Hull City v Sunderland - FA Cup Quarter-Final

Sunderland 0-0 Crystal Palace: Black Cats control but can’t finish (video)

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A strong performance from Sunderland only amounted to a mere point, as the Black Cats could not finish their myriad chances in a 0-0 draw against Crystal Palace.

It wasn’t the cleanest of matches, with plenty of discipline and sloppy play confounding the flow.

With the point, Palace stays three points ahead of 18th place Sunderland and 19th place Cardiff City. The Black Cats are also three points behind West Brom and have two matches in hand on both clubs Palace and the Baggies.

Sunderland had a dangerous free kick in the second minute, but Speroni was on the case and kept things level.

Steven Fletcher was an impact maker early, with Sunderland’s attack hinging on his decisions. The day was very windy and conditions kept the squads on their toes.

The 10th minute found Ki racing down the left side of the 18 and firing an ideal low pass across the six, but while it skipped through a bevy of Palace defenders, there was no Black Cat on the end.

Joel Ward picked up a yellow in the 13th minute for a rash challenge that was right on the borderline of earning the Eagles something much worse.

Ki found Sunderland’s next best chance off a poor clearance in the 30th minute, but his half-volley blazed wide of the goal.

Fletcher’s cries for a PK in the 36th minute went unheeded after he was shouldered down going for a header on the back post. Phil Bardsley almost certainly deserved a PK after being manhandled in the box about four minutes later, but again nothing was given.

South African player Kagisho Dikgacoi picked up a yellow card just before the break for a late tackle.

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The first half was simply controlled by Sunderland, evidenced by a near bicycle kick goal from Fabio Borini, whose effort tore through the air but over the bar.

Fletcher didn’t return after limping before half, meaning Jozy Altidore was cleared for a 45-minute run at the Stadium of Light. Bardsley nearly had to sub off soon after going head-to-head with Joe Ledley.

Altidore then made a great run but couldn’t fire on goal inside the box, inspiring a pundit comment of “if his touch was anywhere near decent, he’s on goal.”

There was a scary moment after 64 minutes, as Dann took a knee to the head from his own teammate.

Palace had a moment in the 75th minute when their corner was flicked toward goal by Jerome, but Mannone was wise to the shot.

When Wes Brown picked up Sunderland’s fourth yellow card in the 79th minute, just 25 yards from goal, it made it an even 8 yellows between the teams on the day.

Sunderland dominated the second half overall but Palace nearly found the winner in the 89th minute from Digkacoi, who fired wide.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, O’Shea (c), Brown, Bridcutt, Ki, Larsson (Gardner, 62), Johnson (Scocco, 84), Borini, Fletcher (Altidore, 46)

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward, Bolasie (Puncheon, 81), Digkacoi, Jedinak, Ledley, Ince (Guedioura, 74), Murray (Jerome, 63).

Ranieri returns to Leicester to say final goodbyes

SWANSEA, WALES - FEBRUARY 12:  Claudio Ranieri manager of Leicester City looks on prior to the Premier League match between Swansea City and Leicester City at Liberty Stadium on February 12, 2017 in Swansea, Wales.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Claudio Ranieri was at Leicester City’s training ground one final time on Saturday morning as he said goodbye to members of his former staff and his former players.

Let that sink in.

[ MORE: Ranieri – “My dream died”

Ranieri, 65, was sacked by Leicester on Thursday, just nine months after delivering the Premier League title (the first top-flight title in their 132-year history) for the Foxes.

Leicester are currently languishing just two points off the bottom of the PL table, one point and one place above the relegation zone, and have lost five-straight PL games as well as failing to score in six-straight games.

[ MORE: Latest news on Ranieri

It has been widely reported that the players met with the owners to state they were unhappy with Ranieri following the 2-1 defeat in the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg at Sevilla on Wednesday. Less than 24 hours he was fired by Leicester’s owners.

Speaking briefly to the media as he left the training ground on Saturday, Ranieri remained classy until the very end.

“I feel good now, because of what we achieved at Leicester,” Ranieri said. “I hope it happens again but it will be very difficult.”

He was then asked by reporters outside the training ground if it was emotional saying goodbye to his former players.

“No it was normal,” Ranieri said, before driving off.

Shortly after he departed the training ground Leicester’s Thai owners then arrived in a helicopter as they flew in for talks with the players and caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare.

His firing has sparked outrage across the soccer world as the beloved Italian manager who led the 5000-1 shots from relegation fodder to title glory last season was ruthlessly cast aside. Yes, Ranieri’s Leicester are in a relegation scrap, but surely he deserved a chance to turn it around in the final 13 games of the season?

Now, the Leicester job is a poisoned chalice with Roberto Mancini, Alan Pardew and even former boss Nigel Pearson being touted as Ranieri’s successor. Nobody seems to want to take the job.

With the players under heavy scrutiny for their role in Ranieri’s sacking they’ll be under more pressure to perform against Liverpool on Monday at the King Power Stadium (Watch live, 3 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Ranieri’s name is sure to be sung loud and proud by the Leicester fans as they make their feelings known to the players and the owners about what has happened over the past few days.

US advances in qualifying for Under-20 World Cup

LEIGH, GREATER MANCHESTER - OCTOBER 05: Tab Ramos, Head Coach of USA looks on prior to the Under 20s Four Nations Tournament match between Germany and the United States at Leigh Sports Village Stadium on October 5, 2016 in Leigh, Greater Manchester.  (Photo by Mark Robinson/Getty Images)
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The United States advanced to the second round of qualifying for the Under-20 World Cup as Sebastian Saucedo scored twice Friday in a 4-1 win over St. Kitts and Nevis at Tibas, Costa Rica.

Brooks Lennon and Jonathan Lewis also scored for the U.S., which plays Mexico on Monday and El Salvador on March 3 in the second round. The top two teams in each second-round group of the North and Central American and Caribbean region qualify for the Under-20 World Cup, to be played in South Korea from May 20 to June 11.

Lennon, loaned this month from Liverpool to Real Salt Lake, put the Americans ahead in the 16th minute with his fourth goal of the tournament, poking in Jeremy Ebobisse’s cross from 7 yards. Lewis, who is with New York City FC, doubled the lead four minutes later after Lennon’s corner kick to the top of the penalty area was volleyed toward goal by Eryk Williamson. Justen Glad missed an attempted shot from near the penalty spot, and the ball rolled to an unmarked Lewis.

Salt Lake’s Saucedo added goals in the 35th and 41st minute on a 25-yard shot and a 27-yard free kick.

Romario Martin beat U.S. goalkeeper JT Marcinkowski in the 77th after a poor American backpass. Jonathan Klinsmann, the son of former U.S. coach Jurgen Klinsmann, started the first two games for the U.S.

The U.S. (2-1) and Group B winner Panama (3-0), which beat the Americans 1-0 last weekend, both advanced.

Bremen beats Wolfsburg to leave Bundesliga relegation zone

BELO HORIZONTE, BRAZIL - AUGUST 10:  Serge Gnabry of Germany reacts during the Men's First Round Football Group C match between Germany and Fiji at Mineirao Stadium on August 10, 2016 in Belo Horizonte, Brazil.  (Photo by Pedro Vilela/Getty Images)
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WOLFSBURG, Germany (AP) — Midfielder Serge Gnabry scored twice as Werder Bremen moved away from the Bundesliga’s relegation zone with a 2-1 win at fellow struggler Wolfsburg on Friday.

Bremen and Wolfsburg are level on points and two above Hamburger SV, which is in 18th place and in the relegation zone.

It was a fifth defeat in six games for Wolfsburg coach Valerien Ismael, who won the league and cup double as a player with Bremen in 2004.

Gnabry fired the visitors ahead with a deflected shot in the 10th minute and made it 2-0 eight minutes later, controlling the ball with his chest before prodding home on the volley.

Striker Borja Mayoral, who is on loan from Real Madrid, scored with his chest following a Wolfsburg corner as Wolfsburg hit back moments later.

Midfielder Daniel Didavi struck the post with a free kick as Wolfsburg kept pushing for an equalizer.

Mancini reportedly not interested in Leicester City, De Boer says no

GENOA, ITALY - APRIL 20:  Head Coach of FC Internazionale Roberto Mancini looks during the Serie A match between Genoa CFC and FC Internazionale Milano at Stadio Luigi Ferraris on April 20, 2016 in Genoa, Italy.  (Photo by Pier Marco Tacca/Getty Images)
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Two top candidates to replace Claudio Ranieri at Leicester City have reportedly turned down any interest in the job.

Roberto Mancini, the heavy favorite out of the gates after Ranieri’s dismissal, tweeted his support for Ranieri after the news broke. “I am sorry for my friend Ranieri,” Mancini said. “He will be in the history of LCFC, in the hearts of Leicester fans and all football lovers.”

However, the fellow Italian has rebuffed Leicester’s informal advances towards his services. According to Sky Sports, Leicester sent “intermediaries” to “sound out” Mancini’s feelings towards the position, but came back empty-handed. The report states Mancini was turned off to the club after a short and unsuccessful spell there as a player in 2001.

That leaves a host of other names who have been linked to the job, with no clear favorite. One person mentioned was Dutch legend Frank de Boer, who is unemployed after an unusually short stint in charge of Inter Milan. However, De Boer’s agent went public to say he was not ever in the running.

“There is zero possibility that Frank could go to Leicester,” agent Guido Albers told Italian publication Tuttomercatoweb. “I too heard these rumors, but that’s all they are – rumors. I can affirm without doubt that Frank will not become the Leicester City manager. This will 100 per cent not happen.”

Albers explained that De Boer is only interested in joining a club in the offseason, preferring to enter a project with a blank slate rather than joining midseason with particular goals already clearly laid out. With Leicester, it seems De Boer is turned off by the notion of a relegation battle.