Ross Barkley and Everton are on a roll.

Newcastle United 0-3 Everton: Ruthless transition vaults Toffees fifth in Premier League (video)

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Goals from Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku, and Leon Osman have lifted Everton into fifth place in the English Premier League, a 3-0 win over Newcastle United that allows Roberto Martínez’s team to renew its lingering Champions League dreams. Leveraging a transition game that countered the Magpies into submission, the Toffees moved within six points for fourth place Arsenal, with their convincing win in Newcastle revitalizing faint top-four hopes.

Barkley opened the scoring in the 22nd minute, capping a 65-yard run after a Newcastle corner to beat Tim Krul from close range. Early in the second half, Romelu Lukaku beat the Magpies’ defense to a ball rolled into the six-yard box by Gerard Deulofeu, his one-timed shot giving the Toffees their 16th win of the season. Three minutes before time, Osman scored from the middle of the Newcastle area to give the Toffees a convincing three-goal result.

The loss keeps Newcastle eighth, five points behind Manchester United, but deals a blow to their Europa League hopes. It also marks the seventh time in eight games the Toon has gone scoreless in the absence of striker Loïc Rémy.

A flurry of Newcastle chances near the second minute got the game off to an engaging start, with Luuk de Jong and Papiss Cissé drawing goal mouth blocks from James McCarthy before Yoan Gouffran whiffed on chance from 14 yards out. Everton quickly came into the match and was pushing toward Krul’s goal minutes later, foreshadowing a half of ambitious soccer from each side.

Newcastle’s nine shots over the first 45 minutes hinted the Magpies had the better for play, a deceiving figure in light of what happened in the 22nd minute. Off a corner to the right of Tim Howard’s goal, Everton broke out, eventually feeding Barkley as the young attacker first full speed going into Newcastle’s end. The aspiring England international took it from there, carrying the ball to the edge of the six-yard box before finishing high into Krul’s goal, giving the visitors a 1-0 lead.

Early in the second half, Lukaku doubled that edge. Again executing in transition, Everton saw a ball sent in from the right by Gerard Deulofeu cross goal just inside the six-yard box. There Lukaku was able to beat the Newcastle defense to put home his 12th goal of the season, Everton having countered their way to a decisive lead at St. James’ Park.

Newcastle’s best chance to get back in the game came in the 78th minute when substitute Hatem Ben Arfa, dribbling through the Everton defense, rolled a ball far post for Vurnon Anita. Sliding at the right post, the Magpies’ midfielder pushed his shot wide, relegating the home side to being shutout.

In the 82nd minute, another transition opportunity ended any lingering hopes of a Newcastle comeback, with a break sparked by Steven Naismith ending when a ball played back for Osman was fired into in Krul’s upper-left hand corner. The midfielder’s third goal of the year gave Everton its final margin of victory, rekindling hopes the Toffees can still record their second top four finish in the Premier League era.


Newcastle United: Krul; Yanga-Mbiwa (Marveaux 75′), Williamson, Coloccini, Dummet; Sissoko, Anita, Tioté, Gouffran (Shola Ameobi 90′); de Jong, Cissé

Everton: Howard; Baines, Distin, Stones, Coleman; Barry, McCarthy; Deulofeu, Barkley (Naismith 82′), Osman; Lukaku

Goals: Barkley (22′), Lukaku (52′), Osman (87′)

Barcelona, Neymar make it formal: Signed into 2021

BARCELONA, SPAIN - OCTOBER 19: Neymar of Barcelona holds off pressure from Raheem Sterling of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League group C match between FC Barcelona and Manchester City FC at Camp Nou on October 19, 2016 in Barcelona, Spain.  (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)
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T’s are crossed and i’s dotted on Neymar’s new contract, keeping him at the club through the 2020-21 season.

Neymar, 24, will make his 100th La Liga appearance with his next step onto the pitch.

Lionel Messi’s deal runs through 2017-18, and Luis Suarez’s goes through 2018-19.

[ MORE: Guardiola on Aguero omission ]

He’s scored 59 goals in league play, and has 91 total when you include all 150 of his matches in a Barca kit.

Neymar is on a similar scoring rate to last season, when he netted 31 times. The Brazilian also has 49 international goals in 73 caps.

Guardiola seethes at reports Aguero unwanted at Man City

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 14: Sergio Aguero of Manchester City is congratulated by Josep Guardiola manager of Manchester City during the UEFA Champions League match between Manchester City FC and VfL Borussia Moenchengladbach at Etihad Stadium on September 14, 2016 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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Pep Guardiola is seething with reports that claim star striker Sergio Aguero is not in his plans for Manchester City’s future.

Aguero started on the bench for Wednesday’s UEFA Champions League loss at Barcelona, inspiring talk that the Argentine star wasn’t long for the Emirates Stadium.

[ MORE: Conte on Mourinho, Pogba ]

Guardiola says that’s garbage, and that he simply needed more midfielders for his attack. Next time, just ask.

From the BBC:

“It was a tactical decision. I wanted one more midfielder, I tried to keep the ball in the Camp Nou and when you have the ball, Lionel Messi, Neymar and Luis Suarez don’t.

“I spoke with Sergio and he was understanding, I thought in the last 30 minutes, with the Barcelona centre-halves tiring, he could help a lot from the bench. When Sergio decides to leave it will be his decision. Next time before you (the media) decide he is not in my plans you can call me.”

Still, not using Aguero is risky business.

The striker believes, rightly, that he’s among the most dangerous players in the world. Guardiola has said as much, too.

While few would put him in the class of Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo, it’s difficult to imagine either being sat for tactical reasons against one of the best teams in the world.

Chelsea: Conte expects warm reception for Mourinho; Terry is fit

LONDON, ENGLAND - DECEMBER 26:  A fan wears a Chelsea scarf with the image of the club's former manager, Jose Mourinho before the Barclays Premier League match between Chelsea and Watford at Stamford Bridge on December 26, 2015 in London, England.  (Photo by Richard Heathcote/Getty Images)
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The managers are meeting the media ahead of this week’s Premier League matches, and many eyes are trained on one specific match-up.

Chelsea and Manchester United meet on Sunday, the first time Jose Mourinho will manage against his old side since his unceremonious exit last winger.

[ USWNT: Holiday has tumor removed ]

Mourinho, of course, led Chelsea to the 2014-15 title only to see a miserable start to the following campaign. He was hired at Manchester United this summer, but Conte thinks Mourinho’s Chelsea laurels have earned him some love from Stamford Bridge.

“I have great respect for Mourinho. He deserves a good reception. He was an important man for Chelsea and wrote part of the club’s story.”

Conte also touched on Paul Pogba‘s decision to head back to Old Trafford. Pogba is coming off a starring role in United’s 4-1 win over Fenerbahce, and Conte guided the French midfielder during their time at Juventus.

“It was Paul Pogba’s dream was to return to Manchester United. I wish him well, but only after this game.”

Conte said John Terry is available to return for Chelsea, and that could be invaluable against a big, strong forward like United’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic. With the Red Devils having played Thursday, Conte will like his chances a bit more than usual.

Canada vs. U.S. among top-notch CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals

VANCOUVER, CANADA - JUNE 20:  Gershon Koffie #28 of the Vancouver Whitecaps brings the ball up field against Dax McCarty #11 of the New York Red Bulls at B.C. Place on June 20, 2012 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jessica Haydahl/Getty Images)
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The bracket is set for the CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals, and ensures that at least one MLS vs. Liga MX semifinal will happen next Spring.

No. 1 seed New York Red Bulls will cross the continent to meet No. 8 Vancouver Whitecaps, with the winner moving on to face the victor of Mexico’s Tigres UANL vs. Pumas UNAM.

[ VIDEO: Previewing all 10 PL matches ]

The possibility of an all-Liga MX or all-MLS final still exists, with Pachuca and FC Dallas on opposite sides of the bracket. Arabe Unido gives Panama hope for its first CCL semifinalist, while Saprissa can be Costa Rica’s first semifinalist since 2011.

Of the remaining teams, only Pachuca has won a title in the CCL era (2008-present). Tigres lost in the 2016 final, the only other team to make it that far.

Full schedule
New York Red Bulls (1) vs. Vancouver Whitecaps (8)
Tigres UANL (4) vs. Pumas UNAM (5)
Arabe Unido (2) vs. FC Dallas (7)
Pachuca (3) vs. Saprissa (4)

The first legs will be played in late February, and the bright side to the intra-league quarters will be one MLS side waiting a round before facing a more in-form club playing a traditional season schedule (though that’s an overblown excuse at this point).

Some fans don’t care much for the tournament, while others — myself included — are extremely keen to see an MLS team win the CCL and represent North America in the Club World Cup, where it can get a high profile litmus test in a serious competition (Real Madrid beat Cruz Azul 4-0 in a 2014 semifinal).