Everton 2-0 Manchester United: Toffees rampant in miserable return for Moyes

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LIVERPOOL — Everton kept their race for a top four spot on track, as the Toffees’ beat Manchester United 2-0 at Goodison Park on Sunday. The victory marked the first-time Everton had beaten United home and away in the league since 1970, as Robert Martinez’s boys continue their excellent campaign.

Former boss David Moyes got a less than hospitable welcome from the home fans on his return to the club he’d managed for over a decade up until last summer. Moyes’ United’ side were sloppy from the get go and found themselves 2-0 at half time. They never recovered.

First Phil Jones inexplicably handled a Romelu Lukaku shot to give away a penalty, which Man United’s summer transfer target Leighton Baines dispatched with ease. Then just before the break an incisive attack down the right hand side — United had a torrid time against Seamus Coleman down that flank all game long — saw Coleman play in Kevin Mirallas to finish superbly across goal.

United offered little going forward with former Evertonian Wayne Rooney cutting a frustrated figure, as Moyes’ men put in yet another tepid display in a season to forget.

With the win Everton keep the heat on Arsenal in fourth place as the Toffees sit one point and one place behind them in fifth on 69 points, while United stay in seventh as any hopes they had of miraculous top four finish are now officially over.

(MORE: Moyes vilified on return to Everton, as Man United nightmare continues)

An even start at Goodison Park saw Everton flying into tackles, as the Blues aimed to go to within one point of Arsenal. The first real chance of the match arrived after eight minutes as Coleman’s right wing cross was only partially cleared by Chris Smalling to the onrushing Ross Barkley, but the Everton youngster skewed his shot horribly over.

Everything that was good about Everton came down their right flank in the early exchanges, as Coleman bombed on to support Mirallas who both ganged up on Alexander Buttner at left back for United. The Red Devils’ narrow midfielders weren’t tracking back, as both Nani and Shinji Kagawa were nonexistent defensively. Soon after, another Everton foray down the right found Steven Naismith in the box who teed up Romelu Lukaku but his powerful shot was blocked square in the face by Phil Jones who didn’t flinch.

source: AP
Mirallas grabbed Everton’s second and was a constant thorn in United’s side down the right flank.

A strong call for a penalty then arrived in the 19th minute, as another Coleman cross found Naismith who steered a volley goalwards but his shot struck Jonny Evans in the arm. Referee Mark Clattenburg waved away shouts from the home crowd, as United seemed to have got away with an early scare. In the 21st minute Naismith was in the thick of things again, as the Scotsman was first to a knockdown from Lukaku but rushed his effort and volleyed way over the bar when he had time to take a touch, then shoot.

(MORE: Martinez revels in Everton’s humbling of Man United)

Moments later Everton were ahead, as another rapid counter-attack saw Naismith set up Lukaku who sent a curling shot towards the bottom corner that Phil Jones clearly handled, after slipping on the greasy Goodison surface. Baines stepped up to send David de Gea the wrong way, as the man Moyes tried to sign over the summer came back to haunt him. United showed little in the first half, as Juan Mata, Wayne Rooney and Shinji Kagawa combined masterfully on a few occasions, but Everton’s exuberant defense closed them down before any harm was done. Everton went in 2-0 up at half time thanks to counter-attack down — you guessed it — their right hand side, that saw Coleman play in Mirallas to rifle into the bottom corner.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

At half time Antolin Alcaraz replaced Sylvain Distin at center back and the Paraguayan defender was called into immediate action as Rooney wriggled free of two challenges but Alcaraz made a superb last-ditch tackle to deny the former Everton forward. Moments later Kagawa had a long-range drive comfortably saved by Tim Howard, as United started the second half well.

United tried to prod and probe their way back into the game, with Moyes chucking on Javier Hernandez and Antonio Valencia with 30 minutes to go try and salvage something from the game. Instead the home side looked dangerous every time they went forward, as Barkley’s marauding runs through the center were causing all kinds of problems with Lukaku having a powerful shot well saved by De Gea.

Late on Naismith should’ve grabbed a third for Everton, as Mirallas’ right wing cross found the Scotsman unmarked on the penalty spot but he lashed his volley over the bar in the 75th minute. Naismith was thwarted again in the 80th minute, as a break from the Toffees saw De Gea tip his shot wide.

Despite late United pressure, which saw Howard save Rooney’s effort from point-blank range, Everton held on to record a memorable victory and heap more misery on Moyes.

LINEUPS

Everton – Howard, Baines, Distin (Alcaraz, 45′), Stones, Coleman, McCarthy, Barry, Mirallas (McGeady, 90′), Barkley (Osman, 69′), Naismith, Lukaku.

Goals: Baines (28′), Mirallas (43′)

Manchester United – De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Evans (Hernandez, 61′), Büttner, Carrick, Fletcher, Nani (Valencia, 61′), Kagawa (Welbeck, 74′), Mata, Rooney.

Mascherano still believes Neymar is “the future” of Barcelona

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The Neymar-to-PSG saga has escalated quickly, and signs of the Brazilian’s move to Paris are growing, but one Barcelona player remains confident that his compatriot will stay in Spain ahead of the new La Liga season.

[ MORE: Morata signs five-year contract with Chelsea ]

PSG has shown a willingness over recent days to meet Barca’s worldly $260 million transfer fee for the 25-year-old, while Neymar has reportedly alerted his teammates that he will in fact be heading to the Parc des Princes next month.

Veteran Barcelona midfielder/defender Javier Mascherano is one of the Blaugrana players that hopes Neymar will stick around and help anchor the La Liga giants for years to come despite a possible massive payday in store.

“Obviously he is young and I hope he’s here with Barcelona for many more years,” the Argentina defender said to ESPN.

“He is a really important player for the club. Because of his age, he’s the future of the club and we hope we can keep on counting on him.

“He’s accustomed to the pressure and people talking. There’s always going to be rumours and news around him.

“It’s really difficult to give advice. Firstly, I’m not anyone to be giving advice and secondly, I see him really happy here, really happy. [Barca] are a club that have made it possible for him to perform at his best. But after that, each person has to make their own decisions.”

If Neymar does bolt for Paris the complexion of the MSN-Barca attack changes drastically despite still boasting elite talents Lionel Messi and Luis Suarez.

[ MORE: Man United drops Man City in Houston “Manchester Derby” ]

Barca has done little in the transfer market this summer, only adding Everton winger Gerard Deulofeu and Nelson Semedo of Benfica. The club continues to pursue Liverpool attacker Philippe Coutinho, however, the Reds recently rejected a bid of $93 million.

‘Nothing is impossible’: Bonucci brings hope to AC Milan

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MILAN (AP) Nothing is impossible. That’s AC Milan’s new unofficial slogan following Leonardo Bonucci’s surprise transfer from defending six-time Serie A champion Juventus.

[ MORE: Neymar reportedly tells Barca teammates he’s off to PSG ]

Presenting fans to Bonucci via Weibo on Friday, Milan CEO Marco Fassone recounted how Italy’s top defender moved to a rival club.

“It started by chance and it seemed impossible but Leo interrupted me right away and said, `Nothing is impossible. When there’s desire to do things you can get them done.”‘

Milan has been on a spending spree following the club’s sale to a Chinese-led consortium for $800 million in April, and Bonucci is the top acquisition, so far.

“Leo doesn’t require introductions,” Fassone said. “It’s an extraordinary reinforcement for us. … He completes a mosaic sought after by (Milan chief sport officer Massimiliano) Mirabelli – a mix of younger players and experienced leaders who will make the road ahead easier.”

Other recent signings by Milan included forward Andre Silva from FC Porto; midfielders Ricardo Rodriguez (Wolfsburg), Franck Kessie and Andrea Conti (Atalanta), Hakan Calhanoglu (Bayer Leverkusen) and Lucas Biglia (Lazio); and defender Mateo Musacchio (Villarreal).

Bonucci thanked Kessie for letting him wear his preferred No. 19 shirt, and pointed to Milan’s seven European Cups and Champions League titles as a reference point for a club that did not even qualify for continental play the last three years and hasn’t won Serie A since 2011.

“Milan deserves to be among the elite again in Italy and Europe,” Bonucci said. “When you are united you win. The strength has to be that of the squad whereas singular players alone can do nothing. We can get back to the top and that’s what this club deserves.”

Bonucci’s transfer fee reportedly topped the 40 million euro ($45 million) mark, and the center back was signed to a five-year contract worth up to 10 million euros ($11 million) per season, including bonuses – making him the highest-paid player in Italy.

Meanwhile, Juventus is reportedly near to signing prized winger Federico Bernardeschi from Fiorentina for a reported fee of 40 million euros ($45 million). The Gazzetta dello Sport reported Juventus will sign the 23-year-old Bernardeschi to five-year contract worth 4 million euros ($4.6 million) per season.

Vertonghen: “We need to level up” like rest of PL contenders

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Tottenham put up a heck of a title fight in 2016/17 as the club attempted to chase down Premier League champions Chelsea, but Spurs have been inactive this summer as Mauricio Pochettino‘s group gears up for next month.

[ MORE: Striker Morata signs five-year contract with Chelsea ]

The London side finished second in the PL a season ago — a record-high for the club during the modern Premier League Era.

[ VIDEO: History of the North London Derby ]

However, Pochettino and Co. have made no moves in the transfer market this summer, while its competitors — Chelsea, Manchester United, etc. — have all made significant roster additions to bolster their lineups.

Defender Jan Vertonghen says that Spurs must compete with the rest of the PL’s elite in the transfer market if the club is to finally realize its goal of finishing atop England’s top flight.

“The way our rivals are strengthening this season, we need to be aware of that and we need to level up as well,” Vertonghen told ESPN FC.

“I’m not saying with new players, but we need to take our levels up and I think we can. I’m the oldest outfield player in the team and I feel very fit. The younger guys can improve even more. It can definitely be our year and we want it to be our year.

“Luckily we almost kept everyone from this year. Obviously the window is not closed yet but if we can keep these guys, we can do the same thing again. It’ll be a bit harder because we play at Wembley! [The pitch] is a lot bigger but the training pitches have already been adapted.

While Spurs certainly benefit from having one of the strongest young groups of players in England, the club’s lack of spending is a bit concerning, especially after its recent loss of Kyle Walker — who joined Manchester City for a record fee.

Zouma signs new Chelsea contract, is immediately loaned to Stoke City

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Kurt Zouma‘s long-term future is secure at Chelsea, but his short-term future will be away from Stamford Bridge.

The France international centerback signed a new six-year contract with Chelsea and was promptly sent out on a season-long loan to Stoke City. Zouma made just three starts and nine total appearances last season as he came back from a torn ACL suffered in February 2016.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s PL coverage ]

“It is fantastic Kurt has chosen to commit his future to Chelsea,” Chelsea technical director Michael Emenalo said in a statement. “He has shown his talent since joining us three years ago, and has returned from a serious injury with a fantastic attitude.

“Now he has the opportunity to play regularly in the Premier League and we will be monitoring his progress closely while he is at Stoke.”

The move to Stoke will give Zouma a new experience, playing for a mid-table side in the Premier League, and it will be interesting to see where he fits in at centerback, battling with American Geoff Cameron and Englishman Ryan Shawcross.

Even with John Terry leaving the club, Zouma was likely to be second-choice in the back three for Chelsea and if he wants to make France’s squad for the 2018 World Cup, he’ll have to play regularly.