Snap judgments: Quick reactions to Saturday’s early Premier League results

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With Aston Villa-Manchester United moments from kickoff, we take a few moments to look back on the Premier League’s first set of Saturday results. Here are the day’s Snap Judgments:

Arsenal 3-3 Fulham – Mark Schwarzer’s save on Mikel Arteta’s 94th-minute penalty perserved the result for Fulham, the Cottagers putting three goals past what used to be the league’s best defense. Defending was the one thing Arsenal could do at the beginning of the season, but having given up 12 goals in their last four games, the Gunner’s defense has assumed the attack’s former struggles.

Impact – Right next to each other. That’s where they started the day, and there’s where they’ll end it. Arsenal and Fulham are seventh and eighth in England, both on 19 points. For Fulham, it’s what they’d homed for when the season began. For Arsenal, it’s reason to improve.

Everton 2-1 Sunderland – What a mixed bag for Sunderland fans. They played much better than why had in recent weeks, but with a goal and an assist from Marouane Fellani in a three-minute span of the second half, the Black Cats were unable to make Adam Johnson’s opener hold up. Sunderland fans can take solace in the fact that, although it seems like we’re well into the season, they have 28 matches in front of them. There’s still time.

Impact – Everton temporarily sit fourth, a lofty perch for the habitual slow starters. David Moyes says this is his best Everton team, and it shows. Sunderland, however, will likely finish the round in 16th place.

Reading 0-0 Norwich City – Perhaps the least surprising result of the day. Reading has been scrappy but ineffective all season. Norwich has been bad with two tinges of good. Their meeting produced only three shots on goal, the Royals left waiting for their first win upon return to the Premier League.

Impact – The Royals have yet to show they belong in the Premier League. They sit 18th, while Norwich, despite a worse goal difference, remains 15th.

Southampton 1-1 Swansea City – Saints manager Nigel Adkins placed a lot of importance on this match, so he’ll likely be disappointed with defender Maya Yoshida, who had the ball taken from him by Nigel Dyer ahead of Swansea’s second half equalizer. It was another decent performance with no victory for Southampton, who may have no choice but to persist and hope.

Impact – Southampton climb out of the basement and into 19th while Swansea, having lost only one in five, stay mid-table.

Stoke City 1-0 Queens Park Rangers – The only other team besides Reading who have failed to win is Mark Hughes’ well-funded Rangers, who fell to 20th place with Saturday’s loss. Time has to be running out for the QPR boss, whereas Stoke appear to have re-group after last season’s struggles.

Impact – Despite scoring only nine times in 11 games, Stoke sits 12th. After today’s result, Hughes may not make it to Saturday’s match at Loftus Road. If he does, the match versus Southampton becomes a must-win.

Wigan Athletic 1-2 West Bromwich Albion – We’re too early in the season to call this more than a hot start, but with three strong points from the DW, West Brom is even with Everton in fourth place. Where did this come from?

Whether you think West Brom can maintain that stature likely influences how you feel about Wigan’s result. If you see West Brom falling back at some point, today was a missed opportunity for Wigan.

Impact – West Brom gave another indication they intend to compete for Europe, while Wigan, regardless of the result, remains ahead of their usual pace (currently sitting 14th).

MLS Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC (video)

Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres, right, exchanges words with Sporting Kansas City's Kevin Ellis, left, and Soni Mustivar, center, after Sounders' midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (not shown) was given a yellow card for a foul against midfielder Roger Espinoza in the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The game in 100 words (or less): There’s a ton to unpack here, so we’ll dive right in. The Seattle Sounders topped Sporting Kansas City in the final knockout-round game of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Nelson Valdez scored the game’s only goal, an 88th-minute header, but not without supreme controversy. For starters, Valdez was offside as Joevin Jones played the ball into the box, just as Matt Besler was on a free kick for Sporting earlier in the second half. Besler’s goal was ruled out for offside, Valdez’s was allowed to stand. Benny Feilhaber, perhaps in his final game for Sporting, played like a man possessed and so nearly singlehandedly won the game for Sporting at multiple points on the night. Stefan Frei stood on his head and refused to allow such an occurrence. Osvaldo Alonso could have been sent off twice on the night — once on a straight red; once on a second yellow — but finished the game with just a single caution. Up next, the Sounders will take on Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

10′ — Zusi hits the post with a strike through traffic — Benny Feilhaber’s through ball to set up this double-chance for Sporting in sumptuous, and fully deserving of a proper finish.

53′ — Besler heads home, but he’s offside — This is about as close an onside/offside decisions get.

79′ — Frei denies Feilhaber after a spectacular run — Feilhaber’s run was mesmerizing, but Stefan Frei’s save was the tiniest bit better.

88′ — Valdez heads home the late winner — If Besler was offside, Valdez was offside. An unfitting end to a thrilling game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Benny Feilhaber

Goalscorers: Valdez (88′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: D.C. United 2-4 Montreal Impact (video)

CORRECTS DATE - Montreal Impact forward Matteo Mancosu, back, celebrates his goal with Ignacio Piatti (10) during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against D.C. United, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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The game in 100 words (or less): There are epic playoff collapses, and there is the MLS Cup Playoffs abomination put forth by D.C. United on Thursday. Playing host to a Montreal Impact side that won just two of its last eight regular-season games and crawled over the finish line, United — winners of four of their last five and one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch — no-showed Thursday’s knockout-round tie, and their season is deservingly finished. Laurent Ciman put the Impact ahead inside the first five minutes, and United never recovered or seemed the least bit urgent with their season on the line. Matteo Mancosu bagged a brace either side of halftime to make it 3-0, and Ignacio Piatti, who was his usual brilliant self — so good, in fact, he made you forget Didier Drogba was unavailable due to injury/dispute over his role as a substitute — added a fourth not long before full-time. Lamar Neagle grabbed a late consolation goal for United, bringing them back to 4-1 before Taylor Kemp fired a laser past Evan Bush for 4-2 late in stoppage time, but that’s as close as they’d get. Up next for the Impact, it’s the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three moments that mattered

4′ — Ciman slots home from a corner for 1-0 — An absolute dream start for Montreal, as Ciman gets front side of his marker and benefits from a fortunate bounce after he scuffs the shot.

43′ — Mancosu slams home Piatti’s cross for 2-0 — Someone tell DCU that the knockout round is most definitely win-or-go-home. Horrific defending. Ball-watching all over the place. This is not the same team that won four of their last five in order to host this game.

58′ — Mancosu heads home at the near post for 3-0 — Steve Birnbaum has not had the greatest end to the 2016 season. Stay healthy, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Matteo Mancosu

Goalscorers: Ciman (4′), Mancosu (43′, 58′), Piatti (83′), Neagle (90′), Kemp (90+4′)

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

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Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.