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ARGENTINA’S WORLD Cup winner Exequiel Palacios struck twice from the spot as Bayer Leverkusen blew the Bundesliga title race broad open with a shock 2-1 win over Bayern Munich on Sunday.

With just a little assist from VAR, Leverkusen got here from behind at hand coach Xabi Alonso a well-known win on his first reunion with former membership Bayern and preserve the champions from regaining prime spot.

Bayern are actually a degree behind leaders Borussia Dortmund, with the 2 sides set to satisfy within the subsequent spherical of video games on 1 April.

“We’re not within the place we hoped to be in going into that sport,” Bayern ahead Thomas Mueller informed Dazn.

“We deserved to lose immediately. Leverkusen had extra chew to them and had been excellent in opposition to the ball,” he added.

The champions survived an early likelihood from Jeremie Frimpong earlier than taking the lead themselves when Odilon Kossounou deflected a Joshua Kimmich shot into his personal web.

The hosts continued to trigger Bayern issues, nevertheless, and so they totally deserved their equaliser from the penalty spot on 55 minutes.

Amine Adli was initially booked for diving after he was clipped by Benjamin Pavard, however the choice was reversed by VAR and Palacios transformed from the spot.

The identical scene repeated itself 20 minutes later as Adli was introduced down by Dayot Upamecano simply contained in the penalty space.

As soon as once more, he was booked for diving, and as soon as once more, Palacios smashed the ball into the underside nook after the intervention of VAR.

The win additionally saved Leverkusen afloat within the race for Europe, with Alonso’s facet now simply three factors adrift of sixth.

– Union bounce again –

Elsewhere, Union Berlin gave their Champions League hopes a lift as a uncommon aim from Rani Khedira helped them to a 2-0 win over Bundesliga top-six rivals Eintracht Frankfurt.

Khedira — the brother of 2014 World Cup winner Sami — stabbed within the opener to attain solely his seventh aim in 194 Bundesliga appearances and carry Union again into third place.

“It’s additionally my first aim for Union so I’m very joyful,” Khedira informed Dazn. “In the present day was far more about mentality than about ways.”

Either side got here into the sport on five-game winless runs and making an attempt to bounce again after being dumped out of European competitors in midweek.

Frankfurt had the lion’s share of the possibilities within the first half as Union reverted to their trademark counter-attacking model.

Randal Kolo Muani grazed the woodwork thrice with headers, whereas Daichi Kamada pressured a sensible save from in-form Union keeper Frederik Ronnow.

But the hosts struck first, as Khedira stabbed the ball dwelling from shut vary after Frankfurt didn’t clear a nook.

Sheraldo Becker nutmegged Frankfurt keeper Kevin Trapp to search out the web once more for Union on 69 minutes, however the strike was dominated out for offside.

Trapp was left blushing when he once more let the ball by way of his legs a couple of minutes later to permit Kevin Behrens to double the lead.

Union — unbeaten in 18 straight dwelling video games within the league — are three factors forward of RB Leipzig in third.

In Serie A, Filip Kostic continued Juventus’ push in the direction of Serie A’s European locations with the one aim in Sunday’s 1-0 win at Inter Milan, a end result which additionally meant Napoli had prolonged their result in 19 factors with a 4-0 thrashing of Torino.

Serbia winger Kostic rifled dwelling the winner 22 minutes into an underwhelming encounter on the San Siro, his third league aim of the season enraging Inter who couldn’t imagine it wasn’t dominated out for an Adrien Rabiot handball.

VAR officers took a number of minutes to substantiate Kostic’s strike, permitting seventh-placed Juve to maneuver as much as 41 factors, seven from the Champions League positions.

Massimiliano Allegri’s facet are hoping their 15-point penalty for illicit switch exercise is overturned as that might put them second, a place now occupied by Lazio who received a tense Rome derby 1-0.

Inter have been wildly inconsistent all season and their ninth lack of the marketing campaign got here in opposition to a Juve workforce lacking a number of injured or unfit gamers.

Napoli now solely want 15 extra factors to ensure the league title, even when Lazio win all of their remaining 11 matches. With out the deduction, Juve would nonetheless path Napoli by 15 factors.

The one detrimental for Juve was that Federico Chiesa limped off with seven minutes remaining after approaching in its place halfway by way of the second half.

– Napoli march on –

Victor Osimhen took his league-leading aim tally to 21 with two towering headers with Khvicha Kvaratskhelia scoring a Thirty fifth-minute penalty in a easy win for champions-elect Napoli at Torino.

Kvaratskhelia additionally laid on Tanguy Ndombele’s first Serie A aim within the 68th minute following nice hold-up play from Osimhen as Napoli took one other step in the direction of a primary league title since 1990 in entrance of a military of followers in Turin.

“Nobody deserves this greater than the Napoli followers… I’m actually joyful to place a smile on their faces,” Osimhen informed DAZN.

It appears solely a matter of time earlier than Napoli seal a historic Scudetto, one which can comply with a marketing campaign of breathtaking soccer that has Osimhen satisfied they will additionally win the Champions League.

As soon as Kvaratskhelia rolled in his 14th aim of the season, Torino supplied up no resistance. They dropped right down to eleventh, degree on 37 factors with Bologna and ninth-placed Fiorentina, who received their seventh straight match in all competitions 1-0 over Lecce.

– Lazio’s derby delight –

Lazio are Napoli’s closest challengers because of Mattia Zaccagni’s Sixty fifth-minute winner which ensured his workforce did the double over 10-man Roma.

A sometimes fiery derby conflict was prefaced by tensions between supporters and police and a Lazio fan show quoting William Shakespeare’s play Henry V.

However the on-pitch spectacle left lots to be desired, particularly after Roger Ibanez noticed pink within the thirty second minute for 2 daft tackles.

That was the primary of what would find yourself being 5 pink playing cards, every workforce having a workers member despatched off close to half-time earlier than Roma’s Bryan Cristante and Lazio’s Adam Marusic had been additionally dismissed following a post-match scuffle.

Roma had been denied a leveller seconds after Zaccagni put Lazio forward, Nicolo Casale’s personal aim dominated out after Chris Smalling had strayed offside to the dismay of their followers and the delight of Lazio’s.

“It’s an excellent win which permits us to have a look at the approaching matches with extra enthusiasm. It’s pretty much as good because it will get,” mentioned Zaccagni after climbing into the stands to have fun with supporters.

Fifth-placed Roma missed the possibility to maneuver into the highest 4 positions. They keep a degree behind AC Milan who misplaced 3-1 at Udinese on Saturday night time.

In France, Paris Saint-Germain’s march in the direction of one other Ligue 1 title was slowed on Sunday as they went down 2-0 at dwelling to Rennes, a end result that allowed Marseille to shut the hole on the leaders to seven factors with 10 video games remaining.

Kylian Mbappe had an effort disallowed for offside earlier than Karl Toko-Ekambi put Rennes in entrance with an impressive strike proper on half-time.

Arnaud Kalimuendo made it 2-0 three minutes after the restart in opposition to his former membership, as PSG — confronted with a defensive damage disaster — slumped to a primary dwelling league defeat of the marketing campaign.

It’s the Parisians’ fourth Ligue 1 loss this season, all of them in 2023, and the second time they’ve been crushed by Rennes. Additionally they misplaced when the groups final met in Brittany in January.

Marseille responded by profitable 2-1 away to Reims later, with Alexis Sanchez scoring twice.

“A defeat is all the time upsetting. Clearly, I can’t be pleased with the best way the match went however within the context, with the variety of gamers we had out, we knew we had been going to have troublesome moments in defence,” mentioned PSG coach Christophe Galtier.

PSG solely have a ninth Ligue 1 title in 11 seasons left to play for after being knocked out of the Champions League within the final 16 by Bayern Munich.

Galtier has insisted that the prospect of what could be a French report eleventh top-flight title is adequate motivation for his workforce, however their efficiency indicated in any other case.

“The target is to win the league. Will this defeat imply the board will take into account my future? Perhaps. However the whole lot must be put into context,” Galtier added when requested about his place.

“There are not any excuses however there are causes for it.”

The end result allowed Rennes to reclaim fifth place from Lille within the battle for European qualification.

“To beat Paris twice in the identical season says one thing about us. If we’re able to taking six factors out of six in opposition to such a workforce, it means we have now progress to make so we are able to try this in 90 p.c of our matches,” mentioned Rennes coach Bruno Genesio.

 – Defence decimated –

PSG have been severely hampered by accidents, with Neymar recovering from ankle surgical procedure and their defence decimated.

Achraf Hakimi, Presnel Kimpembe, Marquinhos, Sergio Ramos and Nordi Mukiele had been all sidelined, leaving an virtually unrecognisable again line that includes 17-year-old El Chadaille Bitshiabu.

PSG have often been in a position to depend on their assault for inspiration however Mbappe couldn’t add to his 19 league objectives this season and Lionel Messi was denied by veteran Rennes goalkeeper Steve Mandanda, who was in advantageous kind.

Cameroon worldwide Toko-Ekambi, introduced up in Paris as a PSG fan, opened the scoring with an emphatic end previous goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma after latching onto a protracted ball ahead.

The house facet had been left going through an uphill wrestle as they conceded once more simply after the interval, with Lesley Ugochukwu’s low centre being turned in by Kalimuendo.

 – Sanchez double –

It was a seventh Ligue 1 aim of the marketing campaign for the 21-year-old, who joined Rennes final summer season from PSG after the capital membership determined to not preserve the ahead who had carried out effectively on mortgage at Lens final season.

Marseille moved again above Lens, who beat backside facet Angers 3-0 on Saturday, by coming from behind to finish Reims’ lengthy unbeaten run.

Reims had not misplaced a Ligue 1 sport below 30-year-old Belgian-born English coach Will Nonetheless, their unbeaten run stretching again 19 video games to September.

They went forward early on when on-loan Arsenal striker Folarin Balogun scored his seventeenth league aim this season.

Nonetheless, Sanchez equalised quickly after from a free-kick after which struck what proved to be the winner earlier than the half-hour mark.

Fourth-placed Monaco received 2-0 at Ajaccio as Wissam Ben Yedder scored his seventeenth league aim this season and Krepin Diatta additionally netted.

Good misplaced floor within the race for Europe however are actually unbeaten in 13 video games since Didier Digard was named coach in January after a 1-1 draw at dwelling to Lorient.

There have been additionally wins for Strasbourg and Montpellier.

– © AFP 2023

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