Crystal Palace 1-0 Hull City: Puncheon’s strike sees Eagles soar (video)

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Crystal Palace sealed a solid and crucial 1-0 win over Hull City at Selhurst Park on Tuesday, as the Eagles continue to soar clear of the relegation zone.

Jason Puncheon’s first half piledriver was the difference between the two sides in the driving rain in South London in a blood and thunder battle at the bottom of the table.

Palace’s winger smashed home in the 15th minute at the second attempt after his first header was blocked, as the Eagles held onto their lead after a barrage of efforts from Hull. The Tigers plugged away but couldn’t get any clear cut chances, as the Eagles sealed another vital win.

The clean sheet was Palace’s seventh shutout in their last 13 games, as Tony Pulis’ side have mastered the art of winning ugly and now sit on 23 points in 14th place, while Hull have the same total of points and sit one place above them. .

Hull City started off with plenty of the ball as their new forward partnership of Nikica Jelavic and Shane Long looked lively with superb movement.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

However it was Palace who should have gone in front as Mile Jedinak attacked a long ball into the box but his header flashed just wide of the post in the 8th minute.

The visitors continued to look more composed, as the Tigers looked rock solid at the back and were dangerous from set-pieces, as Curtis Davies saw his header saved by Julian Speroni.

Soon after the Tigers were asking for a penalty kick as Daniel Gabbidon looked to have taken down Long in the box as the Irish striker went down but Hull’s appeals were waved away. That decision was costly, as moments later Palace were ahead.

That man Puncheon scored in the 15th minute with a thunderous effort as his initial header was blocked following terrific work from Yannick Bolasie down the right.

For the rest of the first half both teams went toe to toe in the torrid conditions, right on half time Tom Huddlestone smashed a free kick goalwards that Speroni somehow kept out but the Eagles led 1-0 at the break.

After the interval Palace continued to surge forward as Bolasie looked lively down the right and was extremely dangerous on the counter as Hull tried to get back into the game. The Tigers pushed hard in the driving rain at Selhurst Park but Palace seemed to have their number as Steve Bruce cut a frustrated figure on the sidelines.

In the 59th minute Long reacted first as the ball broke free in the box from Speroni’s save but Hull’s striker slammed his effort into the side-netting. Hull huffed and puffed but just couldn’t break down a stubborn Palace defense as the Eagles crowd got behind their side and roared them on to victory.

Late on Hull were reduced to 10-men as goalkeeper Alan McGregor was sent off for kicking out at Stuart O’Keefe in stoppage time, as a miserable night for the Tigers was capped off with Huddlestone having to go in goal with all their substitutes made.

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Gabbidon (O’Keefe, 81), Delaney, Moxey, Puncheon, Ward, Jedinak, Bolasie (McCarthy, 64), Chamakh (Wilbraham, 86), Jerome

Goal: Puncheon (15)

Hull City: McGregor, Bruce (Quinn, 76), Davies, McShane, Rosenior, Elmohamady, Meyler (Boyd, 56), Huddlestone, Livermore, Jelavic (Fryatt, 84), Long

Chelsea sells Traore to Lyon for $11 million

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Chelsea has officially sold exciting attacker Betrand Traore to Lyon.

Traore, 21, spent last season on loan at Ajax, helping the club to the UEFA Europa League Final.

The 40-times capped Burkina Faso winger scored four goals in 16 appearances for Chelsea in 2015-16, and has 22 goals in loan seasons to Vitesse and Ajax.

[ MORE: Ranking expectations for PL bosses ]

The fee is said to be more than $11 million. Traore joined Chelsea’s academy in 2010 after coming up with Auxerre.

There have been conflicting reports about whether the Blues have included a buyback clause in the sale, though it would seem likely given reports Chelsea initially asked more than $20 million for Traore.

Lyon currently has held onto Alexandre Lacazette, and has Nabil Fekir, Memphis Depay and captain Maxime Gonalons amongst its stars. Adding Traore will only help the club’s ambitions in Ligue 1 as well as the Europa League.

Fan protests spur Fiorentina owners to put club up for sale

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FLORENCE, Italy (AP) The owners of two-time Serie A champion Fiorentina have announced they are putting the club up for sale due to fan protests.

A club statement says the ownership is accepting “serious offers only from those who really mean well for the Viola shirt.”

Shoe and leather entrepreneurs Diego and Andrea Della Valle have controlled Fiorentina since 2002, having restarted the club after the previous ownership ended in bankruptcy.

The Della Valles guided the club up from the fourth division back to the top flight but were never fully embraced by the squad’s fans.

After four straight years of finishing in the top five of Serie A, an eighth-place result last month was difficult to accept by the supporters.

Former Fiorentina captain Stefano Pioli was recently appointed to coach the club.

De Boer an exciting hire for “club that can grow further and further”

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Frank De Boer said all the right things in his first interview as Crystal Palace boss, and Eagles fans should puff out their chests at the club’s most impressive hire in a long time.

On the heels of blustery Sam Allardyce, Alan Pardew, and to a much lesser extent Tony Pulis, De Boer is no shrinking violet.

Yet the Dutchman has set the standards high for his London debut. There’s no talk of “just surviving” or whimpering at the might of the league’s top clubs. De Boer’s ready to do well.

[ MORE: Ranking expectations for PL bosses ]

Appointed Monday, De Boer will take charge of his third club following stints at Ajax and Inter Milan. He won four titles in five season at the Dutch club, but spent just 85 days in that tumultuous seat.

From CPFC.co.uk:

“It’s a club that can grow further and further because English clubs in the Premier League can spend a lot of money, and we can do something well with that. There is the prospect to be a solid Premier League club and this is the most important thing for me right now, not struggle for relegation. If we can do more that would be nice, but we want to be a stable club.”

Palace chairman Steve Parish has taken a solid step in the hiring of De Boer, who becomes just the second Palace boss from outside the British Isles. He’ll have an array of attacking options, but will probably need to look past his current batch of defenders to find players who fit his style.

That said, he’s said he’ll look at his current group first. He’ll love Patrick Van Aanholt and perhaps Jeff Schlupp, but De Boer needs some help at the back. Still, like Mauricio Pellegrino at Saints, this seems like another hire that was worth the wait for a PL fan base.

Still, Palace views itself as a club that can excite, and Allardyce was not the man to set Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend up to succeed. In fact, the Eagles have probably been blessed by Allardyce’s retirement, and Parish did not drop the ball when given the opportunity.

Chicharito injury update ahead of Confed Cup semifinals

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KAZAN, Russia (AP) Mexico star Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez trained separately from his teammates on Monday because of muscle fatigue, the latest concern for a Mexican team that has been struck by injuries at the Confederations Cup.

[ MORE: Latest Confed Cup news

Defender Diego Reyes also didn’t practice with the team in its final training session before traveling to Sochi for Thursday’s semifinal against Germany.

Mexico had already lost defender Carlos Salcedo because of a shoulder injury, while defender Hector Moreno has been a concern with a muscle ailment.

Coach Juan Carlos Osorio is already certain to be without midfielder Andres Guardado because of a yellow card suspension.

Chicharito warmed up with the rest of the group in Monday’s practice session in Kazan but left the field after the players met for a few minutes with coach Juan Carlos Osorio.

When one of Osorio’s assistants asked Chicharito about his condition, the player said he was “fine, not a problem.”

The Bayer Leverkusen forward ran a few laps around the field accompanied by the team’s physical trainer, then underwent a few stretching exercises on the sidelines. He watched the rest of the training session from the bench.

The team said Chicharito’s absence was a precaution.

“He said that he was leaving because he was still a bit tired after the match,” midfielder Jonathan Dos Santos said. “He’s played a lot of matches, a lot of minutes, a lot of practices. He just needs to rest a bit, nothing important.”

Chicharito played the entire game when Mexico came from behind to defeat host Russia 2-1 on Saturday to guarantee its spot in the semifinals of the eight-nation World Cup warm-up event.

He was rested in the 2-1 win over New Zealand, when Osorio rotated his squad because of a concern over injuries. Salcedo sustained his shoulder injury during that game and was forced to be removed from the squad. Reyes was hurt in the game against Russia and remains doubtful for the semifinal. He stayed at the team’s hotel on Monday, undergoing rehab for his muscle injury.

Chicharito scored his only goal of the tournament in the 2-2 opening draw against Portugal last week.

Guardado was shown his second yellow against Russia.

“He is a crucial player for us, very important for the team, one of our captains,” Dos Santos said about Guardado. “But we have other players who can make up for his absence.”

Mexico is trying to win the Confederations Cup for the second time. It won the World Cup warm-up event in 1999.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

More AP Confederations Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/ConfederationsCup