Europe roundup: Barcelona and Leverkusen into Champions League

Patrik Schick scored twice to shoot Bayer Leverkusen into the Champions League with a 4-2 win at Hoffenheim in the Bundesliga.

Union Berlin stunned Freiburg 4-1 to dampen their Champions League hopes. Union secured at least a place in the Europa Conference League for the second season in a row. Sixth-placed Union, promoted only in 2019, has a two-point lead over Köln in their tussle for Europa League qualification. Köln lost at home to Wolfsburg 1-0.

Borussia Dortmund defeated already relegated Greuther Fürth 3-1 away in Stefan Leitl’s last game as Fürth coach. Leitl led the team to promotion last season.

Leverkusen were made to work hard against Hoffenheim, hoping to keep their European qualification chances alive. Schick scored twice to take his season tally to 24 in 26 league appearances. Leverkusen twice came from behind to secure third place, irrespective of what happens in their final game against Freiburg next weekend.

Freiburg, who also face Leipzig in the German Cup final on May 21, were rocked by three first-half goals from Union. Freiburg coach Christian Streich was booked for his furious reaction to an apparent infringement.

Streich’s team pushed hard after the break and duly pulled one back. But Union substitute Andras Schäfer sealed the result with a fine individual goal in the last minute.

Schalke secured promotion back to the Bundesliga after racing back from two goals down to beat St Pauli 3-2 on Saturday with two goals from top scorer Simon Terodde. The Ruhr valley club opened up a five-point lead at the top with one game remaining.

A stoppage-time goal from defender Jordi Alba earned Barcelona a 2-1 La Liga win at Real Betis on Saturday, securing Xavi’s side Champions League qualification and edging them closer to a spot at the lucrative Spanish Super Cup finals.

Alba received a precise pass from Dani Alves in the final seconds of the game and lashed the ball past goalkeeper Rui Silva with a superbly-taken, first-time volley. With the league title already sealed by Real Madrid, Barcelona are now second on 69 points in the standings, five points clear of Sevilla in third and eight ahead of Atletico Madrid in fourth, both with one game in hand.

Betis created more opportunities in a lively first half, but substitute Ansu Fati put the visitors ahead after the break with a low shot towards the left corner in the 76th minute. Barça’s lead did not last long, as three minutes later former Barcelona defender Marc Bartra levelled for the Copa del Rey champions with a header.
But Alba sealed the game in the dying minutes.

Barcelona, who have won 10 of their last 12 league matches, are close to wrapping up second place and snatching the €3.4m that the club would make by going to the Spanish Super Cup in Saudi Arabia.

Napoli opened a four-point lead over Juventus in the race for third place in Serie A after Fabián Ruiz’s second-half goal helped them win 1-0 at Torino.

With two matches left, Napoli are third on 73 points, ahead of fourth-placed Juventus, whose chances of winning the title ended after Friday’s 2-1 shock defeat at relegation-threatened Genoa.

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After a dispiriting first half in which Napoli struggled to finish off their chances, central midfielder Ruiz found the breakthrough, firing in a low effort in the 73rd minute as Luciano Spalletti’s side recovered from Lorenzo Insigne missing a penalty on the hour mark.

Later on Saturday, Sassuolo and Udinese drew 1-1, while fifth-placed Lazio beat Sampdoria 2-0 and are now three points ahead of Roma, who have a game in hand, in sixth, with both sides battling to secure a Europa League spot for the next season.
José Mourinho’s side visit seventh-placed Fiorentina on Monday.


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