Americans Abroad wrap: Guzan stays unbeaten, Lichaj & Bedoya thrive

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FulThough the transfer deadline was a quiet time for American players apart from Julian Green’s loan move to Hamburg, the boys deserved some downtime after a very busy weekend on the pitch.

Transfer moves did not materialize for Sacha Kljestan, Brek Shea nor Geoff Cameron, while Juan Agudelo is still without a team. Agudelo, of course, is unattached and can sign anywhere, while the remaning three are still candidates to find loan homes at some point this Fall.

As for the soccer, let’s get the ugly out of the way by starting in the Premier League: Tim Howard had an absolutely brutal day against a Chelsea firing squad that netted six times at Goodison Park. When Everton scores thrice, manager Roberto Martinez usually feels good about his chances to win. This wasn’t the case against a motivated Chelsea team.

[ RELATED: Injured defender Cameron removes himself from USMNT trip ]

Break up Aston Villa! Brad Guzan’s shutout streak was broken by Stoke City, but Villa surged into an early-season Top Four position with a 2-1 win over the Potters.

Will Sunderland manager Gus Poyet just give Jozy Altidore an early-season start? The American forward came off the bench for the final nine minutes of the Black Cats 1-0 loss to Queens Park Rangers, and would surely merit a longer look than the 14, 10 and nine minutes he’s seen through three matches (even coming off his miserable campaign).

[ RELATED: Latest Premier League standings ]

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Lichaj

Down in the Championship, Nottingham Forest stayed in pole position for promotion with yet another win. American back Eric Lichaj played all 97 minutes in a big road win over Sheffield Wednesday.

Near the other end of the table, Fulham and 18-year-old American midfielder Emerson Hyndman finally found their first point of the season in a 1-1 draw against Cardiff. The teen star played all 90 minutes for the Cottagers.

Tim Ream and Bolton were on the short end of the stick in a 1-0 loss against Leeds United, with the defender going the duration. Meanwhile, Jonathan Spector was on the field for 90 minutes of regret as his Birmingham City side was waxed 4-0 by Wigan Athletic.

To Germany,  Fabian Johnson saw just 15 minutes work as Borussia Monchengladbach settled for a point in a scoreless match at Freiburg. John Anthony Brooks went 90 minutes as a left inside back in a 5-4-1, as Hertha Berlin were beaten 4-2 by Bayer Leverkusen. Hertha lead 1-0 and 2-1 before giving it away in the final 28 minutes.

Timmy Chandler subbed on for 34 minutes in Eintracht Frankfurt’s 2-2 draw at Wolfsburg.

In the Eredivisie, Rubio Rubin subbed off after a disappointing 57 minutes in Utrecht’s 3-1 loss to Heerenveen.

In France, Ale Bedoya and Nantes pulled off a mild upset as they continue a solid season’s start for the second straight year. The Canaries beat Montpellier 1-0, with Bedoya playing right mid in a 4-4-2 and going 82 minutes. He subbed shortly after his club took the lead. Nantes is now three points back of first-place Bordeaux.

In Norway, Bob Bradley’s Stabaek side drew 1-1 at home against basement-dwelling Sandnes Ulf. Michael Stephens and Andrew Jacobson went 90 minutes in the points-share.

Rosenborg had a bit of a six-pointer against Viking, and Mix Diskerud played all 90 minutes in the 2-1 win. Neither Josh Gatt nor Ethan Horvath made the bench for Molde’s 1-0 win over Brann.

Serie A: Napoli, Juve hold serve in 1-point title race

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Italy’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona now 31 games unbeaten | Real Madrid 17 points behind ]

Napoli 1-0 SPAL 2013

The battle for Serie A supremacy isn’t ending anytime soon, as Napoli and Juventus continue to match one another (nine straight wins for each side) in Europe’s only remaining major title race.

On Sunday, they even traded 1-0 victories — Napoli at home to SPAL 2013, with Juve triumphing over Torino in the Turin derby.

Brazilian midfielder Allan bagged the only goal for Napoli after just six minutes, finishing off a mesmerizing, free-flowing move that’s become synonymous with Napoli this season. The video-assisting referee came into play just after the hour mark, when Marek Hamsik headed home to make it 2-0 before the VAR wiped it away for offside.

Napoli’s current nine-game winning streak is the longest in club history.

Torino 0-1 Juventus

Juve’s victory came at something of a cost, though, as star striker Gonzalo Higuain was lost to an ankle injury after just a quarter-hour (the injury occurred after just three minutes), followed by a potentially serious knee injury for Federico Bernardeschi, who replaced Higuain, in second-half stoppage time. Higuain isn’t expected to miss significant time, with the club calling it a twisted ankle.

In between the injuries came Alex Sandro‘s 33rd-minute winner, a tap-in from close range masterfully set up by Bernardeschi. One additional positive for Juve: Sunday also saw Paulo Dybala return after missing five weeks with a hamstring injury. The Argentine star entered as a second-half substitute.

“Paulo played 30 minutes at a good level,” Juve manager Massimiliano Allegri said. “I’m pleased with his and everyone else’s performance. This is a good result against a well-organized Torino side.”

Elsewhere in Serie A

AC Milan 1-0 Sampdoria
Atalanta 1-1 Fiorentina
Bologna 2-1 Sassuolo
Benevento 3-2 Crotone

VIDEO: Reus scores stunning winner for Dortmund

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BERLIN (AP) Marco Reus scored his first Bundesliga goal of the season to give Borussia Dortmund a 1-0 win at his former team Borussia Moenchengladbach on Sunday.

Reus, Andre Schuerrle and Mario Goetze started for the first time together for Dortmund, and the three Germany teammates were all involved in the 32nd-minute goal.

Goetze played the ball to Schuerrle, who crossed for Reus on the right. Reus looked up and lifted the ball over ‘Gladbach goalkeeper Yann Sommer to score off the underside of the crossbar.

“It was a good goal. I think he wanted to do that,” Sommer said.

Reus, who returned from a serious knee injury last weekend against Hamburger SV, said he wanted to play the ball further to the left “but the important thing is it went in.”

Goalkeeper Roman Buerki was man of the match for producing a string of saves to deny the home side what would have been a deserved equalizer.

Dortmund moved second, 19 points behind Bayern Munich, while ‘Gladbach stayed 10th after its fourth consecutive defeat without scoring.

Dortmund forward Michy Batshuayi failed to score for the first time in four games since his deadline-day switch from Chelsea, though he wasn’t helped by the poor condition of the pitch. Some players lost their footing as the grass gave way.

La Liga: Real Madrid win wild one, now just 17 points behind Barca

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A roundup of all of Sunday’s action in Spain’s top flight…

[ MORE: Barcelona ties club-record 31-game unbeaten run ]

Real Betis 3-5 Real Madrid

So long as they manage to hold off Sevilla for fourth place (Champions League qualification), Real Madrid will quickly move on from their disastrous 2017-18 season, spend a half-billion dollars in the summer and pretend like the 12 preceding months never even happened.

For a brief period on Saturday — nearly 30 minutes including the halftime intermission — that plan appeared fatally flawed and at risk. After going 1-0 up away to Real Betis courtesy of Marco Asensio’s 11th-minute opener, Los Blancos found themselves in big trouble after Aissa Mandi leveled things up in the 33rd minute, followed by a Nacho own goal four minutes later.

Five minutes into the second half, Sergio Ramos drew the visitors level, followed by another from Asensio in the 59th minute. Cristiano Ronaldo made it 4-2 six minutes later, at which point Madrid appeared home free.

Sergio Leon pulled Betis to within one in the 85th minute, but Karim Benzema restored the two-goal lead in the 91st, less than two minutes after replacing Ronaldo.

Atletico Madrid 2-0 Athletic Bilbao

With Barcelona still unbeaten on the La Liga season, the title is all but decided with more than three months still to play. That hasn’t stopped Atleti, though, as Diego Simeone’s side, which has lost just once in the league, continues to pursue Lionel Messi and Co. Saturday’s 2-0 victory over Athletic Bilbao moved Los Rojiblancos back to within seven points of Barca with a dozen games, and one head-to-head matchup, still to play.

Kevin Gameiro scored what turned out to be the winner in the 67th minute, followed not long after by Diego Costa‘s second league goal of the season (fourth in all competitions) to make it 2-0.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Real Sociedad 3-0 Levante
Espanyol 1-1 Villarreal

VAR provider apologizes for wrong image of offside Man Utd goal

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Whether or not you’re in favor of the use of video-assistant refereeing the world over — and, more specifically, English soccer — one thing on which we can all agree has become abundantly clear: VAR’s maiden voyage has been a chaotic, poorly conducted mess.

[ MORE: Jose Mourinho demands VAR calls be “perfect” ]

Any change to the game’s century-old rules and practices — especially of VAR’s monumental proportions — must be implemented and executed without a hitch. Any issues that had arisen prior to this weekend were minor in significance and import, but that all changed on Saturday, when Manchester United’s Juan Mata had a goal wiped away by VAR (WATCH HERE).

Mata appeared to have timed his run perfectly and been onside before slotting home to put Man United 2-0 ahead of Huddersfield Town in the FA Cup fifth round. After consulting the off-site video assistant, the goal was taken off the board. While the slightest bit of Mata’s knee appeared to have been in an offside position, the issue lies in the fact that the images provided to television broadcasters, by VAR provider Hawkeye, displayed a clearly crooked line of demarcation.

[ MORE: Man Utd draw Brighton in FA Cup QF; Chelsea get Leicester ]

Hawkeye issued a statement on Sunday, acknowledging and apologizing for the faulty image provided to broadcasters, but insisted that a correct version of the image was seen by the refereed:

“A technical error led to an incorrect graphic being provided by Hawkeye to BT Sport on Saturday. To confirm, the VAR saw the correct image with the correct lines to make the decision. This was a case of the wrong image being provided to the broadcaster and we apologize.”

In the end, by the most stringent interpretation of the law, VAR got the call correct. But that won’t matter one iota in the court of public opinion, as one mistake as simple as a crooked line gives the impression that the entire operation is haphazard and not fit for practice.