Newcastle 2-1 West Brom: Sissoko’s sizzling strike sends Magpies fifth (video)

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Newcastle United sealed their fourth-straight win in the league as Moussa Sissoko’s stunning second half strike was enough to take all three points against West Bromwich Albion on Saturday.

Sissoko’s powerful drive into the top corner in the 56th minute turned out to be the game-winner as Newcastle’s home fans at St. James’ Park were sent home happy once again.

In the first half Newcastle took the lead through Frenchman Yoan Gouffran who headed home after Baggies ‘keeper Boaz Myhill made a hash of a routine punch in the box. But after the break West Brom fought back as captain Chris Brunt smashed him a terrific effort at the back post to give the Baggies hope of nicking a win on the road.

But a few moments latter Sissoko popped up with his dazzling strike to move Newcastle up to fifth spot on 23 points, while West Brom stay in 12th on 15 points.

A bright start from West Brom saw Brunt’s long-range free kick tipped wide by Tim Krul after two minutes and from the resulting corner the Magpies struggled to clear as the Baggies attackers made a real nuisance of themselves.

Newcastle came back into the game as both teams started at a steady pace up in the North East. The Magpies almost went ahead in the 18th minute after Sissoko wriggled free in the far right corner before teeing up Mathieu Debuchy to send a dangerous cross into the box that Loic Remy headed against Billy Jones who deflected it wide.

From the resulting corner West Brom struggled to clear the ball as Newcastle kept the pressure up on the visitors.

For the rest of the first half, Check Tiote and Youssuf Mulumbu locked horns and Tiote was booked for a late challenge as the encounter in the North East turned into a midfield battle.

In the 35th minute Gouffran opened the scoring as a dangerous in swinging corner from Yohan Cabaye saw West Brom ‘keeper Myhill come out to punch it away but he missed the ball and Newcastle’s French winger pounced to score. The goal was Gouffran’s third straight at home as Newcastle deserved their 1-0 lead thanks to his quick-thinking in the six-yard box and a blunder from Baggies goalkeeper Myhill.

After that goal Newcastle continued to press forward and felt that Jonas Olsson should have been given a straight red card as he appeared to take down Remy when the Frenchman was clean through on goal. No foul was given and the home fans were not happy with decision from referee Phil Dowd.

Following the interval Newcastle almost grabbed a second goal as Shola Ameobi played through his strike partner Remy but Myhill came off his line to smother the ball and save at the Frenchman’s feet.

However West Brom were soon back in the game as Amalfitano’s inviting cross from the right just evaded Long in the box but found captain Brunt who rifled in a fantastic effort to make it 1-1. The goal was actually the first shot on goal the Baggies had attempted and it was a great start to the second half for the visitors.

Buoyed by their equalizer the Baggies almost went ahead moments later when Olsson’s header just flew past the post and Long couldn’t redirect it.

But no sooner had West Brom got back into the game, Newcastle were back ahead as Sissoko smashed in a terrific strike from over 20 yards out that left Myhill with no chance and put the Magpies 2-1 up.

The Frenchman unleashed a rocket from his right foot in the 56th minute after Remy created the opening for Sissoko to smash in a beauty to send the fanatical Newcastle supporters into raptures. The goal also meant that 18 of Newcastle’s 19 goals this season have been scored by Frenchman.

West Brom tried to get back into the game but the home side were keen to shut any openings for the visitors down as Tiote and Cabaye marshaled the central midfield area superbly. The Baggies almost shot themselves in the foot in the 75th minute as Brunt gave the ball away but Debuchy struck his effort straight at Myhill from the edge of the box.

A double substitution from Steve Clarke tried to rescue a point for the Baggies as Victor Anichebe and Saido Berahino were both brought on late in the game. Those new arrivals gave West Brom some hope but Newcastle held firm and grabbed their fourth-straight win to climb into the top five.

LINEUPS

Newcastle: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Santon; Sissoko (Cisse, 90), Tiote, Cabaye, Gouffran; Shola Ameobi, Remy (Anita, 84)

West Brom: Myhill, Jones, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Morrison, Mulumbu, Amalfitano (Gera, 88), Sessegnon (Anichebe, 77), Brunt (Berahino, 76), Long

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.