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Goals galore as the English Football League returns to action

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Unless you’ve been living under a rock somewhere, you’ll know that the Premier League season kicks off on August 17.

Two weeks from now.

But today England’s other 72 professional soccer teams began play in the Championship, League One and League Two, with plenty of enthralling action taking place.

Here’s a quick look at what happened on the first day of action in the lower-leagues of English soccer.


The big winners were Wigan Athletic, who began life in the second-tier in fine fashion thanks to a 4-0 win at Barnsley. The current FA Cup holders opened the scoring through Ben Watson before new signings from Norwich, Grant Holt and Leon Barnett, both scored on their debuts and Shaun Maloney rounded things off. Honduran Roger Espinoza was an unused sub for the Latics, while US defender Tim Ream was also kept on the bench as rivals Bolton and Burnley kicked things off with a 1-1 tie. Queens Park Rangers beat Sheffield Wednesday 2-1 despite going behind, as Andy Johnson grabbed the winner. Joey Barton was also a surprise starter for QPR after not featuring at all in preseason. And a good day for the three clubs relegated from the Premier League was rounded off by a 2-1 win for Nigel Adkins Reading side against Ipswich Town, as USMNT international Danny Williams went the full 90. New boys Bournemouth and Yeovil picked up wins after promotion from League One, while Paul Ince’s Blackpool impressively beat newcomers Doncaster 3-1 away from home.

League One

It was a case of goals galore on the opening day of action in England’s third-tier, as 36 goals were scored across the 12 games… and two of those fixtures were 0-0 ties. There was a dramatic 4-3 win for Oldham against Stevenage as Jose Baxter’s late penalty stole all three points. While Leyton Orient hammered Carlisle 5-1 to go top of the league. There was a cracker at Crewe, as they home side were leading 3-1 with four minutes to play. But two late goals from Rotherham United ensured a dramatic 3-3 tie at Gresty Road. While Crawley Town heaped more misery on Coventry City with a 3-2 win. Coventry had entered liquidation on Friday and were handed a 10 point penalty, despite that they fought back from 2-0 down to tie 2-2, before Crawley’s Mike Jones struck late on.

League Two

For relegated side Portsmouth it was a day to forget at Fratton Park. Despite going 1-0 up early on, Oxford United came roaring back to seal a comfortable 4-1 win over Pompey. Elsewhere the other big winner was newly promoted Welsh side Newport County. They celebrated their first season back in the football league in style by beating Accrington Stanley 4-1. The game marked Newport’s first game back in the top four professional divisions in over 25 years. Fleetwood Town beat Dagenham and Redbridge 3-1, and there were 1-0 wins for Southend against Plymouth, Wycombe over Morecambe and York edged past Northampton.

How can Man United qualify for last 16 of Champions League?

Wayne Rooney, Manchester United FC

Heading into the their final UEFA Champions League Group B game, Manchester United hold their destiny in their own hands, but any slip-up could mean it’s Europa League on Thursday nights for Louis Van Gaal‘s men.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

The Red Devils would have advanced to the knockout stage with a victory over third-place PSV Eindhoven on Wednesday, but slumped to an ugly 0-0 draw instead.

[ MORE: Three things we learned from Man United 0-0 PSV ]

So, here’s all of the scenarios for the final matchday of the group stage, away to Wolfsburg, in which United would advance to the round of 16 advance:

  • A Man United win will see Man United finish top of Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV draw or loss (vs. CSKA Moscow), will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United draw, coupled with a PSV victory, will see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV loss, will see Man United finish second in Group B
  • A Man United loss by more than one goal, coupled with a PSV draw, would see Man United finish third in Group B
  • A Man United loss, coupled with a PSV win, would see Man United finish third in Group B

[ MORE: Champions League schedule

There are your scenarios for Man United as it’s pretty simple to break it down: Win, and they go through. Fail to win, and their fate is completely in the hands of PSV.

VIDEO: Can Leicester stun the world? Man United title favorites?

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The Foxes are top of the Premier League and are led by a surging Jamie Vardy but how long can they keep shocking the world?

With six tough games coming up between now and the start of 2016, Claudio Ranieri‘s men will be pushed to their limit but so far this season they’ve been sensational and Vardy has equaled Manchester United legend Ruud van Nistlerooy’s record of scoring in 10-straight PL games.

[ MORE: Full PST Extra archive ]

Can he make it 11 in a row on Saturday (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBC and online via Live Extra) when United visit the King Power Stadium? As for the Red Devils, they sit in second place and are just one point behind the flying Foxes’. Louis Van Gaal‘s men have certainly flown under the radar so far and our churning out wins at an impressive rate.

Jenna Corrado and I discuss that and more in the latest edition of PST Extra. Click play on the video above to see our chat in full.

Men in Blazers podcast: The Leicester fairytale goes on

Men In Blazers - Sept. 22
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Rog and Davo revel in another chapter of the Leicester City fairytale, break down Liverpool’s shock dismantling of Manchester City and discuss Arsenal’s slip against West Brom.

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

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Pellegrini updates status of Joe Hart’s hamstring injury

Joe Hart, Manchester City FC
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Joe Hart was forced to leave Manchester City’s 1-0 defeat to Juventus in UEFA Champions League play on Wednesday due to a hamstring injury, which he seemed to incur while making a spectacular one-on-one kick-save late in the second half.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Man City manager Manuel Pellegrini confirmed after the game that Hart’s injury is indeed a hamstring issue, and went on to say that he would need further tests once the team arrives back in Manchester to determine the severity and how long, if at all, City and England’s no. 1 would be out of action.

Man City, currently third in the Premier League on 26 points, will host eighth-place Southampton at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday (Watch live at 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).