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Netherlands wins women’s European soccer championship

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ENSCHEDE, Netherlands (AP) Striker Vivianne Miedema scored twice Sunday as the Netherlands beat Denmark 4-2 to win its first Women’s European Championship title and set off a huge party among thousands of orange-clad fans.

Long after the final whistle and award ceremony, the players – many clutching bottles of Champagne – danced through the corridors of the FC Twente stadium chanting “Champions!”

The success of the Dutch women’s team is in stark contrast to the country’s men, who failed to qualify for last year’s European Championship in France and is struggling to reach next year’s World Cup in Russia.

Netherlands coach Sarina Wiegman said she hoped the victory and success of the tournament on home soil would promote the game among Dutch girls and prove a platform on which to build greater success for the women’s team as it prepares to start qualification for the World Cup later this year.

It was a disappointing end to the tournament for Denmark, which knocked out six-time defending champion Germany in the quarterfinals and reached its first final after losing five previous semifinals. A penalty shootout win over Austria after extra time in the semifinals left the Danes looking tired in the second half, allowing the Dutch to control play.

The end of the German reign as European champion after more than two decades at the top is a sign that the game is improving across the continent, Wiegman said.

“Germany was champion and nobody else could get close,” she said. “Today we changed that. Actually Denmark changed it and we continued today.”

The game started well for the Danes, when striker Nadia Nadim – a former refugee from Afghanistan whose father was killed by the Taliban – converted a sixth-minute penalty after Kika van Es clumsily brought down Sanne Troelsgaard in the area.

“Sometimes you can’t choose what you want. You just get it,” said Nadim, who fled Afghanistan after her father’s death and settled in Denmark. She now plays for the Portland Thorns in the U.S. National Women’s Soccer League.

The Dutch fans did not have to wait long for their team to cancel out Nadim’s opener.

A long ball by midfielder Jackie Groenen launched right winger Shanice van de Sanden and her low cross was met by Miedema for her third goal in as many matches in the knockout stage of the tournament.

Left winger Lieke Martens, named player of the tournament after the match, put the Dutch ahead in the 28th when she drifted into the center, turned a defender and fired a low shot past goalkeeper Stina Lykke Petersen.

Five minutes later, Denmark was back on terms at 2-2 when captain Pernille Harder overcame the Dutch offside trap and then beat Sari van Veenendaal at her near post with a well-placed shot.

Captain Sherida Spitse restored the Dutch lead after the break with a free kick that rolled wide of the wall and into the corner. Miedema, who had been criticized for not scoring in the group stage, sealed the victory in the 89th with her second goal of the final.

“It was tough at the start, but then things started going well,” the forward told Dutch broadcaster NOS. “Today the first half was so chaotic, Denmark was good, and it was fantastic that we could show in the second half that we can play good football.”

The frenetic match was played in front of a sell-out crowd of more than 28,000 fans, including Denmark’s Crown Prince Frederik, at FC Twente’s stadium in the eastern city of Enschede. Also in the crowd was Marco van Basten, the star of the Dutch men’s team that won the 1988 European Championship.

Nadim, who overcame so much to reach the final, said she was disappointed with the loss, “but maybe in a week or so we can be proud of our performance and happy that we won a silver medal, but right now it feels like we lost a gold medal.”

MLS Snapshot: New York City FC 2-1 New England Revolution (video)

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The game in 100 words (or less): For nearly 75 minutes, NYCFC couldn’t muster up any chances in the attacking third, but thankfully their captain did what he does best. David Villa scored his 19th goal of the season on Sunday night to pull out a 2-1 win against the New England Revolution, but it was rookie Jonathan Lewis that notched the winner. The visitors took the lead 20 minutes prior after Sean Johnson spilled a shot in front of his own goal, allowing Teal Bunbury to pounce on the rebound. NYCFC now moves to within four points of Eastern Conference leaders Toronto FC with nine matches remaining in the regular season.

Three four moments that mattered

16′ — Harrison breaks ankles, but Villa can’t finish — This might be the only time all see you’ll see David Villa miss a chance like this…

38′ — Johnson gets a finger tip to Rowe’s blast — Sean Johnson had no work to do in the first half, at least until Kelyn Rowe decided to rip a shot from distance just before halftime.

57′ — Johnson’s error grants Bunbury, Revs the lead — Look away, NYCFC fans.

77′ — Villa find the back of the net — When you need a goal, who you gonna call? That’s right. David Villa. The NYCFC captain is now up to 19 this season.

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Man of the match: David Villa

Goalscorers: Teal Bunbury (57′), David Villa (77′), Jonathan Lewis (90+4′)

Honoring victims of attacks, Barcelona wins league opener

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Wearing shirts honoring victims of the recent attacks in Spain, Barcelona opened its Spanish league season with a comfortable 2-0 win over Real Betis on Sunday.

[ MORE: Neymar double helps PSG cruise past Toulouse ]

Players had the word “Barcelona” instead of their names on the back of their shirts, and the Catalan hashtag “TOTSSOMBARCELONA” (We are all Barcelona) was on display around the Camp Nou stadium. The message was also shown on the stadium’s large screens, as well as on many banners carried by fans.

An emotional minute’s silence was held before the game as the music of Catalan cellist Pau Casals played in the background.

Before the minute was up, the more than 55,000 fans at the stadium broke into a round of applause and began chanting “No tinc por” (I’m not afraid), a chant which has become a symbol of people’s reactions to the attacks that killed 14 people and injured more than 120 in Barcelona and the nearby seaside resort of Cambrils.

Extra security was implemented in and around Camp Nou.

There was a minute’s silence before every Spanish league match this weekend.

Without Neymar and the injured Luis Suarez, Barcelona got off to a winning start in the league after consecutive losses to rival Real Madrid in the Spanish Super Cup final.

It scored two goals three minutes apart near the end of the first half – an own-goal by Betis defender Alin Tosca and a close-range shot by Sergi Roberto. Both goals came after plays started by Gerard Deulofeu, one of the players expected to try to replace Neymar after his world record transfer to Paris Saint-Germain.

“We lost depth with Neymar’s departure and we have to find a way to overcome that,” Barcelona coach Ernesto Valverde said.

Lionel Messi looked lively but wasn’t able to score his 350th goal in La Liga. He came close, though, being denied by the woodwork three different times.

AP Sports Writer Tales Azzoni contributed to this report.

More AP Spanish soccer coverage: https://apnews.com/tag/LaLiga

Brighton breaks club record with signing of winger Jose Izquierdo

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Brighton hasn’t gotten off to the ideal start in its debut season in the Premier League, but a key reinforcement is on the way.

[ MORE: Chelsea tops Spurs at Wembley behind Alonso’s brace ]

After starting the 2017/18 campaign with back-to-back defeats, the Seagulls announced on Sunday the signing of Colombian winger Jose Izquierdo from Club Brugge in Belgium for a record fee.

The 25-year-old spent three seasons in Belgium’s top flight and totaled 38 goals across all competitions for Brugge, prior to making the move to England.

Additionally, Izquierdo has worked his way into the Colombia squad as of late, and scored his first international goal for his country in June 2017 in a friendly against Cameroon.

MLS Follow Live — NYCFC hosts Revs, Minnesota meets Sounders

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Only two matches will feature on the MLS docket Sunday evening, but luckily two of the league’s most exciting teams will take to the pitch.

[ MORE: Toronto tops Fire as East leaders reach 50 points on season ]

First, New York City FC will attempt to continue its ascent up the Eastern Conference ladder when they host Kei Kamara and the New England Revolution.

In the night cap, the Seattle Sounders look to extend their unbeaten streak to nine matches when they welcome newcomers Minnesota United to CenturyLink Field.

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Here’s the schedule and kick-off times for Sunday’s two MLS fixtures.

New York City FC vs. New England Revolution — 6 p.m. ET
Seattle Sounders vs. Minnesota United — 10 p.m. ET