THE SOCCER REPORT

Ronaldo, Messi take the spotlight before international break

Ronaldo, Messi take the spotlight before international break
FC Cincinnati defeated the Portland Timbers in front of 32,250 present for their first MLS home match. Courtesy: FC Cincinnati.

Cristiano Ronaldo's hat-trick performance against Atletico Madrid to help Juventus advane to the UEFA Champions League quarter-finals and Lionel Messi's hat-trick in league play against Real Betis where the performances that stood out this week. Leagues around the world will now take a break for the International fixtures that will feature matches like USA vs. Chile next Tuesday in Houston.

UEFA Champions League

The Round of 16 concluded in Europe with no lead safe as Atletico Madrid became another side that fell apart in the second leg, much like Real Madrid and Paris Saint-Germain in the previous week. In the two series where everything was left to play for, it was Liverpool and FC Barcelona who prevailed at FC Bayern Munich and vs. Lyon, respectively.

Round of 16 - second leg results (updated):

  • Real Madrid 1-4 Ajax (3-5 agg.)
  • Dortmund 0-1 Tottenham (0-4 agg.)
  • Porto 3-1 Roma (4-3 agg.)
  • Paris 1-3 Manchester United (3-3 agg., Man Utd advance on away goals)
  • Manchester City 7-0 Schalke 04 (10-2 agg.)
  • Juventus 3-0 Atletico Madrid (3-2 agg.)
  • Bayern Munich 1-3 Liverpool (1-3 agg.)
  • FC Barcelona 5-1 Lyon (5-1 agg.)

The quarter-final draw happened on Friday, setting up the next round of matchups with Manchester United vs. FC Barcelona leading the headlines.

UEFA Europa League

Extra time was needed as Czech side Slavia Prague outlasted a potential Sevilla comeback to win their Round of 16 series at home. Besides that upset, Arsenal found it's way back from a 1-3 deficit against French side Rennes as the rest of the "favorites" march on to the next round.

English Premier League

Every goal from Premier League Matchweek 31 | NBC Sportswww.youtube.com

Liverpool are back to the top of the standings, at least momentarily, as they pick up three points against Fulham. Manchester City did not feature in league play this week, instead advancing in the FA Cup with a 3-2 quater-final win against Swansea City. Mexican National Team star Javier Hernandez also took headlines this week with a brace to help West Ham to a 4-3 win over Huddersfield.

Top six: 1. Liverpool (76), 2. Manchester City (74), 3. Tottenham (61), 4. Arsenal (60), 5. Manchester United (58), 6. Chelsea (57)

Scoring leader: 18 - Sergio Aguero (Manchester City)

Assists leader: 11 - Eden Hazard (Chelsea FC)

Spain's La Liga

Highlights Real Betis vs FC Barcelona (1-4)www.youtube.com

FC Barcelona continue plowing through their La Liga competition as Messi put up three in the 4-1 win at Real Betis. The Argentine superstar commanded an ovation from the home fans thanks to his must-see goal in the hat-trick performance. Second-place Atletico Madrid lost 0-2 at Athletic Bilbao while Zidane's Real Madrid picked up a 2-0 win over Celta Vigo in the French Manager's comeback.

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (66), 2. Atlético Madrid (56), 3. Real Madrid (54), 4. Getafe (46), 5. Alaves (44), 6. Sevilla (43)

Scoring leader: 29 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

Assists leader: 12 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Bayern Munich (60), 2. Dortmund (60), 3. RB Leipzig (49), 4. Monchengladbach (47), 5. Eintracht Frankfurt (46), 6. Bayer Leverkusen (42)

Scoring leader: 18 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 12 - Jadon Sancho (Dortumund)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Juventus (75), 2. Napoli (60), 3. Inter Milan (53), 4. A.C. Milan (51), 5. Roma (47), 6. Lazio (45)

Scoring leader: 21- Fabio Quagliarella (Sampdoria)

Assists leader: 9 - Dries Mertens (Napoli)

French Ligue 1

Top six: 1. PSG (77), 2. Lille (57), 3. Lyon (53), 4. Marseille (47), 5. Saint-Étienne (46), 6. Stade Reims (46)

Scoring leader: 24 - Kylian Mbappé (PSG)

Assists leader: 10 - Angel Di Maria (PSG)

Dutch Eredivisie

Top three: 1. PSV Eindhoven (67), 2. Ajax (62), 3. Feyenoord (47)

Belgian First Division A

Top three: 1. Genk (63), 2. Club Brugge (56), 3. Standard Liege (53)

Portuguese Primeira Liga

Top three: 1. Benfica (63), 2. Porto (63), 3. Braga (58)

Scottish Premier League

Top three: 1. Celtic (70), 2. Rangers (60), 3. Aberdeen (52)

------

Concacaf Champions League

Only four teams remain in the Concacaf Champions League, three from Mexico and one lone USA team.

Quarterfinals - second leg results:


Major League Soccer

The story of Week 3 in MLS will be the first-ever home opener for new club FC Cincinatti, which drew a capacity crowd of 32,250 to Nippert Stadium. The home team sent fans happy with a 3-0 win over the Portland Timbers. Wayne Rooney had a hat-trick performance of his own this week to propel D.C. United to a 5-0 victory over Real Salt Lake and Alberth Elis took Team of the Week honors with Rooney after helping Houston Dynamo to a 3-2 victory over Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

East top seven: 1. D.C. United (7), 2. Columbus Crew (7), 3. Toronto (6), 4. Montreal (6), 5. NY Red Bulls (4), 6. Cincinatti (4), 7. NYCFC (3)

West top seven: 1. Seattle (9), 2. LAFC (7), 3. Houston (7), 4. Minnesota (6), 5. LA Galaxy (6), 6. Sporting KC (4), 7. FC Dallas (4)

Liga MX

The two biggest teams in Mexico faced off twice, in cup and league play, as Club America took both victories over rivals Chivas of Guadalajara. Leon continues top of the table, separated from Tigres UANL only on goal difference.

Top eight: 1. Leon (26), 2. Tigres UANL (26), 3. Monterrey (22), 4. Club America (19), 5. Club Tijuana (19), 6. Necaxa (18), 7. Cruz Azul (18), 8. Pachuca (17)

Scoring leader: 9 - Angel Mena (Leon) / Brian Fernandez (Necaxa)

Assists leader: 8 - Angel Mena (Leon)

------

Copa Libertadores

Superliga Argentina

Top four: 1. Racing Club (55), 2. Defensa y Justicia (51), 3. Boca Juniors (47), 4. River Plate (42)

Scoring leader: 17 - Lisandro Lopez (Racing)

Assists leader: 9 - Walter Montillo (Tigre)

------

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Wednesday, Mar. 20

2:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Germany vs. Serbia (ESPN3, Univision Deportes)

2:45 p.m. - [International Friendly] Wales vs. Trinidad & Tobago (ESPN3)

Thursday, Mar. 21

10:00 a.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Kazakhstan vs. Scotland (ESPN3)

1:00 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Kosovo vs. Denmark (ESPN3)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Belgium vs. Russia (ESPN2, Univision Deportes)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Netherlands vs. Belarus (ESPN3)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Croatia vs. Azerbaijan (ESPN3)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Austria vs. Poland (ESPN3)

7:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] U.S. Men's National Team vs. Ecuador (ESPN2/UniMas)

Friday, Mar. 22

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] England vs. Czech Republic (ESPNews)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Albania vs. Turkey (ESPN3)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Moldova vs. France (ESPN+)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Portugal vs. Ukraine (UniMas, Univision Deportes)

3:30 p.m. - [International Friendly] Argentina vs. Venezuela (beIN Sports)

9:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] Mexico Men's National Team vs. Chile (UniMas, Univision Deportes)

Saturday, Mar. 23

12:00 p.m. - [International Friendly] Brazil vs. Panama (beIN Sports en Espanol)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Spain vs. Norway (ESPNews)

2:45 p.m. - [UEFA Euro 2020 Qualifier] Italy vs. Finland (ESPN+)

Most Popular

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome

Listen Live

ESPN Houston 97.5 FM
With their closer revealed, here are the Astros top bullpen X-factors

Houston Astros skipper Joe Espada wasted no time this week at spring training by answering one of the most talked about questions of the offseason.

Espada revealed that newly-acquired free agent Josh Hader will be the team's closer and will pitch the ninth inning, with Ryan Pressly working as the setup man.

Bryan Abreu will be tapped to pitch the seventh inning, but it wouldn't shock anyone if he had the best season of the three. But after Abreu, things get interesting in the bullpen.

Who pitches the sixth inning?

Astros GM Dana Brown gave Rafael Montero a vote of confidence, saying he's “legit.”

While we have our concerns about Montero after he finished with an ERA over five last year, there's reason for hope. The nature of relief pitchers halving up and down seasons from year to year could work in Montero's favor.

And with the salary that's already committed to him, Brown will likely give him every opportunity to justify his contract. It will be fascinating to see how Espada deploys him early on. You have to think with the boss man backing Montero, Espada will be on board too.

But if he does struggle, will Espada quickly stop using him in critical situations? The good news is, the team won't often have to turn to him in high leverage situations with Abreu, Pressly, and Hader ready to handle those duties.

Be sure to watch the video above for the full discussion about the Astros 'pen, and much more!

Don't miss Stone Cold 'Stros (an Astros podcast) every week on SportsMapHouston's YouTube channel!

SportsMap Emails
Are Awesome