Madrid, Barcelona all-square in Clasico cup clash
Madrid, Barcelona all-square in Clasico cup clash
Cesc Fabregas had given Barca the lead at the Santiago Bernabeu in a game his side looked to be running away with until the leveller.
Varane was Madrid’s star all evening, clearing off the line in the first half and making countless other defensive interventions in an entertaining encounter.
With the second leg almost a month away, Madrid, who trail Barca by 15 points in the league, will be relieved to avoid defeat and will now look to the Champions League last-16 first leg against Manchester United in the same stadium in less than two weeks.
Madrid assistant coach Aitor Karanka highlighted Varane’s performance.
“He had a great game, after saving us a few times he gets the equalizer and it will do him good, he is only 19 and this will be good for his progress with us,” he said.
With Barca coach Tito Vilanova in New York receiving further cancer treatment, assistant Jordi Roura took the reins and thought his side could have won it.
Jose Mourinho earlier decided to partner Varane and Ricardo Carvalho in the center of a depleted defense, with Sergio Ramos and Fabio Coentrao out through suspension and Pepe injured.
At right back Michael Essien was favored over Marcelo, just back from injury, and Diego Lopez was called up for his debut in goal after he signed from Sevilla last Friday to replace the injured Iker Casillas.
Barca had far fewer problems and Jose Manuel Pinto in his customary position in goal for the Spanish Cup for Victor Valdes was their only change.
United moves seven clear
In London, Wayne Rooney maintained Manchester United’s handy knack of overturning deficits with two goals as the leaders beat Southampton 2-1 at Old Trafford to move seven points clear in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
Champions Manchester City’s 0-0 draw at bottom club Queens Park Rangers 24 hours earlier paved the way for United to widen the gap but Jay Rodriguez silenced the home crowd after three minutes before Rooney’s double restored order before halftime.
Apart from Everton, the clubs battling for top-four finishes and Champions League qualification suffered frustration, none more so than third-placed Chelsea who threw away a two-goal lead to draw 2-2 at struggling Reading for whom substitute Adam Le Fondre struck twice in the closing stages.
Chelsea remain four points clear of Tottenham Hotspur who needed a superb Gareth Bale equalizer in a 1-1 draw at Norwich City while sixth-placed Arsenal drew 2-2 at home to Liverpool having trailed 2-0 with half an hour remaining.
Luis Suarez gave Liverpool an early lead and Jordan Henderson made it 2-0 on the hour after some terrible Arsenal defending but Olivier Giroud and Theo Walcott earned the Gunners a deserved point from an entertaining clash.
Fifth-placed Everton cashed in on the dropped points of those around them in the table with a 2-1 home victory over West Bromwich Albion to move one point behind Tottenham, three clear of Arsenal and six ahead of Liverpool.
In a London derby alongside the River Thames Fulham beat West Ham United 3-1.
Rafael Nadal wins eighth Rome Masters title after stunning comeback
- The Spanish master won the Rome Masters for the eighth time on Sunday
- German second seed Zverev was 3-1 up in the decider before two rain stoppages halted his momentum
ROME: Rafael Nadal won the Rome Masters for the eighth time on Sunday when he defeated defending champion Alexander Zverev 6-1, 1-6, 6-3 after a stunning comeback.
German second seed Zverev was 3-1 up in the decider before two rain stoppages halted his momentum.
Top seed Nadal raced away with the last five games to secure a 32nd Masters title and ensure a return to the world number one spot.
The 31-year-old also showed why he will once again be the runaway favourite when Roland Garros begins in a week where he'll be bidding for an 11th French Open title.
Zverev, 21, came to the court riding a 13-match win streak which included last weekend's trophy in Madrid.
However, by the end of Sunday's rain-hit final, his record against the Spaniard stood at five defeats in five meetings.
Nadal was 3-1 down at the first rain break but cut the gap on the resumption.
After a further half an hour off court during the second interruption, Nadal came back out firing, winning four straight games to wrap up the win on his second match point.
"The rain break was so important, I didn't think it would help me but it did. I was able to come back out with clear ideas, I'm very happy," said Nadal.
"To win Rome eight times is amazing, it's hard to describe. To have the chance to win here again is so great.
"As for Roland Garros, I'm going to enjoy this victory and think about Paris in a few days.
"For Alexander it's amazing to have won that many matches in a row," Nadal said after winning in just over two hours.
"Today this trophy is with me for a short time, but I'm sure you will get it again."
He added: "This was a very difficult match played at one of the best events of the world.
"To win again after my first (Rome title) in 2005 is amazing, the 2005 final was one of the best memories of my career."
Nadal remains the best clay-courter of the Open Era with an astonishing 408-36 record
He will next seek an 11th French Open crown to match the 11 he owns from Monte Carlo and Barcelona.
"You are an amazing champion and you proved that today," Zverev told the Spaniard at the trophy presentation.
"You are the greatest clay player of all time, we all saw that. I'm disappointed that my streak is over, but I did lose to Rafa, so maybe it's OK.
"I was so close but I lost it at the end."
With the sun shining, Nadal made light work of what looked like a disastrous start to the match as he dropped serve in the opening game.
But the king of clay quickly mounted a fightback, breaking world number three Zverev to love and going on to deny the German a winning service game in the entire set.
Nadal closed out the opener in 32 minutes on an overhead smash to leave his challenger scratching for answers after losing six straight games.
Zverev finally held serve to start the second set and answered Nadal by breaking the top seed twice to reach 5-0 as the first dark clouds of the week gathered over the Foro Italico and the conditions slowed.
Nadal temporarily stopped the rot as he won his fist game of the set but Zverev levelled the match at a set each a game later.
That set the stage for the rollercoaster third set decider.