West Bromwich Albion 1-0 West Ham United: Berahino hands Baggies big win (video)

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West Bromwich Albion sealed a crucial 1-0 win over West Ham United at the Hawthorns on Saturday, as Baggies boss Pepe Mel sealed his first home win since arriving in January.

The Baggies scored after 11 minutes, as Saido Berahino’s finish from close range proved to be enough to see off the Hammers. Andy Carroll had plenty of chances for the visitors but he came up against an inspired Ben Foster in goal for West Brom as the England international made two stunning saves in the first half to deny Carroll.

A nervy ending played out, as the home side hung on despite relentless pressure from West Ham.

With the win West Brom now give themselves a five-point cushion above the relegation zone, while West Ham are only six points above the drop zone after losing their fourth-straight game.

(MORE: Latest Premier League standings)

Early on it was all West Ham, as Ben Foster denied Andy Carroll at the near post from close range after Kevin Nolan laid the ball back to Carroll inside the area. A driving run from Stephane Sessegnon set up Morgan Amaliftano who whipped the ball across the goal and Berahino scored his first goal in 15 games by crashing the ball home into the roof of the net.

Despite going ahead West Brom were living life dangerously, as Carroll then turned provider for Nolan but just as the West Ham skipper was about to finish the ball was cleared away for a corner. Carroll was then denied after a superb stop from Foster, with Guy Demel’s cross finding the England international at the back post but his diving header was clawed away to safety. Both teams continued to pour forward in the rain as Demel saw his effort saved by Foster at the near post, then Berahino broke free as the Baggies countered and the ball fell to Graham Dorrans but he smashed his effort just wide.

After the break the Hammers tried to get back into the game as they controlled most of the possession at a slightly nervy Hawthorns. The sun was out, at last, as West Ham piled on the pressure by launching plenty of balls into the box which kept Foster on his feet. Sessegnon was causing problems on the right win, as the Frenchman cut inside and slammed an effort into the side netting as West Brom broke free. Carroll continued his personal duel with Foster, as the powerful forward headed wide of the near post with West Ham going for it.

In the 61st minute Berahino should’ve had his second of the game as he was set up by Sessegnon six yards out but tamely stuck his effort straight at Adrian as the Baggies pushed to go 2-0 up. West Brom were by far the better side as the second half wore on but they couldn’t extend their lead. In comparison West Ham were lackluster in attack, as a banner reading “Fat Sam Out” was unfurled by the away fans.

West Brom did hang on to seal a massive three points, as the Baggies inch closer to securing their place in the PL next season.

LINEUPS

West Bromwich Albion: Foster, Reid (Morrison, 47′), Dawson, Olsson, Jones, Amalfitano, Mulumbu, Dorrans, Brunt, Sessegnon (Anichebe, 81′), Berahino (Yacob, 91′)

Goal: Berahino (11′)

West Ham United: Adrian, Demel, Tomkins (Collins, 33′), Reid, McCartney, Nolan, Noble, Diame, Jarvis (C. Cole, 79′), Carroll, Downing (J. Cole, 67′)

Barcelona GM: “We’re close to signing Coutinho, Dembele”

Philippe Coutinho
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Barcelona did not post a magical comeback versus Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup second leg, instead losing 5-1 on aggregate after Wednesday’s 2-0 loss at the Bernabeu.

[ MORE: Barcelona falls to Real… again ]

But perhaps the celebrated La Liga club has worked some wizardry in the transfer market, with not one but two big targets “close” to the Camp Nou.

Barca general manager Josep “Pep” Segura was on television after the match, and noted Spanish football expert Sid Lowe relays his words: Liverpool’s Philippe Coutinho and Borussia Dortmund’s Ousmane Dembele are coming to Barca, “but until it’s closed I can’t say anything.”

Well, you just said something about it, so what gives.

Now before anyone freaks out at Anfield or Westfalenstadion, this is a man speaking after a relatively embarrassing performance for one of the biggest clubs in the world. Segura could simply be treading water for new manager Ernesto Valverde after his club was simply worked over in 120 minutes versus its El Clasico rivals.

VIDEO: Asensio, Real Madrid outclass out-of-sorts Barca; PSG trolls?

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This one wasn’t even close, and is going to instantly have many Barcelona fans wondering if the loss of Neymar is going to be too much for Ernesto Valverde to handle.

Real Madrid rode a stunning Marco Asensio strike to a 2-0 first half lead at the Bernabeu on Wednesday en route to a 5-1 aggregate win over Barcelona in the Spanish Super Cup.

It’s Real’s 10th Spanish Super Cup, and first since 2012.

[ MORE: Bacca to Villarreal ]

Karim Benzema also scored in the opening frame, which saw Barca looking out of sorts and rudderless.

As in the first leg in Barcelona, the Blaugranas had their moments but failed to show sharpness and class against the reigning La Liga and UEFA Champions League winners.

Lionel Messi hit the crossbar, Luis Suarez headed off the post. The second half wasn’t producing a magic comeback.

Both teams kick off their La Liga seasons on Sunday, with Barca hosting Real Betis and Real off to Deportivo de la Coruna.

Meanwhile, it seems like PSG spent the afternoon trolling Barca, first posting a shot of ex-Blaugranas stars Dani Alves and Neymar training, and then an incredulous Neymar accompanied by a laughing emoji.

Carlos Bacca joins Villarreal, Boateng leaves Las Palmas

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MADRID (AP) Colombia striker Carlos Bacca joined Spanish club Villarreal on loan from AC Milan on Wednesday.

Villarreal said the one-season loan agreement includes the option to buy the player at the end of the season.

Bacca returns to a Spanish league where the 30-year-old forward flourished in two seasons at Sevilla before joining Milan in 2015.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

Bacca has made 39 appearances for Colombia, scoring 13 goals. According to Villarreal, he has scored 165 career goals in 336 matches. He scored 14 goals for Milan last season.

Elsewhere in Spain, Las Palmas announced that Kevin-Prince Boateng was leaving the club after both sides agreed to end his contract two days before its season opener.

Las Palmas said that Boateng was leaving due to “personal reasons of an irreversible nature.” The club thanked the former AC Milan standout for his “professionalism” that he displayed during his single season on the Canary Islands.

Las Palmas opens the Spanish league season on Friday at Valencia.

Man City has $23 million Evans bid shot down by WBA

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Could Jonny Evans be the latest player to cross Manchester’s red and blue divide, albeit with a stop in between?

Reports Wednesday say West Bromwich Albion has rejected a $23 million Manchester City bid for the Northern Irish center back.

[ MORE: UCL Wednesday wrap ]

$23 million? That’s like 40 percent of a Kyle Walker!

Evans, 29, is the Baggies captain and a key piece of the club’s aims to continue its long stay in the Premier League.

He joined Manchester United’s academy at age 16 and stayed at Old Trafford through 2015, taking loan opportunities at Royal Antwerp and Sunderland on the way.

At United, Evans won three Premier League titles and two League Cups, and also has a Championship win from one of his two stints at Sunderland.

The 61-times capped Belfast native would give City a key component for Premier League play along with a center back corps of Nicolas Otamendi, Vincent Kompany, and John Stones. Eliaquim Mangala completes their veteran depth, and is certainly City’s weakest position.

Would West Brom sell at any reasonable price? The Baggies are not deep at center back, either — not too many clubs are — and will be in a boatload of trouble without Evans. And given the transfer market, finding a proper replacement at under $30 million is going to be difficult (Reread that sentence. What a summer).

It’s another argument for the transfer window closing before the start of the season.