Stoke City 3-5 Liverpool: Wild match sees Stoke comeback and Reds brilliance as Liverpool take spoils (video)

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A frantic, back-and-forth match saw Stoke shoot themselves in their foot twice early, come back from two goals down, and concede a penalty early in the second half which Steven Gerrard converted for the win.

Finding themselves 2-0 down thanks to a bit of bad luck and a lot of bad defending, a ferocious Stoke side roared back to draw level at the break, with Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam on target.

However, Raheem Sterling won a soft penalty, Gerrard finished, and Luis Suarez revitalize his relationship with Daniel Sturridge to seal the win.

An early bit of fortune saw Liverpool ahead inside the opening five minutes, and started off a tough day for Stoke City.

Liverpool defender Aly Cissokho took a “why not” shot from distance as both teams settled into the match, and the shot was going comfortably wide.  But it smashed into Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross who had little time to react, and the ball redirect past Jack Butland into the net.

As the match progressed, it became a physical battle, with a number of thumping 50/50 airborne challenges.  A 20th minute spell of pressure by Stoke City backfired, and only resulted in a counter-attack by Liverpool leading to a shot for Philippe Coutinho that blazed over the bar.

Stoke built momentum though, and they seiged the Liverpool defense in the 26th with a beautiful spell of pressure involving a pair of corners.

The home side however gifted the visitors their second goal, and made things incredibly difficult for themselves going forward.  A poor header backwards from Marc Wilson allowed Luis Suarez to chase the otherwise lost cause, and when the ball came to Shawcross the pressure from Suarez caused him to bungle possession.

Suarez cooly took the ball and finished between the legs of a confused Butland for a 2-0 lead and the Uruguayan’s 21st goal of the season in just 16 matches.

source: Getty Images
Liverpool capitalized on an early gift from Stoke City’s defense.

But the home side wouldn’t quit, knowing they’ve only done themselves harm, and pulled one back before halftime.  With Suarez defending Marko Arnautovic, the winger whipped in a cross and Peter Crouch connected with his head, directing from some way out past Simon Mignolet.

It’s the first headed goal for Stoke City all season, leaving just West Ham without a headed goal this Premier League season.

And directly after, Stoke completed the frantic comeback. Jordan Henderson was caught in possession deep in Liverpool’s own half, and Charlie Adam pounced on the loose ball, slicing through the defense and unleashing a powerful shot into the top corner for the equalizer at 2-2.

On a day when refereeing decisions have already been brought to the forefront at St. James Park, Liverpool benefited from another contentious decision. A penalty was given by referee Anthony Taylor after Raheem Sterling had a breakaway but failed to get clear of Marc Wilson.  With Wilson defending tightly, instead of attempting to cut inside Sterling went to ground and won the penalty.

Gerrard finished the penalty low and hard for a renewed Liverpool lead. Replays also showed the officials may have missed a handed ball by Sterling in the buildup to the goal.

Nevertheless Liverpool were ahead again as the game continued to fizz back and forth.

Stoke kept up the attack, but Luis Suarez killed Stoke off.  With his early-season strike partner Daniel Sturridge on as a substitute, the two rekindled old brilliance.  The English international brought the ball up from the Liverpool half, cut back at the top of the box, and flicked on for Suarez who finished strongly at a tight angle.

Stoke pressed for another miraculous comeback, as Jonathan Walters slid a shot past Mignolet in the final five minutes with the keeper screened by his defender. It wasn’t enough though, as Sturridge swung the final swipe of the blade with a brilliant late goal as the rain came down.

After some holiday stumbles, Liverpool are back above cross-town rivals Everton and into the top four.

GOALS:

Liverpool – Suarez 32′, 71′; Gerrard 51′ (pen); Sturridge 88′
Stoke City – Shawcross (og) 5′; Crouch 39′; Adam 45′; Walters 85′

LINEUPS:

Stoke City – Butland; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Walters, Nzonzi (Ireland 81′), Adam, Whelan, Arnautovic; Crouch.

Liverpool – Mignolet; Johnson, Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure; Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling, Coutinho (Sturridge 66′), Suarez.

Dempsey, Sounders steal a point on wild night in Portland

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The game in 100 words (or less): An entire game can change in the blink of an eye. For the Seattle Sounders, that blink came in the 44th minute of Sunday’s 2-2 draw with the Portland Timbers. Up 1-0 by way of Joevin Jones’ opener in the 27th minute, the defending MLS Cup champs were poised to head into halftime with a one-goal advantage and every belief imaginable that they’d been the better team for the entire first half. Blink. Brad Evans wrapped his legs around Darlington Nagbe, giving away a penalty and earning himself a red card, just like that, in the blink of an eye. Fanendo Adi stepped up to convert from the spot, but it still was to be a hard-fought 1-1 scoreline from Seattle’s perspective. Then, Dairon Asprilla got loose, completely unmarked atop the six-yard box, on a corner kick, and it was 2-1 after four minutes of first-half stoppage time. 45 more minutes pass, and the Timbers… blink. Clint Dempsey, 34 years old but fresh off the bench 40 minutes earlier, out-leaps everyone in the box and heads past Jake Gleeson to steal a point for Seattle.

[ MORE: San Jose fire Kinnear after 2.5 seasons ]

Three Four moments that mattered

27′ — Jones gets two chances, puts the second away — It’s a classic case of “I dropped my controller” from Alvas Powell, who just stops as Jones cuts across the penalty area. There’s no reason Jones should get a second look on this one.

44′ — Evans brings down Nagbe in the box, sees red — Goodbye, lead. Goodbye 11 versus 11. Things would unravel very quickly for Seattle.

45+4′ — Asprilla rises above to make it 2-1 — Seattle’s marking of Asprilla was nonexistent, and the Colombian showed off some serious hops to get his head to David Guzman’s corner kick.

90+4′ — Dempsey heads home deep in stoppage time — A costly turnover by Asprilla, a hit-it-and-pray cross by Roman Torres, and Dempsey snatches a point at the death.

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Man of the match: Cristian Roldan

Goalscorers: Jones (27′), Adi (45′ – PK), Asprilla (45+4′), Dempsey (90+4′)

Russia has reasons for optimism despite Confed Cup exit

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MOSCOW (AP) When the anger subsides after another group stage exit and another goalkeeping blunder, Russian fans might find they can be proud of their team at the Confederations Cup.

Russia failed to reach the knockout rounds of a fourth major tournament in a row, but there’s no shame in losing by one goal to European champion Portugal and North American champion Mexico.

“We will move on,” coach Stanislav Cherchesov said after Saturday’s 2-1 loss to Mexico. “We have won (the fans’) hearts and minds to a certain extent in this month that we have been together … I think that we have given some reasons to feel optimistic about us.”

If Russia’s fans agreed with Cherchesov that Russia had done well to limit Portugal to a single Cristiano Ronaldo goal, there was frustration that Russia hadn’t done better against a poor Mexican side.

Russia wasted chances to exploit Mexico’s ragged defending and add to Alexander Samedov’s opener, while goalkeeper Igor Akinfeev performed an inexplicable lunge which allowed Hirving Lozano to head in the winner. Akinfeev was lucky not to be red-carded, too, after his foot caught Lozano in the chest.

Akinfeev was the immediate scapegoat for Russia’s exit, with fans and newspapers calling for his removal.

The most-capped player in the squad – the Mexico game was his 101st international appearance – Akinfeev’s bulletproof consistency in the Russian Premier League has kept him the undisputed national-team No. 1 for years.

When the world is watching, though, he gets flustered and makes mistakes.

Against South Korea at the 2014 World Cup, an innocuous long shot slipped from his grasp and went in, paving the way for another early Russian exit from the tournament. There have been more than a few blunders in the 43 games since Akinfeev last kept a clean sheet for CSKA in the Champions League, too.

But it’s hard to see who could replace him. The naturalized Brazilian reserve keeper Guilheme is agile but injury prone, while Vladimir Gabulov is a solid but unspectacular veteran. Zenit St. Petersburg’s Yuri Lodygin challenged Akinfeev for a while, but was brought low by his own tendency for embarrassing errors.

On the positive side for Russia, defender Georgy Dzhikiya was solid in all three group games after having only made his debut on June 5, and Cherchesov’s three-man back line was mostly reliable.

Less successful was Cherchesov’s attempt to bolster the midfield by starting Roman Shishkin – usually a defender – in a defensive midfield role against Portugal and Mexico, while 33-year-old ex-Chelsea winger Yuri Zhirkov did his World Cup hopes no favors with a red card Saturday.

Russia’s run of injuries before the tournament weakened the midfield in particular, with Alan Dzagoev and the promising Roman Zobnin both missing out. Forward Artyom Dzyuba’s absence left Cherchesov relying heavily on Fyodor Smolov, who showed touches of class but missed a good chance against Portugal.

Perhaps the biggest damage from Russia’s Confederations Cup exit will be to Russian pride.

Officials have often bragged that the home advantage for next year’s World Cup could drive Russia to new heights, perhaps a repeat of South Korea’s charge to the semifinals in 2002. Those expectations are now being reviewed.

Just one World Cup host in history – South Africa in 2010 – has failed to get out of the group stage. Avoiding a repeat may be the most Russia can hope for.

FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers host Sounders in PNW showdown

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They don’t get much bigger, or more heated, than this one in MLS — it’s Portland versus Seattle, the Timbers versus the Sounders, tonight at Providence Park (10 p.m. ET).

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Timbers vs. Sounders ]

To keep up-to-the-second informed on proceedings in Portland this evening, hit the above link, or click right here.

Seattle won the first meeting between these sides, 1-0 back on May 27, on their home turf at CenturyLink Field. Cristian Roldan, who’ll depart for U.S. national team camp following Sunday’s game, scored the only goal that afternoon in Seattle, a 4th-minute header from three yards out.

Mustafi: Arsenal players powerless, hope “brilliant” Sanchez will stay

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Shkodran Mustafi admits that he, along with his Arsenal teammates, feels helpless with over the ongoing transfer saga of Alexis Sanchez.

[ MORE: Sunday’s transfer rumor roundup | Saturday | Friday ]

The Chilean superstar is linked with a move away from Arsenal this summer, as the Gunners fell out of the Premier League’s top-four and the 28-year-old’s contract is set to expire next summer. Perhaps most importantly, Sanchez hasn’t so much as publicly stated a desire to remain at the club, which, from the outside, appears to have left his future in even greater doubt.

Mustafi admits he hasn’t a clue how things will shake out in the coming weeks, but he’s quick with a pleading sales pitch for Sanchez to stay — quotes from Goal.com:

“I have no idea. Obviously the other players cannot make that decision, he has to make that decision.

“I’m not too much involved. I hope he stays because he is a really brilliant football player but there’s nothing in my hands that I can do.”

[ MORE: De Boer set to be named new Crystal Palace boss ]

Arsenal would likely have to double (if not more) Sanchez’s current $180,000 weekly wages in order to convince him to forego a season in the UEFA Champions League and commit his long-term future to a club presently trending in the wrong direction.