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Norwich City 0-0 Newcastle United: Dominant Magpies unable to break through (video)

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A revamped Newcastle United controlled their match at Carrow Road, but by full-time, they were reliant on their Dutch international goalkeeper to keep them even with an overmatched Norwich City. With draw-preserving save on Robert Snodgrass in the 90th minute, Tim Krul allowed Newcastle to make it to full-time 0-0, left with a draw in from match they seemed destined to win.

By full-time, despite that destiny carrying them through most of the match, Newcastle was left empty-handed. Despite putting 22 shots toward goal and controlling play for most of the night, the Magpies were unable to break through, with two shots off the woodwork combining with a bad first half miss from Hatem Ben Arfa to limit Newcastle to a point.

That point will keep them in eight place, though the gap between themselves and Manchester United has grown to three. Norwich City, on the other hand, moves six points clear of relegation, now having taken points in three of their last four league matches.

It was Newcastle’s first game without Yohan Cabaye, reported to be in France undergoing a physical ahead of his transfer to Paris Saint-Germain. In his wake, Magpies’ manager Alan Pardew moved Moussa Sissoko up to play behind Loic Remy in a 4-2-3-1 formation, with Ben Arfa and Sammie Ameobi deployed wide.

The set up allowed Newcastle to dominate from the opening kickoff, the visitors maintaining 60 percent of the match’s possession through the first half. They also put 16 shots toward goal to Norwich’s two, but thanks to the woodwork (on Remy’s 25th minute attempt) and poor finishing (Ben Arfa going over an open goal in the 44th), the teams went into halftime as they started.

A show of pride allowed Norwich to gain a greater hold on the match after intermission, but their fight soon waned. By the 60th minute, when Remy nailed the crossbar with a shot from outside the penalty area, the Canaries were again holding out. Though they were keeping most of Newcastle’s attempts from testing John Ruddy, Norwich’s willingness to regress into their defensive third preserved a lopsided match.

In the 77th minute, Norwich nearly made Newcastle pay for their inability to force one past Ruddy. Off a ball put in from the left by substitute Nathan Redmond, Gary Cooper chipped a ball over Krul and against the crossbar, leaving the Canaries inches away from taking an unlikely lead.

Five minutes later, both sides were reduced to 10 after Remy and Bradley Johnson received matching red cards. With play stopped after the duo battled for a ball, Johnson gave Remy a two-handed push after the Newcastle striker tried to go face-to-face with his adversary. Remy responded by leaning his head into Johnson’s face, leading Johnson to fall back from the contact. Referee Chris Foy elected to dismiss both men.

In the 90th minute, Snodgrass forced Krul into draw-preserving save, with the Newcastle keeper getting across goal to block the midfielder’s header after a Redmond cross to the far post. Though the Toon had appeared to recover after Hooper’s close call, Snodgrass’s try reminded them they were as close to losing the match as winning.

Six minutes later, the game was over, Newcastle left the mixed feelings of having held on for a point in a match they controlled. But although they outshot the Canaries 22-8, they only put three shots on target.

Had Remy been slightly more accurate, had Ben Arfa shown a little more composure, those numbers wouldn’t have mattered. On a day Cabaye started moving away from the club, Newcastle didn’t have a problem generating chances. Their problem was converting them.

LINEUPS

Newcastle United: Tim Krul, Mathieu Debuchy, Steven Taylor, Mike Williamson, Davide Santon, Cheick Tiote, Moussa Sissoko, Vurnon Anita, Hatem Ben Arfa (Shola Ameobi 75′), Loic Remy, Sammy Ameobi (Massadio Haidara 87′)

Norwich City: John Ruddy, Russell Martin, Ryan Bennett, Sebastien Bassong, MartinOlsson, Robert Snodgrass, Leroy Fer, Bradley Johnson, Anthony Pilkington (Nathan Redmond 71′), Ricky van Wolfswinkel (Johan Elmander 71′), Gary Hooper (Alexander Tettey 84′)

Spanish playmaker Bojan signs new long-term contract at Stoke City

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Bojan Krkic will be a Potter for plenty of years to come.

On Thursday Stoke City announced that Bojan, 25, has signed a contract extension keeping him at the Britannia Stadium for another four-and-a-half years.

[ MORE: New-look Stoke to progress

Since arriving from Spanish giants Barcelona at the start of the 2014-15 season the playmaker has been a revelation in the Premier League.

Despite suffering a serious knee injury midway through his debut season in England, Bojan has battled back this campaign and has scored five times in 23 outings for the Potters.

Speaking to the club website, Bojan revealed his delight in signing the contract extension that will see him stay with Stoke until the summer of 2020.

“I am very happy and motivated. Stoke City gave me the opportunity to play in the most competitive league in the world, the Premier League, and I have only words of gratitude for their trust and for the way they have treated me since the first day I arrived to England,” Bojan said. “Mark Hughes convinced me to come to Stoke, he has helped me and showed his trust in me from the beginning, he followed closely the recovery process from my injury and there is no doubt I have signed an extension of my contract thanks to him.”

With Mark Hughes’ side battling for a top six finish, being knocked out agonizingly on penalty kicks by Liverpool in the League Cup semifinal and still in the FA Cup, it’s been another stellar season for Stoke as their progress continues.

Bojan’s presence has been central to attracting top names to join him at Stoke, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Mark Arnautovic all part of a new-look attack which in-turn has provided a much more attractive team to watch on the pitch.

Amid interest from plenty of other teams around the Premier League and Europe, Stoke have kept hold of their main creative hub and fans will be delighted to see the Barca academy product progress with the Potters over an extended period of time.

VIDEO: USWNT’s Press scores stunning goal after amazing spin move

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What a first touch.

The U.S. women’s national team beat Costa Rica 5-0 in the opening game of their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying campaign on Wednesday and USWNT forward Christen Press scored the pick of the bunch after she teed herself up with a superb first touch.

[ MORE: NBC to stream every Olympic qualifier

Click play on the video above to watch the World Cup winner control the ball with a deft outside-of-the-foot touch before spinning and striking home in a mesmerizing movement.

Majestic.

Press and the USWNT face Mexico on Saturday in their second Group A game (Watch live, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

On the up, off the pitch: Manchester United’s revenue continues to rise

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Manchester United have announced that revenue levels for the three months leading up to December 31 rose by 26.6 percent.

The Red Devils released the figures on Thursday which show revenue of $192.4 million, with commercial revenue up a massive 42.5 percent but matchday revenue was down 1.6 percent.

[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired”

The overall profit for the quarter was $26.7 million and over that period club debt fell by 6 percent but still stands at an eye-watering $463.6 million. That said, in a recent review of the finances of the top clubs on the planet Deloitte believes United will top the rich-list next season.

Despite Louis Van Gaal‘s future being questioned, United being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage in December and being six points off the top four with just 13 games of the current Premier League season to go, the strength of their results off the pitch continue to show just how successful a business they’ve become.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors that: “Our solid results off the pitch help contribute to what remains our number one priority – success on the pitch.”

Woodward has also vowed to continue United’s “strong commitment to investing in our squad, youth academy.”

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

Van Gaal, 64, will need a strong finish to the season on the pitch to help United to success and in turn improve those financial figures for next season. Failure to finish in the PL’s top four and qualify for the UCL will substantially impact United’s financial results next season, and the pressure remains on him and his players to claw back the deficit.

With speculation mounting that Jose Mourinho could be appointed as United’s new boss there also seems to be a surplus of cash which Rob Harris from the Associated Press speculates could be used for a new manager…

Morgan, USWNT cruise past Costa Rica 5-0 behind early flurry of goals

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The U.S. Women got off to a flying start in Olympic qualification Group A play by torching Costa Rica 5-0, including goals from Alex Morgan, Carli Lloyd, and Crystal Dunn.

Morgan led the way with a double, including one in the opening 12 seconds – only six passes off the opening kick – that set the record for quickest goal in U.S. Soccer history. Lloyd and Dunn both struck in the opening 15 minutes to make it 3-0 before Costa Rica even had time to blink. Lloyd’s came on a penalty after Dunn was felled for the captain’s 83rd international goal, and then the latter bagged one of her own minutes later on a rebound off a shot by Morgan.

[ VIDEO: Alex Morgan caps off a 12-second, six-pass goal ]

The visitors were able to make it Morgan scored her second after the hour mark to cap the goal tally. Jill Ellis completed her trio of substitutions after the fourth goal and the U.S. saw the game out easily.

The fifth came late on a cross from Tobin Heath that fell to Christen Press in the box. With her back to the goal, the 27-year-old produced a simply stunning first touch, back-heeling the ball down before whipping around the opposite direction to lose her defender and firing home the fifth goal.

With the final whistle, the United States improved their record against Costa Rica to a perfect 13-0. The U.S. will play Mexico next on Saturday before finishing out Group A play against Puerto Rico on Monday, February 15.