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.

Mourinho slams critics, reveals team news; Fellaini update

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Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United are almost back to full strength but he has a few concerns.

The Red Devils host Brighton & Hove Albion at Old Trafford on Saturday (Watch live, 10 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with Mourinho now having just a handful of injury concerns.

Long-term absentees Paul Pogba, Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo have all returned to action over the past week, while Mourinho has a small defensive problem with Eric Bailly and Phil Jones out for the visit of the newly-promoted Seagulls.

“They are out. But we are okay because we have [Chris] Smalling, [Marcos] Rojo and [Victor] Lindelof,” Mourinho said.

He also said that Pogba isn’t yet able to play a full 90 minutes as he continue his recovery from a hamstring injury, while Zlatan is improving all the time after jumping off the bench in the victory over Newcastle United last weekend and the midweek defeat at Basel in the UEFA Champions League.

“I prefer him [Ibrahimovic] on the pitch than off the pitch,” Mourinho said. “On the pitch, he’s another option for us and he’s an option of quality. His physicality and his intelligence, the way he moves, the way he plays. But he needs time. We managed to give him 15/20 minutes in both matches, he needs more of that, so hopefully, tomorrow, we play him again.”

Mourinho also took exception to a question about the criticism his team receives about their defensive style of play, with the Portuguese coach pointing towards United’s superb home record this season.

“I don’t know who is more ambitious than us,” Mourinho said. “We played against Newcastle with Pogba, Rashford, Martial, Mata, Lukaku, the full backs are not full backs, everybody knows they are wingers, Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young. So, I don’t know what you want.”

United have won all six PL home games this season and have scored 19 goals, conceding just once. So, yeah, he has a point but they only real test they’ve had so far at home was against Tottenham Hotspur.

Aside from an injury update and hitting back at critics, Mourinho also gave an update on Fellaini’s contract situation and revealed he is concerned the Belgian midfielder may leave.

Fellaini, 30, is out of contract at the end of the season and Mourinho has praised the lanky midfielder on numerous occasions over the past few months. Is he worried Fellaini will leave for nothing?

“Yeah,” Mourinho said. “This is a discussion between the player and the board. I’m not involved in contracts, in deals, and I respect both – I respect the player because he has the right to decide his future. So I just wait wishing they will have an understanding, but it’s out of my control.”

Bayern fans unhappy with Champions League ticket prices

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MUNICH (AP) Bayern Munich fans were unhappy with the price of tickets for their team’s match at Anderlecht in the Champions League.

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The fans held banners during Wednesday’s game saying, “Are your necks not full? Is your greed now finally satisfied?”

A Bayern fan group, Club Nr. 12, issued a statement saying Anderlecht had made 85 percent of the tickets available to the German club’s fans priced at 100 euros ($118).

“Even by the standards of the generally high-priced Champions League, this represents a new dimension for a first-round game,” said the statement, which thanked Bayern for supplementing the tickets so fans had could pay 70 euros ($82.50).

Many Bayern fans avoided the trip to Brussels altogether, while 91 percent of more than 2,500 Club Nr. 12 members said in a survey that ticket prices were “completely unacceptable.”

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Anderlecht spokesman David Steegen told The Associated Press that Bayern fans were charged “exactly the same price” as home fans who bought single tickets to the game. He said fans who bought a three-game Champions League bundle were offered a reduction.

UEL roundup: AC Milan advances after big win; Arsenal, Everton fall

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Both Premier League sides fell in Thursday’s UEFA Europa League play, but for one side the result didn’t effect their progression into the next round.

[ MORE: Ex-Brazil forward Robinho handed nine-year prison sentence ]

Arsenal dropped a 1-0 result to Cologne, however, the Gunners still moved into the Round of 32 after their Group H counterparts, Red Star Belgrade and BATE Borisov settled for a scoreless draw.

Meanwhile, Everton’s 2017/18 woes continued on the day as the Toffees suffered a brutal 5-1 defeat at home against Serie A side Atalanta. The win secures Atalanta’s place in the knockout phase, along with fellow Group E club Lyon — who also won on Thursday.

AC Milan put up five goals of its own in a convincing win against Austria Wien, while Lazio, Nice and Red Bull Salzburg were among the other sides to move into the next round after picking up the necessary results.

Below are all of the scores from Thursday’s Europa League action.

Astana 2-3 Villareal
Konyaspor 1-1 Marseille
Rosenborg 0-1 Real Sociedad
Lazio 1-1 Vitesse
Viktoria Plzen 2-0 Steaua Bucuresti
Lokomotiv 2-1 Copenhagen
Zenit 2-1 Vardar
Red Bull Salzburg 3-0 Vitoria
Athletic Bilbao 3-2 Hertha Berlin
BATE 0-0 Red Star Belgrade
Ostersunds 2-0 Zorya
Koln 1-0 Arsenal
Nice 3-1 Zulte Waregem
Lugano 1-0 Beer-Sheva
Ludogorets 1-2 Istanbul
Braga 3-1 Hoffenheim
AEK 2-2 Rijeka
AC Milan 5-1 Austria Vienna
Lyon 4-0 Apollon
Maccabi Tel Aviv 0-2 Slavia Praha
Sheriff 1-0 Zlin
Partizan 2-1 Young Boys
Skenderbeu 3-2 Dynamo Kyiv
Everton 1-5 Atalanta

Ex-Brazil forward Robinho sentenced to nine years in prison

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Former Brazil international Robinho has been sentenced to nine years in prison after being convicted of rape on an Albanian woman back in 2013.

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At the time, Robinho was playing for Serie A side AC Milan.

The court decision came down on Thursday after the 33-year-old forward had failed to attend any court hearings in Italy, where the crime reportedly took place.

Robinho is believed to have acted in the crime with five other Brazilians, to which their whereabouts are unknown to this point.

Reuters has reported that Robinho is entitled to up to two appeals and “Italy would only launch extradition proceedings once this legal process is exhausted.”

The Brazilian is known for his club playing days at AC Milan and Manchester City, among other clubs in addition to his time with the Selecao. Robinho took part in the 2006 and 2010 World Cups with Brazil.