Rodri completes move from Villarreal to Atletico

Atletico Madrid have completed the signing of midfielder Rodri from La Liga rivals Villarreal after months of speculation linking him to a move.

The 21-year-old has signed a five-year contract with the Rojiblancos and will officially join the UEFA Europa League champions on July 1.

The holding midfielder played a significant part in the Yellow Submarine's 2017/18 season, making 47 appearances across all competitions.

Rodri made his debut for Spain in March this year, in the 1-1 draw with Germany, and also won the European Under-19 Championship with La Roja in 2015.

Rodri was on Atletico's books as a teenager back in 2013 when he left to join Villarreal.

Iniesta to sign for J-League side

Barcelona legend Andres Iniesta has signed for J-League side Vissel Kobe.

The 34-year-old played his last game for Barcelona in the final game of their 2017/18 La Liga season against Real Sociedad last weekend.

He reportedly turned down a numbers of offers from around the world including Australia, China and the United States, to sign for the Cows.

Based in Kobe in the Hyogo Prefecture, the Takayuki Yoshida coached side finished ninth in the 2017 J1 League.

They already have a splattering of foreign players on their books, namely Germany's Lukas Podolski who captains the side, as well as Brazilians Wellington and Leandro.

Following the completion of his 674th game for Barcelona, the World Cup winning midfielder lifted the Primera Division trophy and said farewell to the supporters the Nou Camp.

And on Wednesday, Iniesta posted a picture of himself and Vissel Kobe chairman Hiroshi Mikitani, saying: "Heading to my new home, with my friend."

While on Thursday morning, he was pictured with Mikitani holding up a Vissel Kobe shirt having penned a deal with the ambitious club.

Mikitani was reported to have said: "I am pleased to announce today that Andres Iniesta will be signing up to play with Vissel Kobe after his historic career at FC Barcelona."

Iniesta revealed his delight with the move, when he added: "This is a very special day for me. This is a very important challenge for my career.

"The J-League will hopefully spread in Asia. I'd like to help with that."

Kobe are currently sixth in the J-League standings from 15 games played.

Hazard not considering Sevilla move

Borussia Monchengladbach midfielder Thorgan Hazard says he is enjoying his football at the Bundesliga club and isn't looking for a move to Sevilla.

The Belgian has been linked with a transfer to the Spanish outfit after scoring 11 goals and providing nine assists in the German top-flight this past season.

However, the 25-year-old has revealed that even though Sevilla are a top team, he is not considering a move away from Die Fohlen at the moment.

“Sevilla are a great club,” Hazard told Belgian media outlet RTBF.

“They are a good team who play at the top of one of Europe’s strongest leagues and compete highly in Europe almost every year, but Monchengladbach are strong too.

“Right now, I do not want to discuss my future as I still have things to do this season, then we can start to think about the next one.

“At the moment, I have a two-year deal with my club and whilst it is a shame we could not qualify for Europe, I feel good at this club and in this league.”

Monchengladbach will not participate in a continental European competition next season, while Sevilla have qualified for the UEFA Europa League.

Mohamed is new Celta Vigo boss

Celta Vigo have announced the appointment of Argentine Antonio Mohamed as their new head coach.

The 48-year-old has worked at a number of clubs in Mexico and Argentina since retiring as a player in 2003, coaching at some of his former teams including Huracan, Zacatepec, Independiente and Monterrey.

He joins Celta on a two-year deal and replaces Juan Carlos Unzue who left on the back of a 13th-placed finish in the recently completed La Liga season.

Career highlights include winning the 2010 Copa Sudamericana with Independiente, alongside league championships with Tijuana, America and Monterrey, where he has been since 2015. They were crowned Copa MX Apertura champions in 2017

Former Pachuca manager Diego Alonso has, meanwhile, replaced Mohamed at Monterrey.

Kroos: Liverpool will be very tough to stop

Real Madrid midfielder Toni Kroos believes Jurgen Klopp's Liverpool will be difficult to defend against, just like his Borussia Dortmund side.

Kroos faced Klopp's high-energy Dortmund outfit many times during his spell at Bayern Munich, before moving to Real in 2013, and expects a similar approach from Liverpool in the UEFA Champions League final on Saturday.

“When we played against his team, it was difficult,” Kroos told the press when asked about Liverpool.

“At Bayern Munich, we always had a lot of problems against Dortmund.

“We’re expecting an aggressive Liverpool who have a really quick forward line, but we can stop them. It will be tough.

“That is what I expect on Saturday. His teams are always aggressive, they press you a lot — for 90 minutes.

“They are highly motivated. I expect a very tough game. They will be 11 animals, all up for it.

“We might be better on the ball but they’re going to put us under pressure for 90 minutes and will be at 100% or even more.”

Kroos will be targeting his fourth Champions League winner's medal. The 28-year-old won the competition with Bayern in 2013 before back-to-back wins with Real in 2016 and 2017.

Ronaldo: Liverpool are good, but we are better

Cristiano Ronaldo respects Liverpool but believes Real Madrid are simply a better team and highly motivated to win the UEFA Champions League.

Los Merengues have the opportunity to clinch a third consecutive Champions League title on Saturday when they take on the Reds in Kiev, and Ronaldo is relishing the opportunity.

The Portuguese gave credit to the Premier League outfit for making it all the way to the final, but made it clear that Madrid will be taking no prisoners when the game gets underway.

"They remind me of Madrid from a couple of years ago, with three quick players up top," Ronaldo told the press when asked about Jurgen Klopp's side.

"If they are in the final, they’re there for a reason and are in it on merit. I have a lot of respect for [Liverpool], but I think Madrid are better.

"We have to realise the history we can make and we need to show our experience. It’ll be something historic, we’re really up for it.

"I love this competition. They're always good games and to win it you need to beat the world's best teams. It's a competition in which something always happens, as we saw with Juventus.

"I've had an amazing season in the Champions League, scoring in all the group games. You need to be up for it and in this club you can never let up, let alone in this competition, with the history of the club. On a personal level it motivates me a lot."

He added: "I want to be fine on Saturday, play well, to score if I can, but the important thing is to win – it doesn’t matter who scores, what matters is making history."

Mane expects goals in Champions League final

Liverpool forward Sadio Mane has predicted that there are more goals on the way as the Reds prepare to face Real Madrid in the UEFA Champions League final.

Jurgen Klopp's men scored freely in the knockout stage of the Champions League this season. They bagged five against FC Porto, five against Manchester City, and seven against AS Roma in the semi-finals.

Mane believes the scoring can continue when they clash with back-to-back Champions League winners Real in Kiev on Saturday.

"I think more goals are coming," Mane said, according to ESPN. "Of course I am happy, but as a striker you'd love to score every single game to help your team.

"Now we have one more important game, so why not try to do our best, score for the team and win the trophy?"

The 26-year-old has scored 19 goals in 43 games this campaign, while fellow attackers Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino have amassed 44 and 27 respectively.

"Like I have always said, I have always been enjoying playing alongside these great players," he added. "They make everything easier for me. I am a lucky boy.

"But we always talk about the front three. Don't forget it starts from the guys behind. They make it easier.

"The power of Liverpool Football Club is the collective. We always do everything together -- this is our power."

Zidane says Real are geared up for UCL final

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane believes his side have the appetite and skill to come out on top in Saturday's UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool at the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex in Kiev.

Some have suggested that the Reds' highly intense work rate and fast-paced style of play may disrupt Real's flowing passing game, however, Zidane believes that not to be the case.

He told Marca: "We have and we will always have the same enthusiasm, the same determination, and the same desire as always. No one can tell us that we are less hungry than anyone else.

"We are Madrid and this club is what we have, we always want more and we will give everything to achieve that in the best way.

"They are a team who have made it to the final, they deserve it as we do. My job is to try to prepare the match well, as always, and note the defects of the opponent and try to damage them."

Meanwhile, the Frenchman added that Los Blancos are not overly feeling the pressure of trying to win three consecutive UCL crowns following their success in the 2015/16 and 2016/17 editions of the tournament.

He concluded: "There is no failure here, the failure for me and, I have said this, is when you stay at home away from the trophy. If you have the dream, there is no failure. If you don't, there is.

"In life there are ups and downs and you know that, in life, you have to take blows to improve. But day-to-day, it is worth it."

Spain WC squad announced without Chelsea trio

Chelsea stars Alvaro Morata, Cesc Fabregas, and Marcos Alonso have all been left out of Spain's 23-man World Cup squad.

Spain manager Julen Lopetegui revealed his squad on Monday, ahead of the showpiece in Russia which kicks off on June 14. He opted to leave the three Blues players at home, while also passing on Manchester United's Ander Herrera and Arsenal's Hector Bellerin.

"We've taken the players we feel are the best and feel that we have the ingredients to challenge for the title and are just anxious for things to start now," Lopetegui told a press conference.

"We feel that each one will bring his style and personality to the team and this is important for each game and each situation."

Spain squad for 2018 World Cup:

Goalkeepers: David de Gea, Pepe Reina, Kepa Arrizabalaga

Defenders: Dani Carvajal, Alvaro Odriozola, Gerard Piqué, Sergio Ramos, Nacho, Cesar Azpilicueta, Jordi Alba, Nacho Monreal

Midfielders: Sergio Busquets, Saul, Koke, Thiago Alcantara, Andres Iniesta, David Silva

Forwards: Isco, Sergio Asensio, Lucas Vazquez, Iago Aspas, Rodrigo, Diego Costa

Spain are one of the favourites to lift the World Cup trophy. They will compete in Group B alongside Portugal, Morocco, and Iran.

Van Dijk determined to beat Real Madrid

Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk is relishing the chance to be part of something special as the Reds target UEFA Champions League glory.

Jurgen Klopp's men will have a rare chance to fight for the Champions League trophy when they take on back-to-back winners Real Madrid in the final on Saturday May 26, after knocking out AS Roma in the semi-finals.

Van Dijk, who joined the Merseyside outfit from Southampton in January, is determined to make the most of the opportunity and insists Liverpool will not fear their opponents.

“The Champions League nights I’ve played so far have been very special – even the away game against Roma was incredible, with their support and our support, which was fantastic as well,” Van Dijk told the club's official website.

“To secure the Champions League final spot there was nice, it was crazy. I've spoken with a lot of big, big legends of the club already and I like hearing stories of them back in the day. It’s great to be part of something special now.

“There is definitely a chance [to write our own history]. It is going to be a hard task, but we just need to believe in ourselves. We know we have the quality, we know we have the game plan to make it difficult for any opponent.

“We have to respect them in a certain way, but we’re not going to fear them. We want to win the game and we’re going to do everything that is possible. It’s going to be a very big game.”

Messi wins fifth Golden Shoe

Lionel Messi has won Europe’s Golden Shoe award for the fifth time.

The Barcelona and Argentina star collected the prize after hitting 34 goals in La Liga this season as Barca romped to a league and cup double.

Messi, a substitute in Barcelona’s last-day victory over Real Sociedad on Sunday also won the prize in 2017, 2013, 2012 and 2010.

The 30-year old finished ahead of Liverpool’s Mohamed Salah (32 goals) by two, while Tottenham's Harry Kane finished in third place with 30 goals.

Jonas of Benfica matched Messi’s total of 34 league goals, but strikes in the Portuguese league are worth just 1.5 points each as it it is not ranked in the top five leagues in Europe.

Four-time winner of the award Cristiano Ronaldo finished ninth in the rankings after scoring 26 goals for Real Madrid.

Golden Shoe final Top 10:

  1. Lionel Messi, Barcelona, 68 points (34 goals)
  2. Mohamed Salah, Liverpool, 64 points (32)
  3. Harry Kane, Tottenham Hotspur, 60 (30)
  4. Ciro Immobile, Lazio, 58 (29)
  5. Mauro Icardi, Inter Milan, 58 (29)
  6. Robert Lewandowski, Bayern Munich, 58 (29)
  7. Edinson Cavani, Paris Saint-Germain, 56 (28)
  8. Cristiano Ronaldo, Real Madrid, 52 (26)
  9. Jonas, Benfica, 51 (34)
  10. Luis Suarez, Barcelona, 50 (25)

Barca legend Iniesta given fitting send-off

Andres Iniesta played his final game for Barcelona on Sunday as the Spanish champions earned a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad to give their midfield general a victorious finale.

Iniesta made his 674th appearance for the Catalan giants and was given a fitting send-off as the occasion turned into a giant party, the crowd welcoming him with a huge mural before kickoff.

The 34-year old captained the side for the match, and was substituted in the 81st minute to an emotional farewell from the crowd as he left the pitch in tears.

After the match had finished their was a light show inside the stadium as the Barcelona players emerged wearing Iniesta shirts to make a guard of honour for the Barca legend.

Iniesta then appeared to raise the La Liga and Copa del Rey trophies as the team celebrated completing the double, Iniesta’s fourth.

"This is a difficult day, but I have spent 22 marvellous years here," he said. "It's been a pride and a pleasure to defend and represent this badge, which for me is the best in the world.

"Thanks to all my team-mates, each and every one. I will miss you all so much. And thank you to the fans, for all your love, everything you've made me feel since I arrived here as a boy. I leave as a man. I will keep you in my heart forever."

Iniesta joined Barcelona as a 12-year old and spent 22 years at the club. Only his former central midfield partner Xavi has made more appearances for the club with 767.

During his time with the club he won nine La Liga titles, four Champions Leagues, three Club World Cups and the Copa del Rey six times.

Iniesta is yet to decide where he will play next, with rumours circulating he could head to Japan or even the Chinese Super League.

Earlier in Madrid, Fernando Torres also brought the curtain down on his career with his first club as he made his final appearance for Atletico Madrid.

Torres, who scored Spain's winner in the Euro 2008 final, cried profusely during a pre-match ceremony at the Wanda Metropolitano Stadium.

He marked his final game for the club in the best way, netting both goals in a 2-2 draw with Eibar.

Iniesta bows out of Barca with a win

Andres Iniesta capped off a trophy-laden Barcelona career with a 1-0 win over Real Sociedad in his final game for the club in their last La Liga game of the 2017/18 season.

  • Barcelona 1 Real Sociedad 1
  • Coutinho on target on 57

Match summary

It was a relaxed Barca performance with the title secured some time ago, and while Sociedad threatened with a couple of half-chances, Philippe Coutinho's second-half scorcher settled this tie.

Full report

Real Sociedad started well with Adnan Januzaj racing down the right wing before crossing for Willian Jose who headed straight at Marc-Andre Ter Stegen.

Iniesta was lively and almost set up Luis Suarez with a ball from the right but Illarramendi shepherded the ball well out of play.

Ter Stegen then did well to deny Janujaz who shot from around 20 yards while Iniesta was just off target with an effort from just outside the area that skimmed the side netting.

Moya was forced into action as Iniesta chipped a ball to Ousmane Dembele, whose cross-come-shot was punched clear by the Sociedad stopper.

Barcelona continued to attack and while Suarez failed to make the most of a 17th minute free-kick that he smashed into the defensive wall, Ivan Rakitic was inches from handing Barca the lead having latched onto a lofted Dembele ball after Philippe Coutinho had broken forward well.

Suarez was unable to get any real contact to another good Dembele ball while Mikel Oyarzabal cut back a ball for Zurutuza having powered forward but the subsequent shot was placed wide of the goal.

Juanmi was then called up for offsides after rounding Ter Stegen and slotting home after the Barca keeper had come out to put pressure on the onrushing attacker for the last real action of the first half.

A Willian Jose free-kick at the start of the second period deflected over the Barca goal ahead of a subdued passage of play with the home side controlling possession.

But Ernesto Valverde's side were ahead on 57 minutes through Coutinho who picked the ball up in midfield before creating space for a shot and smashing home from outside the box.

Lionel Messi came onto replace Coutinho with 67 minutes on the clock, ahead of another close effort, this time from Gerard Pique after Denis Suarez's free-kick found his teammate who was stopped by Moya.

Denis Suarez and then his namesake where both unable to make the most of balls into good areas as the game wore on, as Messi failed to beat Moya after some superb interplay with Luis Suarez.

Then the moment everyone had been waiting for as Iniesta was substituted to a standing ovation from the crowd, on 81 minutes, departing the field for the last time for Barca, to be replaced by Alcacer. The Spaniard shook every player's hand as well as the referees' before departing the game.

Alcacer was quickly into the action but hit his shot high after being played in by Ivan Rakitic, with the match ending shortly after Sociedad substituted Zurutuza, also in his final appearance, with Prieto replacing him for the final few kicks of the ball.

Barcelona were presented with the La Liga trophy following a pyrotechnics display after the game to the delight of the home support.

Zidane: We were focused on the final

Zinedine Zidane admitted his side were focused on the Champions League final in the second half of their 2-2 draw with Villarreal.

Real Madrid missed out on the chance to finish in second place in La Liga with the stalemate in their final match of the season.

With the Champions League final just a week away, Zidane said his side was distracted by the upcoming clash with Liverpool.

Speaking after the game, he was reported on the club's website as saying: "We were good in the first half but in the second period we managed the game with the final in mind. When that happens, the opposition can make life hard for you.

"The La Liga season didn't start well for us but we have finished strongly. We have the biggest game to come and we're going to enjoy that".

He added: "La Liga is now over. We have the Champions League to play and we're thrilled to be in the final. It shouldn't be a case of choosing. We want to win everything we can, but this year it wasn't possible to win La Liga and we are going all out for Champions League glory."

Reflecting on the debut of his son Luca, who started in goal for Real, Zidane concluded: "He's part of the squad and he did well tonight.

"I'm delighted with his debut. He's another squad player and that's how I treat him. He was yet to make his debut, he was the only member of the squad who hadn't featured this season, and that's why I put him in tonight. It's an important day for him and for his coach."

Villarreal come from behind to hold Real

Real Madrid were held to a 2-2 draw with Villarreal in their final La Liga fixture of the season.

  • Villarreal 2 Real Madrid 2
  • Bale on target after 11'
  • Ronaldo scores on 32'
  • Martinez pulls a goal back on 70'
  • Castillejo with 85' leveller

Match summary

Zinedine Zidane picked a strong side that included his son Luca Zidane in goal.

But after taking a comfortable lead through Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo, Villarreal secured a share of the spoils as second-half substitutes Roger Martinez and Samu Castillejo both netted.

The loss meant that Real ended the season in third place with 76 points and Villarreal in fifth on 61 points.

Full report

Villarreal were first to threaten with Enes Unal pouncing on a poor clearance from Sergio Ramos but he shot low and just wide of the target.

Andres Fernandez was then forced to parry a Ramos shot around his goal before the home stopper got both hands behind a well-hit Cristiano Ronaldo shot.

Bale, meanwhile, came within a whisker of connecting to a good delivery from his Portuguese teammate after some trickery on the right-side of the box.

While he was initially unsuccessful, Bale kept up his recent goalscoring run by slotting in on 11 minutes with a superb strike into the bottom left-hand corner from a quickly taken free-kick.

Ronaldo then smashed a long-range free-kick high and wide while Luca Zidane got his first taste of action with a comfortable save from Roberto Soriano after he cut inside from the left flank.

After being denied a penalty, Ronaldo was quickly back with a powerful burst, only to be stopped by an offside flag when he was about to shoot.

And while Pablo Fornals came close on 30 minutes, Ronaldo fired Madrid in a two-nil lead after a chipped pass from Isco found Marcelo, who crossed for Ronaldo to power his header into the bottom right corner of the net.

Luka Modric may well have scored soon after but toe-poked his chance just over the crossbar, while Isco was also in with a good chance, but his shot from inside the 18-yard area was deflected just wide.

The chances kept coming for Real until the break, with Ronaldo just off target before Toni Kroos forced Fernandez into a super stop from a powerful drive.

Having collected themselves, Villarreal were back on the front foot at the start of the second period and Zidane made an excellent save to push a curling Nicola Sansone shot over his crossbar.

Fernandez stifled some quick counters from the visitors before Zidane made an easy stop from Rodri Hernandez with 54 minutes on the clock.

Unal fired a dangerous free-kick just wide ahead of a double substitution from Real that saw Karim Benzema replace Ronaldo and Lucas Vasquez come on for Modric.

Ramos then was forced to clear off his goalline as Unal headed on a Sansone cross from the left.

But Villarreal were soon back in the game, on 70 minutes as second half substitute Martinez skipped past Varane after latching on to a Hernandez throughball before beating Zidane with an excellent finish.

Benzema couldn't get any purchase on his 74th minute shot after Isco had made way for Kovacic minutes earlier, before Casemiro stopped Martinez from equalising with a well-timed interception.

But the home side were to score, through Samu Castillejo from another good ball from Hernandez, as he rounded Zidane and slotted into an empty net.

Vasquez may have won it for Real deep into injury time but fired his first-time volley just wide of the near post when it was probably easier to score.

 

Isco wants Real future

Isco says he's 'in the right place' to continue his development amid rumours of his imminent exit from Real Madrid.

The supremely talented 26-year-old Spaniard had to be patient for game time under Zinedine Zidane this season.

His quality, however, was never in question and he shone during his time on the pitch.

Despite reports suggesting the former Valencia and Malaga midfielder was set to leave the club in the off-season, Isco, who is looking forward to a 'very beautiful' Champions League final next week, believes he is where he should be.

Speaking to reporters at the presentation of his new fragrance, Isco said: "I'm young and I'm not content with anything. I want to keep aspiring to the maximum and I'm in the right place."

He added: "It is going to be a very beautiful final.

"It is the most important tournament at club level and Real Madrid are the kings of Europe and we have the opportunity to claim it again after a season where we have not done well in the league and cup.

"It would be a good way to finish the season.

Up first though is Real's final La Liga match of the season against Villarreal at the Estadio de la Ceramica.

A win on Saturday coupled with a loss for Atletico Madrid would see Real finish the 2017/18 Primera Division season in second place.

 

Ronaldo '120%' for UCL final says Zidane

Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane says superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is in peak physical condition ahead of late May's UEFA Champions League final against Liverpool in Kiev.

The 33-year-old has not featured for Los Blancos since suffering an ankle injury during the El Clasico draw with Barcelona earlier this month.

Nonetheless, Zidane says the prolific Portugal forward has made a full recovery and will be ready for the clash with the Reds at the Olimpiyskiy National Sports Complex on 26 May.

He told reporters: "Right now he is 120%. He is fine. If Cristiano is 120% that's fine with me."

In addition, he added that Gareth Bale's recent good form was encouraging news for his team, saying: "You can say he's playing better because of the goals he has scored, but he has been training well.

"The most important thing is to see everyone in good physical shape. That's what I care about."

Should the Frenchman win the UCL crown for a third season in a row, he will join Carlo Ancelotti and Bob Paisley as the only managers to have three European titles.

Speaking of what that achievement could mean, the 45-year-old concluded: "It would mean a lot of things. It would mean we have been doing our job well and that my message has been getting through to the players and the staff.

"It's great to start my managerial career at this level but for me the most important final of the Champions League is this one, not the last one. We have to give it everything."

Villarreal v Real Madrid

Villarreal will be looking to do the double over a Real Madrid side distracted by the upcoming Champions League final in their last match of the 2017/18 La Liga season.

Pablo Fornals scored the all-important goal the last time these two sides faced each other but it is Carlos Bacca leading Villarreal's goalscoring charts with 15 goals this season.

Javi Calleja's side is, however, full of goalscorers, with midfielder Samu Castillejo taking his tally for the season to five following a brace in the 4-2 defeat of Deportivo La Coruna last time out.

Zinedine Zidane is expected to rest a number of players ahead of their European final, although Gareth Bale should get some more game time, having returned to the side following injury with three goals in his last three games, to move onto 15 goals for the season.

Villarreal come into this game having secured a place in the Europa League group stages for next season, in fifth position on the Primera Division standings with 60 points,

They also on a run of five wins from six league games, suffering a 5-1 defeat to Barcelona before seeing off Deportivo last time out.

Real, meanwhile, in third place, could secure second with all three points, coupled with a loss by Atletico Madrid to Eibar. They come into this game on the back of a 2-2 draw with Barcelona, 3-0 loss to Sevilla and a 6-0 hammering of Celta Vigo in their last game without an injured Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ahead of the game Zidane told his club's website: "We've had a great week, we've trained very well, at an impressive rhythm. We're switched on and ready for the final. All 24 of us are well-prepared and raring to go. We hope we can put in a good performance tomorrow, it's important, we want to finish La Liga on a high and then we've got one week to get ready for the final”.

In team news, Ronaldo appears to have overcome a sprained ankle but is not expected to play on Saturday.

Villarreal have Bruno Soriano and Ramiro Guerra sidelined with injury.

Barcelona outclass Sundowns at FNB

Barcelona showed their class as they breezed past Mamelodi Sundowns 3-1 in Wednesday's international friendly clash at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg.

Mamelodi Sundowns 1 Barcelona 3
Dembele curls home
Suarez nets second
Gomes gets third
Vilakazi pulls one back

Match summary

Barcelona showed their class as they raced into a 3-0 lead through goals from Ousmane Dembele, Luis Suarez and Andre Gomes.

The Brazilians showed character and managed a consolation strike from Sibusiso Vilakazi in the 76th minute.

Match report

The home side gave away a gift within the first five minutes as defender Bangaly Soumahoro gave away a poor pass at the back, which Dembele took advantage of as he curled home in the third minute.

Sundowns had a golden opportunity to level matters when Percy Tau raced through on goal but tried a chipped finish beyond goalkeeper Marc-Andre ter Stegen, though the German star read the situation and made a comfortable save.

The second goal arrived in the 19th minute after good work from Denis Suarez. He fed in Uruguay superstar Suarez, who finished with trademark ease beyond Denis Onyango.

It was Barca who were largely on top and they came close to a third not long after. Suarez raced behind Downs' defence, though he was thwarted by an alert Onyango in the sticks.

Downs nearly responded just after the half-an-hour mark as Hlompho Kekana sent in a rasping drive, though ter Stegen showed his world class qualities to tip his effort over the bar.

Just before the break, Denis Suarez hit the post at the far post when he perhaps should have hit the target with the majority of the goal at his mercy.

After the interval, a mistake from Kekana handed the visitors the opportunity to add to their advantage as he gave away the ball carelessly after trying to play out from the back.

Gomes was on hand to tuck home as the Brazilians added to their own woes at the back. With that said, Pitso Mosimane's men managed to hit a consolation goal as Sibusiso Vilakazi beat the offside trap to convert beyond ter Stegen in the 76th minute.

Griezmann fires Atletico to Europa glory

Atletico Madrid were crowned Europa League Champions following their 3-0 defeat of Marseille in Lyon on Wednesday night.

  • Marseille 0 Atletico Madrid 2
  • Griezmann steals in on 21'
  • Griezmann slots home his second on 49'
  • Gabi adds a third on 89'

Match summary

Atletico maestro Antoine Griezmann bagged two goals ahead of a late third from Gabi in a thrilling final that certainly lived up to its billing.

The first half saw the attacking flair of Marseille against the more wily Atletico, and it was the Spaniards who scored against the run of play after a mistake from the otherwise excellent André-Frank Zambo Anguissa.

Griezmann then finished off a quick breakaway at the start of the second half, in what was a more controlled second half against a deflated Marseille, who conceded again late on.

Full report

It was a frenetic start at the Groupama Stadium with Marseille first in with a great chance that striker Valere Germain skied wide from the edge of the 18-yard area, having been played in by Dmitri Payet.

The French side were certainly up for this match with Bouna Sarr lively with his runs down the right flank, but he was off the mark with his first attempt after 11 minutes.

Atletico though were starting to find their feet although Koke was unable to finish a volley on the jump ahead of an underhit effort from Payet after the ball dropped to him some 25 yards from goal.

But then very much against the run of play, a horror touch from Anguissa following a pass out from Marseille goalkeeper Steve Mandanda handed Atletico possession as the ball hit Gabi before rolling for Griezmann to fire past the sprawling shotstopper.

Jan Oblak had a looping header fro the impressive Lucas Ocampos well covered as Rudi Garcia's side looked to respond.

There was more bad news for Marseille as Payet, who was an injury doubt before kick-off, was replaced for Maxi Lopez on 32 minutes after pulling his hamstring.

Griezmann came close to playing in Diego Costa down the left channel as the half drew to a close, only for Sarr to intercept, but punished Marseille just four minutes after the break.

After the ball broke for Koko on the half way line, he played in Griezmann on the right who cut towards goal and beat Mandanda with an exquisite dinked finish.

The Spaniards were buoyed by the striker and came close to a third only for Diego Godin to power his near post header over from a corner, all the while pressing a rattled Marseille side.

Garcia withdrew the dangerous Lucas Ocampos for Clinton N'Jie as he looked for a different way back into this game, ahead of a period of some niggle from both sides as tempers heated up.

Griezmann blocked an N'Jie volley on 66 minutes prior to another spell of pressure from Atletico, while Marseille introduced Kostas Mitroglu for Valere Germain for a last throw of the dice.

Luck wasn't on their side though as Mitroglu's flicked header on 81 minutes from a whipped in cross from the right came crashing back off a post.

Jordan Amavi was unable to beat Oblak with his snapshot minutes later, and after N'Jie wasted a real opportunity to hit the target as a cross from the left dropped to his feet, Atletico went up to the other end of the pitch and put the game to bed.

Diego Simeone's side strode forward, with Gabi arriving perfectly to meet a square ball into the box and finish well past Mandanda.

And with the trophy firmly secured, Fernando Torres came Griezmann for the final few minutes of a thoroughly entertaining and well deserved final victory.