Stoke City v Sunderland - Premier League

Stoke 2-0 Sunderland: Adam and Nzonzi hand Potters victory (video)

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Stoke City won their first home game since August by beating luckless Sunderland 2-0 at the Britannia Stadium on Saturday.

The Potters went ahead in the 28th minute after Charlie Adam bagged his second goal in as many games with a cool left-footed finish. Sunderland pushed hard but central defender Wes Brown was inexplicably sent off in the first half for an innocuous challenge on Adam on the halfway line.

Despite being down to 1o-men the Black Cats battled hard but Stoke finally wrapped up the win late on as Steven Nzonzi finished off a terrific pass from Peter Crouch. The victory was Stoke manager Mark Hughes’ 100th victory in the PL as he celebrated a much-needed three points for his side.

With the win Stoke move into 14th spot with 13 points from 12 games, while Sunderland drop to bottom of the table after Crystal Palace’s 1-0 win at Hull City.

The game began tentatively as both teams felt their way into the contest at the Britannia.

After six minutes Sunderland had the first effort on goal as Jack Colback surged forward but his left-footed effort was deflected wide of the Stoke goal.

It was the away side who kept pressing with numerous set-pieces as Stoke failed to get an early footing in the contest.

Charlie Adam nearly curled a long-range free kick into the top corner as he over-hit his cross and the ball nestled onto the roof of the net.

But the Black Cats came surging back as Steven Fletcher had an effort cleared off the line in the 12th minute after the Scotsman was played in expertly by Adam Johnson on the right. For the rest of the opening exchanges the two sides were sloppy in possession but showed plenty of attacking intent by piling forward.

And just before the half hour mark, all of that pressure lead to a Stoke opener as midfielder Nzonzi surged into the box, held the ball up well and found Adam to slot Stoke ahead. It was just the Potters second goal in five home games and sent the Britannia Stadium wild.

Following that strike Sunderland came back into the game but their progress was thrown into jeopardy in the 35th minute as Brown was bizarrely sent off. The central defender slide into a tackle on the halfway line and didn’t even touch Adam but somehow Kevin Friend brandished a red card to leave Sunderland manager Gus Poyet in disbelief as the Black Cats were handed their third red card in their last three games.

Stoke pushed for a second as half time approached but the Potters went in 1-0 up.

In the second half Sunderland switched around their formation with 10-men and despite that numerical disadvantage the Mackems surged forward on numerous occasions and put in some great long-range efforts with Phil Bardsley forcing Asmir Begovic into a smart stop in the 54th minute.

Throughout the second half Sunderland pressed forward to try and grab an unlikely equalizer and as they did so late on, Stoke dealt the hammer blow. Adam was again involved as he found striker Peter Crouch who slotted in French midfielder Nzonzi to score his second goal in 55 PL games and break the Black Cats hearts.

Stoke never looked link relinquishing their 2-0 lead after than and perhaps should have added more as Sunderland’s brave effort ran out of steam.

LINEUPS

Stoke: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth (Wilkinson, 77), Pieters; Walters, Nzonzi, Whelan, Adam (Palacios, 82), Arnautovic; Crouch

Goals: Adam (28), Nzonzi (81)

Sunderland: Mannone, Celustka (Borini, 69), Bardsley, O’Shea, Brown, Ki, Colback, Larsson, Johnson, Giaccherini (Roberge, 40), Fletcher (Altidore, 85)

Red Card: Brown (35)

Loss to Sevilla quickly puts Real Madrid’s Zidane on the defensive

SEVILLE, SPAIN - JANUARY 15:  Head Coach of Real Madrid CF Zinedine Zidane looks on prior to  the match against Real Madrid CF during the La Liga match between Sevilla FC and Real Madrid CF at Estadio Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan on January 15, 2017 in Seville, Spain.  (Photo by Aitor Alcalde/Getty Images)
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MADRID (AP) Real Madrid’s first loss after a 40-game unbeaten streak was enough to put coach Zinedine Zidane on the defensive.

Two days after Madrid’s unbeaten record was halted by a 2-1 defeat at Sevilla in the Spanish league, Zidane was forced to defend some of his players against criticism from fans and local media.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

Most comments were aimed at goalkeeper Keylor Navas, who failed to stop Sevilla’s injury-time winner on Sunday. Navas got to Stevan Jovetic‘s long-range shot but was unable to keep the ball from going in.

“He’s having a really good season,” Zidane said on Tuesday. “You can always ask for more, but if up until now we had gone 40 games without losing, it’s for a reason, and he has been there all the way.”

There have been calls for Zidane to give reserve goalkeeper Kiko Casilla a chance, but the coach said there was “no need to go over this again.”

Zidane also dismissed talk about signing a new goalkeeper.

“These are rumors,” he said. “We are focused on what we are doing this year. Whatever happens next I’m not interested and it’s not the time to talk about it. The three goalkeepers we have are important, they’re doing well and I’m very happy with them. I don’t want to change anything we’re doing.”

[ MORE: How Sevilla hope to break up the Madrid-Barca duopoly ]

Zidane defended forward Karim Benzema, who lost possession near midfield in a mistake that led to host Sevilla’s winner on Sunday.

“Everyone can say and write what they want,” Zidane said. “On a field, playing 90 minutes, you can’t do everything right. There is talk of lack of concentration, but we only had five bad minutes and that happens in football.”

Benzema also missed a chance to score from close range in the game, but a few days earlier it was the French striker who netted in stoppage time in a Copa del Rey match against Sevilla to help Madrid set the Spanish unbeaten record.

Zidane downplayed the end of Madrid’s unbeaten streak. The club hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat at Wolfsburg in the Champions League in April.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

“These things happen,” he said. “Nothing is going to change in what I’m going to do. Those who are not Real Madrid fans will want us to lose, but we must be ready and think that what we’re doing is fine. We lost a game, something that happens, and now we have to make sure that it doesn’t happen again.”

Madrid hosts Celta Vigo on Wednesday in a first-leg match in the quarterfinals of the Copa del Rey.

Celta has won all four matches this year.

“I am not surprised by Celta’s record because they’re a very good team, they fight and play very good football,” Zidane said. “It’ll be another complicated match for us.”

FA fines Man City’s Sagna over “10 against 12” Instagram message

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 02: Scott Arfield of Burnley (L) tackles Bacary Sagna of Manchester City (R) during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Burnley at Etihad Stadium on January 2, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
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LONDON (AP) The English Football Association has fined Manchester City defender Bacary Sagna 40,000 pounds (around $50,000) for an Instagram post about a referee.

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Sagna posted a photo with the caption “10 against 12.. but still fighting and winning as a team” on the social network site following City’s 2-1 win against Burnley on Jan. 2.

Sagna later amended the post to read “still fighting and winning as a team” after a match that saw referee Lee Mason send off midfielder Fernandinho.

[ MORE: Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over absurd Matip situation ]

The FA also warned Sagna about his future conduct.

Klopp, Liverpool still consulting lawyers over in-limbo Matip

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 11: Joel Matip of Liverpool and Andre Ayew of West Ham United compete for the ball during the Premier League match between Liverpool and West Ham United at Anfield on December 11, 2016 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Jan Kruger/Getty Images)
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Few footballing sagas will ever reach heights of absurdity comparable to that of the Joel Matip/Liverpool versus Cameroon/FIFA battle currently raging, as the Reds defender finds himself “ineligible” to play for his club due to an international call-up 18 months after announcing his international retirement.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

PST’s Joe Prince-Wright summed up the situation quite well, in full, right here. An excerpt:

Matip, 25, was called up by the Cameroon national team for the 2017 African Cup of Nations which is currently taking place in Gabon. However, the former Schalke defender has previously stated that he did not want to play for them and he had retired from international duty.

Cameroon called him into their initial 35-man squad for the competition anyway but did not include him in their final 23-man squad once it became clear Matip, along with six other players, had no interest in playing for them at AFCON.

FIFA has confirmed that Liverpool has been in touch regarding Matip’s status and it now appears that he will not be able to play in any other competition while Cameroon is still in AFCON action under Article 5 of FIFA’s rules.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday | Thursday ]

Fast forward a few days, and Jurgen Klopp and Co. have no further clarity regarding the situation. It’s so unclear, in fact, that Klopp said on Tuesday he may select the 25-year-old during one of two remaining games this week, and hope for the best — quotes from the Guardian:

“As you can imagine, we are in a lot of talks. We’ve done transfers quicker than this. It’s already long term but now it’s getting really tense on our side. We’ve tried everything but at the end I have to make the decision. Of course I have to ask [Liverpool’s lawyers] but the decision is for me to make. I could put him in the lineup. I don’t think the referee is going to say: ‘Stop, stop, you cannot go on the pitch.’ But I will do it when it’s OK from our point of view. Of course I need advice — I’m not a lawyer.”

“Most of the time in life you know if you do this, then you get this. But it’s not 100 percent clear what happens [if Matip plays]. We try everything to win football games. If this can happen — out of the tournament or whatever — then we have to decide about the risk. He’s ready to play for us and that makes it difficult.”

What an utter disaster of a situation Cameroon have intentionally created here.

VIDEO: Jeison Murillo’s incredible bicycle from a corner kick

MILAN, ITALY - JANUARY 17:  (R-L) Jeison Murillo of FC Internazionale celebrates his first goal with Geoffrey Kondogbia during the TIM Cup match between FC Internazionale and Bologna FC at Stadio Giuseppe Meazza on January 17, 2017 in Milan, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Look away now, Andy Carroll. Take a bow, Jeison Murillo.

[ VIDEOS: All in a week’s work — Messi free kick no. 1 | Messi free kick no. 2 ]

Just three days after Carroll scored the bicycle-kick goal of the year (so we thought), here comes Murillo, Inter Milan’s 24-year-old Colombian striker, to steal his thunder (below video). The fact he did it directly from a corner kick, with the ball traveling roughly 40 yards before flinging his body into the air and striking the ball so cleanly, (somehow) trumps Carroll’s accomplishment from Saturday.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings — Tight at the top… and bottom ]

Sensational goals come in twos now, apparently, as Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Olivier Giroud scored stunning scorpion-kick goals (WATCH HERE and HERE) just days apart earlier in the season.