At halftime: Gonzalo Higuaín goal has Argentina up 1-0 over Belgium

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Argentina are doing well to hold on to a one goal lead over Belgium at the break, but a change or two from the Red Devils could well upset the balance. Will the dark horses win out in the end?


8′: Gonzalo Higuaín gets his first goal of the 2014 World Cup, but Lionel Messi is at the heart of it, of course. Messi managed to hold on to the ball even as a mass of red shirts attempted to muscle him off it, eventually slotting through to Ángel di María. His pass bounced off a Belgian defender, dropping to Higuaín who had plenty of space in front of goal in which to volley his shot into the back of Thibaut Courtois’ net.

Other key moments

8′: Argentina take the lead through a goal from Gonzalo Higuaín.

13′: Belgium get their first shot in, but Kevin De Bruyne goes wide.

22′: di María plays a bit of keepy-uppy, avoids two challenges but his flick to Higuaín is intercepted.

26′: De Bruyne’s shot from distance is palmed away by Sergio Romero, but Divock Origi isn’t in a good position to take advantage of the rebound.

33′: di María limps off injured, Enzo Pérez replaces.

40′: Marouane Fellaini fouls Messi three times before the Argentine finally goes down, earning a free kick in a dangerous position. His shot goes just wide, however.

42′: Kevin Mirallas comes close with a header off a Jan Vertonghen cross.


Argentina: Romero; Zabaleta, Demichelis, Garay, Basanta; Biglia, Mascherano, di Maria (Perez 33); Lavezzi, Messi, Higuain

Belgium: Courtois; Alderweireld, Van Buyten, Kompany, Vertonghen; Witsel, Fellaini; De Bruyne, Mirallas, Hazard, Origi

Question for the second half

When will we see the first change from Marc Wilmots?
The Belgium lineup suggests Wilmots was holding back, perhaps hoping to keep Argentina from scoring until deep in the match, when he would then bring in fresh legs in the form of Romelu Lukaku and/or Dries Mertens. But with Belgium chasing the game practically from the first whistle, Wilmots might do well to make at least one change at the restart. Fellaini in particular has disappointed, and it may make sense to haul him off sooner rather than later.

VIDEO: Marco Verratti plays a brilliant pass to Eder for Italy goal

PALERMO, ITALY - SEPTEMBER 06:  Marco Verratti of Italy in action during the UEFA EURO 2016 Qualifier match between Italy and Bulgaria on September 6, 2015 in Palermo, Italy.  (Photo by Claudio Villa/Getty Images)
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Italy took a 1-0 lead over Azerbaijan through the in-form Eder in the 11th minute, but the true leg-work (see what I did there) came from bite-sized midfielder Marco Verratti.

The PSG playmaker pinged a beautiful long ball over the top of the Azerbaijan defense that fell right at the feet of Eder, who let the ball settle itself and touched home confidently past Kamran Arhayev for a 1-0 lead.

The goal is the second of Eder’s national career in just five caps, having scored on debut against Bulgaria back in March. He has six goals in seven matches for Sampdoria so far this Serie A season.

Italy needs three points in this match to ensure qualification to Euro 2016. A win would guarantee them a place in the field, while anything less would mean there is work to do in the final match on Tuesday against Norway.


Later in the match, Stephan El Shaarawy gave Italy a 2-1 lead just before halftime, his second career international goal and his first since September of 2012 which came in his third career start.

Agent: Liverpool contacted Klopp only after Rodgers firing

LIVERPOOL, ENGLAND - OCTOBER 09:  Jurgen Klopp arrives to be unveiled as the new manager of Liverpool FC at a press conference at Anfield on October 9, 2015 in Liverpool, England.  (Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images)
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As soon as Brendan Rodgers was dismissed by Liverpool on Sunday, Jurgen Klopp’s name was tossed around as the likely successor to the then-vacant Liverpool managerial position.

However, according to Klopp’s representatve Marc Kosicke, Liverpool did not make contact with the German until after Rodgers had been officially let go.

“The first call from Liverpool came after the dismissal as coach of Rodgers,” Kosicke told Bild. “Before Liverpool there were naturally quite a few inquiries. But Jurgen always asked me not to take it any further.”

Club management was less committal than Klopp’s rep, but did say they had their eye on the German for some time. “We have learned to keep certain matters confidential. We had a meeting recently with Jurgen that he has talked about and I don’t want to talk too much about these conversations. But we have thought about him for a long time and everyone who knows football knows he is an outstanding manager.”

It’s relatively hard to believe Liverpool would have canned Rodgers without knowing for sure that a top-level target such as Klopp or Carlo Ancelotti were on board to replace him. It also would mean discussions of the contract terms and logistics would have moved at lightning speed, with just four days between the Rodgers dismissal and Klopp’s official unveiling.