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′

Is NYCFC showing Mix Diskerud the door? (Photo)

LOS ANGELES, CA - FEBRUARY 01:  Mikkel 'Mix' Diskerud #8 of the USA looks on during the singing of the national anthem prior to their international friendly match against the Korea Republic at StubHub Center on February 1, 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The USA defeated the Korea Republic 2-0.  (Photo by Victor Decolongon/Getty Images)
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Since arriving on the New York City scene two years ago it’s fair to summarize Mix Diskerud’s tenure with New York City FC as a disappointment.

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While the expectations of a quick transition from life in Europe to MLS were surely massive, the 26-year-old midfielder has failed to live up to the billing of not only being one of the NYCFC’s highest-paid players but also as a potential U.S. Men’s National Team candidate.

Diskerud saw his playing time dwindle down from 23 starts in 2015 to nine this past season under new manager Patrick Vieira, and it doesn’t appear that the Norwegian-American will see an influx of opportunities during the upcoming 2017 season.

Rumors have surfaced throughout the offseason about NYCFC potentially buying out Diskerud’s contract, however, the midfielder’s cryptic post to social media on Sunday afternoon suggests that he may not be in New York for much longer.

Somebody told me I'm not part of a plan and if he was I – he'd run like the others ran 'cause the budget is tight and binding contracts might be broken, to improve 5-6 positions – in exchange for only one man. – He went on to say; "the message is clear – unless you're clueless – 'cause you've lived it all'year since the budget is tight and binding contracts might not need to be broken if…. you crack, kneel or leave the hemisphere" – Who could tell so straight and clearly tales of destiny I fight sincerely when mental games are attempting aims to make me rage severely? – On and on the conversation went about money spent and special rules and mgt's tools and something about allocation being different cent – I wish I had right there – my pad 'cause then my favorite line fused by Robin Williams spine would play dead poets – real bad

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It has been suggested that Diskerud would possibly consider a return to Europe in the event that his contract was in fact bought out, however, the difference in salaries would likely be drastic.

According to figures released by the MLS Players’ Union, Diskerud made $761,250 in 2016, which was the fourth-highest salary on NYCFC books behind only David Villa, Frank Lampard and Andrea Pirlo, each of whom were classified as Designated Players.

Report: Aguero seeking Real Madrid move at season’s end

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - JANUARY 21:  Sergio Aguero of manchester City in action during the Premier League match between Manchester City and Tottenham Hotspur at Etihad Stadium on January 21, 2017 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Clive Mason/Getty Images)
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Gabriel Jesus was a revelation for Manchester City before suffering an injury, but even with a spot in the lineup for the time being Sergio Aguero may not be coming back to Manchester City next season.

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According to the Sun, Spanish giants Real Madrid are eyeing up a move for Aguero in the hopes that the Argentine striker will join the club at the conclusion of the Premier League season.

Prior to joining City back in 2011, Aguero played five seasons in La Liga with Atletico Madrid, where he scored 101 goals in all competitions for the Rojiblancos.

While Aguero is likely to hold his starting spot for some time due to Jesus’ injured metatarsal, manager Pep Guardiola had heavily favored the young forward over Aguero since officially joining the club in January.

U.S. U-20s paired with Mexico, El Salvador in CONCACAF knockout round

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Tab Ramos’ side completed their first task, but now the U.S. Under-20 national team has its next challenge lying in front of them.

[ MORE: Whitecaps acquire Brek Shea from Orlando City in trade ]

The U.S. U-20s finished second in Group B at the CONCACAF U-20 Championship after winning two of its three group stage matches.

Now, Mexico and El Salvador await the U-20s in the classification stage with a spot at May’s Under-20 World Cup in South Korea on the line.

During the classification round there will be two groups of three teams, with the top two teams advancing to the World Cup. Each group winner will meet in the CONCACAF Championship final.

Classification stage schedule

Group D

Feb. 27 — U.S. U-20s vs. Mexico

Mar. 1 — Mexico vs. El Salvador

Mar. 3 — U.S. U-20s vs. El Salvador

Group E

Feb. 27 — Panama vs. Honduras

Mar. 1 — Honduras vs. Costa Rica

Mar. 3 — Panama vs. Costa Rica

Claude Puel calls for video replay after Gabbiadini goal called off

LONDON, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 26:  Manolo Gabbiadini of Southampton takes on Eric Bailly of Manchester United during the EFL Cup Final match between Manchester United and Southampton at Wembley Stadium on February 26, 2017 in London, England.  (Photo by Michael Steele/Getty Images)
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Manolo Gabbiadini performed brilliantly in Sunday’s EFL Cup final, but was the Southampton striker unfairly gipped of a hat-trick?

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Saints manager Claude Puel certainly believes so.

[ MORE: Three things from Man United’s win vs. Southampton ]

While the back-and-forth final between Southampton and Manchester United presented a tremendous matchup, the Saints had every right to be furious with the officiating in the early going after Gabbiadini’s 11th minute finish was called off for offsides.

“I would like, of course, video in the future for these situations,” said Puel. “It’s very hard when we see this game to lose. It was cruel.”

Gabbiadini went on to score a pair of goals at the tail end of the first half and early in the second stanza, but Puel was pleased with his side’s resilience after going down 2-0 inside the opening 38 minutes.

“We kept the good attitude and spirit to stay in the game after going 2-0 down,” said the Southampton boss. “We played since the beginning of the season every two or three days. We played to a strong and fantastic level. It’s important now to continue this work, to put away this disappointment and come back in the Premier League with this strength and this quality.”

Video replay has been a common discussion for some time now, but more leagues are beginning to examine the possibility. FIFA is prepared to introduce new experimental trials over the coming months and could present a form of replay at next summer’s World Cup in Russia.