Barcelona star, Dortmund woe, Milan glory, Messi boosts PSG, FA Cup, AFCON drama: Weekend Overview

Wow, did you catch all that weekend motion? If not, don’t despair: ESPN will inform you about Barcelona‘s greatest efficiency of the season and Borussia Dortmund‘s worst, in addition to a to-and-fro Milan derby, Paris Saint-Germain scoring 5 and Senegal lastly claiming AFCON glory. Oh, and we’ve some FA Cup heroics as nicely!

Listed below are Sam Marsden, Derek Rae, Andrew Cesare Richardson, Julien Laurens and Ed Dove with what it’s worthwhile to know, with 5 of probably the most vital moments from the FA Cup fourth spherical blended in.

New-look Barcelona ship Xavi’s greatest win

Due to an exciting 4-2 win over reigning champions Atletico Madrid 4-2 at Camp Nou, Barcelona ended the weekend within the Champions League locations in LaLiga for the primary time since Xavi Hernandez took over in November.

Atletico briefly led via Yannick Carrasco earlier than Barca scored 4 with out reply, with Jordi Alba, Gavi, Ronald Araujo and Dani Alves discovering the online on a day that additionally noticed minutes for January signings Adama Traore, who impressed from the beginning, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, who got here off the bench.

It was not totally easy and the get together environment amongst dwelling followers turned to nerves throughout the ultimate half-hour after ex-Blaugrana hero Luis Suarez pulled Atletico inside two and Alves was sent off, following a VAR overview, for a foul on Carrasco. Nonetheless, Barca held sturdy.

Xavi lauded two unbelievable performances at full-time: One when it was 11 vs. 11 and one other when his facet was have been pressured to dig in with 10 males to shut out the win that takes Barca above Atletico and into the highest 4.

This “may very well be a turning level,” mentioned Xavi, and there may be positivity across the membership; January’s enterprise added depth to the extent that Aubameyang and Ousmane Dembele, who was booed on his return to the squad after failing to safe a transfer, on the bench.

For Atletico, in the meantime, this was a sixth defeat within the league this season and one other uncharacteristic defensive show, with Diego Simeone admitting after the sport: “We have been defending terribly nicely for 10 years and this 12 months we aren’t doing what we often do.” — Marsden

Boro’s controversial strike units up Outdated Trafford upset

Manchester United have been 1-0 up and had had probabilities aplenty to increase their lead, however Middlesbrough drew degree via Matt Crooks — after Duncan Watmore appeared to control the ball with his hand — and went on to spring a shock by successful a penalty shootout.

Leverkusen thrash Dortmund with beautiful show

In a fixture synonymous with objectives, the anticipated attacking avalanche arrived however, on a uncooked, wet afternoon, it was a one-sided affair as Leverkusen buried their hosts with a medical show of slick soccer. Dortmund, with out the injured Erling Haaland, appeared punchless.

Within the sixteenth minute, Dortmund’s Dan-Axel Zagadou fell asleep to set in movement a weird chain of occasions that led to a Manuel Akanji personal objective opening the scoring. That was quickly offset by a extra orthodox personal objective on the different finish, as Jeremie Frimpong inadvertently acquired in the way in which of a Thomas Meunier head flick.

The remainder of the story belonged to Leverkusen and you’ll do nicely to discover a higher workforce objective than the fluent, vibrant counter, which restored the away facet’s lead. Requiring simply seven deft touches and solely 9 seconds, it ended with a Florian Wirtz first-time finish.

Robert Andrich netted a wonderful curling free kick earlier than the half-hour mark and the distress continued for Dortmund after the interval. A fulminating drive by Leverkusen colossus and captain Jonathan Tah — along with his weaker left foot — successfully put the sport past the attain of the Schwarzgelben, then Moussa Diaby expertly acquired on the top of Frimpong’s cross to make it 5-1.

The return of Giovanni Reyna after 5 months out, in addition to a late objective from Steffen Tigges, was scant comfort for Marco Rose’s males, who stay second however lie 9 factors behind leaders Bayern Munich. As for the victors, Gerardo Seoane’s males are sizzling on Dortmund’s heels in third, simply 5 factors again. — Rae

Kane continues return to kind in model

Revitalised because the arrival of Antonio Conte as supervisor, Harry Kane added two extra objectives to his season tally as Tottenham noticed off Brighton. The striker’s first of the sport — a spectacular effort from 20 yards — was an illustration of his confidence.

Milan’s derby win tightens Serie A title race

Milan’s comeback within the Derby della Madonnina may seem stunning to some, however take a more in-depth look and there have been indicators that Inter haven’t been themselves in latest weeks.

True, the defending Serie A champions Inter had received 9 of their earlier 10 league video games and are preventing on three fronts beneath first-year supervisor Simone Inzaghi, however a scarcely deserved, pre-international break win over Venezia got here through a last-minute Edin Dzeko objective and adopted equally slender victories over Torino and Lazio, plus a draw at Atalanta.

None of which is to say Inter are creaking, however the Italian title race is way much less a foregone conclusion than it appeared earlier than kickoff at San Siro or after Ivan Perisic opened the scoring simply earlier than half-time.

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Milan’s win was sealed by Olivier Giroud‘s double — the objectives coming three minutes aside — however, whereas the French striker will get a lot of the eye, his supervisor Stefano Pioli deserves a lot of the plaudits.

Beforehand thought-about a journeyman coach, who lasted lower than a full season in cost at Inter a number of years in the past, the 56-year-old has blended veterans like Giroud and Zlatan Ibrahimovic with a younger core and reworked the Rossoneri right into a workforce able to difficult for honours.

So usually, simply when it appears like collapse is inevitable, Milan pull one thing out of the bag and so it was this weekend as Pioli acquired his in-game choices proper. His facet sits one level off prime spot and has motive to hope for enchancment on final season’s second place and a primary Scudetto in 11 years. — Richardson

Elliott marks return with tremendous objective

When Harvey Elliott suffered a critical ankle damage in September, there was concern whether or not he would play once more this season. Not solely has the Liverpool teenager labored his solution to health inside 5 months, he celebrated being again in motion by scoring in entrance of the Kop.

PSG constructing as much as Madrid assembly

Lastly, and possibly on the proper time, Paris Saint-Germain are wanting like they’re enhancing. Their 5-1 demolition of Lille away within the north of France on Sunday evening was one in every of Paris’ greatest efficiency of the season. Six days after a vastly disappointing loss on the Parc des Princes towards Nice within the Coupe de France, Sunday was far more promising.

Ten days earlier than their Champions League last-16 first leg towards Real Madrid, Lille away was a check for the Parisiens and there was a necessity for them to boost their sport. And so they did. Collectively, the Ligue 1 leaders have been sturdy. They pressed nicely, their defensive transitions have been environment friendly and so they attacked nicely. Even Lionel Messi shone with a objective and an help, and we acquired to see the Kylian Mbappe particular: on the left-hand facet on the sting of the field, he curls the ball within the reverse prime nook along with his proper foot. He loves this transfer and he’s getting higher and higher at it. Lille goalkeeper Ivo Grbic could not do something about it. Thibaut Courtois has been warned. — Laurens

Rice drags West Ham again, celebrates with dance

It appeared like West Ham would exit the cup by the hands of sixth-tier Kidderminster Harriers, just for Declan Rice to ship the sport to further time with a driving run and emphatic end. However what concerning the Michael Jackson dance to rejoice? Was it Dangerous or a Thriller?

Sane seals Senegal’s AFCON success

Sadio Mane struck the decisive penalty as Senegal defeated Egypt 4-2 on penalties following a 0-0 draw in Sunday’s Africa Cup of Nations ultimate in Yaounde to safe the Teranga Lions’ first ever continental title.

Participant of the Event Mane, who had a fourth-minute spot kick saved by Egypt goalkeeper Gabaski, netted Senegal’s ultimate penalty of the shootout after Edouard Mendy had saved Mohanad Lasheen’s effort, with Bouna Sarr and Mohamed Abdelmonem additionally failing to transform for all sides.

Senegal headed into to the match as the one workforce in AFCON historical past to succeed in two earlier finals with out ever successful the biennial match, and after falling 1-0 to Algeria within the 2019 showpiece, the primary facet to succeed in back-to-back finals because the victorious Egypt facet 12 years in the past.

Having been the standout facet throughout the knockout levels — following a turgid group-stage efficiency — they loved the higher of the ultimate, with Man of the Match Gabaski making a collection of nice stops to keep up the parity between the pair.

Nonetheless, goal-shy Egypt, who performed extra-time in all 4 of their knockout video games and had a day fewer relaxation than Senegal, had probabilities of their very own, with Mendy pressured right into a nice extra-time save to disclaim Marwan Hamdy. — Dove

Boreham Wooden stun Bournemouth

The ultimate FA Cup tie of the weekend introduced the most important shock with Boreham Wooden’s exceptional upset of high-flying Championship facet Bournemouth. Mark Ricketts’ objective secured a well-known win for the fifth-tier membership, whose reward is a visit to Everton within the fifth spherical.

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