Tuesday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup: Kiyotake to Aston Villa, Downing to Newcastle

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Liverpool are looking to get rid of winger Stewart Downing in a cut-price deal. The England international was bought from Aston Villa for almost $30 million in 2011, but now the Reds are willing to accept as little as $7.5 million for the 29-year-old. Downing hasn’t had the best if times since joining Liverpool, failing to score in his first 45 league games for the club. His move, along with the signings of Jordan Henderson and Andy Carroll have been seen as flops by many in English soccer. And now Downing could return to his native North East and provide Newcastle extra competition on the flanks.

As Tottenham continue to bring more players in, there could well be more departures from White Hart Lane. Tom Huddlestone is rumored to be leaving Spurs, with Cardiff City offering $5 million for the holding midfielder. After Paulinho’s summer arrival, Huddlestone will slip further down the pecking order. The 26-year-old midfielder, who has won four England caps, has an incredible array of passes and can sit in front of the back four and protect it. He will want to play regularly, after playing just 14 league games for Spurs last year after struggling with injury. A quality player who would boost Cardiff’s midfield, if he can stay fit.

West Bromwich Albion are leading the race to bring in Scott Sinclair on a season-long loan from Manchester City. The 24-year-old winger wants regular soccer this term, after warming the bench for most of last season. West Brom are looking to bolster their attack after Romelu Lukaku’s loan-spell ended and Peter Odemwingie is close to leaving. Sinclair is being chased by plenty of mid-table PL sides but after West Brom finished eight last season, Sinclair may think he can help them do even better. He has the talent, as he proved at Swansea, now he needs to play regularly.

PSV Eindhoven striker Ola Toivonen is open to a move to Norwich City, as the Canaries continue their summer recruitment drive. Swedish international Toivonen has scored 59 goals in 125 league games for PSV and fancies a move to the Premier League. Norwich have already added strikers Ricky van Wolfswinkel and Gary Hooper this summer, but Chris Hughton wants a third top striker to help the Canaries push on. Toivonen, 27, is a clinical finisher who can also play underneath the front man. He’s been a mainstay at PSV for many years and would be a steal as he’s entering the final year of his contract.

Aston Villa are hoping to snap up Japanese international midfielder Hiroshi Kiyotake from Nuremberg. The 23-year-old could cost up to $16 million and Villa are hoping the sale of Darren Bent, Shay Given and Stephen Ireland will finance the deal. Villa had a bid turned down for Kiyotake earlier this summer, but an improved offer could be hard for the Bundesliga side to resist. A creative midfield presence could be the final piece in Paul Lambert’s jigsaw as he aims to push on this season. The Japanese playmaker certainly fits the bill.

More: Monday’s Transfer Rumor Roundup, Abdulrahman to Arsenal, Defoe to West Brom

Sweden players, coaches left fuming after last-minute loss

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SOCHI, Russia (AP) — A last-minute goal. A non-called penalty. A disrespectful celebration.

Sweden had a lot to be upset about when the final whistle blew on Saturday.

[ MORE: Low: Germany survived “a thriller full of emotion” ]

The Swedes were within seconds of holding defending champion Germany to a draw, and moving into good position to advance to the round of 16 at the World Cup, when Toni Kroos scored deep into stoppage time to give Germany a 2-1 come-from-behind victory.

“I’m sorry that we didn’t get at least one point,” Sweden coach Janne Andersson said. “But I’m not blaming anyone tactically or analyzing too much right now, there are so many emotions going around. This is probably the heaviest conclusion that I’ve experienced in my career.”

Kroos’ goal from a set piece came in the fifth and final minute of injury time. The draw would have kept Sweden ahead of Germany in Group F and needing only a draw against Mexico in the last match.

[ MORE: Germany snatches late win over Sweden to avoid elimination ]

“It was just bad luck,” Sweden forward John Guidetti said. “Now we need to try to find a way to win the last match. In a few days we play again and we have to win it. It’s simple.”

Germany, which is tied with Sweden on points and goal difference, will play against South Korea in the final round.

“We still have an excellent opportunity to qualify,” Andersson said. “Now we have to clean up, tidy up after this game. We’re going to do that.”

The Swedes were leading Germany at halftime thanks to Ola Toivonen’s goal in the 32nd minute at Fisht Stadium. They felt they could have been ahead even earlier if the referee had called a penalty when Marcus Berg appeared to be fouled inside the area with a clear chance to score. There was no formal video review called for.

“If we have the (VAR) system, it’s very unfortunate that he (the referee) can feel so secure in the moment that he doesn’t go and have a look at the situation,” Andersson said.

He and the Swedish players said they also couldn’t understand why Germany decided to celebrate near their bench.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

“You shouldn’t celebrate in front of our bench the way they did, that’s disrespectful,” Guidetti said. “You can celebrate with your own fans. Don’t celebrate in front of our bench like that. That’s why they apologized, because they knew they did something wrong.”

Andersson said he was “very annoyed” by seeing the Germany team “running in our direction and rubbing it in our faces by making gestures.”

“We fought hard for 95 minutes,” he said. “And when the final whistle blows, you shake hands.”

WATCH: World Cup, Day 11 — England, Colombia back in action

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Day 11 of the 2018 World Cup is up next, on Sunday, with England back in action and in need of three points — and a resounding win — to keep pace with Belgium in Group G.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Following Belgium’s 5-2 thrashing of Tunisia — the same side that England beat in stoppage time earlier in the week — on Saturday, the Red Devils have positioned themselves perfectly to win the group with a draw against the Three Lions on Thursday. England need a five-goal victory at 6-1 or higher to the finish top of the group following a draw on the final day.

Then, it’s a pair of Group H fixtures, kicked off with Japan (1st) versus Senegal (2nd) — both of whom won their first game — followed by Poland (3rd) versus Colombia (4th).

Below is Sunday’s schedule in full.

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


2018 World Cup schedule – Sunday, June 24

Group G
England vs. Panama: Nizhny Novgorod, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group H
Japan vs. Senegal: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
Poland vs. Colombia: Kazan, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

FIFA opens case against Xhaka, Shaqiri for celebrations

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FIFA’s disciplinary committee opened disciplinary proceedings against Swiss players Granit Xhaka and Xherdan Shaqiri for politically charged goal celebrations during their 2-1 World Cup win over Serbia in Kaliningrad.

[ MORE: The meaning behind Xhaka, Shaqiri’s eagle celebration ]

FIFA also said Saturday it has opened disciplinary proceedings against the Serbian Football Association for crowd disturbance and the display of political and offensive messages by Serbian fans. FIFA also is reviewing statements that Serbia coach Mladen Krstajic made after the match.

Xhaka and Shaqiri celebrated their goals by making a nationalist symbol of their ethnic Albanian heritage. Both of their families come from Kosovo, the former Serbian province that declared independence in 2008. Serbia doesn’t recognize Kosovo’s independence and relations between the two countries remain tense.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

The Polish Football Association was fined $10,100 and given a warning by FIFA’s disciplinary committee for a banner that the governing body deemed political and offensive. The banner was displayed during Senegal’s 2-1 win over Poland on Tuesday in Moscow.

The committee also opened disciplinary proceedings against the federations of Argentina and Croatia for crowd disturbances during Croatia’s 3-0 win Thursday at Nizhny Novgorod.

Low: Germany survived “a thriller full of emotion”

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At 1-0 down, they were headed for elimination in the group stage (with a game still to play); once level at 1-1, they faced yet a steep hill to climb on the final day of the group stage; after Toni Kroos scored his stunning 94th-minute winner, Joachim Low could finally exhale and imagine himself managing the German national team for another day.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Saturday’s 2-1 victory over Sweden at the 2018 World Cup was, for most intents and purposes, a worrying performance for the defending world champions. Fortunately for Low and Co., the one place in which their comeback dramatic victory was a raging success is the only one that matters: the Group F table, where Die Mannschaft currently (somehow) sit second and control their own destiny — quotes from the BBC:

“This was a thriller, full of emotion, right up until the final whistle. Brandt hit the goal post just three minutes before the end too. We took out a defensive player and brought on an attacking player because we knew had to bring on everything we had to turn it round.

“We had a couple of great chances — Mario Gomez’s header being one of them. The last couple of minutes were full of drama but those matches exist in football. We’ve had these situations in other tournaments as well. For the viewers that’s part of the attractiveness of football.”

“Something I did appreciate today was that we didn’t lose our nerve, we didn’t panic after going a goal down. We kept a level head and said we needed to make quick passes and tire the Swedes out to open up spaces.

“We didn’t score a couple of good chances but we never lost hope we could win the match and I think the goal scored in stoppage time had a bit of luck involved but it did show the belief we had in ourselves.”

There’s still plenty of work to do for one of the most popular pre-tournament favorites — there’s a little matter of needing to beat, or at the very least, match Sweden’s result against Mexico — but that can wait until tomorrow, because Saturday unexpectedly became all about survival.