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

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

Photo credit: New England Revolution / Twitter: @NERevolution
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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

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John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”