The Soccer Report

Agüero, Messi and Ronaldo among weekend scorers; Atlanta's Almiron sold for MLS-record $26 million

Agüero, Messi and Ronaldo among weekend scorers; Atlanta's Almiron sold for MLS-record $26 million
Sergio Aguero scored his 10th Premier League hat-trick for Manchester City against Arsenal. Credit: Puma.

There's plenty to digest from the past week in soccer, from the craziness of Thursday's deadline day to the title-implicating results of the weekend. Here is a breakdown of all the action:

English Premier League

There were two rounds of Premier League action this week and both provided some drama in the title race. On Tuesday, Newcastle United looked to have dashed Manchester City's title hopes after the defending champions were upset 2-1 at St. James' Park. That left Liverpool with a chace to extend their lead by as much as seven points with a win over Leicester City on Wednesday, which ended in a 1-1 draw. City would regain their form on Sunday with a 3-1 home win over Arsenal - a result made more important by Liverpool's 1-1 away draw at West Ham on Monday. Now, a title race that could've been all but decided is back to a three point difference, with Spurs quietly two points behind City in third. With 13 dates left to play, the title race is nowhere near over.

Of course, Thursday's transfer deadline day left much to be talked about in the Premier League... for some. Tottenham, for starters, did not make a signing in back-to-back January transfer windows. London rivals Chelsea did as the Blues acquired striker Gonzalo Higuain from Milan. The Argentine, who reunites with his former Napoli manager, scored twice in Saturday's 5-0 win over Huddersfield. Newcastle were among the teams that made a splash by signing Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron for a club record £20 million ($26 million) on a five-year deal.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (62), 2. Manchester City (59), 3. Tottenham (57), 4. Chelsea (50), 5. Manchester United (48), 6. Arsenal (47)

Scoring leader: 16 - Mohamed Salah (Liverpool)

Assists leader: 10 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Highlights FC Barcelona vs Valencia CF (2-2)www.youtube.com

Leo Messi comes up big for FC Barcelona once more, with two goals this week in what could've been a disaster loss to a formidable Valencia who took a 0-2 lead at the Camp Nou. What makes it a sweeter victory is the loss of second place Atletico Madrid, 0-1 at Real Betis, to extend Barcelona's stranglehold on the title. Real Madrid won 3-0 against Alaves and will bank on Barcelona dropping more points to remain hopeful about a last gasp title run.

Off the field, Cirque du Soleil announced a show modeled after the Argentine sensation titled, "Messi10." The show will debut with showings to the public later this year in Barcelona before going international in 2020.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (50), 2. Atlético Madrid (44), 3. Real Madrid (42), 4. Sevilla (36), 5. Getafe (32), 6. Real Betis (32)

Scoring leader: 21 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 10 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Leaders Borussia Dortmund continue with breathing room despite dropping points in a 1-1 draw at Frankfurt. Bayern Munich, who was on a charge up the table, lost 3-1 at Bayer Leverkusen to drop down to 3rd in the standings.

Top six: 1. Dortmund (49), 2. Monchengladbach (42), 3. Bayern Munich (42), 4. RB Leipzig (37), 5. Eintracht Frankfurt (32), 6. Wolfburg (31)

Scoring leader: 14 - Luka Jović (Eintracht Frankfurt)

Assists leader: 9 - Jadon Sancho (Dortmund / Joshua Kimmich (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Juventus 3-3 Parma | Gervinho Snatches Late Draw After Ronaldo Double | Serie Ayoutu.be

It was a bit of a down week for Juventus after the Italian giants were eliminated from the Coppa Italia in a 3-0 quarterfinal loss at Atalanta. The slump carried over to their league form as the defending champions dropped points against Parma thanks to a goal given up in stoppage team. Cristiano Ronaldo did score twice and retook the leadership in the scoring table.

Top six: 1. Juventus (60), 2. Napoli (51), 3. Inter Milan (40), 4. Milan (36), 5. Atalanta (35), 6. Roma (35)

Scoring leader: 17 - Cristiano Ronaldo (Juventus)

Assists leader: 8 - Suso (A.C. Milan)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (56), 2. Lille (46), 3. Lyon (43), 4. Saint-Étienne (37), 5. Montpellier (36), 6. Strasbourg (35)

Scoring leader: 18 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 8 - Angel Di Maria (PSG) / Memphis Depay (Lyon) / Nicolas Pepe (Lille)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (55), 2. Ajax (50), 3. Feyenoord (39)

Scoring leader: 18 - Luuk de Jong (PSV)

Assists leader: 10 - Steven Berghuis (Feyenoord) / Steven Bergwijn (PSV)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (54), 2. Club Brugge (45), 3. Antwerp (45)

Scoring leader: 17 - Mbwana Samatta (Genk)

Assists leader: 12 - Hans Vanaken (Brugge)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Porto (50), 2. Benfica (47), 3. Braga (46)

Scoring leader: 13 - Dyego Sousa (Braga)

Assists leader: 9 - Pizzi (Benfica)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (54), 2. Rangers (48), 3. Aberdeen (46)

Scoring leader: 13 - Alfredo Morelos (Rangers)

Assists leader: 8 - James Tavernier (Rangers)

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Major League Soccer

MLS took a major stride in it's attempt to grow into a "selling league" with the record sale of Atlanta United's Miguel Almiron to the Premier League's Newcastle United for a reported $26 million transfer fee. That wasn't the only bit of craziness as D.C. United's own #10 Luciano Acosta was reportedly on his way to PSG, and even flew to Paris to complete the transfer, before the deal fell apart after the clubs could not agree on a price.

On the field, less than a month remains for the start of the 2019 season as teams begin to take part in friendlies. The Dynamo returns to competitive action in about two weeks for their part in the Concacaf Champions League before kicking off the season on March 2nd against Real Salt Lake. In the meanwhile, the club is in Tucson,Arizona for preseason friendlies against MLS competition (times and dates in the schedule below).

Liga MX

Tijuana vs. Toluca | 2019 Liga MX Highlightswww.youtube.com

Top eight: 1. Monterrey (11), 2. Necaxa (10), 3. Tigres UANL (10), 4. Atlas (10), 5. Chivas Guadalajara (10), 6. Club America (9), 7. Club Leon (8), 8. Lobos BUAP (7)

Scoring leader: 4 - Rogelio Funes Mori (Monterrey) / Leonardo Ramos (Lobos BUAP)

Assists leader: 4 - Carlos Rodríguez (Monterrey)

Superliga Argentina

Top four: 1. Racing Club (42), 2. Defensa y Justicia (39), 3. Boca Juniors (31), 4. Atletico Tucuman (31)

Scoring leader: 14 - Lisandro Lopez (Racing)

Assists leader: 5 - Luis Miguel Rodriguez (Atletico Tucuman)

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U.S. Men's National Team

MNT vs. Costa Rica: Highlights - Feb. 2, 2019www.youtube.com

The U.S. Men's National Team notched their second win under new coach Gregg Berhalter with a 2-0 result over Costa Rica. The result should be taken with a grain of salt given it wasn't either team's best squad due to this match not being played on a FIFA international date, meaning European-based players would not be released. The USMNT's next friendlies should provide a better litmus test when they face off on March 21st against Ecuador and March 26th against Chile, the latter taking place in Houston at BBVA Compass Stadium.

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Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Feb. 5

11:30 a.m. - [German Cup] Heidenheim vs. Bayer Leverkusen (ESPN3)

1:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Dortmund vs. Werder Bremen (ESPN3)

Wednesday, Feb. 6

11:30 a.m. - [German Cup] RB Leipzig vs. Wolfsburg (ESPN3)

1:45 p.m. - [Premier League] Everton vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

1:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Hertha Berlin vs. Bayern Munich (ESPN3)

1:45 p.m. - [German Cup] Schalke 04 vs. Dusseldorf (ESPN3)

2:00 p.m. - [Copa Del Rey] FC Barcelona vs. Real Madrid (beIN SPORTS)

7:00 p.m. - [MLS Preseason] Houston Dynamo vs. Minnesota United (HoustonDynamo.com)

Thursday, Feb. 7

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Lazio vs. Empoli (ESPN+)

2:00 p.m. - [Copa del Rey] Real Betis vs. Valencia (beIN Sports)

Friday, Feb. 8

1:30 p.m. - [Bundesliga] Mainz vs. Bayer Leverkusen (FS2)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Chievo vs. Roma (ESPN+)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Veracruz vs. Tigres UANL (Univision Deportes)

Saturday, Feb. 9

6:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Fulham vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] RB Leipzig vs. Frankfurt (FOX Deportes)

8:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Borussia Dortmund vs. Hoffenheim (FS2/Univision Deportes)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Liverpool vs. Bournemouth (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Huddersfield vs. Arsenal (CNBC)

9:15 a.m. - [La Liga] Atletico Madrid vs. Real Madrid (beIN Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Brighton vs. Burnley (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - [Bundesliga] Bayern Munich vs. Schalke 04 (FS2)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] Parma vs. Inter Milan (ESPN+)

7:00 p.m. - [MLS Preseason] Houston Dynamo vs. Seattle Sounders FC (HoustonDynamo.com)

7:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Club America vs. Club Leon (Univision)

9:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Necaxa vs. Chivas Guadalajara (Univision)

Sunday, Feb. 10

7:30 a.m. - [Premier League] Tottenham vs. Leicester City (NBC Sports)

10:00 a.m. - [Premier League] Manchester City vs. Chelsea (NBC Sports)

11:00 a.m. - [Serie A] Sassuolo vs. Juventus (ESPN2/ESPN Deportes)

12:00 p.m. - [Liga MX] Toluca vs. Cruz Azul (Univision)

1:30 p.m. - [Serie A] AC Milan vs. Cagliari (ESPN+)

1:45 p.m. - [La Liga] Athletic Bilbao vs. Barcelona (beIN Sports)

Monday, Feb. 11

2:00 p.m. - [Premier League] Wolves vs. Newcastle United (NBC Sports)

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Coogs beat the Sooners, 87-85. Photo by Chris Gardner/Getty Images.

Jamal Shead hit a short follow shot with 0.4 seconds left and No. 1 Houston beat Oklahoma 87-85 on Saturday night, giving coach Kelvin Sampson a victory over one of his former schools.

Shead missed a driving layup attempt, but corralled the rebound and put the Cougars back ahead after they blew a 15-point lead. Emanuel Sharp tipped away a desperation pass by Oklahoma’s Milos Uzan as time expired.

“The main thing (on the last shot) was to get it to the rim,” Sampson said. “We weren’t going to shoot anything outside of 5 feet. There were three ways to win that game — a whistle, make the shot or (grab) an offensive rebound and put it in — and we got the third one.”

Sampson credited the result to Houston’s “winning DNA. We had a lot of things go against us tonight. … We were just plugging the holes in the boat up.”

L.J. Cryer led Houston (26-3, 13-3 Big 12) with 23 points, making 5 of 9 3-pointers. J’Wan Roberts added 20 points on 10-of-12 shooting, and Shead scored 14 points. Houston shot 56.7% from the field and Oklahoma was at 52.7%.

Rivaldo Soares had 16 points for Oklahoma (19-10, 7-9). Le’Tre Darthard had 15 points, finishing 5 of 7 from 3-point range.

Sampson coached Oklahoma from 1994 to 2006 and ranks second in program history with 279 wins and first in winning percentage (.719). Before Saturday, he’d never coached against the Sooners, but Houston’s entry into the Big 12 for this basketball season provided that opportunity.

Sampson received a warm welcome as he entered the Lloyd Noble Arena court, with many fans applauding, cheering and standing. Just before player introductions, Sampson and his three assistants with Oklahoma ties — former players Hollis Price, Quannas White and Kellen Sampson, his son — were individually recognized with announcements and pictured on the video board.

“The memories that I will take from here are just amazing,” Kelvin Sampson said. “Oklahoma will always be home in a lot of ways.”

Houston made its first week this season at No. 1 a successful one, with two wins. The Cougars are a game ahead of No. 8 Iowa State in the conference standings with two games left in the regular season and remain in the conversation for the overall No. 1 seed in the NCAA Tournament. Houston has won eight of the last nine games it has played as the No. 1-ranked team and is 35-5 overall while atop the AP poll.

Oklahoma dropped its second game of the week against a top-10 opponent, having lost 58-45 at Iowa State on Wednesday night.

The Sooners pushed Houston to the limit. Houston led 67-52 with 12:01 left, but the Sooners methodically closed that gap and Javian McCollum’s layup with 11.8 seconds left tied it at 85. It came after a hustle play by Uzan, who tracked down a rebound off a missed free throw and threw it off the leg of Sharp, allowing it to carom out of bounds.

Oklahoma coach Porter Moser said the vibe in the Sooners’ locker room was “tough. It wasn’t like they were happy to be close. They’re hurting. That’s a good sign. … That’s the elite of the elite and we’ve got to find a way to win that. That’s my job.

“I thought they were resilient battling back. Houston made tough shots, open shots, good shots. They do a lot of good things … but I thought we did too. We played the best team in the country, but we fell short. The margin of error when you play a team that good is small.”

Godwin went 6 of 6 from the field and led Oklahoma with 17 points, missing only the one free throw in six attempts as well. He also had seven rebounds.

BIG PICTURE

Houston: Sampson surely appreciated the warm welcome from fans on his return to Oklahoma, but he’s undoubtedly glad to have the emotional game against the Sooners over with. Now he can push the Cougars to focus on finishing the regular season strong and prepare them for the postseason.

Oklahoma: A win over the nation’s No. 1 team might have pushed the Sooners up a line or two in NCAA tournament seeding, but the loss shouldn’t damage their postseason hopes too much. Oklahoma probably needs at least one win next week — at home against Cincinnati or at Texas — to stay comfortably off the NCAA bubble heading into the Big 12 Tournament.

UP NEXT:

Houston: At Central Florida on Wednesday night.

Oklahoma: Host Cincinnati on Tuesday night.

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