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).

Wigan player races off for son’s birth after scoring 2 goals

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WIGAN, England (AP) It was better than a hat trick.

A player for English soccer team Wigan had a night to remember when he scored his second goal before dashing off the field and to the local hospital, where his girlfriend was in labor.

[ MORE: Chelsea advances to UCL Round of 16 after win over Qarabag ]

A picture of Ryan Colclough holding his new-born baby, Harley, while still in his soccer uniform was shared on social media by Wigan chairman David Sharpe.

Colclough said his father, sitting in the stands on Tuesday for Wigan’s 3-0 win over Doncaster in the second division, “gave me the action that the waters had broken,” but he didn’t want to come off until the ball was out of play.

“My head was a little bit battered, but I went and scored, looked at the manager and he said we’ll bring you off now,” Colclough said Wednesday of his 58th-minute goal, which he celebrated by pretending to rock a baby. “I came off and was straight down the tunnel, grabbed my keys and my phone, and went to hospital.”

Colclough had visited the midwife that day, and was told the baby was unlikely to arrive for “another couple of days.”

Lille suspends coach Marcelo Bielsa

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LILLE, France (AP) French club Lille has provisionally suspended coach Marcelo Bielsa following a string of poor results in the top tier.

[ MORE: Basel stuns Man United late to keep UCL hopes alive ]

The northern side said in a statement that Bielsa has been suspended “as part of a procedure started by the club.” Lille did not elaborate.

Bielsa joined Lille this season but has failed to make the club competitive again, with the team second to last after 13 matches.

The 2 Robbies podcast: PL sides in the UCL, Pulis sacking and more

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In today’s Euro Pod Edition, the Robbies breakdown the latest Champions League action. Man United lose at Basel, Chelsea cruise at Qarabag, Spurs impress against Dortmund, Man City continue to win, Liverpool surrender a 3-goal lead against Sevilla. Plus, the guys weigh in on the Oumar Niasse ban for diving and the Tony Pulis sacking.

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

Click here for The 2 Robbies archive ]

Listen to the latest pod by clicking play below.

Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Europa League preview: Arsenal looks to wrap up Group H and more

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While several teams have already booked their place in the knockout phase, the Europa League reaches its penultimate round on Thursday with many big matches in hand.

[ MORE: Yannick Bolasie finally returns to Everton training ]

Of the two Premier League sides in the competition, only one will advance to the Round of 32, as Arsenal have all but assured themselves of the top spot in Group H. The Gunners can do so tomorrow with a win over Koln or a Red Star Belgrade defeat.

The other end of the spectrum features Everton, who has already been eliminated from reaching the next round after acquiring just one point in its first four matches.

European giants AC Milan can lock up a spot in the knockout phase on Thursday despite the club’s ongoing struggles in Serie A, while fellow Italian side Atalanta can move a step closer to the Round of 32 in Group E along with Lyon.

Here’s the full rundown of Thursday’s UEL matches.

Astana vs. Villareal — 11 a.m. ET
Konyaspor vs. Marseille — 1 p.m. ET
Rosenborg vs. Real Sociedad — 1 p.m. ET
Lazio vs. Vitesse — 1 p.m. ET
Viktoria Plzen vs. Steaua Bucuresti — 1 p.m. ET
Lokomotiv vs. Copenhagen — 1 p.m. ET
Zenit vs. Vardar — 1 p.m. ET
Red Bull Salzburg vs. Vitoria — 1 p.m. ET
Athletic Bilbao vs. Hertha Berlin — 1 p.m. ET
BATE vs. Red Star Belgrade — 1 p.m. ET
Ostersund vs. Zorya — 1 p.m. ET
Koln vs. Arsenal — 1 p.m. ET
Nice vs. Zulte Waregem — 1 p.m. ET
Lugano vs. Beer-Sheva — 1 p.m. ET
Ludogorets vs. Istanbul — 3:05 p.m. ET
Braga vs. Hoffenheim — 3:05 p.m. ET
AEK vs. Rijeka — 3:05 p.m. ET
AC Milan vs. Austria Wien — 3:05 p.m. ET
Lyon vs. Apollon — 3:05 p.m. ET
Maccabi Tel Aviv vs. Slavia Praha — 3:05 p.m. ET
Sheriff vs. Zlin — 3:05 p.m. ET
Partizan vs. Young Boys — 3:05 p.m. ET
Skenderbeu vs. Dynamo Kyiv — 3:05 p.m. ET
Everton vs. Atalanta — 3:05 p.m. ET