Sunderland 2-2 Southampton: Black Cats fight back to grab draw (video)

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A pulsating clash at the Stadium of Light saw both teams leave with a point, as Southampton squandered an early 2-0 lead following a courageous comeback from Sunderland.

Jay Rodriguez put Saints 1-0 up after just three minutes with a rasping drive from outside the box, and the away side doubled their lead when Dejan Lovren hooked home impressively from a corner in the 31st minute. But just one minute later Fabio Borini pulled a goal back for a below par Sunderland, as the home side finished the first half on top after Southampton had dominated.

In the second half the game was much more even as Gus Poyet’s substitute’s brought an added punch to their attack and in the 71st minute Adam Johnson bagged his fourth goal in two games to seal a 2-2 draw.

Southampton stay in ninth with 31 points, while Sunderland occupy 18th and have 18 points.

Southampton started brightly after a turbulent week off the field, and kept the ball comfortably for the the first few minutes as Sunderland were chasing the game from the start.

The Saints made all of that early play count, as after just three minutes Rodriguez brought the ball down on the edge of the box, took one touch to tee himself up andthen  smashed a low pile driver into the bottom corner to send the traveling fans wild and put Southampton 1-0 up. The sublime effort was Rodriguez’ ninth PL goal of the season, as Saints’ leading goalscorer put all the teams off-field worries to bed within the first five minutes.

After that early goal the home side seemed a little shocked, as Southampton controlled possession and looked extremely comfortable. Wave after wave of Saints attack arrived as Rodriguez had an effort blocked after a sweeping move down the visitors right saw the England international go close, then left back Luke Shaw saw his deflected effort hit the post in the 17th minute.

Sunderland were lucky to only be 1-0 down, as Rickie Lambert and Morgan Schneiderlin played a terrific one-two that saw the former drag his shot just wide in the 21st minute as the England forward should have put Saints 2-0 up. Relentless pressure kept coming forward, as Rodriguez had a great chance to score his second in the 28th minute when Lambert played him through but the forward fluffed his lined and hot the shot straight at Vito Mannone.

(MORE: Latest Premier League Standings)

Finally Saints did grab a second as Croatian international Lovren acrobatically hooked home from a Lallana corner after 30 minutes, as the away side led 2-0 after their complete domination. But just over 60 seconds later Sunderland were back in the game after their first effort on goal resulted in Borini stabbing home from Adam Johnson’s inviting cross to make it 2-1.

The Stadium of Light came to life, as the half time whistle signified plenty of hope for the home fans.

At the start of the second half Sunderland were visibly buoyed by only being one goal behind as some pressure from set-pieces saw them try to get back into the game. However Saints stepped it up once again, as Rodriguez went close on two more occasions as the away side looked to put the game away.

In the 64th minute Borini thought he’d grabbed his and Sunderland’s second goal of the game and pulled the Black Cats level, but as he raced through on goal the referee’s assistant raised his flag for a marginally correct offside call. The Mackems were much better in the second and half and really dug in to try and get back in the game.

They did just that in the 71st minute as Johnson was found on the right hand side of the box and his powerful near post shot somehow squirmed past Artur Boruc and into the top corner to make it 2-2. Sunderland were in the ascendancy as the game came reached its climax.

Worrying injuries for Gaston Ramirez and Lovren saw the game stopped for a large spell wit both players leaving the field on stretchers, as seven minutes of injury-time didn’t yield a win for either side in an hugely entertaining game.

LINEUPS

Sunderland: Mannone, Bardsley, Alonso, Ki, Brown, O’Shea, Cattermole (Gardner, 62), Larsson (Colback, 63), Johnson, Borini, Altidore (Fletcher, 72)

Goals: Borini (31), Johnson (71)

Southampton: Boruc, Chambers, Fonte, Lovren (Yoshida, 88), Shaw, Cork, Schneiderlin, S. Davis, Lallana (Ramirez 74 – Ward Prowse, 88) , Rodriguez, Lambert

Goals: Rodriguez (3), Lovren (30)

Toronto locks down USMNT backstop Bono with extension

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Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono is going to stay Toronto FC goalkeeper Alex Bono.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The newly-capped USMNT backstop, 24, has been attracting interest from abroad since breaking past Clint Irwin to win the TFC job and guiding the club to multiple MLS Cup Finals.

Now general manager Tim Bezbatchenko has locked down his young goalkeeper to an undisclosed contract extension. From TorontoFC.com:

“Alex was a big part of our success last season. He set club records for wins and clean sheets and was a critical piece of our championship team,” said Toronto FC Sr. Vice-President, Soccer Operations & General Manager Tim Bezbatchenko. “Since joining the club as a first round pick in 2015, Alex’s ability to make key saves in big moments has been critical to our success.”

The Syracuse-born product of Syracuse University has made 64 appearances for the Reds.

WATCH: World Cup, Day 8 — Argentina on the edge; France aims for berth

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France, Denmark, and Croatia can clinch knockout round berths on Thursday in Russia, the last nation also holding the opportunity to help deprive the World Cup of an extended Lionel Messi run.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Messi’s Argentina drew Iceland in its opener, the megastar infamously missing a penalty, and will look to beat a Croatian side that looked quite good in dispatching Nigeria.

That’s the final match of the day, which begins with Denmark facing Australia and continues with a tasty match-up between France and Peru.

Below is Thursday’s schedule in full.

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.


2018 World Cup schedule – Wednesday, June 20

Group C
Denmark vs. Australia: Samara, 8 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE
France vs. Peru: Yekaterinburg, 11 a.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Group D
Argentina vs. Croatia: Nizhny Novgorod, 2 p.m. ET – LIVE COVERAGE

Halted World Cup flip-throw heard around the world

AP Photo/Sergei Grits
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Milad Mohammadi knew the time was right for something special, but special isn’t always good.

And good is a subjective term. Cause to us this is very good, Milad.

The Iranian national team defender failed with a flip-throw bid in the final moments of a 1-0 loss to Spain on Wednesday at the World Cup in Russia.

[ MORE: Latest 2018 World Cup news ] 

Click here for live and on demand coverage of the World Cup online and via the NBC Sports App.

And this wasn’t like he illegally flipped or broke some other rule. No, like a kid trying an audacious jump into the deep end, Akhmat Grozny star Mohammadi just bailed and climbed in from the side (so to speak).

The kiss, the look skyward, the headbutt… all integral parts of a wonderful World Cup moment.

Renard, Morocco ‘very proud’ of unlucky national team

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If you would’ve told Morocco fans or their manager, Herve Renard, that they’d outshoot and outpossess both Iran and Portugal at World Cup, their next question would probably be, “So do we need to do against Spain to win Group B?”

Alas, Morocco lost a pair of 1-0 decisions to become the first team knocked out of the 2018 World Cup.

[ RECAP: Morocco 0-1 Portugal ]

The Lions of Atlas fell to Iran in their opener on a stoppage time own goal after carrying 64 percent possession and a 13-8 advantage in shot attempts, then lost to a Cristiano Ronaldo fourth minute goal on Wednesday despite a 16-10 shot advantage and 53 percent of the ball.

“I’m very proud of the performance and I am very proud of my players, I’m very proud of this country,” Renard said.

With no hope of advancing to the next round, the manager is finding the experience bittersweet. From RTE:

“What I am sure of at this moment is that the entire Moroccan people is proud of this team. Of course it’s easier to play with a player who has one chance and he puts it away. But we are in Morocco.

“We have quality players. Despite the ups and downs of the game, we should have been more effective. Because, like in the first game, we had plenty of chances. I won’t blame anyone. That’s football. It’s always those who know how to be present in the box, the most gifted players, who make the difference. We took a lot of risks and we didn’t get our reward.”

It’s unlikely Morocco will hold either of those statistical advantages against Spain, especially a Spanish side yet to qualify, but there is plenty to like from the tournament aside from poor finishing quality.

But the performances of 19-year-olds Amine Harit (Schalke) and Achraf Hakimi (Real Madrid) — not to mention Hakim Ziyech (25, Ajax) — seem to hint at a promise for 2022. And Renard’s men can still play spoiler for Spain, which is no small shockwave.