West Ham United 2-0 Norwich City: Late goals delight ‘Happy Hammers’ (video)

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West Ham grabbed all three points against Norwich on Tuesday at Upton Park, as late goals from James Collins and Mohamed Diame sealed a 2-0 victory for the Hammers.

In a tight game between two teams locked together just above the relegation zone, the pivotal moment came in the 83rd minute as Collins rose highest to head home and send Upton Park into raptures. The tally was his first Premier League goal for West Ham since 2006.

Then substitute Diame, who crossed for Collins’ opener, sealed the Hammers third-straight league win (the first time they’ve done that since 2007) with a tidy finish in stoppage time.

With the win West Ham surge into the top half of the table in 10th place on 28 points, while Norwich remain just two points and two places above the drop zone.

(Latest Premier League Standings)

The home side started well and put some serious pressure on the Canaries in the early stages.

But Norwich came back into the game after the Hammers early onslaught, as Gary Hooper, Leroy Fer and Robert Snodgrass poured forward to try and put the away side ahead. And it was Hooper who almost gave the Canaries the lead, but his header was wonderfully stopped by West Ham ‘keeper Adrian.

Soon after it was Norwich who came forward again with the best chance of the game, as Snodgrass was put clean through by Nathan Redmond but the Scottish international couldn’t direct his effort past a sprawling Adrian. Norwich kept pressing and only a last-ditch tackle from James Tomkins stopped Bradley Johnson from giving them the lead in the 21st minute.

The game settled down after a frantic start, as you started to see why these two teams have recorded the most clean sheets in the bottom half of the PL standings between them. Midway through the opening half a wicked delivery from Stewart Downing was begging to be finished off, but Norwich captain Sebastien Bassong cleared the danger expertly.

Before the break it was back and forth, but right on half time Norwich had a glorious chance to take the lead as Alex Tettey surged into the West Ham box but Adrian once again pulled off a terrific stop to keep the scores level at half time.

West Ham brought on Marco Borriello for Carlton Cole at the break, as Big Sam tried to spark his attack into life. But in fact most of the second half saw the ball remain in midfield, as both teams cancelled each other out.

Hooper then had a glorious chance in the 69th minute as the Canaries striker went clean through on goal but Adrian, once again, saved superbly to keep West Ham on level terms.

In the 75th minute substitute Mohamed Diame went clean through after wonderful play in the final third but John Ruddy earned his paycheck with a marvelous stop to keep the Hammers out. Then less than a minute later at the other end, Joseph Yobo nearly scored his first Norwich goal but his lofted effort landed on top of the net.

But late on Collins’ header from Diame’s left-wing cross put West Ham ahead and Norwich never looked like equalizing. Then Diame put the result beyond doubt in stoppage time as he finished calmly when given the chance as the Hammers grabbed all three points.

LINEUPS

West Ham: Adrian, McCartney, Nolan, Tomkins, Jarvis (Diame, 61), Taylor (Nocerino, 77), Noble, Collins, Demel, Downing, C.Cole (Borriello, 45)

Goals: Collins (84), Diame (90)

Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson; Tettey (van Wolfswinkel, 86), Johnson; Snodgrass, Fer, Redmond (Pilkington, 81); Hooper (Elmander, 76)

Rio prosecutors launch probe into soccer final violence

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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) Prosecutors in Rio de Janeiro launched an investigation Thursday into the fan violence surrounding the Copa Sudamericana final between local club Flamengo and Argentine team Independiente.

[ SOURCE: LAFC close to signing third DP, Geraldes of Sporting CP ]

Clashes broke out on the night before Wednesday’s match at Maracana Stadium, and continued throughout the day. There was vandalism inside the stadium during the match and violence afterward, with more than 50 Flamengo supporters being detained over the two days.

The Rio prosecutor’s office said in a statement it would be questioning officials at Brazil’s football confederation, South American soccer’s ruling body, CONMEBOL, and local police about the incidents.

The statement added that “a profound investigation of the facts is needed so we can identify and punish the criminals that disguised as fans to spread chaos, fear and disorder in society.”

Major Silvio Luiz, head of policing for the final, criticized Flamengo’s handling of ticket sales.

Flamengo drew the second-leg match 1-1, and lost the final 3-2 on aggregate. The Copa is the second most prestigious club competition in South American soccer.

Ligue 1 set to use VAR starting in 2018/19 season

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With video replay technology becoming more and more prevalent in soccer across the globe, another major European league has revealed it too will join those ranks.

[ SOURCE: LAFC set to sign third DP with Sporting CP’s Geraldes ]

Ligue 1 has announced that the French top flight will begin to utilize video replay and have a video assistant referee (VAR) starting in the 2018/19 season.

Major League Soccer and the German Bundesliga are just two of the major global leagues to implement the system thus far. In MLS, the technology can be used in four instances; when goals are scored, during penalty situations, when a straight red card is given and during cases of mistaken identity.

French outlet L’Equipe wrote on Thursday that Ligue 1 would also follow a similar structure in what decisions VAR officials will be reviewable.

Spain has also announced that it will introduce VAR in 2018, ahead of the next La Liga season.

Top Premier League storylines — Week 17

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The title is looking more and more like it’s heading to Manchester, so will Tottenham be able to slow the Premier League leaders on Saturday?

[ MORE: Prince-Wright’s Premier League picks ]

 

Here are the four biggest storylines ahead of this weekend’s action.

Can anyone stop the Cityzens?

Manchester City vs. Tottenham Hotspur — 12:30 p.m. ET Saturday on NBC (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

Nobody has found a way to halt Pep Guardiola‘s side yet this season in PL play, so why would that change this weekend? City remain unbeaten through 17 matches, and while Spurs enter the weekend unbeaten in its last four, Mauricio Pochettino and Co. have their work cut out. The City attack, which has scored 52 goals this season, has shown no signs slowing down during the first four-and-a-half months of play, giving Tottenham a big test defensively. Harry Kane and his 12 goals will surely have a say in the get together, but Spurs has been lacking thus far in another go-to finisher.

Will the Toffees keep rolling under Big Sam?

Everton vs. Swansea City — 3 p.m. ET Monday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

It’s been quite the turnaround recently at Goodison Park, and Everton has the chance to extend its unbeaten streak to six games on Monday. Sam Allardyce has brought life to the Toffees as of late, with Everton scoring 11 goals over the last five matches.

Foxes aim to climb higher, while Palace shoots for safety

Leicester City vs. Crystal Palace — 7:30 a.m. ET Saturday on NBCSN (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Foxes have found their footing this season, and dare I say there are some glimpses of the team that won the title two years ago? Since Leicester’s 2-0 defeat to Man City, the Foxes have looked the part of a top-tier PL side, winning four of five matches, including victories over Tottenham and Burnley. Meanwhile, Palace has made the relegation battle a very intriguing one, as Roy Hodgson and Co. sit just a point inside the bottom three. Amazingly, Palace is unbeaten in seven of its last eight matches, but the club remains in 18th place.

Clarets aim for third consecutive victory

Brighton vs. Burnley — 10 a.m. ET Saturday on NBC Sports Gold (Watch online at NBCSports.com)

The Clarets don’t boast a bonafide goalscorer, but Burnley looks like a well-oiled machine as Sean Dyche‘s side sits on the edge of the top four. Although the side likely won’t be pulling off a Leicester-sided feat in 2017/18, what the Clarets are accomplishing is quite amazing given the squad currently in place. Brighton has gone through its share of struggles recently, going winless in its last six matches, and scoring just three goals in that span. They’ll likely have a hard time breaking past Burnley’s tough backline.

NYCFC busy on Thursday with Abdul-Salaam, Stuver additions

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New York City FC is moving on from the club’s first-ever MLS SuperDraft selection, but they’ll be acquiring a solid defensive piece as the team continues to rebuild at the back.

[ SOURCE: LAFC finalizing deal to make Sporting CP’s Geraldes third DP ]

On Thursday, NYCFC announced a trade sending former 2015 first-round pick Khiry Shelton to Sporting KC in exchange for defender Saad Abdul-Salaam.

Shelton, who spent three seasons with NYCFC, struggled to find playing time under manager Patrick Vieira, particularly once the organization drafted England youth international Jack Harrison in 2016.

Vieira and Co. will be getting back a player also selected in the 2015 SuperDraft in Abdul-Salaam.

With the departures of Ethan White, RJ Allen and Andraz Struna this offseason, the move certainly makes sense for NYCFC, who were severely lacking at the right back position heading into this week.

NYCFC signed Malmo defender Anton Tinnerholm on Wednesday to help improve the backline.

The Eastern Conference side also added goalkeeper Brad Stuver from the Columbus Crew on Thursday, with the 26-year-old presumably serving as the backup to Sean Johnson in 2018.