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FOOTBALL

Ten-man Dortmund outplay Bremen

Defending champions Borussia Dortmund moved provisionally up to second place in the Bundesliga after recording a rousing 2-0 win at Werder Bremen on Friday despite playing almost half the game with only ten men.

Ten-man Dortmund outplay Bremen
Photo: DPA

Werder had the chance to go level on points with Bayern Munich at the top in the event of a victory and they dominated the first-half at the Weserstadion, only to fall behind three minutes before half-time to Ivan Perisic’s stunning strike.

The Croatian had already showcased his rifle-like left foot in last month’s Champions League draw with Arsenal, and another vicious hit on Friday handed the hosts’ stand-in ‘keeper Sebastian Mielitz no chance.

However, Perisic left his teammates up against it when he was sent-off within moments of the restart, seeing a second yellow card for a late tackle on Sokratis Papastathpoulos.

Lukas Schmitz almost levelled with a deflected shot that came back off the Dortmund crossbar, but soon after Jürgen Klopp’s men doubled their lead.

Bremen failed to fully clear a corner, and when Mats Hummels headed the ball back into the six-yard box, Patrick Owomoyela was on hand to stab past Mielitz.

It was the perfect way for Owomoyela to mark his first appearance after six months out injured.

The win – their third on the bounce in the league – is the perfect boost for Dortmund ahead of their Champions League trip to Olympiakos on Wednesday.

On Saturday, leaders Bayern Munich – who have not conceded a goal since the opening day of the season – play host to Hertha Berlin.

Borussia Mönchengladbach can go clear in second with a win at home to Bayer Leverkusen, while Schalke take on Kaiserslautern.

Bottom of the table Hamburg appointed former Bayern Munich player Thorsten Fink as their new coach this week, but he will only take charge on Monday, meaning sporting director Frank Arnesen will be in the dugout for Sunday’s game at Freiburg.

AFP/bk

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FOOTBALL

Putellas becomes second Spanish footballer in history to win Ballon d’Or

Alexia Putellas of Barcelona and Spain won the women's Ballon d'Or prize on Monday, becoming only the second Spanish-born footballer in history to be considered the best in the world, and claiming a win for Spain after a 61-year wait.

FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award.
FC Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas poses after being awarded thewomen's Ballon d'Or award. Photo: FRANCK FIFE / AFP

Putellas is the third winner of the prize, following in the footsteps of Ada Hegerberg, who won the inaugural women’s Ballon d’Or in 2018, and United States World Cup star Megan Rapinoe, winner in 2019.

Putellas captained Barcelona to victory in this year’s Champions League, scoring a penalty in the final as her side hammered Chelsea 4-0 in Gothenburg.

She also won a Spanish league and cup double with Barca, the club she joined as a teenager in 2012, and helped her country qualify for the upcoming Women’s Euro in England.

Her Barcelona and Spain teammate Jennifer Hermoso finished second in the voting, with Sam Kerr of Chelsea and Australia coming in third.

It completes an awards double for Putellas, who in August was named player of the year by European football’s governing body UEFA.

But it’s also a huge win for Spain as it’s the first time in 61 years that a Spanish footballer – male or female – is crowned the world’s best footballer of the year, and only the second time in history a Spaniard wins the Ballon d’Or. 

Former Spanish midfielder Luis Suárez (not the ex Liverpool and Barça player now at Atlético) was the only Spanish-born footballer to win the award in 1960 while at Inter Milan. Argentinian-born Alfredo Di Stefano, the Real Madrid star who took up Spanish citizenship, also won it in 1959.

Who is Alexia Putellas?

Alexia Putellas grew up dreaming of playing for Barcelona and after clinching the treble of league, cup and Champions League last season, her status as a women’s footballing icon was underlined as she claimed the Ballon d’Or on Monday.

Unlike the men’s side, Barca’s women swept the board last term with the 27-year-old, who wears “Alexia” on the back of her shirt, at the forefront, months before Lionel Messi’s emotional departure.

Attacker Putellas, who turns 28 in February, spent her childhood less than an hour’s car journey from the Camp Nou and she made her first trip to the ground from her hometown of Mollet del Valles, for the Barcelona derby on January 6, 2000.

Barcelona's Spanish midfielder Alexia Putellas (R) vies with VfL Wolfsburg's German defender Kathrin Hendrich
Putellas plays as a striker for Barça and Spain. GABRIEL BOUYS / POOL / AFP

Exactly 21 years later she became the first woman in the modern era to score in the stadium, against Espanyol. Her name was engraved in the club’s history from that day forward, but her story started much earlier.

She started playing the sport in school, against boys.

“My mum had enough of me coming home with bruises on my legs, so she signed me up at a club so that I stopped playing during break-time,” Putellas said last year.

So, with her parent’s insistence, she joined Sabadell before being signed by Barca’s academy.

“That’s where things got serious… But you couldn’t envisage, with all one’s power, to make a living from football,” she said.

After less than a year with “her” outfit, she moved across town to Espanyol and made her first-team debut in 2010 before losing to Barca in the final of the Copa de la Reina.

She then headed south for a season at Valencia-based club Levante before returning “home” in July 2012, signing for Barcelona just two months after her father’s death.

In her first term there she helped Barca win the league and cup double, winning the award for player of the match in the final of the latter competition.

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