Manchester United's Hernandez heads to score against Stoke City during English Premier League soccer match at Old Trafford Stadium in Manchester

Premier League reaction: Chicharito should have seen red, sportsmanship at Norwich

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Before we move on to Sunday’s slate of games in the Premier League, we’ll take a moment to look at player and manager reactions from yesterday’s action – which there was plenty of.

Manchester United claimed all three points at Old Trafford against Stoke CIty, despite trailing for most of the match.

In-form Wayne Rooney leveled at 2-2 and Mexico’s Javier Hernandez nodded home the winner with little time remaining.

However, Stoke City manager Mark Hughes believes that  Hernandez shouldn’t have even been allowed to continue after a challenge on Robert Huth, which left the Stoke City defender in a crumpled heap and needing shin treatment on the pitch.

“In my opinion he shouldn’t have been on the pitch anyway for the challenge on Robert Huth” said Hughes. “It was a reckless challenge, I’m sure the lad would agree himself. It’s dangerous and you’ve seen players sent off for lesser chances than that many times before. So we’re disappointed with that decision. Why the assistant referee didn’t see fit to do something about it I don’t know. We were disappointed with the decision by the referee. It is very difficult to go against a 70,000 crowd here. Sometimes you have to be strong as a referee.”

The referee at Old Trafford Saturday was Lee Mason.

Hughes also called United “lucky” to come away with the win, something that many were feeling after the escape by David Moyes and the Red Devils.

Sportsmanship prevailed at Carrow Road Saturday, despite a moment of controversy that left the Norwich City fans a bit confused following the 0-0 draw with Cardiff City.

With the ball kicked out of play by Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall so Alex Tettey could get treatment for an injury, Marshall waited for a return ball in the form of a sporting pass from Leroy Fer.

Instead Fer kicked the ball into the back of the net, but referee Mick Jones disallowed the goal. Cardiff manager Malky Mackay believes the decision was correct, and that cooler heads were prevailing even if the goal had been given.

“Whether that was the exact ruling or whether he should have given the goal and let us walk up and put the ball in the net, which would’ve been a complete mockery” claimed Mackay. “I don’t think that’s something that anybody in the stadium would’ve wanted, maybe with the exception of Leroy Fer. Immediately Colin and Chris came up and said, ‘If Mick Jones gives it, we’ll let you walk it into our net. There was complete calmness from both benches. The boys were a little bit heated, but I think common sense prevailed.”

For what it’s worth, Norwich City manager Chris Hughton suggested that he believes the goal should have technically stood, however he reiterated that’s not how he would have wanted to win and therefore would have allowed Cardiff to walk up and score a goal before the final whistle to even things out.

Arsenal’s Mikel Arteta believes he was harshly sent off at Selhurst Park in Saturday’s early match, given an early shower by referee Chris Foy for a last-man challenge on Marouane Chamakh.

Both men were sent tumbling to the ground on the right wing just over the mid line, but it appeared the break had caught Arsenal out and the Palace striker would have been all by his lonesome had Arteta let him through.

However, the Gunners midfielder says he never meant to fell Chamakh, and that Foy didn’t take into account a number of factors.

“It was a very harsh decision to send me off” Arteta said. “Chamakh kicks my fight foot, I have seen it on television. It is 40 yards away from goal too. It is true that I tried to block him with my hand but then he came with his left foot into my right calf and then we were both on the floor. It was never a tackle from me.”

The replay does appear to show the players simply crashing into each other as both men flew at a high pace, but the lack of defenders behind the ball gives Foy little choice in the instance.

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”

Report: China tempting TFC’s Giovinco with big offer

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Union during the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match in Toronto, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Could Sebastian Giovinco’s chances of another MVP award be diminishing?

It wouldn’t be on account of a lack of production, rather massive money coming his way from the Chinese Soccer League.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

Great, and right when we were daydreaming about how Toronto FC’s Italian attacker could run a revenge tour on the folks who somehow left him out of the MVP finalists last year.

Giovinco turns 30 on Thursday.

From The Toronto Sun’s Kurtis Larsson:

“The Chinese club seems to be very interested, but I don’t think it’ll be easy to take him away from Toronto,” Giovinco’s agent, Andrea D’Amico, told the broadcaster.

“We received an important offer from China and we’ll talk to Toronto to decide, along with Sebastian, what to do.”

Giovinco is with Toronto FC for preseason training camp, and both the club and player have shown no interest in moving on from the diminutive winger and 2015 MVP.

But if China comes calling with crazy money, say a $25-30 million transfer fee, shouldn’t TFC think twice? Any figure above $25 million would be more than the sum of the three biggest incoming transfer fees in MLS history (Miguel Almiron, Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe).

AFCON wrap: Ivory Coast bounced, DR Congo wins Group C

Congo's soccer players celebrate after scoring a goal against Togo during the African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match between Congo and Togo at the Stade de Port-Gentil, Gabon, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Down went another knockout round mainstay from the Africa Cup of Nations, as the Ivory Coast failed to capture one of the top two spots in Group C.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast

Needing a win to move on, the Ivory Coast fell in its final group match. Rachid Alioui scored a 64th minute goal that meant the Ivory Coast needed two to advance to the quarterfinals. The goals didn’t come, and Morocco will face the Group D winner next.

Togo 1-3 DR Congo

Junior Kabananga, Paul-Jose M’Poku, and Ndombe Mubele scored as the Leopards finished the group stage with an unbeaten record of 2-1. DR Congo will face the runner-up of Group D in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday’s matches

Ghana is through with six points, while Uganda is out. Egypt will go through with a result against Ghana, while Mali needs a win and an Egypt loss to get to tiebreakers.

Egypt vs. Ghana — 2 p.m. ET
Uganda vs. Mali — 2 p.m. ET