Madrid, Apr 24 (AP/UNB) — Now it's just a matter of time for Barcelona.
The Catalan club is on the brink of another Spanish league title after beating Alaves 2-0 on Tuesday to move within three points of clinching the championship. And that was with Lionel Messi staying on the bench until after both goals had been scored.
The celebrations for a second consecutive league trophy — and eighth in 11 seasons — could even start as early as Wednesday if Atletico Madrid loses at home against fifth-place Valencia. If not, a win against relegation-threatened Levante at home on Saturday would also secure Barcelona a 26th league title.
"It doesn't matter when it happens," coach Ernesto Valverde said. "We just want to win it whenever we can, because we know it's very hard to win this league."
Carles Alena and and Luis Suarez scored goals six minutes apart after halftime to leave Barcelona 12 points ahead of Atletico. If Diego Simeone's team fails to earn at least a draw, it won't be able to catch Barcelona in the final four matches because it loses to the Catalan club on the head-to-head tiebreaker.
"We'll see what happens in Atletico's match," Alena said. "I would like to win it on Saturday at home so we can celebrate with our fans, but if it happens tomorrow, it will be welcome as well."
Messi entered the game in the 61st minute to replace Ousmane Dembele. It was the third time in seven matches that Valverde rested the Argentine playmaker, who also started on the bench in a 4-4 draw against Villarreal and missed the team's 0-0 draw against relegation-threatened Huesca.
Barcelona was coming off difficult victories against Manchester United in the Champions League and Real Sociedad in the Spanish league, with Messi playing from the start in both matches. Barcelona will travel to face Liverpool in the first leg of the semifinals of the Champions League next week.
Other regular starters rested by Valverde on Tuesday included midfielder Arthur, central defender Clement Lenglet and left back Jordi Alba.
Alena opened the scoring with a low shot from inside the area in the 54th after Suarez helped set him up by letting Sergi Roberto's pass go through his legs. Suarez sealed the victory by converting a 60th-minute penalty following a handball confirmed by video review.
The result extended Barcelona's unbeaten streak to 21 matches in all competitions. It hasn't lost in the league since November, when it fell 4-3 to Real Betis at home.
Alaves, winless in six consecutive matches, stayed eighth in the standings.
Valladolid took a step toward escaping relegation with a 1-0 home win against Girona, which is also trying to avoid demotion.
Owned by former Brazil striker Ronaldo, Valladolid moved to 15th in the standing with the victory, one point from safety with four matches remaining.
Michel scored the winner with a shot from outside the area in the 67th minute, ending his team's five-match winless streak.
Girona, which has lost six in a row, dropped to 17th, just outside the relegation zone which is currently occupied by Levante, Huesca and Rayo Vallecano.
HUESCA LEAVES BOTTOM
Huesca left the bottom of the table for the first time since the seventh round by beating Eibar 2-0 at home with two remarkable second-half goals.
Enric Gallego opened the scoring with a back-heel touch in the 54th minute at El Alcoraz Stadium, and Chimy Avila added to the lead three minutes later with a spectacular volley off a corner kick, striking a powerful first-timer from just inside the area.
The victory moved Huesca past Rayo Vallecano to 19th place in the 20-team standings, five points from safety.
Playing in the first division for the first time, Huesca had drawn four straight and hadn't won in seven games.
It was the third loss in four matches for Eibar, which stayed 13th.
Watford, Apr 24 (AP/UNB) — It was the Long and short of the Premier League.
Shane Long scored the fastest-ever goal in the competition Tuesday, netting after 7.69 seconds for Southampton against Watford.
Long intercepted Craig Cathcart's clearance and ran onto the loose ball before dinking a shot over goalkeeper Ben Foster.
Based on the Premier League's timing, the goal was quicker than the 9.9 seconds it took Tottenham's Ledley King to score against Bradford in 2000.
Immediately after the game, which ended in a 1-1 draw, Long said he didn't realize he had put himself in the record books.
"It's a record, is it?" Long said to broadcaster Sky Sports. "Straight from the kickoff we wanted to put them under pressure. Ninety-nine times out of a hundred you block it and it doesn't work but this time it did.
"It's nice to have a record like that, but it would have been nicer if it was the winning goal."
Andre Gray scored in the 90th minute to grab a point for Watford.
Dhaka, Apr 23 (UNB)- Victoria SC and Bangladesh Police FC won their respective matches in the ongoing Bangladesh Championship League (BCL) Football on Tuesday.
Victoria SC defeated Soccer Club, Feni by 1-0 goal at Bir Shreshta Shaheed Shipahi M Mostafa Kamal Stadium in Kamalapur.
Hridoy netted the lone goal for Victoria in the 24th minute.
the day’s other match, Bangladesh Police FC defeated Fakirerpool Youngmen’s Club also by 1-0 goal at the same venue.
After a goalless first half, Al-Amin scored the match-winner for Bangladesh Police in the 61st minute.
Dhaka, Apr 22 (UNB)- Mongolia routed Tajikistan by 3-0 goals in the opening Group A match of the ongoing Bangamata U-19 Women’s International Gold Cup Football at the floodlit Bangabandhu National Stadium here on Tuesday.
Skipper Undral Tuvshinjargal, Enkhmargad Enkhbaatar and Delgerzaya Nyamsuren scored one goal each for Mongolia.
With the victory, Mongolia, which led the first half by 2-0 goals, brightened their chance to reach the semifinals.
Captain Undral Tuvshinjargal opened the Mongolian account in the 13th minute by a close range header from the goal mouth melee, off a corner from Lora Tom (1-0).
In the second half, Mongolia got another chance to widen the margin as they were awarded a penalty by referee in the 68th minute.
Mongolian defender Delgerzaya Nyamsuren converted the spot kick correctly to score the 3rd goal for Mongolia (3-0).
Tajikistan took the first replacement in the game. Midfielder Qurbonova Suman replaced midfielder Kurbonova Dzhonona in the 45th minute while defender Kuchkinova Lailo replaced defender Abdulloeva Niso in the 63rd minute.
On the other hand, Mongolia took one replacement in the 89th minute. Midfielder Sarnai Sukhbat replaced midfielder Lora Tom.
Kyrgyzstan will face the UAE in Group B on Wednesday at the same venue. The match will kick off at 6pm (BST).
Earlier, Bangladesh defeated the UAE by 2-0 goals in the opening match at Bangabandhu National Stadium on Monday. The hosts will now play against Kyrgyzstan on April 26.
Dhaka, Apr 23 (UNB)- The Nigerian striker of Bangladesh champions Dhaka Abahani Limited Sunday Chizoba may miss their AFC Cup away match with Chennaiyin FC due to Indian visa complications.
The popular sky-blue Dhanmondi outfit will face India’s Chennaiyin FC in their third Group E match of the ongoing AFC Cup 2019 at the Arena Stadium in Ahmedabad on April 30.
team are all set to fly to India on April 27, but their Nigerian forward Sunday Chizoba is yet to get the visa from Indian High Commission.
Abahani Team Manager Satyajit Das Rupu said that they informed it to the Bangladesh Football Federation (BFF) and Asian Football Confederation (AFC).
“We have already informed it to BFF and AFC, but yet to get a positive response,” Rupu said.
The Nigerian forward Sunday shares the top slot in the scorer list of the ongoing BPL football with his teammate Nabib Newaz Ziban and Muktijoddha’s Ballo Famoussa, scoring 8 goals each.
While asked about this inconvenience, Rupu replied, “Obviously we are able to play without Sunday. We are not focusing on this issue.”
Abahani share the top spot in Group E of the AFC Cup with Chennaiyin FC earning 4 points each.
The Dhanmondi based outfit defeated Nepalese champions Manang Marshyangdi Club 1-0 in the opener in Kathmandu on April 3 and made a 2-2 draw with Minerva Punjab of India in Dhaka on April 17.
On the other hand, Chennaiyin FC started their campaign playing a goalless drew with their compatriots Minerva Punjab on April 3 and beat Manang Marshyangdi 2-0 on April 17 at The Arena Stadium in Ahmedabad.