Everton 0-0 Tottenham Hotspur: Pressing attacks come up empty at Goodison (video)

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A surprisingly exciting match given the few amount of chances saw the two squads play to a 0-0 draw.

It was a tale of two halves, with the visitors flying in the first half but coming out empty handed, and the home side controlled the second half with the same result.

Spurs, having won away at Hull City last week despite what Andre Villas-Boas called “practically no support,” began the match by overwhelming the Everton defense.

AVB’s side tossed unending pressure at Everton’s defense, which struggled to hold its shape and track the movement and pace of the Tottenham wingers Lewis Holtby and Andros Townsend.

The frustration pushed Everton to the brink, with Howard receiving a yellow card from referee Kevin Friend in the opening 15 minutes for dissent, and defenders Phil Jagielka and Leighton Baines could be seen voicing their displeasure on numerous occasions.

The pressure earned Spurs a litany of free kicks, one of which saw Kyle Walker test Howard in the 19th minute, but the American keeper held firm to deny the defender’s strike.  Romelu Lukaku, starting by himself up front with Aroune Kone out injured, was forced to come back and defend a bit as well, using his imposing figure to assist his back four.

Spurs maintained their pressure into the depths of the first half, as the game blasted open in the 23rd minute.  Everton did their best to counter and push Spurs back but they struggled mightily to get out of their own half.

source: Getty Images
Lewis Holtby, whose father is a die-hard Everton supporter, was a key fixture in Spurs strong first half.

However, nothing came of the pressure for Spurs, and finally, on the half hour mark, Everton began to put a foothold into the match.  The visitors have struggled mightily this season in developing the final ball to score from open play.

The second half proved more fruitful for Everton. Lukaku identified Vlad Chiriches as the weakest link in the Spurs back four, and he looked to exploit that on a few occasions.  Lukaku nearly broke on a 3-on-2 opportunity just after halftime but Michael Dawson made a pinpoint tackle in the box.

Everton pressed more with their substitutions, and James McCarthy nearly found Lukaku in front of goal but the big Belgian couldn’t get a clean touch to it with a defender glued to his hip.

As both teams strongly pressed for a goal on both sides, a scary moment came over Goodison Park in the 78th minute. Lukaku went full-speed chasing a long ball, which Lloris easily collected.  The 20-year-old, running at pace, couldn’t stop in time and just caught Lloris on the head with his knee, which appeared to possibly knock the Spurs goalkeeper unconscious momentarily.

Clearly wishing to continue, a long and ferocious argument by Lloris to stay on the pitch proved successful, despite Spurs medical staff and players alike pleading with the Frenchman to come off in favor for American Brad Friedel.

Everton were clearly on top following the incident, with subs Ross Barkley and Gerard Delofeu making large impacts on their attacking play.

The draw looked more and more evident as the nine minutes of stoppage time continued to tick, and Spurs will be disappointed to have wasted their impressive first half and finish yet another game with no goals from open play.

The draw muddies the waters at the top of the table even further. The point for Spurs pushes them up to fourth place level on points with Chelsea and Liveprool, while Everton remain in seventh equal with Manchester City and Southampton.

LINEUPS:

Everton – Howard; Coleman, Jagielka, Distin, Baines; McCarthy, Barry; Mirallas (Delofeu, 63′), Osman (Barkley, 63′), Piennar; Lukaku (Jelavic, 86′).

Spurs – Lloris; Walker, Dawson, Chiriches, Vertonghen; Sandro (Dembele, 61′), Paulinho; Townsend, Holtby (Eriksen, 86′), Lennon (Sigurddson, 69′); Soldado.

WATCH: Miami United midfield unleashes Open Cup laser

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Tomas Granitto, have yourself an extra plate at the postgame buffet.

The Miami United midfielder scored a gorgeous goal in Wednesday’s 2-0 win over fellow NPSL side Jacksonville Armada in the Lamar Hunt U.S. Open Cup’s third round.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

Complete with aesthetically-pleasing post-ping, the former El Salvador U-20 player laid into a 25-yard shot to open the scoring in Florida.

Granitto, 24, has played for Timbers 2, Swope Park Rangers, FC Edmonton, since leaving NCAA side Florida Gulf Coast.

Rondon wanted by Atleti, Inter Milan, and West Ham

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The big boys are looking to Salomon Rondon as a bargain striker.

Yes, $22 million is a bargain in the striker market these days.

[ MORE: Napoli hires Ancelotti ]

West Brom’s Venezuelan international, 28, stands 6’2″ and has a relegation release clause that is reportedly interesting Inter Milan, Atletico Madrid, and West Ham United.

Atleti and Inter are in the Champions League next season, but Rondon played for new West Ham boss Manuel Pellegrini at Malaga, posting 25 league goals in two seasons.

He’s scored 24 goals in three Premier League seasons at West Brom, almost a quarter of the 104 produced by the Baggies.

He also picked up three assists this season as the target man for Tony Pulis, Alan Pardew, and Darren Moore (and was fouled more often than any other Baggie (Baggy?)).

Rondon and Marko Arnautovic next to each other would be a real handful for PL defenses. Then again, maybe he’ll stay loyal to West Brom and set the Championship scoring record next season.

Three German organizers of 2006 World Cup indicted for tax evasion

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FRANKFURT, Germany (AP) Three German organizers of the 2006 World Cup have been charged with tax evasion linked to a payment to FIFA.

German news agency dpa reported that Theo Zwanziger, Wolfgang Niersbach and Horst R. Schmidt confirmed Wednesday they are indicted by Frankfurt prosecutors in a long-running investigation.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

They are accused of falsifying tax returns on behalf of the Germany soccer federation (DFB) in 2006. The DFB has already paid 19.2 million euros ($22.4 million) in back taxes. All three deny the charges, which were first reported by German daily Bild

The allegations are also being investigated by Swiss federal prosecutors and FIFA’s ethics committee. They have targeted German soccer great Franz Beckenbauer, who led the 2006 tournament organizing committee.

Beckenbauer, Zwanziger and Niersbach were members of FIFA’s executive committee in turn from 2007 through 2016.

In 2016, the DFB published an inquiry report into a complex payments trail including 6.7 million euros ($7.8 million) to FIFA in April 2005. Zwanziger and the DFB claimed the money was for a World Cup opening gala and therefore tax-deductible.

However, the payment went through FIFA and ended in a Swiss account belonging to former Adidas chief Robert Louis-Dreyfus, who died in 2009.

The inquiry report did not rule out, but could not prove, that votes were bought when Germany beat a Nelson Mandela-supported South Africa bid for the hosting rights in a 12-11 vote of FIFA executive committee members in 2000.

Swiss prosecutors said in 2016 they had opened a criminal proceeding against the four German officials the previous year, on suspicion of fraud, money laundering, criminal mismanagement and misappropriation. That case spun off from a wider Swiss investigation of suspected corruption linked to FIFA and World Cup hosting votes that is ongoing.

Niersbach lost his seat on FIFA’s ruling committee when he was banned for one year for failing to disclose possible unethical conduct.

The various investigations have tarnished the reputation of the 2006 World Cup that was a popular success in the host nation, which called it the “Summer Fairytale.”

Would Real three-peat be most impressive feat in UCL history?

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When Franz Roth’s 57th minute goal gave Bayern Munich a 1-0 win over Saint-Etienne in Glasgow on May 12, 1976, it marked the last time a club won three-consecutive European Cups.

Oddly enough, Ajax turned the trick in the previous three seasons to Bayern’s run, and Real Madrid won the first five from 1955-60 when the tournament required a side of its ilk win only four ties. By 1976, the tournament began with the Round of 32.

[ MORE: 3 Key Battles for UCL Final ]

While there were certainly reasons the tournament was more difficult, consider that travel was far more taxing on the body and officiating far less advanced if even impartial, what Real Madrid would do this weekend would be an incredible achievement.

Winning three-straight competitions in any of the elite league is insane, and the UEFA Champions Leagues is especially bonkers.

Yes, an injury to Neymar made the PSG defeat a little less impressive, but consider that Real has advanced to the final while playing a murderer’s row (especially in relation to their opponents). Juventus was next, and then Bayern Munich. Now, Liverpool.

While no one, maybe ever, should cry for Real Madrid, this third run is more impressive than the first two in that the club simply isn’t as strong as previous iterations. That’s evidenced by their relatively poor performance in La Liga play, finishing almost 20 points back of rivals Barcelona and three behind Atleti.

Real sold nearly $100 million worth of players this offseason than it bought, with Theo Hernandez and Dani Ceballos the biggest names through the door while Alvaro Morata, Danilo, and James Rodriguez skipped town.

Who knows what’s in the water in Real, but its veteran squad continues to produce big results. Cristiano Ronaldo is 33. Sergio Ramos and Luka Modric 32. Marcelo and Benzema 30.

If Real holds off Liverpool, there will be some myopic notes about how it should’ve been expected to win the match, but that ignores that in a competition as deep as ever, Real took on all comers and triumphed for the third-straight year.

In doing so, they are likely achieving the most impressive feat in modern UCL history, certainly at least since Porto won the 2003-04 tournament under Jose Mourinho… and that was a one-off.