Everton 3-2 Newcastle: Romelu Lukaku runs rampant over Magpies (video)

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On his home debut, Lukaku had a lively start. In the first couple minutes, he was caught offside on a ball he finished. In the fifth minute, he held his run and scored an early opener.

Kevin Mirallas bolted down the right flank and cut back a ball inside the penalty area that Lukaku side-footed home with ease. It was Lukaku’s fifth goal in his last five Premier League games.

Everton’s free-flowing possession style showed well in the first half, contrasting with Newcastle’s inability to keep the ball in the back. While the Magpies struggled to string passes together, the Toffees completed 215 of 251 attempted passes in the first half.

After scoring the opener, Lukaku created a second in the 25th minute. He dribbled across the face of Newcastle’s central defense to open up a gap, which Ross Barkley exploited with an incisive run. Lukaku slipped him in, and local boy Barkley finished coolly.

Lukaku’s second came much more directly.

In the 37th minute, goalkeeper Tim Howard launched a clearance from his feet into Lukaku’s path, and center back Fabricio Coloccini and goalkeeper Tim Krul both misjudged it, allowing Lukaku to waltz the ball into the goal. Howard claimed the assist, matching fellow American international Brad Guzan’s against Manchester City on Saturday.

Newcastle’s best opportunity of the half came in stoppage time, when Hatem Ben Arfa hit a shot from outside the penalty area that forced Howard into a diving save, down to his left. Ben Arfa was part of a starting lineup for Newcastle that included 11 foreigners.

However, as good as Everton was in the first half, Newcastle nearly matched it in the second.

The visitors jumped out of the blocks quickly in the second half, as Yoan Gouffran hit the post. In the 51st minute, halftime substitute Yohan Cabaye pulled one back for the Magpies.

He received a pass from Gouffran outside the penalty area on the left side and turned to face goal. With no pressure, he lifted a shot over Howard that dipped under the crossbar and inside the far post.

In the 80th minute, Everton midfielder Gareth Barry picked up a yellow card for a late challenge on Cheik Tioté. Barry played his 500th Premier League game on Monday, making him the 10th player to that mark and the fourth active player, behind Ryan Giggs, Frank Lampark and Mark Schwarzer.

Newcastle midfielder Loïc Rémy capped the scoring one minute from time, tussling with Phil Jagielka and winning a ball inside Everton’s penalty area. He bumbled the ball beyond Howard, and he went just over the bar in stoppage time to nearly complete the improbable comeback, but it was not to be.

Everton (3-3-0, 12 points, fourth place) is on short rest this week, playing the very next Premier League fixture, early on Saturday at Manchester City. Newcastle (2-1-3, 7 points, 16th place) barely gets more of a break, taking on Cardiff City at 10 a.m. ET on the same day in Wales.

Lineups

Everton (4-2-3-1): Tim Howard — Leighton Baines, Sylvain Distin, Phil Jagielka, Seamus Coleman — Gareth Barry, James McCarthy — Leon Osman (John Stones, 90+1), Ross Barkley (Steven Naismith, 87), Kevin Mirallas (Gerard Deulofeu, 72) — Romelu Lukaku

Unused substitutes: Joel Robles — Johnny Heitinga, Nikica Jelavić, Arouna Koné

Newcastle (4-3-3): Tim Krul — Davide Santon, Fabricio Coloccini, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa (Michael Williamson, 46), Mathieu Debuchy — Cheik Tioté, Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita (Papiss Demba Cissé, 69) — Hatem Ben Arfa (Yohan Cabaye, 46), Loïc Rémy, Yoan Gouffran

Unused substitutes: Robert Elliot — Paul Dummett, Gabriel Obertan, Sammy Ameobi

LVG would only return to club football to get at Man Utd

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Leave it to The Daily Mirror to find that last bit of juice when it comes to Manchester United and former manager Louis Van Gaal.

Well, probably the last bit.

The Dutch manager said he does not expect to return to club football, unless one of the big boys in the Premier League offered him the chance to take a run at United. The Red Devils, of course, fired him shortly after an FA Cup title in order to hire Jose Mourinho.

[ MORE: WBA 1-2 Man Utd | Bournemouth 0-4 Liverpool ]

From The Mirror, quoting LVG at a Sunday night function in Rotterdam.

“I will probably not manage a club anymore,” Van Gaal said. “I would make one exception: If a big English club comes for me, than I would do it. Because then I can get the chance to get one over on Manchester United.’’

Could you see him getting a run at any of the Top Four contenders, even on a caretaker basis? Could Liverpool come calling if they tired of Jurgen Klopp one season, or might Arsenal or even Everton need a stopgap (should the Toffees spending come good)?

Suspended Villar says Spain in danger of missing World Cup

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The suspended president of the Spanish soccer federation, who is under investigation for corruption, tried Monday to stoke up fears that the country could be kicked out of the World Cup because of government interference.

Angel Maria Villar, who is free on bail, spoke at a news conference in Madrid and again denied any wrongdoing. He also blamed the government for meddling in the federation’s affairs by suspending him.

“This government is putting Spain’s participation in the World Cup at risk,” the 67-year-old Villar said in his first news conference since being arrested in July along with his son, Gorka Villar, and two other officials.

[ BLANC: I turned down USMNT talks ]

“The risk is serious,” Villar said. “The only party responsible for Spain not going to the World Cup will be the Spanish government.”

Villar spoke three days after FIFA said it was concerned about the independence of the Spanish soccer federation and that it would soon send a delegation to analyze the situation. FIFA made no mention of a possible suspension of the federation, which could keep Spain out of next year’s World Cup in Russia or even knock Real Madrid and Barcelona out of the Champions League.

Villar, who has spent time behind bars to impede the possible destruction of evidence, and the other three officials are being investigated for alleged improper management, misappropriation of funds, corruption and falsifying documents.

Villar resigned his vice presidencies of both FIFA and UEFA following his arrest. But he tried to stay on as the head of Spanish federation, a post he held for three decades.

His refusal to listen to pleas for him to step down led the Spanish government to suspend him from the post for one year pending the outcome of the investigation. Court documents allege that besides misappropriated funds, Villar is suspected of corrupting several regional federations by offering favors in exchange for votes.

Villar fired back at the government, saying his suspension had broken FIFA rules since it represented interference in the federation’s management.

“It’s easy to see that the source of concern was my arbitrary and unjustified removal from the presidency of the federation and for not respecting the presumption of innocence,” Villar said, adding that other teams are ready to take Spain’s place at the World Cup.

“Be careful. There are other powerful countries that didn’t qualify like Italy that are waiting to pounce and take our place,” Villar said.

Spain, which won the World Cup in 2010, is considered to be among the favorites for next year’s tournament.

Blanc: I turned down USMNT talks

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U.S. Soccer has not been inactive when it comes to the USMNT coaching search, despite its uncertainty with an impending presidential election.

Le Parisien has an interview with Laurent Blanc in which the ex-Bordeaux, France, and Paris Saint-Germain boss says he was approached by the United States Soccer Federation, but was not interested in the gig.

[ MORE: Making sense of the PL table ]

Blanc said an international job would have to touch his roots, and he’s most certainly not American. The tall 52-year-old had a glittering playing career with Saint-Etienne, Barcelona, Marseille, Inter Milan, and Manchester United amongst other stops.

More important, it shows that Sunil Gulati and his men have to some degree moved forward with keeping their imprint on the national team.

That’s a little worrying on any team: A hierarchy that may not be around much longer may be working to fill a position arguably more important than its own. It’d be nice to have them commit to not hiring anyone until after February’s election.

Premier League Preview: Everton vs. Swansea City

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  • Everton leads all-time 15W-9D-3L
  • BUT Swans unbeaten in 7 vs. Toffees
  • Toffees go ninth with win
  • Swans four back of safety

Everton hopes its up-turn in form can end three seasons of futility against visiting Swansea City when the two sides meet at Goodison Park on Monday (Watch live at 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Gylfi Sigurdsson gets a chance to face his former club for the first time, while longtime Swans man Ashley Williams may also feature for Sam Allardyce.

Swansea has no time to focus on the past, as Paul Clement‘s men sit deep in the drop zone. The last place Swans are four points shy of safety.

What they’re saying

Everton’s Ashley Williams on facing his former club (again)“The game is a little bit more important to me, I would be lying I said it wasn’t. You always want to play against your old teams and it’s a fixture you always look for.  I have been looking forward to this one and it will be nice to see old faces and old friends. It is a game we want to win and to keep a clean sheet in, especially at home, in order to keep our momentum going.”

Swansea City’s Roque Mesa on the match“This is a massive game for us. We need to pick up points because we are bottom and we need to improve our position. Everton have a new manager and their players have done very well under him – you can see their confidence has grown since he joined. But we did well against West Brom and picked up three points, which was very important. Then we faced Manchester City and they proved too good for us. They are the best team in the league, and unfortunately, we couldn’t match them on the night.”

Prediction

Swans need to move past that Man City loss and build on a 1-0 win over West Brom a few days previous. That may not be possible at Goodison, and the Welsh side would be thrilled to escape with a draw. It seems unlikely. Everton 2-1.