• Real Madrid fans unhappy despite 1-0 win over Rayo Vallecano• Cristiano Ronaldo penalty seals derby victory against TorinoReal Madrid edged a 1-0 win over minnows Rayo Vallecano, earning a third consecutive La Liga victory and rising to third in the tab

European roundup: Real win amid boos, while Ronaldo seals derby for Juventus

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  • 2019-01-29 02:30:23 10 months ago
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Real Madrid edged a 1-0 win over minnows Rayo Vallecano, earning a third consecutive La Liga victory and rising to third in the table, but they again failed to sparkle and had to endure booing from their unhappy supporters.

Karim Benzema beat a poorly constructed offside trap to score the only goal of the game in the 13th minute. The win put Santiago Solari’s side on 29 points, one clear of fourth-placed Sevilla who host Girona on Sunday and two behind leaders Barcelona and Atlético Madrid.

Madrid, who were also booed off on Wednesday after losing 3-0 to CSKA Moscow, continued to suffer defensively at the back. They leaked plenty of chances to their neighbours, who are fighting relegation and have only won twice all season.

Even though the European champions weathered the storms, it did not stop the infamously demanding Santiago Bernabeu crowd from raining down boos on their team.

Earlier in the day, Atlético Madrid’s Antoine Griezmann struck the decisive goal in a thrilling 3-2 win at Real Valladolid, after Atlético had thrown away a two-goal lead. The win took them level on points with Barcelona, who visit Levante on Sunday, at the top of La Liga.

Nikola Kalinic put Atlético ahead after latching on to a wonderful pass from Griezmann, who doubled Atlético’s lead on the stroke of half-time by hammering home a penalty.

However Valladolid came out fighting in the second half. Fernando Calero headed the home side back into the game in the 57th minute and six minutes later they levelled with an own goal from Atlético’s Saúl Ñíguez.

Griezmann had the final say with 10 minutes left, arrowing the ball into the far corner from close range after Valladolid had failed to clear.

In Serie A, Cristiano Ronaldo converted a second-half penalty and was booked for provoking beaten goalkeeper Salvador Ichazo as leaders Juventus beat Torino 1-0 in an absorbing derby.

Torino put up a brave show but were undone by an unfortunate mistake by forward Simone Zaza. Having dispossessed Leonardo Bonucci, Zaza underhit a pass back to Ichazo, allowing Mario Mandzukic to intercept and the Croatian was then tripped by Torino’s substitute goalkeeper.

Ronaldo converted the penalty to score Juve’s 5,000th Serie A goal and leave the leaders with 46 points out of a possible 48.

Inter’s Mauro Icardi scores with a Panenka penalty.

Inter’s Mauro Icardi scored a second-half Panenka penalty to break down a stubborn Udinese. The visitors held out until the 76th minute before a penalty was given after the ball struck Seko Fofana on the hand.

Icardi stepped up and fooled Juan Musso with his chip, the Udinese goalkeeper diving to his left. The 1-0 win put Inter three points behind second-placed Napoli, who travel to Cagliari on Sunday.

Borussia Dortmund now lead the Bundesliga by nine points, after they beat Werder Bremen 2-1 a couple of hours after Borussia Mönchengladbach were held to a goalless draw at Hoffenheim. Gladbach remain in second but now lead Bayern Munich on goal difference only, after the champions demolished Hannover 4-0.

There was a tragic aftermath to Stuttgart’s 2-1 home win against Hertha Berlin, when the father of Christian Gentner, the victors’ captain, collapsed and died.

In Ligue 1, Strasbourg players wore special shirts to honour the victims of Tuesday’s shooting in the city as they were defeated 2-1 in Reims. The visiting players wore shirts on whose sponsor logos were replaced with the phrase “Strasbourg Mon Amour”.

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European roundup: Real win amid boos, while Ronaldo seals derby for Juventus

In defence of Lyon manager Bruno Génésio

Lyon were without a win in four games before they played Monaco on Sunday on night. They also went into the game on a high, having ground out a gritty draw in Ukraine against a cagey Shakhtar Donetsk side in conditions that were challenging to say the least. These two statements represent the interminable pendulum of Lyon’s fortunes, from match to match and even from minute to minute. Through it all, Bruno Génésio has had his hand on the tiller, often looking as embattled as José Mourinho at his most frightened.

Génésio was born in Lyon, played for the club for a decade and was a loyal assistant to Rémi Garde and Hubert Fournier before taking over as manager on Christmas Eve in 2015. His first season was an unmitigated success as the club weathered the loss of Nabil Fékir to a season-ending injury and secured a place in the Champions League. In his second season, 2016-17, he looked out of his depth in the Champions League as he failed to beat either Sevilla or Juventus in the group stage, but a stirring run to the last four of the Europa League put him back in good stead, even if Lyon were torn to ribbons by Ajax in the semi-finals.

Last season was more of the same, with Lyon doing the double over Marseille and beating PSG at home, but there was a suspicion that their impressive run-in was down to the individual talents of Memphis Depay and Bertrand Traoré. There was also a gutting elimination in the Europa League, where Lyon lost to CSKA Moscow on away goals in the last-16. Génésio is often mocked for his team selections, tactics and Lyon’s inconsistencies at the back. It is not uncommon for the hashtag #genesiodemission (Génésio resign) to trend on Twitter in France and the naysayers were out in force after Lyon’s 2-0 home defeat to Rennes earlier this month.

But is he really such a poor manager? Lyon’s best players can look distracted but, with Ligue 1 often considered a shop window for more moneyed leagues, it might be beyond any manager to hold the attention of players who are in their prime. Traoré and Depay are the most obvious examples of this, but even Tanguy N’Dombélé lacked focus at the start of the season, having been linked with a summer move to Manchester City or Tottenham.

This season we have already seen Leonardo Jardim leave Moncao, the manager seemingly hamstrung by players casting covetous glances towards the wage packets on offer in other countries. If Jardim, a master at developing young players, can struggle in such circumstances, is Génésio to blame for Lyon’s foibles given the constant churn of players?

Witness, too, Lyon’s transfer policy. The squad was in dire need of a new centre-back this summer given the sales of Samuel Umtiti, Mouctar Diakhaby, and Emmanuel Mammana in recent windows and Lyon looked to be making a genuine splash when they were linked with Benfica’s Rubén Dias and Barcelona’s Yerry Mina. Instead they ended up with Jason Denayer. He has been impressive so far, but his arrival showed that the club were put off by the price tags of those other defenders.

Génésio’s answer to this lack of defenders has been to turn to a back three, which has seemed rickety at times, but has also made Marçal look a decent option, as well as Kenny Tete, who seemed an afterthought after the arrival of the promising Léo Dubois in the summer. The system has come undone at times, but it has also helped Lyon secure vital draws in Europe. Génésio deserves some credit for this. His tactics also impressed against Manchester City, where Lyon adopted a 4-4-1-1, with an emphasis on pace and skill on the flanks, and became the first (and so far only) team to win at the Etihad this season.

Génésio has also excelled at deploying little-used players in unexpected scenarios and bringing impressive performances from them. Lucas Tousart has fallen out of favour more often than not this season, but was sublime in Kiev in midweek, and Maxwel Cornet, an afterthought at best in the league, came up with three goals over two matches against Manchester City. The reinvention of Marçal, an attack-minded left-back with Guingamp, would fall under this umbrella as well. These performances do not come out of the blue, but come from a manager who has his finger firmly on the pulse of his players.

Lyon are within touching distance of second place in Ligue 1 and remain unbeaten in the Champions League. They have not taken full advantage of the struggles Marseille and Monaco have experienced this season but, given the trying financial circumstances in which Génésio has been working, could it be that he is (whisper it) underrated as a manager?

Ligue 1 talking points

Rennes fans enjoy their run in the Europa League.

• While PSG and Lyon edged through in the Champions League, Rennes were the only Ligue 1 side to secure Europa League football for 2019. Their revival under Julien Stéphan continued with a 2-0 win over Astana and a brace from forward Ismaïla Sarr. His rejuvenation and burgeoning understanding with in-form Hatem Ben Arfa will be key at home and in Europe this season. A 1-0 win for Bordeaux in Copenhagen was not enough to take them through despite some much improved displays, notably in both games against Zenit. Nevertheless, the form of centre-back Pablo, who was linked with Manchester United this week, and veteran striker Jimmy Briand will breed hope of a return next season. Marseille’s embarrassing European campaign, however, ended in defeat at home to Apollon Limassol. Rudi Garcia has a full blown crisis on his hands, with Dimitri Payet’s vacant displays heading a long list of worries for last year’s finalists.

• With law enforcement again stretched due to ongoing unrest instigated by the Gilet Jaunes movement, only four Ligue 1 games took place this weekend. Lyon’s 3-0 win over Monaco followed a 1-1 draw between Nice and St Étienne, Wylan Cyprien’s late penalty made it eight games undefeated for Patrick Vieira’s team, although their points total remains flattering after some dull displays.

• Newly promoted Reims continued their stellar start to the season with a win over Strasbourg. They have one of the best defences in the league and a superb goalkeeper in Edouard Mendy. He has a commanding presence when controlling his area and his instinctive shot-stopping have proven crucial. Mendy may not be around long.

• Lille survived a late fightback from the Nîmes to the secure another three points and hold on to second place. Les Dogues have been fortunate to remain unaffected by cancellations over the last week, which may give them a big advantage later in the season when fixtures start to mount for their rivals.

Ligue 1 results

Reims 2-1 Strasbourg
Nîmes 2-3 Lille
Nice 1-1 St Étienne
Lyon 3-0 Monaco

Ligue 1 table

Pos Team P GD Pts
1 PSG 16 39 44
2 Lille 18 11 34
3 Lyon 17 9 31
4 Montpellier 16 12 29
5 St Etienne 17 3 27
6 Marseille 16 4 26
7 Nice 17 -2 26
8 Reims 18 -3 25
9 Strasbourg 18 5 23
10 Nimes 17 2 23
11 Rennes 17 -2 23
12 Bordeaux 16 0 21
13 Nantes 16 0 20
14 Angers 16 -2 18
15 Toulouse 16 -10 18
16 Dijon 17 -12 16
17 Amiens 17 -14 16
18 Caen 17 -7 14
19 Monaco 17 -11 13
20 Guingamp 17 -22 8

European roundup: Dembélé and Messi sweep Barcelona past Celta Vigo

Barcelona ensured they will end the year sitting top of the table by strolling to a comfortable 2-0 win over Celta Vigo on Saturday, inspired by another superb display from Lionel Messi.

Messi played a pivotal role in Ousmane Dembélé opening the scoring against the Galicians in the 10th minute, firing a shot at goal which Celta’s Ruben Blanco could only parry at the feet of the French forward, who squeezed the rebound through the goalkeeper’s legs.

The Argentina striker then scored a sixth goal in three La Liga games to stretch his side’s advantage on the stroke of half-time, latching on to a pass from Jordi Alba and producing an irresistible finish beyond Blanco just as he entered the area.

Celta had conceded 18 goals in their previous four visits to the Nou Camp and although they fared better in defence this time, they struggled to cause Barça many problems, particularly after Spain international and top scorer Iago Aspas went off injured early in the second half.

Barca lead the standings on 37 points, three ahead of second-placed Atlético Madrid, who beat Espanyol 1-0 thanks to an Antoine Griezmann penalty, and six clear of Sevilla who play against Leganes on Sunday.

Franck Ribéry scored twice for Bayern Munich as they beat Eintracht Frankfurt 3-0 on Saturday to climb to second place, six points behind the Bundesliga leaders Borussia Dortmund at the start of the winter break.

The 35-year-old Frenchman tapped in his first goal in the 35th minute and added another in the 79th to take his tally to four goals in four league matches, with club bosses recently saying this was his last season at Bayern.

The Bavarians, who had half a dozen injured absentees, including Arjen Robben, James Rodriguez, Serge Gnabry and Mats Hummels, added a third goal with Rafinha in the 89th and are now on 36 points following their fifth straight league win.

Rafinha is swarmed by his teammates after scoring

In Serie A Juventus maintained their eight-point lead at the top with a 1-0 win over Roma in the late kick-off, Mario Mandzukic scoring the goal that keeps Juve well clear of second placed Napoli, who beat Spal 1-0 on Saturday afternoon.

Paris Saint-Germain had to wait for a breakthrough against Nantes but Kylian Mbappé found the target in the 68th minute to secure a 1-0 victory – their 15th win in 17 Ligue 1 games.

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