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.


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 Cup Playoffs: Seattle Sounders 1-0 Sporting KC (video)

Seattle Sounders defender Brad Evans celebrates after Sounders' Nelson Haedo Valdez scored a goal against Sporting Kansas City in the second half of an MLS soccer playoff match, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Seattle. The Sounders beat Sporting Kansas City 1-0. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)
AP Photo/Ted S. Warren
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The game in 100 words (or less): There’s a ton to unpack here, so we’ll dive right in. The Seattle Sounders topped Sporting Kansas City in the final knockout-round game of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs. Nelson Valdez scored the game’s only goal, an 88th-minute header, but not without supreme controversy. For starters, Valdez was offside as Joevin Jones played the ball into the box, just as Matt Besler was on a free kick for Sporting earlier in the second half. Besler’s goal was ruled out for offside, Valdez’s was allowed to stand. Benny Feilhaber, perhaps in his final game for Sporting, played like a man possessed and so nearly singlehandedly won the game for Sporting at multiple points on the night. Stefan Frei stood on his head and refused to allow such an occurrence. Osvaldo Alonso could have been sent off twice on the night — once on a straight red; once on a second yellow — but finished the game with just a single caution. Up next, the Sounders will take on Supporters’ Shield-winning FC Dallas in the Western Conference semifinals.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three Four moments that mattered

10′ — Zusi hits the post with a strike through traffic — Benny Feilhaber’s through ball to set up this double-chance for Sporting in sumptuous, and fully deserving of a proper finish.

53′ — Besler heads home, but he’s offside — This is about as close an onside/offside decisions get.

79′ — Frei denies Feilhaber after a spectacular run — Feilhaber’s run was mesmerizing, but Stefan Frei’s save was the tiniest bit better.

88′ — Valdez heads home the late winner — If Besler was offside, Valdez was offside. An unfitting end to a thrilling game.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Benny Feilhaber

Goalscorers: Valdez (88′)

MLS Cup Playoffs: D.C. United 2-4 Montreal Impact (video)

CORRECTS DATE - Montreal Impact forward Matteo Mancosu, back, celebrates his goal with Ignacio Piatti (10) during the first half of an MLS playoff soccer match against D.C. United, Thursday, Oct. 27, 2016, in Washington. (AP Photo/Nick Wass)
AP Photo/Nick Wass
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The game in 100 words (or less): There are epic playoff collapses, and there is the MLS Cup Playoffs abomination put forth by D.C. United on Thursday. Playing host to a Montreal Impact side that won just two of its last eight regular-season games and crawled over the finish line, United — winners of four of their last five and one of the hottest teams in the league down the stretch — no-showed Thursday’s knockout-round tie, and their season is deservingly finished. Laurent Ciman put the Impact ahead inside the first five minutes, and United never recovered or seemed the least bit urgent with their season on the line. Matteo Mancosu bagged a brace either side of halftime to make it 3-0, and Ignacio Piatti, who was his usual brilliant self — so good, in fact, he made you forget Didier Drogba was unavailable due to injury/dispute over his role as a substitute — added a fourth not long before full-time. Lamar Neagle grabbed a late consolation goal for United, bringing them back to 4-1 before Taylor Kemp fired a laser past Evan Bush for 4-2 late in stoppage time, but that’s as close as they’d get. Up next for the Impact, it’s the New York Red Bulls in the Eastern Conference semifinals, beginning Sunday.

[ MORE: All of PST’s MLS Cup Playoffs preview coverage ]

Three moments that mattered

4′ — Ciman slots home from a corner for 1-0 — An absolute dream start for Montreal, as Ciman gets front side of his marker and benefits from a fortunate bounce after he scuffs the shot.

43′ — Mancosu slams home Piatti’s cross for 2-0 — Someone tell DCU that the knockout round is most definitely win-or-go-home. Horrific defending. Ball-watching all over the place. This is not the same team that won four of their last five in order to host this game.

58′ — Mancosu heads home at the near post for 3-0 — Steve Birnbaum has not had the greatest end to the 2016 season. Stay healthy, John Brooks and Geoff Cameron.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverageStandings | Stats | Schedule ]

Men of the match: Matteo Mancosu

Goalscorers: Ciman (4′), Mancosu (43′, 58′), Piatti (83′), Neagle (90′), Kemp (90+4′)

FOLLOW LIVE: 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round

Sporting Kansas City forward Dom Dwyer, center, is congratulated by teammates, including midfielder Roger Espinoza (27), following his goal during the first half of an MLS soccer match against the Houston Dynamo in Kansas City, Kan., Saturday, Aug. 1, 2015. (AP Photo/Orlin Wagner)
AP Photo/Orlin Wagner
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The knockout round of the 2016 MLS Cup Playoffs concludes on Thursday, as four teams vie for the final two places — one in the Eastern Conference, one in the Western Conference — in the conference semifinals, which begin on Sunday.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: MLS Cup Playoffs knockout round ]

Up first, the East’s fourth-seeded D.C. United welcome the five-seed Montreal Impact to RFK Stadium for the two sides’ third meeting of the 2016 season. Each of the year’s first two clashes finished a 1-1 draw, in July and August. Didier Drogba is expected to be unavailable for the win-or-go-home tie. United finished the regular season with four wins in the last five games, while the Impact won just two of their last eight.

[ MORE: Preivewing Thursday night’s knockout-round games ]

In the nightcap, the West’s fourth-seeded Seattle Sounders will take on the five-side, Sporting Kansas City, at CenturyLink Field. Sporting were victorious in both regular-season meetings this year — 1-0 on opening day, and 3-0 in late-July, the day the Sounders essentially quit on Sigi Schmid. Since that blistering hot day in KC, the Soudners have lost just twice in 14 games (eight wins, four draws).

Thursday’s MLS Cup Playoffs schedule

D.C. United vs. Montreal Impact — 7:30 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Sporting KC — 10 p.m. ET

Cristiano Ronaldo says Ashley Cole is the toughest player he faced

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Cristiano Ronaldo has faced the best defenders in the world during his time with Manchester United, Real Madrid and the Portuguese national team.

He has also caused fits for most of those defenders with goal after goal for club and country. But, there have been some players who have at least made it difficult for the all-time leading goal scorer in Real Madrid and Champions League history.

According to Ronaldo, former Chelsea and Arsenal defender Ashley Cole was the toughest player he has faced in his career.

[ MORE: VIDEO: Incredible Pelle goal in China ]

“Over the years I had some great battles with Ashley Cole, he does not give you a second to breathe,” Ronaldo told Coach Mag. “He was such a tenacious player when he was at his peak, quick, tough in the tackle. You knew it would never be an easy game.”

During his time with Manchester United, Ronaldo faced Cole on numerous occasions while Cole was with Arsenal and Chelsea. The two have also faced off in international competition between Ronaldo’s Portugal and Cole’s England.

It’s certainly high praise for Cole, who now plays in MLS for the LA Galaxy. At the age of 35, Cole has started 25 matches for the Galaxy this season, scoring one goal.