Algeria

Early Algerian flurry sets stage for comprehensive 4-2 win over South Korea

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Algeria pummeled South Korea in the first half, and it earned the Africans an insurmountable lead en route to a 4-2 victory in Group H play.

Having made five changes from the 2-1 loss to Belgium, Algeria heaved the ball forward on every chance, and it bore fruit throughout the match as they earned their first World Cup win since 1982.

Algeria had chances from the opening whistle to the final one, with the pair of Sofiane Feghouli and Islam Slimani proving the most dangerous early and often.

After poking just about every pressure point in the South Korean defense in the first 20 minutes, Algeria found their breakthrough straight up the middle just before the half-hour mark.

A long ball up the gut found a charging Slimani, and he powered his way through a pair of defenders unable to keep up, and touched the ball past the keeper for the opener.  But that was just the start.

Their attacking flair earned another goal just two minutes later. A corner flew into the South Korean box, and goalkeeper Jung Sung-Ryong misjudged the flight of the ball. He came out too far for the punch, and Algerian defender Rafik Halliche beat him to the ball and scored with a powerful header.

The pressure flooded South Korea, with the leaders going into halftime having already completed a whopping 14 of 22 attempted tackles, eight of which came in the middle third of the pitch. In comparison, South Korea completed just six total.

It would earn the Algerians a third before the break, as Slimani cut through the South Korean defense, and the Algerians continued their blitzkrieg. In space in the box, he brilliantly touched the ball with the outside of his foot across two defenders to a wide-open Abdelmoumene Djabou for an easy low finish.

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Algeria failed to come out of the half with the same cutting edge, and the South Koreans pulled one back just five minutes after the break. Bayer Leverkusen’s Hong-Min Son, who had just eight touches in the first half, beat

The South Koreans continued to be the more incisive team, but they had only a few chances on goal after the Algerians seeked to shut them down. On the hour mark, Sung-Yeung Ki ripped a swerving shot on goal that forced an acrobatic save by Rais M’Bolhi.

But it wouldn’t be enough, as the Algerians produced a fourth just minutes later, a stunning piece of team play. Exploiting the left flank as they had all game, Feghouli and Yacine Brahimi teamed up for a perfect one-two in the box to produce an easy finish for Brahimi to put the game away.

The goal set Algeria as the first African team ever to score four goals in a World Cup match.

South Korea would pull off a second thanks to some chaos at the back for Algeria in the 72nd minute. Son held the ball in a dangerous position in the box, but an excellent tackle by Madjid Bouguerra dispossessed the South Korean star. Unfortunately the ball fell right to Keun-Ho Lee who crossed to an open Ja-Cheol Koo who tapped in from close range.

That was all they could muster, however, and the South Koreans are in a dire position with just the match against Belgium remaining and sitting on one point. Meanwhile, Algeria now has four, putting them second in Group H with a chance to earn a place in the knockout round with a win or draw against Russia in their final match.

LINEUPS:

South Korea: SR Jung, SY Yun, YG Kim, HM Son, CY Park (SW Kim, 57′), Y Lee, JC Koo, KY Han, SY Ki, CY Lee (KH Lee 64′), JH Hong.

Goals – Son 50′, Koo 72′

Algeria: Mbolhi, Bouguerra, Halliche, Mesbah, Feghouli, Brahimi (Lacen 77′), Medjani, Slimani, Bentaleb, Djabou (Ghilas 73′), Mandi.

Goals – Slimani 26′, Halliche 28′, Djabou 38′, Brahimi 62′

Sydney FC return to winning ways in A-League

MELBOURNE, AUSTRALIA - FEBRUARY 24:  Goalkeeper Danny Vukovic of Sydney FC makes a save as Bruno Fornaroli of City competes for the ball during the round 21 A-League match between Melbourne City and Sydney FC at AAMI Park on February 24, 2017 in Melbourne, Australia.  (Photo by Scott Barbour/Getty Images)
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SYDNEY (AP) Bobo scored twice as Sydney FC rebounded from its first loss in the A-League to beat Melbourne City 3-1 and continue atop the table.

[ MORE: Schmeichel speaks about Ranieri sacking, state of Leicester ]

Sydney’s ambitious attempt to become the first team to end the regular season unbeaten came unstuck last week when it was beaten by Western Sydney Wanderers in a fractious local derby, repercussions of which continued through the week. Wanderers were fined $20,000 by Football Federation Australia after its fans unfurled an obscene banner targeting Sydney coach Graham Arnold.

[ MORE: Chelsea, Everton extend unbeaten run in Saturday’s PL play ]

Sydney raised itself above that controversy on Friday with a comprehensive win over Melbourne City which briefly took it 11 points clear in first place.

Melbourne Victory restored the gap to eight points when it beat defending champion Adelaide United 2-1, and Perth leapfrogged Melbourne City into third place when it dumped the Wanderers 2-0.

Bobo opened Sydney’s scoring with a penalty, but City canceled that out only a minute later.

Sydney went in front again after the break, and Bobo sealed the win, set up by a superb through ball by Milos Ninkovic which highlighted their developing combination.

Midfielder Brandon O’Neil said Sydney was determined to leave behind the contention of their derby loss.

“When it all came out, the FFA and Western Sydney had to deal with it and it did,” O’Neil said. “It brought us together and we spoke about a few things, and nothing changed for us. We want to be premier (champions).”

Melbourne Victory’s win over Adelaide kept it in touch with Sydney with seven regular season rounds remaining.

Wellington kept its faint playoff hopes alive, staying in seventh place with a 2-1 win over Brisbane.

Whitecaps acquire U.S. defender Brek Shea in deal with Orlando City

Toronto FC v Orlando City SC
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With almost a week to go until the Major League Soccer season kicks off, the Vancouver Whitecaps and Orlando City may have pulled off one of the biggest trades of offseason.

[ MORE: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018 ]

The clubs announced on Saturday that the Whitecaps have acquired U.S. Men’s National Team midfielder/defender Brek Shea in exchange for forward Giles Barnes, who is headed to Orlando City.

“We are excited to welcome Brek to our club and city,” said Whitecaps FC manager Carl Robinson. “Brek is a tall, physical, skilled player and will bring a different dimension to our attack. Brek will join the group in coming days and we anticipate he will be available for selection as early as this Thursday’s Champions League match against New York.”

Shea, 26, began his career in MLS with FC Dallas before heading to England for a brief stint with Stoke City. The U.S. defender made his way back to MLS ahead of Orlando City’s inaugural season in 2015 and started 39 matches in that span.

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Meanwhile, Barnes has scored 33 goals since joining MLS in 2012. The 28-year-old forward played with the Houston Dynamo before spending last season with the Whitecaps.

Report: MLS negotiating to bring Chicharito to U.S. in 2018

Javier "Chicharito" Hernandez, Bayer Leverkusen & Mexico
AP Photo/Martin Meissner)
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Major League Soccer has attracted some of the world’s biggest stars over recent years and now one of the Mexican national team’s top talents could be heading stateside very soon.

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According to ESPN FC, MLS is currently in negotiations with Bundesliga side Bayer Leverkusen in an attempt to lure Mexican striker Javier “Chicharito” Hernandez to the U.S. in the summer of 2018.

Expansion side Los Angeles FC has been heavily linked with Hernandez, with the club making its entrance into MLS in 2018. Additionally, the Los Angeles Galaxy have also been said to have strong ties with Chicharito.

Hernandez, 28, is currently under contract until next summer, and MLS is reportedly seeking a move in 2018 to avoid paying a transfer fee for the El Tri forward.

ESPN FC is also reporting that Chicharito could make around $9 million annually if he does in fact join MLS.

In 2015, Orlando City and the Chicago Fire were both linked with acquiring Hernandez but the Leverkusen forward was insistent upon the fact that he play Champions League football.

PL Sunday: Spurs look to regain second against Stoke

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Although there’s only one match on Sunday’s Premier League docket, the fixture bears great weight for both clubs.

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Tottenham vs. Stoke City — 8:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com

Spurs have the chance to move back into second place at White Hart Lane as Mauricio Pochettino‘s side are firmly in a battle to finish runners’ up to Chelsea this season. Tottenham currently sit 13 points out of the top spot, however, five clubs are within four points of another in the battle for second. Danny Rose and Erik Lamela remain sidelined due to injuries but Spurs will remain the favorites in the fixture after having won their previous two league meetings.

Stoke enters Sunday having gone unbeaten in five of its last six PL matches and the Potters can enter the top 10 with a victory. Mark Hughes‘ side could be given a big lift with the potential return of Xherdan Shaqiri while Saido Berahino could be in line to earn his first start since joining Stoke. Both players could present massive upside for the Potters, who have struggled to find goals as of late. In their last four matches, Stoke have managed just three finishes, one of which came from an own goal.