Vinicius Jr scores hat-trick as Real thump Barca to win Spanish Super Cup

Vinicius Junior scored a first-half hat-trick as Real Madrid were crowned Spanish Super Cup champions after a 4-1 demolition of rivals Barcelona in Saudi Arabia.

The Brazilian twice exploited Barcelona’s lackadaisical high line to put Real 2-0 up within the first 10 minutes before Robert Lewandowski halved the deficit just after the half-hour mark.

But Vinicius completed his hat-trick from the spot in the 39th minute, having been hauled down in the area by Ronald Araujo, before Rodrygo completed a one-sided win after the interval.

To compound a miserable evening in Riyadh for Barcelona, Araujo was dismissed in the 71st minute for another foul on Vinicius.

Real Madrid's Vinicius Junior celebrates after scoring at Barcelona during the Spanish Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Al Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo)
Vinicius Junior scored a first-half hat-trick for Real Madrid

How Real marched to Super Cup glory

Real, who trailed 3-2 with just five minutes remaining against Atletico Madrid in the semi-final on Wednesday before triumphing 5-3 after extra-time, continued their recent dominance over their rivals.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side prevailed in October’s El Clasico meeting and are seven points ahead of Barcelona at the halfway point of the LaLiga campaign.

This latest encounter marked a chance for Barcelona to land a blow of their own but Xavi’s decision to employ a risky high defensive line backfired spectacularly as Real hit the front after seven minutes.

Real Madrid's Jude Bellingham, right, in action during the Spanish Super Cup final soccer match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, Sunday, Jan. 14, 2024. (AP Photo)
Jude Bellingham set up Vinicius’ opening goal in the seventh minute

Jude Bellingham – who at the final whistle celebrated winning his first trophy with Real – split the defence with a sublime pass that allowed Vinicius to round Inaki Pena and slot into an empty net.

Real and Vinicius capitalised again on plenty of space being left in behind as the 23-year-old slid in to convert Rodrygo’s cross.

Barcelona responded well to the double blow as Ferran Torres’ snapshot cannoned against the bar before both he and Lewandowski forced Andriy Lunin into important saves to keep Real two ahead.

Lewandowski’s thunderous volley from the edge of the area after 33 minutes dragged Barcelona back into the contest but the Catalans were the architects of their own downfall moments later.

Araujo paid the price for having his arm around the neck of Vinicius, who went down which saw a penalty awarded and the Barcelona defender booked.

Vinicius made no mistake from 12 yards to re-establish Real’s two-goal lead at half-time.

Real Madrid's Brazilian forward #07 Vinicius Junior congratulates teammate Brazilian forward #11 Rodrygo after the latter scored their fourth goal during the Spanish Super Cup final football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, on January 14, 2024. (Photo by Fayez NURELDINE / AFP)
Vinicius congratulates team-mate Rodrygo after scoring Real’s fourth goal

Xavi made a triple substitution as Joao Felix, Fermin Lopez and Lamine Yamal were introduced just after the hour mark but it did not have the required impact as Real went further ahead in the 64th minute.

Vinicius was involved again as his poor cross was tamely cut out by Jules Kounde straight into the path of Rodrygo, who drilled beyond Pena from inside the area.

Matters worsened for Barcelona as Araujo missed an attempted clearance and instead brought down Vinicius, with the Uruguayan having to trudge off the pitch for a second bookable offence.

Ancelotti was able to withdraw Vinicius and Bellingham in the closing stages with the job done and attention fast turning to Thursday’s Copa del Rey showdown against Atletico.

Spanish match referee Juan Martinez Munuera speaks with Barcelona's Uruguayan defender #04 Ronald Araujo and Dutch midfielder #21 Frenkie de Jong during the Spanish Super Cup final football match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at the Al-Awwal Park Stadium in Riyadh, on January 14, 2024. (Photo by Giuseppe CACACE / AFP)
Ronald Araujo was sent off for Barcelona in the 71st minute

What’s next?

Real Madrid are back in action on Thursday when they make the trip to city rivals Atletico Madrid in the fourth round of the Copa del Rey; kick-off 8.30pm. Carlo Ancelotti’s side then host Almeria in LaLiga on Sunday; kick-off 3.15pm.

Barcelona are also in Copa del Rey action on Thursday when they travel to Unionistas in the fourth round; kick-off 6.30pm. They then make the trip to Real Betis in LaLiga on Sunday; kick-off 5.30pm.

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Barca want Tottenham’s Lo Celso in January

Barcelona manager Xavi wants the club to sign Tottenham’s Giovani Lo Celso in the January transfer window.

The need for a player of Lo Celso’s profile has been heightened by an injury to Gavi.

The request is actually considered a test of how much support Xavi has among the Barca hierarchy.

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FREE TO WATCH: Highlights from the Premier League clash between Tottenham and Newcastle

Xavi identified Lo Celso as a top target in the summer but both the player and Tottenham were keen for him to stay.

He has been impressive lately for Spurs following injuries to several players, especially against Man City, and scored against both the Premier League champions and third-placed Aston Villa.

Lo Celso, who will have 18 months left on his contract in January, has started three of Spurs’ last four league games, and played the last 17 minutes of Saturday’s 4-1 thrashing of Newcastle at the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium.

He has already played more Premier League minutes under Ange Postecoglou than in any campaign since 2020/21, having spent most of the last two seasons on loan at Villarreal.

Analysis: Has Lo Celso become Spurs’ main man?

Lo Celso with Villarreal
Lo Celso spent large parts of the 2021/22 and 2022/23 seasons on loan at Villarreal

Sky Sports features writer Nick Wright:

“Ask any member of the Argentina squad who their best technical player is and they will, of course, say Lionel Messi, but ask them who the second best is and they will likely give you a more surprising answer: Giovani Lo Celso.

“Perhaps that is less surprising if you consider how the 27-year-old has performed for his country over the last few years; 48 caps and 14 assists since his debut in 2017, playing in all but eight games when he has been fit, and always loyally available for selection.

“His technical proficiency has never been in question, especially in Argentina and Spain, where he made his name at Real Betis on loan from Paris Saint-Germain, and it was why he was snapped up by Spurs to play an advanced midfield role under Mauricio Pochettino in 2019.”

Read more on Lo Celso’s comeback from Tottenham exile here.

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Lawyers of woman accusing Dani Alves want 12-year prison sentence

Lawyers for the woman accusing Dani Alves of sexual assault are asking for the maximum sentence of 12 years in prison for the Brazilian football player.

The woman’s lawyers filed the request on Tuesday, two weeks after prosecutors sought a nine-year prison sentence for Alves.

Alves is set to face trial over allegations he assaulted the woman in a Barcelona nightclub on December 30, 2022. He was indicted by an investigative judge in August and the court said there was enough evidence to open a trial, which is expected to take place early next year.

Brazil's Dani Alves during the FIFA World Cup Round of Sixteen match at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar. Picture date: Monday December 5, 2022.
Ex-Brazil defender Alves has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he had consensual sex with the accuser

The former Barcelona defender has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he had consensual sex with the accuser. He has been in jail since January, when he was arrested after an initial investigation.

Prosecutors also want Alves to pay 150,000 euros (£128,500) in damages to the victim, and to be prohibited from having any contact with her for an additional 10 years. They also want Alves to remain supervised for a decade after serving his prison term.

All of Alves’ bail requests have been denied because the court has considered him a flight risk. The player had offered to turn in his passports and wear a tracking device.

The 40-year-old Alves won 42 trophies, including three Champions Leagues with Barcelona and two Copa Americas with Brazil. He played at his third World Cup last year in Qatar.

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CL round-up: Barca reach last 16 for first time in three years

Joao Cancelo and Joao Felix earned Barcelona a 2-1 comeback win against Porto to book their spot in the Champions League knockout rounds for the first time in three seasons.

After crashing out of the competition in the group stage two years in a row, five-times champions Barca are back in the last 16 after securing a top-two finish with one game remaining.

Barcelona are top of Group H on 12 points, three ahead of Porto and Shakhtar Donetsk who will play each other on the final match day to decide who will join the Spaniards in the knockout stage.

Shakhtar beat Antwerp 1-0 on Tuesday courtesy of Mykola Matviyenko’s early goal to give themselves real hope of going through.

Barca need at least a draw against bottom side Antwerp in two weeks’ time to guarantee top spot in the group.

They had to dig deep against a valiant Porto who were the better side in the first half but were frustrated by an inspired performance from Barca goalkeeper Inaki Pena, who replaced injured Marc-Andre ter Stegen and made several excellent saves to keep the hosts in the game.

Pena made a reflex save to deny a point-blank strike from Galeno in the 28th minute and blocked another effort by the Porto winger two minutes later, but this time Pepe was well placed inside the box to strike home the rebound and put them in front.

However, Barca hit back two minutes later, with a fine curling shot into the top corner by Cancelo after he dribbled past Joao Mario.

Porto didn’t give up and almost got back in front in the 43rd minute, when Pena made a superb one-handed save to palm another Galeno shot from range around the post right before the break.

But Cancelo and Felix came out firing in the second half and Barcelona were transformed with the Portuguese duo causing all kinds of trouble for the visitors’ defence.

Manchester City loanee and former Benfica defender Joao Cancelo scored against his childhood club's rivals Porto
Manchester City loanee and former Benfica defender Joao Cancelo scored for Barcelona against his boyhood club’s rivals Porto

Felix unleashed a thunderous strike from range in the 47th minute that crashed against the crossbar and he linked up well with Cancelo, both of whom started their career at the Benfica academy, Porto’s rivals in Portugal.

Cancelo was excellent running down the left channel and teed up Felix for a tidy first-time finish just beyond the goalkeeper’s reach in the 57th minute to secure the win.

Group F: Dortmund seal progression with statement victory in Milan

Karim Adeyemi sealed Borussia Dortmund's progress with the third goal in their 3-1 win at Milan
Karim Adeyemi sealed Borussia Dortmund’s progress with the third goal in their 3-1 win at Milan

Borussia Dortmund booked their spot in the last 16 by beating AC Milan 3-1 at the San Siro in a lively Group F clash.

Marco Reus, Jamie Bynoe-Gittens and Karim Adeyemi were all on target to help Dortmund top the group on 10 points, with Paris Saint-Germain, who drew 1-1 against Newcastle, second on seven.

Milan, bottom on five points from five games, can still secure a top-two finish if they win at Newcastle and Dortmund beat PSG in the final round of games next month.

“If we avoid looking at our attacks in the first half, we did well,” said Dortmund defender and player of the match Mats Hummels.

“With our possession, we managed to keep the atmosphere in check. It is great to play Champions League in such a stadium. We want to deliver again at home in two weeks and secure first place in front of our fans.”

Dortmund will be confirmed as group winners if they avoid a home defeat by PSG.

Group E: Own goals see Atletico into knock-outs

Mario Hermoso (centre) was the only Atletico Madrid player to score for his side despite their 3-1 win at Feyenooard
Mario Hermoso (centre) was the only Atletico Madrid player to score for his side despite their 3-1 win at Feyenooard

Two own goals plus a brilliant Mario Hermoso hooked volley gave Atletico Madrid a 3-1 win at Feyenoord and a place in the Champions League last 16 while eliminating the hosts.

Feyenoord’s Lutsharel Geertruida put the ball into his own net after 14 minutes before Hermoso added a stunning second goal in the 57th, although Feyenoord pulled one back with 13 minutes left as Mats Wieffer headed home from a corner.

However, a second own goal four minutes later, this time from Santiago Gimenez, wrapped up the points for Atletico who moved top in Group E and claimed a knockout-stage berth.

They have 11 points, one more than Lazio, who also reached the last 16 on Tuesday by beating Celtic 2-0 in Rome, with their spot guaranteed by Feyenoord’s defeat.

Group G: Man City top group, Young Boys into Europa League

Phil Foden celebrates after scoring Man City's equaliser against RB Leipzig
Phil Foden celebrates after scoring Man City’s equaliser against RB Leipzig

Manchester City’s Julian Alvarez scored in the 87th minute as the European champions clawed their way back from two goals down to beat RB Leipzig 3-2 and clinch top spot in Champions League Group G on Tuesday with one round of matches remaining.

Erling Haaland and Phil Foden also netted in the second period after one of City’s most underwhelming recent first-half performances to give Pep Guardiola’s team 15 points after five games. Leipzig, who had also reached the last 16, have nine.

“First half was the worst I’ve seen us,” midfielder Foden told TNT. “Courage and motivation changed it around. This team has great mentality and its so nice to see.”

Haaland added another record to his bulging resume, becoming the fastest player to 40 Champions League goals. The striker became the quickest to 50 Premier League goals on Saturday.

Three days after their 1-1 top-of-the-table Premier League draw with Liverpool, City looked like zombies through the first half, although they had a flurry of chances before the break, their best being Dias’s header over the bar.

It was Guardiola’s second comeback from a two-goal deficit in his Champions League managerial career after his Bayern Munich side rallied to beat Juventus in the 2016 quarter-finals.

City finish the group stage at Red Star Belgrade on December 13.

Young Boys, who are third on four points, secured a place in the Europa league knockout round playoffs with a 2-0 home win over Red Star. The Belgrade side are bottom with one point.

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Prosecutors want nine-year sentence for Alves in sexual assault trial

Prosecutors are seeking a nine-year prison sentence for Brazilian football star Dani Alves for allegedly sexually assaulting a woman last year, a Spanish court has said.

The 40-year-old is set to face trial over allegations he assaulted the woman in a nightclub in Barcelona on December 30.

The Brazilian was indicted by an investigative judge in August and the court said this month there was enough evidence to open a trial. A date for the hearings was not yet set.

The former Sevilla defender has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he had consensual sex with the accuser.

Prosecutors also want Alves to pay €150,000 (£131,000) in damages to the victim, and to be prohibited from having any contact with her for an additional 10 years. They also want Alves to remain supervised for a decade after serving his prison term.

Brazil's Dani Alves during the FIFA World Cup Round of Sixteen match at Stadium 974 in Doha, Qatar. Picture date: Monday December 5, 2022.
Ex-Brazil defender Alves has denied any wrongdoing, claiming he had consensual sex with the accuser

If found guilty, Alves would be prohibited from any type of work with minors for 10 years after his term, in accordance with Spanish law.

Under Spain’s new sexual consent law, the charge of sexual assault takes in a wide array of crimes from online abuse and groping to rape, each with different possible punishments. A case of rape could carry a maximum sentence of 15 years.

Alves has been in pre-trial jail since January, when he was arrested after an initial investigation by authorities.

All of Alves’ bail requests have been denied because the court has considered him a flight risk. The player had offered to turn in his passports and wear a tracking device while awaiting the court’s decision.

Prosecutors this week again opposed the most recent request for freedom made by Alves’ lawyers.

Alves won 42 major honours, including three Champions Leagues with Barcelona and two Copa Americas with Brazil. He played at his third World Cup last year in Qatar.

His lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

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Shakira awarded Latin Grammy by Ramos for Pique diss track

Shakira was presented with a Latin Grammy award by former Real Madrid defender Sergio Ramos for a song mocking former Barcelona defender Gerard Pique. 

The song, Shakira: Bzrp Music Session, Vol 53, won Song of the Year and Best Pop Song at the awards. It ridicules Shakira’s former partner Pique and has become the most watched new Latin song in YouTube’s history.

Sevilla defender Ramos, 37, was on stage to present Shakira with the award.

Despite being successful team-mates internationally, Ramos and Pique held a long-term rivalry at the club level as Real Madrid and Barcelona battled it out for top honours in La Liga and the Champions League.

Colombian pop star Shakira and now retired footballer Pique announced their split in June 2022 after more than 11 years together.

Pique, 36, later struck up a relationship with then 23-year-old Clara Chia.

In the track, Shakira sings: “I’m worth two 22-year-olds” and “you swapped a Ferrari for a Twingo”.

In her speech, Shakira thanked fans for being with her through “difficult moments”, widely thought to be a reference to her split with Pique, and dedicated the award to the Spanish public.

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How Barcelona’s talent factory continues to thrive

Thirty-three seconds. That is all that 17-year-old Marc Guiu needed to score on his debut for Barcelona last month. His mother was in tears. Xavi was vindicated. Just the latest example of the club’s trust in La Masia, their famed academy, being rewarded.

There is Gavi and there is Pedri, there is Lamine Yamal and there is Fermin Lopez. Now, there is Guiu. His Instagram account had 44,000 followers before that kick of the football. Within hours, it had topped one million. Another overnight success story, or so it seems.

The truth is a little different.

Barcelona's Marc Guiu celebrates after scoring his side's opening goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Barcelona and Athletic Bilbao, at the Olympic Stadium of Montjuic in Barcelona, Spain, Sunday, Oct. 22, 2023. (AP Photo/Joan Monfort )
Marc Guiu’s breakthrough goal against Barcelona was a decade in the making

“Now, everybody is talking about Marc Guiu,” Albert Capellas tells Sky Sports. “But he arrived at the club 10 years ago when he was seven years old. That means that the club has had to wait 10 years before he could play for the first team. It is a long time.”

Capellas spent more than a decade working in Barcelona’s academy himself. He was there when Xavi, Andre Iniesta, Sergio Busquets and, of course, Lionel Messi, transformed the game and showed that could be done with a team built around academy graduates.

He does not talk of coaching those greats but learning from them. “I trained Iniesta for several years and I always say that Iniesta came into this world to show us how to play football. It is the same with Busquets. You do not correct them. They show you the way.”

And yet, he knows how difficult it is to go on that journey through Barcelona’s academy. Especially when it is so tempting for clubs to opt for a quicker fix. “In football, you do not get time, and that makes these long-term projects more difficult to achieve,” says Capellas.

“This is why it makes sense for clubs to start with a different strategic model to Barcelona. Because when they sign players at 16, if they are very good they can play for the first team in a few years. You can get the advantage from your investment very quickly.”

With Guiu, considerable patience was required. “When he was young, he could not play because he had problems growing. He had pain in his knees and there was a long period, from the age of 13 to 15, when he could not train and he missed a lot of games.”

That could have been that if the culture had been different. “At a lot of clubs, if you cannot train or play, you have to leave the club. At Barcelona, we know the level of the players. We give them time. We do not take these crazy decisions on young players.”

Perhaps it is that longevity at La Masia that helps make the difference in the end. A teenager signed from elsewhere might be a surer thing, but they would not be steeped in the style of play, the philosophy and values that Capellas and others take such pride in.

“Johan Cruyff showed us the way to have success,” he explains.

“There are a lot of things involved when we talk about DNA. The first team, the academy, the way of developing young players, the way of playing, the way of thinking, the way of making decisions, the way of scouting. Cruyff changed everything at the club.

“The first thing that he changed was the winning mentality of everyone at the club. When he arrived, we were happy to win one cup every two or three years. The second thing is that he was there eight years. That is a lot of time to show everyone how he thinks.

“All of the academy teams were playing in the same way as the first team, with the same concepts, the same way of thinking, the same drills, the same exercises. After eight years of everyone working in the same direction, you could see how powerful that was.

“It is one thing to tell a player to scan around. It is another to create an environment in training that you force the players to scan around. Because in football, it is not about what you know, it is about what you do. What we create in Barcelona is an environment.

“Everybody knows that you need a good body shape, for example. The difficult thing is to make it happen. At Barcelona, we train in a way that our players learn how to position themselves better. To instil this in their muscle memory so that it becomes automatic.”

The result is that what might appear from the outside to be the biggest step is more straightforward than it might appear. Ansu Fati scored within a week of his debut aged 16. Lamine was the same age when he was man of the match in just his second start.

Barcelona's Robert Lewandowski, left, celebrates with Lamine Yamal after scoring his side's fourth goal during a Spanish La Liga soccer match between Villarreal and Barcelona at the Ceramica stadium in Villarreal, Spain, Sunday, Aug. 27, 2023. (AP Photo/Alberto Saiz)
Barcelona youngster Lamine Yamal celebrates with Robert Lewandowski

“Barcelona are never afraid to give opportunities to players from the academy because they are educated in the club’s way of thinking so when they arrive to the first team, it is very easy for them. They have lived with this kind of pressure all of their lives.

“When I would talk to players from the academy who were given their chance in the first team, they would say, ‘Albert, it is much easier than playing for the academy.’ Of course. You are surrounded by better players and you are a good player so it is easy for you.

“When you get the ball, the other players are always available in open lanes for the passes. When you receive a pass, it is always a good pass. Never a bouncing ball. Always to the correct foot with the right timing. Look at Marc Guiu’s goal against Athletic.

“Why did he have success? Because he had Joao Felix next to him who could see the pass at the right time with the right speed. That is why he had the chance because he had the players around him. Of course, he still had to finish the chance and he did it well.”

Marc Guiu scored the winner against Athletic Bilbao on his Barcelona debut aged 17
Marc Guiu scored the winner against Athletic Bilbao on his Barcelona debut aged 17

Capellas returned to Barcelona for a third stint within the academy in 2021, working closely with this current crop of young talent, before departing once more. Barcelona will always be his club. Which explains his stance when that DNA is questioned.

Former player and manager Ernesto Valverde did just that earlier this year, suggesting that the Cruyff DNA was overplayed. “Having had him as a coach leaves its mark on you,” said Valverde.

“But the DNA thing is a bit of a myth. When a good player emerges, they say, ‘He has Barcelona DNA’. When there is a bad player, ‘That one doesn’t have the DNA’.”

Those words caused a stir in Catalunya.

“I understand his comment because when I watched his team play when he was coach of Barcelona he was not playing that Barcelona style,” says Capellas.

“It was a good style and he won trophies. He had some success. Fair enough. It is not a problem. But it is not the way that we play football at Barcelona. In the period of Valverde, he did not give opportunities to the young players. That is also not our style.

“What I cannot accept is when he says it is a myth. It is not a myth. It is very important for us and we believe in it profoundly and deeply. It is not a problem for me that he feels that way. What I do not accept is that he undervalued what is happening in La Masia.”

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Albert Capellas explains how Barcelona prioritise scanning and body shape

What is happening at La Masia is that another wave of talent is emerging. Capellas is excited about the “exceptional” Lamine. “I do not want to compare him to Iniesta or to Messi but I can say that he is a very special player who will make the difference in football.”

Guiu has different qualities. “He is not a player with unbelievable dribbling skills but he is a finisher who can run from deep. He is fast, powerful, very good at heading, very competitive. He is exceptional in his position and has the right mentality, a fantastic boy.”

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Kaveh Solhekol dissects why Barcelona president Joan Laporta is under investigation

Given the financial restrictions at Barcelona, could the academy be their salvation again? “Without money, the academy is even more important. Our best periods have always been the same way. Fifty per cent from the youth team supplemented by the best.”

“It is not just about having the idea, you have to convince the people around the club, build the story, build the values of the club. Not just with coaches but with scouts and parents and agents, everyone. You have to create a culture. That takes years and years.

“When the bad moments come and you do not have success, you lose years if you change direction. If that does not work and you want to come back to the original direction, you have lost years too. It is about staying strong when things are not going well.”

And then, after 10 years, or 33 seconds, you receive your reward.

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CL round-up: Giroud scores winner as Milan beat PSG | Shakhtar shock Barcelona

Olivier Giroud’s powerful header early in the second half gave AC Milan a 2-1 Champions League home win over Paris Saint-Germain in a pulsating Group F contest on Tuesday.

Former Inter Milan defender Milan Skriniar had put PSG ahead but their advantage lasted only three minutes before Rafael Leao netted an acrobatic equaliser and Giroud then sealed a precious victory just after the break in front of 75,649 supporters at the San Siro.

Milan Skriniar had given Paris Saint-Germain an early lead
Milan Skriniar had given Paris Saint-Germain an early lead

The game was played at a frenetic tempo in the first half with end-to-end action and, while the pace inevitably slowed in the second period, it was an absorbing clash in which Milan had to hold on at the end as PSG piled on the pressure.

Milan now have five points from four games in third behind second-placed PSG with six points. Leaders Borussia Dortmund have seven points after winning 2-0 earlier on Tuesday at home to Newcastle who are bottom on four points.

Shakhtar Donetsk 1-0 Barcelona

Danylo Sikan’s towering header gave Shakhtar Donetsk a stunning 1-0 victory against LaLiga champions Barcelona in their Group H fixture.

It was a disappointing display from the Spanish side who won their first three games in the competition and needed one point to book a place in the last 16 with two games remaining.

Barcelona manager Xavi Hernandez made several changes to his starting line-up and, despite dominating possession throughout the match, struggled against a well-organised Shakhtar defence, earning only one shot on target in the game.

The Ukrainian side, playing in Hamburg, were aggressive on the counter-attack, with Sikan giving them a shock lead against the five-time European champions in the 40th minute.

Shakhtar Donetsk beat Barcelona
Shakhtar Donetsk beat Barcelona 1-0 to keep their qualification hopes alive

The 22-year-old forward jumped behind defender Andreas Christensen to meet a Giorgi Gocholeishvili cross from the right touchline and nodded the ball just out of reach of Marc-Andre ter Stegen in the Barca goal.

Barca were unable to threaten opposition goalkeeper Dmytro Riznyk until Xavi made four substitutions at once in the 60th minute, with Joao Felix and Lamine Yamal coming off the bench to give the visitors a much-needed spark.

However, Shakhtar held firm against some late pressure to seal the three points.

FC Porto 2-0 Antwerp

Porto stayed on course for a place in the last 16 with a 2-0 home victory over 10-player Antwerp thanks to Evanilson’s first-half penalty and veteran Pepe’s late header in Group H.

Brazilian Evanilson, who had netted a hat-trick when Porto beat the Belgians 4-1 away in their previous meeting last month, tucked away a 32nd-minute penalty after a clumsy foul by Gyrano Kerk on Stephen Eustaquio.

Porto's Evanilson celebrates scoring his side's first goal during a Champions League Group H soccer match between Porto and Antwerp
Evanilson scored Porto’s first goal in their home win over Antwerp in Group H

Porto dominated the game after Antwerp midfielder Jurgen Ekkelenkamp was sent off seven minutes into the second half.

However, despite their numerical superiority, Porto had to wait until one minute into stoppage time for their second goal, headed home by the 40-year-old Pepe.

The result sees Porto move level on nine points with leaders Barcelona, with both sides three points ahead of Shakhtar Donetsk.

Antwerp’s fourth consecutive defeat means they have no chance of a top-two finish, even with two matches left to play.

Red Star Belgrade 1-2 RB Leipzig

Goals from Xavi Simons and Lois Openda gave RB Leipzig a 2-1 win against Red Star Belgrade in Group G to secure a place in the knockout stages.

Leipzig took the lead after eight minutes when Simons found space inside the box and curled a superb shot into the right corner for his second Champions League strike, having also scored against the Serbs a fortnight ago.

Leipzig's team players celebrate after Xavi Simons scored the opening goal during the Group G Champions League soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and RB Leipzig
RB Leipzig celebrate Xavi Simons’ opening goal against Red Star Belgrade

The visitors were dominant and could have doubled their lead before half-time, but Red Star keeper Omri Glazer twice denied efforts from Openda.

The Belgium international, however, found the net in the 77th minute in a blow to the hosts, who had looked more aggressive in the second half.

Red Star pulled one back through Benjamin Henrichs’ own goal in the 81st minute but they could not find a leveller and fell to a third defeat in four games.

The German team remained second with nine points, three behind leaders Manchester City, who beat Young Boys 3-0 to qualify for the next round. Red Star are on one point, the same as the Swiss side.

Lazio 1-0 Feyenoord

A first-half goal by Ciro Immobile handed Lazio a 1-0 home win over Feyenoord to move Maurizio Sarri’s side up to second in Group E.

Lazio captain Immobile put the hosts ahead in first-half stoppage time after he rounded visiting goalkeeper Justin Bijlow and struck low from a tight angle towards the far post for his 200th goal for the Italian side.

Lazio are second on seven points from four games, one point behind leaders Atletico Madrid who hammered Celtic 6-0 in the other group fixture.

Dutch side Feyenoord, who came into the game top of the standings, dropped to third on six points.

How did the British sides get on?

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Messi wins record eighth Ballon d’Or | Bonmati claims women’s award

Argentina forward Lionel Messi has won the Ballon d’Or for a record-extending eighth time, while Spain midfielder Aitana Bonmati claimed the Women’s Ballon d’Or.

Messi, now at Inter Miami, led his country to World Cup glory last year as he lifted the trophy for the first time and won the Golden Ball award for the best player of the tournament in Qatar.

The 36-year-old reclaimed the Ballon d’Or from France’s Karim Benzema to add to his wins in 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012, 2015, 2019 and 2021.

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Peter Smith is joined by Joseph Shread to discuss whether or not Jude Bellingham and Harry Kane are the best players in the world right now

The former Barcelona forward’s victory increases his lead over five-time winner Cristiano Ronaldo. The 38-year-old Portugal international, who plays for Saudi Arabian side Al Nassr, was not on the shortlist for the first time since 2003.

How Messi led Argentina to World Cup glory

  • Scored opening goal of first game in shock 2-1 defeat to Saudi Arabia
  • Scored first goal of second game in vital 2-0 win over Mexico
  • Scored opening goal in 2-1 Round of 16 win against Australia
  • Scored, assisted and converted penalty in quarter-final shootout win over Netherlands
  • Scored opener and wonderfully assisted third in 3-0 semi-final win over Croatia
  • In the greatest final of them all, Messi scored twice and assisted another before converting in the shootout to help Argentina prevail over France

Messi left European football at the end of last season as he moved from Paris Saint-Germain, where he won the Ligue 1 title in both seasons, to join MLS team Inter Miami.

Inter Miami's and Argentina's national team player Lionel Messi receives the 2023 Ballon d'Or trophy during the 67th Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) award ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Lionel Messi lifts the Ballon d’Or for an eighth time

Messi was presented with the award by David Beckham, owner of Inter Miami and runner-up in the 1999 Ballon d’Or, and the Argentine admitted this will be his last Ballon d’Or win.

He said: “I couldn’t imagine having the career that I’ve had.

Inter Miami team co-owner and former soccer star David Beckham, right, smiles as Inter Miami's and Argentina's national team player Lionel Messi receives the 2023 Ballon d'Or trophy from during the 67th Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) award ceremony at Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France, Monday, Oct. 30, 2023. (AP Photo/Michel Euler)
Messi was presented the award by David Beckham

“Everything that I’ve achieved. The fortune I’ve had playing for the best team in the world, the best team in history. It’s nice to win these individual trophies. To win the Copa America and then the World Cup, to get it done is amazing.

“Being world champion was fantastic. But the truth is I’ve never really got used to receiving awards and being on the stage like this.

“Slowly I have got used to it a bit more since winning it for the first time in 2009. I think today is the last time I will win it, so it feels calmer and I will enjoy it in a different way.

“I’m proud of the career I’ve had. I’ve enjoyed football all my life and soon I’ll enjoy it from the other side.

Lionel Messi wins 2023 Ballon d'Or
Lionel Messi has claimed a record-extending eighth Ballon d’Or

“I don’t know for how much longer I’ll play but I plan to enjoy it.

“I can’t put a number on it as things can change very quickly from day to day in football. But I know that day is getting closer and closer.”

Haaland comes second as City dominate top 10

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Erling Haaland offers advice to aspiring footballers as he collects the Gerd Muller Trophy at the Ballon d’Or ceremony.

Messi claimed the 2023 Ballon d’Or in Paris ahead of Manchester City striker Erling Haaland, who scored 52 goals last season to help City land the treble, with PSG and France forward Kylian Mbappe, just the second man to score a World Cup hat-trick, finishing third.

Haaland did not leave the Ballon d’Or ceremony empty-handed after landing the Gerd Muller Trophy for his record-breaking goal haul last season.

Meanwhile, his team Man City were named the men’s club of the year for a second year running after winning the Treble.

Pep Guardiola’s side also had five players in the Ballon d’Or top 10 as Kevin De Bruyne finished fourth while Rodri came fifth, Julian Alvarez – also a team-mate of Messi at international level – was seventh, and Bernardo Silva was ninth.

Bonmati claims her first Women’s Ballon d’Or

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After winning the Ballon d’Or Féminin, Aitana Bonmati stated that as role models, her and her fellow nominees should keep fighting together for a peaceful and equal world.

Barcelona midfielder Bonmati won the Women’s Ballon d’Or for the first time as she helped Spain to maiden World Cup glory in August and won a league and Champions League double at club level.

Bonmati won the Golden Ball for the best player of the World Cup in Australia and New Zealand, while she was recently named UEFA Women’s Player of the Year.

SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - AUGUST 20: Aitana Bonmat.. of Spain wins player of the tournament during the Women's World Cup Final football match between the Spian and England at Stadium Australia on August 20, 2023 in Sydney, Australia. (Photo by Damian Briggs/Speed Media/Icon Sportswire) (Icon Sportswire via AP Images)
Bonmati won the Golden Ball for the best player at the 2023 Women’s World Cup

The 25-year-old became the second Spanish player to win the Women’s Ballon d’Or after Barcelona compatriot Alexia Putellas was awarded the prize for the last two years.

Bonmati beat Chelsea and Australia striker Sam Kerr to the award, while England and Manchester United goalkeeper Mary Earps finished fifth in the voting after winning the Golden Glove at the World Cup.

England's goalkeeper Mary Earps holds the Golden Glove trophy after the final of Women's World Cup soccer between Spain and England at Stadium Australia in Sydney, Australia, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023. (AP Photo/Rick Rycroft)
England goalkeeper Mary Earps won the Golden Glove trophy at the World Cup

Fellow Lionesses Rachel Daly (10th), Millie Bright (11th) and Georgia Stanway (23rd) were among the nominees for the fifth edition of the women’s award, with Arsenal and Republic of Ireland’s Katie McCabe finishing 22nd.

Meanwhile, Bonmati’s team Barcelona won the women’s club of the year award after they won the Champions League and Spanish league title last season.

Aston Villa’s Martinez wins best goalkeeper award

Emiliano Martinez arrives on the red carpet for the Ballon d?Or ceremony at the Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, France. Picture date: Monday October 30, 2023
Emiliano Martinez won the Yashin Trophy at the Ballon d’Or event in France

Argentina and Aston Villa goalkeeper Emiliano Martinez won the Yashin Trophy for the best goalkeeper in the world.

Martinez claimed the award ahead of Manchester City’s Ederson for his heroics at the World Cup last year to help his country lift the trophy.

The 31-year-old became the second Premier League goalkeeper to take home the Yashin Trophy after its inception in 2019, with the inaugural award won by Liverpool’s Alisson Becker.

2023 Men’s Ballon d’Dr – Top 30

1. Lionel Messi (Argentina, Inter Miami)
2. Erling Haaland (Norway, Manchester City)
3. Kylian Mbappe (France, PSG)
4. Kevin De Bruyne (Belgium, Manchester City)
5. Rodri (Spain, Manchester City)
6. Vinicius Junior (Brazil, Real Madrid)
7. Julian Alvarez (Argentina, Manchester City)
8. Victor Osimhen (Nigeria, Napoli)
9. Bernardo Silva (Portugal, Manchester City)
10. Luka Modric (Croatia, Real Madrid)
11. Mohamed Salah (Egypt, Liverpool)
12. Robert Lewandowski (Poland, Barcelona)
13. Yassine Bounou (Morocco, Al Hilal)
14. Ilkay Gundogan (Germany, Barcelona)
15. Emiliano Martinez (Argentina, Aston Villa)
16. Karim Benzema (France, Al Ittihad)
17. Khvicha Kvaratskhelia (Georgia, Napoli)
18. Jude Bellingham (England, Real Madrid)
19. Harry Kane (England, Bayern Munich)
20. Lautaro Martinez (Argentina, Inter Milan)
21. Antoine Griezmann (France, Atletico Madrid)
22. Min-Jae Kim (South Korea, Bayern Munich)
23. Andre Onana (Cameroon, Manchester United)
24. Bukayo Saka (England, Arsenal)
25. Josko Gvardiol (Croatia, Manchester City)
26. Jamal Musiala (Germany, Bayern Munich)
27. Nicolo Barella (Italy, Inter Milan)
=28. Martin Odegaard (Norway, Arsenal)
=28. Randal Kolo Muani (France, PSG)
30. Ruben Dias (Portugal, Manchester City)

2023 Women’s Ballon d’Or – Top 10

1. Aitana Bonmati (Spain, Barcelona)
2. Sam Kerr (Australia, Chelsea)
3. Salma Paralluelo (Spain, Barcelona)
4. Fridolina Rolfo (Sweden, Barcelona)
5. Mary Earps (England, Manchester United)
6. Olga Carmona (Spain, Real Madrid)
7. Alexandra Popp (Germany, Wolfsburg)
8. Patricia Guijarro (Spain, Barcelona)
9. Linda Caicedo (Colombia, Real Madrid)
10. Rachel Daly (England, Aston Villa)

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