Crystal Palace 0-2 Swansea: Visitors grab quickfire goals at start to each half (Video)

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A goal in the second minute and another within three minutes of the second half’s start saw Swansea earn their second straight away win by beating Crystal Palace 2-0.

Michu got his second goal of the year and Nathan Dyer added the insurance for the visitors.

Swansea opened the match to a blistering start, as Michu bagged the game’s first goal in just over a minute.  They worked forward right off the start, with Michu, Jonjo Shelvey, and Wayne Routledge passing forward between each other.  Routledge got the ball in heavy traffic, and laid off to Michu who had lost his defender.  His shot was driven on goal, and Julian Speroni could only get a slight touch to it and the ball found the back of the net.

Swansea should have had a second in just the fourth minute as Chico Flores nearly headed in with space on a corner but he put it over.

The passing play of the Swans going forward on multiple occasions proved a lovely product, playing a quick one-touch passing game to make a mess of the opposing defense.

The game began to open up before halftime, with both teams having good efforts on goal.  Angel Rangel nearly gave Swansea a cushion on the 36th minute as he struck a venomous volley on goal but Speroni acrobatically dove to touch the ball over.

Swansea started the second half exactly how they started the first. Michu made a blistering run down the right side, and shot from a tight angle.  The shot was saved and parried by Speroni, but with the goalkeeper on the ground and out of position, the ball fell to Nathan Dyer who couldn’t miss the open net.

Attempting to get back in the game, Crystal Palace enjoyed a flurry of pressure as the second half rolled on, but it faded as the players ran out of steam looking to break down the solid Swansea defense.

It’s been a nightmare start for Ian Holloway, who watched from the stands while still serving his touchline ban.  Palace continue to mire in the relegation zone, sitting on just three points.  Meanwhile, Swansea join a host of other clubs with seven points, putting behind their slow start and now look like a team ready to challenge for another Europa League spot.

Goals:

Swansea – Michu 2′, Dyer 48′

Lineups:

Crystal Palace – Speroni; Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney (Campana, 45′), Moxey; Jedinak, Guedioura, Bannan (Thomas, 67′), Puncheon; Jerome (Gayle, 67′), Chamakh.

Swansea – Vorm; Rangel, Chico Flores, Williams, Davies; Canas (Britton, 78′), Shelvey; Michu, Dyer (Pozuelo, 71′), Routledge; Vazquez (De Guzman, 61′).

Manchester derby “the game of the season”

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Whatever way you slice it up, Thursday’s Manchester derby is huge.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights

Manchester City host Manchester United (Watch, 2:45 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) at the Etihad Stadium with Pep Guardiola‘s side just one point ahead of United in the Premier League table.

City currently occupy fourth spot and the final UEFA Champions League qualification berth but are coming off the back of a damaging FA Cup semifinal defeat to Arsenal after extra time.

United and Jose Mourinho haven’t lost in 23 Premier League games, the longest current unbeaten streak across Europe’s top five leagues, and are in the UEFA Europa League semifinals as their banged up squad have stood tall in the final months of the campaign.

Speaking ahead of the derby, one of United’s stars this season believes everything comes down to this one game.

“It is going to be the game of the season,” Ander Herrera said. “We are one point behind them. If we win we have the chance to finish in the top four, if they win it is going to be very difficult. It is the game of the season.

“Make or break? Probably. Both teams are in a good moment so if one of us wins the game we are not going to lose a lot of games, or make mistakes after that. Us or them. It is going to be key. I don’t know the ‘winner takes all’ expression but it is going to be a massive game. We are in a very good moment, a very good run and we respect them but we are doing a lot of good things and we have to show it on Thursday.”

Herrera’s comments say it all.

It is fair to say that both Manchester clubs have flattered to deceive for much of this season with Guardiola’s tactics yet to flourish in England and Mourinho’s rebuild hampered by injuries and a lack of goals at crucial moments.

On Thursday there will be a raucous atmosphere at the Etihad as both teams are aware of what is at stake.

More of the pressure may well be on City who now have just a place in the top four to focus on and with many previously giving United no chance of finishing in the top four, a win at City would take them above their “noisy neighbors” and into the UCL spots.

Former Czech Republic defender Rajtoral kills himself

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PRAGUE (AP) Former Czech Republic defender Frantisek Rajtoral, who won the domestic league title four times before joining Turkish club Gaziantepspor, died on Sunday. He was 31.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alex Sanchez this weekend ]

The Czech football federation said in a statement that Rajtoral had “committed suicide in Turkey.”

His agent Pavel Zika confirmed the player’s death, describing it as a “huge tragedy.”

Gaziantepspor announced Rajtoral’s death in a brief statement on its website.

Rajtoral played 14 international matches for the Czech Republic.

In the top Czech league, he won four titles with Viktoria Plzen and played in the group stage of the Champions League twice for the club. He moved to Hannover in the Bundesliga in 2014 for half of the season, on loan.

He left Viktoria Plzen last year to move to Turkey.

Bellerin wants to represent Spain U21s despite Wenger’s wishes

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Arsene Wenger has made it clear about Hector Bellerin representing Spain this summer but the Arsenal defender is prepared to go against his manager’s wishes if he is selected.

[ MORE: Bayern scouted Kyle Walker, Alexis Sanchez over the weekend ]

The 22-year-old has said he hopes to play for Spain’s Under-21 side this summer during the 2017 European U-21 Championship but Wenger has been weary of Bellerin’s injury status and wants his fullback to maintain a clean bill of health throughout the offseason.

“I really want to play,” Bellerin told IBTimes. “Representing Spain is very important. If [Albert] Celades gives me the chance I’ll be there.

“Those are opinions of the managers. I have to keep working. The truth is that I had a difficult injury but I think that I am at 100% now and I’ll try to prove it when I get the chance.”

Bellerin signed a six-and-a-half year deal with the Gunners in November, where he has resided since coming up in the club’s academy. He has made 102 appearances for Wenger’s team in that span over all competitions.

Roma boosts bid for 2nd in Serie A by beating Pescara 4-1

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PESCARA, Italy (AP) Roma boosted its bid for second place in Serie A and automatic entry into the Champions League with a 4-1 win at Pescara, which was mathematically relegated on Monday.

[ MORE: Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League ]

Roma moved four points clear of third-placed Napoli, which drew against Sassuolo 2-2 on Sunday. Third place in Serie A receives a Champions League playoff.

Pescara remained 15 points behind Empoli. There are only five matches left and Empoli has the better head-to-head record, which is the deciding factor if two teams finish level on points.

There were 48 goals in total in the 33rd round, matching the record set in October 1992.

Roma took control shortly before halftime, with Kevin Strootman breaking the deadlock after Stephan El Shaarawy unselfishly rolled the ball across the area.

Radja Nainggolan, who earlier hit the bar, doubled Roma’s lead two minutes later.

Mohamed Salah extended Roma’s advantage three minutes after the break and the winger doubled his tally on the hour following a swift counterattack.

Ahmad Benali got a consolation for Pescara and a Cristiano Biraghi free kick also hit the post for the home side.