Late Jarvis, Maiga goals see West Ham past Tottenham, into League Cup semifinals

2 Comments

Two goals in six minutes late at White Hart Lane have put West Ham into the League Cup semifinals, with Tottenham’s first match post-André Villas Boas ending with elimination from England’s second cup competition. Despite a 67th minute opener from Emmanuel Adebayor, Spurs were upset by goals from Matthew Jarvis and Modibo Maiga, Tim Sherwood’s debut as Tottenham’s caretaker ending in disappointment.

Though Spurs changed formation and brought the likes of Adebayor back into the team, the performance had many of the hallmarks of their previous troubles. A team that was able to dominate possession with a skill level clear superior to its opposition’s was unable to generate enough chances on goal, putting four attempts on target despite holding 68 percent of the ball. West Ham, however, dominating the final stages of the match, finished with eight hosts on goal, their pressure paying off with a late, comeback victory at the expense of a suspect Spurs defense.

The Hammers join Manchester City, Manchester United, and Sunderland in the League Cup semifinals, with Sam Allardyce’s team set to face the Citizens in the round of four. Spurs, on the other hand, are out of a competition they last won in 2008, their new coach unable to reverse the team’s coach after Monday’s firing of Villas-Boas.

[MORE: Young’s blast, Evra’s insurance see Manchester United into League Cup semifinals]

[MORE: Manchester City advance, Chelsea bounced in League Cup]

The match marked the debut of Sherwood as caretaker manager, who ushered in the post-Villas-Boas era by starting Adebayor and Jermaine Defoe at forward, changing Spurs’ formation to feature two strikers up front. Gylfi Sigurdsson was partnered with Moussa Dembélé in a two-man midfield supported by Andros Townsend and Aaron Lennon wide, another choice that would have been unlikely under Tottenham’s recently deposed boss.

The selection produced some lopsided first half statistics but no change on the scoreboard. Spurs held 72 percent of the ball and outshot West Ham 11-2, with Andros Townshend proving particularly effective down the left. But with each side only managing one shot on target, the game began its second half scoreless, Sherwood’s possession-hogging, goalless progress matching his predecessor’s possession-hogging, goalless failings.

source: AP
Modibo Maiga came on in the second half to contribute to West Ham’s equalizer and score the Hammers’ winner, sending the East London side into the League Cup semifinals. (Photo: AP)

By the opening of the second, West Ham was playing a bigger part in the game, yet come the hour, a more contested match still lacked in chances. James Collins’ blast from the edge of the Hammers’ attacking third had doubled his team’s tries on target, but Spurs had yet to re-test second choice keeper Adrían in the visitors’ goal. With the Hammers getting more chances to play balls down the field, there was the increasing threat of the match being stolen from the hosts.

Those fears appeared to be quelled in the 67th minute when Sherwood’s recall of Adebayor paid off. After Defoe had claimed a ball down the left, streaking deep into the Spurs’ attacking third, a bullet cross found an open Adebayor at the far post. Drilling a volley into the right side of goal, the formerly-forgotten striker gave Spurs what seemed a well-deserved lead.

But over the rest of the match’s final half-hour, West Ham proved the better side, that threat of theft coming good on Jarvis’s 80th minute goal. On a long ball from Adrían, Maiga flicked a header on to Matthew Taylor, who swept a pass across the penalty area to Jarvis on the left. The former Wolverhampton winger’s quick shot gave Hugo Lloris little chance to get across goal, the Hammers’ equalizer finishing in the top of Tottenham’s net.

Five minutes later, Sherwood’s debut was ruined, with a cross from the right finding Maiga for a surprisingly simple winner. Playing the ball out wide, West Ham found substitute Mohamed Diamé, who saw no pressure before targeting Maiga just outside of the six-yard box. In between defenders, Maiga had space to head his shot down and inside the left post, putting West Ham into the semifinals.

In a six-minute stretch, all the control Spurs had exerted throughout the match — control that seemed to come good with Adebayor’s opener — faded into insignificance. Though it wasn’t a 6-0 or 5-0 loss, it was a cup-eliminating defeat to a team that’s seen little other success this year. For the second time this season, Tottenham’s fallen to West Ham, with this defeat costing them their spot in the League Cup.

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.

Paulinho has silenced his critics at Barcelona

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Brazil midfielder Paulinho wasn’t greeted with the warmest of welcomes when he arrived in Barcelona.

Fans made it clear they were not too thrilled to see the club spend 40 million euros ($48 million) on a defensive midfielder who was playing in the Chinese league.

[ MORE: La Liga scores, schedule ]

They were expecting a blockbuster signing after Neymar’s departure and ended up getting a player they knew very little about.

Paulinho didn’t have any links to the club’s youth academy and his style apparently didn’t suit the team’s traditional ball-possession game.

A video of Paulinho struggling to juggle the ball during his presentation at Camp Nou Stadium didn’t help, going viral and igniting even more criticism against the player and the club.

But things have changed quickly in favor of the low-key, hard-working Brazilian.

After five Spanish league games, Paulinho has done enough to mollify the critics.

He has two goals, including a late winner against Getafe last weekend, and showed some of the prowess that led him to success in Brazil and made him an indisputable starter for his national team.

He thrived after coming off the bench in his first four matches, and eventually earned a start on Tuesday against Eibar.

“I’m happy with how things have gone for me,” Paulinho said. “I’m glad that I’m playing well, it helps me get adapted to the club. I’m playing alongside some great players and they have all been supporting me a lot.”

The 29-year-old Paulinho has added versatility to the midfield. He is solid as a defensive midfielder but also excels with attacking runs that often surprise defenders.

That’s how he scored the decisive goal in the 2-1 win against Getafe, making a run between defenders and entering the area to fire a firm shot into the far corner. His second goal was a header in a 6-1 rout of Eibar.

“He will end up being a cheap signing,” Brazil teammate and former Barcelona player Dani Alves said.

Paulinho has a lot more presence in the area than some of the team’s other midfielders, including Ivan Rakitic and even Andres Iniesta.

It was this that made Paulinho a key player in the Corinthians team that won Club World Cup in 2012. His success with the Brazilian club prompted a move in 2013 to Tottenham, where he disappointed in his two seasons before moving to Guangzhou Evergrande.

Paulinho, who signed a four-year contract with Barcelona, said he had regained his confidence while playing in China. And his good performances with Brazil also helped.

“He gives us a lot of versatility. He can help us in many different ways,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Barcelona’s next game is on Saturday at Girona. The Catalan club has won its first five Spanish league games and has a two-point lead over second-place Sevilla.

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

Follow Tales Azzoni on http://twitter.com/tazzoni