Sunday Kickoff: Real Madrid suffers defeat, Roma sacks Zeman, and more

Sunday Kickoff: Real Madrid suffers defeat, Roma sacks Zeman, and more

South American Soccer

Sunday Kickoff: Real Madrid suffers defeat, Roma sacks Zeman, and more

BY DAN KARELL

Saturday’s match between Granada CF and Real Madrid began just like many Real matches during the past three seasons. With a Cristiano Ronaldo goal.

This time, it was into the wrong net.

The 27-year-old Portuguese international got a flick off an opposing corner kick in the 22nd minute, that went over new goalkeeper Diego Lopez’s head and into the back of the net, giving Granada the 1-0 lead. And try as they may, Real Madrid’s star studded attack were unable to break down the defiant Granada defense, as the Andalusian side recorded an historic win, as well as earning three important points.

Real Madrid remain in third-place in the La Liga table, but are now 15 points in back of leaders Barcelona, and five points behind second-placed Atletico Madrid. Both Atletico and Barcelona each have two games in hand on Real Madrid.

Here are some other stories to get your Sunday started:

ZEMAN SACKED AFTER RECENT POOR RESULTS

AS Roma manager Zdenek Zeman has been removed from his position, effective immediately, following a disastrous 4-2 loss to Cagliari on Friday afternoon.

The Czech Republic native was in the first year of a second spell in charge of Roma, but his luck was not able to last long enough to see out the season. The team has performed well below expectations, and currently sit in eighth-place in the Serie A table, with ten wins, nine losses, and four draws.

Zeman was the manager who signed American midfielder Michael Bradley from Chievo Verona last summer. Roma have yet to announce a replacement.

MALI CRUSH SOUTH AFRICA DREAMS, GHANA ADVANCE

Hosts South Africa have been eliminated from the African Cup of Nations tournament, following a loss on penalty kicks to Mali after the teams finished regulation, and extra time, tied at 1-1.

The West African side scored three penalties, denying Bafana Bafana the opportunity to move on with clutch saves, and timely misses. Lehlohonolo Majoro of South Africa needed to score to keep their chances alive, and his penalty kick miss sent his side crashing out of the competition. Mali will next play the winner of Sunday’s match between Ivory Coast and Nigeria on February 6.

In the other quarterfinal action on Saturday, Ghana took care of business by defeating minnows Cape Verde by a score of 2-0.

The Black Stars, who have yet to suffer defeat in the tournament, got on the scoreboard first via a controversial penalty. Cape Verde defender Carlitos leaned into Ghana striker Asamoah Gyan with his shoulder, causing Gyan to hit the ground. Ghana’s Mubarak Wukaso then finished from the spot.

Wukaso was at it again late, as he scored on a breakaway to ensure Ghana’s progression into the semifinals. Ghana will not be set to face the winner of Sunday’s match between Togo and Burkina Faso, which will take place on February 6.

RIVER PLATE TAKES SUPERCLASICO DE VERANO TITLE

In the final meeting in a three-match pre-season tournament between rivals River Plate and Boca Juniors, it was River Plate who recorded a 2-1 victory, giving them two wins and a loss over Boca Juniors in the series.

The match, being played in the Argentine city of Cordoba, began in Boca Junior’s favor, as  Los Xeneizes took the lead in the sixth minute from midfielder Walter Ervitti.

The lead didn’t last long, as River’s Uruguayan talisman Rodrigo Mora leveled the score in the 27th minute with a strike through a maze of legs and into the net.

Finally, the game-winning goal came from none other than former World Cup champion David Trezeguet, who latched onto a rebound from a save by Boca goalkeeper Agustin Orion, and slotted home.

The Argentine Primera Division’s Torneo Final begins on February 10.

QUICK KICKS

Americans Jose Torres (Tigres), Edgar Castillo and Joe Corona (Club Tijuana) all started in Saturday’s 2-2 draw that saw Mexico’s top two teams battle to a draw. (REPORT)

AC Milan were unable to acquire Real Madrid midfielder Kaka in the January transfer window because the Spanish side requested an €18 million transfer fee. (REPORT)

Newcastle midfielder Moussa Sissoko, in his home debut for the club, scored twice in a come from behind victory against Chelsea. (REPORT)

Barcelona manager Tito Vilanova has decided to remain in New York until his cancer treatment’s finish. (REPORT)

Pachuca CF of Liga MX officially unveiled Argentina forward Fernando Cavenaghi on Saturday after signing him from Villareal. (REPORT)

Stoke City forward Michael Owen could face FA disciplinary action, after video monitors caught him allegedly throwing a punch at Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta, during their match on Saturday. (REPORT)

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What do you think of these reports? Do you think Real Madrid’s injuries are catching up to them? Do you think Roma made the right decision to sack Zeman? Do you believe that Gyan’s penalty against Cape Verde was legitimate?

Share your thoughts below.

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