World Cup Qualifying, Europe: Around the continent

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Comebacks in Madrid and Berlin will steal headlines, but when you have a 53-nation confederation, there are going to be a ton of matches to touch on:

Elsewhere in Europe

  • England’s match in Poland was postponed until Wednesday because of torrential rain that flooded the field in the hours before the game.
  • After Friday’s huge win over Portugal, Russia had to rely on a late spot kick from Roman Shirokov to get by minnows Azerbaijan, 1-0.
  • In what is likely Giovanni Trapattoni’s final game, Ireland downed the Faroe Islands, 4-1.
  • Bosnia and Herzegovina stay at the top of their group, their 3-0 home win over Lithuania hinting the team have solved the lack of consistency that plagued them in previous cycles.
  • In the same group, Greece recovered from their home draw with Bosnia to post a 1-0 win in Slovakia. Dimitris Salpingidis had the match’s only goal.
  • Ukraine continued to put their draw at Wembley behind then with a 1-0 home loss to Montenegro.
  • Romania suffered their first defeat of the tournament, losing 4-1 at home to a Netherlands side that quietly went back to their dreaded two defensive midfielder setup.
  • Turkey’s disappointing campaign continued. Four days after a shock home loss to Romania, Abdullah Avci’s team fell 3-1 in Hungary. How much longer will it be his team?
  • Belgium stayed golden. Second half goals from Christian Benteke and Vincent Kompany gave the Red Devils a 2-0 win over Scotland.
  • Croatia, in the same group as the Belgians, kept pace with their own 2-0 home win over Wales.
  • A late goal from Hélder Postiga salvaged a 1-1 for Portugal against visiting Northern Ireland.
  • And finally, an eventful day for Italy. First half goals four minutes apart from Ricardo Montolivo and Daniele de Rossi gave the Azzurri a 2-0 lead over Denmark. When William Kvist made it 2-1, the score started to fall in line with the play. When (in the 46th minute) Pablo Osvaldo volunteered to sit out the second half by throwing an elbow, Denmark seemed to have their window of opportunity. Mario Balotelli, however, closed that, putting home an nice ball from Andrea Pirlo to give Italy a 3-1 win.

How they stand

In, if the tournament ended now:

A: Belgium
B: Italy
C: Germany
D: Netherlands
E: Switzerland
F: Russia
G: Bosnia and Herzegovina
H: England
I: Spain

Would qualify for the playoffs:

Croatia
Greece
France
Bulgaria
Hungary
Sweden
Montenegro
Norway

Notably out:

Portugal
Denmark
Czech Republic
Ireland
Serbia

2-year doping ban upheld for Finland, CSKA Moscow player

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LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a two-year ban for CSKA Moscow midfielder Roman Eremenko for a positive test for cocaine.

[ MORE: Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

CAS says the ban imposed by UEFA was “appropriate” and dismissed the Finland international’s appeal.

[ MORE: Vertonghen says Spurs need to “level up” like rest of PL contenders ]

The ban will expire on Oct. 5, 2018, when Eremenko will be 31.

Eremenko tested positive after playing in a Champions League game for CSKA Moscow against Bayer Leverkusen last September. The 2-2 result was not affected despite Eremenko scoring CSKA’s second goal.

Born in Moscow, Eremenko grew up in Finland and has represented its national team 73 times.

Webb says De Jong would have been sent off with video review

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NEW YORK (AP) Howard Webb says he would have given Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong a red card in the 2010 World Cup final if a video assistant referee had been in place.

The retired English referee showed De Jong a yellow card in the 28th minute for his karate kick into the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso. Hired in March to oversee video technology for professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada, Webb held a media seminar Friday ahead of its Aug. 5 launch in Major League Soccer.

Webb says: “Yes, it was a clear red card. It was a clear and obvious error on my part not to send the player off, and VAR would have been able to recommend a review to me, and I would have been able to make the right call.”

Now 46, Webb was a Premier League referee from 2003-14. He worked the Champions League and World Cup finals in 2010, became director of referees at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and started in March as manager of video assistant referee operations for the Professional Referee Organization.

MLS Snapshot: Orlando City 0-1 Atlanta United (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): Friday night’s effort at Orlando City Stadium wasn’t the prettiest for either side but Atlanta United will gladly take three points from the fixture as the Central Florida venue proved to be a fortress once more. The Lions were far superior in their attacking threats throughout the match, testing USMNT and Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan on multiple occasions. However, it was Hector Villalba that proved to be the difference when he blasted a long-distance effort to beat Joe Bendik in the 86th minute. Atlanta extends its unbeaten streak to four matches with Friday’s decision, keeping Tata Martino’s side in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, while Orlando City moves into fifth.

Three moments that mattered

36′ — Guzan stands tall, denies Rivas — Carlos Rivas thought he scorched this one (and he did…), but Brad Guzan acted like it was nothing as he held his ground to make the stop.

39′ — Spector gets ripped off by Guzan — The U.S. goalkeeper is at it again… What a save!

86′ — Villalba unleashes stunner to propel Atlanta — Sometimes it just takes one good hit as a striker.

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Man of the match: Brad Guzan

Goalscorers: Hector Villalba (86′)

Report: Man City adding Mendy to continue backline restoration

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Fresh off of completing a record deal to help bolster the club’s back line this summer, Manchester City is back at it with the Premier League season looming.

[ MORE: Alvaro Morata signs five-year contract at Chelsea ]

The Citizens are reportedly on the brink of signing Monaco left back Benjamin Mendy to yet another world-record fee — which will total over $67 million.

Confirmation of the deal has yet to be announced by either team, but L’Equipe is reporting that the Citizens are hot on the 23-year-old’s trail in adding to their pricy back four.

Manager Pep Guardiola and Man City have not been shy readjusting their defensive unit over the past year, adding expensive first-team choices John Stones and Kyle Walker.