Stoke City 1-0 Newcastle United: Four games without a goal for Newcastle (video)

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With Newcastle having failed to score in their last three outings, and missing Loïc Rémy due to injury, it never looked as though this match would be a replay of the 5-1 Magpies win back on Boxing Day. Sure enough, what we got was a rather scrappy affair, with few shots on target and Stoke managing to eek out all three points.

The Potters really should have scored by the time ten minutes were out. Marko Arnautović sent in a pin-point cross from the left, falling perfectly for Peter Crouch, about five yards out. But Crouch was able to do nothing more than bash his header against the base of the post.

Two minutes later, Newcastle also wasted a fantastic chance. Dan Gosling slipped into space to meet a ball from Shola Ameobi, but, despite being just six yards out, the midfield managed to place his shot over the bar.

The game seemed destined to revolve around missed chances. Ameobi’s own effort, a shot from distance, went wide. Peter Odemwingie had a good chance on a ball from Arnautović, but could do nothing with it.

So it seemed rather apt that the opening goal seemed to be more luck than skill. Stoke fans might classify it as a wonder-goal, but in fact, Erik Pieters overhit his cross. The ball floated down over Tim Krul, hit the far post and bounced into the back of the net.

Newcastle had a chance to respond before the half was out, but Asmir Begović got down to save Cheick Tioté’s effort from distance.

The visitors did their best to find an equalizer in the second half, but everything they conjured up was rather tame. Papiss Cissé started out the second half with a wasted, high effort from a pass from Mike Williamson. His 64th minute shot was much more threatening, but Steven N’Zonzi was there with a block.

Stoke made attempts to double their advantage by hitting Newcastle on the break, but they were only able to come close to a second. Hatem Ben Arfa, on for Dan Gosling just moments before, couldn’t control the ball and Stoke were able to break, with Charlie Adam putting his shot wide. A few minutes later, Mapou Yanga-Mbiwa, on for Steven Taylor, was called into action to ensure a great cross from Geoff Cameron was put out of danger.

LINEUPS

Stoke City:Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Ireland (Adam 66), Nzonzi, Whelan, Arnautovic; Odemwingie (Walters 87); Crouch

Goals: Pieters 42′

Newcastle United: Krul; S Taylor (Yanga-Mbiwa 61), Williamson, Coloccini; Anita, Gosling (Ben Arfa 73), Tiote, Gouffran, Dummett; Sh Ameobi, Cisse (Armstrong 73)

CCL: Lodeiro from 45; Royer’s diving header — SEA, RBNY lead (video)

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After 45 minutes of their respective CONCACAF Champions League knockout-round quests, things are going unnervingly well for the Seattle Sounders and New York Red Bulls.

[ MORE: FC Dallas disappoint in CCL; Club America flying ]

If you’ve watched Major League Soccer teams try, try and try again — only to eventually fail in spectacular fashion — in CCL over the years, you might say things are going a little too well.

There’s still another 45 minutes to be played on Thursday — plus the return legs next week — but both the Sounders and Red Bulls hold 1-0 halftime leads, and the vitally important away goals which come with it. Nicolas Lodeiro’s 45-yard, first-time lob of the Santa Tecla (El Salvador) goalkeeper in the 15th minute has already been eternally etched into the memories of Sounders fans.

Just 15 minutes later, Daniel Royer perfectly executed the diving header and got on the end of Bradley Wright-Phillips’ curling ball into the box to Jesse Marsch’s side ahead of Honduran side CD Olimpia.

Villarreal DF Semedo charged with attempted murder

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MADRID (AP) A Spanish judge has charged Villarreal defender Ruben Semedo with attempted murder and ordered him to be temporarily detained without bail.

Court officials in Lliria say on Thursday the Portuguese player is also charged with assault, robbery, illegal detention, and illegal possession of firearms.

Semedo testified before a judge on Thursday, and left the court in handcuffs.

The 23-year-old Semedo was detained early Tuesday, accused of tying up, assaulting and threatening another man last week. Authorities say he and two other men allegedly held the victim captive while they robbed his apartment.

Semedo’s agents told Spanish media the player denies any wrongdoing.

Villarreal on Tuesday said it was investigating Semedo and would take appropriate disciplinary action.

Villarreal signed Semedo from Sporting Lisbon last summer for a reported fee of $17 million.

Wenger: Arsenal “complacent, had no ideas” in Ostersunds loss

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Perhaps Sunday’s League Cup final had already reached the forefront of their minds, but Arsene Wenger admonished his players, whom he said were “complacent, not focused” and “had no ideas” for much of Thursday’s Europa League defeat, at home, to Swedish side Ostersunds.

[ MORE: Premier League TV schedule | Man United vs. Chelsea ]

The Gunners advanced to the round of 16 on the back of their 3-0 first-leg victory last week, but Wenger was understandably displeased by the effort he saw and expressed such feelings in no uncertain terms, before quickly easing up and praising the fact they were able to pull back a goal against the current fifth-place team from Sweden — quotes from the BBC:

“We were not at the races in the first half,” said Wenger, who saw his side booed off at half-time and full-time. I think in the second half it was much better and we should have scored a few goals.

“In the first half, we were in trouble and in danger because we were complacent, not focused and were open every time we lost the ball. We had no ideas with the ball and that’s why we were in trouble.

“We responded very well because we did the job to qualify, but that’s what we have to take from the night and that’s all.”

With Arsenal now trailing fourth-place Chelsea by eight points (and seven back of fifth-place Tottenham Hotspur), winning the Europa League might just be the Gunners’ last chance at qualifying for next season’s Champions League.

Batshuayi racially abused by Atalanta fans

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Borussia Dortmund striker Michy Batshuayi says he was subject to racist chants from Atalanta fans during a Europa League game in Italy.

The Belgium international, on loan from Chelsea, tweeted:

Dortmund advanced to the round of 16 by drawing 1-1 to beat Atalanta 4-3 on aggregate on Thursday.

The game was played at Mapei Stadium in Reggio Emilia because Atalanta’s home stadium is unsuitable for UEFA games.

There have been several incidents of racism at Serie A matches this season.