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Stoke City 0-0 Cardiff City: Wasteful Stoke clearly on top but can’t find breakthrough (video)

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An ugly game at the Britannia saw Stoke City pummel Cardiff City with pressure all match but fail to score in a 0-0 draw Wednesday.

Mark Hughes’ side blew opportunity after opportunity, and credit must go to the Cardiff defense that never offered an easy chance to Peter Crouch and company.

No sooner had we gotten under way than Stoke begun lumping long balls down the pitch towards Peter Crouch.

Cardiff struggled to gain a foothold early, and after the early long ball barrage Stoke began to build more fluidly.  In fact, through 10 minutes Cardiff had just 17% of the game’s possession.

Both teams were incredibly sloppy in possession, and both teams fouled needlessly throughout the first quarter of the match.

Finally, Stoke began to produce some creativity around the 28th minute. Charlie Adam was the most impressive Potter, as he fed Crouch twice in the box but the imposing striker was well defended. Marko Arnautovic also threaded Oussama Assaidi through but the ball just too far.

Cardiff’s lone first-half chance came in the 40th minute, when a Jordan Mutch header forced Asmir Begovic into a diving save.

Geoff Cameron begun to press forward a bit, and as Stoke continued to push into the box a great cross from Arnautovic found Crouch who flicked on to Cameron and then into the goal but the American was offsides.

Goalless at the break, it was more of the same in the second half, as tempers began to flare a bit. Frazier Campbell and Peter Crouch both went in the book of referee Michael Oliver during some extra-curricular activities on a free kick.

Assaidi collected a great ball with space on the wing in the 68th, and sent in an accurate cross which Crouch rose to but headed over.

It was Stoke’s day to press and push for a goal, but they couldn’t get the job done. Muniesa fired over in the 81st, Adam went wide in the 86th, and a free kick ended up behind in the 88th.

Both teams earn a point but both remain in the bottom half, even on 15 each.

LINEUPS:

Stoke City – Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters (Muniesa, 45′); Arnautovic, Whelan (Ireland, 65′), Nzonzi, Adam, Assaidi; Crouch.

Cardiff City – Marshall; Theophile-Catherine, Caulker, Turner, John; Whittingham, Medel; Gunnarsson, Mutch, Cowie; Campbell (Odemwingie, 77′).

Spanish playmaker Bojan signs new long-term contract at Stoke City

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Bojan Krkic will be a Potter for plenty of years to come.

On Thursday Stoke City announced that Bojan, 25, has signed a contract extension keeping him at the Britannia Stadium for another four-and-a-half years.

[ MORE: New-look Stoke to progress

Since arriving from Spanish giants Barcelona at the start of the 2014-15 season the playmaker has been a revelation in the Premier League.

Despite suffering a serious knee injury midway through his debut season in England, Bojan has battled back this campaign and has scored five times in 23 outings for the Potters.

Speaking to the club website, Bojan revealed his delight in signing the contract extension that will see him stay with Stoke until the summer of 2020.

“I am very happy and motivated. Stoke City gave me the opportunity to play in the most competitive league in the world, the Premier League, and I have only words of gratitude for their trust and for the way they have treated me since the first day I arrived to England,” Bojan said. “Mark Hughes convinced me to come to Stoke, he has helped me and showed his trust in me from the beginning, he followed closely the recovery process from my injury and there is no doubt I have signed an extension of my contract thanks to him.”

With Mark Hughes’ side battling for a top six finish, being knocked out agonizingly on penalty kicks by Liverpool in the League Cup semifinal and still in the FA Cup, it’s been another stellar season for Stoke as their progress continues.

Bojan’s presence has been central to attracting top names to join him at Stoke, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Mark Arnautovic all part of a new-look attack which in-turn has provided a much more attractive team to watch on the pitch.

Amid interest from plenty of other teams around the Premier League and Europe, Stoke have kept hold of their main creative hub and fans will be delighted to see the Barca academy product progress with the Potters over an extended period of time.

VIDEO: USWNT’s Press scores stunning goal after amazing spin move

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What a first touch.

The U.S. women’s national team beat Costa Rica 5-0 in the opening game of their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying campaign on Wednesday and USWNT forward Christen Press scored the pick of the bunch after she teed herself up with a superb first touch.

[ MORE: NBC to stream every Olympic qualifier

Click play on the video above to watch the World Cup winner control the ball with a deft outside-of-the-foot touch before spinning and striking home in a mesmerizing movement.

Majestic.

Press and the USWNT face Mexico on Saturday in their second Group A game (Watch live, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

On the up, off the pitch: Manchester United’s revenue continues to rise

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Manchester United have announced that revenue levels for the three months leading up to December 31 rose by 26.6 percent.

The Red Devils released the figures on Thursday which show revenue of $192.4 million, with commercial revenue up a massive 42.5 percent but matchday revenue was down 1.6 percent.

[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired”

The overall profit for the quarter was $26.7 million and over that period club debt fell by 6 percent but still stands at an eye-watering $463.6 million. That said, in a recent review of the finances of the top clubs on the planet Deloitte believes United will top the rich-list next season.

Despite Louis Van Gaal‘s future being questioned, United being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage in December and being six points off the top four with just 13 games of the current Premier League season to go, the strength of their results off the pitch continue to show just how successful a business they’ve become.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors that: “Our solid results off the pitch help contribute to what remains our number one priority – success on the pitch.”

Woodward has also vowed to continue United’s “strong commitment to investing in our squad, youth academy.”

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

Van Gaal, 64, will need a strong finish to the season on the pitch to help United to success and in turn improve those financial figures for next season. Failure to finish in the PL’s top four and qualify for the UCL will substantially impact United’s financial results next season, and the pressure remains on him and his players to claw back the deficit.

With speculation mounting that Jose Mourinho could be appointed as United’s new boss there also seems to be a surplus of cash which Rob Harris from the Associated Press speculates could be used for a new manager…

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

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

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.