Norwich 1-2 Fulham: Parker the hero as Cottagers prevail (video)

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Fulham fought back to grab a crucial three points against Norwich on Boxing Day at Carrow Road, as Scott Parker’s late winner sealed a 2-1 comeback win.

Norwich went ahead through Gary Hooper’s strike, but Pajtim Kasami’s free kick leveled things up at the break. Parker’s winner was a thing of beauty as Sascha Riether’s cross found him after the Canaries failed to clear and the English midfielder hammered home to give Rene Muelensteen’s men all three points.

With the victory, Fulham are now in 18th spot and are just one point from West Ham and Cardiff above the relegation zone. As for Norwich, they’re in 14th and are just three points ahead of Fulham.

Early on Norwich pressed and Nathan Redmond’s great run and cross down the left almost found Hooper in the box but the Cottagers cleared the danger.

However in the 13th minute Norwich took the lead as Hooper scored for the fourth home game in a row after Johan Elmander laid the ball off to the in form striker whose shot took a hefty deflection off Aaron Hughes and into the net.

Norwich pushed for a second as Fulham looked devoid of ideas going forward and struggled to keep hold of the ball. However the Canaries didn’t take their chances and Kasami made them pay with his 32nd minute free kick that somehow squeezed through the wall and into the back of the net.

(MORE: Boxing Day Roundup)

Fulham had another great chance through Damien Duff, but the Irish winger couldn’t quite connect on a lovely cross that found him unmarked at the back post as the sides went in level at the break.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

The second half saw a tight encounter play out as Norwich went close to going ahead in the 51st minute when Leroy Fer’s header was cleared off the line by Riether. But Fulham hit straight-back as Adel Taarabt was clean through but John Ruddy stopped him with a comfortable stop.

In the 64th minute Fer once again headed in on goal from a corner, but this time the Dutchman’s effort was straight at Stockdale who saved. But Fulham were coming back as Kačaniklić found Sidwell in the box and the English midfielder danced past a tackle but saw his effort on goal blocked. Soon after Kačaniklić’s corner bounced around in the box and Hugo Rodallega thought the ball had crossed the line but Ruddy managed to gather and keep it out.

But Fulham’s pressure told, as Parker popped up to score the stunning winner in the 87th minute and give the Cottagers more hope of moving out of the bottom three.

LINEUPS

Norwich City: Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Olsson; Snodgrass (Hoolahan, 72), Fer, Johnson, Redmond; Elmander (van Wolfswinkel, 63), Hooper.

Goal: Hooper (13)

Fulham: Stockdale; Riether, Hughes, Amorebieta, Richardson; Sidwell, Parker, Kasami; Duff, (Rodallega, 58) Taarabt (Dejagah, 72), Kačaniklić (Riise, 92)

Goals: Kasami (32), (Parker (85)

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

AP Photo/Jeffrey McWhorter
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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.