On a day of heartbreak and elation tied into the relegation and promotion sweepstakes of English soccer, Stuart Holden’s Bolton finished today on the wrong side of that emotion ledger.
Holden was on the bench but unused as Bolton and Blackpool drew, 2-2.
Bolton finished alongside Leicester with 68 points but was way behind its English Championship rival in goal difference. So Leicester – the side near and dear to NBC colleague Arlo White – grabbed the playoff spot while Bolton is left to plan for next year’s reach to regain English Premier League status.
So beyond whatever post-season training Wanderers manager Dougie Freedman has in mind, Holden is done until he gets into Jurgen Klinsmann’s camp in a little over two weeks.
(MORE: Holden set for a national team return)
(MORE: Another reason to have Holden around the national team)
It also means Holden, who has committed to Bolton, will remain in England’s second tier for the foreseeable future. Here’s what Freedman said about Saturday and where things stand for his club in the bigger picture:
At one moment it appeared that a draw might do it, though we set out to win the game. It was all about us today, unfortunately we’ve come up just a little bit short. I couldn’t have asked for nothing more from my players.
“We’ve been on a fantastic run of late and can take pride from what we have been doing both on and off the field in the last three months. Yes, we’re disappointed now but we are very optimistic moving forward. We’re integrating young players into our team and are building something special going forward.
“We’ve put lots of plans in place that will stand this club in good stead for the future. … It’s no good thinking what might have been. We’ve got to look forward. I’m looking to make one or two changes that will help see us move up the league next season. Our targets have been identified and we’ve already been planning for next season.”
It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.
Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.
[ MORE: Champions League scores ]
Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.
Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.
Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.
Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:
Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)
FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)
FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)
CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)
In Part 2 of Everton Unseen, European football returns to Goodison Park as Everton host MFK Ruzomberok in the qualifying round of the Europa League.
Click play on the video below to get a feel for how Goodison Park will be in the second leg of the Europa League in Part 2 of this videos series.
[ MORE: Live Europa League scores ]
[ WATCH: Part 1 of Everton Unseen ]
ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it is sending in an emergency management team to run the troubled Cameroon football federation.
The panel to be appointed by FIFA and the Confederation of African Football (CAF) will oversee elections by next March to replace disputed polls in 2015 for the Cameroon federation board.
FIFA’s intervention comes amid speculation Cameroon could be stripped of hosting the next African Cup of Nations in June-July 2019.
CAF President Ahmad this month cast doubt on Cameroon’s ability to prepare for the expanded 24-team tournament.
FIFA says Wednesday it acted after “recent failed attempts … to reconcile the football stakeholders in Cameroon and overcome the current impasse.”
Tottenham reportedly broke the bank for its first transfer of the summer.
The North London club confirmed that it had completed a transfer with Ajax for defender Davinson Sanchez after the Colombian international passed a medical. According to The Telegraph, the deal is worth around $54 million, a club record. The deal is subject to acquisition of Sanchez’s work permit but given the transfer fee and him being in Colombia’s squad, it’s likely a mere formality at this point.
[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]
The 21-year-old defender brings speed and strength to Tottenham’s backline as well as a year of seasoning in the Eredivisie, which features plenty of attacking talent. Sanchez will battle with Eric Dier, Toby Alderweireld and Jan Vertonghen for a place in Spurs’ three-man backline.
It’s a risk moving to a new club a year ahead of the World Cup, but Sanchez is hoping that with appearances in the UEFA Champions League and Premier League up for grabs, he can do well enough to keep his place in the Colombia National Team squad.
Here’s some more transfer news from across England: