Stoke City 3-5 Liverpool: Wild match sees Stoke comeback and Reds brilliance as Liverpool take spoils (video)

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A frantic, back-and-forth match saw Stoke shoot themselves in their foot twice early, come back from two goals down, and concede a penalty early in the second half which Steven Gerrard converted for the win.

Finding themselves 2-0 down thanks to a bit of bad luck and a lot of bad defending, a ferocious Stoke side roared back to draw level at the break, with Peter Crouch and Charlie Adam on target.

However, Raheem Sterling won a soft penalty, Gerrard finished, and Luis Suarez revitalize his relationship with Daniel Sturridge to seal the win.

An early bit of fortune saw Liverpool ahead inside the opening five minutes, and started off a tough day for Stoke City.

Liverpool defender Aly Cissokho took a “why not” shot from distance as both teams settled into the match, and the shot was going comfortably wide.  But it smashed into Stoke defender Ryan Shawcross who had little time to react, and the ball redirect past Jack Butland into the net.

As the match progressed, it became a physical battle, with a number of thumping 50/50 airborne challenges.  A 20th minute spell of pressure by Stoke City backfired, and only resulted in a counter-attack by Liverpool leading to a shot for Philippe Coutinho that blazed over the bar.

Stoke built momentum though, and they seiged the Liverpool defense in the 26th with a beautiful spell of pressure involving a pair of corners.

The home side however gifted the visitors their second goal, and made things incredibly difficult for themselves going forward.  A poor header backwards from Marc Wilson allowed Luis Suarez to chase the otherwise lost cause, and when the ball came to Shawcross the pressure from Suarez caused him to bungle possession.

Suarez cooly took the ball and finished between the legs of a confused Butland for a 2-0 lead and the Uruguayan’s 21st goal of the season in just 16 matches.

source: Getty Images
Liverpool capitalized on an early gift from Stoke City’s defense.

But the home side wouldn’t quit, knowing they’ve only done themselves harm, and pulled one back before halftime.  With Suarez defending Marko Arnautovic, the winger whipped in a cross and Peter Crouch connected with his head, directing from some way out past Simon Mignolet.

It’s the first headed goal for Stoke City all season, leaving just West Ham without a headed goal this Premier League season.

And directly after, Stoke completed the frantic comeback. Jordan Henderson was caught in possession deep in Liverpool’s own half, and Charlie Adam pounced on the loose ball, slicing through the defense and unleashing a powerful shot into the top corner for the equalizer at 2-2.

On a day when refereeing decisions have already been brought to the forefront at St. James Park, Liverpool benefited from another contentious decision. A penalty was given by referee Anthony Taylor after Raheem Sterling had a breakaway but failed to get clear of Marc Wilson.  With Wilson defending tightly, instead of attempting to cut inside Sterling went to ground and won the penalty.

Gerrard finished the penalty low and hard for a renewed Liverpool lead. Replays also showed the officials may have missed a handed ball by Sterling in the buildup to the goal.

Nevertheless Liverpool were ahead again as the game continued to fizz back and forth.

Stoke kept up the attack, but Luis Suarez killed Stoke off.  With his early-season strike partner Daniel Sturridge on as a substitute, the two rekindled old brilliance.  The English international brought the ball up from the Liverpool half, cut back at the top of the box, and flicked on for Suarez who finished strongly at a tight angle.

Stoke pressed for another miraculous comeback, as Jonathan Walters slid a shot past Mignolet in the final five minutes with the keeper screened by his defender. It wasn’t enough though, as Sturridge swung the final swipe of the blade with a brilliant late goal as the rain came down.

After some holiday stumbles, Liverpool are back above cross-town rivals Everton and into the top four.

GOALS:

Liverpool – Suarez 32′, 71′; Gerrard 51′ (pen); Sturridge 88′
Stoke City – Shawcross (og) 5′; Crouch 39′; Adam 45′; Walters 85′

LINEUPS:

Stoke City – Butland; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Walters, Nzonzi (Ireland 81′), Adam, Whelan, Arnautovic; Crouch.

Liverpool – Mignolet; Johnson, Cissokho, Skrtel, Toure; Lucas, Gerrard, Henderson; Sterling, Coutinho (Sturridge 66′), Suarez.

Yaya Toure talks future, wants to play with Paul Pogba

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There is very little debate: Yaya Toure is his own special case.

The longtime Manchester City midfielder does what he wants, flies his own flag, has the worst agent in the game, and is pleased or dismayed in unusual ways.

[ UCL: What would Real 3-peat mean? ]

Toure, 35, has been linked with a move to NYCFC now that he’s leaving Man City, but the Ivorian still wants to play two more seasons for a Champions League or Europa League club.

And he wants to get together with Paul Pogba. You can see where this is going… (from The Manchester Evening News):

“Pogba is the same size, power – but different in the way he wants to go. Technically as well, the ability to score goals as well. It is a player I want to play with, to be honest, just to teach him some things.”

That must mean both are going to Paris Saint-Germain because… Yaya at Manchester United? No way, right? Right? Even with last year’s reports from his — again — terrible agent that it was an option, that still seems too villainous.

“I don’t rule big teams out. The big teams are very important for me. What they want to achieve, the way they want to go, for me is very important. … I want to go somewhere I can win and achieve. It’s going to be hard one day to play against City, but I have to do that. It is part of my job.”

Toure later said he was “no good in an office,” which had us thinking, well, what if they properly celebrated your birthday, Yaya?

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.”