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Real Madrid, Barcelona win, keep La Liga soccer race tight in league’s return

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June 15 (UPI) — Spanish soccer rivals Real Madrid and Barcelona each picked up victories to stay close atop the La Liga standings as the season resumed after a suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

Sevilla beat Real Betis 2-0 Thursday in the first game of the resumed season. Real Sociedad and Eibar battled in La Liga’s last squabble on March 10 before the campaign was stopped.

Four La Liga teams took the field Friday. Barcelona star Lionel Messi showed little rust Saturday in a 4-0 thrashing of Mallorca. Messi had a goal and two assists in the victory.

Jordi Alba assisted Arturo Vidal for Barcelona’s first goal of the shutout victory. Messi then assisted Martin Braithwaite in the 37th minute for a 2-0 edge. Messi assisted Alba for a 3-0 lead in the 79th minute before he put himself in the scoring column.

Fellow forward Luis Suarez split the defense and raced up the pitch before he reached the box during the stoppage-time sequence. Suarez then slipped a pass to his left to find the six-time Ballon d’Or winner. Messi carried the ball on his left boot before he switched to his other foot. He slid the ball to his right and navigated around a trio of Mallorca defenders before he ripped a shot into the upper right section of the net.

Messi became the first player in history to score at least 20 goals in 12 consecutive La Liga seasons in the victory. He has 20 goals and 14 assists this season, which both lead the league.

“The feelings are good,” Barcelona manager Quique Setien told reporters. “There are always things that you want to improve, but I am satisfied with the game we have made.”

Real Madrid beats Eibar

Real Madrid beat Eibar 3-1 Sunday in Madrid to stay within two points of La Liga leader Barcelona. Toni Kroos, Sergio Ramos and Marcelo all scored in the first half of the victory. Pedro Bigas scored Eibar’s lone goal in the 60th minute.

“For us to set foot on the pitch again is a huge blessing,” Ramos told RealMadrid.com. “And it’s a big positive for the whole country to have football back, to provide entertainment and get business and the economy back up and running so that everything returns to its natural place.

“It’s important for everyone.”

Real Madrid wasted no time to draw first blood in the affair, when Kroos scored in the 4th minute. Kroos stood on the edge of the box before he lifted a right-footed shot over the head of Eibar keeper Marko Dmitrovic for a 1-0 edge.

Ramos doubled the lead in the 30th minute. The star defender capped off a breakaway sequence when he finished a point-blank shot into an open net after he got a quick pass from Eden Hazard.

Marcelo scored Real Madrid’s final goal less than six minutes later. The Brazilian left back collected a rebound during that sequence before he ripped a shot into the far-post netting.

Marcelo celebrated with a kneel inside the box before he lifted his fist toward the sky in honor of George Floyd.

La Liga results

Sevilla 2, Real Betis 0

Granada 2, Getafe 1

Levante 1, Valencia 1

Espanyol 2, Alaves 0

Villarreal 1, Celta Vigo 0

Valladolid 2, Leganes 1

Barcelona 4, Mallorca 0

Athletic Club 1, Atletico Madrid 1

Real Madrid 3, Eibar 1

Osasuna 1, Real Sociedad 1



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Ex-Falcons RB Devonta Freeman signing 1-year deal with Giants

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Sept. 22 (UPI) — The New York Giants are signing former Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman to a short-term contract after losing Saquon Barkley to a season-ending knee injury.

League sources told ESPN and NFL Media on Tuesday that Freeman agreed to a one-year deal worth up to $3 million with the Giants. According to ESPN, the two-time Pro Bowl tailback is expected to officially sign the pact Wednesday morning and could play as soon as Sunday against the San Francisco 49ers.

“Devonta turned down more money from other teams because he likes the opportunity with the Giants best,” Freeman’s agent, Drew Rosenhaus, told ESPN.

Barkley tore the ACL in his right knee during Sunday’s 17-13 loss to the Chicago Bears. In his absence, veteran running back Dion Lewis saw a larger workload in the game.

Freeman, 28, will become the top candidate to replace Barkley on early downs, with Lewis serving as a pass-catching back. The Giants also have Wayne Gallman on the active roster, and veteran Rod Smith is on the practice squad.

The Falcons selected Freeman in the fourth round of the 2014 NFL Draft out of Florida State. He spent his first six seasons with the Falcons before the team let him walk in free agency this past off-season in favor of All-Pro tailback Todd Gurley.

In 77 career games with the Falcons, Freeman recorded 3,977 rushing yards and 32 touchdowns on 950 carries. He added 257 receptions for 2,015 yards and 11 receiving scores on 323 targets.

Earlier Tuesday, the Giants placed Barkley on injured reserve. Cornerback Ryan Lewis was added to the active roster in his place.

This week in the National Football League

The Los Angeles Rams’ Jared Goff celebrates after a first down in the final minutes of the fourth quarter in Philadelphia on Sunday. The Rams defeated the Eagles 37-19. Photo by John Angelillo/UPI | License Photo



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Washington owner Dan Snyder in quarantine after friend tests positive for COVID-19

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Washington Football Team running back J.D. McKissic (L) celebrates with Logan Thomas after defeating the Philadelphia Eagles 27-17, in Landover, Md., on Sunday. Photo by Kevin Dietsch/UPI | License Photo



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Los Angeles Lakers’ Anthony Davis channels Kobe with game-winner vs. Denver Nuggets

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Sept. 21 (UPI) — Los Angeles Lakers forward Anthony Davis channeled the late Kobe Bryant with a buzzer-beating, game-winning 3-pointer against the Denver Nuggets Sunday night in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals.

The Lakers now lead the series 2-0 after the 105-103 triumph in Orlando, Fla. Davis scored a game-high 31 points and had nine rebounds.

“It was a special one for me,” Davis told reporters. “Special one for my teammates. … Right before the [season] hiatus, I missed a shot against the Brooklyn Nets in the same spot [during a] slightly different play. I was upset with myself. And [LeBron James] said, ‘Man, we’re gonna live or die with you shooting that shot.’

“I got the same opportunity tonight. [I was] ready to make it.”

Davis and the Lakers trailed 103-102 after Nikola Jokic hit a hook shot for the Nuggets with 20.8 seconds remaining. Alex Caruso missed a 3-pointer with about seven seconds left in regulation, but the Lakers got an offensive rebound after the attempt.

Rajon Rondo found Davis on the right wing with the inbound bounce pass. Davis caught it and elevated before firing the 3-point shot over Jokic’s outstretched arm. The buzzer sounded just before the shot went through the net to give the Lakers a two-point win.

Davis sprinted up the sideline and yelled “Kobe” as he celebrated with teammates. The Lakers also wore special “Black Mamba” edition jerseys during the game.

“We want to embody what Kobe Bryant stood for and honor his memory,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said. “Obviously, there are certain games where we are going to feel it a little bit more than others. When we have that uniform on, I think we feel it more than others.

“That’s a shot Kobe Bryant would hit. To me, [Davis] coming off just flying to the wing like that, catch-and-shoot with the biggest game on the line of our season, nothing but net, it’s a ‘Mamba’ shot.”

The Lakers led by as many as 16 points in the game, which featured eight lead changes and was tied four times.

James paced the Lakers with 12 points in the first quarter for an early 29-21 lead and the team outscored the Nuggets 31-29 in the second quarter to earn a 60-50 edge at halftime.

In the third, the Lakers used a 10-2 run to push the lead to 16 points with 8:12 remaining. The Nuggets chipped away at the lead, outscored the Lakers 28-22 and tied the score at 82-82 with 9:58 in the game.

Denver and Los Angeles then exchanged the lead multiple times before Jokic hit his late hook shot for a one-point edge. The Lakers fought for two key rebounds down the stretch before Rondo hit Davis for the decisive shot.

“You’re not going to make them all, but the belief to just take it and live with the results is what it’s all about,” James said.

“[Sunday] was his moment. It was his moment to find a space, hunt the ball down and one of our top 10 assists leaders, Rondo, found him and he knocked it down. A big-time play.”

James had 26 points, 11 rebounds and four assists in the win. Danny Green and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope had 11 points apiece for the Lakers and Rondo had three points and nine assists off the bench.

Jokic scored 30 points and had nine assists, six rebounds and four steals for the Nuggets. Jamal Murray had 25 points, six rebounds and four assists in the loss.

“We gave ourselves a chance to win tonight,” Nuggets coach Michael Malone said. “Obviously, Anthony Davis hits a big three to win the game at the buzzer. We’ll watch the film, see what happened on that last play.

“The message is we’re down 2-0. Let’s go out and win Game 3.”

The Nuggets, however, might have the Lakers right where they want them. Denver came back from a 3-1 series deficit in their first two playoff series against the Utah Jazz and Los Angeles Clippers, the only team in NBA history to do it twice in the same postseason.

Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals is scheduled for 9 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

Moments from LeBron James’ career

St. Vincent-St. Mary High School senior LeBron James (L) drives around a Zanesvuille defender in Akron, Ohio, on February 14, 2003. James is expected to be the No. 1 pick in the NBA draft. A couple months later, the Cleveland Cavaliers coach was suspended because James worked out with the team before he graduated from high school. Photo by Tom Cammett/UPI | License Photo



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