Well, if the men of Aston Villa would have done this all year, perhaps Brad Guzan could have left the superhero cape at home a little more often!
Seriously, who saw this coming? Aston Villa was the team most likely to have a six-spot put on them in 2012-13 – previously at any rate, as a young roster found its feet around Villa Park.
This will be Villa’s signature win in 2012-13, as it all came together spectacularly for Paul Lambert’s side. Aston Villa 6, Sunderland 1 … and let that sink in just a wee bit.
The result is extra-special shocking seeing as how Sunderland had performed lately under Paolo Di Canio, such a miracle worker around the Stadium of Light that he sure to get doggone ground renamed in his honor!
Everyone will talk about Christian Benteke’s hat trick, and rightly so. (Can Villa possibly keep this guy another year? He really has been such a saving grace.) But this was a headline maker all-around, one that just about leads Villa out of the relegation woods.
So let’s not lose sight of Gabby Agbonlahor, who was so forceful alongside the hat trick hero. Matthew Lowton and Andreas Weimann were big and bright too as Villa established a strong spot, tied for 15th in the table, with just enough cushion between the No. 15s and Wigan for the final drop spot.
So important for U.S. goalkeeper Guzan and Villa is that they control their own destiny now. They travel to Norwich, get Chelsea at home and, if the results fall just so, they may not even need a result by the season finale at Wigan. One more win will do for Villa, any way you slice it – and that is massive vindication for the way Lambert stuck with his young club, allowing them to grow into a club that put a 6-1 hammering on a given day.
Bundesliga wrap: Bayern, Hertha 1-2; USMNT’s Pulisic stars again
Paraguay’s Dario Lezcano and the hosts looked prepared to cruise to a 3-1 win when he netted his second goal of the day, but there was still a half-hour left at Audi-Sportpark.
Adrian Ramos scored in the 69th minute, opening the door for the latest big moment for American teenager Christian Pulisic. The diminutive attacker scored his second Bundesliga goal of the season in stoppage time to propel BVB to a point.
Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang had BVB’s other goal.
Hertha Berlin 2-1 Koln
Anthony Modeste and Koln had less than 10 minutes to celebrate their equalizer, as Niklas Stark’s 74th minute goal lifted Hertha to all three points. USMNT center back John Brooks went the distance at center back.
Bayern Munich 2-0 Borussia Monchengladbach
What looked like a potential onslaught in the first half hour settled into a final score line, as Arturo Vidal and Douglas Costa goals were enough for Carlo Ancelotti’s crew at the Allianz Arena. Gladbach managed just two shots, none on goal, in the loss. USMNT mid Fabian Johnson went 90 minutes in the loss.
Elsewhere Hamburg 0-3 Eintracht Frankfurt — Another 90 for USMNT’s Chandler
Freiburg 2-1 Augsburg — Nils Petersen nets winner.
Bayer Leverkusen 0-3 Hoffenheim — Early red card for hosts.
Darmstadt 3-1 Wolfsburg — Three different goal scores in win.
RB Leipzig vs. Werder Bremen — 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Schalke vs. Mainz — 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Now 32 years old and Barcelona’s longest-tenured servant, Iniesta has played more than 40 games (all competitions) every season since the 2003-04 campaign, back when he was a 19-year-old La Masia product quickly breaking into the first team. Part of a run like that is down to unparalleled talent and an unwavering commitment to craft, but, of course, a stroke of good luck on the serious-injury front.
It’s looking quite unlikely he’ll extend his 40-games-played streak to a 13th season in 2016-17, however, after the club confirmed fears on Saturday that Iniesta suffered knee ligament damage during a heavy challenge by Valencia midfielder Enzo Perez early in the first half of Barca’s 3-2 victory — statement from Barca’s official website:
The first team player Andres Iniesta has injured the lateral collateral ligament in his right knee. When he arrives in Barcelona the player will have more tests to find out the exact extent of the injury.
The Blaugrana also lost Jordi Alba and Gerard Pique to injuries during their Champions League triumph over Manchester City, as well as Rafinha and Arda Turan, who picked up knocks of their own in training during the week. Injury crisis at the Nou Camp.
How would manager Jurgen Klopp have felt if his dominant side, one that failed to put away maybe a dozen chances versus the Baggies, drew?
“We had to finish the game much earlier,” Klopp said. “It would have been kind of a joke if we drew or lost today. We were unbelievable. We wasted a little energy in the second half. … Performance, really good against a team like this that were here to get somehow something.”
He’s right, of course. The Reds need to learn to kill teams off, even if star West Brom goalkeeper Ben Foster deserves plenty of credit for another starring role against a top team.
Sadio Mane and Philippe Coutinho scored first half goals worthy of admiration, and Liverpool beat West Brom 2-1 at Anfield on Saturday.
Gareth McAuley scored the Baggies’ lone goal, as West Brom took Liverpool’s day from comfortable to uneasy over the final 30 minutes or so.
The winning margin pushes Liverpool level on points Arsenal but behind the Gunners on goal differential. Man City has 19 points and would retake the table lead with a draw or better versus Southampton on Sunday.
The Baggies are 13th, ahead of West Ham and Burnley on goal differential.
The Reds went ahead when Roberto Firmino‘s spinning cross was belted past Foster by Mane in the 21st minute.
A poor Ben Foster clearance fell to Mane in the 35th minute, and the Senegalese attacker quickly found Coutinho. The diminutive winger cut into the box, working a near-post shot by Foster to make it 2-0.