Swansea 5-4 Crystal Palace: Bradley grabs first win in epic encounter

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  • Swansea led 3-1 after 75 minutes 
  • Palace then scored 3 goals in nine minutes to lead 4-3
  • Llorente scores twice in final minute 
  • First American to win in PL 

Bob Bradley‘s first win as the manager of Swansea City will go down as one of the greatest games in Premier League history as they won 5-4 at Crystal Palace on Saturday at the Liberty Stadium

After falling behind to Wilfried Zaha‘s strike in the first half, Swansea surged back with goals from Gylfi Sigurdsson and two from Leroy Fer putting them 3-1 up with 15 minutes to go.

That’s when the fun started.

Palace then scored three goals in nine minutes through James Tomkins, an own goal and Christian Benteke to led 4-3 going into the 90th minute.

Fernando Llorente wasn’t having any of that. The Spanish striker scored twice late on to sent the Liberty Stadium wild and seal a dramatic 5-4 win as Bradley and his coaching staff celebrated jubiliantly at the final whistle.

At his fifth attempt, Bradley, the first American to ever coach in the Premier League, had hit first win. It is one that will not be forgotten for many, many years.

The win moves Swansea onto eight points for the season, while Palace have now lost six-straight games with Alan Pardew‘s job increasingly under threat.

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Early on a corner from the right was headed down by Scott Dann and it eventually found Benteke at the back post but he put his effort over the bar. A great chance squandered by Palace.

Swansea had a decent chance with Modou Barrow setting up Gylfi Sigurdsson but he scuffed his effort.

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Palace took the lead less than 20 minutes in as Benteke flicked the ball on and Zaha beat his man and drilled a low shot in on goal. A deserved 1-0 lead to Palace.

Swansea then drew level as Sigurdsson curled home a wonderful free kick from the edge of the box as Bob Bradley punched the air in delight 1-1.

Before half time Palace could have been ahead as Zaha’s header hit the crossbar and then Benteke and Connor Wickham got in each other’s way on the rebound, while at the other end Swansea went close through Wayne Routledge and Barrow but they both hit their shots over the bar.

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In the second half Palace were dealt a blow early on as Wickham had to be subbed off and soon it got a lot worse for the Eagles.

In the space of two minutes Fer struck twice for the Swans, first tapping home from close range after Fernando Llorente‘s header was cleared off the line and then he finished off Jordi Amat‘s flick to put the home fans in heaven.

Soon, they were in hell.

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Late on Palace pulled a goal back to make things interesting with Dann’s downward header bundled over the line by Tomkins. 3-2 with 15 minutes to go. Then a freak own goal made it 3-3 as a cross from the left flicked off Jack Cork‘s head and in.

It then got worse for Swansea as Benteke knocked home from close range in the 84th minute to make it 4-3 which left Palace delirious and Swansea in tatters.

Then, the game turned on its head again as Llorente struck in the 90th minute to make it 4-4 and then again in stoppage time to hand Swansea a miraculous 5-4 victory.

Bob Bradley is off and running at Swansea and the momentum they gain from this game could be crucial in their battle against relegation.

Timbers sign Peruvian winger Andy Polo from Liga MX’s Morelia

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PORTLAND, Ore. (AP) The Portland Timbers have acquired winger Andy Polo on loan from Liga MX club Monarcas Morelia for the upcoming season.

The 23-year-old native of Peru played in 25 matches last year for Morelia and made six starts with two goals.

He’s also World Cup-bound, having appeared in Peru’s two-legged playoff against New Zealand in November. Peru won 2-0 on aggregate. Overall, he’s appeared with the Peruvian national team 15 times since his senior debut in 2016.

“Andy is a versatile, young player who will add another element to our attack, and we believe that he has further upside to his development,” Timbers coach Giovanni Savarese said in a statement.

The Timbers used targeted allocation money and have a purchase option. Polo’s arrival is pending a physical and receipt of a visa.

He will occupy an international roster spot.

Can Man United still sign Sanchez without Mkhitaryan swap?

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The answer to the (first) titled question is, undoubtedly, yes.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

The latter question — the “will they?” — remains a relative unknown at this point, but if reports out of the UK are to be believed, Manchester United are just as likely to send $40 million (or so) Arsenal’s way in exchange for Alexis Sanchez, should Henrikh Mkhitaryan refuse the move by declining any contract offers from the Gunners.

[ MORE: Conte bewildered VAR not used in Chelsea PK controversies ]

The thinking, at least for the last few days since Man United somewhat unexpectedly entered the Sanchez sweepstakes, was that swapping the Armenian for the Chilean was the obvious — and, perhaps only — way forward. Call it special circumstances or an obvious audible, but that’s not necessarily the case — from the Guardian:

“It is understood that if Mkhitaryan does not leave Mourinho believes that, given the club’s robust finances, [Man United executive vice-chairman] Ed Woodward could still sanction a move for a player who would potentially vastly improve United.”

By the time Sanchez is signed, sealed and delivered, United will have also paid Sanchez and his agent, Fernando Felicevich, massive signing-on fees that could total another $30 million. No matter the order in which the Sanchez-Mkhitaryan saga plays out, United will come out ahead with a superior player at a massively discounted price — should Sanchez ultimately move to Old Trafford, of course.

Conte bewildered VAR not used in Chelsea PK controversies

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If the FA, English football’s governing body, is insistent upon testing video-assistant refereeing (VAR) as they have done in recent FA Cup and League Cup fixtures, Antonio Conte believes they should darn well use it.

[ MORE: Wednesday’s transfer rumor roundup | Tuesday | Friday ]

Following his Chelsea side’s penalty-shootout victory over Norwich City in an FA Cup third-round replay on Wednesday, Conte was equal parts frustrated and confused by the fact that video-referee Mike Jones failed to prompt referee Graham Scott to consult the on-trial system on multiple occasions.

Most notably, Chelsea’s 92nd-minute (extra-time) penalty shout following Timm Klose‘s tackle on Willian. Scott, instead, booked the Brazilian for diving — one of three cards, all shown to Chelsea players, for simulation on the night — and that was that.

“If you watch the replay you see very clearly it is a penalty,” said Conte after the game — quotes from the BBC:

“I think that there was a penalty but not on [Alvaro] Morata — on Willian.

“With Willian, the referee heard what the other referee watched and decided to continue to play. If we want to try to use this new system, it is important for the referee to wait, especially in this incident that is not so clear.

“And then when the referee that is watching had a doubt, he has to call the referee to watch and he can make a decision. The referee on the pitch has to make the decision, not one off the pitch.

“We can improve it for sure but we need to try to take the best solution. The final decision is for the ref on the pitch. Otherwise, why is there this ref?

“The mistake wasn’t of the ref on the pitch but the person watching. When you see this, you have to call the referee.”

VAR was used in another third-round replay, on Tuesday, and helped to correctly rule Leicester City striker Kelechi Iheanacho as being in an onside position when he scored his side’s second goal. While offside/onside calls are much clearer, cut-and-dry decisions to make — and with the aid of a natural stoppage in play — clearly much work lies ahead with regard to the process of determining whether the referee has made a “clear and obvious error,” which remains the threshold for using VAR, in instances of fouls/diving.

Copa QF: Messi misses PK, Barca’s 29-game unbeaten run ends

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MADRID (AP) — Lionel Messi missed a penalty and Barcelona conceded late as its 29-match unbeaten streak ended in a 1-0 loss to city rival Espanyol in the first leg of their Copa del Rey quarterfinal on Wednesday.

Messi failed from the spot in the 62nd minute, his shot brilliantly saved by goalkeeper Diego Lopez.

Youngster Oscar Melendo netted the winner for the hosts in the 88th with his first goal as a professional.

“I have no words, I was looking forward to this first goal,” said the 20-year-old Melendo, who had come on as a substitute in the second half.

It was Espanyol’s first win against Barcelona at its RCDE Stadium.

The second leg of the Catalan derby is next week at Camp Nou.

Barcelona hadn’t lost since a 2-0 defeat by Real Madrid in the second leg of the Spanish Super Cup on Aug. 16. It had won 23 of its last 29 matches in all competitions.

“We knew we would lose one day,” Barcelona midfielder Sergio Busquets said. “The positive thing is that in a week we have a chance to rebound and advance.”

Messi had his chance from the spot after Sergi Roberto was fouled by Esteban Granero, but his low shot into the right corner was stopped as Diego Lopez dived to his left to tip the ball away.

It was a rare miss for Messi, who is having a stellar season and is the Spanish league’s top scorer with 17 goals.

“The penalty save gave us the boost that we needed,” Melendo said. “We were playing too defensively.”

Melendo netted the winner with a low shot from the middle of the area after a well-timed pass by Marc Navarro.

Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde did not use all of the team’s regular starters, leaving players such as Luis Suarez on the bench.

The match was interrupted for a few minutes in the 76th after Barcelona goalkeeper Jasper Cillessen was hit by an object thrown by fans behind his goal.

Barcelona midfielder Paulinho was replaced in the second half because of a foot injury.