European football roundup: Manchester City win first trophy, PSG suffer Neymar blow
Manchester City won their first title under manager Pep Guardiola, while Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi lit up the Spanish league but their former teammate Neymar suffered an ankle injury. Here’s a roundup of European football over the last weekend:
Manchester City have won the first trophy of Pep Guardiola era as they registered a comprehensive 3-0 win over Arsenal in the League Cup final at Wembley on Sunday. Sergio Aguero, Vincent Kompany and David Silva scored a goal each to secure the domestic cup against Arsene Wenger’s men who never appeared to be challenging Guardiola’s side. Manchester City are likely to add further silverware this season, having built up a comprehensive 13-point lead in the Premier League title race, and reached the last 16 of the Champions League.
In the Premier League, Manchester United defeated Chelsea 2-1 to strengthen their credentials for a second-place, pushing the Blues outside of the top four in the process. Tottenham Hotspur have a two-point advantage over Chelsea in the race for a spot in the Champions League after they secured a nervy 1-0 win over Crystal Palace. Mohammed Salah scored his 23rd goal of the league campaign during Liverpool’s 4-1 defeat of West Bromwich Albion that keeps them third in the table, while the latter are rock-bottom and appear increasingly unlikely to avoid the drop.
Barcelona were in great form on Saturday on their way to a 6-1 demolition of Girona at the Camp Nou. Girona took a surprise lead in the third minute of the game only for Barcelona to equalise two minutes later through Luis Suarez. The Uruguayan went on to complete his hat-trick but the best goals of the night came from Lionel Messi who slotted a free kick from underneath the jumping wall, and Philippe Coutinho who curled in a beautiful strike from outside of the box.
Earlier in the day, Cristiano Ronaldo had scored a brace in a 4-0 win over Alaves to continue his sparkling form, and in a rare show of generosity he let Karim Benzema take a late penalty, while on hat-trick. However, there was a hat-trick for Antoine Griezmann as Atletico Madrid hammered Sevilla 5-2 at the Sanchez Pizjuan to remain hot on the heels of Barcelona in the title race. Diego Simeone’s side are seven points adrift of Barcelona while Real Madrid remain 14 behind.
AC Milan continued their resurgence under Gennaro Gattuso with a 2-0 win over Roma that moved them within seven points of rivals and fourth-placed Inter Milan who were also 2-0 winners against Benevento. Elsewhere, there was a 3-0 win for Lazio against Sassuolo that keeps them third in the table; and Sampdoria won 2-1 against Udinese to keep hold the last Europa League spot in sixth.
Bayern Munich dropped points for only the second time in the league since Jupp Heynckes took charge in October following the sacking of Carlo Ancelotti as they were held to a scoreless draw by Hertha Berlin at the Allianz Arena on Saturday. Nevertheless, they are 20 points clear of second-placed Borussia Dortmund at the top of the Bundesliga standings, and have one hand on the title.
At the other end of the table, Hamburg are increasingly in danger of their first-ever relegation to the second tier as a 1-0 defeat at the hands of Werder Bremen keeps them 17th in the table. With 17 points from 24 games, Hamburg are seven points adrift of relegation playoffs and are looking in danger of hitting the deepest low in their 130-year history.
Paris Saint-Germain suffered a massive blow in their bid to overcome Real Madrid in the Champions League last 16 tie following an ankle injury to Neymar. PSG were 3-0 winners over fierce rivals Marseille but the victory was soured by a nasty ankle injury to their world-record summer recruit. Neymar is in danger of missing the second leg of PSG’s last 16 clash against Real Madrid on 6 March. Having lost the first leg 3-1 away at the Santiago Bernabeu, the likely absence of their biggest player will not help the Parisians’s chances of furthering their Champions League ambitions.
In the other fiery Ligue 1 clash of the weekend, Lyon and Saint-Etienne played out a 1-1 draw at the Stade des Lumieres. Mariano Diaz had put the hosts ahead in the 19th minute only for Saint-Etienne to secure a vital point with a 90th minute equaliser from Mathieu Debuchy. Elsewhere, Monaco were held to a 3-3 draw by Toulouse and remained second behind PSG in the league standings with 57 points, 14 behind the league leaders.