Fulham 1-0 Newcastle United: Dejagah strike and late non-call give Cottagers three huge points

Leave a comment

Howard Webb ignored a clear handball in the final moment of stoppage time and Ashkan Dejagah’s 68th minute bullet gave Fulham three much-needed points at Craven Cottage in a 1-0 match.

Newcastle goalkeeper Tim Krul raced forward to join a last second corner kick, and the ball fell to the Dutchman. His shot was blocked by the outstretched arm of Jonny Heitinga.

It was a clear PK, but Webb didn’t give it. Krul would’ve come close to making amends for poor keeping on the Dejagah goal (which was a strong strike in any event).

Newcastle was passed by Southampton on the table, and drops to 9th place with 43 points. Meanwhile, Fulham’s 24 points are still four points back of safety.

The teams traded chances in the opening minutes, but decent crosses were headed away from danger by both teams back lines.

Not one to shy away from hard play, Cheick Tiote’s stray elbow on Kasami gave Fulham a 7th minute free kick from about 30 yards. Tim Krul collected the ball after an initial mishandling.

Free-flowing at both ends, the first 10 minutes of match seemed to feature very little play in the middle of the park, rather focused on the 18s.

Fulham found a surprising chance just outside of 19 minutes when a flicked-on ball toward the end line stayed in play off Mike Williamson, but Krul jumped onto the ball before 19-year-old Cauley Woodrow could collect it.

Swedish midfielder Alexander Kačaniklić took a swerving shot from 25 yards that Krul watched over the bar in the 27th minute, and Newcastle’s next swing up the field saw an earned corner to no result.

Then a foul on Luuk de Jong gave the Magpies another free kick for Paul Dummett’s left foot, and though he has been quite adequate filling in for Yohan Cabaye on set pieces, this did not go as planned.

Look for Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa to show up on NBC’s Showboats of the Week, as he left an errant pass near the sideline go over his head and blindly reached back with his back foot to lift it over a few defenders and up the field.

All-in-all, both teams wasted chances in the first half but Newcastle seemed more comfortable and more in control.

Latest Premier League Standings

Fulham came out of halftime with spirit, and won a corner kick after some slick possession in Newcastle’s half.

The Cottagers scored in the 54th minute… but it was offsides. Woodrow picked up a rebound off the crossbar, chested it down and tapped home but the flag was up. Turns out the initial shot that ricocheted off the bar and hit down was 95 percent behind the line but touching the white.

Fulham found its goal in the 68th minute when Dejagah ripped a low shot past an off-balance Krul, who continued a bit relatively-poor form. It was the sort of individual wizardry Fulham needed in the contest, and will need more of to avoid the drop.

Cisse attempted to answer a minute later, but was foiled by Stockdale. The Senegalese striker then came off for Shola Ameobi.

The Cottagers holed up their own end to try and hold on to the crucial points, and did just that.

LINEUPS

Fulham: Stockdale; Heitinga, Hangeland, Amorebieta, Richardson; Kasami (Dejagah, 61 (Burn, 87)), Kvist, Sidwell, Kačaniklić; Holtby; Woodrow

Goals: Dejagah (68)

Newcastle United: Krul; Yanga-Mbiwa, Coloccini (c), Williamson, Dummett; Sissoko, Anita (Marveaux, 81), Tiote, Gouffran; de Jong (Armstrong, 86); Cisse (Shola Ameobi, 70).

Championship Focus: Bluebirds flying, Villa second-last

Photo by Harry Trump/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The wild 46-game slate that is the Football League Championship is already howling, with all 24 teams three matches deep into their campaigns toward Premier League promotion (or avoiding relegation to League One).

The three clubs relegated from the Premier League last season all sit within the Top 8 after three match days. Sunderland is unbeaten with a win and two draws, while Hull City is 1-1-1.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

Middlesbrough has two wins from three matches, three points behind three sides who’ve started a perfect 3-0.

Wolves and Ipswich Town are two of the three, and Cardiff City leads the way. Owner Vincent Tan has seen his club score six goals without conceding once in defeats of Burton Albion, Aston Villa, and Sheffield United.

Burton is 0-3, while Steve Bruce‘s Villa is just one point better and sits 23rd.

As for individual superlatives, Bristol City’s Bobby Reid has four goals to lead the league while familiar names Lewis Grabban (Sunderland) and Abel Hernandez (Hull City) are among a quartet of players to score thrice.

Meanwhile, PL transfer target Jota of Brentford continues to impress with three assists through three matches. Will he remain in the second tier by the close of the transfer window?

MLS Snapshot: Montreal Impact 3-0 Chicago Fire

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press via AP
Leave a comment

The game in 100 words (or less)Ignacio Piatti is very good at soccer, and Chicago backstop Matt Lampson is going to see him deep into his dreams. Piatti beat Lampson up close on a turnover and then, with Montreal ahead 2-0 off a PK, the Argentine curled a surprise shot from distance around the keeper. Game, set, match, and it wasn’t even halftime. The loss keeps Chicago from using its match-in-hand to catch second place New York City FC, while the three points move Montreal to within two points of the East’s final playoff position.

Three moments that mattered

6′ — Piatti starts the party — Gifted a chance with the keeper by a sloppy missed clearing attempt, the Argentine deftly pops the ball over Fire keeper Matt Lampson.

36′ — Lampson hurts his cause — Chicago’s backstop wasn’t at fault on the opening goal, but he was for the second. After chopping down Matteo Mancosu in the box, Lampson guessed wrong on the striker’s penalty kick and the Fire went down 2-0.

38′ — It’s not your night, Lamps — Pretty sure you can anyone named Lampson, Lamps. Anyway, this time it was one of MLS’ top newcomers who set up Piatti for a goal. “Nacho” has his 12th of the season thanks to Blerim Dzemaili, and my goodness did Piatti do well here.

Man of the Match: Piatti.

Forbes ranks the top supporters in Major League Soccer

Photo by Steve Dykes/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Forbes claims the shared honor will give two Cascadia Cup rivals one less thing to argue about, but we completely disagree.

The celebrated magazine says their metrics show the Portland Timbers and Seattle Sounders tied for the honor of who has the best fans in Major League Soccer.

The post says the determination was made through four factors: attendance, local TV ratings, merchandise sales, and social media followers on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

Attendance was weighted heaviest, which certainly gives Atlanta United hope to go charging up the rankings in the future. For now, the “Five Stripes” are not included in the list.

The Galaxy finish third in the rankings, while the sixth-place New York Red Bulls edge New York City FC by one spot.

For the report and full explanation, head here.

Europa League preview: Everton, Milan, Marseille take next steps

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

The UEFA Europa League playoff round takes full flight Thursday, a day after Utrecht struck a blow for the Eredivisie with a 1-0 win over Zenit Saint-Petersburg in a Wednesday first leg.

Premier League participants Everton will be seeking a result at home against Hajduk Split, the third-place team from Croatia’s top flight.

Gylfi Sigurdsson passed his medical at Goodison Park but will not be available for Everton on Thursday.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

As for the match, manager Ronald Koeman knows the Thursday matchdays for the UEL will try his club’s endurance and depth. From EvertonFC.com:

“We know English teams have some problems. I think it is more mental than physical because if you play in the Champions League – so Wednesday and Saturday – you have the same amount of days to recover. I try to put out the strongest team to start the game. That will take into account the tactical aspects of each game. That will mean different players start and different options in terms of substitutions.”

Captained by Zoran Nizic and managed by Joan Carrillo, Hajduk has a young star in the making in the form of 19-year-old attacking midfielder Nikola Vlasic, but Everton is heavily favored at home with Hajduk given 12:1 odds by bookmakers.

[ MORE: Barca GM says Coutinho, Dembele “close” ]

Those numbers are a relative sure thing compared to AC Milan’s visitors. Macedonia club Shkendija are a 33:1 underdog for its trip to Italy.

Elsewhere, Slovenian side Domzale is a longshot at home to visiting Marseille.

Speaking of bookmakers, Arsenal won’t enter the competition until the group stage but is considered the favorite to win the UEL by a hair over Milan. Everton, Villarreal, and Athletic Bilbao are level with third-best odds.

UEFA Europa League playoff first legs
Utrecht 1-0 Zenit — Weds.
BATE Borisov vs. Oleksandriya — 1 p.m. ET Thursday
Apollon Limassol vs. Midtjylland — 1 p.m.
Krasnodar vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m.
Dinamo Zagreb vs. Skenderbeu — 1 p.m.
FH vs. Braga — 1:45 p.m. ET Thursday
PAOK vs. Ostersund — 2 p.m. ET Thursday
Vardar vs. Fenerbahce — 2 p.m.
Plzen vs. AEK Lamaca — 2:15 p.m. ET Thursday
Altach vs. Maccabi Tel-Aviv — 2:30 p.m. ET Thursday
Ludogorets Razgrad vs. Suduva — 2:30 p.m.
Panathinaikos vs. Athletic Bilbao — 2:30 p.m.
Domzale vs. Marseille — 2:45 p.m. ET Thursday
Osijek vs. Austria Wien — 2:45 p.m.
Viitorul vs. Red Bull Salzburg — 2:45 p.m.
Ajax vs. Rosenborg — 2:45 p.m.
Legia Warsaw vs. Sheriff — 2:45 p.m.
AC Milan vs. Shkendija — 2:45 p.m.
Club Brugge vs. AEK — 2:45 p.m.
Partizan vs. Videoton — 3 p.m. ET Thursday
Everton vs. Hajduk Split — 3:05 p.m. ET Thursday
Maritimo vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:30 p.m. ET Thursday