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

Wolfsburg holds off Braunschweig with Vieirinha blast (video)

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Outworked and outperformed in the first half of their playoff second leg at Eintracht Braunschweig, Wolfsburg needed a wake-up call to steady its hopes of staying in the Bundesliga.

That came off the boot of longtime right back Vieirinha, as the Portuguese veteran ran onto a rebound and fired a 17-yard arrow into the goal to boost Wolfsburg aggregate lead to 2-0.

[ MORE: Barcelona names new manager ]

That would mean the 2.Bundesliga hosts would need three goals to give the second tier a third promotion this season. An 82nd minute red card to Braunschweig’s Maximilian Sauer effectively ended those far-off dreams.

Ingolstadt and Darmstadt were relegated in the season, and Stuttgart and Hannover were promoted from 2.Bundesliga.

Barcelona announces Valverde as next manager

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Six days after leaving his post at Athletic Bilbao, another dream job has been signed, sealed, and delivered to Ernesto Valverde.

The ex-Barcelona striker is joining the Blaugranas as the replacement for accolade-winning coach Luis Enrique, who stepped away from the position after Saturday’s Copa del Rey victory.

[ JPW: Huddersfield completes the dream ]

Valverde, 53, played two seasons with Barca in the late 1980s, and previously coached Espanyol, Olympiakos, Villarreal and Valencia. His spent most of his playing career at Athletic and began as their manager in 2013.

Here’s what Barca president Josep Maria Bartomeu said about Valverde:

“Valverde has the ability, the knowledge and the experience. He promotes players from the youth teams and he has a style and a way of working like ours. He has a philosophy of the game that is very Barça and he is a hard worker. Also, he is passionate about applying technology to both training and matches.”

Valverde becomes the fourth manager to take charge of Barcelona since Pep Guardiola left in 2012 (Tito Vilanova, Gerardo Martino, and Enrique are the others).

Huddersfield seal fairytale promotion to Premier League

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LONDON — Huddersfield Town have been promoted to the Premier League.

Let that sink in.

[ MORE: Wagner reacts to “fairytale” ]

The Terriers, for the first time in their history, will play in the PL and for the first time since 1972 they will be in the top-flight of English soccer.

German-American manager David Wagner has worked a miracle to turnaround a team who finished in 19th place in the Championship last season. They beat Reading 4-3 on penalty kicks on Monday after a tight, tense 120 minutes of action at Wembley Stadium, holding their nerve to seal an estimated windfall of $218 million next season and up to $372 million if they survive in the PL for another season.

All day long, and perhaps all season long, it has felt like Huddersfield were destined for promotion.

Huddersfield sold out their full allocation of tickets, 39,150, and their fans made the most noise all day long. There was no contest.

In central London Huddersfield’s fans piled on to the tube heading to Wembley for their day of reckoning.

“It’s his first full season as a fan!” said a proud mother decked out in a Huddersfield shirt as she hugged her five-year-old son proudly. “What a time to start!” replied a stranger, also a Huddersfield fan.

Excited chatter filled the 15 minute tube ride from Baker Street to Wembley Park as fans “I can’t believe it,” said one fan to another, quietly. “It will hit home when we get into the stadium,” his friend replied.

Steven Sunderland stood outside Wembley with his wife Melanie and their daughter Megan.

He summed up the surprise that Huddersfield were even one game away from the Premier League to start with.

“It would be amazing to play all of the big clubs, Manchester United, Liverpool, Arsenal, clubs like that,” Sunderland said. “I never thought we would make it. No chance. I just thought if we make midtable, it would be an improvement on last season because we’ve been struggling with relegation the last few seasons. This season, David Wagner has got the team playing really well, best team spirit I’ve ever seen for a long, long time. The fans are really connected. It shows today, there are nearly 40,000 Huddersfield fans here today and they are up for it.”

Oh yes. Yes they were.

Amid dissecting the struggles of Yorkshire rivals Leeds United, talk of just going up to the PL for one year and then enjoying it “no matter how we do” was rife among the Huddersfield fans. One Terriers supporter puffed out his cheeks, gripping his can of cider nervously as he walked up Wembley Way.

Tense was the word of the day.

With the future of both clubs on the line, the game itself didn’t deliver end-to-end excitement. With an estimated $218 million on the line for next season and $370 million if they manage to stay up one year in the PL, the economic benefit for Huddersfield the club, and the town, will be huge.

When Michael Hefele headed wide and Isaiah Brown missed a glorious chance early on, you began to wonder if it was Huddersfield’s day. In the end none of that mattered.

Christopher Schindler stepped up and slotted home the winning penalty kick after Danny Ward saved from Jordan Obita as Huddersfield had reached the promised land.

Huddersfield chairman Dean Hoyle summed up his emotions after taking over the club and putting in a prudent plan for promotion involving loan players and a budget less than $12 million this season.

“I’m so emotional. To say I’ve been supporting this club since 1969, to be a Premier League team now – dreams come true,” Hoyle said. “It’s huge what it means for Huddersfield, we’re on the big stage. It proves you don’t have to blow your brains to get promoted. We’ve done it the right way.”

What impact will this have on the Yorkshire town?

Sunderland and his family summed it up perfectly as yet another underdog, just like Bournemouth, Blackpool and Burnley before them, has risen to the promised land.

“It is massive. It is the land of milk and honey if you like, the place where everybody wants to be,” Sunderland said. “It will be brilliant, for the town. Just that little bit of success makes a big difference. We’ve been on TV this season more times than we have been the last 10 seasons. Next year it will be high profile very week. Match of the Day, on TV… Champions League the year after!? You never know.”

What did Wagner have to say? He told ProSoccerTalk he wants Huddersfield to keep the identity he has helped build and nurture.

“We have to be focused on ourselves and this football club has to be focused on themselves. This football club has created an identity and this was always our target, that we create an identity and a style of football where even if we wear neutral jerseys people from outside are able to say ‘okay, that could be Huddersfield.’ I think it makes no sense to compare ourselves with other small clubs. This football club has its own story and I think, we are on the way.”

They certainly are. Even if their fans can’t quite believe it.

As some posed for photos outside the electronic board at Wembley which said “congratulations Huddersfield!” others stood around in disbelief.

A group of three young Yorkshiremen sat on the tube back to Baker Street in stunned silence.

“We are going to be on Match of the Day!” said one fan, rubbing his hands in glee as he recites an intro to next years show which, of course, features Huddersfield top of the bill.

Discussion then switches to which games they’re most looking forward to. Arsenal, Liverpool and Man United away tops the list.

“We can’t believe it. It hasn’t sunk in yet,” said one fan as they looked at each other with dropped jaws.

Believe it, lads.

Watch out, Premier League. Huddersfield are on their way.

David Wagner reacts to Huddersfield’s promotion

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LONDON — There will be an American coach in the Premier League next season.

David Wagner, 45, led Huddersfield Town to its first-ever promotion to the Premier League as the Terriers beat Reading 4-3 on penalty kicks after a tense Championship Playoff Final at Wembley which ended 0-0 after 120 minutes.

Speaking after the nail-biting win, Wagner was delighted that his team proved everyone wrong and came from nowhere to reach the top-flight for the first time since 1972.

“A lot of the pundits wrote us off before the season,” Wagner told Sky Sports. “Over the season I thought we could do a little bit more, I thought around Christmas when we’d played everyone we had a chance. What happened is an unbelievable story – a fairytale.”

The former U.S. national team forward has galvanized the club, linking the team and fans together with passion and a plethora of loan players from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Chelsea.

What he has achieved this season has left Huddersfield fans stunned as the former Borussia Dortmund II boss, who left the German giants in November 2015, has built a hardworking, organized team.

ProSoccerTalk asked Wagner if he will look at any of the smaller teams who have been recently promoted to the PL — the likes of Bournemouth, Burnley et al. — to follow a blueprint of how to plan ahead.

“We have to be focused on ourselves and this football club has to be focused on themselves,” Wagner said. “This football club has created an identity and this was always our target, that we create an identity and a style of football where even if we wear neutral jerseys people from outside are able to say ‘okay, that could be Huddersfield.’ I think it makes no sense to compare ourselves with other small clubs. This football club has its own story and I think, we are on the way.”

They are certainly on their way and we will be hearing a lot about the Terriers in the days and weeks to come.