Sunderland's Emauele Giaccherini, left, and Norwich City's Nathan Redmond vie for the ball during their English Premier League soccer match at The Stadium of Light, Sunderland, Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (AP Photo/PA, Steve Drew)

Sunderland 0-0 Norwich City: A point, but Black Cats remain last (video)

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Sunderland were buoyed after their midweek win over Chelsea in the League Cup and early on Fabio Borini went clear but could only hit the side-netting when he should have hit the target.

Nowrich pressed for most of the first half but the home side looked dangerous on the counter-attack and pushed forward for an opener.

Jozy Altidore dallied when clean through as the USMNT striker should have hit an effort first time but instead wanted to take a touch and was then dispossessed.

The home fans weren’t happy as the Black Cats looked a little devoid of cutting edge going forward.

Norwich went close through Gary Hooper and Leroy Fer as the interval loomed, with the latter thwarted by Vito Mannone’s great save.

But despite all of that pressure, the first half ended scoreless at the Stadium of Light. As did the second.

With twenty minutes left to play, Sunderland very nearly put themselves in front after a spot of shambolic defending from Norwich, but Wes Brown’s header cracked off the post.

The hosts very nearly capitalized on the Canaries’ defensive lapses ten minutes later, when John Ruddy elected to take a trip over to the corner flag, and found himself tackled. Ki Sung-Yueng took advantage and sent in a shot from about 25 yards out, but the strike went just high.

Perhaps the most exciting moments of the match occurred during injury time, as the referee waved away a penalty appeal from the hosts, who were claiming handball from Sebastien Bassong. Moments later, Brown was shown a straight red for a reckless challenge on Ricky van Wolfswinkel.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Mannone, Celustka, Bardsley, Ki, O’Shea, Brown, Giaccherini (Johnson 63), Cattermole, Altidore (Fletcher 68), Larsson (Roberge 90), Borini

Norwich: Ruddy, Whittaker, Olsson, Fer, Turner, Bassong Nguena, Snodgrass, Johnson, Elmander (van Wolfswinkle 77), Hooper, Redmond

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.