Thomas Ince

Crystal Palace 3-1 West Brom: Debutants shine as Palace bag vital win (video)

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Crystal Palace made it five wins from seven home games under Tony Pulis, as the Eagles stormed past relegation rivals West Brom 3-1 at Selhurst Park on Saturday.

Two debutants put Palace ahead, after Thomas Ince and Joe Ledley both scored in the first half at Selhurst Park as they made an immediate impact since arriving on transfer deadline day.

Just after the break West Brom got back into it as substitute Thievy Bifouma came off the bench for his debut and scored after 36 seconds on the pitch. Then fellow sub Scott Sinclair forced Palace ‘keeper Julian Speroni into a great save in the 68th minute as the Baggies pushed for an equalizer. Moments later Marouane Chamakh was brought down at the other end by WBA ‘keeper Ben Foster and the Moroccan striker dusted himself off to make it 3-1.

The vital three points see Palace climb to 13th place on 26 points, while West Brom slip into the relegation zone on 23 points after this telling defeat.

(Latest Premier League Standings)

Palace went close to opening the scoring as new signing Ince whipped in a great corner that Dikgacoi looped goalwards but Youssuf Mulumbu cleared off the line.

Good defending by the visitors but it was a bright start from the Eagles.

And they were rewarded for that in the 14th minute when Ince grabbed a debut goal as Yannick Bolasie surged at the Baggies defense and the young England winger stole in and chipped home superbly to make it 1-0 to the Eagles. West Brom came back into the game after going behind but failed to carve out any clear cut chances.

Then another debutant scored his first Palace goal, as deadline day signing Ledley from Celtic headed home after a good cross from Jason Puncehon to make it 2-0 to Palace at half time.

In the first attack of the second half half time sub Sinclair got the ball on the left and linked up with fellow sub Thievy, who scored his first goal for West Brom, also on his debut, to make it 2-1 in the 46th minute.

The Baggies were buoyed by that goal and almost equalized in the 66th minute as Sinclair was stopped by a superb save from Palace ‘keeper Julian Speroni. Moments later that save looked even better as Chamakh was tripped in the box by West Brom ‘keeper Ben Foster and referee Chris Foy pointed to the spot.

Chamakh dusted himself off and slotted in the PK to make it 3-1 to Palace, to seal yet another home win for the Eagles.

LINEUPS

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Dann, Delaney, Ledley, Puncheon (Murray, 72), Dikgacoi, Jedinak, Bolasie (Parr, 76), Ince, Chamakh (Thomas, 83)

Goals: Ince (14), Ledley (27), Chamakh (69)

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Jones, McAuley, Dawson, Ridgewell (Sinclair, 45), Yacob (Berahino, 71), Mulumbu, Gera (Thievy, 45), Morrison, Brunt, Anichebe

Goal: Thievy (46)

Robbie Keane still entertaining offers ahead of return

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 12:  Soccer Player Robbie Keane arrives at the Premiere of IFC Films' "Pele: Birth Of A Legend" at Regal Cinemas L.A. Live on May 12, 2016 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Photo by Frazer Harrison/Getty Images
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Robbie Keane is still sorting out his future, and it seems unlikely he’s heading back to the past.

Keane is training in Dublin ahead of a return to the pitch. The 36-year-old striker left the LA Galaxy this offseason, and says he’s had several offers from Championship squads in England as well as a few clubs abroad.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Although he’s starred for Wolverhampton and Leeds, destinations where fans would welcome his arrival, Keane says not to hold your breath.

From TalkSport.com:

“I’ve had a lot of people asking me about coming back to Leeds and Wolves, and they’re great clubs I’ve played for, but you can’t go somewhere if people actually don’t offer you anything.

“Until it’s actually in writing to me I can’t comment much on it, but I definitely haven’t heard from Leeds or Wolves.”

Whether Stateside or in England, Keane can still have an impact on a team’s fortunes. We look forward to seeing him back on the field, and to hear some more quips as well.

Consider his answer to whether he’d entertain an offer from China:

“If they gave the money Diego Costa was offered, I’d walk there now,” Keane said.

Galaxy adds center mid from Portuguese top flight

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LA Galaxy’s roster reformation continues with the addition of Joao Pedro, a day after formalizing a deal with USMNT midfielder Jermaine Jones.

The 23-year-old center midfielder was with Vitoria Guimaraes in Portugal’s top flight, and comes to the club as a “Special Discovery Player” with Targeted Allocation Money.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Pedro has a goal in 17 appearances this season, as Vitoria Guimaraes sits fifth in the Primeira Liga.

From LAGalaxy.com:

“Joao is an extremely talented midfielder who has experience playing at a high level in Portugal,” said Galaxy general manager Peter Vagenas in a written statement released by the club.

“He is only 23 years old and has the best years of his career front of him. We identified him as a top target this offseason and we think he can immediately help strengthen our midfield. We look forward to welcoming Joao to Los Angeles as we continue to prepare for the upcoming season.”

Pedro was a regular for Vitoria Guimaraes but is far from a certainty to star for the Galaxy. We do know that Vagenas has probably done his research as to whether Pedro fits with Jermaine Jones.

AFCON wrap: Senegal clinches first knockout round slot

Senegal's, Sadio Mane, right, is challenged by Zimbabwe's, Willard Katsande, left, during the African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match between Senegal and Zimbabwe at, Stade de Franceville Stadium, in Franceville, Gabon Thursday Jan. 19, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Senegal has advanced to the knockout rounds of the Africa Cup of Nations, leaving three teams to work for the second Group B slot come the final day.

[ MORE: Top Premier League story lines ]

Senegal 2-0 Zimbabwe

Sadio Mane (Liverpool) and Henri Saivet (Saint-Etienne) scored within the first 13 minutes as Senegal clinched Group B with a win over Zimbabwe. There were 48 shots between the two teams, 24 for Senegal, in a fairly open affair. As for the Warriors, they’ll need to beat Tunisia on Monday.

Algeria 1-2 Tunisia

Tunisia rebounded from a loss to Senegal without scoring from the run of play. Lille mid Naim Sliti scored a penalty after an Algeria own goal made it 1-0. Anderlecht midfielder Sofiane Hanni scored for Algeria.

Friday’s matches
Ivory Coast vs. DR Congo — 11 a.m. ET
Morocco vs. Togo — 11 a.m. ET

Wenger concerned Chinese wages become benchmark for players

BARCELONA, SPAIN - MARCH 15:  Arsene Wenger manager of Arsenal looks on during an Arsenal press conference ahead of their UEFA Champions League round of 16 second leg match against Barcelona at Camp Nou on March 15, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images
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LONDON (AP) Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger is hoping the high quality of competition in Europe will keep players from leaving for the financial gain in China.

Wenger is facing regular questions about the future of both Mesut Ozil and Alexis Sanchez, and the big money on offer in the Chinese league can complicate negotiations.

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Argentine striker Carlos Tevez joined Shanghai Shenhua last month in a deal worth $40 million over two years.

“The danger (is) that the Chinese offers become the benchmark for Europe,” Wenger said Thursday. “You cannot compete with that, but I still think that, when you’re a footballer, the first thing is that you want to play against the best players in the best teams.”

Wenger said players that want the best compensation for playing in the best quality league need not look to Asia.

“I think that combination is the best in England at the moment, so I don’t see why the players should leave the English Premier League,” Wenger said.

Wenger, whose team is fourth in the standings, has made only one signing in the January transfer window, picking up defender Cohen Bramall from non-league club Hednesford.

Arsenal has also decided to keep captain Per Mertesacker for another season. Wenger announced Thursday that the club has taken up a one-year option to extend the contract of the 32-year-old German, who has not played this season because of a knee injury sustained during a friendly in July.

Mertesacker faces a fight to get back into the team because Shkodran Mustafi, an offseason signing from Valencia, has built a strong partrnership with vice captain Laurent Koscielny at the heart of Wenger’s defense.