Sunderland 1-3 Arsenal: Ramsey double puts Gunners top (video)

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SUNDERLAND — Arsenal eventually eased to a 3-1 victory over Sunderland after dominating for large spells of the game at the Stadium of Light.

The Gunners took an early lead through Olivier Giroud but squandered several other chances to extend their advantage. They were made to pay for that as Sunderland equalized just after half time when Craig Gardner scored a penalty. But soon after Ramsey scored twice in quick succession to seal Arsenal’s win.

A lively home crowd made the game a spirited affair as Arsenal began to get their passing game going, with the Black Cats looking to hit Jozy Altidore and Steven Fletcher early.

However it was the away team who took the lead in the 10th minute as Mesut Ozil showed everyone why Arsenal spent $60million to sign him from Real Madrid. The German international beautifully teed up Giroud to sweep home from close range and put Arsenal 1-0 up.

Sunderland almost equalized straight away but Modibo Diakite’s 12th minute header cannoned off the bar.

Arsenal came close to adding a second goal twice, as Theo Walcott got in behind Jack Colback but fired his effort straight at Kieren Westwood on both occasions.

And Walcott could have had at least a hat trick as just before the half Wilshere chipped in a perfect cross to the back post but the England winger headed wide. Then shortly after Walcott was thwarted again by Westwood as the ball broke to him in the box.

Sunderland tried to rally as half time approached but the Gunners looked comfortable going in 1-0 up at half time.

source: Getty Images
Di Canio is sent away from the dugouts following a spat with the referee.

After the break the home side looked much better and Adam Johnson picked up a loose ball in the box and was taken down by Laurent Koscielny as Sunderland won a penalty. Gardner smashed the spot kick home to make it 1-1 after coming on barely minutes before at half time for James Vaughan.

Sunderland were buoyed by the goal and really took the game to Arsenal with Steven Fletcher scoring, but was ruled offside in the 58th minute and then Gardner’s curling free kick somehow missed everyone before bouncing off the inside of the post and away to safety.

But then Arsenal came roaring back into the game in swashbuckling fashion in the 67th minute when Carl Jenkinson broke down the right and pulled back a ball to Aaron Ramsey, who hit home a spectacular volley on the turn.

Shortly after it looked as if U.S. international Altidore had grabbed another equalizer for Sunderland as he broke free of Bacary Sagna’s challenge before slotting home and the USMNT forward ran off celebrating. However referee Atkinson had pulled the play back for a foul by Sagna on Altidore, even though the Sunderland man clearly had an advantage. The Stadium of Light was incensed with the decision.

Then in the 75th minute Arsenal sealed the win as a lovely flowing move saw Ramsey play a one-two with Giroud and Ozil before slotting the ball home to make it 3-1. The final few minutes  played out with the home side trying to get back into the game but Arsenal managed to hold on to a hard-fought 3-1 win away from home. Their seventh league away win in a row.

Victory sees the Gunners top the league momentarily while Sunderland are still searching for their first win this season, and sit bottom.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Westwood, Celustka, Colback, Roberge, Diakite, Vaughan (Gardner 46), Mavrias (Borini 71), Ki, Johnson (c), Fletcher (Wickham 77), Altidore. Subs not used: Mannone, Brown, Larsson, Cuellar.

Arsenal: Szczesny, Jenkinson, Sagna, Koscielny, Gibbs, Flamini, Ramsey, Wilshere, Ozil (Vermaelen 80), Walcott (Monreal 89), Giroud (Akpom 90). Subs not used: Fabianski, Frimpong, Ryo, Gnabry,

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