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

2 Comments

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.

Barcelona plan Cruyff tribute at club’s training center

Photo by Alex Caparros/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) One year after his death, Barcelona says it will name the future stadium at its training center after Dutch great Johan Cruyff.

The new stadium at Barcelona’s training center just outside the Catalan city will be called “Johan Cruyff Stadium” in honor of the club’s former player and coach.

Barcelona says in a statement that “the most emblematic building in the facility where future Barca players are coached is to be named after somebody who played such a central role in fostering youth talent at the club.”

Barcelona also says it will commission a “commemorative sculpture” of Cruyff, who died of lung cancer on March 24 last year at age 68. The statue will be placed at Barcelona’s main Camp Nou stadium.

Cruyff is largely credited with launching Barcelona’s era of trophy success, both as a player and a coach.

As a player, Cruyff joined Barcelona midseason in 1973 and led the middle-of-the-table team to its first national title in a decade.

He later returned as a coach and guided Barcelona to four consecutive Spanish leagues from 1991-94 and the club’s first European Cup in 1992.

“I think the tributes are very warming,” said Cruyff’s son, Jordi Cruyff. “It sort of changes the sadness that we might feel as family to lose a father, a husband and a grandfather. It changes to a certain kind of pride to understand that he left something behind.”

MLS Snapshot: Defense optional — Crew SC outlast Timbers, 3-2

AP Photo/Bryan Woolston
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less): As far as teams who get out in the open field and score the lion’s share of their goals on the counter-attacking, there aren’t many MLS teams better than Columbus Crew SC and the Portland Timbers. The two sides met Saturday night at MAPFRE Stadium, site of their MLS Cup 2015 clash, and lived up to their reputations. Of the five goals scored, two were notched on flat-out counters and two more came to pass through quick transitional movements. Portland (9 points) dropped their first points of the season, falling 3-2 to goals scored by Justin Meram, Ola Kamara and Niko Hansen, while Crew SC have back-to-back wins and find themselves level on points (7) with the New York Red Bulls with each side having played four games.

[ MORE: Saturday’s MLS (afternoon) roundup ]

Three Four Five moments that mattered

4′ — Asprilla opens the scoring early on — 2017 Crew SC defending, same as 2016 Crew SC defending.

11′ — Meram fires home the rebound for 1-1 — One of Portland’s biggest weaknesses last season was their set-piece defending. Looks like not much has changed.

19′ — Higuain feeds Kamara for a 2-1 lead — The question mark that Portland will eventually have to answer is this: How much, if at all, have they improved defensively in the open field? Based on this Crew SC counter-attack, the answer might be “not much.”

45+3′ — Adi recovers to make it 2-2 — Everything Adi does these days (even the bad things, like this first touch) ends up being good.

84′ — Hansen cleans up at the back post for 3-2 — Jake Gleeson made a spectacular reaction save to deny Kamara his second goal of the game, but the rookie, making his MLS debut, was in the right place at the right time.

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

Men of the match: Wil Trapp

Goalscorers: Asprilla (4′), Meram (11′), Kamara (19′), Adi (45+3′), Hansen (84′)

Andorra’s 11-year, 58-game losing streak is over

Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
Leave a comment

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Rarely has a scoreless stalemate in front of the home fans tasted so sweet.

But 11 years of nothing but losing will do that to a team.

Andorra’s 0-0 draw with fellow minnow Faroe Islands in World Cup qualifying on Saturday ended its run of 58 competitive defeats.

It was the first point in qualifying for the Pyrenees mountain principality, population 80,000, since a scoreless draw with Finland in 2005.

Faroe Islands finished with 10 men after Joan Edmundsson was booked a second time with 15 minutes to play.

World Cup qualifiers: Dutch disaster persists; Greece hold Belgium

AP Photo/Armando Franca
Leave a comment

A roundup of all of Saturday’s World Cup qualifying fixtures, as Groups A, B and H hit the halfway point in Europe…

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Bulgaria 2-0 Netherlands

Spas Delev scored both Bulgarian goals (5th and 20th minutes) to secure all three points and send Danny Blind’s Netherlands side (7 points) into fourth place in Group A, six points back of leaders France and three back of second-place (qualifying playoffs) Sweden.

17-year-old Matthijs de Ligt was handed his international debut for the Dutch; he was ultimately at fault for both of Delev’s goals; he was subbed off at halftime (as was Georginio Wijnaldum).

Luxembourg 1-3 France

Olivier Giroud scored twice (28th and 77th minutes) for France, and Antoine Griezmann added the other (37th minute – penalty kick), as Les Bleus maintained their three-point lead in Group A. Kylian Mbappe, Monaco’s 18-year-old rising star, made his international debut in the 78th minute, when he replaced Dimitri Payet.

Portugal 3-0 Hungary

Cristiano Ronaldo bagged the 69th and 70th goals of his international career (36th and 65th minutes), as Portugal (12 points) kept pace with an unbeaten Switzerland side (15 points) which managed a 1-0 victory over Latvia to keep their 100-percent record intact. Andre Silva scored the opener (32nd minute) for Portugal, the 21-year-old Porto striker’s fifth goal in six international appearances.

Belgium 1-1 Greece

Romelu Lukaku‘s 89th-minute rescued a point for Group H leaders Belgium (13 points), but it did little to mask an otherwise uninspiring performance from Roberto Martinez’s side. Kostas Mitroglu put Greece ahead in the first minute of the second half, but Panagiotis Tachtsidis saw his second yellow of the game in the 65th minute, and that was the start of Greece’s unraveling. The draw was just enough to keep Greece (11 points) in second, ahead of Bosnia-Herzegovina, whose 5-0 thrashing of Gibraltar moved them to 10 points with a superior goal differential.

Elsewhere in UEFA’s World Cup qualifying

Group A

Sweden 4-0 Belarus

Group B

Switzerland 1-0 Latvia
Andorra 0-0 Faroe Islands

Group H

Bosnia-Herzegovina 5-0 Gibraltar
Cyprus 0-0 Estonia