Swansea City 3-0 Newcastle United: Dyer, Shelvey bring end to Magpies’ unbeaten run (video)

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At the expense of Newcastle and the Magpies’ four-game winning streak, Swansea City are in the win column for the second time in three matches, with Nathan Dyer’s first half strike, an own goal from Mathieu Debuchy, and an 81st minute chip from Jonjo Shelvey giving the Swans a 3-0 win at the Liberty Stadium.

Dyer, who came on in the 29th minute after Álvaro Vázquez’s injury, hammered home a failed Tim Krul clearance just before halftime, with Debuchy’s pursuit of a Jonjo Shelvey breakaway in the 66th minute giving Swans second half insurance.

Nine minutes from time, Shelvey got a goal for his down, chipping a ball rolled in from the right over Krul from 24 yards out, the slightly curling shot catching the Dutch keeper out as Swansea confirmed their three-goal win.

With their fifth victory of the season, Swansea climb two spots in the table to 11th place, overtaking Hull City and West Bromwich Albion. Newcastle, who had a chance to move third if Wednesday’s results fell in their favor, only slide one spot, sitting seventh thanks to losses from Southampton and Manchester United.

Despite being deprived of the ball for most of the initial 10 minutes, Newcastle generated the first chance of the match, with a cross from Debuchy headed on goal by Loïc Rémy forcing a diving save from Michel Vorm. Though Swansea would continue controlling most of the ball, the Magpies were unrelenting at the edge of their defensive third, Swansea’s initial shot on target coming 26 minutes in (and from 36 yards).

Moments before halftime, Swansea generated their second shot of the half, using their first set piece opportunity to create the game’s first goal. From a restart 28 yards out on their right flank, Swans played to the middle of the box only to see the cross headed out to the edge of the penalty area. Unable to clear, Newcastle soon saw the ball coming back in from the left, with goalkeeper Tim Krul left flailing to push a ball back into the penalty area. Even with the right post, Dyer saw the ball fall at his feet, his putback from just outside the six-yard box giving the home side an unlikely lead.

While Swansea still controlled possession at the onset of the second half, Newcastle continued pursuing chances against the run of play, something that came back to bite them in the 66th minute. Then, a quick transition out of Swansea’s end found Jonjo Shelvey streaking between Debuchy and Mike Williamson just inside the Magpies’ half, the Swans midfielder running onto a ball threaded behind the defense to go in alone on Krul. Slowed up by a pursuing Debuchy, Shelvey never got a shot off before being closed down by the Newcastle keeper, but when the resulting deflection went off the defender and toward the net, the France international was given unfortunate credit for Swans’ second goal.

In the 81st minute, Shelvey got onto the scoresheet, his somewhat nonchalant chip from just above the arc coming good when when Krul was caught off his line. Curling over the keeper and under the bar, Shelvey’s seemingly speculative try found nylon, ending whatever hopes Newcastle held of continuing their unbeaten run.

Those hopes seemed to end long before Shelvey’s goal. After Swans went up two, most of the visitors’ energy dissipated, with Swansea able to move the ball with very little resistance. Though the three-goal margin exaggerates the teams’ difference in quality, by full time, Swansea were deserved winners, Newcastle’s early resilience having faded by the final whistle.

Goals

Swansea City: Nathan Dyer 45+1, Mathieu Debuchy (o.g.) 66, Jonjo Shelvey 81

Lineups

Swansea City: Michel Vorm; Dwight Tiendalli, Chico Flores, Ashley Williams, Ben Davies; José Cañas, Jonathan de Guzman; Álex Pozuelo (Wayne Routledge 84), Jonjo Shelvey, Pablo Hernandez (Roland Lamah 71); Álvaro Vázquez (Nathan Dyer 29)

Unused Substitutes: Gerhard Tremmel, Jordi Amat, Neil Taylor, Leon Britton

Newcastle: Tim Krul; Mathieu Debuchy, Mike Wililamson (Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa 77), Fabio Coloccini, Davide Santon (Massadio Haïdara 58); Moussa Sissoko, Chiek Tioté, Yohan Cabaye, Yoann Gouffran; Shola Ameobi (Gabriel Obertan 67), Loïc Rémy

Unused Substitutes: Rob Elliot, Vurnon Anita, Sammy Ameobi, Papiss Cissé

Javier Mascherano leaving Barcelona after 8 seasons

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona says defender Javier Mascherano is leaving the club after eight seasons.

Barcelona says there will be a farewell ceremony on Wednesday with Mascherano, club president Josep Bartomeu and the rest of the squad.

[ MORE: Man City to buy $86m CB ]

The 33-year-old Argentina international will say goodbye to the fans before Thursday’s game against Espanyol at Camp Nou in the Copa del Rey. He is reportedly going to play in China.

Mascherano, who also played as a defensive midfielder, arrived in Barcelona in 2010 from Liverpool and helped the Catalan club win 18 titles. He has made 334 appearances with Barcelona, but recently hadn’t been playing much.

The club earlier this month signed Colombia international Yerry Mina to boost its defense.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Man City reportedly agrees $86m price for Laporte

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Sky Sports reporter Guillem Balague is reporting that Manchester City is set to seal an $86 million purchase of center back Aymeric Laporte from Athletic Bilbao, and all that’s left is for City to agree to contract terms with the player.

[ MORE: MCFC into League Cup Final ]

The 23-year-old has been with the Basque outfit since 2012, making more than 200 appearances for Athletic. Balague issued a Tweet saying Man City opted for Laporte over $34 million Jonny Evans of West Brom.

Laporte is a smooth and technical passer at center back who shouldn’t have a problem with the physical nature of the Premier League either. He’s yet to break into the French national team, and is only the second French player to play for Bilbao.

Rumors have circulated for some time, though a Tuesday report was dismissed because Laporte was in advanced discussions with Man City during a previous transfer window when he changed his mind.

It’s more big money from City, a boon for Athletic Bilbao, and terrific competition for John Stones and any Man City center back not named Nicolas Otamendi (and Vincent Kompany when healthy).

Rapids hire Patel as director; Highest ranking female exec in MLS

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The Colorado Rapids have hired Ena Patel as their new director of player personnel. She becomes Major League Soccer highest ranking female executive, according to the Denver Post.

[ FOLLOW: PST’s MLS coverage ]

According to the Rapids, she’ll report to club GM Padraig Smith and “oversee player contracts, salary budget, regulatory compliance, and soccer operations protocols.”

The move comes about a month-and-a-half after Sporting KC hired Megan Cameron as an assistant director of player personnel, the first woman hired to an MLS team’s technical staff.

Patel’s resume is outlandishly strong, though this is her first foray into the sports world. Here are some words from Smith, from ColoradoRapids.com:

“Ena’s hiring is the final piece of the puzzle for us on the front office side,” Smith, the Rapids executive vice president and general manager, said in a statement released by the club. “Bringing in a sharp, legal mind who can oversee our contractual processes and complex league mechanisms is a really important part of ensuring that we’re fielding the best possible team. We can’t wait for her to get started.”

Guardiola happy to reach final, knows Man City to be judged by hardware

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Bristol City made its interesting late with a pair of goals, but Manchester City’s League Cup destiny was never in jeopardy in a 3-2 second leg win at Ashton Gate Stadium on Tuesday.

[ RECAP: Bristol City 2-3 (3-5 agg.) Man City ]

That sent the club into the Feb. 25 final with a 5-3 aggregate win, and it’s very difficult not to leap to the story line that is Pep Guardiola‘s chance at a first significant title in his reign at Man City.

The closest City came to hardware last season was being bounced by Arsenal in the FA Cup semifinal. This time, City is the favorite to win at least three of its four entered competitions: the Premier League, the League Cup, and the FA Cup.

But to hear Pep say it, for now the club is just happy to have earned one final berth. From the BBC:

“We are so happy to be there, to reach this final. We played an amazing game until 2-0 and then we lost control, these type of games never end until the end. This is a lesson for next weekend in Cardiff in the FA Cup and especially for the Champions League.

“It’s not for me, it’s for Manchester City, a club who are trying to reach another level. … I know that we will be judged by trophies we win but we are so happy. Nobody can take away what we have done, but Chelsea or Arsenal are strong teams.”

Guardiola was serious about not overlooking the Robins, as he rolled out a very similar lineup to the full-strength bunch that beat Newcastle United 3-1 at the weekend. That may have cost City late, but it had already built a 4-1 aggregate lead with two superior away goals.

Yes, Guardiola is a man who measures himself by the way his club plays but also by winning in that attractive fashion. Expect a determined club to stride into Wembley late next month.

Chelsea and Arsenal square off Wednesday at the Emirates Stadium for the right to match up with Man City, who won the tournament in 2014 and 2016. Even year dominance?