Real Madrid are almost certain to win La Liga after a routine 2-0 win over Alaves on Friday put them within touching distance of the title.
With suspended skipper Sergio Ramos sitting in the stands, Karim Benzema took over the armband and then penalty duties, firing in from the spot before teeing up Marco Asensio to add a second at the Alfredo di Stefano Stadium.
After restoring their four-point advantage at the top of the table, the pressure was back on Barcelona, who were to play Real Valladolid yesterday, with that game to begin after press time last night.
“We still don’t know what is going to happen,” Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane said. “La Liga is very hard and we have three finals still to go.”
“We have to stay focused,” Raphael Varane said.
After sacking their coach Asier Garitano last week following five consecutive defeats, Alaves never looked likely to cause an upset. The loss in Juan Ramon Lopez Muniz’s first game in charge left them hovering above the relegation zone, only three points ahead of RCD Mallorca, who have hope after their win over Levante UD on Thursday.
Zidane will be relieved all the same, particularly as he had to do without a string of key players. Ramos and Dani Carvajal were banned, while Marcelo was injured, taking out three of Madrid’s regular back four.
Elsewhere, Granada pulled themselves into contention for a European spot by beating Real Sociedad 3-2 away, snatching all three points with a late goal after throwing away a two-goal lead.
Additional reporting by Reuters
Jack Charlton, a central defender who played alongside his brother, Bobby, in England’s World Cup-winning side in 1966 before coaching Ireland, has died.
He was 85.
Nicknamed “Big Jack” and celebrated for his earthy “beer and cigarettes” image, Jack Charlton was Footballer of the Year in England in 1967. He spent all his club career at Leeds from 1952 to 1973, tying the club’s all-time record of 773 appearances. He won every domestic honor, including the league title in 1969.
Jack Charlton died at home on Friday in his native Northumberland in northeast England surrounded by his family.
“As well as a friend to many, he was a much-adored husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather,” the family said in a statement yesterday. “We cannot express how proud we are of the extraordinary life he led and the pleasure he brought to so many people in different countries and from all walks of life.”
“He was a thoroughly honest, kind, funny and genuine man who always had time for people. His loss will leave a huge hole in all our lives, but we are thankful for a lifetime of happy memories.”
Premier League games this weekend — including yesterday’s Norwich City-West Ham United and Watford-Newcastle United matches — are to be preceded by a minute’s silence as a tribute to Jack Charlton and players will wear black armbands.
In the two games to finish before press time last night, West Ham won 4-0 and Watford triumphed 2-1.
Video Assistant Referees (VAR) must not show the “wrong idea of solidarity” by appearing to protect officials who make mistakes on the pitch, FIFA Referees’ Committee chairman Pierluigi Collina said on Friday.
Speaking at the World Football Summit, Collina said it was import for on-field referees to use pitchside monitors during games to review decisions.
“Another thing to be considered [is] a sort of wrong idea of solidarity,” Collina said. “If you belong to a team, you always try to protect your teammates. If your teammate made a mistake, you try to find everything to say ‘no, no, no, he was correct.’”
“It’s a sort of friendship, I’d say. Referees must understand the solidarity and friendship that they want to show is to tell their colleague: ‘Be careful, you might have made a mistake. It’s better that you have another chance watching the incident on a monitor, you have assessed probably wrongly,’ so that finally you can avoid a mistake,” he said.
Collina said that wrong decisions taken in important games can “really kill a referee’s career.”
“VAR is a very important safety net,” he said.
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Taiwan Steel on Sunday grabbed three points with a narrow 1-0 win against Hang Yuan FC, to move into the No. 2 spot on the Taiwan Football Premier League (TFPL) log, while Taipower FC beat NTUS 2-0 to maintain first place. Taking advantage early in the match of opposition defenders who had not yet settled down, Taiwan Steel’s attacking trio of Wu Chun-ching, Marc Fenelus from the Turks and Caicos Islands, and Benchy Astama from Haiti pushed forward with good passes. After only one minute of play, Fenelus dribbled from the right flank, feeding a short pass inside the penalty area to
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Growing concern over health standards in e-sports has prompted a new federation to pledge to address the problem, as players fall victim to conditions ranging from wrist injuries to obesity, stress and diabetes. The retirement of top Chinese player Jian Zihao, better known by his gaming handle “Uzi,” sent tremors through the booming sport, whose revenues are predicted to reach US$1.1 billion this year, according to industry analyst Newzoo. The 23-year-old, hailed as an “icon” of the League of Legends game, stepped away from e-sports in June, saying that “chronic stress, obesity, irregular diet, staying up late and other reasons” had given