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Group F gets messy as Slovakia and Scotland grab wins

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England is in control at the top of Group F, but below them things are beginning to get complicated.

Despite the absence of Marek Hamsik due to a last-minute injury, Slovakia defeated Malta 3-1. They took the lead just 97 seconds in as Vladimir Weiss put the visitors in front with a beautiful curling strike from outside the box. Malta struck back through domestic striker Jean Paul Farrugia in the 14th minute, but that was all Malta could muster.

Slovakia would go ahead just before halftime as FC Copenhagen midfielder Jan Gregus put them in front in the 41st minute. The speculative shot from Gregus came from a great distance out, and as it skipped across the ground, it appeared Malta goalkeeper Andrew Hogg saw it late, as his dive was poor and it skipped off his hands and in.

Both teams ended with 10 men on the field, as Farrugia was sent off with 16 minutes to go for a second yellow, and Adam Nemec saw the same fate in injury time, but before he was sent off, Nemec was there to kill the game off in the 84th minute.

That put Slovakia up to nine points, and it moved them into second place thanks to late drama in Glasgow. Chris Martin gave Scotland all three points with an 88th minute strike as the home side won 1-0 over Slovenia, who dropped from second to third with the loss. The Fulham striker got a beautiful feed through the back line from Stuart Armstrong, and while his shot wasn’t terribly accurate, it was enough to win the game as Slovenia goalkeeper Matus Kozacik gave it a poor effort.

The win for Scotland pulls them above Lithuania and into fourth, a point back of Slovenia in third.

Podolski goes out with super goal; Germany tops England

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The highlight of Wednesday’s international friendly docket was Lukas Podolski‘s final match for Germany, and the former Arsenal man did not disappoint his crowd.

But first, Canada plays its first match since unveiling new coach Octavio Zambrano.

[ MORE: Zlatan still bitter with Guardiola ]

Scotland 1-1 Canada

Zambrano saw plenty to like from his new side, as Canada went ahead early with a goal from former Scottish youth Fraser Aird. Toronto-born, the ex-Rangers and current Falkirk man got his first Canadian goal against the team he represented at U-17 and U-19 levels.

Norwich City’s Steven Naismith redirected Tom Cairney‘s shot to make it 1-1 before the break, but Scotland never found its way back into Canada’s net.

Germany 1-0 England

Lukas Podolski scored his 49th international goal in his final cap for Germany, and it was spectacular.

Joe Hart didn’t stand a chance.

The match saw big stops from both ‘keepers, as Hart thwarted Leroy Sane on a second half break after Marc-Andre Ter Stegen defied Dele Alli in the opening 45.

Podolski subbed off in the 84th minute to wild applause, but it must sting slightly to know you finished an illustrious career one goal short of a nice, round 50. We guess he’ll have to rest on his millions and millions of earnings and loads of on-field honors.

Elsewhere
Vietnam 1-1 Chinese Taipei
Philippines 0-0 Malaysia
Cyprus 3-1 Kazakhstan
Yemen 0-1 Palestine
Cambodia 2-3 India

Dybala nets controversial winner to push Juventus past AC Milan

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AC Milan looked like it was on its way to holding the Serie A leaders to a point on Friday afternoon, but Paulo Dybala’s late finish from the penalty spot kept the points away from the visitors.

[ MORE: Norwich confirms Alex Neil sacking as club slips to eighth place ]

Juventus picked up a controversial 2-1 victory over AC Milan at the Juventus Stadium after Dybala converted from 12 yards out deep in second-half stoppage time.

The Argentine international netted his seventh goal of the season in the 97th minute after Mattia De Sciglio was called for a handball inside the Milan penalty area. However, the call appeared to be questionable at best upon replay.

Nonetheless, the goal stood and Juventus now moves 11 points clear of Roma at the top of Serie A following Friday’s win, while Milan sits in seventh place on 50 points.

AC Milan found an equalizer prior to halftime when Carlos Bacca broke through in the 43rd minute.

The hosts opened the scoring on a half hour after Medhi Benatia timed his run in the penalty area to perfection before smashing home a close-range shot past AC Milan goalkeeper Gianluigi Donnarumma.

The 18-year-old shot stopper came up big time and time again against Juve, making nine saves throughout the match.

Norwich confirms Alex Neil sacking as club continues slide

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With the team’s hopes of promotion likely over, Norwich City has opted to move on from its current manager.

[ MORE: Celtic’s Dembele hoping to get France call up soon ]

The club announced on Friday that manager Alex Neil has been sacked after Norwich slipped to eighth place in the SkyBet Championship as of late.

[ MORE: Top PL storylines — Week 28 ]

“Norwich City can confirm manager Alex Neil’s contract has been terminated with immediate effect,” a club statement read.

“The board has taken the tough but unanimous decision, believing it is in the best interests of the club for a new manager to be in place through a crucial summer transfer window and into next season.”

Norwich looked poised to at least qualify for the league’s promotion playoff several weeks back, but the Canaries have since gone winless in six of its last seven matches in the Championship. The club’s last win came nearly a month ago when Norwich knocked off Nottingham Forest, 5-1, at Carrow Road.

Neil, 35, had managed Norwich since 2015, winning 45 matches in charge of the club. Norwich assistant Alan Irvine will take over the club’s managerial duties in Neil’s absence, with Irvine’s last head coaching position coming in 2014 with West Bromwich Albion.

Irvine lasted under six months with the Baggies after winning five of his opening 22 matches at The Hawthorns.

The Canaries currently sit nine points behind sixth place Sheffield Wednesday, who holds the final spot for this season’s promotion playoff.

MLS (late-night) roundup: Dynamo drop Sounders; Rapids roll on

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With one MLS Saturday afternoon/evening officially in the books, only 33 more to go…

[ FOLLOW: All of PST’s MLS coverage ]

Houston Dynamo 2-1 Seattle Sounders

Seattle’s defense of MLS Cup got off to a rocky road start on Saturday, as Erick (formerly “Cubo”) Torres finally scored his first goal for Houston — 20 months in the making — followed by an MLS debut goal for Honduran international Romell Quioto. Sounders goalkeeper Stefan Frei’s vision was at least partially blocked on the opener, as the 2016 MLS Cup hero went one way, and Torres’s free kick went the other.

22 minutes later, Quioto received the ball 45 yards from goal, took five touches while running straight at Roman Torres, cut inside onto his right foot, and unleashed a curling effort to the far post which Frei never had a chance of saving.

It was all Sounders in terms of possession — 64 percent for the visitors — though the handful of quality chances they managed to create were few and far between. Clint Dempsey made his return to the field, and the scoresheet, after missing the end of the 2016 season after learning of an irregular heartbeat. His put-back of Tyler Deric’s 58th-minute save was as close as Seattle would get.

Colorado Rapids 1-0 New England Revolution

It’s time we all accept something we cannot change: Pablo Mastroeni’s Rapids will frustrate, annoy and sap your will to live until his tenure’s dying day. It was the recipe for success in 2016, and it was equally effective once again on Saturday.

Playing against a much quicker, devastating counter-attacking Revolution side, Colorado clogged up the middle of the field with Sam Cronin and Michael Azira, combatted aerial king Kei Kamara with the likes of Axel Sjoberg and Jared Watts, and made the most of set-piece opportunities through Dominique Badji, the scorer of the game’s only goal.

San Jose Earthquakes 1-0 Montreal Impact

San Jose held Montreal without a single shot on goal over the course of 90 minutes, as the home side picked up their first victory of 2017, with thanks to Anibal Godoy’s delicate, 17th-minute chip to beat Evan Bush.

D.C. United 0-0 Sporting Kansas City

Tim Melia needlessly gave away a penalty kick in the 16th minute of Sporting KC’s scoreless draw with D.C. United, but atoned for his mistake a minute later, as he made a fantastic double-save to keep Marcelo Sarvas, and then Patrick Mullins on the follow-up, off the scoresheet.

Elsewhere in MLSAFTERNOON ROUNDUP

Columbus Crew SC 1-1 Chicago Fire
LA Galaxy 1-2 FC Dallas
Real Salt Lake 0-0 Toronto FC

Sunday’s MLS schedule

Orlando City SC vs. New York City FC — 5 p.m. ET
Atlanta United vs. New York Red Bulls — 7:30 p.m. ET
Vancouver Whitecaps vs. Philadelphia Union — 9:30 p.m. ET