Britain Soccer League Cup

Manchester United 1-0 Liverpool: Chicharito goal sees Red Devils advance in Capital One Cup

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For the second time this season, Liverpool and Manchester United rekindled their North West Derby, and for the second time this season, the first goal decided it. But whereas the teams’ Sept. 1 meeting at Anfield saw Daniel Sturridge’s fourth minute goal hold up, the Carling Cup’s switch of venue also saw a switch of victors. Thanks to Javier Hernández’s second half volley, Manchester United was able to get a measure of revenge, defeating Liverpool, 1-0.

The Mexican international’s goal came after a half in which Liverpool, who started with a three-man defense, came out the stronger team only to fade by halftime, their hosts having slowly adapted to Brendan Rodgers’ surprise deployment. Though the Reds held an edge in possession at half, both teams had only managed one shot on goal, with United’s increased pressure toward the end of the period hinting they’d adjusted to the Liverpool boss’s gambit.

Whether that was actually the case, we may never know, as Chicharito’s 46th minute goal put United ahead before the half could play out. From service via another talented reserve, Shingi Kagawa, Hernández headed home the early second half corner, rendering Liverpool’s extra central defender useless as he finished the game’s only goal.

[MORE: When they met in league – Liverpool 1, Manchester United 0]

[MORE: Absent without leave: Where in the world are Shingi Kagawa, Juan Mata?] 

In the 67th minute, Rodgers pulled Lucas Leiva for right back Martin Kelly, switching back to a four-man defense. But as was the case before the switch, the visitors couldn’t make a meaningful impact at the other end. Despite a formation that allowed the returning Luis Suárez to be coupled with Daniel Sturridge up top, Liverpool only generated three shots on goal, their team unable to navigate through a central midfield of Ryan Giggs and Phil Jones, a central defense of Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling.

source: AP
Martin Skrtel (left) and Kolo Touré (right) teamed with Mamadou Sahko to form Liverpool’s three-man defense Wednesday at Old Trafford. (Photo: AP Photo.)

Against that United team, Rodgers’ change at the back may have cost Liverpool, a criticism you could have also made this weekend after the Reds’ 1-0 loss to Southampton. Then Rodgers elected to start four central defenders along the back and was rebuked as Mauricio Pochettino’s compact team was never tempted out of their spots. Today, Liverpool’s three-man back may have caused United to reconsider their approach, but once the adjustments were made, they started to look like the better side (a common narrative when a team makes a surprise switch to a three-man back). Had Liverpool deployed their normal setup, they may have taken advantage of a United team that featured only three regular starters (Wayne Rooney, Rafael, David De Gea).

To Rodgers’ benefit, he’s learned some valuable information from these two games. Had he not tried these tweaks, he’d still be curious as to whether they’d work. Thanks to his experimentation, he’s been able to see what value the tactics have going forward.

At the same time, Liverpool’s out of the League Cup, Chicharito’s second half game winner sending their rivals through.

Goals:

Manchester United – 46′ Hernández

Lineups:

Manchester United: De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Evans, Büttner; Nani (90′ Welbeck), Jones, Giggs, Kagawa (73′ Januzaj); Rooney, Hernández (74′ Carrick). Unused Subs: Amos, Anderson, Fabio, Zaha

Liverpool: Mignolet; Touré, Skrtel, Sahko; Henderson, Gerrard, Moses (82′ Sterling), Leiva (67′ Kelly), Enrieua; Sturridge, Suárez. Unused Subs: Alberto, Jones, Aspas, Ibe, Wisdom.

Atleti’s Torres ready for “game of his life” in UEFA Champions League final

MADRID, SPAIN - MAY 21: Atletico de Madrid players Saul Niguez (L) and Fernando Torres (R) stretch during the training session during the Club Atletico de Madrid Open Media Day ahead of the UEFA Champions League Final match against Real Madrid CF on May 21, 2016 in Majadahonda, Spain.
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Fernando Torres has won the UEFA Champions League before, but a victory on Saturday would ring as true as ever.

Calling it the game of his life, the Atletico Madrid striker spoke about this year’s final against Real Madrid.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determined UCL final ]

A lot has changed since the 2012 victory over Bayern Munich at the Allianz Arena, when Torres subbed into Chelsea’s comeback win.

His decline at Chelsea found him on loan to Milan, where he transferred before finding another loan back home to Atleti. Now 32, Torres has his most goals since 2013 and is preparing for a Madrid Derby final.

From Sky Sports:

“Tomorrow [Saturday] is the game of my life, without doubt,” said Torres. “To me it means everything. Everything you dream when you’re a kid, I have the chance tomorrow to make this dream come true.

“I’ve played for great teams, and won many things, but this one is special, it is different, it’s what I wanted when I was a kid.”

Later lauding Atleti for giving him the chance “to come back and fight for what I wanted”, Torres is clearly hungry for a bit of redemption. And if his side comes out on top, he’ll likely be a big part of it.

Costa injury sends Kaka into Brazil’s Copa America squad

ORLANDO, FL - MARCH 06:  Kaka (R) is seen on the field prior to a MLS soccer match between Real Salt Lake and the Orlando City SC at the Orlando Citrus Bowl on March 6, 2016 in Orlando, Florida. Kaka will not start the season opener due to injury. (Photo by Alex Menendez/Getty Images)
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Orlando City is losing its wizard for a bit.

Kaka, 34, has been called into Dunga’s Brazil squad for this summer’s Copa America Centenario.

The move was made after Bayern Munich star Douglas Costa picked up an injury that will cause him to miss the tournament.

[ COPA AMERICA PREVIEWS: Group A | B | C | D ]

The 2007 Ballon D’Or winner didn’t play in that year’s Copa America, which Brazil won.

Kaka has two goals and five assists in 7 MLS matches this season, a year after netting nine times with six assists in 28 matches.

Evans to face new rape trial in October

SHEFFIELD, ENGLAND - MARCH 28:  Sheffield United player Ched Evans in action during the npower League One game between Sheffield United and Chesterfield at Bramall Lane on March 28, 2012 in Sheffield, England.  (Photo by Stu Forster/Getty Images)
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CARDIFF, Wales (AP) A former Premier League player whose rape conviction was overturned will face a new trial in October.

Ched Evans, a Wales international who has played for Manchester City and Sheffield United, appeared in court in Cardiff on Friday and pleaded not guilty to raping a woman at a hotel in May 2011.

[ MORE: Mourinho confirmed | Speaks more ]

Evans had already served half of a five-year sentence before being released from prison and getting the conviction overturned in April following an appeal.

Evans only spoke briefly to confirm his identity before entering his plea.

The new trial will start on Oct. 4 in Cardiff.

Mourinho: “I prefer to forget the last three years” of Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho is asked for his autograph by fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on October 26, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has immediately begun courting the fans of his new club.

The 53-year-old Portuguese manager may’ve run rivals Chelsea on two occasions, but claims he’s always had empathy with United even when defeating the Old Trafford club.

[ MORE: United hires Mourinho | Things he must do ]

In an interview with Manchester United TV, Mourinho issues some high praise of the club while also managing a bit of classic “The Special One” ego in saying, “Giant clubs must be for the best managers.”

As for the disappointing trio of years between David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, Mourinho says he’d rather consider his tenure in line with the run of Alex Ferguson.

From the BBC:

“I think we can look at our club in two perspectives – one is the past three years and another is the history. I prefer to forget the last three years. I prefer to focus on the giant club I have in my hands now. “

Mourinho has had some time to calculate the best way to endear himself to United supporters, and playing to their belief as the most historic club in the world sure pushes the right buttons.

Now comes the task of delivering titles in a climate more competitive than any other time in modern history.