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

Leave a comment

.

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)

AT THE HALF: Man Utd lead Ajax in UEL final, thanks to Pogba (video)

AP Photo/Martin Meissner
Leave a comment

After 45 minutes of Wednesday’s Europa League final, between Manchester United and Ajax, in Stockholm, Sweden, Jose Mourinho’s Red Devils have one foot in next season’s UEFA Champions League.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

After a cagey opening 15 minutes that saw neither side create anything of consequence, Man United pulled ahead on a fair bit of luck in the 18th minute. Paul Pogba received the ball 25 yards from goal, took a touch toward goal and fired a low shot toward goal. Davinson Sanchez did everything he could to get his body in front of the strike, but the ball glanced off his shin, sending it one direction and goalkeeper Andre Onana the other.

[ FOLLOW LIVE: Europa League final ] 

Having conceded just eight goals in 14.5 Europa League games thus far this season, would you bet on United conceding an equalizer in the final 45 minutes? Hit the link above to follow along, live.

Valverde dismisses deal to coach Barcelona

Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Departing Athletic Bilbao coach Ernesto Valverde has been avoiding talk about a possible move to Barcelona, saying he has not entered into negotiations with any club.

Valverde did not confirm reports that he has already reached a deal to coach Barcelona next season, and did not dismiss taking a year off after four seasons at Athletic.

“I haven’t committed to any club, I haven’t talked to anybody,” Valverde said. “I have an agent and there are teams that have shown interest in me. Now I have to decide whether I will take on a new adventure, and it would have to be a challenging one.”

The 53-year-old Valverde has been widely touted to replace Luis Enrique, who announced earlier this year that he was tired and would not continue as Barcelona’s coach.

The Catalan club ends its season after the Copa del Rey final against Alaves on Saturday.

The Mundo Deportivo newspaper reported this week that Valverde has already reached a two-year deal with Barcelona, with an option for a third season. The newspaper said the announcement would be made next week.

“I don’t know what’s been published,” Valverde said. “I never talk about negotiations with clubs and that won’t change. This wouldn’t be the first time that I have offers from important clubs.”

He said there was still the possibility of taking some time off and not immediately taking over another club.

“Why not?” he said. “In the end I can do whatever I want, no?”

A former forward, Valverde played two seasons with Barcelona in the late 1980s. He spent six years with Athletic from 1990-96.

Valverde didn’t hide that he will be hoping Barcelona wins the Copa del Rey title this weekend, which would guarantee Athletic a spot in the Europa League next season. Athletic finished seventh in the Spanish league, but will play in the second-tier European competition with a Barcelona victory because the Catalan club will play in the Champions League. Only the teams in fifth and sixth places automatically qualify for the Europa League.

Valverde led Athletic to victory over Barcelona in the final of the Spanish Super Cup in 2015, which marked the team’s first title in more than three decades. He also coached the club from 2003-05.

Valverde has also coached Espanyol, Olympiakos, Villarreal and Valencia.

Tales Azzoni on Twitter: http://twitter.com/tazzoni

LIVE: Man United face Ajax in Europa League final

Getty Images
Leave a comment

Manchester United and Ajax square off in Stockholm, Sweden on Wednesday for the UEFA Europa League trophy and a place in the Champions League next season.

[ LIVE: Europa League final ] 

This a huge game for Jose Mourinho and United bad coming less than 48 hours after a suicide bomber killed 22 people in Manchester, this game has taken an entirely different complexion.

The mood around the Friends Arena is a somber one as Manchester United’s fans mourn those lost in the terror attack and people around the world send their love and prayers to Manchester.

Black armbands will be worn by both teams and there will be a minute’s silence before the game to honor the victims.

United have never won this trophy and they will have their work cut out against a young, talented Ajax side.

Click no the link above to follow the action live from Stockholm, while here at ProSoccerTalk we will have all the analysis, reaction and more from the final.

How will Man United line-up vs. Ajax in Europa League final?

Getty Images
1 Comment

How will Jose Mourinho set up Manchester United for their crucial Europa League final against Ajax in Stockholm on Wednesday?

[ MORE: Europa League final preview ]

With an automatic UEFA Champions League spot on the line, United must win to get back to Europe’s top club competition next season. If they don’t it is back to the Europa League for Mourinho’s men.

This won’t be easy, though, as United’s defense has been ravaged by injuries in recent weeks and they’re without Zlatan Ibrahimovic.

Local lad Marcus Rashford has to come up with the goods.

[ MORE: Manchester clubs react to bombing

Ajax’s young, attack-minded side will be led by Kasper Dolberg and Bertrand Traore, while Davy Klaassen will pull the strings in midfield.

Back to United, and with Mourinho confirming Sergio Romero would start in goal ahead of David De Gea, just like he has done for most of the Europa League campaign, we know one starter. In defense it is likely to be Phil Jones and Chris Smalling in the center with Eric Bailly suspended, Marcos Rojo out injured and the duo of Ashley Young and Luke Shaw also missing. Valencia and Blind should get the nod out wide with Darmian in reserve.

Midfield is where things get tricky. Michael Carrick‘s experience may be invaluable but Mourinho is likely to go with Fellaini’s grit (if he’s fit) in the engine room alongside Ander Herrera.

Ahead of them in the three attacking positions, Mkhitaryan and Pogba seem certainties to start and then it’s a straight battle between Lingard, Mata and Martial for the other spot. Lingard may just win that battle due to his superior defensive abilities, but it will be close.

Up top it will be Rashford to start with Wayne Rooney waiting in the wings in what could be his final game for United.

Take a look at our suggested lineup below. Do you agree?


Manchester United starting lineup vs. Ajax, Europa League final

—– Romero —–

— Valencia — Jones — Smalling — Blind —

—- Herrera —- Fellaini —-

— Mkhitaryan — Pogba — Lingard —

—– Rashford —–