Two late goals from Netherlands end Mexico’s World Cup run

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A late surge from Netherlands saw them run out 2-1 winners over Mexico, with goals from Wesley Sneijder and Klaas-Jan Huntelaar canceling out Giovani dos Santos’ opener. They’ll be paying attention to the next game, when they’ll find out whether Costa Rica or Greece will be their next opponents.

Meanwhile, Mexico’s World Cup run has ended, once again, at the Round of 16. That makes six tournaments in a row that El Tri have made it this far, only to fail to advance.

The first half between Netherlands and Holland could well have been described as, well, a snooze. An afternoon nap played out in the oppressive heat of Fortaleza. The players took the first officially sanctioned water break of the World Cup, but that was about all that happened.

Oh, besides each side getting denied what appeared to be legitimate appeals for penalties. The first time, it was Mexico being denied. Netherlands defender Ron Vlaar stuck his boot in Héctor Herrera’s face, but no call came. Mexico got their revenge in added time, when Héctor Moreno and Rafa Márquez went in together to relieve Arjen Robben of the ball. Again, no call.

The teams seemed revived by their halftime break, and sure enough, the deadlock was quickly broken.

Paul Aguilar sent a long ball up the pitch, which a Dutch defender did his best to head away. Instead it fell into the path of Giovani dos Santos, who had plenty of space to control, chesting it down to his feet. He then managed to muscle his way through two oranje shirts before sending his half-volley whizzing past a diving Jasper Cillessen.

That goal seemed to galvanize the Dutch (maybe they finally remembered that a win was necessary in this instance) and suddenly the game got interesting. In the 57th minute, Stefan de Vrij got his foot on the end of a corner from Robben. But once again, Memo Ochoa played the hero, denying de Vrij from point-blank range. Moments later, Ochoa was there to tip a shot from Wesley Sneijder over the bar, ensuring his side remained in front.

With Mexico content to sit back, it was up to Netherlands to continue expending all their energy rushing toward Ochoa’s goal. In the 74th minute, he made the difference once more, pushing aside a Robben shot after the winger flew up the pitch. On the resulting corner, Vlaar managed to put his header well high.

But Ochoa is falliable, and Netherlands finally proved it in the 88th minute. Robben’s corner curved to the back post, where substitute Klaas-Jan Huntelaar was waiting. His headed pass fell into the path of an onrushing Sneijder, whose low shot finally evaded the Mexico ‘keeper.

The match then finished in a fashion that might well have been written before kickoff. Robben, attempting to pull back from the touchline, was tripped up by Márquez. This time the referee wasted no time brandishing the yellow, nor in pointing to the spot. It was Huntelaar who stepped up, sending his shot left, while Ochoa dove right – and in the process, securing Netherlands’ advancement to the quarterfinals.

LINEUPS

Netherlands: Cillessen; De Vrij, Vlaar, Blind; Kuyt, Verhaegh (Depay 56), De Jong, Wijnaldum, Sneijder; Van Persie (Huntelaar 75), Robben

Mexico: Ochoa; Rodriguez, Salcido, Marquez, Aguilar, Layun; Herrera, Moreno (Reyes 45), Guardado, Dos Santos (Aquino 61); Peralta (Hernandez 75)

Goals: dos Santos 48′

Watch Live: Swansea City vs. Liverpool

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Swansea City’s bid to slow down steamrolling Liverpool begins at 3 p.m. ET Monday at the Liberty Stadium (Watch live on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

The rampaging Reds are coming off a 4-3 win that ended Manchester City’s unbeaten Premier League season, and will hope to avoid a let down against desperate Swans.

The Welsh hosts are six points adrift in the race for Premier League safety, and look set for a 5-4-1 with Jordan Ayew the only forward. Wilfried Bony and Oliver McBurnie are on the bench along with attack-minded Luciano Narsingh.

LINEUPS

Swansea City: Fabianski, Naughton, Van der Hoorn, Fernandez, Mawson, Olsson, Ki, Fer, Clucas, Dyer, Ayew. Subs: Nordfeldt, Bartley, Roque Mesa, Carroll, Narsingh, McBurnie, Bony.

Liverpool: Karius, Gomez, Matip, Van Dijk, Robertson, Can, Wijnaldum, Salah, Oxlade-Chamberlain, Mane, Firmino. Subs: Mignolet, Milner, Klavan, Lallana, Ings, Solanke, Alexander-Arnold.

Kevin De Bruyne commits to Man City through 2022-23

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Kevin De Bruyne is one of the best players in the world, and he’s committing his prime to the club which has taken him to the next level.

[ MORE: How will Arsenal, Man Utd line up? ]

Manchester City announced a new deal for the Belgian wizard, keeping him at the Etihad Stadium through 2023.

De Bruyne, 26, has posted 31 goals and 38 assists for Pep Guardiola‘s men since returning to England from the Bundesliga, and appreciates being given a lot more money. From ManCity.com:

“As I’ve said previously, my intention has always been to stay here at City, where I’ve felt at home from day one. Not only are we winning – we are playing great football. It’s a pleasure to be a part of and I’m really excited about what we can achieve in the coming years.”

De Bruyne is in the discussion for a Ballon d’Or finalist spot this year, along with Lionel Messi, Neymar, Gareth Bale, Harry Kane, and others (Hot take: This does seem to be year Ronaldo possibly knocked off, barring a remarkable run in the Champions League or World Cup).

After the swap: Alexis, Mkhi-infused XIs for Man Utd, Arsenal

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The deal is done: Henrikh Mkhitaryan has moved to Arsenal with Alexis Sanchez going the other way in a monumental January move.

[ MORE: Transfer rumor roundup ]

How will it look for each side once the shape’s settled?

Arsenal

When Henrikh Mkhitaryan was at his very best — for Borussia Dortmund in 2014-15 — he was deployed as a left or right wing. He contributed 23 goals and 32 assists in 52 matches during his final season at the Westfalenstadion, and predictably saw those numbers drop as Jose Mourinho consistently moved him toward an attacking center midfield role.

He’ll get the chance to go out wide again at the Emirates Stadium, though perhaps not always to the extreme flanks. Expect Alexandre Lacazette‘s numbers to explode with this move.

Arsene Wenger used a 4-3-3 to batter Crystal Palace 4-1 at the weekend, with Ozil on the right wing and Alex Iwobi on the left. The club still needs better at center defensive mid while Aaron Ramsey is out, so that will likely keep the lineup similar until he returns (at a minimum):

Cech

Bellerin — Mustafi — Koscielny — Montreal

Elneny (Ramsey, eventually)

Xhaka — Wilshere

Ozil — Lacazette — Mkhitaryan

By the way, a lot of Arsenal supporters aren’t feeling great about this (understatement alert):

Manchester United

Alexis Sanchez prefers left wing, too, and Mourinho has a trio of in-form players who like that side of the field. Anthony Martial is red hot but plays wider than Jesse Lingard, and it seems one of them will take the slot of Juan Mata to the right of Paul Pogba in a 4-1-4-1. Marcus Rashford could also see the far right positioning.

But against top competition — continued apologies to Burnley — it’s usually a 4-2-3-1 for Mourinho with Pogba dropping next to Nemanja Matic a little deeper in the formation. Lingard has been getting the run as CAM here, usually to the detriment of Juan Mata. With Alexis as the clear-cut left wing in this formation, it causes real combat for the two other slots between Mata, Lingard, Rashford, and Martial.

So while it’s likely we’d see something like this in a big game for Manchester United…

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Pogba

Martial — Lingard —  Sanchez

Lukaku

… We’d love to see something more like this:

De Gea

Young — Jones — Smalling — Valencia

Matic — Herrera

Pogba

Martial — Lukaku — Sanchez

How do you think Wenger and Mou will run ’em out?

Alexis Sanchez-Henrikh Mkhitaryan swap official (video)

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Arsenal and Manchester United have completed their American-style trade, with Henrikh Mkhitaryan joining the Gunners and Alexis Sanchez on board the Red Devils’ train.

Both 29 years old, the playmakers arrive at their new homes with plenty to prove.

More to come…