Fulham 2-2 Crystal Palace: Youngsters provide Whites glimpse of hope for Championship

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Dwight Gayle picked up a brace for Crystal Palace but relegated Fulham received a glimmer of hope as a worldly goal from young Chris David in stoppage time earned the Cottagers a point before heading down.

A 13-year Premier League run comes to an end at Craven Cottage, but the Championship will see plenty of David and fellow goalscorer Cauley Woodrow as they look to work their way back up.

The visitors, on the other hand, get a point to complete a remarkable turnaround under Tony Pulis, finishing in 11th position after being in the relegation zone for much of the season’s first half.

Crystal Palace began quickly, but the first chance of the match fell to Fulham against the run of play in the sixth minute when Alex Kacaniklic lashed at goal powerfully off a corner but Wayne Hennessey saved well.

They had another on 15 minutes when young Cauley Woodrow had a go, another powerful effort looking to clean up a mess, but it was expertly blocked by David Delaney.

The chances got Fulham stuck in, and they began to steal more of the possession and pegged Palace back.

Unfortunately, the home side were forced into an early change, as an earlier yellow-card challenge from Marouane Chamakh forced Kacaniklic off with an injury in just the 23rd minute, replaced by youngster Chris David.

They continued to press, and Hugo Rodallega had a close effort saved just before the half-hour mark as Fulham saw up to 70% of possession.

Palace had a chance on a break, as Gayle slotted in Yannick Bolaise but David Stockdale made an expert one-on-one save.

But Gayle would make good moments later off the corner, as a shot from Joel Ward powered in and found the foot of an onsides Gayle who tapped past Stockdale for the lead.

Fulham continued to come close on the other end, when Fernando Amorebieta’s header came in just before the break but they couldn’t equalize with Hennessey in fine form and walling off the chance.

After the halftime break, Fulham continued to search for a goal.  Felix Magath brought on super-sub Ashkan Dejagah, and they came desperately close to scoring soon after as Hugo Rodallega clipped the post and out in the 54th minute.  More pressure a minute later ended with Chris David skying over.

The pressure eventually got to Palace, as Fulham found their equalizer. With Hugo Rodallega on the ball in the box but with his back to the goal and no immediate options, he found Woodrow in space at a tight angle, and he finished into the far corner.

It’s a nice bit of promise for Fulham going forward into the Championship, as they will likely get a heavy dose of the 19-year-old up front next year.

As the home side pressed for a winner, they shouted for a penalty on twenty minutes to go but referee Kevin Friend waved off Chris David and replays showed he should have been booked for a shockingly embarrassing dive.

In the 83rd minute, with both sides poking and prodding at the other for a winner, Scott Parker committed a silly foul with Palace flooding towards the box. Dwight Gayle took the free kick, and he produced a howitzer through the wall and past Stockdale for the winner.

Gayle nearly had himself an accidental hat-trick as time ticked town, as a shot from Murray clattered the bar, and the powerful ricochet smacked Gayle at close range, but the unintended attempt went just wide with Stockdale on the ground.

LINEUPS:

Fulham – Stockdale; Zverotic (Dejagah 50′), Heitinga, Hangeland, Amorebieta; Kacaniklic (David 23′), Parker, Sidwell, Richardson (Tunnicliffe 79′); Woodrow, Rodallega.

Goals – Woodrow 61′, David 90+3′

Crystal Palace – Hennessey; Mariappa, Dann, Delaney, Ward; Bolasie, Jedinak (Dikgacoi 59′), Ledley, Ince (Puncheon 72′); Chamakh (Murray 74′), Gayle.

Goals – Gayle 28′, 84′

Serie A: Juve keep winning to remain 1 point back of Napoli

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TURIN, Italy (AP) Juventus closed the gap on Serie A leader Napoli back to just one point as the six-time defending champion eased past Genoa 1-0 on Monday.

Douglas Costa scored in the 16th minute, the first conceded by Genoa in five league matches. It was a less than convincing performance from Juventus but it was never really troubled, as goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny – standing in for the still-injured Gianluigi Buffon – was little more than a spectator.

“What was important was to win,” Juventus coach Massimiliano Allegri said. “At the end there was a bit of nervousness because we were lacking in energy a bit.

“We could have finished off the match in the first half, and again with a couple of occasions after the break. We didn’t manage to so compliments to Genoa.”

The battle for the Serie A title is shaping into a two-horse race. Juventus moved 10 points clear of third-placed Lazio, although the capital side has a match in hand.

“The season is still long and all those who are behind us can still get back into the race,” Allegri said. “It was important to stay in Napoli’s slipstream.”

Juventus needed to win after Napoli beat Atalanta 1-0 on Sunday.

Allegri’s side started brightly and had an early chance to take the lead but Genoa goalkeeper Mattia Perin did well to keep out a free kick from specialist Miralem Panic.

However, it did not take much longer to strike. Douglas Costa passed out left to Mario Mandzukic, who played a delightful return ball for the Brazil midfielder to slot into the bottom left corner.

League Cup semi: Man City take 2-1 lead into 2nd leg vs. Bristol

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Manchester City can move one step closer on Tuesday to claiming their first of four potential trophies this season, when Pep Guardiola‘s men take on Bristol City in the second leg of the League Cup semifinal.

[ MORE: Monday’s transfer rumor roundup | Sunday | Friday ]

After coming back to beat the Robins in the first leg at home, Man City must now go on the road and take care of business to reach the Feb. 25 final at Wembley Stadium. As he has done so many times — and so famously — in the sky blue of City, Sergio Aguero grabbed the late winner (91st minute — WATCH HERE) 14 days ago.

For a few not-so-insignificant periods of the game, Bristol were very much the aggressors and appeared more likely to make the score 2-0 than for City to get back to 1-1. Bobby Reid converted from the penalty spot in the 44th minute after her was brought down under John Stones‘ wild, sliding tackle. Kevin De Bruyne leveled things up 10 minutes into the second half, setting the stage for Aguero’s late heroics.

[ MORE: Alexis-for-Mkhi swap complete | De Bruyne’s new contract ]

Since the first leg on Jan. 9, City have failed in their bid to finish the PL season with an unbeaten record before bouncing back to beat Newcastle United on the weekend, courtesy of a hat trick from Aguero — Guardiola quotes, from Sport24:

“I said many times it was going to happen, we can lose, so (it is) important the reaction we have. Still we have 42 points to play (for). It is 14 games. It is a lot of games to play and difficult games like Saturday and like Liverpool. It is important to show the team is still there but I don’t have the feeling we give up.

“We want to go through to the final in the (League) Cup and the FA Cup, so (we have) a lot of games but I think the people have the desire to keep going, to keep going, to keep going.”

[ MORE: One dream January signing for each top-six side ]

Bristol, meanwhile, have fallen on hard times: it’s been nearly a month (Boxing Day, to be specific — five losses, one draw) since Lee Johnson’s side last won a game in any competition, and they’ve fallen from second to fifth in the Championship table — Johnson quotes, from the Guardian:

“We don’t want to be brave losers, we want to compete to win. It’s up to the players to be focused and tactically aware, and who knows what will happen if we can show the same quality as we have shown in the previous rounds?

“We have to make sure we’re really bold. If you’re going to deliver a corner, do it like you mean it. I’d rather fail bold than fail timid. We know we have to score. I hope Pep picks his absolute best team and we can give them a right go. I’m not sure you could go and play an under-23 side against us at the moment and I think he’ll know that.”

The winner of Arsenal versus Chelsea (0-0 after the first leg) awaits in the final.

The 2 Robbies: Alexis-Mkhitaryan Swap Becomes Reality

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Robbie Earle and Robbie Mustoe react to the Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap deal between Arsenal and Manchester United finally becoming reality (0:20), Swansea’s stunning 1-0 victory over Liverpool (9:20), Southampton’s much-needed draw with Spurs (22:30) and Watford’s decision to part ways with Marco Silva (36:20). The gents end the show sharing their memories of the late English striker, Cyrille Regis (39:45).

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.

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Inter Milan sign Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan

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MILAN (AP) Inter Milan completed the signing of Barcelona midfielder Rafinha on loan until the end of the season, with a view to a permanent move.

Inter can sign the Brazil international permanently for $43 million plus $3.7 million in bonuses, and said on Monday that option “must be taken up before the end of the season.”

Rafinha, who was born in Sao Paulo, had been at Barcelona since 2006, when he joined its youth team. He spent the 2013-14 season on loan at Celta Vigo.

After nine months out after surgery on his right knee, he made his first appearance of the season last week as a late substitute in Barcelona’s Copa del Rey defeat at Espanyol.

“It’s an important stage in my life,” he said, “and I had a lot of desire to approach this new phase in my career.”

Inter has slipped to fourth in Serie A, 11 points behind leader Napoli.

It could slip out of the Champions League places if Roma wins its match in hand on Wednesday.

“I hope to play in as many matches as possible and help the team to reach our objective which is Champions League qualification,” Rafinha said.