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).

VIDEO: Alejandro Bedoya scores extra-time winner for Nantes in Coupe de France

SALVADOR, BRAZIL - JULY 01: Alejandro Bedoya of the United States controls the ball during the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil Round of 16 match between Belgium and the United States at Arena Fonte Nova on July 1, 2014 in Salvador, Brazil.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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With USMNT World Cup qualifying not far away, Jurgen Klinsmann will certainly look to club performances to find out which of his players are grasping club opportunities by the horns.

One US national teamer in great form is Alejandro Bedoya. The 28-year-old has scored four times across all competitions since January 23rd, and his latest is a massive one. Bedoya sent Nantes to the quarterfinals of the Coupe de France with a 118th-minute winner against Bordeaux.

Bedoya has been a lightning rod for Nantes the past two or three seasons, but something he struggled for occasionally is consistent game time. Not anymore. The American has started five of their last six league matches, and since returning from some time off due to illness, Bedoya has featured in the starting lineup in nine of 11 Ligue 1 matches. What’s more, he’s finished the full 90 minutes in seven of those.

Klinsmann has looked to Bedoya in the past for a combination of electricity and defensive ability on the wing. Now, he may bring both endurance and a goalscoring threat to international competitions, which would go a long way in raising his national team stock.

Arsenal’s majority shareholder, Stan Kroenke, buys $725 million Texas ranch

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Well, Arsenal fans, you know that big splash in the transfer market you were hoping for? Umm, this is awkward.

[ MORE: Leicester fan set for huge bet win ]

Okay so maybe the majority shareholder of the Gunners, American billionaire Stan Kronke, isn’t directly responsible for pumping Arsene Wenger‘s transfer war chest full of money but imagine if he’d offered to give Arsenal $725 million rather than buying this incredible ranch in Texas?

[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired”

Kroenke sealed the deal for the legendary Waggoner Ranch in Texas — the largest ranch within one fence-line — and he now owns over 865,000 acres of land which easily placed him among the top 10 largest landowners in the USA.

That land also equates to three times the size of the City of Los Angeles which is the city, coincidentally, that Kroenke has just moved his Rams NFL franchise to from St. Louis.

SO, what do you get for $725 million at the Waggoner Ranch? 14,000 cows, 500 horses and 1,100 producing oil wells to start with. It also lies in six counties, has 30 cowboys on the property and 120 employees overall.

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

What would you get in the soccer world for $725 million? Well, Wenger could probably sign Lionel Messi, Neymar and Cristiano Ronaldo plus pay their wages and still have some cash left over.

Don’t get carried away though, Arsenal’s sustainable business model has seen them rise up the rankings in Forbes’ rich list and there will be no haphazard spending anytime soon. Much to the annoyance of every super-ambitious Arsenal fan out there.

That includes you, Piers Morgan…

Here’s a few pictures of what Kroenke has just bought. Preseason tour to Texas for a but of lassoing with Alexis Sanchez, Mr. Wenger?

Solo: USWNT finding new identity ahead of Olympic qualifying opener

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With the U.S. women’s national team set to kick off their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying tournament on Wednesday (Watch live, 8:30 p.m. ET online via Live Extra) against Costa Rica in Frisco, Texas, goalkeeper Hope Solo knows the reigning World Cup and Olympic champs will have to reinvent themselves.

She’s been here before.

[ STREAM: Olympic qualifying live ]

Following the retirement of several key players — Abby Wambach, Shannon Boxx, Lauren Holiday and Lori Chalupny among them — after their 2015 World Cup win in Canada, Jill Ellis’ team has been trying to create a new identity over the past few months.

It’s something that’s easy to say but a lot tougher to do.

“It’s really interesting. I’ve been on this team for quite some time and I’ve heard many times ‘let’s create a new identity. We have to find our own identity, this team moving forward,” Solo said. “It’s something I’ve heard quite a bit but it’s never easy to do. We’ve lost some big name players, a lot of players have retired. We have young players coming in and the Olympics are right around the corner. We have to find a way to play to the best of our ability with some older players, brand new players and everybody in-between. It’s not easy but it is not foreign to us.”

Despite all the upheaval the USWNT are still the favorites to win their fourth Olympic gold on the spin at Rio 2016 this summer.

Placed in Group A for CONCACAF qualifying for the 2016 Olympics — the top two teams from the eight-team tournament advance — alongside Costa Rica, Puerto Rico and Mexico, the U.S. should breeze into the knockout rounds where they will likely face old foes Canada in the final.

Remember, over the next 11 days you can stream all 15 games live online via NBC Sports Live Extra with up to four games also shown on NBCSN.

Here’s the full schedule as Solo and Co. aim to seal their spot in the 2016 Olympics with minimum fuss.

Leicester fan will win $50,000 from $10 bet if Foxes win Premier League

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As their odds of winning the Premier League title continue to be slashed, tales of Leicester City fans set to win an incredible amount of cash continue.

The latest story is a beauty.

[ VIDEO: Ferrell – “I got Mourinho fired” ]

On the eve of the 2015-16 Premier League season one Leicester City fan, Chloe Cope, decided to put $10 on her side to win the title. The odds were 5,000 -1. So, with the Foxes five points clear at the top of the table with just 13 games to go, the first league title in Leicester’s 132 year history would not only bring unbeliavable amounts of jubilation to the East Midlands city but also plenty of cash for its fans. $50,000 for this Miss Cope, in fact.

The story gets even better. Check this out.

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

Miss Cope’s flutter on her beloved Foxes was actually her first-ever bet. She opened up an online betting account last summer in the UK with Sky Bet and was rewarded a free $30 bet which she used to make a bet that Leicester would finish in the top six this season. That’s virtually assured so she will win another $637.

The two bets she made back on August 7 2015 are shown in the Tweet below via Jacqui Oatley.

A few other Leicester fans are also in line to win plenty of cash, but this one seems to have the most riding on it.