Hull City 0-2 Manchester City: Silva inspires 10-man City to victory (video)

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HULL — Manchester City saw off a spirited Hull City 2-0 at the KC Stadium on Saturday, as David Silva’s stunner and Edin Dzeko’s late strike was enough to hand 10-man City all three points and give their hopes of lifting the Premier League title a timely boost.

Early on Vincent Kompany was caught out as last man and took out Hull striker Nikica Jelavic, as City’s Belgian captain was sent off with Man City playing over 80 minutes down a man. However that didn’t stop them going ahead in the first half as Silva served up a treat.

In the 14th minute the diminutive Spanish international picked up the ball 25-yards out, took one touch and bent a left-footed howitzer into the top corner. City protected that lead marvelously, but Hull pushed Manuel Pellegrini’s side throughout as Shane Long and Jelavic just couldn’t finish off some enterprising wing-play from the Tigers. A late incident involving Hull’s George Boyd and City’s goalkeeper Joe Hart may be reviewed after the game, as England international Hart seemed to bow his head down at Boyd. More headbutt controversy at the KC…

In the 90th minute Edin Dzeko rounded off the win, as Silva slotted the Bosnian striker in to seal the victory as City momentarily jump into second and are six points behind PL leaders Chelsea with two games in hand. As for Hull, they are now just five points off the relegation zone.

MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Hull started brightly, as an free kick just missed the head of Jelavic at the back post and then Hull’s record signing ran through in the 4th minute but his pull back across the six-yard box couldn’t find a teammate.

Then Jelavic was involved in a hugely controversial incident in the ninth minute, as Kompany dallied on the ball as the last man and was caught in possession by Jelavic. The Hull striker broke free and as he ran clean through on goal, Kompany hauled him to the ground and was handed a straight red card by referee Lee Mason.

source: Getty Images
Vincent Kompany saw red in the opening 10 minutes, but Man City ground out a much-needed win.

Kompany protested but City were down to 10-men, as their skipper kicked the wall of the tunnel in frustration.

But soon City’s cries of disbelief were replaced with delight, as Silva bent in an absolute beauty in the 14th minute. Yaya Toure won the ball and played in Silva, whose sublime first touch set himself up to bend a boomerang of a shot into the top corner and put Man City 1-0 up.

The Tigers were buoyed be a passionate home crowd, and a cross from Long almost found Jelavic at the back post but Martin Demichelis got a vital touch. At the other end City were playing with confidence going forward and Pablo Zabaleta smashed the underside of the crossbar with a terrific half volley, as City came incredibly close to going 2-0 ahead.

Hull’s onslaught on City’s goal continued for the rest of the first half, as crosses bombarded Joe Hart and his defense and David Meyler scored a superb strike that was ruled out for offside in the build up, but City held firm to lead 1-0 at the interval.

At half time Hull went for it, as they brought on striker Sone Aluko for Honduran defender Maynor Figueroa. That attacking switch started to pay dividends as the second half played out, with Long and Jelavic combining well to see the former hit a rasping striker that Hart saved in the 49th minute. Then Jelavic fluffed a great chance, as Aluko’s free kick from the right found Hull’s Croatian striker unmarked but he failed to get enough contact on the ball.

All hell broke loose in the 68th minute, as Hull’s George Boyd broke through and as Hart advanced from his goal the Tigers midfielder dove to try and get a penalty. An ugly melee ensued as Hart was booked for looking to put his head towards Boyd and aim a headbutt at Hull’s player after they squared up, as the final few minutes turned into a scrappy affair.

Man City had the perfect chance to wrap up all three points late on, as Silva’s turn and shot deflected into the path of Fernandinho who had the goal at his mercy but mishit his shot from six-yards out to spurn a glorious opportunity to make it 1-0. Late on an aerial onslaught from Hull saw Curtis Davies and Jelavic go close, as the Tigers finished the game with four strikers on the pitch.

City then sealed the win through Dzeko’s first goal in 603 minutes, as Silva played in Dzeko to slot home and give his side’s chances of winning the PL crown a much-needed boost.

LINEUPS

Hull City: McGregor, Rosenior (Fryatt, 79), Elmohamady, Figueroa (Aluko, 45), Chester, Davies, Huddlestone, Meyler (Boyd, 58), Livermore, Jelavic, Long

Manchester City: Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Clichy, Garcia, Fernandinho, Toure (Lescott, 71), Nasri (Navas, 79), Silva (Kolarov, 90), Dzeko.

Goals: Silva (14), Dzeko (90)

Barkley ineligible to make Chelsea debut in FA Cup replay

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Ross Barkley was expected — and himself expected — to make his Chelsea debut on Wednesday, when the Blues host Championship side Norwich City in a third-round FA Cup replay at Stamford Bridge.

Alas, the 24-year-old English midfielder has been ruled ineligible due to a lesser-known and -applied rules surrounding transfers and player registration.

[ MORE: Tuesday’s 3rd-round replay roundup | Wednesday preview ]

Barkley completed his move from Everton to Chelsea, for $20 million, on Jan. 5, the day before Chelsea and Norwich drew 0-0 at Carrow Road. In order to be eligible for Wednesday’s replay, Barkley is required to have completed his transfer prior to the noon cut-off the day prior to the original tie. While the time of official approval is unknown, Barkley’s move wasn’t announced by the club until after 5 p.m. in the UK.

As such, Chelsea will attempt to set up a behind-closed-doors friendly this week, in order to provide Barkley a bit of game action as he builds fitness and sharpness ahead of a potential debut against Brighton & Hove Albion on Saturday (Watch live, 7:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com). Barkley hasn’t seen a single minute of first-team action this season after suffering a serious hamstring injury in the summer.

FA Cup preview: Three more PL sides face 3rd-round replays

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Three more Premier League sides, including a top-four fighter, attempt to join a dozen of their top-flight contemporaries in the fourth round of the FA Cup on Wednesday…

[ MORE: Tuesday’s 3rd-round replay roundup ]

Chelsea and Swansea City host Championship opposition in the form of Norwich City and Wolverhampton Wanderers, respectively, while Bournemouth will make the 500-mile roundtrip to take on League One side Wigan Athletic.

The Blues, who now sit fourth in the PL after their disappointing 0-0 draw with Leicester City, could manage only a scoreless draw with the Canaries at Carrow Road earlier this month. They are winless in their last four games across all competitions — all draws — including their League Cup semifinal first-leg draw with Arsenal last week; the last three of those all finished without a single goal scored. Chelsea, who are tied with Liverpool with the fourth-most FA Cups in their history (7), lost out to Arsenal in last season’s final at Wembley Stadium.

Swansea are undoubtedly the side on highest Cupset alert, as Wolves are the runaway leaders and champions-elect in the Championship (10 points clear after 27 of 46 rounds played), thus able to devote more attention to the FA Cup than the typical second-division side. With the two sides separated by just a single place in the English footballing pyramid (Swansea, 20th in the PL; Wolves, 1st in the Championship), they appear destined to swap places by the end of May.

Meanwhile, Bournemouth’s punishment for conceding a pair of early goals to a side currently 32 places below them in the pyramid, is the long, midweek trip from the south coast to the DW Stadium in the northwest of England. It was the Premier Leaguers who needed a two second-half goals, including Steve Cook‘s 90th-minute equalizer, to draw level at home in the first meeting.

Tuesday’s FA Cup replay actionFULL ROUNDUP

Leicester City 2-0 Fleetwood Town
West Ham United 1-0 (AET) Shrewsbury Town
Mansfield Town 1-4 Cardiff City
Sheffield Wednesday 2-0 Carlisle United
Reading 3-0 Stevenage

Agent: 37-year-old Ronaldinho has retired

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SAO PAULO (AP) The brother and agent of 2005 Ballon d’Or winner Ronaldinho announced Tuesday that the former Brazil and Barcelona playmaker has retired from football.

Roberto Assis made the announcement to Brazilian media on behalf of the 37-year-old midfielder, who played his last professional match in 2015 for Brazil’s Fluminense.

“Ronnie’s professional career is over. He wants to be a football ambassador, do charity, and work with his friends in music from now on,” Assis told The Associated Press.

Assis hopes to schedule some farewell matches for Ronaldinho after the World Cup in Russia, which ends July 15. The initial plan is to play games in Brazil, Europe and Asia and to also get Brazil’s national team involved, Assis said.

Last July, Ronaldinho said on the sidelines of a friendly in Chechnya that was he was “too old” to return to action.

The Brazilian’s decorated career also includes one World Cup title (2002), one Champions League victory (2006) and two Spanish league titles with Barcelona, and two FIFA world player of the year awards (2004 and 2005).

Ronaldinho started his professional career at Gremio in southern Brazil in 1998. He left for Paris Saint-Germain in 2001 and was signed by Barcelona two seasons later.

At the Camp Nou, he was the engine of a team that took Barca back to the limelight. However, after a series of club trophies, Ronaldinho’s career took a downturn. He was often accused by Brazilian and Spanish media of lacking professionalism, despite his mentoring of a then youthful Lionel Messi.

In 2008, with Messi then leading Barcelona, Ronaldinho left for AC Milan. Despite being part of a team that won Serie A in 2011, he failed to reach his previous heights as a player.

When returning home became a real option, Ronaldinho frustrated Gremio’s efforts to re-sign him and joined Flamengo instead.

Disappointing performances in Rio de Janeiro took him to Atletico Mineiro, a club that then was more often fighting against relegation than for titles.

Yet a more mature Ronaldinho took Atletico to a different level.

In his last great run, Ronaldinho carried Atletico with his superb passes and dazzling dribbles to second place in the 2012 Brazilian Championship.

A year later, he was the key to his club lifting its first Copa Libertadores, South America’s most prestigious club trophy, but his hopes of playing at the 2014 World Cup in Brazil were dashed.

Ronaldinho left to play for Mexico’s Queretaro in 2014-15, but was mostly on the bench.

He played his last seven matches as a professional for Fluminense, though his performances were a far cry from his best days in Spain.

Now living in Rio, he has appeared in advertisements all over the world since leaving Fluminense.

USL granted 2018 2nd-division sanctioning by U.S. Soccer

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U.S. Soccer has officially granted the United Soccer League second-division sanctioning, behind first-division Major League Soccer, for the upcoming 2018 season, as well as first-division status for the National Women’s Soccer League.

[ MORE: Landon Donovan unveiled by Liga MX side Club Leon ]

USL, which will feature 33 teams in 2018, had been granted temporary second-division sanctioning, alongside the North American Soccer League, in 2017. As NASL’s demise continued and accelerated — the league will not begin play this spring, opting instead for a late-summer kickoff, after a number of its teams either folded or jumped ship to USL — USL, with the help of MLS, quickly pounced to capitalize — from U.S. Soccer’s statement:

Sanctioning allows NWSL and USL to operate a Division I and II league, respectively, during the 2018 season and includes a two-year pathway to full compliance with the Professional League Standards. USL has demonstrated substantial progress toward reaching full compliance since being granted provisional Division II sanctioning in 2017.

Conspiracy theorist’s take: USL supplanted NASL as the U.S.’s second-most viable professional men’s league — and more importantly, being granted official second-division status — paves the way for MLS to, at some point well down the line — say, 2030 or so — implement its own multi-tiered system of promotion and relegation, featuring anywhere between 60 and 80 teams, while still remaining a single-entity structure closed to the lower reaches of the sport in America, as the lines separating MLS and USL have only become more and more blurred in recent years.

[ MORE: Donovan ready to “win championships” after ending retirement ]

MLS realizes that public demand for promotion and relegation in the U.S. has grown significantly louder in recent years — particularly given the climate of the sport after the men’s national team failed to qualify for the World Cup, and subsequent ongoing presidential-election campaign — thus an open-but-not-really-open system which satisfies neither side will eventually be the end result.