European football: Leverkusen go eight clear, Juve stumble and Barça get lucky


Bayer Leverkusen scored once in either half to battle past hosts Heidenheim 2-1 on Saturday and open up an eight-point gap at the top of the table while also equalling a German record of 32 matches without defeat across all competitions. The visitors snatched the lead on the stroke of half-time with Jeremie Frimpong slotting in with a slightly deflected effort.

Florian Wirtz hit the crossbar in the 77th minute but then delivered a superb assist three minutes later for Amine Adli to stab in and make it 2-0. Heidenheim reduced the deficit in the 87th through Tim Kleindienst. Xabi Alonso’s team have yet to lose a match this season – both in domestic and European competitions – and have equalled Bayern Munich’s record run of 32 unbeaten matches from 2020. Leverkusen are top on 58 points, eight ahead of Bayern, who take on VfL Bochum on Sunday.

Robert Lewandowski’s penalty seven minutes into added time earned Barcelona a fortunate 2-1 win at Celta Vigo in La Liga.

The Polish forward gave Barça the lead with a shot from the edge of the box just before half-time but Iago Aspas levelled in the 47th minute with a deflected strike past keeper Marc-André ter Stegen.

Celta took control and were pushing for victory before defender Fran Beltrán fouled Lamine Yamal in the 93rd minute and Lewandowski converted at the second attempt. Vicente Guaita saved his first effort, but the VAR check showed the keeper was in front of the goalline before the ball left the spot and Lewandowski tucked away his second effort.

Marcos Llorente and Angel Correa both scored twice to help a depleted Atlético Madrid thrash visitors Las Palmas 5-0 in La Liga on Saturday, as Diego Simeone rested key players before a midweek Champions League last-16 tie at Inter Milan.

Atlético moved up to 51 points. They are five points behind second-placed Girona and 10 adrift of leaders Real Madrid, both of whom have a game in hand.

Barcekona’s players run to celebrate with Robert Lewandowski as Celta Vigo’s rue their luck. Photograph: Quality Sport Images/Getty Images

Despite French forward Antoine Griezmann being on Simeone’s list of rested players, Atlético dominated proceedings and made the most of their chances against a usually solid Las Palmas who arrived in the capital with the second-best defensive record in La Liga with 20 goals conceded in 24 games, behind only Real Madrid’s 15.

“What we rehearsed over the last few days went very well. We knew that Las Palmas played the way they always tried to play, and that’s how the first goals came – we robbed them of some balls that we were able to convert,” Correa told DAZN. “That made the game easier.”

Kylian Mbappé was left on the bench in the week he told Paris Saint-Germain he was going to leave in the summer but came on to seal victory against Nantes.

Lucas Hernandez opened the scoring with PSG’s first shot on target in the 60th minute – a long-range strike that the luckless Moussa Sissoko deflected into the top corner. Mbappé doubled the lead from the penalty spot, the France striker’s 21st league goal of the campaign reinforcing his position as Ligue 1’s top scorer this season. The win extended PSG’s unbeaten league run to 17 matches and left Luis Enrique’s side 14 clear of second-placed Nice, who lost 1-0 at Olympique Lyonnais on Friday.

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“It was a tough first half but the attitude of the players was excellent,” the manager said. “In the second half we were better with more attacking presence in the box, it was difficult but we were fortunate to score the first goal.”

In Serie A, Juventus’s fading title hopes suffered another blow after they had to come from behind twice to rescue a 2-2 draw at relegation-threatened Verona. Juve, who previously suffered back-to-back 1-0 defeats against Udinese and Inter, have now picked up only two points in their last four matches.

“We have to improve in choosing the last pass and put aside the post-Empoli dross,” Massimiliano Allegri told DAZN. “That draw had an impact on the psychological level, it’s no coincidence that two defeats and another draw followed. Until mathematics gives us certainty, it would be a mistake to think that we have already qualified for the next Champions League.”

Napoli rescued a point with a 90th-minute goal by substitute Cyril Ngonge as they struggled to a 1-1 home draw with mid-table Genoa. Napoli, who were beaten 1-0 at Milan last weekend and have shown little of last season’s title-winning form recently, are now winless in four of their six league games since the start of the year.

Walter Mazzarri’s side provisionally moved up to ninth in the standings on 36 points with a game in hand, and are six points behind fourth-placed Atalanta, who host Sassuolo later on Saturday.


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