Stoke City 2-1 Aston Villa: Potters pull off all three points (video)

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Stoke City pulled off a massive three points at the Britannia on Saturday, beating Aston Villa 2-1 to move into 10th place, seven points clear of the drop. Meanwhile Villa may be six points clear, but their woes continue, with the side notching their third straight loss.

As many predicted, the first half of Stoke – Villa didn’t exactly thrill. In fact, the most exciting moment was likely when Marc Wilson was shown a yellow card for taking out Villa forward Andi Weimann. As the Austrian was clear on goal, it appeared as though the Stoke defender should’ve been shown a red card, and Villa awarded a penalty. Instead, the hosts got away with just a yellow.

Mark Hughes made a smart change to start off the second half, replacing Marko Arnautović with Charlie Adam. But the Stoke boss didn’t instruct his team to change their style of play — no, the goal, coming five minutes after the restart, came courtesy of a long ball. Peter Crouch knocked it down, and Adam pounced, slipping the ball past Brad Guzan and into the bottom corner.

The visitors found their equalizer just fifteen minutes later, when Libor Kozák capitalized on an error from Erik Pieters. The Stoke fullback couldn’t get the ball out of danger and it fell to the feet of Kozák, who had no trouble slotting past Asmir Begović, while Pieters stood by with reddened cheeks.

Yet Stoke refused to let Villa take them down, and, in less than five minutes, pulled ahead once more. The visitors’ defense was the one that went to pieces this time, although one might ask why, exactly, Paul Lambert chose to have the 5’8″ Chris Herd marking Peter Crouch, a full foot taller than the Villa man. Crouch had no trouble getting on the end of a ball from Geoff Cameron and putting the ball past Guzan.

Lineups

Stoke City: Begović, Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters, Walters, Nzonzi, Arnautović (Adam 46), Whelan, Assaidi (Pennant 72), Crouch

Goals: Adam 50′; Crouch 70

Aston Villa: Guzan, Lowton, Clark, Herd, Baker, Westwood, Delph, Tonev (Bowery 67), Albrighton (Bacuna 81), Weimann, Kozák

Goals: Kozák 66′

Defoe walks out Bradley Lowery, scores in England win

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Jermain Defoe’s friendship with terminally-ill Bradley Lowery has been special to watch unfold, and the Sunderland striker brought his little buddy to Wembley today.

Then he notched a match-winner.

Lowery walked Defoe out onto the field in a replica England kit before Sunday’s World Cup qualifier against Lithuania, and then Defoe scored his 20th goal for country.

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It was his first since 2013, the last year Defoe was called up for the Three Lions.

Here’s the goal, which was followed by a second-half Jamie Vardy tally as England stayed atop Group F with a 2-0 win over Lithuania.

Two Russian soccer fans stabbed in Serbia

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BELGRADE, Serbia (AP) Two Russian fans have been hospitalized with serious injuries after being stabbed following a friendly soccer match between Red Star Belgrade and Lokomotiv Moscow.

Serbian Interior Minister Nebojsa Stefanovic said Sunday police were looking for the knife-wielding perpetrators who attacked a group of Lokomotiv fans in downtown Belgrade late Saturday.

Serbian media reports said the Russian fans were attacked by supporters of Red Star’s rival Partizan Belgrade.

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The match, which Red Star won 2-1, was meant to promote Serbia’s traditional friendship with Russia.

Stefanovic says “nobody should think they could hurt the Serbian-Russian friendship” with such attacks.

Serbia has seen a surge of fan violence inside and outside stadiums. In 2009, a French football fan was fatally beaten in Belgrade.

VIDEO: Gerrard’s juggle and finish leads Liverpool legends past Real Madrid

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Scoring at Anfield doesn’t get old, especially when your name is Steven Gerrard.

The English midfielder was playing in a friendly match between Liverpool and Real Madrid “legends” on Sunday, when he delivered this tasty goal (and assists to Michael Owen, Robbie Fowler, and John Aldridge).

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Gerrard redirects a cross over a lunging defender and into a place where he can lash a goal home to put the Reds up 4-0. He dedicated his Man of the Match performance to club legend Ronnie Moran, who died earlier this week.

Real’s comeback came up just short in a 4-3 final, with Fernando Morientes, Ruben de la Red, and Edwin Congo scoring for the visitors.

On a Sunday waiting for the international matches to begin, Gerrard supplies a nice highlight for the rest of us (Extended highlights free on Liverpool’s site).

Ozil bristles at talk of Arsenal selling him

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Mesut Ozil is on international break, and bristling at reports that Arsenal is going to sell him.

The midfielder’s absence from the lineup last week had plenty speculating on his future, even more than usual. His contract expires in 2018, and several reports claimed he’d join Alexis Sanchez as players destined for elsewhere.

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Ozil was not called up by Germany, and has missed four of his last nine Premier League matches. Three of those were for illness, and he missed last week’s loss to West Brom with a hamstring injury.

From Metro:

“And you think Wenger tells the journalist before he tells me? Then I know him differently,” Ozil told German outlet Welt.

“I have a contract until 2018 in London and I feel very comfortable there. We’ll talk soon and then make a decision.”

Metro notes that Ozil also said he wants to win the Champions League, something that can only happen with Arsenal remaining in the Top Four. We suppose you could make snarky inferences from his “comfortable in London” phrasing, but we’ll leave it there.