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Crystal Palace 0-3 Newcastle United: Magpies flying-high after yet another win (video)

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Newcastle hadn’t lost at Selhurst Park since 1984 before Saturday’s trip to South London… and they never looked in danger of losing that superb record.

Two first half strikes, courtesy of Yohan Cabaye’s cool finish and a Danny Gabbidon own goal, put the Magpies in a commanding position and despite Crystal Palace’s endeavor to get back into the match, a late Hatem Ben Arfa penalty kick sealed a 3-0 win for Newcastle.

Tony Pulis’ Palace were outclassed by an energetic and clinical Magpies side in the driving rain and swirling wind as horrendous weather hit England’s capital. It could have been more comfortable for the away side, but their sixth win in their last eight games sent them within three points of the top four. Palace remain in the relegation zone but are just one point from safety.

It will be a very Merry Christmas for Alan Pardew and the Toon Army up in the North East.

An even start to proceedings at Selhurst Park as the Eagles held firm despite a few dangerous set pieces from the Magpies.

Loic Remy was looking sharp up top as Newcastle aimed to hit the Eagles on the counter-attack but Pulis’ men were looking solid and organized.

The horrific weather conditions, driving rain and swirling winds around South London, weren’t conducive to attacking play.

However splendid play from Moussa Sissoko on the right saw him beat Dean Moxey and then pull a perfect ball back for Cabaye to stroke home a calm finish on his return to the starting lineup.

But Palace didn’t hide after going behind as Cameron Jerome forced a good stop from Tim Krul and from the resulting corner Barry Bannan’s in-swinging cross was nearly bundled home for an equalizer.

Then a moment of madness came from Gabbidon in the 39th minute as Matheiu Debuchy’s right wing cross was going out of play and no Newcastle forward was around, but Palace’s defender launched himself at the ball and deflected the cross into his own net to put the Magpies 2-0 up.

Following the break Julian Speroni made a terrific stop from Cabaye after his 30-yard free kick swerved all over the place and the Italian ‘keeper adjusted his body well to keep the effort out.

Newcastle looked more likely to extend their lead than Palace mounting a fight back, with the Eagles struggling to create much going forward as the Magpies looked strong and composed in possession.

In the 62nd minute Palace came close after Yannick Bolasie’s right-wing cross found Marouane Chamakh but the striker headed wide after he rose highest in the box. With the final 10 minutes approaching, Newcastle went forward and in-form attacker Yoann Gouffran curled a powerful shot off of Speroni’s right hand post as the Magpies aimed to seal yet another win.

A rash challenge from Jonny Parr on Shola Ameobi saw Neil Swarbrick point to the spot in the 86th minute, as Ben Arfa stepped up to smash the ball home and round off the scoring.

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey (Parr, 45), Ward, Jedinak, Puncheon, Bannan (Bolasie, 45), Chamakh, Jerome (Gayle, 77)

Newcastle: Krul, Debuchy, Coloccini, Williamson, Santon, Cabaye (Ben Arfa, 79), Tiote, Sissoko, Anita, Gouffran, Remy (Shola Ameobi, 75)

Goals: Cabaye (25), Gabbidon (OG – 39), Ben Arfa (86)

Mourinho: “I prefer to forget the last three years” of Manchester United

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 26:  Chelsea Manager Jose Mourinho is asked for his autograph by fans prior to the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Chelsea at Old Trafford on October 26, 2014 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images)
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Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has immediately begun courting the fans of his new club.

The 53-year-old Portuguese manager may’ve run rivals Chelsea on two occasions, but claims he’s always had empathy with United even when defeating the Old Trafford club.

[ MORE: United hires Mourinho | Things he must do ]

In an interview with Manchester United TV, Mourinho issues some high praise of the club while also managing a bit of classic “The Special One” ego in saying, “Giant clubs must be for the best managers.”

As for the disappointing trio of years between David Moyes and Louis Van Gaal, Mourinho says he’d rather consider his tenure in line with the run of Alex Ferguson.

From the BBC:

“I think we can look at our club in two perspectives – one is the past three years and another is the history. I prefer to forget the last three years. I prefer to focus on the giant club I have in my hands now. “

Mourinho has had some time to calculate the best way to endear himself to United supporters, and playing to their belief as the most historic club in the world sure pushes the right buttons.

Now comes the task of delivering titles in a climate more competitive than any other time in modern history.

Mourinho confirmed, hails “mystique and romance” of Manchester United

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Manchester United made the hiring of Jose Mourinho official on Friday, with vice chairman Ed Woodward calling him “the best in the game.”

Mourinho hasn’t accepted a job since being let go by Chelsea this winter, and United fired Louis Van Gaal after the manager led them to the FA Cup title on Saturday.

[ MORE: Ferdinand hails hiring “wounded animal” Mourinho ]

It is a three-year deal, which will certainly lead to snarky comments regarding Mourinho’s three-year stints around Europe, but the manager has won the league within two years at every stop since Porto.

His first of many quotes to come are in an announcement post on ManUtd.com:

“To become Manchester United manager is a special honour in the game. It is a club known and admired throughout the world. There is a mystique and a romance about it which no other club can match.

“I have always felt an affinity with Old Trafford; it has hosted some important memories for me in my career and I have always enjoyed a rapport with the United fans. I’m looking forward to being their manager and enjoying their magnificent support in the coming years.”

So after a Premier League season in which perhaps the most remarkable story in English football history was told, next season will have Jose Mourinho, Pep Guardiola, Jurgen Klopp and Antonio Conte guiding the massive ships of Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Chelsea through first full seasons.

Is it August yet?

MLS Preview: Conference leaders meet as Philly head west to Colorado

COMMERCE CITY, COLORADO - APRIL 02:  Dillon Powers #8 of Colorado Rapids controls the ball against the Toronto FC at Dick's Sporting Goods Park on April 2, 2016 in Commerce City, Colorado. The Rapids defeated Toronto FC 1-0.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)
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The weekend is nearing, which means another full slate of ten matches across Major League Soccer.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

With Sporting KC and D.C. United kicking things off on Friday night, Saturday is jam-packed with eight matches before the league’s youngest clubs NYCFC and Orlando wrap up the action on Sunday.

Colorado Rapids vs. Philadelphia Union — Saturday, 9:00 p.m. ET

There’s not a misprint on the table, Colorado and Philadelphia are both at the top of their conferences. After sitting near the bottom of MLS for the past two seasons, Colorado has shocked everyone, currently leading the league in points (27) with the fewest goals conceded (9). On Saturday, the Rapids put their perfect 6-0 home record on the line when they host the Union, who currently lead the East by two points.

New York Red Bulls vs. Toronto FC — Saturday, 7:00 p.m. ET

Coming off of a massive 7-0 win in the Hudson River Derby against NYCFC, the Red Bulls will look to continue trending upwards when they host Toronto FC. Two of the preseason favorites to top the Eastern Conference, both sides are currently tied on points, although the Red Bulls have a game in hand. For Toronto, Sebastian Giovinco will be keen to prove Antonio Conte wrong after being left out of the Italy squad for EURO 2016 after the Italian boss talked down upon MLS.

[ MLS: Standings | Stats | Schedule ]

Montreal Impact vs. Los Angeles Galaxy — Saturday, 8:00 p.m. ET

Didier Drogba has scored in each of his last three starts, a streak he will look to keep alive against the Los Angeles Galaxy this weekend. While Drogba will be looking to score, Montreal must make sure their defense is in top form as the Galaxy have scored a league-high 25 goals through 11 matches.

Elsewhere around MLS

Sporting KC vs. D.C. United — Friday, 7:00 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Houston Dynamo — Saturday, 6:00 p.m. ET
Columbus Crew SC vs. Real Salt Lake — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
New England Revolution vs. Seattle Sounders — Saturday, 7:30 p.m. ET
Chicago Fire vs. Portland Timbers — Saturday, 8:30 p.m. ET
San Jose Earthquakes vs. FC Dallas — Saturday, 10:30 p.m. ET
New York City FC vs. Orlando City SC — Sunday, 4:30 p.m. ET

Cantona claims ethnicity played role in Benzema, Ben Arfa France snubs

SHANGHAI, CHINA - APRIL 14:  Former Footballer Eric Cantona of France speaks during a press conference at the Shanghai Grand Theatre prior to the  Laureus World Sports Awards  on April 14, 2015 in Shanghai, China.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images for Laureus)
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Eric Cantona has made the headlines again, this time making some bold claims against France national team manager Didier Deschamps.

Cantona, a former Manchester United legend and French international, questioned whether Deschamps excluded Karim Benzema and Hatem Ben Arfa from the team due to their North African origins.

[ MORE: Skrtel set to leave Liverpool ]

Speaking to The Guardian, Cantona calls Benzema and Ben Arfa two of France’s best footballers, both of whom will not be playing for the national team this summer.

Benzema is a great player. Ben Arfa is a great player. But Deschamps, he has a really French name. Maybe he is the only one in France to have a truly French name. Nobody in his family mixed with anybody, you know.

So I’m not surprised he used the situation of Benzema not to take him. Especially after [French Prime Minister Manuel Valls] said he should not play for France. And Ben Arfa is maybe the best player in France today. But they have some origins. I am allowed to think about that.

One thing is for sure – Benzema and Ben Arfa are two of the best players in France and will not play the European Championship. And for sure, Benzema and Ben Arfa, their origins are north African. So, the debate is open.

Cantona’s view doesn’t hold much merit as Deschamps did not even have the option of selecting Benzema, the country’s active leading goalscorer. The Real Madrid striker is suspended by the federation, embroiled in a blackmail sex-tape scandal involving French teammate Mathieu Valbuena, who was also left off the EURO roster.

[ MORE: Three battles that could determine the Champions League final ]

France is an extremely diverse nation with a large North African population, Benzema of Algerian descent and Ben Arfa’s father a former Tunisian international. Both players were born in France and have received prior call-ups under Deschamps, with Cantona’s quite ridiculous comments likely to cause a stir before the EURO.