At halftime: Croatia up 1-0 and with a man advantage over Cameroon

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One nil down and down to 10 men against Croatia, things look bleak for Cameroon.

The Indomitable Lions were playing well, even taking the game to Croatia, when Ivica Olic turned home Ivan Perisic’s cross in the 11th minute.

To their credit, Cameroon pressed on and enjoyed a majority of the possession and better chances before Alex Song foolishly got himself sent off in the 40th minute. Now, the lowest ranked side in Group A will look to do the impossible and claw their way back from tournament elimination.

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Goals:

11′ – The first time Croatia threatened Cameroon, they took the lead. Off the counter, Modric swung the ball out to the right where Drijo Srna found himself in space. The Shakhtar defender wasted no time, whipping in a ball for Mario Mandzukic who went shoulder-to-shoulder with Nicholas Nkoulou. A poor clearance fell to the feet of Ivan Perisic, who crossed hard and low to the far post where Ivica Olic was there for the simple finish.

Other key moments:

16′ – Stephane M’bia cleared a cross high and wide. The ensuing outswinger from Pranjic found Mandzukic, who deflected the ball to Olic standing three yards out but his effort was saved by goalkeeper Charles Itandje and cleared by Eyong Enoh.

40′ – Alex Song sees straight red from the referee after chasing down Mandzukic on a Croatian counter and ripping him down with an elbow punch from behind.

LINEUPS:

Cameroon – Itandje, Assou-Ekotto, Nkoulou (c), Song, Moukandjo, Aboubakar, Choupo Moting, Chedjou, Mbia, Enoh, Matip

Croatia -Pletikosa, Pranjic, Perisic, Corluka, Lovren, Rakitic, Modric, Srna (c), Mandzukic, Olic, Sammir

Key Players:

  • Ivan Rakitic/Luka Modric – The center midfield duo of Rakitic are two of the best passers of the game. They’ll need to maintain control and continue pushing their side forward if three points are to be claimd
  • Vincent Aboubakar – The Cameroon striker is deputizing for the injured Samuel Eto’o and has shown the danger he poses in the open field. Will need to come up big if he side is to take something from this match.
  • Benjamin Moukandjo – Cameroon’s best player in the first half, he’ll need to cover for the loss of Song while still getting forward on his trademark counters.
  • Ivica Olic – Did well to score his goal by missed poorly from close range. Needs to capitalize on his opportunities.

Numbers to know:

  • 52 – % possession by Cameroon
  • 20 – Dangerous attacks by Cameroon as compared to 13 from Croatia
  • 7 – Number of attempts on goal each side has registered

Questions for the second half:

  • Can Cameroon find a way back in this match? Despite conceding early the Indomitable Lions were playing well before Song was sent off. Can they collect themselves, get orgranized and somehow find a way back into this match?

Top Storylines for Premier League Week 6

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After a week of League Cup action domestically, the Premier League returns this weekend with a myriad of interesting matchups and storylines.

Let’s take a look at some of this week’s top story’s to follow:


Can Manchester City continue its torrid form?

Manchester City has finally found its groove under manager Pep Guardiola.

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The club has won five successive games, the last three coming on the road while scoring a combined 19 goals. Sergio Aguero and Gabriel Jesus are a terrific 1-2 punch while David Silva and Kevin De Bruyne have been stars in midfield, with De Bruyne pulling the strings for Man City all season.

There’s every likelihood that Man City will continue its impressive run on Saturday. The club hosts floundering Crystal Palace, which is still adjusting to new manager Roy Hodgson.

(more…)

On This Day: The Battle of Old Trafford

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Fourteen years ago today, Arsenal headed north to Manchester for a famous matchup with Manchester United.

Taking the field at Old Trafford, Arsenal were unbeaten to start the season, having won its first four Premier League matches before drawing a week prior at home against Portsmouth. Manchester United meanwhile had four wins and one loss in that span.

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By way of Arsenal’s FA Cup title and Man United’s Premier League title the year before, the two teams met for the annual Community Shield a month earlier, and the game descended into a physical battle. Five yellow cards were shown, Arsenal substitute Francis Jeffers was shown a red card and defender Sol Campbell was later banned for kicking at an opponent, and Man United – backed by a young Tim Howard in goal – won 4-3 on penalty kicks after the score was tied at 1-1 after extra time.

With numerous physical encounters over the years, the September 21 encounter was shaping up to be another monumental showdown, and in terms of physicality, it didn’t disappoint.

Each team were shown four yellow cards and there was a combined 31 fouls. The match took a turn when Patrick Vieira was shown a second yellow card and subsequent red card for kicking out at Man United’s Ruud Van Nistelrooy after Van Nistelrooy had fouled Vieira going for a header. The decision set off a scrum in the middle of the field.

Despite being down to ten men, Arsenal held on until the final minutes, when Martin Keown was whistled for a foul in the box on Diego Forlan, giving Man United a penalty kick. But whether it was karma or lady luck, Van Nistelrooy’s penalty clanged off the crossbar and away to safety. Arsenal held on for a goalless draw, which helped boost the team’s belief in itself.

The Gunners went on to finish the 2013-2014 season undefeated, the only team to finish a Premier League season without a defeat. Man United wound up taking the FA Cup crown, settling for third place in the Premier League.

Watch some highlights from the match below.

Former Sunderland forward Scocco scores five goals for River Plate

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Veteran forward Ignacio “Nacho” Scocco is quickly endearing himself to the River Plate faithful.

Nearly three months since joining River, Scocco scored an incredible five goals in the second leg of his team’s Copa Libertadores quarterfinal matchup with Bolivian side Jorge Wilstermann. Scocco scored a first half hat-trick and added two more in the second half as River turned around a 3-0 deficit heading into the second leg.

Scocco had a mostly frustrating spell in 2014 ahead of the World Cup with Sunderland, joining the club as they staved off relegation by one point. Scocco failed to score for Sunderland in eight appearances, all off the bench.

However, since then, he returned to his native Argentina and starred for his hometown club Newell’s Old Boys before moving this summer to River as a replacement for Sebastián Driussi, who completed a transfer to Zenit St. Petersburg.

Here’s a look at all of Scocco’s goals Thursday evening.

Tammy Abraham denies switching national teams

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Fans of the England National Team may still have a chance to see Tammy Abraham don the Three Lions crest one day.

Abraham refuted reports from earlier Thursday that he was in the process of switching his national team to Nigeria from England. The 19-year-old Swansea City forward on-loan from Chelsea has played as high as the England Under-21 Men’s National Team but because of his Nigerian father, he’s eligible for the African nation.

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Abraham confirmed that he had met with Nigeria Football Federation chief Amaju Pinnick after Swansea’s last game, but denied that he was looking to play for the Super Eagles.

“I have informed The FA that I remain available for selection for England,” Abraham said, via the BBC. “Contrary to reports in the media I would like to clarify that I have not agreed to switch my national team allegiance. I can confirm I met the President of the NFF after our last game against Tottenham at Wembley on Saturday given he is a friend of my father. However, any suggestion that I have made a decision to change my international representation is incorrect and wide of the mark.”

Earlier in the day, reports emerged that Pinnick said the process was underway for Abraham to switch his international allegiance.

Abraham’s apparently decision to remain with the England set-up is good news for his club Swansea City, who will get to keep him closer to Wales on a regular basis, but Abraham may be missing a chance to play senior national team soccer at a young age.