Football

We feel like we're sinking, says Real's Marcelo

Real Madrid players feel like their La Liga title hopes are "sinking" into a black hole after they let a 2-1 lead against Celta Vigo slip in the final eight minutes, leaving them 16 points behind leaders Barcelona.

Real were leading with eight minutes to go against Celta after Gareth Bale's quick-fire double had overturned Daniel Wass' opening strike.

But Maxi Gomez's headed goal in the 82nd minute ensured the match yesterday morning (Singapore time) finished in a 2-2 draw and piled more pressure on Zinedine Zidane's side, who had lost 3-0 to arch rivals and runaway leaders Barca in their previous Liga outing.

"It is how it looks from the outside - we are sad, angry and we feel like we are sinking," said Marcelo. "It is one of the worst situations I've experienced here," added the 29-year-old who has been with the club for over a decade.

"We'll try to work hard and fight so we can win our next game but we don't like this situation at all, it's difficult because the more games you draw or lose, the more pressure you are under."

The last time Real were 16 points behind the Liga leaders was during Jose Mourinho's tension-filled final campaign in 2012-13, when they finished 15 points adrift of Barca.

"There's nothing else we can do other than keep our heads up and fight and do our best to start winning again," added Marcelo, who has won four La Liga and three Champions League titles since joining Real in 2007.

Real coach Zidane usually leaps to the defence of his players after negative results but he was not in a forgiving mood after this game.

Said the Frenchman, who last season guided Real to their first Liga and European Cup double since 1958: "We played very well in the first 45 minutes but not in the second half and a game lasts 90 minutes."

Zidane also declined comment on whether his side, who host Villarreal on Saturday, were out of the title race. - REUTERS

Neymar, PSG run riot in French Cup

Neymar, Kylian Mbappe and Angel di Maria all scored twice as a rampant Paris Saint-Germain shrugged off the absence of Edinson Cavani to win 6-1 away to Ligue 1 rivals Rennes in the French Cup yesterday morning (Singapore time).

PSG are bidding to win the trophy for an unprecedented fourth consecutive season, and they showed Rennes no mercy in Brittany.

Leading scorer Cavani was not involved after returning late from his Christmas and New Year break in Uruguay, so di Maria came into the attack alongside Mbappe and Neymar.

Mbappe opened accounts inside nine minutes after receiving Thiago Silva's long ball.

A brilliantly worked goal saw PSG double their lead, with Adrien Rabiot and Marco Verratti combining to tee up Neymar for the finish.

Di Maria turned in a Yuri Berchiche cross from the left for the third goal midway through the first half and the pick of the bunch came as Neymar made it 4-0 two minutes before half-time.

PSG started the move in their own penalty box before Neymar broke downfield and eventually applied the finish from Mbappe's pass.

Rennes pulled one back in the second half from a Benjamin Bourigeaud penalty after a Thiago Motta handball, but there was still time for Unai Emery's side to score twice more.

Mbappe set up di Maria to make it five and the Argentinian returned the favour with an assist for Mbappe to complete the rout.

PSG have won their last 34 consecutive domestic cup ties, a run they can extend as they go to Amiens in the League Cup quarter-finals on Thursday morning (Singapore time).

Ligue 1 clubs were entering the French Cup after a 2½-week winter break, and most of the leading sides made it through.

Guido Carrillo scored a hat-trick as Monaco won 5-2 at fourth-tier Yzeure on Saturday, while Maxwel Cornet's last-gasp free-kick saw Lyon win 3-2 at Ligue 2 side Nancy and a Jordan Amavi goal in extra-time gave hosts Marseille a 1-0 win over second-tier Valenciennes.

With Mario Balotelli out and Wesley Sneijder allowed to leave to complete a move to Al Gharafa of Qatar, Nice were beaten 1-0 at Toulouse. - AFP

Bolt secures Dortmund trial, eyes Man United

Sprint legend Usain Bolt said that he hopes to still see his dream of becoming a professional footballer come true when he undergoes a trial at German top-flight club Borussia Dortmund in March.

However, the multiple Olympic and world champion admitted that he would prefer to play for Manchester United, his favourite team.

The 31-year-old world record holder told the Sunday Express: "One of my biggest dreams is to sign for Manchester United. If Dortmund say I'm good enough, I'll crack on and train hard.

"I've spoken to (ex-United boss) Alex Ferguson and I told him he needs to put in a good word. He told me if I get fit and ready, he'll see what he can do." - AFP

Football