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Spain eliminated from 2014 World Cup as Chile cruises to 2-0 victory

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If following the 5-1 drubbing by Holland there was any doubt that Spain’s tiki-taka had died, those questions were erased on Wednesday when Chile comprehensively defeated the 2010 World Cup champions, 2-0.

With a goal and an assist to his name Charles Aranzguiz led the Chileans on paper but it really was a team effort from La Roja that dismantled Spain. Things got started in the 15th minute when Diego Costa dribbled his way into the box only to mishit his shot low and wide of the far post. Andres Iniesta collected it and served it back in the mix where Xabi Alonso emerged unmarked only for his point-blank shot to be well saved by Claudio Bravo.

Five minutes later and the high press of Chile paid off. Xabi Alonso picked up Claudio Bravo’s clearance to midfield but his back-pass was intercepted by Alexis Sanchez, who quickly found Arturo Vidal on the one-two pass. Sanchez then brilliantly split the Spain defense to find Charles Aranzguiz, who cut a pass to the back post for Eduardo VargasIker Casillas challenged, Vargas pivoted to the right and dispatched low to score from 6 yards out. 1-0 Chile.

With Spain controlling possession things went back and forth for the next 20 minutes before Chile were awarded a free-kick 25 yards outside of Spain’s box. Sanchez stepped up and unleashed a swerving shot that was punched by Casillas into the middle of the box where Aranzguiz stood and hit a one-time, outside-of-the-foot stab that doubled Chile’s lead.

At halftime, Koke was introduced for Xabi Alonso and the Atletico Madrid immediately affected the match, intercepting a pass down the right side to find Iniesta who slipped a beautiful ball through Chile’s defense only for Diego Costa to once again flub his effort.

In the 52nd minute a Sergio Ramos free-kick was punched out by Bravo and the ball bounced to Costa to bicycle a cross to an unmarked Sergio Busquets, who missed an open goal from two yards out. Spain continued to press but had nothing to show for it and in the 64th minute Vincente del Bosque had seen enough of the out-of-sorts Diego Costa, who was taken off in favor of Fernando Torres.

Four minutes later and Chile nearly had a third as Vargas broke down the right side to find Eugenio Meno, who tore his shot wide of goal. A sliding Mauricio Isla found himself unmarked at the back bar but his shot skyrockted over the bar. Seven minutes later it was Sanchez dazzling through the Spanish box and making it all the way to the by-line but his pull-back was unable to find Gutierrez or Isla.

Despite sloppy play and looking a shell of their former selves, Spain continued to press forward with substitute Santi Cazorla, on for Pedro, ripping a left-footed effort inches wide from 20 yards out. With five minutes remaining a flurry of decent chances ensued for Del Bosque’s men including a Cazorla free-kick that Bravo did well to push wide and a Sergio Ramos flailing side-volley that flew over the bar. In the extra time it was Ramos again who found himself on the end of a good opportunity only for the Chilean defense to block wide.

Spain continued to poke and prod but the Chilean defense remained resilient and just like that, Spain were eliminated from the 2014 World Cup.

LINEUPS:

Spain – Casillas, Azpilicueta, Ramos, Javi Martínez, Alba; Busquets, Xabi Alonso (Koke 45′), Iniesta, Silva, Costa (Torres 64′), Pedro (Santi Cazorla 76′)

Chile -Bravo, Jara, Silva, Medel, Mena, Aránguiz (Felipe Gutierrez 64′), Díaz, Isla; Vargas (Valdivia ’85), Vidal, Sánchez

Goals: Vargas 20′; Aranzguiz 43′

 

Dempsey returns to training after second heart procedure

SAN JOSE, CA - JULY 28:  Clint Dempsey #2 of MLS All-Stars chases after the ball up field against the Arsenal FC during the second half of the AT&T MLS All-Star Game at Avaya Stadium on July 28, 2016 in San Jose, California.  (Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images)
Photo by Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images
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Many were concerned about USMNT and Seattle Sounders attacker Clint Dempsey‘s future when he underwent a pair of heart procedures in 2016.

The 33-year-old Dempsey took another step to allay those fears when he hit the pitch for Seattle’s first day of preseason camp.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

The Sounders won the 2016 MLS Cup despite the absence of Dempsey, and his return would further strengthen the side. General manager Garth Lagerwey said Dempsey won’t be rushed, but could be nearing a return.

EFL Cup second legs preview: Liverpool, Hull City aim for comebacks

SOUTHAMPTON, ENGLAND - JANUARY 11:  Divock Origi of Liverpool battles with Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg (L) and Ryan Bertrand of Southampton during the EFL Cup semi-final first leg match between Southampton and Liverpool at St Mary's Stadium on January 11, 2017 in Southampton, England.  (Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images)
Photo by Ian Walton/Getty Images
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Manchester United and Southampton are 90 minutes from Wembley Stadium.

Hull City and Liverpool would prefer to change that.

After first legs a fortnight ago, the EFL Cup semifinals play out on Wednesday and Thursday ahead of Feb. 26’s final at Wembley.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

First up is Southampton‘s trip to Liverpool, with the Saints nursing a 1-0 lead from the first leg at St. Mary’s. The Wednesday kickoff sees Saints hoping the Reds’ poor run of form will continue at Anfield. Liverpool has one win 2017, and that was an FA Cup replay victory over Plymouth Argyle.

Southampton boss Claude Puel knows the Reds will be ornery:

“We know Liverpool. They lost against Swansea at home, and I am sure they will want to react against us, but it’s important to keep all of our focus about our play.

“We know they are fantastic, a great team, with great players, but you saw in the first leg we have the ability to produce a strong game against them. It will be important to make a strong game – a perfect game – I think.”

Jose Mourinho’s Manchester United got a terrific result in the first leg at Old Trafford, scoring twice and holding Hull City from scooping up a valuable road goal. Juan Mata and Marouane Fellaini scored the goals in the 2-0 win, but the KC Stadium will be rocking on Thursday as the Tigers look to reverse the result.

United midfielder Michael Carrick says the Red Devils will play as if they are starting from scratch:

“It’s definitely not over, we all know that. We are telling ourselves that. I think we’ll be pretty much full strength and will approach the game like it’s a 0-0 and starting from scratch.

“It’s dangerous when you go in there defending a lead to tell yourself this result will do or that result will do, or we can afford to do this or that.”

Report: China tempting TFC’s Giovinco with big offer

Toronto FC's Sebastian Giovinco celebrates his goal against the Philadelphia Union during the first half of an MLS soccer playoff match in Toronto, Wednesday, Oct. 26, 2016. (Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP)
Frank Gunn/The Canadian Press via AP
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Could Sebastian Giovinco’s chances of another MVP award be diminishing?

It wouldn’t be on account of a lack of production, rather massive money coming his way from the Chinese Soccer League.

[ MORE: How will U.S. line up vs. Serbia? ]

Great, and right when we were daydreaming about how Toronto FC’s Italian attacker could run a revenge tour on the folks who somehow left him out of the MVP finalists last year.

Giovinco turns 30 on Thursday.

From The Toronto Sun’s Kurtis Larsson:

“The Chinese club seems to be very interested, but I don’t think it’ll be easy to take him away from Toronto,” Giovinco’s agent, Andrea D’Amico, told the broadcaster.

“We received an important offer from China and we’ll talk to Toronto to decide, along with Sebastian, what to do.”

Giovinco is with Toronto FC for preseason training camp, and both the club and player have shown no interest in moving on from the diminutive winger and 2015 MVP.

But if China comes calling with crazy money, say a $25-30 million transfer fee, shouldn’t TFC think twice? Any figure above $25 million would be more than the sum of the three biggest incoming transfer fees in MLS history (Miguel Almiron, Michael Bradley, Jermain Defoe).

AFCON wrap: Ivory Coast bounced, DR Congo wins Group C

Congo's soccer players celebrate after scoring a goal against Togo during the African Cup of Nations Group C soccer match between Congo and Togo at the Stade de Port-Gentil, Gabon, Tuesday Jan. 24, 2017. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)
AP Photo/Sunday Alamba
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Down went another knockout round mainstay from the Africa Cup of Nations, as the Ivory Coast failed to capture one of the top two spots in Group C.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Morocco 1-0 Ivory Coast

Needing a win to move on, the Ivory Coast fell in its final group match. Rachid Alioui scored a 64th minute goal that meant the Ivory Coast needed two to advance to the quarterfinals. The goals didn’t come, and Morocco will face the Group D winner next.

Togo 1-3 DR Congo

Junior Kabananga, Paul-Jose M’Poku, and Ndombe Mubele scored as the Leopards finished the group stage with an unbeaten record of 2-1. DR Congo will face the runner-up of Group D in the quarterfinals.

Wednesday’s matches

Ghana is through with six points, while Uganda is out. Egypt will go through with a result against Ghana, while Mali needs a win and an Egypt loss to get to tiebreakers.

Egypt vs. Ghana — 2 p.m. ET
Uganda vs. Mali — 2 p.m. ET