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West Ham 2-3 Everton: Baines’ free kicks drive Everton comeback (video)

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With West Ham having no goals since the two scored in their opening fixture against Cardiff City, and Everton having their own rough start, with just three goals to their name, it seemed unlikely that this particular match would yield much more than a few shots off target. Instead, we were treated to an impressive show, with smart substitutions from Roberto Martinez, beautiful free kicks from Leighton Baines, a West Ham penalty followed by a sending off, and a come-from-behind Everton win that puts them — temporarily at least — into fourth place.

Ravel Morrison opened the scoring with his first ever Premier League goal. The West Ham midfielder got on the end of a ball from Matthew Jarvis and took a shot from distance. The ball took a deflection off Phil Jagielka, perhaps confusing Tim Howard a bit. The shot wiggled under the diving Everton keeper to end up in the back of the net.

Martinez introduced Romelu Lukaku at the start of the second half, and the Chelsea loanee looked like he was set to prove a point. The forward had 17 goals on loan with West Brom last season, and his instant attacking run and pinpoint pass made it clear he was ready to help Everton really get their campaign off the ground. The Everton manager introduced former Wigan player James McCarthy for Steven Naismith at the same time, so when Leon Osman went down with injury in the 52nd minute, Everton were forced to cross their fingers and pray that they could get through the final 35 minutes without needing to make a substitution.

Turns out the Toffees had little to worry about. By the 60th minute, Everton had cranked up the pressure, and had West Ham panicking. The Irons were throwing every body behind the ball, trying everything to preserve the lead. It was James Collins that cracked, fouling Ross Barkley and earning himself a yellow card. The foul came in that infamous “dangerous position”, and Everton made the home side pay. Leighton Baines sent in an absolutely gorgeous free kick, curling his shot and tucking it to the top left corner.

With just under 30 minutes left to play, Everton were clearly in control, and clearly intent on finding the winner. It seemed as though they’d be the ones to take all three points, but Sam Allardyce had other plans. Immediately after the Toffees equalized, the West Ham manager introduced Mladen Petric for Modibo Maiga. The forward certainly made a difference, getting the ball down the right before slotting it in to Kevin Nolan. McCarthy panicked, kicking out at Nolan and ignoring the ball completely. The referee blew the whistle and it was Mark Noble that stepped up the take the shot. The West Ham captain put his shot low and to the left, while Howard dove the other way.

But Nolan went from hero to zero in the space of five minutes. The captain made a cynical challenge, once again on Barkley, and earned a second yellow card for his troubles. Worse, he gave Everton a free kick in almost the exact same position that Baines had scored from twenty minutes earlier. It was the defender that took the kick once again, and while Jussi Jasskelainen moved himself toward the right, this time Baines went left, and Everton had their equalizer.

That wasn’t enough for the visitors, however. Just two minutes later, Lukaku had his goal, getting his head on the end of a cross from Kevin Miralles. Everton’s joy at taking the lead was tempered by Lukaku going to ground, the result of an elbow to the back of the head. It took awhile for the forward to start moving again, but fortunately for his new side, he was eventually able to shake off the spins and rejoin his team — in time to celebrate their second win of the season.

West Ham: Jaaskelainen, O’Brien, Rat, Collins, Reid, Noble, Morrison, Nolan (Taylor 80), Diame, Jarvis (Vaz Te 72), Maiga (Petric 63)

Substitutes not used: Adrian, Tomkins, McCartney, Collison

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Jagielka, Distin, Naismith (McCarthy 46), Mirallas, Osman (Oviedo 52), Barry, Barkley, Jelavic (Lukaku 46)

Substitutes not used: Robles, Heitinga, Deulofeu, Stones

MLS Cup Playoffs: LA Galaxy 3-1 Real Salt Lake (video)

Los Angeles Galaxy defender Jelle Van Damme (37) congratulates forward Alan Gordon (9) for scoring against the Real Salt Lake during the first half of a knockout round MLS playoff soccer match in Carson, Calif., Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (AP Photo/Alex Gallardo)
AP Photo/Alex Gallardo
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The game in 100 words (or less): The LA Galaxy are through to the conference semifinals of the MLS Cup Playoffs, where they’ll take on the Colorado Rapids beginning Sunday, for the seventh time in eight years with a 3-1 knockout-round triumph over Real Salt Lake at the StubHub Center on Wednesday. Alan Gordon put the home side ahead inside the first quarter-hour before RSL drew level seven minutes later, but Emmanuel Boateng bagged a quickfire brace to complete a pair of brilliant individual exhibitions of dribbling inside the penalty area. With Steven Gerrard unavailable and Robbie Keane only fit to feature off the bench, Bruce Arena turned to Gordon, who gave way to Keane early in the second half after picking up an injury of his own, to play the fulcrum of the Galaxy attack, and it worked to near-perfection during the opening half-hour. Landon Donovan started the game and played 87 minutes, providing the kind of defensive work rate that’s been missing up and down the flanks of LA all season. Sebastian Lletget put in a near-flawless passing performance while playing deep in midfield. Don’t look now, but those are the Galaxy’s biggest question of 2016, all just about answered as the playoffs begin. I won’t say, “I told you so” if/when they win MLS Cup 2016, but…

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

14′ — Gordon finishes from close range for 1-0 — Landon Donovan -> Giovani dos Santos -> Alan Gordon. Just like Bruce Arena drew it up in preseason midseason last month this week this morning.

21′ — Plata converts from the spot after Morales’ dive — Javier Morales was angling for a penalty from the moment he entered the penalty area. All Emmanuel Boateng had to do was look at him, and Morales was going down.

26′ — Boateng weaves through to make it 2-1 — Left. Right. Left. Right. Left. Boateng took advantage of some poor defending, and the Galaxy were back in the lead.

34′ — Boateng cuts inside, blows past his man, makes it 3-1 — There’s playing in top gear, and there’s having an extra gear that you rarely have to use because no one else on the field has it. Boateng falls into the latter category.

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

Men of the match: Emmanuel Boateng

Goalscorers: Gordon (14′), Plata (21′), Boateng (26′, 34′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: Toronto FC 3-1 Philadelphia Union (video)

Sebastian Giovinco, Toronto FC
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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The game in 100 words (or less): 10 years later, Toronto FC are MLS Cup Playoffs victors. For eight seasons, the playoffs eluded them altogether. Last year, they were one-and-done in embarrassing fashion at the hands of their local rivals. In 2016, it was  their year — a proclamation we’d heard plenty times before — and so far, they’ve lived up to the hype. Wednesday’s 3-1 home victory over the Philadelphia Union in the knockout round gets the monkey off the Reds’ back, but more importantly, afforded Sebastian Giovinco, who bagged a goal and an assist on the night (his second straight game with such a line), 90 more minutes of game time after missing more than a month through injuries as the regular season wound down. After 270 minutes of action, the Atomic Ant looks sharp as ever, and destined to terrorize New York City FC, whom TFC will face in the conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

15′ — Atlidore feeds Giovinco for 1-0 — The first playoff goal in TFC’s 10-year history. Poor goalkeeping, ball-watching defending, terrible touches, an overhead cross, and a strike off the crossbar. There’s a lot going on here. Watch it all right here.

49′ — Osorio slams home from the corner for 2-0 — The Union have been bad at defending set pieces all season, so is it at all surprising a set-piece gaffe effectively ended their season? No, it’s not.

73′ — Bedoya puts the loose ball home for 2-1 — Speaking of failing to effectively clear a corner kick, the Union were gifted a lifeline 15 minutes before full-time.

85′ — Altidore puts it out of reach, seals it for TFC — Ken Tribbet did not have the best night a center back has ever seen. His final blunder resulted in Jozy Altidore reclaiming TFC’s two-goal lead, and ending the Union’s 2016 season.

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

Men of the match: Sebastian Giovinco

Goalscorers: Giovinco (15′), Osorio (49′), Bedoya (73′), Altidore (85′)

Men In Blazers podcast: Mourinho’s Chelsea return; Bradley’s 1st point

Men In Blazers
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Rog and Davo break down Jose Mourinho’s return to Chelsea with Manchester United, another stumble for Manchester City and Bob Bradley’s first Premier League point.

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VIDEO: Altidore, Giovinco combine for TFC’s first-ever playoff goal

Sebastian Giovinco
Chris Young/The Associated Press via AP
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It’s been 10 years in the making, and Toronto FC finally have their first-ever goal in the MLS Cup Playoffs.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

After failing to qualify for the playoffs in each of their first eight seasons, 2015 saw the Reds venture into the postseason for the first time ever, only to be thumped in the knockout round, 3-0, by their 401 derby rival Montreal Impact, of all sides.

This is the year, though, or so we’ve said and been told all season long. While it remains to be seen how deep of a run TFC can muster in 2016, they’ll always have the Jozy Altidore‘s terrible first touch; Altidore’s wayward second and third touches; Altidore’s overhead cross; and Sebastian Giovinco’s strike, all of which you can watch in all its hilarity glory below.

[ MORE: Power rankings — Playoffs edition | MLS Cup predictions ]