Bayern Munich break through against Borussia Dortmund, knock rivals out of German Cup

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The gap between Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund was huge everywhere but the scoreboard, but even there, Arjen Robben separated the two sides.

A curling first half shot from near the arc in today’s German Cup quarterfinal gave FCB a 1-0 win over the holders, Bayern’s first competitive victory over BVB since Feb. 2010. The win also have Bayern redemption for May’s 5-2 defeat in the previous Pokal final, a match that saw the Bavarians embarrassed by Germany’s new rulers

That reign is clearly over. Having finally fallen in a head-to-head meeting with Bayern, Borussia Dortmund have no more claims to the throne. If a 17-point lead in the Bundesliga wasn’t convincing enough, the chasm between the two sides at the Allianz confirmed. Bayern is again the standard in German soccer.

And ultimately, it was a fortunate result for Dortmund, who were dominated from the get-go. As Bayern’s post-match celebrations confirmed, their mission was one of redemption, with their early intensity giving them an edge they never relinquished. The resulting pressure created the only goal, with Phillip Lahm’s high efforts and a Felipe Santana error leading to the ball that found Robben.

Germany’s defending champions had only one shot on goal. Bayern had nine. That they also controlled 57 percent of the possession was no surprise, given how Jurgen Klopp’s come to set up against Bayern, but with Dortmund unable to generate chances on the counter, this was one of the more lopsided 1-0 results you’ll see between top teams.

The disparity in play forced you to pause and consider the turnaround. Last year, the Bavarians had no answer for BVB. Now they’re in another world, remarkable better than a rival that won a Champions League group that featured Real Madrid.

Bayern’s clearly the best team in the world right now, but for a club that’s lost two of the last three Champions League finals, the question is whether they can maintain this form over the next three-and-a-half months. They have to carry this momentum to May’s Champions League final at Wembley. Given this is the level they’ve played at since August, it’s hard to see them collapsing.

The only question in my mind is whether Jupp Heynckes can get this team ready for the winner-takes-all match that awaits them in May. They stumbled last year and were upset at home by Chelsea. Will whatever befell them last year keep them from aiming this year’s title?

Here’s the day’s only goal, Arjen Robben beating Roman Weidenfeller to knock Borussia Dortmund out of the German Cup.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CUwGmS2aEVI]

Leicester City 0-3 Crystal Palace: Benteke the hero

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  • First away win, goals of season for Palace
  • Benteke with a goal, assist
  • Leicester’s first defeat in five
  • Palace unbeaten in seven, longest ever run in PL

Crystal Palace beat Leicester City 3-0 at the King Power Stadium on Saturday as first half goals from Christian Benteke and Wilfried Zaha set Roy Hodgson’s side on their way to a first away win of the season with Bakary Sako hammering home another goal in stoppage time.

Leicester’s run of four-straight wins came to an abrupt end as Claude Puel‘s side struggled from start to finish and Palace looked dangerous on the break with Benteke scoring one, setting up another and making amends for his missed penalty kick late on against Bournemouth last weekend.

To add to Leicester’s woes Wilfried Ndidi was sent off in the second half for picking up two yellow cards.

With the win Palace move on to 17 points and push out of the relegation zone and into 14th place, while Leicester remain on 26 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Palace started well early on with Jeffrey Schlupp pulling a ball back across goal which was crying out to be finished, then Ruben Loftus-Cheek broke free on the edge of the box but his low shot was well saved by Kasper Schmeichel.

Leicester looked threatening on the break as the first half wore on but Puel’s side failed to create clear cut chances and they were hit with a hammer blow.

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Neat build-up play on the right saw the ball fall to Andros Townsend and his delightful inswinging cross found Benteke who nodded home Palace’s first away goal of the season.

There was a sense of relief for Benteke and a deserved lead for the Eagles, but soon after Benteke almost headed into his own net but his defensive clearance flew inches wide and then Jamie Vardy went close for the hosts.

Benteke then created Palace’s second goal as he drove forward with the ball, played in Zaha and the Ivory Coast international drilled home. 2-0.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

Palace sat back and soaked up plenty of Leicester pressure in the second half, with the Foxes going close with Riyad Mahrez having a low shot saved well by Julian Speroni and Benteke heading wide at the other end.

On the break the Eagles threatened as the second half wore on and Leicester pushed to get back into the game, but Ndidi then picked up two yellows cards with the second for a shocking dive in the box.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Hodgson’s men held on comfortably to continue their impressive recovery and added a third goal in stoppage time with Sako smashing home.

January exits at Manchester United?

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Jose Mourinho has already stated his opinion that he isn’t a big fan of the January transfer window but he may buy this year, and it appears he could be willing to sell a few players next month too.

With the likes of Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Luke Shaw out of favor at United and linked with moves away from Old Trafford, Mourinho was asked if he was happy to let players leave in January.

Citing the sale of Memphis Depay and Morgan Schneiderlin last January, Mourinho didn’t hesitate to leave the door open for players who want out.

“For the right price, that is my approach as a manager in case the club advise. Every player has a price,” Mourinho said. “If a player is not happy and if a player brings with him a request with the number that we consider is a good number it happened with Memphis (Depay) and Morgan (Schneiderlin), I would never say no.”

In a word, if you’re not in Mourinho’s plans now and you aren’t happy, there’s the door.

Mkhitaryan leaving to return to Borussia Dortmund wouldn’t be a huge surprise as they’d likely get a large chunk of the $35 million transfer fee back that they paid for him in the summer of 2016.

Shaw’s situation is a little different, with United perhaps wanting to use the left back in any potential deal for Danny Rose and Tottenham do not seem to be willing to sell Rose until the summer.

Still, both appear to have no future at United and Mourinho is nudging them towards the exit.

With Mourinho also leaving the door open for a potential signing in January, could United spend big to try and put pressure on league leaders Man City? It seems unlikely, but it appears Mourinho is lining things up for somewhat of a shakeup next month.

Watch Live: Leicester City v. Crystal Palace

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Leicester City host Crystal Palace on Saturday at the King Power Stadium (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with both teams in fine form recently.

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Claude Puel has led Leicester to four consecutive wins and the Foxes have surged up the standings since he took charge in October with Riyad Mahrez and Jamie Vardy in fine form.

Palace are unbeaten in six games, winning twice, as Roy Hodgson has turned them into an incredibly tough team to beat.

In team news Leicester bring in Demarai Gray for Shinji Okazaki despite the Japanese international scoring twice in the win over Southampton in midweek.

Palace bring in Martin Kelly and James McArthur for Timothy Fosu-Mensah and Luka Milivojevic.


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Luan, Gremio looks to dethrone Real Madrid at Club World Cup

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“He’s a wonderful person. He’s got lots of titles, so maybe he can just leave this one to us.”

That’s Gremio youngster Luan after being told Real Madrid star and countryman Marcelo said he has a huge future in the game.

Luan and his teammates could make a lot more noise with a win in Saturday’s Club World Cup final against Real.

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Gremio edged Pachuca in extra time of its semifinal after Real came back to beat Al Jazira, and now hopes to become just the second non-European club to win the Club World Cup since 2007.

Brazilian clubs won the first three CWCs between 2000-06, but Corinthians claimed the lone Brazilian title since when it beat Chelsea in 2012.

Spanish clubs have won the last three finals, with Real sandwiching two around Barca’s 2015 win over River Plate.

The 24-year-old Luan won Olympic gold with Brazil in 2016, and has two caps with the national team.