IMAGES from soccer matches played on Monday.
IMAGE: Barcelona’s Luuk de Jong reacts after the final whistle of the La Liga match against Cadiz CF at Camp Nou in Barcelona on Monday. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images
Barcelona’s faint hopes of catching LaLiga leaders Real Madrid suffered a huge blow as they slipped to a shock 1-0 home defeat by relegation-threatened Cadiz on Monday.
Real’s last-gasp victory at Sevilla on Sunday extended their advantage over Barca in second to 15 points, but Xavi Hernandez’s in-form side were expected to close the gap by beating Cadiz at the Camp Nou.
The hosts never really got going, however, in front of a disgruntled crowd and Cadiz had the better first-half openings with Lucas Perez missing a glorious opportunity to break the deadlock.
Cadiz kept coming after the interval and Perez scored in the 48th minute before the visitors wasted further big chances to extend their advantage – Alex Fernandez slotting wide when it looked easier to score.
Barca piled on the pressure but lacked that killer pass as they slipped to a first defeat in 16 LaLiga matches stretching back to December. They remained on 60 points from 31 games, 15 behind Real who have one hand on the trophy.
“We had the chances, more than enough to take the three points, but we have to rise from this and think about the next games,” Xavi said.
“We have to change our form as soon as possible. We have got back into the Champions League places but we have to keep going.
“It’s a very bad week for us and we need to change the dynamic as soon as possible.”
IMAGE: Barcelona’s Sergio Busquets contends for the aerial ball with Cadiz’s Ruben Sobrino. Photograph: David Ramos/Getty Images
Aside from their shock Europa League exit at home to Eintracht Frankfurt last week, Barca have enjoyed a revival under Xavi in recent months to climb back into the title race.
Not only had they gone 16 matches unbeaten in the league, they had won their previous seven LaLiga games in a row, scoring 22 goals in the process.
Other than Ousmane Dembele’s shot, they did not look like scoring in the opening period, with Cadiz, looking for their first-ever win in the Nou Camp, much the better side.
The decisive strike came at the third attempt after Marc-Andre ter Stegen made a fine double save, with Perez picking the perfect moment to score his first league goal of the season.
Ter Stegen saved Barca on several occasions before substitute Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang almost snatched a point for Barcelona who have now lost two home games in a row for the first time since 2003.
Napoli title hopes suffer blow as Roma snatch late draw
IMAGE: Napoli players looks dejected after the match againt AS Roma at Stadio Diego Armando Maradona, Naples, Italy. Photograph: Ciro De Luca /Reuters
Napoli’s Serie A title hopes suffered a huge blow as Stephan El Shaarawy’s last-gasp equaliser earned AS Roma a 1-1 draw at the Diego Armando Maradona Stadium on Monday.
The hosts held the lead in a tense clash in Naples for the majority of the contest after captain Lorenzo Insigne broke the deadlock with a well-taken penalty after 11 minutes.
Chasing a first Scudetto since 1990, Napoli looked nervy as they went in search of three points that would have closed the gap on leaders AC Milan, with Roma having several chances to level in the second half.
The home side looked like they had done enough to hold on as the clock passed 90 minutes, before substitute El Shaarawy broke Napoli hearts in stoppage time, firing a leveller that in-form Roma deserved.
The draw left Napoli third in the standings on 67 points from 33 matches, four points behind leaders AC Milan. Roma stayed fifth on 58 points having stretched their unbeaten run in Serie A to 12 matches.
“There is a bit of disappointment, as for long stretches we controlled the game,” Napoli coach Luciano Spalletti said. “We then faced a strong team that created problems.
“We are sorry for the final result, we had fresh players at the end but we were unable to manage the ball and the goal conceded was highly avoidable.”
Napoli were beaten in their previous home by Fiorentina, but got just the start they needed against Roma after Hirving Lozano was adjudged to have been fouled after a VAR review.
Insigne’s cool finish ensured Napoli are the team with the most penalties scored in the big-five European leagues (nine).
After that, the better chances fell Roma’s way, with English striker Tammy Abraham and visiting skipper Lorenzo Pellegrini missing glaring openings after the break.
Roma had one more gilt-edged chance and El Shaarawy arrowed the ball into the bottom corner. The Italian has scored all of his Serie A goals this campaign from the 90th minute onwards.
Roma coach Jose Mourinho was typically still not happy after the match, with the referee the target of his ire for not awarding his side a late penalty and giving a red card to unused away substitute Daniel Fuzato for his protests.
“Today it seemed impossible for us to win,” he told DAZN. (Referee Marco) Di Bello in some moments made me ashamed of being there.
“There was a red for (Alessandro) Zanoli, he didn’t call a penalty against (Nicolo) Zaniolo and then much more. I have had enough, we want a little respect.”
ACL: Al Shabab down Air Force Club to move closer to knockout rounds
Saudi Arabia’s Al Shabab moved to the verge of qualification for the knockout rounds of the Asian Champions League on Monday with a 3-0 win in Riyadh over Air Force Club from Iraq.
Nawaf Al Abid opened the scoring before Carlos Junior struck twice as Al Shabab jumped six points clear of India’s Mumbai City and Al Jazira from the United Arab Emirates with two games remaining in Group B of the continental championship.
Only the winners in each of the five groups in west Asia will advance to the knockout rounds of the competition, where they will be joined the three best runners-up.
Al Abid put Al Shabab in front on the half hour mark when he swept the ball past goalkeeper Mohammed Saleh and nine minutes later Carlos Junior doubled the advantage when he smashed his shot home off the underside of the crossbar.
The Brazilian put the result beyond doubt 17 minutes from time as Al Shabab won for the third time in four matches, opening up a six-point lead after Al Jazira and Mumbai City drew 0-0 in the other game in the group.
In Group C, Shabab Al Ahli handed Qatar’s Al Gharafa an 8-2 thumping in Jeddah but the side from the UAE still trail leaders Foolad by two points after the Iranian club’s 1-0 win over Turkmenistan’s Ahal.
Thomas Olsen and Azizjon Ganiev both scored braces as Shabab Al Ahli ran rampant against Al Gharafa to win their first game of the group phase following three draws and move onto six points, one more than Al Gharafa.
South Africa’s Ayanda Patosi scored the only goal in Foolad’s clash with Ahal to keep the Iranian side on top of the standings with eight points.
Meanwhile, Al Duhail moved into pole position in Group D with a 3-0 victory over Uzbekistan’s Pakhtakor through goals from Bassam Hisham, Michael Olunga and Almoez Ali.
The win means the Qatari side sit two points ahead of Al Taawon following the Saudi Arabian club’s 1-1 draw with Iran’s Sepahan.