Tottenham 4-0 QPR: Spurs onslaught ruins Redknapp’s return to White Hart Lane

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Despite the opponent being just a newly-promoted side, Tottenham fans will be buzzing after a thorough performance by their side in the season’s home-opener.

Mauricio Pochettino’s debut at White Hart Lane was a powerful one, as Spurs comprehensively overwhelmed Queens Park Rangers with a 4-0 win.

Belgian winter Nacer Chadli picked up a brace, and defender Eric Dier bagged his second goal in two games as Spurs collected three points in much more attractive fashion than last weekend.

It started from the get-go, and the home side put on a number of incisive counter-attacks.

Naleb Bentaleb was at the heart of a few, and paired with Erik Lamela to get Emmanuel Adebayor a free header in the opening 10 minutes.

[MORE: Watch full replay, here]

The first goal came just minutes later, when Bentaleb sprung Adebayor down the left flank, and the striker lofted a beautiful ball over the center backs for Chadli on a tight angle. Chadli took on QPR goalkeeper Robert Green by himself, and found the back of the net one-on-one.

QPR had an opportunity to draw level, as a long ball from deep in their own half found Matt Phillips bursting forward behind the Spurs defense. Phillips cut back well but he scooped the shot over the bar. It would be the last time QPR would have a sniff at goal all half, as Spurs poured it on.

source: AP
Erik Lamela didn’t get on the scoresheet, but he was the creative force in the Spurs midfield at White Hart Lane.

The onslaught began in the 24th minute, as set-piece threat Christian Eriksen cannoned a spectacular free-kick off the underside of the bar, but it rocketed off the woodwork and did not cross the line, and the chance disappeared with no follow-up.

Spurs got a second quite surprisingly after , as defender Eric Dier picked up his second goal of the season with a powerful header off a corner on the half-hour mark. He charged up front an unsuspecting position and thundered his head against the ball.

The goal means Dier is the first defender to score in two games to open a season in Premier League history.

Chadli got his second and his team’s third thanks to fantastic build-up play from Lamela, who zig-zagged down the left flank before floating the ball across the box to Chadli lurking at the far post. Already with a goal to his name, the Belgian crashed his header into the back of the net.

Spurs kept pushing, hardly allowing QPR a touch all the way to the halftime break.  The second 45 saw much more possession for the visitors with Spurs sitting back, but it still led to few chances.

Spurs chose to play on the counter with Lamela the main man, and again looked much more incisive against an undisciplined high line.

The home side added to their flood when Emmanuel Adebayor cooly finished a one-time feed from Danny Rose after the hour mark, and QPR will have plenty of man-marking work to do in training this week.

[RELATED: Latest Premier League standings]

There was little else in the match, as Spurs decided they were happy with their haul.  The points send Spurs home still with the maximum total after two matches, and their margin of victory sends them top of the table on goal difference.

Meanwhile, Redknapp and QPR still have nothing to show for their time in the Premier League so far, and haven’t looked very good doing so.

LINEUPS:

Tottenham: Lloris; Dier, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose; Bentaleb (Dembele 59′), Capoue; Chadli (Kane 69′), Eriksen, Lamela; Adebayor (Soldado 80′).

Goals: Chadli 12, 37; Dier 30, Adebayor 65′

QPR: Green; Caulker, Ferdinand, Dunne (Onuoha 46′); Traore, Mutch, Isla, Barton, Fer (Faurlin 68′); Phillips (Zamora 74′), Remy.

Atlanta United’s Josef Martinez injured on international duty

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Atlanta United is sitting atop the Eastern Conference standings three weeks into its inaugural Major League Soccer season, and the bite appears to be every bit as fearsome as the bark for the newcomers.

Now, the club must contend with its first bit of truly scary news.

In-form striker Josef Martinez was injured on international duty with Venezuela and is heading back to the United States for evaluation. The report says he tweaked his left thigh, and after the match head coach Rafael Dudamel said he would release Martinez back to Atlanta, saying, “I do not think it’s good for Josef to travel. This muscle tightness can take 10 days of recovery.”

Martinez was subbed off of Venezuela’s match with Peru in the 59th minute, replaced by Yangel Herrera and walking off under his own power. Venezuela drew the match 2-2, blowing a 2-goal halftime lead and leaving them bottom of the table, 14 points back of the intercontinental playoff spot.

Obviously that 10-day recovery is more ideal than any other long-term prognosis, but it would still see him miss a road visit to Seattle next Friday. The 23-year-old has a whopping five games in his first three MLS games with Atlanta and has been a force. Brandon Vazquez and Bryan Rochez are the two options currently on Atlanta’s roster to replace the Venezuelan in the lineup.

Martinez was signed on loan from Serie A side Torino, but the move was made permanent last week.

Kevin de Bruyne questionable for injury-laden Belgium

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Belgium, already without superstar Eden Hazard for the upcoming World Cup qualifier against Greece, will now be without playmaker Kevin De Bruyne, who picked up an injury in training on Friday and will miss both the match against Greece and the subsequent friendly against Russia three days later…maybe.

The Belgian National Team official Twitter account sent out a quote from manager Roberto Martinez that confirmed De Bruyne would miss the pair of matches, but the tweet was quickly deleted.

Instead, this one was pushed out in its place, correcting his availability and also updating the type of injury:

Should De Bruyne miss out, it means Belgium would likely rely heavily on Dries Mertens and Kevin Mirallas for the playmaking duties, with midfielder Radja Nainggolan potentially taking on a more attacking role as well.

Belgium and Martinez also confirmed that right-back Thomas Meunier will miss out after failing to recover from an ankle injury, while Marouane Fellaini‘s status is unknown after he was held out of Thursday’s training session.

The injury also leaves De Bruyne’s status for Manchester City up in the air, with a pair of massive games in London in quick succession after the injury break. City visits Arsenal next Sunday, followed by a hop over to Stanford Bridge on Wednesday.

Landon Donovan retires again, this time for good

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After coming out of retirement last fall to join the LA Galaxy for one more shot at an MLS Cup, Landon Donovan has once again called time on his career, saying he’s certain he will not play again.

With a number of other ventures on his plate, the USMNT all-time leading scorer is looking forward to spending his time elsewhere.

“Yeah, I’m done,” Donovan said. “I’m done. No more playing for me. I have not [gone public with it yet]. But that is definitely the case.”

Donovan scored one goal in nine games for the LA Galaxy in his comeback bid, with the club ravaged by injuries and still gunning for the Cup. However, after the season was over with a loss to Colorado in the Conference Semifinals, the Galaxy confirmed it was nothing more than a short-term stopgap.

“With Landon, when he came back, it was always going to be a short-term thing,”team president Chris Klein said to the L.A. Times in December. “He’s enjoying what he’s doing and we see we’re comfortable in the direction that we’re headed.”

In January, reports claimed Real Salt Lake had offered Donovan a Designated Player contract, but it appears he’s turned it down, and will now have time to concentrate on his other ventures. Off the field, Donovan is an analyst on Fox’s soccer coverage, is on the advisory committee for the Los Angeles 2024 Olympics bid, and has joined the ownership group attempting to bring an expansion MLS team to San Diego.

Former Spurs midfielder Paulinho scores thunderbolt for Brazil

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Brazil topped Uruguay 4-1 to move on the verge of World Cup qualification, but there was much more to the first half of this match than meets the eye.

Uruguay went ahead 1-0 on a 9th-minute penalty won and scored by Edinson Cavani, and for a moment it seemed like the home side might find its way to pull within a point of Brazil at the top of the CONMEBOL standings. That would not last very long.

[ MORE: Full roundup of CONMEBOL World Cup qualifying action ]

Just 10 minutes later, a bad giveaway near the midfield stripe saw Neymar casually feed Paulinho a good 50 yards from goal. The former Spurs man took matters into his own hands, charging forward and unleashing a vicious strike that continued to rise until it ripped the chords in the top-right corner.

 

Not only was the goal a sight to behold, it was an important moment in the match. Brazil was back level at 1-1, and Paulinho would be on his way to an eventual hat-trick with a pair in the second half. Neymar scored once as well to complete the 4-1 final scoreline, and the three points for Brazil saw them remain perfect in the World Cup qualifying round as they march seven clear of Uruguay at the top of the standings.

For Paulinho, the hat-trick brings him to four goals in the World Cup qualifying round, adding to his score in the 3-0 win over Argentina. They also mark an important moment for the Chinese Super League, where Paulinho now plays, having moved from Spurs in July of 2015. Some national team coaches have left players on the outside of the squad for moving to leagues such as the Chinese League or Major League Soccer, but Paulinho has clearly been an asset to Brazil despite his club situation. In fact, in China, Paulinho has scored four goals in his four league matches for Guangzhou Evergrande this season plus another in the Asian Champions League, leaving him in top goalscoring form coming into this international break, something which has clearly translated directly to international play.

The 28-year-old had lost his place in the national team squad in 2014, going over two years without a single international appearance, but has been a mainstay in the Brazilian side during this World Cup qualification cycle.