Luis Suarez scored the 500th goal of his professional career but Atletico Madrid had to rely on a late penalty save by Jan Oblak to beat Deportivo Alaves 1-0 and not have their position at LaLiga's summit weakened further.

Diego Simeone's men had won just two of their previous five league games before Sunday - form that has seen Real Madrid and Barcelona close the gap on them - and they looked destined to drop points yet again when Alaves were awarded a spot-kick in the closing stages.

But Oblak produced a wonderful save to deny Alaves a share of the spoils, sparking relieved celebrations among Atletico's players and coaching staff.

The goalkeeper's crucial stop ultimately meant Suarez's 500th professional goal at club and international level, scored from a fine Kieran Trippier cross in the 54th minute, sealed three points to keep Atletico's title push on track.

 

 

Luis Suarez has reached 500 career goals for club and country after scoring Atletico Madrid's winner against Deportivo Alaves.

The Uruguay forward nodded in Kieran Trippier's right-wing cross with 54 minutes gone at the Wanda Metropolitano on Sunday to bring up a significant personal milestone. 

Alaves thought they would restore parity late on, but Jan Oblak made a superb save from Joselu's penalty, ensuring Suarez's goal proved enough.

Since starting his professional career with Nacional in his homeland and finding the back of the net on 12 occasions, Suarez has represented a further five clubs across Europe.

He has proved prolific at each one, scoring 15 goals for Groningen, 111 for Ajax, 82 for Liverpool, 198 for Barcelona, and now 19 for Atletico.

With a further 63 goals to his name for the Uruguay national team, the 34-year-old is now on 500 in the professional game.

They have come in just 794 appearances – a rate of a goal every 1.5 games.

Suarez's goals have helped him win league titles in Uruguay, the Netherlands and Spain, as well as the Champions League and Copa America.

He is hoping to add another LaLiga title to his honours list this term, with Atleti leading both Barcelona and Real Madrid going into the final stages of the campaign.

Milan kept alive their faint hopes of Serie A title glory as Hakan Calhanoglu's fine strike sealed a pulsating 3-2 win over Fiorentina on Sunday. 

Zlatan Ibrahimovic had put them ahead after nine minutes to become the oldest player to reach 15 goals in a single Serie A season, aged 39 years and 169 days, but Erick Pulgar restored parity soon after.

Fiorentina took the lead shortly after the break thanks to a cool finish from Franck Ribery, yet Milan powered back thanks to Brahim Diaz and Calhanoglu's winner 19 minutes from full-time. 

The result means Milan move to within six points of leaders Inter, whose game against Sassuolo this weekend was called off after a COVID-19 outbreak at the club.

Fikayo Tomori cleared Martin Caceres' header off the line after five minutes as the hosts started brightly, but it was Milan who struck first. 

Simon Kjaer's clipped ball over the top found Ibrahimovic and the Sweden international struck past an exposed Bartlomiej Dragowski. 

That lead was cancelled out after 17 minutes, though, when Pulgar whipped a free-kick into Gianluigi Donnarumma's top-right corner from 20 yards. 

Both sides struck the crossbar before half-time, German Pezzella denied after an inventive flick from Valentin Eysseric's corner, while Ibrahimovic clipped against the frame of the goal after being played in by Calhanoglu.

La Viola went ahead six minutes after the restart, Ribery stroking home his second top-flight goal of the season from 15 yards after he had been teed up by Dusan Vlahovic.

The Rossoneri drew level in the 57th minute, however, when Diaz reacted quickest to poke home Kjaer's knockdown from a corner. 

Ibrahimovic struck the post with a cross before Calhanoglu slotted into substitute goalkeeper Pietro Terracciano's bottom-left corner from just inside the penalty area to ensure neighbours Inter cannot relax just yet.

 

 

Leicester City reached the FA Cup semi-finals for the first time since 1982 after a 3-1 win over Manchester United in Sunday's quarter-final clash.

Two goals from Kelechi Iheanacho and one from Youri Tielemans were enough to give the Foxes only a second victory over the Red Devils in 26 meetings in all competitions.

United, who levelled in the first half through Mason Greenwood before Tielemans' fine winner, looked well short of their best for much of a contest for which they made five changes from their Europa League win in Milan three days earlier.

Iheanacho headed in a third 13 minutes from time to make certain of victory as United lost an away match in domestic competition for the first time since January 19 last year.

Fred had twice lost possession in United's half before his dreadful backpass to goalkeeper Dean Henderson gifted Iheanacho an easy finish.

Despite their changes, United played like a team struggling with fatigue in the first half, as Leicester pressed them into errors without managing to take full advantage.

It was therefore something of a surprise when the visitors levelled seven minutes before the break. Pogba's low cross from the left was dummied superbly by Donny van de Beek, giving Greenwood the chance to smash home his first goal in 16 appearances.

Leicester regained their lead in prompt fashion in the second half, though, Tielemans drilling a fine shot beyond the reach of Henderson after drifting easily away from Nemanja Matic and Fred.

Jamie Vardy should have made it 3-1, skipping beyond Harry Maguire only to drag a shot wide of the left-hand post with only Henderson to beat, prompting Solskjaer to make four changes to breathe life into United's display.

It was one of those substitutes, Scott McTominay, who conceded a cheap free-kick near the box and then allowed Iheanacho to drift behind him to nod home Marcus Albrighton's delivery.

 

Mikel Arteta declared himself "really disappointed" despite Arsenal fighting back from three goals down to claim 3-3 draw with West Ham United on Sunday.

The Gunners paid for a poor start at the London Stadium as they fell behind to early goals from Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek.

However, they reduced the deficit when Soucek was forced to put through his own net before the break, and it was game on when Craig Dawson did the same following the restart.

Alexandre Lacazette subsequently completed the turnaround with a header 10 minutes from time to earn the visitors a share of the spoils.

But, speaking after the game, manager Arteta could not hide his disappointment over a sloppy start that had given his side a mountain to climb.

He told Sky Sports: "I'm really disappointed because I cannot accept my team to play the way we did for certain periods in the first half because what I expect is the team to play the level we showed afterwards. 

"We played incredibly well, we should have scored six or seven goals, but we had two faces and the first face is about giving goals to the opponent and not doing what we have to do and that is not good enough.

"The first goal, it can happen. It's a really good combination, they do that, they play that channel well and have players in the box and scored a brilliant goal, it's fine. 

"The way we concede the second one is unacceptable, the third goal is unacceptable, and we still gave them one more – a throw-in and they hit the post.

"For the rest, [I liked] the attitude, the desire that we showed and the togetherness that we showed, because at 3-0 it's really difficult to do what we've done. 

"I have no doubts because we talked about it and I can see every day the energy and the cohesion the players have. We came really close to winning, I thought we deserved to win in the end, but the first part really worries me."

Arteta's opposite number David Moyes struck a more positive note, despite the fact his team threw away a sizeable lead.

"It was a really good game, a tough game, lots of goals. We played very well, especially in the opening 30 minutes, we were excellent," Moyes said.

"Unfortunately, we gave them a goal just before half-time from a deflection which I think the shot was going wide and it gave Arsenal a bit of a foot up. That made it more difficult. 

"We played very well for long periods; Arsenal played very well, but Arsenal are in good form at the minute and showing good things. 

"It wasn't a great result for us after going 3-0 up but it was still a good result. We've still kept ourselves moving along, it was a tough game for us and we showed that we're up there competing with the best teams."

The Hammers find themselves in the midst of a perhaps unexpected push for Champions League football this season, but missed a chance to go level on points with fourth-placed Chelsea.

Still, Moyes remained sanguine about his team's position given the manner in which they have exceeded all expectations thus far.

He added: "It's been a long time since we've finished above Arsenal in the league at West Ham, so we've done our best to make sure they can't catch us. 

"We're trying to stay in the top half of the league, I think at the start of the season if we'd said that we'd have said it's [going] good. But now we want more, now I'm greedy. 

"You should see the dressing room, they're devastated because they haven't taken all three points. It's a good sign for a manager, though."

Andrea Pirlo said Juventus had the wrong attitude and must show more respect to the shirt after a 1-0 home defeat to Benevento left their Serie A title hopes on the rocks.

The rookie head coach saw his team waste a chance to reduce Inter's advantage over them to seven points, with Adolfo Gaich preying on a calamitous pass from midfielder Arthur in the 69th minute.

Questions over Pirlo's leadership have already been asked and will persist, as the prospect of a 10th successive Scudetto disappears almost over the horizon.

It would take an Inter implosion and for Juventus to suddenly become infallible for Juventus to catch the Nerazzurri. Neither prospect looks likely.

"We needed to turn in a better display but we performed poorly, in every aspect of our game," Pirlo said. "Everything was off today, in our attitude and in technical situations.

"We knew this would be tough, because Benevento are an organised team, who defend effectively with two compact lines. What we needed was to stay calm and make better use of the flanks, but we made a lot of mistakes.

"When the result is hanging in the balance, panic can start to set in and that wasn't the attitude required. We also needed a little extra desire to get the result, because there was a real opportunity for us to close to gap in the league.

"We must continue to believe in the Scudetto, to follow our path and our work and always be there."

Juventus had 73.4 per cent of possession and led the shot count 21-7, with Cristiano Ronaldo having nine attempts as well as a goal disallowed for offside, while a penalty decision was also overturned in the first half.

Benevento's Alessandro Tuia made a game-high 10 clearances as the visitors scrambled to stay level initially and then hold on to their lead.

The fact Benevento, coached by former Juventus striker Filippo Inzaghi, were able to get ahead and stay ahead rankled with Pirlo, with last season's Serie B champions scoring from their one shot on target in the game.

"We have to change our mindset: we wear a jersey of huge importance, which must always be honoured," Pirlo added, quoted on the Juventus website. "Our attitude has to be different in games like this."

After the international break, Juventus will return to Serie A action with a derby against Torino, which should focus minds.

Assessing Arthur's blunder, Pirlo said: "He made a mistake that was not like him. In my opinion, he didn't see the opponent in that area of the field.

"It was a soft mistake, like many others we made. It means that we weren't concentrated and that we didn't give everything to achieve victory."

Manchester City will take on Chelsea in the semi-finals of the FA Cup next month.

Late goals from Ilkay Gundogan and Kevin De Bruyne saw City past a dogged Everton 2-0 at Goodison Park on Saturday, keeping the Premier League leaders and EFL Cup finalists in contention across four major competitions.

That result meant City have won 25 of their past 26 games in all competitions, with Chelsea similarly enjoying a rich vein of form.

The Blues are undefeated in 14 games under head coach Thomas Tuchel, with Hakim Ziyech – their midweek Champions League hero against Atletico Madrid – sealing a 2-0 win over Sheffield United on Sunday at Stamford Bridge.

The other semi-final will see the winner of the match between Leicester City and Manchester United take on Southampton

Ralph Hasenhuttl's men swept aside Championship outfit Bournemouth 3-0 on Saturday, with Nathan Redmond netting a second-half brace.

A tougher test likely awaits against United or Leicester, each of whom boast 9-0 wins against Saints over the past two seasons.

The ties will be played at Wembley on the weekend of April 17-18.

FA Cup semi-final draw in full:

Leicester City or Manchester United v Southampton
Chelsea v Manchester City

Andrea Pirlo and Cristiano Ronaldo will stay at Juventus despite hopes of a 10th successive Scudetto lying in tatters, according to club director Fabio Paratici.

A shock 1-0 home defeat to lowly Benevento on Sunday was a result to leave even the most optimistic Juventus supporter fearing the long reign as league champions is coming to an end.

Trailing Inter by 10 points, the Benevento game was a chance to chip away at that lead, but Arthur's dire pass across the Juventus penalty area midway through the second half was seized upon by Adolfo Gaich for the game's only goal.

Ronaldo had nine attempts at goal, hitting the target four times, but Juventus could not find a way past goalkeeper Lorenzo Montipo.

Pirlo, appointed to coach Juventus this season in his first senior post, has seen his side knocked out of the Champions League by Porto and almost certainly hustled out of the Serie A title race inside the past fortnight.

But Paratici, managing director of the club's football department, insists Pirlo remains the man Juventus want as their leader.

He told Sky Sport Italia: "This is not a game that changes our ideas, let's go our own way. This route continues. We are very convinced of what we are doing, let's stay on this path.

"We weren't dissatisfied with the previous coaches. There were different reasons why we changed, that's it. It is not a win or a loss that determines a club's course.

"When you have a clear idea of ​​where you want to go, you have to follow the route. We will see at the end if it is correct."

Asked about Ronaldo, who has been linked with his former clubs Real Madrid and Manchester United, Paratici said: "We have Ronaldo, he is the best in the world and we are holding on to him."

Ronaldo was presented with a shirt marked 'G.O.A.T. 770' by chairman Andrea Agnelli before the game, denoting Juventus' belief they have the 'greatest of all time' at the club, and reflecting his achievement in reaching 770 career goals with his hat-trick against Cagliari last Sunday.

Ronaldo said Pele acknowledged that took him past the Brazil great's career haul in competitive matches for a new world record.

Paratici dismissed talk of this being a season of 'transition', saying: "For Juventus this word does not exist."

Thomas Tuchel confirmed Tammy Abraham sustained a recurrence of an injury which has kept him out of action in recent weeks, urging the Chelsea forward to be cautious with his recovery.

Abraham has not featured for Chelsea since February 22, due to a combination of injury and his form in training.

Coming into the FA Cup quarter-finals, no player had scored more goals in the competition this season than Abraham, who had netted four times across the third, fourth and fifth rounds.

However, the 23-year-old was again absent from the squad at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, and Tuchel – who on Friday instructed Abraham to be patient as he waited for an opportunity – revealed Chelsea's number nine had suffered an injury.

"Yes, he quit training yesterday after a five-minute warm-up so there was more or less no chance he could join the squad," Tuchel told a news conference after Chelsea's 2-0 win over the Blades.

"It was the same injury, more or less, but he had a re-injury in more or less the same spot where the first injury was so he is in pain and he had to quit the session after five minutes with no chance he could join us today.

"The most important thing for Tammy is be fit. The second is then to take things step by step, to train and fight for his way back.

"His way back is maybe to be a substitute and to be hungry and full of quality in training. These are the next steps.

"Now is not the time to worry about the first eleven because he is out now for many games, unfortunately too many games.

"It's absolutely not his fault and he is hungry to come back. He tries all the time but this is the risk with pushing the players to be back as soon as possible.

"It was an accident in training. So nobody's fault. So now is a kind of restart and we hope he can use the next two weeks to get fit again."

Despite his recent struggles, Abraham is Chelsea's leading scorer this season with 12 goals in 30 matches across all competitions.

He has taken 10 of 16 'big chances' – opportunities from which Opta would expect a player to score – far better than Timo Werner's rate of eight from 26.

Of Chelsea's three central strikers, Olivier Giroud (103) boasts a better minutes per goal ratio than Abraham (127), while Werner is down at 284.

Creatively, Werner has been far more profitable, crafting 31 opportunities, in contrast to 13 from Abraham.

Joel Embiid's injury last week appeared to clear a path for LeBron James to collect his fifth NBA MVP award.

Philadelphia 76ers big man Embiid - averaging 29.9 points and 11.5 rebounds, as well as 1.4 blocks and 1.2 steals - had already missed seven games this season before he went down with a knee injury against the Washington Wizards.

But Los Angeles Lakers superstar James did not see his clear run at the league's top individual honour last long.

James, who has 25.9 points, 7.9 assists and 7.9 rebounds per game, has carried the Lakers in Anthony Davis' absence but faces his own spell on the sidelines after an ankle sprain on Saturday.

That setback, in a defeat to the Atlanta Hawks, means this year's two leading MVP contenders face an uphill task to remain in contention as they sit out a key stretch of the regular season.

Nikola Jokic, the Denver Nuggets center, appears the man most likely to profit and has quickly been installed as the bookmakers' favourite.

But with several twists already in the race to succeed back-to-back winner Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jokic's standing is not yet safe.

With the help of Stats Perform data, we run through four potential winners ahead of Sunday's action - including Denver's 'Joker'.
 

NIKOLA JOKIC

The case against Jokic earlier in the season was his displays had not been able to lift the Nuggets into serious contention in the West. With 13 wins in their past 18 games to improve to 25-16, that is no longer the case.

While team-mate Jamal Murray has not been able to consistently perform at the standard he set in the 2019-20 playoffs - averaging 26.5 points in the 'bubble' but 21.1 this season - Jokic has taken his game to another level.

The Serbian's stat line for the year - 27.0 points, 8.6 assists, 11.2 rebounds and 1.6 steals - has never previously been achieved in league history, nor has any player in the past attempted at least 30 field goals across a season while shooting 56.6 per cent from the field, 41.6 per cent from three and 86.6 per cent of free throws.

This is an unprecedented campaign.

DAMIAN LILLARD

Tied with Denver at 25-16 in the West are the Portland Trail Blazers. Considering CJ McCollum has only played 16 games and Jusuf Nurkic 12, that is a quite remarkable achievement, led, of course, by Lillard.

Understandably, Lillard's usage rate is at a career-high 33 per cent, but he is making the most of those extra touches. Only Bradley Beal (32.5) has outperformed his 30.6 points per game - another career benchmark - and the Blazers star leads the league with 1,225 total points. Of those, 136 have come in 'clutch' situations, again putting Lillard at the top of the standings.

Taking a break from Portland's playoff push, Lillard even preserved enough energy to score 32 points in the All-Star Game, just ahead of Team LeBron team-mate and rival Stephen Curry (28). An MVP triumph would certainly see Portland's finest emerge from the shadow of the Golden State Warriors great.

GIANNIS ANTETOKOUNMPO

Antetokounmpo beat James Harden to this award in 2018-19 and then LA's James last season, so a case of voter fatigue was always set to make him an unlikely winner for a third straight year, regardless of performances.

But with Embiid and James both hit by injuries, the 'Greek Freak' surely has to come into consideration. Once again, his numbers are seriously impressive.

The only man to outscore Lillard at the All-Star Game, putting up 35, Antetokounmpo is slightly down on last year's points (29.0 versus 29.5) and rebounds per game (11.7 versus 13.6) but has improved in all of the other key metrics with 6.4 assists, 1.2 steals and 1.3 blocks.

The Milwaukee Bucks forward should be in the picture to retain both his MVP and Defensive Player of the Year titles.

JAMES HARDEN

Surely voters will not reward Harden in the year he forced his way out of the Houston Rockets? On performances alone, though, he deserves to be in the conversation.

The 2017-18 winner is not contributing the same number of points for the Brooklyn Nets as he was in Houston, but then his usage is down to 28.7 per cent for the year (28.1 in Brooklyn), by far the lowest it has been since the statistic was first tracked in 2014-15.

And Harden, still scoring an impressive 25.4 points since joining the Nets, is more than making up for this slight decline elsewhere.

So far the most prominent member of the team's 'big three', with Kevin Durant too often injured and Kyrie Irving absent for a spell, Harden leads the league in 2020-21 for assists (11.2) and is second for triple-doubles (11), making him an unpopular but worthy candidate.

Arsenal fought back from three goals down to claim a 3-3 draw with West Ham in a thrilling London derby on Sunday.

David Moyes' side had carved out a three-goal lead with just over half an hour gone as Jesse Lingard, Jarrod Bowen and Tomas Soucek capped off a blistering start.

But a Soucek own goal late in the first half swung momentum toward the Gunners, who set up a thrilling finish by forcing Craig Dawson to put through his own net with 30 minutes remaining.

And Alexandre Lacazette completed the comeback late on as he headed home from close range to steal a share of the points.

Daria Kasatkina claimed the fourth title of her career after Margarita Gasparyan retired in the second set of the St Petersburg Ladies Trophy final with a back injury.

Kasatkina, who becomes the first player to win two WTA tournaments in 2021 having claimed the Phillip Island Trophy last month, was leading 6-3 2-1 when Gasparyan pulled out.

Gasparyan initially took a medical timeout after losing her first two service games of the match to trail 4-1 before eventually retiring after dropping her serve early in the second set.

Kasatkina's triumph meant she became the first player to win both WTA 500 events on Russian soil, previously claiming the 2018 Moscow title at this level.

The former top-10 player has endured a dip in recent seasons but will be back in the top 50 on Monday, while wildcard Gasparyan's maiden WTA 500 final means she returns to the top 100.

Kasatkina dropped the opening set in her quarter-final and semi-final matches but then swept through the next two sets emphatically on each occasion.

"I'm proud of how I was able to manage the pressure," Kasatkina said, quoted on the WTA website. "I felt differently during this tournament and I'm really proud of that."

Marcus Rashford will likely link up with the England squad next week despite a foot injury keeping him out of the FA Cup quarter-final on Sunday, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer said.

The forward was hurt during Manchester United's 1-0 win over Milan in the Europa League last-16 second leg at San Siro on Thursday.

Rashford struggled to walk on Saturday and United manager Solskjaer confirmed scans showed he has sustained damage, meaning he was unavailable for the clash with Leicester City at the King Power Stadium.

Anthony Martial returned from a hip injury to take Rashford's place in attack, while Paul Pogba and Donny van de Beek were also recalled to the starting line-up after only recently regaining full fitness.

Solskjaer said Rashford was never likely to feature against Leicester, but he will not stop the 23-year-old from joining up with Gareth Southgate's Three Lions squad for this month's World Cup qualifiers.

"No, he wasn't close [to playing]," Solskjaer told BBC Sport. "We took him off [against Milan] and he thought he'd be ready but, yesterday, he had no chance of walking on his foot.

"The scans show there's an injury there but, of course, we've got players coming back – Anthony and Donny are back in, so there are positives as well.

"The doctor will speak to the English [national team] but I think he'll travel and report [for international duty]. Maybe he'll be fit for them."

England face San Marino next Thursday before further matches against Albania on March 28 and Poland on March 31.

 

 

Thomas Tuchel was not surprised Chelsea failed to keep control of their FA Cup tie with Sheffield United following a grueling run.

Chelsea were rather hanging on for much of the second half at Stamford Bridge on Sunday, though Hakim Ziyech's stoppage-time effort secured a 2-0 win, with Oliver Norwood's own goal having put the Blues ahead after 24 minutes.

The hosts have progressed to their 25th FA Cup semi-final, the third most of any club behind Everton (26), Manchester United and Arsenal (both 30), while they remain unbeaten in Tuchel's 14 matches in charge.

Chelsea have kept clean sheets in each of their last seven games – their best run since December 2005 (also seven) – while of sides within the 'big five' European leagues, only Manchester City (14) have won more games across all competitions than Chelsea (10) since Tuchel took over.

The Blues had fewer shots on target (three compared to four) than the Blades, with David McGoldrick squandering a golden chance to restore parity midway through the second half, but Tuchel revealed he was expecting a drop-off in his team's performance levels.

"It was a tough match, we had a good first half where we controlled everything but in the second we lost control, we were clearly tired," Tuchel told BBC Sport.

"I could see after the 14 matches, I could see us tire, a lack of concentration, many faults and strong opponents in the second half, so we were lucky to keep the clean sheet but I think it was the first time in 14 matches that we were lucky and allowed too many chances.

"It can happen, it's important in the end in the cup to go through. This was the target and we reached it.

"We let them come back, because we had full control in the first half, we had a big chance with Christian [Pulisic] in the second half to finish the game very early and after that we made too many easy mistakes, lost duels and lost a bit of concentration, momentum.

"Honestly I could feel it in training, some days we feel a bit tired and a lack of concentration, it's normal. It gets more problematic to keep the level up. I'm happy we got help from the bench."

It was a sentiment echoed by Pulisic, who turned in a bright performance up front for Chelsea, forcing Aaron Ramsdale into two impressive saves.

"They didn't make it easy on us," the United States international told BBC Sport.

"We knew that they had quality, we had to suffer a bit in the second half but in the end it's another clean sheet and a good performance.

"We definitely have a confident bunch of guys. Obviously, when you go on a streak like this you're feeling really good, we think we can beat anyone, it's a good feeling."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.