Manchester United 0-1 Sunderland: Giggs’ honeymoon over (video)

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Sunderland stunned Manchester United on Saturday, as the Black Cats left Old Trafford with a 1-0 win all but securing their status as Premier League team next season.

Man United pressed hard early on but Sunderland took the lead after 30 minutes as Sebastian Larsson finished off Connor Wickham’s cross superbly and the Red Devils never recovered. In the second half United pressed for the equalizer as Nemanja Vidic was twice denied as Sunderland’s defense held on for a huge victory.

With their win the Black Cats relegated Fulham and Cardiff City and they now sit three points above the drop zone and they have two games to go. Sunderland’s safety will be secured if Norwich lose to Chelsea on Sunday… baring an improbable swing in goal differential. As for United, Ryan Giggs’ second game in charge resulted in defeat as his men never really got going and remain in seventh spot in the standings.

MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Man United dominated the early proceedings as Juan Mata buzzed around Sunderland’s defense. The closest United came to opening the scoring was when Michael Carrick whipped in a cross from the right and former Untied defender John O’Shea almost shanked the ball into his own net. Soon after Patrice Evra rose highest to head towards goal after some poor Sunderland marking as the Black Cats started slowly.

However as the first half wore on United failed to make their superior possession count and on the half hour mark Sunderland went ahead. Reigning Premier League Player of the Month Wickham ran down the right win and clipped in a pinpoint cross to Larsson, with the Swedish international cushioning a fine volley into the far corner to put the Black Cats 1-0 up.

Old Trafford was stunned as a Moyes-esque performance was playing out for interim boss Giggs with the Red Devils. United continued to have all the play but they just couldn’t engineer any clear-cut chances as Mata smashed a shot on goal just before the interval but Vito Mannone got down well to save.

After the break United continued to have all the play and Vidic really should have done better in the 51st minute but the central defender headed wide from six-yards out, as the Serbian complained about having his shirt held. Soon after a cross from the left saw Mannone flap at it and Vidic almost got in to score at the back post but Sunderland cleared.

Sunderland continued to defend resolutely as plenty of crosses flung into the box and Vidic again was thwarted by a combination of Mannone and Mackems defenders on the line. Manchester United were pushing hard but Sunderland almost sealed the win on the break as U.S. international Jozy Altidore pulled the ball back to Giaccherini but he hit the post and United cleared. Then Danny Welbeck got the ball on the edge of the box but smashed over before Fabio Borini curled an effort against the woodwork as Sunderland came even closer to a second goal.

In the end they held onto their 1-0 advantage to all but secure their PL status.

LINEUPS

Manchester United: De Gea, Jones, Ferdinand, Vidic, Evra, Nani (Januzaj, 51′), Carrick, Fletcher, Young (Welbeck, 67′), Mata (Van Persie, 66′), Hernandez

Sunderland: Mannone, Vergini, Alonso, Brown, O’Shea, Cattermole, Larsson (Bridcutt, 74′), Colback, Johnson (Giaccherini , 58′), Borini, Wickham (Altidore, 65′)

Goal: Larsson (30′)

Liga MX wrap: Pachuca earns first win, Leon stays unbeaten

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All of Saturday’s action from around Mexico’s top flight…

Pachuca 3-1 Lobos BUAP

A strong first-half push from the hosts was all Pachuca needed on Saturday night to earn their first victory of the 2018 Clausura season. Angel Sagal brought the home side in front after just 10 minutes off of a near-post header, before Pachuca’s lead soon doubled 14 minutes later from the penalty spot when strike Franco Jara converted on the dead-ball attempt.

Just prior to halftime, Pachuca was out to a 3-0 advantage when 20-year-old outside back Erick Aguirre tallied his first goal for the club.

Last-place side Lobos got on the board three minutes into the second stanza via a finish from Heriberto Olvera, however, it wasn’t enough to provide anything more than a consolation for the visiting side.

Necaxa 1-3 Chivas Guadalajara

Mexican international Alan Pulido made it a dream start for the visitors from Guadalajara at the Estadio Victoria, however, that lead was cancelled out in first-half stoppage time after Carlos Gonzalez leveled the match up at 1-1.

The difference proved to be with 25 minutes left to play, when a goalkeeping error by Marcelo Barovero allowed Chivas to regain possession inside the Necaxa penalty area, before Ronaldo Cisneros tapped home the winner.

Then, a third goal came just prior to the end of regulation when Edwin Hernandez killed the game off for Matias Almeyda’s men, who also earned their first victory of the Clausura season.

Rest of Saturday’s Liga MX action

Cruz Azul 0-0 Club Leon
Queretaro 0-0 Tigres UANL
Monterrey 0-0 Club Tijuana

Sunday’s matches

UNAM vs. Club America — 1 p.m. ET
Santos Laguna vs. Morelia — 7 p.m. ET

The 2 Robbies: Alexis/Mkhitaryan transfer saga and more

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Robbie Mustoe and Robbie Earle recap all the key stories from the latest Premier League Saturday fixtures including Manchester City’s 3-1 win over Newcastle (0:20), Chelsea’s 4-0 victory at Brighton (10:15) and the latest on the Alexis Sanchez/Henrikh Mkhitaryan saga after wins for Arsenal and Manchester United (19:00). Plus, a closer look at the bottom of the table and thoughts go out to James McCarthy after his serious injury against West Brom (29:00).

Join Earle & Mustoe on The 2 Robbies Football Show, Saturdays at 5pm ET. Listen on the NBCSports Radio App and call 855-323-4622 in the U.S. for lively passionate debate.

All of the The 2 Robbies content can be accessed by clicking on this link:

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Follow them on Twitter @The2Robbies

Video: Stoke’s Imbula scores stunner on loan at Toulouse

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Stoke City supporters know the name Giannelli Imbula, and perhaps they’ll be clamoring for the Frenchman to return to the bet365 Stadium if he can score more goals like this.

[ MORE: PL Roundup — Top three all victorious; Gunners thrash Palace ]

The holding midfielder is currently on loan with Ligue 1 outfit Toulouse, and for the first time this season, Imbula opened his goalscoring account in some fashion.

Right on half-hour mark, Imbula unleashed a left-footed strike from nearly 40 yards out to give Toulouse the lead over Montpellier (below).

Imbula joined Stoke during the 2015/16 PL season, and has made 26 appearances for the Potters in his time with the club, prior to his loan to France.

Willian proves he’s Chelsea’s x-factor against Brighton

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There’s a considerable difference when watching a Chelsea team that plays with and without one of its Brazilian influences in the attacking part of the field.

Willian — who first debuted for the Blues back in 2013 — hasn’t always managed to be a regular starter for Chelsea, whether it was Jose Mourinho, Guus Hiddink or current manager Antonio Conte at the helm, though.

[ SOURCES: Jack Harrison expected to join Stoke City this winter ]

The 29-year-old plays with considerable flair, something that certainly isn’t uncommon amongst many players that have grown up in Brazil.

At times Willian’s overconfidence is a significant blessing, and at others it can be considered a curse, however, the former Corinthians player’s presence is something that Chelsea needs now more than ever.

That was on display on Saturday during the side’s 4-0 win at Brighton, a match in which Chelsea dominated from start to finish with Willian on the pitch. While the performance cannot solely be attributed to the attacking midfielder’s showing, it’s easy to argue that the Blues midfielder is becoming the club’s biggest x factor — one that can determine the outcome of a match.

Just look six minutes into the match, when the Blues put together one of the best team goals you’ll see in a match this year (or any year for that matter), which of course, was started and finished by none other than Willian.

What stands out about the play isn’t the brilliant slicing shot into the near post corner by the veteran playmaker, but instead the confidence that Willian exudes and brings to a Chelsea lineup that has plenty of talent to be considered one of the best teams in England and all of Europe.

After all, Conte’s group is just a season removed from winning the Premier League and still sits inside the top three in the world’s top league.

Then, there’s the Blues’ third goal against Brighton, which was set up by a smart, and instinctive, through ball played into the path of Eden Hazard by Willian (below).

Even though Hazard ends up with a ton of time on the ball to make his next decision, which was ultimately to cut inside on his preferred right foot, the run by Willian towards the end line dragged a defender away from the Belgian international — allowing the sequence to progress.

Arguing Willian’s importance isn’t a knock on Hazard — a world-class player in his own right — or Alvaro Morata, who has had the intolerable task of replacing a key player like Diego Costa.

Instead, it simply shows that Chelsea has a plethora of talent, and that some of the club’s attacking struggles throughout the 2017/18 season can be chalked up to Willian being left out of the starting XI on a regular basis.

[ MORE: Sergio Aguero continues to display brilliance for Man City ]

The Brazilian international has scored eight goals and added seven assists this season in all competitions for the Blues, despite only starting 19 matches.

The mind of manager Conte is an ever-changing one, so maybe Willian still doesn’t get the starting nod on an every week basis, but just by watching the team’s performance at the Amex Stadium it’s quite hard to argue against the player being on the field as much as possible.