THE SOCCER REPORT

Soccer Recap: Messi, Rapinoe named Ballon d'Or winners, Liga MX playoffs down to four

Lionel Messi is the only player to win six Ballon d'Or trophies. Credit: Getty Images

Messi wins record 6th Ballon d'Or, Rapinoe wins first

Lionel Messi is back on top of the men's soccer pyramid as the "best in the world" after winning the famed Ballon d'Or (Golden Ball) award for the first time since 2015 - breaking a tie with Cristiano Ronaldo for most all-time with six. Ronaldo finished third in the 2019 voting with Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk finishing second.

In the women's category, USA forward Megan Rapinoe was named the winner ahead of England's Lucy Bronze and fellow USA teammate Alex Morgan. It is only the second year that a Women's Ballon d'Or is awarded.

The Ballon d'Or has been awarded since 1956 by France Football magazine and is considered the standard for recognizing the world's best player, even over FIFA's annual Player of the Year award.

English Premier League

Top six: 1. Liverpool (40), 2. Leicester City (32), 3. Man City (29), 4. Chelsea (26), 5. Tottenham (20), 6. Wolves (20)

Bottom three (relegation): 18. Southampton (12), 19. Norwich City (11), 20. Watford (8)

Scoring leader: 13 - Jamie Vardy (Leicester City)

Assists leader: 9 - Kevin De Bruyne (Man City)

Spanish La Liga

Top six: 1. FC Barcelona (31), 2. Real Madrid (31), 3. Sevilla (30), 4. Real Sociedad (26), 5. Athletic Bilbao (26), 6. Atletico Madrid (25)

Bottom three: 18. Celta Vigo (13), 19. Espanyol (9), 20. Leganes (6)

Scoring leader: 10 - Karim Benzema (Real Madrid)

Assists leader: 5 - Lionel Messi (FC Barcelona)

German Bundesliga

Top six: 1. Monchengladbach (28), 2. RB Leipzig (27), 3. Schalke 04 (25), 4. Bayern Munich (24), 5. Dortmund (23), 6. Freiburg (22)

Bottom three: 16. Hertha Berlin (11), 17. Cologne (8), 18. Paderborn (5)

Scoring leader: 16 - Robert Lewandowski (Bayern Munich)

Assists leader: 8 - Thomas Muller (Bayern Munich)

Italian Serie A

Top six: 1. Inter Milan (37), 2. Juventus (36), 3. Lazio (30), 4. Cagliari (28), 5. Roma (28), 6. Atalanta (25)

Bottom three: 18. Genoa (10), 19. SPAL (9), 20. Brescia (7)

Scoring leader: 17 - Ciro Immobile (Lazio)

Assists leader: 9 - Luis Alberto (Lazio)

French Ligue 1

Top four: 1. PSG (33), 2. Marseille (28), 3. Angers (24), 4. Bordeaux (23)

Bottom three: 18. Dijon (15), 19. Nimes (12), 20. Tolouse (12)

Scoring leader: 10 - Moussa Dembele (Lyon)

Assists leader: 7 - Islam Slimani (Monaco) / Yoann Court (Brest)

Liga MX Playoffs

The playoffs stage in Mexican football kicked off with the quarter-finals, a round in which all top four seeds feel over the two-leg series.

Quarterfinal results:

  • Club Leon 4-5 agg. Monarcas Morelia
  • Queretaro 2-6 agg. Necaxa
  • Santos Laguna 3-6 agg. Monterrey
  • Club America 2-4 agg. Tigres UANL

Liga MX Femenil Playoffs

The final of the female Liga MX division kicked off it's two leg series with a 1-1 draw between Monterrey rivals Tigres UANL and Rayadas in front of a league-record 41,615 attendance. The return leg is scheduled for Saturday, December 7 at Estadio BBVA.

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Texans fall to Browns. Photo by Jason Miller/Getty Images.

The Houston Texans kept it closer than the experts thought they would, but couldn't pull out a victory. Here are 11 observations from the loss in Cleveland to the Browns.

1. The game looks totally different if Texans quarterback Tyrod Taylor finishes the game. Taylor left at halftime with a hamstring injury. He was playing exceptionally well against his former team. Taylor is not expected to play Thursday according to NFL Network.

2. Davis Mills had a rocky NFL debut which was to be expected. Mills looked to have the wrong elements of a few plays. He also couldn't hit backup wideout Andre Roberts over the middle and threw an interception. It was a fine performance considering what Mills showed he could do in the preseason.

3. Mills didn't work with a full load of offensive weapons in the second half. Rookie wideout Nico Collins didn't return to the game after his lone catch and big run early in the game. Veteran slot receiver Danny Amendola left the game with an injury. Tight end Anthony Auclair left with an eye injury. The Texans entered the game without wide receiver Anthony Miller who was inactive.

4. Brandin Cooks is a monster through two games. He is the most dangerous skill position player on the team, and defenses still have trouble covering him and staying with him. Cooks turned in yet another impressive day for this team and hauled in a Davis Mills touchdown pass.

5. The Browns did a solid job against the ground game of the Texans. Mark Ingram averaged under three yards per carry and Tyrod Taylor was the only rusher to have a big play on the ground. This led to a fair number of third-and-long situations which the Texans usually had trouble converting.

6. Justin Reid was set to increase his payday on his next contract with his early play. Reid forced a fumble and had an interception in the first half. Unfortunately, Reid would leave the game multiple times with injuries. The knock on Reid has always been his health.

7. The Texans were worn down by the Browns rushing attack all day. Once Cleveland committed to the run they saw the success of their work culminating in a 26-yard scamper by Nick Chubb for a touchdown. The Browns didn't run as much as I excepted them to run early.

8. Tim Kelly had another nice day calling plays. Kelly remains creative in finding ways to get the ball out of Taylor's hands quickly as well as manufacturing matchups where the Texans can win and pick up yards. He even got creative to get Davis Mills a passing touchdown late in the game. Kelly has been very impressive through two games.

9. Andre Roberts was inexcusably bad today. The Texans defense held on the opening drive and his muffed punt eliminated the momentum from the defensive stand. He also had poor returns on kickoffs. His lone job is to be a solid returner, and he failed at that on Sunday.

10. David Culley had a head-scratching decision foregoing an offsides call on a third down. The head coach opted for the result of the third down, and a punt on fourth down, instead of another third down. He did not explain himself well postgame on the decision either.

11. The Texans hung tough and should feel solid about where they could have been without the injury to their quarterback. With no Taylor in the short week, it will not be easy to beat the Panthers who upset the Saints on Sunday.

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