Newcastle 1-0 Aston Villa: Loic Remy secures deserved home win despite wasteful day (Video)

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Newcastle fans have waited long enough for a goal.

The Magpies left it late and frustrated the fans of St. James Park on numerous occasions, but Loic Remy atoned for a horrific miss just minutes earlier by bagging Newcastle’s first goal in their last six games to earn a big win.

The home side had gone 450 minutes without scoring before Remy sent a defender to the ground and thundered home the winner two minutes into stoppage time.

It was a deserved win for Newcastle, who had pummeled Brad Guzan’s net for 90 minutes. Until the winner, the American had been up to the challenge, but the pressure was just too much in the end.

Aston Villa very early on utilized an effective offsides trap, and it pegged the Newcastle strikers back much to their dismay.  It forced the pair to rethink their runs, causing the Magpies to play in a way that nullified their strengths, and Brad Guzan kept hold of the clean sheet on multiple occasions.

The hosts were clearly on the front foot early on, making numerous attempts – almost successfully – to slot through both Loic Remy and Papiss Cisse.  Moussa Sissoko was bright in the midfield, coming close to sending the strikers through a few times.

Aston Villa began to get themselves into the attack, putting together a few chances for Andreas Weimann and Karim El Ahmadi, but neither could reach for the final ball.

The visitors at the back continued to play their offsides trap, catching the pair of Newcastle strikers straying too far forward thrice in the opening 25 minutes.

A rather plain first half nearly ended with a bang, but Papiss Cisse took the best chance of the opening 45 and blazed it way over the goal.  The Senegalese received a ball from Loic Remy all alone in the middle of the box, but without time for a touch he fired right away and put it into row Z.

It would have been an outstanding way for the home side to end the first half, literally on the last kick before the whistle.  However, Newcastle’s most dangerous player thus far failed to capitalize.

source: Getty Images
Villa keeper Brad Guzan was up to the task all day, but the American could do nothing to stop the eventual winner.

The second half saw more offsides traps from Aston Villa, all successful in halting Newcastle’s attack.  The home side was well on top, but they were forced to build around the wings, clearly not Pardew’s original tactics.

Paul Dummett, Newcastle’s left-back, had a great attempt, receiving a dish at the top of the box and looking to curl the ball into the corner but it flashed over the bar.

Dummett’s attempt marked Newcastle’s supremacy, and just after it was Yoan Gouffran who came close to opening the scoring.

Finally things opened up in the final 10 minutes as both sides threw caution to the wind.  Loic Remy tested Villa goalkeeper Brad Guzan but the American saved well diving down low, again ensuring his outstanding match.

Villa went to counter, but Benteke couldn’t slot through Agbonlahor and Newcastle retained possession and poured on more pressure. With just a minute remaining in regulation, the hosts produced their best chance of the day but still couldn’t capitalize.

Luuk de Jong dispossessed Ron Vlaar deep in Villa’s half, and in the disarray Remy was alone in the box. De Jong found him, but the Frenchman with the goal gaping hit the post and Newcastle’s brilliant opportunity vanished.

It appeared that would be their final chance, but as stoppage time came, they got one more opportunity.  After De Jong picked up the ball at the top corner of the box, he cut back inside and fired on goal.

The shot was immediately blocked, but it fell to Remy who settled with one touch, cut back the other way sending Vlaar to the ground, and unleashed the winner past Guzan.

Newcastle’s victory is their first since January 18th and pushes them past Southampton into eighth in the table.  The point would have been valuable to Aston Villa if they could have held on, but instead they remain mired in 13th, four points above the relegation zone.

LINEUPS:

Newcastle – Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Coloccini, Dummett; Sissoko, Tiote (Gosling 89′), Anita, Gouffran; Remy, Cisse (de Jong 72′).

Goals: Remy (90+2′)

Aston Villa – Guzan; Bacuna, Vlaar, Baker, Bertrand (Bennett 76′); Westwood (Sylla 61′), Delph, El Ahmadi, Weimann; Benteke, Agbonlahor.

Pulisic pleased with U.S. Soccer’s improved landscape

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U.S. Soccer has come a long way over the years, and one of the nation’s most promising young players recognizes the progress the United States has made.

[ MORE: Man City acquire Monaco’s Silva after passing medical ]

Christian Pulisic, who plays for Bundesliga side Borussia Dortmund, is one of several young talents that U.S. hopes to finally bring the American men a moment of glory on the biggest of stages — the World Cup.

The 18-year-old has done just about everything a player of his age could do. He’s played in one of the top leagues in the world, appeared in various UEFA Champions League matches and now he’s likely on pace to appear in the 2018 World Cup, assuming the USMNT advances out of CONCACAF World Cup qualifying.

The U.S., who have reached the World Cup during seven straight cycles, have come a long way in a short period of time, and Pulisic is happy with the improving U.S. Soccer landscape.

“It’s been big flaw of ours in the soccer department that a lot of our best athletes go and play other sports,” Pulisic told The Guardian. “But I think young players have seen me, and others, go over to Europe and play in some of the best leagues — and MLS is improving so much too.

“There’s so much potential and I think it’s changing: we’ve had some bigger athletes in the past but I don’t think that defines us anymore.

“We’re going to keep moving forward, developing young players and we’re going to have a really good shot in the next few years.”

During this past Bundesliga season, Pulisic recorded three goals and added six assists for a club that has become well known for its high-powered offensive attack.

Report: Kyle Walker a top target for Manchester City

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Manchester City could be looking to bolster its backline further this summer, and the Citizens could turn to Tottenham for help.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on acquiring Monaco’s Silva ]

According to ESPN FC, Pep Guardiola‘s side is growing more and more enamored with Spurs defender Kyle Walker and believes City can acquire the experienced outside back prior to the 2017/18 Premier League season.

With City already losing Pablo Zabaleta and Bacary Sagna since the end of the PL season, Guardiola will have to address the club’s lack of depth at outside back.

Several other big clubs have been considered in the running for Walker’s services, including Chelsea, Manchester United and Bayern Munich.

The 26-year-old has been at White Hart Lane since joining Spurs in 2009 from Sheffield United and has made 222 appearances for the club in that span.

Alaves eyes upset of Barcelona in Copa del Rey final

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) The final of the Copa del Rey pits Barcelona’s star power against a tiny Basque Country club whose biggest weapons are its grit and gnawing hunger for a taste of glory.

[ MORE: Man City closing in on Monaco’s Silva ]

Win or lose, Alaves is savoring the cup final on Saturday as the perfect finish to its first season back in Spain’s topflight in an decade.

[ MORE: Three key battles ahead of Chelsea-Arsenal FA Cup final ]

But to have a chance of winning the first major trophy in its 96-year history, Alaves’ ragtag collection of journeymen has to be squeezed of every ounce of effort by coach Mauricio Pellegrino to upset the cup-holders led by Lionel Messi.

One statistic illustrates how daunting their task will be: Messi, all by himself, has scored exactly as many goals as the entire Alaves squad this season, with 53 across all competitions.

“We will need to play a very complete match to have a chance, but we are a team that always competes to the maximum,” said Pellegrino, who is completing a noteworthy first season with the club.

The final will be the last competitive match at Atletico Madrid’s Vicente Calderon Stadium. An exhibition match the next day will be its farewell before demolition.

The final will also be the last match for departing Barcelona coach Luis Enrique, who could bow out with a third straight Copa del Rey.

Here are some reasons Alaves can believe in an upset for the ages:

DONE IT BEFORE

Alaves has already toppled Barcelona this season.

A shocking 2-1 victory at Camp Nou on Sept. 10 was Alaves’ first win since its return to the first division following 10 years in the second and third tiers.

That surprise victory set it on its way to overachieving all campaign. It reached the Copa del Rey final by defeating the more talented Celta Vigo in the semifinals, and finished the league in a meritorious ninth place.

The bad news is that Barcelona showed no mercy back in Vitoria, where Luis Suarez scored twice in a 6-0 rout.

NO SUAREZ

But Suarez won’t be available for Barcelona on Saturday, when he serves a one-game suspension after being sent off during the semifinals against Atletico Madrid.

Luis Enrique could start Paco Alcacer in his place up front alongside Messi and Neymar.

OLD AND YOUNG

Alaves is not devoid of talent.

The 19-year-old right back Theo Hernandez, who is playing on loan from Atletico, is drawing rave reviews and interest from European powerhouses, including Real Madrid.

Marcos Llorente, a 22-year-old Madrid reserve player also on loan, has impressed as a defensive midfielder.

Captain Manu Garcia, at 31, is the only player who has been with the team through its rise from the third tier in 2013.

“Our coaches are telling us that by working as a team just like we have all year, we have a chance to win,” Garcia said.

OH SO CLOSE

Alaves came ever so close to winning the 2001 UEFA Cup when it defied expectations in its first European campaign by reaching the final against Liverpool.

Jordi Cruyff, son of Dutch great Johann Cruyff, scored late to level the thriller at 4-4 and force extra time, only for Alaves to succumb on an own goal by Delfi Geli.

“I want our fans to enjoy the day,” Garcia said. “I remember (the final in) Dortmund from when I was young. I have many memories of that day and that’s why I ask our fans to be proud of Alaves, and that they make the Calderon into our stadium because that is what we will need it to be.”

MLS at Week 13: Rivalries all around, TFC goes for eight games unbeaten

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Week 13 is here and we’ve got ourselves some pretty tasty matchups, after the weekend got off to a fast start on Thursday night when the Chicago Fire downed FC Dallas.

[ MORE: MLS Power Rankings — Week 13 ]

Meanwhile, the match of the weekend likely comes in the form of Toronto FC taking on the Columbus Crew, as Greg Vanney’s side puts their seven-match unbeaten run on the line at BMO Field.

Several other intriguing fixtures, including multiple rivalries, will take place as well, particularly in the Pacific Northwest as the Seattle Sounders and Portland Timbers do battle.

Toronto FC vs. Columbus Crew — 7 p.m. EDT on Friday

It’s been seven straight matches for the Eastern Conference leaders since they last lost and Toronto FC has become the clear favorite to hoist MLS Cup through the opening two months-plus. Of course that can change in the blink of an eye. We’ve seen that with the Crew as of late, who started out hot before losing four out of their last six and falling to fifth in the East.

Seattle Sounders vs. Portland Timbers — 2:30 p.m. EDT on Saturday

There’s nothing like a Cascadia Cup match. Although both clubs aren’t exactly up to par at the moment, it’s still a rivalry match. That has to mean something, right?

Vancouver Whitecaps vs. D.C. United — 7 p.m. EDT on Saturday

The Whitecaps have picked up some steam lately, winning three of their last four, and unfortunately for D.C. they haven’t had any similar fortunes. Ben Olsen’s group are at the bottom of the East, and had it not been for the Rapids there would probably be more attention on how poorly they are playing.

New York Red Bulls vs. New England Revolution — 7 p.m. EDT on Saturday

Jesse Marsch’s club picked up an important tie against a red-hot Toronto last time out, but now they’ll meet a familiar rival on Saturday as they try to get back to winning ways. Meanwhile, the Revs have played significantly better as of late, scoring six goals in their two most recent outings.

Colorado Rapids vs. Sporting KC — 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday

Simply put, they only good thing the Rapids have on their side is that the match is at home, where the team has captured both of their wins this season. Sporting KC, meanwhile, continues to tear it up at the top of the West.

Minnesota United vs Orlando City — 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday

Orlando has come back down to earth recently, so it’s time for Jason Kreis and co. to reset. Adrian Heath and the Loons continue to suffer through the growing pains of being a new side, something Kreis can relate to from his time in New York, but Minnesota has shown positive signs during the young season.

Real Salt Lake vs. Philadelphia Union — 8 p.m. EDT on Saturday

The Union are looking really good as of late, and the winners of four straight could very well keep it up on the road against RSL, who have struggled to pick up results for much of the season.

San Jose Earthquakes vs. LA Galaxy — 10 p.m. EDT on Saturday

The Cali Clasico takes shape at Avaya Stadium as both west coast sides look for bragging rights out west.

Atlanta United vs. New York City FC — 5 p.m. EDT on Sunday

It was Patrick Vieira’s side that got the best of Atlanta when the two clubs met a few weeks back, and it’s bad news for Tata Martino’s men as NYCFC has caught more steam as they continue to rack up positive results in the Eastern Conference.

FC Dallas vs. Houston Dynamo — 8 p.m. EDT on Sunday

We’ve got ourselves a Texas Derby down in Dallas, and this could be quite the interesting matchup as both sides enter Sunday on a bit of a downturn. It’s evident both clubs have exciting offensive firepower but which side will come out on top?