Robert Lewandowski scores last-gasp retaken penalty as Barca snatch late win

By Sports Desk February 17, 2024

Robert Lewandowski scored an injury-time penalty at the second time of asking as Barcelona secured a nail-biting late win over Celta Vigo to stay in touch with the LaLiga title race.

Lewandowski had already given his side the lead with an emphatic finish on the stroke of half-time but Iago Aspas put his struggling side on course for a draw with a deflected effort soon after the restart.

Lewandowski eventually won it from the spot in the seventh minute of added time, but only after the referee ordered a retake when his first attempt was saved by an encroaching Vicente Guaita. The result leaves them two points behind Girona in second and seven shy of rivals and leaders Real Madrid, having played one game more than both.

At the Metropolitano Stadium, fourth-placed Atletico Madrid ran out 5-0 winners over Las Palmas. Marcos Llorente and Angel Correa scored two apiece and Memphis Depay rounded things out in a one-sided contest.

Osasuna beat Cadiz 2-0 and Sevilla took a goalless draw from Valencia on their visit to the Mestalla.

In Ligue 1, departing Paris St Germain striker Kylian Mbappe found himself left out of the starting XI against Nantes only to step off the bench and bury a penalty.

Having announced his summer departure from PSG, Mbappe had to wait until the 62nd minute to see action but was ready to slot home from the spot to put the finishing touch to a 2-0 win. Lucas Hernandez had earlier put the runaway league leaders ahead on the hour.

Elsewhere, Lille moved back into third on goal difference as hat-trick hero Jonathan David put away Le Havre 3-0.

In Germany, Bundesliga’s relentless leaders Bayer Leverkusen banked another three points with a 2-1 away win at Heidenheim.

Xabi Alonso’s title-chasers have now won seven of their last eight matches, with Jeremie Frimpong and Amine Adli on target this time. Tim Kleindienst set up some late tension with an 87th-minute reply but the hosts could not force a second.

Third-placed Stuttgart fought for a 2-1 win at bottom club Darmstadt despite Pascal Stenzel’s red card at the end of the first half. They now sit five points above Borussia Dortmund, with the latter held 1-1 at Wolfsburg after substitute Yannick Gerhardt responded to Niclas Fullkrug’s early effort.

RB Leipzig won 2-0 against Borussia Monchengladbach, Union Berlin scored the only goal away to Hoffenheim and strugglers Mainz recorded a 1-0 win over Augsburg.

Juventus’ hopes of chipping away at Inter’s Serie A lead were stifled as they were forced to settle for a 2-2 draw at Verona. Juve twice dragged themselves back from a goal down, Dusan Vlahovic’s penalty and Adrien Rabiot’s second-half strike squaring efforts from Michael Folorunsho and Tijjani Noslin.

A point left Massimiliano Allegri’s men nine points behind the Nerazurri, who have a game in hand.

Napoli’s disappointing season continued to underwhelm as they were held 1-1 at home by Genoa. Morten Frendrup put the away side in front and it was not until the 90th minute that substitute Cyril Ngonge grabbed an equaliser.

Mario Pasalic, Teun Koopmeiners and Mitchel Bakker all found the target as Atalanta strengthened their grip on fourth spot at the expense of Sassuolo.

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    Cole Palmer became the Premier League’s joint-leading scorer this season as his four goals helped Chelsea crush hapless Everton 6-0 at Stamford Bridge.

    The former Manchester City player now has 20 for the campaign and dismantled Sean Dyche’s side almost single-handedly, netting a hat-trick inside the first 29 minutes to breathe genuine momentum into his team’s bid to qualify for Europe.

    This was as complete a first half as Chelsea have managed under Mauricio Pochettino, displaying a clinical edge in front of goal that made the insipid attacking displays of earlier in the season feel like a distant memory.

    It was also a night for individuals. Moises Caicedo at the base of midfield gave a performance full of guile and maturity; rarely had he looked so in command in Chelsea colours.

    Nicolas Jackson, who scored the fourth goal, and Mykhailo Mudryk were superb, further turning the tide of opinion in their favour after slow starts to their careers in blue.

    Then there was Palmer, Chelsea’s talisman, who is surely now a contender to challenge his former Manchester City team-mate Erling Haaland for the Golden Boot.

    This was not a perfect 90 minutes and there are still issues for Pochettino to address. When his team were given a penalty at 4-0 up in the second half, there was the unsavoury spectacle of a physical altercation as Jackson and Noni Madueke each tried to take the ball from the appointed taker Palmer. It pointed to a failure of discipline and leadership that the manager must surely address.

    But it could not sour a fine night for home fans in west London, capped off fittingly when academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist fired in his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

    Chelsea had started the game sluggishly, narrowly avoiding going behind after nine minutes when Beto missed the target from four yards.

    As so often this season it required intervention from Palmer to shake them to life. Receiving the ball deep from Malo Gusto, he impudently nutmegged Jarrad Branthwaite, played a one-two with Jackson, then curled his finish wide of the dive of Jordan Pickford for his first goal of a remarkable first half.

    Soon the floodgates were open. After 17 minutes, Mudryk was played in down the left by Jackson who, receiving it back from the Ukrainian, shot first time. Pickford beat the ball out, but only to the feet of the arriving Palmer who grabbed his second.

    His finish for 3-0 was exquisite, but the opportunity came gift-wrapped from Pickford. The England goalkeeper tried to pick out Amadou Onana but came up short with his pass. In nipped Palmer and, undaunted by the 45-yard distance to goal, lobbed it into the net for his hat-trick.

    Jackson made it four before the break, showing exquisite touch to drag Marc Cucurella’s cross out of the air before turning and guiding the ball beyond the goalkeeper’s grasp into the corner.

    The 22-year-old has shown significant improvement in recent weeks, and his 13th goal of the season was surely his best so far for Chelsea.

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    An exciting prospect while playing for DaCosta Cup champions, Clarendon College, Dixon's impressive performances on the field have caught the attention of scouts and club representatives, sparking discussions about potential opportunities abroad. With a strong desire to continue his development in a competitive environment, Dixon sees Europe as an ideal destination to advance his skills with Belgium being his preferred destination.

    "I'm focused on finishing the Jamaica Premier League season with Arnett Gardens before considering my next move," Dixon told Sportsmax.TV.

    Dixon's decision-making process will involve consultations with his club officials and discussions with his family to determine the best path forward for his career but explains his preference for where he would like to end up.

    "Playing in Belgium appeals to me because of their commitment to developing young players."

    Dixon made his senior debut for Jamaica’s Reggae Boys during the semi-finals of the CONCACAF Nations League against regional powerhouse, the United States and acquitted himself fairly well. His performance also convinced him that he is ready to play professional football.

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    "It's a good thing that clubs are interested, but I've still got to improve on my season as well," he said.

     

     

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