Japan's Yasuyuki Konno, left, holds on to Greece's Kostas Mitroglou before clearing the ball during the group C World Cup soccer match between Japan and Greece at the Arena das Dunas in Natal, Brazil, Thursday, June 19, 2014. (AP Photo/Shuji Kajiyama)

At halftime: Japan and Greece still scoreless after Katsouranis dismissal — FOLLOW LIVE

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Story of the half: Greece continued to play to type, willing to stay behind the ball during a half where Japan dominated possession. Though that dominance failed to translate onto the scoresheet, it did get a man sent off. The Samurai Blue have 45 minutes to make their numbers pay off.

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Goals: None.

Other key moments:

29′ – As expected, Japan has had the ball, but neither side’s been able to generate much danger. Off a dead ball, however, Keisuke Honda nearly changes that. Opening his left foot on a shot from well beyond the penalty area, the Milan midfielder forces Orestis Karneszis to spill the shot in front of goal. Unfortunately, none of Honda’s teammates are there to take advantage.

35′ – Now the move seems like desperation. Kostas Mitroglou, who has struggled with injuries throughout 2014, was a surprise inclusion in the starting lineup, but when the Fulham striker walked off the field grabbing his back, Fernando Santos’s gamble had cost him a substitution. Far too early, Theofanis Gekas was Greece’s first man off the bench.

38′ – Japan had been holding over 70 percent of the ball, making it difficult to imagine Greece playing further on their back foot. In the 38th minute, however, when Konstantinos Katsouranis drew a second yellow card, the Greeks were left with 10 men. By the end of the half, Japan’s possession is climbing toward the 80-mark.


Japan: Kawashima, Uchida, Konno, Yoshida, Nagatomo, Yamaguchi, Hasebe, Honda, Okubo, Okazaki, Osako

Greece: Karnezis, Holebas, Sokratis, Manolas, Torosidis, Katsouranis, Maniatis, Kone, Samaras, Mitroglou (Gekas 35′), Fetfatzidis (Karagounis 42′)

Numbers to know: 

76 – The percentage of possession Japan had in the first half.

14 – The number of passes Katsouranis was credited with before being sent off, a team high. Six Japanese players bested that mark.

2 – The number of shots on goal Japan had. Greece’s total? Also two.

Questions for the second half:

  • When will Japan push? Greece is still a threat on the counter, but with his team given a half to play up a man, Alberto Zaccheroni should start thinking goal difference. One goal will probably be enough to take full points, but this is a chance for Japan to turn the first tiebreaker in their favor.

USA 4-0 Panama: United States top Group A

KANSAS CITY, KS - OCTOBER 01:  Jordan Morris #9 of the USA celebrates with teammates after scoring a goal during the 1st minute of the 2015 CONCACAF Olympic Qualifying match against Canada at Sporting Park on October 1, 2015 in Kansas City, Kansas.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
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The United States U-23 team exploded for four goals in the second half to down Panama 4-0, as the U.S. finish atop Group A in Olympic qualifying with a perfect three wins from three matches.

They advance to the semifinals, where they will face either Mexico or Honduras.

Thanks to a 2-2 draw between Canada and Cuba earlier in the evening, the U.S. had already clinched the top spot in Group A before this match began. With the United States’ win, Canada also advances into the semifinals as the second-place team.

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The U.S. had a golden opportunity to take the lead in the 11th minute, but Panama goalkeeper Elieser Powell made a higlight-reel save on Gedion Zelalem. Maki Tall moved in and fired a low shot on goal, forcing Powell to dive down and make a stop. The rebound rolled right out to Zelalem, who had the whole goal in front of him, but somehow Powell reached to get a hand on it, deflecting the shot over the bar.

Tied 0-0 at halftime, Andreas Herzog made some adjustments to his lineup, bringing in Jordan Morris and Jerome Kiesewetter for Tall and Zelalem. The substitutions paid immediate dividends, as the United States jumped out to a three-goal lead within minutes.

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In the 51st minute, Gboly Ariyibi’s cross took a deflection off Fidel Escobar and into the net, ruled an own goal on the Panamanian defender.

Two minutes later, substitute Jerome Kiesewetter took a pass from Luis Gil and fired a right-footed shot from a tight angle to the far post, doubling the United States’ lead. It was a very clean finish from the German-born Stuttgart product.

Three minutes after scoring a goal, Kiesewetter grabbed an assist as he combined with fellow substitute Jordan Morris to make it 3-0. Kiesewetter ran down the right wing and played a low cross in, where Morris tapped home his third goal of the tournament.

Kiesewetter continued his stellar half, blowing by a defender before doing well to draw a foul in the box. Luis Gil stepped up to the spot and buried the penalty, as the U.S. went 4-0 up in the 71st minute.

With the result, the United States heads into the semifinals with a +11 goal differential, outscoring their opponents 13-2 in the group stage. A win in the semis would guarantee the U.S. a spot in the 2016 Olympics.

Bayern, Germany legend Gerd Muller suffering from Alzheimer’s

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - JULY  01:  Gerd Muller during a media event discussing the Golden Boot comptetition in the FIFA 2010 World Cup held at the adidas Jo'bulani Central in Sandton Convention Centre on July 1, 2010 in Johannesburg, South Africa. (Photo by Dominic Barnardt/Getty Images for adidas)
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Bayern Munich has confirmed that legendary goalscorer Gerd Muller is suffering from Alzheimer’s.

Muller’s 70th birthday is in November, and the club published a statement that no celebrations would be held due to his ongoing treatment.

One of the greatest strikers to ever play the game, Muller scored 525 goals during his 15-years with Bayern, the most in club history. Karl Heinze-Rummenigge is Bayern’s second leading goalscorer with 218 goals.

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Rummenigge currently serves as the club’s director, and spoke about Muller’s legacy.

Gerd Müller is one of the all-time greats of world football. Without his goals, Bayern Munich and German football would not be what it is today.

There will probably never be another goalscorer like Gerd, yet despite all his successes, he was always very humble and reserved, which particularly impressed me.

He was a fantastic team-mate and is a friend. Gerd will always enjoy a place in the Bayern family.

After he ended his playing career, he brought his experience as a coach of youngsters to the club, helping define the likes of world champions Philipp Lahm, Bastian Schweinsteiger and Thomas Müller, and we are also grateful to him for this.

Muller won the Golden Boot at the 1970 World Cup with ten goals, helping West Germany to a third-place finish. That same year he won the Ballon d’Or as the best player in the world, and helped the West German team capture the European Championship in 1972 and the World Cup in 1974.

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He is one of the top scorers in German national team history with 68 goals, second only to Miroslav Klose’s 71. However, Muller reached 68 goals in just 62 caps, while it took Klose 137 appearances to reach his mark. His 14 World Cup goals are third all-time to Klose (16) and Ronaldo (14).