Manchester United v Sunderland - Premier League

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′)

After fan protests Liverpool’s American owners apologize, halt ticket price hike

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Following thousands of Liverpool fans walking out in protest in the 77th minute of their 2-2 draw with Sunderland at Anfield last weekend, owners Fenway Sports Group have halted plans to increase ticket prices for next season.

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Owner John W. Henry, Chairman Tom Werner and President Mike Gordon have issued a detailed and apologetic open letter to fans of Liverpool, in which they “apologize for the distress caused by our ticket pricing plan for the 2016-17 season” and also confirm prices will be frozen for the next two campaigns.

Henry and FSG stated they felt “troubled by the perception we don’t care about our supporters, that we are greedy, and that we are attempting to extract personal profits at the club’s expense.”

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They pointed to the fact that FSG has put up the $170 million needed to build the new Main Stand at Anfield which will be completed for the 2016-17 season, while they also admit they got parts of the ticket pricing wrong.

Admitting to their mistake has left a warm feeling with most Liverpool fans as their numerous protests over the fact that some tickets would cost £77 ($111) next season were heard loud and clear by the owners.

Here is a link to the letter from FSG in full, while below is a detailed outline of the new pricing policy put in place by the owners under the heading “Message Received.”

It certainly has been.


After an intense period of consultation with LFC management we have decided to make major revisions to our ticketing structure for 2016-17:

  • Removal of game categorisation – regardless of the opposition fans will pay the same price for matchday tickets.
  • The pricing of tickets will be readjusted to result in zero revenue growth from GA ticketing on a like-for-like basis.
  • Though individual ticket prices may move marginally from this season, we are freezing our 2016-17 GA ticket revenue at the 2015-16 level exclusive of newly-added seats in the new Main Stand.
  • The price of our highest general admission ticket will be frozen at the 2015-16 level – £59.
  • The price of our highest season ticket will be frozen at the 2015-16 level – £869. The lowest price reducing a further £25 from the 2015-16 level to £685, as well as all other tiers being frozen or reduced.
  • £9 GA seats will be offered for each and every Premier League match, an allocation of more than 10,000 tickets across the season.

We would hasten to add that the other initiatives announced last week in the 2016-17 plan will remain:

  • 17-21 young adult concession – 20,000 tickets across the Premier League season available at a 50 per cent reduction for young people.

  • 1,000 tickets to Premier League matches across the season will be given away free of charge to Liverpool schoolchildren based on merit, as recommended by their teachers.

Spanish playmaker Bojan signs new long-term contract at Stoke City

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Bojan Krkic will be a Potter for plenty of years to come.

On Thursday Stoke City announced that Bojan, 25, has signed a contract extension keeping him at the Britannia Stadium for another four-and-a-half years.

[ MORE: New-look Stoke to progress

Since arriving from Spanish giants Barcelona at the start of the 2014-15 season the playmaker has been a revelation in the Premier League.

Despite suffering a serious knee injury midway through his debut season in England, Bojan has battled back this campaign and has scored five times in 23 outings for the Potters.

Speaking to the club website, Bojan revealed his delight in signing the contract extension that will see him stay with Stoke until the summer of 2020.

“I am very happy and motivated. Stoke City gave me the opportunity to play in the most competitive league in the world, the Premier League, and I have only words of gratitude for their trust and for the way they have treated me since the first day I arrived to England,” Bojan said. “Mark Hughes convinced me to come to Stoke, he has helped me and showed his trust in me from the beginning, he followed closely the recovery process from my injury and there is no doubt I have signed an extension of my contract thanks to him.”

With Mark Hughes’ side battling for a top six finish, being knocked out agonizingly on penalty kicks by Liverpool in the League Cup semifinal and still in the FA Cup, it’s been another stellar season for Stoke as their progress continues.

Bojan’s presence has been central to attracting top names to join him at Stoke, with the likes of Xherdan Shaqiri, Ibrahim Afellay and Mark Arnautovic all part of a new-look attack which in-turn has provided a much more attractive team to watch on the pitch.

Amid interest from plenty of other teams around the Premier League and Europe, Stoke have kept hold of their main creative hub and fans will be delighted to see the Barca academy product progress with the Potters over an extended period of time.

VIDEO: USWNT’s Press scores stunning goal after amazing spin move

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What a first touch.

The U.S. women’s national team beat Costa Rica 5-0 in the opening game of their CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying campaign on Wednesday and USWNT forward Christen Press scored the pick of the bunch after she teed herself up with a superb first touch.

[ MORE: NBC to stream every Olympic qualifier

Click play on the video above to watch the World Cup winner control the ball with a deft outside-of-the-foot touch before spinning and striking home in a mesmerizing movement.

Majestic.

Press and the USWNT face Mexico on Saturday in their second Group A game (Watch live, 9:30 p.m. ET on NBCSN and online via Live Extra).

On the up, off the pitch: Manchester United’s revenue continues to rise

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Manchester United have announced that revenue levels for the three months leading up to December 31 rose by 26.6 percent.

The Red Devils released the figures on Thursday which show revenue of $192.4 million, with commercial revenue up a massive 42.5 percent but matchday revenue was down 1.6 percent.

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The overall profit for the quarter was $26.7 million and over that period club debt fell by 6 percent but still stands at an eye-watering $463.6 million. That said, in a recent review of the finances of the top clubs on the planet Deloitte believes United will top the rich-list next season.

Despite Louis Van Gaal‘s future being questioned, United being knocked out of the UEFA Champions League at the group stage in December and being six points off the top four with just 13 games of the current Premier League season to go, the strength of their results off the pitch continue to show just how successful a business they’ve become.

Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward told investors that: “Our solid results off the pitch help contribute to what remains our number one priority – success on the pitch.”

Woodward has also vowed to continue United’s “strong commitment to investing in our squad, youth academy.”

[ MORE: Report – Mourinho tells friend he will take over at United

Van Gaal, 64, will need a strong finish to the season on the pitch to help United to success and in turn improve those financial figures for next season. Failure to finish in the PL’s top four and qualify for the UCL will substantially impact United’s financial results next season, and the pressure remains on him and his players to claw back the deficit.

With speculation mounting that Jose Mourinho could be appointed as United’s new boss there also seems to be a surplus of cash which Rob Harris from the Associated Press speculates could be used for a new manager…