Ligue 1 Roundup: Nice strengthen grip on third place after beating Bordeaux

All of Mario Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home. (Source: Reuters) All of Mario Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home. (Source: Reuters)

Striker Mario Balotelli equalized from the penalty spot and then helped to create the winner as Nice rallied to beat Bordeaux 2-1 in the French league on Sunday.

The win moved third-placed Nice one point behind Paris Saint-Germain and four behind leader Monaco, although they both have a game in hand on Nice, which hosts PSG at the end of April.

All of Balotelli’s 11 league goals this season have been scored at home, and the Italian forward confidently struck a 16th-minute penalty after veteran midfielder Jeremy Toulalan was adjudged to have fouled right back Arnaud Soquet as he burst into the area.

Bordeaux had taken the lead in the ninth minute thanks to a fine goal from Gaetan Laborde. The striker took advantage of an error from Nice’s Brazilian center half Dante to break into the penalty area, beat two defenders and score with an angled finish.

After leveling from the penalty spot, Balotelli showed clever anticipation to cushion a pass into the path of midfielder Valentin Eysseric, who turned to hit a brilliant curling strike past goalkeeper Cedric Carrasso in the 27th minute from just outside the penalty area.

There were no goals in the second half but Bordeaux missed four chances, with forward Francois Kamano missing an open goal and missing with another strike.

“In the second half they dictated the game. If you lose the ball against them, they are lethal,” Nice coach Lucien Favre said of Bordeaux. “But you shouldn’t forget that we have several players injured, so hats off to the team.”

Bordeaux is in sixth place, one point behind fifth-placed Marseille.


Lyon missed an early penalty and conceded a late equalizer in a 1-1 draw at 10-man Rennes.

Lyon failed to take advantage of having an extra man for nearly the whole game after Algerian defender Ramy Bensebaini was sent off in the fifth minute. The resulting spot kick, taken by Lyon top scorer Alexandre Lacazette, was well saved by goalkeeper Benoit Costil.

Midfielder Corentin Tolisso went close three times as Lyon dominated the first half, but the visitors had to wait until the 53rd minute before taking the lead when forward Maxwell Cornet turned in a cross from left back Jeremy Morel.

Congolese forward Firmin Mubele equalized for midtable Rennes in the 82nd with his first goal since joining Rennes from Qatari club Al-Ahli.

“Given the circumstances we should have won the match,” Lyon coach Bruno Genesio said. “So, yes, this draw feels like a defeat. We started losing track of what we were doing 15 minutes from the end, and I don’t know why. Perhaps it was a lack of concentration.”

Lyon has not won away in the league since beating leader Monaco 3-1 in December and dropped more points in its quest to catch third-placed Nice.

Lyon is 16 points behind Nice.

“Given what we showed today, we don’t deserve to be on the podium (in the top three),” Genesio said. “I’m irritated, for want of a better word.”


Burkina Faso striker Prejuce Nakoulma scored both goals as Nantes beat Angers 2-1 to move up to ninth place.

Striker Andy Delort got his fourth goal since joining from Mexican club Tigres in January as Toulouse won 1-0 at Montpellier to go 10th.

Cameroon striker Benjamin Moukandjo’s 10th league goal of the season helped Lorient beat Caen 1-0 as it bids to avoid relegation. Lorient is 19th but only one point behind 17th-placed Dijon.

Paris Saint-Germain beat Monaco 4-1 in the League Cup final on Saturday.

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Indian women’s hockey team beat Uruguay 4-2 in shootout

The Indian women’s team beat Uruguay 4-2 in the penalty shootout to begin their campaign in the Women’s Hockey World League Round 2 on a winning note in West Vancouver.

Skipper Rani, Monika, Deepika and Navjot Kaur held their nerves to score in the tense penalty shootout that saw them through after the two sides were locked 2-2 at the end of the regulation time.

India got off to a good start and took the lead with skipper Rani scoring as early as in the sixth minute.

India held on to the lead till the third quarter but Uruguay struck their first goal in the 45th minute to equalise through Maria Teresa Viana Ache.

After a quick two-minute break before the final quarter began, a few key variations brought in by India chief coach Sjoerd Marijne saw Vandana Katariya convert a fine field goal in the 49th minute to take 2-1 lead.

But a defensive error in the striking circle in the 54th minute saw the Indian team concede a penalty stroke which was successfully converted by Uruguay’s Manuela Vilar.

In the last six minutes, the Indian forwards made forays into the opposition striking circle but could not fetch a goal eventually leading the match to a penalty shootout.

With the experienced goalkeeper Savita producing a good show, India held their nerves to win 4-2 in the exciting penalty shootout.

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Bastian Schweinsteiger scores in his MLS debut, Chicago Fire ties Montreal Impact 2-2

Bastian Schweinsteiger scored on his debut for Chicago Fire. (Source: AP) Bastian Schweinsteiger scored on his debut for Chicago Fire. (Source: AP)

Bastian Schweinsteiger capped his MLS debut with a brilliantly taken first-half goal to help the Chicago Fire snatch a dramatic 2-2 draw with Montreal Impact on Saturday.

A World Cup winner with Germany, Schweinsteiger could hardly have made a better start for his new team after leaving Manchester United, where he had spent most of his time on the bench.

The 32-year-old put his name on the scorer’s list after just 17 minutes, climbing above the defense to connect with David Accam’s corner and head the ball into the net to give his side the early lead.

“I was not nervous, but I was looking forward to play football,” said Schweinsteiger, who played the full 90 minutes.

“Perfect cross from David and the header. It was a good feeling at first, but I’m a little bit sad and not so happy that we couldn’t win the game.”

Matteo Mancosu equalized for Montreal in the 61st minute then Chicago found themselves a man down after 71 minutes when Juninho was shown a second yellow card.

Montreal’s Víctor Cabrera was also sent off, in the 80th minute, to make it 10 on 10 and the visitors looked to have pinched the win when Ballou Jean-Yves Tabla struck in the 90th minute.

But three minutes into stoppage time, Chicago scored again through Luis Solignac to earn a deserved share of the points.

“A debut with a goal is always something that we all dream of,” Fire coach Veljko Paunovic said about Schweinsteiger. “You know, starting and opening the game how we did with his goal, I think it was an important thing for our team.”

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Matt Ritchie winner keeps Newcastle United on top but Rotherham relegated

Newcastle took the lead in the 36th minute. (Source; Reuters) Newcastle took the lead in the 36th minute. (Source; Reuters)

Matt Ritchie struck a second-half winner as Newcastle United survived a Wigan Athletic fightback to win 2-1 and remain a point clear at the top of the Championship, while Rotherham’s relegation was confirmed with a 1-0 home defeat by Fulham.

Newcastle took the lead in the 36th minute when Dwight Gayle netted his 22nd goal of a productive season, but Wigan, who had scored only once in their previous five matches, responded through Michael Jacobs’ dinked effort in the 50th minute.

However, Newcastle have repeatedly demonstrated their resolve in their testing title race this season, and Ritchie restored their lead seven minutes later when he headed home after his initial effort came back off the woodwork.

“We’ve got seven games left and we have to keep on winning,” Ritchie told Newcastle’s official website ( “You’ve just got to have the desire to get over the line.

“We’ve worked hard to get into this position. We just need to continue to work hard, stay focused and keep the same mentality that we have done throughout the season, because we’re in a great position at the top of the league.”

Newcastle remain a point clear of Chris Hughton’s Brighton and Hove Albion, who have 80 points after bouncing back from their 2-0 defeat at Leeds United ahead of the international break to beat Blackburn Rovers 1-0, courtesy of Glenn Murray’s second-half strike.

Brighton’s victory establishes a nine-point gap between them and third-placed Huddersfield Town after their shock 1-0 home defeat by Burton Albion, while Reading leapfrogged Leeds United into fourth after a 1-0 win at the Madejski Stadium.

At the other end of the table, Rotherham’s relegation to League One was confirmed with a 1-0 home defeat by Fulham, who move up to sixth after Sone Aluko scored the only goal of the game.

Rotherham escaped relegation last season, but their latest loss was their eighth on the bounce, and their last victory was in mid-January.

Their defeat to Fulham left them 24 points behind Bristol City in 21st place.

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Injury-hit Atletico Madrid beat Malaga but Real Sociedad lose ground

Atletico Madrid provisionally moved to third place in the points table. (Source: Reuters) Atletico Madrid provisionally moved to third place in the points table. (Source: Reuters)

A depleted Atletico Madrid side shrugged off the absence of seven players to win 2-0 at struggling Malaga on Saturday as strikes from Koke and Filipe Luis in either half moved them provisionally into third place in La Liga.

Koke, the scorer of the winner in Atletico’s last win at Malaga in 2014, capitalised on some excellent hold-up play from Fernando Torres to nudge Atletico ahead in the 26th minute of a scrappy game.

Filipe Luis then scooped up a loose ball in the 74th minute following another run from Torres to dink his finish over Carlos Kameni for his first goal of the season.

Malaga’s Rosaleda stadium holds special memories for Atletico manager Diego Simeone as it was the scene of his first game in charge of the club back in January 2012, although his side had won only one of their five previous matches there.

They looked to be in for another difficult game after Nico Gaitan and Kevin Gameiro sustained injuries in midweek to join the suspended Yannick Carrasco as well as Augusto Fernandez, Tiago, Sime Vrsaljko and Miguel Angel Moya on the sidelines, meaning Simeone had to call on two reserve players to complete his 18-man squad.

Malaga, however, have had a rotten season, changing their manager twice, and had won just one of their previous 15 league games heading into the fixture, and Michel’s side offered little resistance.

“What pleased me the most was the bravery and defiance we showed against the difficulties we faced,” Atletico coach Simeone told reporters.

“We came here with two youth players and the team played just as well as we always do, and that says a lot about us and the hard work we always put in.”

Atletico are provisionally third in the standings on 58 points after climbing above Sevilla, who host Sporting Gijon on Sunday. Leaders Real Madrid, who have 65 points, entertain Alaves on Sunday, while champions Barcelona, two points behind, visit Granada.

Also on Saturday, Real Sociedad’s hopes of finishing fourth faded further after they drew 1-1 at home to Leganes, extending their winless run to three games.

Leganes went ahead in the 29th minute on a rain-swept afternoon in San Sebastian when Alexander Szymanowski pounced on a moment of indecision from goalkeeper Geronimo Rulli to latch on to a through ball and lob his Argentine compatriot.

Juanmi Jimenez levelled for Real Sociedad eight minutes into the second half, smashing in a cutback from youngster Alvaro Odriozola.

The Basques tried to build on their momentum, but they were unable to convert the few chances they managed to create.

Eusebio Sacristan’s side are fifth in the standings on 49 points, eight behind fourth-placed Sevilla, who have a game in hand, and nine adrift of third-placed Atletico.

Athletic Bilbao, in seventh, beat basement club Osasuna 2-1 to move to within one point of sixth place Villarreal after Fran Escriba’s side were beaten 3-2 at home to Eibar, who are eighth, three points behind Athletic.

Espanyol are ninth in the standings, one point back from Eibar, after leaving it late to beat Real Betis 2-1 on Friday, Javi Fuego hitting the equaliser in the 88th minute and then veteran Jose Antonio Reyes providing the winner in the 90th.

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Celtic thrash Hearts to win sixth consecutive Scottish title

SPL top scorer Sinclair completed his hat-trick with a penalty in the 84th minute. (Source: AP) SPL top scorer Sinclair completed his hat-trick with a penalty in the 84th minute. (Source: AP)

Celtic thrashed Hearts 5-0 away to win their 48th Scottish title on Sunday, with Scott Sinclair scoring a hat-trick as Brendan Rodgers’s side claimed a sixth consecutive Premiership.

Hearts had lost only three at home so far this season, but were blown away by the runaway leaders, who took the lead through Sinclair after 24 minutes when he fired into the roof of the net from an acute angle after fine interplay with Patrick Roberts.

The forward doubled his tally three minutes later with a sharp finish to give Celtic a stranglehold on the match, before Stuart Armstrong and Roberts wrapped up victory with second-half efforts.

SPL top scorer Sinclair completed his hat-trick with a penalty in the 84th minute as Celtic moved up to 86 points after 30 matches, 25 points clear of second-placed Aberdeen, and 35 ahead of Glasgow rivals Rangers in third.

Rodgers’ side are still unbeaten having drawn just two matches and having already won the League Cup. They have a Scottish Cup semi-final against Rangers coming up on April 23 so remain on course for the treble.

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Technology lends a hand as Spain beat France 2-0

David Silva’s goal was a reward for a good spell of dominance from Spain. (Source: AP) David Silva’s goal was a reward for a good spell of dominance from Spain. (Source: AP)

Spain ended France’s seven-game unbeaten run as substitutes David Silva and Gerard Deulofeu scored second-half goals to secure a 2-0 win over the European Championship runner-up in a friendly at the Stade de France on Tuesday.

It was France’s first loss since its 1-0 defeat to Portugal at the same venue in the Euro 2016 final last summer.

The match also saw the first use in France of video replays to help the referee, with the technology being used to confirm Deulofeu’s goal and to disallow one for France’s Antoine Griezmann just after halftime.

Spain coach Julen Lopetegui’s substitutions early in the second half proved decisive as Deulofeu won a penalty only 15 seconds after coming onto the pitch in the 66th minute. Deulofeu was obstructed in the box by defender Laurent Koscielny and Silva sent keeper Hugo Lloris the wrong way to break the deadlock.

Silva’s goal was a reward for a good spell of dominance from Spain that started after Lopetegui replaced Andres Iniesta and Isco with Thiago Alcantara and Silva in the 53rd minute.

Deulofeu then rounded off a fast counterattack with 13 minutes left to make it 2-0 from an assist by Jordi Alba.

“The video helped giving credit where credit was due,” Lopetegui said when asked about the impact on the video replays on the result. “I want to praise my players for their very good match, I’m happy with their attitude.”

France coach Didier Deschamps acknowledged Spain’s superiority and said video technology could be good for “fairness in sport.”

“For sure the result would not have been the same,” Deschamps said. “Tonight it played against us. But we had been warned and the match can’t be summed up by this.”

With the French League Cup final between Paris Saint-Germain and Monaco scheduled on Saturday, Deschamps rotated his team.

However, he gave Monaco teenager Kylian Mbappe his first international start, three days after the gifted striker made his debut in a 3-1 win at Luxembourg in a World Cup qualifier. Mbappe showed his trademark speed and dribbling skills, but could not provide the necessary finish during his 65-minute performance.

Deschamps also picked three Spain-based players in his 4-3-3 formation, with Atletico Madrid forwards Griezmann and Kevin Gameiro starting alongside Barcelona defender Samuel Umtiti.

Lopetegui reshuffled his attack after a 4-1 win over Israel last week with Alvaro Morata starting up front but kept the same back four of Gerard Pique, Sergio Ramos, Alba and Daniel Carvajal to contain the France strike force.

After a minute’s applause in memory of former France and Real Madrid great Raymond Kopa, who died earlier this month aged 85, France immediately created danger down the left flank. Gameiro combined well with Griezmann and Layvin Kurzawa crossed the ball for Mbappe, who forced keeper David De Gea into a good save with a low shot.

France had another good chance in the 10th minute from a free kick after Koscielny lost his marker to connect with Griezmann’s cross, but his header at the far post was cleared off the line by Pique.

France’s dominance did not last long, with the inexperienced midfield pairing of Adrien Rabiot and Corentin Tolisso being outclassed by their Spanish counterparts.

Iniesta got his team’s first chance when he curled a shot just wide from inside the box in the 14th minute. He had another effort on goal near the half-hour mark after being set up by Pedro, but France captain Hugo Lloris _ who equaled Fabien Barthez’s record of 87 caps for a France goalkeeper _ thwarted his attempt.

Griezmann thought he had put France ahead seconds after the interval when he beat De Gea with a fine header, but the strike was ruled out for an offside after a quick review of the move by the video assistant referee. Technology was involved again in the 77th minute to overturn an incorrect offside call against Deulofeu after his close-range finish to make it 2-0. Deulofeu was made to wait to celebrate the goal but the correct decision was given.

“Deulofeu was decisive, if he keeps playing like this, he’s got a bright future in front of him,” Lopetegui said.

France’s next World Cup qualifier is in June against Sweden in Group A, which the French lead by three points. Level on points with Italy at the top of Group G, Spain travels to Macedonia on June 11.

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Russia salvage friendly 3-3 draw with Belgium in friendly

Alexander Bukharov set up Alexei Miranchuk to make it 3-2 in the 76th minute. (Source: AP) Alexander Bukharov set up Alexei Miranchuk to make it 3-2 in the 76th minute. (Source: AP)

Alexander Bukharov salvaged a 3-3 draw for Russia against Belgium in stoppage time on Tuesday to cap a comeback from being 3-1 down. Defender Viktor Vasin had given Russia an early lead before Roman Neustadter gave away a penalty with a clumsy challenge on Belgium forward Christian Benteke.

Kevin Mirallas converted the spot-kick, and Benteke followed up with two goals shortly before halftime. Substitute Bukharov set up Alexei Miranchuk to make it 3-2 in the 76th minute before leveling in the second minute of injury time.

Despite the encouraging comeback, next year’s World Cup host Russia has still won only two of its last 13 games.

It was the first football match at the 47,700-seat Fisht stadium in Sochi, which hosted the Winter Olympic opening ceremony in 2014 but needed extensive reconstruction for the 2018 World Cup.

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