MLS Snapshot: Montréal Impact 2-4 D.C. United

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

One game, 100 words (or less): Montréal and D.C. United came into tonight’s game averaging a combined 2.2 goals per game, but by the 21st minute at Stade Saputo, they’d already raced past that mark on their way to a six-goal half. Unfortunately for the hosts, an injury time penalty converted by Luis Silva completed the attacker’s first half hat trick, sending D.C. into intermission up, 4-2.

Montréal’s own chance from the spot gave the hosts a chance to half the lead in the 76th minute, but when Patrice Bernier nailed the post, D.C. was on its way to the top of the Eastern Conference.

Three moments that mattered

1. 33′ – Fabián Espíndola stays on – This year, we’ve mostly seen good Fabián Espíndola, a trend that continued as the Argentine collected three assists over Wednesday’s first 39 minutes. Six minutes before he set up Silva’s second, however, Espíndola could have been sent off after raking his studs across Felipe Martins’ left Achilles, a foul made worse for the fact the ball was dead at the time.

Apparently paying the Montréal midfielder back for a foul just after kickoff, Espíndola would have left his team with 10 men had the officials caught the retribution. Since the cameras, meaning D.C.’s leading scoring will likely draw a suspension.

2. 45+3′ – Luis Silva competes his hat trick – The Impact looked like they would make it to halftime down one before a spurt of D.C. activity left them pinned in their defensive third. That activity paid off in the third minute of stoppage time when an Espíndola restart from deep on United’s left led to a foul by Hassoun Camara, giving the visitors a chance to double their lead from the spot. When Silva put his third of the half into the left side of goal, Montréal went into halftime needing more than the next goal.  Down two, they now needed to change things up.

source: Getty Images
Patrice Bernier’s chance to bring Montréal back into Wednesday’s match went off the left post, condemning the Impact to a 4-2 loss. (Photo: Getty Images)

3. 76′  – Bernier misses from the spot – The handball call against Davy Arnaud was harsh, but when your hand’s above the ball an opponent controls, it’s pretty easy for an official to conclude it should have been somewhere else. The resulting attempt, however, produced a ball don’t lie moment that sided with Arnaud. Missing against the left post, Patrice Bernier was unable to reduce D.C.’s lead to one.

Three lessons going forward

1. So about these defenses – During the first half, they played like sixth graders the day before summer break. That make for an entertaining game, but neither coach will be happy with what he saw. The World Cup break was not supposed to start this soon.

2. Good Fabi; Bad Fabi – Espíndola has been D.C.’s best player this season, but with that performance comes responsibility. For example, what is D.C. supposed to do when their leading scorer is suspended for the team’s next game, especially if Eddie Johnson is still out? Conor Doyle will likely partner Silva in attack, but that’s still a downgrade that could have been avoided. It should go without saying, but I suppose it doesn’t: Don’t rake your studs down a guy’s Achilles … ever.

3. Does Luis Silva need to be in the starting lineup – Perhaps, but tonight’s hat trick shouldn’t future that claim so much. One goal came from a penalty kick he had no part in earning. Another was a blast from distance that Heath Pearce may still be backpedaling away from.

This first goal, though? If that’s what we can expect from more Espíndola and Silva, then head coach Ben Olsen may want to consider a switch. At least, it gives him an option if Johnson’s production doesn’t pick up.

Where that leaves them

  • Montréal is still in last place in the East with only 10 points in 15 games.
  • D.C. United is in first place. No, seriously:

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LIVE: Real Madrid host Barcelona in El Clasico

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Let’s go.

Real Madrid host Barcelona at 2:45 p.m. ET on Sunday in the final installment of El Clasico this season in La Liga.

[ LIVE: Follow El Clasico, here ] 

With Barca three points behind their bitter rivals who top the La Liga standings and also have a game in hand with six weeks to go, nothing but a win will do for Luis Enrqiue’s men.

All of the talk before this game has been about the absence of Neymar as Barca have decided to not put the Brazilian forward in their squad after they appealed his three-game ban but have yet to hear back on his suspension.

Aside from that bizarre situation, it’s been a mixed week for the Spanish giants in the UEFA Champions League.

Barca were knocked out by Juventus at the quarterfinal stage, while Real Madrid got by Bayern Munich in an exhausting clash at the Santiago Bernabeu which required extra time to set up a semifinal tie against Atletico Madrid.

The stars will come out to play as Lionel Messi, Luis Suarez, Cristiano Ronaldo, Gareth Bale and Karim Benzema will collide.

Liverpool 1-2 Crystal Palace: Benteke haunts Klopp

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  • Palace win third-straight at Anfield
  • Christian Benteke scores twice
  • Liverpool slip up in top four race
  • Eagles 7 points above drop zone

Crystal Palace stunned Liverpool at Anfield once again on Sunday as the Eagles fought back from 1-0 down to win 2-1 and added to their recent impressive wins against Arsenal and Chelsea.

Phillipe Coutinho gave Liverpool the lead with a stunning free kick but just before half time Christian Benteke made it 1-1 and then the former Liverpool striker headed home in the second half to give Palace a precious three points.

With the win the Eagles are on 38 points and move up to 12th place as they surge away from the relegation zone, while Liverpool remain on 66 points and can feel Manchester City and Manchester United breathing down their neck in the race for the top four.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays

Liverpool started the game well but found it tough to break down a stubborn Palace defense and the Eagles always looked dangerous on the break.

One of their breaks saw the ball drop to Benteke but the former Liverpool dragged his effort wide of the post after beating two players.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings

Coutinho soon had Liverpool ahead as the Brazilian magician curled home a stunning free kick for his 10th Premier League goal of the season. 1-0 to the Reds.

Just before half time Palace were level as sloppy defending let in Yohan Cabaye and his perfect cross was tapped home by Benteke against his former club. 1-1. Benteke had another shot on target before half time but Simon Mignolet saved as Palace were buoyed by their equalizer.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ] 

In the second half Coutinho danced free on the edge of the box but smashed an effort way over as Palace sat in deep and frustrated Liverpool’s attack.

Palace threatened at the other end from set pieces and Benteke caused mayhem in the 71st minute but Cabaye smashed an effort over the bar with the goal gaping.

Moments later Benteke put Palace ahead as Andros Townsend‘s corner from the right missed everyone and the Belgian nodded home his second goal of the game. 2-1 to the Eagles.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score

Late on Liverpool pushed hard for the equalizer but Palace held on for their third-straight win at Anfield and all but secured their Premier League status for another season.

Arsenal 2-1 Man City: Gunners reach FA Cup final

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Arsenal beat Manchester City 2-1 after extra time at Wembley on Sunday as Arsene Wenger got the better of Pep Guardiola to set up an FA Cup final against Chelsea.

Sergio Aguero put City ahead in the second half but Nacho Monreal equalized in normal time and then Alexis Sanchez scored the winning goal in extra time to seal the Gunners spot in the FA Cup final on May 27 at Wembley.

It will be an all-London affair in the FA Cup final and it could perhaps be Wenger’s final game in charge.

[ MORE: Full FA Cup schedule ] 

Aguero went close early but made a mess of a patient build up play and David Silva‘s header was pushed over by Petr Cech, while Arsenal had the ball in the net at the other end but Laurent Koscielny was offside as he flicked the ball past Claudio Bravo.

City were forced into an early change as Silva limped off after a collision and Raheem Sterling came on and soon after Aguero went down in the box under a challenge from Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain but referee Craig Pawson waved away the appeals.

Aguero slammed a shot into the side-netting as half time approached with City controlling the possession but failing to break through. A huge moment of controversy arrived five minutes before half time as Leroy Sane’s cross was flagged to have gone out of play as Aguero and then Sterling both finished but replays showed it had stayed in.

A huge let-off for Arsenal and right on half time they could’ve had a penalty kick as Jesus Navas bundled over Sanchez in the box.

In the second half it was Arsenal who put City under pressure as Fernandinho gave the ball away on the edge of the box and Olivier Giroud‘s effort was blocked by Nicolas Otamendi.

Moments later City were 1-0 up as Aaron Ramsey was robbed by Yaya Toure and Aguero raced free from Monreal and dinked home to put City ahead. The goal was Aguero’s fifth in as many FA Cup appearances this season and with 12 goals in his last 12 games he now has 166 for City, taking him to tied second on their all-time list of scorers.

Mesut Ozil flashed an effort just wide of the post after City went ahead as the Gunners continued to push forward in pursuit of an equalizer.

The leveler arrived with less than 20 minutes to go as Oxlade-Chamberlain’s fine cross from the right found Monreal at the back post and the Spanish left back nonchalantly smashed home with the outside of his right foot. 1-1. Game on.

Moments later Toure’s stunning volley was superbly saved by the fingertips of Cech as the ball hit the post and came out and soon after Fernandinho’s header cannoned off the bar as City pushed hard for a late winner.

Substitute Danny Welbeck went so close to snatching the win for Arsenal in normal time but the former Manchester United striker lashed an effort inches wide of the far post after breaking free.

In extra time it was Arsenal who could’ve gone 2-1 up as Rob Holding headed over the bar from close range. Soon after Sanchez did put Arsenal ahead as Welbeck missed his kick but Sanchez controlled and finished clinically to make it 2-1.

At the other end Sterling’s cross was cleared by Holding and the sub was subbed at the half time of extra time with Kelechi Iheanacho coming on as City’s fourth substitute as the new FA rules were used.

Fabian Delph, another sub, was put in by Kevin De Bruyne in the 110th minute but Hector Bellerin deflected his effort wide at the crucial moment then De Bruyne flashed an effort just wide as City poured forward for an equalizer.

In the end Arsenal held on to seal a third FA Cup final appearance in the last four seasons.

VIDEO: Coutinho curls home stunning free kick

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Philippe Coutinho was at it again at Anfield on Sunday.

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The Brazilian magician curled home a stunning free kick in the first half to put Liverpool 1-0 up against Crystal Palace.

Click play on the video above to watch his 10th Premier League goal of the season as Wayne Hennessey couldn’t get close to it.