Swansea City v Newcastle United - Premier League

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

Europa League draw: Man Utd learns fate

Manchester United's Henrikh Mkhitaryan, center back to camera, celebrates scoring the opening goal with Zlatan Ibrahimovic, 2nd right, and other teammates during a Europa League round of 32 second leg soccer match between Saint Etienne and Manchester United at Geoffroy Guichard stadium in Saint Etienne, France, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017. (AP Photo/Laurent Cipriani)
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The travel is tricky, but Manchester United’s draw for the UEFA Europa League Round of 16 could’ve been much worse.

The Red Devils are off to Russia to face FC Rostov in the next round of the UEL competition.

[ MORE: Spurs sent packing ]

In another draw that leads you to question whether there’s anything random about it all, United and lone La Liga representative Celta Vigo drew winnable matches against Russian clubs, Roma has a tantalizing match against Lyon, and an all-Bundesliga match hits the docket.

Heck, we’ll even see an all-Belgian tie between Gent vs. Genk.

And in a draw which will have many glued to their sets, USMNT left-sided man Fabian Johnson will help Borussia Monchengladbach against German rivals Schalke. The first leg comes five days after the pair face off in Bundesliga play.

The Round of 16 legs will be played March 9 and 16.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16

Rostov vs. Manchester United
Celta Vigo vs. Krasnodar
Copenhagen vs. Ajax
Olympiacos vs. Besiktas
Lyon vs. Roma
Schalke vs. Borussia Monchengladbach
APOEL Nicosia vs. Anderlecht
Gent vs. Genk

Electricity restored at Maracana after some late bills paid

This Feb. 2, 2017 shows Maracana stadium with a dry field in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stadium operators, the Rio state government, and Olympic organizers have fought over $1 million in unpaid electricity bills and management of the venue. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio’s electricity utility has turned the power back on at the famous Maracana stadium after it was shut off for almost a month in a dispute over $1 million in unpaid bills.

The utility on Thursday said power had been restored after the stadium operator paid 1.3 million reals ($430,000) in late bills from November through January. It was shut off on Jan. 26 in the dispute.

The utility said it is still negotiating for 1.8 million reals ($600,000) in unpaid bills from the organizing committee of last year’s Rio Olympics. Rio 2016 organizers still owe millions to companies which helped prepare the Olympics and Paralympics

The stadium has been vandalized over the last month with seats torn out, televisions stolen and the grass field left untended.

VIDEO: FC Dallas youngster Kellyn Acosta unleashes howitzer goal

Arabe Unido goalkeeper Miguel lloyd (1) reaches up to block a shot from FC Dallas as defender Rigoberto Nino (2) and FC Dallas' Kellyn Acosta (23) watch in the first half of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals soccer match, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 in Frisco, Texas (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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With FC Dallas taking on Panamanian club Aribe Unido in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, 21-year-old Kellyn Acosta grabbed a second for the Major League Soccer club 10 minutes past halftime.

It wasn’t just any old goal. It was a STRIKE.

The Texas native trailed the play, and with Roland Lamah shut off in the box by solid man-marking on the ball, Acosta was there to provide an outlet, and he blasted a vicious strike into the top-left corner. The find by Lamah was a smart one with a host of defenders closing in, and his calm demeanor was rewarded as his teammate launched a rocket into the back of the net.

The goal is a fodder for those who believe Acosta, who has played full-back for much of his career, should be a midfielder instead. His positioning and ability to trail the play with deadly accuracy is what makes this goal so special.

Acosta would bag a third in the dying minutes of the game, giving FC Dallas a 3-0 lead to take on the road as they travel to Panama for the second leg on March 1st.

Top Premier League Storylines – Week 26

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Claudio Ranieri, manager of Leicester City speaks with his players during the break in extra-time in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay match between Leicester City and Derby City at The King Power Stadium on February 8, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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Well. This weekend’s return of Premier League action was already slated to be an exciting one, but now with today’s enormous bit of breaking news, it has become even more intriguing.

[ WATCH: Previewing every match in Week 26 ]

There’s plenty to discuss at the top of the Premier League table, as Arsenal and Spurs look to heal their European wounds, but it’s what’s at the bottom that has everyone talking today.

How will Leicester City react after the firing of Claudio Ranieri?

Leicester City vs. Liverpool —  3:00 p.m. EDT Monday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Well. The Foxes had their work cut out for them coming into this match already, but now it has a whole new flavor. Claudio Ranieri has been dismissed just nine months after winning the Premier League title, and sitting just a point off the drop coming into the weekend (and inside the relegation zone coming into the match?) Leicester City will be lead into King Power Stadium by Assistant Manager Craig Shakespeare and First Team Coach Mike Stowell.

Liverpool stopped a five-match winless streak last time out with a quality 2-0 win over Tottenham, but the Reds defense has been leaky all season, and if Leicester is to break its horrid 610-minute goalless streak, it would be here. The Foxes are without a win in five and have not scored a Premier League goal in all of the 2017 calendar year. Can they respond and begin to play for themselves rather than their former manager?

Can Dele Alli and Tottenham bounce back?

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs looked like they had rediscovered their Champions League form with a comprehensive smothering of Championship side Fulham in the FA Cup. Then, they welcomed KAA Gent to Wembley and promptly lost their heads. Dele Alli was sent off for one of the worst challenges you’ll see, and Spurs were vulnerable as a result, crashing out of the Europa League.

Now, Mauricio Pochettino must regroup the squad and get them ready to host Stoke, a team they clobbered 4-0 in the third match of the season. The squad is still healthy, and the loss of European play may actually help them in the long run. Here, however, it provides them with negative form and a short prep time. They need this one badly to solidify a top four place moving forward, can Poch turn it around?

Can Sunderland get a result against surging Everton?

Everton vs. Sunderland — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Hull City hosts Burnley. Crystal Palace welcomes Middlesbrough. With those two fellow occupants of the relegation zone playing at home against lower-half sides, the spotlight is squarely on Sunderland. The Black Cats have a tough matchup, on the road at Everton.

The Toffees haven’t lost a Premier League match since falling to Liverpool in mid-December, and have scored 19 goals in the eight matches since that blemish. With that in mind, Sunderland must get some kind of a result to pull off the bottom of the Premier League table. Can they snatch points at Goodison Park?

EFL Cup final could leave Chelsea well out in front

Chelsea vs. Swansea City — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Chelsea is already eight points ahead of the pack and looks to be the clear favorite to win the Premier League title. It could get even clearer after this week. Manchester United is off, Manchester City is off, and Arsenal is off. Couple that with Tottenham struggling and Liverpool facing a desperate Leicester City side, and it’s entirely conceivable that a win for Chelsea over Swansea City could leave the Blues as far as 11 points clear at the top of the table, albeit a game ahead of some. That would all but wrap things up, wouldn’t it?