European roundup: Bayern and PSG both beaten, Lazio win fiery Rome derby


After 26 matches and 91 minutes of nerves and tension, a swipe of Franck Kessié’s boot virtually delivered the league for Barcelona. Barcelona had been hit by what appeared to be a late Marco Asensio winner that would have reopened the title race only to witness it get ruled out by VAR and the tightest of offsides. Then they had resisted, and now they were virtually champions. One last run, a Robert Lewandowski backheel and a delivery from Alejandro Balde left Kessié there to finish the move the match and probably the season.

As the ball hit the net, it gave Barcelona a 2-1 win in the clásico and took them 12 points clear at the top of the table with 12 games to go. They had suffered, they had been exposed, and they had felt the tension grow until the very end, but they had held on to eventually clinch a vital victory, this place erupting at the end of an enjoyable encounter, one that felt like a different world to the last time these two great rivals had met, shouts of celebration echoing around the passageways of this enormous stadium.

The last time, in the Copa del Rey a fortnight ago, Barcelona had had just 36% of possession, their lowest total going back 800 games. That had been forced, not sought, Xavi insisted, but a debate has surrounded their style all season. The coach was the defender of Barcelona’s footballing faith as a player, an ideologue of possession and passing who has insisted that at the Camp Nou it is not enough just to win. This year, though, it has been: enough at least to give them their lead at the top. They have won 1-0 nine times.

Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: La Liga – as it happened
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It’s not the way they want it but if they did so again here, it would be “fantastic, wonderful” Xavi said. A final score of 2-1 was just as stressful, just as tight, but it would turn out even better. This time Barcelona took far more of the ball and more of the territory too – Frenkie de Jong impressed, which was even more important given Sergio Busquets’ tendency to give the ball away, but the hope of taking a 1-0 win was gone fast so they would have to do it the hard way. Barcelona had conceded only eight goals in La Liga, three of them from Madrid; it took eight minutes for them to concede another, and it was a fluke own goal – the first La Liga has seen in a clásico this century.

Moved to right-back, Ronald Araújo had been charged with controlling Vinícius Júnior, as he had done so successfully in previous meetings. Instead, his night started by accidentally aiding him, deflecting the Brazilian’s cross into the net at the near post. It was the first goal Barcelona had let in from open play here all season.

If Marc-André ter Stegen had been unable to react in time, moving a little slow to the spinning ball, Thibaut Courtois was having a better evening at the other end. He had made two saves inside five minutes: the first from Lewandowski’s long-range shot, the second from Raphinha’s header. Soon after, the same two men had the ball deep in the Real area within a minute, only to find the space closed, and then Andreas Christensen headed wide.

Exequiel Palacios scored two second-half penalties for Bayer Leverkusen as they earned a 2-1 comeback victory to keep Bayern Munich off the Bundesliga summit.

Bayern started slowly with the hosts unleashing a flurry of shots towards Yann Sommer’s goal in the opening 15 minutes. The visitors then took the lead against the run of play, Joshua Kimmich’s effort deflected in after 22 minutes.

Julian Nagelsmann’s side could not build on their half-time lead, with sloppy defensive handing the hosts two penalties. Palacios drew them level 10 minutes after the restart, than earned a second spot-kick as he was fouled by Dayot Upamecano.

Barcelona 2-1 Real Madrid: La Liga – as it happened
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The Argentinian midfielder stepped up again to beat Sommer for a second time and put Xabi Alonso’s team ahead in the 73rd minute. They hung on to victory despite late pressure from Bayern, Kingsley Coman and Matthijs de Ligt missing chances.

Bayern stay one point behind the leaders Borussia Dortmund, who crushed Cologne 6-1 on Saturday. The two sides will meet in a potentially title-deciding Klassiker on 1 April, when the league resumes after an international break.

Union Berlin are four points behind Bayern after beating Eintracht Frankfurt 2-0 at home. Their captain, Rani Khedira, drilled in the opener early in the second half, before substitute Kevin Behrens held off two defenders and finished well with 15 minutes to go, denting Eintracht’s own top-four hopes in the process.

Paris Saint-Germain suffered another setback as they slumped to their first home league defeat of the season, beaten 2-0 by fifth-placed Rennes to increase the pressure on the head coach, Christophe Galtier.

PSG started brightly and Kylian Mbappé was brilliantly denied twice by Steve Mandanda, first from a fine chip in the 26th minute and then a powerful shot five minutes from the break. It was Rennes who went in at half-time in front, though, as Karl Toko Ekambi collected Benjamin Bourigeaud’s superb long pass and fired home.

Scientists have delivered a “final warning” on the climate crisis, as rising greenhouse gas emissions push the world to the brink of irrevocable damage that only swift and drastic action can avert.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), made up of the world’s leading climate scientists, set out the final part of its mammoth sixth assessment report on Monday.

The comprehensive review of human knowledge of the climate crisis took hundreds of scientists eight years to compile and runs to thousands of pages, but boiled down to one message: act now, or it will be too late.

The UN secretary general, António Guterres, said: “This report is a clarion call to massively fast-track climate efforts by every country and every sector and on every timeframe. Our world needs climate action on all fronts: everything, everywhere, all at once.”

In sober language, the IPCC set out the devastation that has already been inflicted on swathes of the world. Extreme weather caused by climate breakdown has led to increased deaths from intensifying heatwaves in all regions, millions of lives and homes destroyed in droughts and floods, millions of people facing hunger, and “increasingly irreversible losses” in vital ecosystems.

Monday’s final instalment, called the synthesis report, is almost certain to be the last such assessment while the world still has a chance of limiting global temperature rises to 1.5C above pre-industrial levels, the threshold beyond which our damage to the climate will rapidly become irreversible.

Kaisa Kosonen, a climate expert at Greenpeace International, said: “This report is definitely a final warning on 1.5C. If governments just stay on their current policies, the remaining carbon budget will be used up before the next IPCC report [due in 2030].”

More than 3bn people already live in areas that are “highly vulnerable” to climate breakdown, the IPCC found, and half of the global population now experiences severe water scarcity for at least part of the year. In many areas, the report warned, we are already reaching the limit to which we can adapt to such severe changes, and weather extremes are “increasingly driving displacement” of people in Africa, Asia, North, Central and South America, and the south Pacific.

Maurizio Sarri said he wanted to win the Rome derby more than a Conference League tie. And win the derby they did

Nicky Bandini
Mon 20 Mar 2023 13.48 GMT
Lazio let the side down on Thursday when they became the only Italian club to be eliminated from Europe all season. Serie A sent six teams through to continental quarter-finals for the first time this century, but the Biancocelesti’s defeat to AZ Alkmaar cost the league a clean sweep. Maurizio Sarri pointed to a congested calendar, saying his team was “probably not structurally ready for these competitions”.

Was it that, or did their priorities simply lie elsewhere? In the same breath, Sarri had acknowledged “there’s less energy around the club when it comes to a competition like the Conference League”. He suggested this was something players perceived from the fans, yet he was the one telling reporters before the second leg against Alkmaar that he wanted to win Sunday’s Rome derby more.

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Sarri’s blunt honesty has endeared him to Lazio’s supporters since he arrived in 2021 and so have his results. The derby will always matter in this city, but tensions can only be amplified when your team sit third in the table and your neighbours two points behind. Lazio have qualified for the Champions League once in 15 years. This was not a game to take lightly.

Lazio rotated several starters against Alkmaar and Sarri withdrew others even as they trailed by a single goal in the second half. More important to him than finding an equaliser was to make sure that none of Sergej Milinkovic-Savic, Mattia Zaccagni or Alessio Romagnoli got stuck on the pitch for 120 minutes if the game got to extra-time. Instead, Alkmaar scored again for a 4-2 aggregate win.

José Mourinho saw his opportunity to land a verbal jab, reminding reporters of Roma’s success winning the inaugural Europa Conference League last year. “Now Uefa will need to spend money transporting the cup,” he said. “It could have stayed here in Rome.”

Sarri claimed not to have heard what was said, though he probably would have laughed if he had. He makes no secret that he enjoys Mourinho, even while pointing out the “big fucking difference between [starting out at] Barcelona and Stia”. The Lazio manager expressed disappointment that his counterpart would be suspended for this game, “because he is part of the show, the spectacle of the derby”.

Mourinho earned a two-game ban when he was expelled for dissent against Cremonese last month, his third red card of the season. Up to that point, curiously, no Roma player had been sent off in Serie A but now, all discipline seemed to go out the window. Marash Kumbulla was sent off in game one of the manager’s suspension, a 4-3 home defeat to Sassuolo. On Sunday, Roger Ibañez followed.

Tottenham’s players believe that Antonio Conte is “going or gone”, according to a dressing-room source, with their only question about the manager’s future concerning the timing of his departure.

Conte is widely expected to leave the club when his contract expires at the end of the season, although it is understood that some of the players would welcome him going immediately. There are serious doubts over whether enough of them are still behind him.

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The Italian made a typically dramatic move on Saturday after the late capitulation at Southampton, when the team surrendered a 3-1 lead to draw 3-3, placing a dent in their top‑four hopes – the target for the remainder of the season. He attacked the players in his post-match press conference, labelling them “selfish”, accusing them of lacking “fire in the eyes” and blaming them for the club’s ongoing trophy drought.

Conte had said previously that his players struggled to cope under pressure and he doubled down on the criticism – and many others – during a blistering rant, which could be interpreted as a last roll of the dice to gee them up for their final 10 games of the season. Despite it all, Spurs continue to sit fourth. Newcastle are two points back in fifth and with two matches in hand.

On the Friday before last, in the wake of the Champions League last-16 elimination against Milan, Conte had gone for the fans, saying their lack of patience with regard to trophies had affected the players and created the wrong atmosphere. The comments were extraordinary, although they were certainly matched by those after the Southampton game.

It has been noticeable that Conte has avoided criticising the chairman, Daniel Levy, who himself remains under heavy fire from the support; they point to the club having won only the 2008 Carling Cup on his 22-year watch. It has added up to a messy and volatile situation as the international break begins. The team are next in action at Everton on 3 April.

At times during this relentlessly entertaining FA Cup quarter-final it was hard to avoid the feeling that the ambient levels of wholesomeness inside the Amex Stadium might just be reaching a potentially dangerous high, the counters starting to fizz and burp.

This was an occasion so polite even the half-time entertainment was a deeply moving presentation from the life‑saving stadium medical team, followed by a mascot race, a kids’ race and then a succession of Mother’s Day announcements so heartfelt you half-expected the match officials to come running out for the second half holding a cake and flowers.

Brighton’s Evan Ferguson, who has found space between two opponents, scores his side’s second goal against Grimsby in the FA Cup quarter-final with a right-footed shot.
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By the end a 5-0 victory for Brighton looked like a chasing. It pretty much was a chasing. But a clinical, friendly, respectful chasing, and one that failed to cast much of a pall over the afternoon for the Grimsby fans in the stadium.

Five thousand had made the first half of an 11-hour round trip from the North Sea coast, even if this kind of boilerplate FA Cup cliche assumes all Grimsby fans do actually live in Grimsby and aren’t simply glory hunters hopped-up on last season’s National League promotion glory.

From the start the black-and-white end was bouncing. The signature inflatable fish were joined by beach balls, human dolls, a flamingo, a Zimmer frame and at least one classic retro tinfoil FA Cup. We can only hope someone in that end was dressed in a combination of three-piece suit, giant rosette and club colours top hat, to be referred to in a Pathe news voice as “Mr Grimsby”.

Before kick-off the Grimsby fans waved their fish en masse to the “So Good” bits of Sweet Caroline and this felt like a cultural moment, a happening, an installation called something like Kingdom of Fish at the End of Empire: A Study.

The Amex Stadium was a lovely airy, open place, with its swooping roller-coaster stands, the patchwork of blue and white overhead, and the sense of a fanbase that is very much still enjoying the ride.

Bruno Fernandes’s added-time goal for Manchester United crowned a scintillating comeback after this tie exploded on 70 minutes via a close‑to-surreal passage that featured three red cards in 40 seconds for Fulham: their manager, Marco Silva, plus Aleksandar Mitrovic and Willian.

At this juncture the visitors were leading 1-0 but it was all change as United emerged from what followed in the lead and heading for the last four of the FA Cup.

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Willian went for handballing Jadon Sancho’s goalbound shot, a penalty given only after Chris Kavanagh was ordered to the pitchside screen by the video assistant referee. As he wandered over Silva, boiling due to two penalty shouts Fulham were denied earlier in the game, threw a water bottle, and the referee raised the red card for the first time.

Now, after awarding the spot-kick, Kavanagh raised the red again – to Willian – and Mitrovic moved to the official, shoved his left arm, and up went the same card for a third time. In uproar Silva finally headed down the tunnel, and Fernandes coolly hit the penalty to Bernd Leno’s left to equalise Mitrovic’s opener earlier in the second half.

Fulham, down to nine men and no manager, were shell-shocked and United sucker-punched them ruthlessly. Sancho, again, was key. His slide-rule ball to Luke Shaw was as good as the left-back’s cross and when Marcel Sabitzer slid home from near-in Old Trafford went ballistic and Erik ten Hag’s men, muted until this phase, had somehow booked a semi-final berth against Brighton at Wembley next month.

In all of this United may be deemed lucky but there is a grit and quality to this team that refuses to concede defeat and today they proved it again by refusing to panic, then engineering the chance to kill off Fulham. And they did so without the suspended Casemiro or the injured Alejandro Garnacho, Raphaël Varane, Christian Eriksen, and Anthony Martial: Fernandes’s late blaze past Leno was the proverbial cherry on the cake, and sets up an enticing showdown with Roberto De Zerbi’s progressive Brighton in the semi-final.

Fulham, who last reached that juncture of the competition in 2002, were the brighter lights until their downfall. A David De Gea tip over of Issa Diop’s header led to Andreas Pereira taking a corner and Silva’s fury began: a blatant Shaw shove on Mitrovic went unpunished by Kavanagh when a penalty was the apt tariff: Silva’s verdict that this was “obvious” was unarguable.

Tim Ream’s diagonal ball from the left swept before De Gea to safety. An Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s defence-splitter sent Fernandes charging along the right but his delivery, aimed at Sancho, was taken by Leno. Harry Maguire, making only a second consecutive start of the term, wrestled Mitrovic over and was booked. Pereira took the resulting free-kick short, to Ream, and the Fulham captain slashed his pass straight out. And a Marcus Rashford chip went close to allowing Wout Weghorst to connect, provoking a Ten Hag head-clutch.

A lull followed before Fernandes’s slide-tackle allowed United to whirl the ball along the left through Sabitzer and Rashford and Fulham scrambled to stymie the threat.

Then, at last Leno, had to deal with a fierce effort from the home team – a Sabitzer piledriver warmed the goalkeeper’s fingers and the period closed with a rat-a-tat United sequence. Lisandro Martínez blazed the ball to Weghorst whose instanct touch-off to Sancho was mirrored by the No 25, who found a lurking Scott McTominay: he unloaded and Ream blocked.

Fulham, as the visitors, could be happier at the interval and twin De Gea saves from Willian when the sides changed ends further charged their mood. Even better ensued when the corner from the second of these was hit over by Pereira: Diop steered the ball on and in a melee Mitrovic reacted quicker than Shaw and scored.

United had to wake quickly so Rashford roved downfield and fed Fernandes but his snap-shot skidded wide. Ten Hag’s men were in a quasi-Rip van Winkle mode so he swapped McTominay for Antony to try to awaken them. Yet when Fernandes forced a corner the same player dropped the deadball plum in Leno’s hands.

Manchester United fought hard and finally earned progress to the FA Cup semi-finals, securing a win in East Sussex. Victory came at a price, though, with them losing Lisa Naalsund and Maria Thorisdóttir to injury in a game where Scott Booth’s Championship side battled valiantly in front of a buoyant record crowd of 2,801.

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“That was the plan, to make it tough,” Booth said. “We competed every step of the way with them and I’m proud of the players.”

The Manchester United head coach, Marc Skinner, said: “We were OK, we needed to be better. I don’t think we performed as well as we can but I want to give credit to the fans, to Lewes, for everything, they were fully at the races.”

Skinner put out a strong squad laced with international stars, displaying the respect worthy of any team that have reached a major cup quarter‑final. Lewes may be a comparatively small club, but on the pitch they are far closer to the Women’s Super League title contenders than perhaps many would believe.

That played out in the first half, with “little Lewes” well organised against United. The Rooks caused them problems too, with Nat Johnson’s cross met by Kirsty Barton at the back post but her shot was well blocked. Moments later the ball fizzed around the United box before falling enticingly for Amelia Hazard, who shot wide.

he list of teams who have won a Six Nations grand slam and followed it up by hoisting the World Cup in the same calendar year can be counted, for now, on a solitary English finger. Even as Ireland’s players, coaches and supporters celebrated a famous achievement on Saturday night, though, they were already raising their eyes to the horizon and asking if something brighter might yet materialise.

Only Clive Woodward’s England have previously stood where Ireland do now: the official grandmasters of Europe and the planet’s No 1 team six months out from a World Cup. Woodward’s squad just about kept going long enough to hit double top in 2003 and the obvious next challenge for Andy Farrell’s Ireland is to do likewise.,59654505.html*1jytpku*_ga*Mzc2NjMwMTg4LjE2MzAyNTA1NTE.*_ga_6LJN6D94N6*MTY3OTMxNzM0OC4yMS4xLjE2NzkzMTk0MTEuMC4wLjA.


Dan Sheehan of Ireland goes over for the second of his two tries against England.
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There is no reason, in theory, why his squad cannot maintain their current momentum. Their age profile is good, with many of the players likely to be still around in 2027, never mind in France this autumn. As the past few weeks have revealed, there is also increasing depth in the event of injuries. Over 30 different Irish players took to the field at some stage in the Six Nations and, more often than not, their grand slam beers were earned the hard way.

Most striking of all, perhaps, was their defensive solidity. Ireland conceded just six tries in their five games, taking to a miserly 10 their combined tally in the last two Six Nations campaigns. Compare and contrast with England who conceded an unprecedented 18 tries this year alone. As England continue to lament Freddie Steward’s red card in Dublin, it is also worth mentioning that no Irish player received a card of any sort in the entire tournament.

Well organised, disciplined, forceful and savvy, it is no longer a case, either, of Ireland leaning on one or two key individuals. Even on Saturday, when nerves clearly entered the equation, they still kept calm and carried on. Considering Tadhg Beirne, Garry Ringrose, Iain Henderson and Ronan Kelleher, among others, were missing, talk of Ireland always underperforming at World Cups feels increasingly anachronistic.

Much, of course, can change in six months but the gap between the northern and southern hemisphere is shrinking to the point of invisibility. If anyone is going to upset the Irish it will probably be France, hosts of the World Cup when it kicks off on 8 September. France scored an average of 4.2 tries per game, a new personal best, in the most high-scoring Six Nations season on record and they likewise have not yet hit their absolute ceiling.