FA Cup sees Fulham bounce back, eliminate Norwich City 3-0

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This weekend, Fulham looked like the worst team in the Premier League. Tonight at Craven Cottage, however, René Meulensteen’s team were on a different level than Norwich City – more of an indictment of the visiting Canaries than the recovering Whites.  Losing 3-0 in West London, Chris Hughton’s team was escorted out of the FA Cup, failing to challenge a team that lost 4-1 on the same ground three days earlier.

The Cottagers took advantage of a weak Norwich left side to score two goals before halftime. The first, coming after 15 minutes, saw Pajtim Kasami beat the Canaries to a ball at the byline before cutting his pass back for Ashkan Dejagah. The Iranian international allowed the ball to run to Darren Bent nine yards from goal, with the Fulham striker putting his shot just wide of Mark Bunn to make it 1-0.

Four minutes before half time, Dejagah scored on a similar play, with Alexander Kacaniklic getting behind the defense before play the ball far post to his open teammate. The easy finish sent the Cottagers into intermission up 2-0.

In the 68th minute, another surprisingly easy goal put the match away, with Sascha Reiter’s cross from Fulham’s right finding Steve Sidwell at the far post. Redirecting his header home, the Cottagers’ midfielder gave the home side a lead they’d carry to full-time, reversing the three-goal embarrassment they suffered on Saturday.

Coming off a disastrous result against Sunderland, Fulham gave fans reason to believe their team is more erratic than bad. With goalkeeper Maarten Stekelenburg and defender Brede Hangeland’s returns producing the team’s first clean sheet since Dec. 8, there were some faint hints Tuesday’s win could be a legitimate turnaround. Even on top of a 3-0 win, there was a silver lining.

Norwich’s performance, however, prevents any broad conclusions. The ease with which Fulham produced their goals didn’t reflect superior performance or particularly clever tactics. With conventional, straight forward attacks down their right, Fulham made Norwich look inept – unable to defend the most basics play you’ll see in top-flight of English soccer.

Though they took care of business on Tuesday, Fulham will have to wait until their Saturday trip to Arsenal to see if they’ve made any meaningful progress from Saturday’s loss. Norwich, on the other hand, lip out of the Cup hoping to show more fight Saturday against Hull.

Elsewhere

Third round matches
Charlton Athletic 2-2 Oxford United
Birmingham City 3-0 Bristol Rovers
AFC Bournemouth 4-1 Burton Albion

Third round replays
Watford 2-0 Bristol City
Peterborough United 2-3 Kidderminster Harriers
Milton Keynes Dons 1-3 (a.e.t) Wigan Athletic
Sheffield Wednesday 4-1 Macclesfield Town
Preston North End 3-2 Ipswich Town
Plymouth Argyle 2-3 Port Vale

Dempsey’s last-second PK lifts Sounders past Minnesota

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SEATTLE (AP) Clint Dempsey converted a penalty kick in the final seconds of stoppage time on Sunday night, lifting the Seattle Sounders to a 2-1 victory over Minnesota United.

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A corner kick by Seattle’s Joevin Jones floated into the penalty area, and Minnesota’s Jermaine Taylor was called for a hand ball in a scrum of players battling for possession. Dempsey stepped up and drilled his kick to the right side past Loons goalkeeper Bobby Shuttleworth in the fourth minute of stoppage.

Dempsey’s goal was his 11th of the year.

Referee Ismail Elfath blew the final whistle as soon as Minnesota kicked off.

Chad Marshall also scored for the Sounders (11-7-7), who tied a club record by extending their unbeaten streak to nine games (6-0-3). The team had an identical 6-0-3 mark from May 28-July 16, 2011.

Seattle was forced to rally after its club-record shutout streak ended at 421 minutes on a goal by Minnesota’s Ethan Finlay in the 21st minute.

The Loons (6-14-4, 22 points) are still looking for their first road win of the season. They are 0-8-2 away from Minneapolis.

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.