Manchester United 3-2 Stoke: United come from behind to grab a much-needed win (video)

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David Moyes will rest easier tonight after Manchester United fought back at Old Trafford, coming back from trailing Stoke City 2-1 at the half to win 3-2. The victory moves United up into eight place, where they’ll likely stay after the weekend’s action is over — unless either Hull City or Newcastle record resounding victories.

Not surprisingly for a match with five goals, the game was certainly not short on action. Much to the surprise of many that haven’t watched Manchester United this season, it was the visitors that took the early lead. Full back Erik Pieters took the ball up the left hand side before crossing it to where Peter Crouch was waiting in the middle. Jonny Evans, eager to clear the danger, directed the ball straight into Crouch. It bounced off the lanky striker, past David De Gea and into the back of the net.

United thought they’d rescued the situation in the 43rd minute. Asmir Begovic pushed aside a header from Wayne Rooney, who’d got on the end of a cross from Nani. But the ball fell to Robin van Persie, who was able to stick it in from close range. David Moyes breathed a sigh of relief.

But the United manager was back in hot water just two minutes later, when Marko Arnautovic put Stoke ahead once more. The attacker, who’d been causing the hosts problems all half, was brought down by Phil Jones. Arnautovic took the resulting free kick himself, bending his shot into the top corner to score his first goal for the Potters.

Unfortunately for Stoke, Arnautovic also picked up an injury, and the beginning of the second half saw him replaced by defender Marc Wilson — a sure sign that Marc Hughes was content to let his side sit back, soak up the pressure and ride out the lead.

Moyes tried to counter Hughes’ defensive strategy by removing Nani in favor of the lucky Adnan Januzaj. Ten minutes later, the normally conservative manager went against the grain, pulling off Tom Cleverly for Javier Hernandez, and then replacing Chris Smalling with Antonio Valencia. The substitutions paid off handsomely.

First it was Wayne Rooney, who got the equalizer in the 78th minute, heading on a cross from van Persie. Then, two minutes later, it was Chicharito that put in the winner. Again, it was a header, this time off a cross from Patrice Evra. Despite the return of both Ryan Shawcross and Geoff Cameron, the normally stingy Stoke were simply falling apart, letting United carve them open to get to the goal.

Manchester United starting XI: De Gea; Smalling (Valencia 76), Jones, Evans, Evra; Nani (Januzaj 58), Carrick, Cleverley (Hernandez 68), Kagawa; Rooney, van Persie

Subs: Lindegaard, Rafael, Fellaini, Young

Goals: van Persie 43, Rooney 78, Hernandez 80

Stoke starting XI: Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; Walters, Palacios (Whelan 70), Ireland (Adam 82) Nzonzi, Arnautovic (Wilson 46); Crouch

Subs: Sorensen, Jones, Assaidi, Wilkinson

Goals: Crouch 4, Arnautovic 45

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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.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

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.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news

Transfer Rumor Roundup: Arsenal close in on Leno; Man City near Jorginho signing, and more

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Arsenal looks like it will have a new man between the pipes for next season.

According to a report from German publication SportBild, Bayer Leverkusen goalkeeper Bernd Leno will be introduced as an Arsenal player on Tuesday, after a reported $23-29 million transfer fee. The 26-year-old was on Germany’s 35-man pre-World Cup squad, but was one of the last cuts as Joachim Low went with Manuel Neuer, Marc-Andre ter Stegen and Kevin Trapp in Russia.

Leno became the full-time starter for Leverkusen as a 20-year-old, and has held the position of the No. 1 for the last six seasons, earning plenty of Bundesliga and UEFA Champions League experience along the way.

It’s unclear what will happen to current Arsenal No. 1 Petr Cech. The 36-year-old Premier League legend experienced one of his worst seasons in net for Arsenal and he could begin the season as a backup, unless he moves to a new club. He reportedly has a contract through 2019.

Here’s some more transfer rumors from around the Premier League and Europe.

(more…)

VIDEO: Mertens scores wonderstrike for Belgium

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After a frustrating 45 minutes, it took only two minutes for Belgium to finally get on the board, even if it was a goal sprinkled with magic dust.

Off a partially cleared ball on the right side of the box, Belgium attacker Dries Mertens whalloped a shot that arced over Panama (and former LA Galaxy) goalkeeper Jaime Penedo, giving Belgium a 1-0 lead.

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