David Villa struck just after halftime to lift Barcelona to a labored 1-0 home win over his former club Sporting Gijon in La Liga on Wednesday.
Missing injured Argentina forward Lionel Messi, the champions struggled to break down a well-organized Gijon side before Daniel Alves sent Villa clear in the 49th minute and he finished clinically past goalkeeper Ivan Cuellar.
The Spain striker, who hails from mining stock in the northern region of Asturias where Sporting are based and played for Gijon from 2000-2003, barely celebrated the goal, his second in the league in four matches this season.
Villa said he enjoyed playing against his former club.
“It means they are in the first division and, what’s more, it’s a team I have been able to score against regularly,” he told Spanish television.
Villa’s Spain teammate Andres Iniesta had Barca’s best chance of the first half, but Cuellar palmed his powerful low shot away for a corner.
The home side controlled possession after the break without ever looking like extending their lead and survived a spell of late pressure to secure the win.
“It wasn’t a brilliant match,” Barca coach Pep Guardiola said at a news conference. “This time we failed to go after the other team which is what you have to do with opponents who sit back and don’t come after you.”
“We didn’t manage to get the second goal that would have allowed us to relax,” he said.
With four matches played, Barca have nine points, one behind arch-rivals Real Madrid, who are joint top with Valencia after beating Espanyol 3-0 at the Bernabeu on Tuesday.
Atletico Madrid spoiled Valencia’s perfect start in Wednesday’s late kickoff, holding Unai Emery’s side to a 1-1 draw at the Mestalla.
Simao Sabrosa put the visitors ahead in the 19th minute, finishing off an intricate passing move from close range.
Atletico’s teenage goalkeeper David De Gea, widely tipped as a possible future replacement for Spain ’keeper Iker Casillas, protected his side’s lead in the second half with a series of fine saves as Valencia pressed for an equalizer.
The 19-year-old was finally beaten in the 83rd when Aritz Aduriz headed in a hanging cross from David Albelda.
Valencia are level with Real on 10 points, fourth-placed Atletico have seven and Sevilla had a chance to go joint top with Real and Valencia with a win at home to Racing Santander yesterday.
In Wednesday’s other matches, promoted Levante clinched their first win of the season after three straight defeats with a 1-0 victory at Almeria.
Real Zaragoza are bottom of the standings after they were held to a 0-0 draw at home by promoted Hercules.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker found himself in need of an assist to help the state fight the COVID-19 pandemic. He called on the New England Patriots. One of the team’s private airplanes on Thursday evening landed in Boston after returning from China carrying more than 1 million masks critical to healthcare providers fighting to control the spread of the coronavirus. Members of the Massachusetts National Guard met the airplane and offloaded the containers of masks onto waiting trucks for transport to warehouses for distribution. Baker secured the N95 masks from Chinese manufacturers, but had no way of getting them to the US. He
WAIT AND SEE: The estimated cost of postponement started at US$2 billion and has kept rising, but the IOC has yet to say whether it would help pay for the extra expenses Postponing the Tokyo Olympics to next year would make the event more costly for all parties, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) acknowledged on Thursday, although it offered few details on what the final bill might be. Four directors of the Olympic body held a conference call three days after Tokyo’s new dates were finalized, with the Games pushed back to July 23 to Aug. 8 next year because of the COVID-19 pandemic. While the new dates cleared up any uncertainty about the event’s future, there are still plenty of question marks as the committee begins to work with Tokyo organizers and the
DECREASED TENSION: The US players’ lawyers said that the soccer federation no longer disputes that the jobs of the women’s and men’s national teams require equal skill Women players suing the US Soccer Federation (USSF) said in in court documents filed on Tuesday that the federation has acknowledged that the jobs of male and female soccer players require equal skill. The language seemed to signal a decrease in tension between the parties after language in documents filed by the federation’s lawyers earlier last month provoked widespread outrage in saying that playing on the men’s national team required a higher level of skill based on speed and strength and carried greater responsibility. The fierce backlash — not only from the women players, but also from sponsors such as Coca-Cola —
Tiger Woods and Phil Mickelson are planning to play a charity golf match next month with Super Bowl-winning quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, CNBC reported on Wednesday. CNBC, which cited an unnamed person familiar with the negotiations, said that the charity match would be held at an undisclosed location without fans and is being organized by the PGA Tour and AT&T’s WarnerMedia. The negotiations are still being finalized, but the match pitting 15-time major champion Woods and Manning against five-time major winner Mickelson and Brady could be aired on live TV and is unlikely to be featured on pay-per-view, CNBC said. “Discussions