Sunderland beat Spurs in Asia Trophy friendly, but Jozy Altidore squanders chances

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This morning in Hong Kong, Tottenham and Sunderland squared off amid torrential downpours in South China, as Paolo Di Canio’s side beat Spurs 3-1.

Goals from Cabral, Wes Brown and David Moberg Karlsson handed Sunderland the comeback victory, after Gylfi Sigurdsson had opened the scoring for Spurs.

Their friendly in the Barclays Asia Trophy semifinal was in doubt, but after a delay the pitch was ready for an 80 minute game between the Premier League clubs, and the Black Cats didn’t disappoint.

For fans of the U.S. national there was plenty of interest in this one, as red-hot forward Jozy Altidore started for Sunderland while Clint Dempsey and Brad Friedel put in a shift for Spurs.

Surprisingly, Sunderland ran out comfortable winners but it could have been even more convincing if Altidore had brought his shooting boots with him.

(MORE: Altidore officially signs for Sunderland in $13 million deal)

The 23-year-old USMNT striker had three glorious opportunities to score, but countryman Friedel thwarted him superbly towards the end of the game as the contest opened up. But despite missed chances, included a fresh air shot from three yards out, Altidore looked at home with his new teammates and made several good runs off the last defender that gave Tottenham plenty of problems. But he did slot in Cabral for Sunderland’s opener.

Nevertheless, Di Canio would have been pleased with Altidore and several of his new signings as they swept aside a Spurs team that was missing Gareth Bale amid increased transfer speculation.

Dempsey put in a solid performance on a heavy pitch in Hong Kong, and was substituted after 70 minutes. But one of the moments of the match came from veteran goalkeeper Friedel who made a stunning reflex save in the 73rd minute to deny Connor Wickham.

The old dog, 42 years young, still has some life left in him, it seems.

So how much can we read into these preseason friendlies? It is difficult. Sunderland certainly looked fitter and Di Canio has been working his roster tirelessly over the summer months. But you never know how both teams have structured their training around this match, as Spurs may have had a heavy session the day before.

Regardless, a welcome win for Altidore and Sunderland who’ve made the final and will play the winner of Manchester City and South China in the four-team tournament.

As for Altidore, maybe he’s saving up all his goals for the World Cup qualifiers later this year?

Report: Newcastle activates $12m release clause of ex-Arsenal youth

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Reports out of Turkey say Newcastle United have finally struck the transfer market for a new No. 10.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Aksam reports that Rafa Benitez got the Magpies hierarchy to activate a near $12 million release clause for Besiktas midfielder Oguzhan Ozyakup.

The 25-year-old was part of Arsenal’s youth set-up until 2012, making two League Cup appearances in 2011-12 before moving to Besiktas.

Dutch-born Ozyakup is 35-times capped with a goal for Turkey, twice captaining the Crescent-Stars.

Ozyakup lost playing time to Talisca this season, and registered just four assists in 24 appearances. In 219 appearances for Besiktas, he’s posted 27 goals with 50 assists.

Like the move for Newcastle?

Lukaku pens inspiring post on hard-scrabble upbringing

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Manchester United and Belgium striker Romelu Lukaku has an inspiring and emotional post in The Players’ Tribune which tugs at the heart strings and explains his competitive fire.

[ MORE: West Ham adds Diop ]

Lukaku talks about how his family’s poverty caused him to become a fierce competitor in the hopes of meeting his dreams head-on and providing for his family.

The Belgian, 25, scored twice in his side’s 3-0 World Cup-opening win over Panama earlier this week, and is now far removed from his youth, but he tells his story as if it lives fresh in his mind.

From The Players’ Tribune:

There were even times when my mum had to “borrow” bread from the bakery down the street. The bakers knew me and my little brother, so they’d let her take a loaf of bread on Monday and pay them back on Friday.

Lukaku also talks about racism in football, his debut for Anderlecht, and that aforementioned competitive drive. It’s 100 percent worth the read.

West Ham signs club record center back from Toulouse

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West Ham has reportedly set a club record with its latest signing under new manager Manuel Pellegrini.

Issa Diop is the player, the 21-year-old Toulouse captain and center back costing the Irons around $29 million.

[ MORE: Arsenal signs Leno ]

Diop scored three goals with an assist and eight yellow cards in 31 Ligue 1 matches this season, giving the young defender 95 apps, six goals, three assists, and 23 yellows since debuting with the senior team at 18.

Capped by France at every level below the senior team, Diop’s 2.2 interceptions per game ranked sixth in Ligue 1.

Toulose finished 18th in Ligue 1, but won its promotion/relegation playoff to stay in the French top flight.

From WHUFC.com:

“I am very happy to sign for such a historic, English club, and I hope to show my best here. I am a very ambitious player and West Ham is a very ambitious club, as we’ve seen with the appointment of the new coach. I hope to help the team win lots of games and make the fans happy.”

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 3

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In the third episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England pulls out a massive win while VAR finds its way into the World Cup spotlight.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

There will be plenty more to come over the next few weeks, with the show coming via the Men In Blazers.

Click play on the video above to watch the first episode in full.