Moussa Dembele

Sunderland 1-2 Tottenham: Spirited fightback seals win for Spurs (video)

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Tottenham beat Sunderland to take all three points from their trip to the Stadium of Light on Saturday, as Spurs fought back from 1-0 down to win in convincing fashion.

A goal either side of half time sealed the win as Paulinho cancelled out Adam Johnson’s opener for Sunderland just before the break, and just after the interval Mousa Dembele’s strong run and cross was knocked into his own net by Black Cats defender John O’Shea. Tottenham pushed for a third to add gloss to the scoreline but they had to settle for the narrow victory, despite dominating the match.

With the victory Spurs move up to sixth in the league and sit just three points behind Liverpool and Chelsea in second, while Sunderland remain rock bottom and five points from safety.

Sunderland were lively early on and pushed forward down the flanks to create a few problems for Spurs, however it was the away side who came closest early on when Brazilian international Paulinho sent a rasping effort just over the cross bar after 12 minutes.

The Black Cats were buoyed by Tottenham’s forward advances, which also saw Lewis Holtby also put a good effort in on goal, as  Jozy Altidore played in Jack Colback but the latter blasted over on 18 minutes.

Spurs were getting plenty of the ball but Sunderland weren’t letting them get in behind as the North London side were reduced to speculative efforts from distance.

Sunderland were content to play on the break and Tottenham failed to create any real openings in the first half. But then came Johnson’s opener.

A ball up to Altidore saw the U.S. international play a pass wide to Ondrej Celustka who whipped in a routine cross that should’ve been easily collected by Tottenham ‘keeper Hugo Lloris. Instead the French international went to punch the ball, didn’t get anywhere near enough contact on it and the ball fell to Johnson who hammered home a blistering strike into the top corner to put the Mackems 1-0 up.

MORE: Premier League Standings

Spurs sprung into life after they went behind and just before the interval they drew level thanks to an opportunistic finish from Paulinho. Kyle Walker’s free kick from the right in the 43rd minute was nodded back into the danger zone by Nacer Chadli and Tottenham’s Brazilian midfielder reacted first to score his third PL goal of the season to make it 1-1 at half time.

In the second half Spurs carried on their domination and Mousa Dembele’s surging run off the left flank saw his cross strike Sunderland defender John O’Shea and deflect into his own net to give Tottenham a 2-1 lead. It was a hugely fortunate goal but AVB’s men were ahead and looked to build on the lead handed to them by a huge slice of luck.

AVB saw his side put in a quality performance away at Sunderland, as Spurs climb the table.

Spurs looked to have grabbed a second in the 53rd minute but Johnson tracked back over 60 yards to put in a great last-ditch tackle as Holtby was about to tap Tottenham into a 3-1 lead. In the 54th minute Jermain Defoe hit the post after great work from Aaron Lennon to pick him out, as Spurs pushed on in search of their third goal.

Defoe again went close soon after as he dragged an effort wide of Mannone’s far post when clean through on goal. The England international really should have done better as Spurs couldn’t get a third goal to seal the win. Sunderland rallied and threw the kitchen sink at Spurs and Sandro looked to have given away a penalty for handball in the box after he raised his arm. However referee Lee Mason waved play on, much to the annoyance of the home fans.

Defoe’s sublime movement was on show once again as he reacted first to a good cross from the left but struck the post for a second time in the game as the Black Cats were hanging on by the skin of their teeth.

Substitute Fabio Borini had a glorious chance late on but when the ball dropped to him in the penalty box, the Liverpool loanee struck his effort tamely at Lloris as Spurs held on for their second-straight 2-1 win away from White Hart Lane.


Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Celustka (Giaccherini, 76), O’Shea, Brown, Ki, Colback (Cattermole, 66), Larsson, Johnson (Borini, 66), Fletcher, Altidore

Goal: Johnson (37)

Tottenham: Lloris; Walker, Capoue, Dawson, Naughton; Dembele (Sandro, 73), Paulinho; Lennon, Holtby (Townsend, 78), Chadli (Sigurddson, 84); Defoe

Goals: Paulinho (43), O’Shea – own goal (49)

MLS Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC (video)

Seattle Sounders defender Roman Torres, right, exchanges words with Sporting Kansas City's Kevin Ellis, left, and Soni Mustivar, center, after Sounders' midfielder Osvaldo Alonso (not shown) was given a yellow card for a foul against midfielder Roger Espinoza in the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Seattle. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The game in 100 words (or less): There’s a ton to unpack here, so we’ll dive right in. The Seattle Sounders topped Sporting Kansas City in the final knockout-round game of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Nelson Valdez scored the game’s only goal, an 88th-minute header, but not without supreme controversy. For starters, Valdez was offside as Joevin Jones played the ball into the box, just as Matt Besler was on a free kick for Sporting earlier in the second half. Besler’s goal was ruled out for offside, Valdez’s was allowed to stand. Benny Feilhaber, perhaps in his final game for Sporting, played like a man possessed and so nearly singlehandedly won the game for Sporting at multiple points on the night. Stefan Frei stood on his head and refused to allow such an occurrence. Osvaldo Alonso could have been sent off twice on the night — once on a straight red; once on a second yellow — but finished the game with just a single caution. Up next, the Sounders will take on Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

10′ — Zusi hits the post with a strike through traffic — Benny Feilhaber’s through ball to set up this double-chance for Sporting in sumptuous, and fully deserving of a proper finish.

53′ — Besler heads home, but he’s offside — This is about as close an onside/offside decisions get.

79′ — Frei denies Feilhaber after a spectacular run — Feilhaber’s run was mesmerizing, but Stefan Frei’s save was the tiniest bit better.

88′ — Valdez heads home the late winner — If Besler was offside, Valdez was offside. An unfitting end to a thrilling game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Benny Feilhaber

Goalscorers: Valdez (88′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: D.C. United 2-4 Montreal Impact (video)

CORRECTS DATE - Montreal Impact forward Matteo Mancosu, back, celebrates his goal with Ignacio Piatti (10) during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against D.C. United, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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The game in 100 words (or less): There are epic playoff collapses, and there is the MLS Cup Playoffs abomination put forth by D.C. United on Thursday. Playing host to a Montreal Impact side that won just two of its last eight regular-season games and crawled over the finish line, United — winners of four of their last five and one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch — no-showed Thursday’s knockout-round tie, and their season is deservingly finished. Laurent Ciman put the Impact ahead inside the first five minutes, and United never recovered or seemed the least bit urgent with their season on the line. Matteo Mancosu bagged a brace either side of halftime to make it 3-0, and Ignacio Piatti, who was his usual brilliant self — so good, in fact, he made you forget Didier Drogba was unavailable due to injury/dispute over his role as a substitute — added a fourth not long before full-time. Lamar Neagle grabbed a late consolation goal for United, bringing them back to 4-1 before Taylor Kemp fired a laser past Evan Bush for 4-2 late in stoppage time, but that’s as close as they’d get. Up next for the Impact, it’s the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three moments that mattered

4′ — Ciman slots home from a corner for 1-0 — An absolute dream start for Montreal, as Ciman gets front side of his marker and benefits from a fortunate bounce after he scuffs the shot.

43′ — Mancosu slams home Piatti’s cross for 2-0 — Someone tell DCU that the knockout round is most definitely win-or-go-home. Horrific defending. Ball-watching all over the place. This is not the same team that won four of their last five in order to host this game.

58′ — Mancosu heads home at the near post for 3-0 — Steve Birnbaum has not had the greatest end to the 2016 season. Stay healthy, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Matteo Mancosu

Goalscorers: Ciman (4′), Mancosu (43′, 58′), Piatti (83′), Neagle (90′), Kemp (90+4′)

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

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Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.