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Sunderland 0-2 Man City: Aguero and Sane peg spunky Cats

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Sunderland played well the opening half, but when the opposition showed its strength, they were unable to respond.

Manchester City got goals from Sergio Aguero and Leroy Sane as they took down Sunderland 2-0 at the Stadium of Light despite a positive start from the relegation-threatened Black Cats.

The game started very brightly, with Sunderland pressing City hard. The Black Cats had multiple opportunities in the opening 20 minutes, getting the home crowd signing loudly. Jermain Defoe smashed the post in the 20th minute after wheeling away from three defenders at the top of the box, and Fabio Borini’s follow-up header was wide of the mark.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

There were other half-chances for both sides in the first half. Billy Jones had a header saved in the 35th minute, his attempt too close to the center of the net. Minutes later, Leroy Sane delivered a vicious low cross for David Silva sliding in the box, a great chance, but the cross had too much pace for Silva to tap it in.

Seb Larsson delivered a corner as the clock ticked past 39 minutes, and again Jones got his head to it, but this one went just wide under heavy pressure.

Just three minutes before halftime, the opener was delivered, and it ruined Sunderland’s solid first half. Raheem Sterling on the right delivered a cross for Sergio Aguero, who squirmed past Lamine Kone to prod it home and put Manchester City in front just before halftime.

[ MORE: Latest Premier League standings ]

After halftime, Sunderland’s woes were doubled as Silva fed Leroy Sane bursting down the left, and the young German finished expertly from a tight angle for City’s second just seconds before the hour mark.

With the Black Cats down a pair, they wilted, and City began to pummel Jordan Pickford‘s area. The half wore on and with City easing up as the game progressed, Sunderland came close to pulling one back, but as Defoe headed into the back of the net on a corner, the offside trap caught him yards offside and it was easily ruled out.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Aguero came close to a second as time wound down with his 86th minute shot athletically saved by young Pickford with a full-stretch dive to the goalkeeper’s left. The match ended without further incident, leaving Sunderland six points from safety, with Crystal Palace, Leicester City, and Swansea City all winning this weekend.

City, meanwhile, moved into third with the win, leaping back over Liverpool with 55 points, one back of Tottenham. Pep Guardiola and company also have a game in hand over most of the other Champions League contenders.

WATCH: Camila’s wicked swerving goal for Brazil

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The Tournament of Nations got underway earlier Thursday, with Brazil and Japan drawing 1-1 in Seattle.

While some in the crowd may’ve been waiting to see the United States women’s national team and Australia in the second game of the twin bill, they got an absolute treat from Brazil’s Camila.

[ MORE: Galaxy’s season-changing signing ]

The Orlando Pride midfielder is yet to scoop up 10 caps, but blasted this 25-yard goal home with a wicked outside bend.

The aesthetics are terrific.

LA Galaxy’s second Dos Santos signing is a season-changer

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Remember this day, MLS fans, as one that perhaps helped determine an MLS Cup Finalist.

The LA Galaxy have signed Villarreal midfielder and Mexican national teamer Jonathan Dos Santos, and he’s the sort of player who could alter the landscape of the Western Conference.

Like Nicolas Lodeiro to Seattle last season and New England’s addition of Jermaine Jones in 2014, Dos Santos’ move comes with the distinct possibility of elevating LA into the next stratosphere.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

Take the Galaxy’s history of winning, and toss in a midseason coaching improvement from Curt Onalfo to Sigi Schmid, as well as MVP-in-their-own-right caliber teammates Giovani Dos Santos, Romain Alessandrini, and Jelle van Damme.

Don’t sleep on the fact that Schmid might be gathering momentum from inheriting a talented and underachieving roster and a brand new game-changing midfielder, which feels a bit like karmic retribution for Seattle firing him and signing Lodeiro the next day last season. Seattle only went and won the MLS Cup.

Schmid has used any number of formations, but could deploy a 4-3-3 with Jona Dos Santos, Jermaine Jones, and Joao Pedro in the midfielder and Giovani Dos Santos, Alessandrini, and Gyasi Zardes up top (Sebastian Lletget could return at some point, too).

Now FC Dallas is very deep, Sporting KC looks powerful, and Seattle won it all last year — plus, may be adding Derlis Gonzalez?!? — but LA’s move to add Dos Santos creates a quartet of teams with proven mettle (Houston looks decent, too, but I have concerns about their first-time as a unit in the playoffs).

Joey Barton’s gambling ban lowered by almost 5 months

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Joey Barton’s 18-month ban for betting on almost 1,300 soccer-related events has been lowered to 13 months and one week.

Putting aside the hilarity of grown men and women discussing whether an extra week was necessary, the alteration means he’ll be eligible to return to football on June 1, 2018.

[ MORE: USMNT’s Arriola attracting transfer interest ]

While that still hampers the idea of the 34-year-old playing again — he’ll be 36 when the ban ends — it’s a significant change if he’s open to the idea of returning to the game.

Barton’s original ban expired in late October 2018, well into a season. From Sky Sports:

The appeal board also agreed: “It was clear that Mr Barton was not involved in any cheating, he did not influence any games and there was nothing suspicious about his bets.

“(The reduction) reflects the overall seriousness of the breaches and also the mitigation of Mr Barton’s addiction.”

Barton’s remarkably controversial career has including several suspensions and imprisonment, but he always found his way back to the field and was very good when in form. After time at Manchester City and Newcastle United, Barton fended off naysayers with stints at QPR, Marseille, Burnley, and a regrettable move to Rangers.

We may see him on the field in August 2018.

FIFA fines Qatar after players’ political support for Emir

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ZURICH (AP) FIFA has fined Qatar’s soccer federation after national team players breached rules against political statements by displaying T-shirts of the country’s Emir at a World Cup qualifier.

FIFA says its disciplinary panel imposed a 50,000 Swiss francs ($51,800) fine and reprimanded Qatar, the 2022 World Cup host.

[ MORE: Nainggolan staying at Roma ]

The incident happened in Doha on June 13, amid a dispute with regional rivals Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates.

Qatar’s players warmed up for a 3-2 win over South Korea wearing white T-shirts with an image of Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al-Thani to show their support for him.

FIFA says the charges related to “displaying a political image” and “political displays” by spectators.