FC Dallas' Tesho Akindele, front left, goes up for a header with Colorado Rapids' Drew Moor, top, and Jose Mari in front of the Rapids goal. (Photo: AP)

MLS Snapshot: FC Dallas 3-2 Colorado Rapids

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[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NKBl5ZQN5ek]

One game, 100 words or less: A prolonged slump in the wake of Mauro Díaz’s injury finally came to an end thanks to two deflected shots and some rare finishing savvy from Fabian Castillo.

Winless in eight going into the match, FC Dallas saw Colorado’s keeper look helpless on a an Andrés Escobar deflection (33′) and a blast from Zach Loyd (45′), allowing the home side to take a 2-1 lead into halftime. With an early second half goal from José Mari, Colorado was back even, but after a left-footed blast that finished his one-man counter, Castillo gave Dallas its first win since April 20.

Three moments that mattered:

1. 33′ – Escobar’s deflection throws off Irwin – The three-goal night gives the impression that FC Dallas came to life, but the team only put three shots on target, two off which needed help to beat Clint Irwin. The first of those tries came in the 33rd minute, when a Jair Benítez restart from well outside the penalty area clipped Escobar. A ball headed toward the right side of goal suddenly changed direction, leaving Irwin helpless to prevent Dallas’s equalizer.

2. 46′ – Matt Hedges follows Walker Zimmerman – When FC Dallas’s best defender didn’t come out for the second half, head coach Óscar Pareja lost his second center back of the day. With Zimmerman already subbed out, Hedges’s loss looked like a debilitating blow. Yet instead of Deshorn Brown building on his opening goal, Colorado’s only score over the last 45 minutes was a corner converted by Mari. Led by Stephen Keel, the replacements held up.

source: AP
FC Dallas’ Tesho Akindele, front left, goes up for a header with Colorado Rapids’ Drew Moor, top, and Jose Mari in front of the Rapids goal. (Photo: AP)

3. 62′ – Castillo puts it all together – Castillo is always one of Dallas’s most influential players, but the chances he created with his unmatched speed rarely see that quality duplicated near goal. Against Colorado, however, a turnover over just inside Dallas’s attacking half turned into a chance to flash his potential. Beating two players after picking up the ball 45 yards out, Castillo beat Irwin with a shot rifled into the right of goal, giving Dallas three points and fans another glimpse of his tantalizing talent.

Three lessons going forward:

1. Deshorn Brown is living up to clichés – You don’t want to succumb into unfounded cliché, but Brown’s opening score looked like a confidence goal. On a bouncing ball near the edge of the six-yard box, the Jamaican international arced a teardrop over Raul Fernández and into goal, showing the ease of a player who knows, conversion or not, more goals will come. Scoring three times in his last two starts, Brown is not up to five on the season.

2. Change can be good – Through most of the spring, Colorado and Dallas were locked into set formations despite hints they should change. Colorado had become far too conservative with its diamond midfield, while Dallas had lost the playmaker it needed to play its 4-2-3-1.

On Saturday, however, both teams showed different looks. Colorado, having moved away from its diamond some time ago, has finally reverted to the 4-2-3-1 that was so successful last season. Across the field, Dallas played a 4-4-2 that didn’t try to shoehorn a midfielder into a playmaker’s role.

Using a set up that suits your personnel. Who knew?

3. The slump may not over yet – FC Dallas ended its eight-match slide, but the keys to the victory should caution fans against thinking a corner’s been turned. Deflections are not a reliable plan for production, and through four years of his Major League Soccer career, Castillo’s been unreliable around goal. Over 90 minutes on Saturday, those factors produced three points, but they also need to be a stepping stone to a more reliable solution.

Where that leaves them:

  • FC Dallas: 6-7-3, currently fifth in the Western Conference
  • Colorado: 6-5-4, third in the West, 10 points back of first place Seattle

Electricity restored at Maracana after some late bills paid

This Feb. 2, 2017 shows Maracana stadium with a dry field in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Stadium operators, the Rio state government, and Olympic organizers have fought over $1 million in unpaid electricity bills and management of the venue. (AP Photo/Silvia Izquierdo)
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RIO DE JANEIRO (AP) — Rio’s electricity utility has turned the power back on at the famous Maracana stadium after it was shut off for almost a month in a dispute over $1 million in unpaid bills.

The utility on Thursday said power had been restored after the stadium operator paid 1.3 million reals ($430,000) in late bills from November through January. It was shut off on Jan. 26 in the dispute.

The utility said it is still negotiating for 1.8 million reals ($600,000) in unpaid bills from the organizing committee of last year’s Rio Olympics. Rio 2016 organizers still owe millions to companies which helped prepare the Olympics and Paralympics

The stadium has been vandalized over the last month with seats torn out, televisions stolen and the grass field left untended.

VIDEO: FC Dallas youngster Kellyn Acosta unleashes howitzer goal

Arabe Unido goalkeeper Miguel lloyd (1) reaches up to block a shot from FC Dallas as defender Rigoberto Nino (2) and FC Dallas' Kellyn Acosta (23) watch in the first half of a CONCACAF Champions League quarterfinals soccer match, Thursday, Feb. 23, 2017 in Frisco, Texas (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)
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With FC Dallas taking on Panamanian club Aribe Unido in the quarterfinals of the CONCACAF Champions League, 21-year-old Kellyn Acosta grabbed a second for the Major League Soccer club 10 minutes past halftime.

It wasn’t just any old goal. It was a STRIKE.

The Texas native trailed the play, and with Roland Lamah shut off in the box by solid man-marking on the ball, Acosta was there to provide an outlet, and he blasted a vicious strike into the top-left corner. The find by Lamah was a smart one with a host of defenders closing in, and his calm demeanor was rewarded as his teammate launched a rocket into the back of the net.

The goal is a fodder for those who believe Acosta, who has played full-back for much of his career, should be a midfielder instead. His positioning and ability to trail the play with deadly accuracy is what makes this goal so special.

Acosta would bag a third in the dying minutes of the game, giving FC Dallas a 3-0 lead to take on the road as they travel to Panama for the second leg on March 1st.

Top Premier League Storylines – Week 26

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 08:  Claudio Ranieri, manager of Leicester City speaks with his players during the break in extra-time in the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round replay match between Leicester City and Derby City at The King Power Stadium on February 8, 2017 in Leicester, England.  (Photo by Matthew Lewis/Getty Images)
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Well. This weekend’s return of Premier League action was already slated to be an exciting one, but now with today’s enormous bit of breaking news, it has become even more intriguing.

[ WATCH: Previewing every match in Week 26 ]

There’s plenty to discuss at the top of the Premier League table, as Arsenal and Spurs look to heal their European wounds, but it’s what’s at the bottom that has everyone talking today.

How will Leicester City react after the firing of Claudio Ranieri?

Leicester City vs. Liverpool —  3:00 p.m. EDT Monday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Well. The Foxes had their work cut out for them coming into this match already, but now it has a whole new flavor. Claudio Ranieri has been dismissed just nine months after winning the Premier League title, and sitting just a point off the drop coming into the weekend (and inside the relegation zone coming into the match?) Leicester City will be lead into King Power Stadium by Assistant Manager Craig Shakespeare and First Team Coach Mike Stowell.

Liverpool stopped a five-match winless streak last time out with a quality 2-0 win over Tottenham, but the Reds defense has been leaky all season, and if Leicester is to break its horrid 610-minute goalless streak, it would be here. The Foxes are without a win in five and have not scored a Premier League goal in all of the 2017 calendar year. Can they respond and begin to play for themselves rather than their former manager?

Can Dele Alli and Tottenham bounce back?

Tottenham Hotspur vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. EDT Sunday on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs looked like they had rediscovered their Champions League form with a comprehensive smothering of Championship side Fulham in the FA Cup. Then, they welcomed KAA Gent to Wembley and promptly lost their heads. Dele Alli was sent off for one of the worst challenges you’ll see, and Spurs were vulnerable as a result, crashing out of the Europa League.

Now, Mauricio Pochettino must regroup the squad and get them ready to host Stoke, a team they clobbered 4-0 in the third match of the season. The squad is still healthy, and the loss of European play may actually help them in the long run. Here, however, it provides them with negative form and a short prep time. They need this one badly to solidify a top four place moving forward, can Poch turn it around?

Can Sunderland get a result against surging Everton?

Everton vs. Sunderland — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Hull City hosts Burnley. Crystal Palace welcomes Middlesbrough. With those two fellow occupants of the relegation zone playing at home against lower-half sides, the spotlight is squarely on Sunderland. The Black Cats have a tough matchup, on the road at Everton.

The Toffees haven’t lost a Premier League match since falling to Liverpool in mid-December, and have scored 19 goals in the eight matches since that blemish. With that in mind, Sunderland must get some kind of a result to pull off the bottom of the Premier League table. Can they snatch points at Goodison Park?

EFL Cup final could leave Chelsea well out in front

Chelsea vs. Swansea City — 10:00 a.m. EDT Saturday on NBCSports.com

Chelsea is already eight points ahead of the pack and looks to be the clear favorite to win the Premier League title. It could get even clearer after this week. Manchester United is off, Manchester City is off, and Arsenal is off. Couple that with Tottenham struggling and Liverpool facing a desperate Leicester City side, and it’s entirely conceivable that a win for Chelsea over Swansea City could leave the Blues as far as 11 points clear at the top of the table, albeit a game ahead of some. That would all but wrap things up, wouldn’t it?

Mario Balotelli handed 2-match ban for abusing referee

FILE- In this Thursday, Nov. 3, 2016 file photo, Nice's forward Mario Balotelli, of Italy, reacts during the Europa League group I soccer match between OGC Nice and FC Salzburg, in Nice stadium, southeastern France. Nice striker Mario Balotelli’s teammate Alassane Pleas has confirmed he heard Bastia supporters racially abusing Balotelli with monkey chants during the league match on Friday, Jan. 20, 2017. (AP Photo/Claude Paris, File)
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After being sent off for referee abuse in last weekend’s Ligue 1 win over FC Lorient, Nice striker Mario Balotelli has been handed a two-match ban.

Balotelli earned his second red card of the season in the 69th minute of a 1-0 win that kept Nice within striking distance of the leaders Monaco. It was his second straight red and third sending-off of the season, having already been dismissed in reverse fixture against Lorient after a pair of yellows in the final three minutes of the game.

After the mercurial Italian’s hot start to the season, he has just one goal in the last two months, the third in a 3-1 win over Guingamp. He has not scored a point-winning goal since bagging both in a 2-1 win over Dijon back on December 18th.

Balotelli’s agent, the well-known Mino Raiola, was so frustrated with his client’s continual dismissal problems that he told French media conglomerate RMC Sport that the solution to Balotelli’s problems is to “cut out his tongue.”

“I have already found the solution: you have to cut out his tongue,” Raiola said bluntly. “To play soccer, there is no need for language! In all seriousness, he knows he made a big mistake and he has no excuse. He knows he needs to improve that. He is very sad for him, for the team.”

The suspension leaves Balotelli on the sidelines for tomorrow’s match against 11th placed Montpellier and then on March 4th at 17th placed Dijon. Nice sits in third, level on points with 2nd placed PSG and three back of leaders Monaco.