European round up: Barcelona, Real and Arsenal win while United and Chelsea draw, PSG win Le Classique
Barcelona overcame a stubborn Levante side 0-2 to ensure Luis Enrique won his 100th match in charge at the club. A first half own goal from David Navarro and a 90th-minute goal from Suarez sealed the win for Barcelona.
Levante 0-1 Barcelona
In the opening stages of the game, Levante sat deep in their half as Barcelona had the majority of the possession. Levante stopper Marin made a brilliant save to deny Neymar just after a quarter of an hour, but could not deny his own teammate from scoring, as an unlucky deflection of Navarro’s back gave Barcelona the lead.
That seemed to spur the home side as they started to threaten the Barca goal on a regular basis. They spurned two good chances to make it 1-1. The first one fell to Lerma after he was put through by an improvised flick from Deyverson which he dragged wide. They went even closer after that Morales accelerated away from his marker and sent a right-foot shot which hit the post. Barcelona managed to hold on to their slender lead until the half-time whistle.
The second half started in similar fashion as Levante played without fear trying to find the all-important equalizer. Rossi came close in the forty-seventh minute but saw his effort palmed away expertly by Bravo. Levante continued to attack the uncertain Barcelona defense on the counter with Rossi at the centre of it while astutely defending their own goal.
After that chances were at a premium as both sides were unable to carve out clear openings. But in the 90th minute as Levante poured forward in search of an equalizer they were caught on the break and Messi squared it to Suarez who beat the keeper from close range.
Granada 1-2 Real Madrid
Real Madrid were fortunate to grab a win away to Granada as goals from Modric and Benzema gave the visitors the win after El Arabi had eqaulized for the hosts midway through the second half. The result leaves Madrid in third, 4 points behind leaders Barcelona, while Granada continue to languish in 19th with 20 points.
Granada and Real Madrid played out an even opening half an hour as the two sides exchanged chances to score. Karim Benzema gave the visitors the lead in the 30th minute with the easiest of tap ins, after Carvajal was set free down the right wing for the umpteenth time, and sent in a cross that the Frenchman diverted home.
Granada responded well to going a goal down, as the hosts threatened Real Madrid going into the latter stages of the first half, with Isaac Success and Fran Rico repeatedly combining well on the right wing, but lacking a finishing touch, which meant Real took a 1-0 lead going into the break.
The hosts started the second half just as they had finished the first, with Barral and Rochina going close for Granada. However, Real Madrid spurned a gilt edged chance to double the lead and make the game safe in the 57th minute, as Andres Fernandez made a stunning save from Karim Benzema after Modric had sent him clear for a one-on-one.
Youssef El-Arabi came on for the hosts moments later and scored with his second touch of the game on the hour mark. Luka Modric was impeded by the referee in the centre of the park, allowing Ruben Rochina to pounce and send Arabi clear, allowing the Moroccan to slot home under Keylor Navas with a neat finish and equalize for the hosts.
Granada had a goal ruled out for offside moments later, while having a penalty claim rightly turned down later as well. With Real Madrid on the ropes, Luka Modric dug Los Blancos out of jail with a world class goal. The Croatian found space 30 yards from goal and let fly, as his swerving shot flew past a flailing Fernandez into the top corner, giving Real Madrid a fortunate win that was rather harsh on Granada.
Bournemouth 0-2 Arsenal
Arsenal claimed a valuable three points at the Vitality stadium with a 2-0 win away to Bournemouth. The win takes Arsenal upto third, level on points with second placed Tottenham on 48, a full five points behind leaders Leicester City, with Manchester City in fourth.
Like London buses, Arsenal scored two goals in 88 seconds after going 327 minutes without a goal in the Premier League. Ozil opened the scoring for the Gunners with a rare right footed strike in the 23rd minute, while Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain's cross-shot a minute later struck the far post and creeped into the net. Bournemouth's Pugh had a penalty claim turned down, while Arter and Smith required Cech to make crucial saves, which meant Arsenal went into the break two goals up.
The second half saw Bournemouth muster up a better effort, but as Arsenal sat back to protect their lead, the Cherries domination of the ball was unsurprising. Smith came close with a shot from close range midway through the second half, but came closest to scoring in injury time when it was too late. Aaron Ramsey came close to scoring a deserved goal in the final few minutes, but Boruc saved his effot.
Cech made a stunning double save from Cook and Arter in the final moments, but with the game sewn up, it mattered little, as the referee blew the whistle soon after.The win was Arsenal’s first in 5 games, with Bournemouth dropping to 15th in the table on 28 points, just 5 above the relegation zone.
Chelsea 1-1 Manchester United
Diego Costa scored a late injury time equalizer for Chelsea after Jesse Lingard had given United the lead in the 61st minute with a stunning strike. Manchester United dominated possession for most of the game but Chelsea had the better chances, which meant the two shared the spoils.
Marseille 1-2 Paris St Germain
Paris Saint-Germain made it 9 Le Classique wins in succession as they scored 19 minutes from time to win 2-1 away to Marseille at the Stade Velodrome, with goals from Angel Di Maria and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, while Remy Cabella equalized for the hosts earlier. The win extends PSG’s unbeaten Ligue 1 record to 34 games, while Marseille extend their winless run at home to 10 games, the worst in the club’s history.
Zlatan Ibrahimovic scored the fastest ‘Clasico’ goal in all competitions since Luis Fernandez in August 1985, as the Swede tapped home at the far post after Blaise Matuidi sent Maxwell free down the left wing and the Brazilian sent in a peach of a cross for Ibrahimovic to score his 21st league goal this season in the 2nd minute.
Matuidi was at it again soo after, as he clipped a lovely pass to Angel Di Maria which sent him through on the left, but the Argentine shot wide as Mandanda narrowed the angle. Marseille were shocked into life and started to exert themselves on the game. L’OM underlined their fightback with a goal in the 25th minute, as Remy Cabella scored from range with a low, rasping drive. The Frenchman’s stike deflected of David Luiz’s legs and bobbled up a stricken Kevin Trapp on the floor, nestling in the bottom corner to give Marseille a valuable equalizer.
The second half was a keenly fought affair, as both PSG and Marseille traded chances, with Ibrahimovic and Batshuayi going close for their respective sides. With the game still in the balance, the fervent atmosphere resulted in plastic bottles raining down on Di Maria as he took a corner. The Argentine had his revenge minutes later, as he gave PSG the lead in the 71st minute, after sending Ibrahimovic though on the left. The Swede held up the ball and fed Di Maria, who took a lovely first touch to wrong foot his marker and stroked home PSG’s second with his left foot.
Stephen Fletcher came on for the hosts with the 65,000 supporters packed inside the Stade Velodrome chanting his name, but could not affect the game. As the referee blew the final whistle, PSG went 24 points clear at the summit of Ligue 1 and are in line to win the league by the end of this month itself, while Marseille languish in 10th place.