Brazil Soccer WCup Spain Chile

At halftime: Chile are calm, collected and winning 2-0 over erratic Spain

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Story of the half: The 5-1 loss to the Netherlands is looking less and less like a one-off.

Like the opener, Spain look sluggish, old and devoid of ideas. Yes, Diego Costa has found some holes on occasion but he hasn’t come close to scoring. La Furia Roja are in need of a spark if they’re to avoid an early trip home.

Chile, on the other hand, look very comfortable. In defense, they are pressing high and giving Spain fits. When they have had chances, they’ve taken them.

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Goals:

20′ – After Claudio Bravo’s long ball to midfield, Xabi Alonso collected and looked to pass back but Alexis Sanchez was there to intercept. Sanchez quickly found Arturo Vidal on the one-two pass and then brilliantly split the Spain defense to find Charles Aranzguiz, who cut a pass to the back post for Eduardo Vargas. Iker Casillas challenged, Vargas pivoted to the right and dispatched low to score from 6 yards out.

43′ – Sanchez’ free-kick from 25 yards out was punched by Casillas into the middle of the box where Aranzguiz hit a one-time, outside-of-the-foot stab into the corner. Horrible goalkeeping by Casillas, who should have done better.

Other key moments: 15′ – Diego Costa with a smooth-dribbling 35 yard run into the box, mis-hit his shot low and wide of the far post where Andres Iniesta collected it and served it into a sea of players only for Xabi Alonso to emerge with the ball unmarked but his point-blank shot was well saved by Claudio Bravo. 27′ – A Pedro floater from the left was skimmed on by David Silva and found the on-rushing Costa, who’s left-footed shot was off-the-mark, largely due to the stellar shut-down defending of Gonzalo Jara. Some of the crowd thought it was in. In reality, simply a bad mis-hit by Costa.

LINEUPS:

Spain – Casillas; Azpilicueta, Ramos, Javi Martínez, Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso, Iniesta; Silva, Costa, Pedro

Chile -Bravo; Jara, Silva, Medel; Mena, Aránguiz, Díaz, Isla; Vargas, Vidal, Sánchez Goals: 20′ Vargas; 43′ Aranzguiz

Key Players:

  • Alexis Sanchez – Always dangerous, Sanchez seems particularly up for this match going against a number of Barcelona teammates.
  • Diego Costa – Has gotten through Chile’s defense twice only to spurn his efforts. Must be more clinical around goal if Spain are to have a chance.
  • Claudio Bravo – Did well to deny Costa on a few occasions but may need to be flawless if Chile are to collect all three points.
  • Charles Aranzguiz – A goal and an assist today, looking sharp and to make a name for himself.

Numbers to know:

  • 50 – Lost balls by Spain, compared to 45 by Chile
  • 9 – Fouls committed by each side
  • 247 – Total passes by Spain, compared to 178 by Chile

Questions for the second half:

  • Is the high press the death of Spain’s tiki-taka? For a six year period of time after Euro 2008, no one could keep up with Spain. But over the last two years and particularly now, Spain has struggled against the high press. Today, Chile is employing it brilliantly making Spain look slow. Don’t expect a style change mid-match or even mid-tournament, but La Furia Roja need a spark if they’re to avoid an early exit. Time to give some younger players a look?
  • How good is Chile? If they pull this one out those calls of ‘dark horse’ will grow louder and louder.

West Ham United 2-1 Liverpool: Ogbonna strikes after 120 minutes

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09:  Jordon Ibe of Liverpool takes on Pedro Mba Obiang of West Ham United during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
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Angelo Ogbonna is now an FA Cup hero.

Two sides willing to move the ball and attack produced a fine FA Cup tie on Tuesday at the Boleyn Ground, with Ogbonna heading home the match-winner in the 121st minute of play for a 2-1 win.

Michail Antonio scored a first-half goal for West Ham before Philippe Coutinho equalized for the visiting Reds.

[ WATCH: Coutinho’s cheeky free kick ties the score ]

All told, West Ham heads to Ewood Park for a fifth-round date with Blackburn Rovers. Peterborough United hosts West Bromwich Albion on Wednesday to sort out the fourth round’s other replay.

Liverpool played a more second-string set than the home side.

Brilliance met brilliance in the 38th minute, as Dimitri Payet struck a gorgeous dipping free kick over the wall only to see Mignolet get the slightest touch to help the ball crank off the goal post. Cheikhou Kouyate failed to scissor kick the rebound, and Mignolet flew back into the picture to parry Antonio’s header.

Antonio would get his glory next, as Enner Valencia took Payet’s pass and dribbled through the left side of the 18 and toward the end line before crossing the ball. Antonio let the ball sink to hip height before volleying home. 1-0, 45′.

There were three goal posts struck in the first half.

[ MORE: American takeover at Everton update

[ MORE: Recapping Week 25 in the PL ]

Coutinho scored on a clever free kick from the edge of the 18, betting on the wall jumping and cheekily rolling his shot under it and past Hammers keeper Darren Randolph.

Christian Benteke started and nearly finished a 56th minute chance inside the box, but his shot was blocked.

West Ham should’ve been awarded a penalty when Tiago Ilori pulled down Valencia in the box. Roger East didn’t see it that way.

[ MORE: Chelsea’s Courtois says FA Cup or UEFA Champions League final a must ]

The match went to extra time after eight minutes of second-half stoppage time.

Mignolet made a solid flying stop on Mark Noble in the first frame of extra time. At the other end, Benteke struck a low chance wide of the right post. Moments later, Randolph came out to thwart Benteke on a breakaway.

If anyone needed a reminder of Daniel Sturridge‘s skill, the late sub let fly with a 108th minute bullet that missed the goal by inches.

Then Lucas Leiva gave up a free kick just as two minutes of extra time stoppage began, and Ogbonna struck.

LINEUPS

West Ham United: Randolph, O’Brien (Moses, 83′), Reid (Collins, 64′), Ogbonna, Cresswell, Kouyate (Carroll, 76′), Noble, Obiang, Antonio, Valencia, Payet.

Liverpool: Mignolet, Flanagan, Stewart, Tiago Ilori, Smith, Teixeira (Origi, 60′), Lucas, Chirivella (Milner, 102′), Ibe, Benteke, Coutinho (Sturridge, 60′).

WATCH: Liverpool’s Coutinho bewitches West Ham with cheeky free kick

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 09: Philippe Coutinho of Liverpool scores from a free-kick during the Emirates FA Cup Fourth Round Replay match between West Ham United and Liverpool at Boleyn Ground on February 9, 2016 in London, England.  (Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images)
Photo by Clive Rose/Getty Images
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Philippe Coutinho has some gumption.

Liverpool’s Brazilian wizard tied things up with West Ham United in Tuesday’s FA Cup replay at the Boleyn Ground, and did it in style.

[ MORE: Courtois says FA Cup or Champions League final a must ]

With a free kick from just outside the 18, Coutinho thought West Ham would expect he’d hit a ball that would get up quick before dipping after the wall.

They’d jump, he figured, and he’d roll it under the wall. He was correct (video courtesy Fox Soccer):

USWNT’s Solo says Zika fears could make her skip the Olympics

Hope Solo attends the premiere of "He Named Me Malala" at The Ziegfeld Theatre on Thursday, Sept. 24, 2015, in New York. (Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP)
Photo by Evan Agostini/Invision/AP
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As it stands, Hope Solo would skip the Olympics if fears over the Zika virus don’t subside in Brazil.

It’s been speculated that Zika increases the odds of certain birth defects, and Solo said playing in the Olympics is not worth risking future pregnancies.

[ MORE: American takeover at Everton update

With CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying heading to NBC Live Extra at 8:30 p.m. ET Wednesday against Costa Rica (All games of the tournament will be streamed on Live Extra), Solo is set to star between the sticks for the USWNT.

But in an interview with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Wahl, the 34-year-old netminder is far from ready to commit to the tournament.

She went as far as to say she wouldn’t go if the tournament was today, elaborating in this story from SI.com:

“I would never take the risk of having an unhealthy child,” said Solo, 34. “I don’t know when that day will come for Jerramy and me, but I personally reserve my right to have a healthy baby. No athlete competing in Rio should be faced with this dilemma. Female professional athletes already face many different considerations and have to make choices that male professional athletes don’t.”

Brazilian officials claim there will be minimal risk by the Summer Games because of the change in season, but that won’t alleviate all the concerns of female athletes. It will certainly be interesting to monitor how the situation develops in the coming months.

Chelsea’s Courtois says FA Cup or Champions League final a must

Thibaut Courtois, Chelsea FC
Brian Westerholt/AP Images for International Champions Cup
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Chelsea goalkeeper Thibaut Courtois is used to big matches, whether at Stamford Bridge, with the Belgian national team or during his loan to Atletico Madrid.

[ SPORTSWORLD: Courtois “standing tall” at Chelsea ]

If he doesn’t get one or two of those contests by the end of this season, a bad season will become an utter failure.

Courtois says it’s a long way to the Top Four, but Chelsea hasn’t given up on that hope. Regardless, he’s targeting wins over Manchester City and Paris Saint-Germain in the FA Cup and UEFA Champions League, respectively.

From ChelseaFC.com:

“After that we play in the Champions League and FA Cup against two great sides and we have to try to win those games because the only way to save our season is to reach the final in one or both of them.”

Chelsea’s star has fallen this year, but this is still largely the team that won the Premier League last season. Courtois’ goals are not unreasonable.