Robert Lewandowski scores last-gasp retaken penalty as Barca snatch late win

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Robert Lewandowski scored an injury-time penalty at the second time of asking as Barcelona secured a nail-biting late win over Celta Vigo to stay in touch with the LaLiga title race.

Lewandowski had already given his side the lead with an emphatic finish on the stroke of half-time but Iago Aspas put his struggling side on course for a draw with a deflected effort soon after the restart.

Lewandowski eventually won it from the spot in the seventh minute of added time, but only after the referee ordered a retake when his first attempt was saved by an encroaching Vicente Guaita. The result leaves them two points behind Girona in second and seven shy of rivals and leaders Real Madrid, having played one game more than both.

At the Metropolitano Stadium, fourth-placed Atletico Madrid ran out 5-0 winners over Las Palmas. Marcos Llorente and Angel Correa scored two apiece and Memphis Depay rounded things out in a one-sided contest.

Osasuna beat Cadiz 2-0 and Sevilla took a goalless draw from Valencia on their visit to the Mestalla.

In Ligue 1, departing Paris St Germain striker Kylian Mbappe found himself left out of the starting XI against Nantes only to step off the bench and bury a penalty.

Having announced his summer departure from PSG, Mbappe had to wait until the 62nd minute to see action but was ready to slot home from the spot to put the finishing touch to a 2-0 win. Lucas Hernandez had earlier put the runaway league leaders ahead on the hour.

Elsewhere, Lille moved back into third on goal difference as hat-trick hero Jonathan David put away Le Havre 3-0.

In Germany, Bundesliga’s relentless leaders Bayer Leverkusen banked another three points with a 2-1 away win at Heidenheim.

Xabi Alonso’s title-chasers have now won seven of their last eight matches, with Jeremie Frimpong and Amine Adli on target this time. Tim Kleindienst set up some late tension with an 87th-minute reply but the hosts could not force a second.

Third-placed Stuttgart fought for a 2-1 win at bottom club Darmstadt despite Pascal Stenzel’s red card at the end of the first half. They now sit five points above Borussia Dortmund, with the latter held 1-1 at Wolfsburg after substitute Yannick Gerhardt responded to Niclas Fullkrug’s early effort.

RB Leipzig won 2-0 against Borussia Monchengladbach, Union Berlin scored the only goal away to Hoffenheim and strugglers Mainz recorded a 1-0 win over Augsburg.

Juventus’ hopes of chipping away at Inter’s Serie A lead were stifled as they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at Verona. Juve twice dragged themselves back from a goal down, Dusan Vlahovic’s penalty and Adrien Rabiot’s second-half strike squaring efforts from Michael Folorunsho and Tijjani Noslin.

A point left Massimiliano Allegri’s men nine points behind the Nerazurri, who have a game in hand.

Napoli’s disappointing season continued to underwhelm as they were held 1-1 at home by Genoa. Morten Frendrup put the away side in front and it was not until the 90th minute that substitute Cyril Ngonge grabbed an equaliser.

Mario Pasalic, Teun Koopmeiners and Mitchel Bakker all found the target as Atalanta strengthened their grip on fourth spot at the expense of Sassuolo.

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  • Everton ease worries with victory over relegation rivals Nottingham Forest Everton ease worries with victory over relegation rivals Nottingham Forest

    Everton eased their relegation worries with 2-0 victory over fellow strugglers Nottingham Forest, who once again had reason to feel aggrieved about refereeing decisions going against them.

    A rare goal from Idrissa Gueye was followed by a similar long-range strike from Dwight McNeil on his 200th Premier League appearance to secure a second-successive home win – sandwiching Monday’s 6-0 debacle at Chelsea – and lift Sean Dyche’s side five points clear of the bottom three.

    But Toffees defender Ashley Young lived a charmed life after appearing somewhat fortunate to escape three penalty claims against him, which the visitors felt were all more than justified.

    Both clubs have had cause to rail against the Premier League this season: the hosts had eight points deducted for breaches of profitability and sustainability rules, although they are appealing against the latest docking of two.

    Forest, whose appeal against the four they had taken away will be heard next week, have been so incensed by some of the officiating against them they appointed former referee Mark Clattenburg as a consultant analyst.

    He is likely to be over-employed again after Young’s tackles on Gio Reyna and Callum Hudson-Odoi, whose shot also hit the defender’s arm, were all waved on by referee Anthony Taylor with VAR offering no reason to reverse any of the decisions to leave them a point above the relegation zone.

    Dyche made four alterations from the Stamford Bridge embarrassment but it was not the only change as the manager abandoned his usual matchday uniform of black mackintosh and black suit for training gear.

    But if he was hoping to give off the air of a man confident of his game plan – having said on Friday he had told the players he would not allow them to get him the sack – it was not apparent for almost half-an-hour.

    Former Liverpool defender Neco Williams had an early shot parried by Jordan Pickford; Everton’s first attempt on target – Dominic Calvert-Lewin’s weak header – did not arrive until the 27th minute.

    Their next attempt proved far more valuable, however. Gueye had previously scored one Premier League goal from 99 attempts from outside the area so it was perhaps not surprising Forest’s defence were content to stand off the midfielder when he carried the ball forward previously, working on the assumption Everton had more dangerous players in possession.

    But that tactic was misguided on this occasion as Gueye controlled Ola Aina’s poor header and found the gap low down between Matz Sels’ right hand and the far post from just outside the area.

    It was only the Senegal international’s fifth goal in 187 league appearances across two spells for the club and his first in the league goal at Goodison since February 2017.

    His only other strike this season was a late winner in the 3-2 victory at Crystal Palace in mid-November.

    Pickford’s brilliant save from a Chris Wood shot – five minutes before the interval – ensured that lead was maintained, as did VAR’s insistence Young’s arm was in a natural position from Hudson-Odoi’s volley.

    Calvert-Lewin squandered the chance to give Everton some breathing space early in the second half when he fired wide from James Tarkowski’s knockdown, before Young tested the officials’ judgement once again when he went into the back of Hudson-Odoi.

    Forest were still dictating play when Morgan Gibbs-White guided a shot over Pickford but wide and that miss proved costly when McNeil, like Gueye in the first half, squeezed a low shot in between Sels’ outstretched arm and the post, the ball going in off the inside of the upright.

    Striker Beto, on as a replacement for Calvert-Lewin, departed on a stretcher late on after a clash of heads but even 17 minutes of additional time were not enough for a toothless Forest to launch a comeback.

  • Arijanet Muric backs Burnley to win their battle for Premier League survival Arijanet Muric backs Burnley to win their battle for Premier League survival

    Burnley goalkeeper Arijanet Muric believes his side will win their survival bid and extend their stay in the Premier League.

    The Clarets have been in the bottom three all season but have taken 10 points from their last seven games after Saturday’s 4-1 win at relegation rivals Sheffield United.

    Muric, who made a string of outstanding saves at Bramall Lane to help secure Vincent Kompany’s side their second league win of the year, said: “I think we as a team you can see after every game the energy’s back.

    “We believe in it every day, it’s not just saying it. Everyone looks like we believe in it. We had some good games in the previous games and I think we’ll be good. We’re going to do it I think.”

    Burnley climbed to within three points of 17th-placed Nottingham Forest before their game on Sunday at fellow strugglers Everton.

    Muric made crucial saves to deny Oli McBurnie and Ben Brereton Diaz before Jacob Bruun Larsen and Lorenz Assignon gave the Clarets a barely-deserved 2-0 half-time lead.

    Gus Hamer pulled one back for the Blades but Lyle Foster and Johann Berg Gudmundsson added further goals for the visitors.

    Muric also made a brilliant flying save to keep out James McAtee’s curling effort and when asked about his performance, the Kosovo keeper said: “Yes, it’s my job.

    “Today it went well and I’m happy that I could save some goals and we could take the win.”

    Blades boss Chris Wilder conceded after the game that his side’s season was over as they remain cast adrift at the bottom with five games to go.

    Home goalkeeper Ivo Grbic turned in another unconvincing display as he was beaten too easily by Burnley’s first two scruffy goals and Wilder said he was considering taking him out of the firing line.

    The Croatia international was drafted in during the January transfer window after a series of mistakes from previous number one Wes Foderingham earlier in the season.

    Wilder said: “Obviously we made a decision and it was an opportunity to bring (Grbic) in. There was a reason we brought him in, we weren’t comfortable in that position.

    “Let’s get it right, I don’t think anyone was comfortable in that position. So everyone was clamouring and we thought it was the right thing to do, but obviously it’s not been a great start for the big man.

    “Goals are going in too easily, I don’t think there’s much protection in front of him from a defensive point of view.”

    Asked if Grbic could be dropped for Wednesday’s game at Manchester Unmited, Wilder added: “Well, we’ll make a decision over the weekend. It’s something we talk non-stop about, positions and how we want to set up.”

  • Sheffield Wednesday climb out of relegation zone after victory at Blackburn Sheffield Wednesday climb out of relegation zone after victory at Blackburn

    Sheffield Wednesday climbed out of the Championship relegation zone with a vital 3-1 win at Blackburn.

    Roared on by a 7,321-strong away following, Danny Rohl’s men responded with a deserved victory on an edgy afternoon against fellow strugglers Rovers.

    Josh Windass’ spectacular early lob was cancelled out in the ninth minute by Sammie Szmodics’ well-taken finish – his 31st of the campaign.

    Wednesday took control with two goals in six second-half minutes as Marvin Johnson slotted in to finish a lightning break, before Aynsley Pears endured a moment to forget when he somehow sliced a clearance into his own net.

    The win moves the Owls a point and a place clear of the bottom three after making it four unbeaten.

    Blackburn were brought back down to earth after the win at Leeds and, aside from a second-half chance for Szmodics, barely threatened. They are just three clear of trouble.

    Wednesday’s vociferous away support were rewarded with a sixth-minute opener as Pears was stranded after racing out of his box to head a ball clear but Rovers lost possession and when it fell to Windass, he brilliantly lifted the ball in off the crossbar from 35 yards.

    The prolific Szmodics equalised within three minutes as he latched onto Callum Brittain’s pass and though his first touch was heavy, he confidently lifted the ball over James Beadle from eight yards into the bottom left corner.

    Both sides were disjointed and untidy in possession, but Wednesday should have scored in the 37th minute when Windass turned Anthony Musaba’s low cross wide.

    They went close again when Johnson set up Liam Palmer, who blazed over, while a simple long ball set Szmodics clear in first-half injury time but Bambo Diaby got back to thwart him.

    Wednesday did regain the lead in the 58th minute after winning the ball on the right and Musaba raced down the wing before sending in an inch perfect cross for the onrushing Johnson at the back post who emphatically found the bottom corner from six yards.

    The visitors registered a third six minutes later, but it was all Blackburn’s doing and a horror moment for Pears who, under no pressure at all, completely mis-hit his clearance from Dominic Hyam’s pass and it spun behind him and into his own net.

    Rohl’s men were in control at this point but they were let off when Szmodics fired over from 12 yards, though Musaba went close to capping a superb performance with a goal but Pears somewhat redeemed himself with a terrific reaction save to palm away.

    Will Vaulks’ powerful free-kick forced Pears to parry away in injury time but Wednesday had done enough to register a crucial victory.

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