Australia are heading to the 2014 World Cup in Brazil

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Australia have booked their place in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil with a 1-0 victory over Iraq earlier today.

The goal came from substitute Josh Kennedy, on for Socceroos legend Tim Cahill, in the 83rd minute. The ball came to winger Mark Bresciano on the right side and the 33 year old made it to the edge of the box before delicately floating a chip into the center of the area. Kennedy’s run put him at the penalty spot where he snapped the header into the bottom right corner of the goal.

The goal provided a dramatic escape for Australia, who needed to thwart a plucky Iraqi side on a few occasions throughout the second half. Many questioned manager Holger Osieck’s decision to take off Cahill during such a crucial part of the match. Cahill himself was dejected to come out of the match, at first pretending not to see the substitutes board before finally accepting his fate and slowly trudging off the pitch.

While the victory was not the dominant performance that many were expecting, Osieck was careful to pay tribute to Iraq and overjoyed that his squad grinded out the result. “It was a very tough qualifying campaign but we made it happen over the last three games,” said Osieck. “I’m simply happy for the boys and the fans. It was a tricky game, they are tough to play.”

Osieck’s decision to insert Kennedy proved to be a stroke of genius by Osieck. The 30 year old has been a peripheral figure throughout this World Cup campaign, but came up big when it counted. And while the Nagoya Grampus striker is the hero who put his side through to Brazil, substantial credit must be heaped on Bresciano for such an inventive cross.

It was eight years ago that Bresciano once again came to his country’s aid by scoring a huge goal that helped Australia knock off Uruguay to qualify for the World Cup finals. Down 1-0 after the first leg in Montevideo, Bresciano’s goal leveled the aggregate a 1-1, triggering a penalty shootout that the Socceroos won 4-2.

Today’s victory puts Australia in the World Cup finals for the third successive time. They’ll head to Brazil with what will be one of the oldest squads in the tournament as many players are over the age of 30, including goalkeeper Mark Schwarzer (40), captain Lucas Neill (35), Cahill (33) and Bresciano (33).

Australia join Brazil and Japan as nations that already have booked their place in next summer’s World Cup.

Transfer rumors: Willian, Alderweireld to Manchester United

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The transfer rumor mill is picking up steam this Monday, including some persistent whispers regarding two Premier League players with possible futures at Old Trafford.

Both of these make a lot of sense.

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A day after Nemanja Matic stressed the need for experienced players at United, two good fits hit the rumor mill (again).

Matic’s old Chelsea pal Willian has interest from United if he seeks a way out of London — which seems likely — where he’s said to be ready to go if Antonio Conte remains as manager.

Then there’s Toby Alderweireld, whose been very strong at Southampton and Tottenham Hotspur but reportedly fallen out with current Spurs boss Mauricio Pochettino.

During a rut, the Tottenham manager claimed that Alderweireld was held out of Spurs’ lineup due to the form of the players in front of him.

Also from Sky, we’ll leave this quote from PSG chairman Nasser Al-Khelaifi on the idea of possibly selling Kylian Mbappe.

Al-Khelaifi told Canal+: “You want me to give you a number? More than €1bn! Yes, I said one billion! And even if you gave me a billion, I wouldn’t sell him.”

Pogba: Mourinho “made me progress in leadership”

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Paul Pogba says “we are never sure of anything but contractually, it’s sure” that he’ll remain at Manchester United.

That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement from United’s most expensive transfer purchase, as many have linked him with a move away from Old Trafford.

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He also said he’s not worried about his relationship with United boss Jose Mourinho, and pointed out that his problems and growth in Manchester are a natural part of a player’s progression. From Sky Sports:

“There were times where I wasn’t playing, I was on the bench. There was a lot of talk, people thought it wasn’t working out,” Pogba added.

“But a coach and a player don’t have to be best friends, we don’t have to go to restaurants together. I had a few little problems too… football is sometimes all about the mental side. He put me on the bench and I gave my response on the pitch. I always give everything I’ve got.

“He made me progress in leadership. I had the armband with Mourinho, it was the first time in a club, it’s important for me, it makes me grow to be also a leader in the France team.”

In a candid talk, the 25-year-old Pogba was asked about Paris Saint-Germain and told French television that he’d be open to representing the club in the future despite the fact that his parents are Marseille supporters.

Moore takes hold of West Brom’s promotion bid

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Darren Moore‘s spell as West Brom caretaker manager couldn’t quite pull off a miraculous run to Premier League safety, but the promise it contained has helped him to the first chance at earning promotion back to the top flight.

West Bromwich Albion announced Moore as its new manager on Monday, with the boss promising his Baggies would play attractive football while also being a side “that’s willing to fight and scrap for every ball.”

[ MORE: No World Cup for Chelsea trio ]

Moore is also happy to carry a flame for minority coaches — called BAME (Black, Asian, and Minority Ethnic) — in England.

“If it does inspire others, I would be extremely proud,” he said. “I don’t just speak on behalf of BAME coaches but the young, aspiring British coaches across the board.”

Moore, 44, only lost one of his six PL matches as WBA boss, winning three times and inspiring many to wonder what would’ve happened had the Baggies’ pulled the plug on Alan Pardew — and Tony Pulis before him — earlier.

A center back in his playing career, Moore spent 18 seasons between a number of clubs including West Brom, Derby County, and Doncaster Rovers. He won promotion as a player twice with West Brom, and again with Derby.

Belgium goes to World Cup without Nainggolan

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BRUSSELS (AP) Belgium left midfielder Radja Nainggolan out of its World Cup squad despite a standout season with Champions League semifinalist Roma.

Belgium coach Roberto Martinez has long had a difficult relationship with the stormy midfielder. But after being called up for a warm-up game in March against Saudi Arabia, expectations had been that he would be on the 28-man roster announced Monday.

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On top of the troubled relationship, Nainggolan was also the victim of the unparalleled wealth of talent the small nation has produced over the past few years.

Thibaut Courtois, Vincent Kompany, Kevin De Bruyne, Eden Hazard and Romelu Lukaku were all named in the squad, which will be cut to 23 before the World Cup.