Tottenham Hotspur 2-0 Norwich City: Sigurdsson double highlights Spurs domination

Leave a comment

It was a dream day for Gylfi Sigurdsson, whose brace was the headline of a day when Tottenham were by far the better team en route to their third win of the year.

The Icelandic winger had been frozen out of the squad for much of last year, and with not all of Andre Villas-Boas’s new signings ready to play just yet, he received the call today.

Spurs started bright, pushing up through the midfield and playing a very high line to keep possession in the attacking half.

The home side had a brilliant chance in the 11th minute, when debutant Christian Eriksen created a wonderful bit of space in the box thanks to a one-two move.  He popped a shot from a tough angle, which was well saved though by Norwich keeper John Ruddy.

The chance appeared over, but Ruddy spilled the ball and it fell to Roberto Soldado, who used some impressive improvisation and attempted a back-chip which surprised and beat Ruddy but clipped off the bar.

Norwich spent all their energy just trying to get a touch on the ball, and Spurs kept nearly three-quarters of the possession through the first 15 minutes, pumping the ball into the box repeatedly.

Eriksen again proved creative as Tottenham finally broke through in the 28th minute, as an absolutely brilliant bit of passing in the Norwich box completely shattered the visiting defense.  Danny Rose blasted in a cross, which fell to Soldado. The striker laid off to Eriksen whose first touch fell wonderfully to a streaking Sigurdsson who put the ball into the back of the net.  The goal is the first from open play this season for Spurs.

They continued to batter the Norwich back line after scoring, but the visitors didn’t give up. Their first promising break saw the ball come to Ricky van Wolfswinkel, whose shot would have seriously tested Hugo Lloris but Danny Rose made a vital interception to turn it behind.

Norwich started the second half with a little more energy, but immediately Sigurdsson picked up his second just four minutes after the break. Spurs continued to flood the box, and Paulinho’s cross evaded the defense and found Sigurdsson’s feet for an easy close-range finish. Gylfi looked for his hat-trick but he was denied from long range in the 61st minute by a strong Ruddy save.

The Canaries played into the game a bit more in the second half, and finally found an opening when Lloris came out to punch a corner, and the ball ended up falling to van Wolfswinkel who took a few too many touches before firing on net and the chance was blocked.

That was all Norwich would see, as White Hart Lane saw their home side slide to victory and continue their wonderful start to the season.

Tottenham – Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Vertonghen, Rose; Dembele (Lamela, 83′), Paulinho; Townsend, Sigurdsson (Sandro, 78′), Eriksen (Holtby, 71′); Soldado.

Norwich – Ruddy; Whittaker, Bassong, Turner, Garrido; Snodgrass, Fer, Johnson (Howson, 64′), Redmond (Pilkington, 74′), Elmander (Tettey, 74′); van Wolfswinkel.

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday