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Brazil on verge of landing World Cup berth for Russia

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SAO PAULO (AP) The only team to play in every World Cup is about to qualify for the next one.

Brazil could ensure its spot at the 2018 tournament in Russia with a victory at Uruguay on Thursday. Depending on other results, however, the five-time champions may have to wait until next week when they face Paraguay in Sao Paulo.

Either way, Brazil’s turnaround has been rather spectacular. Just over 2+ years ago, the Brazilians were humiliated at home in a 7-1 loss to Germany in the World Cup semifinals.

The difference has been coach Adenor Leonardo Bacchi – known at Tite (pronounced Chi-Chi) – who took over last year after Dunga was fired. In six qualifying matches under Tite, Brazil has won all six.

Brazil leads the 10-team South American qualifying group with 27 points from 12 matches. Uruguay is four behind and in good shape to take the second of four automatic World Cup berths. A fifth South American team can also advance through a playoff.

But after Brazil and Uruguay, the race for the other qualifying spots is wide open with only six matches remaining.

Ecuador and Chile have 20 points each and Argentina has 19, followed by Colombia with 18, Paraguay with 15 and Peru with 14. At the bottom, Bolivia has seven points and Venezuela has five.

Neither Brazil nor Uruguay will be able to count on their top strikers for the match. The hosts will be without suspended Barcelona forward Luis Suarez, and the visitors will miss injured Manchester City forward Gabriel Jesus, who has a broken toe on his right foot.

Brazil winger Douglas Costa is also out with an injured knee and will be replaced by Palmeiras winger Dudu.

Brazil, however, will have Barcelona striker Neymar, and he can turn any match at any moment.

“If I had a formula, I wouldn’t tell you. But I confess I don’t have one,” Uruguay coach Oscar Tabarez said. “I have the sense, from what I see in every match, that many other coaches still haven’t found the secret, and neither have the players who go against Neymar.”

STRUGGLING ARGENTINA

Two-time champion Argentina faces a tough match against Chile in Buenos Aires on Thursday.

The Argentines will be without defender Pablo Zabaleta, who has an injured left leg.

After the match against Chile, Argentina plays at Bolivia, where it will battle the thin air in La Paz. The Bolivian capital is located at 3,600 meters (11,900 feet) and is always a treacherous venue for visiting teams.

THE OTHER MATCHES

In other matches Thursday, it’s: Colombia vs. Bolivia; Paraguay vs. Ecuador; and Venezuela vs. Peru.

On March 28, it’s: Bolivia vs. Argentina; Ecuador vs. Colombia; Chile vs. Venezuela; Brazil vs. Paraguay; and Peru vs. Uruguay.

Man City 3-0 Burnley: Smooth sailing

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  • Aguero converts early PK
  • Man City’s first PL clean sheet vs. Burnley
  • City equals club record of 11 consecutive victories in all competitions

Sergio Aguero, Nicolas Otamendi, and Leroy Sane scored as Manchester City wore down Burnley for a 3-0 win at the Etihad Stadium on Saturday.

The win, coupled with Manchester United’s loss at Huddersfield Town, gives City a five-point lead on United. Burnley slips ninth, with 13 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

City was undoubtedly the more threatening side in the first quarter-hour, as expected, with Fabian Delph and Kevin De Bruyne particularly involved in the play.

Burnley backstop Nick Pope made a two-handed punch stop of Bernardo Silva as City kept up its attack.

Bernardo Silva then won a penalty kick for City. After a long delay, often a problem for the taker, Aguero proved immune to the pressure and it was 1-0 to the hosts.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

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There wasn’t much to most of the second half, as Burnley rarely looked capable of an equalizer.

David Silva snapped the match to a bit of life when he forced Pope into a 72nd minute save, and an ensuing corner kick saw Otamendi nod home an insurance goal. Sane made it 3-0 within moments.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Swansea 1-2 Leicester: Foxes back to winning ways

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  • Leicester took lead lead via Fernandez OG
  • Okazaki doubled lead
  • Mawson got Swansea back in it

Michael Appleton led Leicester City ti victory in his first game as interim boss following the firing of Craig Shakespeare earlier this week.

Leicester beat Swansea 2-1 at the Liberty Stadium on Saturday with an own goal from Federico Fernandez and a strike from Shinji Okazaki good enough to secure the Foxes a first win since August as Riyad Mahrez impressed.

Alfie Mawson scored in the second half to set up a tense finish for Leicester but they held on to grab their second win of the season and move away from the relegation zone.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

The visitors looked like the better team early on and Okazaki almost knocked out home after a goalmouth scramble in the box.

Leicester took the lead with Riyad Mahrez’s cross deflecting off Fernandez and in. 1-0 to the Foxes away from home.

Tammy Abraham went close twice in the first half for the Swans but Paul Clement‘s men struggled to get any kind of foothold in the game.

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Leicester doubled their lead early in the second half through Okazaki as the Japan international finished off Mahrez’s ball. 2-0 and cruising.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Mawson then unleashed his inner-striker with a fine turn and finish to make it 2-1 but that wasn’t enough for the Swans.

Stoke City 1-2 Bournemouth: Cherries secure huge road win

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  • Surman, Stanislas put Bournemouth ahead
  • Stoke have only won one of their last 8 games in all comps
  • Diouf’s goal not enough for a point

Bournemouth beat Stoke City 2-1 at the bet365 Stadium on Saturday as the Cherries secured their first away win of the season.

Early goals from Andrew Surman and Junior Stanislas was enough to grab Bournemouth all three points as Mame Biram Diouf’s goal in the second half wasn’t enough to launch a Stoke comeback.

With the defeat Stoke slip into the bottom with Bournemouth.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]  

Bournemouth got off to the best possible start as Stanislas set up Surman who fired home to make it 1-0 after 15 minutes.

Three minutes later after it was 2-0 as Stanislas slammed home a penalty kick following Benik Afobe being hacked down in the box.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

Stoke struggled to recover after that awful start but they did grab a goal midway through the second half.

Diouf made it 2-1 with just 17 minutes gone in the second half as a long ball forward caused havoc in the box with Choupo-Mouting knocking it down for Diouf to finish.

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Stoke threw plenty of long balls at Bournemouth late on but the Cherries held on for a crucial three points to leave Stoke in plenty of trouble.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ] 

Afobe and others came close to sealing the win late on for Bournemouth with Stoke pushing forward but the Cherries were well worth their victory.

Huddersfield Town 2-1 Manchester United: Monumental win!

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  • Town’s first win over United since 1952
  • Mooy, Depoitre score
  • Rashford pulls one back
  • United’s first PL loss

Aaron Mooy and Laurent Depoitre scored to give Huddersfield Town its first win over Manchester United in 65 years, a 2-1 win at the John Smith’s Stadium on Saturday.

Marcus Rashford pulled a goal back for United, which has lost its first PL match of the season and drops five points behind Man City.

Town leaps 10th, with 12 points.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Anthony Martial collected an early yellow card for United, and a clever move from Tom Ince to Steve Mounie called up Red Devils backstop David De Gea for his first collection of the match.

And Mooy put Town a head when he played Ince in for a shot, then put the rebound behind De Gea.

The keeper wouldn’t be relieved when a Jonas Lossl goal kick sailed over Victor Lindelof‘s jumping intervention, and Depoitretw danced around De Gea to make it 2-0.

Nemanja Matic‘s stoppage time effort through traffic almost pulled one back for United, but Town dealt with a corner kick to get to the break unscathed.

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[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

But how many have?

Rashford lifted the hopes of the visitors with a goal with just under 15 minutes to play.