Hull City 2-0 West Brom: Shane Long, Hull send Baggies deeper into mire (video)

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Shane Long earned a penalty and scored Hull’s second as the Premier League new boys went to 13th and West Brom continue to find themselves in a tough spot.

The visitors started with a bang, as Stephane Sessegnon had a crack at goal from long range and nearly hit the corner but flew it just over. Despite that, it was mostly Hull as the game began to build.

As Hull continued to attack, David Meyler earned a free kick on 12 minutes near the corner flag, and despite the dangerous chance West Brom cleared in the crowded penalty area.

West Brom built their first real attack on 18 minutes, as Thievy Bifouma and Sessegnon built together and it resulted in a shot for Graham Dorrans that was saved well by Allan McGregor and pushed wide.

The home side would rue a huge miss with 25 minutes gone, as Meyler struck a corner with his head at the ground and easily past Ben Foster but also just past the post.

Hull would get their goal though just five minutes later. A ridiculous penalty decision given by referee Chris Foy saw Shane Long bottle himself up in the box but with Craig Dawson defending the visitors were punished anyways.  The assistant referee on the near side, who had a great look at it, never flagged a foul.

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Shane Long bagged his second goal on a tap-in as Hull City also held onto a clean sheet at home.

Nikica Jelavic’s ensuing penalty was saved by Foster well diving to his right, but the first to react was Liam Rosenoir, who headed the ricochet into the net.

Despite the relatively undeserved manner of the lead, the goal lit up the home crowd, and the game exploded open. The ball spent little time in the middle third, and Tom Huddlestone nearly doubled the Hull lead with a stinging shot from the top of the box that required an athletic save by Foster.

There was no respite for the West Brom keeper though, as the ensuing corner would allow the hosts to double up. The initial ball in was cleared, but it came to Jake Livermore who hoofed it back into the box over his head. With the ball high in the air, James Chester won the header and knicked it to Long all alone who poked in from close range for a 2-0 lead.

In the second half, possession remained even but West Brom were lucky not to go down 3-0. Shane Long fired a howitzer that crashed against the post in the 67th minute, with Ben Foster remained rooted to his spot.

As the game progressed through the second half, the heavens opened up and rain came pouring down at the KC Stadium, but Hull City did not let up.  West Brom pushed for possession, but were unable to produce much of anything in the finishing department.

The 33 points now for Hull City pushes them ever closer to the magic number of 40 for safety.  It’s a strong showing for Steve Bruce, who has produced a sense of belief for future success around the KC Stadium with consistency throughout the season.

For West Brom, they are buried further into the relegation mess. They remain above the zone with just about everyone at the bottom losing today, but they are just three points above the drop.

LINEUPS:

Hull City – McGregor; Rosenoir, Chester, Davies, Elmohamady; Meyler, Huddlestone, Livermore, Aluko (Koren 61′); Jelavic, Long (Quinn 77′).

Goals: Rosenoir 32′, Long 38′

West Brom – Foster; Reid, McAuley (Sinclair 79′), Dawson, Ridgewell, Thievy (Vydra 61′); Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Sessegnon; Anichebe (Berahino 76′).

Championship Playoff Final preview: Huddersfield Town vs. Reading

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These two teams weren’t supposed to be here, at Wembley on Monday at 10:00 a.m. ET playing for a spot in the Premier League.

Everyone talked about how beautiful Fulham played. Everyone talked about how Sheffield kept on winning. Everyone kept talking about the favorites. Everyone wrote off the other guys.

Yet here we are. Reading, owner of a +4 goal differential. Huddersfield Town, owner of a -2 goal differential. Reading, winners over Fulham thanks to a bogus handball. Huddersfield, on to Wembley after a penalty shootout in the rain.

Here we are. The game that will catapult one team to the riches of the Premier League, the game that will send another team back to the depths of the Championship, consigned to progress with the heartbreak of knowing they were so close.

[ MORE: USMNT roster announced for upcoming World Cup qualifiers ]

The Championship playoff final is one of the biggest enigmas in the European soccer landscape. Teams like Reading looking to return to familiar lands of plentiful bounty, others like Huddersfield looking for glory never experienced before.

Huddersfield has not seen top flight action since 1972, and former American international David Wagner has them on the precipice. “There were a lot of statements before the semi-finals about momentum and about form,” Wagner said. “It is another example where we have proven that experience and what has happened in the past is irrelevant. After the 120 minutes against Sheffield Wednesday there were a lot of tired legs, but now after a training camp in Portugal and training on the grass here, everybody is ready to go.”

As far as form goes, Town is struggling. They drew both legs of the Sheffield Wednesday playoff semifinal 0-0, and finished the regular season on a three-match losing streak. They haven’t won a match since April 14th.

Reading, meanwhile, finished the year with wins in seven of their final nine regular season games, and they downed an attacking Fulham side 1-0 at home in the second leg of their semifinal. They’ve been stellar at winning close games all year, winning 18 regular season games by just a single goal, and losing just four, with seven draws. If Jaap Stam can lead his side back to the Premier League, it would mark just a four-year turnaround from their previous relegation from the top flight.

Riches await the winner. The sides couldn’t be more different, and yet on Monday, they both face the same brick wall.

Epic fake injury mars Hungarian league title match

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Sometimes it works out perfectly. Two teams, a title on the line, one match to decide it.

The top two teams in the Hungarian top flight, also known as the NB I, were set to play each other on the final day of the season to decide the title winner.

Budapest Honved hosted Videoton, with the winner set to win the league title. A draw would have given Videoton the victory on goal differential.

With the match 0-0 at halftime, it progressed tensely through the second half. So tense, in fact, that the teams felt they needed to do everything in their power to earn an edge. Even fake injuries. Terribly.

34-year-old Videoton striker Danko Lazovic, a veteran who has been around Europe with Zenit St. Petersburg, Bayer Leverkusen, and a host of Eredivisie teams,  looked to earn a foul in the attacking half. He put so much effort into selling the foul that, well, he went a little overboard. And by a little overboard, we mean he went berserk on the field, rolling around and flailing on his back.

There are many factors that make this an absolutely epic moment. First, his team had already earned a foul without the dive. The referee had blown the whistle for a shove moments before Lazovic went down. Second, his teammate looks to come over and help him sell the foul a little more realistically, and instead of accept his teammate’s assistance, he shrugs off the help and continues to flail. Third, as karma would have it, Honved would score the title-winning goal six minutes later as they would go on to win 1-0.

Kids, don’t try this at home. It’s not a good look.

MLS Snapshot: Atlanta United 3-1 NYCFC

@DougRobertsonAJC via Twitter
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The game in 100 words (or less): Revenge, at the hands of a 3-1 scoreline. The match started out a little too fast for Atlanta, one of the quickest teams in MLS, but they settled things down and finished ruthlessly. NYCFC, meanwhile, defended miserably and failed to match the intensity of the hosts. First-round draft pick Julian Gressel was an utter menace down the right, and Miguel Almiron was decisive in front of net. NYCFC took advantage of the weekly Atlanta defensive mistake for a lifeline with 20 minutes to go, but it was too little too late.

Three moments that mattered

16′ – A big deflection off a NYCFC midfielder sprung an Atlanta attack, but the hosts took the chance well. Gressel latched onto the ball on the right edge of the box, and he cut the ball back where three Atlanta attackers were waiting unmarked. It came to Almiron, and while his finish was less than ideal, some ugly goalkeeping saw the ball slip under the armpit of a diving Sean Johnson who overshot the effort.

19′ – It came unraveled for NYCFC in a heartbeat. The right side of the defense fell asleep for a split second, allowing Hector Villaba to burst through on a ball by Yamil Asad, and Villaba finished expertly into the far top corner with Maxime Chanot unable to catch up.

23′ – Not even a half-hour gone and the game was already wrapped up, with the third goal sporting the most glaring defensive mistake by the visitors. As Gressel battled with Alexander Callens for a loose ball down the right, Callens appeared to have the edge, but instead of playing the ball, he went down under the slightest contact from Gressel. When the referee let play continue, Gressel was all by himself, and with a 4-on-1 developing, he found Almiron for the easiest of finishes.

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Man of the match: Juilan Gressel.

Goalscorers: Almiron (16′, 23′), Villaba (19′), Harrison (71′).

Serie A roundup: Roma pips Napoli for 2nd, Lazio falls

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Francesco Totti’s legendary career came to a close in fitting fashion as Roma scored a last-minute winner to secure 2nd place in the Serie A table.

On the final day of the season, Napoli’s win at Sampdoria moved them momentarily into second, but Roma snatched the spot back as Diego Perotti scored in the 90th minute to beat Genoa 3-2. Totti had come on as a 54th minute substitute.

[ MORE: Francesco Totti’s career achievements make him an all-time great ]

The win saw Roma end the season on 87 points, one above Napoli’s 86. That puts Roma into the Champions League group stage, while the third-place finish for Napoli places them in next season’s Champions League playoff round. They finish the season with a dominating 4-2 win over Sampdoria that saw four different Napoli goalscorers find the back of the net.

Below the Champions League battle, Atalanta held onto its fabulous fourth-place finish as Lazio fell 3-1 at Crotone. With Lazio already down 2-1 midway through the first half, Angolan defender Bastos received a second yellow card. Down to 10 men, Lazio still controlled the majority of possession but saw themselves outshot, only able to pop off three shots on target. The loss has no significant bearing, as both Atalanta and Lazio qualify for the Europa League group stage, while AC Milan seven points adrift in sixth makes the Europa League third qualifying round.

AC Milan finishes the season a point above rivals Inter despite a 2-1 final-day loss to Cagliari. The game was tied 1-1 down the stretch, but Gabriel Paletta was sent off with 15 minutes remaining, and Fabio Pisacane scored three minutes deep into stoppage time to give Cagliari the win.

Inter, meanwhile, finished the year on a high note as they hammered Udinese 5-2, most notably on a brace from Eder. Ivan Perisic and Marcelo Brozovic also scored in the win, while the fifth came on a late own goal. Inter finished the year on 62 points, five less than last season’s 67 which was good enough for fourth place.

Elsewhere, Fiorentina finished a disappointing season with a disappointing 2-2 home draw with last-placed Pescara, while Palermo beat Empoli 2-1 and five goalscorers helped Torino pound Sassuolo 5-2.