Gus Poyet thinks maybe it’s luck that separates the top from the bottom

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It took an own goal from Wes Brown to lift Everton to a 1-0 win over Sunderland, but the Toffees won’t be complaining. Those three points put Everton into fourth, two points above Arsenal – and have them dreaming of singing the Champions League anthem next season.

For Sunderland, though, that own goal – their sixth of the season – may be what puts them into The Championship next year. The Black Cats still have two games in hand, but they’re sitting dead last, seven points from safety.


And Sunderland don’t have the easiest of run-ins. They have to face Manchester City and Chelsea in the space of four days, and still need to travel to Old Trafford. They’ll have to host a Cardiff City side still trying desperately to avoid the drop, and will also come up against two sides whose future may still be uncertain when they face off – West Brom and Swansea.

Considering this is a side that made it to the final of the League Cup and the quarter-finals of the FA Cup, you have to wonder what, exactly, went wrong. Manager Gus Poyet believes the answer just might be simple: it could be luck that keeps Sunderland from being unable to win a match.

In his post-match interview the Black Cats boss said, “One moment of luck has defined the game and maybe that is the difference between being at the top and being at the bottom. Sometimes things go for you when you are doing well. Unfortunately this game was not to be for us.”

Own goals might sometimes be down to a moment of luck, but usually they come from the pressure of the opposing side. Sunderland, whose defense often looks absolutely atrocious, are now winless in their last nine games, and have collected just one point from that span.

That might be more than just bad luck, Poyet.

Zlatan confirms Manchester United departure

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Zlatan Ibrahimovic has confirmed myriad reports he’s leaving Manchester United with a perfectly-Zlatan Instagram message.

Ibrahimovic is expected to join the LA Galaxy next week.

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The words aren’t too important, but Ibrahimovic posted an old graphic of him in Greek god garb, arm-wrestling a devil. So he’s got that going for him, which is nice.

The living Swedish legend, 36, has been limited to seven appearances, one start, and one goal in returning from a season-ending knee injury, but finishes his Manchester United tenure with an impressive 29 goals and 10 assists in 53 games (deduct the seven and one for peak impressiveness).

Bale breaks Wales scoring record

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Gareth Bale has now unquestionably written his name into Wales history.

The 28-year-old Real Madrid scored a hat-trick for Wales in its 6-0 demolition of China, taking his overall tally to 29 goals, breaking Ian Rush’s record.

“It is right up there, maybe as the best,” Bale told reporters after the game. “I suppose when I was a little boy I never dreamed of being a record-breaker for Wales. It is a massive honor. I was not thinking about it, but now it has come it’s an incredible honor and one of the best things I’ve achieved in my career. On a personal note it’s great to break the record, but I could not have done it without my team-mates.”

Bale was unable to carry Wales to the 2018 World Cup, but he first became a National Team legend by helping take Wales to the Euro 2016 semifinals, scoring three goals along the way.

Here’s a look at Bale’s record-breaking goal.

Sporting KC giving away creative “Bike Opara” bobblehead

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In his ninth Major League Soccer season, Ike Opara has scored just a dozen regular season goals.

He’s known more for his physicality in the backline, for creating space for teammates on set pieces, or heading balls on to teammates with slightly more fleeter feet.

But in June 2017, it all came together for Opara in a magical moment, where he beat an offside trap from the LA Galaxy and scored an insane bicycle kick for Sporting Kansas City.

Now, to honor Opara’s ridiculous goal, Sporting KC has announced the first 10,000 fans through the gates at Children’s Mercy Park on March 31 will get a “Bike Ike” bobblehead, with him in flight kicking the ball towards goal over his shoulder.

You’ve gotta love the creativity and fun the Sporting KC marketing department is having. Hopefully, Opara can give the team another memorable goal in 2018.

Van Dijk named new Netherlands captain

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Virgil Van Dijk has had a pretty decent last three months since moving to Liverpool, and the towering defender earned a new personal achievement on Thursday.

Van Dijk was named the newest captain of the Netherlands National Team, where he’ll play under former manager Ronald Koeman. Van Dijk’s first game as captain will be against the nation where he currently plies his trade, England, on Friday.

“I am very happy with it, it is a great honor to be the captain of your country,” van Dijk said at a pre-match press conference Thursday. “Everyone knows that Koeman gave me the chance at Southampton, I am very grateful to him. This is very special.”

Van Dijk’s commanding presence in the Liverpool backline and previous stops at Southampton and Celtic make him an obvious choice for captain, taking the place of the now-retired Arjen Robben. At just 26-years old, van Dijk could carry the armband for a half dozen years if he keeps up his strong form.