How fitting that of all the big names and massive salaries on Harry Redknapp’s bally-hooed Queens Park Rangers, the man who sent them to the playoff final was wearing a kit with no name and number on the back?
24-year-old Charlie Austin penned a dramatic comeback for QPR with a late-second-half equalizer and the extra time match winner as the club advanced to within 90 minutes of the Premier League with a 2-1 win over Wigan Athletic in the second leg of their Championship playoff semifinal at Loftus Road.
Austin has 19 goals this season for QPR after stints at Burnley, Swindon Town, Poole Town, Hungerford Town and Kintbury Rangers. His story is remarkable, and now his strike rate has sent QPR into a date with Derby County after the Rams cruised past Brighton 6-2 on aggregate.
Former Newcastle United player James Perch scored in the ninth minute to give Wigan a lead that would last into the 73rd minute, when Austin converted a penalty won by Canadian attacker Junior Hollett. Austin struck again in the 96th minute, and that ol’ Wigan magic couldn’t be found.
Derby County and Queens Park Rangers square off on May 24 at Wembley for the right to go back to the Premier League.
LAUSANNE, Switzerland (AP) The Court of Arbitration for Sport has upheld a two-year ban for CSKA Moscow midfielder Roman Eremenko for a positive test for cocaine.
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CAS says the ban imposed by UEFA was “appropriate” and dismissed the Finland international’s appeal.
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The ban will expire on Oct. 5, 2018, when Eremenko will be 31.
Eremenko tested positive after playing in a Champions League game for CSKA Moscow against Bayer Leverkusen last September. The 2-2 result was not affected despite Eremenko scoring CSKA’s second goal.
Born in Moscow, Eremenko grew up in Finland and has represented its national team 73 times.
NEW YORK (AP) Howard Webb says he would have given Dutch midfielder Nigel De Jong a red card in the 2010 World Cup final if a video assistant referee had been in place.
The retired English referee showed De Jong a yellow card in the 28th minute for his karate kick into the chest of Spain’s Xabi Alonso. Hired in March to oversee video technology for professional soccer in the U.S. and Canada, Webb held a media seminar Friday ahead of its Aug. 5 launch in Major League Soccer.
Webb says: “Yes, it was a clear red card. It was a clear and obvious error on my part not to send the player off, and VAR would have been able to recommend a review to me, and I would have been able to make the right call.”
Now 46, Webb was a Premier League referee from 2003-14. He worked the Champions League and World Cup finals in 2010, became director of referees at the Saudi Arabian Football Federation, and started in March as manager of video assistant referee operations for the Professional Referee Organization.
The game in 100 words (or less): Friday night’s effort at Orlando City Stadium wasn’t the prettiest for either side but Atlanta United will gladly take three points from the fixture as the Central Florida venue proved to be a fortress once more. The Lions were far superior in their attacking threats throughout the match, testing USMNT and Atlanta goalkeeper Brad Guzan on multiple occasions. However, it was Hector Villalba that proved to be the difference when he blasted a long-distance effort to beat Joe Bendik in the 86th minute. Atlanta extends its unbeaten streak to four matches with Friday’s decision, keeping Tata Martino’s side in fourth place in the Eastern Conference, while Orlando City moves into fifth.
Three moments that mattered
36′ — Guzan stands tall, denies Rivas — Carlos Rivas thought he scorched this one (and he did…), but Brad Guzan acted like it was nothing as he held his ground to make the stop.
39′ — Spector gets ripped off by Guzan — The U.S. goalkeeper is at it again… What a save!
86′ — Villalba unleashes stunner to propel Atlanta — Sometimes it just takes one good hit as a striker.
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Man of the match: Brad Guzan
Goalscorers: Hector Villalba (86′)
Fresh off of completing a record deal to help bolster the club’s back line this summer, Manchester City is back at it with the Premier League season looming.
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The Citizens are reportedly on the brink of signing Monaco left back Benjamin Mendy to yet another world-record fee — which will total over $67 million.
Confirmation of the deal has yet to be announced by either team, but L’Equipe is reporting that the Citizens are hot on the 23-year-old’s trail in adding to their pricy back four.
Manager Pep Guardiola and Man City have not been shy readjusting their defensive unit over the past year, adding expensive first-team choices John Stones and Kyle Walker.