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.

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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.

La Liga Roundup: Messi, Barcelona stunned by inspired Granada (video)

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Granada’s shocking 2-0 win over Barcelona and subsequent rise to the top of the table headlines Saturday’s La Liga action.

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Granada 2-0 Barcelona

Not even Lionel Messi, who made his season debut on Saturday, was able to save Barcelona against a red-hot Granada.

Granada, who are off to their best start in their 88 years of existence, had a perfect night in front of their supporters, convincingly getting past a Barcelona that dominated possession, but lacked the offensive ingenuity needed to score.

Barcelona’s defense wasn’t noteworthily robust, either.

Two minutes in, the newly promoted side scored through a headed goal from Ramon Azeez, following a defensive turnover from Junior Firpo.

Unable to record a shot on target in the first half and looking to wakeup a dormant attack, Barcelona brought on wonderkid Ansu Fati and Lionel Messi at halftime. Despite the duo connecting on several occasion and generating a shot on target, it wasn’t enough to get past Rui Silva.

In the 66th minute, following video review, substitute Alvaro Badillo converted from the spot, handing Granada their third win of the season.

Atop of La Liga, Granada set their sights on Real Valladolid, while Barcelona, who are off to their worst league start in 25 years, host Villarreal at Camp Nou.

Atletico Madrid  0-0 Celta Vigo

For a second consecutive week, Diego Simeone’s Atletico Madrid dropped points, drawing with Celta Vigo 0-0 at Wanda Metropolitano.

Tied with league leaders Granada and Sevilla with 10 points, the alarm bells are far from going off in Madrid. However, as Saturday’s performance showed, los Colchoneros are having trouble finishing chances this season, despite fielding an attack with the likes of Joao Felix, Diego Costa and Alvaro Morata.

In five games, Atletico have managed to score only five goals, six fewer than leaders Granada. Against Celta, Atletico registered 20 shots, five on target, but were unable to crack a stellar Ruben Blanco, who registered five saves.

Leveled with Granada and Sevilla, Atletico Madrid look to get back into winning ways as they take on RCD Mallorca. Elsewhere, Celta Vigo, who have won win after five games, host Espanyol next.

Elsewhere in La Liga

Villarreal 2-0 Real Valladolid

Levante 0-0 Eibar

Almeyda, Wondolowski sent off in Quakes’ fall against Atlanta (video)

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The game in 200 words (or less): Melodrama took center stage in Atlanta United’s 3-1 win over the San Jose Earthquakes, as Matias Almeyda, Chris Wondolowski and Cristian Espinoza were all sent off on Saturday. Josef Martinez, six games away from tying Lionel Messi’s world record for most consecutive goals, left the field in 79th minute following an injury, ending his MLS-record run at 15 games. Playing with 10 players from the 34th minute onwards, the Quakes held on to the draw up until the 90th minute. Unmarked inside the box, Emerson Hyndman rocketed the ball past Daniel Vega, who recorded nine saves throughout the night. In stoppage time, Gonzalo “Pity” Martinez was rewarded for his stellar performance with a goal of his own. With a game at hand, Eastern Conference leaders, NYCFC, are three points ahead Frank De Boer‘s side. The Quakes, on the other hand, have internal fires to put out as they have lost six of their last eight, and are only a point above the red line with three games to play.

Three moments that mattered

27′ — Great run by Espinoza, greater ball by Vega  — Daniel Vega and Cristian Espinoza were players that San Jose were desperately missing last season. This sequence says it all.

 

90′ — Emerson Hyndman wins it for the Five Stripes   — Hyndman, with no one near him, seals three points for the home side.

 

90′ + 2 — Martinez takes advantage of broken San Jose  — Martinez’s goal was only salt in San Jose’s fresh wound.

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Man of the match: Gonzalo “Pity”  Martinez

Goalscorers: Meram (4′), Guzan (27′ – OG), Hyndman (90′), Martinez (90′ + 2)

FIFA sees no obstacles for women to attend games in Iran

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ZURICH — Soccer’s governing body FIFA says an inspection visit to Iran has shown “no noteworthy operational obstacles” to lifting the country’s 40-year ban and letting women attend a World Cup qualifying game next month.

After meeting government and soccer officials in Tehran this week, FIFA says it will work with Iran’s soccer body to also open domestic league games to female fans.

FIFA wants Iran to end its ban on women entering stadiums which breaches international soccer statutes prohibiting discrimination.

Global attention on the ban followed the death this month of a 29-year-old activist, Sahar Khodayari, who set herself on fire outside a courthouse. She had been detained for dressing as a man to enter a soccer stadium in Tehran and faced six months in prison.

Ahead of Iran hosting Cambodia at the 78,000-capacity Azadi Stadium on Oct. 10, FIFA says the visit on Thursday focused on “international relations, security and ticketing matters.”

Iranian officials were told of FIFA’s “firm and clear position that women need to be allowed to enter football matches freely” with tickets sold to as many who wanted to attend.

FOLLOW LIVE: Atlanta v. Quakes, Galaxy v. Impact on a busy MLS Saturday

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Eight games in seven hours, now that’s a jam-packed MLS Saturday.

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Things kickoff with Matias Almeyda’s San Jose Earthquakes visiting red-hot Josef Martinez’s Atlanta United, and comes to a close in Los Angeles, where league leaders LAFC host Toronto FC and LA Galaxy, who look to continue moving up in the Western Conference standings, host Montreal Impact.

In between, the New England Revolution look to remain in the Eastern Conference playoff picture as they welcome Kyle Beckerman and Real Salt Lake, while the Chicago Fire hope to jump level with the Revs in the standings as they take on FC Cincinnati at Nippert Stadium.

Saturday’s full MLS schedule

Atlanta United v. San Jose Earthquakes — 3:30 p.m. ET

Vancouver Whitecaps v. Columbus Crew — 5 p.m. ET

New England Revolution v. Real Salt Lake — 7:30 p.m. ET

FC Cincinnati v. Chicago Fire — 7:30 p.m. ET

Sporting Kansas City v. Colorado Rapids — 8:30 p.m. ET

Houston Dynamo v. Orlando City — 8:30 p.m. ET

LAFC v. Toronto FC — 10:30 p.m. ET

LA Galaxy v. Montreal Impact — 10:30 p.m. ET