Cardiff City v Everton - Premier League

Roberto Martinez revels in Everton’s humbling of Manchester United

3 Comments

LIVERPOOL — Wearing his brown shoes on the sidelines at Goodison Park, Robert Martinez barely left the edge of the pitch the entire game.

Style, substance and subtle, his team had all that and more on Sunday.

The Spanish coach has transformed Everton’s playing style in his first season in charge at Goodison Park, as his team are still in the hunt for a top four spot with three games to go. Sitting on 69 points, the Toffees are also looking at a record points haul, as they stellar season under the Spaniard continues.

(MORE: Everton 2-0 Man United – Toffees rampant in miserable return for Moyes)

One point and one place behind fourth placed Arsenal, the Toffees are focused on qualifying for the UEFA Champions League. However, despite keeping their UCL hopes alive with a 2-0 win over Manchester United on Sunday, they also had another reason to celebrate.

Everton haven’t beaten Man United home and away since the 1969-70 season. That’s something Martinez is delighted to have achieved.

“It is a big thing, we knew since the 1969 we haven’t done the double over United,” Martinez said. “It is one of the things that tells you about this group of players are ready to develop something special. There is a mental side, if you can do the double over the current champions, then there is something special in this group. I always felt we are developing into a strong side. I thought it was important for our fans to today be proud of their team, to have something to remember and have a special memory. It was perfect to give them something back for all the support they have given us.”

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

source: AP
Baines gave Everton perfect balance, as Martinez’s side impressed once again.

With three games left, especially after a demoralizing defeat to Crystal Palace in midweek, this was the kind of performance Martinez was hoping for. Energetic from the start and an extra bite all over the pitch, Everton’s gameplan of soaking up United’s pressure then counter-attacking worked perfectly.

Martinez knew it.

“With three games to go until the end of the season it was the right type of performance,” Martinez said. “We were full of energy, dynamic, on the counter-attack we looked electrifying. We are a very exciting team to watch on the counter-attack. We had to defend and be patient and pick our moments. Once we did that I thought we were terrific. When we saw the lineup with Kagawa, Mata, Nani and Rooney we knew they were going to try to get on the ball and try to take the sting out of the game. That is when as a team you have to be adaptable. I thought we were devastating on the counter-attack, if anything we should’ve scored more. We had good chances, they were on the ball but they never broke us down.”

What about David Moyes and the squad he left Martinez at Everton?

The Toffees boss was full of praise for the building blocks put in place by Moyes as the Spaniard has built his own squad around the framwork Moyes left behind.

“I was a very fortunate man to walk into a football club where everything was in place,” Martinez said. “The work that David did over 11 years was there. Previously I have gone into football clubs that look like a bomb exploded. Believe me the best situation for a manager is to have something like that. Yes, I wanted to change many things, but I didn’t want to lose anything. I brought 10 players in which is a big amount, the senior players were very open to play in a different manner and we gave a massive role to the younger players. That is the big difference in this squad. I thought David Moyes’ job at Everton provided the platform for the performances we have been able to put in this season.”

One area where Martinez outwitted Moyes was on the flanks, especially on the right.

Right back Seamus Coleman created the second goal after a number of marauding runs from the run kept United at bay. Kevin Mirallas scored the second, as he and Coleman tormented United’s left back Alexander Buttner all afternoon.

Speaking of that threat, Martinez revealed he’s extremely happy with the entire balance of his side, as they are in the hunt for a top four position with three games to go.

“It is fair to say that we created that space, we are a very well balanced side,” Martinez said. “We carry threat on the left hand side, Leighton Baines can really hurt you in possession, Seamus Coleman is developing his penetration, then in the middle you have Ross Barkley and Steven Naismith, who is in form at the moment, I thought we were a well-balanced team today. We had to be patient. It was the first time this season we gave the ball to the opposition, but the way we used it in our favor was quite impressive.”

Three takeaways from the Red Bulls CCL draw against the Whitecaps

New York Red Bulls forward Bradley Wright-Phillips, left, trips over Vancouver Whitecaps defender Kendall Waston inside the Whitecaps box during the first half of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal soccer match, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Leave a comment

With 90 more minutes to play up in Vancouver, this tie is far from over. However, Wednesday night’s clash at Red Bull Arena surely presented intriguing storylines ahead of leg two.

The Vancouver Whitecaps picked up a critical away goal in their 1-1 draw against the New York Red Bulls in the first leg of their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal meeting.

While their CCL clash was the first competitive action for either side since 2016, both clubs showed glimpses of brilliance in the first of their two encounters in the competition.

Here’s a look back at three important takeaways from the Red Bulls’ draw against the Whitecaps.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Red Bulls still working out kinks up front

Bradley Wright-Phillips has been one of Major League Soccer’s most prolific goalscorers since joining the Red Bulls, but even the star striker struggled to find the ball in dangerous positions on Wednesday. The Red Bulls striker netted the game’s equalizer after 62 minutes, but chances were far and few between on the night for Wright-Phillips.

Despite dominating the possession for long spells of the match (as is the case much of the time), the Red Bulls found difficulty breaking down the Whitecaps when it mattered most.

Jesse Marsch’s side managed just two shots on target throughout the 90 minutes, while Sacha Kljestan’s penalty kick miss voided the host side from leveling up the first leg just after the halftime break.

The Red Bulls have wanted to toy with a two-striker set since early 2016, and Marsch finally got his wish with Argentine DP Gonzalo Veron match fit for the start of the campaign. Veron looked solid at times with his quality first touches and quick pace, but it was the final ball that was often lacking.

Sacha Kljestan and Daniel Royer interlinked well with one another behind the two strikers, and with Mike Grella and Alex Muyl also tabbed as rotational players in the midfield, Marsch will have a solid group to pick from to help his attack develop moving forward.

Manneh is coming into his own

He scored, facilitated and just looked all around dangerous against the Red Bulls. Kekuta Manneh has become one of the most intriguing MLS players over the past 12 months in large part because of his success in the league as well as the opportunity to represent the U.S. Men’s National Team.

While his goal wasn’t the prettiest six minutes before halftime, the Whitecaps attacker was in the right spot, just as he was for much of the night. His three shots on target led all players involved, but it was Manneh’s confidence under pressure that was most impressive.

The Whitecaps didn’t throw too many numbers forward on the night — with the second leg being north of the border — but Manneh and the Whitecaps attack thrived on the counterattack on several occasions.

With a number of players unavailable for Carl Robinson’s side, including Yordy Reyna, Christian Bolanos and Fredy Montero, the visitors played a strong opening leg, particularly after playing the final 20 minutes down a man when Cristian Techera was dismissed for a high tackle on Red Bulls defender Sal Zizzo.

Youngsters show out for both sides

Experience is still the name of the game for both the Red Bulls and Whitecaps, but Wednesday night also provided a glimpse into the future with several stellar performances from the youngsters on the pitch.

Sean Davis was tasked with filling the hole in the central midfield after Dax McCarty was treaded away from the Red Bulls this offseason, and although the youngster has had experience in the past, he certainly didn’t disappoint for Marsch’s group. The 24-year-old looked confident in his distribution and defended well when called upon alongside Felipe.

Meanwhile, Whitecaps attacker Alphonso Davies continues to turn heads for a player that is only 16 years old. Davies only appeared in eight MLS matches last season for the Western Conference side, but looked like a seasoned veteran against the Red Bulls at times with his blazing strides and pinpoint passes.

The young attacker surely has room to grow, particularly in front of net, but hey, he’s 16.

New York Red Bulls 1-1 Vancouver Whitecaps: BWP saves a draw

New York Red Bulls' Aaron Long, top, climbs over Vancouver Whitecaps forward Erik Hurtado while competing for the ball during the first half of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal soccer match, Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2017, in Harrison, N.J. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
AP Photo/Julio Cortez
Leave a comment
  • ‘Caps nap road goal
  • Techera sent off in 71′
  • Return leg March 2

Kekuta Manneh and Bradley Wright-Phillips traded goals as the Vancouver Whitecaps and New York Red Bulls drew 1-1 in their CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg on Wednesday at Red Bull Arena.

Cristian Techera sent the ‘Caps down to 10 men in the 71st minute when he connected with a kick between Sal Zizzo’s legs.

A deft touch by Wright-Phillips set up Sacha Kljestan for a fifth minute chance, but two sliding Whitecaps helped pressure the captain’s shot wide of the near post.

Vancouver had a chance two minutes later when Alphonso Davies played Russell Teibert down the right wing, and the Whitecaps wide man curled a shot wide of the far post.

[ MORE: Amazing beach soccer bicycle kick goal ]

The Whitecaps beat Luis Robles before halftime. Kendall Waston flicked a ball toward the net, and Kekuta used his head to turn the ball off Justin Bilyeu and behind Robles. 1-0, 39′.

A foul outside the 18 nearly saw Kljestan level it up with a 45th minute free kick.

Kljestan should’ve tied it up with a PK just after the break. He didn’t, barely chipping his Panenka attempt above shin level. Woof.

Wright-Phillips made it 1-1 in the 62nd minute, when Zizzo’s cross dropped at his feet. A quick reaction had the ball in the back of the net.

Sacha Kljestan stars in “When Panenkas Fail” (video)

HARRISON, NJ - MARCH 22:  Sacha Kljestan #16 of New York Red Bulls heads the ball in front of Steve Birnbaum #15 of D.C. United during their match at Red Bull Arena on March 22, 2015 in Harrison, New Jersey.  (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images
Leave a comment

When Panenkas don’t go well, players look foolish.

Sacha Kljestan looks foolish.

The New York Red Bulls captain strode to the penalty spot to level the score in Wednesday’s CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinal first leg against the visiting Vancouver Whitecaps.

[ MORE: Leicester grabs away goal ]

Only he didn’t. Kljestan chipped his attempt barely a foot off the ground, allowing David Ousted to kick the chance away. Bradley Wright-Phillips blazed the rebound over the frame, and it remained 1-0 for the ‘Caps.

WATCH: Liverpool loanee nets hat trick for U.S. U-20 side

STEVENAGE, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 19:  Brooks Lennon of Liverpool celebrates his goal during the Premier League 2 match between Tottenham Hotspur and Liverpool at The Lamex Stadium on September 19, 2016 in Stevenage, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images
Leave a comment

If Brooks Lennon brings this sort of scoring prowess to Real Salt Lake, he may just walk away Rookie of the Year.

On loan from Liverpool, Lennon is first on duty with the United States U-20 men’s national team in Costa Rica.

The U.S. opened U-20 World Cup qualifying with a 1-0 loss to Panama, and was under the gun when it allowed an early goal to Haiti late Tuesday evening.

[ MORE: Rooney’s agent in China ]

But Lennon scored a trio of goals and sent in the corner that Luca de la Torre eventually finished as the Yanks won 4-1. The U.S. has St. Kitts and Nevis in the final group match on Friday.

The top two teams from each group of four advance to the next round, in which four teams will qualify for the U-20 World Cup. That tournament is set for May in South Korea.