Yoan Gouffran

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

Liverpool continues to wilt against lesser lights

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at The King Power Stadium on February 27, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
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Plenty will be said about Leicester City’s performance in Monday’s 3-1 defeat of Liverpool at King Power Stadium, but the visitors’ problems are screaming at a similar volume.

The Reds play a bit like a team expecting it to be easier, which is baffling given its struggles in 2017. When the calendar turned, Liverpool had just toppled Manchester City 1-0.

[ RECAP: Leicester 3-1 Liverpool ]

It’s been a horror story this new year. The Reds needed a replay to beat Plymouth in the FA Cup en route to being bounced by Wolverhampton in the fourth round. They lost 2-0 to Southampton in the EFL Cup semifinal. And as for league form? Woof.

Liverpool in the Premier League, 2017
Jan. 2 – at Sunderland, D 2-2
Jan. 15 – at Man Utd, D 1-1
Jan. 21 – vs. Swansea City, L 2-3
Jan. 28 – vs. Chelsea, D 1-1
Feb. 4 – at Hull City, L 0-2
Feb. 11 – vs Spurs, W 2-0
Feb. 27 – at Leicester, L 0-2

In total, that’s two wins and four draws in 12 matches. The Reds have allowed two or more goals on five occasions, and four times they’ve been held off the score sheet.

The answers weren’t there. They haven’t been for most of the year. Nathaniel Clyne‘s bright work on the right rarely found a willing receiver, as Roberto Firmino and Georginio Wijnaldum failed to make much of an impact. Yes, Jordan Henderson was missing but that shouldn’t sink a side into the abyss.

The Reds were late to the party, though at least they bothered to show up unlike the 2-0 loss at Hull three weeks ago. Liverpool has lost at Hull, Bournemouth, Burnley, and Leicester this season, with an additional home loss to Swansea City.

Those are 15 points surrendered to the 14th, 15th, 16th, and 19th place teams, plus recently promoted Burnley (11th). For good measure, the Reds drew 2-2 at 20th place Sunderland. That leaves Crystal Palace and Middlesbrough as the lone members of the Bottom Seven to not take a point from Liverpool.

The Reds have been the team version of Moussa Sissoko, well up for the big boys but yawning at the task of playing lesser lights (Granted Monday’s match was under the bright lights). How else do you explain a team with the record above also boasting an unbeaten mark against the Top Seven (5W-4D)?

Liverpool needs a change in attitude. And don’t be fooled if they beat Arsenal this weekend or Man City in two weeks. See if they show up at home to Burnley on March 12.

Leicester City 3-1 Liverpool: Champions Awakened

Leicester players celebrate after Leicester's Daniel Drinkwater scored during the English Premier League soccer match between Leicester City and Liverpool at the King Power Stadium in Leicester, England, Monday, Feb. 27, 2017. (AP Photo/Rui Vieira)
AP Photo/Rui Vieira
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  • First match since Ranieri firing
  • Vardy nabs brace
  • Coutinho ruins clean sheet

Jamie Vardy and Danny Drinkwater helped the King Power Stadium to a taste of the Leicester of old, as the Foxes opened the post-Claudio Ranieri era with a 3-1 defeat of Liverpool on Monday.

Philippe Coutinho scored the lone goal for the visitors.

Leicester climbs back out of the drop zone and into 15th with 24 points. Liverpool remains fifth place with 49 points.

The two goals were Vardy’s first time on a Premier League scoresheet since netting a hat trick in a 4-2 win over Man City on Dec. 10.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Robert Huth flicked a long Christian Fuchs throw towards the frame, and Simon Mignolet leapt to corral the goal-bound ball.

Another big Fuchs throw led to a corner when Mignolet denied Shinji Okazaki‘s flying header.

Vardy then forced Mignolet into a close-range save when the Leicester striker bodied Lucas Leiva and beat Joel Matip to attempt a shot.

Vardy found his mark with a long ball from a field player. Marc Albrighton spied an opening from his own half and played Vardy on goal, with the English striker beating Mignolet to the near post.

The danger wasn’t over. Vardy lost his dribble and backheeled to Wilfried Ndidi for a shot that Mignolet stopped in the six.

Drinkwater made it 2-0 with a volley from outside the 18 that sent King Power Stadium into bedlam. Commentator Arlo White noted that the press area was shaking following the celebration.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Liverpool looked gun shy well into the second half, with Philippe Coutinho giving the hint of urgency on a 55th minute rip corralled by Schmeichel.

The Reds then allowed Riyad Mahrez and Christian Fuchs to work the left side before the latter crossed in front of Emre Can, where Vardy flew to power a header home.

Coutinho made it 3-1 on a layoff from Can to give Liverpool a bit of life and the Brazilian his first Premier League goal since Nov. 6.

The Reds didn’t quit, though they found it hard to invade the Foxes’ 18. Leicester wasn’t much help in the matter, doggedly staying with their marks and spaces as the match edged toward stoppage time.

WATCH: Drinkwater rocket doubles Leicester City lead

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Leicester City’s first half of Premier League play without Claudio Ranieri has gone very, very well.

Marc Albrighton set up Jamie Vardy for an early goal before Danny Drinkwater scored a beauty of his own, and the Foxes have a 2-0 lead over Liverpool at King Power Stadium.

LEICESTER-LFC LIVE ONLINE, HERE

The Foxes got a roar and a standing ovation from the KP at the break, as the champs look prepared to make their stay in the drop zone a brief one.

Watch Live: Leicester City vs. Liverpool

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 27:  A person selling club merchandise outside the stadium wears a mask of former Leicester City Manager Claudio Ranieri prior to the Premier League match between Leicester City and Liverpool at The King Power Stadium on February 27, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
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Leicester City welcome Liverpool to the King Power Stadium on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) as the Foxes begin life without Claudio Ranieri.

WATCH LIVE ONLINE, HERE

Craig Shakespeare is in caretaker charge of Leicester as they’ve lost five games on the spin in the Premier League and now find themselves in the relegation zone. The last thing they would is a Liverpool side fresh after two weeks without a game.

Jurgen Klopp‘s men smell blood in the water as they’ve already ripped Leicester apart once this season, beating the reigning champions 4-1 at Anfield back in September.

In team news Leicester start with Okazaki and Vardy up top in what looks like a straight-up 4-4-2 formation, while Liverpool bring in Emre Can for the injured Jordan Henderson and Lucas starts at center back with Dejan Lovren out.

LINEUPS

Leicester City: Schmeichel; Simpson, Morgan, Huth, Fuchs; Drinkwater, Ndidi, Mahrez, Albrighton; Okazaki, Vardy. Subs: Zieler; Chilwell, Gray, Amarety, King, Ulloa, Slimani

Liverpool: Mignolet; Clyne, Matip, Lucas, Milner; Can, Wijnaldum; Lallana, Coutinho, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Karius, Alexander, Klavan, Stewart, Moreno, Origi, Woodburn,