FC Dallas v New England Revolution

New England gets second win, hands Houston 2-0 defeat in Foxborough (video)

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We called Toronto up-and-down after the Reds lost to the Rapids, but over the last three weeks, the Revolution may be an even better example of early season inconsistency. With Saturday’s 2-0 win over visiting Houston, New England has gone from winning in San Jose, to losing at D.C. United, to defeating the Dynamo in a 15-day span, something home fans are unlikely to complain about after the Revs claimed their first home win of the season.

Two weeks ago, New England got its first victory in an unlikely place, with Lee Nguyen delivering a stoppage time winner to end the Earthquakes’ 21-game home unbeaten run. Last week, however, a poor performance at RFK Stadium allowed United to record its first win in 16 games. In the course of eight days, Jay Heaps’ team was on opposite ends of streak-busting performances, giving us little clue as to how good the team might be.

But with Heaps in the stands (having seen ejected from last week’s game), New England recaptured its San Jose form. Exerting a control of play that didn’t necessarily translate into the possession numbers (a statistic that ended 50-50), the Revolution ended up outshooting the Dynamo 13-9, with a 6-0 edge in shots on target reflecting the slightly better quality possession New England maintained all day.

In the second half, that edge finally paid off. In the 68th minute, building down its left, New England saw play exchanged between Kevin Alston, Daigo Kobayashi, and Teal Bunbury produce Alston’s first MLS goal. Later, after Houston had opened up in pursuit of an equalizer, Jerry Bengston was given a chance behind the Dynamo defense, eventually making Tally Hall pay for misreading a long ball sent out of the New England defense.

Coming off a disappointing result last week against Dallas, Houston played its worst match of the season, but whereas the suspension to David Horst hinted defending might be a problem against the likes of Diego Fagundez, Saer Sene, and Lee Nguyen, it was the inability to do anything going forward that proved the Dynamo’s failing. Had Houston done better than an early A.J. Cochran chance headed over the bar, Alston’s goal wouldn’t have been too much to overcome.

Instead, the Dynamo served as the perfect tonic for a New England team desperate for a rebound. After last week’s loss in D.C., the momentum the Revs carried out of San Jose was blunted. Now, the team can see its RFK performance as a fluke. With two wins in their last three, there’s slightly more reason to believe New England is recapturing its 2013 self.

Statement from suspended UEFA president Michel Platini

Michel Platini, UEFA & FIFA
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Statement from suspended UEFA President Michel Platini:

Early this afternoon, I was informed of the FIFA ethics committee’s decision to impose on me a provisional 90-day suspension with immediate effect. That decision, which I will of course contest in the appropriate manner at the appropriate time, had already been the subject of a deliberate leak, and I gave my opinion on that earlier in the day.

I reject all of the allegations that have been made against me, which are based on mere semblances and are astonishingly vague. Indeed, the wording of those allegations merely states that a breach of the FIFA Code of Ethics “seems to have been committed” and that a decision on the substance of the matter cannot be taken immediately.

Despite the farcical nature of these events, I refuse to believe that this is a political decision taken in haste in order to taint a lifelong devotee of the game or crush my candidacy for the FIFA presidency.

I want everyone to know my state of mind: more than a sense of injustice or a desire for revenge, I am driven by a profound feeling of staunch defiance. I am more determined than ever to defend myself before the relevant judicial bodies.

I want to reiterate in the strongest possible terms that I will devote myself to ensuring that my good faith prevails. I have received numerous messages of support today from UEFA’s member associations and the other confederations encouraging me to continue my work serving football’s interests. Nothing will make me give up on that commitment.

EURO 2016: Ireland shock Germany, Northern Ireland qualify

Shane Long, Ireland
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A recap of Thursday’s action in 2016 European Championship qualifying:

Ireland 1-0 Germany

Southampton striker Shane Long scored the goal that knocked off the defending world champions and pushed Ireland one step closer to next summer’s European Championship in France. Long, who entered the game in the 65th minute, latched onto Darren Randolph‘s ball over the top in the 70th minute, took one touch to settle and fired for the far post, beating Manuel Neuer for the game’s only goal.

With one game still to play, Ireland (18 points) sit third in Group D, level on points with Sunday’s opponent Poland. While the winner of Sunday’s clash could leapfrog Germany (19), they will more likely finish second in the group and qualify automatically. A draw on Sunday could still see both sides qualify automatically through the ranking of third-place finishers (the top third-place finishers from group play earns an automatic berth at EURO 2016).

Northern Ireland 3-1 Greece

Norther Ireland (20 points) topped Greece (3), 3-1 on Thursday to officially book their place at EURO 2016. Steven Davis scored twice and Josh Magennis added the third for Michael O’Neill’s side.

With one game still to play (Sunday, at Finland), Northern Ireland can finish no lower than second. A draw against Finland, or any points dropped by Romania (17) would see Northern Ireland finish top of Group F.

Portugal 1-0 Denmark

Joao Moutinho scored the only goal of the game to secure Portugal’s (18 points from just seven games) place at next summer’s tournament. The defeat sees Denmark remain second in Group I, a point ahead of third-place Albania, who lost to Serbia on Thursday. Having played all eight of their group games, Denmark can go no higher than 12 points, meaning they would fail to qualify if Albania beat Armenia on Sunday. A draw between Albania and Armenia would see Denmark qualify based on tiebreakers.

Elsewhere in EURO 2016 qualifying action

Group D

Scotland 2-2 Poland
Georgia 4-0 Gibraltar

Group F

Hungary 2-1 Faroe Islands
Romania 1-1 Finland

Group I

Albania 0-2 Serbia