• Real beat Betis 2-1 while leaders Barça saw off Eibar 3-0• PSG’s lead now 13 points; Fàbregas makes Monaco debutReal Madrid snatched a 2-1 victory at Real Betis thanks to a late free-kick from Dani Ceballos that returned the European champions to the to
Real Madrid snatched a 2-1 victory at Real Betis thanks to a late free-kick from Dani Ceballos that returned the European champions to the top four.
Luka Modric had given Real the lead in the 18th minute, lashing a loose ball home from the edge of the area.
Santiago Solari’s side were missing seven first-team players and lost Karim Benzema to injury at the end of the first half. They were pegged back by Betis’s Sergio Canales who levelled in the 67th minute.
But the substitute Ceballos, a former Betis player, secured a vital win with two minutes remaining, sending his free-kick outside the Betis wall and into the corner.
The victory took Real Madrid above Alavés and into fourth place on 33 points, although they are still 10 points behind Barcelona who beat Eibar 3-0.
Playing at the Nou Camp Lionel Messi became the first player to score 400 La Liga goals. Luis Suárez struck twice as Barça maintained a five-point advantage over Atlético Madrid at the top of the table.
Messi’s remarkable landmark strike extended his own La Liga record - Cristiano Ronaldo is the only other player to have scored more than 300 goals in the Spanish top flight - and came in his 435th appearance in the competition.
Paris St Germain’s manager, Thomas Tuchel, said his side’s 3-0 victory over 10-man Amiens was “deserved” as they extended their lead at the top of Ligue 1 to 13 points. Edinson Cavani gave PSG the lead from a spot-kick after a goalless first half while Amiens managed only one shot on target in the 90 minutes.
Khaled Adénon was sent off for a second bookable offence after he brought down the marauding Kylian Mbappé just before the French forward added his side’s second goal minutes later. The Brazilian defender Marquinhos added a third to wrap up the game after being expertly set up by Julian Draxler.
Cesc Fàbregas made his debut for Monaco two days after leaving Chelsea in a drab 1-1 draw at Marseille. Thierry Henry’s side remain one place off the bottom.
In the Coppa Italia goals from Federico Bernardeschi and Moise Kean took Juventus into the quarter-finals with a 2-0 away win at Bologna. Joining them are Milan, who knocked out Sampdoria 2-0 after extra time thanks to a double from Patrick Cutrone, and Lazio, who beat the Serie C side Novara 4-1 with goals from Luis Alberto, Ciro Immobile (two) and Sergej Milinkovic-Savic .
The Napoli striker Arkadiusz Milik scored one goal and provided an assist for another as his side beat Sassuolo 2-0.
In Portugal the leaders Porto were held 0-0 by Sporting CF.
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European round-up: Real seal late win as Messi reaches 400 La Liga goals
Marseille’s recent travails continued at the Vélodrome on Sunday during and after their disappointing 1-1 draw with Monaco. The game not only underscored issues in terms of their squad building, but also their fans’ heightened level of dissatisfaction. Marseille’s failure to invest in the summer has left the club lacking depth, at least in the opinion of their manager Rudi Garcia.
Not for the first time this season, Garcia picked Luiz Gustavo in central defence. This had been a matter of necessity in the past, as Rolando had been unavailable, but on Sunday Adil Rami sat on the bench while Luiz Gustavo partnered Rolando. Quite apart from what that says about Garcia’s confidence in his defenders, it also robbed the hosts of having their best midfielder playing in his preferred position.
With Cesc Fàbregas proving influential in central midfield for Monaco on his debut, the decision to install Gustavo as a makeshift centre-back was either a marked riposte to Frank McCourt’s tight purse-strings (and the failure of sporting director Andoni Zubizarreta to bring in players of any quality with the money that was spent) or the ultimate in quixotic foolhardiness on the manager’s part.
Things were the same in Marseille’s attack, where Lucas Ocampos, who has played most often as a left-sided wingback this season, was selected to lead the line while three recognised strikers (Kostas Mitroglou, Valére Germain and Clinton N’Jie) were all left on the bench. N’Jie and Germain did come on, but Garcia’s principled stance seemed increasingly imprudent as it forced other players into unfamiliar roles. Morgan Sanson, the club’s exciting box-to-box midfielder and perhaps the only sensible purchase made in the McCourt era, cut a forlorn figure wide on the left of a 4-2-3-1, while Maxime Lopez, who scored the hosts’ opener, is never a defensive midfielder, especially when forced to work alongside the static Kevin Strootman.
Whatever the message Garcia may have been trying to send, it was poorly received by the club’s fans. They were apoplectic that their team failed to beat a struggling Monaco side who were missing an entire XI through injury. Even the return of Rony Lopes was tempered by the late withdrawal of Radamel Falcao through illness. Failing to beat a rival is frustrating, but to do so at home while that rival is at their weakest is unforgivable for the Vélodrome crowd.
That crowd, such as it was (the stadium was roughly 10,000 short of capacity), became the main story after the match. The result taken in isolation was far from disastrous – especially with Monaco looking reinvigorated by the arrivals of Fàbregas and new centre-back Naldo – but Marseille are without a win in eight matches so their fans can hardly be blamed.
Frustration over a Florian Thauvin goal being ruled out by VAR fanned the flames of their discontent, but a pointed banner in the stands that read “Humiliated in Europe, the Coupe de France and the Coupe de La Ligue – directors, players, manager, you are the shame of Marseille,” made clear that fans were infuriated by more than the evening’s display. Marseille are well known for their vociferous support; the Vélodrome is frequently marked as one of France’s most intimidating atmospheres, but that same passion that runs so deep in supporting the club was clearly being brought to bear on the fans’ frustrations as well.
After the match, fans remonstrated with the players, who, to their credit, went over to the base of the stands to hear their grievances. Steve Mandanda and Gustavo were front and centre for these exchanges, but more telling was the distance kept by Garcia, who seemed reluctant to be even outside of the tunnel at full-time as calls for his dismissal had been chanted at various points during the match. Jacques-Henri Eyraud, the club’s president, who made headlines with a display of frustration in the dressing room following last weekend’s elimination from the Coupe de France at the hands of amateur side Andrézieux remained safely ensconced in his box, even as rumours swirled about him potentially being replaced given the club’s form.
Eyraud’s fiery dissatisfaction last Sunday was meant to be a call to arms but it increasingly reeks of desperation. It is difficult to see how the situation can be resolved, at least without a changing of the guard. Whether that means an exit for Eyraud, Garcia or players remains to be seen, but Marseille’s paralysing stasis must have an end, and soon, if the “Champions Project” is to survive.
Ligue 1 talking points
• After Olivier Dall’Oglio’s sacking over Christmas, Antoine Kombouaré’s reign at Dijon began with a creditable draw with Montpellier. Having clung to the freewheeling style that produced Ligue 1’s fifth best home record last term, Dall’Oglio’s Dijon slumped to a sole victory in 15 league games after three opening wins. With relegation lurking, the club acted. Dall’Oglio’s seven years in charge should still be seen as a success though. He guided the small Burgundy club to Ligue 1 for just the second time, playing attractive football in the process. Hopefully his stock will have risen sufficiently for a Ligue 1 return. Kombouaré, who was himself sacked by Guingamp last month, could very well save Dijon, but it will not be nearly as much fun to watch.
• With investment to come, Bordeaux’s future seems bright, but their present remains in doubt. An early European exit, Gustavo Poyet’s bizarre sacking and fluctuating league form have left Les Girondins adrift and fans frustrated. Compounding their malaise, key forward François Kamano, 22, has attracted significant interest from Monaco this week and his head has undoubtedly been turned. A little too desperate to impress, his wayward display played into the hands of Le Havre, who knocked Bordeaux out of the Coupe de France last weekend. When the sides met again in the Coupe de la Ligue quarter-finals on Wednesday night, manager Éric Bedouet decided to leave him out as he had “a lot on his mind”. With Bordeaux demanding a €30m fee, a deal remains distant. Kamano, who started their 1-0 defeat to Nice on the bench, has put Les Girondins in a difficult position. They are inconsistent when Komano is at his unfocused worst yet they are unable to replace the Guinean at his sparkling best.
• After last weekend’s Coupe de France shocks, the midweek league Coupe de la Ligue quarter-finals proved equally unpredictable. A complacent PSG lost their first domestic cup game since 2014, exiting to Ligue 1 bottom club Guingamp. Although Thomas Tuchel complained that Guingamp only entered the PSG box three times, the visitors won three penalties, scoring two for a shock 2-1 win that will affect Ligue 1’s European race. Due to PSG winning the last nine domestic cups, fifth and sixth have become concrete Europa League spots but, with none of the last four clubs in the league cup expected to finish that high, Ligue 1’s continental race just got tighter.
Monaco head coach Thierry Henry has joked that he and former teammate Patrick Vieira 'won't like each other for a little bit' when the Ligue-1 strugglers play Nice on 16 January.
Henry played alongside Vieira, who now manages eighth-place Nice, for Arsenal from 1999 to 2005, winning two Premier League titles and two FA Cups along the way. The pair also lifted the World Cup together with France in 1998.
'We played with each other, battled with each other, in the national team and with Arsenal. But, it's going to be Monaco versus Nice. That's the most important thing,' Henry told the media ahead of the match at the Stade Louis II