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City, Liverpool reach League Cup semis

Barcelona returns to its winning ways with an easy victory over Rayo Vallecano


LONDON (AP) ― An emotional Craig Bellamy set up two goals in his first game following the suicide of friend Gary Speed, helping Liverpool win 2-0 at Chelsea on Tuesday night to advance to the English League Cup semifinals.

Bellamy missed Sunday’s 1-1 Premier League draw with Manchester City because he was too upset to play following the death of Speed. The Wales manager hanged himself in his garage, a police officer said.

Bellamy held back the tears prior to kickoff on Tuesday as fans and players from both teams conducted a moving one minute’s applause at Stamford Bridge in honor of Speed. Bellamy then set up goals for Maxi Rodriguez in the 58th and Martin Kelly in the 63rd, increasing pressure on Chelsea manager Andre Villas-Boas.

“Speedo was regarded as his mentor,” Liverpool manager Kenny Dalglish said of Bellamy. “To come back and play like that speaks volumes.”

Andy Carroll wasted a chance to put Liverpool ahead, sending a 22nd-minute penalty kick straight at goalkeeper Ross Turnbull after Alex was penalized for a hand ball in his own penalty area.

Also in London, substitute Sergio Aguero scored in the 83rd minute as Manchester City won 1-0 and eliminated Arsenal in the quarterfinals for the second time in three seasons.

Samir Nasri, who left Arsenal during the summer to sign with Manchester City, was booed every time he touched the ball. Fans chanted: “You only quit for the money.”

Nasri and Arsenal midfielder Emmanuel Frimpong exchanged words in the tunnel after the match.

Second-tier Cardiff reached the last four for the first time since 1966 by beating visiting Blackburn of the Premier League 2-0 on goals by Kenny Miller in the 19th minute and Anthony Gerrard in the 50th. 
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Rayo Vallecano. (AFP-Yonhap News)
Barcelona’s Lionel Messi celebrates his goal against Rayo Vallecano. (AFP-Yonhap News)

Spain

Barcelona bounced back from its first loss of the season with a 4-0 Spanish league victory over Rayo Vallecano.

Alexis Sanchez scored in the 29th and 41st minutes, his first goals since his club’s league opener on Aug. 29.

David Villa made it 3-0 in the 43rd, and Lionel Messi added his 26th goal of the season in the 50th, tying Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the league lead with 16.

Coming off a 1-0 loss at Getafe that ended a 27-game unbeaten streak dating to April, Barcelona (9-1-4) closed within three points of Real Madrid (11-1-1). Barcelona has outscored opponents 34-0 at home in eight league matches this season and has not allowed a goal in 11 consecutive league home games since April 9.

The match was moved forward from Dec. 17-18 because Barcelona will be in Japan for the Club World Cup.

Italy

Goran Pandev scored twice for Napoli, which wasted a two-goal lead and wound up in a 3-3 tie with Serie A leader Juventus.

At Naples, Marek Hamsik put the hosts in front with a header in the 23rd minute and Pandev made it 2-0 in the 40th. Alessandro Matri cut the gap in the 48th, but Pandev scored his second goal in the 68th. Juventus rallied on goals by Marcelo Estigarribia in the 72nd, his first in Italian soccer, and Simone Pepe in the 80th.

Juventus (7-0-5) opened a two-point lead over AC Milan and Udinese (both 7-2-3). Napoli (4-3-5) is sixth, nine points off the lead.
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