Hull City AFC

Hull City on the rise after double swoop for Huddlestone, Livermore

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In the space of a few hours on Wednesday, newly promoted Hull City strengthened their odds of Premier League survival considerably.

The Tigers sealed a sensational double swoop, signing midfielders Tom Huddlestone and Jake Livermore from Tottenham Hotspur.

Steve Bruce’s side badly needed reinforcements as the other newly promoted teams, Cardiff City and Crystal Palace, have added key players in previous days.

Huddlestone, 26, arrives on a three-year deal with the transfer fee thought to be around $8 million for the England international. While 23-year-old Livermore joins on a season-long loan from Spurs.

This tells us two things. One: Hull are extremely serious about staying in the Premier League and they’re likely to bring a physical and direct style of play. And two: Spurs are making room for more possible arrivals as they have a clear-out in midfield. Andre Villas-Boas mentioned that on Saturday following their final preseason friendly with Espanyol, where Livermore and Huddlestone both came on as subs.

(MORE: Premier League Preview: Hull City AFC)

In Huddlestone, Hull City have acquired a player with undoubted ability at the highest level. When fit, the former Derby County academy product is a beast in the midfield engine room. He’s won four caps for England and is unlucky to have not won more with several injuries hampering his development in the last two to three years.

Obviously at Spurs he was falling down the pecking order, with the arrival of Paulinho and Nacer Chadli making competition for places even tougher. Now with the chance to prove himself and play regularly, Huddlestone will make Hull’s midfield solid as a rock. But he’s tremendous range of passing is also underrated. He poses a hammer of a right foot and can score long-distance screamers when given the chance.

I’m sure Tigers’ fans will be excited to see him wear the No. 8 shirt this season. And expect to see plenty of fake afro wigs around the KC Stadium too, Huddlestone has become famous for his tremendous hairdo.

As for Livermore, he’s another player that’s suffered due to the extremely competitive midfield core at White Hart Lane. The young Englishman has done well whenever called upon, appearing 38 times for Spurs last season and scoring once. Most of those appearances came off the bench but he was progressing into a valuable squad player after coming through the ranks and signing a professional deal in 2008. While Livermore is no stranger to a loan deal, as Hull will be the seventh club that Spurs have farmed him out to.

(MORE: Premier League Team Guide: The lowdown on Hull City – Video)

Hull have added a dynamic duo of exciting, dependable and young English talent. Their fans will definitely be feeling more optimistic about the season ahead with their squad all of a sudden looking a lot more competitive as the opening day draws even closer.

Can they cause a shock against Chelsea against Stamford Bridge in their season opener on Sunday? I’m not sure about that. But now they have a fighting chance.

USC wins NCAA women’s soccer national championship

Southern California's Morgan Andrews celebrates after scoring a goal against West Virginia during the first half in the NCAA Women's College Cup soccer final, Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016 in San Jose, Calif. (AP Photo/Tony Avelar)
AP Photo/Tony Avelar
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SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Katie Johnson broke a tie in the 75th minute and Southern California won the NCAA women’s soccer title Sunday, beating top-ranked West Virginia 3-1 at Avaya Stadium on Sunday.

The second-seeded Trojans (19-4-2) also won the College Cup in 2007.

The Mountaineers (23-2-2) lost for the first time since a 1-0 setback to Georgetown on Sept. 18. West Virginia had a 17-game unbeaten streak snapped, and allowed three goals for the first all season.

Johnson, who also had the winning goal in USC’s 1-0 semifinal victory over Georgetown on Friday, was wide open in front of the net when Leah Pruitt took a pass up the left sideline, beat defender Easther Mayi Kith, and delivered a perfect cross. Johnson simply rolled the ball into the goal to the right of goalkeeper Rylee Foster.

Johnson scored again off an assist from Nicole Molen in the 87th minute.

The Trojans got on the board just 1:22 into play after Julia Bingham directed a corner kick to the top of the penalty box, where Savannah Levin headed the ball forward to Morgan Andrews, whose header from 5 yards eluded Foster.

West Virginia’s Ashley Lawrence, a member of the 2016 Canadian Olympic team, tied it in the 66th minute when she ripped a shot from the top left corner of the penalty box just inside the near post.

After USC took the 2-1 lead, the Mountaineers nearly drew even in the 81st minute on a shot by Heather Kaleiohi that was stopped on a diving save by goalkeeper Sammy Prudhomme.

The Mountaineers outshot USC 21-8 and held a 9-1 edge in corner kicks.

The Trojans joined North Carolina (21 titles), Notre Dame (3) and Portland (3) as the only multiple winners of the College Cup.

USC won its 126th national team title on the same day its men’s water polo team lost 10-8 to Cal in the NCAA final just 45 miles away in Berkeley.

West Virginia, in its first College Cup final, was hoping to claim its first NCAA title in any sport besides its co-ed rifle team, which has won 18 national titles.

VIDEO: 70-yard volley from Chile is nearly impossible to believe

Alejandro Camargo, Universidad de Concepcion
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His name is Alejandro Camargo, and he scored what might just go down as the best goal of 2016 on Sunday: an impossibly perfect volley from well beyond the halfway line.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

Miguel Pinto is the opposing goalkeeper whose long-range clearance, which covered about 50 yards during the final seconds of Universidad de Concepcion’s clash with O’Higgins in the Chilean first division, was taken off the fly, first-time, by the Argentine midfielder to seal a 3-1 victory for the home side.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

“The coach told us Pinto was always playing in advance of his goal, so I closed my eyes and hit it,” Camargo said after the game.

“Hit it and hope” has never looked so good.

Roma fans stay away from derby to protest new security barriers

A view of a huge section of empty seats as Roma fans desert derby in protest over security barriers, during a Serie A soccer match between Lazio and Roma, at the Rome Olympic stadium Sunday, Dec. 4, 2016. (AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia)
AP Photo/Gregorio Borgia
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ROME (AP) Roma’s most ardent supporters stayed away from the derby match against Lazio in protest at barriers introduced at the start of last season in their area.

Normally filled with supporters waving huge banners, lighting flares and singing, half of the “curva sud” — southern end — of the Stadio Olimpico was left empty for Sunday’s match.

[ MORE: Serie A roundup — Roma, AC Milan win, still tied for 2nd ]

Three of Roma’s locally born standouts held a meeting with the “ultra” fans during the week. Captain Francesco Totti, Daniele De Rossi and Alessandro Florenzi asked the supporters to return, and the club itself has also tried to resolve the matter.

But the appeals had no effect.

In contrast, Lazio fans filled the northern end of the stadium as usual.

The plexiglass barriers were put in place by city officials for security reasons.

VIDEO: “Behind The Badge: Watford FC” — Episode 2

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In Episode 2 of Behind the Badge: Watford FC, watch the players’ recovery after a win against Leicester, a look at the club’s one-of-a-kind internship program and a flashback to a memorable moment in Watford’s history.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

To watch past episodes of Behind The Badge, including last season’s edition featuring a look inside Crystal Palace, head over to the full archive by clicking here.

[ MORE: PL roundup — Chelsea top Man City; Arsenal, Spurs win big ]

First episode: Watch full episode, here
Second episode: Above video
Third episode: Sunday, Dec. 11, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN
Fourth episode: Sunday, Dec. 18, 2 p.m. ET – NBCSN