Real Madrid extended their unbeaten streak this season to 15 games across all competitions with a 3-0 LaLiga victory against Elche, despite seeing three goals disallowed by VAR.

Federico Valverde opened the scoring with a fine strike from outside the box, his sixth goal of the season, with Karim Benzema and Marco Asensio sealing the result in the second half.

The Frenchman's goal came after he had seen three attempts disallowed by VAR for offside, which could have been decisive had Carlos Clerc headed home a glorious opportunity for an equaliser.

Andriy Lunin's save kept him at bay, however, with Benzema's goal then ensuring there would be no comeback and Asensio adding further gloss to the scoreline late on.

A frantic start saw Benzema tap home after six minutes, though the effort was disallowed for offside, but Valverde's strike just five minutes later did count, smashing home from outside the box after Vinicius Junior's shot was deflected into his path.

Three minutes before the half hour mark, Benzema was again frustrated by VAR after a second goal for the freshly crowned Ballon d'Or winner was chalked off, leaving Elche still in the game at the interval.

Benzema's frustrations would continue in the second period, the Frenchman seeing a goal disallowed for the third time by VAR for offside in the build-up on the hour mark.

Clerc should have made Real regret those spurned opportunities heading into the final 20 minutes but his header from close range was kept out by Lunin, who until that point had little to do throughout. 

Any hope of a late comeback for the hosts was quelled when Benzema finally got his goal, playing a neat one-two with Rodrygo and slotting home, with Asensio then delicately cushioning a volley over Edgar Badia to extend the advantage.

An Eric Maxim Choupo-Moting double and goals from Joshua Kimmich, Jamal Musiala and Alphonso Davies helped Bayern Munich to a 5-2 comeback victory over Augsburg to seal their place in the DFB-Pokal third round.

Mads Pedersen put Augsburg in front, but Choupo-Moting scored either side of Kimmich's beautiful finish to put the Bundesliga champions 3-1 up.

An own goal from Dayot Upamecano caused some fears of a Bayern collapse, but Musiala and Davies struck late to make sure of the victory.

Bayern's return to form continues as they reach the next round of a competition they have won on 20 occasions, 14 more than any other team.

The hosts started brightly and took the lead after nine minutes, Pedersen rifling superbly into the bottom right corner from 25 yards out.

Davies missed a great chance to equalise when he fired straight at Tomas Koubek, before the Augsburg goalkeeper also denied efforts from Musiala and Serge Gnabry.

However, Koubek did not cover himself in glory for Bayern's leveller, as Choupo Moting's drive from a tight angle sneaked in at the near post to make it 1-1.

Koubek somewhat redeemed himself shortly after, making a brilliant save to paw away Sadio Mane's goal-bound shot as the visitors put increasing pressure on the Augsburg defence.

Gnabry hit the bar with a deflected effort just after half-time, before Kimmich's curler from the edge of the box flew in to give Bayern the lead.

Choupo-Moting then took advantage of a defensive mix-up to smash home Bayern's third, seemingly putting the match to bed.

And despite Augsburg pulling a goal back when Upamecano diverted into his own net, Davies produced some sublime skill to tee up Musiala to bend home before the Canadian turned goalscorer as Bayern made sure of their progress.

Barcelona president Joan Laporta has been fined €602 for storming into the referee's changing room after his team's 3-1 defeat to Real Madrid in El Clasico on Sunday.

First-half goals from Karim Benzema and Federico Valverde left Barcelona facing a 2-0 deficit at the break, but a Ferran Torres strike with seven minutes to play gave the visitors hope.

That was soon extinguished though as a VAR review led to the award of a Madrid penalty after Eric Garcia tripped Rodrygo, who scored from the spot to secure three points for his side and condemn Xavi's men to defeat.

The result sparked a furious reaction from Laporta, who confronted referee Jose Maria Sanchez Martinez in the official's changing room after the match.

The Competition Committee fined him on Wednesday, citing article 133 of the disciplinary code, which relates to non-compliance with orders, as well as article 255, which stipulates those who access the changing rooms when they are not allowed to face potential sanctions.

Sunday's defeat saw Madrid leapfrog Barca to the top of LaLiga, another blow for Laporta's team after their Champions League hopes were left hanging by a thread following a 3-3 home draw against Inter last week.

Cody Gakpo says it was "a shame" for him, Manchester United and PSV Eindhoven that his proposed Premier League transfer did not go through, calling the English club "one of the biggest" around the globe.

The Netherlands international was heavily linked with a transfer from the Eredivisie outfit to join compatriot Erik ten Hag following the Dutchman's arrival in the Old Trafford dugout.

But a pursuit of the winger ultimately faltered, while late-window moves to both Leeds United and Southampton were ultimately scotched as Gakpo chose to remain with his boyhood club.

Now, the 23-year-old has reflected on his transfer saga, acknowledge the conversations he held with Ten Hag, while admitting it was a stressful time as he mulled his future.

"I was close to leaving, I spoke to Erik ten Hag a few times at Manchester United," Gakpo told The Times. "In the end, the deal didn't go through.

"[It] was a shame, for me and my development, and because Manchester United is one of the biggest clubs in the world. Also, [it was a shame] for PSV, because to transfer a player to Manchester United is a good thing for the club.

"It ended about a week before the end of the transfer window and in that week I had to decide if I would go to Leeds or Southampton. In the end I stayed, but it was a stressful period."

The off-field distractions of the transfer window certainly do not seem to have adversely affected Gakpo's performance, having scored nine goals and contributed seven assists in 10 Eredivisie games already this season.

That being said, he has not ruled out a future switch to the English top-flight, acknowledging he would mull any potential offer if it came knocking once again.

"I always said if I stay here, it's my childhood club. It's not a punishment," he added. "I like being here, I want to win trophies here and do my best for the club.

"But if I got the chance to go to the Premier League or something, of course I would have to consider that option. At that time, it was hectic for me, but I recovered pretty quickly."

Xavi says under-fire midfielder Sergio Busquets remains "vital" to Barcelona, insisting his captain will make his own decision on whether to stay at Camp Nou next season.

Busquets was criticised for his performance as Barcelona fell to a 3-1 defeat to Clasico rivals Real Madrid on Sunday, having been replaced by Gavi on the hour mark at the Santiago Bernabeu.

The future of the 34-year-old, who has won 30 pieces of silverware during his decorated 14-year spell with the club, has been the subject of speculation, with his contract set to expire at the end of the season.

Xavi, however, still views the defensive midfielder as a crucial component in his side, saying: "When you lose, we are all exposed. For me, Busquets is still important. 

"There will be games in which he plays less or doesn't play, but he'll still be vital. Busi and the other captains add up. 

"We have a healthy dressing room and that makes me feel that things will end up working out. There's a good atmosphere and positivity." 

Reports have suggested Major League Soccer outfit Inter Miami are keen to take Busquets to the United States upon the expiration of his deal, and Xavi says his former team-mate will have the final say on his future.

"His contract ends, it's a reality and we'll see what happens throughout the season, how he feels and how he performs," Xavi added.

"It's a very personal decision of his. I also left Barcelona despite having an offer to renew. Nico [Gonzalez] and [Miralem] Pjanic decided to leave. 

"We have options; Frenkie [de Jong], Franck Kessie, or to try a central defender, which would not be the most advisable thing. That's why Busi is so important."

Barcelona are back in league action when they host Villarreal on Thursday, when they will bid to avenge May's 2-0 loss to the Yellow Submarine, their only defeat to Villarreal in the duo's last 26 league meetings (W19 D6).

Jose Gaya sees himself as a one-club man after signing a new deal with Valencia, as he outlined his hope to represent the club at the World Cup.

Gaya has been a regular in the first team since graduating from Valencia's academy in 2012 and has gone on to make 239 LaLiga appearances.

Named captain in 2020 following Dani Parejo's transfer to Villarreal, Gaya signed a new deal on Wednesday to keep him at the club until the end of June 2027.

The 27-year-old made his international debut in 2018 and hopes to be a part of Luis Enrique's squad for Qatar, though he has the likes of Marcos Alonso and Jordi Alba to contend with.

"Whenever I go away with the national team I try to represent Spain and I think it's the best a player can aspire to do," Gaya told Valencia's official website.

"The squad list hasn't come out yet, but I'm going to give it my all at Valencia to be able to be there."

When asked about any potential further renewals in the future, he added: "I would be excited to play 1,000 more games, but my mind is not thinking at that moment. I also have to earn that renewal and I will do my best for that."

Having been a part of Valencia's Copa del Rey success in 2019, Gaya hopes that in the years to come he can play a role in taking the club back to the top. 

He said: "In recent years I have been able to play in two finals and my ambition is to be able to continue at Valencia and work to be able to take us back to the top positions."

Xavi knows he must deliver success at Barcelona to keep his job but insists: "I'm not going to hide."

The Blaugrana have endured a miserable week, drawing 3-3 with Inter in the Champions League and then losing 3-1 at Real Madrid in the Clasico.

Barca are now relying on favours to advance in Europe and have been knocked off top spot in LaLiga.

Still, coach Xavi is not changing his outlook, reiterating on Wednesday "the goal is to win titles".

That is the expectation within the club, and Xavi knows the consequences for failure – although he was amused by the number of messages he received after Sunday's result.

"I think we've made a team to win titles," he said ahead of Thursday's game against Villarreal.

"I am excited, people give me encouragement. I have a mobile with so many messages that it seems like a family member has died.

"The transition was in the last half season. If we don't succeed, as the president said, there will be consequences, especially for me.

"I'm here to solve problems, and if we don't win, another coach will come. I'm not going to hide."

Asked when he might lose his job, Xavi replied: "Anytime, tomorrow. On the street, people raise their fists at me. But I am positive.

"We have lost at Madrid, and we can be knocked out in Europe. Well, I will keep fighting."

There was at least success on an individual level on Monday, as Gavi scooped the Kopa Trophy, Robert Lewandowski the Muller Trophy and Alexia Putellas the Ballon d'Or Feminin.

But Xavi wants to build on those "exciting" triumphs by repeating them as a team.

"For me, [Gavi's] award is more than deserved," the coach said. "I take this opportunity to congratulate Alexia and Robert Lewandowski.

"These awards mean that Barca is more alive than ever. It's exciting to see our players win individual prizes. Now the collective prizes are missing."

Chelsea have reportedly identified two major targets for the January transfer window, with plans to secure RB Leipzig's Christopher Nkunku and Lille's Jonathan David.

Nkunku has been in brilliant form over the past 18 months. He netted 35 goals in 52 club appearances last season and was rewarded with his international debut for France in March. Having been equally as brilliant for Leipzig this season, the former Paris Saint-Germain attacker is set for a breakout World Cup campaign with the reigning champions.

David will also be at the World Cup, representing Canada in only their second qualification for a finals, and the country's first since 1986. With Lille, the 22-year-old has nine goals and two assists in 11 Ligue 1 games this season.

Chelsea's interest in Nkunku has been well-established for months, while David is newly on their radar, and both could be wearing blue by the end of January.

 

TOP STORY – CHELSEA PLAN TO SPLASH THE CASH

News emerged in recent weeks that Chelsea were able to conduct a preliminary medical on Nkunku in the recent transfer window, and despite Leipzig's wishes to retain his services until the end of the season, The Mirror is reporting Chelsea are trying to get a deal done in January for a price in the range of £52million.

Meanwhile, Jeunesfooteux claims it will cost Chelsea at least £60m to tempt Lille into letting go of David, as the Canadian is still under contract until June 2025.

The Mirror's report adds Chelsea are hoping to land Brighton and Hove Albion's Leandro Trossard – who head coach Graham Potter developed an affinity for during his time with the Seagulls. They could face competition from Atletico Madrid, however.

 

ROUND-UP:

– Calciomercato is reporting Juventus have an interest in Atletico midfielder Rodrigo De Paul and Eintracht Frankfurt centre-back Evan Ndicka.

– According to The Evening Standard, highly desired Serie A talents Milan Skriniar of Inter and Rafael Leao of Milan appear likely to sign contract extensions with their respective clubs.

– Sky Sports Germany claims Bayern Munich remain heavily interested in Tottenham striker Harry Kane, who will have 18 months remaining on his contract when the January transfer window arrives.

– Napoli winger Hirving Lozano is likely to leave the club in January, according to Calciomercato, as his contract demands are said to be more than the Italian side are comfortable with.

– The Guardian is reporting Manchester United are delaying their contract decisions for David de Gea and Marcus Rashford as Erik ten Hag wants to see more before potentially offering extensions.

Neymar hailed the "deserved" choice of Karim Benzema as Ballon d'Or winner, after the Real Madrid star claimed the prestigious honour for the first time on Monday.

But the Paris Saint-Germain attacker criticised the eighth-place finish for Benzema's Madrid team-mate Vinicius Junior, with the Brazil international declaring his fellow Selecao star should have finished in the top three at a "minimum".

Benzema was crowned the world's greatest player for the 2021-22 season at a ceremony earlier this week, succeeding Neymar's PSG club-mate Lionel Messi while beating out Bayern Munich's Sadio Mane to top spot.

It came after a campaign that saw him lead Carlo Ancelotti's side to success in LaLiga and the Champions League, scoring 44 goals and adding 15 assists.

Neymar, who was not nominated this year, took to social media a day after the presentation to hail Benzema's victory, but added that Vinicius, another key Madrid star last term, deserved greater recognition.

"Benzema deserved [it - he's the] crack!" the attacker wrote on Twitter. "Now, for Vini Jr to be eighth - it's not possible! Minimum top three!"

After arguably the toughest domestic season of his career to date last term, Neymar looks to be back to his best this season, with nine goals and seven assists in Ligue 1 so far.

Benzema meanwhile has struggled with fitness issues, restricting the 34-year-old to just four goals and one assist in LaLiga.

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone felt his side paid the price for "not being forceful" enough as a 92nd-minute Radamel Falcao penalty earned Rayo Vallecano a late 1-1 draw on Tuesday.

Alvaro Morata's first-half strike looked to be enough to give Atletico their fourth straight LaLiga win, despite missing a number of chances to add a second goal.

They were left to rue not taking those opportunities, as the referee awarded a penalty after Jose Gimenez handled in the box from Randy Nteka's header, before Falcao fired home the penalty to deny his former side the win.

Simeone was frustrated over his side's inability to kill the game off, telling reporters: "We had good goal situations to score the second and close out the match.

"The second was not scored and we remain in a situation in which they can equalise.

"In the second half we had a lot of counter-attacks to finish the game, we didn't convert the much-needed second goal and we lost two important points."

The two dropped points Simeone referenced would have put Atletico just three points behind leaders Real Madrid, and the 52-year-old feels his players must be more ruthless in future.

When asked what his team did wrong against Rayo, Simeone replied: "Not being forceful.

"If you come up against the goalkeeper several times, it has to be a goal.

"You have to improve the forcefulness and train it and when that situation appears, there is the mettle to finish."

N'Golo Kante will miss France's World Cup campaign after undergoing an operation on his hamstring, Chelsea have confirmed.

Kante suffered the injury in his Chelsea's 2-2 home draw with Tottenham in August and has not featured for club or country since.

Chelsea have now established Kante will play no part in France's defence of their World Cup crown, which starts with their opening group game against Australia on November 22.

In a statement on the club website, Chelsea said: "N'Golo Kante has undergone an operation on his hamstring injury.

"The midfielder visited a specialist with the club’s medical department to explore the options for his rehabilitation approach and it was mutually agreed for N'Golo to have surgery to repair the damage.

"Following a successful operation, N'Golo is now expected to be sidelined for four months."

Kante was a key member of the France side that won the 2018 World Cup, playing a part in all seven games as Les Bleus lifted the biggest prize in international football for the second time.

Reece James, Kante's Chelsea team-mate, faces a race against time to make England's squad for the tournament after suffering a knee injury against Milan.

Radamel Falcao's 92nd-minute penalty frustrated former club Atletico Madrid as they were held to a 1-1 draw by Rayo Vallecano on Tuesday.

Atletico looked to be on course for a fourth straight LaLiga win after Alvaro Morata netted a first-time finish from their only shot on target of the opening 45 minutes.

Diego Simeone's men protected that advantage until the final seconds of normal time, when Jose Gimenez handled and then, following a short delay, Falcao netted from the spot.

A point at home leaves Atletico still third, but they lost further ground on champions and leaders Real Madrid, who are five points better off with a game in hand.

Atletico were ahead within 20 minutes, Antoine Griezmann winning the ball high up the pitch before delivering an inch-perfect cross to Morata, who exquisitely swept past Stole Dimitrievski.

Axel Witsel then dragged a shot wide of the left post as Simeone's side looked to add a quick second, but Rayo improved as the half continued, and Ivan Balliu stung the palms of Ivo Grbic with a fierce drive before the break.

Pathe Ciss had a decent chance to level soon after the interval but could only head wide, before Morata nodded off target at the other end.

Sergio Camello sent a low effort agonisingly past the right post as Rayo pushed for an equaliser, and it appeared as though Grbic's save from Falcao when one-on-one would deny the visitors.

However, Gimenez handled from Randy Nteka's header with time almost up, allowing Falcao to snatch a point against his old side.

Paul Pogba returned to training with Juventus on Tuesday just over a month before France's first World Cup game.

The midfielder's second spell with Juve got off to a nightmare start when he suffered a lesion to the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

That injury blow has prevented Pogba from making a competitive appearance for the Bianconeri following his Manchester United exit.

Pogba was back training with his Juve team-mates on Tuesday, however, with the club revealing he worked "partially" with the squad as he was pictured in action.

That is good news for both the Serie A giants and France five weeks before the holders start their defence of the World Cup against Australia in Qatar.

Confirmation of Pogba's return came after Les Bleus head coach Didier Deschamps stated he would need to be sure the 29-year-old is fully fit before naming him in his squad.

Speaking after attending Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris, Deschamps told Sport Mediaset: "His programme is going well. The important thing is that he is cured, I think he will be, and this is already a good thing.

"Then there will be the question of whether he looks athletic, since he hasn't played for a long time. 

"But I repeat, before thinking about whether I call him up, he must be healed."

Didier Deschamps is optimistic Paul Pogba will be fit to feature at the World Cup next month, amid reports the midfielder is set to return to training with Juventus.

Pogba has yet to make a competitive appearance for the Bianconeri since returning from Manchester United in July, and is a doubt for the tournament in Qatar after undergoing surgery to solve a lesion to the lateral meniscus in his right knee.

The 2018 World Cup winner initially opted to treat the injury with conservative therapy, which his doctor Roberto Rossi subsequently said had worsened his condition. 

On Tuesday, with little over a month to go before France's Group D opener against Australia, Italian media reports suggested Pogba's return to Juventus training was imminent. 

Speaking after attending Monday's Ballon d'Or ceremony in Paris, Deschamps told Sport Mediaset he was upbeat concerning the midfielder's progress, saying: "His programme is going well. 

"The important thing is that he is cured, I think he will be, and this is already a good thing.

"Then there will be the question whether he looks athletic, since he hasn't played for a long time. 

"But I repeat, before thinking about whether I call him up, he must be healed."

Pogba has won 91 caps and hit 11 goals for France since making his international debut in 2013, and scored Les Bleus' third goal in their 4-2 win over Croatia in the 2018 World Cup final.

Meanwhile, Deschamps saw another of his France stars crowned the best player in the world on Monday, as Karim Benzema won the Ballon d'Or for the first time in his career.

Asked about Benzema's triumph, Deschamps added: "He deserves it. It is an important thing for all of French football, that of the national team and the clubs."

Frank Lampard's focus is on getting Dominic Calvert-Lewin fit and firing for Everton as he looks to make a late push for England's World Cup squad.

Calvert-Lewin enjoyed a brilliant 2020-21 campaign, scoring 21 times. That tally included a hot streak of eight goals in seven games to start the season, with his form seeing him make his England debut, scoring four goals in as many starts for the Three Lions, the most by a player since Kerry Dixon in 1985-86.

He was part of England's Euro 2020 squad but the 25-year-old missed much of last term through injury, returning to score the vital goal to keep Everton up in a 3-2 comeback win over Crystal Palace in May, only to suffer a knee injury on the eve of the new season.

With Calvert-Lewin limited to two substitute appearances in Everton's last two matches – defeats to Manchester United and Tottenham respectively – his hopes of making Gareth Southgate's squad for Qatar appear slim, especially with Brentford's Ivan Toney in rich form.

Lampard acknowledges time may be against his striker but is not giving up hope.

"We've got to be careful with Dominic coming back, making sure we gradually bring him in but as quickly as possible," he told reporters ahead of Everton's trip to Newcastle United. 

"We're definitely getting to the stage now where we can hopefully get more minutes out of him.

"It's human nature and a natural mentality of top-level players, they want to play for their countries. The first thing is you play well for your club to get there.

"Because of Dominic's injuries it's put him in this position. My feeling is if he'd been fit and playing regularly he'd be making that case.

"It's step by step for us, Dominic is an England player, he's been in that squad – can we get him fit for us first, see what he can deliver for us, then of course he gets himself into that question."

One Everton player certain to be going to the World Cup if fit is Jordan Pickford. 

The goalkeeper enjoyed a strong start to the season, but made a blunder in Saturday's defeat to Spurs, spilling Matt Doherty's shot and bringing down England team-mate Harry Kane to compound his error.

When asked if he had spoken to Pickford about the mistake, Lampard replied: "No need. He's saved us many times. 

"He's a high, high level of goalkeeper, top bracket in the world for me."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.