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

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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.

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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).

Pep sticking with Bravo for final: “Locker room more important”

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Petr Cech and Ederson will watch from the bench as their clubs start the League Cup Final on Sunday.

Pep Guardiola announced that Manchester City will turn to Claudio Bravo between the sticks against Arsenal, which has already appointed David Ospina as its backstop for the final.

[ MORE: Europa League draw ]

And if you think Pep, having seen his side lose to Wigan Athletic in the FA Cup, should go back to Ederson for the final, he gets it.

“You can have an opinion, I am the manager. We are here for Claudio. He saved two lots of penalties. He deserves to play in the final. The locker room is more important than the final.”

The points aren’t completely independent, of course, but at this point the final is pretty darn important as Man City could see its trophy potential drop from 4-2 in little more than a week’s time.

Bravo has played just 45 minutes in the Premier League, against Liverpool in relief of Ederson, but has been the man for each of eight League and FA Cup matches.

City has just one clean sheet in that group, but won the seven matches apart from the 1-0 Wigan defeat. Two of those, against Wolves and Leicester, came in penalty kicks.

Arsenal gets AC Milan in Europa League Round of 16

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Arsenal’s path to the UEFA Champions League just got a whole lot tougher.

[ MORE: Arsenal loses 2nd leg, advances ]

Already eight points back of the Premier League’s Top Four, the Gunners have drawn Gennaro Gattuso’s AC Milan in the UEFA Europa League’s Round of 16.

The first leg is March 8 at the San Siro before moving to the Emirates a week later.

Milan is currently 7th in Serie A despite its big-spending summer, and faces a similar problem to the Gunners; Gattuso’s men need to make up eight points on Lazio and seven on fifth-place Inter Milan.

Elsewhere, Moscovian sides CSKA and Lokomotiv got no favors with trips to Lyon and Atletico Madrid, respectively.

Christian Pulisic and Borussia Dortmund will be pleased to see Red Bull Salzburg, while the latter’s sister club, RB Leipzig, was held apart from it by a draw with Zenit Saint-Petersbug.

Here’s the draw in full.

UEFA Europa League Round of 16
Lazio vs. Dynamo Kiev
RB Leipzig vs. Zenit St Petersburg
Atletico Madrid vs. Lokomotiv Moscow
CSKA Moscow vs. Lyon
Marseille vs. Athletic Bilbao
Sporting Lisbon vs. Viktoria Plzen
Borussia Dortmund vs. Red Bull Salzburg
AC Milan vs. Arsenal

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.