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The Matrix and the sci-fi stories that predicted life in 2021
When was the peak of human civilisation? 1999, according to Agent Smith, the villainous computer program in The Matrix (1999). In the sci-fi series' iconic first film, humans have been enslaved by artificial intelligence 200 years in the future, and what they believe to be the real world is in fact a simulation. Agent Smith explains that the virtual reality – the titular Matrix – they have been tasked with upholding has been modelled on the end of the 20th Century for this reason. After that, it was all downhill for our species, apparently.
人类文明是在什么时候达到顶峰？按照科幻系列电影《黑客帝国》（The Matrix, 1999）中邪恶的电脑程序特工史密斯（Agent Smith）的说法，是在1999年。在《黑客帝国》的标志性首部电影中，人类在其后的200年被人工智能所奴役，人类以为自己生活其中的现实世界实际上是一个虚拟世界。特工史密斯对此的解释是，正是人类文明在1999年达到高峰，他们奉命维护，名曰矩阵（Matrix）的虚拟现实，就是以人类20世纪末的文明为模型。自那之后，我们人类文明显然是每况愈下。
Looking back now, you could argue that Smith had a point. Economies were booming. 9/11 hadn't happened yet. Pandemics were a distant memory.
It was certainly a peak of cinema: 1999 saw Hollywood films – as superficially varied as Fight Club, Office Space, Being John Malkovich and yes, The Matrix – prod at society's brittle facade, making us question our world, our reality, our very existence. The Matrix was so influential it convinced some fans that its central premise was real. In this year's documentary A Glitch in the Matrix, director Rodney Ascher interviews a whole cast of people who believe that very thing, that we are in fact in the Matrix. The Wachowski sisters' film was also a definitive work of cyberpunk, the noirish subgenre of science fiction where futuristic technologies combine with bleak, dystopian societies.
但有一点可以肯定，1999年确实是电影业的高峰，该年好莱坞推出了好几部佳片，有《搏击俱乐部》（Fight Club）、《上班一条虫》（Office Space）、《成为约翰·马尔科维奇》（Being John Malkovich），当然还有《黑客帝国》，这几部电影题材各异，但都触及到人类社会脆弱的一面，让观众质疑我们的世界、我们面对的现实、以及我们人类本身的存在。《黑客帝国》的影响力如此之大，以至于一些粉丝对这部电影的核心前提（人类被人工智能所奴役而生活在虚拟世界）信以为真。在2021年初出品的纪录片《矩阵故障》( A Glitch In the Matrix )，导演罗德尼·阿谢尔（Rodney Ascher）采访了一群人，这些受访者相信我们确实生活在虚拟矩阵中。沃卓斯基（Wachowski）姐妹这部《黑客帝国》也是赛博朋克（Cyberpunk）文化的经典之作，所谓赛博朋克是指科幻小说中的一种将未来的科技与色调阴暗的反乌托邦主题相结合的黑色科幻。
It is adored to this day, as evidenced by the mania surrounding the release of a new Matrix instalment – The Matrix Resurrections – later this month, with fans even seeming to have forgotten the two dreary sequels that came before it (both released in 2003). As per its title, the fourth film in the series promises to bring three of its most beloved characters back from the dead, with romantically-inclined hackers Neo (Keanu Reeves) and Trinity (Carrie-Anne Moss) having both seemingly died in the third film, while the bespectacled revolutionary Morpheus (Laurence Fishburne) was killed in the canonical narrative of the video-game series The Matrix Online.
时至今日，《黑客帝国》仍然深受人们的喜爱，《黑客帝国》系列的最新一部《黑客帝国：矩阵回归》（The Matrix Resurrections）宣布上映立即引发众多粉丝的一阵狂欢，似乎已经忘记了之前的两部《黑客帝国》续集（均在2003年上映）令人很失望。如片名“矩阵回归”所昭示，《黑客帝国系列》最新的第四部将会让三个最受欢迎的角色起死回生，即在第三部看来已双双殒命的一对黑客恋人尼奥（Neo）（基努·里维斯 Keanu Reeves 饰演）和崔妮蒂（Trinity）（凯莉-安妮·莫斯 Carrie-Anne Moss 饰演），以及在电子游戏系列《黑客帝国在线》的标准叙述中已被杀丧生的戴眼镜的革命者莫斐斯（Morpheus）（劳伦斯·菲什伯恩 Laurence Fishburne 饰演）。
All three are set to return (albeit with Morpheus in younger form, this time played by Yahya Abdul-Mateen II), along with the franchise's trademark kung-fu action sequences and an examination of "what is real". With only some cryptic trailers to go on so far, it's anyone's guess where the story goes from here, but the Matrix's central ideas (virtual reality, simulation theory) are more ingrained in our own reality now than ever before. Indeed, in a world where truth is stranger than science fiction, what can a new Matrix film – and the cyberpunk genre as a whole – offer us now?
这三个主角都将回归（不过莫斐斯以更年轻的状态回归，由叶海亚·阿卜杜·马廷二世 Yahya Abdul-Mateen II 饰演），同时还将呈现《黑客帝国》系列招牌性的功夫动作，以及对“什么是真实”的检验。在第四部正式上映前，因只公布了几个画面神秘的预告片，所有人都在猜测故事情节到底如何展开，而当今现实却是，《黑客帝国》的核心思想，即虚拟现实和模拟理论已空前深植入我们人类的现实。的确，在一个真相比科幻小说更奇怪的世界里，一部新的《黑客帝国》电影，以及整个赛博朋克黑科幻能给人类带来什么新的启示？
The origins of cyberpunk
The term cyberpunk was coined in 1983 when US author Bruce Bethke wrote Cyberpunk, a short story in which a group of rebellious kids living in a technologically-advanced society skip school and rob a bank by hacking into its mainframe. Bethke explained that he wanted a term that paired technology with "socially misdirected youth, and tried out the various combinations until one just plain sounded right". Another key early cyberpunk author was Philip K Dick: though his 1968 novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep prefigured the genre, when it was adapted for the big screen under the new name Blade Runner in 1982, the film became one of cyberpunk's most immortal works. Other formative cyberpunk creations include the Japanese manga series Akira (1982) and anime film of the same name (1988), William Gibson's novel Neuromancer (1984) and Mike Pondsmith's role-playing board game Cyberpunk 2020 (1988).
“赛博朋克”这个合成词来自美国作家布鲁斯·贝斯克（Bruce Bethke）1983年发表的短篇小说《赛博朋克》（Cyberpunk）。这篇小说讲述的是一群生活在科技发达社会的叛逆孩子，他们逃学，以及入侵银行的主机而抢劫银行的故事。贝斯克解释说，他希望有一个术语能结合表达科技与“误入歧途有反社会倾向的年轻人”这两层意思，在做了各种组合后，终于找到cyberpunk这个听起来完全准确的合成新词。另一位早期赛博朋克重要作家是菲利普·K·迪克（Philip K Dick）。他1968年出版的小说《仿生机器人会梦见电子羊吗》（Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep）可以说是早于贝斯克小说的第一部赛博朋克题材作品，为赛博朋克的先驱。1982年这部小说被改编成电影《银翼杀手》（Blade Runner），成为赛博朋克最不朽的作品之一。其他可称之为赛博朋克的作品还包括日本漫画系列《阿基拉》（Akira, 1982）及其同名动画电影（1988出品），威廉·吉布森（William Gibson）的小说《神经漫游者》（Neuromancer, 1984）和迈克·庞德史密斯（Mike Pondsmith）的角色扮演桌面游戏《赛博朋克2020》（Cyberpunk 2020, 1988）。
When it arrived in the 1980s, cyberpunk was to mainstream science fiction what punk bands were to prog rockers. Where H G Wells and Arthur C Clarke blasted off into space in search of extraterrestrial life, Gibson and co poked around in the dark, derelict world that was left behind. Though it pulsated with futuristic technology, cyberpunk portrayed a dilapidated society with vast disparities between rich and poor, rampant crime and drug use, corrupt governments whose power was dwarfed by that of megacorporations and an atmosphere thick with pollution, following untold climate disasters. The best definition of the genre is the simplest: high tech, low life.
到20世纪80年代，赛博朋克在主流科幻小说的地位，已如同朋克乐队之于前卫摇滚一样。当两位英国科幻作家H·G·威尔斯（H G Wells）和亚瑟·C·克拉克（Arthur C Clarke）将他们的笔力伸到太空寻找外星生命之时，黑科幻赛博朋克作家吉布森和他的同道则在黑暗的、被遗弃的地球世界里四处寻找题材。虽然赛博朋克充满了未来主义的科技，但描绘的却是社会败坏，贫富差距悬殊，犯罪和毒品猖獗，超级大公司的权力让腐败的政府俯首帖耳，而且气候灾难频繁发生，环境被污染，大气中充斥着毒物。赛博朋克的最佳定义很简单：高端科技结合低端生活。
Another recurring motif, one that lends cyberpunk its punk spirit, is that of state-of-the-art technologies being co-opted and repurposed by subcultural rebels, like Neo and co using simulation tech in The Matrix. "I think one of the key elements is the notion that 'the street finds its own uses for things'," as cyberpunk author Neal Stephenson puts it, quoting from his peer William Gibson's 1982 short story Burning Chrome. His point is that cyberpunk authors are interested not only in predicting future technologies, but also in guessing their often renegade uses.
赋予赛博朋克作品具有朋克精神的另一个反复出现的主题，是亚文化反叛者会吸收和借用最先进科技为己用，比如《黑客帝国》中尼奥及其战友使用了模拟技术。正如赛博朋克作家尼尔·斯蒂芬森（Neal Stephenson）引用他的同道吉布森1982年的短篇小说《燃烧的铬》（Burning Chrome）中所说的一句名言：“我认为其中一个关键元素是‘街道会为自己找到意想不到的其他用途’这个概念。”他的观点是，赛博朋克的作者们感兴趣的不仅是预测未来的技术，还包括猜测未来科技的叛逆用途。
Meanwhile in recent years cyberpunk TV series like Blade Runner: Black Lotus, Cowboy Bebop, Altered Carbon, Omniscient, 3% and Ad Vitam have all hit streaming services. Even in music, cyberpunk's influence is clear: videos for pop hits like Lil Nas X's Panini and Doja Cat's Need to Know place their stars in murky alleyways and seedy nightclubs, as flying cars and holograms drift overhead. The future is here – and it looks just like the 1980s.
与此同时，流媒体近年播放的赛博朋克电视剧，如《银翼杀手：黑莲花》（Blade Runner: Black Lotus）、《星际牛仔》（Cowboy Bebop）、《副本》（Altered Carbon）、《全知全能》（Omniscient）、3%，及《维生素》（Ad Vitam）等也受到热捧。即使在音乐领域，赛博朋克的影响也显而易。像Lil Nas X的《帕尼尼》（Panini）和Doja Cat的Need to Know等流行歌曲的视频，可见明星们在阴暗的小巷和破旧的夜总会中穿梭，头顶上漂浮着飞行的汽车和全息图。未来就在眼前，但看起来却像上世纪80年代。
What is fuelling our cyberpunk obsession? Perhaps our society is now so similar to those portrayed in the genre that we've become transfixed gazing at our own reflection, making works of cyberpunk feel less like science fiction and more like a crystal ball. Curiously, we're now living in exactly the era that many of cyberpunk's original creators were looking towards. Blade Runner and Akira are both set in 2019. Cyberpunk 2020 is set in 2020. Johnny Mnemonic, the 1981 William Gibson short story and later 1995 film (again starring the face of cyberpunk Keanu Reeves), is set in 2021. Our skies remain largely free of flying cars, and cyborgs have yet to integrate into society. But in many other ways cyberpunk, its ideas and its inventions are more real now than ever.
是什么让我们对赛博朋克科幻痴迷不已？或许是因为我们现身处的社会与赛博朋克所描绘的社会太过相似，我们目瞪口呆地发现，面对赛博朋克作品就如同看到我们自身的投影一样。赛博朋克的作品似乎不是科幻，而是一个可预告人类命运的水晶球。最令人啧啧称奇的是，我们现在生活的年代正是许多初期赛博朋克作品所设定的故事发生年代。比如《银翼杀手》和《阿基拉》的故事发生在2019年。《赛博朋克2020》设定的时代是2020年。吉布森 1981年发表的短篇小说《捍卫机密》（Johnny Mnemonic），后改编成电影在1995年上映，并再次由赛博朋克的面孔基努·里维斯主演，其故事背景设定于2021年。虽然今天我们还没有大量飞行车穿梭翱翔于天空，半机械仿生人还没有进入社会与我们共生作伴，但在许多方面，赛博朋克的设想和发明已不是科幻而是真实。
Long before they entered mainstream public consciousness, ideas like cyberspace, augmented reality, megacorps, transhumanism and – 2021 buzz-concept – the metaverse were fictional inventions in cyberpunk texts.
The concepts that took over the world
Gibson coined the word "cyberspace" in Burning Chrome, before popularising the term with 1984 novel Neuromancer, a cult hit in which hacker Henry Dorsett Case takes on a shady mission in a virtual reality dataspace called the matrix. "A consensual hallucination experienced daily by billions of legitimate operators," is how Gibson describes it in an often-quoted passage that many see as having prefaced the World Wide Web. Gibson also popularised the term "megacorp", referring to a conglomerate with monopolistic power over numerous markets, so vast that its influence over society eclipses that of any government.
吉布森在《燃烧的铬》中创造了“网络空间”（cyberspace）这个单词，之后他1984年出版的赛博朋克风格名著《神经漫游者》（Neuromancer）使这个词流行开来。在他这部著名小说中，主角黑客亨利·多塞特·凯斯（Henry Dorsett Case）在一个名为“矩阵”的虚拟现实数据空间中执行秘密任务。吉布森有一段经常被引用的话如此描述网络空间，“数十亿合法操作者每天体验着一种有共识的虚幻现实。”许多人认为这段话就是万维网的序言。吉布森还推广了“超级企业”（megacorp）一词，这是指垄断众多市场，对社会的影响力甚至压过政府的巨大企业集团。
Virtual-reality headsets, as seen in The Matrix, Neuromancer, Johnny Mnemonic and many other works of cyberpunk, have become especially popular during the pandemic, allowing people to attend gigs, festivals, exercise classes, Black Lives Matter protests and even surgical training without leaving their homes. Augmented reality, traceable as far back as Philip K Dick's 1956 short story The Minority Report, and running through cyberpunk works from Neuromancer to Paul Verhoeven's 1987 movie RoboCop, is one of the fastest growing technologies in the world, with the approaching mainstream arrival of AR glasses and AR contact lenses.
在《黑客帝国》、《神经漫游者》、《捍卫机密》和其他赛博朋克作品中出现的虚拟现实头戴式装置于这次新冠病毒大流行的疫情期间特别流行，用此技术大家可以足不出户参加音乐会、节日庆典、健身课程、Black Lives Matter抗议活动，甚至野外训练。增强现实技术（augmented reality，缩写为AR）的概念最早出现在菲利普•K•迪克1956年的短篇小说《关键报告》（The Minority Report），然后为多部赛博朋克作品，比如《神经漫游者》和保罗·范霍文（Paul Verhoeven）1987年的电影《机器战警》（RoboCop）所采用。现在增强现实技术是世界上发展最快的科技之一，接近主流运用的有基于“增强现实”技术的AR眼镜和AR隐形眼镜。
The principle of deepfakes – digitally altering a person's identity to deceive a viewer – can be seen in The Running Man, the 1987 cyberpunk film (set in 2017) where a TV corporation uses "digital matte tracking" to frame Arnold Schwarzenegger's rogue army man for crimes he didn't commit. Cryptocurrency, meanwhile, was prefaced in Neal Stephenson's 1999 novel Cryptonomicon (and Stephenson has even been wryly suggested as the real person behind Satoshi Nakamoto, the pseudonymous inventor of Bitcoin).
深度仿冒（deepfake）的原理是用电脑技术改变某人的身份以欺骗视众。1987年发行的塞博朋克电影《过关斩将》（The Running Man）即用了此概念。故事背景设定发生在2017年，讲一家电视公司使用“数字哑光跟踪”技术陷害阿诺·施瓦辛格（Arnold Schwarzenegger）饰演的一位粗旷军人，指控他犯下的罪行是无中生有。而加密货币（Cryptocurrency）的概念也是首先出现在赛博朋克作品中。斯蒂芬森1999年出版的小说《编码宝典》（ Cryptonomicon ）中就提到了加密货币，有人甚至讽刺斯蒂芬森是比特币的身份不明发明者中本聪（Satoshi Nakamoto）的真实身份。
But what if, as speculative author Jack Womack writes in the afterword of Neuromancer's 2000 US reprint, "the act of writing it down, in fact, brought it about?" Many have credited Gibson's work as not only predicting cyberspace, but also influencing its development, "creating an iconography for the internet age," as one journalist put it.
John Hanke, technologist and former director of Google's Geo production division, has cited Earth, a fictional software in Snow Crash that allows characters to view the planet through a precise virtual replica, as the inspiration for Earth Viewer, a 2001 invention that eventually became Google Earth. Google cofounder Sergey Brin is another fan of Snow Crash. In a recent episode of Wired's podcast Geek's Guide to the Galaxy, host David Barr Kirtley says he began making a list of Silicon Valley inventors and entrepreneurs who have cited Snow Crash as an influence, but "just kind of stopped at a certain point, because it was basically everyone".
技术专家、谷歌地理产品部门（Google's Geo）前主管约翰·汉克（John Hanke）指出，赛博朋克小说《雪崩》提到一个可让小说中人物通过精确的虚拟复制品从空中俯视大地的虚构软件“地球”，这成为谷歌2001年推出"Earth Viewer"的灵感来源，后来这成为谷歌地球（Google Earth）。谷歌的联合创始人谢尔盖·布林（Sergey Brin）也是小说《雪崩》的粉丝。《连线》杂志（Wired）线上版的科幻播客《极客银河指南》（Geek's Guide to the Galaxy）主持人戴维·巴尔·科特利（David Barr Kirtley）在最近一期节目中说，他开始草拟一份声称自己曾受过《雪崩》影响的硅谷发明家和企业家的名单，“但到某个时候就停了下来，因为发现基本上所有人都受其影响”。
At the core of the novel is the metaverse, a fully immersive, 3D, virtual – which is to say pretend, unreal, not actually there – reality in which humans can coexist and interact, just like the Matrix in The Matrix. The metaverse has started to feel very real in recent months though, after Facebook announced plans to build their own. Mark Zuckerberg outlined his vision of "an embodied internet where you're in the experience, not just looking at it", while also revealing that he'd even renamed Facebook's parent company Meta. "You're gonna be able to do almost anything you can imagine: get together with friends and family, work, learn, play, shop, create," added Zuckerberg, declaring that the metaverse would be Facebook's – sorry, Meta's – top priority henceforth. Facebook's metaverse announcement has been followed by similar statements of intent from Disney and Microsoft, while more niche metaverses like virtual-reality platform Decentraland are already popular among dedicated online communities.
"I have nothing to do with anything that FB is up to involving the metaverse," Stephenson tweeted in October. He may not mean to. But according to Facebook data scientist Dean Eckles, Zuckerberg once made Snow Crash compulsory reading for all his product managers at the company. Like the one in Stephenson's novel, Zuckerberg's metaverse will be populated by avatars (a term which Snow Crash also brought into Western consciousness) representing real people, who can build virtual homes, buy artificial items, converse with others and – crucially, according to Zuckerberg – make you feel like you're really there. Also as in Snow Crash, Meta's virtual world will be accessible using specially designed goggles, as well as on existing platforms like phones and computers.
Are cyberpunk fans missing the point?
For all the tech giants' embrace of the metaverse, many have pointed out that Snow Crash depicts a dystopia, not a blueprint for a better world. "The book is kind of dystopian and cautionary in a number of ways," agrees Stephenson. "So trying to implement technology that is described in such a book might not be sending the message you think you're sending."
However, there is a concern that those who are appropriating ideas or aesthetics from cyberpunk may be missing the point. William Gibson recently admitted that he has deliberately self-censored his work, deciding not to include certain ideas in his books, as he was afraid that someone might try to copy them.
Where does the genre go from here?
Yet even though most cyberpunk stories culminate in victories for their heroes, not many end with a happy planet. "Nobody has yet imagined a way out of the typical cyberpunk dystopia ... which is surely a symptom of a creative block," Paul Walker-Emig noted in a 2018 article for the Guardian critiquing the genre. For him, he wrote, modern works of the genre like Cyberpunk 2077 and Altered Carbon had done little other than employ "cool cyberpunk symbols" without ever challenging the status quo. He suggested instead that cyberpunk should update to offer a utopian image of the future, guiding us towards a better life.
Stephenson's new novel Termination Shock, published in October, certainly toys with a solution to one of the world's most pressing concerns. In an unspecified year in the near future, when climate change has wrought havoc on the planet, one character purports to cool down the planet by firing sulphur into the air and reflecting sunlight back into space. But the results are less than promising.
A flick through the cyberpunk literature from the past decade offers a similar sense of doom. Authors imagine worlds where people escape the hell of reality into a virtual realm (Ready Player One), entire towns are ravaged by electronic trash (Waste Tide), global democracy is powered by monopolistic search-engine corporations (Infomocracy), humans are addicted to cybernetic implants (The Body Scout) and developing countries are exploited for their sustainable energy (Noor). Familiar cyberpunk tropes – holograms, megacorps, rebellious subcultures – recur. Optimism remains largely absent.
回溯过去十年的赛博朋克文学作品，会发现同样的末日情景。赛博朋克作家想象的未来世界，有人们逃离地狱般的现实，进入虚拟世界，如电影《头号玩家》（Ready Player One），有一座座城市完全被电子垃圾所摧毁（中国作家陈楸帆的小说《荒潮》），有全球民主政治被垄断的搜索引擎公司所掌控，如《信息管治》（Infomocracy），也有人类沉迷于机械有机体植入，如《机械侦探》（The Body Scout），而发展中国家则被开发用于可持续能源，如《努尔》（Noor）。赛博朋克黑科幻为人所熟悉的元素，如全息图、巨型企业集团、叛逆的亚文化等不断反复出现。而对人类未来，仍然是悲观居多，乐观无从谈起。
However bleak it may be, cyberpunk's popularity looks set to continue. The latest issue of CYBR, which imagines the world in 2070, gives readers the choice of two covers, a dystopian one, showing a murky, polluted world, and a sunny, colourful, utopian one. "It's our climate-change issue," says the editor. "The choice is ours, right? In 50 years time, what will the world look like? So the idea of doing two covers is you can choose what future you want." Joseph says the dystopian cover is set in a cyberpunk future, while the utopian one is solarpunk – a recently coined term that imagines a world where technology has helped humans overcome issues like climate change. "Ironically, the dystopian cover is selling at twice the rate as the utopian cover. I think people find it cooler."
The first Matrix film included a biting critique of our fascination with dystopia. Agent Smith tells us the original simulation that humans were placed in was a paradise, designed to keep everyone happy. But "it was a disaster," he says, explaining that the humans couldn't accept the program and kept trying to wake up from it. He goes on: "I believe that as a species human beings define their reality through misery and suffering."
Considering their influence, it's possible cyberpunk works like The Matrix not only predicted a dystopian future, but also enticed us towards one. If Resurrections is to succeed, to give us anything we haven't already had from the past 40 years of cyberpunk, perhaps it can suggest a new direction for humanity, an image of a world where humans work alongside machines to escape our impending doom. Or maybe it will simply offer us an escape from reality. As Morpheus says in the original film: "Fate, it seems, is not without a sense of irony."
Sevilla beat Atletico to close gap on Real Madrid, while Rayo move to fourth in Spain******
MADRID, Dec. 18 (Xinhua) -- Sevilla kept in the race for the LaLiga title on Saturday thanks to a late goal from Lucas Ocampos which gave them a 2-1 win at home to Atletico Madrid.。
The win leaves Sevilla five points behind league leaders Real Madrid, who play away to Cadiz on Sunday.。
Sevilla took the lead through a powerful shot from Ivan Rakitic and were in control until Felipe headed home from a corner 12 minutes before halftime.。
Atletico lost Manuel Llorente through another muscle injury before the break, but despite losing a key player, Atletico improved and looked as if they could take at least a point until Ocampos scored from close range with just three minutes to go.。
Barca coach Xavi Hernandez again showed his faith in youth, but handing a debut to B-team midfielder Ferran Jutgla, while keeping Gavi and Abde Ezzalzouli in his starting 11.。
That faith was rewarded when Ferran headed in the opening goal from a corner in the 16th minute, before Gavi worked space to fire home his first goal for the club three minutes as their side totally dominated the first half.。
Elche fought back in the second half, as Barca suffered another dip in intensity and two goals from substitutes Tete Moriente and Pere Milla in the 62nd and 63rd minutes leveled the score before Nico Gonzalez (another teenager) netted a vital winner for Xavi Hernandez's side.。
Rayo Vallecano remain in the battle for Europe and moved above Atletico into fourth place, after their steamrolling 2-0 win at home to Alaves thanks to first half goals from Sergi Guardiola and Catena.。
The team from the south of Madrid have won 8 and drawn 2 of their last home games, while the defeat ends a miserable week for Alaves, who were knocked out of the Copa del Rey by lower league Linares on Tuesday.。
Villarreal's season seems to be recovering, while Real Sociedad's league campaign continues to fall apart as they suffered their fourth defeat in five matches in the Anoeta Stadium, going down 3-1 to former player, Unai Emery's side.。
The game was level at the break after Gerard Moreno had leveled for Villarreal after Alexander Isak's opener for Real Sociedad. However, everything changed when Mikel Oyarzabal was sent off for a bad challenge on Yeremy Pino.。
Moreno headed Villarreal ahead from a corner in the 68th minute and Samuel Chukwueze rounded off a good day for the visitors with a goal on the break in the sixth minute of injury time. Enditem。
End of pandemic in sight for Europe: WHO******
Two years after the outbreak of COVID-19, Europe could soon enter a "long period of tranquility" due to high vaccination rates, the milder Omicron variant and the end of winter, the WHO said Thursday.
WHO Europe director Hans Kluge said the respite was "a ceasefire that could bring us enduring peace."
"This context leaves us with the possibility for a long period of tranquility," he told reporters on Thursday.
Widespread immunity from vaccines and infections, combined with the change of season, also puts Europe in a better position to fend off any resurgence in transmission, he said.
"Even with a more virulent variant" than Omicron, Kluge said.
"It is possible to respond to new variants that will inevitably emerge – without reinstalling the kind of disruptive measures we needed before," Kluge said.
This was "not to say that (the pandemic) is now all over," but "there is a singular opportunity to take control of the transmission," he stressed.
He cautioned that the optimistic scenario would only hold true if countries continued their vaccination campaigns and intensified surveillance to detect new variants.
He also urged health authorities to protect risk groups and to promote individual responsibility, such as social distancing and mask-wearing.
With the more contagious Omicron variant in circulation, infections have surged across the WHO's European region, which comprises 53 countries, including some in central Asia.
Some 12 million new cases were registered last week in the region, according to the WHO, the highest level since the start of the pandemic.
But faced with a lower level of hospitalisations than in previous waves, several European countries, including France, Ireland and the United Kingdom, have announced the lifting or a considerable reduction of restrictions, despite record or very high cases.
Denmark on Tuesday became the first European Union country to lift its domestic COVID-19 restrictions, followed later in the day by Norway.
Speaking on the eve of World Cancer Day, Kluge also expressed concern over the "catastrophic impact" the pandemic has had on cancer care around the world.
In the last three months of 2021, cancer screenings and treatments were disrupted by five to 50 percent in all countries surveyed, he said.
"The situation has improved since the first quarter of last year," he said. "But the knock-on effect of this disruption will be felt for years."
He urged Europe's health-care authorities to take advantage of the expected seasonal COVID lull to reduce backlogs in chronic care services.