Tottenham 3-2 Everton: Kane double does the trick

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Harry Kane bracketed halftime with a goal on each side, and Tottenham held off Romelu Lukaku and Everton to earn all three points at White Hart Lane by a 3-2 scoreline. Kane’s pair was good enough, despite his Belgian rival scoring with 10 minutes remaining to give life to the end of the match.

Many tabbed the midfield area as the key battle in this match, and that was true early as the teams went back and forth in the center of the pitch. Thanks to this, there was little action on goal until the opener in the 19th minute.

Kane, in great form coming into the match, ripped one from well outside the box, and caught Joel Robles napping, splashing the back of the net with nothing more than a speculative strike that found its target. Kane nearly bagged a second just a minute later on a one-two with Christian Eriksen, with the Englishman dinking past a defender but finding Robles up to the task on the finish.

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The goal brought Spurs energy. Eriksen had a go on the break in the 25th minute, but hooked it just slightly wide left. Victor Wanyama popped off a howitzer from outside the box minutes later, one that crashed into the post, and Kane’s follow-up saw him offside.

Then the heavens opened up. With the rain pouring down and the wind howling in North London, Everton picked out its first chance, with a ball from Gareth Barry just inches too far for Romelu Lukaku, who had been quiet to that point.

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In the second half, Spurs bagged a second in the 57th minute. Robles rolled the ball to Morgan Schneiderlin, who was unaware of the pressure and coughed up the ball to Dele Alli. It immediately found the feet of Kane, who ripped it low past Robles for a second.

Spurs appeared to have a third as Eriksen placed the ball in the net, but the flag went up to rule Kane offside. That would prove big, because you knew Lukaku would find himself a goal before this was over, and that he did. In the 80th minute, Lukaku latched onto a ball from substitute Mirallas. With the big striker one-on-one with fellow Belgian Jan Vertonghen, the defender fell down, releasing Lukaku, and the Everton man buried the chance to give the Toffees a lifeline with 10 minutes to go and sealing Lukaku into Everton recordbooks.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Kane nearly put it away down the other end on a hat-trick, but he was smothered by Robles with Kane in from a tight angle. The game exploded with fervor, mostly for the Toffees as they looked for an equalizer. It wouldn’t come, with Spurs instead putting the game away in added time. Spurs caught Everton asleep on a quick free-kick, flicked in by substitute Harry Winks and poked home by Dele Alli.

Everton did score again just moments later, with a set-piece falling to the feet of Enner Valencia, but it wasn’t enough as time ran out on the Toffees. Spurs takes all three points, moving within seven of Chelsea at the top of the table and earning a club-record nine consecutive league victories. Everton, meanwhile, remains in seventh position, five points back of Manchester United.

Galaxy’s Cole admits he enjoys Arsenal struggles

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LA Galaxy left back Ashley Cole left Arsenal for Chelsea more than a decade ago, but that hasn’t erased the bitter memories of the departure from his boyhood club.

Cole was famously involved in a “tapping up” meeting with Chelsea without Arsenal’s permission in 2005, but signed a contract extension with the Gunners. Still, he was gone a year later in messy circumstances.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

As the most capped fullback in England’s history who boasts both Premier League and Champions League titles with Chelsea, Cole easily could rest on his own laurels and move on from the divorce.

But when asked whether he’s enjoying Arsenal’s current struggles, Cole couldn’t help himself.

“If I’m honest, yeah, I still think to this day. I laugh to myself. I had a lot of history there and I think the way I left was maybe a bit dodgy but the lack of respect they showed me as well.”

Cole accepts a share of the blame for his time ended at Arsenal, but says he doesn’t regret it. Still, his response is not a picture of class.

Next time, just laugh and say, “Next question,” Ashley.

“I’m not a bad guy” – Convicted murderer, new club defend signing

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A week ago, we brought you the story of goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes finding a new club despite a conviction for ordering the torture and murder of his mistress, whose body was then fed to dogs. The two were having a disagreement on child support.

Fernandes, 32, was set free from jail on a technicality and has since been signed by Boa Esporte in Brazil. He said he couldn’t “throw in the towel” on his career because he believed in himself.

Fans were outraged with the team, major sponsors pulled their funding, and an activist group even hacked Boa Esporte’s web page.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

And the club is digging in its heels.

Boa Esporte’s president, Rone Moraes da Costa, reacted to protests by saying he’d rather move the team than not give Fernandes a chance to resurrect his career.

As for Fernandes, he clearly is having trouble explaining why he’s getting another chance. From The Guardian:

“What happened, happened. I made a mistake, a serious one, but mistakes happens in life – I’m not a bad guy. People tried to bury my dream because of one mistake, but I asked God for forgiveness, so I’m carrying on with my career, dude. I’m starting over.”

One mistake. Wow. There are few clubs in the world which fit the bill of being the majority of fans’ least favorite team, but Boa Esporte could get there. Surely there must be more to the story?

Nothing new about the challenges facing USMNT

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This next week may define a generation of USMNT players, but only if it goes poorly.

That may sound overly dramatic, but it isn’t. The United States started 0-2 in the final round of World Cup qualifying, earned its coach a firing, and now stares down its status in the confederation.

Honduras is coming on Friday, far from a pushover. Then it’s off to Panama for another tricky tie. In a vacuum, coming up short in one of the two isn’t the end of the world, but the Yanks will be expected to take a minimum four points. Even that would be a disappointment to many.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

The crutches are gone, aside from any being used by injured players back in Germany (Bobby Wood and Fabian Johnson chief amongst them). Fifteen of Honduras’ players play domestically, and Panama isn’t much better in overall quality.

Frankly, and it’s been written before, the United States should outclass both of these foes. If Bruce Arena’s bunch doesn’t, well, it spells woe for the country’s soccer development as a whole.

For now, supporters and players have been able to cling to the thought that Jurgen Klinsmann was responsible for the Yanks’ struggles. In some ways, he most certainly was to blame for setbacks like the CONCACAF Cup loss to Mexico and the pathetic performance against Costa Rica that earned him a firing.

Several of the United States’ current elder statesmen have built legacies that can survive big hits. Tim Howard and Clint Dempsey may go down in history as the two biggest stars in program history (There will be an argument for both as No. 1 along with Landon Donovan and Claudio Reyna). DaMarcus Beasley is an all-timer, too.

Michael Bradley, Geoff Cameron, and Jozy Altidore are on track for that, too, and there’s an argument to be made the trio is already there, especially for Cameron, who’s a mainstay in the Premier League. Each has found success in Europe after getting their starts in Major League Soccer, and have etched their names into the national record books.

There’s still very little reason to believe the USMNT will miss the 2018 World Cup even with the 0-2 start. The class is just too much to consider the Yanks will finish below Panama, Honduras, and Trinidad and Tobago over the course of 10 matches (The fourth place side gets a shot at an Asian side like Saudi Arabia, UAE, or Uzbekistan in a two-legged affair).

But turning it around has to start now. The Yanks have to handle their business in these qualifiers, and make at least the Gold Cup final to build momentum toward Russia. Anything short of that is abject failure.

Again, this absolutely should happen, starting Friday. Even given the poor start, losses or even a pair of draws this week would be legitimately shocking, and set the program back ages. Howard set it up well Tuesday when he pointed out that the U.S. has gotten to points like this before, and they always belly up to the bar and outlast all comers.

A lot of fans have this nagging voice in their heads, asking nefariously, “What if they don’t?”

Podolski after golazo finale: “This is like a great movie”

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Lukas Podolski has won a EURO, a World Cup, and the Bundesliga with two different sides.

Only Lothar Matthaus and Miroslav Klose have been capped more than Germany’s Polish born Podolski, and he received a hero’s send-off from the home crowd at Germany’s 1-0 win over England on Wednesday.

And of course he sent himself off in style with a gorgeous goal.

[ MORE: Guardiola close to adding $43m GK? ]

Podolski said there were more than 30,000 people from Cologne at the match, where he won one of his two Bundesliga titles.

“That’s when you know where you home is, and that you’ve done a lot of good, also off the pitch,” Podolski said. “That makes me very proud.”

It was a perfect night to say goodbye, and the goal made it almost surreal (Thomas Muller called it “cheesy”).

From Goal.com:

“This is like a great movie,” he told ARD. “We win 1-0 and I score the goal.

“I know I have a left foot that was probably gifted to me by God, or someone up there, and I can always rely on it. I am proud of these last 13 years.”

Feel good hit of the Spring.