You can prepare all you want for a team like Manchester United, but some things are unstoppable. Sure, Queens Park Rangers may have been able to prevent some of the events that led to this shot, but when Rafael hits this kind of ball from 20 yards out, all you can do is throw your hands up and ask why.
Why do soccer gods who already create teams with United’s resources than endow them with strikes like this?
But it goes hand-in-hand, doesn’t it? If you’re Manchester United, you so many great players that even the player who’s arguably 11th out of 11 starters can beat you.
That’s what QPR was left with in the 23rd minute after a Robin van Persie shot had been blocked clear of the box by Julio Cesar. Rafael accelerates away from his man and hits his shot first time, one of those screaming tries that seem to curve in midair as they approach goal.
Unfortunately for QPR, that curve meant Rafael’s shot dove right into their goal. Courtesy FOX Soccer:
The goal put Manchester United up 1-0 at Loftus Road, a lead they’ve maintained late into the second half of what’s played out as a typical Manchester United game. Up early, the Premier League leaders have been in control. But playing to type, they’ve also been unconvincing.
It’s hard to say who’ll score the next goal, if there’ll even be one. QPR doesn’t look willing to test what’s been a leaky United defense.
For Rafael, it’s the third league goal of what’s turning into a breakthrough campaign for the 22-year-old Brazilian. Coming into this season, he’d never started more the 15 league goals. Today was the 21st start of a season that’s proved his most consistent.
More Premier League fun:
NBC News is reporting that at least 19 people have been killed and another 50 are injured following a possible suicide bombing at an Ariana Grande concert in Manchester.
Multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials who are monitoring British authorities told NBC News that preliminary reports indicate that a single explosion took place outside the arena on the southwest side opposite the train station. The explosion occurred as the concert ended, catching people as they exited.
Soccer clubs, players and personalities around the world are reacting to the horrible event.
If you didn’t realize Juan Cuadrado still belonged to Chelsea, you’re forgiven.
The Colombian attacker will complete his second season at Juventus after the UEFA Champions League Final against Real Madrid, and won’t be headed back to Chelsea afterwards.
Juve has purchased Cuadrado, and the fee is $22 million, and Juve will pay it over three seasons. Cuadrado, 28, is now signed through 2020 with The Old Lady.
Cuadrado first went on loan to Juve in Aug. 2015, and has eight goals and 18 assists in 83 career appearances with the club.
Chelsea bought Cuadrado from Fiorentina for around $32 million in the January 2015 transfer window, but made just 14 appearances with the club.
Sky Sports is reporting that Jermain Defoe may head back to the south of England following Sunderland’s relegation.
Defoe, 34, spent two seasons with Portsmouth between 2008-09, scoring 15 goals in 31 appearances.
[ MORE: ‘The Moment’ of each PL club’s season ]
The 56-times capped England striker had a clause in his Sunderland contract allowing him to leave the Stadium of Light were the Black Cats to be relegated, as they were this season. He’d have little interest in dropping into the Championship given his desire to stay a part of the England squad ahead of the 2018 World Cup.
Bournemouth’s strike corps includes Joshua King, who scored the most goals of any player not on a Top Seven side this season. King’s 16 goals were one more than Defoe’s 15, though the latter scored just one goal following a brace against Crystal Palace on Feb. 4.
Antonio Conte took league and national honors from the League Managers Association on Monday night.
The Chelsea boss was named Premier League Manager of the Year and Manager of the Year after leading the Blues to the PL title and an FA Cup Final in his first year on the job.
Brighton and Hove Albion boss Chris Hughton nabbed another Championship boss of the year award after leading the Gulls to the Premier League. He also won the honor with Newcastle United in 2010.
The League One winner is Chris Wilder of Sheffield United. Wilder won the honor with Northampton Town last season.
In League Two, Paul Cook of Portsmouth was named the winner.