After scoring Manchester United’s opener in the team’s 3-1 win against West Ham, Danny Welbeck was forced to leave Saturday’s game after 54 minutes with a suspected knee injury. Though there were some fears the England international had aggravated a problem that sidelined him earlier this season, the 23-year-old’s recovered enough to travel to Hull on Boxing Day, all fears of serious injury having been averted.
[REVIEW: Manchester United 3-1 West Ham: Rampant Red Devils ease to three points (video)]
Welbeck’s goal after 25 minutes Saturday at Old Trafford was his third in as many games, the young striker having stepped up in the absence of the injured Robin van Persie. But just nine minutes after halftime, David Moyes had to bring off his number nine, with Welbeck forced off in favor of Javier Hernández. Though United would go on to their fourth straight win, the status of their hottest goalscorer was in doubt.
Having started the last three games, Welbeck’s been crucial to Manchester United’s uptick in goals, with the team scoring eight times in that span. Though Hernández and Wayne Rooney are also capable of being deployed as David Moyes’s lead striker, the ongoing absence of van Persie (thigh) increases Welbeck’s importance. Without him, Hernández or Shinji Kagawa (eight league starts combined) would be forced into United’s starting XI.
[PREVIEW: Hull City vs. Manchester United]
From Moyes’s perspective, however, that possibility doesn’t seem particularly likely. From reporting by the Guardian:
“I didn’t know exactly what it was after the game. He had a problem with his knee a few weeks ago but this was just a kick right on the kneecap,” the United manager said. ” It is only a contact injury, one he should be able to shake off. He has trained and we hope he is OK.”
With or without Welbeck, United will be favored to extend their winning streak to five on Thursday when they kick off Boxing Day with their visit to Hull.
The United States looks to finish the international break in an automatic qualifier spot in the CONCACAF World Cup qualifying table when it faces Panama in Panama City at 10:05 p.m. EDT Tuesday.
A lot of the faces are the same from the 6-0 demolition of Honduras in California on Friday, though John Brooks and Sebastian Lletget are out with injury.
Jermaine Jones replaces Lletget while Tim Ream moves into the fray for Brooks. Geoff Cameron played Friday’s match with a minor injury, and moves out of the XI for Graham Zusi.
USMNT: Howard; Villafana, Gonzalez, Ream, Zusi; Bradley, Jones, Nagbe; Pulisic, Dempsey, Altidore
Subs: Bingham, Rimando; Beasley, Besler, Camron, Zimmerman; Acosta, Arriola, Bedoya, Kljestan, McCarty, Pulisic; Wondolowski
Diego Reyes’ 58th minute header off a corner kick gave Mexico a lead it wouldn’t give up in a 1-0 win over Trinidad and Tobago at Hasely Crawford Stadium in World Cup qualifying on Tuesday.
The win gives Mexico a table-topping 10 points, seven ahead of last-place T&T.
[ MORE: Honduras 1-1 Costa Rica ]
The Soca Warriors were in fine, stingy form early, and looked to have gone ahead on the counterattack when Joevin Jones belted a left-footer into the Mexico goal.
The linesman, however, ruled that Jones was offside. He almost certainly was not, as Mexico’s supreme luck in CONCACAF play continued for at least one night.
Hector Herrera hammered a shot off the far goal post early in the second half as Mexico attempted to grab control.
T&T goalkeeper Jan-Michael Williams jammed Miguel Layun’s shot over the bar moments before the breakthrough from Reyes.
Williams then saved Javier Hernandez’s 64th minute offering as Mexico looked to put three points to bed.
Joevin Jones won a free kick in the 76th minute that gave a brief moment of light to T&T’s hopes, but Jones hit the wall and Mexico cleared the ball.
Honduras did the United States a favor by taking a point from visiting Costa Rica in Tuesday’s CONCACAF World Cup qualifier in San Pedro Sula.
Anthony Lozano pushed a 35th minute chance past an indecisive Keylor Navas, as Los Catrachos set the stage for a hopeful three points.
[ STREAM: T&T-Mexico, Panama-USMNT ]
Vancouver Whitecaps center back Kendall Waston’s haphazard defending helped allow the goal, but he scored off a late Costa Rica corner kick to ensure Costa Rica will finish the international break in second place.
With four points, Honduras moves ahead of Trinidad and Tobago and the United States before both sides play Tuesday.
Costa Rica beat the U.S. 4-0 in 2016, while the Yanks battered Honduras 6-0 on Friday.
France and Spain used the Video Assistant Referee program on Tuesday in a friendly, and the French likely rue that decision.
Antoine Griezmann had an incorrectly allowed goal reverse for offside, while Gerard Deulofeu saw an initially ruled offside goal allowed upon review in Spain’s 2-0 win over France.
[ MORE: Bolivia stuns Messi-less Argentina ]
Here’s an example, as Griezmann’s barely offside goal was overturned in less than a minute (Both calls took less than a minute to decide):
At the risk of sounding like a caveman, I really don’t like these razor thin offside calls being subject to review.
When you consider the improbability of timing the moment of contact with the ball — how many times have you seen a freeze frame conveniently used to make a case? — it just seems to mess with the spirit of sport.
What do you think?