Swansea 2-2 Liverpool: Goals galore in Jonjo Shelvey’s eventful debut against former club (video)

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Just 90 seconds into the game, Shelvey scored against his former team, putting home his own rebound after an initial sliding block from Martin Škrtel. If that was the best start Shelvey could have hoped for, he was brought back to earth less than two minutes later.

After his team won the ball in its defensive half, Shelvey attempted a backpass with the outside of his right foot that inadvertently split his center backs. Liverpool striker Daniel Sturridge, in an offside position from the previous attack, pounced on the ball.

He was not flagged offside, as an opponent passed him the ball. (It is not an offense in itself to be in an offside position.) Sturridge needed just one touch to level the score in the fourth minute and leave Shelvey to walk back to midfield with his head in his hands.

Perhaps he had not completely mentally recovered when he made another goal-inducing error.

With his team in calm possession and looking to break out, Shelvey misplayed a wide pass that Liverpool winger Victor Moses easily cut out. Moses dribbled toward goal, cut inside and slammed a shot on the ground inside the near post in the 36th minute.

Swansea nearly equalized two minutes later, but goalkeeper Simon Mignolet barely saved Nathan Dyer’s original back-post effort, and Škrtel slid in to rob Wilfried Bony of an easy tap-in from inside the six-yard box.

source: AP
Swansea City’s Jonjo Shelvey, centre, is mobbed by team-mates after scoring his sides first goal of the game as Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard walks away at right, during the English Premier League match at the Liberty Stadium, Swansea Wales Monday Sept. 16, 2013. (AP Photo/Nick Potts/PA)

The second half started in a flurry of yellow cards, including one on a tackle by Swansea defender Ashley Williams that sent Philippe Coutinho to the bench with an apparent shoulder injury. Moments later, Mignolet came off his line to punch a cross that left Bony on the ground.

Bony left the game soon after, although it was unclear whether it had anything to do with Mignolet’s intervention.

Mignolet could not keep Swansea out for long. Leon Britton lofted a ball forward in the 64th minute that found Shelvey just outside the penalty area.

Leaping with his back to goal, Shelvey swiveled to flick a ball into Michu’s path as he streaked toward goal. Finding space between two converging defenders, Michu calmly struck the ball on his first touch beyond Mignolet and into the back of the net.

Substitute Jonathan de Guzman nearly won it for Swansea in the 88th minute, but Mignolet continued his good early-season form and stretched to his left to tip the free kick around the post. On the ensuing corner kick, Mignolet punched twice, clearing the original cross and the secondary attempt.

Swansea looked more likely to score as the match wound down, with Liverpool happy to absorb pressure and earn a point to take it back to the top of the Premier League. Try as it might, Swansea could not penetrate Liverpool’s back line again, as the defenders held strong.

But the final whistle blew as Liverpool hit on the counter-attack, with Iago Aspas nearly scoring a winner at the death. Chico Flores slid in to clear the danger, and referee Michael Oliver suitably ended the game on a close chance to cap a 90-minute period full of opportunities.

Liverpool (3-1-0, 10 points, first place) returns home on Saturday to take on Southampton. Swansea City (1-1-2, 4 points, 13th place) heads to London on Sunday to play Crystal Palace but must first travel to Spain on Thursday to face Valencia in the UEFA Europa League.

Lineups

Swansea City: Michel Vorm — Àngel Rangel, Chico Flores, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies — Leon Britton, Jonjo Shelvey, Michu — Nathan Dyer (Jonathan de Guzman, 46), Wilfried Bony (Alejandro Pozuelo, 66), Wayne Routledge

Unused substitutes: Gerhard Tremmel — Jordi Amat, Dwight Tiendalli, José Cañas, Álvaro Vázquez

Liverpool: Simon Mignolet — Andre Wisdom (Kolo Touré, 69), Martin Škrtel, Mamadou Sakho, José Enrique — Lucas, Steven Gerrard — Jordan Henderson, Philippe Coutinho (Iago Aspas, 55), Victor Moses (Raheem Sterling, 81) — Daniel Sturridge

Unused substitutes: Brad Jones — Luis Alberto, Jordon Ibe, Martin Kelly

Report: Liverpool to escape punishment over Van Dijk pursuit

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The Times states that Liverpool will not be punished further for pursuing Southampton defender Virgil Van Dijk.

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Earlier this month the Reds issued a public apology to Southampton and stated they had ended their interest in the 25-year-old Dutch defender following allegations that Van Dijk was flown to Blackpool (just north of Liverpool) to meet with Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp and their manager messaged VVD “regularly” as they chased the Dutch international.

Southampton, as you would expect, were far from happy about this so-called “tapping up” from Liverpool and reported the Reds to the Premier League by making an official complaint.

Liverpool’s apology was then followed by a preliminary investigation, but reports state that there will be no further action taken against Liverpool by the PL with “insufficient evidence” to support the claims surrounding the alleged “tapping up” of Van Dijk and unless new evidence arrives then the case will be closed.

Regardless, this whole episode has been incredibly embarrassing for Liverpool, especially when you take into account their current ban from signing academy players when a similar case cropped up over chasing a youngster in Stoke City’s academy.

Klopp has not only lost the chance to sign Van Dijk (at least, that’s the way it seems for now) but Liverpool have also lost some respect for the way they supposedly went about this business. American owners Fenway Sports Group (FSG) went to great lengths to apologize for this situation and are keen to stress they always conduct their business in a respect manner.

Now, we would all be a little naive to believe that this type of thing doesn’t happen a lot in soccer. A player (usually through his agent) will perhaps gently let another team know he’s interested in a move to them, and the ball gets rolling from there. Of course, the two clubs are supposed to agree a fee for the player first and then said player can meet with his potential new club to square away the details.

Southampton are said to still be furious about the approach from Liverpool to Van Dijk, so much so that if they were to sell their star player and captain this summer (they maintain he’s not for sale) they’d rather take less money from another club (Man City, Chelsea and Arsenal are all said to be interested) than let him leave for Anfield for over $70 million.

After Liverpool plucked Adam Lallana, Dejan Lovren, Nathaniel Clyne and Sadio Mane from Saints in the past few years, it’s easy to understand why the South Coast club are now standing firm and saying enough is enough.

Vidal rips Ronaldo ahead of Confederations Cup semifinal

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Chile hopes to make a statement on Wednesday when it faces EURO 2016 champions Portugal and Ballon d’Or champion Cristiano Ronaldo.

The 2015 and 2016 Copa America champions can lay claim to another inter-confederation title with two more wins in the 2017 Confederations Cup, beginning with the semifinal in Kazan.

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Chile finished behind Germany in Group B but didn’t lose a match and only allowed two goals. That’ll be tested by Portugal and its seven goals in three matches.

Two of those goals came from Ronaldo, but don’t tell that to Arturo Vidal. Chile’s hard-edged midfielder doesn’t like him much.

From Goal.com:

“Cristiano is a smart ass,” he told reporters. “For me he does not exist.

“I have already told my Bayern Munich team-mate Joshua Kimmich that we will meet again in the final.”

Germany will have to take care of Mexico to make that happen, though we have a feeling a certain smart ass will have a thing or two to say before it’s all said and done.

Vidal has spoken loudly of his desire to get Chilean teammate Alexis Sanchez, a former Barcelona man, at his club Bayern Munich. If Ronaldo is on the market, this isn’t a great recruiting tool. Ah, jokes.

Trio of Crew players in Ghana roster to face USMNT, Mexico

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Ghana’s team to face the United States men’s national team on Saturday in East Hartford will look somewhat familiar to fans of Major League Soccer.

Columbus Crew players Harrison Afful, Mohammed Abu and Jonathan Mensah join David Accam of the Chicago Fire, and Gershon Koffie of the New England Revolution on a unit with Kwadwo Poku of the NASL’s Kwadwo Poku.

John Boye, Asamoah Gyan, and Mensah are the only three players from the loss to the USMNT in the 2014 World Cup.

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Like the U.S., this is a less than full-strength squad. Missing are a number of Black Stars standouts, with Andre Ayew, Jordan Ayew, Afriyie Acquah, Daniel Amartey, Emmanuel Agyemang-Badu, Christian Atsu, Jeff Schlupp, and Baba Rahman not with the team.

Saturday’s match is the last USMNT outing before the Gold Cup begins on July 8 in Nashville against Panama.

Goalkeepers: Addo Joseph (Aduana Stars), Richard Ofori (Wa All Stars)

Defenders: Lumor Agbenyenu (Munich 1860), Harrison Afful (Columbus Crew),  Nicholas Opoku (Berekum Chelsea), Jerry Akaminko (Eskiserhispor),  John Boye (Sivasspor), Rashid Sumalia (Al Gharafa), Jonathan Mensah (Columbus Crew), Samuel Sarfo (Liberty)

Midfielders: Mohammed Abu (Columbus Crew, Isaac Sackey (Alanyaspor), Ofori Ebenezer (Stuttgart), Kwadwo Poku (FC Miami), Winful Kwaku Cobbinah (Hearts of Oak), Frank Acheampong (Anderlecht), Thomas Agyepong (NAC Breda), Gershon Koffie (New England Revolution)

Strikers: Asamoah Gyan (Al Alhi), Raphael Dwamena (FC Zurich), Majeed Abdul Waris (Lorient FC), David Accam (Chicago Fire)

Timo Werner abused in Germany but key to World Cup defense

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) The abuse has followed Timo Werner for months, gathering pace as rapidly as the striker has amassed goals.

No German player was more prolific in the Bundesliga last season. No player was as ostracized.

But Werner is now a full-blown Germany international, scoring his first goals at the Confederations Cup on Sunday, and he could hold the key to the World Cup defense next year.

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That could require Germany supporters to forgive a player they jeered at during his first competitive game for Joachim Loew’s team earlier this month.

“Kobe Bryant has also been booed everywhere and he always been the best,” Werner reflected ahead of Germany’s Confederations Cup semifinal against Mexico on Thursday, seeing a kindred spirit in the basketball great. “I do not want to say that I am the best like him, but (the abuse) is a bit of an incentive.”

If playing for the ascendant but deeply unpopular Leipzig wasn’t bad enough, a dive in December by Werner provided a focal point for the animosity – jealousy, perhaps – toward the Red Bull-funded team.

The insults have even been hurled far from Germany, far from soccer stadiums. The dive won a penalty against Schalke, and provided Werner with one of the 21 goals that helped to propel Leipzig into second place and a Champions League debut next season.

“There was a dive, he made a mistake and he admitted it,” Loew said, “but he is very, very young player.”

And a potentially very important one for Loew at the World Cup in Russia next year. Germany’s striking options are being assessed at the eight-team Confederations Cup as Loew still seeks a long-term successor to Miroslav Klose as target man for the world champions.

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Werner opened his account for Germany on his fourth appearance, scoring twice in a 3-1 victory over Cameroon on Sunday in Sochi.

“Werner put in a lot of legwork,” Loew said. “He showed how dangerous he is and that he’s got a great nose for goal. Both of his efforts were very well taken.”

Werner’s rivals for a place in the squad next year include fellow squad newcomers Lars Stindl and Sandro Wagner. They are both close to 30, while the 21-year-old Werner has youth, strength and speed on his side. Even Wagner said he has “never seen such a good striker at that age.”

That’s a result of Werner fusing his pace with intelligence on the ball, mastering dribbling at high speed first with Stuttgart and then at Leipzig.

“There’s no recipe for it,” Werner said. “The quickest players just know how to do it automatically. I like to knock the ball three or four meters ahead of me when I’m on the counter or have space in front of me, that way I can increase the distance between a defender and myself.”

Such proficiency should help Werner win over fans beyond Leipzig. Time, he hopes, will heal the fractures, and there’s certainly support from his new international teammates.

“I wish him well because of the issues he has had to endure,” captain Julian Draxler told Germany’s ARD television.

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup