Cardiff City v Fulham - Premier League

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).

AFCON wrap: Tunisia joins Senegal in knockout rounds (video)

Tunisia's Wahbi Khazri smiles during a press conference in Libreville, Gabon, Saturday, Jan. 21, 2017, ahead of their African Cup of Nations Group B soccer match against Zimbabwe. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
Leave a comment

Half of the field is set for the 2017 Africa Cup of Nations knockout rounds, as Group B completed his final day of group play on Monday in Gabon.

[ FIFA: World Cup draw date at Kremlin ]

Senegal will move onto play Cameroon on Saturday, while Tunisia will take on Burkina Faso.

Senegal 2-2 Algeria

Leicester City’s Islam Slimani scored twice, but it wasn’t enough to get Algeria into the knockout rounds of AFCON.

Papakouly Diop and Moussa Sow answered Slimani’s goals, and Senegal enforced its hold on the group it had already clinched after two matches.

Algeria needed a win and help, and looked to get it when Riyad Mahrez and Islam Slimani carried over their chemistry from the Foxes of England to the Fennecs of Algeria.

Zimbabwe 2-4 Tunisia

Sunderland’s Wahbi Khazri scored of the fourth of Tunisia’s first half goals as the Eagles of Carthage emphatically clinched their knockout round spot. Tunisia lost in the quarterfinals in 2015.

Lille’s Naïm Sliti was also among the goal scorers for Tunisia, with Youssef Msakni (Lekhwiya) and Taha Yassine Khenissi (Esperance de Tunis) also netting markers.

Tendai Ndoro (Orlando Pirates) and Knowledge Musona (Oostende) scored for Zimbabwe.

Three USMNT players leave camp, two with injuries

Kekuta Manneh chases the ball during practice of the U.S. men's national soccer team Wednesday, Jan. 11, 2017, in Carson, Calif. Manneh has become a U.S. citizen, moving the Vancouver Whitecaps forward closer to eligibility for the men's national team. U.S. Soccer announced Manneh received his citizenship Wednesday, after the opening practice of January training camp under new coach Bruce Arena. (AP Photo/Jae C. Hong)
AP Photo/Jae C. Hong
Leave a comment

Less than a week from Bruce Arena’s second debut as USMNT boss, we know three players who won’t be in the Starting XI.

Injuries have felled FC Dallas duo Kellyn Acosta and Matt Hedges, while Vancouver attacker Kekuta Manneh is leaving the squad to join his ‘Caps teammates for preseason in Wales.

[ MORE: JPW’s Premier League Playback ]

Acosta has a mild left ankle sprain and Hedges has a mild right knee sprain.

While Manneh may have been a long shot to see significant playing time on Sunday against Serbia or Feb. 4 versus Jamaica, Hedges had a chance to start at center back and Acosta has been capped before as well.

FIFA going to Kremlin for World Cup draw in December

SAINT PETERSBURG, RUSSIA - JULY 25:  Vladimir Putin, President of Russia speaks as FIFA President Joseph S. Blatter looks on during the Preliminary Draw of the 2018 FIFA World Cup in Russia at The Konstantin Palace on July 25, 2015 in Saint Petersburg, Russia.  (Photo by Shaun Botterill/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

ZURICH (AP) FIFA says it will stage the 2018 World Cup draw on Dec. 1 at a Kremlin concert hall in Moscow.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been allowing FIFA to use high-profile venues for World Cup ceremonies.

In July 2015, the qualifying program draw was made on the grounds of one of Putin’s official residences, Konstantin Palace near St. Petersburg. The summer was home built at the direction of Peter the Great.

The World Cup in Russia kicks off on June 14 at Luzhniki Stadium in the Russian capital, and returns there for the final on July 15.

Jurgen Klopp discusses Liverpool’s title chances

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21: Jurgen Klopp, Manager of Liverpool reacts during the Premier League match between Liverpool and Swansea City at Anfield on January 21, 2017 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Getty Images
Leave a comment

It was a disappointing weekend for Liverpool boss Jurgen Klopp.

[ MORE: New odds for title contenders ]

The German coach watched on as his side lost 3-2 to Swansea City on Saturday in the Premier League and the Reds fell 10 points behind leaders Chelsea with 16 games to go.

Klopp’s men have only won once in six outings in all competitions in January, and ahead of their EFL Cup semifinal second leg against Southampton at Anfield (they trail 1-0 from the first leg) he was asked if they still have hope of overhauling Chelsea and winning the Premier League.

Speaking to the media, Klopp revealed that his team are good enough to at least be in the top four battle.

“We fight in each game, that’s maybe the most important thing. Then we have to see what happens around,” Klopp said. “Of course, in cup competitions the target is to win the competition. In the Premier League, it’s probably the same but it’s not that easy to plan or whatever. In this case, if Chelsea win all their games – which they pretty much do – there is no chance for any other team. For us, it’s still absolutely important to finish the season as well as possible – whatever that means. We’ll see after the season.

“You can imagine we have the quality to fight for the Champions League, that’s what we should do. If we do this and we are then close enough in the decisive moment of the season, you can still fight for a little bit more. But in this moment, it’s nothing we have to think about or we should think about. We now have two games and then we play Chelsea, so that’s when I’ll think about Chelsea but not how we can get them or whatever. We fight for everything we are able to, that’s all.”

He’s right. Liverpool finishing in the top four this season would be a great achievement at this stage of his project.

Perhaps more worrying for Klopp is that his side may now capitulate and finish outside of the top four for a second-straight season.

There’s no doubting that Liverpool have exceeded the expectations of most people so far in 2016-17 but Klopp’s men faded badly last season to finish in eighth place and with no wins in their last three games in the Premier League the pressure is on.

Without leading scorer Sadio Mane, who is away at the Africa Cup of Nations with Senegal, they’ve struggled to break opponents down and their defensive issues came to the fore against Swansea with sloppy mistakes costing them dear.

No team in the top seven has conceded more than Liverpool and with the Reds in fourth place and just four points ahead of sixth-place Manchester United and two points ahead of Manchester City who sit in fifth, all of a sudden they are looking over their shoulders instead of up at Chelsea.

Liverpool has lost momentum.

Boy do they need a big win in the EFL Cup against Southampton on Wednesday to regain some confidence and take that into their next PL clash, which just so happens to be against Chelsea at Anfield on Jan. 31.

Whatever he says publicly, Klopp must know that Liverpool cannot afford to lose to Chelsea. If they do and fall 13 points behind the Blues, the Kop can kiss goodbye to their title hopes for another season.