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Thursday, Aug 16th

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La Liga: Barcelona and Real Madrid both win to stay neck-and-neck in title race

Defending champions FC Barcelona and arch-rivals Real Madrid maintained the status quo in the battle for the La Liga title as both sides clinched wins which left them neck-and-neck in the title race.

Barcelona on Saturday had to work hard to eventually claim a comfortable win at home against Villarreal, who are battling for a top-four finish themselves. Real Madrid meanwhile pounded already-relegated Granada 4-0 away as they took their points tally to 84 points - same as Barcelona having played a match less than the Catalans, who are ahead on better goal difference.

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Argentina handed massive reprieve as Messi's ban is reduced drastically

World football's governing body FIFA on Friday lifted its four match international suspension of Barcelona star Lionel Messi after an appeal by the Argentine Football Association.

Messi, who has already served one match of that suspension, was banned for insulting an assistant referee during Argentina's World Cup qualifying match with Chile on March 23. 

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Europa League: Mourinho masterclass gives Man United the edge over Celta Vigo

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A second-half free kick from Manchester United striker Marcos Rashford was enough to give the English football club a 1-0 win away over Celta Vigo in the first leg of their Europa League semi-final in Spain.

It was a relatively dull game in a full Balaidos Stadium on Thursday night, but the English side probably deserved the win after creating more chances against a rival they were able to stifle for long parts of the game.

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UEFA revamping penalty shootout format to match tennis tiebreakers

The Union of European Football Associations (UEFA) is looking to revolutionize penalty shootouts to make them fairer. Instead of alternating the spot kicks all the way through, the new system will be similar to a tie-break in tennis.

The new mode is called "ABBA" whereby team A takes the first penalty followed by team B taking two. Team A then takes the next two and so on until five penalties have been taken.

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La Liga Preview: Barcelona vs Villarreal

Barcelona will face Villarreal on Saturday as the Catalans look to maintain their leadership in the La Liga football championship.

The side, coached by Luis Enrique, is level on points with Real Madrid but have played one more game. As a result, they have to win their three remaining matches while hoping Madrid slip up between now and the end of the campaign.

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Juventus too good for Monaco in Champions League semi-final first leg

Italian football giants Juventus rode on a brace from star striker Gonzalo Higuain to register a 2-0 away victory over AS Monaco in the first leg of their UEFA Champions League semi-final.

In their first appearance in the tournament's semi-final since 2004, Monaco, whose impressive forward line have tallied 146 goals in all competitions so far this season, were restrained throughout the game by the superb Juventus defence which has conceded just two goals in 10 Champions League game this term.

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Europa League: Ajax hammer Lyon 4-1 in semi-final first leg

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Ajax took a big step in their quest for a first European title in 21 years, thrashing Olympique Lyon 4-1 in the first leg of their Europa League football semi-final. Bertrand Traore was the dominant figure for the Dutch side, scoring two goals and assisting on a third on Wednesday night.

Lyon looked more comfortable in the first 20 minutes of the contest in front of nearly 50,000 spectators at a packed Amsterdam Arena.

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