Real Sociedad 0-1 Real Madrid: Los Blancos edge closer to LaLiga title with win

By Sports Desk April 26, 2024

Arda Guler scored in the first half to earn a second-string Real Madrid side a 1-0 win at Real Sociedad on Friday, moving the LaLiga leaders a step closer to a record-extending 36th Spanish title.

With five games remaining, Madrid climbed to 84 points and extended their lead to 14 points over second-placed Barcelona, who have a game in hand and host Valencia on Monday.

Madrid manager Carlo Ancelotti rested several key players ahead of their Champions League semi-final against Bayern Munich, but his side did just enough to secure the three points.

The winner came from 19-year-old Turkish midfielder Guler, making his first start for Madrid after signing from Fenerbahce, when he turned home Dani Carvajal's cross in the 29th minute.

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    England passed up the chance to progress to the knockout stage of Euro 2024 with a game to spare as they were pegged back to a 1-1 draw by Denmark in Frankfurt. 

    Harry Kane's goal in the 18th minute had eased the early Three Lions nerves, only for Morten Hjulmand to take aim from distance and fire beyond Jordan Pickford. 

    Yet bar the move for Kane's opener, England's performance was deeply lacklustre, and Gareth Southgate may well face scrutiny, even though the Three Lions remain in pole position in Group C.

    Denmark, who looked the more likely to win it in the second half, sit second, ahead of Slovenia and Serbia, who drew in Thursday's earlier match.

    There were calls for concern early on in the contest as Kyle Walker was the first to succumb to a choppy surface, taking a chunk out of the pitch as he went forward, requiring a change of footwear. 

    Walker showed no signs of an injury, however, taking advantage of Victor Kristiansen's lapse in concentration to sprint clear before his deflected cross found Kane, who tucked away his 64th international goal. 

    But as was the case against Serbia, Southgate's side failed to nail home their advantage, and this time they were punished as Hjulmand rifled home the 13th goal scored from outside the box at Euro 2024.

    Denmark concluded the first half much the better team, with Joachim Andersen and Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg going close to giving Kasper Hjulmand's team an advantage at the break.

    England almost regained their advantage when Phil Foden was able to find space to send an effort towards Kasper Schmeichel's goal early in the second half, only for the post to come to the Danes' rescue. 

    Southgate made a triple change in the 70th minute, and it almost proved fruitful when Ollie Watkins forced another save from Schmeichel.

    But Denmark soon regained control, and Pickford was a spectator as Hojbjerg fired an effort from distance that narrowly evaded the far post, with the spoils ultimately shared.

    England in strong position, but still far from convincing

    Having arrived in Germany among the tournament favourites, England are still yet to show they have the potential to end their 58-year wait for an international honour. 

    The Three Lions continued their run of having never won their opening two matches at a European Championship tournament, and a disjointed midfield remains a problem for Southgate, with Trent Alexander-Arnold once again replaced early in the second half by Conor Gallagher, and it appears crucial that balance is found sooner rather than later. 

    It was another disappointing performance from Phil Foden, but he showed glimpses of his promise from central areas which will give the England boss another decision to navigate. 

    Kane can take solace in becoming only the third player to score in four separate major tournaments for England, after Michael Owen and Wayne Rooney, but he managed just 22 touches, though only one of those came in Denmark's box.

    All eyes on Munich for Denmark 

    Denmark will arguably be the more disappointed of the two sides, given they looked more likely to score late on.

    Hjulmand's side outfought and outplayed England at times, but were unable to improve their record against the Three Lions and have now failed to beat them in their previous four meetings (D2 L2) at major tournaments.

    But the Danes can take the positives from their performance, registering more shots (16 to 12) and more possession (51%) than their opponents, but the result is the most important statistic next Tuesday when they take on Serbia.

    Denmark have now won just one of their last 10 group stage games at major international tournaments, beating Russia 4-1 on matchday three at Euro 2020.

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    Didier Deschamps says "everything is going in the right direction" when it comes to Kylian Mbappe's fitness.

    Mbappe sustained a broken nose during France's 1-0 win over Austria on Monday, casting his participation in the rest of Les Bleus' Euro 2024 campaign into doubt.

    However, in a positive move, the 25-year-old returned to light training, while wearing a protective bandage, on Wednesday.

    And ahead of France's clash with the Netherlands, Deschamps was optimistic that his captain will be available.

    "Everything is going in the right direction after this major shock he had, with the consequences, of course," Deschamps said on Thursday.

    "Yesterday, as you could see, he was able to go out and do some activity. That will be the case tonight too.

    "So it has evolved in the right direction. We'll do everything we can to ensure that he can be available tomorrow."

    If he indeed does play in Leipzig, then Mbappe will have to wear a protective mask.

    Deschamps added: "Kylian will be wearing a mask yes, you don't really need to know the details about this mask."

    Antoine Griezmann joined Deschamps in offering a positive update.

    "Kylian is doing very well, his nose has deflated a little. We will see until the last moment, depending on his feelings," Griezmann said.

    Mbappe had four shots without scoring in their 1-0 win over Austria, taking his total to 18 attempts without scoring at the Euros, the most of any Frenchman since 1980. By contrast, at the World Cup he has scored 12 goals in 14 matches with a 31% shot conversion rate.

    He will surely be extra eager to return to action given his record against the Dutch.

    The Netherlands are Mbappe's favourite opponent – he has scored six goals in five matches against them, more than against any other side in his international career with France. In fact, his first ever goal for Les Bleus came against the Netherlands in August 2017.

  • Pickford becomes England's record appearance maker at major tournaments Pickford becomes England's record appearance maker at major tournaments

    Jordan Pickford will become England's leading appearance maker at major international tournaments against Denmark at Euro 2024. 

    The Everton goalkeeper will make his 21st appearance for the Three Lions at a major international competition in Frankfurt, surpassing Peter Shilton's record. 

    Pickford made his debut for his country in 2017 in a draw with Germany at Wembley, and was included in Gareth Southgate's 23-man squad for the 2018 World Cup in Russia. 

    The 30-year-old has since established himself as England's number one, and has kept 10 clean sheets for his nation at major tournaments, the latest of which coming last Sunday against Serbia. 

    Pickford enjoyed an excellent start to his Euro 2024, completing 25 of his 41 passes against Serbia with a pass accuracy of 61 per cent. 

     

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