Allardyce pulls no punches taking Nolan to task for red card at Fulham

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Before Kevin Nolan was dismissed for kicking Fernando Amorebieta in the 44th minute at Craven Cottage, West Ham had a chance to reverse a slide that’s seen them fall to 19th place. Though the teams started the second half even, Steve Sidwell’s equalizer pulling back Mohamed Diamé’s seventh minute opener, a 10-man West Ham were bombarded in the second half, Fulham racking up 30 shots as the Hammers fell 2-1.

[MORE: Fulham 2-1 West Ham: Kevin Nolan red card allows Fulham to ease by (video)]

For a team without a league win since Nov. 30, Nolan’s red card was more than a bad break. According to West Ham manager Sam Allardyce, Nolan’s action was inexcusable, particularly given it’s the second time this year his captain has seen a straight red card.

“Kevin is an experienced player and I’m surprised because he had a silly challenge at Liverpool,” Allardyce said after Wednesday’s loss.

“That’s two in the space of the month now,” he said, alluding to Nolan’s Dec. 7 red card at Liverpool. “It’s not something I will allow to happen.”

If that’s a threat, it’s an ill-timed one, though Allardyce may see himself as out of options with a player whose drawn two red cards in six weeks. Against Liverpool, West Ham were always unlikely to get a result, eventually falling 4-1. But against Fulham, the Hammers had a chance to end a six-match winless run, with the Cottagers coming of a 6-0 drubbing at the boots of Hull City. Nolan’s impertinence, however, opened the door for the Cottagers to claim full points, keeping West Ham in 19th place.

Unfortunately for Allardyce, Mark Noble is now hurt, the midfield linchpin forced to come off Fulham. Ravel Morrison is also hampered by injury, suddenly thinning out a position what should be a strength for the Hammers. Whereas Nolan’s presence would normally allow Allardyce to manage minutes between his captain, Diamé, and Alou Diarra, the absence of him and Noble leave the West Ham boss hamstrung, further highlighting the ill-advised nature of Nolan’s red card.

“Our captain was irresponsible. Not just today but for the future because he is suspended,” Allardyce explained.

“We have to rally round now. We only have a few players to select from so losing Kevin and Mark Noble injured is a massive blow.”

But in the moments after Wednesday’s disappointing loss, most of Allardyce’s focus was on Nolan’s actions at Craven Cottage, the West Ham manager unrestrained in his criticism of his captain.

“He’s let everyone down and himself. I just don’t quite understand where he’s lost his cool and why it’s happened.”

With his second red card of the year, Nolan will be suspended for the next four games, a ban that will sidelines him for matches against Nottingham Forest (FA Cup), Manchester City, Cardiff City, and Newcastle.

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET