What a joke! The FA refuses to review Fernando Torres’ face scratch on Jan Vertonghen

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The English Football Association will not review Fernando Torres’ face scratch on Jan Vertonghen during Saturday’s 1-1 draw between Chelsea and Spurs, preventing them from taking further disciplinary action against the Spaniard.

The Blues striker and Spurs defender spent the better part of 51 minutes locked in a full-blooded battle before Torres lost his cool after what he believed was a dive from the Belgian.

In a reaction tailor made for someone with the nickname ‘El Niño,’ Torres grabbed hold of Vertonghen’s face and dug his nails into the Belgian’s skin. Torres was booked for the claw-job and was later sent off for a reckless challenge on the Spurs defender.

Given the violent nature of the scratching incident, many felt that FA could revisit the incident and hand Torres an additional ban to the one match after he was shown his second yellow card in the 81st minute.  On Tuesday, they announced that won’t be the case.

“One of the match officials saw the coming together of the two players, albeit not in its entirety,” an FA statement read. “In these particular circumstances, in line with the FA’s policy on when retrospective action may be taken, reviewed this summer by the game’s stakeholders, no action may be taken.”

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Fernando Torres was issued his second yellow card for this challenge on Jan Vertonghen.

Torres could have been banned for up to four matches should the FA referred the video to its new independent disciplinary panel and violent conduce been found. But, as referee Mike Dean’s assistant Jake Collin saw the incident, the FA refused to review the incident.

This system permitting an independent panel of three former referees to look at incidents retrospectively and decide if charges should be brought replaces the old system where action was only taken if the referee viewed the footage and judged whether he should have sent a player off. But, in both cases if any match official saw part of the incident – even if not the full detail – then the FA cannot take further action. Which is exactly the loophole the Torres incident falls.

If this system – and the decision – sounds ridiculous that’s because it is.

The main problem is that the system allows referees to avoid handing out additional bans if they’ve seen at least part of the incident – thus the “albeit not in its entirety” line of crap. With three field referees following the play at all times, is there ever really an incident where referees won’t have seen at least a glimpse of the incident? Doubtful.

In the case of Torres and Vertonghen, the linesman (Collin) was standing just behind Torres and clearly saw the coming together of the two players. What he couldn’t see, however, was Torres’ child-like face scratch, which is precisely why the Spaniard was issued a yellow card and not a red.

The fact that the FA now refuses to review the incident based on seeing part of the tussle, is without question, asinine.

So, is Fernando Torres getting preferential treatment here?

Possibly. Outside of his puerile claw-job, Torres is not known for being a dirty player.

But you can bet that if Luis Suarez, Joey Barton, Ryan Shawcross, Cheik Tiote, Marouane Fellaini or Craig Gardner pulled this move the FA would’ve found a way to review it and assess an additional ban.

What a joke.

EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

(more…)

Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

[ FOLLOW: Live MLS scores ]

On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET

UCL Playoff Wrap: Liverpool, Sporting CP, CSKA advance to group stage

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It was another memorable European night for Liverpool in front of the Kop at Anfield.

Lifted by three goals in the opening 21 minutes, the Reds cruised to a 4-2 win over Hoffenheim 1899 in the second leg of the UEFA Champions League playoff stage Wednesday evening. With the win, Liverpool returns to the Champions League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season.

[ MORE: Champions League scores ]

Sadio Mane set up Emre Can twice and both Mohamed Salah and Roberto Firmino chipped in with goals of their own to lead Liverpool to victory. After Can’s double and Salah’s goal gave Liverpool a three-goal lead, Hoffenheim’s Julian Nagelsmann brought Mark Uth off the bench onto the field and he promptly scored in the 28th minute to draw within two.

Firmino again put Liverpool ahead by three goals with a goal into an open net in the 63rd minute. Hoffenheim recorded a consolation goal in the 79th minute through Sandro Wagner but Liverpool was resolute and held on for victory.

Liverpool, and the rest of the winning clubs, will learn their fates for the group stage on Thursday.

Here’s a look at the rest of the Champions League playoff scores:

Slavia Prague 0-0 APOEL (APOEL advances 2-0 on aggregate)

FC Copenhagen 2-1 Qarabag FK (Qarabag advances on away goals, 2-2 on aggregate)

FCSB (Steaua București) 1-5 Sporting CP (Sporting CP advances 5-1 on aggregate)

CSKA Moscow 2-0 BSC Young Boys (CSKA advances on aggregate, 3-0)