Swansea City 3-3 Stoke City: See-saw match ends in draw after Swansea comeback

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Swansea City found themselves 2-0 down in less than a half-hour, and battled back to deservedly go up 3-2 until referee Robert Madley awarded a 96th minute penalty to Stoke City which the visitors converted for a share of points at the Liberty Stadium on Sunday.

Despite owning the majority of possession and pressure, the Swans were undone early on the break as Stoke were on target with their early chances.  Peter Crouch assisted both goals with great touches, but things would change.

Swansea threw immense pressure at the Stoke back four, and they were unable to deal with the pace and incision as the game grew, and they battled for three goals to take a lead with five minutes to go.

But a shot off a corner may or may not have struck Wayne Routledge’s arm on its way through the box, and the referee allowed Charlie Adam to convert from the penalty spot and salvage a point for the visiting side.

It was Stoke on the break which gave them the early advantage. With Ashley Williams on the sidelines after an injury knock in the eighth minute, Jonathan Walters took advantage.  A long ball from the back found the towering Peter Crouch who flicked on with his head to the Irish midfielder who powered through the remaining back line and finished off the post and in.

Swansea didn’t capitulate following the goal, instead dominating possession and taking control in front of the home crowd.  Wilfried Bony finally unlocked the Stoke defense in the 24th minute, but couldn’t make them pay, rushing the volley and firing over off balance.

They would rue that chance, as Stoke came down the other way and again scored a second on some lovely passing.  Leon Britton lost the ball in the midfield, and it fell to Walters on the wing.  His pinpoint cross found Crouch in the box, whose brilliant one-time touch sprung Stephen Ireland free and he made no mistakes past Gerhard Tremmel.

Crouch’s two assists were both outstanding, and the imposing figure at front of Stoke’s attack was causing the home side all kinds of problems.Swansea reasserted their possession dominance again but again were wasteful in front of goal.  Wilfried Bony found himself gifted a free chance on goal when Stoke defender Erik Pieters made a massive mistake in the 40th minute passing it back to Bony, but Asmir Begovic did well to dispossess Bony before he could get a shot off.

Swansea began the second half in control as well, and this time they wouldn’t prove wasteful.  Bony got his goal when a corner in the 56th minute went long, and the Swans brought it back out to Jonathan de Guzman who sent in a perfect cross and Bony unleashed a powerful header past a hapless Begovic.

The goal sprung Swansea to dangerous heights, and the combination of Wayne Routledge and substitute Nathan Dyer used their pace to created chance after chance for Bony.

source: Getty Images
Substitute Charlie Adam converted the controversial penalty to end a wild match in Swansea.

Swansea continued to pour forward and got their deserved equalizer in the 74th minute.  Routledge on the left wing worked well to find space and crossed into the crowded box, and the cross was cleared by Robert Huth but only to Dyer.  The 25-year-old rifled a viciious attempt that took a deflection and skidded past Begovic to level the score.

Following the equalizer Swansea didn’t take their foot off the gas, and the game because very chippy. Angel Rangel earned himself a yellow card in a scuffle where he shoved Crouch to the ground.

Swansea nearly had another chance in the 83rd where Rangel and Bony broke with numbers, but some poor touches saw the build-up break down.  They wouldn’t misfire on the next chance.

Jonjo Shelvey worked hard on the wing to give him room to feed Bony in the middle, and the Dutch sensation shot the ball to the far post with one touch for the lead.

The drama wasn’t over though.  With Swansea feeling like they’d snatched victory, the chippiness earlier led to six minutes of added time, and the penalty was awarded when a header came swerving through the crowded box and possibly struck the arm of Wayne Routledge right in front of goal.

It was a soft call if anything, but Bobby Madley awarded the penalty to the shock of the Swansea players.  Michael Laudrup rued after the match that not a single Stoke player aside from Asmir Begovic up for the late corner appealed for the penalty call.  Routledge appears to have maybe stuck his elbow out a bit, but nobody expected the call to come in.

The point for both sides is enough to bump them up a place or two. Swansea are now up to 13th level with new boys Cardiff City, and Stoke City move out of the relegation zone on goal differential, dropping Fulham below the dreaded line.

GOALS:

Swansea City – Bony 56′ 85′, Dyer 74′
Stoke City – Walters 8′, Ireland 25′, Adam 96′

LINEUPS:

Swansea City – Tremmel; Rangel, Chico Flores, Williams, Davies; Britton, De Guzman (Shelvey, 71′), Pozuelo (Canas, 90′), Lamah (Dyer, 55′), Routledge; Bony.

Stoke City – Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Huth, Pieters; Walters, Nzonzi, Ireland (Wilson, 72′), Palacios (Adam, 72′), Arnautovic (Etherington, 54′); Crouch.

Explaining Ronaldo, Messi no show for FIFA awards

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For the last decade either Lionel Messi or Cristiano Ronaldo have been crowned the best player on the planet, winning the coveted award five times each and finish second on the other five occasions.

On Monday in London, FIFA’s TheBest award went to Real Madrid and Croatia midfielder Luka Modric at the glitzy award evening in London, with Ronaldo finishing second and Mohamed Salah third. Messi wasn’t even nominated among the top three despite an incredible last 12 months, and that was one of several bizarre decisions as votes were counted by national team coaches, captains and selected journalists and officials from around the world.

Neither Messi nor Ronaldo were present to applaud Modric, as they both decided not to attend the event with Messi citing “personal reasons” on the morning of the event and he remained in Spain ahead of Barcelona’s trip to Leganes on Wednesday. While Ronaldo pulled out due to Juventus’ busy schedule as they have a Serie A game on Wednesday.

Ronaldo knew it was unlikely he would win the award after Modric was handed the best player award by UEFA and won the Golden Ball as the best player at the World Cup this summer, while Messi’s goal was in the running for the Puskas award but lost out to Mo Salah’s striker against Everton.

At many of the previous events it has been too close to call between Messi and Ronaldo as to who will win the best player on the planet. But this was the first time in a decade the award was destined to go elsewhere.

But should they have shown up on Monday?

Both Messi and Ronaldo were included in the FIFPro World 11 and the other nine players included in that team turned up. Granted, it was easier for the three Premier League players (Eden Hazard, N'Golo Kante and David De Gea) to make it, but four Real Madrid players still showed up, plus Kylian Mbappe and Dani Alves from elsewhere in Europe. Real Madrid play on Wednesday, so too do PSG and Chelsea and Man United, but their players turned up.

Can we really criticize Messi and Ronaldo for not showing up in London?

Both players have given us so much joy over the years and this is only one awards ceremony (and a slightly confusing and long-winded one at that), but what does their inability to show up when they haven’t won the main award suggest?

Are they simply so trophy orientated that they can’t bear the thought of being in a room full of the greatest players and coaches on the planet and not winning the top prize? Or did scheduling issues really stop them from turning up?

It could be as simple as the latter but it leaves a slightly sour taste in the mouth to think that Messi and/or Ronaldo believe they don’t have time to waste to attend an awards ceremony celebrating not only their greatness but that of others, when they don’t have a chance of winning the main award.

Giuseppe Rossi faces one-year ban for doping case in Italy

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ROME (AP) Former Italy forward Giuseppe Rossi’s injury-plagued career has taken another negative turn with a positive doping test.

[ MORE: United’s net debt rises

Italy’s anti-doping agency Nado Italia announced on Tuesday that Rossi will stand trial next week after testing positive for an eye drug that can be used as a masking agent.

The anti-doping prosecutor is seeking a one-year ban.

The test was taken in May while Rossi played for Genoa at the end of the last Serie A season.

Rossi is currently out of contract.

Dorzolamide, the substance that Rossi tested positive for, is not banned when administered with eye drops but Rossi told anti-doping authorities that he did not use eye drops when he was questioned twice, in June and July.

Rossi had no immediate comment.

The 31-year-old Rossi was born in the United States but played for Italy from 2008-14. His career has been slowed by a series of knee injuries.

More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Players’ union reiterates disapproval of league match in US

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MADRID (AP) The Spanish players’ association remains against the league’s plan to play a regular-season match in the United States despite receiving more detailed information.

The association was not convinced by the league’s update and said on Monday it still disapproved of the Girona-Barcelona game planned for suburban Miami in January. It said the league still lacks the necessary approvals from other stakeholders, and it can’t guarantee the union contract won’t be breached.

The association doesn’t have a final say on whether the game actually happens, although players recently did not rule out a strike if their demands are not considered. They complained about not being consulted by the league before the idea was presented.

The association’s latest announcement came three days after the Spanish soccer federation refused to approve the match, putting the plan in serious doubt. The federation requested more documentation from the league after saying it failed to show the overseas match would comply with Spanish and international regulations and TV broadcast contracts, and that it would not harm the other 18 league clubs and the fans of Girona and Barcelona.

The match would also need to be approved by the U.S. soccer federation, plus continental bodies UEFA and CONCACAF. FIFA’s permission is not mandatory but president Gianni Infantino recently expressed his doubts about the game.

Spanish league president Javier Tebas again defended the match, saying football needs to catch up to what other sports have been doing to try to keep growing internationally.

“If we don’t keep working to try to grow, other competitions and other sports will leave us behind. We have to be different,” Tebas said on Monday at a soccer conference in Madrid.

“In the sports industry we have to try to copy what others are doing well. Why does the NBA and the NFL take a match abroad and we can’t? Why can’t we keep growing? This is our greatest responsibility, to grow, because this is an industry.”

Tebas said he was surprised by the amount of negative reaction to the proposal.

“It looks like we want to play the entire league in Miami. It’s just one match,” he said. “We want to play one match, for strategic reasons, to try to grow the league.”

Earlier Monday, European Club Association chairman Andrea Agnelli, Juventus’ president, said he “take(s) his hat off” to Tebas for taking the initiative and working to expand the Spanish league globally.

“That’s something that should be looked at,” Agnelli said. “If you want to have a global audience, you need to be closer to (that audience).”

The league plan to play games in the U.S. is part of a new 15-year partnership with sports and entertainment group Relevent, which operates the International Champions Cup, a tournament of club friendlies during the European offseason in July and August around the world.

The Spanish federation held its season-opening Super Cup abroad for the first time in August, with Barcelona beating Sevilla in Tangier, Morocco.

Real Madrid president Florentino Perez said on Sunday his team would not play the game abroad in the future, saying he was “vehemently against it.”

The league has said it will not force clubs to play in the overseas match.

More AP soccer: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-Soccer and https://twitter.com/AP-Sports

Man United reveal record revenue; net debt rises by $280 million

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Manchester United’s latest financial figures were discussed on Tuesday by Executive vice-chairman Ed Woodward and overall the picture of one of the wealthiest clubs on the planet was very rosey.

They recorded a record revenue of $777 million for the year ending 30 June 2018, with a profit of around $58 million.

But one number stood out: United’s net debt has risen by over $280 million in the past 12 months due to tax reforms in the United States of America.

With United owned by the U.S. based Glazer Family and listed on the New York Stock Exchange, those tax reforms seem to have hit the Red Devils particularly hard over the past 12 months.

On the pitch, Woodward seemed impressed with the way Jose Mourinho and his players have been performing and maintained his support for their manager.

“Everyone at the club is working tirelessly to add to Manchester United’s 66 and Jose’s 25 trophies. That is what our passionate fans and our history demands,” Woodward said. “We are committed to our philosophy of blending top academy graduates with world class players and are proud that, once again, last season we had more academy graduate minutes on the pitch than any other Premier League club.”

Some of the other big takeaways from Woodward’s financial update include:

  • United paid wages of $389.3 million in 2017/18 – an increase of $42.6m, or 12.3%, on previous year
  • For year ending 30 June 2018 – record revenue of $777 million, with operating profit of $58m
  • Expect revenue to rise to a record $809-829 million in 2019