Norwich City 0-1 West Bromwich Albion: Amalfitano opener proves enough for West Brom this time (video)

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West Bromwich Albion and Norwich City are now even on points, both five points above the relegation zone. But even discounting the Baggies’ game in hand, after two rather weak performances from the Canaries, it’s Norwich that should be sweating the possibility of time in the Championship.

The hosts had the majority of the possession and the better of the chances in the first half, yet somehow, West Brom went into the break with the lead.

Norwich very nearly opened the scoring after just fifteen seconds. A sloppy backpass allowed Gary Hooper in on goal, but the Baggies defense were able to clear.

Thirteen minutes in, Johan Elmander wasted a golden chance for the Canaries, moments after Hooper had forced a save from Ben Foster. A half-cleared ball fell perfectly to the Swede, but rather than set up his teammate, Elmander elected to take a shot from twenty yards out, skewing it into the stands instead.

That miss was made even worse minutes later, when West Brom took the lead. An unfortunate slip from Martin Olsson allowed Morgan Amalfitano to slip past him, placing his shot perfectly into the far corner of the net. That’s two for two for the Frenchman, who just might be single-handedly keeping the Baggies in the Premier League.

Norwich got off to a decent start in the second half, with Elmander looking to redeem himself, although he was unable to connect with a good ball from Robert Snodgrass. Shortly thereafter, Snodgrass himself forced Ben Foster to tip his shot into the bar, just minutes after Hooper hit the woodwork.

That was about all the Canaries were able to muster, however, as their attack rather petered out in the final fifteen minutes. Chris Hughton introduced Nathan Redmond and Luciano Becchio, but kept Ricky van Wolfswinkel on the bench. Becchio managed a decent attempt minutes from the end, but his shot went just wide.

LINEUPS

Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, Yobo, Bassong, Olsson (Gutierrez 81); Snodgrass, Howson, Tettey, Hoolahan (Redmond 64); Elmander (Becchio 70), Hooper

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Reid, McAuley, Olsson, Ridgewell, Amalfitano, Morrison, Mulumbu, Dorrans (Gera 77, O’Neil 83), Sessegnon, Vydra (Berahino 71)

Goals: Amalfitano 16′

Report: Man City, Guardiola to discuss new contract this summer

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Manchester City does not want to let Pep Guardiola start the third year with the club without signing on for longer term.

Guardiola enters the third and final year of his deal in August, and the BBC reports that Man City plans to negotiate a new deal with the Catalan wizard this summer.

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This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise given City’s outstanding sophomore season under Guardiola.

Unbeaten City has an 11-point lead on the Premier League table after 18 weeks, with one draw and a PL record 16-straight wins. They have 56 goals scored, conceding just 12.

They’ve won five of six UEFA Champions League matches, only losing a match their opposition needed and they did not, 2-1 to Shakhtar Donetsk in Ukraine. City faces Basel next, and visits Leicester City in the League Cup quarterfinals Wednesday.

Lanzini charged by FA for fooling ref with dive

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Manuel Lanzini dove to earn a penalty in West Ham’s 3-0 win over Stoke City on Saturday at the bet365 Stadium, and he may pay for it.

Lanzini, who also posted an assist in an influential performance, drew the penalty converted by Mark Noble when he hit the deck under minimal contact from Erik Pieters.

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He could miss two matches for “successful deception of a match official,” the same penalty given to Everton’s Oumar Niasse for a similar offense.

West Ham pulled out of the drop zone with the win, but has three bottom-half battles coming up over the festive fixtures: Saturday versus Newcastle, Dec. 26 at Bournemouth, and Jan. 2 versus West Brom.

Griezmann backtracks over ‘insensitive’ blackface tweet

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MADRID (AP) Soccer star Antoine Griezmann has apologized for any offense caused after posting an image of himself on social media in blackface as part of an NBA party costume on Sunday.

Griezmann, who is white, was also wearing a wig and holding a basketball in the photo which had “NBA 69 ALLSTARS” on the jersey.

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The photo on his official Twitter account was accompanied by the message “80’s Party” followed by basketball and laughing emojis.

One response called the photo a “bad idea” with others urging the France forward to delete the tweet.

Griezmann at first reacted to the criticism by tweeting: “Calm down friends, I’m a fan of the Harlem Globetrotters and of this great era… It’s a tribute.”

He later tweeted an apology to those he had offended.

“I recognize that’s it’s insensitive on my part. If I offended some people I’m sorry,” he wrote.

The 26-year-old Griezmann plays for Spanish team Atletico Madrid but has been linked to a move to Barcelona.

Alex Morgan named CONCACAF Female POY, Navas wins Male POY

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CONCACAF awarded some of its finest players and coaches on Sunday night, and two familiar faces took home the evening’s most notable awards.

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U.S. Women’s National Team forward Alex Morgan (Orlando Pride) and Keylor Navas of Costa Rica and Real Madrid each earned Female and Male Player of the Year honors, after boasting tremendous 2017 seasons.

Morgan who primarily plays for Orlando in the NWSL, was also a member of Lyon, who went on to win the Women’s Champions League this past season.

Navas, on the other hand, played a key role in Real Madrid’s UEFA Champions League run, as well as Los Blancos’ La Liga title.

For Morgan, the award is her third since CONCACAF began handing out its annual awards in 2013. Meanwhile, Navas has now won Male Player of the Year on two occasions.