West Brom 1-1 Liverpool: Kolo Toure howler allows Baggies to snatch a point (video)

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A shockingly ill-placed pass by Kolo Toure allowed Victor Anichebe to peg back a stunned visiting squad at the Hawthornes and earned the home side a massively valuable point.

Daniel Sturridge’s 50th Premier League goal appeared to be enough to see the Reds through, but Toure’s mistake shocked the Liverpool players and they never recovered to retake control.

The match started with a largely uneventful 20 minutes, as both teams looked to use their right attacking flanks to access the opposition’s attacking third, West Brom through Zoltan Gera and Liverpool through young Raheem Sterling.

Liverpool appeared the brighter of the two squads, but the home side didn’t go without a few half-chances, the best being Youssuf Mulumbu’s 18th-minute shot on target that Steven Gerrard managed to stick out a foot to block.

The breakthrough was inevitable, however, as the trio of Suarez, Sterling, and Sturridge all combined to put Liverpool ahead.  Sterling worked the ball to the right edge of the penalty area before finding himself no way through, so he dumped it off to Suarez.

The world-class striker took a moment to collect himself before taking what appeared to be a curling shot as the Uruguayan looked to curl the ball around Ben Foster.  It was going wide, but Sturridge was making a run and stayed onsides for the tap-in.

source: AP
Daniel Sturridge opened the scoring with his 50th Premier League goal, which looked initially as if it could be enough.

As their early attacking style faded under growing pressure, West Brom fans at the Hawthornes began to get restless with the game ticking on 40 minutes, and they began to voice their concerns about how the team shaped up.

The second half began as the first one had, with West Brom on the back foot but also maintaining a few chances. They earned a corner with a well-worked move on the right flank, and Gareth McAuley came close on the ensuing set-piece with a header, forcing a save from Simon Mignolet.

Liverpool were content to play on the counter, absorbing what little the home side had to offer and making incisive breaks on the other end.  Suarez nearly doubled the lead on 59 minutes but Foster stood well to save one-on-one after Suarez had beaten his countryman Diego Lugano.

But would you know it, West Brom would be given life.  Just having come on for Saido Berainho, Victor Anichebe latched onto a horrific mistake from Kolo Toure and made no mistake, rifling into the bottom corner past Mignolet, leaving Toure stunned, hands on his head.

It was a shocking mistake, a square pass across the pitch that never reached its intended destination, and left Liverpool searching for answers.

The game exploded open, and the home side became much more incisive and maintained a stronger attacking intent.  Yellow cards began to fly as well, as Suarez, Gerrard, Mulumbu, and Lugano were all cautioned by referee Kevin Friend in separate incidents soon after the goal.

By the 85th minute, West Brom were clearly on top, and the Hawthornes rocked with hopes that their side could steal all three points.  But it would not be as full time blew, with the sides sharing the spoils.

Liverpool draw within three of Chelsea in fourth place, but they will rue missing their chance to pull even closer.  The Baggies’ point gets them off level points with 18th place West Ham and even with Crystal Palace who play next.

GOALS:

West Brom – Anichebe 67′
Liverpool – Sturridge 24′

LINEUPS:

West Brom – Foster; Jones, McAuley, Olsson (Lugano 41′), Ridgewell; Yacob, Mulumbu, Gera; Berahino (Anichebe 64′), Vydra (Dorrans 75′), Brunt.

Liverpool – Mignolet; Flanagan (Kelly 74′), Cissokho, Toure, Skrtel; Gerrard, Henderson, Sterling, Coutinho (Allen 74′); Suarez, Sturridge.

Conte praises Hazard’s style, wouldn’t want him to be “more selfish”

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Antonio Conte made two bold decisions on Saturday afternoon as his Chelsea side prepared to take on Tottenham in their FA Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu shines with Saints as he prepares for Chelsea return ]

The Italian manager has been known for his innovation and risk-taking in the past, but many were critical of the 47-year-old when his team sheet came out ahead of the match.

Conte left key attacking duo Eden Hazard and Diego Costa on the bench, allowing out-of-favor striker Michy Batshuayi and Pedro to get the starting nod.

Although Hazard nor Costa saw the field for the opening hour, the former made his presence known when he was summoned by Conte in the second half.

Often times Hazard has been known as a facilitator, someone that can pick apart defenses with his tremendous foot skills and clever passing. But the Belgian international has also shown his capabilities of scoring on a regular basis as well, which has prompted great interest from other giant clubs around Europe.

When Conte was asked about Hazard and if his attacker should be more selfish, the Italian gave an emphatic “NO” as his response.

“No, no, no, absolutely not,” Conte said. “I don’t think that a player like Messi is a selfish player. The first target for every great champion is to play for the team and to put your talent into the team. If you do this, the team [increases] your talent.

“The best players in the world don’t exist without a team. For me, it’s sad to listen to this, that a player must ‘be more selfish’ to reach the top level. That’s very sad. It’s not my idea of football and I will never understand this. Never, never. In my team, I don’t want selfish players.

“I prefer to lose a game than to have a selfish player. For me, I don’t want this and I can’t accept this. I don’t want my club to buy me a selfish player one day. Never. No.”

Newcastle joins Brighton in promotion to Premier League

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Two sides have now booked their trips to England’s top flight after Newcastle United rattled off its 27th win of the season.

[ MORE: Oriol Romeu — The perfectly poised destroyer ]

The Magpies earned a decisive 4-1 victory over Preston North End on Monday afternoon at St. James’ Park as the second-place side ensured its finish inside the top two in the English Championship.

Newcastle joins already-promoted club Brighton & Hove Albion, who currently sit atop the Championship on 92 points.

Ayoze Perez paced the hosts with goals on both sides of halftime, while Christian Atsu and Matt Ritchie also converted for Newcastle.

U.S. Men’s National Team defender DeAndre Yedlin was on the bench for the Magpies but didn’t feature in Monday’s match.

The third and final team to be promoted from the Championship will be decided by the league’s annual promotion playoff, which is held at the end of the season and contested by four sides that finish third through sixth position.

As it stands, Reading, Sheffield Wednesday, Huddersfield Town and Fulham occupy the four playoff positions.

Marseille making Olivier Giroud top transfer target this summer

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Marseille did well to bring in one star this season but could the French side have another trick up its sleeve this summer?

Sky Sports is reporting that the Ligue 1 club is preparing to sign Arsenal striker Olivier Giroud over the summer and the sixth-place side is “willing to pay up to £20m (roughly $25 million).

Marseille made a splash this season when the club re-signed Dimitri Payet, who was playing with Premier League side West Ham at the time.

The team does boast several quality attacking options such as Payet and Bafetimbi Gomis, but Giroud could serve as an ideal target man in the Marseille attack.

Prior to joining the Gunners in 2012, Giroud starred for Montpellier and with a potential link-up in the attack with a creator like Payet, it could present a dangerous attacking threat to the rest of Ligue 1.

Giroud, 30, has scored 95 goals in all competitions since arriving in London with Arsenal.

Report: Chicharito talks heating up with Los Angeles FC

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We’ve seen MLS teams make major splashes in the past, and one of next year’s newcomers could be a really big draw if they can manage to seal the deal on a Mexican international.

[ MORE: Schweinsteiger shares thoughts on MLS and more in interview ]

According to Metro New York, Los Angeles FC is continuing its talks with Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez about a potential deal that would prove massive in terms of MLS spending.

While LAFC won’t debut in MLS until 2018, the club could potentially make the Mexico striker the highest-paid player in league history with an average salary of roughly $10 million.

The 28-year-old Hernandez currently plays in Germany with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen, where he’s plied his trade since joining the club during the 2015/16 season.

Additionally, the former Manchester United man has dominated the international scene for El Tri, scoring 46 goals in 90 appearances for the CONCACAF nation.