Juan Agudelo’s massive moment

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It’s becoming clearer and clearer that Juan Agudelo wanted out of the New York Red Bulls.

And to that, I say: Good on ya, mate. Or something equally British and soccer-y.

I’m on the record liking the trade from a NYRB perspective, and I still agree with myself. (Sometimes it gets weird late in the day at the PST office. Like now. Anyhow…) Ultimately, this is a better deal for NYRB.

But… it also presents young Juan with quite an opportunity. Chivas USA is terrible offensively, so he’ll find playing time quickly. Instead of languishing on the bench behind Kenny Cooper and Thierry Henry, he can work out his game on the field. It will be slow. It will be painful, though not as tough as recovering from knee surgery. Ultimately, however, it might be just the thing Agudelo needs to take the next step.

The forward stalled in New York. He has to stay focused, stay hungry, stay prepared at Chivas. He can do that, though, especially with the help of Juan Pablo Angel and Robin Fraser. It’s tough to leave New York, but Los Angeles ain’t such a bad place to be. Especially when the Left Coast offers such massive opportunity.

Agudelo found himself in no man’s land in NYC. Credit him for recognizing the situation and finding a way out. (And credit to Soler and the gang for making it happen.) That’s a mature decision. That maturity will serve him well as he embarks on the next phase of what could — and should — be a very strong career domestically and internationally.

VIDEO: Tunisia equalizes on controversial penalty kick

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England centerback Kyle Walker put his arm up to halt the forward progress of Fakhreddine Ben Youssef. Unfortunately for Walker, Ben Youssef was in the box and Walker’s elbow caught Ben Youssef’s face.

Referee Wilmar Roldan quickly whistled for a penalty kick and despite the protests from a half-dozen of England players and a check from the VAR, the called stood. Ferjani Sassi’stepped up to the spot and found the lower-left corner, just barely beating Jordan Pickford to tie the game in the 35th minute.

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How will England respond?

VIDEO: Captain Kane puts England on the board early

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It may be the easiest goal-scoring opportunity Harry Kane‘s ever had in an international competition, and he finished it as easy as you’d like.

Kane side-footed home after Tunisia goalkeeper Mouez Hassen made a terrific save on John Stone’s header off a corner, but the save was directed right into a wide-open Kane who was standing ready inside the six yard box. The 11th minute goal will surely settle some of the Three Lions’ nerves as they open their World Cup bid in Russia.

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After slow start, Belgium takes care of business against feisty Panama

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All it took was one goal to bring Belgium to life.

Following a frustrating first 45 minutes, in which Belgium put a pair of shots into the side netting and forced saves from Panama goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, Dries Mertens 47th minute goal opened the floodgates, as Belgium went on to defeat Panama, 3-0, Monday afternoon in Sochi.

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But Panama never made it easy for the Belgians. From the opening whistle the CONCACAF nation showed its incredible spirit, chasing down Belgium all across the field and making life incredibly difficult for Belgium attackers Romelu Lukaku, Mertens and Eden Hazard. Hazard was hacked down all over the field, and while he did earn fouls and a few yellow cards were issued to Panamanian players, it was enough to get in Hazard’s head.

Two minutes into the second half, everything changed. A wonderstrike from Mertens opened the game, and forced Panama to attack and try and tie the match, which gave Hazard, de Bruyne and Lukaku more space to operate.

In the heat and humidity of the Sochi summer, Panama’s veteran defense began to tire, allowing de Bruyne the space to deliver a terrific assist to Lukaku in the box, putting Belgium up 2-0 in the 69th minute.

 

Six minutes later, Lukaku was put through on the break, chipping over Penedo to confirm the victory.

With the win, Belgium moves to the top of Group G. Up next for Belgium is Tunisia on Saturday, while Panama takes on England on Sunday.

VIDEO: de Bruyne delivers gorgeous assist on Lukaku goal

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It took a little bit of patience, but Romelu Lukaku finally got on the scoresheet at the 2018 World Cup, thanks to a delicious assist from crosstown club rival Kevin De Bruyne.

The Manchester City playmaker delivered a spectacular outside-of-the-boot cross into the box, where Lukaku’s head met it and guided it towards the far post for Belgium’s second goal of the day.

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