Messi scores 643rd Barcelona goal to equal Pele record

Lionel Messi equalled Pele’s record of 643 goals for a single club after scoring for Barcelona in a 2-2 draw with Valencia on Saturday.

The Argentina forward netted a milestone goal with a diving header just before half-time – moments after missing a penalty – to cancel out Mouctar Diakhaby’s 29th-minute opener.

Barcelona then went ahead through Ronald Araujo but Maxi Gomez earned Valencia a point.

Messi went close with several late efforts but Ronald Koeman’s side failed to find a winner and his star player had to settle for matching rather than surpassing Pele’s Santos mark for now.

Barcelona's Lionel Messi joins Pele in having scored more goals for one club than any other player in history
Lionel Messi scores for Barcelona against Elche
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Messi scores for Barcelona against Valencia

Barcelona are languishing fifth in the top-flight table but could yet be overhauled by sixth-placed Sevilla who have two games in hand on the Catalan giants.

Diakhaby capitalised on awful Barcelona defending to head in a corner that put Valencia into an early lead.

The hosts could not force their way back into the contest during a frustrating first half, only to be handed a golden chance to level with a penalty.

Messi missing the penalty was the last thing on anyone’s mind, especially with Pele’s record in his sights.

Messi levels with Pele in numbers

  • 73 – Messi’s 2011/12 season, when he scored 73 times in 60 games for Barca in all competitions, remains his best ever haul in one campaign.
  • 50 – He has passed 50 on five other occasions, with four more seasons in the 40s and at least 31 in every completed season since 2008/09.
  • 450 – The goal against Valencia took Messi to another landmark – 450 goals in La Liga
  • 16 – Messi has scored Champions League goals in 16 seasons, matching Ryan Giggs’ record, and unlike the former Manchester United man, he has done so in consecutive years dating back to 2005/06.
  • 37 – Sevilla are Messi’s favourite opponent, with 37 goals against them while he has 32 against Atletico Madrid.
  • 48 – Messi has scored 48 hat-tricks for Barca, including 36 in La Liga, with another six for Argentina taking him through the half-century mark for his career as a whole.

But although the Argentina stalwart fluffed his lines he was still able to ride out that blow, quickly converting Jordi Alba’s deflected cross as the ball stayed alive after his missed spot-kick.

Barcelona thought they were on course for victory when Araujo’s acrobatics seized a 2-1 advantage with little more than half an hour to play.

But then up popped Gomez to seal the draw, heaping yet more misery on Barcelona and Koeman – and taking the shine off Messi’s latest landmark day.

Suarez at the double for Atletico

Luis Suarez scored twice against Elche to send Atletico Madrid clear at the top of La Liga
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Luis Suarez scored twice against Elche to send Atletico Madrid clear at the top of La Liga

Elsewhere, former Barcelona forward Luis Suarez was back among the goals to help Atletico Madrid beat Elche 3-1.

The victory moved Atleti to 29 points from 12 games, three clear of second-placed Real Sociedad and Real Madrid.

Uruguay striker Suarez, who recently had a spell on the sidelines after contracting coronavirus, gave Atletico the lead in the 41st minute as he got the slightest touch on a low cross from Kieran Trippier to score for the first time since early November.

Suarez then slid in to knock home another from a delightful low pass by Yannick Carrasco in the 58th minute for his ninth goal of the season, taking him joint top of the scoring charts alongside Celta Vigo’s Iago Aspas and Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal.

Elche got back into the game with a header from Lucas Boye in the 64th minute following a well-worked corner routine, becoming the first side to score against Atletico at the Wanda Metropolitano since the first game of the season.

Boye nearly found an equaliser when he swivelled to shoot inside the box but Atletico ‘keeper Jan Oblak got across to tip the ball around the near post.

The hosts soon sealed the points, though, when substitute Diego Costa went to ground to earn a debatable penalty and then lashed home from the spot in the 80th minute.

Elche’s 40-year-old striker Nino then came off the bench to try and help his side get something from the game and almost scored but saw his header cleared off the line.

Real Sociedad were beaten for the second game in succession by Levante, falling 2-1 to Jorge de Frutos’ late winner.

Jorge De Frutos' late winner gave Levante maximum points against Real Sociedad
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Jorge De Frutos’ late winner gave Levante maximum points against Real Sociedad

Alexander Isak put the San Sebastian side ahead midway through the first half but Roger Marti levelled shortly before the half-hour mark.

De Frutos’ late winner then lifted Levante up to 14th and out of the relegation zone courtesy of a second win from three games.

Villarreal cemented fourth place with a comfortable 3-1 win at bottom side Osasuna, who ended with 10 men.

Gerard Moreno fired the visitors ahead after seven minutes, before Fernando Nino doubled the lead on the half-hour – by which point Aridane Umpierrez had already been sent off for Osasuna.

Roberto Torres reduced the arrears from the penalty spot with 20 minutes to go but, as they pressed for an equaliser, Moreno struck again with four minutes to go.

Bundesliga: Bayern go top with win

Robert Lewandowski’s last-minute winner lifted Bayern Munich top of the Bundesliga with a 2-1 win at previous leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

Patrick Schick put the hosts ahead inside a quarter of an hour with a superb volley from a corner, but two errors from defender Jonathan Tah cost his side.

First he jumped into his goalkeeper Lukas Hradecky to give Lewandowski a tap-in moments before the break, and his heavy touch in the 94th minute then allowed the striker to fire in a last-minute winner.

Robert Lewandowski moved onto 17 Bundesliga goals in 12 games
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Robert Lewandowski moved onto 17 Bundesliga goals in 12 games

RB Leipzig dropped off the pace with a surprise home stalemate against Cologne, despite registering 19 shots.

The hosts enjoyed 64 per cent of possession and gave up only one shot on target, but could not find a way through a defence which had conceded 21 goals in their previous 12 games this season.

Werder Bremen struck in the final minute through Eren Dinkci’s goal to give them a 1-0 win at Mainz and lift them up to 12th.

Schalke’s woes continued with a 1-0 home defeat to third-bottom Arminia Bielefeld leaving the hosts six points off their visitors.

Fabian Klos’ goal seven minutes after half-time was enough to give Arminia their third win of the season, and leave Schalke still looking for their first victory after 13 attempts.

Eintracht Frankfurt won 2-0 at Augsburg thanks to Raphael Framberger’s own goal and a late Stefan Ilsanker second.

Serie A: Juve a point off top after huge win

Juventus moved within a point of the league leaders with a 4-0 thrashing of Parma, with Cristiano Ronaldo netting a goal in either half.

Dejan Kulusevski put the visitors ahead midway through the opening half against his former club, before Ronaldo doubled the advantage three minutes later when heading in Alvaro Morata’s cross.

Juventus hammered Parma with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice
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Juventus hammered Parma with Cristiano Ronaldo scoring twice

Three minutes into the second period Ronaldo doubled his tally from Aaron Ramsey’s pass into the box before Morata added a late fourth.

A pair of penalties dropped Verona off the pace for Europe with Dusan Vlahovic’s spot-kick cancelling out Miguel Veloso’s early goal from 12 yards in a 1-1 draw at Fiorentina.

Verona, who have won only one of their last four games, now sit three points off the final Europa League spot and are seventh.

Sampdoria piled the misery on bottom side Crotone with a 3-1 win to lift themselves into the top half.

Mikkel Damsgaard put the hosts ahead before Jakub Jankto doubled their advantage nine minutes before the break, but Crotone gave themselves a lifeline when Simeon Nwankwo scored from the spot in added time.

Veteran forward Fabio Quagliarella restored the hosts’ two-goal advantage shortly after the hour mark, to leave Sampdoria 10th.

Ligue 1: Lyon hammer Nice to go top

Lyon produced a four-goal haul to thrash Nice 4-1 and go top of Ligue 1.

Goals from Memphis Depay and Tino Kadewere put the visitors firmly in control before Amine Gouiri pulled a goal back with Nice’s only shot on target just before half-time.

Houssem Aouar netted Lyon's fourth as they went top of Ligue 1
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Houssem Aouar netted Lyon’s fourth as they went top of Ligue 1

Karl Toko Ekambi put Lyon three goals to the good on the hour before Houssem Aouar added their fourth to leapfrog Lille and PSG.

Marseille missed the chance to keep within two points of the leaders, drawing 1-1 at home to lowly Reims.

They trailed after 20 minutes to Yuto Nagatomo’s own goal, but levelled just before the break when Florian Thauvin fired home, and remain fourth.

Metz moved into the top half thanks to a 2-0 win over Lens, who are now only a point ahead of their hosts.

Opa Nguette put Metz ahead after half an hour, before Farid Boulaya sealed three points in the fourth minute of second-half injury time.

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Euro round-up: Barca comeback stuns Real Soceidad

Barcelona knocked Real Sociedad off top spot in La Liga after coming from behind to claim a 2-1 victory at the Nou Camp.

Victory saw Barcelona move up to fifth, while Atletico Madrid are now the league leaders on goal difference from Real Sociedad.

Willian Jose gave the visitors the perfect start, converting Portu’s pass in the 27th minute, but Barcelona hit back, Jordi Alba levelling with an excellent curled strike four minutes later.

Frenkie de Jong then gave the hosts the lead just before the break from Alba’s deflected cross. The goal was initially chalked off for offside, but a VAR review saw the goal eventually given.

Antoine Griezmann hit the crossbar as Barca tried to make the game safe from a tight angle and he spurned an excellent opportunity, deflecting the ball to the goalkeeper with the goal at his mercy.

Real Sociedad went close to an equaliser late on but they found Marc-Andre ter Stegen in fine form, making a double save to deny Jose and Alexander Isak.

Atletico Madrid, Real Sociedad, who had drawn their past six games, and Real Madrid are all level on 26 points at the top of La Liga, with Barcelona, who jumped from eighth to fifth, now only six points further back.

Bundesliga: Lewandowski keeps Bayern in touch at top

Bayern Munich came from behind to beat Wolfsburg
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Bayern Munich came from behind to beat Wolfsburg

Robert Lewandowski’s double saw Bayern Munich come from behind to beat Wolfsburg and stay within a point of leaders Bayer Leverkusen.

The Polish marksman cancelled out Max Philipp’s fifth-minute opener in first-half stoppage time, before a slip from Maxence Lacroix let the striker run through and goal and seal victory five minutes after the break.

Bayer Leverkusen‘s stay at the top was never in doubt with a 4-0 win at Cologne.

Mitchell Weiser and Moussa Diaby put the visitors two ahead inside 10 minutes, before Patrik Schick and Florian Wirtz scored after the break to keep Leverkusen a point clear of heir nearest rivals.

RB Leipzig stayed level on points with Bayern In third thanks to Yussuf Poulsen’s goal on the hour mark to win a tight game at Hoffenheim.

Marcel Sabitzer made the Danish international’s winner, which keeps Hoffenheim only five points above the relegation play-off spot, with one win from their last five matches.

Elsewhere, Augsburg moved up to ninth with a 1-0 win at Arminia Bielefeld, while Freiburg were comfortable 2-0 winners at basement side Schalke.

Serie A: AC Milan stay unbeaten

Pierre Kalulu rescued a point for AC Milan
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Pierre Kalulu rescued a point for AC Milan

Pierre Kalulu helped AC Milan maintain their unbeaten league record as his late equaliser snatched a 2-2 draw at Genoa.

Milan appeared to be heading for a first league defeat since March after a double from Mattia Destro had given Genoa a 2-1 lead.

However, Kalulu, who was making his first start for the club, netted the equaliser seven minutes from time.

The point saw Milan remain top but their advantage over Inter Milan was cut from three points to one after Antonio Conte’s side beat 10-man Napoli 1-0.

Romelu Lukaku converted a penalty for Inter after Napoli goalkeeper David Ospina had fouled Matteo Darmian.

Napoli also had to play the remaining 19 minutes with 10 men after Lorenzo Insigne was sent off for dissent but they continued to dominate and Inter goalkeeper Samir Handanovic had to come to his side’s rescue several times.

Juventus are third, four points off Milan after a 1-1 draw against Atalanta.

Alvaro Morata had a golden opportunity to give Juventus an early lead in Turin but his decision to try to backheel the ball into an empty net backfired as his effort went wide.

Federico Chiesa did give Juventus the lead in the 29th minute when he curled into the top right corner.

Atalanta had chances to level and eventually did so in the 57th minute through Remo Freuler.

Cristiano Ronaldo could have restored Juve’s lead four minutes later but his weak penalty was straight at Pierluigi Gollini after Chiesa had been fouled by Hans Hateboer.

Elsewhere, Sassuolo moved level on points with fourth-place Napoli after drawing 1-1 at Fiorentina.

Bologna came back from two goals down to draw 2-2 at Spezia, Sampdoria won 2-1 at 10-man Hellas Verona and Parma drew 0-0 against Cagliari.

Ligue 1: Lille beat Dijon to stay top

Lille stayed top of Ligue 1 ahead of a crucial showdown with PSG at the weekend
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Lille stayed top of Ligue 1 ahead of a crucial showdown with PSG at the weekend

American striker Timothy Weah grabbed a late goal as Lille won 2-0 at Dijon to remain top of Ligue 1 ahead of a crucial weekend showdown with defending champion Paris Saint-Germain.

Lille’s opening goal came in the 18th minute when right-back Zeki Celik set up Yusuf Yazici. Weah, the son of Liberia President and 1995 Golden Ball winner George Weah, then grabbed his first league goal for the club, coming off the bench to score with a smart finish deep into stoppage time.

Lille’s win kept them one point ahead of PSG, who laboured to a 2-0 home victory against Lorient after the visitors had a player sent off for conceding a penalty early in the second half.

Kylian Mbappe’s 50th-minute penalty gave the hosts the lead after a poor first half at Parc des Princes. Mbappe slotted home from the spot after being fouled by defender Andreaw Gravillon, who was red carded. Italy striker Moise Kean sealed the 2-0 victory 10 minutes later.

Lille are two points ahead of third-place Lyon, who are now 12 games unbeaten, but they did concede an injury-time equaliser in a 2-2 draw at home to Brest.

Fourth-placed Marseille, who have two games in hand on the top three teams, missed the chance to move level on points with Lyon after losing 2-1 at Rennes.

Victory saw Rennes climbed to sixth spot, while seventh-placed Lens won 3-0 away to Monaco, with former Chelsea starlet Gael Kakuta among the scorers.

In Wednesday’s other games, Reims beat Nantes 3-2, Nice won 2-0 at Nimes, Metz beat Montpellier 2-0, Angers lost 2-0 at home to Strasbourg and Saint-Etienne won 2-1 at Bordeaux.

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Euro round-up: Messi fires Barcelona to victory

Lionel Messi was on target for Barcelona on Sunday in their 1-0 win over struggling Levante to lift the Catalan club up to eighth.

La Liga leaders Real Sociedad – who face Barca on Wednesday – were held at home by Eibar and now only lead Atletico Madrid on goal difference.

Meanwhile, Neymar suffered what appeared to be a bad ankle injury as Paris Saint-Germain were beaten 1-0 at home by Lyon in Ligue 1.

The Brazilian was fouled by Thiago Mendes in injury time, and while the Lyon midfielder was shown a red card, Neymar had to be carried off on a stretcher.

Paris Saint-Germain's Brazilian forward Neymar reacts after getting tackled during the French L1 football match between Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) and Lyon (OL), on December 13, 2020 at the Parc des Princes stadium in Paris. (Photo by FRANCK FIFE / AFP) (Photo by FRANCK FIFE/AFP via Getty Images)
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Neymar had to leave the field on a stretcher as PSG lost to Lyon

Earlier, Tino Kadewere had struck for the second-placed visitors and the result drops PSG to third, a point behind leaders Lille, who beate Bordeaux 2-1 thanks to a Jose Fonte winner.

In Italy, Theo Hernandez rescued a point for early pace setters AC Milan at home to Parma, scoring the second of his two goals in stoppage time to grab a 2-2 draw.

Cristiano Ronaldo was also at the double, converting two penalties in a 3-1 win for Juventus at Genoa, which also saw Paulo Dybala on the scoresheet.

Juve remain fourth in Serie A, level on points with Napoli, who beat Sampdoria, and a point behind Inter Milan, after Romelu Lukaku sealed their 3-1 win at Cagliari to cut Milan’s advantage to three points.

Bayer Leverkusen remain top of the Bundesliga and a point ahead of Bayern Munich after thrashing nine-man Hoffenheim 4-1, while a 93rd-minute equaliser for 10-man Augsburg kept Schalke rooted to the bottom of the table.

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Chelsea get Atletico, Liverpool face RB Leipzig in CL last 16

Chelsea will face Atletico Madrid in the Champions League last 16, while Liverpool play last season’s semi-finalists RB Leipzig.

Chelsea face a tough tie against Diego Simeone’s side, who are second in La Liga, level on points with Real Sociedad with two games in hand.

Frank Lampard’s side will travel to the Spanish capital for the first leg on February 23, with the return match taking place at Stamford Bridge on March 17.

Both games come ahead of high-profile Premier League matches for Chelsea, with Manchester United due to come to west London four days after the away match with Atletico, with a trip to Anfield to take on Liverpool the next fixture after the second leg of their European tie.

Speaking about the challenge posed by Atletico, Lampard said: “I think most people will say it’s the toughest draw that we could have had.



Luis Suarez scored a late second in Atletico Madrid's win




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Chelsea head coach Frank Lampard says his team need to beat clubs like Atletico Madrid to stand any chance of winning the Champions League

“When you go on current form, how they’ve been in La Liga, European experience, quality of team and player, I think most people would say that.

“On the other hand, all draws are difficult in the Champions League. We have to have belief in ourselves and, when that game comes around, you’re going to have to beat these sort of teams if you’re going to win the Champions League so it is what it is.”

Diego Simeone celebrates at Anfield
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Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid knocked Liverpool out in the round of 16 last season

Manchester City will play German side Borussia Monchengladbach, who are in the knockout stages for the first time in their history.

Pep Guardiola’s side will play the first leg in western Germany on February 24 before welcoming Borussia to the Etihad Stadium on March 16.

Former Bayern Munich head coach Guardiola said: “I learned when I was in Germany how big and important and historical a team Gladbach are. I respect the beauty of their football.



Pep Guardiola




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Pep Guardiola says he will begin to prepare for Manchester City’s Champions League last-16 opponents Borussia Monchengladbach now

“They went through the group with Shakhtar (Donetsk) and were able to go through and played an exceptional game against Shakhtar after Shakhtar beat Real Madrid twice.

“All I can say is I want to arrive in the best condition when we play them. We want to compete as best as possible and go through.”

Liverpool, who were knocked out by Atletico at this stage last season, will also head to Germany for their Round of 16 first leg game against RB Leipzig on February 16 ahead of the Merseyside derby with Everton that weekend, with the return match with Leipzig at Anfield scheduled for March 10.

Julian Nagelsmann’s team reached the knockout stages by beating Manchester United 3-2 in the final game in Group H.

The three English sides all avoided five-time winners Barcelona, who will play French champions Paris Saint-Germain, with Neymar facing off against his former club.

Angelino celebrates scoring for RB Leipzig against Manchester United
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RB Leipzig beat Manchester United 3-2 to qualify from Group H

The ties will take place over two legs, with seeded group winners playing away in the first legs and at home in the return matches.

Last 16 ties in full:

Borussia Monchengladbach vs Manchester City

Lazio vs Bayern Munich

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea

RB Leipzig vs Liverpool

Porto vs Juventus

Barcelona vs Paris Saint-Germain

Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund

Atalanta vs Real Madrid

Neymar sent off among four others late on in Le Classique
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Neymar is set to face his former team-mates at Barcelona

When will the games be played?

First legs

February 16: RB Leipzig vs Liverpool
February 16: Barcelona vs PSG
February 17: Porto vs Juventus
February 17: Sevilla vs Borussia Dortmund
February 23: Lazio vs Bayern Munich
February 23: Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea
February 24: Monchengladbach vs Man City
February 24: Atalanta vs Real Madrid

Second legs

March 9: Juventus vs Porto
March 9: Borussia Dortmund vs Sevilla
March 10: Liverpool vs RB Leipzig
March 10: PSG vs Barcelona
March 16: Man City vs Monchengladbach
March 16: Real Madrid vs Atalanta
March 17: Bayern Munich vs Lazio
March 17: Chelsea vs Atletico Madrid

The Champions League trophy ahead of tonight's final between Bayern Munich and Paris SG.
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The 2021 Champions League final will take place in Istanbul on May 29

What are the other key dates?

April 6/14, 2021: Quarter-finals

April 17 & May 5, 2021: Semi-finals

May 29, 2021: Final (Istanbul)

Atletico Madrid vs Chelsea – The key stats

This will be the seventh meeting between these two sides in the Champions League, with Chelsea losing just once, 1-3 at home in the 2014 semi-final (W2 D3).

Chelsea have won just one of their last seven Champions League meetings with Spanish opposition (D4 L2), although that win did come last time out (4-0 away to Sevilla in this season’s group stages).

Frank Lampard scored and assisted in Chelsea’s only home victory against Atletico Madrid in the Champions League (4-0 in October 2009).

Liverpool and RB Leipzig – The key stats

Liverpool and RB Leipzig will meet for the very first time in a competitive match in European competition.

Liverpool are unbeaten in their last 10 matches against German teams in all European competition (W7 D3), since a 2-4 loss to Bayer 04 Leverkusen in April 2002.

Liverpool will be the third different English team RB Leipzig have faced in the Champions League, previously meeting Tottenham in 2019-20 (W2) and Manchester United in 2020-21 (W1 L1).

Man City and Borussia Monchengladbach – The key stats

This will be the seventh European meeting between Man City and Borussia Monchengladbach, the Citizens unbeaten in the last four (W3 D1), all coming in the Champions League.

Manchester City have won eight of their last nine Champions League games against Germany opposition (D1), with four of those matches coming against Borussia Monchengladbach (W3 D1).

Both of Sergio Aguero’s Champions League hat-tricks have come against German opponents, Bayern Munich in November 2014 and Borussia Monchengladbach in September 2016.

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Griezmann ends commercial relationship with Huawei

Antoine Griezmann has cut commercial ties with Huawei, saying there are strong suspicions the Chinese tech giant has contributed to the repression of Uighur Muslims.

The 29-year-old Barcelona forward’s announcement followed media reports Huawei allegedly tested facial recognition software intended to help China’s surveillance of the Muslim minority group.

China has repeatedly denied any mistreatment of Muslims, despite the United Nations and human rights groups saying that more than one million people, mostly Uighurs, have been detained in harsh conditions in Xinjiang.

“Following strong suspicions that Huawei has contributed to the development of a Uighur alert thanks to facial recognition software, I am announcing the immediate termination of my partnership with the company,” Griezmann said in an Instagram post.

“I take this opportunity to invite Huawei to not just deny these accusations but to take concrete actions as quickly as possible to condemn this mass repression, and to use its influence to contribute to the respect of human and women’s rights in society.”

Griezmann was a global brand ambassador for Huawei and has appeared in advertisements promoting the company’s smartphones.

A Huawei spokesperson told Sky Sports News in a statement: “Huawei is obviously saddened by the decision of Mr. Griezmann to end his relationship with the company.

“We would like to extend an invitation to speak to him personally, to explain the work that is currently being done at the highest level, inside the company, to address the issues of human rights, equality, and discrimination at all levels, and to reassure him, and all our customers and partners, that Huawei takes these concerns very seriously.

“The language used in the document he refers to in the news reports is completely unacceptable. It was not Huawei’s language, rather descriptions of functions provided by the company Megvii.

“It is not compatible with the values of Huawei. Our technologies are not designed to identify ethnic groups. Non-discrimination is at the heart of our values as a company.

“Furthermore, the person responsible for approving the document was not a Huawei employee, but rather was a subcontractor. This mistake was three years ago. He was clearly not aligned with our company’s values. Since then the company has made substantial progress.

“Indeed, Huawei is a signatory to the UNGC which states “businesses should support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.

“We are grateful to the media for drawing this matter to our attention.”

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Ronaldo: Playing against Messi ‘a great privilege’

Cristiano Ronaldo says it is a “great privilege” to play against Lionel Messi and he never considered their relationship as a rivalry.

The two forwards, considered two of the best players of all time, came up against each other once again on Tuesday night in Juventus’ 3-0 win at Barcelona in the Champions League.

The former Manchester United star stole the limelight on this occasion as his brace from the penalty spot helped the Serie A champions overcome the 2-0 loss they suffered to the Catalans in October and claim top spot in Group G due to a superior head-to-head record.

Messi and Ronaldo crossed paths several times from award ceremonies such as the Ballon d’Or to El Clasico showdowns during the Portuguese’s stint at Real Madrid, but the latter insists there’s never been bad blood between them.

“Leo and me shared the last twelve, thirteen or fourteen years of our lives,” he told Movistar after the clash on Tuesday night.

BARCELONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 08: Lionel Messi of Barcelona (L) and Cristiano Ronaldo of Juventus F.C. (R) look on during the UEFA Champions League Group G stage match between FC Barcelona and Juventus at Camp Nou on December 08, 2020 in Barcelona, Spain. Sporting stadiums around Spain remain under strict restrictions due to the Coronavirus Pandemic as Government social distancing laws prohibit fans inside venues resulting in games being played behind closed doors. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Imag

“I’ve always had a cordial relationship with him, I never saw him as a rival. It’s the press that creates the rivalry. If you ask Leo, he’ll tell you the same thing.

“It’s always beautiful to play against him. Obviously people will talk about our rivalry when we meet, but for me it’s just a great privilege.

“I faced him while with Manchester United, with Real Madrid and now with Juventus. As far as I’m concerned, I’m happy about my goals and for me, managing to score is always the source of greater joys.

“Maybe it’s even better when I play against the team which he is playing in.”

Cristiano Ronaldo celebrates his penalty opener for Juventus against Barcelona
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Cristiano Ronaldo helped Juventus to top spot in their Champions League group

What is Ronaldo and Messi’s history like?

Lionel Messi and Cristiano Ronaldo have reunited for the first time since the latter’s move to Italy in 2018 as Barcelona hosted Juventus in Champions League on Tuesday, but what is their history like?

They top the charts in categories across the board, but how do the two superstars compare and what have they been up to since they last saw each other?

Read the full feature here

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Ronaldo double as Messi and Barca crumble in CL

Cristiano Ronaldo netted two penalties as Juventus outclassed Barcelona 3-0 at the Camp Nou to claim top spot in Champions League Group G.

It was Ronaldo’s first meeting with Barcelona and Lionel Messi since leaving their bitter rivals Real Madrid in 2018 and though the pair briefly embraced before kick-off on Tuesday night, it was Ronaldo who quickly made his mark.

The Portugal star tested Barca goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen early on, before opening the scoring from the spot in the 13th minute after being felled by Ronald Araujo.

Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were reunited during the Champions League clash between Juventus and Barcelona
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Ronaldo and Lionel Messi were reunited during the Champions League clash between Juve and Barca

Defender Danilo flashed an effort just wide as the visitors cranked up the pressure, with a stunning Weston McKennie volley putting the Italian champions two goals up and in full control seven minutes later.

Ronaldo got his second penalty when Clement Lenglet was penalised for handball seven minutes after the restart.

As he could twice celebrate with his trademark leap, Messi was left frustrated as he failed to beat Gianluigi Buffon with his five shots on target.

Things almost got worse for the Catalans 15 minutes from time when Leonardo Bonucci thought he had scored, only for a VAR review to show he had been offside as he bundled the ball in from close range.



Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman




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Barcelona head coach Ronald Koeman admits he is ‘worried’ at his side’s confidence after a heavy 3-0 home defeat to Juventus in the Champions League

Both sides had already qualified for the knockout stages before kick-off and while they end the group phase on 15 points, Juve take first place by virtue of a superior head-to-head record.

Under-fire Barca boss Ronaldo Koeman was left furious, however, at the nature of his side’s display.

“The defeat was because of how we played in the opening 25 minutes,” Koeman said.

“We started badly, we looked scared, we weren’t aggressive. It looked as if we’d come out looking not to lose, as opposed to trying to control the game. We weren’t good, not even positionally.

“We got better but we lost the game in the first half an hour.”

Dortmund, Lazio through

Jadon Sancho celebrates with his Borussia Dortmund team-mates against Zenit
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Jadon Sancho celebrates with his Borussia Dortmund team-mates against Zenit

Borussia Dortmund struck twice in the space of 11 second-half minutes to seal a 2-1 victory at Zenit St Petersburg in the Champions League on Tuesday and clinch top spot in Group F.

Zenit opened the scoring against the run of play when Sebastian Driussi’s deflected shot ended up in the back of the net after wrong-footing keeper Marwin Hitz.

Marco Reus struck the crossbar for Dortmund on the stroke of half-time but Lukasz Piszczek drew them level in the 68th minute after a goalmouth scramble, before Axel Witsel’s powerful left-footed strike from the edge of the penalty area put Lucien Favre’s men in the lead.

The Russian side threw bodies forward in search of a late equaliser but Dortmund held firm to seal the victory.

The game also witnessed a moment of history, with Dortmund’s 16-year-old striker Youssoufa Moukoko becoming the youngest-ever player to feature in a Champions League match when he replaced Felix Passlack in the second half.

Lazio sneaked into the Champions League lat 16 for the first time in over 20 years despite being held to a 2-2 draw at home to Club Brugge, who played the entire second half with 10 men.

Needing at least a draw to qualify, Lazio appeared totally in control as they took a 2-1 lead in less than half an hour through Joaquin Correa and a Ciro Immobile penalty, while the visitors had Eduard Sobol sent off in the 39th minute.

Instead, the Serie A side suffered second-half jitters and their nerves became even more frayed when Hans Vanaken headed Brugge level in the 76th minute.

In an incredible finish, Charles De Ketelaere rifled a shot against the Lazio bar in stoppage time as the Italians held on to finish second in Group F on 10 points, with Brugge third on eight.

Man Utd rally in vain, PSG through but game suspended

Angelino celebrates scoring for RB Leipzig against Manchester United
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Angelino celebrates scoring for RB Leipzig against Manchester United

Manchester United were eliminated despite a late rally as they suffered a 3-2 defeat at RB Leipzig.

The Germans were totally dominant in the early stages and raced into a two-goal lead with goals from Angelino and Amadou Haidara, before a third in the second half from Justin Kluivert.

A Bruno Fernandez penalty sparked the visitors into life in the 80th minute and a Paul Pogba header soon after set up a tense finale, but it all came too late for United who were left to rue a sloppy start and will now drop into the Europa League.

The Champions League match between Paris Saint-Germain and Istanbul Basaksehir was suspended after both teams walked off the pitch following an alleged racist slur by the fourth official.

Play was initially halted after a row initiated in the 14th minute when Pierre Webo, Basaksehir’s assistant coach, was sent off.

UEFA initially said the match would restart with a different fourth official “after consultation with both teams” but later confirmed the match would take place on Wednesday.

Manchester United’s result means PSG are through.

Chelsea settle for draw

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Jorginho equalised for Chelsea against Krasnodar

A much-changed Chelsea side were left frustrated in front of their own supporters as Krasnodar earned a 1-1 draw in the Champions League dead rubber at Stamford Bridge.

Frank Lampard’s side had already been assured of top spot in Group E but former Newcastle midfielder Remy Cabella gave the Russian Premier League side the lead after 24 minutes.

Chelsea responded immediately when Jorginho converted from the spot following a foul on Tammy Abraham (28) but the hosts were unable to make their territorial dominance count during a tepid second period.

In the other Group E match, Jules Kounde’s fine volley from the edge of the box and Youssef En Nesyri’s double sealed a 3-1 win for section runners-up Sevilla at Rennes, who grabbed a consolation through Georginio Rutter’s late penalty

Champions League last 16 draw

The line up for the last 16 is nearly complete, with the following teams through to the knockout stage:

Chelsea
Sevilla
Barcelona
Juventus
Man City
Liverpool
Porto
Bayern Munich
Borussia Dortmund
Lazio
RB Leipzig
PSG

The draw will take place at 11am on Monday, December 14 in Nyon. You’ll be able to follow it across Sky Sports’ platforms.

There will be two seeding pots: one consisting of the eight group winners and the other of the eight runners-up. No team can at this stage play a club from their own association – meaning no all-Premier League clashes just yet.

The ties will take place over two legs, with seeded group winners playing away in the first legs in February and at home in the return matches in March.

February 15/16 & March 16/17, 2021: Round of 16
April 6/14, 2021: Quarter-finals
April 17 & May 5, 2021: Semi-finals
May 29, 2021: Final (Istanbul)

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UEFA Champions League: Picking a Combined XI Ahead of the Mini-Tournament

Sergio Ramos, Kevin De Bruyne
Sergio Ramos and Kevin De Bruyne – two of the Champions League’s top performers | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

It’s been a long 16 weeks without it, but the Champions League is very nearly back.

Europe’s elite knockout competition will play out to its conclusion later this month with an impromptu mini-tournament, where the clubs lucky enough to have made the quarter-finals – or haven’t played their round of 16 second legs yet – will vie for the showpiece prize of the 2019/20 season.

We’ll see some of the best players on the planet go head to head, so to build the hype, we’ve analysed the 12 remaining squads, and come up with the best XI of all of them combined.

It hasn’t been easy, so please don’t shout.

Jan OblakJan Oblak
Oblak is the best keeper around | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Where would Atléti be without their Slovenian Superman between the sticks this season? It doesn’t bear thinking about.

The title of best goalkeeper in the world has rarely been more tightly contested than it is now, but Oblak is a truly special talent who can probably now lay claim to it.

You don’t often come across a keeper with cat-like reflexes, sublime distribution, and the authority to command his box like a military sergeant preparing for battle, but here is is.

Honourable Mention: Marc-André ter Stegen, Thibaut Courtois

UEFA Champions League"Red Bull Leipzig v Tottenham Hotspur FC"UEFA Champions League"Red Bull Leipzig v Tottenham Hotspur FC"
Klostermann impressed against Tottenham | ANP Sport/Getty Images

Liverpool’s elimination means the default instinct to just select Trent Alexander-Arnold is void. As it turns out, outside of the England right-back, there isn’t really an outstanding choice for this position.

Lukas Klostermann has been a consistent, versatile and energetic presence for an impressive Leipzig team, however, and continues to grow under the radar as one of the most quietly impressive full-backs on the continent.

Honourable Mentions: Hans Hateboer, Kieran Trippier

Sergio RamosSergio Ramos
Ramos saw red against City but is still one of the tournament’s outstanding defenders | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Ok so he might have had a bit of a mare against Manchester City, but c’mon, this is Sergio Ramos we’re on about.

The best goalscoring centre half ever, Mr. Champions League, Captain Sh*thouse himself.

This Real team by no means look like the best in Europe, but purely through virtue of having Ramos there to kick ass and take names, you wouldn’t bet against them going at the way…if they can first manoeuvre their way past City without him.

Neymar, MarquinhosNeymar, Marquinhos
Marquinhos celebrates with Neymar after his goal against Borussia Dortmund | UEFA – Handout/Getty Images

If you think Marquinhos is the best ball-playing central defender in the world, you’re kidding yourself. That’s Virgil van Dijk.

If you think Marquinhos is the best ball-playing central defender left in the Champions League, however, you’re probably right.

Marquinhos’ ridiculous passing range and composure on the ball have been a massive part of why PSG are still in with a chance of advancing beyond the quarter-finals for the first time in their history. He’s not bad at the old defending either – Paris have conceded just three goals in eight UCL matches this term, a run through which he has been a virtual ever-present.

Honourable Mentions: Aymeric Laporte, Dayot Upamecano, Felipe, Matthijs de Ligt

Davies’ star is rising about as quickly as he can sprint – and that’s very, very, very fast.

He was famously monikered ‘Roadrunner’ by Thomas Muller earlier this season, and his pace and dynamism have already proved too much for Tottenham and Chelsea to handle.

A real creative bright spark down the left hand side, Davies adds another string to Hansi Flick’s fearsome attacking bow – as if he needs it.

Honourable Mentions: Roben Gosens

Kevin De BruyneKevin De Bruyne
De Bruyne helped City to a key first leg win over Real Madrid | Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

38 goal-involvements this season. And counting.

From central midfield.

Honestly, De Bruyne, just give it a rest.

Joshua KimmichJoshua Kimmich
Kimmich swings in a corner against Chelsea | Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

It doesn’t seem to matter where you play Kimmich. Centre-midfield, right-back, centre-back, in goal, assistant manager; it really has no bearing, because he’ll still chip in with ten assists every year.

He’s the definition of reliable, and at times this season he’s held together a Bayern team that might have otherwise fallen apart.

Saul NiguezSaul Niguez
Saul pays his respects to Liverpool | Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

Atlético Madrid’s midfield warrior rounds out our fantasy trio after yet another impressive season in Los Rojiblacos’ engine room.

He might have picked up more bookings (13) than goals or assists (7) in all competitions, but if anything that just further emphasises that he’s doing what he’s in the team for; to win battles, stifle creativity, and move the ball on.

He does like the odd important goal, however – just as Liverpool about that one.

Honourable Mentions: Houssem Aouar, Marcel Sabitzer, Casemiro

Lionel MessiLionel Messi
Messi on the prowl against Napoli | DeFodi Images/Getty Images

Well…yeah.

Barcelona may be reaching the limits of how bad they can be while still relying on Messi to drag them over the line, but that hasn’t stopped the little magician from trying.

He single-handedly got them through the group stage, scoring or assisting five of their nine goals, and looks poised to try and repeat that feat when Napoli come to town to keep his team in with a chance of actually winning a trophy.

Honourable Mentions: Christian Pulisic, Serge Gnabry

Robert Lewandowski, David Alaba, Alphonso DaviesRobert Lewandowski, David Alaba, Alphonso Davies
Lewandowski celebrates scoring against Chelsea | Visionhaus/Getty Images

11 goals in six Champions League games. Eleven goals, in six Champions League games.

Lewandowski’s had a good season in the same way Michael Jordan was good at basketball. He looked a shoe-in for Ballon d’Or before it was unceremoniously cancelled, but you’d safely bet he’d happily trade that individual accolade to finally get his hands on the Champions League.

Honourable Mentions: Josip Ilicic, Karim Benzema, Kylian Mbappe

Olympique Lyon v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First LegOlympique Lyon v Juventus - UEFA Champions League Round of 16: First Leg
Ronaldo advancing on goal against Lyon | RvS.Media/Monika Majer/Getty Images

We have to apologise for choosing the most predictable and obvious front three in Champions League history, but when you’ve got Messi, Lewandowski and Cristiano Ronaldo all available, what are you going to do? Not pick them?

Ronnie has hit the ground running this season after using 2018/19 to settle in at Juve, and although his European form doesn’t quite match his Serie A exploits, his 35 goals in all competitions means he still warrants a place in this team.

That and the fact that he’s, y’know, the all-time Champions League top goalscorer.

Honourable Mentions: Raheem Sterling, Papu Gomez

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Lionel Messi: Remembering La Pulga’s First Year as a Professional

A fresh-faced Messi in 2005
A fresh-faced Messi in 2005 | Luis Bagu/Getty Images

With 25 La Liga goals and 21 La Liga assists, Lionel Messi finished the 2019/20 season as the top-scorer and top assist provider in the Spanish top division, further demonstrating his other worldly footballing ability.

For almost 15 years, Messi has been the star of the show at the Camp Nou and the best player in the world (sorry Cristiano) – collecting a record six Ballons d’Or along the way.

Having won 10 La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues and numerous other trophies throughout his career, Messi is regarded by many to be one of, if not the, greatest footballer in the history of the beautiful game, and after watching the Argentine smash every record known to man over the past 15 years – who are we to argue?

Haven’t you always wanted to see how the all time greats started out? Muhammad Ali’s first boxing match, Shakespeare’s first play, Lionel Messi’s first season in football, well you’re in luck. 90min invite you to hop into our hypothetical Delorean and take a little journey back to where it all began, back when a 17-year-old Messi took to the field for Barcelona for the very first time, and changed football forever.

Having shot through the ranks at Barcelona, Messi began training with Barcelona’s first-team during the 2003/04 season and instantly caught the eye of his elder teammates. French winger Ludovic Giuly even admitted the young Argentine destroyed them in training, insisting the team’s starting centre-backs were even terrified to come up against the prodigy.

Messi was that impressive that Barcelona great Ronaldinho – a man many considered to be the best footballer in the world at the time – admitted to his teammates that he thought the then 16-year-old would go on to become a better player than him.

Barcelona's coach Frank Rijkaard (L) hugBarcelona's coach Frank Rijkaard (L) hug
Frank Rijkaard gave Messi his debut at Barcelona | LLUIS GENE/Getty Images

The Argentine’s first appearance for the club was actually in a friendly against Jose Mourinho’s Porto. Messi would only play the final 15 minutes, but was already showing signs of the player he would go on to become, with Barcelona boss Frank Rijkaard saying the following after the game:

“He only had 15 minutes, but he played really well and he had two chances to score. The future he has is promising.”

Mourinho would go on to face the Messi many times over the years as manager of Chelsea, Real Madrid and Inter, and while the Special One’s record against Barcelona isn’t great, he credits facing La Pulga for making him a better coach.

This debut was back in 2003, but it wasn’t until October 2004 that Messi finally got a chance in La Liga. In a testament to just how much talent he’d shown in training, numerous first-team players had asked Barcelona’s then-manager Frank Rijkaard to utilise Messi in a competitive game, leading to his debut on 16 October against Espanyol. Traditionally a left winger, Messi was moved to the right so Rijkaard could fit both the youngster and Ronaldinho in his team, and it paid off tenfold.

Ronaldinho, Lionel MessiRonaldinho, Lionel Messi
Ronaldinho could see the potential Messi possessed even at the age of 16 | Denis Doyle/Getty Images

At the time of his debut, Messi – aged 17 years, three months and 22 days – was the youngest ever player to represent Barcelona in an official competition, but despite impressing his teammates and manager alike, the Argentine found gametime hard to come by during his first season in Barcelona’s first team.

Throughout his debut season, Messi only played more than 20 minutes in three of his nine appearances, but with Ronaldinho taking the youngster under his wing, his debut season was a huge learning curve and helped shape what would go on to be a monumental career.

“This award says I’m the best player in the world, but I’m not even the best player at Barcelona. Leo Messi reminds me more of Maradona, both left-footed and short, Messi is the best player in the world, along with Kaka and Cristiano Ronaldo. For us it is not a surprise. Since he began to come and train with us and we knew we would go down this path. Someday I will explain that I was at the birth of one of the footballing greats: Leo Messi.”

– Ronaldinho – After 2005 Ballon d’Or win

It wasn’t until Messi’s final appearance of the season, the last La Liga game of the season, that he scored his first senior goal for Barcelona, with an audacious chip following a perfectly weighted lob from Ronaldinho. The goal made Messi the youngest goalscorer in Barcelona’s history at the time. The attacker would go on to see his side win their first La Liga title in six years, a feeling he would become all too familiar with in the years to follow as the club dethroned Real Madrid as Spain’s kingpins.

Although it was a fairly uneventful first professional season for Messi, he’d return the year after and improve significantly, with eight goals in 25 appearances – and, as you know, it only got better from there. Despite being in his 16th season as a Barcelona first team player, Messi hasn’t failed to hit double figure goals scored since his second season in the side, a testament to the truly remarkable player he’s gone on to become.

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Mauricio Pochettino Opens Door to Replacing Quique Setien at Barcelona

Mauricio Pochettino
Mauricio Pochettino has been out of work since his sacking from Tottenham last November | Rodrigo Valle/Getty Images

Former Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino has backtracked on previous comments saying that he’d never take up the managerial job at Barcelona, opening the door a crack for him to be Quique Setien’s successor at Camp Nou.

The pressure has mounted exponentially on Setien after the Catalans surrendered their La Liga title to Real Madrid for the first time since 2017, with the Spaniard struggling to impose his ideals and manage the bigger egos within the Barcelona squad.

Quique SetienQuique Setien
It’s been a mixed bag for Quique Setien thus far, but losing the title to Real Madrid was a huge blow | Juan Manuel Serrano Arce/Getty Images

Despite receiving constant backing from the Barça board, Setien’s future at the club is in serious doubt and he may even depart following the conclusion of La Blaugrana’s Champions League run this month. It may take European glory for Setien to keep his job.

Mauricio Pochettino, meanwhile, has reopened the door to any potential managerial vacancy in Catalunya by backtracking on comments he made in 2018.

A club legend at Barça’s cross-city rivals Espanyol both as a player and coach, the Argentine once famously said that he would return to his farm in his homeland before taking over the reins at the Camp Nou.

The Catalan giants had a serious interest in hiring Pochettino following the January departure of Ernesto Valverde but Setien was hired instead, with the Argentine displaying a distinct lack of enthusiasm when Barça made an approach.

Espanyol's coach Mauricio Pochettino froEspanyol's coach Mauricio Pochettino fro
Pochettino oversaw 160 games in charge of Espanyol – his first of just three jobs in management thus far | JOSEP LAGO/Getty Images

He appears to have changed his tune, though.

“I did not want to disrespect Barcelona. I could have said things differently. Espanyol has made a name for me. But I’m not arrogant and I didn’t like making a statement like that. Maybe now I wouldn’t because in life you never know what will happen,” Pochettino said speaking to El Pais (via Forbes).

It appears the Argentine has dropped his name in the hat for the potential managerial sweepstake at Barcelona this summer, with the former Spurs boss out of work since his sacking from N17 last November.

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