Tim Howard the hero as Everton beat Juventus in San Francisco

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It’s only preseason. But anytime you beat reigning Italian champions Juventus, it must feel pretty good.

Everton manager Roberto Martinez will be pleased as his side sealed a 6-5 win on penalties against Juve following a 1-1 tie in regulation.

Martinez continues his overhaul of the Toffees during their preseason tour of the US, as they compete in the International Champions Cup.

US national team goalkeeper Tim Howard read the script and played the hero at AT&T Park, diving to his left to save Federico Peluso’s penalty kick and hand Everton a match against LA Galaxy or Real Madrid who play in Phoenix this evening.

Back to Everton vs. Juventus, and youngster John Stones was a cheeky chap in the penalty shootout as he coolly completed a ‘Panenka’ penalty made famous by Juventus captain Andrea Pirlo… just after Pirlo had missed his spot kick.

But chipped penalties and Howard’s heroics aside, this was the first real opportunity to see how Martinez could set up Everton this season. And it looks as though a new formation will reign supreme at Goodison Park.

Ladies and gentleman, please welcome, the 3-4-3.

Everton’s new identity and attacking philosophy under Martinez should be in stark contrast to the rigid formations used by David Moyes for much of his time in charge. Martinez often prefers having three at the back and mixes up variations of the 3-5-2 and 3-4-3.

(MORE: Chelsea, Everton, Juventus, Real Madrid and other bring ICC Stateside)

Last night, Everton lined up with Phil Jagielka, Sylvain Distin and youngster John Stones as the three central defenders. Leighton Baines played on the left of midfield, while Seamus Coleman played on the right. In midfield Darron Gibson and Marouane Fellaini were the central duo with Kevin Mirallas and Steven Pienaar out wide to support Victor Anichebe as the lone front man.

This system is flexible and allows plenty of Everton’s best players to interchange and adopt different roles. For example if Fellaini wants to shift forward and support Anichebe, then either Baines or Coleman can slot into the middle and Pienaar or Mirallas can slot back into a midfield position.

Wigan played creative, exciting and open soccer under Martinez and it seems as though he will continue that mantra in his new job at Everton.

Okay, last night was only a friendly. But we gained plenty of knowledge on how Everton will set up to play in the Premier League this season.

Exciting times and exciting soccer are on the horizon for the Everton faithful.

VIDEO: Portugal lead Iran at HT; Spain 1-1 Morocco

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We’re through the first 45 minutes of Monday’s Group B finales at the 2018 World Cup, and things are happening. A quick rundown…

[ SCENARIOS: Who needs what, to finish where, in final round of group games ]

Andres Iniesta and Sergio Ramos combined to commit a disastrous gaffe at midfield, resulting in a goal for Khalid Boutaib in the 14th minute. At this point, Spain would have finished second, behind Portugal, and headed to the far more difficult side of the knockout bracket.

Five minutes later, it was Iniesta who, with a little help from some slightly lesser geniuses, unlocked the Moroccan defense to set up Isco for an emphatic finish. La Furia Roja moved back to the top of the group, on goals scored.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

In the afternoon’s other game, Portugal and Iran appeared destined for a 0-0 scoreline at halftime, until Ricardo Quaresma unleashed a stunning, outside-of-the-foot curler from outside the box to beat the goalkeeper and put Portugal ahead — both on the day, and in the table. As things currently stand, Portugal would win the group and Spain would finish second.

Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show: Episode 4

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In the fourth episode of Layla’s Occasionally Unbiased Football Show, England players have been preparing for their next match in an unusual way, Argentina has a huge meltdown, and more.

[ LIVE: World Cup scores ] 

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

Atlanta leads way with six All-Star Fan XI selections

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It may be hard to believe with all the World Cup festivities going on, but the Major League Soccer season is nearly halfway over.

[ MORE: Toronto FC’s 2018 has been far from their cup-winning 2017 ]

And that means it’s almost All-Star time.

The MLS All-Stars will continue their recent tradition of facing a European superpower in August, with Juventus being welcomed to the United States in early August.

But, which players from MLS will we see in action?

Last season’s expansion sweetheart Atlanta United leads the way in the fan voting with six players from the Eastern Conference side voted into the Fan XI, including attackers Miguel Almiron, Ezequiel Barco, Darlington Nagbe and Josef Martinez.

Goalkeeper Brad Guzan and defender/captain Michael Parkhurst also made the team from Atlanta.

In all, only five clubs were represented based on the Fan XI, with the LA Galaxy’s Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Los Angeles FC’s Carlos Vela and Laurent Ciman, Sporting KC’s Graham Zusi and Portland Timbers star Diego Valeri each rounding out the squad.


Goalkeeper: Brad Guzan (Atlanta United)

Defenders: Michael Parkhurst (Atlanta United), Laurent Ciman (Los Angeles Football Club), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)

Midfielders: Miguel Almirón (Atlanta United), Ezequiel Barco (Atlanta United), Darlington Nagbe (Atlanta United), Diego Valeri (Portland Timbers)

Forwards: Josef Martínez (Atlanta United), Zlatan Ibrahimović (LA Galaxy), Carlos Vela (Los Angeles Football Club – EA SPORTS™ “More Than a Vote” Challenge)

Saudi Arabia steals late win over Egypt in Group A finale

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Saudi Arabia pulled off a late 2-1 win against Egypt on Monday in their Group A finale, as the two nations ended their 2018 World Cup run in the group stage.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ]

Salem Al Sawsari scored in the fifth minute of second half stoppage time to give the Saudis a late winner in the match, as the attacker struck the post in the dying moments before the ball crossed the line.

The Pharaohs took the lead in the 22nd minute, after a tremendous run from Mohamed Salah and lob over the Saudi Arabia goalkeeper.

Salah has two goals at the World Cup for Egypt, who were already eliminated heading into Monday’s match.

Saudi Arabia was granted a chance to equalize prior to halftime, however, goalkeeper Essam El Hadary brilliantly stopped Hattan Bahebri’s penalty kick in the 41st minute to preserve the Egypt advantage.

El Hadary became the oldest player in World Cup history to appear in a match at the age of 45.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

The Egypt keeper wasn’t as lucky the second time around though, with Salmon Al Faraj converting a penalty kick in the 51st minute.

Saudi Arabia finishes group play in third place on three points, while Egypt goes winless in its three matches.