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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Auxerre Beats Upstart for French Cup

PARIS -- League leader Auxerre was given a fright by third division Nimes in the French Cup final, being forced to come from a goal down at halftime to triumph 2-1 with a winner two minutes from time.


Auxerre was stunned by a determined, battling Nimes side which matched it in every department in the first period and which had the audacity to take the lead in the 26th minute with a superb goal from Omar Belbey.


But the leader, expecting an easier Saturday ride in what it hopes will be the first stage of a league and Cup double, got back into the game when Laurent Blanc equalized six minutes after the interval.


Magnificent goalkeeping by Nimes's Philippe Sence kept Auxerre at bay until two minutes from the end when Lilian Laslandes snatched the winner with a diving header.


Nimes, struggling to avoid relegation to the fourth division, beat three first division teams on its way to the final. In any case, Nimes will be France's representatives in next season's Cup Winners' Cup should Auxerre capture the championship.


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Bulgarian World Cup player Emil Kostadinov was the unlikely hero as Bayern Munich swept aside FC Cologne 3-2 to keep its Bundesliga title hopes alive.


Kostadinov, who rarely plays at Munich, fired two goals Saturday to help the Franz Beckenbauer-coached team stay points even with Borussia Dortmund in the end spurt of the Bundesliga title race.


"We know what Kostadinov can do -- unfortunately he doesn't show it too often," said Beckenbauer, who was rewarded for his surprise move of inserting the Bulgarian to replace French striker Jean-Pierre Papin.


Both Munich, a 13-time titlist, and defending champion Dortmund have three matches to play in a season dominated by their fierce battle for the Bundesliga crown.


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Spanish league leader Atletico Madrid took a big step towards its first league title in 19 years by notching its 13th away win of the season in beating Compostela 3-1.


With just three games left, Atletico stayed four points ahead of Valencia, which beat Sporting Gijon 1-0 at home.


Atletico got off to a fine start Saturday, when international playmaker Jose-Luis Caminero slipped the Compostela off-side trap and nonchalantly lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Francisco Falagan with just eight minutes on the clock.


Just after the break Argentine midfielder Diego Simeone combined well with Robert Fresnedoso and side-stepped Falagan to blast home the second, while Caminero ensured Atletico's victory 10 minutes from time.


(For other results, see Scorecard.)