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

Leave a comment

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′)

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.