West Ham United v Cardiff City - Premier League

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.

Robbie Keane still entertaining offers ahead of return

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Soccer Player Robbie Keane arrives at the Premiere of IFC Films' "Pele: Birth Of A Legend" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Robbie Keane is still sorting out his future, and it seems unlikely he’s heading back to the past.

Keane is training in Dublin ahead of a return to the pitch. The 36-year-old striker left the LA Galaxy this offseason, and says he’s had several offers from Championship squads in England as well as a few clubs abroad.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Although he’s starred for Wolverhampton and Leeds, destinations where fans would welcome his arrival, Keane says not to hold your breath.

From TalkSport.com:

“I’ve had a lot of people asking me about coming back to Leeds and Wolves, and they’re great clubs I’ve played for, but you can’t go somewhere if people actually don’t offer you anything.

“Until it’s actually in writing to me I can’t comment much on it, but I definitely haven’t heard from Leeds or Wolves.”

Whether Stateside or in England, Keane can still have an impact on a team’s fortunes. We look forward to seeing him back on the field, and to hear some more quips as well.

Consider his answer to whether he’d entertain an offer from China:

“If they gave the money Diego Costa was offered, I’d walk there now,” Keane said.

Galaxy adds center mid from Portuguese top flight

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LA Galaxy’s roster reformation continues with the addition of Joao Pedro, a day after formalizing a deal with USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones.

The 23-year-old center midfielder was with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal’s top flight, and comes to the club as a “Special Discovery Player” with Targeted Allocation Money.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Pedro has a goal in 17 appearances this season, as Vitoria Guimaraes sits fifth in the Primeira Liga.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“Joao is an extremely talented midfielder who has experience playing at a high level in Portugal,” said Galaxy general manager Peter Vagenas in a written statement released by the club.

“He is only 23 years old and has the best years of his career front of him. We identified him as a top target this offseason and we think he can immediately help strengthen our midfield. We look forward to welcoming Joao to Los Angeles as we continue to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Pedro was a regular for Vitoria Guimaraes but is far from a certainty to star for the Galaxy. We do know that Vagenas has probably done his research as to whether Pedro fits with Jermaine Jones.

AFCON wrap: Senegal clinches first knockout round slot

Senegal's, Sadio Mane, right, is challenged by Zimbabwe's, Willard Katsande, left, during the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between Senegal and Zimbabwe at, Stade de Franceville Stadium, in Franceville, Gabon Thursday Jan. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
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Senegal has advanced to the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving three teams to work for the second Group B slot come the final day.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Senegal 2-0 Zimbabwe

Sadio Mane (Liverpool) and Henri Saivet (Saint-Etienne) scored within the first 13 minutes as Senegal clinched Group B with a win over Zimbabwe. There were 48 shots between the two teams, 24 for Senegal, in a fairly open affair. As for the Warriors, they’ll need to beat Tunisia on Monday.

Algeria 1-2 Tunisia

Tunisia rebounded from a loss to Senegal without scoring from the run of play. Lille mid Naim Sliti scored a penalty after an Algeria own goal made it 1-0. Anderlecht midfielder Sofiane Hanni scored for Algeria.

Friday’s matches
Ivory Coast vs. DR Congo — 11 a.m. ET
Morocco vs. Togo — 11 a.m. ET

Wenger concerned Chinese wages become benchmark for players

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 15:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on during an Arsenal press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Barcelona at Camp Nou on March 15, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hoping the high quality of competition in Europe will keep players from leaving for the financial gain in China.

Wenger is facing regular questions about the future of both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, and the big money on offer in the Chinese league can complicate negotiations.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Argentine striker Carlos Tevez joined Shanghai Shenhua last month in a deal worth $40 million over two years.

“The danger (is) that the Chinese offers become the benchmark for Europe,” Wenger said Thursday. “You cannot compete with that, but I still think that, when you’re a footballer, the first thing is that you want to play against the best players in the best teams.”

Wenger said players that want the best compensation for playing in the best quality league need not look to Asia.

“I think that combination is the best in England at the moment, so I don’t see why the players should leave the English Premier League,” Wenger said.

Wenger, whose team is fourth in the standings, has made only one signing in the January transfer window, picking up defender Cohen Bramall from non-league club Hednesford.

Arsenal has also decided to keep captain Per Mertesacker for another season. Wenger announced Thursday that the club has taken up a one-year option to extend the contract of the 32-year-old German, who has not played this season because of a knee injury sustained during a friendly in July.

Mertesacker faces a fight to get back into the team because Shkodran Mustafi, an offseason signing from Valencia, has built a strong partrnership with vice captain Laurent Koscielny at the heart of Wenger’s defense.