Queens Park Rangers hold out for point from Spurs

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You don’t have to go far online to find somebody that will complete dismiss the descriptive value of most soccer stats. Possession, shots on goal – they don’t mean anything, they’ll say. And from a certain perspective, those detractors are correct. Often those numbers don’t correlate with whose most likely to win. Still, a great deal of the time, those numbers do a good job of describing how the match was played.

No so today at Loftus Road. Queens Park Rangers earned a point after a 0-0 draw against Spurs, but if you went solely by the numbers, you’d think they were battered all afternoon. Spurs maintained 62 percent of the possession while garnering an 18-4 advantage in shots and a 7-0 edge in shots on goal.

To be certain, Spurs were the better side, but the game was nowhere near that uneven. QPR gave up seven shots but goalkeeper Julio Cesar was rarely under any true stress. On the other end, while Hugo Lloris had a relatively easy day, he was still asked to make a good reads coming off his line to deal with through balls before they turned into real opportunities. Where Spurs were putting shots on Cesar, QPR were hoping to connect with one extra pass. Hence, the numbers.

Spurs did dominate possession, a product of their superior midfield and QPR’s tendency to play very direct. Rangers’ possessions were often finished in one movement, whereas Spurs elected to hold the ball for longer periods of time. Unfortunately for André Villas-Boas’ team, they still seemed to ideas against a team willing to sit back and let them hold the ball. Without something amazing from Gareth Bale, the game was destined to be drawn.

Both sides have reasons to be disappointed with the result, though Harry Redknapp will be happy. The QPR manager will look at this as a point from a top side (his previous team) even though a team in QPR’s position (19th) needs to try for three in all its home games. Spurs should also be upset (dropping points to a far inferior side) even if the remain unbeaten since Dec. 9.

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CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

AP Photo/Alberto Saiz
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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.