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Everton 3-2 Swansea City: Everton tighten grip on Europa League spot (video)

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The Champions League is but a dream for Everton, but Europa is looking increasingly likely. A 3-2 win over Swansea City puts the Toffees temporarily into fifth, depending on how Tottenham do against Southampton tomorrow. The Swans, however, are now just four points in the clear, although neither Sunderland or Fulham are making a decent bid for safety.

The first half at Goodison Park started rather quietly.

Wilfried Bony two chances rather quickly, with his first, a rather speculative shot from 35 yards, was easily saved. His second, off a ball from Chico, went just wide, wasting Swansea’s opportunity to once more take an early lead.

Everton, as is their want, tried to gain control through possession, but it was a penalty that gave them the lead with twenty minutes played. Chico brought down Ross Barkley as he got on the end of a lovely pass from John Stones. Leighton Baines was the man who stepped to the spot, sending a low, sharp shot to the bottom corner of the net. Michel Vorm guessed correctly but was unable to keep it out.

Yet the Swans managed to beat – or at least equal – Everton at their own game. Wayne Routledge did well to pick out Angel Rangel tearing up the right. The fullback squared for Bony, who this time had no trouble slotting home from close range.

The Toffees wasted little time in restoring their advantage after the restart, however. With less than ten minutes played in the second half, Romelu Lukaku shook off his marker before dashing on to meet Kevin Mirallas’ cross. From that range, the Belgian could hardly fail to score.

Five minutes later and Everton were ahead 3-1. As the corner came in, the Swansea defense determined Lukaku was their main threat, leaving Ross Barkley unmarked. The attacker slipped in to head home at the far post.

With over thirty minutes left to play, Swansea started to push. Tim Howard did well, flying through the air to deny Bony with just one hand. It was Pablo Hernández who set up Bony with a cross, and two minutes later he himself had a go, but Howard was quick enough once more.

Gary Monk then threw Michu into the mix, denying Bony the chance at a second. The Spaniard, just returned from a month out, hasn’t scored in the Premier League since September, and although his presence did liven up the Swansea side, he did little to challenge Howard in goal.

The visitors did manage another goal, however, in stoppage time. A corner taken by Hernández dropped favorably to Ashley Williams, who nodded in Swansea’s second.

Everton: Howard, Coleman, Baines, Stones, Distin, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas, McGeady (Osman 85), Barkley (Naismith 84), Lukaku (Gerard Deulofeu 93)

Goals: Baines 20′; Lukaku 53′; Barkley 58′

Swansea City: Vorm, Rangel, Chico, Williams, Davies, Britton, Cañas (De Guzmán 69), Hernandez, Dyer (Shelvey 63), Routledge, Bony (Michu 70)

Goals: Bony 33′

Bayern’s Vidal says “ugly” Atletico not deserved UCL finalists

MADRID, SPAIN - APRIL 27: Juanfran of Atletico Madrid and Arturo Vidal of Bayern Munich argue during the UEFA Champions League semi final first leg match between Club Atletico de Madrid and FC Bayern Muenchen at Vincente Calderon on April 27, 2016 in Madrid, Spain.  (Photo by Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images)
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Bayern Munich midfielder Arturo Vidal has declared “ugly” Atletico Madrid unworthy finalists in the UEFA Champions League.

Bayern was eliminated in the Champions League semifinal by Atleti on Tuesday, with Diego Simeone’s Spanish side advancing on away goals.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s UCL coverage ]

However, Vidal believed Bayern were the better team in the second leg, saying Atletico played “ugly football” to get through.

Today ugly football – Atletico – played against the best football in the world. The only time they saw the ball was for the goal.

They are going to be dreaming about us right up to the final. They did not have the ball, they took on the best team in the world, they took their chances and got to the final.

The best does not always win in football, like today. They are not deserved finalists.

Bayern Munich controlled more than 70-percent of possession and had 33 shots compared to Atletico’s nine, but those stats mean little as Antoine Griezmann’s away goal was enough to send Atleti to the final.

[ MORE: Former England striker Joe Cole headed to NASL’s Tampa Bay Rowdies ]

Atletico may not play the most attractive football, but after eliminating Barcelona and Bayern Munich in consecutive legs, it’s hard to argue anyone deserves this more than Simeone’s men.

Europa League preview: Liverpool, Shakhtar look to overcome Spanish foes

VILLARREAL, SPAIN - APRIL 28:  Cedric Bakambu of Villarreal is watched by the Liverpool defence during the UEFA Europa League semi final first leg match between Villarreal CF and Liverpool at Estadio El Madrigal on April 28, 2016 in Villarreal, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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The second leg of the Europa League semifinals kick off tomorrow, with two La Liga sides looking to make it an all-Spanish final.

[ MORE: Premier League Playback ]

Villarreal holds a 1-0 lead over Liverpool, while Sevilla scored two away goals in their 2-2 draw at Shakhtar Donetsk.

Liverpool vs. Villarreal – 3:05 p.m. ET
Villarreal won first leg 1-0

Adrian Lopez’s late winner in the first leg has given Villarreal a slight lead, while the Spanish side did well not to concede an away goal. However, Liverpool have overcome deficits at Anfield before, including their memorable 4-3 victory over Borussia Dortmund in the quarterfinals. Emre Can is back fit for the Reds, as manager Jurgen Klopp will hope his fellow German can help the team to a cup final in his first year in charge.

[ RELATED: Liverpool preparing for another big Thursday night at Anfield ]

Sevilla vs. Shakhtar Donetsk – 3:05 p.m. ET
First leg ended 2-2 draw 

Sevilla are looking to become the first team to win three consecutive Europa League titles as the two-time defending champions face off against Shakhtar Donetsk. Sevilla are in the driver’s seat after scoring two away goals in Ukraine, and will feel confident of advancing to the final with a great home record at the Ramon Sanchez Pizjuan Stadium.

Men in Blazers podcast: Celebrating Leicester’s title with Arlo White

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In the latest Men in Blazers podcast, Rog and Davo celebrate Leicester City’s improbable Premier League title with Leicester’s own Arlo White.

All of the MiB content — pods, videos and stories can be seen here, but to really stay in touch, follow, subscribe, click here:

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European police say Russian mafia infiltrating soccer clubs

LISBON, PORTUGAL - NOVEMBER 04:  Sporting Lisbon fans celebrate after their team score a goal during the Portuguese Liga match between Sporting Lisbon and Uniao Leiria at the Alvalade XXI Stadium on November 4, 2005 in Lisbon, Portugal.  (Photo by Dean Mouhtaropoulos/Getty Images)
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LISBON, Portugal (AP) Portuguese and European police say they have broken up a cell of an important Russian mafia group that allegedly laundered money through European football clubs.

Europol, the European Union’s law enforcement agency, said in a statement Wednesday the group identified EU football clubs in financial distress and infiltrated them with benefactors who brought much-needed cash.

[ MORE: Man City bounced from UCL ]

Once they were in control, the mobsters allegedly laundered millions of euros (dollars) through player transfers, TV rights deals and betting.

Portuguese and European police on Tuesday raided third-division Portuguese club Uniao de Leiria and arrested three key members of the Russian gang. Three other Portuguese clubs’ premises were searched.

Europol said the operation helped identify serious crimes in Austria, Germany, and the United Kingdom, though it gave no details.