Swansea City 3-0 Cardiff City: Swans compound Cardiff misery (video)

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If Cardiff thought all they needed to do to survive in the Premier League was to rely upon their new January signings, well, they learned a harsh lesson against Swansea on Saturday. The hosts finally looked like the side that often enthralled last season – in the second half, at least. Three Swans goals in the final 45 minutes means Cardiff are still suffering, sitting 19th and still three points from safety.

The first half got off to a terrific start, with both sides playing some fine soccer. Alas, all good things must come to an end, and this particular good thing ended quicker than most. With both sides anxious to avoid relegation, the quick start faded away into cautious play before the whistle blew at the end of the first 45.

Before five minutes were out, Swansea had a penalty appeal waved away. Cardiff goalkeeper David Marshall came out to challenge Wilfried Bony, who was free on goal. The challenge looked perfectly fine, terrific even, with Marshall just nicking the ball off Bony’s feet. The home side hoped for the spot kick, but the referee made the right decision.

(MORE: Premier League Roundup Chelsea go top, Liverpool hammer Arsenal, big wins at the bottom)

Cardiff missed a great chance to take the lead in the 24th minute. Craig Bellamy came flying up the left, exchanging a neat one-two with Declan John. Bellamy perhaps should’ve taken the shot for himself, but instead put the cross in for Kenwyne Jones. The forward’s shot went just barely wide.

Fortunately for all those contemplating an afternoon nap, Swansea – who’ve scored the vast majority of their goals this season in the second half – woke us all up with a goal early after the restart. Gary Monk replaced loanee Marvin Emnes with Pablo Hernández, who needed just two minutes to make an impact. His through ball sliced through the Bluebirds to find Wayne Routledge, who cut inside before sending his shot into the bottom right corner.

It’s enough to make you wonder why the Spaniard wasn’t on from the start.

The goal woke up viewers and it woke up Cardiff. Just a few minutes later, Bellamy shook off Chico Flores to try his luck from the edge of the box. His powerful shot shook the upright, and the hosts breathed once more.

Still Swansea had to search for a second goal, worried that their often leaky defense might result in dropping points. It finally came in the 80th minute, after some lovely play from the Swans. Hernández was involved once more, but it was Routledge’s looping cross that caught the eye. Nathan Dyer came diving in, doubling Swansea’s lead when his header landed in the bottom left corner.

Hernández must be a shoo-in for a return to the starting lineup after the third goal. John fouled Dyer on the right side of the area, and Pablo’s fantastic, curving free kick looped into the center of the box. Bony sent his sharp header into the roof of the net, ensuring all three points went to Swansea.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, de Guzman (Cañas 69), Emnes (Hernandez 45), Dyer (Taylor 88), Routledge, Bony

Goals: Routledge 47′; Dyer 79′; Bony 85′

Cardiff City: Marshall; John, Caulker, Turner, Fabio (McNaughton 69); Whittingham, Medel, Kim, Zaha (Mutch 77); Bellamy, Jones (Campbell 55)

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Everton 1-0 Newcastle: Walcott blast has Toffees up to eighth

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Everton earned a 1-0 win against Newcastle on Monday behind Theo Walcott‘s second-half strike at Goodison Park.

The victory puts the Toffees into eighth place, leaping over Leicester City for the time being — as the Foxes have an extra game in hand.

[ MORE: Sweden coach says Ibra must reach out to have shot at World Cup ]

The former Arsenal man broke the deadlock six minutes into the second half when Walcott blasted the ball into the roof of the net following a lofted cross from Yannick Bolasie.

For Walcott, it’s his third goal since joining Everton in 2017/18 from the Gunners.

The visitors had their fair share of opportunities on the day, particularly through Ayoze Pérez, who was active all throughout the match.

Perez nearly broke the deadlock after the half hour mark when he tested goalkeeper Jordan Pickford in the 31st minute with a diving save in the bottom left corner.

Phil Jagielka came close four minutes later when his close-range attempt narrowly missed the top left corner after Michael Keane‘s flicked header off a corner kick.

The Spanish forward was at it again in the second stanza, and nearly found the back of the net when his header was saved in the center of the goal off of a cross from Kenedy.

Newcastle pushed hard for an equalizer in the dying moments, and even played up a man for a few minutes when Leighton Baines was tended to for a head injury, but the Magpies couldn’t even the score.

Sweden coach: Ibrahimovic must call in order to have chance at World Cup

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic recently raised the stakes when he said, “I am going to the World Cup, yes!” despite having previously declared his retirement from international soccer.

Although the LA Galaxy forward’s comments on Jimmy Kimmel’s late-night show may not be a clear indication of his involvement in this summer’s World Cup in Russia, Ibrahimovic certainly has an interest in representing his native Sweden once again.

[ MORE: FIFA subjects Morocco 2026 bid to scrutiny ]

Now, all the veteran goalscorer has to do is pick up the phone and call Sweden coach Janne Andersson, according to the manager.

“He can do it,” Andersson told kicker. “But If he changes his opinion, contacts me and tells me ‘yes, I want to be part of it,’ then we’ll sit down and discuss what that would mean, how we play these days and so on. But that’s all speculation.

“I don’t know [if he’d still fit into the team]. But I also don’t think about it. I take the things as they come if they come. If you want to be part of it, you must call me. Easy as that.”

The 36-year-old retired from the international game following Sweden’s involvement in EURO 2016, and Andersson says that he had no intention of calling up Ibrahimovic prior to the media-driven questions surrounding the striker.

Ibrahimovic ranks first all-time for his homeland in goals scored (62) since debuting for Sweden back in 2001.

“Not him, or anyone else who retired. But there’s this media noise,” he said. “I have no problem with those questions [about a possible return]. Not with what he says or what is written in media.”

Several of Sweden’s current players, including goalkeeper Karl-Johan Johnsson recently stated that bringing Ibrahimovic back into the fold may disrupt the rhythm created within the squad — who handled Italy in their World Cup qualifying playoff to reach the final tournament in June.

FIFA subjects 2026 Morocco World Cup bid to fresh scrutiny

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Morocco’s World Cup bid is facing fresh scrutiny this week with the arrival of another delegation from FIFA after an initial task force found deficiencies in the proposals for the 2026 tournament.

In a downbeat conclusion to the visit by the FIFA inspectors last week, Morocco’s bid leader acknowledged it had to improve the quality of the submission made to FIFA in March because inadequacies were identified by football’s governing body.

[ MORE: UCL semifinals predictions ]

The previously unplanned second inspection of Morocco is an indication of the more rigorous process introduced by FIFA following criticism in 2010 that World Cups were awarded to the riskiest nations in 2018 (Russia) and 2022 (Qatar).

There will also be closer scrutiny of human rights of the bidders before the vote on June 13 when Morocco is currently due to be taking on a joint challenge from the United States, Canada and Mexico.

The Associated Press revealed last week Morocco did not declare its anti-LGBT law to FIFA in the human rights risk assessment included in the bid book. The documents – along with the North American submission – will now be scrutinized for any gaps by human rights experts.

“That process involves an expert third-party assessment of the robustness of the human rights content of both bids that will directly inform the administration’s own evaluation,” Rachel Davis, who sits on FIFA’s human rights advisory board, told the AP.

“We are confident that the process will result in a fair assessment of the human rights situation in all four countries involved in the bids, and a roadmap for how to deal with any deficiencies that FIFA will then require the successful bidder to commit to.”

Davis, who is managing director of the Shift human rights organization, said an evaluation of the human rights in the bidding nations will be included in a report to the FIFA Council, which will also assess the verdict of the evaluation task force. A bid with low scores can be blocked by the council from advancing to a vote of up to 207 football nations at the FIFA Congress on June 13.

While Morocco has said it needs to spend almost $16 billion on infrastructure for the 48-team World Cup, including building or renovating all 14 stadiums, North American does not require any tournament-specific building work. Morocco bid president Moulay Hafid Elalamy said at the end of the FIFA inspection that officials “made some remarks on the conditions of some of the stadiums.”

The new batch of technical staff being deployed from FIFA HQ to Morocco did not make a similar follow-up visit to North America after the task force inspected the rival bid’s facilities this month.

“Following the visit of the 2026 bid evaluation task force to Morocco last week, it was decided to have an additional working visit this week to complement the initial analysis of the task force and clarify some aspects of the bid,” FIFA told the AP.

Rob Harris is at http://www.twitter.com/RobHarris and http://www.facebook.com/RobHarrisReports

More AP World Cup coverage: http://www.apnews.com/tag/WorldCup

Watch Live: Everton v. Newcastle

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Everton host Newcastle United on Monday (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com) with the Toffees and Magpies both sitting pretty in midtable.

[ LIVE: Stream Everton-Newcastle ]

Sam Allardyce and Rafael Benitez have both been around the block a few times but at the moment Allardyce is under pressure and Benitez is working miracles with four wins on the spin as the newly-promoted Magpies have stayed solid defensively all season.

In team news Everton start Tosun, Walcott and Bolasie in attack with Wayne Rooney in midfield.

Newcastle make one change with Islam Slimani making his first start for the Magpies as he comes in for Dwight Gayle.

LINEUPS

Everton

Newcastle United