Simeone not getting carried away

Atletico Madrid head coach Diego Simeone has reminded his players they must not get carried away with their brilliant form.

Simeone’s side trumped Elche 2-0 on Saturday to claim their 13th win from 15 La Liga matches this term, while also extending their unbeaten run in all competitions to nine game.

The victory took Atletico to 40 points, level with league leaders Barcelona, although the Catalans have a game in hand.

Although Simeone is glad his team can give his club’s fans some joy, the Argentine maintained his players must remain focused.

“After the effort the players put in in Russia (in the UEFA Champions League on Tuesday), they responded very well today,” Simeone said.

“I believe this is a great time for Atletico Madrid fans, I would imagine they are very happy but we have to distance ourselves from this fact.

“We have to take each match as it comes. This philosophy works well for us, as it means we can concentrate on the next challenge.

“We will need to analyse everything else as the league keeps running and until the competition comes to an end.”

Simeone has not selected the same starting 11 in Atletico’s nine-game unbeaten run and the 43-year-old hailed the mentality within his squad and his players’ ability to step up and get the job done when involved.

“The mentality within the group is the best thing that we’ve developed,” Simeone said.

“We have been able to generate an internal competition. We can compete externally like this because of the competitiveness that comes from within.

“Today, some other players went onto the pitch and they could provide us with solutions.

“These aspects are very important for the team, even more for developing the group mentality, because we need this competition and it is a very healthy sign.”

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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La Liga Wrap: Bale inspires Real, Atletico march on

Gareth Bale’s hat-trick inspired Real Madrid to a 4-0 win over Real Valladolid while Atletico Madrid defeated Elche 2-0 on Saturday.

Welshman Bale, the world’s most expensive player, gave Carlo Ancelotti’s side the lead with an early header at the Bernabeu and he soon turned provider for Karim Benzema to net the second.

His cross from deep on the right flank found the Frenchman and the ex-Lyon man headed past goalkeeper Diego Marino, meaning that he has now scored in five successive La Liga matches.

The second half saw Bale add to his tally after Marcelo’s low cross was only half cleared by the Valladolid defence and the former Tottenham man then completed his treble in the 89th minute, as the injured Cristiano Ronaldo watched on from the stands.

Madrid’s city rivals Atletico remain three points ahead them in the table, however, after their fine win.

Koke opened the scoring after 63 minutes for Diego Simeone men when he pounced on poor goalkeeping by Manu Herrera.

Diego Costa’s brilliant season continued as he notched his 15th league goal of the campaign. Adrian’s cross looked set to be caught by Manu, but the Brazilian beat him to it and scored from point-blank range.

Celta Vigo managed to open up a gap between themselves and the bottom three thanks to a 3-1 win over Almeria, who stay in 18th place.

On-loan Liverpool midfielder Suso gave the visitors a ninth-minute lead with an excellent finish from outside the area, but it was short-lived.

Chilean Fabian Orellana equalised in the 26th minute with a similarly impressive strike after cutting in from the left, before Borja Oubina put Celta ahead just after half-time with a close-range finish.

Charles – a close-season signing from Almeria – made sure Celta claimed all three points just before the hour mark with a flicked effort at the front post.

Saturday’s late kick-off saw Espanyol host Real Sociedad at Cornella-El Prat, with the visiting side claiming all three points courtesy of a late own goal in a 2-1 win.

Forward Jhon Cordoba struck for the hosts in the 31st minute to break the deadlock – the 20-year-old Colombian finishing after a clever run down.

Jagoba Arrasate’s men were kept out for most of the match, but Antoine Griezmann eventually drew them level 22 minutes from time as he headed in Carlos Vela’s cross from deep before Christian Stuani diverted the ball past his own goalkeeper in the closing stages.

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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Primeira Liga: Academica 1 Porto 0

Porto suffered their first league defeat in 54 matches on Saturday as they were beaten 1-0 by Academica at the Estadio Cidade de Coimbra.

The champions, who had last lost a league game in January 2012, have now gone three Primeira Liga matches without a win after succumbing to an Academica side who had won only three times in the top flight going into the game.

Fernando Alexandre was the hosts’ hero, registering his second goal of the season on the stroke of half-time to set his side on the way to a major shock – although they had to survive a second-half penalty scare.

The midfielder stole in at the far post and kept his cool to angle an effort into the roof of the net from close range after a delivery from the right was not cleared by the Porto defence.

Porto piled on the pressure in the second half but wasted a golden opportunity to restore parity when Ricardo saved a late Danilo penalty after Jackson Martinez went down in the area.

Paulo Fonseca’s men threw everything at Academica, sending goalkeeper Helton forward for a series of corners in the dying stages, but it was to no avail as the hosts made it three wins from their last four league matches.

Porto have now won only one of their last five games in all competitions ahead of their league clash with Sporting Braga on Saturday.

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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Serie A Wrap: Parma, Genoa held at home

Antonio Cassano’s 100th Serie A goal earned Parma a 1-1 draw against Bologna at the Stadio Ennio Tardini on Saturday.

Cassano’s acrobatic valley ensured the first Emilia-Romagna Derby of the season ended level, with both goals coming in the first 23 minutes.

Panagiotis Kone scored for the second time in a week to put Bologna ahead after just 10 minutes, yet Cassano soon restored parity.

Despite the dismissal of Frederik Sorensen in the second half, Parma were unable to take maximum points as they missed out on back-to-back victories in the league.

Parma boss Roberto Donadoni felt his side deserved three points but praised Bologna for their defensive play.

“It’s a shame about the result, as we deserved the victory,” said Donadoni in quotes reported by Football Italia.

“We also lacked that little bit of luck that you need in football. Bologna didn’t allow us much space.”

Genoa extended their unbeaten Serie A run to five matches with a 1-1 draw by Torino at the Stadio Comunale Luigi Ferraris.

Omar El Kaddouri’s goal after seven minutes looked set to condemn the hosts to defeat but Davide Biondini levelled 21 minutes from time to ensure the spoils were shared.

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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Ancelotti certain hat-trick hero Bale has fully adapted

Carlo Ancelotti believes Gareth Bale has fully adapted to life at Real Madrid following his hat-trick in the 4-0 win over Real Valladolid.

The Italian coach was unable to call upon the services of La Liga top scorer and FIFA Ballon d’Or favourite Cristiano Ronaldo due to a thigh injury, but it did not matter as Bale was in sublime form.

After opening the scoring with a header, the Welshman assisted Karim Benzema with a brilliant cross for their second and grabbed Madrid’s third just after the hour mark.

He completed his hat-trick in the 89th minute and Ancelotti reckons the “very confident” Wales star is completely immersed in the club after a settling-in period, before going on to praise Angel di Maria as well.

“As I mentioned before, Bale has fully adapted to the team,” he said. “He has a lot of confidence and is very important for us. I think the team is well-balanced at the moment.

“We defended well tonight. It was a tough match for Valladolid. I don’t know if this was our best match so far, but we have to continue playing like this.

“I think the current formation is working well. Isco is comfortable and Xabi’s (Alonso) return gave us more quality.

“Di Maria’s performance was fantastic. He was our most dangerous player and he adapts to different positions on the field.”

Left-back Marcelo added that the main thing Real Madrid are concerned about is the result, but he was pleased they were also able to add a particularly impressive performance.

He added: “All matches are very difficult and the Valladolid has a great team. He has not left us play at the beginning, but then we managed to secure the defence, and offensively we were much better.

“Our first goal is the result, winning always either playing good or bad, but then we will give show to the fans and in the final matches are improving much. In addition we have let the goal to zero, which is very important for the team.”

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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Ligue 1 Wrap: Lille hang on to second, Monaco maintain pressure

Ten-man Lille hung on for a 1-0 victory at Valenciennes as they kept up the pressure on Ligue 1 leaders Paris Saint-Germain on Saturday.

Ronny Rodelin gave Rene Girard’s men the lead in the 47th minute, but Franck Beria was sent off for a second bookable offence five minutes later.

Lowly Valenciennes pushed for an equaliser as they tried to make the most of their one-man advantage, but Lille held on to their lead and are now one point behind PSG, who play Lyon on Sunday.

Third-placed Monaco were also victorious, as they picked up a 2-0 win over Rennes.

James Rodriguez opened the scoring in the 19th minute before Anthony Martial doubled the advantage a minute before the break.

The victory leaves Claudio Ranieri’s men two points short of PSG, while Rennes are 12th.

Saint-Etienne recorded back-to-back victories for the first time since early September as they claimed a convincing 4-0 triumph over Reims.

Christophe Galtier’s side – whose fans were banned from away games for the rest of 2013 this week following last weekend’s crowd trouble at Nice – scored goals in the second half from Moustapha Sall, Mevlut Erding and a Loic Perrin brace to seal all three points.

Seventh-placed Guingamp closed the gap on Nantes above them as they edged to a 1-0 victory in a clash between the sides, with Younousse Sankhare scoring the only goal of the encounter just after the hour mark.

Elsewhere, rock-bottom Sochaux were thrashed 5-1 by Toulouse, despite having taken an eighth-minute lead, while Lorient leapfrogged Nice with a 3-0 home victory.

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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Eredivisie Wrap: Groningen miss out on third, Heerenveen go sixth

Michael De Leeuw hit an injury-time penalty to secure a come-from-behind 2-2 draw for Groningen at NAC Breda on Saturday.

Erwin van de Looi’s side would have climbed above Ajax and AZ, both in action on Sunday, into third with a win but instead they required two late goals to rescue a point and extend their unbeaten run to seven league games.

Danny Verbeek put the home side ahead in the 10th minute and when substitute Stipe Perica doubled the lead with 15 minutes to go it looked a lost cause for the visitors, but Giliano Wijnaldum pulled one back with 10 minutes remaining before De Leeuw’s spot-kick ensured the spoils were shared.

A place and two points behind Groningen are Heerenveen, who came from behind to win 3-1 at home against Go Ahead Eagles.

Erik Falkenburg put the away side in front two minutes before the break, only for Marten de Roon to equalise three minutes into the second period.

Pele van Anholt completed the turnaround four minutes later and Hakim Ziyech rounded off the scoring six minutes from time to condemn the visitors to their third defeat in four.

PEC Zwolle drew their fourth successive game, 1-1 at home to RKC Waalwijk, Mustafa Saymak breaking the deadlock on the stroke of half-time for the hosts before Aurelien Joachim earned his side a share of the points with a goal six minutes into the second half.

Elsewhere, Utrecht came from behind to beat Heracles 2-1.

The hosts went in front courtesy of Iliass Bel Hassani’s 27th-minute goal, but Jens Toornstra struck in the 55th and 81st minutes as Heracles fell to a third successive defeat.

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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Premier League agent payments hit new high

The Premier League has revealed its clubs spent a record combined total of almost £97million on agents fees from October 2012 to September 2013.

Chelsea were responsible for the biggest outlay, with significant activity following the return of manager Jose Mourinho taking their spend to a whopping £13,721,721.

Manchester City, Tottenham and Liverpool were the other major spenders, while Crystal Palace, who paid £869,531, are the only top-flight team to have spent less than £1m over the 12-month period.

The total spend of £96.67m represents a new high and an increase of almost £20m on last year’s corresponding figure.

Southampton, the surprise package of the season to date, were among the lowest spenders, paying just £2,184,412 to agents.

Premier League leaders Arsenal and reigning champions Manchester United posted relatively modest outgoings of £5,485,961 and £4,317,690 having made limited additions in the recent transfer window.

Total money spent on agents by Premier League clubs between October 1 2012 and September 30 2013:

Arsenal: £5,485,961

Aston Villa: £3,358,628

Cardiff City: £2,225,582

Chelsea: £13,721,721

Crystal Palace: £869,531

Everton: £3,225,159

Fulham: £3,790,115

Hull City: £1,825,718

Liverpool: £9,400,973

Manchester City: £11,179,817

Manchester United: £4,317,690

Newcastle United: £7,294,018

Norwich City: £2,308,987

Southampton: £2,184,412

Stoke City: £3,191,808

Sunderland: £4,640,227

Swansea City: £1,484,878

Tottenham: £9,787,676

West Brom: £2,211,054

West Ham: £4,169,134

TOTAL: £96,673,089

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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Voller admitted to hospital

Bayer Leverkusen sporting director Rudi Voller has been admitted to hospital with renal colic, the Bundesliga club have confirmed.

Voller, 53, visited the head of Leverkusen’s medical team Dr Karl-Heinrich Dittmar for treatment on Saturday and was taken to hospital immediately as an in-patient, a statement on the club’s website explained.

“Bayer 04 wishes Rudi Voller a speedy recovery,” it added.

Voller, who scored 47 goals in 90 appearances for West Germany and Germany between 1982 and 1994, missed second-placed Leverkusen’s 3-0 home win over Nuremberg on Saturday.

A Son Heung-Min double and Stefan Kiessling’s strike earned Leverkusen the victory to ensure Samy Hypia’s side stayed within four points of leaders Bayern Munich.

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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Clarke content with West Brom response

West Brom head coach Steve Clarke was pleased with his side’s second-half showing in the 2-1 defeat at Newcastle United on Saturday.

Yoan Gouffran put the hosts ahead nine minutes before the break but Clarke’s men drew level courtesy of Chris Brunt’s 53rd-minute strike.

West Brom were on equal terms for just four minutes, with Moussa Sissoko’s long-range effort handing Newcastle all three points.

Clarke’s men have now won just one of their last seven matches but the Scot took heart from his side’s performance after the interval.

“We were passive in the first half and didn’t create enough,” he said.

“Both teams were cancelling each other out and their goal came out of the blue.

“It’s always disappointing to concede a cheap goal from a set-play (and) I think we were feeling a little sorry for ourselves at half-time

“The reaction was good (in the) second half and we got ourselves back in the game. A wonder strike has denied us any points.”

West Brom sit 12th in the Premier League ahead of a home game against Manchester City on Wednesday.

Sat 30 Nov, 2013
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