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Premier League Saturday roundup: Drama central

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What. A. Day. Late winners, red cards, controversy, upsets.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The seven Premier League games on Saturday produced just about everything.

[ MORE: PL standings |  Schedule

Below is a look back at all the action from Saturday’s seven games in the PL.


Manchester United 1-1 BournemouthRECAP

1-1 doesn’t even go close to telling the story of this game. United led through Marcos Rojo‘s first Premier League goal but Bournemouth scored a penalty kick via Joshua King. Then, things got tasty. Tyrone Mings and Zlatan Ibrahimovic were going at it the whole game and the former looked to stamp on Zlatan’s head while he was on the floor, then Zlatan connected with an elbow on Mings’ head moments later. In the melee which ensued Andrew Surman was shown a second yellow card as Bournemouth played the entire second half with 10 men.

[ LISTEN: 2 Robbies on Saturday’s action ] 

Zlatan had the chance to the be the hero, once again, but his penalty kick was saved by Artur Boruc and United were held to a seventh draw in their last 11 PL home games. Frustration for Jose Mourinho as his men lost ground in the top four race, while Ibrahimovic and Mings could well get retrospective bans.


Liverpool 3-1 ArsenalRECAP

Alexis Sanchez was left on the bench and it backfired badly for Arsene Wenger as Liverpool secured victory. First half goals from Roberto Firmino and Sadio Mane set Jurgen Klopp‘s side on their way and even though Sanchez jumped off the bench at half time to spark life into Arsenal and set up Danny Welbeck‘s strike, Wenger’s men lost for the third time in four games as Georginio Wijnaldum scored late on.

Liverpool again rose to the occasion against a top four rival as they remain unbeaten against the top six this season, while Arsenal’s top four hopes are in real jeopardy with Liverpool leapfrogging them in the table.


Watford 3-4 SouthamptonRECAP

What. A. Game. Watford took the lead through Troy Deeney early on but Saints came roaring back as Dusan Tadic first scored and then set up Nathan Redmond to make it 2-1. Then Stefano Okaka equalized late on but Manolo Gabbiadini made it 3-2 (he’s now scored six goals in four games for Saints) and Redmond added another to make it 4-2 before Abdoulaye Doucoure scored a late consolation for the Hornets. Claude Puel‘s Saints have now scored 10 goals in their last three games and have put their EFL Cup final heartbreak firmly behind them.


Leicester City 3-1 Hull CityRECAP

What a difference one week makes. Leicester have won back-to-back PL games for the first time this season as they continue to prove life is just fine after Claudio Ranieri. Caretaker boss Craig Shakespeare has overseen two-straight 3-1 wins against Liverpool and now Hull but the Foxes had to fight back from 1-0 down. In fact, it’s the first time this season that Leicester have won after going behind as Sam Clucas put Hull ahead. However, Christian Fuchs made it 1-1 at half time and then second half goals from Riyad Mahrez and a late own goal from Tom Huddlestone sealed the win. The reigning champs are finally pulling away from the relegation zone.


Swansea City 3-2 BurnleyRECAP

Another thriller took place at the Liberty Stadium as Paul Clement celebrated wildly thanks to Fernando Llorente’s late winner. The Swans went ahead through a Llorente header but then a controversial penalty kick was awarded to Burnley (Clarets striker Ashley Barnes handled the ball but referee Anthony Taylor gave a spot kick) and Andre Gray made it 1-1 before adding another in the second half to make it 2-1. Martin Olsson made it 2-2 with 20 minutes to go and then Llorente popped up in stoppage time to hand Swansea a fifth win in nine games under Clement. Swansea now have 27 points and some breathing space from the bottom three.


West Brom 0-2 Crystal PalaceRECAP

A simply massive away win for Palace as Sam Allardyce‘s men are out out of the drop zone. A goal in each half from Wilfried Zaha and Andros Townsend proved the difference for the Eagles against a West Brom side who had an off day after reaching 40 points after just 26 games. For Palace, they’re on 25 points and have given themselves hope ahead of a tough run of games.


Stoke City 2-0 MiddlesbroughRECAP

Routine win for the Potters as two first half goals from Marko Arnautovic saw them past goal-shy Middlesbrough. The Potters dominated from start to finish and Aitor Karanka‘s Boro, the lowest scorers in the PL, have now slipped into the relegation zone and are just three points off the bottom. As for Stoke, they’re up to ninth place and just five points behind West Brom in eighth.


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.