Hull City 1-4 Newcastle United: Magpies win shrouded in controversy as Pardew sees red (video)

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Newcastle United beat Hull City 4-1 at the KC Stadium on Saturday, as two goal from Moussa Sissoko and strikes from Loic Remy and Vernon Anita bagged a second-straight Premier League win for the Magpies.

However their stunning away display was overshadowed by manager Alan Pardew being sent off, as the Newcastle coach was involved in a coming together with Hull midfielder David Meyler and Pardew looked to have landed a headbutt on the Hull player. Pardew was sent to the stands, and will surely be reprimanded by the English FA.

On the pitch, Newcastle deserved their win as they overpowered Hull in every department, leading 2-0 at half time thanks to goals from Sissoko and Remy they were cruising but Hull came back into things thanks to Curtis Davies’ header just after the break. But another strike from Sissoko and a late clincher from Anita gave Newcastle three crucial points.

The win sees the Magpies just five points behind Everton in sixth, while Hull stay in 11th and are just six points off the drop zone.

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Newcastle started brightly as Remy looked to get in behind Hull’s defense and Yoan Gouffran rifled an effort just over after three minutes, as the Magpies pushed for an opener.

In the the eight minute Hull almost scored as a set piece saw Alex Bruce and other Hull players close to bundling the ball home but Tim Krul managed to keep it out on the line. Seconds later Newcastle were ahead as a sweeping move saw Mathieu Debucjy set free on the right and his pull back was met by Sissoko who hammered the ball into the top corner to put the Magpies 1-0 up.

Hull battled hard to get back into the game and strikers Shane Long and Nikica Jelavic looked lively and caused plenty of problems with darting runs. In the 27th minute Jelavic went close to equalizing as a right wing cross from Elmohamady was headed just wide by the Croatian striker.

Just before the break Hull continued to push and Jelavic curled a wonderful free kick up and over the wall from 25-yards out but the ball cannoned off the bar and Newcastle managed to clear the danger. Then in the 40th minute Elmohamady somehow headed wide when left completely open at the back post, after Long’s terrific ball had found him.

After that huge amount of pressure Hull were made to rue those misses as a terrible mistake from Maynor Figueroa saw the defender leave his back pass short and Remy latched onto it and calmly finished to put the Magpies 2-0 up. The first half finished with Newcastle leading 2-0 as Hull were punished for missing several good chances.

But seconds after the interval Davies headed Hull back into the match as Newcastle’s ‘keeper Krul came off his line but missed the ball and Hull’s defender nodded into an empty net to reduce Hull’s lead. But just when you thought Hull were about to draw level, Newcastle extended their lead as Gouffran’s shot was saved but Sissoko reacted first and poked home his second goal of the match to make it 3-1.

Controversy then reigned in the final 20 minutes at the KC Stadium, as Newcastle boss Pardew was involved in an altercation with Meyler, as the ball went out of play the two collided and Newcastle’s manager seemed to put his head in on Hull’s player and referee Kevin Friend sent Pardew to the stands. Remarkable.

The rest of the match played out with Hull trying to get back into the match but Newcastle added one more goal after Anita made it 4-1 in stoppage time, as Pardew’s side made it two-straight wins which sees the Magpies aiming for a top six finish.

LINEUPS

Hull City: McGregor, Bruce, Davies (Chester, 86), Figueroa (Koren, 62), Elmohamady, Rosenior, Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore (Aluko, 62), Jelavic, Long.

Goal: Davies (46)

Newcastle United: Krul; Debuchy, Williamson, Yanga-Mbiwa, Dummett; Sissoko, Tiote, Anita, Gouffran; de Jong (Gosling, 90); Remy.

Goals: Sissoko (9 & 54), Remy (43), Anita (90)

Gold Cup Final preview: USMNT needs a trophy vs. Jamaica

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The major selling point of Bruce Arena’s hire, aside from his being the anti-Jurgen Klinsmann, was that the United States men’s national team would not be out-foxed tactically (or at least not be caught without a game plan).

Thirteen games into the tenure, the jury is out on whether the American boss’ second stint is on the path to World Cup success — those assumed goal posts will likely be moved depending on the group draw in Russia — but he has brought stability to the team and engineered a positive change in mentality.

[ MORE: How will USMNT line up? ] 

I have a great deal of respect for Joe Prince-Wright’s view of the national team, and ProSoccerTalk’s editor wrote today that U.S. Soccer would be proven right in its hiring of Arena if the Yanks won the Gold Cup with a Wednesday win over Jamaica.

But it doesn’t take a devil’s advocate to ask if it is quite that simple?

As much as I’m sure the removal of Klinsmann became necessary due to the morale of the USMNT and its players’ opinions of the German manager, I’m far from certain we’ve learned much about the hiring of Arena. Frankly, I can’t imagine any of the results being much worse under Peter Vermes, or Caleb Porter, or Ben Olsen.

The best win of Arena’s second tenure so far was probably the semifinal defeat of Costa Rica this weekend, and the best moment was the 1-1 draw at Azteca against Mexico. There’s no denying he’s righted the World Cup ship —  and that’s paramount — but it’s hard to imagine just qualifying for Russia should give Arena some sort of status, 0-2 hole or not. Any coach needs to be judged by his tournament, and Arena knows this. He’s helped author the best World Cup performance in modern U.S. men’s history, and he’s also presided over a train wreck (Imagine pulling that performance with that roster into the 2018 supporters’ climate. I’m shuddering on behalf of social media).

Which brings us to the import of Wednesday in Santa Clara. The United States lineup is experienced in big games and superior to Jamaica, which is coming off one day less rest. Yes, Jamaica’s squad features an incredible goalkeeper in Andre Blake and a half-dozen MLS players, but the rest are largely players who ply their trade in the U.S. second tier or Jamaica’s top flight.

Again, against Michael Bradley, Tim Howard, Jozy Altidore, Clint Dempsey, et cetera, et cetera.

The bookmakers say a Jamaica win would pay off 8:1. Just getting to penalty kicks would pay 3:1.

(Photo by Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

The U.S. should win the 9:30 p.m. ET start, and put one foot in the 2021 Confederations Cup in Qatar. If it doesn’t, it’ll be because the side couldn’t sort out its wobbly back line or find its way past Blake. The latter would be more forgivable than the former, but really only in a “Tim Howard vs. Belgium but unblemished” fashion.

And it could be wrong to call Arena’s tournament a failure if the Yanks lose, depending on how it happens, but this is a man who helped a much lesser U.S. side to a 1-0 home friendly win over Jamaica just a few months ago (a Jamaica side who’s only missing player of consequence was Darren Mattocks). Arena trotted out Luis Robles, Graham Zusi, Steve Birnbaum, Walker Zimmerman, Jorge Villafana, Dax McCarty, Chris Pontius, Benny Feilhaber, Sebastian Lletget, Jordan Morris, and Juan Agudelo. The team he’ll start on Wednesday will be miles better.

Mattocks and his Reggae Boyz are true to their country’s national reputation of electrifying speed, and it’s imperative that Arena sets his backs to handle that. That means true outside backs — sorry, Graham Zusi — and center backs who won’t be forced to foul too often. That is, after all, the only way Jamaica found its way past Mexico via a free kick from a dangerous spot.

Mexico attempted 200 more passes, converting 150 more than Jamaica in the semifinal. It’ll be on Arena’s enterprising attackers to find a way past a stacked defense without opening up the midfield too much to counter attacks. Jamaica also played a borderline perfect game when it did have the ball, missing on just 16 of 143 passes and, again, scoring on a free kick.

Frankly, if the U.S. loses to Jamaica in the same way as Mexico did, it probably wouldn’t be proper to lay it on Arena. It would mean another batch of American players had failed to find a way to goal. But what we’re counting on is a better organized team than the baffled bunch that fell 2-1 to Jamaica under Klinsmann in the 2015 Gold Cup.

In that way, yeah, we can count on Arena being a relative success. But winning this tournament, especially given who Mexico called up, needs to be treated the same way you’d view it under any other manager: expectation. Anything less wouldn’t make Arena a failure, but would certainly qualify as a failure for the U.S. program.

PSG, Barca quizzed on Neymar rumors; Pique blasts Ligue 1

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We don’t have a ton of sympathy for them, but credit to Barcelona stars Javier Mascherano and Gerard Pique for giving actual answers when put in the awkward position of hearing the media’s Neymar-to-PSG questions on Tuesday night.

PSG boss Unai Emery was far less interested in doing that.

Emery has refused to comment on speculation linking Neymar to big move to the Parc des Princes.

[ MORE: Van Dijk to Liverpool after all? ]

Speaking ahead of Wednesday’s International Champions Cup match against Juventus, Emery had nothing of substance to say to the idea of Brazil’s captain heading to his stable.

“Our focus is to talk about the game tomorrow and a season to get ready for. I prefer to focus on the present moment and the preparation with the team.”

As for Edinson Cavani?

On the Barca side of things, Mascherano said he thinks Neymar will stay because he’s very important to the team, while Pique backed off a little after causing a stir by posting a photo of the defender with Neymar captioned, “He stays.”

“The post was nothing official, it was a gut thing, it doesn’t depend on me. Only (Neymar) can say what will happen, but I hope he stays. I tried to explain to Neymar, as a team-mate and a friend, the situation he’s in. I would say don’t go to a league which, with all due respect, is not as good.”

Boom, roasted (Though there’s some pot-kettle-black here, as there’s a fairly precipitous drop-off further down La Liga’s table, too).

Spanish report claims Coutinho (not Liverpool) agrees deal with Barca

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According to Sky Sports’ transfer centre, Spanish radio station RAC1 reports that Barcelona has agreed a deal with Liverpool midfielder Philippe Coutinho.

The report comes on the heels of the half-hour delay of Barca’s nightly press conference, though that could be coincidental.

It also states that the agreement is between Barcelona and Coutinho, and that no fee has been agreed between Liverpool and the La Liga giants. That’s a huge obstacle, with Liverpool maintaining that no offer will work this summer, so the idea of a transfer being imminent could be beyond the pale.

[ MORE: Van Dijk to Liverpool after all? ]

A sale like this risks overturning Jurgen Klopp‘s apple cart, as the Reds boss was quoted this week as saying, “The very important message is that we are not a selling club and that’s how it is.”

Mohamed Salah is good, but he’s no Coutinho. Meanwhile, Coutinho has the potential to be as close to a like-for-like replacement for Neymar — one of the Top Five players in the world — as there is on the market.

The two clubs have done business before, and in more trying circumstances; Barcelona bought Luis Suarez from Liverpool within a month of the Uruguayan striker being banned for a biting incident at the 2014 World Cup.

A spectacular deal, Liverpool would have to make such a move this early in the summer when it can invest what would have to be a wild amount of money given the fees splashed about this transfer window.

Source close to Van Dijk expects Liverpool move within window

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It wasn’t too long ago that Liverpool apologized for its pursuit of Southampton center back Virgil Van Dijk, ending its quest for the big Dutchman.

Is it apology accepted and then some at St. Mary’s? Sky Sports reporter Kaveh Solhekol says not much has changed since the big sorry toward Anfield, but that a source close to Van Dijk expects Van Dijk will be a Red “by the end of the window.”

[ MORE: JPW’s take on the Van Dijk saga ]

That said, Sky’s report makes it unclear what’s changed to lead to such a proclamation.

There is no suggestion that Liverpool have done anything wrong since they apologised and ended their interest. Southampton’s position remains that Van Dijk is not for sale but Chelsea and Manchester City are also interested.

So… it’s happening then? Money does talk, and a massive fee from Liverpool could make Southampton’s life easier in explaining the sale to its fans. It would also mean Saints sold Van Dijk and Jose Fonte within a year. For more on the possible transfer, here’s JPW’s take.

Van Dijk averaged 1.9 tackles, 2.6 interceptions, 6.8 clearances, and 4.7 aerials won per Premier League matches last season, his second since a Summer 2015 move from Celtic.

[ MORE: Milan talk to Costa, Falcao agent ]