Newcastle United 0-4 Manchester United: Mata’s double inspires Red Devils (video)

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Manchester United easily dispatched Newcastle 4-0 on Saturday at St. James’ Park, as Juan Mata bagged a double to compound the Magpies miserable run of three-straight defeats without scoring.

Mata put United ahead in the first half with a sumptuous free kick, then the Spaniard scored his and United’s second after a wonderful flowing move after the break. The superb Shinji Kagawa then set up Javier Hernandez for the third and Mata sublimely played in Adnan Januzaj for their fourth, as United prepared for the second leg of their UEFA Champions League quarterfinal against Bayern Munich on Wednesday in style.

David Moyes rested David De Gea and Nemanja Vidic amongst others, and his side dazzled against a despondent and downbeat Newcastle outfit.

With the win Man United have moved into the top six but have played a game more than Tottenham below them. Newcastle stay in ninth after another disappointing display.

(MORE: David Moyes hails Man United, looks ahead to Bayern Munich clash)

In the 11th minute Marouane Fellaini took the ball down in the box after a corner and smashed a shot goalwards, but a foul was given just before Phil Jones smashed the ball into the back of the net. No goal.

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Moyes’ side turned on the class against Newcastle.

Manchester United started the brighter of the two teams, as their much changed lineup looked to impress their manager before the big Champions League clash against Bayern Munich. With that game in mind, Ashley Young suffered what looked like a dislocated finger early on and Adnan Januzaj replaced the English winger in the opening stages.

Newcastle’s first chance of the game came courtesy of Papis Demba Cisse’s acrobatic overhead kick, which Anders Lindegaard saved comfortably but the home fans inside St. James’ were buoyed by their home sides intent. Soon after Newcastle were almost ahead, as Cisse’s flashing header was wonderfully tipped over by Lindegaard as the duo continued their personal duel.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

But Man United went ahead before the break, as Dan Gosling brought down Darren Fletcher on the edge of the box and gave away free kick. From that set piece Mata stepped up to curl home a fantastic effort up and over the wall and into the top corner to put Man United ahead., as the Spaniard scored for the second-straight PL game. Just before the break the visitors almost went 2-0 up, as Shinji Kagawa played in Javier Hernandez who ran clean through of Newcastle’s defense but his shot was tipped onto the post by Rob Elliott.

After the break United doubled their lead, as Mata slotted him his second goal of the game. Kagawa played in Hernandez who unselfishly teed up Mata, who shifted the ball superbly onto his right foot as Coloccini dove in, before slotting the ball into the net to put the Red Devils 2-0 ahead.

In the 64th minute it was 3-0 as Chicharito finished off another incisive move from the Red Devils. Kagawa was again the architect, as he played the ball across goal to the Mexican striker who steered the ball home from close range to extend United’s lead.

The rest of the game petered out with Newcastle trying to score, but Lindegaard kept them at bay. Januzaj then put some gloss on the scoreline, as the young winger played a fabulous one-two with Mata, who back-heeled the ball into his path and Januzaj hammered the final nail into Newcastle’s coffin.

LINEUPS

Newcastle United: Elliot; Santon, Williamson, Coloccini, Haidara; Anita, Gosling, Tiote, Gouffran (Ameobi, 85′); de Jong (Ben Arfa, 61′), Cissé

Manchester United: Lindegaard; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Evra (Buttner, 64′); Young (Januzaj, 17′), Mata, Fletcher, Fellaini (Nani, 70′), Kagawa; Chicharito.

Goals: Mata (39′ & 50′), Hernandez (64′), Januzaj (90′)

MLS (afternoon) roundup: Historically awful MNUFC spanked again

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The fourth (partial — playing during international breaks should be banned) MLS Saturday of 2017 is two-thirds of the way complete. A quick roundup of the day’s early games…

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New England Revolution 5-2 Minnesota United

What else needs to be said about Minnesota at this point? What else can be said? The number of goals they’ve conceded in their first four MLS games: 5, 6, 2, and 5. While (we think) a bit of luck will eventually go their way, and they’ll curtail the goals they’re conceding (we can’t be sure anymore), Adrian Heath’s side is on pace to conceded 153 goals this season.

Anyway, New England picked up their first win of the season. The quality (and ease) of goals scored will tell you everything you need to know about Minnesota’s defending.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

New York Red Bulls 0-0 Real Salt Lake

Five days after firing head coach Jeff Cassar, RSL returned to their inept, toothless ways in a scoreless draw away to New York. Through four games, the Claret and Cobalt have scored all of one goal, and genuinely look the league’s most lifeless side; Minnesota have at least shown signs of quality in the attacking half.

On Saturday, New York created the majority of the game’s best chances — a pair of shots from distance, masterfully saved by deputy goalkeeper Matt VanOekel — but the chance that will live in the memories of RSL fans for a lifetime came and went in agonizing fashion.

Albanian federation denounces “extremist acts” of their fans in Italy

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TIRANA, Albania (AP) Albania’s soccer federation has strongly denounced the incident that halted the World Cup Group G qualifier with Italy for nearly nine minutes on Friday.

During the match, which was won by Italy, 2-0, a group calling itself Illyrian Elite threw flares onto the pitch.

“Such totally extremist actions from the grouping Illyrian Elite have nothing to do with the excellent Albanian fans” who were distinguished in the EURO 2016 finals in France for their friendship and camaraderie in their festivities, the statement added.

The federation said an coach Gianni De Biasi also was “upset by the flares,” adding that during five years he has been in charge “I’ve seen something that’s never happened before.”

USMNT: 4 players, including Brooks, Lletget, released; Arriola added

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Hours after his side’s 6-0 thrashing of Honduras to resuscitate dreams of qualifying for the 2018 World Cup, Bruce Arena announced on Saturday five changes to the U.S. national team roster ahead of Tuesday’s qualifier against Panama.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s USMNT coverage | MLS ]

John Brooks (sinus infection), Sebastian Lletget (foot), Jordan Morris (knee) and Michael Orozco (knee) were all released back to their club teams, while Club Tijuana midfielder Paul Arriola was added to the squad.

[ MORE: USA 6-0 Honduras | Three things we learned | Player ratings ]

Brooks dealt with the sinus infection throughout USMNT camp this past week, as Morris did his knee injury which he picked up last weekend. Lletget left Friday’s win over Honduras in the 18th minute and will undergo further tests to determine the severity of his injury; he was seen leaving the stadium on crutches and wearing a walking boot.

The USMNT’s roster for Tuesday’s qualifier in Panama City, Panama, now stands at 23 players, and reads as follows:

Goalkeepers: David Bingham (San Jose Earthquakes), Tim Howard (Colorado Rapids), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)

Defenders: DaMarcus Beasley (Houston Dynamo), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Omar Gonzalez (Pachuca), Tim Ream (Fulham), Jorge Villafaña (Santos Laguna), Walker Zimmerman (FC Dallas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Kellyn Acosta (FC Dallas), Paul Arriola (Club Tijuana), Alejandro Bedoya (Philadelphia Union), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Jermaine Jones (LA Galaxy), Sacha Kljestan (New York Red Bulls), Dax McCarty (Chicago Fire), Darlington Nagbe (Portland Timbers), Christian Pulisic (Borussia Dortmund)

Forwards: Jozy Altidore (Toronto FC), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

Rapinoe won’t back down on social issues despite U.S. Soccer policy

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Megan Rapinoe recently earned her spot back in the U.S. Women’s National Team squad ahead of next month’s friendlies against Russia, but the veteran won’t remain silent when it comes to her stance on the social climate of America.

[ MORE: Looking back on USMNT’s big win over Honduras ]

The 31-year-old was scrutinized for joining NFL player Colin Kaepernick in 2016 when they knelt during their respective sporting events, along with dozens of other athletes across the United States.

While Rapinoe admits that the form of protest is up for discussion, she also states that social inequality issues in the U.S. go far beyond that.

“What has surprised me the most, especially post-election, is that people are still sort of arguing against it. It’s really obvious that we have very serious inequality in this country across many different spectrums,” Rapinoe told the Guardian. “Yes, we can talk about the form of protest, or the way it’s done, or this or that. But it’s still not really the conversation that I think we desperately need to have more of in this country.”

A few weeks back, U.S. Soccer announced that it now requires all players that represent the Stars and Stripes to stand when the national anthem is played, and Rapinoe has agreed to do such.

While her days of kneeling on the pitch are in the past, Rapinoe believes she wouldn’t do anything different because she was simply trying to spark discussion amongst the American people.

“I don’t think there’s any perfect way to protest. I think if there was something else being done, something else would have been said about it. I can’t look back and say that I would have done this different, this different or this different.

“I can sleep at night knowing that I genuinely tried to have a really important conversation, or at least tried to open it up. I think I came to it with an open mind, an open heart and tried to get as many people to talk about it as I could.”