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Tottenham Hotspur 2-2 Manchester United: Rooney double spoils two Spurs leads

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Tottenham shook their goal-scoring struggles to twice take the lead, but they could not shake the visitors as a double by Wayne Rooney gave Manchester United a share of the spoils at White Hart Lane by a 2-2 scoreline.

Both sides began early working their right offensive flanks. Shinji Kagawa for United and Lennon for Spurs saw the most work in their respective midfields in the first 10 minutes.

The game’s first shot didn’t come until the 11th minute, when Lennon popped off a low effort comfortably saved by De Gea.

The opener for Spurs didn’t come from open play, but they’ll certainly take it.  After a late challenge by Jonny Evans on Paulinho on the edge of the penalty area, Kyle Walker bagged the goal in the 18th minute as he cannoned a low free-kick below the United wall and past De Gea.

Just before, Everton goalkeeper and guest NBC commentator Tim Howard had urged De Gea to trust his wall and cover the far end of the goal, but his wall got it wrong as they all jumped above the low blast by Walker and it tucked in for a home lead.

It’s the first Premier League goal of the season for the defender, and his first for Spurs since April 2012 against Blackburn. It also ended a goal drought for Spurs of 298 minutes.

Spurs began to press harder after scoring, pinning the United attack further back and developing more chances. They had one on the break for Roberto Soldado in the 30th minute, but the struggling Spurs striker wasted the chance by firing well over.

In was a shocking turn of events, a counter-attack stunned Spurs and drew United level. Phil Jones worked down the right and put in a beautiful cross from the right side just over Rooney’s head. The ball took a bit of a fortunate bounce off Walker’s foot and fell right to Rooney, who took and finished.

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Wayne Rooney finished off both goals for United, his 7th and 8th scores of the Premier League season.

Nothing changed at the halftime break for United, as they continued to press the right flank with Valencia and asking questions of out-of-position defender Jan Vertonghen.

The two sides played a bit of cat-and-mouse in the start of the second half, but Spurs got a piece of brilliant work from Sandro to give them the lead.  The Brazilian, being a bit outshone in the match by his midfield partner and countryman Paulinho, would not be outdone with a wonder goal in the 55th minute.

Sandro cut through some space in the Manchester United midfield, and with the defense tracking back, he worked towards the box, surprisingly cut back, and teed himself up for a brilliant drive into the top corner for a 2-1 lead.

But it would not be for Spurs once again, as referee Mike Dean straight away down the other end gave a penalty as sweeper-keeper Hugo Lloris took down Danny Welbeck on the left edge of the box.  It was a soft foul, but Lloris missed the ball and definitely caught Welbeck’s back foot with his hands.

Rooney drilled the penalty straight down the middle past a disheartened Lloris for his second equalizer of the match.

Surprisingly, Andre Villas-Boas decided to remove the incisive Aaron Lennon around 65 minutes for Andros Townsend, while leaving the relatively invisible Nacer Chadli in on the other wing.

Spurs came inches from another lead as Kyle Walker continued to work the right wing, launching in a slicing cross in the 78th minute just barely out of reach of Andros Townsend, who was all alone in front of the United goal.

Both sides were asking questions of the opposition defense as the clock ticked into extra time, but there was no winner on the cards.

It’s a quality result for both sides, all things considered.  United stay unbeated in seven games, and Tottenham kick some of their goalscoring woes to get back on track in front of goal.

United and Spurs remain in eighth and ninth respectively in the Premier League table with their points.

GOALS:

Tottenham Hotspur – Walker 18′; Sandro 54′
Manchester United – Rooney 32′, 57′ (pen)

LINEUPS:

Tottenham Hotspur – Lloris; Walker, Vertonghen, Chiriches, Dawson; Paulinho, Sandro; Lennon (Townsend, 65′), Dembele, Chadli (Sigurdsson, 85′); Soldado (Defoe, 72′).

Manchester United – De Gea; Evra, Vidic, Smalling, Evans; Jones, Cleverley; Welbeck (Hernandez, 73′), Kagawa (Young, 84′), Valencia (Nani, 84′); Rooney.

Premier League Preview: Sunderland vs. Manchester United

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  • United 6 points outside the top four
  • Sunderland winless in four
  • MUFC has one loss in 27 vs. SAFC (W20, D6, L1)

Manchester United’s uphill battle for a top-four finish continues on Saturday when the Red Devils travel to the Stadium of Light to face Sunderland (Watch live, 7:45 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

United won this fixture in September 3-0 behind goals from Memphis, Wayne Rooney, and Juan Mata.

[ WATCH LIVE: Stream every PL game via Live Extra ]

Sunderland sit 19th on the table four points from safety as the time has come for Sam Allardyce‘s side to start getting results. Without a win in their last four matches, the Black Cats must turn things around if they want to stay up in the Premier League. Jermain Defoe scored last time out in a draw at Liverpool, and he’ll once again be tasked with finding the back of the net if Sunderland are to win.

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League Picks for Week 26 ]

For Manchester United, the pressure is still on Louis Van Gaal as rumors and reports circle linking Jose Mourinho to the job. Fifth on the table and six points behind Manchester City, a top-four finish is slipping away from United if they don’t rattle off a few wins. A late goal at Chelsea last weekend cost the Red Devils all three points, but they’ll look at this matchup against Sunderland as a good opportunity to get a positive result.

What they’re saying

Sunderland boss Sam Allardyce: “Providing chances for Jermain Defoe is critical for us. But our first major problem is that we haven’t kept a clean sheet in nine matches. We need to start putting a zero against us in games and if we start doing that we’ll win more matches. If we win more matches, we’ll get out of trouble.”

United manager Louis van Gaal: “We had lost four matches in a row in December and you see us now. You can only say that we are mentally very strong and that we can cope with the pressure. That is not enough as we have to improve our results and consistency to win a lot of matches in a row. We have to minimize the gap to our competitors.”

Prediction

Sunderland need all the points they can get to try and stay up, but United always seem to cause the Black Cats problems. Jermain Defoe is kept off the board as Louis van Gaal takes the win. Sunderland 0-2 Manchester United.

Costa breaks nose, will be fit to play for “Zorro team” vs. Newcastle

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 07:  Diego Costa of Chelsea reacts during the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Manchester United at Stamford Bridge on February 7, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)
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Chelsea striker Diego Costa broke his nose in training after a clash of heads, but should be fit to play in Saturday’s match against Newcastle (Watch live, 12:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

Costa has six goals in his past seven Premier League games as Chelsea are unbeaten in their last 11 in all competitions.

[ MORE: Top 5 PL storylines ]

Manager Guus Hiddink spoke about the injury in his press conference on Friday, saying Costa collided with an Academy player in training. Hiddink said he believes Costa will be ready to play this weekend for his “Zorro team” as Costa joins Gary Cahill, Nemanja Matic, and Cesar Azpilicueta as Chelsea players to wear a mask this season.

It was not a tough duel but he put his nose on the back of the head of one of the youngsters from the Academy that we like to participate in our training games. He was very unlucky.

They are putting a mask on Diego as well, we are the team with a lot of masks, a Zorro team, and he will come back do some light training this afternoon as he must experience how he is dealing with the form and the fitting of the mask.

Costa scored a stoppage-time equalizer against Manchester United last weekend as Chelsea continue to get results under Guus Hiddink. The Blues are up to 13th on the table, just three points outside the top half.

[ RELATED: Frank Lampard urges Chelsea to sign John Terry ]

Chelsea will look to extend their unbeaten run to 12 matches on Saturday against a Newcastle side that is just one point above the drop and in need of a result.

Messi named La Liga Player of the Month for first time in career

BARCELONA, SPAIN - JANUARY 06:  Lionel Messi of FC Barcelona celebrates after scoring his team's second goal during the Copa del Rey Round of 16 first leg match between FC Barcelona and RCD Espanyol at Camp Nou on January 6, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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Lionel Messi has won every individual award imaginable, but now he can add another trophy to his shelf.

For the first time in his career, Messi was named La Liga’s Player of the Month for January.

[ MORE: PL Power Rankings, Vol. VIII ]

It’s hard to believe, but somehow the Barcelona superstar had never won this honor before. Despite winning a record five Ballon D’or trophies as the best player in the world, this trophy had eluded Messi since its inception in 2013.

Messi scored six goals in six January matches as Barcelona sit atop the La Liga table, currently holding a three-point lead over Atletico Madrid.

Despite their dominance in La Liga, this is only the second time a Barcelona player has won this monthly award, as Neymar took home the honor in November of 2015.

USWNT-Mexico preview: Energized Yanks look to keep rolling toward Rio

FRISCO, TX - FEBRUARY 10:  Team USA poses for a photo before play against Costa Rica during 2016 CONCACAF Women's Olympic Qualifying at Toyota Stadium on February 10, 2016 in Frisco, Texas.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
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The United States women’s national team looks to keep rolling through CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying with a match with Mexico on Saturday.

Toyota Stadium in Frisco, Texas, is again the scene after the Yanks battered Costa Rica 5-0 on Wednesday.

[ MUST WATCH: Christen Press’ dazzling first touch, spin, goal ]

A win over Mexico would move the USWNT into the all-important semifinal, where a win would gain them entry into this Summer’s Olympic Games.

Mexico staged a blowout of its own on Wednesday, cruising past Puerto Rico 6-0 thanks in large part to a hat trick from Maribel Dominguez.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

Mexico has only beaten the USWNT twice in history, and only the 2010 Gold Cup semifinal is considered official.

In recent history, the USWNT beat up Mexico 5-1 last year, and thrice in 2014 by a combined score of 15-0. Expect very little to change with an energized, impressive U.S. side on Saturday.

[ SATURDAY: Watch USWNT vs Mexico live online on NBC Sports Live Extra ]