Crystal Palace v Fulham - Premier League

Revisiting the ridiculousness of Pajtim Kasami’s goal (Video)


How dare he!

That was the first thought that entered my mind watching Pajtim Kasami’s goal Monday and now, 16 hours later, my jaw is still on the ground.

That goal was outlandish. Ridiculous. Audacious. The kind of training ground attempt that would typically result in a shot going high and wide of the target by 50 feet.

But not last night. Last night Kasami executed the maneuver with razor sharp technique and the result – goal of the year (so far) in the Premier League.

What made Kasami’s goal so incredible? Let’s break it down.

First, his vision.

When the play begins Fulham right-back Sascha Riether has the ball in his own half and Kasami is standing in the middle of the center circle. To the casual observer, nothing out of the ordinary seems to be happening – but Kasami sees otherwise.

Mainly, he notices that Darren Bent drifts all the way to the right side of the pitch while Dimitar Berbatov remains in the center and that the Crystal Palace defense are man marking. This means that Adrian Mariappa and Damien Delaney have a 30 yard gap between the two of them.

In a split second, Kasami knows what he wants to do. With the ball at Riether’s foot, Kasami points to the space.

The second astounding element of the goal is Kasami’s run. Like a greyhound he bursts out of the gate and into the space created by the Palace center-backs. In just over four seconds Kasami’s diagonal move puts himself directly under Riether’s 40 yard ball.

Which brings us to part three of Kasami’s feat – the technique.

Still at full throttle, the ball is behind Kasami’s head as Mariappa swoops in to close him down. At this point, merely settling the ball and keeping possession would be impressive. But with his inertia heading towards the corner flag and his hips facing the right touchline, the 21 year old leaps in the air, pops the ball off his chest, squares his shoulders and unleashes a cross body right-footed volley from an impossible angle.


How the ball ends up in the far corner is still perplexing.

The most impressive aspect of the goal, however, is that not a single part of that play can be considered lucky. Everything Kasami did, he meant to do. Scary stuff.

Following the goal there was a lot of chatter as to whether Kasami’s effort was better than Jack Wilshere’s strike against Norwich City on Saturday.

My take – and Wilshere’s as well, judging by his Tweet – Kasami’s goal was easily the better of the two. Mainly because it was the buildup to Wilshere’s goal – a pinball array of back heels and flicks that would leave Barcelona bowing in approval – that left us in a bliss, not the goal itself.

Wilshere’s was the better team goal, Kasami’s was the better individual goal. Apples and oranges but both fantastic pieces of work that we won’t soon be forgetting.

LIVE: Man City, Stoke, Everton face second-tier teams in League Cup quarters

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Three of the four Capital One Cup quarterfinals take place on Tuesday with three Premier League teams facing second-tier opposition.

“What’s that, did somebody say banana skin?”

[ MORE: Follow League Cup scores live

Manchester City host Hull City at the Etihad Stadium with Manuel Pellegrini‘s side hoping to have David Silva back in the starting lineup but Joe Hart is still out injured so Willy Caballero will continue in goal. Steve Bruce‘s side drew 1-1 at the Etihad last season when they visited City before being relegated from the Premier League. The Tigers are fighting for instant promotion back to the big-time and knocked out Leicester City on penalty kicks in the last round.

Everton face a tricky trip to the Riverside Stadium as Roberto Martinez and the Toffees play Middlesbrough. Aitor Karanka’s side lost in the play-off final to Norwich last season but are looking good for promotion this term as they sit second in the second-tier and knocked out Manchester United on penalty kicks in the last round. Can Everton sort out their defensive frailties?

A third PL club has a tricky test coming up on Tuesday as Stoke City’s reward for beating Chelsea on PKs in the last round is a home game against Sheffield Wednesday. This will be no stroll in the park for Mark Hughes‘ side as the second-tier Owls comfortably knocked off Arsenal in the last round and this game has “cupset” written all over it.

Below are the fixtures for Tuesday as you can click on the link above to follow all the games live.

League Cup quarterfinals


Manchester City vs. Hull City – 2:45 p.m. ET
Middlesbrough vs. Everton – 2:45 p.m. ET
Stoke City vs. Sheffield Wednesday – 2:45 p.m. ET

FIFA sponsors demand “independent oversight” of reforms
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LONDON (AP) Five of FIFA’s sponsors have written to the executive committee of soccer’s scandal-battered governing body demanding “independent oversight” of the reform process.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Sponsors were originally promised places on the FIFA reform committee. But instead of being invited into meetings discussing the overhaul of the organization, they have only been offered seats on an advisory board which is yet to be appointed.

The sponsors’ letter was sent from Adidas, McDonald’s, Coca-Cola, Visa and Budweiser brewer Anheuser-Busch to FIFA’s ruling body ahead of meetings this week.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

The letter, which was obtained by The Associated Press, says it is “clear to us that such independent oversight needs to run long-term through the implementation and evolution of the reform process.”

The reform committee was established following the indictment of soccer officials by American authorities.

VIDEO: Gerrard returns to Liverpool for training in MLS offseason

Liverpool v Sunderland - Premier League
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Steven Gerrard is back at Liverpool.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

The legendary midfielder, 35, has returned to the Reds just six months after leaving his hometown club for a new adventure in Major League Soccer with the LA Galaxy.

Gerrard spent a glittering 17-years at Anfield, guiding Liverpool to the UEFA Champions League title and winning every other major title except for the elusive Premier League crown.

[ MORE: Chelsea, United battle for Muller

After suffering an early exit from the 2015 MLS Cup playoffs with the Galaxy, Gerrard is now back in England and he’s using his time at home to train with Liverpool’s first-team and help out in any way he can as Jurgen Klopp has allowed him to come back into the dressing room he called home for nearly two decades.

“It’s a good situation,” Klopp said. “Everybody had a smile on their face when they saw Stevie. It’s good to have him here and we hope we can help him, and he can help us for sure with being in the dressing room. It’s cool.”

Below are photos and videos from Gerrard’s return as Klopp once again quashed any rumors regarding a loan move for the former Liverpool skipper who will enter his first full MLS season in 2016 with the Galaxy.

French PM says Benzema has no place on national team

Karim Benzema, France
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PARIS (AP) The French prime minister joined in the criticism of Karim Benzema on Tuesday, saying the Real Madrid striker “has no place” on the France team at the European Championship in the wake of a blackmail scandal.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s new stadium plans ]

Benzema is one of France’s key players as it gets ready to host the Euro 2016 tournament, but the forward faces charges of conspiracy to blackmail relating to an extortion scam over a sex tape. He is suspected of having played an active role in pressuring France teammate Mathieu Valbuena, a case that has badly damaged his reputation.

“A great athlete should be exemplary,” Prime Minister Manuel Valls told French radio Europe 1. “If he is not, he has no place within the France team.”

The investigation, centering on wiretap evidence, started when Valbuena took legal action after being contacted by a man claiming to possess an incriminating sex tape.

In a case that could drag on for months, Benzema’s involvement has not yet been fully determined. But investigators who charged him in October believe he was approached by a childhood friend to act as an intermediary and convince Valbuena to deal directly with the blackmailers.

“If a minister was handed preliminary charges, he would no longer be part of the government,” Valls said.

Benzema denies any wrongdoing but his arguments were undermined last week when Valbuena spoke directly about his attempts to pressure him in an interview with Le Monde newspaper.

[ MORE: City now valued at $3 billion ]

The French football federation has also joined the case as plaintiff.

“There are so many kids, so many youngsters in our suburbs that relate to great athletes,” Valls said. “They wear the blue jersey, the colors of France, which are so important in these moments.”

Preliminary charges under French law mean magistrates have strong reason to believe a crime was committed, and allow time for further investigation. The charges may later be dropped. In 2010, Benzema was handed preliminary charges for soliciting an underage prostitute but was acquitted in a case that lasted more than three years and tarnished his reputation.

Benzema’s image was further dented last month when he spat on the pitch after the national anthem was played at Real Madrid’s Santiago Bernabeu stadium in a tribute to the 130 fatalities of the Paris attacks ahead of a match against Barcelona.

Benzema’s action ignited a wave of criticism on social media, prompting his lawyers to issue a statement in which they condemned “the scandalous interpretation” of the incident. Benzema, who has 27 international goals, had posted several messages in support of the victims in the days that followed the attacks.