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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]

Premier League AT HALF: Arsenal fights back, Hull City on top

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Alexis Sanchez of Arsenal (L) and Francis Coquelin of Arsenal (R) celebrate after Theo Walcott of Arsenal (not pictured) scored Arsenals first goal during the Premier League match between Arsenal and Stoke City at the Emirates Stadium on December 10, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Goals and controversial penalty decisions are a big part of Saturday morning’s quartet of Premier League matches, all of which are at the break.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

Arsenal 1-1 Stoke City

Joe Allen took an elbow from Granit Xhaka inside the 18, and Lee Mason awarded a PK that Charlie Adam converted to give the visitors an early lead. But Theo Walcott scored his 100th goal as a Gunner off a classy Hector Bellerin cross to make it 1-1 before the break.

Burnley 2-1 Bournemouth

The Cherries will have to dig out of another hole this week, and it all began with Jeff Hendrick‘s phenomenal opener. Fellow Irishman Steven Ward scored an economical to goal to double the lead.

But Ryan Fraser continued his fine December with an assist on Benik Afobe‘s goal before halftime.

Hull City 1-0 Crystal Palace

Robert Snodgrass drew a penalty with a pretty easy grass grab, and the Tigers have a

Swansea City 0-0 Sunderland

Not much cooking at the Liberty Stadium.

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Koeman: “Nervous” Everton has a problem after another loss

WATFORD, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 10:  Ronald Koeman manager of Everton arrives prior to the Premier League match between Watford and Everton at Vicarage Road on December 10, 2016 in Watford, England.  (Photo by Dan Mullan/Getty Images)
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One win in 10 for Ronald Koeman‘s Everton has the Dutchman on the hot seat.

Koeman seems to be clawing for air after the Toffees’ latest setback, a 3-2 loss at Watford.

The loss puts the Hornets ahead of Everton on the PL table, and — while unlikely — it’s a mathematical possibility that the Toffees could be a bottom half team by the end of the weekend.

[ STREAM: Every PL game on NBC Sports ]

That’s a brutal development for a club expected to challenge for a European place this season.

Here’s Koeman:

“I see a lot of similar problems in the team. The team is too much reactive. Of course it’s maybe a lack of confidence, but if you start the game well, 1-0 up, you need a bigger belief in the team and not going back and defending, and nervous, and not enough ball possession. In my opinion that’s a problem.”

A big problem with that? It can be put down to the manager. Is Koeman in trouble already?

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VIDEO: Hendrick scores incredible volley from distance

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Jeff Hendrick, take a bow.

Burnley’s Republic of Ireland international midfielder pulled off a stunning piece of skill on Saturday to put the Clarets ahead against Bournemouth.

[ STREAM: Every PL game online ] 

A long ball forward was flicked on to Hendrick and he took a stunning first touch to tee himself and then settled himself before spanking a volley into the top corner.

Sensational goal from Burnley’s club-record signing.

Click play on the video above to watch it.

Messi’s latest goal dares you to count the touches (video)

PAMPLONA, SPAIN - DECEMBER 10:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the La Liga match between CA Osasuna and FC Barcelona at Sadar stadium on December 10, 2016 in Pamplona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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There’s a danger in observing Lionel Messi on a week-by-week basis, and it has a lot to do with how he makes greatness look routine.

So while it’s easy to dismiss yet another mazy dribble through a defense, one of those “Frogger” style with calm-but-vicious cutbacks, try to consider everything that goes into Messi’s second goal against Osasuna early Saturday.

[ MORE: Watford 3-2 Everton ]

On first look, you might count 9 touches for Messi starting with his right-footed collection of the ball. But move to the slow motion replays, and recognize the truth: Often Messi is letting the ball do the work for him, essentially moving the duo closer to goal while he used his preferred left foot as a must-respect threat.

That he does it in such traffic and at full speed is incredible. It’s literally one of those goals in which a linguistic luminary like Ray Hudson would have trouble over-emphasizing the greatness.

Messi now has 11 La Liga goals in 12 matches, and 22 in 19 overall.

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