Everton

Swansea 1-2 Everton: Stunners see visitors steal points with Barkley’s winner (video)

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The first two thirds were forgettable, but stunning blasts from Seamus Coleman and Ross Barkley see Everton burgle all three points from Liberty Stadium.

With both teams playing a possession game early, the first 65 minutes could have put some to sleep, but Coleman had a go from distance and rocketed the game awake.

Swansea then equalized just minutes later thanks to a deflection, but a thunderous free kick from Ross Barkley put the visitors into the lead for good.

Everton began the match on the front foot, looking to build from the midfield with lots of passing and possession, but Swansea’s defense proved difficult not only to unlock but even budge.

From the start, both teams settled into possession, and very little was created in the first half.  The ball rarely even found its way into either attacking third, with both teams trying to work from the back up.

The only real opportunity in the first half came as Gerhard Tremmel spilled a catch directly at the feet of a surprised Lukaku, but the big striker whiffed and Tremmel collected safely.

Basically nothing happened in the first 45 minutes, with neither goalkeeper required to do much, if anything.

The second half proved similar, although a few chances came begging.  Fittingly, rain began to fall around the 55th minute, and it saw Coleman weave through the Swansea defense in a Lionel Messi-esque run but it was cut out one defender before he reached the goal.

source: Getty Images
21-year-old Ross Barkley has made a serious case to be brought into the World Cup squad by England.

Finally, a quality attempt on goal came to pass in the 65th minute. Barkley sliced through open space in the Swansea midfield, shook a defender with a touch to his left, and rattled the crossbar off the fingertips of Tremmel.

That was a sign of things to come for Everton, as Coleman minutes later worked some space well outside the 18-yard box, and blasted a thunderbolt past a wrong-footed Tremmel and into the back of the net.  It was a true stunner by the 25-year-old defender for his fourth goal of the season.

The style of play wasn’t changed for either side following the goal, but Swansea would also find something out of nothing for their equalizer just four minutes later.

A cross from Ben Davis floated in, and Dwight Tiendalli didn’t get a clean shot off, but the resulting effort caromed off Brian Oviedo and left Tim Howard no chance. The official word came down as an own-goal on Oviedo, as Tiendalli’s original shot was going a decent way wide.

The final 10 minutes saw some chances as both sides pressed for a winner. Substitute Alvaro Vasquez brought the ball down the right side of the box on his own, but with no support his chip attempt went right into the waiting arms of Howard.

Then it was the youngster’s moment. With Davies having scythed down James McCarthy outside the box, 21-year-old Barkley ripped a strike into the top corner for the winner.

The American keeper had to make a pair of excellent saves in the final few minutes, with Swansea pouring forward, but the Everton defense held well.

The win for Everton means they stay unbeaten in 10 straight, and travel into the top four of the Premier League table jumping Chelsea, who play tomorrow.

Swansea have just two points in their last three matches, and remain in 11th place level with Hull City on points.

GOALS:

Everton – Coleman 66′, Oviedo 70′ (og), Barkley 84′

LINEUPS:

Swansea – Tremmel; Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies; Canas, Shelvey, de Guzman (Pozuelo 86′), Routledge (Lamah 66′), Hernandez; Bony (Vazquez 76′).

Everton – Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Oviedo; Mirallas (Osman 78′), McCarthy, Barry, Pienaar (Naismith 78′), Barkley; Lukaku.

Hull City promoted, but Steve Bruce still considering future

LONDON, ENGLAND - MAY 28:  Steve Bruce, manager of Hull City lifts the trophy after victory in the Sky Bet Championship Play Off Final match between Hull City and Sheffield Wednesday at Wembley Stadium on May 28, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Steve Bruce saw Hull City go down to the Championship, and pulled the Tigers right back up the Premier League.

Hull won promotion at the first time of asking after defeating Sheffield Wednesday 1-0 on Saturday, but Bruce wants to see stability at the KC Stadium.

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The club remains up for sale after owner Assem Allam saw his request to change the team name to Hull Tigers denied by the English Football Association.

From the BBC:

“I’ll sit down with the owners. It’s not often you walk away from the Premier League – that’s where I want to manage,” Bruce told BBC Radio 5 live.

“But I have to be given certain assurances that we’re all moving in the right direction.

“I keep hearing too many stories that there’s a takeover imminent. We’ll see what develops,” added the 55-year-old.

The longtime Manchester United back has been around the managerial block a few times, and it’d be nice to see him stay at Hull for the long term. He’s led the Tigers into the Premier League on two occasions, and is — seriously — the seventh longest tenured manager in the Football League. He would enter the Premier League as the second-longest serving manager, to Arsene Wenger.

BREAKING: Olympiacos striker Pulido kidnapped in Mexico

DRENTHE, NETHERLANDS - JULY 29:  Alan Pulido of Olympiacos in action during the pre season friendly match between FC Twente and Olympiacos Piraeus held at Sportpark Veenoord on July 29, 2015 in New Amsterdam and Veenoord, Netherlands.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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Terrifying news out of Mexico, where 25-year-old Mexican national team striker Alan Pulido has reportedly been kidnapped in his hometown.

Pulido, 25, has four goals in six caps for El Tri and moved to Olympiacos in 2015, where he scored five goals in eight matches.

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Various reports claim that Pulido and his girlfriend were taken after masked gunmen cut off the vehicle in which they were riding, and only released the girlfriend.

From the Associated Press:

The official says the 25-year-old player was kidnapped near his hometown of Ciudad Victoria on Sunday after leaving a party.

The official spoke on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to discuss the case under investigation.

Klinsmann hails Zardes’ character; USMNT forward likes his first touch

COLUMBUS, OH - MARCH 29:  Gyasi Zardes #9 of the United States Men's National Team controls the ball against Guatemala during the FIFA 2018  World Cup qualifier on March 29, 2016 at MAPFRE Stadium in Columbus, Ohio. The United States defeated Guatemala 4-0.  (Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)
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Gyasi Zardes’ remarkable rise from Cal State Bakersfield to fixture on the United States men’s national team is one of the better stories in recent team history.

The USMNT attacker nabbed his fourth and fifth international goals in Saturday night’s blowout of Bolivia, and he’s up to 25 caps since making his debut in Jan. 2015.

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Jurgen Klinsmann deserves some credit for putting the L.A. Galaxy on the field almost religiously as Zardes works on so many facets of his game. He’s improved dramatically in positioning, runs and 1v1 battles and reportedly soaks up information like a sponge. Klinsmann loves the guy, and for good reason.

It’s also important to note that, despite his ever-present status, Zardes remains 24 and a work in progress.

From MLSSoccer.com:

“Sometimes it’s perfect, and maybe the next day it’s not so good, but it’s totally fine – because every player has his strengths and weaknesses. So as long as they keep on working on those weaknesses and getting them better and better, it’s totally fine. He’s very straight in his thought process in front of the goal. He knows exactly what he wants to do.

“You have to follow your first thought. That’s crucial. If you start to have two thoughts, then you’re going to get messed up. He was very calm, putting two goals in there, and the whole game he was involved. It’s coming along.”

Zardes’ club goal production dropped last year from roughly a goal every other game to one every three, but he’s been growing as a playmaer and this season has four goals and four assists through 11 matches.

I really like Zardes — see my post calling for his USMNT call-up in 2014 — but let me say one negative thing about his bristling at first touch questions and saying, “To be honest, me personally, I think I have a good first touch”: I’m glad he feels that way and his woes may be a bit overblown, but calling his Saturday goals first touch goals is accurate but kind of hilarious.

The criticism of his first touch, which his betrayed him on major scoring chances in each of the last two USMNT matches, has nothing to do when his first touch is directed at goal. On his brace last night, the first was a good finish where he had to work it past the keeper and the second was a plant foot shot. Both, in fact, were shots.

Those count as your first touch on the ball, but when we discuss first touch it’s about taking the ball off a pass or dribble and possessing it for a purpose. Of course he was right to shoot, but it’s cool if your eyes rolled pretty hard in reading his comments.

Koeman: Manchester United “don’t deserve a medal” for treatment of Louis van Gaal

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 20:  Louis van Gaal, Manager of  Manchester United talks to Ronald Koeman, Manager of Southampton during the  Barclays Premier League match between Southampton and Manchester United at St Mary's Stadium on September 20, 2015 in Southampton, United Kingdom.  (Photo by Tony Marshall/Getty Images)
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When it comes to the firing of Louis Van Gaal, his countryman has his back.

Southampton boss Ronald Koeman doesn’t like the way Manchester United handled LVG’s fate with the team, firing him within hours of the Red Devils winning the FA Cup.

Like many, Koeman doesn’t buy that the LVG to Jose Mourinho transition happened in a week.

[ MORE: Early and (purposefully) absurd 2016-17 PL predictions ]

Given the gossip mill since Chelsea fired Mourinho in January, that’s not a hard thing to buy, and Koeman is angry that LVG was kept out of the loop. Reports claim that Van Gaal had drawn-up plans for 2016-17 with him on the day he was let go.

From Sky Sports:

“If Louis was not told about getting the sack until after the FA Cup final, then Manchester United as a club don’t deserve a medal for the way they treated him.

“If you know a little bit about the business at the highest level in football, then you know that these kind of deals are not done overnight.”

Koeman hedges his words with conditionals, but there’s little doubt what he means. Managers generally stand together when it comes to dismissals, but it’s nice to see someone stand up for LVG’s treatment (whether he deserved to be canned or not).