Euro: Ronaldo shines as Juve reignite top-four hopes

Two late goals from Cristiano Ronaldo earned Juventus a 2-1 comeback win against Udinese on Sunday to give the Turin club a precious three points in the Serie A top-four race.

Juve climbed into third place on 69 points, level with Atalanta in second and AC Milan in fourth, but two points ahead of fifth-placed Napoli.

The visiting defence was caught napping when Udinese wing back Nahuel Molina latched onto a quickly taken freekick to fire home the opener after 10 minutes.

But Rodrigo De Paul stuck out an arm to block a Ronaldo freekick with seven minutes remaining and the Portuguese converted the resulting penalty to end his run of three games without a goal.

Ronaldo strikes from the penalty spot for Juventus against Udinese
Image:
Ronaldo strikes from the penalty spot for Juventus against Udinese

Ronaldo then headed in an 89th-minute winner from close range to take his tally to the season to a league-high 27 Serie A goals in 30 appearances.

But the striker’s goals papered over the cracks of another poor performance from Andrea Pirlo’s team.

“If we are satisfied with these 10 minutes, it means that we have not understood anything,” Juve defender Leonardo Bonucci told Sky Italia. “We can’t change gear and keep it up for the whole game, that is the hardest thing to understand.

“Matches are decided by episodes, after this many games you need to pay attention to the details. We have dropped points too many times because of the details.”

Juve knew before kick-off that they had the chance to gain ground in the top-four race after Atalanta and Napoli drew against Sassuolo and Cagliari respectively.

Udinese's Bram Nuytinck and Juventus' Juan Cuadrado vie for the ball
Image:
Udinese’s Bram Nuytinck and Juventus’ Juan Cuadrado vie for the ball

But they got off to the worst possible start when De Paul found Molina with a quick freekick, and he drilled in a finish.

It was the tenth consecutive league game in which Juve have conceded ustration after heading wide from six yards and Paulo Dybala’s deflected shot required a smart save from Simone Sat least one goal, their worst record since April 2010.

Juve’s Weston McKennie was left punching the ground in frcuffet.

But the visitors’ chances were few and far between until Ronaldo’s decisive contribution in the closing stages.

De Paul’s handball gave the Portuguese forward the chance to fire a penalty into the bottom corner, and the 36-year-old turned the game on its head when he nodded in an Adrien Rabiot cross at the back post.

Meanwhile, Nahitan Nandez scored a 94th-minute equaliser to snatch a 1-1 draw for relegation battling Cagliari and dent Napoli‘s Champions League qualification hopes on Sunday.

Napoli are fourth in the standings, two points behind Atalanta and AC Milan, but Juventus can overtake them by beating Udinese later.

Victor Osimhen latched onto a dinked Lorenzo Insigne pass and guided home a finish after 13 minutes to put the home side in front.

La Liga: Messi nets twice in Barca turnaround over Valencia

Barcelona brushed off the disappointment of the Granada loss
Image:
Barcelona brushed off the disappointment of the Granada loss

Lionel Messi led Barcelona to a quick-fire comeback to win 3-2 at Valencia on Sunday and keep the pressure on La Liga title rivals Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

Barca fell behind in the 50th minute when Valencia defender Gabriel Paulista headed into an empty net from a corner after keeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen had stumbled to the ground in his attempt to come for the ball.

The Catalans, who had blown the chance to go top of the league with a shock 2-1 defeat at home by Granada on Thursday, reacted well to going behind and soon won a penalty thanks to a handball from Valencia’s Toni Lato.

Messi saw his spot-kick saved by former team mate Jasper Cillessen but Valencia failed to clear the danger and the Argentine followed up to score on the second rebound in the 57th minute.

Lionel Messi was on target but also missed a penalty for Barca
Image:
Lionel Messi was on target but also missed a penalty for Barca

Antoine Griezmann gave Barca the lead six minutes later, also netting on the rebound after Cillessen could only parry a header from Frenkie de Jong, while Messi looked to have clinched the points in the 69th by firing a freekick in off the post.

Valencia got back into contention out of nowhere when midfielder Carlos Soler scored with an unstoppable strike from long range in the 83rd and had a couple of half chances to equalise but Barca clung on for the win.

Ronald Koeman’s side are third on 74 points with four games remaining, level with second-placed Real Madrid and two behind leaders Atletico Madrid after both sides won on Saturday. Fourth-placed Sevilla, on 70, host Athletic Bilbao on Monday.

Ligue 1: Cherki late goal earns Lyon win at Monaco

Ten-man Lyon revived their Champions League hopes while almost ending Monaco’s Ligue 1 title dreams as substitute Rayan Cherki earned them a last-gasp 3-2 win in the principality on Sunday.

After Maxence Caqueret had been sent off with 20 minutes remaining, Cherki found the back of the net in the last minute to add to goals by Memphis Depay and Marcelo, putting fourth-placed Lyon on 70 points with three games left.

Monaco, who had opened the scoring through Kevin Volland and levelled for 2-2 in the 86th courtesy of a Wissam Ben Yedder penalty, are one point ahead in third place.

They now trail leaders Lille by five points and second-placed Paris Saint-Germain by four after both won their respective games on Saturday.

Eredivisie: Ajax crowned champions

Ajax coach Erik ten Hag and his players celebrate clinching the title
Image:
Ajax coach Erik ten Hag and his players celebrate clinching the title

Ajax were crowned Dutch league champions in emphatic style on Sunday following a 4-0 home thrashing of lowly Emmen that gives them an unassailable lead and extends their record number of domestic championship wins to 35.

Jurrien Timber, Sebastien Haller, Devyne Rensch and Davy Klaassen all scored as Ajax overwhelmed their relegation-threatened opponents, who had come into the fixture on the back of three straight wins but were no match for the champions.

The victory moves Ajax to 79 points from 31 games, 15 ahead of second-placed PSV Eindhoven, who play later on Sunday at home to Heerenveen but have only four matches remaining.

Ajax supporters celebrate as their team secured the Eredivisie title
Image:
Ajax supporters celebrate as their team secured the Eredivisie title

Ajax retain the title they won two years ago after the championship was called off in the 2019-20 campaign due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Amsterdam club were joint top of the table at the time with AZ Alkmaar after 25 matches in the 34-game season.

The title win caps an excellent week for Ajax after coach Erik ten Hag also signed a new contract to keep him at the club until June 2023.

Let’

Messi backs social media boycott

Lionel Messi has backed the social media boycott currently taking place across British sport.

The Barcelona legend posted on his Instagram account – which is followed by more than 200m people – to pledge his support for the four-day initiative, which is in an attempt to tackle online abuse and discrimination.

Messi asked for his followers to give importance to the people that are behind each profile and asked for Facebook, Twitter and other social media companies to do more.

“I would like you, the 200 million people who follow me, to become the 200 million reasons that exist to make the networks a safe and respectful place, where we can share what we want without fear of being insulted,” he wrote.



Liverpool's Rinsola Babajide








3:48

Liverpool winger Rinsola Babajide says online abuse is something she has to deal with on a regular basis as a black woman in the game

“And that insults, racism, abuse and discrimination remain outside of them forever. For you who are part of these networks and who are always with me, I hope you will accompany me and support me in this crusade.”

He added: “Big hug to all and congratulations to all the football people in the United Kingdom for their idea of ??putting together the campaign against abuse and discrimination in networks.”

The FA, Premier League, EFL, FA Women’s Super League, FA Women’s Championship, PFA, LMA, PGMOL, Kick It Out and the FSA are uniting for the boycott from Friday through to Monday.

The Scottish FA, Scottish Professional Football League, Scottish Women’s Football and PFA Scotland have also confirmed the participation of clubs and football organisations in Scotland.

UEFA also gave its backing on Thursday, urging players, clubs and national associations “to lodge formal complaints whenever players, coaches, referees or officials are victims of unacceptable tweets or messages”.

FIFA also said it supports the English football-led social media boycott in response to discriminatory and offensive abuse on social media.

Sky Sports will not post any sports content to its channels on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat and Tik Tok for the duration of the boycott period.

Key organisations from other UK sports – such as the England and Wales Cricket Board, England Rugby, Premiership Rugby, Scottish Rugby, the Professional Darts Corporation, British Cycling, the Lawn Tennis Association and the British Horseracing Authority – have opted to join, as have other broadcasters including BT Sport, At The Races and talkSPORT.

The British Basketball League and Women’s British Basketball League will also support the boycott along with key rugby league organisations including the Rugby Football League, Super League Europe, Rugby League World Cup 2021 and the Rugby League Players’ Association.

Messi’s statement in full

“I have reached 200 million followers on Instagram, however, because of what is happening today, I am not going to take it as a reason for celebration.

“Of course I appreciate all the love and support that I always receive from you, but I think the time has come to give importance to all the PEOPLE behind each profile, that we realize that behind each account there is a person, who laughs, cries, enjoys and suffers, human beings with feelings.



Clare Connor, ECB Director of Women's Cricket (PA)








1:44

The ECB’s Managing Director of Women’s Cricket, Clare Connor, describes how both she and the England players have suffered online abuse and the importance of sports’ united stand against hate

“Let’s raise our voices to stop abuse on social media. It does not matter if we are anonymous, famous, athletes, referees or followers of a game, even someone outside all this, it does not matter the race, religion, ideology or gender … No one deserves to be mistreated or insulted.

“We live together seeing and experiencing abuse, increasingly worse in each of the networks, without anyone doing anything to prevent it. We must strongly condemn these hostile attitudes and demand that the companies that run the networks take urgent action against these behaviours.

“I would like you, the 200 million people who follow me, to become the 200 million reasons that exist to make the networks a safe and respectful place, where we can share what we want without fear of being insulted. And that insults, racism, abuse and discrimination remain outside of them forever.

“For you who are part of these networks and who are always with me, I hope you will accompany me and support me in this crusade.

“Big hug to all and congratulations to all the football people in the United Kingdom for their idea of ??putting together the campaign against abuse and discrimination in networks.”










0:39

Scottish FA Equality Advisor and Livingston captain Marvin Bartley says abuse on social media could lead to someone taking their own life unless companies do more to stop it

Hate Won’t Stop Us

Sky Sports is committed to making skysports.com and our channels on social media platforms a place for comment and debate that is free of abuse, hate and profanity.

For more information, please visit: www.skysports.com/hatewontstopus

If you see a reply to Sky Sports posts and/or content with an expression of hate on the basis of race, colour, gender, nationality, ethnicity, disability, religion, sexuality, age or class please copy the URL to the hateful post or screengrab it and email us here.

Kick It Out reporting racism

Online Reporting Form | Kick It Out

Kick It Out is football’s equality and inclusion organisation – working throughout the football, educational and community sectors to challenge discrimination, encourage inclusive practices and campaign for positive change.

www.kickitout.org

Let’

Barca blow chance to go top after Granada loss

Barcelona blew the chance of going top of La Liga after a shock 2-1 home defeat to Granada.

Lionel Messi had struck his 26th goal of the season with 23 minutes gone to put the Catalans on course for the summit in a compelling title race.

But Darwin Machis equalised on 63 minutes and Granada completed an unexpected comeback 11 minutes from time when substitute Jorge Molina headed in from close range.

Barca, whose coach Ronald Koeman was sent off in the aftermath of the Granada leveller, could have nudged one point ahead of Atletico Madrid but sit two points behind the league leaders Atletico Madrid and behind Real Madrid due to their inferior head-to-head record.

Messi had scored a fifth goal in his last four matches with a low cross-shot from inside the area after being teed up by Antoine Griezmann.

But the Argentine playmaker will rue what proved a crucial moment – not only in the game but potentially the title race – soon after as he spurned a one-on-one chance to beat Granada goalkeeper Aaron Escandell inside the area.

The visitors scored with both their shots on target at the Nou Camp, first through Machs on a counter after Oscar Mingueza failed to cut out Luis Suarez’s through-ball.

Koeman was soon ordered from his dugout by referee Pablo Gonzalez Fuertes for his complaints to the officials and his night got worse when Molina headed in Adrian Marin’s pinpoint cross to secure a first win at Barcelona for Diego Martinez’s side.

“We lost our focus in the second half and made errors at the back,” Koeman said.

“We need to accept the fact we’ve lost, that’s the reality of things. We had chances to win the game, but that’s that. We’ve got five more games to go and each of the sides (in the title race) will have difficulties in the schedule.

“We now need to prepare ourselves for Sunday’s game (away to Valencia). We’re still in the mix and have a chance. We need to accept this, move on and prepare for the next one.

“We tried but weren’t able to make many chances when they scored their goals. They closed shop well and we couldn’t create.”

Let’

Pep hopes ‘favourite’ Garcia gets Barca move

Pep Guardiola is hoping Eric Garcia can finalise a move to Barcelona when his contract expires at Manchester City this summer.

The City boss made the strongest suggestion yet that the centre-back is nearing a deal with the La Liga club, where he played as an academy product before joining City in 2017.

Garcia rejected a new City deal last summer and Sky Sports News reported in January that the Spanish defender was one of Barcelona’s top three transfer targets along with Liverpool’s Georginio Wijnaldum and Lyon’s Memphis Depay.

Despite handing Garcia just one substitute appearance in the league this year, Guardiola has praised the 20-year-old’s attitude, calling him “one of my favourite players”.

Asked about the rotation of his squad following City’s Carabao Cup final win over Tottenham, Guardiola said: “There are players even who don’t play any matches. I think, for example, of Eric Garcia who is one of my favourite players.

Garcia has made just one league appearance this year, coming off the bench against Fulham
Image:
Garcia has made just one league appearance this year, coming off the bench against Fulham

“I would love to have 15 Eric Garcias for the way he conducts his behaviour. He is always thinking of the team. He’s always a good face in the good or bad moments. He helps the manager and the backroom staff all the time.

“He will go in an incredible team and when the people say they are unsatisfied if I don’t play, I think of Eric.

“Most of the time he’s not on the bench because he’s going to move to Barcelona, I hope so. It’s tough, but it is what it is.”



MANCHESTER CITY 1-0 TOTTENHAM HOTSPUR








2:40

FREE TO WATCH: Highlight’s from Manchester City’s win over Tottenham in the Carabao Cup final

Pep: Much better with fans back

There was no need for artificial crowd noise on Sky Sports on Sunday as City and Tottenham supporters made their voices heard at Wembley.

A week after the FA Cup semi-final between Leicester and Southampton welcomed a mixture of 4,000 local residents and key workers to Wembley, a total of 8,000 descended on the national stadium for City’s showdown with Spurs.

There were 2,000 supporters from both clubs inside the stadium, with a further 4,000 tickets split between groups including Brent residents and NHS staff.










2:27

Guardiola speaks to the media after becoming the fourth manager to win the League Cup on four occasions

“It’s much better, much better [with fans]. We play to score, that’s what’s important,” said Guardiola.

“Today we’re incredible. Happy to win the first title, In the past 33 games we won 30, that’s incredible. We play with incredible personality, from the first minute, to try to win the game. In general we play a really good final.

“We don’t have time to work [on set-pieces]. With this schedule, we don’t have time to do anything. Just the principles, it’s our fifth season together so we know what to do. Just to recover, try to be a unit. It’s tough, but the schedule is this way.

“Now we rest and prepare for the semi-final against PSG. And then after that we are two games away from winning the most important title – the Premier League.”

Let’

Euro: Griezmann scores twice in Barca comeback win

Antoine Griezmann produced a double as Barcelona’s LaLiga title challenge regained pace with a 2-1 defeat of 10-man Villarreal.

The club sit second in the table following the victory, with Atletico Madrid just two points above them at the top of the league.

Ronald Koeman’s squad had not suffered a LaLiga defeat since December before their losing encounter with reigning champions Real Madrid on April 10, but the club returned to winning form when defeating Getafe on Thursday and retained that momentum at Estadio de la Ceramica.

Their task was made easier by the dismissal of Manu Trigueros in the 65th minute, with the Spaniard’s lunging tackle on Lionel Messi earning him a straight red card.

Villarreal’s Samuel Chukwueze pounced on an opportunity to hand his side the lead in the 26th minute, with Pau Torres spotting a gap in Barca’s defence and finding the Nigerian, who made his way around Marc-Andre ter Stegen to open the scoring.

Barcelona showed their resolve to overcome Villarreal
Image:
Barcelona showed their resolve to overcome Villarreal

The lead proved to be short-lived, however, as Griezmann picked up a pass from Oscar Mingueza and responded almost immediately when firing past Sergio Asenjo to equalise two minutes later.

The Frenchman then struck again to hand the visitors the lead after 35 minutes, this time intercepting a weak back pass from Villarreal’s Juan Foyth and slotting the ball past a helpless Asenjo.

After the break the hosts were a man down when midfielder Trigueros slid in with a reckless tackle to floor Barca captain Messi and was shown a red card, with team-mate Raul Albiol the recipient of a yellow card after his protesting of the referee’s decision.

Villarreal were still able to create a chance in the 78th minute with their depleted team when Gerard Moreno looked poised to produce an equaliser, but his shot was wide of the mark and the ball drifted past the right post.

Barcelona then missed an opportunity to cap their victory with a similar near-miss after 83 minutes, with Frenkie de Jong attempting to chip the ball over Asenjo but seeing his effort bounce and land off-target.

Serie A: Darmian fires Inter closer to title

Matteo Darmian celebrates his winning goal as Inter Milan took a big step
Image:
Matteo Darmian celebrates his winning goal as Inter Milan took a big step

Matteo Darmian was Inter Milan’s unlikely saviour once again as the defender came off the bench to score in a 1-0 win over Hellas Verona on Sunday that moved Antonio Conte’s side a step closer to the Serie A title.

The runaway league leaders were heading for a third consecutive draw until the wing-back fired home in the 76th minute, his second winning goal of the month after striking against Cagliari on April 11.

Inter moved on to 79 points, 13 clear of second-placed AC Milan with five games remaining, as they close in on their first league title since 2010.

Cristiano Ronaldo missed a good chance during Juventus' draw on Sunday
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Cristiano Ronaldo missed a good chance during Juventus’ draw on Sunday

Meanwhile, a superb strike from substitute Alvaro Morata earned Juventus a 1-1 Serie A draw at Fiorentina on Sunday in a result that could prove costly for the Turin club’s Champions League qualification hopes.

Fiorentina striker Dusan Vlahovic calmly dinked a penalty past Wojciech Szczesny to give the hosts a deserved lead.

Juve coach Andrea Pirlo brought on Morata at half-time and was immediately rewarded, as the Spaniard curled a shot into the top corner from a tight angle 31 seconds into the second half.

The result moved the champions level with second-placed AC Milan in the standings on 66 points, but the Rossoneri can pull clear when they face Lazio on Monday.

The pressure is growing on Juve in their fight for a top-four finish as Atalanta and Napoli, two and three points behind respectively, are yet to play this weekend.

Meanwhile, Cagliari moved out of the relegation zone with a 3-2 win over Europa League semi-finalists AS Roma at the Sardegna Arena, stretching their winning run to three games.

Bundesliga: Leipzig win to put Bayern celebrations on ice

RB Leipzig overcame Stuttgart to make Bayern Munich wait for the title
Image:
RB Leipzig overcame Stuttgart to make Bayern Munich wait for the title

RB Leipzig dashed Bayern Munich’s hopes of wrapping up Bundesliga title on Sunday with three games to spare when goals from Amadou Haidara and Emil Forsberg eased them to a 2-0 win over 10-man VfB Stuttgart.

Second-placed Leipzig snapped a two-match winless run in the league to keep alive the title race as they cut the gap with leaders Bayern, beaten 2-1 on Saturday by Mainz 05, to seven points.

Haidara’s darting header a minute after the restart put Leipzig in front and Forsberg’s well-taken 67th-minute penalty put an end to any hopes of a comeback by the visitors, who have now lost five of their last six matches.

Emil Forsberg tucks in his penalty to extend RB Leipzig's lead
Image:
Emil Forsberg tucks in his penalty to extend RB Leipzig’s lead

Stuttgart were reduced to 10 men when Naouirou Ahamada was dismissed in the 14th minute with a straight red card for a foul on Haidara. It was the quickest sending off Stuttgart had ever suffered in the Bundesliga.

Stuttgart ‘keeper Gregor Kobel made several superb saves, including punching a thundering Angelino shot away and then recovering quickly to palm Dani Olmo’s rebound wide, with Leipzig missing more chances to add to the scoreline.

Elsewhere, Borussia Monchengladbach thrashed relegation-threatened Arminia Bielefeld 5-0 to keep their European hopes alive. Gladbach are seventh in the league, four points off Bayer Leverkusen and a Europa Conference League spot.

Let’

Euro: Messi double, Atletico maintain La Liga lead

Atletico Madrid stayed in control of La Liga’s title race by beating struggling Huesca 2-0 at home with goals in each half by Angel Correa and Yannick Carrasco.

Correa scored for the third time in two games to give Atletico the lead shortly before half-time, the Argentine dancing through the Huesca defence and getting the help of a deflection to take his shot into the net.

Huesca had won two of their last three matches and stayed in the game, even having a couple of chances to level, until Marcos Llorente pounced on a loose ball and squared for Carrasco to knock it into the empty net 10 minutes from time.

Atletico top the standings on 73 points after 32 games, moving three clear of Real Madrid who beat Cadiz 3-0 on Wednesday. Huesca are 18th on 27 points.

Lionel Messi scored twice as Barcelona crushed Getafe 5-2 to stay in the hunt for the La Liga title.

Messi gave Barca an early lead with the help of a pin-point pass from Sergio Busquets but Getafe pulled level with an own goal by Clement Lenglet.

Lionel Messi scored twice for Barcelona in their 5-2 win
Image:
Lionel Messi scored twice for Barcelona in their 5-2 win

The visitors then conceded a calamitous own goal when Sofian Chakla’s backpass deceived ‘keeper David Soria and trickled over the line.

Messi extended Barca’s lead before half-time to move on to 25 La Liga goals this season but the Catalans slowed down in the second half and Turkish forward Enes Unal made for an interesting finish by converting a penalty in the 69th minute following a VAR review for a foul by Ronald Araujo.

The Uruguayan defender made amends by heading in Messi’s corner in the 87th minute to extend Barca’s lead and Antoine Griezmann slammed in a penalty in added time after being handed the ball by Messi.

The win took Barca back up to third place on 68 points, five behind leaders Atletico Madrid but with a game in hand.

Real Sociedad ended a run of five league games without a win with a 2-1 success over Celta Vigo, while Granada beat bottom club Eibar 4-1.

Serie A – Atalanta held by Roma

Roma held Atalanta to a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico
Image:
Roma held Atalanta to a 1-1 draw at the Stadio Olimpico

Atalanta missed the chance to go second in Serie A as Roma fought back to earn a 1-1 draw against the 10-man visitors at the Stadio Olimpico.

Gian Piero Gasperinis side went in front through Ruslan Malinovskyi in the first half and threatened a second as Roma goalkeeper Pau Lopez produced several good saves and Luis Muriel fired wide with the goal gaping.

The match swung in the host’s favour when Robin Gosens was shown a second yellow card with 20 minutes remaining, and former Atalanta player Bryan Cristante drew Roma level with a thunderous long-range strike in the 75th minute.

Roma were frustrated in their efforts to find a late winner and had Roger Ibanez sent off moments before the final whistle, after the defender picked up two bookings in two minutes.

Atalanta are third in the standings on 65 points, one behind AC Milan in second. Roma remained seventh with 55 points.

Matteo Politano scored for Napoli in the first half
Image:
Matteo Politano scored for Napoli in the first half

Napoli won a 5-2 thriller against top-four rivals Lazio to stay within touching distance of the Champions League places.

Lorenzo Insigne’s penalty and a Matteo Politano strike gave the hosts a two-goal lead at the break, before Insigne netted his second and Dries Mertens struck to put the result beyond doubt.

Mertens’ superb finish, a powerful shot into the top corner from the edge of the box, made him Napoli’s joint-top scorer of all time in Serie A with 102 league goals, alongside Antonio Vojak.

Lazio mustered a response as Ciro Immobile and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic scored in the space of three minutes, but any hopes of a comeback ended when Napoli substitute Victor Osimhen powered home his sides fifth in the 80th minute.

Napoli are fifth on 63 points, two behind Juventus and Atalanta. Lazio are sixth with 58 points, although they have a game in hand.

Let’

La Liga: Greater controls needed for clubs like PSG & City

La Liga president Javier Tebas has called for greater controls within football to check the power of clubs like Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain, after declaring the European Super League to be “dead”.

Manchester City were among six English clubs which signed up to the breakaway league on Sunday, while PSG rejected the opportunity to be involved, before it quickly fell through under global pressure from fans and politicians.

Tebas appeared to suggest that many of the teams who signed up for the breakaway league may have been motivated by their struggles to match the financial clout of City, who are owned by United Arab Emirates deputy prime minister, Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and PSG, who are owned by Qatar Sports Investments.

“State-owned clubs like Man City and PSG – these clubs need to face some controls,” Tebas said during a virtual news conference on Thursday. “They haven’t done anything outrageous so far, but we will see.”

Javier Tebas, the president of the Spanish La Liga
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Tebas says he isn’t planning on punishing the La Liga members of the breakaway Super League

All six English clubs which signed up promptly withdrew and were swiftly joined by Inter Milan and Atletico Madrid, but fellow Spanish members Real Madrid and Barcelona have maintained their support for the competition. German clubs, including deposed Champions League holders Bayern Munich, never agreed to join.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez has insisted the project is not finished and could be presented again in a different format, while his Barcelona counterpart Joan Laporta says “it is absolutely necessary”, but Tebas, a long-time opponent of the Super League, said it was effectively doomed.

“The Super League is dead without the English and German teams, let’s be realistic, it’s dead,” Tebas said.

“They cannot create the project they want to create. After 20 years of threatening a Super League, finally this threat came true and in 48 hours it has disappeared.”










4:59

Details of how the proposed European Super League collapsed from Kaveh Solhekol and Bryan Swanson

Perez said the Super League was urgently needed to prevent top clubs from going bankrupt after their revenues were badly hit by the coronavirus pandemic and clubs being unable to sell match tickets or merchandise.

But Tebas said the situation was not as extreme as Perez suggested it was, saying the clubs who have been hurt financially merely needed to control their spending on wages and transfer fees.

“This isn’t a problem of revenue, these clubs need to reduce their expenses. We don’t need to keep increasing earnings so that players can have seven Ferraris instead of six,” he said.

“This is a problem of distribution. My position is very clear, we don’t need to increase revenues, we just need to manage expenses. We are not ruined financially and we don’t have to take any exceptional measures.”

Florentino Perez
Image:
Real Madrid Florentino Perez is refusing to give up on the Super League project

Tebas said that he is not currently planning any punishment for the three Spanish clubs.

“We are not talking about sanctions,” he said. “Everyone wants to cut people’s heads off.

“We will have to wait and see what happens in the end, but if they defend their position, we will have to consider our options.

“These clubs have been sanctioned by their own fans. Almost everyone in football has said they’re against this, and that is like a reputational sanction.”

Barcelona president Laporta, making his first public comments on the project, told Catalan state television on Thursday: “The biggest clubs create the most financial resources and we must have our say in deciding how the earnings are shared.”

Joan Laporta celebrates his election victory
Image:
Barcelona president Joan Laporta insists big clubs should have more say over how profits from European competition are shared

Barcelona’s participation was conditioned by Laporta’s pledge to let the club’s members vote on the proposal.

“We are keeping a prudent stance,” Laporta said. “It is a necessity, but our club members will have the final word.”

Meanwhile, Atletico sent a letter to the club’s supporters on Wednesday in which they apologised “for the confusion that has been generated in recent days”.

The letter attempted to explain the club’s initial decision to be part of the Super League.

“We couldn’t allow ourselves not to be in that group of clubs that are the main content generators in the world of football,” the letter said.

“However, the conditions and circumstances under which our incorporation into this group was to take place have not been met and, consequently, today we have decided not to finally consolidate our support for the project.”

Let’

Messi stars as Barcelona win Copa del Rey

Lionel Messi scored twice as Athletic Bilbao lost their second Copa del Rey final in a month with Barcelona cruising to a 4-0 win in Seville.

Real Sociedad beat their local rivals 1-0 in the rescheduled 2020 Copa del Rey final on April 3 to get their hands on a major trophy for the first time since 1987.

On that occasion, Sociedad captain Mikel Oyarzabal netted the winner by sending keeper Unai Simon the wrong way from the penalty spot in the 63rd minute after strike partner Portu was felled in the area by Athletic defender Inigo Martinez.

And further heartache came on Saturday as Ronald Koeman collected his first piece of silverware since taking charge at the Nou Camp last summer.

Lionel Messi looks to find a route past Athletic Bilbao on Saturday
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Messi scored twice against Athletic Bilbao on Saturday

Antoine Griezmann put a dominant Barca ahead on the hour when he turned in a cross from Frenkie de Jong, who then doubled the Catalans’ lead three minutes later.

Messi received some rough tackles from Athletic but got his revenge with a spectacular goal in the 68th minute, tearing his way through Athletic’s defence down the right wing and combining with De Jong before dancing around another defender to slot into the net.

Sergio Busquets fights for the ball against Athletic Bilbao's Inigo Martinez
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Sergio Busquets fights for the ball against Athletic Bilbao’s Inigo Martinez

Barca’s captain struck again four minutes later when he met a low cross from Jordi Alba and fired into the bottom corner, his shot proving too powerful for Athletic keeper Simon.

There was a strong sense of deja vu for Athletic, who have now lost four Copa del Rey finals to Barca since 2009, with Messi scoring each time.

The Basques have lost their last six appearances in the final and only two weeks ago were beaten 1-0 by Real Sociedad in the 2020 rescheduled showpiece, which was also played at an empty La Cartuja stadium in Seville.

Barcelona overwhelmed Athletic Bilbao in the second half in Sevilla
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Barcelona overwhelmed Athletic Bilbao in the second half in Sevilla

Barca were hurting from last week’s 2-1 loss to Real Madrid but took the initiative with 79 per cent of possession in the first half and almost went ahead when De Jong struck the post early in the game, with Messi later smashing a shot just wide.

Athletic had beaten Barca 2-1 after extra time in January’s Spanish Super Cup final but showed little ambition here and had only one attempt in the first half, when defender Inigo Martinez prodded just wide of the near post following a free kick.

Athletic keeper Simon pulled off three impressive saves in quick succession early in the first half, using his left leg to thwart Griezmann and then Sergio Busquets from point-blank range while also keeping out a driven shot from Pedri. Griezmann finally got the better of Simon to break the deadlock and once Barca were ahead they showed no mercy.

Musiala goals send Bayern closer to title

Jamal Musiala is congratulated after scoring for Bayern Munich
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Jamal Musiala is congratulated after scoring for Bayern Munich

Teenager Jamal Musiala scored twice in the first half to steer Bayern Munich to a nervous 3-2 victory at third-placed VfL Wolfsburg on Saturday to move seven points clear at the top of the Bundesliga with five matches left to play.

Three days after their Champions League quarter-final elimination by Paris Saint-Germain, the Bavarians made almost certain of their first silverware of the season after RB Leipzig stumbled to a goalless draw against Hoffenheim on Friday.

Musiala put the visitors in front after 15 minutes when he weaved his way through three defenders in the box and fired in.

The 18-year-old Germany international then added another with a looping header in the 37th to make it 3-1 and become the youngest player in Bundesliga history to have scored six league goals. He came close to a hat-trick a little later but his effort was cleared on the line.

Bayern Munich responded well to their Champions League exit
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Bayern Munich responded well to their Champions League exit

Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting had doubled Bayern’s lead in the 24th, but Wolfsburg’s top striker Wout Weghorst cut the deficit in the 35th with his 19th goal of the campaign.

The Wolves pulled another goal back in the 54th with Maximilian Philipp but missed several chances to level through Weghorst and a Jerome Roussillon shot in the 84th minute that flew just wide of keeper Manuel Neuer’s post.

Bayern, on track for a record-extending ninth straight league crown, are on 68 points, with RB Leipzig in second place on 61.

Wolfsburg held on to third spot on 54 points despite their defeat after Eintracht Frankfurt‘s 4-0 loss to Borussia Monchengladbach that left them a point behind the Wolves in fourth.

Elsewhere, Bayer Leverkusen‘s Leon Bailey scored twice and set up another goal as his team eased past Cologne 3-0 on Saturday to keep alive their slim hopes of a top-four finish with five matches remaining in the Bundesliga.

Last-placed Schalke 04 slumped to a 4-0 loss at Freiburg that all but sealed their relegation. The Royal Blues are 13 points behind the relegation play-off spot occupied by Hertha Berlin with five games left.

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Laporta convinced Messi will stay at Barcelona

Barcelona president Joan Laporta is confident Lionel Messi will stay at the club next season after delivering a vintage performance in their Copa del Rey final win over Athletic Bilbao.

The Argentine scored a sensational individual goal midway through the second half of Saturday’s showdown in Seville after strikes from Antoine Griezmann and Frenkie de Jong had put the Catalans in charge.

He then adorned an outstanding display by netting again before lifting the trophy for the seventh time in his career but first since becoming club captain in 2018.

Barca’s all-time top scorer and most decorated player has only two months left on his contract and tried to leave last year after falling out with then-president Josep Maria Bartomeu.

But Laporta, who presided over Messi’s rise to stardom in his first stint as Barca chief and was elected for a second time last month, said he felt the captain would stay at the club where he has spent his career since joining aged 13.

“Leo is the best player in the world and has a very strong bond with the club. I’m convinced he wants to stay and we’ll do everything in our hands to make sure he does,” Laporta said.

“Today he could see he is backed up by a great team who are capable of playing beautiful football.”

Messi gave no hints about his future after the game but commended his side for overcoming a terrible start to their season to go and win the Copa and re-join a thrilling three-way race for La Liga title alongside leaders Atletico Madrid and Real Madrid.

“We struggled to get going in the first half of the season and lost a lot of points by being naive but then we got a lot stronger, started playing really well and got ourselves back into the fight,” Messi said.

Barcelona coach Ronald Koeman also paid tribute to Messi after the game: “Leo has spent years demonstrating that he is the best player in the world and he was very effective today.”

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Barca top Forbes rich list; Man Utd drop to fourth

Barcelona top the Forbes list of the world’s 20 most valuable football clubs for the first time.

Despite considerable financial debt of more than £1bn, Barca have knocked Real Madrid off their perch to second place.

The Catalans are valued at £3.46bn ($4.76bn), only narrowly ahead of Real’s valuation of £3.45bn ($4.75bn).

Manchester United remain the most valuable Premier League club at £3.06bn ($4.2bn) – but have dropped from third to fourth in the world, behind Bayern Munich at £3.07bn ($4.215bn).

Liverpool (£2.98bn), Manchester City (£2.91bn), Chelsea (£2.33bn) and Arsenal (£2.04bn) follow on before Paris Saint-Germain (£1.82bn) and Tottenham (£1.67bn) – meaning six Premier League clubs still feature in the top 10.

Marcus Rashford at Old Trafford
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Manchester United remain the most valuable British football club

Forbes’ release says Liverpool have seen an 88 percent rise in their value over the past two years, as they have clinched the Premier League and Champions League titles.

PSG’s move into the top 10 sees Juventus drop out from 2020’s valuations into 11th place.

Everton (£479m), West Ham (£369m) and Leicester (£331m) are also in the top 20 – the Foxes creeping in for the first time at number 19, above Eredivisie champions Ajax.

Borussia Dortmund, Atletico Madrid, Inter Milan, AC Milan, and Roma are the other clubs to feature in the top 20.

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