Norwich City 1-0 Hull City: Vital win for the Canaries (video)

Leave a comment

Ryan Bennett’s first goal for Norwich couldn’t have come at a better time, securing a massive win for the Canaries. The victory lifts them into 12th, temporarily at least, and gives Chris Hughton the chance to fight for more time to right his side.

Despite their poor away form, Hull came flying out of the gates, with the first chance falling to new signing Nikica Jelavić. Unfortunately the Croat destroyed his own chance at a dream debut, putting his shot just wide of the near post, despite lurking close to goal.

The visitors had the better of the first fifteen minutes, but were forced into an early change when James Chester went out with injury. Mayor Figueroa came on in his place, forcing Steve Bruce to switch from his prefered 3-5-2 formation to a 4-4-2.

Norwich took advantage of the change to gain control of the match. Their best chance came in the 42nd minute, the first time Allan McGregor was forced into action. Robert Snodgrass, who’d had a couple poor crosses but had generally done well troubling the Hull defense, decided to let rip a shot from distance. The ball dipped and swerved on its way to goal, but the keeper was up to the task, leaping to palm away the shot.

Despite both teams looking eager to take all three points in the first half, the tempo slowed in the second, leaving behind a rather dull match. It seemed certain that caution would win the day, and a goalless draw would see both sides sharing the spoils.

Instead, with less than five minutes left in the game, Norwich finally found a goal. Snodgrass put in a good delivery from the corner, drawing out McGregor, who was unable to get near the cross. Ryan Bennett, unmarked in the center of the area, was able to head on for his first Norwich goal.

Suddenly the Tigers came roaring back to life, but they were hampered by Tom Huddlestone receiving his second yellow of the match. Still, they managed to give the Canaries a scare when Curtis Davies got his head on the end of a cross from Ahmed Elmohamady, but the ball went just wide of John Ruddy’s goal.

Norwich City: Ruddy; Martin, R Bennett, Bassong, Olsson; Snodgrass, Fer, Johnson, Gutiérrez (Pilkington 68), van Wolfswinkel (Becchio 80), Hooper

Goals: R. Bennett 87′

Hull City: McGregor, Rosenior, Bruce, Chester (Figueroa 15), Davies, Huddlestone, Koren (Fryatt 82), Livermore, Jelavic, Sagbo (Boyd 67), Elmohamady

Atleti escapes major punishment for fans’ Griezmann threats

Photo by Jose Breton/Pics Action/NurPhoto via Getty Images
Leave a comment

MADRID (AP) Atletico Madrid escaped major punishment Wednesday after its fans made threatening chants against former player Antoine Griezmann during last weekend’s La Liga match against Barcelona.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

The Spanish league had denounced the club after some fans chanted “Die Griezmann” in Sunday’s match, won by Barcelona at Wanda Metropolitano Stadium in Madrid.

The Spanish soccer federation said it would fine Atletico $333 because the game was disrupted, but it did not cite the chants against Griezmann. The fine was prompted mainly because fans threw objects — including an umbrella — onto the field.

The Spanish league had denounced the club to the federation’s anti-violence committee, saying about 2,000 fans from Atletico’s “ultras” section made the chants for about 20 seconds before the start of the second half, and again later in the game.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Griezmann left Atletico for Barcelona at the end of last season in a transfer worth more than $132 million.

The France forward was jeered nearly every time he touched the ball at the Metropolitano on Sunday. It was his first match at Atletico’s stadium since leaving the club.

Klopp to take first team to Club World Cup, leave youth for EFL Cup

Photo by Alex Livesey/Getty Images
Leave a comment

Jurgen Klopp has chosen his strongest possible Liverpool squad to take to the Club World Cup later this month, leaving a reserve- and youth-laden team behind to compete in the EFL Cup during the same period.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Liverpool will head to Doha, Qatar, for the Club World Cup, where they’ll play their semifinal fixture against one of Monterrey (Mexico), Al-Saad (Qatar) or Hienghene Sport (New Caledonia) on Dec. 18. The day prior, on Dec. 17, the Reds will also play away to Aston Villa in the quarterfinals of the League Cup. With the club’s star-studded first team in Qatar, progression to the semifinals of the League Cup will be down to a team full of teenage prospects.

Only defender Joel Matip and midfielder Fabinho, both of whom are currently injured and unavailable, were left out of the Club World Cup squad.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Players suffering from illness or injury prior to Liverpool’s first Club World Cup game can be replaced in the squad up to 24 hours before kickoff.

Liverpool’s Club World Cup squad

Goalkeepers: Alisson, Adrian, Andy Lonergan

Defenders: Virgil Van Dijk, Dejan Lovren, Joe Gomez, Andrew Robertson, Trent Alexander-Arnold

Midfielders: Georginio Wijnaldum, James Milner, Naby Keita, Jordan Henderson, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Adam Lallana, Curtis Jones, Harvey Elliott, Neco Williams

Forwards: Firmino, Sadio Mane, Mohamed Salah, Xherdan Shaqiri, Rhian Brewster, Divock Origi

Hazard has muscle tear, could miss El Clasico

Photo by ANP Sport via Getty Images
1 Comment

MADRID (AP) Real Madrid midfielder Eden Hazard has a more serious right-leg injury than the bruise that was first diagnosed, and it could rule him out of El Clasico against Barcelona on Dec. 18.

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Madrid said Thursday that new tests found a micro-tear of a muscle that had gone undetected since the injury occurred on Nov. 26 in a 2-2 draw with Paris Saint-Germain.

Hazard joined Madrid from Chelsea this year on a club-record transfer of $113 million, plus add-ons. He missed the first three games of the season after injuring a thigh muscle in the preseason.

[ MORE: Ole gushes over “the best performance Rashford has had under me” ]

Madrid said it will also likely be without left back Marcelo for Saturday’s home game against Espanyol because of a muscle injury.

Madrid is in second place in the Spanish league behind Barcelona on goal difference.

Alli: “Arrogance, over-confidence” cost Spurs in Man Utd loss

Leave a comment

Tottenham Hotspur suffered their first loss of the Jose Mourinho era on Wednesday — a 2-1 defeat to Manchester United at Old Trafford — which suddenly resurgent star Dele Alli believes was down to his side’s “arrogance” and “over-confidence.”

[ MORE: Lampard: Pulisic can reach “top level of world football” ]

Speaking after Wednesday’s game, Alli, who scored a sensational solo goal (WATCH HERE) to bring Tottenham level in the first half, revealed that he foresaw and tried to combat those destructive feelings, as well as the mindset of Man United playing at home against another of the “top-six sides” — quotes from the Guardian:

“I tried to fight exactly that state of mind. I tried to tell them exactly the way United approach these matches at home — against Liverpool [1-1 draw], against Chelsea [4-0 win], always they start strong with people running, pressing, trying to lift the morale of the supporters.

“Normally they come from bad results against smaller teams so when they face the big teams people think it’s going to be more difficult for them. It’s not more difficult for them because the style changes and they feel comfortable against this style of play.

“In the second half, we knew what we were going to do with the result at 1-1. After one minute you concede a goal. We have to blame ourselves. I think United must obviously be happy with the points, and overall they deserved it.”

Two takeaways form Alli’s comments:

1. Alli appears to have taken a much larger role in leadership within the team, taking it upon himself to “try to tell [his teammates]” what to expect and how to approach a given game. Given his red-hot form of late (four goals in four games), Alli’s confidence has clearly been restored by Mourinho’s arrival.

2. Speaking of positive feelings restored, the fact that Spurs felt “arrogant” or “over-confident” this season is news itself, the surest sign that the season can be salvaged, and an indication that three wins from Mourinho’s first three games were more than the standard “new manager bump.”