Queens Park Rangers 0-1 Hull City: Chester’s header enough to hand Tigers win (video)

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Hull City recorded an opening day 1-0 win over new boys Queens Park Rangers at Loftus Road.

James Chester’s second half header was the difference between the two teams as QPR huffed and puffed but couldn’t find a finishing touch on a frustrating afternoon for Harry Redknapp’s side.

In the 85th minute Charlie Austin had the perfect chance to grab Rangers a point, but Allan McGregor saved his penalty kick and the Tigers head back to Yorkshire with all three points.

This match was the first time both teams has met in the top-flight of English soccer.

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QPR were rampant earlier in the game as Hull sat back and tried to soak up the pressure. Both teams were employing similar 3-5-2 formations with possession the key.

The home side looked more enterprising and had the best chance of the opening stages as Faurlin wriggled free in the box but dragged his effort just wide of the far post. Promising start for Rangers. In the 27th minute Joey Barton whipped a free kick up and over the wall but it clipped the side netting as the home side continued to push for the opener.

Moments later Jordan Mutch sent a deft header just wide and Rangers continued to press but just couldn’t find the opening goal before the break as Steven Caulker also had a header cleared off the line. Just before half time Robert Snodgrass was forced off through injury on his Hull City debut.

Despite all of that early pressure, QPR went behind in the 52nd minute as Rio Ferdinand let Chester bully him at the back post as the Hull defender headed home. A deep corner from the right eluded everyone but the former Manchester United trainee fended off Ferdinand and netted the opening goal of the game to put the Tigers 1-0 up.

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Hull were well in the ascendancy after that opener and after Stepheen Quinn played in Tom Ince, the latter steamed in on goal but his shot was saved well by Robert Green as QPR held on. In the 80th minute QPR almost equalized as a corner from the left was headed towards his own goal by Chester and Ferdinand directed the ball towards goal but Hull hacked the ball off the line as they battened down the hatches late on.

The chance QPR had worked so hard for arrived in the 84th minute as Chester conceded a penalty after a handball in the box.  Charlie Austin stepped up to take the PK on his Premier League debut but the striker saw his effort saved by Allan McGregror as the chance came and went.

Hull held on for a valuable three points, while QPR’s return to the big time was not a happy one.


QPR: Green, Caulker, Ferdinand, Dunne (Zamora, 78′), Simpson (Phillips, 67′), Faurlin (Hoilett, 68′), Mutch, Barton, Traore, Remy, Austin.

Hull: McGregor, Bruce (McShane, 45′), Chester, Davies, Elmohamady, Huddlestone, Livermore, Robertson, Snodgrass (Quinn, 40′), Ince (Meyler, 82′), Jelavic.

Goal: Chester (52′)

Xabi Alonso denies Spanish accusations of tax fraud

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The list of players pursued by Spanish authorities crying tax fraud is starting to resemble a pretty good team,

Call it The Longest Yard: La Liga.

[ MORE: Alonso, Pedro support Morata ]

Xabi Alonso is being accused of not paying taxes on his image rights while a player at Real Madrid, joining Radamel Falcao, Neymar, Lionel Messi, Luka Modric, and Cristiano Ronaldo as World XI-caliber players who’ve faced legal troubles in Spain.

Jose Mourinho even had to travel to Spain earlier this season to face accusations from a Spanish court. Those found guilty have found punishment other than jail time.

Alonso denies any wrongdoing, according to Sky Sports:

Prosecutors say he defrauded the Spanish state of £1.75m between 2010 and 2012 and called for the same sentence to be applied to Alonso’s financial advisor Ivan Zaldua Azcuenaga and the administrator of consultancy shell company, Ignasi Maestre Casanova.

Iraq hosts friendly tournament after 3-decade FIFA ban

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BAGHDAD (AP) Iraq is hosting a friendly soccer tournament this week, with Syria and Qatar.

It comes just days after FIFA lifted a three-decade-long ban on Iraq hosting international competitions.

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An Iraq-Qatar match is to start Wednesday evening in the southern city of Basra.

FIFA lifted the ban on Monday for Iraqi cities of Basra, Karbala and Irbil, considered to be the safest in Iraq – but not the capital, Baghdad, which still sees frequent militant attacks.

Iraq’s minister of youth and sports, Abdul-Hussein Abtan, congratulated the Iraqi people following FIFA’s move and said it would change how Iraq is viewed in the region and beyond.

While the ban was in place, Iraq was still able to host friendly games and tournaments.

$280m? Who cares? Salah is the rare “unsellable” player


The gossip reports are out there, with lofty claims that Real Madrid and Barcelona are willing to pay as much as $280 million dollars for Mohamed Salah.

Normally that figure triggers something in my brain that screams, “Sell! Sell! Sell before they realize what they’ve offered!”

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That’s not happening with Mohamed Salah.

This isn’t an inflated fee for a young English player like Ross Barkley or John Stones, nor is it a club throwing a lofty and desperate figure at a very good but supremely overvalued player like Philippe Coutinho. Even Raheem Sterling, who I advocated selling, has proven replaceable.

In the case of Salah, his Golden Boot figure is likely to dwarf any in the Premier League era. He’s at 28, three behind Luis Suarez’s 31. Cristiano Ronaldo has bagged 31 once Alan Shearer and Andy Cole hold the modern record with 34.

Salah needs six to tie Shearer. Here’s Liverpool’s run-in: Crystal Palace (A), Everton (A), Bournemouth (H), West Brom (A), Stoke City (H), Chelsea (A), Brighton and Hove Albion (H).

Five of those teams absolutely hemorrhage goals. Would you bet against Salah?

By the way, Salah has 10 assists, too. Sure Jurgen Klopp deserves credit for buying and deploying the Egyptian wizard, but

When Klopp argued that Liverpool was not a selling club, this is the exact example to follow. Selling Coutinho — again, not trying to poke the bear that is ornery overvaluing fan — is fine in a world where your club has Roberto Firmino, Sadio Mane, and Mohamed Salah

But selling one of Europe’s leading scorers is almost never okay for a club challenging for a Champions League crown and with the clear caliber of a Premier League title hunter.

I’d argue that for this club, one who has sold Coutinho and Suarez, there is not a fee that meets Salah straight-on.  He’s 25 and living in the air just below Lionel Messi and Neymar.

The Messi comparisons I keep reading are fun but still unbelievably premature by every stretch of the imagination. By the time Messi was Salah’s age he had league seasons of 34, 31, 50, and was en route to a 46-goal mark. He posted 68 combined assists over those four seasons.

If this is somehow an aberration, and Salah cannot find this form ever again, well, that’s bad luck and a risk worth its weight in standard setting.

There is not a replacement player.

There is no fee.

Say it again now.

Dangerous playmaker Silva joins Montreal Impact (video)

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Alejandro Silva’s got a creative mind, and that’s something Montreal will welcome with open arms.

The Uruguayan signed with the Impact this week, joining Ignacio Piatti and Saphir Taider as playmakers in Quebec.

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Silva, 28, is a right-sided and forward-playing attacker who can also play right back if necessary.

The Impact lost two of three to start the season, winning this weekend’s 401 Derby versus Toronto FC to put a number in the win column.

Lanus has been a fertile ground for Major League Soccer clubs in recent years, with Lucas Melano (Portland Timbers) and Miguel Almiron (Atlanta United) making the move to North America.

The South American club has also sent Gustavo Gomez to AC Milan and Oscar Benitez to Benfica.