Bundesliga: Eintracht Braunschweig 1 Borussia Dortmund 2

Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang’s brace earned Borussia Dortmund their first win in five as they overcame Eintracht Braunschweig 2-1 on Friday.

The Gabon forward gave the visitors the lead in the 31st minute following excellent work from Marco Reus and Robert Lewandowski, only to see Benjamin Kessel level matters from a corner in the 54th minute.

But it was Aubameyang who had the final say, planting a finish low into the net after more superb approach play from the influential Reus to end Dortmund’s run of four Bundesliga games without a win.

The loss leaves the hosts rooted to the foot of the table following a 13th defeat in 19 league games.

Braunschweig made one change as Jan Hochscheidt returned in place of Marc Pfitzner, while Dortmund’s line-up showed two alterations from their 2-2 draw with Augsburg.

Mats Hummels made his long-awaited return from the ankle injury he picked up in November, and Aubameyang came in for Jakub Blaszczykowski, who is set for a lengthy absence after tearing his anterior cruciate ligament last time out.

After a cagey start to proceedings, the hosts enjoyed some good fortune in the 12th minute when Omar Elabdellaoui appeared to handle inside his own area, but Dortmund’s appeals for a penalty were waved away.

Braunschweig fashioned the first real chance five minutes later when Kessel headed over the crossbar from six yards.

The visitors threatened for the first time in the 28th minute, Daniel Davari scrambling across his goal to keep out Nuri Sahin’s curling free-kick from the edge of the area.

And Dortmund got the breakthrough when Aubameyang nodded into an empty net from two yards out following a slick one-two between Lewandowski and Reus, the former chipping the ball over the advancing Davari to leave his team-mate with the simplest of tasks.

Aubameyang was denied a second four minutes before the interval when the linesman incorrectly raised his flag after the striker had converted another Lewandowski assist from close range.

Dortmund continued to look dangerous after the break, Reus bursting through only to be denied by Davari in the 48th minute.

They were made to pay for that miss six minutes later as Kessel got on the end of Hochscheidt’s low corner to prod the ball beyond Roman Weidenfeller from six yards.

Parity lasted just 11 minutes, however, as Reus embarked on a surging run from midfield before slipping the ball into Aubameyang, who drilled in his 11th league goal of the campaign.

Reus almost found the net himself with 20 minutes remaining, but Davari managed to tip his 30-yard free-kick onto the bar and behind for a corner.

The German international was having an increased impact on the game and once again linked up to good effect with Lewandowski in the 75th minute, but the Poland international was denied by a last-ditch block with the goal at his mercy before Reus was again denied by the legs of Davari.

Henrikh Mkhitaryan struck the post from inside the box late on, while the hosts were also denied by the woodwork in stoppage time, Ermin Bicakcic almost stealing a point for the underdogs.

Fri 31 January, 2014
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Ligue 1: Paris Saint-Germain 2 Bordeaux 0

Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Alex were on target as Paris Saint-Germain defeated Bordeaux 2-0 to move six points clear at the top of Ligue 1.

Laurent Blanc’s men, who were held to a disappointing draw by Guingamp last weekend, knew defeat on Friday would give second-placed Monaco, in action against Lorient on Sunday, the chance to draw level at the top of the table.

The defending champions struggled to break down a Bordeaux side that would have moved into fourth with a win, but ultimately prevailed.

Ibrahimovic converted Lucas Moura’s cross to open the scoring after 58 minutes and Alex added a second late on as PSG secured a first home league win over Bordeaux since a 3-1 triumph back in 2010.

New signing Yohan Cabaye was left on the PSG bench following his move from Newcastle United, while Thiago Silva returned to the starting XI after missing the draw with Guingamp through injury.

Julien Faubert came in for Bordeaux, who named former PSG striker Guillaume Hoarau among the substitutes.

PSG dictated play from the start and were unfortunate not to be awarded a penalty inside the first five minutes when Carlos Henrique appeared to haul down Ibrahimovic in the area.

Goalscoring opportunities proved rare for the remainder of the half, Edinson Cavani heading over after 12 minutes as the hosts laboured to try and find a breakthrough.

Bordeaux’s produced a stern defensive effort up until half-time, but the visitors’ resistance was broken by Ibrahimovic.

The Sweden international was handed the simple task of tapping in from point-blank range following good work down the right from Lucas, who delivered a pinpoint cross for Ibrahimovic to score his 29th goal of the campaign.

Blanc’s side came close to doubling their advantage minutes later as Javier Pastore’s drilled effort was well saved by Cedric Carasso.

Pastore was replaced shortly after that chance, the Argentina international making way for Cabaye to make his debut after 68 minutes.

PSG suffered a blow only seven minutes later as Cavani limped off to be replaced by Ezequiel Lavezzi.

Cabaye almost marked his PSG bow with a goal as he headed against the post from a Ibrahimovic cross, but PSG did make sure of the points with two minutes remaining, Alex volleying home Lucas’ corner at the near post.

Fri 31 January, 2014
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Roma complete Toloi loan deal

Roma have completed the loan signing of Sao Paulo defender Rafael Toloi with a view to a permanent deal.

The Serie A outfit have confirmed they have paid €500,000 to loan the 23-year-old Brazilian for the rest of the season, and then have the option to purchase him outright for a total fee of €5.5million.

Former Goias man Toloi, a Brazil Under-20 international, joined Sao Paulo in July 2012.

Toloi’s compatriot Marquinho, meanwhile, has left Roma for Verona on loan until the end of the season.

The 27-year-old, who signed for the capital club from Fluminense last June, made 11 top-flight appearances for Rudi Garcia’s men this term.

Roma have also signed Serbian full-back Petar Golubovic from OFK Belgrade for an initial €1m on a four-and-a-half-year contract.

The 19-year-old has moved immediately to Novara on loan until the end of the 2014-15 season, at which point the Serie B club have the right to either acquire Golubovic outright for €6m or pay Roma €0.5m to strike a co-ownership deal.

Fri 31 January, 2014
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Dann signs for Palace

Crystal Palace have strengthened their backline with the signing of Scott Dann from Blackburn Rovers for an undisclosed fee.

Dann, a former England Under-21 international, has penned a three-and-a-half-year deal at Selhurst Park.

He becomes Palace’s third signing on transfer deadline day, with goalkeeper Wayne Hennessey having arrived from Wolves and Jason Puncheon joining the club on a permanent basis after a spell on loan from Southampton.

On completing his move, former Birmingham City centre-half Dann said: “It’s been a long day and a long transfer window with a lot of speculation, so it’s nice to finally put pen to paper and get it done. I’m looking forward to the next three and a half years.

“Any professional footballer will tell you that they want to be in the Premier League.

“It’s something I’ve done before and really enjoyed, and having the opportunity to come and play here for the next couple of years, do well and help the team – it’s something I really wanted to do and I’m glad that it’s all gone through.”

Fri 31 January, 2014
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La Liga Preview: Athletic Bilbao v Real Madrid

Real Madrid’s 20-match unbeaten streak will come under threat when they travel to fourth-placed Athletic Bilbao on Sunday.

Carlo Ancelotti’s side may be chasing down a four-point deficit by the time their game gets under way, with joint La Liga leaders Barcelona and Atletico Madrid both playing before Real.

And with Athletic sitting fourth, 11 points behind Real, the title race looks set to be contested three ways.

Barca host Valencia on Saturday, while Atletico face Real Sociedad just hours before Real Madrid play.

Real have been in exceptional form recently, with their last defeat in any competition coming at Camp Nou on October 26.

They have won 17 of their 20 matches since, form that has seen them reach the Copa del Rey semi-finals and the UEFA Champions League’s last 16.

Forwards Cristiano Ronaldo and Karim Benzema have helped Real become the most prolific side in the Spanish top flight, with 60 goals this term.

Welshman Gareth Bale has also chipped in with eight goals from 14 league appearances, but he could be sidelined with a leg injury.

Real won all eight matches in the first month of 2014 without conceding a goal, making it their best January ever.

They face a Bilbao outfit with an imposing home record, though, with Ernesto Valverde’s side yet to lose a match at San Mames in all competitions this season.

And although they lost in the Copa del Rey to Atletico Madrid on Wednesday, bowing out 3-1 on aggregate, they have won their last three league matches, scoring freely in the process.

A 6-1 thrashing of Almeria on January 11 was followed by 4-2 and 5-1 successes against Real Valladolid and Osasuna.

History is on Real’s side in meetings between the two, having won the last eight meetings in comfortable fashion, scoring at least three goals in all of their triumphs.

An Isco double helped Real to a 3-1 win in the match earlier this season, while Cristiano Ronaldo also scored in the home triumph.

Centre-back Raphael Varane is back in training for the visitors following a knee problem, but is yet to return to first-team action.

Fri 31 January, 2014
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Guardiola confident Bayern will remain focused

Pep Guardiola remains confident that Bayern Munich will not get complacent despite their 13-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

The league leaders struggled against Stuttgart in their last match and needed late goals from Claudio Pizarro and Thiago Alcantara to secure a 2-1 win.

Bayern were far from their best but showed character to come through and collect the three points, something Guardiola was pleased with.

The Spaniard knows teams are not going to make it easy for his side, the reigning champions.

“I was happy with our performance in the previous match,” the head coach said. “I know what is going on, considering the previous season and in this campaign as well, we played well and are well away from others.

“People think it’s easy now and we are supposed to win every game by three or four goals. I knew that in advance, so before the last match, I told my players it’s going to be really tough.

“We won a very important game in Monchengladbach. After that I was hoping it was going to be easier.

“We weren’t as dynamic in the following match, but we were in control. The problem was that we didn’t create many chances. Other than that though, I’m quite pleased.”

Bayern host Eintracht Frankfu
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Fri 31 January, 2014
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Guardiola confident Bayern will remain focused

Pep Guardiola remains confident that Bayern Munich will not get complacent despite their 13-point lead at the top of the Bundesliga.

The league leaders struggled against Stuttgart in their last match and needed late goals from Claudio Pizarro and Thiago Alcantara to secure a 2-1 win.

Bayern were far from their best but showed character to come through and collect the three points, something Guardiola was pleased with.

The Spaniard knows teams are not going to make it easy for his side, the reigning champions.

“I was happy with our performance in the previous match,” the head coach said. “I know what is going on, considering the previous season and in this campaign as well, we played well and are well away from others.

“People think it’s easy now and we are supposed to win every game by three or four goals. I knew that in advance, so before the last match, I told my players it’s going to be really tough.

“We won a very important game in Monchengladbach. After that I was hoping it was going to be easier.

“We weren’t as dynamic in the following match, but we were in control. The problem was that we didn’t create many chances. Other than that though, I’m quite pleased.”

Bayern host Eintracht Frankfurt on Sunday hoping to extend their unbeaten league run to 44 matches.

Fri 31 January, 2014
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Griffiths completes Celtic switch

Celtic have announced the signing of Wolverhampton Wanderers striker Leigh Griffiths on a four-year deal.

Griffiths has impressed in League One this season, scoring 12 goals, and also thrived during a loan spell in Scotland last season with Hibernian.

The 23-year-old becomes the second striker to leave Molineux on transfer deadline day after Kevin Doyle joined Queens Park Rangers.

Celtic are 18 points clear at the top of the Scottish Premiership and Griffiths said: “I’m over the moon. It’s been a long time coming.

“Ever since I heard Celtic were interested there was only one place I wanted to play and I’m just glad it’s done now.

“It was the middle of December and my agent gave me a phone and said Celtic could be interested in January and I have just been counting down the days.

“Unfortunately, it’s taken to the last day but I’m just glad that it´s been done now and I can’t wait to get started.

“I want to bring goals – that´s what I am all about and what I love doing. I did it last season for Hibs and have done it for Wolves and now it’s my time to shine in the Hoops and hopefully I can do it.”

Fri 31 January, 2014
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Bundesliga Preview: Bayern Munich v Eintracht Frankfurt

Bundesliga leaders Bayern Munich are set to welcome back Franck Ribery for Sunday’s home game against Eintracht Frankfurt.

Bayern are hardly in need of a boost having gone 43 games unbeaten in the league, but look likely to have an additional option at their disposal this weekend.

France international Ribery is expected to make his return for Pep Guardiola’s side having not appeared since the middle of December with muscular problems.

Struggling Frankfurt certainly go into the game as underdogs, but lost by just a solitary goal – scored by Mario Mandzukic – when the two sides met in August.

Armin Veh’s side have pulled two points clear of the bottom three courtesy of recent wins over Bayer Leverkusen and Hertha Berlin.

Thiago Alcantara’s stoppage-time volley secured a 2-1 win over Stuttgart on Wednesday to keep Bayern’s remarkable run going, and Thomas Muller is confident they can make it 44 unbeaten.

“We’re capable of turning games around,” he told the club’s official website. “We picked ourselves up at half-time (against Stuttgart) and went for it.

“I’m looking forward to it (facing Frankfurt); it’s always easier on the back of two wins. I hope we maintain our momentum, have a really good game and entertain the fans.

“They’re not going to gift us the points, but provided we’re focused and aggressive there can only be one winner.”

Veh remains hopeful that Frankfurt can spring a shock at the Allianz Arena.

“We will play something different,” he said. “I’m realistic, so cannot say we have a good chance.

“But as an athlete you want to get the most out of it and if possible, create a very, very, very big surprise.”

Veh is already without Stefano Celozzi, Bastian Oczipka, Sonny Kittel and Marc Stendera, but will also rest Sebastian Rode and Carlos Zambrano to ensure they do not trigger suspensions.

Holger Badstuber and Bastian Schweinsteiger are still missing for Bayern, but otherwise Guardiola has a full squad to select from, with Mario Mandzukic pushing for a starting spot after making an impact as a substitute against Stuttgart.

Fri 31 January, 2014
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Sociedad seal Canales signing

Real Sociedad have confirmed the signing of Sergio Canales from Valencia on a four-and-a-half year contract.

Canales had been linked with a move away from Mestalla throughout the transfer window, with Premier League outfit Fulham reported to be interested, and he has remained in La Liga with Sociedad.

No details of a transfer fee have been released, but it was announced that the 22-year-old has signed a deal until June 2018.

The arrival of Seydou Keita at Valencia allowed Sociedad to make their move for midfielder Canales, and he returns to the north of Spain, where he began his career at Racing Santander before moving to Real Madrid in August 2010.

Canales completed his Sociedad medical on Friday and, according to the club’s official website, will be officially unveiled on Monday.

Fri 31 January, 2014
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