Thursday 23 November 2017

Barcelona ship another defeat

Barcelona's Lionel Messi (L) and Granada's Tiago Ilori fights for the ball
Barcelona's Lionel Messi (L) and Granada's Tiago Ilori fights for the ball

Barcelona compounded its exit from the Champions League by losing 1-0 at Granada last night, missing the chance to take the provisional lead of the Spanish league.

Granada's Yacine Brahimi scored what proved to be the winner in the 16th minute and goalkeeper Orestis Karnezis made saves to deny Lionel Messi and Neymar amid a plethora of scoring chances that Barcelona failed to finish.

Barcelona now have to regroup from back-to-back defeats before they play Real Madrid in the Copa del Rey final in Valencia.

Barcelona peppered Granada's area with crosses and shots but went no closer in the first half than Neymar's long-range attempt in the 30th minute.

PEP SUFFERS BIGGEST LOSS

Borussia Dortmund reclaimed some of the Bundesliga's bragging rights after crushing champions Bayern Munich 3-0 yesterday with a stellar performance to claim victory in the league's showcase encounter.

Just three days after they beat Real Madrid 2-0 but were eliminated in the Champions League last eight 3-2 on aggregate, Dortmund confirmed their battling spirit by inflicting the heaviest defeat in coach Pep Guardiola's career.

For the Bavarians, already crowned German champions, the defeat was their second in a row in the league after a record 53-game unbeaten run in former Barcelona coach Guardiola's first season in charge.

GERS SHOCKED IN SEMI-FINAL

A horror mistake by Rangers stand-in goalkeeper Steve Simonsen let Dundee United seal their place in the William Hill Scottish Cup final as the Tannadice side ran out 3-1 winners at Ibrox.

The Glasgow club's 35-year-old English keeper was called into action for only the second time this season after Cammy Bell suffered concussion, but it was to prove a nightmare semi-final outing.

With the League One champions trailing by 2-1 and looking for a leveller, Simonsen was dispossessed by United's Nadir Ciftci after receiving a Richard Foster back-pass to allow the United striker to walk in an easy third with minutes remaining.

There had been little between the sides up until that point, with United clinging to their slender lead.

After a positive start from Ally McCoist's Rangers – who had been heavily criticised for losing the Ramsdens Cup final to Raith Rovers at Easter Road last week – goals from midfielder Stuart Armstrong and wide-man Gary Mackay-Steven put the Taysiders two ahead before Light Blues defender Steven Smith pulled one back before the interval with a free-kick.

HILLSBOROUGH'S MOVING TRIBUTE

Sheffield Wednesday and Blackburn shared the points in a six-goal Championship thriller at Hillsborough on a day when English football's biggest tragedy was remembered.

Jordan Rhodes, Craig Conway and Michael Keane scored for the visitors with Lewis Buxton and Atdhe Nuhiu, with a double, replying for Wednesday in front of 22,792 fans in the Sky Bet Championship.

The day marked the 25th anniversary of the deaths of 96 Liverpool fans who had been killed in a crush inside Hillsborough at the FA Cup semi-final with Nottingham Forest on April 15, 1989.

Wednesday coach Stuart Gray and Blackburn manager Gary Bowyer had laid wreaths behind the goal in front of the West Stand and a Liverpool shirt and scarf were also placed there.

Wednesday had marked the day by changing 96 blue seats to white and placing a single red rose on each on the lower tier of the stand at the same end of the ground.

QPR PULL AWAY TO DENY FOREST

QPR got back to winning ways and consolidated their place in the Sky Bet Championship play-offs with a thrilling 5-2 victory over Nottingham Forest.

Rangers twice threw away the lead, given to them by Yossi Benayoun – after just 65 seconds – and Junior Hoilett, when they gifted Jamaal Lascelles and Matt Derbyshire equalisers.

But just as their inability to defend corners looked set to cost them, late goals from Nedum Onuoha, Ravel Morrison and Bobby Zamora secured a first win in four for the hosts.

They should now at least be assured of a top-six finish, which is more than can be said for Forest after a 12th game without a win.

WOLVES RETURN TO SECOND TIER

Wolves clinched promotion to the Sky bet Championship with a 2-0 win at 10-man Crewe in Sky Bet League One with Kevin McDonald and Dave Edwards grabbing the goals.

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