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Weekly Soccer Recap: Barcelona win El Clasico, Premier League ready for Boxing Day

Weekly Soccer Recap: Barcelona win El Clasico, Premier League ready for Boxing Day
Messi of Barcelona celebrates after scoring his side's second goal during the La Liga match between Real Madrid and Barcelona at Estadio Santiago Bernabeu on December 23, 2017 in Madrid, Spain. Dennis Doyle/Getty Images

FC Barcelona won the weekend with a win over Real Madrid but there was plenty left to talk about after the latest weekend in soccer. The Catalans now hold a comfortable lead in their league, which is a common theme across the big leagues in Europe. Here is the week in soccer:

Premier League

In midweek action, seven Premier League teams took part in the English League Cup quarter-finals that saw Arsenal advance over West Ham, Chelsea narrowly defeat Bournemouth, Manchester City outlasting Leicester City on penalties and Manchester United eliminated at Championship side Bristol City.

Arsenal and Liverpool got together Friday to deliver a 3-3 thriller at the Emirates while Everton and Chelsea kicked things off Saturday with a nil-nil draw at Goodison Park. Manchester City picked up a 4-0 win over Bournemouth, Tottenham a 3-0 win over Burnley and Leicester drew 2-2 with Manchester United at the King Power. In another notable match - unrelated to the title race - Newcastle went on the road to defeat West Ham 3-2 at London Stadium.

All of these results mean Manchester City, who are still undefeated with a 18-1-0 record, now have a 13 point lead at the halfpoint of the season with the league title all but [officially] clinched. The drama for the rest of the season will lie with the race to clinch places 2-4 in the table to clinch a spot in next year’s UEFA Champions League and there’s no better time to amplify the that drama than Boxing Day - the Prem’s version of NFL Thanksgiving football or the NBA’s Christmas day lineup.

Top 5: Manchester City (55), Manchester United (42), Chelsea (39), Liverpool (35), Tottenham (34)

La Liga

Soccer fans across the world where tuned in on Saturday for the most important bout of the season in La Liga: El Clásico. FC Barcelona outlasted a fiery Real Madrid from the get-go and walked out of their rivals stadium with a 3-0 win. Coupled with Atlético Madrid’s shocking loss at Espanyol on Friday, the weekend results now give Barça a nine-point lead at the top in what looks will be the Catalan’s 25th championship season. The other two teams currently in the top five - Valencia and Sevilla - also lost this weekend as the league takes a break until the first weekend of the new year.

The 5: Barcelona (45), Atlético Madrid (36), Valencia (34), Real Madrid (31), Sevilla (29)

Bundesliga

The Bundesliga is on it’s three week hiatus but before clubs took their winter break, 12 Bundesliga clubs took part in the Third Round of the German Cup. The biggest named bout was clearly the rivalry match between Bayern Munich and Dortmund that ended in a 2-1 win for the Bavarians. With an 11 point lead in the league, Munich also keeps their cup run alive to see out a season with multiple trophies. Mainz, Schalke, Wolfsburg, Bayer Leverkusen, Werder Bremen and Eintracht Frankfurt were the other Bundesliga sides to advance.

Top 5: Bayern Munich (41), Schalke 04 (30), Dortmund (28), Bayer Leverkusen (28), RB Leipzig (28)

Ligue 1

If you missed Ligue 1 action this week, nothing major changed with the top five as all of those clubs added three points to their total. Paris Saint-Germain arrives at the midpoint of the season with a nine-point lead after a 3-1 win over Caen. The lead is a manageable one for PSG but the tough part will be managing out a congested schedule. There is a three week break in the league but before that the Parisians will have two domestic cups to play in. Monaco and Lyon are not dead yet but they’ll have to be much sharper in the second half of the season.

Top 5: Paris Saint-Germain (50), Monaco (41), Lyon (41), Marseille (38), Nantes (33)

Serie A

Of the top league’s in Europe, Italy’s has clearly been the most level and the closest title race by far. Inter Milan suffered a setback after suffering their second loss of the season at Sassuolo. Napoli picked up a 3-2 win over Sampdoria but not without a bit of suspense, giving up a penalty in the 27th minute and having Mario Rui sent off in the 77th minute. Juventus and Roma faced off in a battle of top five teams where the Zebras got a 1-0 win to hold Roma at fourth place. A.C. Milan suffered a second consecutive loss as both Milan clubs head into Tuesday’s Italian Cup match looking for a boost in morale.

The top 5: Napoli (45), Juventus (44), Inter Milan (40), Roma (38), Lazio (36)

Liga MX

Monterrey won the domestic cup over Pachuca in a 1-0 Copa MX final win, picking up a nice consolation prize after losing the league final to crosstown rival Tigres. The Clausura 2018 season begins next weekend, meaning clubs will be wrapping up their middle of the year preseason this week. Club America, led by Mexico’s national team coach at the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Miguel Herrera, face Toluca FC on Saturday afternoon at BBVA Compass Stadium in on of this weekend’s friendlies (TICKETS).

Upcoming Matches (All Times CT):

Tuesday, Dec. 26:

6:30 a.m. - Tottenham vs. Southampton (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - Manchester United vs. Burnley (NBC Sports)

11:30 a.m. - Liverpool vs. Swansea (NBC Sports)

Wednesday, Dec. 27:

1:45 p.m. - Newcastle United vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

Thursday, Dec. 28:

2:00 p.m. - Crystal Palace vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

Friday, Dec. 29:

1:45 p.m. - Crotone vs. Napoli (beIN Sports)

Saturday, Dec. 30:

5:30 a.m. - Fiorentina vs. AC Milan (beIN Sports)

11:30 a.m. - Manchester United vs. Southampton (NBC)

5:00 p.m. - [Friendly] Club America vs. Toluca (Univision Deportes)

Sunday, Dec. 31:

6:00 a.m. - Crystal Palace vs. Manchester City (NBC Sports)

10:30 a.m. - West Bromwich vs. Arsenal (NBC Sports)

Monday, Jan. 1:

6:30 a.m. - Brighton vs. Bournemouth (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - Burnley vs. Liverpool (NBC Sports)

9:00 a.m. - Leicester City vs. Huddersfield Town (CNBC)

11:30 a.m. - Everton vs. Manchester United (NBC Sports)

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Yordan Alvarez had four hits on Tuesday night. Composite Getty Image.

Salvador Perez hit a game-ending single in the 10th inning, and the Kansas City Royals beat the Houston Astros 4-3 on Tuesday night for their fifth consecutive victory.

Garrett Hampson began the Kansas City 10th on second as the automatic runner, replacing Vinnie Pasquantino. Hampson raced home when Perez led off the inning with a single to center against Wander Suero (0-1).

“We’re gonna play hard,” Perez said. “We’re gonna do our best, especially right now. We've got new comfort.”

James McArthur (1-0) pitched two scoreless innings for the win.

Perez and Nelson Velázquez each had two hits for the Royals. Bobby Witt Jr. and Maikel Garcia each drove in a run.

Nick Anderson, Chris Stratton, John Schreiber and McArthur combined for five scoreless innings of four-hit ball in relief of Royals starter Cole Ragans.

“These guys are incredible,” Ragans said of the bullpen. “They pitched incredible. They kept us right there. That’s really, really big.”

Witt's biggest contribution may have been a diving stop on a two-out single by Jeremy Peña in the top of the 10th. Had the ball gotten past the young shortstop, the Astros likely would have taken the lead.

“I thought it did have a chance of going through,” Peña said. “I’ll shout out to Bobby Witt. (He) made a nice play.”

Yordan Alvarez had four hits and two RBIs for Houston, which had won two in a row. Peña had two hits and scored a run.

The Astros loaded the bases with three straight singles to start the first inning, but Ragans limited the damage to a run-scoring fielder’s choice for Yainer Diaz.

“I don’t think (Ragans) had his best stuff,” Royals manager Matt Quatraro said. “That’s a good lineup, and they made him work. (But) if we turn that double play in the first or he’s able to get Alvarez out one of those times with two strikes, he’s coming out of there with one or maybe no runs. Credit to him really."

Alvarez singled in Peña with two out in the second, and then doubled home Mauricio Dubón in the fourth.

Ragans surrendered 10 hits in five innings for Kansas City. He struck out five and walked one.

Houston went 5 for 18 with runners in scoring position and left 13 runners on base.

“We had some opportunities to get some guys in (with) less than two outs," Houston manager Joe Espada said. "We just couldn’t capitalize.”

Houston right-hander Cristian Javier was charged with three runs, two earned, and five hits in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out four and walked three.

Maikel Garcia’s sacrifice fly in the fifth stopped Javier’s scoreless streak at 15 innings to start the season. Witt drove in Hunter Renfroe with a two-out triple, and then scored on an error on third baseman Alex Bregman.

TRANSACTIONS

Astros: Placed LHP Framber Valdez on the 10-day injured list with left elbow inflammation. They selected the contract of Suero from Triple-A Sugar Land to take his place. The Astros also recalled LHP Parker Mushinski from Sugar Land and optioned RHP Blair Henley to the minors. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Astros transferred RHP Oliver Ortega to the 60-day IL.

Royals: Acquired RHP Colin Selby from Pittsburgh for minor league pitcher Connor Oliver. To make room on the 40-man roster for Selby, LHP Josh Taylor was moved to the 60-day IL. The Royals also signed RHP Zach Davies to a minor league deal.

UP NEXT

The Astros and Royals continue their three-game series Wednesday. RHP Spencer Arrighetti will make his major league debut for Houston against Seth Lugo (1-0, 0.71 ERA).

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