’s champions on goal difference in third after coming away with a point against Cagliari.

If Inter had beaten Sassuolo a day earlier they would have moved to the top of the table themselves, but are now two points behind AC Milan with a game in hand on their cross-city rivals.

Inter fell behind against Sassuolo after eight minutes, with Giacomo Raspadori drilling a shot through goalkeeper Samir Handanovic, before Gianluca Scamacca headed into the net when unmarked to double their lead.

 Gianluca Scamacca of US Sassuolo celebrates with team mate Hamed Junior Traore after scoring to give the side a 2-0 lead during the Serie A match between FC Internazionale and US Sassuolo at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on February 20, 2022 in Milan, Italy.
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Gianluca Scamacca sealed an unlikely win for Sassuolo at San Siro

Inter were all at sea, and could have gone into the break 3-0 down when Domenico Berardi’s effort hit the crossbar.

After the break, the hosts piled on the pressure, with goalkeeper Andrea Consigli making several fine saves to keep the visitors in a commanding position.

Sassuolo should have put the game to bed with late chances, but two goals were enough as Inter remained second on 54 points, two behind leaders AC Milan. Sassuolo climbed to 11th.

“I am very angry with how we played,” Inter coach Simone Inzaghi told DAZN.

“We had three days since Wednesday’s game (against Liverpool) and we talked about the fact Sassuolo beat Juventus and Milan away – we had to be wary.

“We tried to do everything in the second half, created so many chances and were unlucky, but the fact remains we should’ve had a different approach.

“We will analyse the situation. We know there are 13 games to go, we are all up there and want to keep going forward. The fact is, a team that wants to win the Scudetto cannot get the approach as wrong as we did today.”

Earlier, Fiorentina beat Atalanta 1-0 to stay in the race for a place in European competitions, while Venezia and Genoa played out a 1-1 draw.

Auba lands hat-trick in first Barca start

VALENCIA, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 20: Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang of FC Barcelona in action during the La Liga Santander match between Valencia CF and FC Barcelona at Estadio Mestalla on February 20, 2022 in Valencia, Spain.
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Pierre-Emerick Aubameyand opened his Barcelona account with a hat-trick against Valencia

Barcelona’s last-gasp swoop for Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang looks to be paying dividends after the striker scored a hat-trick in a resounding 4-1 away win at Valencia.

Aubameyang led the Catalans to victory at the Mestella with his first Barcelona goals on his full La Liga debut, after coming off the bench in the second half in previous league encounters against Atletico Madrid and Espanyol.

The former Arsenal striker, who last found the net in October in the Gunners’ 3-1 win over Aston Villa, now has 10 goals overall this season.

Aubameyang’s first goal came when he calmly hit the upper corner in a one-on-one situation in the 23rd minute, and his second came from close range in the 38th minute to make it 3-0 after Frenkie de Jong netted Barcelona’s second.

Initially, Barca’s fourth goal was attributed to Pedri, but when the referee issued his match report after the game, he switched it to Aubameyang as Pedri’s strike was deflected off the striker’s back on its way in.

Carlos Soler scored a consolation goal for the locals, with many of the nearly 40,000 Valencia fans at Mestalla Stadium again protesting against Singaporean owner Peter Lim.

The win lifted Barcelona into fourth place on 42 points from 24 games, tied with Atletico who are fifth on goal difference. Real Madrid top the table with 57 points.

“We are beginning to find that efficiency that we were lacking earlier in the season,” captain Sergio Busquets told reporters.

“I hope Aubameyang is that one piece that we were missing up front. He is a great player that arrived hungry because he was not getting many opportunities at his last club. It is a luxury having him in our team.”

Second-place Sevilla stumbled in their pursuit of Real Madrid after being held 1-1 at Espanyol, leaving them six points behind the league leaders.

Jules Kounde
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Jules Kounde was sent off as Sevilla were held to a draw at Espanyol

Rafa Mir opened the scoring for the visitors in the 36th after an assist by Papu Gomez, who had come on 10 minutes earlier to replace the injured Anthony Martial.

Espanyol equalised early in the second half with a close-range header by Sergi Darder, before Sevilla defender Jules Kounde was sent off, given a straight red card after complaining to the referee.

Bundesliga: Lewandowski leads Bayern to victory

Robert Lewandowski scored yet another hat-trick
Image:
Robert Lewandowski has now got 28 goals for the season

Robert Lewandowski scored twice as Bayern Munich came from behind to beat last-place Greuther Furth 4-1 in the Bundesliga on Sunday.

The Poland star took his league-leading tally to 28 goals in 23 games and helped Bayern stay six points ahead of Borussia Dortmund, who thrashed Borussia Monchengladbach 6-0.

Furth captain Branimir Hrgota fired the competitive underdogs ahead in the 42nd minute when his free-kick took a decisive deflection off Bayern’s Marcel Sabitzer.

Bayern coach Julian Nagelsmann’s half-time talk had quick results.

Lewandowski equalised only a minute into the second half and Bayern kept pushing, forcing an own goal from Sebastian Griesbeck just past the hour-mark. Griesbeck also scored an own goal in the previous meeting between the two, which Bayern won 3-1.

Bundesliga news | Fixtures | Table

Max Christiansen struck the post as Furth pushed for an equaliser, but Lewandowski sealed Bayern’s win with an 82nd-minute header

Serge Gnabry set up half-time substitute Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting for the fourth goal in injury time.

Borussia Dortmund captain Marco Reus played a part in five goals as his side hammered his former club Borussia Monchengladbach 6-0.

Please use Chrome browser for a more accessible video player

Highlights of the Bundesliga match between Borussia Dortmund and Borussia Mönchengladbach.

Reus, who switched from Gladbach to Dortmund just over a decade ago, scored two and provided three assists, but he opted not to take a penalty his side were awarded in added time, with Emre Can stepping up and converting to complete the drubbing.

Reus opened the scoring in the 26th minute by pouncing on the rebound after Switzerland keeper Yann Sommer had parried a shot from Donyell Malen.

Reus returned the favour six minutes later, playing a one-two with Dutchman Malen, who powered a shot through the grasp of Sommer to double Dortmund’s advantage.

Dortmund put the result beyond doubt when Reus teed up Marius Wolf to score in the 70th-minute, two minutes after he had come off the bench.

The captain added his third assist of the game four minutes later as Youssoufa-Moukoko, another substitute, netted Dortmund’s fourth.

Reus then got back among the goals by smashing the ball in after a long punt from defender Mats Hummels, before Can completed Gladbach’s humiliation from the spot after Wolf was felled in the box.

Salah, Firmino give Liverpool edge over determined Inter

Player ratings

Inter: Handanovic (5), Skriniar (6), De Vrij (6), Bastoni (6), Dumfries (7), Vidal (7), Brozovic (6), Calhanoglu (7), Perisic (7), Martinez (6), Dzeko (6).

Subs Sanchez (6), Ranocchia (n/a), Gagliardini (n/a), Darmian (n/a).

Liverpool: Alisson (6), Alexander-Arnold (7), Konate (8), Van Dijk (8), Robertson (7), Fabinho (6), Thiago (6), Elliott (6), Salah (7), Jota (7), Mane (6).

Subs: Firmino (8), Diaz (7), Keita (6), Henderson (6), Milner (n/a).

Man of the match: Ibrahima Konate.

Champions League: The state of play

As the 2021/22 Champions League returns for the round of 16, we bring you the state of play, upcoming fixtures and the schedule for the remainder of the tournament.

The group stage of the competition came to a conclusion in early December, with Borussia Dortmund and Barcelona the big-hitters who exited prior to the round of 16, dropping into the Europa League as a result.

After beating AC Milan in December, Liverpool became the first English side to win all six Champions League group stage games
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After beating AC Milan in December, Liverpool became the first English side to win all six Champions League group stage games

For Dortmund, it represented just the second time in a decade they had failed to progress from the group stage, with five-time winners Barca a mainstay of the latter stages in 19 of the last 20 campaigns.

From a British perspective, Pep Guardiola’s Manchester City sealed their spot in the last 16 with a game to spare, meaning their 2-1 defeat to RB Leipzig in their final group game mattered little, although Champions League holders Chelsea had to settle for second spot in Group H after drawing 3-3 with Zenit in their last group fixture.

Chelsea beat Manchester City to win the Champions League in 2020/21
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Chelsea beat Manchester City to win the Champions League in 2020/21

Jurgen Klopp’s Liverpool side – who had already grabbed top spot in Group B with two games to spare – became the first English side to win all six Champions League group-stage games, beating AC Milan 2-1 in their final match to give a reminder of their own threat in this competition.

Meanwhile, Manchester United pipped last season’s Europa League winners Villarreal to Group F top spot, despite drawing two of their last three games, and will face now face Atletico Madrid.

Round of 16

First-leg fixtures

Tuesday February 15

Wednesday February 16

Tuesday February 22

Wednesday February 23

Second-leg fixtures

Tuesday March 8

Wednesday March 9

Tuesday March 15

Wednesday March 16

Quarter-finals

Draw scheduled to take place on Friday March 18.

First legs scheduled to be played on Tuesday April 5 and Wednesday April 6; Second legs on Tuesday April 12 and Wednesday April 13.

Semi-finals

Draw scheduled to take place on Friday March 18.

First legs scheduled to be played on Tuesday April 26 and Wednesday April 27; Second legs on Tuesday May 3 and Wednesday May 4.

Final

Scheduled to be played on Saturday May 28 at Krestovsky Stadium, Saint Petersburg.

Euro: Bayern suffer shock thrashing | Real Madrid held

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich slipped to a shock 4-2 defeat at VfL Bochum on Saturday, conceding all four goals in the first half.

Bayern had already scored a record 68 goals this Bundesliga season before this game, putting them on course for an all-time best return, but it was Bochum who had the better day.

Bayern took the lead from a familiar source in the ninth minute, when Robert Lewandowski scored his 25th league goal of the campaign to set the visitors seemingly on course for another victory.

However, Christopher Antwi-Adjei’s superb equaliser less than five minutes later got the hosts back into the contest, before Jurgen Locadia’s 38th-minute penalty turned the match.

Robert Lewandowski was unable to prevent defeat
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Robert Lewandowski was unable to prevent defeat for Bayern Munich

Cristian Gamboa arrowed an unstoppable strike into the top corner two minutes later, before Gerrit Holtmann curled another fine goal into the net on the cusp of half-time to stun the champions.

Lewandowski did score again, 15 minutes from time, but it was too little, too late for Julian Nagelsmann’s team as Bochum held on for a famous win.

The defeat, just Bayern’s fourth league loss of the season, does not affect their position too much, and they remain nine points clear at the top of the standings as they close in on a record-extending 10th successive league title. Bochum stay 11th.

Bayer Leverkusen continued their fine recent form with a 4-2 victory over Stuttgart in the Bundesliga, their fourth successive league victory.

BAYERN 4-1 DOWN AT BOCHUM
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Thomas Muller looks dejected in the defeat

Moussa Diaby opened the scoring for Bayer in the 41st minute with his 10th league goal of the season, after the hosts had hit the woodwork twice in the first half.

The goals flowed in the second half as Tiago Tomas equalised four minutes after the break, before Amine Adli glanced a header home in the 52nd minute to restore Leverkusen’s lead.

Teenager Florian Wirtz then squeezed home a third for Bayer in the 85th minute to spark a late flurry of goals, with Tomas then converting from close range to give Stuttgart hope with two minutes left.

Yet straight down the other end, the in-form Patrik Schick netted a fine fourth for the home side – his 19th league goal from 19 starts – to put the game to bed.

The victory helped third-placed Leverkusen close the gap to Borussia Dortmund in second to two points, with Marco Rose’s side facing Union Berlin on Sunday. Stuttgart remain deep in the relegation mire in 17th, four points from the safety zone.

Meanwhile, Hertha Berlin lost at rock-bottom Greuther Furth 2-1, Borussia Monchengladbach eased their relegation worries with a 3-2 win over Augsburg, and Wolfsburg won at Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0. Freiburg came from behind to draw with Mainz 1-1.

La Liga: Real held by Villarreal

Real Madrid's Gareth Bale reacts to a missed chance
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Real Madrid’s Gareth Bale reacts to a missed chance

La Liga leaders Real Madrid were held to a 0-0 draw away at Villarreal on Saturday, as their lead at the top of the table was reduced to just four points.

Real came into the game without injured talisman Karim Benzema and it told as they struggled to gel in an uncharacteristically sluggish first half, before looking more like their old selves after the break.

“We had a number of opportunities to win it but in football you need to take your chances,” said Real midfielder Casemiro.

“The coach ensured we were much better in the second period, which is a performance we will take encouragement from. We’re coming into the business end of the season and we are all working well, pushing in the right direction.

“The coaching staff are always pushing us and we want to win everything this season.”

Real coughed up a number of chances in the opening stages, with Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze a menace throughout, as Real skipper Marcelo struggled against the Nigerian’s pace and directness.

Villarreal forward Arnaut Danjuma hit the post before Real ‘keeper Thibaut Courtois produced a fine save to deny Alberto Moreno from the edge of the box as the home side pushed for an opener.

Real had calls for a penalty waved away as Vinicius Junior went down clutching his face after a coming together with Raul Albiol, while Villarreal were incensed that Marco Asensio was not shown a red card for a high challenge on Vicente Iborra.

The visitors were much-improved after the break, with Gareth Bale – making his first appearance for the club since August – clipping the bar before he and team-mate Vinicius were denied in quick succession by Villarreal goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli.

Substitute Luka Jovic then hit the bar in stoppage time as Real sought a late winner with fellow replacement Nacho’s follow-up cleared off the line by Serge Aurier.

Madrid move onto 54 points, four ahead of second-placed Sevilla with both sides having played 24 games. Villarreal, meanwhile, are fifth on 36 points.

Serie A: Dzeko earns Inter draw at Napoli

Inter's Edin Dzeko celebrates with team-mates
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Inter’s Edin Dzeko celebrates with team-mates

Inter Milan retained top spot in Serie A with a 1-1 draw in a top-of-the-table clash at Napoli on Saturday, as Edin Dzeko responded to an early Lorenzo Insigne penalty.

The result leaves the Italian champions one point clear of Napoli below them with a game in hand, but third-placed AC Milan will go top if they beat Sampdoria on Sunday.

Insigne fired the hosts in front in the seventh minute after Stefan de Vrij trod on Victor Osimhen’s foot in the box, and Piotr Zielinski almost made it two with a shot that thumped the post.

Inter struck back early in the second half when Dzeko profited from a fortuitous deflection to hammer home a finish, as Simone Inzaghi’s side avoided a second damaging defeat in a row following last weekend’s Milan derby loss.

The Nerazzurri’s derby defeat opened up the title race and handed Napoli the chance to go top with a win in their bid for a first league title since the Diego Maradona-inspired 1989-90 season.

The hosts took an early lead when referee Daniele Doveri awarded a spot-kick after a look at the pitchside VAR monitor, which captain Insigne dispatched.

Zielinski was inches away from doubling Napoli’s lead with a curler from the edge of the box that struck the woodwork, while Denzel Dumfries dragged a shot well wide from a good position with Inter’s best chance of the first half.

Inter levelled less than two minutes after the restart when Dzeko’s header struck Giovanni Di Lorenzo’s foot and bounced back into the path of the Bosnian, who drilled a finish off the bar and in from close range.

The visitors had captain Samir Handanovic to thank for keeping them level, as the Slovenian reacted sharply to stop an Osimhen strike before superbly charging down an Eljif Elmas effort at the back post.

Elsewhere, Mattia Zaccagni scored a double to add to a Ciro Immobile penalty as sixth-placed Lazio beat Bologna 3-0 in Rome to move three points behind Juventus in fourth.