Crystal Palace 3-1 Sunderland: Eagles record first victory of the season (Video)

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Crystal Palace finally secured their first Premier League win, 3-1 over Sunderland, but they sure made it as difficult as possible. The home side had secured the lead by the time ten minutes were up, then spent the next hour sending speculative shots in the general direction of Keiren Westwood’s goal. It would take an equalizer from the Black Cats, a red card, and a penalty conversion before the Eagles looked confident in their victory — and even then, the players managed to look nervous of it being ripped away. Fortunately for Palace, they managed a third in added time, finally putting the game to rest.

Palace scored the opener in rather amusing fashion. The home side’s corner connected with…no one, really. Or possibly everyone. The ball bounced around, ricocheting off seemingly everyone inside the area, before bouncing off Daniel Gabbidon and into the back of the net.

Perhaps Crystal Palace sensed that Sunderland would eventually get an equalizer — they certainly gave it a shot in the first half — and so attempted to find a second goal. Jason Puncheon, Dwight Gayle and Kagisho Dikgacoi all gave it their best shot, but the attempts never really threatened Westwood. For the Black Cats, Connor Wickham and Emanuele Giaccherini both made decent attempts.

But those attempts by the visitors rather petered out in the second half. Perhaps Paolo Di Canio didn’t have a plan B, expecting Palace’s defense to be simple to get around. Whatever it was, the home side were the ones that kept up a constant attack, while Sunderland looked bereft of options.

So it was all the more surprising when the Black Cats equalized in the 65th minute. After a neat one-two, Jack Colback took the ball up the left side, pulling back to lob it into the middle of the area. Steven Fletcher was there with the perfect header, and it seemed Sunderland had, at least, rescued a point from the match.

But barely ten minutes later, it all fell apart for the visitors. Sunderland captain John O’Shea charged in to stop Gayle, sliding in and tripping up the Palace attacker just inside the area. The referee immediately blew the whistle for the penalty, then dug around to find the red card for O’Shea. Gayle stepped up to take it himself, easily bypassing Westwood with his right-footed shot.

At that point, Sunderland just gave up, allowing Palace more time and space to press for a third goal. It was no surprise when it came, two minutes into the four minutes of added time. Substitute Stuart O’Keefe, on for Marouane Chamakh, got the final goal, a solo effort that curled past a dejected Westwood.

Lineups

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Campana (Williams 54), Puncheon, Gayle (Wilbraham 83); Chamakh (O’Keefe 83)

Subs not used: Phillips, Alexander, Ramage, Dobbie

Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, Colback, O’Shea, Diakite, Larsson, Vaughan, Johnson, Giaccherini (Mavrias 61), Dong-won (Fletcher 45), Wickham

Subs not used: Cabral, Cuéllar, Moberg-Karlsson, Roberge, Mannone

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
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The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

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A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia