West Ham United 2 – Cardiff City 0: Cole and Nolan strike to sink Bluebirds (Video)

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West Ham United managed a comfortable 2-0 win against newly promoted Cardiff City at Upton Park.

The Hammers won the game following a first half strike from Joe Cole and a stunning finish from captain Kevin Nolan in the second half.

Cardiff struggled all afternoon and the 2-0 victory momentarily put West Ham United second in the Premier League.

West Ham eased to the three points in front of their own fans, as Cardiff barely threatened going forward. It took just 12 minutes for Cardiff City’s Premier League fairytale to end abruptly.

West Ham welcomed them to the top-flight by taking an early 1-0 lead, as Cole scored an stunning goal to put the Hammers ahead.

The former England international picked up the ball on the edge of the Cardiff box, after a tremendous lung-bursting run from Matt Jarvis down the left.

source: Getty Images
Cole got West Ham off to a flying start.

Cole then swiveled and swept his shot into the far corner of the net, sending Upton Park into raptures on the opening day. The 31-year-old attacking midfielder will certainly grow in confidence after a sublime strike and the Hammers never looked back after that.

Cardiff toiled to get back into the game but Malkay Mackay’s men just couldn’t break down the Hammers.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup, Villa stun Arsenal, Saints, West Ham, Fulham all win)

Stewart Downing came on for the final 20 minutes at Upton Park, with the newly signed winger getting a run out on his debut. His arrival sparked West Ham into life and a lovely flowing move was finished off by Nolan who expertly steered the ball home into the top corner in the 75th minute.

Cardiff’s best chance fell to Rudy Gestede late on, but the striker panicked in the six yard box and put a great chance over.

On the look of this performance it could be a long, hard season for Cardiff City. While West Ham could well push on from their top ten finish last time out.

A great day for the Hammers. Not so much for the Bluebirds.

Lineups

West Ham United: Jaaskelainen, Demel, O’Brien, Collins, Reid, Noble, Diame (Diarra 82), Nolan, Jarvis (Downing, 71), Cole (Vaz Te 90), Maiga. Subs not used: Adrian, Tomkins, Rat, Morrison,

Cardiff City: Marshall, Connolly, Caulker, Turner, John, Medel, Gunnarsson, Whittingham, Kim (Maynard 75), Bellamy (Gestede 75), Campbell (Mutch 90). Subs not used: Lewis, Hudson, Cowie, Smith.

Copa Sudamericana finals, leg 2: Flamengo vs. Independiente

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SAO PAULO (AP) Independiente, relegated for the first time in its history in 2013, can complete a remarkable turnaround by winning the Copa Sudamericana at the Maracana Stadium on Wednesday.

The Argentine team will go into the second leg of the final holding a 2-1 lead over Brazilian club Flamengo from the first leg.

Independiente, which has won multiple titles in South American tournaments, will be counting on 18-year-old midfielder Ezequiel Barco, one of the best players in this year’s competition.

Flamengo is also seeking to restore some pride in Rio de Janeiro. The big-spending Brazilian club, playing in its first Copa Sudamericana final, finished its domestic championship in a disappointing sixth place.

The Rio team will be without Peru striker Paolo Guerrero, who is serving a one-year doping ban.

Instead, veteran midfielder Diego will be the key player as Flamengo looks to claim its first regional title since winning the now-defunct Copa Mercosur in 1999.

After Independiente won the first leg, the club posted on its social media channels a picture of its players celebrating at the Maracana in 1995 when the two teams played for the Supercopa.

If the Argentines lose 1-0 on Wednesday, there will be a penalty shootout to decide the winner.

Last year, Brazilian club Chapecoense was awarded the title before the final after 19 players, plus club directors and several members of staff, died in an air crash.

The Copa Sudamericana is the continent’s second most prestigious tournament after the Copa Libertadores.

Germany’s players have big-money incentive to win World Cup

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BERLIN (AP) Germany’s players will each receive $410,000 bonus if the team defends its World Cup title next year in Russia.

The German soccer federation says it has agreed to a performance-related bonus system for the team, as it did for the successful 2014 World Cup campaign and the last two European Championships.

Bonuses will only be paid upon reaching the quarterfinals, when each player would receive $90,000. That will increase to $150,000 for reaching the semifinals, $175,000 for third place and $235,000 for reaching the final.

Only Italy (1934 and 1938) and Brazil (1958 and 1962) have won back-to-back World Cup titles.

West Ham targeting Wilshere transfer in January

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David Moyes has stated his desire to sign Jack Wilshere during the January transfer window, as West Ham United battle relegation and attempt to secure their Premier League status for next season.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

Wilshere, who’s made just five PL appearance (all as a substitute) this season for Arsenal, after spending last season on loan at Bournemouth (27 appearances, including 22 starts), will be out of contract with the Gunners in the summer and it’s looking less and less likely that the 25-year-old has a long-term future at the club. Thus, he would almost certainly be allowed to leave and recoup something — anything — next month.

As such, Moyes, whose West Ham side currently sits 19th in the league table after a disastrous start to the season which ultimately saw Slaven Bilic fired, sees an opportunity to bring in an international-caliber player, on the cheap, at exactly the right time — quotes from the Guardian:

“You’d hope that if you took a player from another Premier League club it’d be much easier for him to go right into the team and play well. Jack Wilshere would be someone who we’d have to look at if he was available.

“I do believe the transfer window could be the difference between relegation and staying up. If we can get the right players, that’s the big part of it.

“I also want to make sure we’re looking at players who’ve got time and who can be at the club for a long period and not just in for a short period. Then there’s also the short-term fix for me which is, how do we get enough wins between now and the end of the season? There’s a balance between that.”

Wilshere’s (waning) chances of making the England team for next summer’s World Cup undoubtedly hinge upon him playing a majority of minutes during the second half of the season and finding a patch of remarkably good form. Suffice to say, he’d likely to be quite interested in a move — especially one that would keep him in London.

Dyche: “Football is about dreams,” and this is Burnley’s

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Burnley challenging for, and ultimately finishing in, a top-four place in the Premier League would be the most unexpected outcome in England’s top flight since… well, Leicester City won the title 18 months ago.

[ MORE: Newcastle sale closer after improved bid of $400 million ]

While the Foxes might have desensitized us with regards to what constitutes a feel-good story, one cannot simply ignore the astonishing, unexpected nature of the Clarets currently occupying fourth place in the PL table, just shy of the season’s halfway mark.

Sure, all three of Liverpool, Arsenal and Tottenham Hotspur have a game in hand (all to be played on Wednesday) and would overtake Sean Dyche‘s side with a win, but even then “seventh-place Burnley” is a phrase that is only slightly less remarkable.

Following his side’s 1-0 victory over Stoke City on Tuesday, Dyche something like a romantic, referring to Burnley’s run as a “dream” given those lofty levels of overachievement — quotes from the BBC:

“It’s a run of results and a start which the fans are enjoying and rightly so.

“Football is about realities but also about dreams. It’s a tough task for us winning games at this level, but Leicester blew the roof off dreams in football.”

“We found a way to win and a fine goal. We’re not the real deal, we’re a side that are improving.

“I keep reality because this division will eat you alive. We’re having a real go at what we can achieve this season.”