Andy Carroll is handed a straight red card in West Ham's 2-0 victory over Swansea City.

West Ham United 2-0 Swansea: Carroll the hero and the Villain in West Ham win (video)

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José Mourinho may have criticized Sam Allardyce’s “19th century tactics” after West Ham held Chelsea to a goalless draw midweek, but Allardyce played everything perfectly in the match against Swansea. The plan? Plump balls in and let Andy Carroll get on the end of them. Eventually, goals will come.

The result? A vital win for West Ham, their first at Upton Park since November. The Irons temporarily pull themselves above Stoke, who face Manchester United later today, and out of the drop.

It took awhile for West Ham, who attacked straight from the opening whistle, to turn their constant pressure into goals. But in the 26th minute, their strategy paid off perfectly. Carroll knocked down a cross from Matt Taylor, heading it directly into the path of Kevin Nolan. Nolan’s finish was spot on, volleying into the bottom right corner.

Swansea’s best chance of the first half came in the 35th minute. A ball from Jonjo Shelvey sent Wilfried Bony free on goal, but James Tompkins was there, sliding in to stop the Swans striker. It looked as though it might be a penalty for the visitors, but Howard Webb held off. The referee has yet to award a spot kick this season.

The Irons capped off their domination of the first half with a second goal from Nolan. Swansea inexplicably left Carroll alone on the far post, allowing him to once again head into Nolan’s path. From close range, there was no way he could miss grabbing his side’s second.

It was Swansea that needed to look lively after the restart, but it was Carroll that very nearly made it three for the hosts. First his header from Matthew Jarvis’s corner went wide, and the same happened on a corner from Stewart Downing. Still, it looked more likely the Irons would increase their lead, rather than Swansea launching a comeback.

West Ham threw Swansea a lifeline in the 59th minute, when Andy Carroll was handed a straight red card after an altercation with Chico Flores. With the booking looking harsh on the replay, it’s possible the Irons will win an appeal and get the three-match ban reduced for their most valuable player.

For the final thirty minutes, the hosts sat back and soaked up the pressure, a logical move when down a man. More worrying for Michael Laudrup, however, is the fact that his Swansea side could barely threaten, despite being in the driver’s seat for the last half hour. With the loss, suddenly the Swans are just two points clear of the relegation zone.

West Ham United: Adrian, McCartney, Nolan (Nocerino 87), Tomkins, Jarvis (C. Cole 66), Carroll, Taylor (Reid 79), Noble, Collins, Demel, Downing

Goals: Nolan 26′; 45′

Swansea City: Tremmel, Tiendalli, Chico, Williams, Davies, Amat (Pozuelo 63), de Guzmán, Shelvey (Hernández 70), Dyer (Ngog 77), Routledge, Bony

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.