What we learned from Manchester United’s win over Hull

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  • David Moyes’ moves pay off

No, not the banning of a reporter for writing something unkind, although for purposes of channeling his inner Sir Alex, that’s certainly going in the right direction.

No, the “right moves” in question here were the in-game personnel maneuvers on Boxing Day, which may have forced by circumstance but were nonetheless audaciously aggressive and attack-minded. And in the end, spot on!

First came the early replacement of injured right back Rafael. Rather than bringing on a lesser talented defender, Moyes summoned young midfield phenom Adnan Januzaj and bumped midfielder Antonio Valencia to right-back. And it worked quite beautifully. (It did, at least, until the already-booked Valencia impetuously kicked a ball away and got himself sent off just before the 90-minue mark. Tsk-tsk.)

Later, a curious brow or two was raised when striker Javier Hernandez replaced midfielder Darren Fletcher. But that, too, turned out sweet as English spring roses for Moyes’ men.

Rooney, ever versatile, as we know, retreated into a holding midfield role alongside Tom Cleverly. Hernandez, the Mexican international who just can’t quite work up a bulk of minutes around Old Trafford, played up front, slightly ahead of Welbeck.

And it wasn’t like Moyes didn’t have other options; don’t forget that Michael Carrick was available once again and could have been preferred at that moment. (Carrick did, in fact, come on later.)

(MORE: Manchester United take all the points at the KC Stadium)

  • Steve Bruce STILL cannot beat his old club

Manchester United faithful of a certain age certainly remember Steve Bruce on patrol at Old Trafford, a serious cop on the back line beat.

So it must hurt just a little to see the man struggle so these days in these ongoing encounters with his old love. Yes, it means their team typically has one hand on a “W” when Bruce’s team bus pulls up. But in their heart of hearts, wouldn’t they like to see Bruce get just one measly little three-point achievement at some point of his long managerial career?

The count is up to 19; as in, “number of matches without a win as manager against Manchester United.” That includes attempts as the boss at Birmingham, Wigan, Sunderland and now Hull City.

For the record, Bruce’s record is now 0-15-4.

  • Phil Jones out for United during a busy spell

Speaking of Carrick’s return, the timing could not possibly be any better. That’s because midfielder Phil Jones, such a good utility man around Old Trafford this year, will be out at least two weeks with a knee injury. The club announced Jones’ setback before Thursday’s contest.

Jones has 24 appearances for United or for England this year, used in both defense and in the midfield.

With four matches over the next 12 days (including one in the FA Cup, one in the League Cup and two in the Premier League), Moyes and Co. will need every possible fresh leg.

Europa League Preview: Everton, Milan look to make group stage

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Everton look to make it back into the Europa League group stage for the first time since the 2014-2015 season and it has a two-goal advantage heading into the second leg of its tie.

Ronald Koeman and co. travel to Croatia to face Hadjuk Split Thursday having won the first leg at Goodison Park, 2-0. Everton is coming off a hard-fought draw on Monday with Manchester City and will be on short rest heading into the match.

Elsewhere in Europa League action, AC Milan take its 6-0 aggregate lead to Skopje, Macedonia as the legendary club looks to return to the group stage of a European competition for the first time since 2013-2014.

Here’s a look at all of Thursday’s Europa League matches, with the current aggregate scores:

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EFL Cup Rewind: Southampton, Newcastle knocked out by Championship sides

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Last season, Southampton made it to the EFL Cup final. This year, it’s a different story.

The Saints were bounced by Wolverhampton Wanderers, 2-0 at home on Wednesday in the second round of the cup. Joining Southampton of Premier League sides going home early was Newcastle, which lost 3-2 after extra time at home against Nottingham Forest.

Four other Premier League sides did advance to the third round, as Stoke City, Huddersfield Town, West Ham United and Burnley all won their fixtures.

Here’s a look at the rest of Wednesday’s EFL Cup action:

Blackburn 0-2 Burnley

Cheltenham 0-2 West Ham

Huddersfield 2-1 Rotherham

Newcastle 2-3 Nottingham Forest

Southampton 0-2 Wolverhampton

Stoke City 4-0 Rochdale

Breaking down who each Premier League team could face in the UCL Group Stage

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The UEFA Champions League group stage lineup is complete, with five Premier League clubs making the list.

On Wednesday, Liverpool joined Chelsea, Tottenham, Manchester City and Manchester United in the group stage after beating Hoffenheim, 6-3 on aggregate in the playoff qualification round.

Thursday’s Champions League draw (2 p.m. ET) will place clubs into groups of four, where they’ll play three matches at home and away.

Here’s a look at the four coefficient pots and who each Premier League club could face:

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Follow Live – Texas Derby, Cascadia Cup headline busy night of MLS action

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Welcome to MLS Rivalry Week.

The surging Houston Dynamo could move to first place in the Western Conference with a win over rivals FC Dallas while the current first-place side, the Seattle Sounders travel north and across the border to face Vancouver Whitecaps FC.

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The Dynamo have made an impressive turnaround under coach Wilmer Cabrera and he’ll have the trio of Ricardo Clark, Alberth Elis and star forward Erick Torres available to face Dallas after missing the Dynamo’s match at Vancouver last weekend, which ended 2-1 in favor of the Whitecaps.

FC Dallas are in its worst form of the season, winless in its last four games, but the team will be extra motivated to beat its rivals.

El Capitan is on the line after draws between FC Dallas and the Dynamo in two matches earlier this season.

Meanwhile up in Vancouver, the Whitecaps host a Sounders squad that pulled out a last-gasp victory last weekend over Minnesota United. While the team is in great form on the road recently (two wins and two draws), the top story heading into the game is the unexpected absence of Joevin Jones, who left the Sounders for his home in Trinidad and Tobago ahead of the upcoming international break.

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On the other side, Fredy Montero faces his former club and carries an interesting record into Wednesday’s match. Of his 35 MLS goals, 11 have been scored against Cascadia Cup competition.

Here’s a look at Wednesday’s action:

Full schedule

Columbus Crew vs. LA Galaxy – 7:30 p.m. ET

D.C. United vs. Atlanta United – 7:30 p.m.ET

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo – 8 p.m. ET

Toronto FC vs. Philadelphia Union – 8 p.m. ET

Real Salt Lake vs. San Jose Earthquakes – 10 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Seattle Sounders – 10 p.m. ET

Portland Timbers vs. Colorado Rapids – 10:30 p.m. ET