Following a weather delay that took everybody off the pitch for about an hour, the Houston Dynamo got a goal ahead of Sporting Kansas City in the NBC-televised game tonight. It was Will Bruin who did the honors in the 35th minute, gathering a cross in the box and burying it between KC defenders. He then fell to the ground injured, but endured the knock to remain on the field.
With Brighton & Hove Albion and Newcastle United having already clinched the Championship’s two automatic promotion places, all eyes turn to the four teams behind them still jockeying for playoff positioning…
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3rd — Reading — 82 points, +2 GD
4th — Sheffield Wednesday — 81 points, +16 GD
5th — Huddersfield Town — 81 points, +1 GD
6th — Fulham — 77 points, +27 GD
First of all, the Championship remains the least sensible league in the world. Disagree? Just try to explain the above wildly varying points totals and the corresponding goal differentials. Go ahead, I’ll wait
As for the weekend’s results, Reading and Wednesday did themselves major favors in the race for third with victories over Wigan Athletic (1-0) and Ipswich Town (1-0), respectively, while Huddersfield, who entered the weekend in that top playoff place, played 67 minutes with a man advantage against Birmingham City, and lost 2-0. All three of Reading, Wednesday and Huddersfield have clinched their place in the promotion playoffs, which begin two weeks from Saturday, on May 13.
Given Leeds United’s 3-3 draw with Norwich City, a win would have clinched the fourth and final playoff place for Fulham, but the Cottagers dropped a pair of points themselves in a 1-1 draw with Brentford at Craven Cottage. Still, Fulham are all but into the playoffs with a three-point lead on Leeds, and a goal differential that’s 13 goals better.
There’s Super Sunday, and then there’s this Sunday, when six of the top seven sides in the Premier League will be in action…
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Manchester United vs. Swansea City — 7 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com
Injury crisis — noun: see, also: United, Manchester
With five games to go in the PL season, and a top-four place very much within reach — as well as the Europa League trophy — Jose Mourinho is without a half-dozen players whom would have been considered automatic first-choice starters at the season’s start (see below). Fortunately for him, he’s got players like Marcus Rashford, Anthony Martial and Henrikh Mkhitaryan beyond anxious for additional playing time.
Following a 0-0 draw with Manchester City on Thursday, Man United have climbed to within two points of third-place Liverpool (with a game in hand), and control their own destiny as far as finishing in the top-four goes. Following three straight defeats to Swansea in 2014 and 2015, order has somewhat been restored with the Red Devils winning the last two meetings between the sides. As badly as United need three points to qualify for the UEFA Champions League, the Swans need them more in their bid to stave off relegation from the PL (they currently sit three points back of 17th-place Hull City, with a better goal differential).
INJURIES: Man United — OUT: Zlatan Ibrahimovic (knee), Paul Pogba (leg), Marcos Rojo (knee), Juan Mata (groin), Marouane Fellaini (suspension), Chris Smalling (knee), Phil Jones (toe) | Swansea — OUT: Angel Rangel (foot), Nathan Dyer (achilles), Wayne Routledge (hernia)
Everton vs. Chelsea — 9:05 a.m. ET, on CNBC and NBCSports.com
Sunday’s trip to Goodison Park, where they are winless in their last two visits (PL and FA Cup), looks to be Chelsea’s toughest remaining fixture as Antonio Conte‘s side seeks to lift the club’s fifth PL trophy (sixth in all eras). After a pair of losses in four games’ time saw their lead cut from 10 points to four, the Blues reasserted themselves as the team to beat with an FA Cup semifinal victory over Tottenham Hotspur, their last remaining challenger, and a convincing 4-2 victory over Southampton in league play on Tuesday.
Middlesbrough vs. Manchester City — 9:05 a.m. ET, on NBCSports.com
Following that 0-0 draw in the Manchester derby, Man City remain fourth in the league table, a single point back of Liverpool (with a game in hand). Given the mathematics involved, their margin for error is greater than any of the three sides fighting for the final top Champions League places. With that said, a loss away to 19th-place Boro would be horrendous, season-defining result — one that would take their destiny out of their own hands and see them rely on results elsewhere to finish top-four in Pep Guardiola‘s first season.
INJURIES: Boro — OUT: Victor Valdes (ribs); QUESTIONABLE: Grant Leadbitter (hamstring) | Man City — OUT: John Stones (knock), Ilkay Gundogan (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Sergio Aguero (back), David Silva (ankle), Gabriel Jesus (fitness)
Tottenham Hotspur vs. Arsenal — 11:30 a.m. ET, on NBCSN and NBCSports.com
It was confirmed on Friday that Sunday’s North London derby would be the very last meeting between Tottenham and Arsenal ever played at White Hart Lane, as the 118-year-old stadium will be demolished this summer as construction on Spurs’ brand new, 61,000-seat stadium continues. As fate would have it, not only can Spurs round out the White Hart Lane era with another famous derby when at the Lane, but Sunday also offers Mauricio Pochettino‘s side the chance to do something the club has failed to do in each of the last 22 seasons: clinch a finish above Arsenal in the league table.
Everything is in Spurs’ favor, too, as they’ve won eight straight league games for just the third time in club history (the first time in the PL era), by a combined score of 23-4. Following back-to-back 4-0 wins, over Watford and Bournemouth, their title hopes were kept alive by a brilliant, late strike from Christian Eriksen on Wednesday at Selhurst Park. At the same time, Arsenal were fortunate to top Leicester City courtesy of a comical own goal scored by Robert Huth. If any of those things — stadium nostalgia, form, or current standing in the league (Spurs sit second, 14 points clear of the Gunners — mattered, we’d hand Spurs the three points now. But, this is still Spurs we’re talking about, and why would we ever skip out on the North London derby?
INJURIES: Tottenham — OUT: Erik Lamela (hip), Harry Winks (ankle), Michel Vorm (knee); QUESTIONABLE: Danny Rose (knee)| Arsenal — OUT: Santi Cazorla (achilles), Shkodran Mustafi (thigh); QUESTIONABLE: Laurent Koscielny (knee)
Make it five in-a-row and a record 27 titles for German powers Bayern Munich.
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No other club has won more than Nurnberg’s nine titles, while Borussia Dortmund (8), Schalke (7), and Hamburg (6) are deep in the rear view mirror.
Wolfsburg 0-6 Bayern Munich
Bayern entered the day knowing a win would put the title out of reach for RB Leipzig, and David Alaba scored before the match was 20 minutes old to put the Bavarians on their way.
Robert Lewandowski added to the score line twice before half, passing Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang (Borussia Dortmund) atop the goal scoring chart with his 27th and 28th of the season.
Arjen Robben, Thomas Muller, and Joshua Kimmich contributed second half goals.
Here’s Lewandowski’s first.
RB Leipzig 0-0 Ingolstadt
Despite a 15-6 advantage in shot attempts and three times as many passes completed, RB Leipzig cast aside its slim chances for a Bundesliga title. Still, a shot at second in their first season is far from a shame.
Bayer Leverkusen 1-4 Schalke – Friday
Borussia Dortmund 0-0 Koln
Werder Bremen 2-0 Hertha Berlin – Bartels, Kruse score
Mainz 1-2 Borussia Monchengladbach – Schulz scores winner
Darmstadt 3-0 Freiburg – 3rd-straight W for basement dwellers
Augsburg vs. Hamburg – 9:30 a.m. ET Sunday
Hoffenheim vs. Eintracht Frankfurt – 11:30 a.m. ET Sunday
|Hertha BSC Berlin||31||14||4||13||38||37||1||12-1-2||2-3-11||46|
|1. FC Köln||31||10||12||9||43||37||6||7-6-2||3-6-7||42|
|FC Schalke 04||31||11||8||12||43||36||7||8-4-4||3-4-8||41|
|FSV Mainz 05||31||9||6||16||40||51||-11||6-4-6||3-2-10||33|
|FC Ingolstadt 04||31||8||5||18||33||54||-21||4-3-8||4-2-10||29|
- Barnes scores in 8th minute
- Gray nabs substitute goal
- Clarets eight points clear of drop
- Palace one point behind Burnley
It took 18 tries, but Burnley’s first road win of the season came at a very good time.
Ashley Barnes‘ early goal sent Burnley over Crystal Palace in Saturday’s game at Selhurst Park and on the table with a 2-0 win.
Andre Gray came off the bench to finish the scoring in the 85th minute.
Burnley rises to 14th place with 39 points, one ahead of now 16th place Palace.
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Palace was on the front foot for the first five minutes, but Burnley found the opener when Ashley Barnes couldn’t redirect Stephen Ward‘s with his cross first touch but kept the ball at his feet long enough to score through Wayne Hennessey‘s legs.
The game was delayed when James Tarkowski was hit in the head with a projectile during the celebration, but was able to stay in the game.
Barnes had a second goal taken back for a handball after he settled the ball with his arm before beating Hennessey low.
The Clarets were tricky to break down. On one sequence after the half-hour mark, Burnley smothered space until Patrick Van Aanholt‘s shot from the left was blocked away from danger.
Luka Milivojević fired a prime shot wide of the frame in the 36th minute.
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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]
The Clarets were stout after the break, and Palace’s effective wingmen Zaha and Andros Townsend remained lively but grew frustrated by aggressive treatment from Burnley.
Damien Delaney hit a classy side volley on goal in the 65th minute that Heaton palmed out for a corner, which Burnley handled well.
Jon Flanagan caused penalty shouts for Palace when he jabbed his leg between Zaha’s and was adjudged to have caught ball.
That’s when Sean Dyche brought Andre Gray into the game for Barnes.
Remy cued up Zaha for a curling rip in the 81st, but Matthew Lowton blocked it over the goal.
Gray raced onto a long ball in the 85th minute, curling his finish around Hennessey to cement the three points.