Norwich City 1-0 Crystal Palace: Hooper’s strike enough to hand Pulis defeat on Palace debut (video)

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Norwich City hung on to beat a battling Crystal Palace side 1-0 at Carrow Road on Saturday, as Chris Hughton’s men edged clear of the bottom three thanks to Gary Hooper’s first half strike.

In a game between two sides more content to battle it out than dominate possession, Norwich went close early on as Johan Elmander hit the bar with a splendid flicked effort. However in the 30th minute the game-winner arrived as great set up play from Nathan Redmond, Elmander and Wes Hoolahan found Hooper in the six-yard box to coolly slot home.

Palace battled and Barry Bannan’s effort cannoned off the bar in the first half, while Cameron Jerome went close and a last-ditch clearance from Sebastien Bassong stopped the Eagles from grabbing a point in Tony Pulis’ first game in charge.

With the win Norwich climb to 14th and now have 14 points from 13 games, while Palace drop to the foot of the table and are now six points clear of safety.

Within the first minute Norwich captain Bassong headed wide as the games first chance fell to the home side. Soon after Palace had their first chance of the game as Jason Puncheon stung the palms of John Ruddy with a low effort on goal.

Norwich put Palace under the cosh and in the 10th minute Elmander saw his wonderful flicked effort from Hoolahan’s free kick hit the bar and bounce on the line only for the goal-line technology to say ‘no goal’ as the Canaries came so close. Soon after Nathan Redmond forced Julian Speroni into a fine save as the home side were in the ascendancy.

Norwich continued to push forward but Palace held firm in two solid banks of four and were dangerous on the break. However it was the home side who took the lead after 29 minutes when Hooper finished off a wonderful move from the Canaries. Redmond cut in from the right and his ball found Elmander who flicked it towards Hoolahan who then teed up Hooper to slot home.

But Palace almost equalized immediately as Bannan’s fierce effort from 12-yards out cannoned off the bar and away.

After the interval Norwich almost doubled their lead ad Redmond’s mazy run saw him in on goal but he blazed over the bar. But Palace almost equalized as Dean Moxey surged forward down the left flank and drilled a low ball across goal that Bassong somehow cleared over his own bar and out for a corner. Pulis’ face was a picture as he couldn’t believe the ball hadn’t gone in.

The longer the game went on, Palace kept surging forward and Cameron Jerome up front was causing all kinds of problems for Norwich’s defense with his direct style and pace. Palace were huffing and puffing throughout the second half but failed to really create clear cut chances and get in behind Norwich.

A flurry of late substitutes from Pulis saw the visitors throw the kitchen sink at Norwich but the Canaries were rapid on the counter-attack and saw out the game to net a vital 1-0 win.

LINEUPS

Norwich: Ruddy, Martin, R Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Fer, Howson, Redmond, Hoolahan (Johnson, 79), Elmander (Becchio, 81), Hooper (Whittaker, 91)

Goal: Hooper (30)

Crystal Palace: Speroni, Ward, Gabbidon, Delaney, Moxey, Jedinak, Dikgacoi, Bannan (Williams, 73), Puncheon (Kebe, 76), Chamakh (Gayle, 80), Jerome

Barcelona ends contract with company accused of fake posts

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BARCELONA, Spain (AP) Barcelona has ended its contract with a company that made negative comments on social media about people within the club.

Barcelona president Josep Bartomeu said Tuesday the decision was made after the club found out that one of its service providers used an account to make “inadequate” comments about people in the club. He did not name the company nor give any detail about the comments.

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Bartomeu reiterated the club’s denial of accusations it hired a company to make negative comments about its own players and opponents on social media in order to boost the image of senior club officials.

The Cadena Ser radio network said Monday a company used fake social media accounts to discredit opposition figures and some of Barcelona’s players when they expressed views that went against the club. Cadena Ser said some of the figures included star players Lionel Messi and Gerard Pique as well as former coach Pep Guardiola.

Bartomeu said other companies will continue to monitor social media on behalf of the club.

“It’s the responsibility of the club to know what is said on social media around the world,” he said. “But the club has never contracted services to discredit anyone, and we will do whatever is needed to defend ourselves from such accusations.”

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

Premier League Preview: Man City v. West Ham

Premier League Preview: Man City v. West Ham
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Manchester City takes the pitch at the Etihad Stadium for the first time since UEFA hammered it with a two-year Champions League ban when it hosts West Ham United on Wednesday (Watch Live at 3 a.m. ET on NBCSN and online via NBCSports.com).

Manager Pep Guardiola has reportedly stated his commitment to the club ahead of the match, which was rescheduled from last weekend after Storm Ciara hit England.

WATCH LIVE, ONLINE, HERE

Second-place City opens the day 25 points back of leaders Liverpool, while West Ham is one point behind 17th place.

The Irons have not won a Premier League match since New Year’s Day, David Moyes‘ first match in charge.

[ MORE: Premier League schedule ] 


Injuries/suspensions

Man City: OUT —  Oleksandr Zinchenko, Raheem Sterling, Leroy Sane. QUESTIONABLE — Aymeric Laporte, Benjamin Mendy

West Ham: OUT — Jack Wilshere, Andriy Yarmolenko. QUESTIONABLE — Felipe Anderson


Probable lineups

Man City: Ederson; Cancelo, Otamendi, Fernandinho, Walker, Rodri, Gundogan, De Bruyne, D. Silva, Aguero, Mahrez.

West Ham: Fabianski; Cresswell, Ogbonna, Diop, Zabaleta, Rice, Soucek, Noble, Snodgrass, Haller, Antonio.


What they’re saying

West Ham’s David Moyes on the relegation fight: “I’m more than confident we will climb the table. I think the players here are more than capable. I think we have got a good group. I think they are all fully aware of the situation we’re in and the improvement we need to make to make sure we’re not in the bottom three, and I’m sure come the end we will do.”


Prediction

A blowout. While West Ham has the urgency to get out of the drop zone, City will be pouring its full focus into finding form for next week’s Champions League tie with Real Madrid. City, 4-1.

Champions League preview: Spurs host Leipzig, Valencia visits Atalanta

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Two more UEFA Champions League Round of 16 ties kickoff Wednesday, including one being labeled as the biggest in a club’s existence.

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That would be Serie A side Atalanta, which hosts Valencia at 3 p.m. at Gewiss Stadium.

Atalanta had played in two consecutive Europa Leagues, but this is their first move into the Champions League. To make the knockout rounds is exceptional, and club president Antonio Percassi is fired up.

“We must be honest, this is the most important game in the history of this club,” Percassi told Sky Sport Italia. “It doesn’t seem real. It’s exciting just thinking that tomorrow we’ll be in a Champions League Round of 16. It’s wonderful for our fans too. … This is going to be a unique experience that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.”

Atalanta finished second in its group to Manchester City, and is fourth in Serie A. Valencia won its group.

There’s a Premier League side in action on Wednesday, too, as Spurs begin life without Heung-Min Son.

Jose Mourinho spun a tale about how badly Tottenham will need its fans against RB Leipzig, comparing the home-field advantage to an emergency rescue crew of sorts.

Leipzig is led by Julian Nagelsmann, who was once referred to as “Baby Mourinho” by his players.

The 32-year-old was quick to distance himself from the story.

“Tomorrow it is Leipzig against Tottenham, not Mourinho v. Baby Mourinho,” he said. “I have great respect for Mourinho. He has won lots of titles with big clubs, the Champions League twice. He has made his mark on European football at some big European clubs. I think it his 59th knockout game in the CL and it is my first so there is obviously respect there.”

Liverpool’s Robertson not a fan of Atletico Madrid theatrics

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Liverpool fullback Andy Robertson was not impressed with Atletico Madrid’s display as his side fell 1-0 in the first leg of the UEFA Champions League’s Round of 16 tie on Tuesday.

The Reds fell behind on a fourth-minute Saul Niguez goal and couldn’t get a shot on target despite 73 percent possession in Spain.

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Atleti executed its plan to near-perfection, slowing restarts and taking advantage of counterattacking opportunities to assuage the constant pressure of Liverpool.

At times it was reminiscent of early-century Italian national team play, and both neutrals and Liverpool knew what they were in for once Atleti took the lead.

“We gave them the best possible start to get the fans behind them and then they can start falling over and things like that, trying to get under our skin a bit which I think we handled quite well to be honest,” Robertson told BT Sport. “We know we are better than (how they played). We put in a decent performance and we can be better than that. Luckily we have got a second leg to put it right.”

Given the performance and the reputation, you’d still fancy the Reds to “put it right” at Anfield. Jurgen Klopp thinks Atleti will feel plenty of pressure at Anfield, and he will certainly feel the officiating will be more to his liking.