Norwich City 1-1 Swansea City: Hooper dazzler leaves things even at Carrow Road

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Nathan Dyer capitalized on an early error by the Norwich defense, but Gary Hooper made sure things left level with a cannon from distance just before halftime.

Hooper’s chance was made possible thanks to a serious injury to Dyer’s ankle leaving six minutes of added time before the break, which the Norwich striker jumped on.

Both teams were sloppy in the opening few minutes, leading to chances for both sides early.  Steven Whittaker lashed out at goal wide right in the within the first two minutes for Norwich, and Jonathan De Guzman missed wide left for Swansea on five minutes.

Swansea were looking to build from the back, but they scored a goal out of nothing, a bit of a gift from Norwich.

Ashley Williams saw Nathan Dyer one-on-one up ahead, and lumped a good long ball forward from him.  The ball found Dyer after eluding Sebastian Bassong, and Dyer settled with his head.  Then, a mix-up between John Ruddy and his defense saw the keeper come out and Dyer easily chipped past him for the opener.

Norwich pressed immediately after, as they looked to get the home crowd back in the match, and because of it Swansea struggled to get the ball out of their back four.

The home side, however, couldn’t shake their sloppiness, and eventually Swansea exploited more space in the defensive midfield and back line to get a few more shots off.

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Nathan Dyer capitalized on an early Norwich mistake for the opener, but went off injured before halftime.

Gary Hooper had a brilliant chance to level for the Canaries in the 35th minute as he received a long ball on the left wing, and bottled up Williams to get in on goal. But by the time he worked into a shooting position there were defenders back, and Vorm held strong as well to force Hooper into shooting wide.

The game slowed a bit and came to a halt for a few minutes before halftime. Nathan Dyer had to be stretchered off after a mid-air clash with  Bassong, landing very awkwardly on his right ankle. Dyer required oxygen and was in obvious pain as he came off, hand on his face.

Directly after, Norwich earned a corner kick and the ball dangerously pinballed around the box before Ashley Williams cleared off the line with his head.

Six minutes of injury time ensued, and Norwich were fully on top before cashing in. Johan Elmander received a long ball and chested it down perfectly for Hooper, who rifled in a dipping shot from a long way out, giving Michel Vorm no chance.

Norwich continued to assert themselves after the break, and Bassong got his head to a corner just three minutes in to the second half but steered it just wide.

It was Swansea’s turn to be sloppy, as they were very wasteful passing in the final third.  They also produced some messy tackles and play, as three Swans were all booked within a 10-minute span.

Both sides fought hard, but chances were few and far between as the second half progressed.  Swansea were the ones who pushed for a winner as time expired, but they never were able to unlock the Norwich defense as errant passes and clumsy challenges continued to plague the visitors.

The point moves Swansea to 20 on the season as they remain in 10th position.  Norwich will take anything they can get, as they jump Cardiff into 14th position.

GOALS:

Swansea – Dyer 12′
Norwich – Hooper 45+3′

LINEUPS:

Norwich Ruddy; Whittaker, Turner, Bassong, Olsson; Redmond (Murphy 83′), Howson, Johnson, Fer, Elmander (Becchio 76′); Hooper.

Swanwea – Vorm; Rangel, Amat, Williams, Davies; Canas, Shelvey, de Guzman, Hernandez (Lamah 83′), Dyer (Pozuelo 44′); Michu (Bony 75′).

Preview: Brazil v. Mexico in U-17 World Cup final

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There will be plenty of 2005 U-17 World Cup final shades at Estadio Bezerrão on Sunday.

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On that clear night in Lima, Peru, the likes of Carlos Vela and Giovani dos Santos wrote history for Mexico, as they powered El Tri to its first-ever World Cup title over a favorite Brazilian side, who was composed of Marcelo, Renato Augusto, and Anderson, in a 3-0 win.

14 years and some change later, both youth powerhouses meet again in the same tournament, for the same silverware, and with the same pressure looming over them from entire nations who expect nothing but excellence from their respective teams.

But of course, to the Brazilians, there is a sense of added pressure given the fact that they’re on home soil.

“We’re familiar with Mexico’s quality,” Brazilian forward, Veron, said ahead of the final. We know they are a great team. But we’re Brazil, and we have five stars on our chest. We intend to play our best match and get the result that makes history.”

As it stands, Mexico is the clear-cut underdog, having barely crept into the knockout stages and being composed of players with far less notoriety to its Brazilian counterpart, who boast three players with three goals or more in the tournament.

That said, Mexico pose as a balanced, reliable, and pragmatic team under coach Marco “Chima” Ruiz. Throughout the six games this tournament, El Tri have found the back of the net 14 times and have conceded a mere three goals (two of which came against Italy). With four goals and two assists in only 344 minutes, Los Angeles Galaxy’s Efrain Alvarez has proven to be the team’s most productive player going forward.

Asked who he would rather take between France or Brazil in the final, the Mexican American answered with the same confidence that has made him one of the most exciting players in the tournament.

“It doesn’t matter which of the two it is, we’ll beat them,” he said.

It’s 90 minutes for either team to make history, again. A win for Brazil will raise the number of U-17 stars to four, while Mexico can claim its third with another historic performance. Will Brazil’s high-flying attack crack Mexico’s solid defense? If Alvarez starts, will he rise to the occasion and guide Mexico to another U-17 title?

That has yet to be seen; the second final between two, routine winners awaits the first whistle.

Report: Man City considering Kingsley Coman as Leroy Sane replacement

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Pep Guardiola and Manchester City are considering Bayern Munich’s Kinglsey Coman as a replacement for injured Leroy Sane if he were to leave for the defending German champions over the summer, according to a report from Sky Sports.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Sane, who is projected to be out until February or March with an ACL injury, was the subject of a $176 million move to Bayern Munich over the summer, but a move never came to fruition, largely due to the aforementioned injury. If negotiations between Sane’s camp and the defending Bundesliga champions pick up again this summer, City have a replacement in mind: 23-year-old Coman.

Coman, who has played in 10 league games for the Bavarian club this season, was managed by Guardiola during his time with the club and flourished during the title-winning 2015-2016 season. In 2017, the Frenchman revealed that the Spaniard’s departure was tough on him, saying, “I found life easier at Bayern Munich under Pep Guardiola.”

As expected, Coman is not the only option City are exploring.

Real Sociedad’s Mikel Oyarzabal, who has a reported $82 million release clause, is also on the Premier League giant’s shortlist. Txiki Begiristain, City’s director of football, has strong ties to La Reala that goes back to his first day in the sport.

At the Etihad, the general feeling from Guardiola’s players is that the German winger is one foot out of England, and is instead focused on a move to Bayern and a return back home. With his contract in the final 12 months this summer, it is expected that the release clause for Sane will not be as lucrative as before. 

In 134 appearances for City, Sane has scored 39 goals, while Coman has scored on 28 different occasions in 139 appearances.

Abidal: Barcelona, Messi negotiating a new deal

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Lionel Messi and his representatives are in talks with Barcelona over a new contract, the defending champion’s sporting director Eric Abidal confirmed  to Mundo Deportivo in an exclusive interview.

“They are already talking,” Abidal, the former Barcelona defender, said. “I do not know if we will have news soon because the decision will depend on the player, but for us as a club I hope it is sorted as soon as possible.”

Messi – a five-time Ballon d’Or winner and Barcelona’s all-time leading goalscorer – joined the club’s well-known academy, La Masia, at the age of 13 and is under contract until 2021 but was recently questioned about his future after Barcelona president Josep Maria Bartomeu revealed that the Argentine can leave Camp Nou on a free transfer due to a clause in his contract.

Asked when he expects an announcement to be made on a new and improved contract, Abidal made it clear he’s unsure but hopes it happens: “It will be known when it is known, but I am positive.”

Throughout seven games in La Liga this season, Messi has scored eight goals and assisted in four occasions. In his latest appearance for the Catalonian side – a 4-1 win over Celta Vigo – the No. 10 scored a first-half hat-trick.

Abidal also confirmed that Barcelona are in talks with breakout teenage starlet Ansu Fati and his camp on a new deal.

“We are also talking to him,” Abidal said. “He is a young player that we have to protect. We have to talk to his family and representatives.”

Earlier this year, the 17-year-old became the youngest player in the league’s history to score and assist in the same game.

EURO qualifying wrap: Germany, Austria, Croatia join Netherlands in qualifying

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Like the Netherlands, Germany, Austria, and Croatia qualified for EURO 2020 after wins on Saturday.

[ READ: Netherlands qualify to first EURO since 2012 ]


Germany 4-0 Belarus

With goals from Matthias Ginter, Leon Goretska, and a second-half brace from Real Madrid’s Toni Kroos, Germany routed an uncompetitive Belarus side 4-0 at Borussia-Park. The scoreline, however, should have been more lopsided, as the home side easily won the possession battle and outshot the visitor’s with a total of 31 shots (10 on target). Leaders of Group C, Germany is an early favorite for next summer’s tournament. Not hard to believe that, right? 

Austria 2-1 North Macedonia

Qualifying for Europe’s main tournament is becoming a norm for Austria.

Bayern Munich’s David Alaba scored early while Stefan Lainer added his own three minutes into the second half, as Austria edged North Macedonia 2-1 at Ernst Happel Stadion. Das Team, who stand second in Group G with 19 points after nine games, have now clinched a berth for the EURO on back-to-back occasions.

Croatia 3-1 Slovakia

When all was said and done, Croatia was too much for a 10-man Slovakia, who, initially, broke the deadlock in the 32nd minute.

Bayern Munich’s Ivan Perisic scored the home side’s third and final goal of the match, which punched Croatia’s ticket in next summer’s tournament. Nikola Vlasic and Bruno Petkovic also contributed goals in the second half for Croatia.

Elsewhere

Russia 1-4 Belgium

Azerbaijan 0-2 Wales

Cyprus 1-2 Scotland

Israel 1-2 Poland

Armenia 0-1 Greec