Little Stevenage fell to bigger Sheffield United in England’s League One playoffs Monday.
Stevenage, having finished sixth in England’s third tier, had held United to a goalless draw in last Friday’s opening leg at Broadhall Way. So the return match at Sheffield’s Bramall Lane looked like a tough ask. Sheffield prevailed 1-0 and now advances into the Wembley final for promotion into England’s second tier.
The club is guided by Gary Smith, who led Colorado to the 2010 MLS Cup. Smith left a year later in a dispute with upper management, then took over at Stevenage two months later in January. His first match was a 1-0 win that put the small Hertfordshire club into the FA Cup fifth round for the first time.
Monday’s playoff loss will keep The Boro (the club’s nickname) in England’s third tier for at least another year.
What Smith told the club’s website following Monday’s loss.
“Tonight, I think Sheffield United showed more quality on the ball and carved out better moments but in saying that when you take it into the final five minutes of a game you’re looking towards extra time and possibly penalties to be our best route of getting to the final. It’s of huge disappointment and great deflation that we concede that late one.
“They can be extremely proud of the season and the way that they’ve conducted themselves throughout, I think the whole group of guys are an absolute credit to Stevenage Football Club.”
Newcastle United’s horror start under Steve McClaren just got worse.
Magpies No. 1 goalkeeper Tim Krul is on duty with the Netherlands, and was forced from the Dutch’s 2-1 win at Kazakhstan in Euro qualifying action.
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Krul left the game after landing awkwardly on his knee, and left the stadium on crutches.
Newcastle’s back-up keepers are Karl Darlow, new from Nottingham Forest, and veteran Rob Elliot.
The Magpies are in 20th place, without a win through eight Premier League matches.
McClaren’s crew just finished a brutal run of matches that saw Newcastle face Chelsea, Manchester City, Arsenal and Manchester United.
Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.
The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.
The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.
Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.
Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.