La Liga: Granada 2 Athletic Bilbao 0

Youssef El-Arabi’s second-half brace has clinched Granada’s 2-0 win over Athletic Bilbao, ending the southern club’s five-game winless streak.

The 26-year-old Moroccan striker notched a penalty eight minutes into the second half after Bilbao’s Ander Herrera’s high boot caught Yacine Brahimi inside the box, while El-Arabi doubled the home side’s lead on the hour-mark with a header from a corner.

The victory was Granada’s first in La Liga since the opening weekend of the season and took the Andalusians out of the relegation zone, up to eight points and 12th on the table, while Bilbao remain fifth as their inconsistent run continued.

In a fairly dull first half on Monday, Granada’s Argentine playmaker Diego Buonanotte produced the game’s first serious goalscoring chance when his shot was tipped over by Bilbao goalkeeper Gorka Iraizoz.

The hosts’ goalkeeper Roberto Fernandez made two fine stops in the opening half, denying Ibai Gomez and Markel Susaeta.

Just after half-time, Granada broke their scoring duck in September when El-Arabi converted from the spot.

A 60th-minute counter-attack set up the home side’s second goal at the Estadio Nuevo Los Carmenes with El-Arabi teeing up Buonanotte for a shot, which deflected out for a corner.

Buonanotte’s corner was flicked on by Pape Diakhate and El-Arabi rose highest to nod the ball past Iraizoz.

While El-Arabi was denied his hat-trick soon after thanks to a top save from Iraizoz, Granada held on for victory as the visitors missed the opportunity to break into La Liga’s top four.

Bilbao sit two points behind Villarreal, who lost 1-0 to Real Betis on the weekend.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Turkish Super Lig wrap: Fenerbahce extend streak, Galatasaray labour to draw

Fenerbahce clinched their fifth consecutive Turkish Super Lig win with a narrow 1-0 success at Genclerbirligi on Sunday.

Former Liverpool striker Dirk Kuyt scored the only goal of the game for Ersun Yanal’s men, who held on to take all three points, with Ozgur Ileri sent-off for the hosts.

Galatasaray remain mired in mid-table, and new manager Roberto Mancini will be hoping to gain momentum quickly after the defending champions limped to a 1-1 draw with second-placed Rizespor on Saturday.

Engin Baytar opened the scoring for the hosts at the Turk Telecom Stadium, but striker Tevfik Kose secured a draw for Rizespor, before Selcuk Inan was dismissed for the hosts.

Besiktas suffered their first defeat of the season as they were beaten 2-0 by Antalyaspor on Monday, Sengalese attacker Lamine Diarra scoring a brace to ensure the points for the home side.

Trabzonspor moved into the top four with a 2-0 home triumph over Konyaspor, defender Mustafa Yumlu netting twice to seal a third straight win for Mustafa Recit Akcay’s team.

Sivasspor emerged victorious in arguably the most entertaining game of the weekend, as they won 4-2 at Elazigsporon Sunday.

Goals from Manuel da Costa and John Utaka put the visitors in command, before a strike from Ahmet Gork and a Tidiane Sane penalty levelled things up.

Defender Da Costa was then sent-of for Sivasspor, but the 10 men rallied to take the points, striker Aatif Chahechouhe finding the net twice, before Caglar Birinci was dismissed in the closing stages for Elazigspor.

Gaziantepspor claimed their first win of the season as they overcame Karabukspor 3-0, Cenk Tosun, Serdar Ozbayraktar and Artem Milevskiy scoring in a superb victory.

Elsewhere, Eskisehirspor won 2-0 at Kasimpasa, Kayseri Erciyesspor and Kayserispor played out a 1-1 draw, while Bursapor’s game with Akhisar Belediyespor ended goalless.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Russian Premier League Wrap: Zenit move clear at top, Lokomotiv held

Zenit St. Petersburg took a three-point lead at the top of the Russian Premier League as they overcame Spartak Moscow 4-2 on Saturday.

Zenit twice took the lead, only for Spartak to equalise on both occasions, Kim Kallstrom and Yura Movsisyan levelling after strikes from Alexander Kerzhakov and Hulk respectively.

However, a late surge from Luciano Spalletti’s men ensured the points, as Oleg Shatov and Danny both scored in the final 10 minutes.

Lokomotiv Moscow move into second place behind Zenit as a result of Spartak’s defeat, although they were unable to take all three points from their game with Tom Tomsk, and were left to settle for a 0-0 draw on Monday.

Struggling Terek Grozny earned their first win of the campaign as they stunned CSKA Moscow 2-0, strikers Kanu and Igor Lebendenko netting to seal the victory.

Meanwhile, Rubin Kazan’s poor start to the season continued, Kurban Berdyev’s men extending their winless run to four games, with Mauricio Pereyra’s early strike enough to seal a 1-0 win for Krasnodar on Sunday.

A late Pavel Solomatin goal gave Anzhi Makhachkala a 2-2 draw with Amkar Perm, the striker scoring in the dying embers to earn a share of the spoils.

Amkar – who had right-back Andrey Semenov sent-off in the second half – looked to be on their way to victory after they had cancelled out Alan Gatagov’s penalty with goals from Maxim Kanunnikov and Igor Picusceac, before Solomatin struck in the 90th minute.

Dinamo Moscow eased to a 2-0 win over Krylya Sovetov, Aleksandr Kokorin and Yuri Zhirkov finding the net as the capital club clinched only their fourth win of the campaign.

Elsewhere, Volga beat Kuban Krasnodar 1-0 and Rostov drew 1-1 with Ural.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Scottish Premiership: St Mirren 1 Aberdeen 1

Peter Pawlett struck late to give Aberdeen a well-earned 1-1 draw at St Mirren in the Scottish Premiership on Monday.

St Mirren were on track to record their first win of the season after Steven Thompson broke the deadlock with a close-range effort nine minutes after the break.

However, the visitors responded well to going behind and eventually ended their hosts’ resistance in the 85th minute when Pawlett fired past Christopher Dilo to extend their unbeaten run to six matches in all competitions.

After an even first half, St Mirren edged ahead shortly after the restart when Paul McGowan crossed for Thompson to bundle home.

This stung Derek McInnes’ side into action, and they immediately pressed for the leveller.

Pawlett and Johnny Hayes went close, but the former St Johnstone man finally did equalise with five minutes to go with a well-taken finish.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Pardew bemoans defensive mistakes

Newcastle United boss Alan Pardew slammed his side’s defensive performance following their 3-2 defeat to Everton on Monday.

Newcastle slipped to their second consecutive Premier League loss at Goodison Park, as second-half strikes from Yohan Cabaye and Loic Remy were not enough after Romelu Lukaku’s double and a goal from Ross Barkley had put Everton 3-0 up at the break.

Pardew’s men have now conceded six goals in their last two top-flight outings, and the former West Ham manager is desperate for his team to find some consistency ahead of their next game against Cardiff City.

“The goals were poor, we were so poor defensively in the first half,” he told Sky Sports.

“We’ve got goals in the team, but we’ve got to tighten up that’s for sure.

“The inconsistencies being shown were disturbing, we managed in the second half to come out and start performing.

“We need to bring it together, it’s no good bringing it in patches, we need to put in a consistent performance.

“In terms of the goals they were too easy, we have to make sure that we drill ourselves and we’re right for Cardiff.”

However, Pardew was pleased with the performance of Cabaye, who came on as a substitute at the break and gave Newcastle some hope with a superb long-range strike on 51 minutes.

“He’s (Cabaye) a class act, he was terrific in the second half, we need that sort of performance,” he added.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Martinez lauds Lukaku after Newcastle win

Everton manager Roberto Martinez has hailed Romelu Lukaku’s intelligence after his double secured a 3-2 win over Newcastle United.

Lukaku scored twice in the first half at Goodison Park on Monday, with Ross Barkley netting the other goal as Everton moved up to fourth in the Premier League by maintaining the only unbeaten record in the top flight.

The Belgium international – on loan from Chelsea – also notched the winner in Everton’s last league game at West Ham, continuing his great form after scoring 17 goals for West Brom last season.

And Martinez believes it is the 20-year-old’s all-round game that sets him apart from the majority of other strikers in the division.

“That’s his make-up, his strong and powerful, for a number nine to have that awareness around him, he’s very gifted,” the Spaniard told Sky Sports.

“He looked like a player enjoying his football and that’s very important for his future.”

The former Wigan boss also reserved praise for Barkley, whose link-up play with Lukaku caused Newcastle problems throughout.

“It’s hard to explain how he’s growing game by game. He’s a very unique talent for an English boy. He controls many aspects of the game that you don’t see,” Martinez commented.

“He’s developing a very good understanding with Romelu. He’s so eager to fulfill his potential.”

Martinez went on to say he hopes his side can continue their strong start and fight for UEFA Champions League qualification.

“It’s been a good start to the season … it’s a great target to get into the top four,” he added.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Serie A: Fiorentina 2 Parma 2

Massimo Gobbi’s injury-time equaliser made it three Serie A games unbeaten for Parma as they drew 2-2 at Fiorentina on Monday.

Vincenzo Montella’s men looked on course for their third win in four top-flight matches at the Stadio Artemio Franchi this season after second-half goals from Gonzalo Rodriguez and Juan Vargas overturned Walter Gargano’s opener for the visitors.

However, former Fiorentina defender Gobbi had other ideas, as his back-post header in the 92nd minute gave Roberto Donadoni’s side a point.

Fiorentina spent much of the first half on the front foot, but it was Parma who broke the deadlock in stoppage time before the interval.

Gargano, who joined the club from Napoli in the close-season, had an effort from just inside the area that was heavily deflected, giving home keeper Neto no chance.

Montella’s team came out strongly after the break though, and eventually drew level in the 64th minute when Gonzalo glanced a corner home at the near post.

Vargas then appeared to have given Fiorentina all three points with a smart finish 13 minutes later, but Gobbi intervened in the dying seconds to deny them the win.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Premier League: Everton 3 Newcastle United 2

Romelu Lukaku scored twice on his home debut for Everton as they went fourth in the Premier League with a 3-2 win over Newcastle United.

Lukaku – on loan from Chelsea – produced a magnificent performance in his first start on Monday to help maintain his side’s unbeaten start to the top-flight campaign.

Newcastle were condemned to their second successive league defeat as a first-half double from Lukaku, which sandwiched a goal from Ross Barkley, wrapped up the win for Everton.

Substitute Yohan Cabaye netted in spectacular fashion early in the second half before Loic Remy reduced the deficit further late on, but Newcastle could not complete the comeback despite their best efforts.

Everton made two changes to the side that started in the 3-2 win at West Ham last time out, with Lukaku – who scored the winner at Upton Park – and James McCarthy coming in for Nikica Jelavic and Steven Naismith.

Meanwhile, midfielder Gareth Barry made his 500th Premier League appearance.

Newcastle boss Alan Pardew brought in Cheick Tiote and Yoan Gouffran in place of Cabaye and Papiss Cisse after their home defeat to Hull City.

The hosts started brightly, Lukaku putting the ball in the net in the first minute only to see the flag raised for offside.

But, just three minutes later, he did put Roberto Martinez’s men ahead, as his Belgium international team-mate Kevin Mirallas beat Davide Santon to a loose ball before delivering a superb right-wing cross that Lukaku duly placed past Tim Krul.

Everton continued to push forward following the goal, and they twice came close to doubling their lead when Barkley fired wide from the edge of the area before Krul denied McCarthy after the visitors had given the ball away inside their own half.

Newcastle could not get to grips with the hosts’ high-tempo start, with Lukaku heavily involved in almost every attack.

And the 20-year-old had a key impact once again as Everton deservedly went two up, the striker playing a clever pass into the path of Barkley, who coolly slotted the ball into the bottom corner.

Pardew’s men were reeling by this point, and the home side looked to have sealed the three points eight minutes before the interval when Lukaku bagged his second of the game.

The former Anderlecht man capitalised on confusion in the Newcastle defence to latch on to a goal kick from Tim Howard, collecting the ball ahead of Krul before rounding Fabricio Coloccini and tucking the ball into an empty net.

Newcastle rarely troubled Everton in the first half, but after Pardew made two changes during the interval – Mike Williamson and Cabaye were brought on for Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa and Hatem Ben Arfa – they pulled a goal back almost immediately.

France international Cabaye fired a fine long-range strike into the top corner shortly after Gouffran had hit the post to give the visitors a glimmer of hope.

Everton responded well, with Lukaku spurning a chance for his hat-trick after he had again found a way in behind the Newcastle defence, but it was Pardew’s side who dictated the majority of the play in the second period.

And Newcastle threatened a dramatic comeback when Remy tapped in from close range after latching on to Mathieu Debuchy’s flick-on in the 89th minute, but Everton clung on to seal victory.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Benitez: Wenger best coach in Premier League

Rafael Benitez has labelled Arsene Wenger the “top coach in the Premier League” ahead of their UEFA Champions League clash on Tuesday.

The Spaniard takes his Napoli side to Arsenal on Tuesday in what will be his 19th match against Wenger as a manager following his spells at Liverpool and Chelsea.

Wenger leads the head-to-head record with eight wins to Benitez’s five, and the 53-year-old is full of respect for his opponent.

However, he is eager to build on his team’s win over Borussia Dortmund in their Champions League opener by controlling the game against an Arsenal side that lead the Premier League and beat Marseille in their first Group F fixture.

“We are going to play against a top side so we must show character, strength – but we must also show respect to a team that is top of the league and playing very well,” Benitez said.

“I am expecting a strong team because I think Wenger is the top coach in the Premier League, and then they signed top players so it is going well for them. Arsenal have a great manager and a good team.

“(Wenger) is a great manager, a great person. He is someone that knows the league in England and in Europe, and I think he is doing a great job and I hope that one year he can win it (the Champions League) – although not this year, just in case.”

Like Arsenal, Napoli have started their domestic campaign well and are yet to lose in Serie A.

Mon 30 September, 2013
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Experience key for Dortmund, says Klopp

Jurgen Klopp is hopeful his Borussia Dortmund side can learn from past experiences ahead of their UEFA Champions League game with Marseille.

Both sides head into the game having lost their opening matches against Napoli and Arsenal respectively, but it is Marseille who perhaps hold the psychological advantage after doing the double over Dortmund in the 2011-12 campaign.

The Bundesliga side were eliminated in the group stage in that season, but they will likely go in as favourites for this clash at Signal Iduna Park following their run to the final last term.

Still, Klopp is wary of the threat posed by Marseille, and is hoping his side can avenge their previous losses to their Ligue 1 counterparts.

“You cannot buy experience,” the manager said.

“We had bad experiences with Marseille two years ago and have the feeling there is a bit of revenge in the air.

“We watched the last five Marseille matches and we noticed their speed and their commitment. Unfortunately for us, they are a very good opponent. The good news is that we are not really bad as well.”

Klopp is banned from the touchline for the visit of Elie Baup’s side after confronting the fourth official in the aftermath of Gonzalo Higuain’s opener in the 2-1 loss to Napoli.

The 46-year-old does not believe his absence from the dugout will affect his side, though, and was quick to state his faith in assistant Zeljko Buvac.

“I do not think my suspension is a handicap for my team,” he added.

“I know where I’ll be sitting during the game. I’ll be the only one suffering tomorrow, but rightfully.

“I don’t know a better trainer (than Buvac). If we lose the game tomorrow, it won’t be because he’s on the sidelines. In the dressing room, his word is law.”

Mon 30 September, 2013
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