Tottenham 0-3 Liverpool: Familiar scenes as Reds storm Spurs in London

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For a side that found themselves beat 9-0 across both fixtures last year against Liverpool, Tottenham failed to rectify last season’s tragedies by again slumping to a listless 3-0 defeat.

Mauricio Pochettino was powerless to stop the Reds attack as Raheem Sterling opened the account inside 10 minutes, while Steven Gerrard and Alberto Moreno finished things off.

Debutant Mario Balotelli nearly got off to a roaring start in just the third minute, as Daniel Sturridge sent in a cross to the far post and Balotelli got a free header on it, but he stuck it right at Hugo Lloris who saved well.

Both teams started well offensively in a very open game early, but it was Liverpool indeed to took advantage.

[VIDEO: Premier League highlights, here]

Sturridge beat a pair of Spurs defenders down the right flank, and he picked out Jordan Henderson who had advanced to an attacking position. Henderson cut the ball across the ball to the far post where Raheem Sterling was lurking, and the 19-year-old winger struck home for the opener inside 10 minutes.

source: AP
Brendan Rodgers liked what he saw from his side yet again at White Hart Lane.

Again the Reds were dangerous minutes later, as Sturridge continued to give Spurs defenders fits. He sliced through the middle of the pitch and lashed at goal, with the shot stinging just wide of the post.

There was a laughable bit of play where ugly mistakes were made by all side, including the referee.

Reds defender Mamadou Sakho made a mistake of his own, passing the ball right to a Spurs player in his own half, and the home side broke but the chance was snuffed out as Dejan Lovern covered with a pinpoint tackle.

Then, off a Spurs corner, Naleb Bentaleb tried to recycle the chance following Liverpool’s clear. Instead, he awkwardly sent the ball careening into his own half and Raheem Sterling collected on the break, but the youngster couldn’t pick out Alberto Moreno streaking down the center as the Spurs defense scrambled to cover.

Then English sensation Eric Dier crunched Balotelli on the touchline, a clear foul and probably a booking, but referee Phil Dowd inexplicably let it go. The tackle – from behind – should have at least produced a yellow and maybe even more.

Balotelli made a bit of a bungle as well after the half-hour mark, twisting a long-range shot well wide after Hugo Lloris had come all the way out of net to cover a Sterling break, leaving the goal wide open. Brendan Rodgers found it pretty funny though, so no harm done.

An open chance fell to Erik Lamela just before halftime, but Simon Mignolet saved before having a furious word or two with his defense.

Just two minutes after halftime, things got much worse for Spurs as Liverpool doubled their lead. Phil Dowd awarded a penalty to Liverpool after Dier lightly tugged Joe Allen, and the Red went to ground. Steven Gerrard made no mistake from the penalty spot, slotting into the bottom corner past Lloris who guessed correctly.

[RELATED: Premier League stats]

Alberto Moreno struck for Liverpool’s third in the 60th minute, as he streaked down the left flank and ripped a vicious strike past Lloris.  The move prompted changes for Brendan Rodgers, who took off Balotelli and Allen for more holding substitutes.

The Reds wanted even more when Sterling found himself all alone against Lloris, but he waited and waited and waited to shoot before producing a very weak effort right at the feet of the goalkeeper.

With the win, Liverpool jump to six points on the year, finding themselves level with Spurs and Manchester City in the second tier of the table behind undefeated Chelsea and Swansea City on a perfect nine.

LINEUPS:

Tottenham: Lloris; Dier, Kaboul, Vertonghen, Rose (Davies 62′); Bentaleb (Dembele 59′), Capoue; Chadli, Eriksen (Townsend 59′), Lamela; Adebayor.

Liverpool: Mignolet; Manquillo, Moreno, Lovren, Sakho; Gerrard, Allen (Can 61′), Henderson, Sterling (Enrique 87′); Sturridge, Balotelli (Markovic 62′).

Goals: Sterling 8′, Gerrard (pen) 48′, Moreno 60′

MLS Snapshot: Toronto FC hold Crew on the road

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The game in 100 words (or less): Without two of its stars, Toronto FC set out to play compact and hold on for a draw on the road, and that’s exactly what they did. Michael Bradley recorded 17 recoveries and a trio of interceptions as TFC broke up play and covered the passing lanes, frustrating the Columbus Crew all night. The best chance fell to Harrison Afful late, but TFC goalkeeper Alex Bono made a crucial save to keep it at 0-0.

Three moments that mattered

‘ — The starting lineup — In a game with chances few and far between, the tactical set-up by Greg Vanney – in which his side without Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore came out in a 4-1-4-1 formation – proved to be the difference in the game, frustrating the Crew all night.

52′ — Pedro Santos penalty kick no-call — Justin Meram plays a neat pass through the TFC backline that Santos runs on to, and he appears to be taken down in the box by Bono. Referee Robert Sbiga doesn’t blow the whistle and lets play continue, where Ola Kamara takes a shot that’s deflected away. Santos appeals for video review, and receives a yellow card for his efforts.

85′ — Big Save Bono — Gregg Berhalter’s 77th minute substitution to bring on Kekutah Manneh helped to push Afful higher up the field, which led to this late-game chance. Bono, who hadn’t had a whole lot to do, came up with a massive stop to keep the tie level.

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Man of the Match: Alex Bono, Toronto FC

Three things: Being happy with 0-0, and sabotage by Precourt

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On what felt sure to be a seminal night in franchise history, Columbus Crew SC were held by Toronto FC to a 0-0 draw in the first leg of the 2017 MLS Cup Playoffs Eastern Conference finals on Tuesday. Leg 2 will be played next Wednesday, Nov. 29.

[ RECAP: TFC hold Crew SC to scoreless draw in leg 1 of East finals ]

We learned (roughly) three things over the course of the 90 minutes…


Who’s happiest with 0-0?

There’s a case to be made that both sides will be quite happy with Tuesday’s result — Crew SC for the fact they conceded no away goals, and TFC facing no deficit whatsoever before their home leg — but it’s quite clear that TFC should be the happier of the two, given 1) they were the best regular-season team in MLS history, this season; and, more importantly, 2) Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore were suspended for leg 1 (they’ll both be back for leg 2) and Crew SC failed to capitalize anywhere meaningful.

TFC lost once at BMO Field all season, while Columbus managed just four victories away from home. Granted, any draw where both sides score would see Crew SC through to MLS Cup, which they would host no matter the opponent (54 points in the regular season; Seattle Sounders and Houston Dynamo finished on 54 and 50, respectively).


TFC’s tactical adjustment pays off

For all of the regular season, TFC head coach Greg Vanney deployed a back-three, with great success — 69 points, an all-time regular-season record. Nov. 21, three games from lifting (or losing) MLS Cup, is hardly the ideal time to deviate from the only path you’ve known.

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Alas, the absences of Giovinco and Altidore, TFC’s permanent strike partnership in the 3-5-2, changed everything. Without Altidore’s hold-up play bringing the best player to ever grace the league into attacking moves, the 3-5-2 would have quickly devolved into a 5-3-2, followed in short order by a 5-4-1. Columbus need no invitation to hold north of 60 percent of possession in a given game, which is exactly what would have happened. Not just meaningless possession, either, but camping-inside-TFC’s-defensive-third possession; 50-crosses-into-the-box possession; get-the-center-backs-forward-too possession.

Vanney was proactive with his starting lineup, putting another body in midfield by sacrificing a striker for another man in the middle, and it paid off. At right, you’ll see Crew SC’s attempted passes into/from TFC’s defensive third. Woof.


Anthony Precourt sinks to a new low

How low is Anthony Precourt willing to go in order to sabotage Crew SC, the club he owns and efforts to move to Austin, Tex., without so much as a phony attempt at a non-relocation resolution, and alienate the fans that have supported the franchise since MLS’s debut season in 1996? Tuesday night saw Precourt and Co. up the ante as they intentionally restricted entry (two gates for the entire stadium, causing thousands to miss the game’s opening minutes) into MAPFRE Stadium with the presumed intent of a half-empty venue when the television broadcast kicked off and panned left to right.

You pay good money for a ticket so you can see your team play, which ultimately results in filling the pockets of the villain whose no. 1 goal it is to steal your team, and this is how you’re treated on gameday.

This is shameful stuff from all parties involved — Crew SC, under the leadership and direction of Precourt, and MLS, who have allowed this entire saga to be played out in a public forum and enabling Precourt every step of the way.

Report: Crystal Palace to build new stadium

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Crystal Palace may have a new home in the next few years.

That’s according to reports out of English, which state that Crystal Palace owner Steve Parish is set to make a major stadium announcement before Christmas.

Crystal Palace’s home stadium, Selhurst Park, is nearly 100 years old, and the club has looked over the last few years at either new locations for a stadium in South London or ways to renovate the current ground.

“When I came into this thing, the aim was to bring something for all of us to be proud of on the pitch and very importantly off the pitch,” Parish told the Croydon Advertiser. “We want to give everybody in Croydon a south London stadium that we can all be proud of and not lose our atmosphere and uniqueness.

“That’s a dream for me, a lifelong dream and one that hopefully everybody will share when they see what we’ve put together. It’s fantastically exciting times for us to look forward to.”

Unlike in America, where many sports owners demand a new stadium every 20-25 years or so, in England, there are many stadiums still in use across the Football League and Premier League that were initially built in the 1800s.

It’s unclear who would pay for a new Crystal Palace stadium, what it would look like and how many seats it would hold, but perhaps a new stadium and facility could help

FOLLOW LIVE – MLS Conference Finals, Leg 1

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There’s never been more on the line in the latest Trilliam Cup matchup.

For the first time, Toronto FC and the Columbus Crew will meet in the MLS Cup playoffs, kicking off at 8:00 p.m., with both teams taking different paths to the Eastern Conference finals.

Toronto FC battled the New York Red Bulls to win on away goals, after a 2-1 win in Red Bull Arena in the first leg, but tempers flared and the Supporters Shield winners will be without both Sebastian Giovinco and Jozy Altidore on Tuesday night. The Crew meanwhile survived an incredible 120 minutes at Atlanta United to win in a shootout, and then carried that momentum into a 4-3 aggregate victory over New York City FC.

[FOLLOW: MLS Conference Finals Play-by-Play]

Now, with the Crew’s status in Columbus still up in the air, Crew fans have one chance to pack MAPFRE Stadium to support their team and prove to the league they can support an MLS franchise.

Meanwhile, in the Western Conference, the upstart Houston Dynamo host a sold-out crowd as the defending MLS Cup champions Seattle Sounders visit, with kickoff set for 9:30 p.m.

The Dynamo stunned the injury-riddled Portland Timbers in the last round and the Dynamo has lost just once at home in MLS action this calendar year. On the other side, the Sounders are getting a major boost, with Osvaldo Alonso and Jordan Morris close to returning, either in this game or next week, and Clint Dempsey remains fit and raring to go back in his home state.

Follow all the action from tonight’s MLS Cup playoff matchups.