Jermain Defoe continues to light up Europe despite not starting in league

1 Comment

Despite not starting a Premier League match yet this season, Jermain Defoe doesn’t seem to have lost any form. He scored Tottenham Hotspur’s first two goals on Thursday on the way to a 3-0 win over Tromsø in the UEFA Europa League.

With his brace, Defoe pulled within two goals of Spurs’ European record, with 20 in his career in continental competitions for the club. Only Martin Chivers has scored more often in competitive matches against teams from other countries.

Defoe opened the scoring in the 21st minute. He picked up Erik Lamela’s through ball after a streaking run across the face of the penalty area to the right side, chipping the ball back across goalkeeper Marcus Sahlman. In the 29th minute, he produced a mirror image, running across to the left and sliding a ball inside the far post after a pass from Lewis Holtby.

Granted, Defoe’s two starts of the year have come against Tromsø and Dinamo Tbilisi, neither of which come close to the quality Tottenham faces every weekend in the league, but four goals in 180 is still impressive. In 28 league minutes against Arsenal and Crystal Palace, Defoe has not scored yet, mostly overshadowed for the starting spot by Roberto Soldado.

His European performances have been enough to stay in the England set-up, as Roy Hodgson called Defoe up for World Cup qualifiers against Moldova and Ukraine earlier in September, although he has not seen the field for his country since a substitute appearance in a 1-1 draw against Ireland in May.

“It’s frustrating when you have worked really hard in preseason,” he told The Daily Express. “A boxer trains for eight weeks before a fight, and then on fight night, he wants to be ready and perform, but he actually takes part. I went away [over the summer], worked hard and made sure I was fit. I felt sharp and stronger than ever, so it’s difficult when you are in and out of the team.”

Still, Defoe continues to deliver goals.

In an interview with the BBC that is set to air in full on Saturday, Defoe expressed an ironic sentiment for his frustration in sitting on the bench.

“You want to play every game,” he said. “You want to start games. You might come off the bench and score one goal, but you might start the game, play 90 minutes and score two.”

Players are told to take their opportunities when they come, and Defoe has done that well. Spurs manager André Villas-Boas can take comfort in knowing he has a solid option available if Soldado starts to waver at any point.

STREAM LIVE: USMNT looks for 3 more points in Panama

Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.

A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.

Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.

LINEUP

USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore

Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski

Reyes header gives Mexico three points in T&T (video)

Leave a comment

Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.

The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.

[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]

The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.

The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.

Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.

T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.

Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.

Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.

Honduras holds Costa Rica 1-1

AP Photo/Moises Castillo
Leave a comment

Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.

Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.

[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]

Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.

With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.

Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.

WATCH: Video Assistant calls back Griezmann goal

Leave a comment

France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.

Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.

[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]

Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):

At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.

When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.

What do you think?